That 1850s Feeling: Brett Kavanaugh, for the Record

Very few people, when Preston Brooks assaulted Charles Sumner on the Senate floor, foresaw that Books’ supporters would declare war against their own country just a few years later. We’ve got the advantage of history to demonstrate where the kind of violent intransigence that just put Brett Kavanaugh on the SCOTUS bench can lead, so I devoutly hope we’ll be able to ringfence his future before he and his GOP co-conspirators can lead us down a similar path. But I’ve been accumulating a stack of links over the past couple of weeks, and I’m going to tack some of them up to this virtual wall just so we have them at hand.

Kavanaugh’s (former) friend Benjamin Wittes, in the Atlantic, “I Know Brett Kavanaugh, but I Wouldn’t Confirm Him”:

Faced with credible allegations of serious misconduct against him, Kavanaugh behaved in a fashion unacceptable in a justice, it seems preponderantly likely he was not candid with the Senate Judiciary Committee on important matters, and the risk of Ford’s allegations being closer to the truth than his denial of them is simply too high to place him on the Supreme Court.

We are in a political environment in which there are no rules, no norms anymore to violate. There is only power, and the individual judgments of individual senators—facing whatever political pressures they face, calculating political gain however they do it, and consulting their consciences to the extent they have them.

As much as I admire Kavanaugh, my conscience would not permit me to vote for him.

Charles Pierce, at Esquire, “A High-End Legal Ratf*cker Is Still a Ratf*cker”:

… I believe most of what has been alleged about Brett Kavanaugh from the people who knew him back in the day. His demeanor before the committee last week made him look like every privileged lace-curtain Irish inebriate with whom I grew up. I believe everything Dr. Christine Blasey Ford said about him, not because I oppose his nomination, but because she was human and he was a wind-up rage doll. Those charges and that temperament are enough to keep him off the Supreme Court. Hell, they’re enough to keep him out from behind the counter at Costco.

But, even if these most recent charges never emerged, I want him kept off the Supreme Court, even though his attitude last week is a damned good reason. (And, as The Washington Post reported, it was what gave the American Bar Association pause regarding Kavanaugh’s demeanor during the judge’s first go-round in the Senate.) I want him kept off the Supreme Court because, up until C-Plus Augustus rammed him onto the bench in 2006, Kavanaugh’s career was not that of a lawyer, but that of a partisan ratfcker. If he gets confirmed, we will have a vengeful partisan ratfcker on the Supreme Court for the rest of my lifetime, and that’s not a legacy I want to leave behind.
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Saturday Morning Open Thread: Things Get Better, However Gradually

Much more of Lisa Belkin’s livestream at her Twitter feed

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Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Evil Old White Men in Cahoots

If Kavanaugh has the tiniest iota of self-awareness, tonight’s boozy TGIF should be as downbeat as the one at Trump Tower on the night of 11/6/16. Forty years of ‘youthful horseplay’ and a long history as a mid-level GOP apparatchik substituting effort for talent are about to be examined in a media glare to which twilight ratfvckers like Bart O’Kavanaugh are cruelly unsuited, and the blows to his lace-curtain Irish self-esteem will be severe and unrelenting. Millionaire parents and the best Beltway prestige upbringing, and the best he can aspire to is ‘bagman for Donald Trump!’

Unfortunately for all of us, one has to assume his personal security is poised to prevent him pulling a Richard Cory…

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A Few Thoughts on Senators Heitkamp and Murkowski

While we wait for Senator Collins to finish the longest public statement of “I’m voting yes” ever given in the English or any other language, I think it is important to take a moment and revisit the two much more courageous votes and statements of Senators Heitkamp and Murkowski. Especially so in the wake of Senator Flake’s weeklong end of summer stock reenactment of Hamlet that got so much press attention.

Here is Senator Murkowski’s statement to the press shortly after she voted no this morning during the cloture vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.

And here is Senator Heitkamp’s, which I also posted yesterday:

Senators Heitkamp’s and Murkowski’s votes and their statements are important for several reasons. Senator Heitkamp is in the final weeks of her re-election campaign and it remains to be seen whether or not this will help or hinder her in seeking another term in the Senate. Senator Murkowski is not up for re-election until 2022. Despite the stated and reported opposition by her Native Alaskan constituents, as well as Alaska’s governor and lieutenant governor to Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, her re-election is far enough off that she could have just kept quiet and voted along with the GOP majority in the Senate and it wouldn’t have come back to bite her if she does choose to run again in 2022. Instead she now has Alaska’s premier ankle biter and matriarch of the state’s most dysfunctionally petty crime family calling out the other attack dogs in an attempt to claw out another fifteen minutes of fame.

What Senator’s Heitkamp and Murkowski have done isn’t just cast a no vote. Read their statements as to why. Neither of them are denying that the President, regardless of what they may or may not think about the election of 2016 and his de facto legitimacy as a result of what occurred in that election, has the de jure responsibility and authority to nominate who he wants to the Supreme Court based on whatever process he establishes to arrive at the nominee. Rather they are both stating flatly that the issue here is that Judge Kavanaugh is not the right nominee at this moment in political and social time in the US. Neither are saying they wouldn’t seriously consider a different nominee with an open mind. This is important. Neither Senator Heitkamp or Murkowski are doing what Senators McConnell, McCain, Cruz, and others did during the 2016 election when they stated that not only would Judge Garland not get a meeting, let alone a hearing or up and down vote to fill the vacancy left by Justice Scalia’s death, but that if Secretary Clinton were elected that they would hold that Supreme Court seat open for as long as the GOP held the majority in the Senate or as long as a Democratic majority in the Senate kept the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees in place. Instead they are simply stating that because of the circumstances and politics around this nomination and the current state of American politics and society, for the good of the Supreme Court, the Senate, and the US, Judge Kavanaugh was just not the right person to fill the current vacancy at this time.

Senator Heitkamp’s and Murkowski’s stated reasons for voting no also gets at another important point that we all too frequently ignore, if we even recognize it at all. Specifically that the purpose of the political processes that have been established and then evolved over time, and that are right now being severely stress tested, are the mechanisms that transform what may be politically unpalatable into government and governance that is politically palatable. Part of what Senators Heitkamp and Murkowski took a stand for, in addition to accepting Dr. Blasey’s testimony of what she had to endure in 1982, was the recognition that the US cannot continue going forward where the politics of might makes right, which is at the heart of all forms of fascism, regardless of whether it is a majority or a minority that has that might at any given moment in time, rules the day. They recognize that what the President, Don McGahn the White House Counsel, Leonard Leo who runs the Federalist Society and whose dark money networks bankroll the Judicial Crisis Network, and Senators McConnell, Grassley, Cornyn, Hatch, etc have done with judicial nominations – and in the case of the Republican senators done so going back to the Obama administration –  has gone way past the point where the process can be used to transform the politically unpalatable into palatable government and governance.

Senators Heitkamp and Murkowski’s statements and the actions backing them up should sound as a clarion call that the system is fast approaching, if not already at, a breaking point. The subtext of their remarks is a recognition that the majority of Americans who did not vote for the President, despite his electoral college victory, or for either the GOP majorities in the House and the Senate, are fast approaching the point where Republican minoratarian rule, despite its constitutional/de jure legitimacy, is approaching the point of no return. That the relentless pursuit of power at all costs, whether through gerrymandering and voter suppression, manipulating and breaking the rules of the House and the Senate begun by Speaker Gingrich and perfected by Senator McConnell, packing the Federal courts, and/or the attempt to govern solely to the delight and enthusiasm of the President’s electorally minority base of white, largely evangelical and traditionalist Christians in the attempt to create a herrenvolk democracy, isn’t going to simply lock in permanent Republican control over the Federal government. It is going to irreparably break the Federal government and the United States polity and society.

While Senators Heitkamp’s and Murkowski’s stands will ultimately not be enough to stop Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, the importance of their actions should be recognized nonetheless. They didn’t attempt to demonstrate just how much more moral than everyone else they are while predictably doing what they always do, like Senator Flake who always folds like a cheap suit after giving a sad speech with a crestfallen look on his face. Nor did they attempt to once again demonstrate how thoughtfully moderate they are, while always voting with the most conservative members of the Senate Republican caucus like Senator Collins. Instead they recognized that what the US Senate, the world’s greatest deliberative country club, actually needed was leadership. Not kabuki theater or crocodile tears or a political dance of the seven veils. What we’ve seen this week is a contrast between two senators – Heitkamp and Murkowski – who recognize and understand what leadership is and those who don’t – Flake and Collins. Leadership, either formal or informal, is doing the hard things when everyone is watching, not talking about doing the hard things and then not doing them because everyone is watching and someone might get mad at you.

As one of my professional forebears, Dr. Bernard Fall, so accurately observed in 1964 (emphasis mine):

Civic action is not the construction of privies or the distribution of antimalarial sprays. One can’t fight an ideology; one can’t fight a militant doctrine with better privies. Yet this is done constantly. One side says, “land reform,” and the other side says, “better culverts.” One side says, “We are going to kill all those nasty village chiefs and landlords.” The other side says, “Yes, but look, we want to give you prize pigs to improve your strain.” These arguments just do not match. Simple but adequate appeals will have to be found sooner or later.

Whether they recognize it or not, Senators Heitkamp’s and Murkowski’s actions and statements indicate that they recognize that the US has reached the point when the political arguments just don’t match anymore. And that sooner or later simple, but adequate appeals to resolve these serious problems will have to be found. Sooner or later…

A political battle has been lost, the larger political war for both the nature and the future of the US goes on. Check to make sure you’re registered to vote. Pester all your friends to make sure they’re registered to vote. Pester all your friends to make sure they pester all of their friends to make sure they’re registered to vote. Then vote. Pester all your friends to make sure they vote. And pester all of your friends to pester all of their friends to make sure they vote. 

Open thread!

“Never Again, Baby” (Open Thread)

Those familiar with abuser behavior will recognize where we are in the cycle with Brett Kavanaugh, who wrote an op-ed in the WSJ reassuring us that there will never be a repeat of last week’s unpleasantness:

I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said.

Josh Marshall wonders if the op-ed is a sign that the GOP doesn’t have all the votes lined up after all. I’ve made my calls, written emails etc., and will continue to do so, but I’ve resigned myself to seeing two confirmed misogynists staring back at me when I see photos of the United States Supreme Court.

The op-ed is just the candy-and-flowers stage of the abuse cycle, and here’s the “never again, baby” paragraph:

Going forward, you can count on me to be the same kind of judge and person I have been for my entire 28-year legal career: hardworking, even-keeled, open-minded, independent and dedicated to the Constitution and the public good.

If we just give him what he wants — what he’s entitled to — he’ll stop hitting us. He promised.

Open thread.

Your Daily Reminder That Nothing Is Going to Stop Kavanaugh From Being Confirmed

They don’t care.

All they care about is achieving their political goals. If it comes down to a 50-50 vote Pence will March in and tip the vote to Kavanaugh’s favor and won’t even flinch. And they’ll spend the next twenty years claiming Democrats were the ones at fault and that of course he is a nonpartisan judge and oh it’s just a coincidence he overturned Roe even though Collins was convinced he respected precedent.

They are ruthless, shameless, and don’t give a fuck, and that’s why they always win. Christ, they’ll have 2-3 more judges on the court before the asshole berniebro’s on your timeline shut up about Hillary’s fucking emails.

I wish I had something positive to say, but you know I am right.

Repub Venality Open Thread: Lindsay Graham Is Giving His Voters What They Want

It may be a tell, but it ain’t no mystery. Graham’s seat comes up again in 2020, in South Too small for a republic, too big for an insane asylum” Carolina. You don’t need to postulate Russian kompromat or other mysterious Oval-Office-Occupancy blackmail threats to explain his behavior; Senator Graham knows what his voters want, and he’s prepared to give it to them. THA SAKERD SUTHRUN TRADITIONS may be changing… but the people who donate to Graham’s campaign and who pull the lever by his name in the voting booth are, defiantly, *not*.
So he’s going all out on Kavanaugh. Last night, per Rolling Stone:

As America continues to vet the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, we are handed competing narratives. One thing, however, is clear: Lindsey Graham has jumped the shark. On Monday night, the senator from South Carolina sat down with Sean Hannity to discuss his feverish obsession with forcing Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court, sexual allegations be damned. So laser-focused is Graham that he thinks President Trump should re-nominate Kavanaugh for the position should the Senate vote against him after the FBI concludes its investigation at the end of this week.

“I would appeal the verdict of the Senate to the ballot box,” Graham said. “This good man should not be destroyed. If you legitimize this process by one vote short, woe be unto the next person. I’d hate to be the next person nominated. I would feel horrible that we destroyed Kavanaugh. I’d renominate him and I’d take this case to the American people. I’d ask voters in Indiana and Missouri and North Dakota and other places where Trump won, saying who he would nominate if he got to be president, and see if the voters would want to appeal the verdict of their senator.”…

That wasn’t all. Graham also veered into “enemy of the people” territory by pointing a finger at NBC, whom he accused of working with the Democrats to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination. “They’ve been a co-conspirator in the destruction of Kavanaugh from my point of view,” he said, going on to suggest they wouldn’t report on sexual assault allegations if they were made against a Democrat…

Emma Dumain, at McClatchey, “Graham’s defense of Kavanaugh has conservatives applauding. How long will that last?”

…[D]uring a speech that could become his campaign ad two years from now, the South Carolina Republican on Thursday delivered a scathing takedown of Democrats and full-throated defense of Brett Kavanaugh, the nominee to be a Supreme Court Justice accused of sexual assault.

By Friday morning, Graham had cemented himself as the most public face of the Republican Senate’s support for the embattled federal judge — a role that has endeared him so greatly to the conservatives he needs to fend off primary challengers.

But Graham knows how such love is fleeting: Conservatives could turn on him at any moment…
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