Senate Judiciary Hearing with Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanaugh Live Feed

Here’s the live feed for today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanaugh. A quick note: it has been reported that they are using one of the smaller/smallest hearing rooms in the Dirkson Senate Building. It is so small that there will only be room for about six reporters, basically a small reportorial pool, in the room. I think this was done to try to minimize the audience/crowd so as to minimize protestors and prevent this from getting completely out of hand and becoming a complete circus. For instance, it has also been reported that Juanita Broaddrick is traveling to the Capitol to headline a rally in support of Judge Kavanaugh and try to attend today’s hearing, so…

Updated at 9:58 AM EDT

Here’s Dr. Blasey’s opening statement that was released/submitted last night.

And here’s Judge Kavanaugh’s.

Open thread!



What to Watch for in the US Senate Over the Next Several Days

With the new allegations brought forth by Michael Avenatti, as well as the reporting that the President is taking over the public relations regarding his nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, including an announced 5 PM press conference/statement/availability, the real action will be within the Republican majority caucus in the Senate. Specifically all the attention needs to be on Senator McConnell.

The Senate majority leader is not particularly popular within his own caucus. He’s a top down, micromanager who tries to control everything. This includes the committees. The GOP committee chairs in the Senate are, in many ways, just figureheads. Right now every reporter is scrambling to get answers from Senator Grassley, who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, about what is going to happen. And while he or his office will eventually provide some, they aren’t really Grassley’s answers. They’re McConnell’s. Senator Grassley is just the face of the GOP majority on the committee, McConnell is really calling the shots.

Senator McConnell is almost the truest example of a natural fascist in American politics and public life today. His guiding principle that might makes right is the distilled essence of totalitarianism and was a hallmark of Mussollini’s fascism (national-syndicalism), as well as part of the bastardization of Nietzche’s philosophies adopted and used by the NAZIs. As I wrote back in June:

Senate Majority Leader McConnell isn’t a politician or like any politician who has ever served as Senate Majority or Minority Leader. Rather than view him as a politician, it is more appropriate to understand Senator McConnell as an insurgent, albeit a non-violent one. He recognizes no legitimacy but his own. When out of power he’ll do whatever is necessary using asymmetric, irregular, and/or unconventional means to achieve power. And once he achieves power he will do whatever he can to achieve his objectives to consolidate his gains as quickly as possible using any means necessary as he believes his actions are self justifying – that his achievement of power justifies his by any means necessary strategy. This is, by the way, the basic argument of the premier Italian fascist (national-syndicalist) theorist Sergio Panunzio, who delineated the fascist theories for the use of political violence and low intensity warfare in the 1920s. As a result, there is no law, rule, tradition, norm, ethic, promise, and/or deal he won’t violate or renege on. This also makes him an unreliable interlocutor and makes it impossible to negotiate with him in good faith as he doesn’t believe in good faith negotiations.

Senator McConnell doesn’t do anything in good faith. The last thing that Senator McConnell wants is to lose control of the Senate. Whether now because of the defections of a pair of his retiring members using it as leverage to achieve their own objectives or in the mid terms because enough voters want a check on the President to override the partisan Republican advantage in this senatorial election cycle. It is why he’s ground everything in the chamber other than handling nominations, specifically judicial nominations, to a halt. It is why he doesn’t want to do the legally required annual budgetary resolution so he can avoid having his members take tough votes before the midterms. And it is why he’s cancelled most of the August recess under the pretense that it is the only way he can move judicial nominees because of what he alleges is Democratic obstruction. Nominations that only exist because he prevented President Obama from seating almost any judicial nominees during his final two years in office. The Democratic minority has no tools to stop these nominations, regardless of what Senator McConnell says because Senator McConnell in conjunction with Senator Grassley has gotten rid of the blue slip rule and refuses to recognize Democratic senators holds on nominees. Senator McConnell’s cancellation of the August recess is really just a thinly veiled attempt to keep incumbent Democratic senators up for reelection off the campaign trail. Every Senate rule, tradition, norm, ethic, and even law (Congressional Budget Act) has been bent or stretched to breaking or just outright ignored by Senator McConnell in his quest to consolidate his power and achieve his revanchist and reactionary objectives. As an insurgent, albeit a non-violent one, Senator McConnell only understands and recognizes the application of leverage and force.

If you want to know how the Senate is going to respond to these recent allegations, or specifically how the Senate’s GOP majority is going to respond, watch Senator McConnell. He is the only Republican senator that matters.

Open thread.



The President Had Quite the Morning at the UN

The President’s speech to the UN General Assembly this morning was basically a modified rally speech. He started off with his usual vigorous patting himself on the back, which was received well…

So that went well. But as the speech went on, it went someplace weird. And not just weird, but obscurely weird.

We already know that globalism is the code that Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon use to refer to not just the current global system of international trade, international relations, and international security agreements, but to Jews. It is intended to be understood, if I may, literally by the majority of people who aren’t anti-Semites or anti-Semitic curious and figuratively by the President’s supporters who are. But what is this Doctrine of Patriotism? The Doctrine of Patriotism was proposed by Charles Spurgeon a mid to late 19th Century Calvinist Baptist from London.

Specifically, Spurgeon wrote (emphasis mine):

Patriotism is an instinct which is found, I think, in every true Englishman. And most of the other nations of the earth can also boast of their patriots. Let it never be said that the Church of God has no feeling of patriotism for the Holy City, for the Heavenly Land and for her glorious King enthroned above. To us, Christian patriotism means love to the Church of God, for—

“There our best friends, our kindred dwell, There God our Savior reigns.”

Let us have loyalty, by all means, but, chiefly, loyalty to Christ! Let us have true patriotism, but, especially that patriotism which consists in love to “the land of the living” of which Christ is the one King and Ruler.

So here too we have the President using a phrase that is going to either just get a “hmm, that sounds a bit odd” or “what does he mean by that” from most listeners, including scholars of international relations and security and national security professionals and that is going to be heard and understood differently by a very specific group of the President’s base: white Evangelical Christians. Moreover, this concept dovetails with a lot of Putin’s attempts to use and leverage the Russian Orthodox Church to promote himself to white American Evangelicals, as well as a variety of American and European white supremacists, neo-NAZIs, neo-fascists, and neo-nationalists. The President’s use of the doctrine of patriotism, like his use of the term globalist, is meant to be taken figuratively by his base and fellow travelers, but literally by everyone else who doesn’t speak in this coded jargon.

Aside from the fact that realism can’t really be principled by its very nature, neither of these two things – principled realism and the doctrine of patriotism – are actually the Trump Doctrine. The Trump Doctrine, as we’ve discussed here extensively, is “I will be treated fairly or else and only I can ensure that America will be treated fairly or else and only I can ensure that the forgotten men and women of America will be treated fairly or else.”

I’m sure tomorrow’s UN Security Council meeting is going to go very smoothly…

Open thread.



There’s A Pony In There!

You might think that this morning’s shitshow had no redeeming qualities. I found one.

It appears that the Democrats actually have a plan if Robert Mueller is fired. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware was willing to go on the record.

Almost immediately, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer would consult with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, while Democrats would demand a floor vote on a bill retroactively protecting Mueller and protecting his materials. In both the Senate and House, rank-and-file Democrats would contact a list of sympathetic Republicans who have signaled privately that they’d be willing to act should Trump pull the trigger.

And in cities across the country, rallies would be hastily scheduled for 5 p.m., if Mueller is fired before 2 p.m. on any given day. If he’s fired in the late afternoon or evening, the protests would be set for noon the following day.

The Democratic group MoveOn.org has been organizing 933 such rallies, with locations picked out and sponsors enlisted to handle logistics. The list includes rallies in big cities like Los Angeles, along with protests in more remote areas, such as the federal buildings in Bismarck, North Dakota, and Hilo, Hawaii.

Sounds like Lucy and the football, but

Coons predicted that “within minutes” of a Mueller firing, dozens of Republicans would either voice opposition publicly or phone the president or his chief of staff to register their objection privately. But he acknowledged that many Republicans have been coy, refusing to say even behind closed doors what actions they’d be willing to take.

Here’s the MoveOn page for demonstrations. Put your zip code in and find out if one is planned for your area.

Paul Waldman is sanguine that Mueller will prevail.

And given how meticulous they’ve been, it would be a shock if Mueller and his team haven’t prepared for the eventuality of being shut down. Perhaps they’ve kept a running, frequently updated report outlining everything they’ve found, a report that would one way or another find its way to the public. I’m guessing that if Democrats take over the House in November as everyone expects, they’ll use their power to subpoena documents and witnesses to do everything they can to bring the information assembled by the Mueller team to light.



Not So Vast, Largely Conducted Out in the Open, Right Wing Conspiracy: Senate Judiciary Committee Edition

This is Garrett Ventry:

(Image taken from Ventry’s twitter feed)

Garrett’s been a very naughty man…

At 4:39 PM on on Thursday 20 September 2018, Ventry in his capacity as the spokesperson/communications advisor for Senator Grassley’s and the GOP majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee for the Kavanaugh nomination tweeted the following:

There’s only one problem with this. As reported yesterday, Ed Whelan was coordinating with CRC Public Relations on his insane an attempt to exonerate Kavanaugh by implicating Kavanaugh’s classmate via tweetstorm. Do you know who worked for CRC Public Relations while Whelan was coordinating with them about committing a gross, public stupidity? Garrett Ventry. And do you know why CRC Public Relations sent him to work for Grassley to help shepherd the Kavanaugh nomination through? Because Leonard Leo, who controls the Federalist Society, as well as several related organizations like the Judicial Crisis Network through an opaque and largely unknown financing network, and who is a good friend of Ed Whelan’s – another senior Federalist Society member – asked CRC to send Ventry to work for Grassley on this.

But wait, there’s more!!!! Apparently among Ventry’s personal preferences was one for sexually mistreating women.

WASHINGTON — A press adviser helping lead the Senate Judiciary Committee’s response to a sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has stepped down amid evidence he was fired from a previous political job in part because of a sexual harassment allegation against him.

Garrett Ventry, 29, who served as a communications aide to the committee chaired by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, had been helping coordinate the majority party’s messaging in the wake of Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago at a high school party. In a response to NBC News, Ventry denied any past “allegations of misconduct.”

After NBC News raised questions about Ventry’s employment history and the sexual harassment allegation against him, Judiciary Committee Spokesman Taylor Foy replied in a statement: “While (Ventry) strongly denies allegations of wrongdoing, he decided to resign to avoid causing any distraction from the work of the committee.”

And if anyone was still wondering how Whelan got Ford’s name, apparently someone he was in contact at the White House (most likely rhymes with Shill Bine or Mon DcGahn) gave it to him.

If you’re going to conspire to do something dodgy, you should really establish a set of best practices so what you’re doing isn’t 1) SO FUCKING OBVIOUS!!!! and 2) easily detectable by anyone who can trace a simple set of social and professional connections.

Who knew that when Andrew Breitbart, who, like Antonin Scalia, is still dead – unlike Paul Manafort and Mariia Butina who are just still in jail, but will one day die in prison from old age – was caught on video screaming “STOP RAPING PEOPLE!!!!” over and over he was speaking to conservative legal and judicial professional?

Open thread!



Personal Security Arrangements

This morning, in the lees of my post about how the Senate GOP majority is likely to misplay their hand in regard to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford*, commenter dimmsdale asked the following question:

Adam, if you know, Id be curious to get an expert’s view of the kind of protection she should have. Thinking the sort of services Gavin DeBecker offers. do I have that right?

I’m generally familiar with DeBecker’s work, but cannot comment on exactly what his firm does as I’ve no first hand experience with it or him. I do hold a personal security and close quarters combatives tactical certification from a training course I took when I was in graduate school back in 1994. I took the course from one of DeBecker’s competitors. Other than working as one of the lead bouncers (coolers) at a large entertainment venue/nightclub for a few years in grad school, I have never actually been employed to do this type of work. I had the opportunity to take the course, decided it would be an interesting adjunct to martial arts training, and the added bonus was that British Special Operations legend Lofty Wiseman was one of the instructors!

Over the summer, I was contacted by one of our readers asking what I recommended for a friend who needed personal security protection due to an ongoing set of legal issues. My sanitized (references to location, person, etc.) recommendations are below as an answer to dimmsdale’s question.

  1.  I’m not sure I still have enough details, so keep that in mind when reading the following.
  2. The first thing your friend’s attorney needs to do is contact the local police and get something documented on the record about: a) the harassment that’s already happened and b) the general concern for your friend’s safety. This may include needing to request a restraining order/order of protection.
  3. If your friend and her attorneys are seriously concerned, then professionals need to be hired. Have the attorneys check to see if they can hire local law enforcement off duty to a) stay with your friend and park their cruisers in her driveway while doing so and b) serve as a personal security detail.
  4. If local law enforcement where you’re at doesn’t do this, then the attorneys need to ask for increased police patrols in her neighborhood and at her place of work.
  5. If local law enforcement where you’re at doesn’t do this, then the attorneys need to hire professionals who work in work in your state. Usually these will be private investigators/private security professionals licensed to work in your states and often these folks are retired law enforcement, military, and/or intelligence personnel. They should be licensed, bonded, and insured. If the latter is not the case, then your friend’s attorney will need to ascertain the liability insurance that will be need to be purchased, and then purchased, in order to legally protect whomever you’ve hired to provide personal security.
  6. If they’re targeting your friend, change her appearance. If she’s got long hair, cut it short. If she’s got short hair, change the style and start letting it grow out or get a good wig. If she’s blonde, die it a dark color. If she’s brunette or has black hair, dye it blonde. If she’s conservative, style it provocatively and die it hot pink, purple, and green. If she likes to dress casual – jeans,  t-shirts, button down shirts, pullovers, – put her in bonnets, sundresses, and sandals. If she likes to wear skirts and dresses, put her in jeans, boots, and button down shirts. If she dresses professionally, dress her casually, if she dresses casually, dress her professionally. Basically make it harder to quickly identifier on the street, in a restaurant or store, or in a crowd. The same suggestions apply to men using appropriate male attire.
  7. Get a dog and put it in her house as an early warning system. And make sure it isn’t unattended outside as pros, or knuckleheads who think they are, will try to bait and either sedate or bait and kill the dog to get it out of the way.
  8. If she doesn’t have it already, order a decent home surveillance camera system and have it installed. Something that uploads to the cloud and streams to her phone and her attorneys’ phones.
  9. If they’ve got a good target on her car, get her a different car with different tags.
  10. If possible, just get her out of town to some place safe where she can be protected. Or relocate her in town. Some place with limited access and clear sight lines with people she can trust. Don’t just stash her at a hotel or B&B.
  11. If you all are this worried about her security, don’t try to DIY this. Have it all done properly and professionally. Have the attorneys document everything they felt had to be done, have her and the attorneys and whichever professionals are hired document anything that might be suspicious or a concern, no matter how slight or coincidental or seemingly explainable.
  12. If she has a firearm: a) ascertain if she actually believes she can use it if she has to, b) ascertain if she’s got the training to do so under stress, c) and then it has to be on her person at all times. Home carry, bathroom carry, shower carry (make sure to protect against rust), on the nightstand when she sleeps, carry outside the home to work, the store, church, etc. Anywhere she can legally have it and carry it would need to be carried. And it has to be on body carry. No purse carry. No trunk or glove box carry. On the body where it can be unlimbered and brought to bear on target quickly and effectively. If she doesn’t really believe she could use it and/or is uncomfortable carrying it everywhere then it either needs to go into a proper safe and stay there for the duration or given to a friend who’s not involved in any of this mess for safekeeping. Otherwise it’ll be taken from her and used against her. Same thing if she’s got a “front closet” shotgun or rifle. It’s either always within arm’s reach when at home or it’s secured in a safe. She can’t be in the bedroom sleeping and the shotgun is in the front hallway closet where she can’t get to it.
  13. If you’re going to hire professionals, defer to their judgement on whether your friend should be armed.

Updated at 11:46 PM EDT

14. Turn off the geolocation on your devices and social media so you can’t be tracked through using your various social media accounts or through your fitness monitoring device.

15. There are two options for what to do about online/social media. Either shut and lock everything down and go completely dark, or lock everything down as much as possible security wise, but continue to use it to give the impression that nothing out of the ordinary is going on.

Also, Anne Laurie sent this along from the ACLU:

If the #MeToo movement had caught on in 1997, the many people coming forward would still have had to worry about getting sued, in addition to the myriad other consequences of challenging their harassers. But because it caught on in 2017, they also have to worry about getting hacked and being subject to mass online attacks, trolling, and other forms of harassment that can unfortunately be the cost of speaking out.

I’m a technologist with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology team, but outside of my day job, I’ve been working for the better part of a decade with people — mostly, but not all, women — who have been targeted online. I’ve also been a sexual-misconduct whistleblower myself, so I know the personal cost of speaking out. People often feel powerless in the face of unknown threats from the internet, but there’s a lot that whistleblowers can do to stay safe while coming forward.

The digital defense tips below are for individuals. They address threats against specific people, not the systemic problem of harassment. There’s an important conversation happening about how institutions — from universities to software platforms to law enforcement — handle online threats. In the meantime, though, these are some concrete things that individuals can do to feel a little safer about speaking out and confronting power.

Much more at the link!

I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH that you want professionals involved if you are seriously concerned for her safety and well being!!!!! And I can’t stress enough that these discussions should be had with her attorneys and between them and local law enforcement and then whichever professionals are hired.

In the case of Dr. Blasey’s, there are a couple of other items to be considered. The first is that because a lot of the threats that have been made have been made online, and because her email has been hacked and she’s been impersonated online and in social media, her attorney needs to get the local FBI Field Office and the state police/state bureau of investigation involved. The former will also, partially, get around the White House’s refusal to ask the FBI to do a supplementary background check regarding her allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. The second, as I stated in item #11 in the list of suggestions above, is that Dr. Ford, her family, and her attorney should not try to establish their security as a DIY project. Given the political moment we’re living in, this is not the time to wing it. Unfortunately one of the prices of Dr. Blasey’s courage in coming forward is that her life as she and her family know it is now over.

 

* There was a robust discussion in the comments last night as to whether it is Dr. Blasey, Dr. Ford, or Dr. Blasey Ford. My understanding from the reporting is that she uses Blasey as her professional surname and Ford, which is her married name, as her personal surname. I’m using Dr. Blasey because unless/until it is otherwise reported, this is how she wishes to be professionally known.



The GOP Senate Leadership Is Not Going to Avoid Trapping Themselves In Regard To Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

In the comments to BettyC’s thread about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation I made the following statement  (emphasis mine):

And before anyone asks, yes, I too believe her. She had nothing to gain and everything to lose, including her life given the political moment we’re living in, to come forward about this.

The New York Times has reported (emphasis mine):

In the letter to the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday evening, Dr. Blasey’s lawyers said that she has been the target of “vicious harassment and even death threats” since her name was made public on Sunday in an interview published in The Washington Post. Her email has been hacked, she has been impersonated online and she and her family have been forced to relocate out of their home, according to the lawyers, Ms. Banks and her partner, Debra S. Katz.

Josh Marshall highlighted a converging of Republican senatorial talking points, including by Senator Collins.

But I want to note what appears to be clearly a unified strategy among Republican Senators to put the onus on Professor Ford personally and blame her if the hearing doesn’t happen. They’ve unilaterally announced a process and are now arguing that Ford is at fault if she doesn’t agree. Look at the specific wording.

Read these quotes, which clearly come from a pre-arranged agreement.

Mitch McConnell said Ford will have “the opportunity to be heard.”

Sen. Grassley’s spokesperson: “Our staff reached out to Dr. Ford’s lawyer with multiple emails yesterday to schedule a similar call and inform her of the upcoming hearing, where she will have the opportunity to share her story with the Committee. Her lawyer has not yet responded.”

Sens Collins and Cornyn are referring to Ford’s non-response so far.

Sen. Collins: “That’s very puzzling to me…I really hope that she doesn’t pass up that opportunity.”

Sen. Cornyn: “That’s pretty telling, she hasn’t responded to the committee’s normal processes and we don’t know if she’s coming or not but this is her chance. This is her one chance. We hope she does.”