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Associate Rapey Justice Kavanaugh?

So, even though we’ve been properly busy dealing with the fact the Carolinas are washing out to sea and Manafort is doing his best canary impression, there has been yet more news out there that needs some appellate Jackal review.

Brett Kavanaugh, it seems, has some “boys will be boys” ‘splaining to do:

A secretive letter shared with senators and federal investigators by the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee charges that a teenage Brett M. Kavanaugh and a male friend trapped a teenage girl in a bedroom during a party and tried to assault her, according to three people familiar with the contents of the letter.

The letter says that Mr. Kavanaugh, then a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in suburban Washington and now President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, had been drinking at a social gathering when he and the male friend took the teenage girl into a bedroom. The door was locked, and she was thrown onto the bed. Mr. Kavanaugh then got on top of the teenager and put a hand over her mouth, as the music was turned up, according to the account.

This would have been roughly thirty five years ago (Kavanaugh is 53), and it would seem a hard charge to substantiate. And yet Kavanaugh and his GOP allies are clearly running scared.  There is a letter signed by sixty five women who were high school contemporaries with Kavanaugh (not “classmates” as GOPsters have said, and some outlets report — Kavanaugh went to an all-male school).  The letter basically says that the young right-wing thug-to-be was a prince of a young fellow.

Here’s the odd bit, though:  how do you find sixty five women who knew Kavanaugh as a kid back in the eighties and would be willing to vouch for him? Grassley’s office says this was all organized by the nominees former clerks, starting at five last night. You weigh the odds that this is bullshit.  For me, it seems very clear that the GOP has known this might drop and has been prepping for it for some time.  Recall that Senator Hirono asked Kavanaugh about any sexual harassment claims made against him as a legal adult — as in out of high school. The framing of that question looks interesting now.  It also suggests that some noise around this potential obstacle to Kavanaugh’s nomination was already buzzing. The GOP knew; can’t prove it (yet) but I’d be stunned if they didn’t.

Similarly, the “male friend” referenced above and has tried to give his wing man some cover. Steve M. over at No More Mister Nice Guy gives the necessary background on this mook:

Judge is identified as “a writer in Washington, D.C.” But Judge is not just any writer. As Elon Green notes on Twitter, he wrote a notorious (and implausible) 2012 Daily Caller piece titled “The End of My White Guilt.” In it, he says his bicycle was stolen in a predominantly black D.C. neighborhood, after which he was infuriated when “a liberal friend” told him not to pursue the thief. “That person needs our prayers and help,” the friend said, according to Judge. “They haven’t had the advantages we have.” Result: “My white guilt died.” [all links in the original]

Judge doesn’t write about sex on a regular basis, but when he does, it’s clear he’s part of the “Help! Help! I’m Being Repressed!” school of conservative punditry.

[Go read the whole thing; the good stuff — as in the repulsive bits — are all there.]

So here’s the deal: there is an uncorroborated accusation against Judge Kavanaugh that claims he was a high school attempted-rapist. There is a very rapid circling of the wagons. Senator Collins is getting increasingly testy about people who harsh her mellow about voting for a perjurious goniff who has made it clear in all kinds of ways he’s going to vote down Roe v. Wade.  Most of his paper record is still chucked down the memory hole. There may be, and I certainly hope there will be more shoes to drop.  And Grassley’s determined to hold a committee vote next Thursday.

All of which allows me to begin to think there’s a non-zero chance Kavanaugh might crash and burn.  It’s not odds-on yet, not by any means, but this confirmation process has been a shitstorm from day one.  I’m even just starting to believe that even if Kavanaugh gets onto the court he might not last long there.  That paper trail is not going to stay hidden forever — and if this attempted rape account proves to be true (and I have no reason to doubt it), well…one thing’s become clear over the last several years.  When a guy twists this way, most often, it’s never just one woman to be treated as prey.

We live in waaaaaay too interesting times.  And the Republicans are, once again, shown to be waaaaaay more interested in power, and the immediate win, than doing even the minimally right thing (which in this case would be swapping out a non-rapey reliable right wing vote for the rapey one).

Have at it, fellow jackals!

Image: Giuseppe Crespi, Tarquin and Lucretiac. 1695-1700



Manafort pleading

As Josh Marshall notes, a plea right now is a favor to Trump as it keeps the FARA for the Pro-Russian plutocrats out of the October news cycle.

Open thread.



Russiagate Open Thread: Late Friday News Drop…

Judge Ellis let the Manafort jurors go home at 5pm, because one of them had an evening engagement…


 
Meanwhile, looks like this is the next guy up:

The Justice Department is investigating whether longtime Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy sought to sell his influence with the Trump administration by offering to deliver U.S. government actions for foreign officials in exchange for tens of millions of dollars, according to three people familiar with the probe.

As part of the investigation, prosecutors are scrutinizing a plan that Broidy allegedly developed to try to persuade the Trump government to extradite a Chinese dissident back to his home country, a move sought by Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to two of the people.

They are also investigating claims that Broidy sought $75 million from a Malaysian business official if the Justice Department ended its investigation of a development fund run by the Malaysian government. The Malaysian probe has examined the role of the former prime minister in the embezzlement of billions of dollars from the fund…

As part of their efforts, prosecutors have subpoenaed casino magnate Steve Wynn, the former RNC finance chairman and longtime Trump friend, for copies of records and communications related to Broidy.

An attorney for Wynn, Reid Weingarten, declined to comment, saying only that Wynn is cooperating with the Justice Department.

“Steve Wynn is completely cooperating with the investigation and he certainly has no reason to believe that anyone acted improperly in anything he knew about or was involved in,” Weingarten said in a statement…

Yes, these links have been reported before (read the whole thing!), but if the Justice Department is officially looking into the details of transactions between high-ranking Chinese officials, Malaysian businessmen with grift-friendly reputations, and big-time American casino operators looking to set up business in Hong Kong / Singapore / Shanghai… things are about to get UUUUUUGHHLY.

(And that’s not even considering the Saudi finance connection, FWIW.)



Repub Venality Open Thread: Willing Patsies for Putin

Once-proud Republican, hardcore conservative Nichols:

If we can’t prevent these GOP traitors from selling us all out to the highest bidder, we can at least point out exactly how cheaply they can be bought…

Republican lawmakers who went to Russia seeking a thaw in relations received an icy reception from Democrats and Kremlin watchers for spending the Fourth of July in a country that interfered in the U.S. presidential election and continues to deny it.

“Cannot believe GOP, once the party that stood strong against Soviets & only a decade ago sought to democratize the Middle East, is now surrendering so foolishly to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the Kremlin’s kleptocracy — only two years ­after Russia interfered in U.S. election,” tweeted Clint Watts, an information warfare specialist at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and frequent featured expert before congressional panels examining Russian influence operations…

Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) led the eight-member delegation on a multiday tour of St. Petersburg and Moscow, a trip that included meetings with Russia’s foreign minister and parliamentarians. It did not include a session that senators had been hoping for: a meeting with Putin, whom President Trump is scheduled to meet at a summit this month.

Joining Shelby were Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.).

Members of the delegation set off on their trip late last week promising to be tough with Russian officials ahead of the president’s visit, especially on matters of election interference. But they struck a conciliatory tone once there: The point of their visit, Shelby stressed to the Duma leader, was to “strive for a better relationship” with Moscow, not “accuse Russia of this or that or so forth.”…

“We heard things we’d heard before, and I think our guests heard rather clearly and distinctly an answer that they already knew — we don’t interfere in American elections,” said Sergey Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador to the United States and now a member of Russia’s upper house of parliament.

On Russian state television, presenters and guests mocked the U.S. congressional delegation for appearing to put a weak foot forward, noting how the message of tough talk they promised in Washington “changed a bit” by the time they got to Moscow.

“We need to look down at them and say: You came because you needed to, not because we did,” Igor Korotchenko, a Russian military expert, said on a talk show on state-run television.

The congressional GOP’s prominent foreign policy voices have remained quiet about the trip, declining to comment about the visit’s significance….


Read more



GOP Stupid Venality / Venal Stupidity Open Thread: As Above, So Below

Both Steve ‘Pigmuck’ King and Louie ‘Dumbest Dude in Congress’ Gohmert are quite silly enough to have called this hearing out of genuine confusion about Facebook’s filtering protocols, or in sympathy with the “rights” of a couple of African-American Trump supporters to monetize the How-Can-He-Be-A-Racist-When-He-Has-Black-Friends market, if only they’d been able to keep a straight face…

(Spoiler: Diamond & Silk were not “censored”, although it’s an open question whether or not they understand that.)
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Him Too?

Looks like Rear Admiral Doctor Ronny Jackson may have erred in inviting the kind of scrutiny no mere physician to the powerful usually encounters:

Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee are raising concerns about allegations involving Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the department of Veterans Affairs and are reviewing them to determine if they are substantial enough to upend his nomination.

Committee members have been told about allegations related to improper conduct in various stages of his career, two sources said.

No further details are out yet, beyond the characterization that these are “some fairly raw allegations,” as Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) put it.  Pure speculation here, but to my ears this has the ring of #MeToo about it.*

This is clearly not what R. Adm. Jackson anticipated when he too the fatal step of accepting anything from Donald Trump.

No sympathy for him: he did what he did, and he willing chose to pursue a post for which he was clearly ill-placed to fill.   Any sane person would realize the move would bring his conduct under scrutiny.  If bad things are about to rain down on him…well, welcome to the major leagues, son.

But it is also a reminder: Trump diminishes every single person who touches him.

Open Thread.

*Update: It appears it may be workplace issues other than sexual harassment. Memo-to-self: when you don’t know, you don’t know.

Image: Hans Holbein, Henry VIII and the Barber-Surgeons c. 1543 with later alterations.



Just When You Thought They Couldn’t Get Skeevier…

My son, for reasons known best to himself, has taken to watching old Jon Stewart clips, and this morning he was watching a long one, a sit down between Steward and Bill O’Reilly.

Stewart comes off as the smarter, more moral one in the particular bit I saw, but I told my kid I still hated the whole premise.  Stewart was normalizing a monster — even giving him a little bit of his own thoughtfulness as cover.  It wasn’t news back then that O’Reilly was a stone racist and a grotesque boss, a harassing womanizer dragging a tail of NDAs behind him.

But while I watched a true PGO came to me: the GOP obviously has no monopoly on men who are assholes to women, but it does seem to have more than its share, or rather the share you’d expect, given both specific ideology* , and the broader authoritarianism that both depends on and breeds the certainty that to be white and male is to have the right to f**k — and f**k with — the women who are their due.

Hence Porter and Farenthold and Moore and a magazine writer who thinks mere lethal injection is too good for the wanton harlots who choose to have an abortion — and the male-led magazine that thought such views were “provocative” — until it became clear just how provoked the intended gallows-bound (and their friends) had become.  And of course, hence the omphalos of modern Republican moral degeneracy, the Shitgibbon himself.

But I have to say, the latest entrant into the GOP-Sleazebag sweepstakes actually managed to surprise even my jaded self.  Meet Mr. Benjamin Sparks:

A Las Vegas political adviser who worked on national campaigns and high-profile Nevada races sexually enslaved and battered his ex-fiancée before police responded to a domestic dispute, the woman told the Review-Journal.

The 46-year-old woman provided copies of emails, text messages and a signed contract laying out her duties as a “slave in training” to Benjamin Sparks.

Sparks isn’t some small-time local operative.  He was a 2012 Romney spokesperson, and worked for Goggle-Eyed Homunculus Scott Walker during the recall campaign.  And he really, really doesn’t like the idea of female autonomy:

According to emails, documents and text messages obtained by the Review-Journal, Sparks and his ex-fiancée signed a five-page contract stating that she would be his “slave and property.”…

Her specified duties were what you might expect, given that starting point and then escalated to the point of rupture. (Go to the link if you want the details.)

“Slave and property.” Dwell on that phrase.  I’ll wait.

Not All Republicans would be a true statement.  But too much Republican rhetoric, policy and conviction rests on a view of women that taken to pathological extremes, ends with Benjamin Sparks putting down on paper his belief that a woman could be chattel.

There are all kinds of reasons these shandes and goniffs need to get their asses handed to them this November. This is one. A big one.

Open this thread can be.

ETA: Several commenters have pointed out that consensual relations between adults aren’t the problem, and they’re right (as always, IMHO). The issue here for me is the way Sparks took what appears to have been one stage of initial consent and translated that into a one-off permission that gave him the right actually to treat his partner as property.

*Anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-non-discriminatory-treatment in work and society politics that are all underpinned by the conviction that women can’t be allowed to have full agency over their own bodies and their own decisions.

Image: J. Collier, Three grotesque old men with awful teeth pointing and grimacing at each other, 1810. (Via Wellcome Images.)