Kavanaught Open Thread: Red Red Wine, Rich White Whine

The Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute June 11, 1988 at Wembley Stadium

 


From the Bloomberg article:

Kavanaugh first cursed at the man. After the man responded in kind, Kavanaugh threw a beer in his face, said Charles Ludington, a former Yale basketball player who’s now a history professor at North Carolina State University. The act precipitated a brawl that drew in their other friend — Yale basketball star and future NBA player Chris Dudley — and eventually prompted a call to police.

Kavanaugh was frequently “belligerent and aggressive” after drinking and had lied to senators about his experience with alcohol, Ludington said in a statement released to the news media Sunday. The barroom fisticuffs were the most searing example of Kavanaugh’s behavior he remembers, Ludington said in an interview with Bloomberg News, where he expanded on his statement for the first time…

The White House had no immediate comment when asked about Ludington’s account, instead referring a reporter to statements issued earlier by Dudley and another classmate attesting to Kavanaugh’s character…

President Donald Trump said Kavanaugh’s testimony last week showed that his second Supreme Court nominee had “a little bit of difficulty” with alcohol when he was younger.

“I was surprised at how vocal he was about the fact that he likes beer and he’s had a little bit of difficulty, I mean, he talked about things that happened when he drank,” Trump during a Rose Garden press conference Monday….

Further detail at the link.



Russiagate Thread: Saudi Arabia, Putin’s Russia, ‘West Michigan’ — All Oligarchies Together!

Per the Daily Beast:

Joint U.S.-Russian raids to kill top terrorists. Teamwork between an American government agency and a sanctioned Russian fund. Moscow pouring money into the Midwest.

These are just a few of the ideas the head of a Russian sovereign wealth fund touched on during his meeting with former Blackwater head Erik Prince in the Seychelles, just weeks before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, according to a memo exclusively reviewed by The Daily Beast.

The meeting between Prince, an influential Trump ally, and Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the sanctioned fund, took place on Jan. 11, 2017, at the Four Seasons Hotel in a bar overlooking the Indian Ocean. George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who advises the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, was also present…

Since Prince’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Mueller’s team has received information that the meeting was a pre-organized effort to set up a backchannel between the Trump administration and the Kremlin, according to The Washington Post.

Still, the exact details of the conversation between Prince and Dmitriev in the Seychelles have remained murky. But a memo Dmitriev sent after the meeting—described here for the first time—sheds new light on the conversation and indicates it addressed some of the thorniest diplomatic challenges facing the United States and Russia…

My old friends from the Grand Rapids area treated the deVos-Prince oligarchy as second only to Michigan mosquitoes on the list of local pests that could be withstood but never completely avoided. Sam Tannenhaus’ Vanity Fair article helps explain why. ““I’m Tired of America Wasting Our Blood and Treasure”: The Strange Ascent of Betsy DeVos and Erik Prince”:

In the solar system of elite Republican contributors, Richard DeVos Sr., who died [in early September] at age 92—one of the two founders of Amway, the direct-sale colossus—occupied an exalted place, and his offspring did too. Since the 1970s, members of the DeVos family had given as much as $200 million to the G.O.P. and been tireless promoters of the modern conservative movement—its ideas, its policies, and its crusades combining free-market economics, a push for privatization of many government functions, and Christian social values. While other far-right mega-donors may have become better known over the years (the Coorses and the Kochs, Sheldon Adelson and the Mercers), Michigan’s DeVos dynasty stands apart—for the duration, range, and depth of its influence.

Start with the think tanks, advocacy organizations, and colleges. In the Grand Rapids area alone there are three conservative academic bastions: Grand Valley State University; Calvin College, attended by several generations of DeVoses, including Rich’s daughter-in-law Betsy DeVos, 60, who is now Trump’s secretary of education; and Northwood University, her husband Dick’s alma mater. The DeVoses are also major backers of Hillsdale, the libertarian-plus-Christian liberal-arts college in southern Michigan. One celebrated alum: Betsy DeVos’s brother, Erik Prince, 49, the swashbuckling military contractor who has come to the serious attention of investigators looking into the Trump team’s alleged dealings with Russia. Other recipients of DeVos largesse: the Heritage Foundation, the Institute for Justice, and the American Enterprise Institute—the list goes on…
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GOP Misogyny Open Thread: “A Female Assistant”

Shorter McConnell: We are powerful white men, and when we make a mess, it is our right to demand that a woman come in and clean up after us. Per the Washington Post:

Republican senators have selected Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to question Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh and the woman who has accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, a top senator announced Tuesday.

Mitchell is the chief of the special victims division of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, which deals with sexual assault cases, among others. A registered Republican, Mitchell has worked for in the county attorney’s office for 26 years.

In enlisting Mitchell to join their staff, Republican senators are taking an unusual step. They are turning to her to ask what are expected to be personal and potentially painful questions about the woman’s youth on live television, sparing the all-male panel of 11 Republican senators on the committee some uncomfortable exchanges that could sway the public’s opinion about the session…

The division Mitchell heads deals with family violence, physical and sexual abuse of children, and sex offenses, including sex assault cases. Mitchell oversees about 40 to 50 people in the division, said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

Mitchell has a long history of investigating years-old sex crimes and allegations that are difficult to corroborate, including in her role re-examining hundreds of cases that were unresolved and inadequately investigated by the sheriff’s office, Montgomery said.

“Over the course of Rachel’s career, she has dealt with victims in this very circumstance of delayed disclosure and circumstances where allegations were difficult to corroborate,” Montgomery said. “She has had to make a decision as a prosecutor whether or not those cases can move forward.”…


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Our Failed Legacy Media Open Thread: Infinite, Fractal, Recursive Fvckup-ery!

Fortunately, the attempt to defenestrate Rod Rosenstein seems to be going nowhere — for the moment. But what in the name of Murphy the Trickster God could the NYTimesmen responsible for starting this rumor have been thinking?


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Interesting Sunday Read: Something About Bob (Woodward)


 
Olivia Nuzzi, professional journalist-assassin, sizes up Bob Woodward, professional journalist-legbreaker, in NYMag“Bob Woodward on the ‘Best Obtainable Version of the Truth’ About Trump”.

IMO, she did a really good job of getting past the old man’s practiced patter and demonstrating just how cozy the Beltway Media Village expected to be with this season’s Temporary Oval Office Occupants, whether or not that warmth is reciprocated — or deserved:

Entering the author’s home required walking past a stack of the books on the floor. It’s a warm and colorful place, full of eye-catching paintings and, at this particular moment, lots of people and one medium-size dog. Woodward introduced me to his wife, the journalist Elsa Walsh, and then ushered me into a dining room. Over the course of 50 minutes, we discussed his philosophy and methods. But first, my tape recorder malfunctioned in front of America’s most famous journalist…

Nuzzi: I am but a humble newbie, visiting the Great Master…

I wanted to talk to you about how you decide who is credible. It is difficult for me, sometimes, to determine who is credible, even at the most senior levels of the administration at this White House. Mostly at the most senior levels in some ways.
Particularly if it is on the record and public. It is kind of a press release.

I agree to a large extent. But I am curious how you decide who is credible. Because somebody like Rob Porter, he is obviously very present in this book. I won’t guess about your sourcing. There is a lot to suggest that his character is — there is a fundamental flaw there.
In what way?

Well, by some personal accounts he is a very flawed human being. He is allegedly abusive. There is a lot to call into question his honesty.
Say that again.

There is a lot to suggest that he may not be an honest individual, right? So why do you decide to trust somebody like that?
Well, I am not going into the sourcing but there are — you test it with other people and documents and notes and it makes a big difference when somebody tells you something and you get your hand on the document itself. So because I had the luxury of time, of essentially two years to work on this, not quite, even. Ever since Trump was elected you can cross-check and see…

Woodward: I review theatrical performances on the world’s most important stage. Why should anyone expect me to take an interest in the actors’ personal hobbies?

In a review, Isaac Chotiner at Slate asked if you were perhaps the last optimist.
Really? I have not seen this.

He had a lot of criticisms of the book and one of them is there is this sort of view, a bias towards the people who cooperated, and they are presented in an almost heroic way.
But see, he does not know that. No one knows that except for myself and my assistant Evelyn.

Do you think that is true?
I know it is true.
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Late Night Luddite Open Thread: But Those Musk-y Pheromones!

Of all the striking things about the interview with Elon Musk The New York Times published Thursday night—the tears, the lack of regrets over certain tweets, the fact that rapper Azealia Banks may somehow be part of Tesla’s financial future—was Musk’s claim that he’d be ready to abandon his role as Tesla CEO and chairman…

… But there’s no replacing Elon Musk. Because the man is not just a CEO. To many, the man is a legend.

Start with the tale of Tesla. When the company launched in 2003, car salesmen were stocking up on the 12-mpg Hummer H2. The most popular battery-powered vehicles were golf carts. The American auto industry is famously brutal to newcomers, and the idea of one succeeding with electric vehicles racked up the lolz. For years, skeptics waited to bury Tesla alongside Tucker, DeLorean, Fisker. Musk defied them. He made electric cars capable (and sort of self-driving). He made them easy to charge (on an infrastructure he built). But most importantly, he made them desirable. Owning a Tesla became a status symbol; about 400,000 people are on a waiting list to own the Model 3. The entire venture proved you didn’t have to be GM or Ford or Chrysler to make cars in America. And you didn’t have to be BMW or Mercedes or Lexus to make luxury cars appealing to Americans.

Simultaneously, Musk was running SpaceX. Under his leadership, the commercial space company defied entrenched aviation giants like Boeing by breaking into the rocket science business. Musk promised to colonize Mars. As his side hustles, he wished a hyperloop industry into creation, dabbled in artificial intelligence, and won a contract to dig tunnels under Chicago.

And all along the way, much of the world cheered him on. Musk graced magazine covers. He inspired songs. He went on talk shows, appeared on The Simpsons and South Park, made Page Six headlines. Sure, he had a sizable ego (who wouldn’t?) and habit of belittling those who doubted or opposed him (haters!), but the public largely forgave him these minor transgressions given his major skills in proposing big, bold ideas, and delivering on them.

But over the past year, this goodwill has started to fade…

The pressure to perform has eased, but its effects, it seems, endure. Musk cares deeply about what people think of him and his companies. His harsh reactions to negative press often beget more of the same, a surely unsettling shift from the years of mostly adoring coverage he received, of the publicly validated self-worth he must have come to expect. And while he retains a loyal army of Twitter followers, his mantle as a Renaissance Superman, gifted by an enthralled public—and media—is slipping…


 
Yes, I find PayPal very useful too, but I’m beginning to suspect Elon Musk’s unique genius is… well… Look, some of the greatest minds of the ancient world spent their lives working out Ptolemaic planetary regression charts. And that was perfectly respectable! Their work is still used by modern astrologers; modern astronomers, not so much.

Honest questions: Have I missed something technologically significant? All this showmanship around SpaceX and ‘hyperloops’ — is it just a fun way of boosting the sales of high-end branded electric cars?



GOP Criminality Open Thread: Trump Suddenly Very Interested in Prosecutorial Reform…


(One of the Law & Order series? Or does Fox News show Matlock re-runs?)


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