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Kavanaugh’s Tell: “Revenge on Behalf of the Clintons,” Plural

There’s a part of Brett Kavanaugh’s bombastic statement Thursday that has stuck with me, because it reveals the foundational logic of his statement — indeed, his entire candidacy for a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court.

After complaining about how the nomination has destroyed his family, he accuses a shady, largely fictional, mirror image of the Right Wing Noise Machine of seeking revenge.

This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election. Fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record. Revenge on behalf of the Clintons. and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.

This is a circus. The consequences will extend long past my nomination. The consequences will be with us for decades. This grotesque and coordinated character assassination will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions, from serving our country.

The guy who insisted that–

I am strongly opposed to giving the President any ‘break’ in the questioning regarding the details of the Lewinsky relationship — unless before questioning on Monday, he either (i) resigns or (ii) confesses perjury and issues a public apology to [sexual assault cover-up expert Ken Starr].

That guy thinks the scrutiny of his own sexual past is just “revenge on behalf of the Clintons,” plural. Not just Hillary for — as he explicitly mentions — “President Trump and the 2016 election.” But also Bill Clinton, the man whom Kavanaugh demanded describe details of his use of sex toys and enjoyment of blowjobs under oath, and perhaps even Chelsea, the young girl who had to watch her parents be humiliated before the entire nation.

In spite of Kavanaugh’s suggestion that this imagined campaign would have consequences for decades, his admission that it might be revenge means it must be revenge for something. For something done to the Clintons. Hillary. And Bill.

For a guy who is unashamed about using stolen emails, the notion that he considers this revenge for Hillary is troubling enough. If this is revenge, it is revenge for Hillary being wronged during the 2016 election, and a big part of that wrong was using stolen emails. And Kavanaugh is no more embarrassed about using stolen emails than the guy who appointed him.

Kavanaugh suggests, in the same breath, that Hillary was wronged, but that denying him a seat on the Supreme Court, even for behavior that resembles that wrong, would be an outrage, even if his nomination was due entirely to the fact that she was wronged.

Brett Kavanaugh is not going to quit, no matter if his entire nomination is illegitimate because Hillary was wronged.

Perhaps more plausibly, Kavanaugh’s use of the plural, “Clintons,” suggests he thinks this is revenge for his own actions 20 years ago, his own demand that a man and his family be publicly humiliated.

But, again, if this is revenge, it suggests what happened to Clinton — the insistence that Bill confess under oath to Kavanaugh about cumming into Monica’s mouth — was itself wrong.

And once again, Brett Kavanaugh, the guy whose career was launched by demanding to hear the sordid details of sex under oath, does not care. Kavanaugh does not care that (as David Brock laid out early in this process) he himself “set a perjury trap for Clinton, laying the foundation for a crazed national political crisis and an unjust impeachment over a consensual affair.” He may recognize this as revenge and in so doing acknowledge that it is akin to the coordinated campaign he wrongly assumes is amassed against him, but he does not care that Democrats are (he imagines) adopting his own playbook.

You may defeat me in the final vote, but you’ll never get me to quit. Never.

In using that word “revenge” and imagining that Democrats are exacting revenge for both the Clinton impeachment and the use of corrupt means as a means of winning the 2016 election, Kavanaugh admits that he’s just getting a taste of the medicine he once administered. But his response to that is not to take a step back from the edge of the abyss that he himself created (and imagines himself to be standing on), take a step back with the recognition that he himself is not immune from his own tactics, but instead to complete the next logical step, the adoption of those same measures on the highest court of the land.

Never mind that by imagining credible questions about his past treatment of women is solely about the Clintons strips the agency of the millions of women trying to prevent abusers from again getting promoted in spite of it.

Kavanaugh, wrongly, thinks this is revenge for tactics he pioneered long ago. Having faced those tactics and discovered how painful they are, he has doubled down.

Brett Kavanaugh: “It Depends on What the Meaning of the Phrase ‘Sexual Assault’ Is”

When I was a freshman at Amherst, an older guy denied he had sexually assaulted me because he hadn’t ejaculated. He went on to become a prosecutor, though not one promoted to the Supreme Court.

I was reminded of that detail this morning on Democracy Now. As Amy Goodman and I noted there were two striking aspects of Brett Kavanaugh’s interview with Fox News last night. Many people have noted the way Kavanaugh interrupted his wife, Ashley, when Martha MacCallum asked her whether the FBI should investigate.

I was struck more by how Kavanaugh, who believed Bill Clinton should be impeached because he denied having sex because he had not had vaginal intercourse, denied he had sexually assaulted anyone.

KAVANAUGH: We’re talking about an allegation of sexual assault. I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone. I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years there after. And the girls from the schools I went to and I were friends —

MACCALLUM: So you’re saying that through all these years that are in question, you were a virgin?

KAVANAUGH: That’s correct.

MACCALLUM: Never had sexual intercourse with anyone in high school –

KAVANAUGH: Correct.

MACCALLUM: – and through what years in college since we’re probing into your personally life here?

KAVANAUGH: Many years after. I’ll leave it at that. [my emphasis]

That is, the man who helped impeach Bill Clinton for a blowjob says he couldn’t have sexually assaulted any of the now-four women who allege he did because he remained a virgin through that entire period.

And having defined vaginal intercourse to be necessary in any sexual assault, Kavanaugh kept repeating the term, sexual assault sexual assault sexual assault sexual assault sexual assault sexual assault sexual assault sexual assault, eight times in the interview.

KAVANAUGH: No. I had never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not ever. I’ve always treated women with dignity and respect.

[snip]

KAVANAUGH: Correct. I – I never had any sexual or physical activity with Dr, Ford. I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or otherwise—

MACCALLUM: So, where do you think this is coming from? Why would she make this up?

KAVANAUGH: What I know is the truth. And the truth is, I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or otherwise. I am not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr. Ford at some point in her life was sexually assaulted by someone in some place. But what I know is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or at any time in my life —

[snip]

KAVANAUGH: I have never sexually assaulted anyone. I was not at the party described. [my emphasis]

Either Brett Kavanaugh is, after all these years, admitting he shouldn’t have impeached Bill Clinton.

Or he’s realizing how convenient word games can be when faced with your own past actions.

Bill Clinton Did Not Win an Election By Getting a Blowjob: The Danger of Lindsey Graham’s Willful Ignorance about Russian Interference

In his statement in Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing yesterday, Lindsey Graham embodied the problem with Republicans’ deliberate ignorance about Russian interference in the 2016 election.

As part of his statement, he raised the time Joe Biden pointed out what a hypocrite Brett Kavanaugh was for believing presidents should not be investigated during their term but nevertheless thought it necessary to ask Bill Clinton the following questions:

If Monica Lewinsky says that you inserted a cigar into her vagina while you were in the Oval Office area, would she be lying?

[snip]

If Monica Lewinsky says that she gave you oral sex in the Oval Office area, would she be lying?

If Monica Lewinsky says that you ejaculated in her mouth on two occasions in the Oval Office, would she be lying?

Lindsey did so to suggest Biden’s comments about the Clinton investigation refute the claim that Trump picked Kavanaugh to protect himself from investigation, as if the investigation of Clinton for a blowjob was as legitimate as Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump cheated to win the election.

To justify such an absurd claim, Lindsey suggests that the Mueller investigation is only about whether Trump acted improperly when he fired Comey.

When it comes to the pillar of political virtue, Comey. Harry Reid: “That he’s been a supporter of Comey, and led the fight to get him confirmed, as he believed Comey was a principled public servant. With the deepest regret, I now see that I was wrong.” Mr. Nadler, from NY. “The President can fire him for cause and ought to. He violated the guidelines and put his thumb on the scale of an election.” Mr. Cohen, from Tennessee, a Democrat. “Call on Comey to resign his position, effective immediately, I’m sureupon reflection of this action he will submit his letter of resignation for the nation’s good.” To my Democratic friends,  you were all for getting rid of this guy. Now all of a sudden the country is turning upside down cause Trump did it.

The same guy who recently endorsed the idea of Trump firing Jeff Sessions once Kavanaugh gets confirmed then claimed he would do everything to protect the Mueller investigation. He says that even while suggesting he agrees with Kavanaugh that the president shouldn’t be investigated.

There’s a process to find out what happened in the 2016 election. It’s called Mr. Mueller. And I will do everything I can to make sure he finishes his job without political interference. And I’m here to tell anybody in the country that listens, that this is so hypocritical of my friends on the other side. When it was their President, Kavanaugh was right. When you’re talking about Roe v. Wade, it’s okay to promise the nation it will never be overturned. It’s okay to pick a Democratic staff member of this committee, but it’s not okay to pick somebody who’s been a lifelong Republican.

Which brings us to the stunning bit. Having just misrepresented the scope of the Mueller investigation — completely ignoring that the primary investigation is about whether Trump conspired with a hostile foreign power to win the election — Lindsey then suggests that Democrats should have no influence over judges because they lost the election the legitimacy of which Mueller continues to investigate (and about which Mueller has already provided evidence that the scope of Russia’s help for Trump went further than initially known).

People see through this. You had a chance, and you lost. If you want to pick judges from your way of thinking, then you better win an election.

After discussing his support for Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, Lindsey then suggests that stripping the last limits on presidential power is just a game (even while admitting he likes Trump best of all for getting two SCOTUS picks).

I hope people in the country understand this game. It’s a game that I’m sad to be part of. It’s gotten really bad. The antidote to our problems in this country when it comes to judges and politics is not to deny you a place on the Supreme Court. This is exactly where you need to be, this is exactly the time you need to be there, and I’m telling President Trump, “You do some things that drive me crazy, you do some great things. You have never done anything better, in my view, than to pick Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.  Cause you had an opportunity to put well-qualified conservatives on the court — men steeped in the rule of law — who will apply analysis not politics to their decision-making, and you knocked it out of the park, and I say to my friends on the other side: you can’t lose the election and pick judges.

Lindsey ends, again, by taunting Democrats that they can’t have any input on Supreme Court justices if they lose an election.

An election the investigation of which Lindsey claims to, but is not, protecting. An election the investigation of which may be stymied by the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh.

Of course, this is only possible because of the way four different efforts in Congress — including Lindsey’s own — have served to obscure the matters under investigation. You’ve got Lindsey’s investigation and Bob Goodlatte’s — both more worried about a single FISA order that even a conservative Republican has told me was based on overwhelming evidence — than whether the guy making lifetime appointments cheated to get that authority. You’ve got Devin Nunes’ investigation, better described as an information gathering effort to help Trump get away with any cheating he engaged in than an investigation of whether he did cheat. Finally, there is Richard Burr’s investigation which, while on its face is more credible, nevertheless is not pursuing leads that support a case that Trump conspired with Russia to win the election.

Lindsey Graham is concerned about lies Christopher Steele may have told under oath in the UK, but not lies Don Jr clearly told his own committee. His big rush to stack SCOTUS suggests the reason for that has everything to do with a need to sustain a fiction that those SCOTUS choices are the result of a legitimate election win rather than willfully conspiring with a foreign adversary to get those choices.

Friday Morning: Far Over Yonder

It was rough road this week, but we made it to Friday again for more jazz. Today’s genre is ska jazz, which will feel like an old friend to many of you.

The artist Tommy McCook was one of the earliest artists in this genre. Just listen to his work and you’ll understand why he has had such a deep and long-lasting influence on contemporary Jamaican music.

Let’s get cooking.

Apple pan dowdy

  • Need a hashtag for NotAlliPhones after FBI says hack only works on “narrow slice” (Reuters) — The method offered by a third party to open San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5c won’t work on later phones like the iPhone 5s in the Brooklyn case, according to FBI director Jim Comey. While it may be assumed newer technology is the barrier, this could be a simple line in the sand drawn by the FBI so as to limit potential risk.
  • Yet another pearl-clutching essay asking us if Apple went too far protecting privacy (MIT Technology Review) — This is the second such POS in this outlet in the last couple of months. Oh, by all means, let’s risk exposing hundreds of millions of iOS users to any surveillance because law enforcement needs access to the kind of information they didn’t have 20 years ago.
  • Apple has complied with government requests to crack iPhones 70 times, beginning in 2008 (Mac Rumors) — The first request, believed to have occurred while George Bush was still in office, arose from a child abuse and pornography case. In a case like this where children may have been endangered, one can understand the impetus for the request. But maybe, just maybe, Apple was so firm about the San Bernardino iPhone 5c is that Apple knows the government has gone too far after nearly eight years of compliance.
  • And for a change of pace, a recipe for Apple Pan Dowdy. Don’t fret over the pastry flour; just use all-purpose and not bread flour.

Leftovers

  • Yahoo up for bids, Verizon interested (Reuters) — The same telecom once in trouble for using persistent cookies is interested in a search engine-portal business which may offer them access to non-Verizon customers. Plan ahead for the next level of consumer tracking if Verizon’s bid wins. Bidding deadline has been extended from April 11 to the 18th.
  • Households at bottom income levels can’t afford food, housing (Vox) — Can’t understand why the rise of angry white man candidates? This is one big reason — things are getting much worse for those who can afford it least. And nobody working in Capitol Hill or the White House seems to give a rat’s whisker.
  • Banksters blame Hollywood for lack of interest in dodgy subprime automotive bonds (Indiewire) — Investment banking firm Morgan Stanley credits the film The Big Short, based on Michael Lewis’ book about the 2000s housing bubble and the subprime mortgage crisis, with spooking investors away from subprime automotive bonds. By all means, let’s not look in the mirror, banksters, or at the inability of working poor to make ends meet, increasing likely uptick in automotive loan defaults.
  • Venezuela makes every Friday a holiday (Bloomberg)

    — The deep El Nino cycle caused drought conditions, substantively lowering reservoir levels. President Maduro is asking large customers to make their electricity in addition to declaring every Friday for the next two months a work holiday to conserve energy. Clearly Venezuela needed investment in solar energy before this El Nino began.

  • Researchers found people do stupid stuff when they find a flash drive (Naked Security) — After sprinkling a campus with prepared USB flash drives, a study found nearly half the people who found them plugged them into a computer, ostensibly to find the owner. DON’T DO IT. If you find one, destroy it. If you lost one, consider it a lost cause — and before you lose one, make sure you’ve encrypted it just in case somebody is stupid enough to try and find the owner/look at the contents.

HIGHLY EDITORIAL COMMENT: Bill, STFU.
Just because a single African American author called you “The First Black President” doesn’t mean you are literally a black man (and the label wasn’t meant as a compliment). Your massive white/male/former-elected privilege is getting in the way of listening to people you helped marginalize. You cannot fake feeling their pain or triangulate this away. Just shut up and listen, if for no other reason than you’re hurting your wife yet again. (Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. This opinion may differ from those of other contributors at this site. YMMV.)

Phew. Hope you have a quiet, calm weekend planned. We could use one. See you Monday morning!

Bill Clinton on Student Loans and Health Care

me-and-bill.thumbnail.jpegI told you all that I was going to cover Bill Cinton’s Clinton Global Initiative this week. What I didn’t tell you is that I was invited to attend a meeting between Clinton and a group of about 15 bloggers. On the eve of his big shindig, Clinton generously spent an hour and a half with us last night, answering at least one question from each of us.

I’ll talk about what he said about CGI last night as I cover the event itself. For now, I want to point out an inconsistency between what Clinton said about student loans and what he said about a public option for health care.

In response to a question on education, Clinton hailed the House’s recent action to give Federally-guaranteed loans directly to college students rather than via private loan companies. Clinton noted that under his Administration, he provided this as an option, as opposed to the required change now before Congress. Even with just the optional program, students who took their loans directly from the Federal government saved $9 billion in loan repayments. And the Federal government saved $4 billion because fewer people defaulted on the loans held by the Federal government than defaulted on private loans (this was partly because the Federal government could build in flexibility to keep loan payments affordable). If the Senate succeeds in passing this bill, Clinton noted, it would make college more accessible and affordable for the middle class, and would be a crucial element in keeping America competitive internationally.

In short, Clinton argued that by bypassing the private sector in supporting a critical service to taxpayers, both the users of that service and the government could save money and achieve better outcomes.

Clinton was much less insistent on bypassing the private sector with health care, though. While Clinton made it clear that he personally supports the public option, he suggested that those insisting health care reform must have a public option were being unreasonable. "If it’s not a net negative," Clinton said, "we ought to pass it," repeating a sentiment he voiced at Netroots Nation. Of note, Clinton also pointed out that the public option had been largely gutted by limiting access to it to those who buy their own insurance, suggesting that that made it more expendable in the bill itself.

To explain his stance, Clinton invoked an op-ed Paul Begala wrote last month. Read more

Joe Lockhart Wanted to Say Blow Job

In 2007, I was on a panel with Joe Lockhart and Todd Purdum to talk about political news. We talked a lot about how the press’ insistence on covering the Lewinsky scandal–when the bulk of the country was pretty happy with the President regardless of who had given him a blow job–led to the crisis of legitimacy that let blogs arise. (To say nothing of the press’ coverage heading into the Iraq War.)

Purdum, interestingly enough, maintained that "everyone" knew Clinton was a liar, which is why they covered the Lewinsky scandal so breathlessly. When I asked who "everyone" included, he realized he meant just he and his friends on the bus, that the apparent consensus among those on the bus was never really communicated or proven to the rest of us.

At one point I said, sort of in Lockhart’s direction, that they should have just said, "It was a consensual blow job, let’s move on" and that might have ended the issue. [see 49:00 to 51:45]

Marcy Wheeler: So, finally you get to the point where, yes, Clinton did not, was not completely forthcoming about a consensual blow job. The other thing that I think could have happened is that a lot of people said but, fundamentally what happened was a consensual blow job between consenting adults. I think it’s between Bill and Hillary and Monica Lewinsky. And again, that didn’t happen. So those are three things that might have short-circuited the story.

Joe Lockhart: I will say this. I spent two and a half years with great discipline not once using that phrase, and you won’t get it out of me today. I think it, I agree with you, but it’s just, it’s a mental block. You have no idea how many times I wanted to say exactly that from behind the podium. It’s just a goddamn [grimaces face]. I completely agree with that.

I wasn’t really imagining the White House Spokesman saying blow job when I said this–just someone. Some prominent surrogate to go out there to say blow job blow job blow job.

It never happened.

And the DC press corps, I think, is apparently still horrified by the possibility that you can just say it, like that, blow job, and in doing so, expose it for all its tawdry but ultimately minor import. Perhaps just saying it like that would break the spell they were under for two Read more

Deep Thought

Would CIA have spent the last eight years lying to Congress to hide Dick Cheney’s torture chambers if Bill Clinton had not "looked forward" but instead pursued Iran-Contra fully?

Illegal Wiretapping … Still; Bill Clinton’s Email Accessed

Lichtblau and Risen are back with what feels like a quarterly update reporting that Americans are still being illegally surveilled.

Since April, when it was disclosed that the intercepts of some private communications of Americans went beyond legal limits in late 2008 and early 2009, several Congressional committees have been investigating. Those inquiries have led to concerns in Congress about the agency’s ability to collect and read domestic e-mail messages of Americans on a widespread basis, officials said. Supporting that conclusion is the account of a former N.S.A. analyst who, in a series of interviews, described being trained in 2005 for a program in which the agency routinely examined large volumes of Americans’ e-mail messages without court warrants. Two intelligence officials confirmed that the program was still in operation.

Both the former analyst’s account and the rising concern among some members of Congress about the N.S.A.’s recent operation are raising fresh questions about the spy agency.

[snip]

He said he and other analysts were trained to use a secret database, code-named Pinwale, in 2005 that archived foreign and domestic e-mail messages. He said Pinwale allowed N.S.A. analysts to read large volumes of e-mail messages to and from Americans as long as they fell within certain limits — no more than 30 percent of any database search, he recalled being told — and Americans were not explicitly singled out in the searches.

The former analyst added that his instructors had warned against committing any abuses, telling his class that another analyst had been investigated because he had improperly accessed the personal e-mail of former President Bill Clinton.

These reports feel so familiar. What is new, though, is that people like Rush Holt (who was quoted extensively in the article) are getting pissed enough that they’re giving more details about the abuses in the program. Read more

Clinton-Gore ’08

bill_clinton_al_gore.jpgI saw someone on TV (sorry–I have no idea who it was or even what channel it was on) who argued that the Obama-Clinton appearance yesterday was more important for Bill than for Obama. Sure, the appearance was about reassuring everyone that there are no more (stated) hard feelings about the primary. But it also gave Bill an opportunity to bask in the glow of Obama’s goodwill, perhaps to exorcise some of the bad feelings from South Carolina.

I would add to this insight that the timing is key. Obama didn’t campaign with Bill until polls show him with a big lead, particularly in Electoral College Votes. That is, Obama invited Bill to campaign with him after it became highly probable that he will win; though Bill has campaigned for the campaign already (with Biden in PA, in VA, and in AR), if Obama wins it will be his win, on his own merits. Which is, I guess, where the room for this gesture comes from.

Don’t get me wrong–Bill no doubt will help Obama build a bigger lead in FL, which is currently the closest of the big swing states (even OH shows a bigger Obama lead!). But as for the election–rather than the state–Bill has been helpful, but by no means instrumental to Obama’s success thus far. (I’m particularly reminded of all the complaints that Gore didn’t invite Clinton to campaign with him in 2000.) At that level, then, it seems as much symbolic as anything else.

And now we have news that Gore himself (with Tipper) will campaign for Obama in FL.

Gore will appear at "Vote for Change" rallies in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, according to a release just issued by the Obama campaign.

Gore returns (on Halloween, no less) to the land of butterfly ballots, hanging chads and a 36-day national recount drama that determined Gore lost and George W. Bush won the 2000 presidential election.

Talk about symbolism! Gore, like Clinton, has campaigned for Obama before (for example, at Gore’s endorsement of Obama in Detroit earlier this year, which I screwed up royally by missing). But at a time when the outcome of the race–but not Florida–seems more and more favorable to Obama, Obama has invited Gore to the scene of the 2000 crime. West Palm Beach and Broward County, no less!

Read more

Bill’s Speech

Bill’s having fun.

I love that we have so many leaders we still love.

Bill: I’m going to tell you to vote for Obama, where Hillary only suggested it. Because I can do that.

Watching CSPAN. When Clinton said Obama was the right guy for the job (of President) CSPAN went from Michelle to Hillary. Both wearing turquoise. Hillary looked pained.

Oh man, Bill is having fun.