For purposes of the longtime right wing agenda– no taxes, no regulations (except against pregnant women and maybe pot smokers), a powerful military, a government that does not coerce anybody to do anything, making any false claims necessary to hide secret plans that disadvantage the vast majority of Americans – this president we have here is fine, better than fine. He also, conveniently, undermines people’s faith in democracy, even common decency, with his shameless lying and his willingness to attack others and promote even the most indefensible policies.
The current president is the personification of government incompetence, corruption and overreach. A living argument for why you cannot trust your government. Sure, it’s easy to criticize a man who hasn’t filled a record number of important government jobs in the first 20 months of his administration (like in the agency that oversees our stockpile of nukes), but on the other hand, he’s filled the federal bench with a record number of lifetime federal judges, vetted by the top conservative think tanks for their fealty to a core set of beliefs, he’s slashed taxes dramatically for America’s wealthiest and our corporations, he’s on the inhumane side of every humanitarian situation. He has thousands of ‘migrant kids’ being moved to open air desert prison camps like the ones Joe Arpaio used to run. He has expressed concern, in the wake of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, that many completely innocent men are being victimized and publicly destroyed by this #metoo movement.
He’s a divider, not a uniter, he honestly doesn’t understand democracy, the idea of it, he loves autocrats wherever he encounters them. He is, his vulgarity aside, exactly what the Koch brothers and the rest of the best people, the best people, want. That he knows very little about how our democracy actually works appears to be a plus for the smirking rich winners who are currently riding his donkey ass to their dreamed of land of unlimited liberty free from government tyranny.
He can be excused for insisting, as he did the other day, that the Senate majority, that inviolable 51-49 mandate they have in the Senate, is in charge of what the FBI investigates and what they don’t investigate about a Supreme Court nominee who could be, among other things, colorably charged with perjury . It would probably be a first, a sitting Supreme Court justice hauled into a House investigation for perjury. There is also the nominee’s reported belligerent drunkeness, strongly hinted at by his belligerent ‘rebuttal’ of Blasey Ford’s allegations, and more than one woman alleging sexual assault by the nominee. There is, perhaps most importantly for purposes of a Supreme Court justice, the over the top partisan rage he displayed during his testimony to counter Blasey Ford’s detailed story of a stumbling drunk, privileged seventeen year-old trying to rape a fifteen year-old at a gathering of six high school kids when there were no adults in the house. He appears, based on his childish temper tantrum before the Judiciary Committee, to have a supremely unjudicial temperament.
I have been before many judges, only an insignificant fraction of whom appeared to lack the ability to rule fairly on what was in front of them. An even tinier fraction appeared to be bellicose jerks venting about their personal problems, or acting based on anger at their imagined persecutors, in their courtrooms. There is a Judicial Code of Conduct (naturally not enforceable against the Supreme Court justices) that requires a judge to act in a way that inspires confidence in the integrity of the courts. So much for that, Brett. Trump’s tribe might get excited by the belligerent defiance, but it’s not judicial temperament any more than the thin-skinned reflexively attacking Trump is an example of presidential temperament.
The president, with his limited understanding of anything but “winning” and “losing”, grasps only this– we’re winning 51-49. If this was a game, and it is, we win. The obstructionist Democrats are losers, everybody not included in that robust 51-49 mandate for whatever he wants, or has been convinced, to do — losers!
Into the mix drops the lying New York Times recent piece about the source of Trump’s self-made fortune. Donald was paid the equivalent of $200,000 current dollars a year starting when he was three years old. Nice work if you can get it! He was a millionaire by age eight. An inspiring American diaper to riches story! After dad’s first choice, Fred Jr., turned out to be unsuited to take over his father’s empire, Fred Christ Trump began grooming his second choice, Donald, in earnest. The details of daddy Trump’s manipulative generosity are sickening, but unsurprising. We know the president is a lying self-promoter, even his base acknowledges this– they just don’t care. Still, some of the details of things he lied about, his entire self-made billionaire origin story, are truly sickening. The luxurious first class safety net provided by his father explains the reckless fearlessness with which Donald has always conducted his many failed businesses and vanity projects. It emerges that the president’s brother Robert is cut from the same cloth as Donald. His defensive statement about having the decency to leave their dead, sainted parents to rest in peace, leaves a bit of a stench. Of course, as David Brooks points out, the tendency to perceive that stench/breath of fresh air is purely tribal. The president is loved by his tribe, and that is his only concern, to remain beloved of almost 40% of the angriest people in America.
But that New York Times hatchet job is just another distraction. As far as getting Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, all Trump needs to do is run out the clock to have the game end 51-49. He’s set an artificial, arbitrary deadline of one week for the FBI to fully investigate multiple allegations against his nominee. To stack the deck just a bit more toward his beleaguered, unfairly crucified nominee, he ran three days off the clock by saying publicly that the FBI would have “free rein”, while imposing severe restrictions on the definition of free rein. Then he said that Mitch McConnell must decide the scope of the investigation, then apparently learning that the president alone dictates the scope of any FBI probe he orders, blandly opined that the FBI should talk to anyone they can find, including Kavanaugh. As long as it’s all done before my inviolable Friday deadline when everybody votes 51-49 and we have this great man, with his spotless record, to rule on all the most important matters of constitutional law. Because the constitution, you understand, is an inviolable and indisputable blueprint for our highest aspirations as a free democracy and it must be interpreted faithfully by the best people, the very best people. Especially those who kiss my ass the most passionately, if you know what I’m saying.
 Kavanaugh has been evasive, belligerent and defiant under questioning during the confirmation process. It also strongly appears he’s been untruthful under oath, deliberately misleading, or both. His repeated assertions about drinking only beer, beer and nothing but beer included a frank, but tacit admission that he had been drinking beer illegally before he was allowed to do so legally, during his senior year of high school, when he was eighteen. The use of the word “beer” dozens of times suggests, at least to this beer drinker, an effort to deny drinking anything stronger than beer, just beer and nothing but beer. The beer drinker doth say “beer” too much, methinks. Also, it turns out, the legal drinking age in Maryland, in 1983, when Kavanaugh was an 18 year old beer drinker, was actually 21.
Then there is reframing and refuting a question not asked, a classic lawyerly dodge, as when he claims he never blacked out from beer, which he said was the accusation here, but only fell asleep from it. There was no accusation that Kavanaugh was a black out drunk, only that he had been stumblingly drunk when he and his equally drunk buddy pushed a fifteen year-old girl into an upstairs bedroom, across from the bathroom, and locked the door.
An example of a more direct Kavanaugh untruth is his stating, emphatically, and more than once, that witnesses had refuted Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony about his attempted rape of her. He repeated the word “refuted”, with great emphasis, to hammer home his point that only the alleged victim seems to recall that long ago day when he held her down, his friend turned up the music, he covered her mouth when she tried to call for help, etc. The other four or five people in the house… well, they say it never happened, according to Kavanaugh. Not only don’t they recall that particular unremarkable early evening — every witness, according to Kavanaugh, REFUTED the vengeful, well-financed partisan lie against him.
What the witnesses said was that they have no recollection of an ordinary long ago summer late afternoon or evening gathering of six teenagers that was of no significance to anyone but the fifteen year-old who was traumatized that day. There is a slight difference between “refute” and “don’t recall”, as even a neophyte judge should be able to easily judge. Repeated assertions of “refute” in place of “don’t recall” might well be grounds for a perjury charge, particularly if, as here, the repetition is integral to one’s defense. The only thing not in dispute is that the misleading statement, whether deliberate or in the heat of the moment under great emotional stress, was made under oath.
When Brett Kavanuagh was vetting material for the Bush/Cheney White House for hearings about judicial appointees, (prior to his own appointment to the federal bench, obviously) he disclosed the contents of hacked, (illegally obtained) emails with classified background memos prepared by Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee. He denied this charge, denies ever seeing the hacked emails, let alone unethically forwarding them to parties who should not have seen them, but the author of some of the memos improperly obtained and passed on to the nominees (think debate questions obtained before the debate), former Judiciary Committee staffer Lisa Graves, saw whole paragraphs of her 4,000 word report cut and pasted into emails that Kavanaugh sent and received. This could easily be resolved by a subpoena for the emails, although the emails Lisa Graves cites are already part of the small percentage of Kavanaugh-related documents the Senate Judiciary Committees has allowed to become part of the record.
There is another answer by Kavanaugh that could be proved or disproved as perjury by a subpoena for related emails. The truth or falsity of the statement is a question of fact that could easily be determined by seeing some of the disputed emails. Kavanaugh denied knowledge of the conduct and sexually off-color email listserve of his disgraced friend and former mentor, Alex Kozinsky, the federal judge who resigned recently amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment over a span of many years. This denial appears to have been another lie, told to keep the shine on his choir boy image. It’s hard to believe this longtime confidant of Judge Kozinsky’s could be unaware of the well-known reputation of his disgraced friend, a reputation for doing things every one of Kozinsky’s former clerks who has spoken on the issue has confirmed he did. Common knowledge that Kavanaugh insisted he knew nothing about. Why open that door, you know?
There is also evidence that team Kavanaugh contacted Yale classmates as soon as he heard that Debbie Ramirez’s claim that he’d drunkenly exposed himself to her when they were freshmen at Yale were going to be published in the New Yorker. Potential witnesses were contacted by team Kavanaugh before the New Yorker article that broke the story was published. At the hearing last Thursday Kavanaugh swore to Orin Hatch that the first he learned of the allegations from the New Yorker article, though there is an argument about whether this meant the publication date or when he got advance knowledge that Debbie Rodriguez’s charges were about to be published.
If this were a criminal trial, these attempts to get witnesses to line up behind him and say things on his behalf so that he could be confirmed to a high appointment would be seen as a clear case of witness tampering. Since it is not a criminal trial, nothing to see here, yo, except a naughty bit of standard corrupt practice that any powerful person routinely engages in. The appearance of impropriety is only that, an appearance. The answer to that is 51-49, suck it.