From the archives. This week's contestant is Marc Loudon from New Orleans, Louisiana. And it's a lovely piece which...well, I missed both. I'm sure that many people will get the composer style, but I just focused on a different composer and wrongly stuck with that. As for the hidden song, after the contestant guessed it right off (as he did with the composer style) and Bruce Adolphe played the piece again, I could hear it clearly, so I suspect others will, too.
If you didn't see it -- or just want to enjoy it again -- here is last night's opening sketch on the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. All 13 minutes.
I have a feeling that the director gave Matt Damon only one note for his terrific performance: "For this sketch to work, it is impossible for you to over-act."
The guest contestant on this week's NPR quiz show, Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is multi-Olympic gold medal gymnast Aly Raisman, the second-most honored woman's gymnast in U.S. Olympic history. Her conversation with host Peter Sagal is charming, and gets quite funny when the topic comes up about how focused she's always been, and so what ways has she been rebellious.
Why is this Today's Tweet? The woman writing this, Juliann Andreen, isn't just a former Republican policymaker, she worked in Washington. D.C. for 29 years and was a staffer for Orrin Hatch.
When I wrote earlier this morning that the two women who poured their hearts out to Jeff Flake "spoke with the outraged angst and fury of masses of women. Democrats and Independents alike, and even many Republicans" -- this is the sort of thing that I was specifically referring to.
Just to be very clear and reiterate what I've said here often, pretty much everything with the Kavanaugh nomination and confirmation process is about the Republican Party. And the deeper it goes, the more and more I think the GOP is going to be pummeled in the mid-term elections. While I still think it’s likely Republicans will retain control of the Senate, I no longer would bet on it. "Likely" means anything more than 50%. And that means well-within the margin of error. That video of the two women pouring their hearts out to Jeff Flake in the elevating. was galvanizing. But the important thing about it -- beyond the personal impact it must have had on Flake -- is that I have no doubt that that wasn’t two people talking, but rather that they spoke with the outraged angst and fury of masses of women. Democrats and Independents alike, and even many Republicans. People who will not only switch party votes, but be absolutely certain to vote and get others to vote. That’s what likely terrifies the Republican Party. And should. It’s also what should speak powerfully to the Republican Party on a human level…and likely doesn’t all that much. Which is one of the many reasons I think they will be pummeled. Obviously, I’m speaking to a degree from a personal bias. But mostly, I think I speak from objective observation of a great many factors. Not the least of which is that we've already seen Democrats increase their vote percentages by an average of 8-12 points in all the elections we've had for the past year. And that was long before parents having their children taken from them, Helsinki and now Kavanaugh.
And further, if the FBI background check turns up problematic information on Brett Kavanaugh on both drinking and some level of sexual abuse (and honestly, I almost find it hard to think they won’t, most especially excessive, near-daily drinking in college to the point of blackouts -- more on that in a moment), then it could help solidify all of that.
On Lawrence O’Donnell last night, he had on two former Yale roommates of Deborah Ramirez, the women who claims that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her. And they were scathing about him – specifically because of his total disregard for the truth. Even more pointedly, one of the women often drank with him in college. And she said that she drank A LOT, something she wasn’t proud of, and that he drank just as much, even more. She also said that if only he’d said that, as well, how much he crank, yet noted that he studied, got good grades, and turnerd around his life, she’d have been fine with that and wouldn’t be there talking. But it was his lying and trying to create a world of alternate facts that made he feel it was necessary to go public. Both women said the same thing. O’Donnell also quoted from an article that talked to two of Kavanaugh’s Yale roommates – and both talked about his excessive drinking almost every night, and people coming to the room to party and there being regular vomiting each night, it never getting cleaned up.
And Kavanaugh is under oath saying he was basically a choir boy. And merely liked beer, and never drank to excess, never drinking to the point of blacking out. After all, he studied all the time, practiced sports and went to church so regularly it was like brushing his teeth.
I wrote earlier that by his own testimony under oath, Kavanaugh said his high school friend and drinking buddy Mark Judge "developed a very serious drinking problem." And I noted that it seems reasonable to at least think that drinking buddies most-likely party together specifically because they overlap in the amount of alcohol consumed (just like that woman drinking-buddy at Yale), even if they react differently. That doesn't inherently mean Kavanaugh himself developed a serious drinking problem (though he may have…), only that he probably drank as much as his drinking buddy who did, and drank to significantly-more excess than he testified to, merely acknowledging that he liked beer. A lot. A lot. He liked drinking beer. And if so, if he did match his various drinking buddies in the amount of drinking then it raises substantial questions about how one acts when drinking to that overabundant level, even if one doesn't develop a serious drinking problem to the point of addiction.
Having noted this, honestly I wouldn't be surprised if Kavanaugh, in fact, doesn't actually remember everything he did. Mind you, I'm sure he knows that he partied and drank (and drank) substantially more than he let on. But it strikes me as plausible that he drank SO much that there's a lot he doesn't remember. And that he did have some of those blackouts people around him have suggested. So, he may actually have no memory of attacking Christine Blasey. Or of attacking some of the others or exposing himself. Though not necessarily all.
As I said, it seems to me nearly impossible that the FBI won’t find out so many of these untruths he swore to under oath – that "I SWEAR TO GOD" – not just about drinking, but a lot more of his lies during his testimory. (I heard some expert say that when the FBI does background checks they usually don’t go back to high school and college, but mainly just check on adult work experience, family and social life. So, that likely explains why the previous background checks never turned up any of this.) And I wonder, too, if the FBI checking will include his lies under oath about his work in the White House and the hacking of emails. Probably not, but it’s possible.
A friend said that he hopes that that is what the FBI investigation focuses on, because those are substantive policy issues. Indeed, the way Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) put it, "Yes, of course there should be an FBI investigation. But whatever they find doesn’t change the fact that Kavanaugh, especially after his performance yesterday, is the most dangerous Supreme Court pick of our lifetime." I said to my friend that while I very much agree with him in a political world, I actually hope they do focus on the other, personal matters from high school and college. That’s because those things are what Democrats are under the microscope for by the far right, supposedly “demeaning” the confirmation process forever. The Lindsey Graham Meltdown Syndrome. So, I think it’s critical that the FBI find and report that, in fact, all those charges against Kavanaugh are true, if only to show that the attacks not only weren’t unfair…they were correct and critically important.
One other thing. From Day One of the this administration, and before, Trump has been attacking the intelligence services. Ignoring their reports. Demeaning their agents. Getting their officials fired. I know a lot of people have said that that’s a dangerous game to play, that you really don’t want to piss off the FBI and CIA. And he has. And now, who do we have investigating his choice for the Supreme Court? The FBI. I am absolutely sure they’ll do an 100% honest job. Indeed, I think they will be as diligent as they've ever been, crossing every "T" and dotting every "i". Because what I also think likely is that they will NOT do a cursory job, but overturn every single rock they come across. And Brett Kavanaugh has a lot of huge and blatantly obvious rocks to turn over.
But in the end, this isn't about Brett Kavanaugh. Or even Trump. It is about the Republican Party that has enabled this entire process and tried to cram and rush an drunk sexual abuser onto the Supreme Court against numerous accusations of women.
I've always been a fan of both Jack Benny and Jimmy Durante -- not just because I love their work (which I do, but I'm sure my initial appreciation for Jack Benny comes from the joy I got watching my grandmother who adored him), but also because I love performers who are unique. There are a lot of great performers, and they stand out for their talent. But there are a rare few who stand out for who they are. You can get a "Bing Crosby type." Or a "Justin Timberlake type." But you can't really get a "Jimmy Durante type" or a "Jack Benny type." You get Jimmy Durante or Jack Benny, or you look for someone else entirely.
Well, we have them both here.
This comes from The Lennon Sisters Hour in 1970. It starts with them and Jack Benny, and then it shifts to Benny and Durante together. Better still, they perform each of their signature theme songs, "Inka Dinka Doo" and "Love in Bloom."
By his own testimony under oath yesterday, Brett Kavanaugh said his high school friend and drinking buddy Mark Judge "developed a very serious drinking problem." Is it reasonable to at least think that drinking buddies likely party together specifically because they overlap in the amount of alcohol consumed, even if they react differently?
This doesn't inherently mean that Kavanaugh himself developed a serious drinking problem, just that he probably drank as much as someone who did, to significantly-more excess than he testified to, merely acknowledging that he liked beer. A lot. And if so, it raises substantial questions about how one acts when drinking to that overabundant level, whether or not one becomes addicted to it.
There's so much that can be said about the Judiciary Hearing yesterday. On the one hand, you had a Stanford professor and well-regarded psychologist saying she was 100% sure it was Brett Kavanaugh who sexually attacked her. On the other hand, you have Brett Kavanaugh aggressively and adamantly denying she is absolutely wrong. Indeed, so adamant and aggressive that I have zero doubt there are those on the far-right (let alone Republicans senators who will have to vote on his confirmation) who were heartened by that and had their support of him unequivocally strengthened.
I'll keep this simple, and ask one basic question.
If you were accusing someone of attacking you and were lying about it -- would you put another person in the room who could refute your story?
Actually, simple and basic as that it, let's make it even easier. If you were accusing someone of attacking you and were lying about it...and decided for some reason to put another person in the room who could refute your story -- would the person you chose to put in that room be the best friend of your attacker?
But, hey, let's just round out the trifecta and throw in one more simple question for good measure. If you were the best friend of someone who was nominated to be on the Supreme Court of the United States, and he was scheduled to be at a hearing in the U.S. Senate over a claim of something terrible he'd done, and you were named as the only witness in the room who could totally refute the changes, and you knew he was innocent and the event never occurred -- would you go in hiding??
Me, I'd ask officials when do you need me there and I'd immediately buy a ticket to get to Washington, D.C., and make sure I was there at least a day early just to be sure I wouldn't miss it. But, hey, that's just me.
And honestly, if it was me and I was on the committee, I couldn't even conceivably imagine not subpoenaing the one actual witness to whether the event occurred or didn't. Unless I thought it wouldn't go well for my guy. Or unless I really wanted to know the truth. But, hey, that's just me, too.
Okay, let's even toss in a bonus, simple question. If you were innocent of three vicious personal attacks for crimes you didn't commit, and you were given a dozen opportunities to say under oath that you wanted the FBI to investigate the stories of the people you knew were liars -- would you go relentlessly out of your way to avoid saying "Dear, God, yes, please, bring in every investigator you can," and twist and turn to avoid just answering the question at all?
I'm not going to get into why I feel certain that Dr. Chrstine Blasey Ford was completely credible. Nor attempt forensic analysis to show why evidence shows Brett Kavanaugh is guilty of sexual assualt. I'm just going to say that both people can't be right. Dr. Ford says that she is 100% certain it was Brett Kavanaugh. And Brett Kavanaugh angrily says that, oh, sure, Dr. Ford was attacked, but it just wasn't him. And it wasn't Mark Judge. They can't both be right.
Given the four really simple, basic questions above, there is zero credibility to what Brett Kavanaugh angrily, weepingly denied. And so there isn't much reason to analyze the minutiae. "Well, she didn't remember..." "Well, she might have thought..." "Well, the other people there say that..." Well...well...well. And but, however. And oh, sure, she remembers some things from a traumatic, emotional event 36 years ago, but not every single detail. (Question: what memories leap out for your at your happiest birthday party growing up? Follow-up: what day of the week was it?) None of that matters, important and helpful as those details are. What matters is -- those four basic, simple questions about basic, simple human reactions that are common and foundational to all people. And Brett Kavanaugh fails completely, pathetically on all of them.
I understand that there are people who don't like believing women who say they were attacked. And who want to believe a staunch conservative who was nominated by a man they hold in adoration. And who love that the nominee came out fighting and so aggressive because that must mean he's strong and right!!!
But as another famous con man, Prof. Harold Hill said, "You are closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge."
Brett Kavanaugh wasn't strong and angry because he believed he'd been wronged. He was totally a different person from the choir boy he's been trying to present himself previously for weeks (and in his "Fox News" interview just days before) against the exact same charge -- yet now, facing losing his confirmation, he attacked, almost violently at times. He was belligerent, continually interrupting, raging, weeping, and a bully to change the focus. Hardly a convincing way to present oneself when trying to show people you would be an even-handed, fair-minded, in-control Supreme Court Justice. Indeed this was the same tactic we saw used by Clarence Thomas 27 years ago, and Trump in 2016: it's known as "Deny, attack, make yourself the victim." Imagine if he'd been a woman testifying as hostilely and emotionally as that, how aghast and disqualifying so many on the far right would have seen it. For someone who was charged with becoming violent when losing control of himself, it seemed like the worst possible evidence to put forward. But so many supporters missed that because they didn't want to see it.
And all the blatant hints were there to see what a con job his lying outrage was. This isn't about evidence -- that's for an a trial and requires a full investigation with witnesses and cross-examination (which Dr. Ford and the other women have called for, and Brett Kavanaugh has gone out of his way to avoid). This is about who a person is at their core, and when under oath, swearing to God whose deity Kavanaugh kept using as a protective shield.
In his very opening statement, Brett Kavanaugh bizarrely blamed all this as part of a "Clinton conspiracy." It was so loopy that even he later acknowledged, after coming back from a break, how wrong he was for the charge, and apologized. And analysts afterwards gave him some credit for doing that. Except he didn't deserve any credit -- his charge of a "Clinton conspiracy" wasn't an off-the-cuff remark he made in the heat of the moment. It was something he had spent time actually crafting for his opening statement!! It was a prepared attack. And what I'm sure happened is that during the break, someone said, "My God, Brett, what are you thinking??? Apologize when you go back in! Or else you're going to look like a nut job."
And more hints. Like Kavanaugh saying, "I like beer. Beer, I like it. I like beer. I admit it, I drink beer. I like beer. Beer. I like beer a lot. Beer, beer, beer. I really like beer." I don't think I've heard someone say "beer" that much even in a beer commercial. He likes beer...A LOT. A think that's a pretty big hint that he drinks beer to excess. And not an unreasonable hint that he actually did get ragingly, blindingly drunk a lot. Like his friends and college roommate and even his best friend Mark Judge in his book all said.
And the biggest hints were the bizarre number of blatant obvious lies he told, to the point of pathological. Although this was worse than most pathological lying, because when you do it to Congress, it's a crime.
The most utterly egregious lies -- like saying that the year book entry about how all of these guys were each a "Renate alumnus" was merely about how that simply meant they were all merely friends with her. Seriously??? Then when didn't they all say they were a "Brett alumnus"? And if it was such an honor, why didn't he ever tell her about it? (For 36 years.) And more to the point, if that's all it meant, why did he say at the hearing under oath and keep repeating that he was mortified by it?? What's there to be mortified about, if that's all it meant, that they were just friends? Further, he dismissed it as meaning that they all had sex with her because he said none of them did. So, it couldn't mean that, he insisted. But that misses the point of the entry -- what they were doing is what high school boys so often do: they were bragging, being smarmy, they were suggesting that they all had sex with her, to look cool to everyone.
And his lie that his yearbook entry about the "Devil's triangle" was just reference to a game like "Quarters." Except there is no game like "Quarters" you can find called "Devil's triangle." There is, however, a street term "Devil's Triangle" that means two guys on top of a girl. And...well, gee, that might not have been too convenient, though, at a hearing where he was charged with being one of two guys on top of a girl, attacking her. By the way, for anyone who might somehow think he was actually being honest about that, and that's what the phrase actually meant -- it was discovered that after the hearing someone with a House of Representatives IP Address tried to change the Wikipedia entry for "Threesome" (which describes it also being known as a "Devil's triangle") to add that it also meant a drinking game played by Brett Kavanaugh and his buddies. Since being discovered, that's been deleted.
He even lied about the most basic, meaningless things, which is the first hint that one is a pathological liar. At the very end of her questioning, Sen. Kamala Harris asked Mr. Kavanaugh if he had watched the preceding testimony of Dr. Ford. He answered, "No." That struck me as bizarre at the time. After all, if you're in court, you sit there for days listening to the testimony of the person accusing you of something so you can refute it. And it turns out that it sounded bizarre for a reason. Because it was (say it all together now) a lie. Under oath, sworn to God. It turns out that a bit earlier, the Wall Street Journal had put out a news story that mentioned Brett Kavanaugh had been watching Dr. Ford's testimony. But he just had to lie about it. Perhaps because he then wouldn't have to answer any questions about what Dr. Ford had said. Except he wouldn't have had to because it was Kamala Harris's last question, and she was the final Democrat to ask. It was just a total, unnecessary lie under oath to keep himself from the truth.
And when asked the most straight-forward questions, he did what he did all day (and perhaps all the time), he lied and obfuscated. Like when asked about his college roommate saying that Kavanaugh had often been wildly drunk, his repeated answer to that was how the fellow had issues with his other roommates -- yet that has nothing to do with the question. The issue was about what the college roommate said about him, not what the other roommates felt about one another. Or when Kavanaugh kept saying that ALL the other people at the party who Dr. Ford named as being present said he didn't do it. Except that's a lie, too -- they only said they didn't recall. And of course there was no reason from them to recall -- to them it was a nothing event, from 36 years ago. They hadn't been sexually attacked and didn't know that Christine Blasey had been. And as much as Brett Kavanaugh kept saying that even her best friend Leland Keyser said she didn't denied knowing anything...he all too conveniently left out the actually-important part -- that what Ms. Keyser also said was that she believed Dr. Ford.
I actually thought the Democrats did a very mediocre job with their questioning. Some were affective, but not only were most fairly unfocused and a bit rambling, but more importantly when Brett Kavanaugh was caught in any of these blatant lies, they didn't point that out. They just got the lie on record and moved on.
In fact, oddly, the best questioner may have been Rachel Mitchell, the female prosecutor the Republican men brought in because they were too frightened to handle questioning Dr. Blasey Ford themselves. But to their consternation, when Ms. Mitchell started question Brett Kavanaugh, she was asking him very direct questions which were fact-based. And when he was flustered by that, you'll notice that she quickly had that job taken from her, and all of a sudden, unexpectedly, the Republican men took over. Was that pure coincidence? It's certainly possible. And it's far more certainly unlikely. Because the rest of the way, when the Republican men took over, they barely asked questions, but instead pretty much just made statements of support. And kept telling Brett Kavanaugh how sorry they were for what he was going through. Something they conveniently didn't have to say to Christine Blasey Ford even once because none of them dared question her.
I'll leave the rant by Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to the dustbin of history. How he has fallen to a sub-strata even below that of Partisan Lackey. Trying to suggest this hearing was a "new standard" that would diminish the Senate forever. Never mind that Neil Gorsuch went to the exact same prep school as Brett Kavanaugh and wasn't asked a single question about serial sex abuse, rape and blind-drunk violence, and was confirmed. And never mind Republicans going a year without even giving a hearing to Merrick Garland. If you want a "new standard" (tm Lindsey Graham), start there. Brett Kavanaugh was asked blunt questions about charges of repeated sexual abuse and excessive drinking because he was a sexually abusive drunk. Who lied repeatedly under oath and who Republicans want to confirm to the Supreme Court.
And in the end, we're left with two things:
Those four simple questions that you can't get away from, no matter how hard you try to close your eyes.
And that this is all about the elected officials of the Republican Party.
It's been a while since I've had a segment of Martin Short as Jiminy Glick. But I think some laughter would fit in very nicely today. So, here he is interviewing Tim Allen.
I made it a general rule not to listen to Trump make a speech, or say much of anything. I can watch a 20-second clip on the news, which is sort of my limit. But yesterday, he actually had an unprecedentedly-rare press conference, so I watched. I made it through 10 minutes, which is far more than I thought I had it in me, but 9-1/2 minutes longer than is good for one's well-being. ("Endured" is the way a friend put it, and he only made it through five minutes.) And I was still galled by it three hours later, gnashing my teeth and wanting to punch walls. From what little I heard from the reporters, they seemed incredulous at the time. That includes the one reporter who before asking his question told the president that he hoped he would call on a couple women to ask questions, too.
What finally got me to turn off, infuriated, is when Trump said something along the lines of, “I have a lot of judicial nominees to fill, 145. I have to fill 145. Because Obama didn’t fill them. I don’t know why, he didn’t care about it. So I have 145 judges to fill. But who’s going to want the job if you have to go through this?” I almost started yelling at the TV screen – “You think President Obama didn’t care about filling those judgeships??!!!!!!! The reason you have 145 is that Republicans BLOCKED THEM ALL, to leave them open in case there was a Republican president next to fill them. Including Merrick Garland on top of it all. You think President Obama didn't care about filling a Supreme Court seat? You sick little man.”
And now there’s a fourth charge yesterday afternoon, though it’s anonymous. One of the defenses against Brett Kavanaugh after the accusation by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was that there was only that one charge, and things like what she was alleging usually are serial and have many occurrences. Well… Yeah. And now they’ve started pouring out.
By the way, someone on social made a tremendous point. The press actually got a hold of Kavanaugh’s high school calendar that he is offering into “evidence.” (And yes, how totally bizarre is that, to still have it???) But what this guy picked up on is that the 1982 calendar notes that Kavanaugh went to Ocean City for Beach Week. Fine. By itself, out of context, that's meaningless, just an empty tidbit. But keep in mind that he released this calendar to defend him against Dr. Ford. However, having presented the information, it is now available for everything – and in the official, sworn declaration made on Wednesday by Julie Swetnick (Michael Avenatti’s client), she includes mention of running into Brett Kavanaugh at numerous parties at…Ocean City!!! And she made that declaration without knowing of the existence of his calendar. Of course, that’s not “proof” of anything, but it certainly places him at the spot of the attack. By his own admission. So, while he thought he was providing evidence against Christine Ford’s charge, not only wasn’t he, but he actually was providing evidence FOR Julie Swetnick.
And more than Trump and Kavanaugh, this is – as I keep writing, all the time – all about the Republicans. They could have stopped the nomination before it occurred. From the first Mitch McConnell (R-KY) knew Kavanaugh was a tough sell and told Trump he should nominate someone else, but what he COULD have said was, “If you nominate this guy, we will make it an open hearing, we’ll release all his documents as required, and they’re damning, and he will have almost no support, and it will make you look terrible. And you’ll lose the pick because Democrats could take the Senate as a result of it, and you’ll never get anyone through.” And I think Trump migh well have backed off. And further, they could have stopped it at any point along the way, KNOWING (as I'm sure they do) how bad this guy is. And even now, even as much as they desperately want a conservative on the Supreme Court, rushing a vote for Friday – when they took a YEAR not voting on Merrick Garland – is totally, 100% meaningless. I suspect some on the Judiciary Committee may think all the women are lying, but I’m sure plenty enough know who Brett Kavanaugh is by now. And to push this ahead, to RUSH this ahead, trying to confirm a man for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court who many Republican know, or at the very least suspect, is a serial sexual abuser and likely-alcoholic is sickening. If, as some Republicans are now actually saying, “Maybe we should have taken a week at the beginning to have that FBI investigation,” well…if they really feel that, they CAN DO IT NOW. There’s no reason the vote can’t be pushed back a week or two. None, zero. There are six weeks before the mid-terms. They have plenty of time.
Honestly, I’m not convinced there will be a vote on Friday. I say that writing this before the hearing begins. So, we'll see. What I expect today is for Dr. Ford to come across well, adding detail and context to what she has alleged, as well as showing a real person, not just words we've read, and Kavanaugh can only pretty much just keep saying the same “that’s not true, I didn't do it.” Although now he’s acknowledging that he did some things that made him cringe. (I’d love her to pick up on that, and in her statement say, “He did some things that made ME cringe, too, and I haven’t gotten over it 36 years later.”) And beyond that, he will also have to answer questions from Democrats about his drinking, his blackouts, and other charges that have come to light. And with all that, and with her charges now having a face and voice to it, I think it will be hard for even these Republicans to hold a vote the next day. But if anyone can do it, these slugs can.
It's pathetic, sickening, awful. And whatever happens, this all is going to backfire on Republicans in such a HUGE way in the mid-terms. Just six weeks from now. I’m sure of it. Not just it being a case of so much of the public – and women, especially – turning against Republicans and Trump on principle, but in visceral outrage that fuels their enthusiasm to go out and vote. And voter turn-out is so small during mid-terms that any upswing is massive -- to the point that I think now the Democrats have a reasonable chance of taking the Senate. It’s still not likely, but it's far more possible than before. And I believe Republicans know that, too, because I think it's specifically why they are fighting to hard to confirm Kavanaugh...despite sensing or knowing that he is a sexual abusing drunk.
This is about the elected officials of the Republican Party.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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