Let's turn the podium over to fellow-Northwestern alum Seth Meyers for a few minutes. This is his segment, "Couple Things," about Brett Kavanaugh's interview on "Fox News," with his wife as guest star.
If you haven't seen these political ads yet, they're quite remarkable, unlike any you've likely seen. Paul Gosar (R-AZ 4) is running for re-election. He has a long history of statements and actions that not only are controversial, but many border on white supremacist -- and some cross the border.
For just a few example: a few months ago, back in July, he was in London where he spoke at a rally on behalf of an anti-Muslim activist. After the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, he pushed a far-right conspiracy theory that the event was a left-wing plot financed by George Soros who had "turned in his own people to the Nazis." Gosar is also an outspoken opponent of the Dream Act, given certain undocumented aliens a path to citizenship. And much, much more.
He represents what is considered a very safe seat in a rural area of west Arizona. But that hasn't stopped his opponent Dr. David Brill from trying, and running a series of eye-opening ads.
As I said, the Democrats have put together a series of these ads. Here's another which uses some of the same material, but goes into more political depth.
I have no idea whether or not Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed for the Supreme Court. I think it's likely he will -- but anyone who gives you a certainty (even if they turn out to be right) is just guessing. While I do think the odds right now favor him getting confirmed, I would not be remotely shocked if he withdraws, or if his name is withdrawn for him, or if he stays on but gets voted down. In part, the reason I don't know -- nor does anyone yet -- because I don't think the story is fully told yet.
What I do know is that the Republicans screwed up this nomination SO horrifically that they have created a disaster for themselves with the mid-terms, whatever happens with this nomination.
If Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, polls shows that the public and women voters most-especially will be aghast at the Republican Party who bullied this nomination through, and that includes Independent voters in the middle who are undecided, and even moderate Republicans. Even a "Fox News" polls shows that the public doesn't want Kavanaugh confirmed by a huge margin of 10 points. That's unprecedented with Supreme Court nominees.
But also, even if Kavanaugh is not confirmed, Republicans have screwed themselves. That's because not only will that same public and most-especially those same women be just as virulently outraged at Republicans who staunchly, rigidly, gallingly have defended someone who was so problematically seen as a sexual attacker that he had to withdraw (or was voted down)…but also, the Republican base is will be utterly furious at their own party for having the majority yet not being able to confirm someone they see as such a fine conservative and Trump's man -- and wimping out. Consider what Tucker Carlson said on "Fox News" yesterday when talking about the possibility of Kavanaugh not being confirmed -- "Republicans in the Senate do not care about you." No, he wasn't merely complaining about the few Republicans in the Senate who may not support Brett Kavanaugh all the way, but no, no, screw them ALL. And this after the Republican Senate has carried the water for Trump like lapdogs since the day he was elected, at the expense of their souls.
But the thing is -- it's not just how Republican senators vote that has outraged so much of the public, it's how they GOP has handled the whole confirmation process. It was bad enough when the public saw Republicans unwilling to release hundreds of thousands of pages of documents about Kavanaugh's time in the White House, or that Republicans dumped 100,000 pages of material the night before the hearing began. All that pointed profoundly to a hearing where Republicans had no intention of being fair and open for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. But once the allegations of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford surfaced, votes aside, it was clear that Republican abuse and bullying of women intensified.
The public saw --
Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) bullying Dr. Ford to ensure she testify when he wanted her to and under his conditions. Statements from senators like Orrin Hatch (R-UT) that demeaned Dr. Ford, that maybe she was "confused," even before hearing her testify. Trump refusing to call the FBI in to investigate the accusation. The Republican majority of the Judiciary Committee refusing to subpoena the witness Dr. Ford said was actually in the room when the attack she said occurred. Tweets by a top Grassley aide Mike Lee, the Chief Counsel for Nominations, the staff member leading the committee's investigation, were SO biased in expressing his determination to confirm Kavanaugh giving lie to protestations of fairness, that they were later deleted. And of course Trump himself, unable to stick to the script, damning Dr. Ford by saying if the events she described were so terrible, why didn't she report them to the FBI 36 years earlier. (Never mind of course that one doesn't report accusations of sexual assault to the FBI.) And just yesterday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) took to the Senate floor and slammed all of these stories about Brett Kavanaugh -- which, to be clear, now include an article in the New Yorker magazine about an incident of sexual abuse by Kavanaugh at Yale, and attorney Michael Avenatti announcing he has a third victim about to go public, as well as a report that a Maryland D.A. might possibly be looking into a fourth case -- as being, according to GOP leader McConnell, all just part of a big Democratic conspiracy. Which means Mr. McConnell doesn't believe any of the stories are true, that all the women are liars.
And then there's also this passage in the New Yorker article --
Yes, that's right. Republicans actually knew a week earlier about the second woman claiming to be a sexual abuse victim of Kavanaugh. And they not only buried it, but worked to rush the confirmation process through, so that it couldn't come to light.
So, even the vote aside (which is a whole lot to put aside), the Republican Party has done the near impossible. They took what is now largely regard in history as the GOP's reprehensible treatment of Anita Hill in 1991 when she testified about sexual abuse by then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas...and not only didn't learn their lesson from it, but actually made it worse!!!!
Even before having any idea how people will vote, I would suggest that the Republican Party has done themselves irreparable damage in the upcoming mid-term elections just six weeks away. And the party was facing a Blue Wave before this. And to be clear, it's not just the numbers of voters Republicans have impacted negatively from their handling of the Kavanaugh nomination, but the intensity. And in a mid-term election, which is usually poorly attention, voter enthusiasm, the get-out-the-vote effort, is critical. And the GOP has now outraged voters beyond their detestation of Trump alone.
And now, once you get past all that about the confirmation process, now add in the Senate voting. That whole part about how if Brett Kavanaugh gets confirmed, voters (and especially women voters) are going to be outraged beyond measure -- and if he doesn't get confirmed, women voters (and voters across the board, including the furious Republican base) are going to be almost equally outraged.
And keep in mind that whatever happens with the confirmation, events don't end there. There still will be journalists investigating the story, there will perhaps be other women coming forward, there could be D.A.'s in Maryland (where there's no statute of limitations) looking into any criminal actions, and the reality remains that Brett Kavanaugh will be on either the Supreme Court or the federal bench, and open to impeachment.
The Republican Party has created a nightmare for themselves, just weeks before the mid-term. However the confirmation process turns out, they are damned if he's confirmed and damned if he isn't. And they did it all to themselves.
It couldn't happen to a more deserving group of folks.
Here's the latest song parody from Randy Ranbow. You can probably figure out the subject matter even without looking below. The lyrics are effective, although not as bitingly vibrant as some earlier efforts, however it's so lively and good-natured in its performance, with fun production turns and fast-paced clever editing that it's a joy to watch.
Many Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee, as well as Republican spokespeople and commentators have said that there is no point in having a hearing on Thursday where Dr. Christine Blasey Ford will testify on her allegations of being sexually attacked by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Their reason, they explain, is because it will just be a case of "He said / She said" and no one will know any more than they do know.
They are wrong. We may not know more. Or may. But it is not "He said / She said" and we will most definitely know more.
The questions that Dr. Ford will be asked by Republicans most-likely will be concerned of her memory of the event and her drinking at the time and who, if anyone she told. The "She said" part. Democrats on the committee will likely be addressing many different issues related to the story, but not remotely limited to the night in question. Many will probably be about who Brett Kavanaugh was at the time, and in the years following -- and importantly who he is today. They'll want to know how his friend Ed Whelan knew about Dr. Ford and began to track her online and start to spread knowingly-false rumors about some other mythical doppleganger of Kavanaugh who Christine Ford also knew at the time -- despite her name not having been released yet to the public.
They'll also want to know about the writings of his friend Mark Judge -- who Dr. Ford says was in the room at the time -- who discusses his poorly code-named friend "Bart O'Kavanaugh" and their mutual drinking rampages. They'll also want to know about other parties he went to during those years and the ones that followed at Yale.
And they'll now want to know about the new article in The New Yorker by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer (which you can read here) that has a new allegation by Deborah Ramirez of a sexual assault at a drinking party at Yale. This story -- with names and attributions -- is a "He said / She said" tale, but some of the quotes, whether the specific incident is accurate, are damning. These include statements on the record from Kavanaugh's college roommate, which the articles notes, "He said that he never witnessed Kavanaugh engage in any sexual misconduct, but did recall him being 'frequently, incoherently drunk.' He described Ramirez as a vulnerable outsider. 'Is it believable that she was alone with a wolfy group of guys who thought it was funny to sexually torment a girl like Debbie? Yeah, definitely. Is it believable that Kavanaugh was one of them? Yes.'” And the article has an on-the-record statement from Elizabeth Rasor, who was Mark Judge's former girlfriend of three years at the time --.
"Rasor stressed that 'under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t reveal information that was told in confidence,' but, she said, 'I can’t stand by and watch him lie.' In an interview with The New Yorker, she said, 'Mark told me a very different story.' Rasor recalled that Judge had told her ashamedly of an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman. Rasor said that Judge seemed to regard it as fully consensual. She said that Judge did not name others involved in the incident, and she has no knowledge that Kavanaugh participated. But Rasor was disturbed by the story and noted that it undercut Judge’s protestations about the sexual innocence of Georgetown Prep."
And the article makes clear that Republican aides on the Judiciary Committee knew about the Ramirez allegations a week ago, as Republicans senator tried to rush the confirmation through as fast as possible.
That's the supposed "He said" part.
It's not "He said." It's a hearing to try and get to the bottom of all the reports of Brett Kavanaugh's wild drinking, sexual societies and insistence today, under oath, of his choir boy life, complete with being a swell coach of his daughter's basketball team, always an important credential when confirming a Supreme Court justice.
There are leaks from the White House that while doing a Judiciary Hearing prep session to get ready for Thursday, Kavanaugh was asked mock questions about his drinking and sex life that made him so uncomfortable that he was struggling and refused to answer them. That won't work so well with Democratic senators.
(Obligatory quip: It seems that Judiciary Hearing prep is far more difficult to slide through than Georgetown Prep.)
I don't know what the full reality of all this is, of course. There are a lot of damning hints, but they mean nothing, other than as damning hints. But this is the important part (perhaps even more so than the above, which is say A LOT) -- two damning hints have stood out. To be clear, they certainly don't mean that Brett Kavanaugh did anything wrong, but they are impossible not to pay attention to.
The first was that news reported by the Yale student newspaper of Kavanaugh participating in a secret society while at college there, known as (sorry, this was its nickname) "The Tit and Clit Society." As well as being in the DKE fraternity known for its misogynistic parties and members chanting, "No means yes, yes means anal." Again, this isn't even close to proof of -- well, I was going to say "reprehensible behavior," except that it is, so let's go farther and more to the point -- criminal behavior. And it's about who Brett Kavanaugh is, not merely his version of what he says happened that one night. And equally to the point, it's something Kavanaugh will no doubt be asked about and have to address at the Senate Judiciary hearing. It's probably among the questions in his Judiciary Hearing prep he felt uncomfortable about and didn't want to answer.
The second matter is worse.
It began over the weekend when Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti sent out a tweet that suggested he may have some information about other matters, and then posted a more specific follow-up. And then announced that he his now representing an un-named client with an accusation about Brett Kavanaugh. (This would be a third woman, since he said it is not Deborah Ramirez.) Again, none of that means anything by itself in the slightest. It could be just a tactic to force an issue, but have nothing behind it. However, his track record of "coy hints" coming to fruition is quite good. Which brings up a tweet he sent out Sunday night. It included the attachment of an email exchange he had with a fellow named Mike Davis -- who is the Chief Counsel for Nominations for U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Again, my disclaimer: this exchange the two men had isn't proof of ANYTHING. But whatever one thinks of Michael Avenatti, he is not a stupid man and he knows the law. And for a lawyer to not only send what he did to the Chief Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but actually post it publicly, he has to know that if he can't back it up, he's not only in deep, incredibly serious trouble, but his legal career will take a massive hit.
Squeamish souls (which includes me) may want to avert your eyes. Really. I only was able to skim it, and had to do that several times before getting the full details. (Davis's email to Avenatti is at the bottom in gray, and Aventatti's follow-up reply is above it.)
I'm sorry that the words are so small. They were small in the original. (You can temporarily increase the font size displayed on your monitor. In Windows, the command is CTRL+. To shrink the font size back, it's CTRL-)
(To those who can't read this above, I'll just quote the opening from Michael Avenatti. "Dear Mr. Davis: Thank you for your email. We are aware of significant multiple house parties in the Washington, D.C. area during the early 1980s during which Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge and others would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them. There are multiple witnesses that will corroborate these facts and each of them must be called to testify publicly.” He then lists a series of graphic, troubling, profoundly uncomfortable questions to ask.)
I continue my Disclaimer Fest. None of this is evidence of ANYTHING. It might all be untrue. Kavanaugh's discomfort at answering questions in his prep session might be about something else entirely. But the point is --
This is not a "he said-she said" situation. There are a lot of questions that Brett Kavanaugh is going to have to answer from Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee. He can say he won't answer. He can say he doesn't remember. He can say it's all untrue. But the hearing will not simply be a case of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford making her accusations and being asked questions to back them up, and then Brett Kavanaugh "emphatically denying" her charges and being asked questions to support that, hearing over, thanks for coming, goodbye -- and then the committee will have to decide whose story to believe No, there are going to be A LOT of questions about who these two people are and who they were, to establish a foundation on deciding who and what to believe.
That's the point.
And importantly, it's also not about who Brett Kavanaugh was when he was a 17-year-old minor, 36 years ago. Or even an 18-year-old adult at college. It is about who Brett Kavanaugh is TODAY, how he is answering questions now, when actually under oath. Hoping for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
I don't know what the truth is. I do know -- as I've mentioned -- that I know someone who is very longtime friends with Christine Blasey Ford and is a professional and believes her. That isn't proof. Nor does it relate to all the other stories. But this is no longer, "Well, there's just this one accuser. And if it was true there would be others."
There are others.
And as much as Brett Kavanaugh may want to believe that "What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep" -- it doesn't.
And as always: this is not about Trump or Brett Kavanaugh. It is about the elected officials of the Republican Party who know all this and are trying to ram the lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court through.
The guest contestant on the 'Not My Job' segment of the NPR quiz game show, Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! is actress Glenn Close. And her interview with host Peter Sagal is not only extremely entertaining, but it veers off into two utterly-unexpected directions when talking about her early life and then beginning career.
Back in 1995, I drove down to the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego to see the pre-Broadway tryout of a musical. It's was the revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, which starred Matthew Broderick making his stage musical debut. He was terrific, and when the show went on to Broadway, he won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical.
This is the full production. The video quality is a little washed out and mostly long shots, but it's generally very watchable, and zooms in enough to be reasonably focused.
A couple of fun notes.
First, at the beginning of the show you'll hear a narrator reading out loud from the "How To" book that Broderick's character is reading -- and continues at different spots throughout the story. It's pre-recorded, and the voice is a bit muffled, but if you listen closely it should be recognizable -- it's Walter Cronkite.
And second, there are no other big name stars in the shows, but I liked that in the supporting role of 'Rosemary," who is Broderick's would-be girlfriend, the actress was a graduate of the beloved Northwestern University. She's a bit better known today, though, than back then. The young actress actress in Megan Mullally. The voice will be eminently clear. And she's wonderful.
I've marked down a few of the song highlights, in case you want to jump to them, rather than watch the full two hours, though that's worth it.
0:00 -- How To (Matthew Broderick and Walter Cronkite)
8:00 -- Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm (Megan Mullaly)
23:00 -- Company Way
42:15 Been a Long Day (Broderick and Mullaly)
51:30 Grand Old Ivy
1:39:00 I Believe in You
2:03:00 Brotherhood of Man (Actually, the full scene begins at 1:59:44 with Walter Cronkite. Also, watching this confirmed a memory I've had since 1995 and wondered if I was recalling correctly. It was how barebones the number was staged, to the extent that it struck me at the time as if they are having this big, important company meeting in the lobby, which is a bizarre place for it. But there it is, at the bottom of the escalator. So, it strikes me that my memory was correct. It does seem like it's the lobby -- and that's a bizarre place for the scene.)
2:13:00 -- Finale
From the archives. This week's contestant is Joe Sorenson, from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Happily, I was able to get the hidden composer -- in fact, the hidden song had so much in common at the start with one of the composer's most famous pieces that at first I thought that that was the hidden song. It wasn't, just the composer style. (And in fact, the hidden song turns out to quote a different piece by the composer. Ah, well, at least I got the composer right, whatever the reasoning.) As for the hidden song, it's nicely-hidden, but as I listened on, I felt comfortable with my guess. And was right about that, too. So, a full victory all around! Huzzah.
From Mother Jones: "Top Aide Leading GOP Response to Kavanaugh Allegations Resigns Amid Prior Sexual Harassment Claim"
To give full credit, the original reporting on this is from NBC News.
The aide denies the allegation. No word, though, if he denied it "vehemently," just like Brett Kavanaugh has with the accusation about him. Also, no tweet from Trump saying that if the charge was true, why didn't the woman file a complaint with the FBI and have them investigate.
Between this resignation and allegation, and Sen. Grassley's aide Mike Davis having to delete his problematically-biased tweet earlier in the week, it's impressive that Chuck Grassley hasn't been even more of a bully to to Dr. Christine Balsey Ford given how this has must be such trying times for him...
P.S. The article tells an even more damning story, with the aide's connection to Ed Whelan, the man who distributed the fake story about Brett Kavanaugh's supposed-doppleganger that was so massively ridiculed and discredited he apologized for it.
You can read the full article here.
Robert J. Elisberg is a two-time recipient of the Lucille Ball Award for comedy screenwriting. He's written for film, TV, the stage, and two best-selling novels, is a regular columnist for the Writers Guild of America and was for the Huffington Post. Among his other writing, he has a long-time column on technology (which he sometimes understands), and co-wrote a book on world travel. As a lyricist, he is a member of ASCAP, and has contributed to numerous publications.
Feedspot Badge of Honor