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Tuesday, September 25, 2018


Bill Cosby sentenced to 3 to 10 years

We Must Fight Brett Kavanaugh's Nomination & Trump's America First Ideo...

Opinion | ‘America First’ Has Won - The New York Times

By Robert Kagan

Mr. Kagan is the author of “The Jungle Grows Back; America and Our Imperiled World.”

“We have a U.S. president who doesn’t value the rules-based international order,” a former top aide to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. observed in this paper not long ago. She was right, of course. But is the American public any different?

President Trump may not enjoy majority support these days, but there’s good reason to believe that his “America First” approach to the world does. There has been no popular outcry against Mr. Trump’s trade battles with Canada, Mexico and the European allies. Experts suggest we are in for a long international trade war, no matter who the next president may be. After all, even Hillary Clinton had to disown her support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the last election. The old free-trade consensus is gone.

Mr. Trump’s immigration policies may be more popular with Republicans than with Democrats, but few Democratic politicians are running on a promise to bring more immigrants into the country. And just as in the 1920s, isolationism joins anti-immigration sentiment and protectionism as a pillar of America Firstism.

The old consensus about America’s role as upholder of global security has collapsed in both parties. Russia may have committed territorial aggression against Ukraine. But Republican voters follow Mr. Trump in seeking better ties, accepting Moscow’s forcible annexation of Crimea and expanding influence in the Middle East (even if some of the president’s subordinates do not). They applaud Mr. Trump for seeking a dubious deal with North Korea just as they once condemned Democratic presidents for doing the same thing. They favor a trade war with China but have not consistently favored military spending increases to deter a real war.

Democrats might seem to be rallying behind the liberal order, but much of this is just opposition to Mr. Trump’s denigration of it. Are today’s rank-and-file Democrats really more committed to defending allies and deterring challengers to the liberal world order? Most Democratic politicians railing against Mr. Trump’s “appeasement” of Moscow hailed Obama’s “reset” a few years ago and chastised Republicans for seeking a new Cold War. Most Democratic voters want lower military spending and a much smaller United States military presence overseas, which hardly comports with getting tougher on Russia, Korea or China — except on trade.

Most Americans in both parties also agree with Mr. Trump that America’s old allies need to look out for themselves and stop relying on the United States to protect them. Few really disagreed with the president’s stated reluctance to commit American lives to the defense of Montenegro. Britons in the 1930s did not want to “die for Danzig,” and Americans today don’t want to die for Taipei or Riga, never mind Kiev or Tbilisi. President Obama was less hostile to the allies than Mr. Trump, but even he complained about “free riders.”

In retrospect it’s pretty clear that Mr. Obama was too internationalist for his party base. He expanded NATO, intervened in Libya, imposed sanctions on Russia and presided over the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Democrats may miss Mr. Obama for many reasons, but there’s little evidence that the rank-and-file miss those policies. Mr. Trump’s narrower, more unilateralist and nationalist approach to the world is probably closer to where the general public is than Mr. Obama’s more cosmopolitan sensibility.

It would be comforting to blame America’s current posture on Mr. Trump. But while he may be a special kind of president, even he can’t create a public mood out of nothing. Now as always, presidents reflect public opinion at least as much as they shape it. Between the two world wars, and especially from 1921 through 1936, an American public disillusioned by World War I was averse to further overseas involvement, and it didn’t matter whether the presidents were supposed “isolationists” like Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge or supposed “internationalists” like Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt. It took a lot more than fireside chats to turn public opinion around. It took Hitler’s conquest of Europe, near-conquest of Britain and, finally, Pearl Harbor to convince a majority of Americans that America First was a mistake.

In our own time, the trend toward an America First approach has been growing since the end of the Cold War. George H.W. Bush, the hero of the Gulf War, had to play down foreign policy in 1992 and lost to a candidate promising to focus on domestic issues. George W. Bush won in 2000 promising to reduce United States global involvement, defeating an opponent, Al Gore, who was still talking about America’s indispensability. In 2008, Mr. Obama won while promising to get out of foreign conflicts for good. In 2016, Republican internationalists like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio were trounced in the primaries. Hillary Clinton struggled to hold off Bernie Sanders, a progressive isolationist, and it was certainly not because of her foreign policy views."

Opinion | ‘America First’ Has Won - The New York Times

Donald Trump says NAFTA killed millions of jobs. That's not proven | PolitiFact

Screen Shot 2018 09 25 at 11 57 50 AM

Donald Trump says NAFTA killed millions of jobs. That's not proven | PolitiFact

Dr. Ford Is No Longer Kavanaugh's Only Accuser

Brett Kavanaugh Vows to Fight ‘Smears’ and Will Not Withdraw - The New York Times


"WASHINGTON — Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, facing new allegations of sexual impropriety and growing doubts over his confirmation to the Supreme Court, mounted an aggressive defense of himself on Monday, vowing to fight the “smears” and declaring that he will not withdraw his nomination.

With President Trump publicly backing him, and senior Senate Republicans closing ranks around him, Judge Kavanaugh — joined by his wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh — gave an extraordinary interview to Fox News that aired Monday evening. He pledged to “defend my integrity, my lifelong record,” and told his interviewer, Martha MacCallum, that he “did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter.”

He also directly addressed the accusation from Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist in Northern California, that he had assaulted her when they were teenagers, more than 30 years ago, at a high school gathering in suburban Washington.
“The truth is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone, in high school or otherwise,” Judge Kavanaugh said. “I am not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr. Ford at some point in her life was sexually assaulted by someone at some place, but what I know is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone.”

Brett Kavanaugh Vows to Fight ‘Smears’ and Will Not Withdraw - The New York Times

Monday, September 24, 2018

Rod Rosenstein to meet Trump Thursday - CNNPolitics


"Washington (CNN)Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will meet with President Donald Trump Thursday amid questions about his fate in the administration after the New York Times reported he secretly suggested recording the President and weighed forcibly removing him from office. 

Trump, speaking in New York, said Monday he spoke with Rosenstein earlier in the day and anticipated their meeting at the White House once he returned from the United Nations General Assembly…."

Rod Rosenstein to meet Trump Thursday - CNNPolitics

Opinion | Presidential Lying Is Contagious - The New York Times


Doug Chayka

"Everyone wants to curry favor with the boss. If she golfs, you hit the driving range. If he’s a movie buff, you haunt the multiplex. So when the president of the United States continually makes clear that he is a huge fan of “alternative facts,” what’s an eager-to-please administration official to do?

Take Brock Long, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As Hurricane Florence buffeted the Carolinas last weekend, Mr. Long went on the Sunday news shows to discuss the government’s response efforts. But he soon found himself fielding questions about President Trump’s claim that, contrary to Puerto Rico’s official estimate, “3,000 people did not die” as a result of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island last year. That death toll, according to the president, was manufactured by Democrats desperate to make him “look as bad as possible.

Mr. Trump’s denial of this mass tragedy prompted dismayed pushback, even among Republican officials. But Mr. Long, like a good soldier, rushed right in to shore up his boss’s wild theory on how the data had been cooked. “You might see more deaths indirectly occur as time goes on because people have heart attacks due to stress, they fall off their house trying to fix their roof, they die in car crashes because they went through an intersection where the stoplights weren’t working,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press,” adding: “Spousal abuse goes through the roof. You can’t blame spousal abuse, you know, after a disaster on anybody.”

Determining which deaths should be included in the official count (2,975 people) is indeed tricky business, which is why the Puerto Rican government commissioned independent researchers at George Washington University to conduct the analysis on which the death toll was based. Mr. Long was dismissing their methodology in his quest to support Mr. Trump’s tale of political victimhood. 

It has been noted that Mr. Long was going through a professional rough patch that might have made him extra keen to stay in the president’s good graces. The FEMA chief has been under investigation by the inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security for possibly misusing government resources, including personnel and vehicles, while commuting between Washington and his home in North Carolina. On Monday, the news broke that the case had been referred to federal prosecutors, even as the House oversight committeeannounced that it, too, would be looking into the matter. But on Friday night it was announced that Mr. Long could keep his job if he reimbursed the government for use of the vehicles, and that he might not face criminal charges. 

However Mr. Long’s ethical troubles factor into the equation, Mr. Trump has made clear that he considers it the duty of all administration officials to peddle his version of reality to protect his interests, be it on matters of policy, politics or the embarrassing Russia investigation. Failure to do so is the quickest path to the presidential doghouse. (Right, Mr. Attorney General?)

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has been accused of ethical shiftiness in his past business dealings that would get someone in his position booted from any normal administration, or at least swallowed up in a major scandal. Former associates say he cheated them out of more than $120 million. 

So it was no surprise this week when compelling evidence emerged that the secretary may have committed perjury in his zealous pursuit of the president’s agenda. Mr. Ross has been under fire for months for his department’s push to add a question about citizenship status to the census form. Critics see the move as part of the administration’s effort to depress voting among certain demographic groups. The attorney general of New York, Barbara Underwood, has filed suit on behalf of 18 states to block the question.

In March, Mr. Ross testified before Congress that the question had been “initiated” in a request last December from the Department of Justice, as a way to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Various documents have since come to light that appear to contradict his testimony, detailing Mr. Ross’s early enthusiasm for the question. On Monday, Ms. Underwood released an unredacted Commerce Department memo showing that in fact, the Justice Department initially resisted pressure from Mr. Ross’s department to request such a question. On Friday, a federal judge ruled that Mr. Ross can be questioned under oath, and called “the credibility of Secretary Ross squarely at issue.”

Then, of course, there’s Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security, who this past spring was reportedly on thin ice with Mr. Trump for her failure to shut down migrant crossings at the border. By early summer, Ms. Nielsen found herself insisting that the administration did not have a policy of splitting apart migrant families even as she was aggressively enforcing and publicly defending that policy.

On other issues, Ms. Nielsen has seemed more conflicted about toeing the president’s line, such as on the question of whether Russia meddled in the 2016 elections specifically with an eye toward helping Mr. Trump win. The federal government’s intelligence community says it did. Mr. Trump says it didn’t. Ms. Nielsen has gone back and forth. In late May, she said she’d seen no reason to believe that Russia had favored Mr. Trump. Hours later, her office walked back those remarks. But come July, Ms. Nielsen restated her original position — after which she and her office promptly issued statements that made her view incomprehensible.

Over at the Interior Department last year, the secretary, Ryan Zinke, and top aides, in their crusade to downsize various national monuments, withheld data pointing to the benefits, both economic and archaeological, of keeping protections in place while they played up the benefits of removing the protections. The deception was discovered in July when the department accidentally released a nonredacted version of the study in question — only to quickly recall it and send out the version tailored to make their case.

And let us not forget Mr. Trump’s most committed and creative defender, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary. She is regularly dispatched by her boss to mislead the American people on issues ranging from whether the president paid hush money to Stormy Daniels, the former porn star who claims to have had an affair with Mr. Trump, to whether he dictated a false statement about the Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russians. She has also taken it upon herself to tell whoppers about less salacious matters, including the trend in black unemployment and how diversity visas are issued. 

While scandalous, this kind of behavior is also depressingly predictable. When the president repeatedly sends the signal that he regards honesty as a handicap, he can quickly drag the whole executive branch down to his level." 

Opinion | Presidential Lying Is Contagious - The New York Times: ""

Opinion | Thomas, Kavanaugh and Race - The New York Times

I had met Clarence Thomas at a speaking engagement at the Harvard Club in NYC in 1979 and had engaged in a lively question and answer bantering episode. I left knowing what kind of person he was and I had no problem believing Anita Hill.

"By Charles M. Blow, September 23rd, 2018
There’s one distinct difference between the Clarence Thomas hearings and the Brett Kavanaugh hearings.

This week’s hearings in which Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor who has accused the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when she was 15 and he was 17, will appear, seems primed to privilege Kavanaugh and exploit Ford’s weaknesses.

There is no effort yet to thoroughly investigate her claim, by either the F.B.I. or the Senate itself, and there are no plans as yet to call any witnesses other than the accused and the accuser. This is designed to be a spectacle that will embarrass her and elevate him, much the way the Clarence Thomas hearings featuring accuser Anita Hill played out in 1991.

Indeed, many people have drawn attention to the numerous parallels between the two cases, but I would like to draw attention to one difference, one that could bode well for Ford: the absence of a racial element in a heated racial environment.

Months before Thomas was nominated, an amateur photographer videotaped the savage beating of motorist Rodney King by a throng of Los Angeles police officers.

One could argue that this was the first modern Black Lives Matters case — a private citizen recording and sharing video that exposed police brutality.

As The New York Times described the incident at the time:

“Fifteen police officers in 10 patrol cars stopped Mr. King’s white sedan. As Mr. King lay on the ground offering no resistance, he was surrounded by officers, one of whom shocked him with a stun gun as others hit him more than 50 times with their batons and kicked him in the head and body at least seven times while he begged them to stop.”

In June of 1991, as the officers awaited trial, Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights lion and the only African-American on the Supreme Court, announced his retirement. President Bush, under pressure to appoint a minority replacement, did just that. He nominated a black man to replace a black man — Clarence Thomas for Marshall’s seat — even as he publicly proclaimed, “I don’t feel there should be a black seat on the court or an ethnic seat on the court.”

But the two men could not have been more different: Marshall, a true liberal, and Thomas, a man hostile to civil rights initiatives.

Thomas’s nomination put black America in a bind: Oppose Thomas and risk having no black representation on the court, or support him in spite of his hostile views. Black civil rights groups were hesitant to take a stand one way or the other on Thomas, even though years earlier he had berated these groups, saying all they do is “moan and whine.”

Then came the allegation of sexual harassment brought by Professor Hill, and everything changed. It is not that Hill wasn’t credible, but it was that Thomas was on the defensive and the image of yet another black man under attack from a group of white men had an eerie echo of King under assault from the L.A.P.D.

The hearings that followed, including compelling, credible testimony from Hill and the demeaning way in which she was treated, was extraordinary, must-see television. One poll taken after the hearings by this newspaper found that “nine of 10 people said they had seen at least part of the hearings.”

Then, Thomas provoked blacks to circle the wagons when he declared the hearings a “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves.” He continued: “And it is a message, that unless you kowtow to an old order you will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree.”

After the hearings, The Chicago Tribune reported on an ABC News-Washington Post poll that showed support for Thomas’s confirmation had actually risen to 56 percent. But as the paper pointed out:

Thomas’s support was strongest among blacks, with 70 percent backing his nomination; 50 percent of whites support him. Another weekend poll, conducted by The Los Angeles Times, said 51 percent overall believed the Senate should confirm Thomas, down from 54 percent in September. But when broken down by race, the figures showed 61 percent of blacks backed Thomas’s confirmation, up from 55 percent in September, while only 50 percent of whites said he should be confirmed.

Black people, to their everlasting regret, backed Thomas, as did the Senate, over Hill’s warnings.

This time, that racial element is absent. The Republicans on the committee, those likely to be hostile to Ford, are all still white men. Ford and Kavanaugh are both white.

This is a much more focused battle of testimonies. Either a boy assaulted a girl or he didn’t. Either an older child took advantage of a younger one, or he didn’t.

One of these people is lying and in this collision of gender narratives, women will not have to struggle with the choice that black people did. If they believe Ford, they can simply say #metoo."

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Franklin Graham on Judge Kavanaugh Accusation: 'Not Relevant' Ye shall know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:16

Senate Democrats Investigate a New Allegation of Sexual Misconduct, from the Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s College Years

As Senate Republicans press for a swift vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Senate Democrats are investigating a new allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. The claim dates to the 1983-84 academic school year, when Kavanaugh was a freshman at Yale University. The offices of at least four Democratic senators have received information about the allegation, and at least two have begun investigating it. Senior Republican staffers also learned of the allegation last week and, in conversations with The New Yorker, expressed concern about its potential impact on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote. The Democratic Senate offices reviewing the allegations believe that they merit further investigation. “This is another serious, credible, and disturbing allegation against Brett Kavanaugh. It should be fully investigated,” Senator Mazie Hirono, of Hawaii, said. An aide in one of the other Senate offices added, “These allegations seem credible, and we’re taking them very seriously. If established, they’re clearly disqualifying.”
The woman at the center of the story, Deborah Ramirez, who is fifty-three, attended Yale with Kavanaugh, where she studied sociology and psychology. Later, she spent years working for an organization that supports victims of domestic violence. The New Yorker contacted Ramirez after learning of her possible involvement in an incident involving Kavanaugh. The allegation was conveyed to Democratic senators by a civil-rights lawyer. For Ramirez, the sudden attention has been unwelcome, and prompted difficult choices. She was at first hesitant to speak publicly, partly because her memories contained gaps because she had been drinking at the time of the alleged incident. In her initial conversations with The New Yorker, she was reluctant to characterize Kavanaugh’s role in the alleged incident with certainty. After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. Ramirez is now calling for the F.B.I. to investigate Kavanaugh’s role in the incident. “I would think an F.B.I. investigation would be warranted,” she said.
In a statement, Kavanaugh wrote, “This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name—and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building—against these last-minute allegations.”
The White House spokesperson Kerri Kupec said the Administration stood by Kavanaugh. “This 35-year-old, uncorroborated claim is the latest in a coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear down a good man. This claim is denied by all who were said to be present and is wholly inconsistent with what many women and men who knew Judge Kavanaugh at the time in college say. The White House stands firmly behind Judge Kavanaugh.”
Ramirez said that, when both she and Kavanaugh were freshmen at Yale, she was invited by a friend on the women’s soccer team to a dorm-room party. She recalled that the party took place in a suite at Lawrance Hall, in the part of Yale known as Old Campus, and that a small group of students decided to play a drinking game together. “We were sitting in a circle,” she said. “People would pick who drank.” Ramirez was chosen repeatedly, she said, and quickly became inebriated. At one point, she said, a male student pointed a gag plastic penis in her direction. Later, she said, she was on the floor, foggy and slurring her words, as that male student and another stood nearby. (Ramirez identified the two male onlookers, but, at her request, The New Yorker is not naming them.)
A third male student then exposed himself to her. “I remember a penis being in front of my face,” she said. “I knew that’s not what I wanted, even in that state of mind.” She recalled remarking, “That’s not a real penis,” and the other students laughing at her confusion and taunting her, one encouraging her to “kiss it.” She said that she pushed the person away, touching it in the process. Ramirez, who was raised a devout Catholic, in Connecticut, said that she was shaken. “I wasn’t going to touch a penis until I was married,” she said. “I was embarrassed and ashamed and humiliated.” She remembers Kavanaugh standing to her right and laughing, pulling up his pants. “Brett was laughing,” she said. “I can still see his face, and his hips coming forward, like when you pull up your pants.” She recalled another male student shouting about the incident. “Somebody yelled down the hall, ‘Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie’s face,’ ” she said. “It was his full name. I don’t think it was just ‘Brett.’ And I remember hearing and being mortified that this was out there.”
Ramirez acknowledged that there are significant gaps in her memories of the evening, and that, if she ever presents her story to the F.B.I. or members of the Senate, she will inevitably be pressed on her motivation for coming forward after so many years, and questioned about her memory, given her drinking at the party.
And yet, after several days of considering the matter carefully, she said, “I’m confident about the pants coming up, and I’m confident about Brett being there.” Ramirez said that what has stayed with her most forcefully is the memory of laughter at her expense from Kavanaugh and the other students. “It was kind of a joke,” she recalled. “And now it’s clear to me it wasn’t a joke.”
By his freshman year, Kavanaugh was eighteen, and legally an adult. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh swore under oath that as a legal adult he had never “committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature.”
The New Yorker has not confirmed with other eyewitnesses that Kavanaugh was present at the party. The magazine contacted several dozen classmates of Ramirez and Kavanaugh regarding the incident. Many did not respond to interview requests; others declined to comment, or said they did not attend or remember the party. A classmate of Ramirez’s, who declined to be identified because of the partisan battle over Kavanaugh’s nomination, said that another student told him about the incident either on the night of the party or in the next day or two. The classmate said that he is “one-hundred-per-cent sure” that he was told at the time that Kavanaugh was the student who exposed himself to Ramirez. He independently recalled many of the same details offered by Ramirez, including that a male student had encouraged Kavanaugh as he exposed himself. The classmate, like Ramirez, recalled that the party took place in a common room on the first floor in Entryway B of Lawrance Hall, during their freshman year. “I’ve known this all along,” he said. “It’s been on my mind all these years when his name came up. It was a big deal.” The story stayed with him, he said, because it was disturbing and seemed outside the bounds of typically acceptable behavior, even during heavy drinking at parties on campus. The classmate said that he had been shocked, but not necessarily surprised, because the social group to which Kavanaugh belonged often drank to excess. He recalled Kavanaugh as “relatively shy” until he drank, at which point he said that Kavanaugh could become “aggressive and even belligerent.”
Another classmate, Richard Oh, an emergency-room doctor in California, recalled overhearing, soon after the party, a female student tearfully recounting to another student an incident at a party involving a gag with a fake penis, followed by a male student exposing himself. Oh is not certain of the identity of the female student. Ramirez told her mother and sister about an upsetting incident at the time, but did not describe the details to either due to her embarrassment.
Mark Krasberg, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico who was also a member of Kavanaugh and Ramirez’s class at Yale, said Kavanaugh’s college behavior had become a topic of discussion among former Yale students soon after Kavanaugh’s nomination. In one e-mail that Krasberg received in September, the classmate who recalled hearing about the incident with Ramirez alluded to it and wrote that it “would qualify as a sexual assault,” he speculated, “if it’s true.”
One of the male classmates who Ramirez said egged on Kavanaugh denied any memory of the party. “I don’t think Brett would flash himself to Debbie, or anyone, for that matter,” he said. Asked why he thought Ramirez was making the allegation, he responded, “I have no idea.” The other male classmate who Ramirez said was involved in the incident commented, “I have zero recollection.”
In a statement, two of those male classmates who Ramirez alleged were involved in the incident, the wife of a third male student she said was involved, and three other classmates, Dino Ewing, Louisa Garry, and Dan Murphy, disputed Ramirez’s account of events: “We were the people closest to Brett Kavanaugh during his first year at Yale. He was a roommate to some of us, and we spent a great deal of time with him, including in the dorm where this incident allegedly took place. Some of us were also friends with Debbie Ramirez during and after her time at Yale. We can say with confidence that if the incident Debbie alleges ever occurred, we would have seen or heard about it—and we did not. The behavior she describes would be completely out of character for Brett. In addition, some of us knew Debbie long after Yale, and she never described this incident until Brett’s Supreme Court nomination was pending. Editors from the New Yorker contacted some of us because we are the people who would know the truth, and we told them that we never saw or heard about this.”
The former friend who was married to the male classmate alleged to be involved, and who signed the statement, said of Ramirez, “This is a woman I was best friends with. We shared intimate details of our lives. And I was never told this story by her, or by anyone else. It never came up. I didn’t see it; I never heard of it happening.” She said she hadn’t spoken with Ramirez for about ten years, but that the two women had been close all through college, and Kavanaugh had remained part of what she called their “larger social circle.” In an initial conversation with The New Yorker, she suggested that Ramirez may have been politically motivated. Later, she said that she did not know if this was the case.
Ramirez is a registered Democrat, but said that her decision to speak out was not politically motivated and, regarding her views, that she “works toward human rights, social justice, and social change.” Ramirez said that she felt “disappointed and betrayed” by the statements from classmates questioning her allegation, “because I clearly remember people in the room whose names are on this letter.”
Several other classmates said that they believed Ramirez to be credible and honest, and vouched for her integrity. James Roche was roommates with Kavanaugh at the time of the alleged incident and is now the C.E.O. of a software company in San Francisco. “Debbie and I became close friends shortly after we both arrived at Yale,” he said. “She stood out as being exceptionally honest and gentle. I cannot imagine her making this up.” 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.” Another acquaintance from college, Jennifer Klaus, similarly said that she considered the allegation plausible, adding, “Debbie’s always been a very truthful, kind—almost to the point of being selfless—individual.” A third classmate, who Ramirez thought had attended the party, said that she was not present at the incident. The former student, who asked not to be named, said that she also found Ramirez credible.
Former students described an atmosphere at Yale at the time in which alcohol-fuelled parties often led to behavior similar to that described by Ramirez. “I believe it could have happened,” another classmate who knew both Kavanaugh and Ramirez said. Though she was not aware of Kavanaugh being involved in any specific misconduct, she recalled that heavy drinking was routine and that Ramirez was sometimes victimized and taunted by male students in his social circle. “They were always, like, ‘Debbie’s here!,’ and then they’d get into their ‘Lord of the Flies’ thing,” she said. While at Yale, Kavanaugh became a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, or “DKE,” which several students said was known for its wild and, in the view of some critics, misogynistic parties. Kavanaugh was also a member of an all-male secret society, Truth and Courage, which was popularly known by the nickname “Tit and Clit.”
Ramirez said that she continued to socialize with one of the male classmates who had egged Kavanaugh on during the party during college; she even invited the classmate to her house for Thanksgiving one year, after he told her that he had nowhere to go. She also attended his wedding, years later, as a guest of his wife, and said that she posed for photographs with Kavanaugh, smiling.
Ramirez said that she remained silent about the matter and did not fully confront her memories about it for years because she blamed herself for drinking too much. “It was a story that was known, but it was a story I was embarrassed about,” she said. More recently, she has begun to reassess what happened. “Even if I did drink too much, any person observing it, would they want their daughter, their granddaughter, with a penis in their face, while they’re drinking that much?” she said. “I can say that at fifty-three, but when I was nineteen or twenty I was vulnerable. I didn’t know better.” Reflecting on the incident now, she said she considers Kavanaugh’s male classmates culpable. “They’re accountable for not stopping this,” she said. However, “What Brett did is worse.” She added, “What does it mean, that this person has a role in defining women’s rights in our future?”
As Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings became a national story, the discussions among Ramirez and Kavanaugh’s classmates took on heightened urgency, eventually spreading to news organizations and to the Senate. Senate aides from Ramirez’s home state of Colorado alerted a lawyer, Stanley Garnett, a former Democratic district attorney in Boulder, who currently represents her. Ramirez ultimately decided to begin telling her story publicly, before others did so for her. “I didn’t want any of this,” she said. “But now I have to speak.”
Ramirez said that she hoped her story would support that of Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor who has raised an allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh that bears several similarities to Ramirez’s claim. Like Ramirez, Ford said that Kavanaugh was involved in sexual misconduct at a party while drunk and egged on by a male friend. In July, she sent a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein alleging that, at a party in the summer of 1982, when she was fifteen and Kavanaugh was seventeen and in high school, Kavanaugh pushed her into a bedroom, locked the door, pinned her to a bed, and covered her mouth to stop her screams as he attempted to pull off her clothes. Details of Ford’s allegation were initially made public by The New Yorker, which did not name her at the time. Subsequently, she disclosed her name in an interview with the Washington Post. In her letter, Ford said that during the incident she feared that Kavanaugh might inadvertently kill her. She alleged that a male friend and Georgetown Prep classmate of Kavanaugh’s, Mark Judge, was present in the room, alternately urging Kavanaugh to “go for it” and to “stop.” Kavanaugh has denied the allegation.
Ford’s allegation has made Judge a potentially pivotal witness for Kavanaugh. Judge told The New Yorker that he had “no recollection” of such an incident. Judge, who is a conservative writer, later gave an interview to The Weekly Standard in which he called Ford’s allegation “just absolutely nuts,” adding, “I never saw Brett act that way.” Asked by the interviewer whether he could remember any “sort of rough-housing with a female student back in high school” that might have been “interpreted differently by parties involved,” Judge told the publication, “I can’t. I can recall a lot of rough-housing with guys.” He added, “I don’t remember any of that stuff going on with girls.”
After seeing Judge’s denial, Elizabeth Rasor, who met Judge at Catholic University and was in a relationship with him for about three years, said that she felt morally obligated to challenge his account that “ ‘no horseplay’ took place at Georgetown Prep with women.” 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. (Barbara Van Gelder, an attorney for Judge, said that he “categorically denies” the account related by Rasor. Van Gelder said that Judge had no further comment.)
Another woman who attended high school in the nineteen-eighties in Montgomery County, Maryland, where Georgetown Prep is located, also refuted Judge’s account of the social scene at the time, sending a letter to Ford’s lawyers saying that she had witnessed boys at parties that included Georgetown Prep students engaging in sexual misconduct. In an interview, the woman, who asked to have her name withheld for fear of political retribution, recalled that male students “would get a female student blind drunk” on what they called “jungle juice”—grain alcohol mixed with Hawaiian Punch—then try to take advantage of her. “It was disgusting,” she said. “They treated women like meat.”
Kavanaugh’s attitude toward women has come to play a central role in his confirmation process. His backers have offered portrayals of his strong support for girls and women. When Kavanaugh accepted Trump’s nomination to the Court at a White House event in July, he and Trump both stressed that he had numerous female law clerks, and that he coached his young daughters’ school basketball teams. During his Senate confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh at one point ushered into the Senate hearing room a large group of school girls whose basketball games he had coached, showcasing his warm and supportive relationships with women. Earlier this month, on the same day The New Yorker reported details of Ford’s allegation, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee released a letter from sixty-five women defending the nominee. On Monday, CNN reported that the White House has been contacting many of those women again, hoping to present their perspective to the media, perhaps as part of a group news conference.
The very different portrayals of Kavanaugh and his social scene offered by Ford, and now Ramirez, come at a crucial point in the confirmation process. On Friday, the Republican Senator Charles Grassley, of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued a public ultimatum to Ford, announcing that he would schedule the committee’s vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation for Monday morning if she did not respond to an invitation to testify by a deadline, set first for Friday night and then for Saturday afternoon. Lawyers for Ford had pushed back, demanding an outside investigation of Ford’s allegation by the F.B.I. before she offered testimony, and said that she needed additional time to prepare. The White House and F.B.I. have declined to pursue that F.B.I. investigation, though Grassley has stated that his office has conducted its own inquiries into the matter. On Sunday, Ford’s lawyer and the committee reached an agreement for her to testify on Thursday.
In a statement, Kavanaugh’s attorneys Beth Wilkinson and Alexandra Walsh wrote, “Judge Kavanaugh fully and honestly answered the Judiciary Committee’s questions over multiple days only to have unsubstantiated allegations come out when a vote on his confirmation was imminent. What matters in situations like these are facts and evidence.” Like Kavanaugh, they said that, on Thursday, “testimony and evidence will confirm what Judge Kavanaugh has made clear all along—that he did not commit the sexual assault Dr. Blasey Ford describes.”
The issue has proved to be politically delicate for the White House. Last week, Vanity Fair reported that White House officials were concerned about additional allegations against Kavanaugh emerging, and cited a source who claimed that Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter and adviser, had urged him to withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination. Trump has defended Kavanaugh in the wake of Ford’s allegations. In a series of tweets on Friday, he sought to undermine her account of events, writing, “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents.” He described Kavanaugh as “a fine man,” who he wrote was “under assault by radical left wing politicians.”
Ramirez said that witnessing the attempts to discredit Ford had made her frightened to share her own story, which she knew would be attacked due to the gaps in her memory and her level of inebriation at the time. “I’m afraid how this will all come back on me,” she said. Her attorney, Garnett, said that he and Ramirez had not yet decided when and how she would convey the details of her allegation to the Senate Judiciary Committee and whether new counsel would represent her in Washington. “We’re carefully evaluating what the appropriate next steps would be,” he said. They both said that an F.B.I. investigation of the matter was merited. “I do believe an F.B.I. investigation of this kind of character-related information would be appropriate, and would be an effective way to relay the information to the committee,” Garnett said. Of Ramirez, he added, “She’s as careful and credible a witness as I’ve encountered in thirty-six years of practicing law.” Ramirez said that she hoped an investigation could be carried out before the committee voted on Kavanaugh’s nomination. “At least look at it,” she said of her claim. “At least check it out.”

Michael Moore: Fahrenheit 11/9 | Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)

In the Foxhole | The Daily Show

Trump Administration Aims to Sharply Restrict New Green Cards for Those on Public Aid - The New York Times


"WASHINGTON — Trump administration officials announced Saturday that immigrants who legally use public benefits like food assistance and Section 8 housing vouchers could be denied green cards under new rules aimed at keeping out people the administration deems a drain on the country.

The move could force millions of poor immigrants who rely on public assistance for food and shelter to make a difficult choice between accepting financial help and seeking a green card to live and work legally in the United States.

Older immigrants, many of whom get low-cost prescription drugs through the Medicare Part D program, could also be forced to stop participating in the popular benefits program or risk being deemed a ‘public charge’ who is ineligible for legal resident status.

The move is not intended to affect most immigrants who have already been granted green cards, but advocates have said they fear that those with legal resident status will stop using public benefits to protect their status. The regulation, which the administration said would affect about 382,000 people a year, is the latest in a series of aggressive crackdowns by President Trump and his hard-line aides on legal and illegal immigration. "

(Via.)  Trump Administration Aims to Sharply Restrict New Green Cards for Those on Public Aid - The New York Times:

Friday, September 21, 2018

Rod Rosenstein Suggested Secretly Recording Trump and Discussed 25th Amendment - The New York Times

"WASHINGTON — The deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, suggested last year that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit.

Mr. Rosenstein made these suggestions in the spring of 2017 when Mr. Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director plunged the White House into turmoil. Over the ensuing days, the president divulged classified intelligence to Russians in the Oval Office, and revelations emerged that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey to pledge loyalty and end an investigation into a senior aide.

Mr. Rosenstein was just two weeks into his job. He had begun overseeing the Russia investigation and played a key role in the president’s dismissal of Mr. Comey by writing a memo critical of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But Mr. Rosenstein was caught off guard when Mr. Trump cited the memo in the firing, and he began telling people that he feared he had been used.

Mr. Rosenstein made the remarks about secretly recording Mr. Trump and about the 25th Amendment in meetings and conversations with other Justice Department and F.B.I. officials. Several people described the episodes, insisting on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The people were briefed either on the events themselves or on memos written by F.B.I. officials, including Andrew G. McCabe, then the acting bureau director, that documented Mr. Rosenstein’s actions and comments..."

Rod Rosenstein Suggested Secretly Recording Trump and Discussed 25th Amendment - The New York Times

NYT columnist defends Kavanaugh accuser with his own powerful story

Thursday, September 20, 2018

FBI Flexes Independence From Trump Over Kavanaugh, Russia Fights - Bloomberg

"...Meanwhile, the FBI never told Trump or anyone at the White House it doesn’t want to be involved in investigating the allegations against Kavanaugh, and it could investigate the matter if directed to do so by the White House, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Trump claimed on Tuesday that the bureau isn’t interested in investigating the allegations.

The FBI in 1991 investigated Anita Hill’s claims as part of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s confirmation that he had sexually harassed her repeatedly..."

FBI Flexes Independence From Trump Over Kavanaugh, Russia Fights - Bloomberg

The "Law and Order” President on Collusion and Kavanaugh: A Closer Look

'No accident' Brett Kavanaugh's female law clerks 'looked like models', Yale professor told students | US news | The Guardian

One source said that in at least one case, a law student was so put off by Chua’s advice that she decided not to pursue a clerkship with Brett Kavanaugh.

I really disliked Amy Chua's book. She is a shallow person.

"A top professor at Yale Law School who strongly endorsed supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as a “mentor to women” privately told a group of law students last year that it was “not an accident” that Kavanaugh’s female law clerks all “looked like models” and would provide advice to students about their physical appearance if they wanted to work for him, the Guardian has learned.

Amy Chua, a Yale professor who wrote a bestselling book on parenting called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, was known for instructing female law students who were preparing for interviews with Kavanaugh on ways they could dress to exude a “model-like” femininity to help them win a post in Kavanaugh’s chambers, according to sources."

'No accident' Brett Kavanaugh's female law clerks 'looked like models', Yale professor told students | US news | The Guardian

Lawrence: Senator Chuck Grassley Proves That Senator Grassley Is Lying |...

Brett Kavanaugh: No More Nineties Reboots, Please | September 19, 2018 ...

Christine Blasey Ford’s request for an FBI investigation makes perfect sense.

"As soon as Christine Blasey Ford came forward as the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when both were in high school, it felt like we were hurtling toward something women in this country have wanted for decades: a chance to fix what had gone so horribly wrong during the disastrous Anita Hill hearings of 1991. Statements from Senate Republicans—among them Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, and Lindsey Graham—forced Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley to grant Ford a public hearing. Grassley sent invitations to both parties involved, and we waited.

Kavanaugh almost immediately expressed his willingness to participate, while also categorically denying that the event in question had ever happened. On Tuesday night, Ford’s lawyers released the letter they sent back to Grassley. It is neither a definitive acceptance or rejection of his invitation. Rather, it states that their client requests that, before she agrees to testify, her claims be investigated by the FBI. (This, as it happens, is the same move Sen. Dianne Feinstein requested last week before Ford stepped forward.) Republicans see this as nothing more than a stalling tactic. Graham tweeted on Wednesday that “an FBI investigation of a 36 year old allegation (without specific references to time or location) before Professor Ford will appear before the Judiciary Committee is not about finding the truth, but delaying the process till after the midterm elections.” Grassley has essentially affirmed that view, giving Ford a take-it-or-leave-it deadline of 10 a.m. on Friday to decide if she wants to participate in the hearing...."

Christine Blasey Ford’s request for an FBI investigation makes perfect sense.

Federal agency says it lost track of 1,488 migrant children

"Twice in less than a year, the federal government has lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children after placing them in the homes of sponsors across the country, federal officials have acknowledged.

The Health and Human Services Department recently told Senate staffers that case managers could not find 1,488 children after they made follow-up calls to check on their safety from April through June. That number represents about 13 percent of all unaccompanied children the administration moved out of shelters and foster homes during that time.

The agency first disclosed that it had lost track of 1,475 children late last year, as it came under fire at a Senate hearing in April. Lawmakers had asked HHS officials how they had strengthened child protection policies since it came to light that the agency previously had rolled back safeguards meant to keep Central American children from ending up in the hands of human traffickers.

“The fact that HHS, which placed these unaccompanied minors with sponsors, doesn’t know the whereabouts of nearly 1,500 of them is very troubling,” Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, the panel’s chair, said Wednesday. “Many of these kids are vulnerable to trafficking and abuse, and to not take responsibility for their safety is unacceptable.”

HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley disputed the notion that the children were “lost.”

“Their sponsors, who are usually parents or family members and in all cases have been vetted for criminality and ability to provide for them, simply did not respond or could not be reached when this voluntary call was made,” she said in a statement.

Since October 2014, the federal government has placed more than 150,000 unaccompanied minors with parents or other adult sponsors who are expected to care for the children and help them attend school while they seek legal status in immigration court.

On Tuesday, members of a Senate subcommittee introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at requiring the agency to take responsibility for the care of migrant children, even when they are no longer in its custody.

An Associated Press investigation found in 2016 that more than two dozen unaccompanied children had been sent to homes where they were sexually assaulted, starved or forced to work for little or no pay. At the time, many adult sponsors didn’t undergo thorough background checks, government officials rarely visited homes and in some cases had no idea that sponsors had taken in several unrelated children, a possible sign of human trafficking..."

Federal agency says it lost track of 1,488 migrant children

Meet the 80-Year-Old Bodybuilder

GOP Stands by Kavanaugh Despite Sexual Assault Allegations: A Closer Look

Opinion | Everyone Deserves Better Than This Senate Spectacle - The New York Times

"In 1991, at the direction of President George H.W. Bush, the F.B.I. looked into Anita Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas, who had gone through his confirmation hearings weeks earlier. The investigation took three days. The resulting report was provided to the White House, which said it showed that Ms. Hill’s allegations were “unfounded.” The Judiciary Committee reconvened a few weeks later, and heard from nearly two dozen witnesses, including Ms. Hill and Justice Thomas. Does Mr. Grassley now want to set an even lower standard for taking a woman’s claims seriously than the committee did when Ms. Hill appeared before it?

In an Op-Ed published by The Times on Tuesday, Ms. Hill called for a thorough investigation by a neutral body with experience in sexual-violence cases, and said it should not be rushed. “A week’s preparation is not enough time for meaningful inquiry into very serious charges,” she wrote.

Yet Mr. Grassley has rejected calls to involve the F.B.I. and offered to hear only from Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanaugh themselves, even though there are numerous people who might be able to shed light on what may have happened on the night in question. First among these is Judge Kavanaugh’s high school friend Mark Judge, who Dr. Blasey said was in the room where she said the assault occurred, and who has given shifting answers about his recollections.

Speaking of unreliable memories, it’s laughable for Republicans to complain, as some do, that Dr. Blasey’s claim is too old to be considered. The Senate Judiciary Committee is not a court of law; it’s an arena of politics. Remember that less than a decade ago, Republican senators were happy to grill Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama’s first pick for the court, about positions taken 30 years earlier by a legal-defense fund whose board she had once sat on.

Certainly there’s no statute of limitations preventing the committee from weighing allegations of attempted rape against a nominee to a lifetime seat on the highest court in the land. Besides, since Judge Kavanaugh has flatly denied the accusation, his honesty now — not as a teenager — is at issue.

The committee should ask probing questions of all parties. Just as Mr. Judge has given inconsistent statements to the press, there are discrepancies in the accounts of how Dr. Blasey has described the alleged events. It’s possible that she is misremembering events or even making them up, although it’s hard to see how people could imagine themselves benefiting from doing that. In the few days since Dr. Blasey’s name became public, she has already suffered, as she knew she would. She’s been forced into hiding with her family after receiving death threats.

But so far, Senate Republicans seem more concerned with getting Judge Kavanaugh confirmed than in getting to the truth of the accusation against him. Republicans know that their Senate majority is at risk on Nov. 6, and they want to seize their chance to give the court a solid right-wing majority for years to come.

“This has been a drive-by shooting when it comes to Kavanaugh,” Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters on Tuesday, giving the cynical game away in one compact statement. “I’ll listen to the lady, but we’re going to bring this to a close.”

Opinion | Everyone Deserves Better Than This Senate Spectacle - The New York Times

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Kavanaugh's accuser wants an FBI investigation before testifying

Kavanaugh's accuser wants an FBI investigation before testifying

WaPo: Trump feels vulnerable, angry, unprotected

WaPo: Trump feels vulnerable, angry, unprotected

Trevor Doesn’t Buy Senator Orrin Hatch’s Defense of Brett Kavanaugh | Th...

Toobin: Kavanaugh will be confirmed if accuser doesn't testify

Woodward on Trump: Such a shame, Presidents can do great things

Woodward on Trump: Such a shame, Presidents can do great things

Clinton: W.H. should ask FBI to reopen Kavanaugh background check

Clinton: W.H. should ask FBI to reopen Kavanaugh background check

'No one comes to help us': Florence cleanup highlights Wilmington's stark social divide | World news | The Guardian

Joseph Cobbs sits in his friend’s yard, manning the generator for the block in Wilmington’s Northside. ‘All the white people around us got power. We got none.’

Image result for Derrick Bell quotes

Life in America. "In the largely black neighborhood of Northside, the power is out and resources are scarce. In wealthier Monkey Junction, it’s a different story."

'No one comes to help us': Florence cleanup highlights Wilmington's stark social divide | World news | The Guardian