Monday, September 10, 2018

Cruising the Web

I get that Trump is really quite contemptible in various ways. I've never liked him - even back when he was just headlines in gossip columns about his wives or bankruptcies. I didn't support him for the nomination or vote for him. I can't stand his constant mad, solipsistic tweeting. I've liked and supported some of his actions such as the court appointments, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his support of that country, backing out of the Iran deal, deregulatory actions, and the tax cuts. Perhaps that's worth having a buffoon in the White House and the lowering of standards. I find myself just ignoring many of the most egregious stories about him just because I can't stand so much crazy. I don't buy that he's playing some sort of three-dimensional chess to expose how awful his opponents are. I don't find the stories in the Woodward book so very unbelievable. I believe the denials from people like Generals Kelly and Mattis, but I wouldn't be at all surprised that two honorable Marines who have sacrificed for this country would be astounded at seeing Trump in action sometimes.

However, Trump does possess one magic power - he drives his opponents so crazy that they expose themselves to be little better than he is. They can oppose Brett Kavanaugh for all the reasons they do, but do they have to cheat and lie just to burn him? There is something so shameful in the tactics that some of them have embraced. Cory Booker has made himself into a joke. He's still going around and pretending he's Spartacus even though he's been exposed as a total grandstanding blowhard.

Kamala Harris has also exposed herself. First she went on that pointless fishing expedition to try to get Kavanaugh to admit that he'd talked with someone, anyone at Trump's personal lawyer's law firm. When that didn't work out she started pressing him about a ruling in a case concerning a case involving a group, Priests for Life, that objected to being forced to provide insurance coverage contraceptives due to their religious belief. When the case came before Kavanaugh, he was in the minority dissenting from a decision at the DC Circuit that went against the religious group. When Senator Cruz asked him about it, Kavanaugh summarized the position of the group.
"That was a group that was being forced to provide certain kind of health coverage over their religious objection to their employees. And under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the question was first, was this a substantial burden on the religious exercise? And it seemed to me quite clearly it was," Kavanaugh said.

"It was a technical matter of filling out a form in that case," he added. "In that case, they said filling out the form would make them complicit in the provision of the abortion-inducing drugs that they were, as a religious matter, objected to."
It's no surprise that Planned Parenthood opposes Kavanaugh and mischaracterized his position by sending out a message that dropped the words "they said" and made it sound as if Kavanaugh was expressing his own opinion. Kamala Harris tweeted out the video with the words "they said" lopped off.

She is so contemptible. Remember this is a woman who was the Attorney General of California. She knew he was stating their position not giving his opinion. So she makes up this garbage, puts out an edited video so she can gin up support for her run for the presidency.

Here is NBC just totally ignoring the full statement by Kavanaugh in order to further the anti-Kavanaugh dishonest hysteria.
In one moment of questioning by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Kavanaugh referred to birth control as “abortion-inducing drugs,” causing women’s choice advocates to sound the alarm.
That is what dishonest reporting looks like.

And CNN's headline to their own story which acknowledges that he was quoting the group, still misleads.
Kavanaugh 'abortion-inducing drug' comment draws scrutiny
The headline could just as easily have been, "Kavanaugh's foes mislead about his opinion in contraceptives case."

And the New York Times Science section jumped in to play to the false narrative.
During his Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Thursday, Judge Brett Kavanaugh referred to some forms of birth control as “abortion-inducing drugs.” The phrase is a characterization that some anti-abortion religious groups use, but it is not supported by scientific evidence.

Judge Kavanaugh used the phrase while answering questions by Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, about a 2015 dissent he wrote in a case brought by a Catholic organization over a requirement in the federal health care law that employers include contraception coverage in employee health plans. The group, Priests for Life, argued that the provision violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, despite an exception allowing employers with religious objections to arrange for a separate insurance company to provide contraceptive coverage.

“They said filling out the form would make them complicit in the provision of the abortion-inducing drugs that they were, as a religious matter, objecting to,” Judge Kavanaugh testified, describing the group’s position.

It was not clear exactly which methods Judge Kavanaugh was referring to when he used the phrase “abortion-inducing drugs.”
Their criticism should be for the Priests for Life and shouldn't be tagged to what Kavanaugh said which was clearly quoting them, not stating his own position. But tying this headline, "Science Does Not Support Claims That Contraceptives Are ‘Abortion-Inducing’" and tying it to the Kavanaugh hearing is really misleading even if the text explains how it came up and uses the "they said" introduction.

As David French writes, there are honorable ways to oppose a Supreme Court nominee with whom you disagree. But the Democrats are so maddened and so desperate to prove to their base that they're going to act tough with Trump that they have eschewed the honorable path.
There is certainly an honorable way to oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. It’s simple. A progressive senator can simply declare that he or she does not agree with Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy, explain why, and vote against him. There is no constitutional rule that declares a senator must vote for every qualified Supreme Court nominee.

There’s also an honorable way to investigate Kavanaugh’s fitness for the bench, regardless of his judicial philosophy. A judge at any level — much less the Supreme Court — should exhibit a basic and enduring commitment to honesty and integrity. So, yes, scrutinize his record. Diligently investigate his background. If a serious character issue emerges, expose it.

But it’s low and dishonorable to skip the principled opposition and simply smear a good man, engaging in cheap character assassination as Judge Kavanaugh’s Democratic opponents have this week.
They've just descended into the fever swamps as they claim that his aide is flashing a white-power sign when her hand was in the position for the OK gesture. They acted like everyone must know that that was a signal of white power. I'd never heard of that but, apparently, I'm the only one in the entire country that didn't know that or recognize that a woman whose mother is Mexican and whose grandparents were Holocaust survivors was actually a white nationalist. While that story got beaten down pretty quickly because of her ethnic background, just imagine if she hadn't had a background that would have protected her from that allegation. Then there was the story that the media totally bit on even though it was clearly ginned up by the father of a child killed in the Parkland shootings who declared that he wanted to protest Kavanaugh's nomination.
The same day, activists claimed that Kavanaugh actively refused to shake Fred Guttenberg’s hand. Guttenberg is the father of a student murdered in February’s Parkland, Fla. school shooting, and he approached Kavanaugh in the scrum following a break in the hearing. Just as Guttenberg, a complete stranger to Kavanaugh, stuck out his hand, security arrived and ushered Kavanaugh away. This was then cravenly spun into an outrage by the progressive Internet.
Yes, because it is totally unbelievable that a guy who has been receiving death threats and who has spent the day having protesters scream at him might hesitate to shake the hand of a total stranger whom the security officials are leading away. Despite the video, Guttenberg got his minutes on fame on TV to make his claim that Kavanaugh knew who he was and refused to shake his hand. Is there anything about Kavanaugh's background that would make anyone believe that he would refuse to shake the hand of a man whose daughter had been gunned down in a terrible school shooting?

David Lat had done yeoman's work debunking the accusations that Kavanaugh has perjured himself. Read his thread debunking the idea that he perjured himself by saying in his 2006 hearing that he had not worked personally on the Bill Pryor nomination to the 11th circuit. Lat points out the several times during the hearing when he said that that wasn't a nomination that was assigned to him. Once again, his critics are taking one sentence out of context when he said "No, I was not involved in handling his nomination." That statement came after several statements explaining that that nomination had not been one of the ones he was working on. And he acknowledged that he might have assisted in some ways such as attending a moot hearing for Pryor or reading articles about his nomination, but couldn't say more because that was internal executive deliberations. So he didn't lie. Read the entire thread. Here is Lat's conclusion.

And that is not the only thread that David Lat has written to answer the allegations that Kavanaugh has perjured himself. He doesn't even support the Kavanaugh nomination, but he's willing to be honest in his evaluation. Here he answers the accusation that Kavanaugh perjured himself about an allegation that Kavanaugh knew about confidential memors that were taken from the Democratic server and another allegation about NSA surveillance. He points to a story about this accusation from the New York Times, certainly no pro-Kavanaugh media outlet, giving the background on the accusations about the memos. Their story makes clear that there was no way Kavanaugh could have known that information sent to him in a memo came from Democratic files. And Senator Leahy is also accusing him of having lied in 2006 about the NSA's warrantless wiretapping proposal. As the actual memos reveal and the NYT reports and David Lat summarizes, there were two proposals - one was a "hypothetical warrantless surveillance program" and one was an actual program. Kavanaugh wasn't informed about the actual program because he didn't have the clearance to know about it. And Lat links to a tweet by Neal Katyal, a liberal lawyer who has spoken in favor of Kavanaugh as an honorable man and jurist, that this whole thing is easy to disprove.

Despite all this, the Democrats are happily throwing out all sorts of accusations of perjury. They don't care that they're just making this stuff up. All that matters is that they smear the guy so that when he does get on the Supreme Court and rules in some way they don't like, they can bring up all these baseless allegations as if they're all true.

French concludes,
All of these claims raise a simple question: “Why?” Why did so many people — often egged on by informed partisans who should’ve known better — immediately rush to believe the worst about Kavanaugh’s character and motives?

There are people who think the ends justify the means, and it is just fine to destroy a man’s good name to keep him off the High Court by spreading falsehoods. So, yes, malice is part of the explanation, but it’s only part. In my experience most partisans aren’t intentionally malicious. Rather they believe Kavanaugh’s philosophy is ipso facto proof of his low character. They look at a person who may overturn Roe, who voted to overturn Washington D.C.’s assault-weapons ban, and who has written opinions that they believe empower religious bigots, and they think, “This is a bad man.” Thus, when they see a former clerk make an “Ok” sign, or watch Kavanaugh turn away when a Parkland father extends his hand, or listen to his testimony, they immediately interpret each experience through the prism of their distaste.

That’s negative polarization at work. You see it all the time. The very idea that Kavanaugh was appointed by Trump means that he’s “lost the benefit of the doubt.” The very notion that he thinks the original public meaning of the Constitution may not include federal protection for a right to an abortion means that he hates women. Heck, even originalism itself (in the telling of the truly blinded activist) is believed to be a ruse — a philosophical disguise for naked partisanship and outright bigotry.

In other words, in their minds, they’re not engaging in character assassination so much as character revelation.

It’s sad that this is news to some, but people of good faith and high character can and do come to competing conclusions about originalism, abortion, gun control, and religious liberty. Evidence of opposition is not, by itself, evidence of evil, and we would be well-served by ceasing to pretend that it is. There is overwhelming evidence that Brett Kavanaugh is a good and intelligent man who is a faithful adherent to a particular judicial philosophy. You can honorably oppose that philosophy, but you cannot honorably smear the man.
But sadly, that is where we are today. And you can't blame it all on Trump. Remember what was done to Robert Bork. Remember how Bush was called Hitler and how many people still think he had advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. And John McCain and Mitt Romney were smeared as racists and vile human beings. And the Republicans are not pure. How many people believed that the Clintons had had Vince Foster murdered?

It's all so very discouraging. So does it surprise you that people were willing to take a chance on Trump because they perceived him as being willing to fight?

This is great.

IF Kamala Harris comes out of this hearing as a liberal heroine for sticking it to Kavanaugh, it will be all of a piece of her despicable history.
All of this is to say: Wednesday’s interaction between Harris and Kavanaugh reminds me of the senator's shameful record when she served as the district attorney of San Francisco and as California’s attorney general.

In that position, she was a petty tyrant who regularly advocated for absurdly harsh penalties, all while protecting her corrupt friends in government. She was a cheerleader for civil asset forfeiture. She championed an anti-truancy law that called for a $2,000 fine and jail time for the parents (by 2012, two mothers were imprisoned in California under this law). She even opposed attempts to do away with the state’s draconian three-strikes law, which called for life sentences for a third “strike” even if it was only a minor felony.

If you don’t believe me when I say Harris is the “bad cop,” you can read about it for yourself in the New York Times, National Review, Reason magazine, or even the socialist quarterly magazine Jacobin. (This write-up of Harris' history as a brutal, self-serving, and conniving official is especially damning).

But hey, at least she confused Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearing. Slay queen!

As Jonah Goldberg writes,
this has all become the Theater of the Absurd.
became the theater of the absurd.

In the classic absurdist dramas of the 1950s and 1960s, explains, European playwrights “did away with most of the logical structures of traditional theatre. There is little dramatic action as conventionally understood; however frantically the characters perform, their busyness serves to underscore the fact that nothing happens to change their existence.”

That’s a pretty good description of the sound and fury signifying nothing on display this week from Democrats and protesters alike....

The most obvious proof that this is all theater, isn’t The Handmaid’s Tale cosplayers outside the hearing rooms, it’s the senators most passionately shouting that they require more information despite already declaring they won’t vote for Kavanaugh, no matter what that information reveals.

One of the lead protagonists of this drama, New Jersey senator Cory Booker, exclaimed Thursday morning that “this is the closest I’ll ever get in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment,” and threatened to divulge confidential documents to the public, even if it meant risking losing his job.

“I am going to release the email about racial profiling, and I understand that the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate,” Booker declared.

Again, because nothing actually matters when the goal is to create dramatic sound bites for Twitter and TV and your 2020 presidential campaign videos, he later insisted that he wasn’t breaking the rules by releasing confidential documents.

He was right the first time: It is against the rules to release confidential documents.

Booker was hardly alone in the forced buffoonery. More than a dozen of his fellow Democrats joined in the rebellion against Senate rules, in effect shouting “I am Spartacus” too, and with mawkish bravery dared the Senate to expel them.

But all this Sturm und Drang on the public stage was pointless.

Indeed, the documents he ended up releasing had already been cleared for public viewing — and Booker reportedly knew that beforehand, but pretended otherwise. Gotta stay in character.

Oh, and the ominous email “about racial profiling” Booker released? It showed that Kavanaugh was opposed to racial profiling.

In Yiddish humor, which has its own absurdist bent, a schlemiel is a clumsy person who often spills his soup, and a schlimazel is the sort of chronically unlucky person the soup lands on. Booker achieved a double play: He spilled the soup on himself.