Kavanaugh Is a Creep (And Ford Is Courageous)

When Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation hearing began on September 4, I was totally skeeved out by the guy. It wasn't just his mushy, pale complexion, retrograde politics, and fake "aw-schucks" demeanor that made my skin crawl. His opening statement was just fuckin' weird. I tweeted, "I gotta tell ya: Between spurning the handshake of Fred Guttenberg and name-checking all the girls on his daughter's basketball team, Kavanaugh came across as one creepy bastard." I stand uncorrected on that.

So many of his first words to the committee were about how much he really, really loves and respects women that I thought it was just a way to mitigate his opposition to Roe v. Wade. I mean, c'mon. Between going on about how great his mom is to his coaching of his daughter's basketball team to "A majority of my 48 law clerks have been women," Kavanaugh may as well have just winked at Dianne Feinstein and said, "See? I have no problem with the ladies."

During the questioning, Kavanaugh revealed that there were already two other letters from groups of women talking about what a great guy he is. No, really. Here's Kavanaugh, responding to Sen. Orrin Hatch: "You've received a letter from 10 college friends of mine who were women, who were women athletes at Yale. Talked about how I treated them and women's sports with respect and as equal, even when I was in college. You have a letter from 84 women I worked with in the Bush administration who talked about my efforts to work with them in the intense environment of the West Wing, especially after September 11th."

Prior to the revelation that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford wrote a letter to Feinstein saying that Kavanaugh had attempted to rape her when she was 15 and he was 17, this could easily be seen as a kind of inoculation against all those liberals saying that he's going to send women to their deaths in back alleys (even if, you know, he really is going to send women to their deaths in back alleys).  I mean, his creepy-ass dissent in Garza v. Hargan, where he argued a 17 year-old undocumented girl could be blocked from getting an abortion, speaks volumes about what he really thinks about young women, more so than coaching them.

But now, with the addition of the already-prepped letter from 65 women who claim Kavanaugh was aces in high school, it's clear that Republicans knew something was up with this creepy motherfucker, and they were ready with the signatures to soften the blow. And, frankly, it ought to make us wonder what else Republicans are hiding in all those pages of documents they have refused to release or even allowed Democrats to see.

Any attack on Ford's credibility has to start with the simple question of what she has to gain from all of this. She initially wanted to remain anonymous, but then the information on Ford's letter was leaked by "multiple sources" to The Intercept, as well as to Ronan Farrow at The New Yorker. She's a professor at Palo Alto University, connected with Stanford, so she has a successful career. Hell, she's written on recovery and growth after the trauma of 9/11. Now, she's going to face an unending shitstorm from the right. If she hasn't already, she'll get death threats, her college will be inundated with fake complaints trying to get her fired, and she'll have her looks torn to shreds. Hell, the fuckin' brain trust of conservative nutzoids, including gender traitor Laura Ingraham, already tried to go after her but ended up attacking another Christine Ford.

Some of us also remember the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings, which was about egregious sexual harassment. I wrote then in the college paper about it, saying that Thomas wasn't going to go to jail or even lose his job. He just won't get the promotion. "Only one of them is telling the truth," I wrote. "One of them is an insane liar, and I believe he now sits on the Supreme Court." And every fucking decision that Thomas has made about women's rights has proven how little he thinks of women's agency beyond being objects for male sexuality, fit for subservience. But Hill was dragged through the mud, degraded and insulted, and ultimately treated as if she were just making it all up for shits and giggles. Those hearings, led by Joe Biden (who later apologized for them), were a national embarrassment.

Twenty-seven years later, how difficult is it to take Ford at face value when she says that Kavanaugh held her down, tried to take off her clothes, and covered her mouth to silence her screams, that she thought she might be killed? Is it really that difficult to imagine that she didn't tell anyone about this deep trauma until years later? Is it really that difficult to believe that a preppy little douchebag senior from an elite all-boy's high school in the DC suburbs would get shit-faced at a preppy douchebag party in 1982 and think he could get away with raping the sophomore from the girl's school?

There's another letter, this one from over 200 women who went to Ford's high school around the same time period,  and it says, essentially, "Yeah, this is the way these little rapist shits acted."

Motherfuckers, I grew up in the 1980s. Half our pop culture, from Sixteen Candles to the book Less Than Zero to MTV's Spring Break, was about getting girls so drunk or high that they couldn't say, "No," when it wasn't about trying to tear their clothes off or peep at them in their showers or bedrooms or locker rooms. Most of us knew that it was all fantasy bullshit about a lack of consequences for assholes. But a fuck of a lot of young men thought it was a license to bust a nut whenever and wherever and however.

Yeah, I fuckin' think Kavanaugh did it. I don't give a shit if it happened in high school because I think he's lying about it now, which even some Republicans have said is enough to get him voted down. There should be an investigation. And there are going to be hearings next week. A smart administration would pull the nomination. Hell, when George W. Bush pulled Harriet Miers, he got Samuel Alito. But, you know, we're dealing with Trump here.

Kavanaugh's creepy need to demonstrate how much he cares about women was there all the time, showing us, by protesting so vociferously, who he really is. We should thank Ford for putting her trauma out there for the world to judge, which is another kind of trauma, and being brave enough to take on this cyclone of condemnation and rage.


I'm on the UnPresidented Podcast - Check It Out

Yesterday, I chatted for over an hour with Americablog's John Aravosis and Cliff Schecter of The Daily Beast on their UnPresidented Podcast. We got filthy about creepy Kavanaugh, creepy Manafort, and Trump's creepy denial of deaths in Puerto Rico. Lots of fun.

Check out the 20 minute excerpt below and you can subscribe to hear the full 79 minute version, along with other episodes where they talk to Bill Scher, Molly Jong-Fast, and more.


What Did That Dumb Orange Motherfucker Say Now? (Hurricane and 9/11 Edition)

Yesterday, at his press briefing on Hurricane Florence, which is likely to fuck up South Carolina, along with possibly North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and/or Maryland, Donald Trump, a man whose every word and hand gesture makes him seem like a carny barker trying to get people to see the "mermaid" that's just a dead monkey with a fish tail sewn on, shit all over Puerto Rico. Devastation from Hurricane Maria last year was exacerbated, according to the goddamn president of the United States, because those freakin' Ricans were completely incompetent and that the island was already fucked before Maria arrived.

He really said, "Puerto Rico got hit not with one hurricane but with two. And the problem with Puerto Rico is their electric grid and their electric generating plant was dead before the storms ever hit. It was in very bad shape. It was in bankruptcy. It had no money. It was largely — you know, it was largely closed. And when the storm hit, they had no electricity — essentially before the storm. And when the storm hit, that took it out entirely."

The plant wasn't dead. Like the grid itself, it was in shitty shape. It needed a ton of work and money. A wise leader might say that this is an opportunity to help Puerto Rico get an electric grid that is at least part of the 21st century. But not Trump. For him, it was a chance to pass off any blame for the fuckery that contributed to the deaths of nearly 3000 Americans. He blamed the mayor of San Juan, even though many deaths occurred in rural areas where she's not the fuckin' mayor. He blamed the fact that the place is an island, as if the Federal Emergency Management Agency shouldn't be prepared for island disasters, considering that one state and all U.S. territories are goddamned islands.  

But a man who, with a straight face, can say that the government didn't need to learn jackshit about any failures in Puerto Rico, who can actually verbalize that it was "an incredible, unsung success," is not a man who really gives a sad donkey fuck about anyone. He just keeps barreling ahead, presenting every massive cock-up as someone else's problem or some way that evil motherfuckers want to hold him back and keep him down. Just wait until he blames the trillion dollar deficit on Obamacare or something and not his goddamned tax cuts.

And there is always some stupid in whatever Trump says, some thing that everyone fuckin' knows already that he's gotta act like is the biggest discovery in the world, like, "Holy shit, you know a man can piss standing up?" In this case, it was hurricane research: "You know, we go out there; you have people that actually go fly through these storms. These are very brave people. But they fly through." Yeah, brain dead King Louie, we've watched the news. They've been doing it for like 75 years. He wouldn't care if you told him because he's got no damn shame.

The level of decorum he displayed yesterday as he walked on the tarmac near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, pumping his wee fists and doing that lip bite he thinks looks tough, but mostly looks like he's letting out a big, wet fart, was when he was heading to a 9/11 memorial ceremony, America's holiest of holy days. Even there, before and after his speech, he pointed at people in the crowd and gave his stubby thumbs up, like a douchebro at a frat mixer approving of who his bud is hitting on.  Yet he gave a speech that was so sleepy, it was as if John Kelly told him no Big Macs if he veered off text to talk about "fake news" or the electoral college totals. He did get to say, "radical Islamic terrorism," which probably gave a half-stiffie.

But that's nothing compared to the weirdo fuckin' video posted to his social media where Trump talked about 9/11 from "the really beautiful lawn of the Rose Garden," as he put it. He praised the "incredible" people on Flight 93 who prevented their plane from crashing into "the White House or the Capitol or wherever it was heading," which, fine, yeah, the target is up for debate, but it's just a strange, dismissive way to put it. He continued, "These were 3000 incredible people, and we never will let this happen again."

You just wanna shout at the your phone or your computer or tablet, "Motherfucker, you let it happen again. You let it happen in Puerto Rico. It. Fucking. Happened. Except this time you were the hijacker and the federal government was the plane."

I have lots of friends and some family in Florence's path. The hurricane is gonna be awful. I'm expecting the aftermath is going to be even worse because this fuckin' president doesn't know how to land, how to save the passengers in case of emergency. He only knows how to crash.


Barack Obama, Serena Williams, and the White People Unable to Handle Black Rage

Barack and Michelle Obama were always aware of how too many white people would portray any sign of negative feelings from them. For both, it was specifically gendered and specifically racialized. Michelle Obama talked about how she was called an "angry black woman" when she appeared on the national stage, as if a black woman who fights for anything must be diminished by making her into a caricature. Senator and then candidate and then President Obama constantly, and consciously, fought against the image of the angry black man, the allusion to someone who riots or can't be controlled, as well as to the black men who were lynched. Both images are rooted not just in stereotypes, but in a historical dehumanization of African Americans by whites. It didn't matter, though, whether they ever betrayed any hints of anger. These two kind, loving, and smart people were constantly portrayed as violent, terroristic, and savage.

This weekend, Barack Obama made his first public statements in a long time that directly criticized the presidency of Donald Trump. It was pointed, but pretty mild in comparison to what Trump and most Republicans say. But it was very much Obama-esque, with its constant pleas to common sense against the idiocies of others. "How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad?" he asked the crowd in Illinois, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. And Obama is always ready to contextualize the problems of today within recent history. He said that Trump is "just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years, a fear and anger that’s rooted in our past but it’s also born out of the enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes."

From the reaction of the conservative media and from Trump's minions, you'd've thought that Obama called for the White House to burn. Columnist Michael Graham said Obama was speaking with "condescension, arrogance." Another was outraged that Obama called Republicans' ludicrous overreaction to the Benghazi attack a "conspiracy theory" in "an outrageous partisan speech." The Conservative Review (which I guess is a thing) declared, "Obama the demagogue is back." Republican politicians went after Obama, with Mike Pence giving that pinched face look and saying he found Obama's words "disappointing" because it breaks with some kind of unspoken precedent of ex-presidents staying away from criticizing current Oval Office occupants.

Does it even need saying that Donald Trump can take a sledgehammer to every precedent and every bit of decorum and the very people attacking Obama will praise Trump for his refusal to play by any rules?

Does it even need saying that Trump goes after Obama every single chance he gets and when Obama dares to say something in his own defense, it's just dismissed as sour grapes?

Does it even need saying that Trump gets away with his rule-breaking because he's white and Obama must stay within the lines at all time, that any deviation from a proscribed respectability makes him an object of derision and degradation by a large racist faction that still can't get over his election?

Which brings us to Serena Williams, perhaps the greatest athlete ever, and her outrage about her treatment at the U.S. Open women's final on Saturday. Many better writers than me have dealt with the sexism and the toxic combination of racism and sexism that allowed umpire Carlos Ramos to pile on penalties because Williams was angry at him for accusing her of cheating.

Whether or not you think Williams was justified in her confrontations with Ramos, if you know anything about tennis, you know that white male players routinely aggressively, angrily, and violently attack the umpires, their rackets, and anyone within range of their spit. Williams was being more respectful than any one of them, and I'm not even talking about regularly explosive icons like John McEnroe or Jimmy Connors. I'm talking about Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic, all of whom have blown up without penalty. (And let's not even get into the fact that just about every coach makes hand gestures in the stands.)

The response on the right ranged from mocking Williams for arguing with the refs "only when she's losing" (which, again, is pretty much true for any athlete in any sport who ever argued with officials) to the blatantly racist work from Australian editorial cartoonist Mark Knight in the Herald Sun, which you will not be shocked to hear is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. That image, with its exaggerated features on Williams, including large lips and fuzzy hair that look straight out of a KKK flyer, with the drawing of a wispy, blonde Osaka in contrast, shows you how black rage is perceived by racists, as animalistic, childish, devolved.

What you see time and again is a white fear of black rage, a rage that is more often than not self-repressed and self-censored. And it doesn't matter how mild the rage - as in Obama's criticism of Trump - or how pronounced  - as with Williams or Black Lives Matters or football players taking a knee or Maxine Waters - it will be interpreted as a threat to a sanctimonious white hegemony. Those invested in that power structure will react as if being attacked personally.

That reaction, the immediate need to diminish, to derogate, to distort the words and actions of black people who show even a hint of rage demands an answer.  Barack Obama and Serena Williams answer it by keeping on, by historicizing their rage and by negating their detractors, time and again by the radical act of simply being present and black and unbowed.

At her press conference after the match, Williams said, "The fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions, and that want to express themselves, and want to be a strong woman. They’re going to be allowed to do that because of today. Maybe it didn’t work out for me, but it’s going to work out for the next person." I can't imagine white people being in a position to have to say that, one day, the culture around them will allow them to fully express their feelings.


Hey, Look Over Here. I'm Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump White House, Too

I can remember the moment clearly: the young daughter of one of President Donald Trump's top aides brought a puppy to the office. Her father had asked Chief of Staff John Kelly if it was okay. Kelly, in that irascible way of his, said, "Who gives a fuck?" before he went back to prying the nuclear football out of the screaming president's hands.

Everyone of us in the West Wing knows that President Trump is afraid of dogs. "Dingoes are dogs," I once heard him say. "They eat babies. They eat souls." And then he leaned back in his chair and softly wept as he stared out at nothing, whispering, "So many babies. So many souls."

The president was wandering around the halls, having gotten loose from the Oval Office, when he saw the puppy. It was a pug, so it was truly adorable. He gestured at the girl, who smiled angelically at the man her father had told her deserves everyone's respect and loyalty. "I want to fuck it," he said. The Secret Service agents looked at each other and then went for the aide's daughter. "No, not the girl," he scoffed. "The dog."

Later, the aide told me, "I'm glad it was the dog. It would have been hard to let him take my daughter, but I would have because of the Supreme Court." I nodded. We all nodded because we all would have done the same.

We are the Resistance inside the Trump White House. We are not crazy liberals like Nancy Pelosi. No, we are conservatives who believe in conservative things like lower taxes for the poor rich people and regulation cutting for our struggling trillion-dollar corporations and a bigger military that's bigger just so we can say, "See? Look how big it is" and our voters will lap it up. We like when President Trump agrees to cut taxes and the rest, but we sure don't like it when he's wacky-crazy.

Like the dog. See, the aide handed the puppy over to Trump, who sniffed it and then quickly ambled back to the Oval Office. I got Secretary of Defense Mattis on the phone and said, "We have a situation. A fucking situation." Mattis happened to be in the building, and he rushed over. We burst into the Oval Office to see the president with his pants down, about to start having sex with the dog.

Mattis looked at me and said, "Quick, on Ivanka's desk. There's a stuffed animal. It looks like a dog. Get it."

"Ivanka has a desk?" I asked.

"Yes. Get the doll!"

I ran to the anteroom, and there was a small, tan unicorn on a white desk next to a pile of unsold, fake fashionable clothes. I ripped off the doll's horn, ran back, and tossed it to Mattis, who yelled, "Wait, Mr. President!" Trump turned, the pug in one hand, his penis in the other. "You can't fuck that puppy."

Trump gave that look that said he didn't believe you, you know, where he pulls back his head and it looks like he face goes right into his neck. "I'm the president of the United States. That was some election night, wasn't it? You see that map? So I can fuck any puppy I want."

Mattis said, "You can't fuck it because...it needs to be lubed up first or it'll hurt."

The president paused. He contemplated the situation. Then he said, "You're right. Good man. This guy. Always looking out for me." He handed the puppy over to Mattis. "Lube up the dog." Mattis turned his back, put the puppy in his jacket, pumped out some hand cream that was on the president's desk, rubbed it on the doll, and handed it to the anxious president.

Trump started slamming the dog against his semi-erect penis over and over, crying out, "Yeah, yeah, that's what you get for eating souls!" If it had been the real puppy, the cries would have been horrible, the bone breaking a nightmare. Mattis pushed me out of the room, telling me to give the pug back to the little girl and "get them both out of this Hell House." As the door shut, I could hear the President of the United States grunt in orgasm before he fell over onto the floor. Mike Pence was rushing over to lick the floor clean, as he does.

We in the Resistance know that Donald Trump needs to be institutionalized and that Russia owns him and his family like a hog farmer owns a pen of pigs. Sure, it'd be easy to just go to the press, admit that I'm someone really high up in the administration, and reveal all the awful things I see on an hourly basis, like how racist he is, how he'll shit on his desk and announce, "Look, I made another Ben Carson" after which he tosses the shit at Sarah Sanders and laughs as she runs out of the room, crying.

But I'm not going to do that because we are this close to taking away abortion rights from women and who knows? Maybe we'll teach those queers they don't have a right to get married. Constantly being on the verge of Armageddon is a small price to pay.  We're good as long as we can steer this hulking, mentally-deficient manchild to keep signing the documents we put in front of him. He's happy just to show off that he can write his name.

Besides, by writing this, I'm getting you all to wonder who I am rather than worry about Brett Kavanaugh, who is going to make liberals so sad, or those kids we're never going to reunite with their parents. And that's a good day's work.


The Kavanaugh Battle Was Over Before It Ever Got Started, So We Have to Think Ahead

It was heartening as hell to see Democrats put up a fight this morning over the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, as average a nutzoid conservative as you're going to find. Seriously, he is no more fucking grotesque and retrograde than Samuel Alito or Neil Gorsuch.  But, obviously, there are some extrinsic concerns here that made the Democratic minority on the Senate Judiciary Committee hulk out for a while.

For instance, the committee was not allowed to see any documents for the period of time when Kavanaugh was George W. Bush's White House Staff Secretary, which is a kind of counsel, from 2003-2006. He was only supposed to be there for a year but his nomination to the DC Circuit Court in 2004 stalled because, well, shit, he didn't really have the fucking qualifications to be a circuit court judge. In 2006, it finally got rammed through, and that was his reward for having been a savage dogfucker working for Kenneth Starr's pursuit of Bill Clinton's penis. Kavanaugh was responsible for getting lots of asshole judges through for Bush during those three years, so, you know, those records might be relevant to his, lemme see, judgment.

And then there's the minor issue of who nominated Kavanaugh, which would be Donald Trump, a man whose presidency is sitting there while a dump truck of shit slowly tilts up and we're all just waiting until the whole load comes pouring out on it. Democrats and anyone with a goddamn brain are thinking that maybe a motherfucker who is accused of fucking mothers shouldn't get to pick a judge who might sit in, lemme see, judgment over him.

So, yeah, way to go, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee. The base needs to see that kind of fight. Hell, if nothing else, the Democratic side looks a bit more like America, with women and people of color mixing it up alongside the white dudes. Over on the GOP side, it's all white guys (well, Ted Cruz is half-Cuban, but fuck that guy).

But it was all for nothing, really. The corpse of Chuck Grassley stuck to his guns and refused any motions to even have a vote that would fail on delaying the hearing. Grassley was his usual dickish self, commenting about every Democratic opening statement like he was on the couch and bellowing at Hannity on his TV. And Republicans like Ben Sasse and Jeff Flake, who had expressed dismay about shit that Trump had done even recently, like tweeting out an attack on the Department of Justice for indicting two GOP members of Congress, raised their haunches so that Trump would have easy access to fucking their asses. It is fait a-motherfuckin'-ccompli on Kavanaugh (barring some major revelation or fuck-up in the next couple of days).

It goes without saying that, in this fight and the Gorsuch fight, Democrats were playing catch-up for the mistakes they made in not blowing up the Senate over the Republicans' refusal to even consider the nomination by Barack Obama of Merrick Garland in 2016. By putting up only a relatively minor fuss with the hope that Hillary Clinton would be elected and thus would put more liberals on the court, Democrats gambled and lost hugely. Of course, they were also hoping that, post-election, Republicans would be honorable in their actions, and that fuckin' unicorn was murdered sometime around 2009, if not before.

Republicans were never going to be honorable. They were going to fuck shit up and then pretend that Democrats did it first, always going back to the Robert Bork hearings and vote in 1987, always forgetting that Bork had six Republicans vote against his nomination (and that Democrats were in control of the Senate). When Harriet Miers had to withdraw her nomination in 2005, Republicans were in the majority in the Senate. So where is the blame there?

Besides, Republicans kept talking about the sanctity of the process when every fucking one of those pricks blocked Garland's nomination, even when they admitted he was totally qualified. The worst was querulous worm Lindsey Graham, who had the audacity to say to Democrats, "You had a chance and you lost. If you want to pick judges from your way of thinking you better win an election." This bitch-faced cockscab had no problem preventing President Obama from appointing judges. Jesus, what life must be like for these jackoffs with their heads pressed so hard on Mitch McConnell's anus that they can't breathe.

So what are Democrats to do? We could fight now, however useless the battle. Hell, push Republicans to say stupid shit, like Sasse whining that pro-choice protesters are "hysterical," and use it in ads. Get Kavanaugh on record saying that he won't recuse himself from cases that involve Trump personally. One senator could make a big show, like refuse to stop talking until he or she is dragged out by security. Or all of them could just refuse to participate. Walk the fuck out and flip off the majority. Fuck, that's way more interesting than watching Republicans circle jerk around Kavanaugh as they drool over a future where women die from unsafe, illegal abortions and environmental regulations are ground into asbestos dust.

Or you could think ahead. And that's where you gotta get fucking badass. What if Democrats issued a statement saying that, if they get a majority or one or both chambers of Congress, they will launch an investigation of the records that were kept from them? That they will crawl into the asses of every judge appointed by Trump and, if they find any reason to, have them charged with contempt or perjury for the answers given under oath? For instance, you know, like Kavanaugh seems to have done in 2006. And that if they get enough Democrats elected, they will impeach and remove from the bench any Supreme Court justices appointed by Trump because Republicans have so tainted the process?

Can they do all that? Who the fuck cares? You think Republicans wonder if they can get away with shit before they do it? They fuckin' do it and let the chips fall where they may. If they wreck something on the way, then they say it deserved wrecking.

Playing nice has lost us the Supreme Court. You wanna get it back? Stop playing and start behaving like there are lives at stake.


A Poem for the Laborers

These Hands, These Roots
By John Olivares Espinoza

Go on, tell me
My hands look like yours,
Nail clipped, filed, buffed, shined.
They weren’t always so.
My hands were

Forged from
Gardening, working so deep
In the soil, they could have been roots.
Fingers splintered by wooden
Rakes and shovels.

Some gardener—
Whose face and name get lost
Like loose coins in my memory’s
backseat—told me women
Look at men’s hands

For dark half-circles
Between their nails, which give away
Your blue-collar status like a pair of torn jeans.
This is no matter how handsome your face.
I knew I had hope.

But what about
Lupe, whose mower chopped
His fingertips instead of blades of grass,
Who then preserved them in an ice chest
Next to some plums?

So I scrub, clip,
And lotion my hands with aloe,
Fearing bachelorhood and Internet dating.
I take pride in my hands now,
But what about when

The skin gathers at the knuckle,
And arthritis tangles my fingers for
Cracking my knuckles since I was ten?
But until then, hold my hand
Tightly with yours

As my other hand
Wipes the sweat from my brow
Under the perspiration of work and love
And the fact I know no other way
To wrestle out a life for us.