A display of tribal divisions at the Kavanaugh hearing

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford
Win McNamee/Pool via REUTERS
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in before testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Yesterday’s special Senate hearing was almost a clash of civilizations along various divides: the man-woman divide; the Democrat-Republican divide and calm-angry divide.

“This afternoon was tribal,” CNN’s John King said after the hearing was over.

I agree. But it’s strange. The tribe that was angry was the Republican tribe that controls all branches of the federal government and has the power it needs to reinforce its power over the Supreme Court.

And its angriest tribesmen were strange, too: Sen. Lindsay Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who stands likely to realize his lifelong dream of a seat on the Supreme Court.

Graham, generally one of the jollier and more bipartisan of senators, blew his stack, denounced what he characterized as the “most unethical sham” he had ever seen, a Democratic plot to unfairly destroy Kavanaugh’s reputation.

“I feel ambushed,” Graham said at one point, (seriously, “ambushed?”) and later: “If you’re looking for a fair process, you came to the wrong place at the wrong time, my friend. This is not a job interview; this is Hell.” (Hell, really?) 

Describing Democrats as “despicable,” accusing them of an elaborate plot rolled out over several months to keep the vacant Supreme Court seat open until after the midterms in hopes they can steal it, he taunted them “You want this seat? I hope you never get it.” 

Kavanaugh raged against the fates all day. He may have been sincere, or he may have been following a plan, I don’t claim to know. But he raged and wept angrily, and may have saved his dream by doing so.

The other tribe’s heroine of the day was Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a psychologist and professor who alleges that Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her back when they were teenagers. That might be something to feed some rage. But Blasey Ford charmed the room, the viewing audience, the whole country all morning with her shy, sweet, flustered professor demeanor, which somehow reeked of believability, even though there were serious problems with other corroborating witnesses.

It was perhaps somewhat problematic that she wasn’t sure of many important details about where and when Kavanaugh allegedly cornered her in a locked room and tried to rip her clothes off. But when one of the senators asked her what was the percentage of her certainty that the person who did this was Brett Kavanaugh, she replied “One hundred percent.” That was a big moment, or seemed so at the time.

I don’t claim to know the truth of her version of the story. But we do know that she has been telling it for some years, not just since President Trump nominated Kavanaugh (who, by the way, does not acknowledge ever knowing Blasey Ford).

Blasey Ford was such a hit that by midday, when she finished testifying, some of the future see-ers on cable news were predicting that President Trump would likely have to pull his nomination of Kavanaugh before it could come to a vote.

During the break between the Blasey Ford and the Kavanaugh testimony, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, on CNN said this: “Is there proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Brett Kavanaugh assaulted Ms. Ford? I don’t think so. But this isn’t a criminal trial. This is a job interview. If someone said to you: ‘We’re looking to hire a babysitter. But he was accused by three different people of sexual assault.’ Would you hire this person to serve for the next 30 years as the baby-sitter for your kids? That, I think is the question here. Not: ‘Should he be put in prison?’”

Then came Kavanaugh’s turn. Since we watched Kavanaugh testify calm-cool-and-collectedly for days during his previous confirmation hearings, and having seen him portrayed as an almost robotic man-on-a-conservative-mission throughout his very successful legal, political and judicial career, it was a bit of a shock to see his raging and weeping and yet hyperpartisan presentation Thursday afternoon.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
I was shocked. We were given to understand that Trump was watching it on TV. One found oneself wondering whether Trump could maintain respect for a weepy man. But I was pretty sure he wouldn’t mind the righteous anger. As the hours passed, during the breaks, commentariat began converging around a belief that Kavanaugh might just be saving his nomination.

That feeling grew and grew during the afternoon and was soon the new conventional wisdom among commentators but by Trump’s own tweeted statement that: “Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him. His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting. Democrats’ search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist. The Senate must vote!”

Allow me to close with a perceptive quote from Joan Walsh of the Nation, commenting on CNN after the hearings, comparing the testimony and presentations of Ford and Kavanaugh: “We saw today a portrait of what is acceptable behavior for men and women – and it was devastating. Dr. Ford was restrained; she was earnest; she was polite; she was patient; she didn’t interrupt; she listened. Judge Kavanaugh came out angry and insulted the Democratic senators. He talked about a left-wing conspiracy. He reminded us that he worked for (former Special Prosecutor) Ken Starr. He wove his own partisan origin story.”

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Comments (67)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/28/2018 - 09:10 am.

    Just the sort of emotional control that we need on the Supreme Court.

  2. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/28/2018 - 09:23 am.

    “It was perhaps somewhat problematic that she wasn’t sure of many important details about where and when Kavanaugh allegedly cornered her in a locked room and tried to rip her clothes off.” In truth, many observers would argue the opposite, that her lack of recollection of certain points bolstered her credibility. Nothing sounds more fake than a witness who has picture perfect recall of every detail.

    Judge Kavanaugh was a hot mess. He came across as a belligerent, entitled frat boy who was livid at the idea that “because I want it” is insufficient reason to put him on the Supreme Court. Answering a question with a question is nothing more than an evasion, and his retort to Senator Klobuchar shows that he does not have the temperament to sit on the bench in conciliation court, let alone SCOTUS.

    Senator Graham’s performance was perhaps the worst of the day. It’s a good thing he is popular in South Carolina, and it’s probably wise for him to forget about ever running for President.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/28/2018 - 09:59 am.

      Kavanaugh showed great disrespect to the women senators, talking over them and being argumentative. But by now, we should not be surprised by this from a man who was presented to us as a choir boy but is nothing more than an entitled frat boy who has trouble telling the truth.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 09/28/2018 - 10:00 am.

      Yes, the sheer sense of entitlement on display was something to behold.

      That was the word that kept resonating through my mind every time I watched Kavanaugh rant – Entitlement.

      And he’ll probably end up getting it.

      What a heartbreaking display of the stone cold reality that elections have consequences.

      • Submitted by Tim Smith on 09/28/2018 - 10:11 am.

        why not just throw is a white priveledge reference too? Entitlement? A liberals view of hard work and success is warped indeed.He earned it.

        • Submitted by Pat Berg on 09/28/2018 - 10:34 am.

          There is a big difference between “He earned it” and “He deserves it”.

          And how about nominating someone who does NOT have sexual assault allegations against him?

        • Submitted by Tory Koburn on 09/28/2018 - 10:38 am.

          How has he earned it?

          More specifically, what more has he done than the other ~20 people on the president’s list to deserve the lifetime appointment?

          If we were talking about someone with a clear record of independent jurisprudence, that would be one thing. But if yesterday’s hearing (and the last 20 years of his own history) are any inkling, Kavanaugh is a partisan gasbag who would throw the constitution in the trashheap if he thought it would benefit republicans. Should we not hold the court to a higher standard, especially considering who he is replacing?

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/28/2018 - 10:40 am.

          Like Trump he inherited his success.
          Most of us can’t party our way through high school (among other things, underage drinking is illegal) and still get into an Ivy League school.
          Exclusive (read ‘expensive’) private schools have pipelines to the Ivies.

        • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/28/2018 - 11:02 am.

          Earned??? Oh, like Garland did.

          • Submitted by Tim Smith on 09/28/2018 - 12:59 pm.

            and your excuse is that this is revenge for Garland, no it’s not. This charade woul dhave happened either way.

          • Submitted by Brett Adams on 09/28/2018 - 09:44 pm.

            What?! Or more appropriately, “what aboutism.” Garland never got the chance, thanks to GOP obstructionism. Do you really want to use that example?,

          • Submitted by Brian Gandt on 09/30/2018 - 09:49 am.

            Yes Tim, it may have happened either way, because Kav is a profoundly flawed candidate.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/28/2018 - 10:26 am.

    I don’t have anything insightful to add to Brandon, Holbrook, Phelan and Berg. Remembering that it’s a job interview, not a criminal trial, helps me get past the lack of corroborating evidence, but there’s no doubt – in the mind of this elderly white male, at least – that Ford was a credible and persuasive witness.

  4. Submitted by cory johnson on 09/28/2018 - 10:34 am.

    His anger seems to be the coordinated mantra amongst the left today. I guess people are supposed to respond passively to an attempt to destroy their life and the lives of their family. No evidence needed. She’s 100% sure he did it but can’t remember any other details and the people supposedly at the party denied it happened.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/28/2018 - 11:03 am.

      ” I guess people are supposed to respond passively to an attempt to destroy their life and the lives of their family. ” Let’s ask Vince Foster’s family what they think about that statement. For that matter, what do you suppose the Clintons are thinking about comments like yours?

    • Submitted by Tory Koburn on 09/28/2018 - 11:11 am.

      “an attempt to destroy his life,” give me a break! Even if he was impeached from the USDC, you think he’s going to go work at McDonalds? Worst case scenario he lands a cushy job at a high profile lobbying or law firm. The guy’s been riding the elite-train his entire life, never had to do an honest day’s work – I thought this was the kind of guy Trump voters hated?

      No matter what happens to Kavanaugh, he’ll be fine, don’t worry about him. He doesn’t need your tears, and he doesn’t need your pity.

      • Submitted by cory johnson on 09/28/2018 - 11:44 am.

        So it’s okay to defame him as long as he’s rich? interesting standard.

        • Submitted by Tory Koburn on 09/28/2018 - 11:53 am.

          If you honestly believe that Dr. Ford’s testimony rises to the level of defamation, fine. But don’t pretend that Dr. Ford hasn’t similarly “had her destroyed.”

        • Submitted by Pat Berg on 09/28/2018 - 11:55 am.

          This wasn’t defamation. This was a credible accusation.

          You really think she put herself and her family through all of that just for the fun of it?

    • Submitted by ian wade on 09/28/2018 - 02:55 pm.

      Interesting that the same people who shouted about “locking her up” at Trump rallies are now whining about due process.

  5. Submitted by Tory Koburn on 09/28/2018 - 10:52 am.

    To break down exactly how far we have fallen: when Kavanaugh was asked what was meant by “have you boofed yet?”, Kavanugh replied that it was a reference to flatulence.

    Never mind that it has, in fact, never referred to flatulence, but largely to anal sex. Even today, it refers to things being inserted, not expelled from, the behind. Just set that aside for a moment. This soon-to-be justice of the US Supreme Court has effectively gone on record as saying that he was asked, “have you farted yet?” Does that not sound strange to anyone? Not even the most immature teenagers ask each other if they have farted yet – generally, because the answer soon becomes obvious. Further still, it is a non-notable occurrence that takes place in a young man’s life many times a day. Why would such a thing be written? Why were there no follow-up questions?

    I just want to remind everyone that this has all been recorded and stored in the congressional file for all posterity (so to speak). Future generations will look at this, I suspect, as a watershed moment.

    • Submitted by Mark Kulda on 09/28/2018 - 02:53 pm.

      You obviously don’t have teenage boys. They do far worse than that when they are talking amongst themselves.

      • Submitted by Brett Adams on 09/29/2018 - 12:27 am.

        That’s not the point. Kavanaugh clearly lied about stupid quotes on his yearbook page, and his drinking, to not sound as bad. How horrible is that? He was under oath, and he lied several times about his own words. What’s that Latin legal phrase they mentioned again, the one about “if the subject lies once, even about mundane things, you can disregard all testimony from him.”

  6. Submitted by Arthur Swenson on 09/28/2018 - 11:28 am.

    I am astonished. I am appalled. I am disillusioned. I am embarrassed for my country. I have run out of words to adequately describe my abhorrence of the spectacle that is playing ou in Washington, D.C.

    At the risk of sounding hysterical, I am fearful for the future of a “Nation of Laws” when the Law is left in the hands of those for whom tribal unity surpasses patriotism.

    • Submitted by Ginny Martin on 09/28/2018 - 12:20 pm.

      He is unfit for the job when he charged it was a conspiracy and the Clintons were involved as revenge. And he’s a lawyer, making such a charge without a hint of evidence? His anger and lack of calm demeanor make him unfit for the court, no matter the truth of his (or her) remarks.

      • Submitted by Eric Snyder on 09/28/2018 - 12:36 pm.


        On this point alone, the allegation of a conspiracy, he disqualified himself.

        First it was utterly irresponsible rhetoric and not the least in keeping with the standards of legal deliberation.

        Second, more importantly, if he actually believes this conspiracy then he’s demonstrated a lack of intellectual fitness for a position on any court, let alone the Supreme Court.

        The free-floating paranoia, ignorance and lack of any critical thinking that underlies so many of these right-wing conspiracies may be protected speech on websites like e.g. breitbart, but in a nominee for the Supreme Court, belief in them is tantamount to a self-declaration of lack of competence.

  7. Submitted by Mike Schumann on 09/28/2018 - 11:41 am.

    I find the entire process absurdly disgusting. The issue that really gets me riled up is why all of this is coming up at the last minute. The democrats sat on this for 2 months

    That’s just as absurd as the republicans refusing to vote on Garland’s nomination.

    A pox on both parties. I’m totally fed up with the whole bunch.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/28/2018 - 11:53 am.

      Right wingers, including Kavanaugh, have no business crying big crocodile tears over the process. In recent history, a SCOTUS seat was deliberately held open for more than a year.

      Two months is nothing.

      McConnell blew up all norms, and right wingers were not just pleased, they were delighted. None of them found that disgusting.

      Physician, heal thy self.

      • Submitted by Mark Kulda on 09/28/2018 - 03:01 pm.

        And if the Democrats wouldn’t have insisted on using the ‘nuclear option’ to change the process so that they could get their nominee on the Court a few years back, then we wouldn’t be in this position today. There wouldn’t have been enough votes to seat Kavanaugh, and there would’ve needed to be a better, more acceptable candidate. So if you’re upset about what’s been happening on this nomination realize it could’ve been prevented by just leaving the process alone.

        • Submitted by Brett Adams on 09/29/2018 - 12:54 am.

          “And if the Democrats wouldn’t have insisted on using the ‘nuclear option’ to change the process so that they could get their nominee on the Court a few years back, then we wouldn’t be in this position today. There wouldn’t have been enough votes to seat Kavanaugh, and there would’ve needed to be a better, more acceptable candidate. So if you’re upset about what’s been happening on this nomination realize it could’ve been prevented by just leaving the process alone.”

          Your (lack of) logic ties me up and wrecks me. Blaming the Democrats for the Republicans refusing to even meet Garland is ridiculous. The GOP instituted the Nuclear Option for SCOTUS for Gorsuch in 2017. The Dems utilized it for non-SCOTUS appointees back in 2013 because the GOP was fillibustering any and all Democratic appointees, and they were piling up. Then they refused to meet Garland for a year, and now here we are. And now Trump is approving Judicial nominees at a record pace. Please, try to blame the Dems for that, though, by all means.

        • Submitted by Steve & Gayle Fuller on 09/29/2018 - 05:36 am.

          Yes Sen. Reid laid the ground work for what has happened. Since Sen. McConnell and Republican were filibustering all Federal judicial nominee’s Sen. Reid saw removing the filibuster from that level as the only way to get any of President Obama’s nominee’s approved. Actually that didn’t work out so well given Sen. Reid lost control of the Senate to Sen. McConnell who proceeded to stonewall all of Obama’s nominee’s. With the advent of the Donald move into the White House the flood gates opened at the Federal level, 145 Federal Judgeship so far. Lastly remember that Neil Gorsuch needed the filibuster removed (Nuclear option) to be approved, it took McConnell and the Republicans to accomplish that. Now we’ll have to live with the Supreme Court that we have for decades.

  8. Submitted by John Evans on 09/28/2018 - 11:46 am.

    I thought Kavanaugh behaved like a guilty alcoholic: alternating florid rage and righteous indignation with long snivelling jags. And then there were those interminable, weirdly sentimental reveries. I wondered if someone was going to offer to change his diaper for him. Nope — not very credible.

    Blasey Ford, on the other hand, was pretty credible, and refreshingly reserved and dignified.

  9. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 09/28/2018 - 11:48 am.

    The entire hearings were a circus train created by the Democrats. I am embarrassed by their behavior – dishonesty – leaking of documents – delay tactics and self righteousness.

    They were the actors – playing for their base. They are better actors than republicans because they through out basic fairness – and common decency a long time ago. (remember bork and the Thomas hearings)

    It seems like they would benefit realty by a constitution 101 class taught by the next supreme court justice.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/28/2018 - 12:17 pm.

      “I am embarrassed by their behavior – dishonesty . . .” Yes, it’s disgraceful when people in high offices are dishonest. For example, if someone who was to be appointed to a high office lied about his role in engineering a judicial appointment, or stealing e-mails, I’m sure we can all agree . . . Sorry, I’ll come in again.

      ” . . .leaking documents . . .” People who leak documents should be shown no mercy. Some things, like grand jury testimony, are too important to be . . . No, that’s not it. I’ll try again.

      “delay tactics and self righteousness.” A President is entitled to have his judicial nominees voted on, without resort to delaying tactics or specious rationales, and . . . D’oh!

      “They were the actors – playing for their base.” Shame on them, acting like everything is just one continuous rally showcasing their popularity with their base . . . This isn’t going too well, is it?

      “They are better actors than republicans because they through out basic fairness – and common decency a long time ago.” After all, nothing says basic decency and fairness like the modern Republican Party. Just look at its leader . . . Okay, maybe not.

      “(remember bork and the Thomas hearings).” How dare they ask about a candidate’s judicial philosophy? Oh, right. Well, exploring credible accusations of misconduct and then confirming him anyway! How dare they!

      “It seems like they would benefit realty by a constitution 101 class taught by the next supreme court justice.” Sorry, Mr. Gotzman, you broke my sarcasm generator with that one.

    • Submitted by ian wade on 09/28/2018 - 02:57 pm.

      My irony meter just exploded.

  10. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/28/2018 - 11:55 am.

    Did you catch that when Graham said, “When you get to the Supreme Court, say ‘Hi’ to Garland, I voted for him.”

    Oh wait, that was in fantasy land.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 09/28/2018 - 12:24 pm.

      Here is what I don’t understand about the whole Merrick Garland fiasco: The Repubs *could* have gone through the whole hearings process with him and still not confirmed him. They had the votes, and so the fact that they wouldn’t even go through the motions basically was them saying to Dems, “Nanny-nanny boo-boo! We’re not gonna do this and you can’t make us!” And then they feign befuddlement at all the outrage they created.

      Sure, Dems still would have been angry at a Garland non-confirmation, but for the Repubs to go about it the way they did was a disrespectful and needless snubbing of the nose at their opponents.

      And now they’re gonna do it again. Pretty much just “because they can”. And again pretend to be SO shocked at the level of outrage and anger that results.

      Why couldn’t they have just gone through the process with Garland? How would that have hurt them? I’ll never understand.

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/28/2018 - 01:25 pm.

        We don’t have to imagine what he’s like after several beers. There are plenty of people we can ask. But the Federal Bureau of Investigation isn’t in the business of…investigating things.

  11. Submitted by Howard Miller on 09/28/2018 - 12:00 pm.

    Mr. Kavanaugh raged while sober. Imagine him with several beers inside.

    He falsely slandered Democrats, accusing them of trying to destroy him. His problems actuallyarose from fraudulent efforts to vet him by Republicans. AFTER they held the hearings,concluding their incomplete vetting, harsh information came forward about his misconduct with women and alcohol, information not reported to the public by any previous background check. That information needs checking out. “Problems with witnesses” could not be fixed because they were not at the hearing, testifying under oath, as they should have been. This flawed process is yielding a deeply flawed, politically extreme candidate for the SCOTUS, contrary to majority opinion. We must do better than this as a nation. Let’s start with this nominee, vote him down, see if he is fit to remain on the federal bench in DC

  12. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 09/28/2018 - 12:23 pm.

    I live in a house surrounded by women; I’m outnumbered. So last night, my son and I I watched the testimony with my wife, sister in law, and daughter and daughter in law.

    Their consensus was:
    1. Ford did have an event occur at some time, and either it has affected her greatly, or she has other issues at play. She appeared disturbed.
    2. She lied about her fear of travel.
    3. Her account was disputed by the scant evidence she presented ie: the number of people present changed, as did the number of people that committed the alleged attack.
    4. Sen. Feinstein deliberately withheld the letter for partisan reasons.
    5. Either Anna Eschew, Dianne Feinstein or their staff leaked the letter at the time most beneficial to their plan.
    5. Judge Kavanaugh’s outrage was wholly justified.
    6. Judge Kavanaugh told the truth. While Ford probably did have a disturbing event happen, it wasn’t Kavanaugh.

    I asked the women if they thought their friends would agree with their assessment. They were unanimous that all but the most rabid partisans would.

  13. Submitted by Constance Pepin on 09/28/2018 - 12:43 pm.

    Eric, your article really misses the mark and the opportunity to provide some insights rather than flippant comments such as “Blasey Ford was such a hit that by midday…” Really? A “hit”? Really? That sort of commentary trivializes the seriousness of the whole shit show that this hearing was, and the implications for our Supreme Court and our democracy. And whether you were shocked is irrelevant to reporting what happened. To most women, there’s no surprise and no mystery as to why Graham and Kavanaugh were so outraged because their unquestioned privilege was seriously questioned. And Kavanaugh is so full of himself, so righteous, that he thinks he’s important and not just the pawn that he is in the Republicans’ quest to remake the Supreme Court. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/opinions/wp/2018/09/27/how-dare-you-do-this-to-brett-kavanaugh/

  14. Submitted by Tim Smith on 09/28/2018 - 01:02 pm.

    Could not have been happier With Judge Kavanugh and Senator Graham’s comments yesterday. Brutal honesty and 100% necessary despite what
    liberal democrats and their media allies think.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/28/2018 - 01:17 pm.

      “Brutal” is the operative word.

      We are becoming a nation governed by bullies and thugs.

    • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 09/28/2018 - 01:55 pm.

      It was a profile in courage. The outrage both Graham and Kavanaugh was obviously genuine, and was warranted.

      Graham has built a reputation for working with Democrats and, to the frustration to conservatives such as myself, often compromising to the detriment of GOP values.

      He has never scolded the Democrats before, and I believe he was just fed up with the circus they had turned the process into.

      • Submitted by Brett Adams on 09/28/2018 - 10:41 pm.

        It was a ridiculous melodrama to distract from the truth. Graham’s outburst was an attempt at a Trumpian hissy-fit (for Trump’s benefit, no doubt) all for show. It was no coincidence he interrupted when evidence was coming out. Kavanaugh lied several times, about things trivial and important. He also insulted our own Senator Amy Klobuchar in a despicable moment. He lied about his drinking, about supposedly trivial but horrible stuff on his self-written yearbook page. His calendar pages are loaded with evidence of bad behavior – I was shocked they didn’t get him on some of the entries that actually show evidence of his and Judge’s partying. For you not to see his evading questions, and Blasey-Ford trying to earnestly answer all questions, it just boggles the mind.

      • Submitted by Nick Foreman on 09/30/2018 - 11:01 am.

        Graham is now the latest trump super suck up. Wants another southerner’s job in the dept of “justice”. His recently deceased friend would chose to ignore Graham forever.

        • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/30/2018 - 06:12 pm.

          What? There’s no way Don Trump will appoint another “dumb southerner” (Don trump’s own description of the current AG) as attorney general.

          Don Trump looks down on southerners.

  15. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/28/2018 - 01:05 pm.

    I know it appears “balanced” to describe a demand for transparency, honesty, and integrity as some kind of “tribal” disagreement, but it’s not. There’s absolutely nothing “tribal” going on here because these are NOT tribes, and attempt to describe this as some kind of inter-tribal battle simple simply manufacture a false narrative around false equivalencies.

    • Submitted by Joe Musich on 09/28/2018 - 02:59 pm.

      I would agree that tribalism is not at the root of what occurred in Thursday on.the Senate floor. It is all about money and power circling it’s wagons against we the heathens. This nation will not share weath and power no matter what the costs. Installing this joker is nihilism at it’s worst. What I fear is that we are moving ever faster to what will be a Pyrrhic victory taking us all down.

  16. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/28/2018 - 02:40 pm.

    Revenge? For the centrist Garland? Oh no, my friend.

    We’re operating under the new McConnell rules: By Any Means Necessary.

    This is why Graham threatened to gin up accusations about the next Dem nominee.

  17. Submitted by John Evans on 09/28/2018 - 02:47 pm.

    Kavanaugh asserted that the four other people alleged to have been in the house at the time, (Mark Judge and 3 others,) had “under penalty of felony” refuted — REFUTED — the charge. This is false.

    The other people mentioned said that they had no memory of the get-together, or awareness of the events. This does not refute the charge, it just fails to support it. There’s a difference.

    Mark Judge, who is accused as well, sent a letter denying it all happened, but the letter was signed by his lawyer, not by Mark Judge himself, and has no legal significance at all. So far, we have no evidence at all that actually refutes the charges. You should be really curious to hear what Judge has to say under oath.

    So Kavanaugh, the esteemed jurist, deliberately, repeatedly and very forcefully mischaracterized the evidence. He knows better, and I really think this deception should disqualify him once and for all from the bench.

  18. Submitted by chuck holtman on 09/28/2018 - 03:20 pm.

    To follow on comments of Paul and several other folks: I don’t know if Mr. Black writes his own headlines, but I’m deeply fatigued of this lazy “tribalism” characterization which, with similar terms such as “polarization” and “partisanship,” obscures the state of our society and, therefore, helps obstruct any hope of progress.

    What is not new, but has become clear in recent years, is that humanity is divided almost equally between those who aspire to democracy, and those who are authoritarian followers. As to the latter, some, because of their economic and social conditions, have not had the opportunity to ascend the Maslow hierarchy of needs sufficiently to develop a democratic outlook; others have regressed to authoritarianism through their thrall to the systems of propaganda administered on behalf of those who hold and wish to maintain power. In the U.S., it is the Republican party that decided 50 years ago to employ the authoritarian appeal to secure its electoral base, and accordingly it is the Republican party to which those susceptible to the authoritarian appeal decisively have migrated.

    Those who aspire to democracy are not “tribal.” Their project is a cooperative humanity, and laws and norms that fairly offer the opportunity for a decent life to all. To the authoritarian follower, on the other hand, the world is zero-sum and kill-or-be-killed. The division between the tribe and the enemy – and particularly the false enemy – therefore is fundamental to authoritarianism. The challenge for democrats in their civic participation is to continue to tend in good faith to the interests of those who consider them the enemy and regard them with rage and sadism.

    Democracy refers not just to a structure of government or the ability of all to participate in civic life; it also encompasses a set of norms of discourse that rest on shared basic values and argument – based on facts and reasons – as to how those values are best achieved. Honesty, sincerity, and mutuality. Authoritarianism is about power achieved by any means that works. In recent years, those on the Right have let slip ever more the cloak of democratic artifice to reveal the authoritarianism beneath. With the Kavanaugh nomination, the cloak has been set aflame and the will to power stands naked.

  19. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 09/28/2018 - 05:21 pm.

    Judges have the absolute power to inflict pain on their enemies. After Kavanaugh’s diatribe against Democrats, clearly he can not be trusted to be impartial.

    • Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 09/28/2018 - 08:08 pm.

      …and THIS is the primary reason he absolutely does NOT belong on the court.

      His appointment is the functional equivalent of President Obama appointing someone from among Bernie Sanders’ most ardent admirers to the court.

      Perhaps among their small cohort of similarly-inclined partisans, each could be seen as a good person,…

      but neither could be trusted to look at his/her opponents,…

      nor the cases which come before the court,…

      with anything resembling even-handed objectivity.

      In his diatribe/opening statement, Mr. Kavannaugh made it abundantly clear that he has nothing but disdain, bordering on hatred for those who do not agree with him politically.

      With him on the court we can expect that all efforts to prevent/reduce Republican-favoring gerrymandering will go out the window,…

      (though it will be absolutely prohibited for the Democrats to do the same in their own favor).

      The voting rights act, should congress renew it, will be thrown out as an unconstitutional limitation of state’s rights.

      The supreme court will act to protect and enhance the rights of big finance, big business and the .1%ers,…

      and will do everything in its power to reduce or wipe out the rights of those of lesser means.

      Roe v. Wade will not just be limited,…

      it will be gone,…

      completely wiped out.

      Indeed, it’s likely we’ll be one plague which effects/reduces human reproductive rates,…

      away from “The Handmaid’s Tale” becoming true prophecy,…

      because Mr. Kavannaugh’s perspective is so myopically limited,…

      that he would see the survival of his “superior” part of the human species,…

      as important enough to wipe out the rights and freedom of every other human on the planet,…

      should that become “necessary,”…

      and the Constitution be damned.

  20. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 09/28/2018 - 11:07 pm.

    Judicial temperament? Sadly lacking.

    A passenger on the conspiracy train-nothing like a judge who would buy the rope for a lynching.

    Is there anything more telling or pathetic than an officer of a court that claims innocence but doesn’t want a full investigation–what judge has had their heart melt when someone before them claims immaculate innocence without an investigation.

    A political animal–when was the last justice appointed that was so clearly the rabid partisan of one political party–in their work history and defiant confirmation hearing.

    All of those are clearly disqualifying for the job.

  21. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/29/2018 - 06:33 am.

    If the Democrats/Clintons got so fired up about Kavanaugh, why didn’t they do this to Gorsuch?

    And don’t give me this “This seat will tip the balance” baloney. A SCOTUS seat is a SCOTUS seat.

    But what really has me puzzled is how the Swamp Drainer in Chief can get away with putting two, count ’em two, bona fide life long Swamp Creatures on the court.

    Just imagine the howls of protest about “DC Insiders” being appointed if it were done by a Democratic president.

  22. Submitted by joe smith on 09/29/2018 - 09:36 am.

    Is there no one else shocked the ranking member, D Feinstein, brought up Ms. Swetnick’s story of Kavanugh leading a gang rape group in High School? Please read her allegations and determine if that unsubstantiated story should be part of a judicial hearing or not.
    I do not!!!

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/30/2018 - 03:19 pm.

      I am more shocked by the many people who claim they are outraged over the fact that this came to light, but who don’t seem so upset about what he is alleged to have done.

      The fact that many, if not most, of these people were so ready to believe the worst allegations and innuendos about the Clintons or President Obama just adds disgust to the emotional mix.

  23. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/29/2018 - 10:17 am.

    I actually think it goes without saying that Kavanaugh is a right wing ringer for the court, and as such represents a threat to the Nation and it’s citizens in a variety of ways.

    Long before he was accused of any crimes he endorsed the notion of turning women into second class citizens, abolishing the rights to privacy that the Roe. v. Wade established, expanding immunity for POTUS at a time when a Fascist inhabits the White House, Servicing the NRA, and attacking the environment. In short, he’s an intellectual fraud flying the banner of an “Originalist”. The sexism and other sundry types of bigotry that typically accompany his mentality are a forgone conclusion.

    The facts are actually not in dispute. Some of us think the qualities I’ve listed above disqualify him, and those who support him support him do so precisely because they think those qualities belong on the bench, but the qualities themselves are in serious dispute.

    The problem here is the charade that pretends this is some kind of legitimate confirmation process looking to fill court benches with the best judges and people of integrity and intellect.

    This brings us to Mr. Phelan’s observation about Democratic acquiescence to Republican extremism. The fact is that Kavanaugh is just latest in a long list of right wing judges going all the way back to Scalia, who was confirmed without a single “no” vote back in the 80s. Kavanaugh is only the new “swing” vote because Centrist Democrats have been refusing to acknowledge the extremist nature of Republican politics for decades. You can’t acknowledge the extremism of those with whom your trying to accommodate because doing so exposes the fact that your facilitating extremism. So here we are, and Frank is correct, this may well be too little too late.

    As for the Kavanaugh’s hearing, I would just say that his little tirade against the Democrats on Thursday strikes me as being rather like a temper tantrum being thrown by a child of privilege who’s being denied something they want. The only thing that matters when you ignore all the drama is that Kavanaugh flat out refused to endorse an FBI investigation even when he was assured that no such investigation would take place even if he did endorse it. If the guy is ALL about his integrity and his family and blah blah blah why not endorse an investigation that would clear him? And of course that wasn’t the only question during the confirmation that he refused to answer or evaded.

    Finally, when I watch his response to Klobuchar on Thursday I have to say that he LOOKS like a guy who would assault a woman. I think his true colors were on display there and I would remind everyone that it is not unusual for criminals to cry and get emotional when they’re arrested. Their emotional reaction isn’t proof of their innocents, they’re just upset about what’s happening to them and THAT’S what I think you’re looking at on Thursday. Here’s a guy who’s never been denied anything he’s ever really wanted in his entire life facing a woman who’s trying to deny him something he wants. But that’s just my read, you can set that aside entirely and just recognize that his refusal to endorse an investigation completely undermines his credibility.

  24. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/29/2018 - 10:42 am.

    Just one last comment on the “tribalism” thing because I think many of us agree that racism is an important form of oppression to resist.

    It surprises me that otherwise thoughtful or even “liberal” media outlets continue to rely on such an inherently racist metaphor. Yes, it IS racist. The word “tribe” is itself a Western vocabulary created to describe the cultures that were being demolished at the time. That word is a direct colonial reference to indigenous cultures and people that were presumed inferior and primitive. When the term is used today, it is a derogatory reference that implies primitive and irrational behavior or mentalities.

    Furthermore, I’ve never seen any form of irrational behavior or process (such as our political system or Senate confirmation hearing) that in any way shape or form looks like any indigenous culture anywhere. Our political system and it’s committees descend entirely from Western culture Western mentalities, and blaming “tribes” whenever those systems malfunction is simply fatuous… and racist.

    It’s not “tribal” for people to disagree or descend into irreconcilable divisions, nor is it characteristic of indigenous cultures. Christians killed each other for hundreds of years over differences in scriptural interpretations yet no one EVER says: “Christian mentality was in full display at the Senate hearings”? THAT would actually be an accurate statement!

    And don’t tell me it’s OK to be racist because you don’t “mean” to be, as if it’s just a “phrase”. That’s like calling a woman a: “whore” but then saying: “Well I don’t mean it literally, she’s not actually a sex worker… I’m just insulting her”. That’s NOT actually OK.

  25. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 09/29/2018 - 12:40 pm.

    Lindsey Graham “erupted” in that fake show of outrage at precisely the moment when the GOP’s imported sex-crimes prosecutor from New Mexico was zeroing in on some of the Kavanaugh “calendar” information and Kavanaugh false testimony (can we please add the whole “Renate Alumnius entry in the yearbook?) that would actually corroborate Dr Ford’s testimony!

    I beg Kavanaugh supporters like Curt Senker’s female family members to look at the July 1, 1982 entry in Kavanaugh’s date book: he refers to a small party where there’s beer drinking before and during, listing the kids that Dr. Ford mentioned. Oh, my.

    And, above all, at that hearing and before–for several weeks before–the President and the GOP leadership of the Senate refused to re-open the FBI background check on Kavanaugh after Dr. Ford’s accusation became public. Re-opening such background checks is STANDARD procedure in judicial reviews. But they were afraid of the FBI.

    But, thanks to Senator Flake’s willingness to HEAR women’s stories and entertain the possibility that sexual assault happens, there will be at least a fast FBI check. Bringing up witnesses, corroborating evidence and even patterns of abuse by Kavanaugh.

    I’ve seen law professors at the University of Minnesota get angry at something, but I’ve also seen and admired with envy how calmly and devastatingly rationally they attack in return. They do not raise their voices and shout insults.

    Wow! Did Brett Kavanaugh fail to show that he could ever teach legal demeanor or comity. This man doesn’t belong oh a judicial bench anywhere, at any level. Too hot headed and uncontrolled.

  26. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/01/2018 - 09:02 am.

    Anyways, there’s nothing unusual about this Republican behavior, it’s who they are and who they’ve been for decades. They’re just in power at the moment in a way they’ve rarely managed to achieve, and they’re doing exactly what they would be expected to to. The Republican Party and the vast majority of it’s politicians are a collection of miscreants with no intellectual or moral integrity and healthy dose of bigotry to boot. If this surprises you in any way you simply haven’t been paying attention for the last 50 years (or more).

    Yes, US journalist who have been refusing to recognize the toxic nature of Republican politicians and they’re political agendas are “shocked” by all of this, but they’ve been living in a bubble of denial and privilege for decades that afforded them the luxury of psuedo-objectivity.

    And again, the practice of re-branding Evangelical Christian Fundamentalist mentalities and behavior as some kind of “tribalism” is just flat out offensive obscurantism. Call what they are, it’s not THAT difficult.

  27. Submitted by Theo Kozel on 10/02/2018 - 11:29 am.

    Hell hath no fury like white male entitlement scorned (or even questioned).

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