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I guess everyone thinks that the sexual assault allegations against Judge Kavanaugh are bogus, which is why we're talking about his "judicial temperament" and alcohol consumption. Writes Orrin Hatch:

That Judge Kavanaugh had the temerity to defend himself vigorously is now being counted as a strike against him. Over and over we hear him described as "angry," "belligerent" or "partisan," followed by the claim that his conduct at the hearing shows that he lacks a judicial temperament. Even "Saturday Night Live" got in on the action.

You've got to be kidding me. Do the people making this argument really expect a man who until five seconds ago had an unblemished reputation to sit passively while his reputation is viciously and permanently destroyed? While he is accused of the most horrific and obscene acts imaginable? Judge Kavanaugh's critics seem to be aghast that he is a human being who is unwilling to take slander lying down.

But he drinks alcohol?

Countless articles have been written about how Judge Kavanaugh "lied" about his high-school and college drinking at the hearing, thereby calling into question his honesty. These articles claim the judge portrayed himself as a "choirboy" who, in the words of the New York Times, enjoyed "a beer or two as a high school and college student." Then they hit back with quotes from college acquaintances who say they saw the judge drink quite a lot.

This is known in the business as a straw man. Judge Kavanaugh never claimed he always drank in moderation. To the contrary, he admitted, "Sometimes I had too many beers."

It's weird to me that the Left is going all-in on teetotaling and the Mike Pence / Billy Graham rule. I think this is quite sensible, but I'm surprised that the Puritans have somehow managed to win the culture war.


Dianne Feinstein doesn't believe Ford's accusations against Kavanaugh.

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California conceded Tuesday that she can't attest to the veracity of Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school.

"[Ford] is a woman that has been, I think, profoundly impacted. On this . . . I can't say that everything is truthful. I don't know," Feinstein told reporters on Capitol Hill when asked if she believed the allegation.

That's fair -- no one seems to know what actually happened 35 years ago, including Ford.

Christine Blasey Ford, a Palo Alto University biostatistician and professor of psychology, is a Democrat -- a Bernie Sanders contributor and an anti-Trump activist. Some 36 years ago, when she was 15, she says the 17-year-old Kavanaugh tried to force himself on her, clumsily trying to get her clothes off. A friend of Kavanaugh's, Mark Judge, who had been watching, jumped on the two of them, allowing Ms. Ford to wriggle away and lock herself in a bathroom until the boys left.

There is no way to prove that this happened. That's not just because Kavanaugh and Judge, the only witnesses besides Ms. Ford, vehemently deny it. Ford cannot even place it: She doesn't recall in whose Maryland home it supposedly happened, what she did afterwards, how she got to or from the place. She never breathed a word of it at the time. When she finally told a therapist about it three decades later, notes indicate that there were four assailants -- a discrepancy she blames on the therapist.

When and where seem like important elements of an accusation.

Dr. Blasey has been uncertain about some details of the episode, including when it happened and whose house they were at.

At this point it seems impossible to discover the truth.


What to make of the allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford about Bret Kavanaugh?

Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend -- both "stumbling drunk," Ford alleges -- corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.

While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

"I thought he might inadvertently kill me," said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. "He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing."

Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh's friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.

Kavanaugh and Judge categorically deny that any such event ever happened.

So what do we do with this claim? First off, it's worth pointing out that there's zero likelihood of prosecuting Kavanaugh for this alleged offense. Whatever happened happened over 35 years ago. There's no way to prove anything, and we're way beyond the statute of limitations. So the real question is, how should this accusation affect the confirmation process?

1. Kavanaugh has no right to join the Supreme Court. He suffers no injustice if his confirmation is derailed. "Beyond a reasonable doubt" isn't (and can't be) the standard for rejecting a political candidate -- and that's exactly what a Supreme Court nominee is. We The People have the right to reject aspiring politicians for any and all reasons, both high and low. Each of us is free to weigh the credibility of Kavanaugh and Ford and reach whatever decision seems best to us. It would be unjust (at this point) to demand a criminal prosecution, but it's perfectly reasonable to demand that he not be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

2. "Beyond a reasonable doubt" is too high to be the standard for rejecting a political candidate, but what should the standard be? Must a person be so guiltless that no accusation of wrongdoing is brought against him? Or no "reasonable" accusation (whatever "reasonable" means)? Or no accusation of a certain category or severity? We're each free to have our own standards, but it might be helpful to make them explicit in our own minds.

3. It's also useful to think systemically -- beyond any specific case. Do we want a system whereby opponents can derail a political candidate with a single uncorroborated accusation? What about two independent accusations, or three? There's probably some number of independent, uncorroborated accusations that would convince each person to withdraw political support from a preferred candidate. For example, Bill Cobsy had 60 accusers, which is quite convincing even though only three counts were proven at trial. I, personally, am quite comfortable shunning a person who has been accused of sexual assault by 60 people -- and I bet my real number is much lower than 60.

4. Does it matter than the alleged event occurred when Kavanaugh (then 17) and Ford (then 15) were both children? It could matter in at least two ways. A) You may consider the alleged behavior less offensive because Kavanaugh was young. B) You may consider that adult-Kavanaugh shouldn't be judged for what young-Kavanaugh did so long ago. In this specific case, 17-years-old isn't particularly young, so (A) may be less relevant than in the general case.

5. None of the blog posts or news reports that I've seen have mentioned it, but neither Kavanaugh nor Ford would be in this mess if they had followed the Pence rule (a.k.a., the Billy Graham rule. Aspiring politicians take note.

Update:

What the heck? Brett Kavanaugh's mother was the judge in in a 1996 home-foreclosure case in which the defendants were the parents of Kavanaugh's accuser Christine Blasey Ford. Here's the docket.


With serendipitous timing we learn that Brian Amerige, a senior Facebook engineer, has written an internal post about the company's lack of political diversity. Of course we all remember the outcry when Google engineer James Damore wrote a similar thesis a year ago and was quickly fired, but this time the writing was leaked just as President Trump has been denouncing the company and barely a week before Facebook's COO is scheduled to testify before the Senate.

The dispute over employees' political ideology arose a week before Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, is scheduled to testify at a Senate hearing about social media manipulation in elections. A team helping Ms. Sandberg get ready for the hearing next Wednesday has warned her that some Republican lawmakers may raise questions about Facebook and biases, according to two people involved in the preparations.

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump again brought up the issue of bias by tech companies with tweets attacking Google. In remarks later in the day, he widened his focus to include Twitter and Facebook.

Those companies "better be careful because you can't do that to people," Mr. Trump said. "I think that Google, and Twitter and Facebook, they are really treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful. It is not fair to large portions of the population."

So will Amerige be fired? I predict not, but oh the wailing and gnashing of teeth.


I noted yesterday that President Trump keeps doing the same things because his approach is working for him. Today Dov Fischer sarcastically writes that everyone is smart except Trump.

It really is quite simple. Everyone is smart except Donald J. Trump. That's why they all are billionaires and all got elected President. Only Trump does not know what he is doing. Only Trump does not know how to negotiate with Vladimir Putin. Anderson Cooper knows how to stand up to Putin. The whole crowd at MSNBC does. All the journalists do.

They could not stand up to Matt Lauer at NBC. They could not stand up to Charlie Rose at CBS. They could not stand up to Mark Halperin at NBC. Nor up to Leon Wieseltier at the New Republic, nor Jann Wenner at Rolling Stone, nor Michael Oreskes at NPR, at the New York Times, or at the Associated Press. But -- oh, wow! -- can they ever stand up to Putin! Only Trump is incapable of negotiating with the Russian tyrant.


Byron York has a good analysis of why President Trump seems so resistant to acknowledging Russian meddling with our political system. He could have simply agreed with the widespread consensus that Russia tried to interfere with the 2016 election, but instead he refused to give a straightforward answer.

The president clearly believes if he gives an inch on the what-Russia-did part -- if he concedes that Russia made an effort to disrupt the election -- his adversaries, who want to discredit his election, undermine him, and force him from office, will take a mile on the get-Trump part. That's consistent with how Trump approaches other problems; he doesn't admit anything, because he knows his adversaries will never be satisfied and just demand more.

But Trump's approach doesn't work for the Trump-Russia probe. There's no reason he could not accept the verdicts of the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Intelligence Community, and, yes, Mueller, that Russia tried to interfere in the election. There would be no political loss, and, in fact, great political gain, for Trump to endorse that finding.

At the same time, there is nothing wrong with Trump fighting back hard against the get-Trump part of the investigation. Voters know that Democrats, Resistance, and NeverTrump activists have accused Trump of collusion for two years and never proven their case. Mueller has charged lots of people with crimes, but none has involved collusion. That could still change -- no one should claim to know what is coming next from Mueller -- but Trump, as a matter of his own defense, is justified in repeating the "no collusion" and "witch hunt" mantras.

York wrote, "Trump's approach doesn't work for the Trump-Russia probe", but for several years now we've been hearing about how "Trump's approach doesn't work" for hundreds of challenges -- and yet it seems to be working better and more consistently than previous, more conventional approaches. Trump's approach doesn't work every time, but neither does conventional thinking. Trump has had incredible success with his approach so far, so one can understand why he sticks with it.


The government doesn't get to redact stuff just because it's embarrassing. These kinds of shenanigans undermine trust in our public servants.

Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, who was fired for lying under oath, spent $70,000 in taxpayer dollars on a conference table. The FBI also redacted the conference table's steep price tag from documents that members of the Senate Judiciary Committee requested, in an apparent attempt to hide it from Congress. ...

"Congress, and the public, have a right to know how the Department spends taxpayer money," Grassley wrote. "I am unaware of any legitimate basis on which the cost of a conference table should be redacted. Embarrassment is not a good enough reason. The manner in which some redactions have been used casts doubt on whether the remaining redactions are necessary and defensible."


I don't understand the ridicule aimed at President Trump's proposal for a military parade. America has a long history of honoring our military with parades. It seems like some people mock the president reflexively, without even giving his ideas serious thought.

Contrary to fake news reports, the United States has held massive, flashy military parades since at least 1865. Subsequent public displays of military might, including tanks, missiles, and hundreds of thousands of troops occurred in 1919, 1942, 1946, 1953, 1957, 1961, and 1991.

Also contrary to mainstream media headlines, it wasn't so long ago that military parades ranked among the few issues to draw bipartisan support. No less a Democrat than Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) vocally supported a military parade on American soil as recently as 2014. The camera-happy senator's call to arms stirred even New York's Bolshevik Mayor Bill De Blasio, who proclaimed, "The brave men and women who have selflessly served our nation with courage and skill in Iraq and Afghanistan deserve a recognition for their sacrifice. I stand with Sen. Schumer in his call for a parade to honor our veteran heroes, and New York City would be proud to host this important event."


This story about a "SWATting" death is an important lesson, not just for the police but for everyone.

A 28-year-old Kansas man was shot and killed by police officers on the evening of Dec. 28 after someone fraudulently reported a hostage situation ongoing at his home. The false report was the latest in a dangerous hoax known as "swatting," wherein the perpetrator falsely reports a dangerous situation at an address with the goal of prompting authorities to respond to that address with deadly force. This particular swatting reportedly originated over a $1.50 wagered match in the online game Call of Duty. Compounding the tragedy is that the man killed was an innocent party who had no part in the dispute.

Police in Los Angeles reportedly have arrested 25-year-old Tyler Raj Barriss in connection with the swatting attack.

Not only was the 911 call itself a hoax, but the address given by the intended victim was a lie as well -- both the perpetrator and the intended victim contributed to the death of a completely un-involved third party.

If your house is surrounded by police officers, what's the safest way to respond? Probably not by opening the door and moving your arms around. Maybe it would be safer to have your family all lie down on the floor and then call 911 yourself to see what's going on.


Zero Hedge is conspiracy-minded, but today they've posted several videos taken during the Las Vegas shooting that clearly show shots fired from the hotel far below the 32nd floor.

#2 Were there additional shooters? A taxi driver reportedly captured video of an automatic weapon being fired out of a lower level window. A video from another angle and brief footage captured by Dan Bilzerian also seem to confirm that automatic gunfire was coming from a floor much lower than the 32nd floor room that Stephen Paddock was located on. And if you weren't convinced by the first three videos, this fourth video should definitely do it.

I pointed out on Monday that the shooting was weird, especially noting that I didn't believe a single shooter with semi-automatic rifles could wound so many people so quickly. Jon Rappoport agrees.

"...a potential MAXIMUM of only 360 rounds could be fired at full auto burst with NO magazine changes in the approximate four minutes or 240 seconds of the shooting!"

"So, Paddock didn't fire 360 rounds in 240 seconds because he had to stop and change magazines...probably 30 round mags. That would be THIRTEEN magazine changes in the 240 seconds. And it is reported he fired from both broken out windows in the room/s."

"Survivors state there were shooting pauses and that is when they would run."

"Let's say Paddock managed to get off an amazing 300 rounds in 4 minutes (or 240 seconds) and hit someone with EVERY ROUND."

"Remember, there were 573 killed and wounded according to late statistics."

"WHO, then, fired off the other full-auto 273 rounds also without missing a single shot ?!"

I don't think there's a conspiracy, and I'm sure we'll learn a lot more details in due course.


President Trump's prayer for Las Vegas pretty much says it all.

'We pray for the day that evil is banished and the innocent are safe from hatred and fear,' Trump said. 'May God bless the souls of the lives that our lost, may God give us the grace of healing and may God provide the healing family with the strength to carry on.'

One bit from the report caught my eye:

Police were able to pinpoint Paddock relatively quickly since the gunfire he emitted triggered the smoke alarms in the hotel.

They used explosives to blow the door off his room, but by then it was too late - Paddock had shot himself dead. ...

Two on-duty Las Vegas police officers who engaged the shooter have been hospitalized.

What does it mean that these brave officers "engaged" the shooter without entering his room? If they were at the concert, they were 1,700 feet away from the shooter. I can't imagine that they were shooting up into the hotel.

las vegas shooting scene.jpg

I don't understand how anyone could kill this many people from such a distance without military weapons.

Update:

David French thinks the shooting is strange too:

So, a person who's "not a gun guy" has either expended untold thousands of dollars to legally purchase fully-automatic weapons, somehow found them on the black market, or purchased and substantially modified multiple semi-automatic weapons -- and did so with enough competence to create a sustained rate of fire. This same person also spent substantial sums purchasing just the right hotel room to maximize casualties. I cannot think of a single other mass shooter who went to this level of expense and planning in the entire history of the United States.

All Americans should be united in sympathy and prayer for our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. We pray for safety and peace in the following weeks and months, and that federal and local leaders have wisdom and boldness to make the best decisions for the territory.

If Puerto Rico is really without power for months, the island will depopulate as residents flee.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló told CNN late Wednesday night that it may take months to restore power to the entire island.

He said that as a result of the powerful Category 4 hurricane, no one on the island has power from utilities since the power grid is 'a little bit old, mishandled and weak'.

'It depends on the damage to the infrastructure,' Rosselló said. 'I'm afraid it's probably going to be severe. If it is ... we're looking at months as opposed to weeks or days.'

The sad truth is that the devastation on Puerto Rico is due not only to the power of Hurricane Maria, but also to decades of waste and mismanagement by the Puerto Rican government. Government incompetence and negligence created a fragile situation on the island, and the hurricane tipped them over the edge into disaster.


This year I didn't "forget" about 9/11, but I did lose track of the current date over the weekend. I knew 9/11 was coming, but yesterday I forgot that it was 9/10. I'm grateful to the men and women who work hard to keep my family's life so normal.

It's been 16 years since the 9/11 attacks... kids who were born that year have almost graduated high school. I remember watching the TV news coverage that morning and calling my pastor to tell him what had happened. I had just returned from Europe less than a week ago, and I was grateful to be home instead of stranded abroad.

Over the weekend I tried to explain the attacks to my oldest daughter without being too graphic, but it was hard to convey the enormity of the event. I considered showing her pictures or video of the Twin Towers, but decided not to. I think that was wise, considering her age and the fact that we fly pretty frequently.

The attacks were intended to change the world, and they did. Or did they merely reflect a change that was already in progress? Probably both. It's hard to imagine a counterfactual world in which the 9/11 attacks were unsuccessful, and therefore didn't motivate American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, with all the consequences therefrom. I'm pretty sure that would have been a better world... but maybe some other inciting incident would have happened anyway, and we'd be right where we are now with only minor differences.


I pray that God gives our leaders wisdom and courage, and that the men and women who protect our peaceful existence have strength, encouragement, and goodness.


I can only imagine how horrible it would be to be imprisoned on an airplane for 15 hours, especially for anyone traveling with children. The passengers on Air Transat 157 called 911, but to no avail.

"There's a citizen that called it in saying that there's approximately 100 people in the plane, generally unwell. [There are] complaints of severe pain, cold sweats, coughing."

The call came in roughly 4½ hours after Air Transat Flight 157 from Brussels to Montreal landed in Ottawa at 5 p.m. ET. It had been scheduled to arrive in Montreal at 3:15 p.m., but was diverted due to bad weather.

The Canadian Transportation Agency has now given Air Transat until 5 p.m. ET Friday to provide an explanation as to why passengers on flight 157 and a second plane were stranded inside those aircraft for hours, without being allowed off the plane. ...

According to that tariff, in the case of an on-board delay more than 90 minutes, Air Transat promises to offer passengers the option of getting off the plane.

"Stranded" is a distracting euphamism -- these people were imprisoned and endangered because the airline didn't want to spend the money to properly take care of them.

The airport authority said there was both a gate and air stairs available, and they were prepared to bring supplies beyond just bottled water to the stranded passengers -- but never received clearance from Air Transat.


Charlie Gard has died just a few days short of his first birthday. The parents believed that some experimental treatment could have helped Charlie months ago, but the UK government forbade it. "Choice" advocates would have been rioting in the streets if the government had stopped the parents from killing Charlie instead of stopping them from treating him. Sad story all around.


For the past seven years we've been hearing promises from Republicans that if we'd just elect them they'd roll back the leftist takeover of America. First we put them in the House, then the Senate, and finally the Presidency (not to mention 33 governors and numerous state legislatures), but even with total control of the government Republicans are apparently powerless.

A Republican Senate could not muster even 50 votes for the full repeal of Obamacare's taxes and spending. Six Republican senators who had voted for repeal in 2015, when the party was merely pretending it was possible, flipped on Wednesday rather than deliver.

Five of the six represent states President Trump won in November. The sixth hails from a state Trump lost by less than 3 points.

An argument can be made that repealing these parts of Obamacare while leaving its regulatory structure largely in place is a bad idea. But we are discussing a law that Republicans spent seven years campaigning against. Every GOP senator except one either voted for repeal in the past or campaigned on it in a recent election cycle. Their leader was said to have a "secret plan" to repeal Obamacare "root and branch."

There was ample time for a contingency plan or even a better approach to replacing the healthcare law.

No amount of time ever seems to be enough.

They reason they were voting on such a poor repeal plan is because it was the best they could almost agree on. They were too incompetent to write a good plan, and too bumbling to even pass an incremental half-measure.

Humiliating.


I love that the TSA is communicating with United Airlines via Twitter.

Backstory: United blames TSA for banning comic books in checked luggage for travelers returning from Comic Con.


Pictures of zip ties holding together a new R186 car are drawing outrage online, but to me the real scandal is the reliance on "specially designed brackets".

"The ties are a back-up way of securing a cable on the subway car. It's used in conjunction with other fasteners," said MTA spokeswoman Beth DeFalco. "It's 100 percent safe and only used on some cars on the #7 line. We have a specially designed bracket that is being engineered and is set to be installed in the next few weeks."

The need for a "specially designed bracket" to secure a cable undoubtedly contributes to the disastrous condition of the New York subway. It's extremely expensive to design unique parts for such simple applications, and the MTA would save some money if their suppliers could standardize more efficiently. Zip ties probably aren't the right answer (haha), but just think of the advantages they brings: they're cheap, and they can secure anything. Why "specially design" a custom bracket instead of creating a strong, permanent fastener with the versatility of a zip tie?

An MTA engineer will no doubt respond: "silly blogger, it's not that easy!" Sure, I'm simplifying, but there's no way that something as simple as securing a cable should require a custom fastener.


Fifty to a hundred shots fired at Congressional Republicans during baseball practice:

Five people including the House Majority Whip Steve Scalise were shot at a GOP baseball practice on Wednesday morning.

The gunman opened fire from the third base dugout at Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria, Virginia, as the group practiced batting at 6.30am.

He fired between 50 and 100 rounds before being shot by Capitol Police who were accompanying Scalise. The shooter is now in custody and being treated at a local hospital.

A congressional staffer and two Capitol Police officers were shot. Senator Rand Paul, who was at the scene but was not injured, said it was a 'killing field'.

The shooter asked the group if they were Republicans or Democrats before opening fire from the third base dugout as the men practiced batting.

We pray for the health and recovery of Rep. Scalise and the police who were shot, and for the safety of all our leaders.

1 Timothy 2:1-4, "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

We'll have to see who this shooter is and why he committed this atrocity. Prominent people have been fomenting anger and violence for months now, and it wouldn't surprise me to learn that this attack is a result of that incitement.


Huge news! Trump earned a lot of money and paid a lot of taxes in 2005! Thanks, Rachel Maddow.

Anyway, when she finally revealed what was in the taxes, it was not a huge deal. Trump earned about $150 million in income in 2005, and paid $38 million in taxes, thanks to the alternative minimum tax, which he wants to kill.

This gives Trump an effective tax rate of about 24 percent, which Johnston pointed out was roughly equal to what he and his wife, who are an upper middle class couple, pay.

And, sure, for a billionaire, you can argue that he should pay more in taxes. But, $38 million is a big number. As is $150 million in income.

Yawn.

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