US Supremes: The next ugly fight is impeachment

US Supremes: The next ugly fight is impeachment, by Mike Allen.

In a foreshadowing of how much uglier U.S. politics could get, top Democratic operatives are already talking about impeachment of Brett Kavanaugh as a 2020 campaign issue if he gets confirmed to the Supreme Court. …

A well-known Democratic strategist says the “only question is who calls for it first.” …

A veteran Republican close to Senate leaders and the White House: “Impeachment of Trump and Kav will be an animating issue on both sides.” …

The N.Y. Times’ Jeremy Peters tweeted: “[W]hat I saw today was a fury between members of opposite parties that is as profound and unnerving as I’ve ever seen. They’re not faking it.”

Germany: Cologne braces for protests as Erdogan opens mega mosque

Germany: Cologne braces for protests as Erdogan opens mega mosque, by Michelle Fitzpatrick.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to open one of Europe’s largest mosques in Cologne on Saturday as he wraps up a controversial visit to Germany, with police deploying in force amid planned protests.

The sheer size of the building, designed to resemble a flower bud opening, and its two towering minarets has disgruntled some locals, triggering occasional protests.

The Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion (Ditib) that commissioned the glass and cement structure is itself not without controversy.

The group runs hundreds of mosques across Germany, and its imams are paid by the Turkish state.

Known for its close ties to Ankara, it has increasingly come under scrutiny with some of its members suspected of spying on Turkish dissidents living in Germany.

Video shows border wall construction underway in Texas

Video shows border wall construction underway in Texas, by Aris Foley.

The video published by the El Paso Times shows construction beginning to replace existing fencing with a wall in Chihuahuita, El Paso’s oldest neighborhood.

The wall, construction for which began last Saturday, is set to run from Chihuahuita and continue east for four miles. …

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a news release … “In fiscal year 2017, El Paso Sector apprehended 25,193 illegal aliens, seized 34,189 pounds of marijuana and 140 pounds of cocaine,” the release continued. “Additionally during that fiscal year, there were 54 assaults against El Paso Sector agents.” …

Trump lashed out at Congress earlier this month over a lack of funding for his border wall in a recently passed spending bill.

“I want to know, where is the money for Border Security and the WALL in this ridiculous Spending Bill, and where will it come from after the Midterms?” Trump tweeted. “Dems are obstructing Law Enforcement and Border Security. REPUBLICANS MUST FINALLY GET TOUGH!”

Political party vying in Quebec election promises to kick out immigrants who fail ‘values test’

Political party vying in Quebec election promises to kick out immigrants who fail ‘values test’, by Amanda Coletta.

Days before a provincial election in Quebec, a center-right party promising to slash immigration and to kick out all immigrants who fail tests of “values” and the French language is in a dead heat with the incumbent Liberals who have governed the province for most of the past 15 years. …

This year’s contest will be the first in nearly six decades where the “national question” – whether French-speaking Quebec should separate from the rest of Canada – is not a campaign issue. But those bitter independence battles have morphed into acrimonious fights over immigration and perceived threats to Quebec’s francophone identity. …

In 2014, the ruling Parti Quebecois failed to pass a “Charter of Values,” which would have banned the wearing or display of “conspicuous” religious symbols, such as turbans and hijabs, in the public service, though thousands of crosses were “grandfathered” in. It lost the election to the Liberals who opposed the charter.

But then the Liberals waded into similar territory when they passed a law banning face coverings for those receiving public services in 2017.

Cultural battles in Quebec have long been very fierce and forthright.

The background to this is that due to immigration the French-speaking European-background Quebecois are losing population share, and on current trends will become a minority in 2035.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

The burden of persuasion

The burden of persuasion, by Scott Johnson.

The Democrats play to win and have a unity that eludes Republicans. They are unconstrained by norms of decency or by the otherwise applicable rules. The game they are playing is transparent. As Bob Dylan might put it, she’s only a pawn in their game.

UPDATE: Kavanaugh’s and Ford’s testimonies improved the odds of his confirmation.

Kavanaugh… shook the building with righteous indignation – slamming Democrats for smearing his family name and his lifetime of achievements. His opening statement was gripping and emotional – with Kavanaugh breaking down into tears several times, and seething with rage during other pivotal moments – such as when he excoriated Feinstein for withholding Ford’s letter from the committee for several weeks before it was leaked to the press.

Feinstein was taken aback, and immediately pivoted to a softer tact which was ultimately not convincing. …

Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation vote is scheduled for Friday morning at 9:30 a.m.

Senator Lindsey Graham lets loose

Senator Lindsey Graham lets loose. Without his BFF John McCain around, Lindsey unleashes his beast.

The vote comes down to three or four Republican Senators, including some notable never-Trumpers. All the Democrats will vote against. With a 51-49 majority and the Vice President to break ties, the Republicans can only afford one defection.

hat-tip Scott of the Pacific

Confirm Brett Kavanaugh: The Judge rightly called out the politics of ‘search and destroy’

Confirm Brett Kavanaugh: The Judge rightly called out the politics of ‘search and destroy’. Today’s editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

There is still no confirming evidence beyond her own testimony, and some of what she says has been contradicted. The female friend Ms. Ford says was at the home the night of the assault says she wasn’t there. The number of people she says were there has varied from four to five and perhaps more, but every potential witness she has cited by name says he or she doesn’t recall the party.

She still can’t recall the home where the assault took place, how she got there or how she got home that evening. She has no witnesses who say she told them about the alleged assault at the time — until she first spoke of it at a couples therapy session 30 years later in 2012. Mr. Kavanaugh’s name doesn’t appear in the notes of her therapist.

As for Judge Kavanaugh, his self-defense was as powerful and emotional as the moment demanded. If he was angry at times, imagine how you would feel if you were so accused and were innocent as he says he is. To deny the allegations as he did — invoking his children and parents and so many others who know him — and be lying would mean that he is a sociopath. If he were found to be lying, he would be impeached and probably prosecuted. Nothing in his long record in public life betrays the kind of behavior he is accused of against women.

Had he not been as forceful, his opponents would have said he looked guilty. Because he called the Democrats out for their character assassination, the critics now say he lacks the right temperament. The truth is that there is no answer, and no demeanor, that Brett Kavanaugh could offer that the left would credit. Their goal isn’t the truth. They want to destroy Judge Kavanaugh.

Republican Senators turned over their questioning of Ms. Ford to a trained prosecutor from Arizona, who attempted to clarify facts and fill holes in her testimony. Democrats showed zero interest in getting any facts from Ms. Ford. They spent their question time saying they believed Ms. Ford while badgering Republican Chairman Chuck Grassley to call other witnesses.

Yet those potential witnesses have all given sworn statements to Senate staff under penalty of felony that say they don’t recall the party or the alleged assault. Hauling them before the Senate wouldn’t illuminate the truth any more than Thursday’s hearing did.

Incredibly, Democrats spent their time with Judge Kavanaugh asking about drinking games and lines in his high school yearbook.

How dare Kavanaugh get angry about having his reputation trashed! So the left switch from carping about his testimony to carping about his demeanor. So cynical.

Kavanaugh hearing runs red hot with partisan anger

Kavanaugh hearing runs red hot with partisan anger, by Matthew Daly.

A hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh devolved into a partisan fistfight Thursday …

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, called the hearing a “national disgrace,” while Texas Sen. John Cornyn said it was the most “embarrassing scandal for the U.S. Senate since the McCarthy hearings” in the 1950s.

Fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Democrats’ treatment of Kavanaugh was the “most despicable thing” he has seen in politics. …

[Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand] and other Democrats were outraged that Republicans did not force a high school friend of Kavanaugh and other witnesses to testify under oath. Ford says Kavanaugh friend Mark Judge was present when the attack occurred. …

The charged atmosphere in the room was heightened by Kavanaugh himself, who delivered what has to rank among the most combative testimony ever heard in a congressional hearing room. …

In Kavanaugh’s angry and tearful opening statement, supporters saw an expression of the frustration Republicans have felt since Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump in July.

But Democrats said Kavanaugh’s 3 ½-hour appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee raised more questions than it answered.

Kavanaugh’s testimony “had key gaps in substance and credibility,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and his frequent, angry outbursts “raised questions about his temperament.” …

While Ford’s testimony was compelling and her countenance likable — Hatch called her “attractive” and a good witness — her testimony did not appear to dramatically alter the political dynamic on his confirmation vote. …

President Donald Trump made clear he was sticking with Kavanaugh, tweeting immediately after the hearing that Kavanaugh’s testimony was “powerful, honest and riveting.”

He called Democrats’ “search and destroy strategy” disgraceful and said the process “has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct and resist.”

Gillibrand, a longtime advocate for survivors of sexual violence, said the message Republicans were sending to sexual assault survivors — through the hearing and their support for Kavanaugh — was, “We don’t believe you, your voice doesn’t matter and we don’t value you.” …

Graham blamed Democrats for the hearing’s partisan nature, saying they sat on allegations against Kavanaugh for weeks and then sprung them on the nominee at the last minute in a desperate attempt to prevent his confirmation. …

Several women in the audience stood up when Ford finished testifying after more than four hours and said loudly, “Thank you, Dr. Ford!”

‘Men Are Trash’ vs. ‘I Stand With Brett’: Wild scene at the Capitol

‘Men Are Trash’ vs. ‘I Stand With Brett’: Wild scene at the Capitol. By Ben Schreckinger.

Outside the Dirsken Senate Office building on Thursday morning, Cameron Mixon, a 22-year-old Georgetown Law School student was sporting a tee-shirt with the slogan: “Men Are Trash.”

“I love your shirt!” one woman told Mixon. “It’s amazing,” another agreed. By 9:30 a.m., Mixon said, about 20 people had asked to take photos next to her. …

“Kava-No!” shouted the protesters who marched Thursday morning from the steps of the Supreme Court to the Dirksen Senate office building, where the target of their ire would soon face a kind of political trial. ““We believe Anita Hill! We believe Christine Ford!” …

Ford’s supporters saw not a circus but a tragic forum for an alleged sexual assault survivor to tell her story. …

Kavanaugh’s opening statement, an angry and defiant rebuttal of Ford’s accusation, drew gasps and exasperated responses from the gallery.

When he named “revenge on behalf of the Clintons” as a motive for the accusations against him, the gallery erupted with outbursts of “What?” and “Oh my god” and “seriously?”

Kavanaugh’s warning to Democrats that “What goes around comes around” drew another “Oh my god.” And when he choked up after invoking his 10-year-old daughter, one spectator cried out: “Come on.”

From there, spectators in the gallery began to greet various Kavanaugh answers with derisive laughter. …

In a hallway during a break in Ford’s testimony, one woman confronted Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the judiciary committee, and told him that she “was raped 13 years ago” and asked whether he believed her. “You needed to go to the cops. Go to the cops,” Graham said. …

Another group of protesters marched silently through the building. Some had had black tape affixed over their mouths and others held up their hands. One middle-aged woman had written, “I did not tell” in red marker on her right palm and, “I was 15” on her left palm. …

Others had come to depict Kavanaugh as the real victim. In a park near the Dirksen building, a crowd of the conservative judge’s supporters gathered for a rally. A group of young people leaving the park said they were students at Grove City College in Western Pennsylvania. The students, who declined to provide their names, said many of them were members of their school’s College Republicans group. They had left campus last night at 10 p.m. and arrived in Washington at 3 a.m. on a bus paid for, they said, by the American Conservative Union.

Kavanaugh v Blasey Ford shows Western politics at its worst

Kavanaugh v Blasey Ford shows Western politics at its worst, by Greg Sheridan.

The process demonstrates how utterly broken US politics, and Western politics generally, has become. It has become a kind of witch-burning and will damage US politics profoundly, making it even more polarised and bitter than it has been in recent years.

The Supreme Court has almost ceased being a normal court. As others have noted, it is transforming into a kind of House of Lords, with each side of politics choosing representatives on political grounds. All nominees are qualified legally, but it is their politics that gets them nominated.

This is a tragic consequence of the way judicial activism has interacted with the windy and sometimes abstract terms of the US constitution. The court rules on all sorts of issues that should be determined by legislatures. The tragically disfiguring philosophy of judicial activism means even fairly precisely worded legislation is open to radical interpretation. …

Long term, it will damage the #MeToo movement. Some Democrats have gone so far as to say that every woman who makes an allegation must be believed. Others have said that they decide on Kavanaugh’s truthfulness on the basis of everything they know about his political views. What they are really saying therefore is that the facts don’t matter. Only the political alignment of the alleged victim and alleged perpetrator matters.

This seems to be the case, given how many of these Democrats resolutely defended Bill Clinton through all the established cases of harassment and power manipulation he was involved in.

Christine Blasey Ford’s profits so far: nearly half a million dollars

Christine Blasey Ford’s profits so far: nearly half a million dollars, by Philip Greenspun.

In a quick scan of the Christine Blasey Ford testimony transcript (Washington Post), I found the following:

BROMWICH: I — I can help you with that. Both her co-counsel (ph) are doing this pro bono. We are not being paid and we have no expectation of being paid.

In other words, her legal fees and costs such as the polygraph session have been $0.

What about revenue? Just one of the cash conduits is up to $473,622 (see this gofundme page).

Your Memory Isn’t What You Think It Is

Your Memory Isn’t What You Think It Is, by Arthur Dobrin in 2013.

Daniela Schiller, of Mt. Sinai School of Medicine and her former colleagues from New York University give us a new insight into the nature of memory.

Not only are our memories faulty (anyone who has uncovered old diaries knows that), but more importantly Schiller says our memories change each time they are recalled. What we recall is only a facsimile of things gone by.

Schiller says that memories are malleable constructs that are reconstructed with each recall. We all recognize that our memories are like Swiss cheese; what we now know is that they are more like processed cheese. …

One implication of Schiller’s work is that memory isn’t like a file in our brain but more like a story that is edited every time we tell it. To each re-telling there are attached emotional details. So when the story is altered feelings are also reshaped.

Schiller says, “My conclusion is that memory is what you are now. Not in pictures, not in recordings. Your memory is who you are now.” So if we tell our stories differently, the emotions that are elicited will also differ. An altered story is also an altered interior life.

hat-tip Scott of the Pacific