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September 28, 2018

Hal Brown’s Blog Sept-2018-c

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Back, Early September

Oct. 9, 2018

My two stories on Daily Kos:

Ivanka Trump as acting UN ambassador

Trump and my high blood pressure

All of my Daily Kos stories.

Oct. 8, 2018

Colin Powell: Trump has skewed the presidency with his behavior

The former secretary of state says the president has made a mockery of the office by insulting a range of people from the media to immigrants
Right-winger Hugh Hewitt has a WaPo column praising Trump's accomplishments. It is not worth reading. My comment to it is:

Accomplishments? Really? 
Replaced NAFTA with, what, a renamed NAFTA?
Made us an outlaw nation on climate change
Deregulated life-saving industry regulations.
Took credit for the turnaround in the economy started by Obama
Aligned with right-wing Netanyahu and made enemies of the Palestinian
Turned a potential partner, Iran, into an enemy
Made friends with the world's most repressive and despotic leaders
Enriched himself by the shameless violation of the emoluments clause
Proved that you don't have to read and comprehend complex information to be president
Demonstrated that the many people accept that few Fox News loudmouths are acceptable presidential advisors
Proved that there's no need for a president to be presidential
Became a role model for men who exploit and abuse women

Oct. 7, 2018 
Click above for video

Do you think Michael Avenatti's fight "fire with fire" approach helps us or hurts us? POLL Read (at last count) over 130 comments on Daily Kos.


 Whether Avenatti helped or hurt is a matter which I decided to write about because it was being discussed yesterday on MSNBC, and because it was addressed in The Washington Post and Vanity Fair. Why some commenters are lambasting me for writing a diary giving Kossacks a chance to weigh in on this is beyond me since, although I am a therapist, I am not a mind reader. 
On a related subject, here are some thoughts from a “Law and Order” TV show trained non-lawyer:
I think the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on his nomination process. Under the Democrats, with Gerald Nadler holding the Gavel of Power, they can subpoena witnesses who will be perjuring themselves if they lie. I think the House committee is allowed to hire their own investigators to do some of the work the FBI wasn’t allowed to do (thanks to McGahn). Although I doubt they could put anywhere near 400 investigators on the case like the FBI could have done to get the job done in the one week, they wouldn’t have any time limit. I am sure there are retired FBI agents and police sex crimes investigators they could hire.
I think it is fairly likely that after hearing all the evidence, and with public opinion supporting this, they will vote for impeachment because they will find ample evidence Kavanaugh lied under oath and committed the already known about crimes, and possibly more. 
The Senate is required to have a trial if the House impeaches.
I think it is not likely that the Senate will muster the 2/3rds majority to impeach him.
Opinion: While the impeachment and trail are going on Kavanaugh will be hard pressed not to recuse himself from any case with political implications even though recusal is entirely up to him.
What I hope for is that some incontrovertible hard evidence like contemporaneous photos, letters, therapist notes, and police reports, of his past sexual transgressions, come to light. He said, she or they said won’t be enough. 
I am convinced he did more than what has already been reported. Unfortunately because of how they have been treated by the GOP Judiciary and the FBI Dr. Ford, Debbie Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick may be reluctant to take further action. Any violation of sexual abuse law that occurred in Maryland can still be prosecuted since they have no statute of limitations for sex crimes. Thus Kavanaugh could still face state charges for whatever he did while at Georgetown Prep.
If anyone is a co-conspirator like Mark Judge, they could be charged too.
I think the next week or two will be crucial as Dr. Ford, Debbie Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick recover emotionally from the grueling experience of not being believed. I expect they are getting lots of support from friends and family and healing from the reopening of old trauma wounds.
If they decide to pursue this unfortunately while it would be a benefit for them to meet together as far as emotional support goes, the Kavanaugh defense would use this against them claiming it was proof of a conspiracy.
The next few weeks will also be a time for other women who Kavanaugh might have assaulted buoyed by rage at the outcome and empathy for his other victims to think about rallying their own support group, lawyers, therapists, friends and family to talk about taking steps to come forward.
I know this is to some extent wishful thinking, but my sense is that if Kavanaugh is getting restful nights sleep these days he is deluding himself. Like many other observers have commented, I think he still drinks to excess. I expect that if true, his drinking will get worse.
Drinking lessens inhibitions. He may continue to go public with Trump-like ranting which ultimately could influence GOP senators to question his suitability to be a Justice if the vote to remove him came to the Senate.
It is also possible that throughout this process at some point Kavanaugh will succumb to the bad publicity and resign. He could say something honest for a change by means of an excuse, i.e., that it is hurting his family. The real reason would be more complex and include his being given the cold shoulder by other members of the Supreme Court and even his own clerks and staff. 
Oct. 6, 2018

Local news goes national: Oregon's unlikely abortion fight hinges on taxes, in Politico

Editorial comment:

There won’t be an impeachment trial for Kavanaugh because that would be in the Senate. However, I think that if the Democrats win the House the Judiciary Committee chaired by Jerrold Nadler will open hearings. She’d sit in the center chair with the Gavel of Power instead of Bob Goodlatte. The committee would have subpoena powers and be able to compel witnesses to testify under oath. Lacking the ability to open an FBI investigation, I think the committee could hire their own investigators.
 The House of Representatives can vote, with a simple majority, to impeach him. Then the Senate holds proceedings similar to a trial, then votes on whether to convict. If two-thirds of the Senate vote to convict, he would be removed from office, an unlikely event. But at least the truth would come out and Kavanaugh’s name would be tarnished for the rest of his tenure. 

Link above

Oct. 5, 2018

Is Trump's problem (one of many at least) that he can't laugh? - a historian on the subject.

My story from Daily Kos today: 

Psychiatrist Nassir Ghaemi weighs in on Trump and the 25th Amendment

Another opinion has just been published in Medscape. It is by Nassir Ghaemi, MD, MPH , Professor of Psychiatry, Tufts Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine; Lecturer in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Director, Translational Medicine-Neuroscience, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

A moment of zen, watch the video here.
Another moment of zen, watch the Rachel Maddow  video here:

Oct. 4, 2018 

How amazing s this? First, the American Bar Association, and now the National Council of Churches calls for a Supreme Court nomination to be withdrawn.

A possible explanation for alcoholic memory loss by Dr. Brian Reid


That issue is blackouts. And there are at least two kinds - which is complicated.  Way more complicated than consuming alcohol until losing consciousness. “Alcohol” alone may not tell the story. That Kavanaugh likes beer has passed the meme state and has become – just not funny.
But what about other substances?
Senators asked about excess beer consumption. They didn’t ask, “how many hits of LSD did you put in your beer?” That extreme case is easy to discount. A more possible – and potentially illuminating – question would be, “did you take an Ativan on the way to the party?”
Substance interactions of substances are difficult to predict. My clinical experience with addictive behaviors has revealed frequent instances where a benzodiazepine like Ativan has resulted in catastrophic behaviors when mixed with alcohol – with no memory of the event.

Another morning --
 on the bright side, read some good news in my Daily Kos story.

Oct. 3, 2018
The commenter who calls himself Victor Ward often attacks me personally for what I write. This time his attacks have not gone unanswered by other commenters. I will not respond to him. I don't know if Victor Ward is his real name. Victor Ward is the lead character in the novel Glamorama. In Glamorama, he is an "A-list model, would-be-actor and current "It boy", "an uberstereotype of the male model", Victor lives by his catchphrase mantra "the better you look, the more you see".
Five things you didn’t know about psychopaths -The Conversation

Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Nottingham Trent University


Oct. 2, 2018

The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.
Oct. 2, 2018

President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents, an investigation by The New York Times has found.
Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has long insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help.
But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.
Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.
Oct. 1, 2018
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Sept. 30, 2018

Best Tweet of the Day:

Sept. 29, 2018

The American Bar Association had concerns about Kavanaugh 12 years ago. Republicans dismissed those, too.  WaPo

... in May 2006, as Republicans hoped to finally push Kavanaugh’s nomination across the finish line (for the DC court), the ABA downgraded its endorsement.

The group’s judicial investigator had recently interviewed dozens of lawyers, judges and others who had worked with Kavanaugh, the ABA announced at the time, and some of them raised red flags about “his professional experience and the question of his freedom from bias and open-mindedness.”

“One interviewee remained concerned about the nominee’s ability to be balanced and fair should he assume a federal judgeship,” the ABA committee chairman wrote to senators in 2006. “Another interviewee echoed essentially the same thoughts: ‘(He is) immovable and very stubborn and frustrating to deal with on some issues.’”

A particular judge had told the ABA that Kavanaugh had been “sanctimonious” during an oral argument in court. Several lawyers considered him inexperienced, and one said he “dissembled” in the courtroom.

The reviews weren’t all bad.

In the end, the ABA committee weighed Kavanaugh’s “solid reputation for integrity, intellectual capacity, and writing and analytical ability” against “concern over whether this nominee is so insulated that he will be unable to judge fairly in the future.” In a split vote, it downgraded the rating of the nominee to simply “qualified” — meaning he met the ABA’s standards to become a judge but was not necessarily an outstanding candidate

Lindsey Graham disregards Violence toward Women, & his State is a Women’s Murder Capital

A sour-grapes story:

Juanita Broaddrick Is Glad You Believe Her, Would Like You To Ignore Christine Blasey Ford

“If you can listen to accusations like this, how can you not have listened to me back then?” Bill Clinton’s accuser says of the Brett Kavanaugh allegation.

Sept.28, 2018

'Leave me alone': Mike Pence's wife reportedly refused to kiss him after Trump won - YaHoo News

Vice President Mike Pence tried to kiss his wife, Karen Pence, in the minutes after Donald Trump won the presidential election in November 2016, but she reportedly turned away from him and said: "You got what you wanted, Mike. Now leave me alone."
Meanwhile, Karen Pence "wouldn't so much as say hello to Trump," Michael Lewis, the author of "Moneyball" and "The Big Short," wrote in a Guardian long read based on several interviews with Trump insiders and published Thursday.
In an account of Trump's unexpected win and chaotic transition into the White House, Lewis wrote that after clinching Pennsylvania's electoral votes at 1:35 a.m. on November 9, thereby winning the election, Trump "just stared at the TV without saying anything, like a man with a pair of twos whose bluff has been


‘This guy doesn’t know anything’: the inside story of Trump’s shambolic transition team

Sept. 27, 2018
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace says Kavanaugh case prompted his own daughters to reveal their stories
Moments before a much-anticipated hearing Thursday about sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, Fox News Channel anchor Chris Wallace said his own daughters revealed details about incidents they had faced during their adolescence.
While waiting for Kavanaugh and one of his accusers, Christine Blasey Ford, to arrive at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Wallace said on live television that over the past week, his relatives, “like a lot of American families,” have been discussing and debating the controversy surrounding allegations against Kavanaugh. During those conversations, he said, “two of my daughters told me stories that I had never heard before about things that happened to them in high school.”
Wallace acknowledged that the allegations were not as serious as those against Kavanaugh, but, he said, “the point is that there are teenage girls who don’t tell stories to a lot of people, and then it comes up.”
Rubin Bolling: Cartoon: Young Brett Kavanaugh: The Yale years

Oregon's Sen. Jeff Merkley tells Salon how he hopes to stop vote on Brett Kavanaugh

Under the radar:

Revealed: What Erik Prince and Moscow’s Money Man Discussed in That Infamous Seychelles Meeting

Sept. 26, 2018

Trump may blink on Kavanaugh now that a fourth accuser has been revealed. Will he blink on Rosenstein? Trump: I’d ‘prefer’ to keep Rosenstein, may delay meeting

Yale classmates remember very different images of Brett Kavanaugh - CNN

Why Jane Fonda doesn’t hate Donald Trump

The famously political actress explains why ‘you have to have empathy’ for the president.
But when it comes to who he is as  a human being, Fonda urged Americans to express “radical kinship” for the president and his supporters. “I feel that I understand a little bit — this is a man who was traumatized as a child by his father, who had a mother that didn’t protect him,” she said. “And the behavior is the language of the wounded.”
“You never want to criticize Trump, and you don’t want to criticize Fox [News]. You want to tell people things they don’t know,” Fonda said on the podcast. “Just like what changed and saved my life was being told things I didn’t know by American soldiers. We have to reach out and listen and then respond in a way that’s meaningful.”

“You have to have empathy for him,” she added, speaking of Trump. “And I think that that has to also transfer to the people who voted for him. Some of them, you can’t possibly persuade otherwise because they’re white supremacists. You know, or they’re so far off the spectrum, for their own traumatic reasons, probably. But there’s a whole bunch of Trump voters who we have to open our hearts to and understand why they voted the way they did.”

Back, Early September 

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