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Rahmane Idrissa

Ten Typical Days in Trump’s AmericaEliot Weinberger
Vol. 40 No. 20 · 25 October 2018

Ten Typical Days in Trump’s America

Eliot Weinberger

6589 words

As dozens​ of lagoons of pig waste overflow in North Carolina, President Trump says that Hurricane Florence is ‘one of the wettest we’ve ever seen, from the standpoint of water’. (In North Carolina 9.7 million pigs produce ten billion gallons of manure a year.)


President Trump says: ‘I hope to be able to put this up as one of my crowning achievements that I was able to expose something that is truly a cancer in our country.’ He is referring to the FBI.


Pornography star Stormy Daniels provides a detailed description of Donald Trump’s penis. Although Trump had bragged about the size of his member in the primary debates and in campaign speeches, Daniels, based on her professional expertise, laughingly refutes this.


Hurricane Florence causes basins containing more than two million cubic yards of coal ash – enough to fill a large sports stadium – to spill into the Cape Fear River and the surrounding lowlands. (The many hundreds of coal ash basins in the US were regulated under Obama and have been deregulated under Trump. Coal ash, the residue from burning coal, contains lead, mercury, selenium, arsenic, cadmium, chromium and boron, and is known to lead to cancer, neurological conditions and reproductive problems in humans, and bizarre deformities in fish. Among those promoting the deregulation was Andrew Wheeler, for many years a lobbyist for Murray Energy, the US’s largest coal-mining company. He is now the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In his first speech in his new position, Wheeler said: ‘I get frustrated with the media when they report I was a coal lobbyist.’)


It is revealed that President Trump told a visiting group of Spanish ministers that Spain should build a wall across the entire Sahara desert to keep out refugees.


Testifying before a Senate subcommittee, Matthew Albence, deputy director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), repeats his earlier statement that the child migrant detention centres are like ‘summer camp’: ‘There’re basketball courts, exercise classes, soccer fields …’ He doesn’t answer when asked if he’d send his own children to one. (There are now nearly 13,000 children in the camps. Like the camps for adults, they are mostly run by for-profit businesses, all of which were major corporate donors to the Trump campaign and inauguration. The price of their stocks has soared in the last two years. The largest of them, Geo Group, which imprisons one third of the more than 300,000 immigrant detainees, held its 2017 annual conference at the Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami.)

To pay for the camps, the Trump administration announces that it is diverting tens of millions of dollars that had been committed to cancer and Aids research, women’s shelters, and programmes devoted to mental health, maternal health, early education and substance abuse.


The Secure Elections Act is postponed in the Senate until after the midterm elections, thanks to the lack of Republican support. It would have required states to use back-up paper ballots and to conduct audits after elections to ensure that no votes or voting systems had been hacked or compromised.


The death toll from Hurricane Florence: 43 humans, 5500 pigs, 3,400,000 chickens.


A professor of psychology, Christine Blasey Ford, accuses Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party when they were teenagers, turning up the music so that her screams could not be heard and putting his hand over her mouth. Fox News calls her a ‘loon’ (‘She may very well believe everything she’s saying. That is one of the signs of lunacy, believing something that isn’t real’); Senator Orrin Hatch says she is clearly ‘mixed up’; Donald Trump Jr tweets a crude drawing making fun of her; if the assault ‘was as bad as she says’, President Trump tweets, why didn’t she report it? ‘Why didn’t someone call the FBI 36 years ago?’ (She was 15 at the time, and the FBI does not normally investigate sexual assault cases.) Kavanaugh denies that the incident took place, but – although presumably an advocate of the rule of law – opposes Dr Ford’s request that there should be a further investigation by the FBI as part of its routine background checks for important government nominees. The evangelist Franklin Graham and various Republicans claim that since Kavanaugh did not actually rape Ford, but merely assaulted and groped her, and then stopped, his honourable character is evident.

Because of death threats, Dr Ford is forced to move her family into hiding.

(As a matter of public interest, Kavanaugh’s drunken adolescent assault has now eclipsed his extremely murky personal finances, including a lifestyle far beyond his salary and up to $200,000 of debts that recently suddenly vanished; his possible addiction to sports gambling; his unequivocal opposition to reproductive rights and trade unions; his belief that a president is exempt from criminal indictment; the list of sexually graphic questions he prepared for Kenneth Starr to ask Bill Clinton during the Clinton impeachment proceedings; and the hundreds of thousands of pages of documents relating to his work in the Bush administration which the Republicans are refusing to release – covering, among other things, his role in formulating torture policy, the theft of Democratic Party papers and authorising warrantless wiretapping.)


The Department of the Interior announces it is rescinding an Obama-era regulation that requires energy companies to reduce the amount of methane released during oil and gas production. (Methane accounts for 9 per cent of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions. The regulation – which was never implemented, as it is still blocked by energy company lawsuits – would have prevented 180,000 tons of methane emissions annually, the equivalent of taking 950,000 cars off the road. To date, the Trump administration has revised, rewritten or moved to repeal 76 environmental regulations, most of which were intended to help curb climate change.)


Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, echoes President Trump’s claim that, contrary to official estimates, ‘three thousand people did not die’ in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria last year. (Trump has maintained that only 64 people died, and that the larger number is an invention by the Democrats to make him ‘look as bad as possible’.) According to Long, ‘you might see more deaths indirectly occur as time goes on because people have heart attacks due to stress, they fall off their house trying to fix their roof, they die in car crashes because they go through intersections where the stop lights weren’t working … Spousal abuse goes through the roof. You can’t blame spousal abuse, you know, after a disaster on anybody.’


A close friend of Brett Kavanaugh’s, Ed Whelan, president of the right-wing Ethics and Public Policy Center, presents – in a long series of tweets – an elaborate theory that Dr Ford’s assailant was actually another boy from Kavanaugh’s prep school, now a middle school teacher. Although widely ridiculed and quickly disproved, Fox News and the Wall Street Journal continue to report it. (Whelan’s revelations had been carefully orchestrated, with tantalising leaks to the press that a major development was forthcoming. This was the work of CRC Public Relations, a firm most notable for creating the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who, in 2004, derailed John Kerry’s presidential campaign by claiming he had been falsely decorated as a war hero. CRC – it stands for Creative Response Concepts – is also the publicist for the Federalist Society, which, in the Trump era, has successfully promoted the appointment of many ultra-conservative judges, including Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, for whom they co-ordinated a $10 million campaign. Because of certain information not known to the public, it was widely assumed that Whelan and CRC were collaborating with Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans and possibly Kavanaugh himself.)

In a further twist, a former CRC employee, Garrett Ventry, now the spokesman for the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee and aide to its chairman, Senator Chuck Grassley, suddenly resigns after accusations of sexual harassment. Whelan is put on ‘temporary leave’ from the Ethics and Public Policy Center.


As of 21 September, there have been 262 mass shootings in the USA in the 263 days of 2018. (A mass shooting is defined as ‘four or more people killed or wounded, not including the shooter, in one incident’. In 2015 there were 335 mass shootings; in 2016 there were 382; in 2017 there were 346.)


President Trump says that he should have fired former FBI director James Comey ‘the day I won the primaries’ – apparently forgetting that this was before he held office.


The Trump administration, in its continuing efforts to reduce ‘burdensome federal regulations’, announces it will no longer penalise hospitals if a disproportionate number of their patients die in the course of organ transplants.


In New York State, Republican Chris Collins – the first congressman to endorse Trump for president – is broadcasting a television ad showing his Democratic challenger, Nate McMurray, speaking in Korean, juxtaposed with a photo of Kim Jong-un, and claims that McMurray is offering to outsource American jobs. It ends: ‘You can take Nate McMurray at his word.’ (McMurray has served on various US-Korea government trade panels and is married to a Korean. Collins has been indicted and is awaiting trial for insider trading carried out in text messages he sent during a Republican congressional picnic on the White House lawn.)


In California, Republican Duncan Hunter – the second congressman to endorse Trump for president – claims in television ads and speeches that his Democratic challenger, Ammar Campa-Najjar, is named after Yasser Arafat, and is supported by the Muslim Brotherhood in an attempt by ‘Islamists’ to ‘infiltrate Congress’. Campa-Najjar is of Mexican and Palestinian descent and is a practising Christian. (Hunter has been indicted and is awaiting trial for spending at least $250,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses, including trips to Italy and Hawaii, his family’s dental work, his children’s tuition, movie tickets, video games, groceries, international travel for nearly a dozen relatives and a $600 plane ticket for the family’s pet rabbit. He also purchased golf equipment for himself which he declared on finance forms was for wounded veterans. He first tried to blame his wife for these expenses, but after an outcry took responsibility. He is currently leading in the polls.)


Another woman, Deborah Ramirez, claims she was sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh when they were classmates at Yale. Republican senator Orrin Hatch dismisses the allegation as ‘phony’. When asked why he thinks it’s phony, he replies: ‘Because I know it is, that’s why.’

(Aware for some days of this second allegation, the Republicans unsuccessfully attempted to hold the confirmation vote before it became public. It is worth noting that, in 2013, the six senior Republican members of the Judiciary Committee all voted against the reauthorisation of the Clinton-era Violence against Women Act. It ultimately passed the Senate 78-22.)

In the merry-go-round of familiar faces, Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels, says he has yet another client with information about further assaults by Kavanaugh and his friends in high school. (In Maryland, where they lived, there is no statute of limitations on sexual assault.)

President Trump says: ‘There’s a chance that this could be one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate for anything.’


The Environmental Protection Agency places the head of its Office of Children’s Health Protection, Dr Ruth Etzel, on ‘administrative leave’, demanding that she immediately hand over her badge, keys and mobile phone. There are no charges against Dr Etzel, a noted figure in children’s environmental health. It is assumed this is a move to attenuate the division into oblivion.


The Department of Homeland Security announces that legal immigrants who legally receive social welfare benefits, such as food stamps and prescription drugs for the elderly, will no longer be eligible for green cards. It is estimated that this may affect twenty million poor children, 90 per cent of whom are US citizens. Moreover, the 447 pages of regulations (‘Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds’) are so deliberately complicated that they will undoubtedly discourage immigrants from claiming these benefits even when they are entitled to them.

(This ruling is the latest handiwork of Stephen Miller, the 33-year-old senior policy adviser who is the architect of the Muslim ban, the separation of children from their parents at the border and the drastic reduction in the number of refugees admitted into the country. He has created new regulations and bureaucratic obstacles to slow down all immigration processes. Closely associated with Steve Bannon, white supremacists and other ‘alt-right’ figures, Miller was the author of Trump’s dystopian ‘American carnage’ inaugural address, and was instrumental in the firing of James Comey, Rex Tillerson and other officials. Avoiding the public internecine wars in the White House, he has quietly filled positions in the government with like-minded ideologues, and may well be the second most powerful man in the Trump administration, after the president himself. He notoriously rarely writes emails, so he leaves no paper trail.)


In an unusual television advertisement, the six siblings of Paul Gosar, Republican congressman from Arizona, endorse his Democratic opponent, Dr David Brill. In response, Gosar tweets: ‘Like leftists everywhere, they put political ideology before family. Stalin would be proud.’ (Gosar, a former dentist, is notable for his belief that neo-Nazi groups are funded by George Soros, a Jewish Holocaust survivor, and that Soros personally helped organise their rally in Charlottesville to discredit the anti-immigration movement. In the latest poll, Gosar is far ahead of Brill.)


Senator Ted Cruz warns Texans that if his rival, the charismatic progressive Beto O’Rourke, is elected, the Democrats will ban barbecue. This is based on the assumption that ‘socialists’ are vegetarians. (In the presidential primaries in 2016, Cruz had called Trump a ‘pathological liar’, a ‘snivelling coward’ and ‘utterly immoral’ after Trump had claimed that Cruz’s father was directly involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy and repeatedly commented that Cruz’s wife was much uglier than Melania, even posting comparative photos of the two. Now Cruz, in an unexpectedly tight race, has implored Trump to come to Texas to campaign for him.)


The White House leaks to reporters that the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, a lifelong Republican who is overseeing the Robert Mueller investigation, is resigning or has been fired. (It had been revealed that in May 2017, only two weeks after his appointment and only a few months after Trump’s inauguration, Rosenstein had discussed wearing a wire to record his conversations with the president; he had also discussed the possibility of recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.) This turns out to be an invention by the president himself and Bill Shine, formerly of Fox News and now the White House deputy chief of staff for communications, to divert attention away from the Kavanaugh scandals. (Shine himself had been fired by Fox for covering up various sexual harassment cases.)


Dr Ben Carson, secretary of housing and urban development, speaking at the Christian evangelist Values Voter Summit, blames the allegations against Kavanaugh on the Fabian Society: ‘They don’t like what America is and what it represents, and they want to change us to another system. In order to do that, there are three things they must control: the education system, the media and the courts. The first two of those they have.’ But now they ‘are like wet hornets, just completely lost control off the deep end, and the further they get away from being able to control the courts the more desperate they become’. (The Fabian Society, which barely existed in the US and was last seen in the country around 1905, has recently found a new life on ‘alt-right’ conspiracy websites. A student of the 19th century, Dr Carson has also stated that Satan entered the heart of Charles Darwin and gave him the idea of the theory of evolution to undermine God’s word.)


In Pennsylvania, it is revealed that the Republican candidate for governor, Scott Wagner, lost $631,000 in campaign funds over the summer through unsuccessful investments in a brokerage account.


The Environmental Protection Agency announces plans to dissolve its Office of the Science Adviser, which counsels on the scientific research underpinning health and environmental regulations. The post of agency science adviser is currently held by Dr Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, an expert on the risks of chemicals to human health, who has worked at the EPA since 1981. (Since Trump’s inauguration, some 1600 jobs at the EPA have been eliminated.)


Jeanine Pirro, one of President Trump’s favourite hosts on Fox News, offers a theory that Kavanaugh’s accuser, Dr Ford, may have been hypnotised by Democrats to have this false story implanted in her mind.


President Trump rides to the UN in one of the 12 new $1.5 million presidential limousines. It is plated with military-grade armour, protected against biochemical attack and has five-inch-thick, multi-layer windows. The doors are as heavy as those of a 757 jet. It is stocked with various weapons, including a shotgun and a tear gas cannon, an ‘extensive array’ of medical supplies and a refrigerator with vials of the president’s blood type.


Addressing the UN General Assembly, President Trump asserts that his administration ‘has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country’. The delegates burst into laughter. ‘So true,’ he responds, and they laugh even louder. (The Twittersphere immediately produces a Trump tweet from 2014: ‘We need a President who isn’t a laughing stock to the entire World. We need a truly great leader, a genius at strategy and winning. Respect!’)

On Fox News, Nikki Haley, the ambassador to the UN, says: ‘When he said that, they love how honest he is. And it’s not diplomatic, and they find it funny. I mean, when he goes and he is very truthful, they kind of are taken back by it … Whether he said good things about them or not, they love that he’s honest with them. And they’ve never seen anything like it, and so there’s a respect there. I saw that the media was trying to make it something disrespectful; that’s not what it was. They love to be with him.’ (Haley is frequently mentioned as a future Republican presidential candidate.)


Kavanaugh and his wife are interviewed on Fox News. Besides repeatedly denying all accusations, he finds it necessary to reveal that ‘I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter.’ (Supreme Court justices have traditionally been – or were, until the era of Antonin Scalia – aloof from partisan politics and the media. No nominee has ever given an interview during the nomination process, and it is telling, however predictable, that Kavanaugh would choose Fox News over one of the more ‘neutral’ networks.

Although the charges of sexual assault are credible, what is now certain from various accounts is that Kavanaugh was a drunken lout in high school and college. It is curious that he has chosen to completely deny everything, rather than follow the popular American route to redemption: ‘I was a callow youth, but I’ve spent my adult life devoting myself to good works to atone for my early indiscretions.’ George W. Bush, for one, openly admitted that he ‘chased a lot of pussy and drank a lot of whisky’ before he found God. If Kavanaugh had simply said, as Bush did, ‘when I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible,’ his confirmation would have been assured.)


President Trump claims that ‘China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election coming up in November against my administration. They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade. And we are winning on trade. We are winning at every level. We don’t want them to meddle or interfere in our upcoming election.’ Neither Trump nor his administration has offered any evidence of Chinese interference.


A study from Iowa State University reveals that Iowa farmers will lose $1 billion because of the trade war, and the CEO of Ford announces that the tariffs on metals will cost the company an extra $1 billion. (The governor of Washington has said that his state will lose $1.8 billion, and among other estimates of losses from the US Chamber of Commerce are: Wisconsin, $1 billion; Kentucky, $1.5 billion; Pennsylvania, $1.7 billion; Alabama, $2 billion; Michigan, $2.3 billion; Ohio, $3.3 billion; Texas, $4 billion. All of these states, except Washington, voted for Trump in 2016.)


After Bill Cosby is sentenced to three to ten years in prison for drugging and raping a woman, his spokesman says: ‘They persecuted Jesus and look what happened.’


As more high school, college and adult friends and acquaintances of Brett Kavanaugh appear with further stories of drunken parties, sexual assaults and even gang rapes, Republican senator Lindsey Graham, defending Kavanaugh, says: ‘He’s not Bill Cosby.’


Still at the United Nations, President Trump, in his first press conference in 587 days, takes on the persona of a mafia don: ‘I told a number of countries over the last few days, I said, listen, you’re a very rich country. We protect you. Without our protection, you would have real problems. You would have real problems. I said you should reimburse us for this protection.’


President Trump says: ‘If you look at Mr Pillsbury, the leading authority on China, he was on a good show – I won’t mention the name of the show – recently, and he was saying that China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump’s very, very large brain. He said Donald Trump, they don’t know what to do – never happened. Well, one thing they are trying to do is they’re trying to convince people to go against Donald Trump, because a normal, regular political person that has no concept of what the hell he’s doing would let China continue to take $500 billion a year out of our country and rebuild their country.’ (Michael Pillsbury, author of The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower, is a regular on Fox News, where in August he said that Trump is ‘so smart’ that he’s ‘playing three-dimensional chess’.)


In New Jersey, after the home of a supporter of the Democratic congressman Josh Gottheimer is defaced with swastikas and MAGA graffiti, his Republican challenger, John McCann, posts on Facebook: ‘These types of actions happen when Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters spread messages of hate.’


Among various state legislature candidates running for re-election, a Minnesota Republican withdraws after his daughter claims he ‘inappropriately touched her’ for years; a Washington Republican, fired from his position as a professor at a local university after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct by students, vows to stay in the race, as does a Tennessee Republican, accused by multiple women of sexual assault when he was their high school basketball coach.


According to a new poll, only 24 per cent of Republican men say there are too few women in positions of leadership; 14 per cent of them say that this is due to gender discrimination; 44 per cent say there aren’t women in higher office because women aren’t interested in it.


In a dizzying nine hours of hearings, watched by much of the country, the Senate Judiciary Committee hears testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh. Dr Ford, appearing in public for the first time, turns out to be the nice next-door neighbour, but one who is also a psychology professor, able to speak of memories registering in the hippocampus. Her high-pitched adolescent voice and habit of flicking back strands of hair is at first disconcerting, but becomes wrenching as she recounts the assault: the teenager emerges from the adult, making the verbal re-enactment even more vivid.

The Republican senators do not question her themselves – essentially refusing to speak to her directly – and turn over their time slots to a sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona whom the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, refers to as their ‘female assistant’. The prosecutor asks about tiny details in Ford’s narrative, a meticulous logical progression that seems to go nowhere as she tries unsuccessfully to find inconsistencies. Ford, answering all questions, readily admits what she cannot remember. One previously unknown bit of information that Ford reveals is that she first contacted her congresswoman with her story when she saw Kavanaugh’s name on the shortlist of potential nominees. She felt it was her ‘civic duty’ to alert the authorities that there were serious problems with Kavanaugh, unlike the other ‘qualified candidates’. This deflates Republican assertions that the Democrats are attempting to defeat whomever the president selects.

Ford’s testimony is completely persuasive. Republicans, in the morning, consider it a disaster. Even President Trump admits: ‘I thought her testimony was very compelling and she looks like a very fine woman to me, very fine woman.’

But then the afternoon comes and Kavanaugh appears. In his previous testimony before the committee, Kavanaugh had been low-key and ‘judicial’; in the Fox News interview he had been almost meek. Now, from the first moment, he becomes the stereotypical Trump voter: the angry white man as victim. Yelling, weeping at inexplicable moments, grimacing, sniffling, making odd gestures with his tongue and continually drinking water, he denies everything, laments how his good name and his family have been ruined, and, perhaps most shockingly – for someone aspiring to the heights of the Supreme Court, traditionally far above petty politics – he blames it all on a left-wing conspiracy to destroy him: ‘This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit fuelled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars and money from outside left-wing opposition groups. This is a circus.’

Emboldened by Kavanaugh, the Republicans quickly dispense with questions from the prosecutor – whose strictly factual questions might lead to false answers and subsequent charges of perjury – and escalate the rhetoric with grandstanding speeches about the grave injustice of it all. Questioned by the Democrats, Kavanaugh is snappy, rude or openly hostile, and repeatedly lies about small matters, such as the language in his high school yearbook. His characterisation by former classmates as a belligerent and obnoxious drunk becomes inadvertently tangible.

Donald Trump Jr tweets: ‘I love Kavanaugh’s tone. It’s nice to see a conservative man fight for his honour and his family.’ The Democratic senator Amy Klobuchar – whom Kavanaugh had sneeringly asked whether she drank beer and had blackouts – later says: ‘If he was a judge in a courtroom and I had acted like that … he would’ve thrown me out.’

Psychologists later point out that Kavanaugh’s behaviour is a typical tactic for sex offenders, known as DARVO: Deny the behaviour, Attack the individual doing the confronting and Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender. Others say that blackouts – partial or total memory loss caused by excessive drinking (‘Did I do that last night?’ ‘How did we end up in that place?’) – are common, and it may well be that Kavanaugh genuinely has no memory of assaulting Ford.


The American Bar Association (which had previously given Kavanaugh its highest rating), the dean of Yale Law School (which Kavanaugh attended) and many others call for the confirmation to be delayed until the FBI can investigate the charges by Ford and others. Nevertheless, the cantankerous octogenarian chairman of the committee, Chuck Grassley, schedules the vote for the following day. Senator Lindsey Graham declares: ‘Ms Ford has got a problem and destroying Judge Kavanaugh’s life won’t fix her problem.’


The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, as part of the Trump administration’s ‘energy dominance’ agenda, moves to eliminate safety rules for offshore oil and natural gas drilling platforms, claiming that the Obama-era standards are unnecessarily burdensome on companies. (The rules were put in place after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and spill.)


A House subcommittee passes four Republican bills to weaken the Endangered Species Act, which has remained unchanged for decades. These are called the Weigh Habitats Offsetting Locational Effects Act (whole); the Endangered Species Reasonableness and Transparency Act; the Ensuring Meaningful Petition Outreach While Enhancing Rights of States Act (empowers); and the Providing ESA Timing Improvements That Increase Opportunities for Nonlisting Act (petition).


After a confrontation in an elevator with two survivors of sexual assault goes viral, Senator Jeff Flake announces he will vote to move the Kavanaugh nomination to the Senate floor, but will not vote to confirm unless there is an FBI investigation. As the Republicans hold only a 51-49 majority in the Senate, the votes of Flake and a few other wavering Republicans are essential, and they are forced to concede. In the midst of some procedural confusion, Chairman Grassley abruptly and angrily adjourns the meeting. (Flake, because he is not running for re-election, is one of the few Republicans who has openly criticised Trump, but has consistently voted with the Republicans on all Trump-era legislation.)


28 September is National Good Neighbour Day and also National Drink Beer Day. (Kavanaugh, while denying reports of alcoholism, mentioned beer thirty times in his testimony: ‘I liked beer. I still like beer.’)


The Center for Disease Control states that suicide is now the tenth most common cause of death in the US and is on the rise: ‘Suicide – in all ages except for young children and the elderly – is one of the few conditions that’s getting worse instead of better around the country.’


Seeming to confirm President Trump’s mystifying and unprecedented animosity towards Canada (‘they’ve taken advantage of our Country for many years!’), hyper-aggressive Canadian green crabs are invading the coast of Maine, devouring softshell clams, oysters, nutritional eelgrass, lobsters (which they attack in groups), the more passive American green crabs – and each other, when there is nothing left to eat. One Canadian green crab can produce 175,000 eggs per year and their eradication is considered impossible.

Postscript (Ten More Days)

At a rally​ in Mississippi, President Trump lampoons Dr Ford in a whining voice:

‘How did you get home?’

‘I don’t remember.’

‘How did you get there?’

‘I don’t remember.’

‘Where is the place?’

‘I don’t remember.’

‘How many years ago was it?’

‘I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.’

In response, the crowd chants: ‘Lock her up!’

In her first press briefing in many weeks, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tells reporters: ‘The president was stating the facts.’

More of Kavanaugh’s classmates and friends surface with more tales of frat boy behaviour, including a bar fight where he was questioned by the police. A letter that he handwrote to his pals concerning ‘Beach Week’ mysteriously appears: ‘Warn the neighbours that we’re loud, obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us.’ And: ‘I think we are unanimous that any girls we can beg to stay there are welcomed with open …’ [his ellipsis] (‘Beach Week’ was one of the entries in the calendar Kavanaugh had produced for the Senate Judiciary Committee to demonstrate that the days of his youth were entirely occupied by study, athletics and church activities.)

More damning, Yale classmates claim that Kavanaugh had contacted them to refute the allegations of Deborah Ramirez, weeks before her charges of assault appeared in an article in the New Yorker. (Kavanaugh had testified under oath that he first learned of the charges when he read the article.) An activist group, Demand Justice, compiles a list of 31 instances of perjury in Kavanaugh’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

More than 2600 law professors sign a letter stating that Kavanaugh ‘displayed a lack of judicial temperament that would be disqualifying for any court, and certainly for elevation to the highest court of this land’. Harvard Law School declines to invite him back to teach. Robert Post, the former dean of the Yale Law School, writes that Kavanaugh stokes ‘the fires of partisan rage and male entitlement’: ‘For as long as Kavanaugh sits on the court, he will remain a symbol of partisan anger, a haunting reminder that behind the smiling face of judicial benevolence lies the force of an urgent will to power. No one who felt the force of that anger could possibly believe that Kavanaugh might actually be a detached and impartial judge.’

The American Bar Association clarifies that in 2006 they downgraded his rating from ‘well qualified’ to ‘qualified’, ‘prompted by new concerns about Mr Kavanaugh’s demeanour and veracity’. Retired supreme court justice John Paul Stevens, a Republican appointee, says Kavanaugh’s performance at the hearings ‘should have disqualified him’.

President Trump characterises those objecting to the nomination as ‘really evil people’. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell says: ‘There is no chance in the world that they’re going to scare us out of doing our duty.’

Kavanaugh (or his team of publicists) writes an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, titled ‘I Am an Independent, Impartial Judge’: ‘I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times … I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad.’ (Others may have assumed that he was there as a judicial nominee.)

President Trump says: ‘It is a very scary time for young men in America, when you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of.’ When asked what message he has for young women in America, he replies: ‘Women are doing great.’ He does not elaborate.

Chairman Grassley explains the reason there are no Republican women on the Senate Judiciary Committee: ‘It’s a lot of work – maybe they don’t want to do it.’

Meanwhile, in an exceptionally long report, the New York Times details decades of ‘dubious tax schemes … including instances of outright fraud’ by the Trump family. Contrary to Trump’s often repeated tale of how he turned a $1 million loan from his father into billions, the Times reports that his father gave him at least $413 million over many years. At age three, toddler Donald was receiving an annual ‘salary’ of $200,000; he was a millionaire by age eight.


President Trump says that Dr Ford’s testimony is ‘a hoax that was set up by the Democrats … It was all made up, it was fabricated, and it’s a disgrace.’ (Dr Ford had told her husband and therapist about the assault years before.) Senator Graham says of Dr Ford: ‘This is what happens when you go through a trailer park with a $100 bill.’ He then blames the Clintons.

It becomes a Republican talking point, promoted by Trump and Grassley, that the thousands of protesters in Washington are all ‘professionals’ paid by George Soros – in Trump’s words, ‘only looking to make senators look bad. Don’t fall for it!’ The president’s lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, retweets this message: ‘Follow the money. I think Soros is the anti-Christ! He must go! Freeze his assets & I bet the protests stop.’


Meanwhile, the IRS reinstates the tax-exempt status of the National Policy Institute, a white supremacist, antisemitic group headed by neo-Nazi associate Richard Spencer, who coined the term ‘alt-right’.


Under a strict directive from the White House, the FBI speaks with only six people connected to the charges against Kavanaugh and ignores at least forty other potential informants, some of whom had attempted unsuccessfully to contact FBI offices and others who had sent in sworn affidavits. Kavanaugh is not questioned, nor is Dr Ford, despite her repeated offers to co-operate. There is only one secret copy of their final report that senators are allowed to examine one individual at a time. They are forbidden to make notes or reveal anything they have read. Senator Grassley says: ‘There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know … It’s time to vote.’

Attention is focused on a few wavering ‘moderate’ senators. In the end, their consensus opinion is that they believe Dr Ford was probably assaulted, but it couldn’t have been done by such an upstanding citizen. Republican senator Susan Collins says: ‘I believe that she believes what she testified to.’ Incredibly, she adds: ‘The one silver lining that I hope will come from this is that more women will press charges now when they are assaulted.’ Dr Ford and her family are still protected by private bodyguards and cannot move back home.

Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed by a vote of 50-48, the narrowest margin for any Supreme Court nominee since 1881. On Fox News, commentators celebrate by toasting with Bud Light, Kavanaugh’s favourite beer.

President Trump tweets: ‘The paid DC protesters are now ready to really protest because they haven’t gotten their checks – in other words, they weren’t paid! Screamers in Congress, and outside, were far too obvious – less professional than anticipated by those paying (or not paying) the bills!’


Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency weakens regulations on mercury, and moves towards weakening regulations on exposure to radiation, including nuclear waste. For the latter, they are following the recommendations of a toxicologist named Edward Calabrese, who says that this will ‘have a positive effect on human health’. According to Calabrese, small exposures to radiation and other carcinogens serve as ‘stressors’ that activate the body’s repair mechanisms and make people healthier.


In a CNN poll on 8 October, the majority of Americans believe the female accusers over Kavanaugh (52-38), think he will be a partisan justice (56-36), and that he should not have been confirmed (51-41).

(This mirrors the majority opinion/minority rule on most issues, including gun control, health insurance and reproductive rights. Trump lost the election by some three million votes. In the Senate, with its archaic composition of two senators per state, regardless of population, the Republican majority represents about 143 million people, the Democratic minority about 182 million, or 2.8 million people per Republican senator and 3.7 million per Democratic senator. In the 2016 election for the House, the total popular vote was 63,164,365 Republican, 61,750,858 Democratic, or 50.6 per cent to 49.4 per cent. The actual representation, mainly thanks to gerrymandering, is 55.4 per cent to 44.6 per cent.

With the takeover of the Supreme Court, the devastation of American institutional democracy seems almost complete. This began long before Trump, and perhaps was most brazen in Mitch McConnell’s boast in 2016 that ‘one of my proudest moments was when I looked Barack Obama in the eye and I said: “Mr President, you will not fill the Supreme Court vacancy.”’ As is well known, contrary to all precedent, McConnell refused for nine months even to hold a preliminary hearing for Merrick Garland, an eminently qualified, absolutely centrist judge. The large number of lower court positions that Trump is now filling – more appellate judges than the last five presidents – is largely due to McConnell’s obstruction of Obama’s appointments. One of the unsurprising aspects of the Kavanaugh confirmation is that, apart from the three momentarily undecided senators who were mainly considering the sexual assault charges, no one bothered to ask the other 48 Republicans whether they believed that the Supreme Court should, at least in principle, be above partisan politics.)


On Brett Kavanaugh’s first day as justice, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal to a ruling written by Kavanaugh himself in 2017 when he was an appellate court judge. Kavanaugh had determined that the EPA lacked the authority under the Clean Air Act to enforce an Obama administration rule regulating hydrofluorocarbons, industrial chemicals that deplete the ozone. (And so it begins.)

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