Supreme Court Nominee Hearings: Where To From Here?

I watched the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday September 27, 2018.  Dr. Ford testified first at the insistence of the Republican congress even though during negotiations with the Republican-led Judiciary Committee she had asked that judge Kavanaugh testify first.  Obviously, her request was denied.

I felt as if I were glued to my television from the very beginning of Dr. Ford’s testimony.  Unfortunately, I had made a doctor’s appointment for 1:15 p.m. that day and had to leave for my appointment shortly after Dr. Ford finished testifying.  When I arrived at my doctor’s office, they had the television channel in the waiting room set on the testimony.  As I waited to see the doctor, Judge Brett Kavanaugh arrived at the hearing room and was seated for his testimony.  Just after he was seated, I was called in to see my doctor.

Fortunately for me, when I returned home from my appointment, Judge Kavanaugh was just concluding his opening statement.  I found out later on that during that statement, he had viciously attacked the Democratic Party and said that the Democratic members on the Judiciary Committee had gone from an advise and consent approach, which was their duty, to a seek and destroy approach in a well planned political attack to prevent him from being confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice.

He said that the Democrats on this committee attacked him out of jealousy and anger due to Mr. Trump’s 2016 election victory and in an attempt to assist in orchestrating ‘the revenge of the Clintons’.  He was extremely rude to all of the Democratic senators and regularly pushed back on their questions to him including turning back the same questions that they asked him back on them.

His attack on the Democrats was extremely abrasive, completely partisan, and unprecedented for someone who was being considered for a seat on the highest court in the land.  This was especially appalling and unexpected since Judge Kavanaugh is already a seated District of Columbia appellate court judge and has been since 2006 when he was appointed by President George W. Bush.

The other thing that made the opposing testimonies of these two individuals so bizarre was that the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee had hired Rachel Mitchell, a sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona who was already on the government payroll, to question Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh instead of having the Republican senators on the committee to do their jobs and question them.

And to make things even more bizarre, after Ms. Mitchell had questioned Dr. Ford (in essence, cross examined her) – and a few questions into her questioning Judge Kavanaugh – Republicans took the gavel back from her (in essence, fired her) and Republican senators asked their own questions from that point until the completion of Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony.  When Senator Lindsey Graham’s turn came to ask Judge Kavanaugh questions he did so but during that questioning, he also addressed the Democrats on the committee.  When he did, he was just as abrasive, rude, accusatory and combative as Judge Kavanaugh had thus far been during his responses to questions from the Democratic senators on the committee.

Prior to Senator Graham’s unseemly behavior – after Dr. Ford had testified and proven she was an extremely credible witness and before Judge Kavanaugh began his testimony – Democrats had regularly asked the Republican majority to allow the FBI to reopen their investigation of Judge Kavanaugh.  Republicans had steadfastly refused their requests.  But Democrats persisted in their request even after Judge Kavanaugh began his testimony and addressed this same request to him.

During the entire time that he testified, almost every time that a Democrat on the committee had the opportunity to question him, they asked him if he would agree to allow the FBI to conduct an investigation to help him to clear his good name.  Each time, Judge Kavanaugh – even when strongly pressed to say what ‘he’ would like to see happen with regard to an investigation, demurred and said that he would do whatever the committee wanted to do knowing that they were against such an investigation.

Just when it appeared that Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation to become a Supreme Court Justice was all but a sealed deal and the Judiciary Committee vote was about to be called to send his name to the senate floor for a full vote, a virtual miracle in democracy occurred.  Arizona senator Jeff Flake got up from his seat and as he walked past Democratic senator Chris Coons and Democratic senator Amy Klobuchar, he motioned for them to follow him into a private side room of the hearing room.  The scheduled time that Senator Chuck Grassley had set for the vote came and passed as a number of senators progressed in and out of the side room where Senator Flake was.

When Senator Flake finally emerged from the side room, as he walked past Senator Grassley on the way to his seat, he whispered something to him.  He must have asked to speak before the vote because Senator Grassley immediately granted him permission to speak before he called for the vote.  That is when the virtual miracle actually occurred.  Senator Flake had come to a gentleman’s agreement with the Democrats during their meeting in the side room and asked that the proceedings to confirm Judge Kavanaugh be delayed for no more than one (1) week so that an investigation by the FBI could be conducted into the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.

This was a shocking and historic event.  Senator Flake said that he would vote to move Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination out of committee and to the senate floor for a full vote by the senate but he would vote ‘no’ during the vote by the full senate to confirm Judge Kavanaugh if an investigation by the FBI of the allegations against him was not conducted first.  Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski quickly sided with Senator Flake and called for an investigation.  Under these circumstances, since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell no longer had the votes to confirm Judge Kavanaugh, he was forced to capitulate to Senator Flake’s request for a delay.  Under these same circumstances, Mr. Trump also agreed to a delay and to reopen the investigation of Judge Kavanaugh.

Although I have more often than not viewed Senator Flake as weak on principles because of his affinity to regularly play politics and to kowtow to his party, this instance was not among those ‘more often’ times.  As a fellow senator from Arizona and an admirer of the late senator John McCain, it literally seems that Senator Flake invoked the name of the late Senator McCain and determined that regardless of the political costs to him, he was going to do what he felt was the right thing to do for America.  On the other end of this spectrum, unfortunately, is the late Senator McCain’s good friend Senator Lindsey Graham who has done a complete 180 since Senator McCain’s passing.  He has not only become a Mr. Donald Trump disciple but his complete toady and is among the biggest hypocrites in congress.

But lest I stray too far from the virtual miracle that occurred, I will refocus on Senator Jeff Flake and the fact that he instigated it.  He deserves all the credit in the world for getting the senate back on track.  He was the catalyst in getting the senate back, if only for that brief period of time, to making Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination hearings about truth and justice rather than about power.  Hopefully, the rest of the senators will benefit from Senator Flakes profile in courage and work harder to return the senate to a collegiate body whose members respect one another, treats each other with dignity and respect, and works hard to always place country above party and personal ambitions.

The bottom line is that there is, even at the writing of this article, an ongoing FBI investigation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.  The important thing to all Americans should be that the investigation is being conducted and not whether or not the information that it yields will prove him innocent or guilty: let the cards fall where they may.  Thank you Senator Flake for stepping forward and doing your very best to pull a polarized America back together again and help a dysfunctional senate to regain its footing and eventually, hopefully, the respect of the American people.

UPDATE: Just before posting this article I read an article published by NBC News that said that the White house was limiting the scope of the investigation.  It is speculated by some that this will hamper the ability of the FBI to get all of the facts and limit their ability to thoroughly investigate the allegations that have been leveled against Judge Brett Kavanaugh.  According to this NBC News article, Senator Jeff Flake said that his understanding was that the FBI would determine the scope of the investigation.

It seems that it is business as usual at the White House.  Let’s hope that if this is some sort of an attempt by Mr. Trump to sabotage the investigation and render it in any way unfair that Senator Flake will perceive this and vote no on confirming Judge Kavanaugh.  And let’s also hope that Senator Susan Collins and Senator Lisa Murkowski will once again join him by adding their ‘no’ vote.

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line

Senator Susan Collins And Senator Lisa Murkowski are Not Stupid

Neither Senator Susan Collins nor Senator Lisa Murkowski is stupid so why do they expect voters to be.  Or maybe they don’t expect voters to be stupid but they certainly are counting on them to have a short memory.  Perhaps they are thinking, based on many voters’ records, that they likely will have a short memory.  That has to be it because polls show that Judge Brett Kavanaugh is extremely unpopular with the American people.  And certainly these senators can see that not only has he been extremely evasive during his confirmation hearings, but he has obviously lied under oath!  Considering that, along with all of the other baggage that he is strapped with, how can either one of them vote to confirm him?!

Perhaps Senator Susan Collins can vote to confirm him (if the oath that she took when she was elected means absolutely nothing to her) because the word on the street is that she is not going to run again.  But as for Senator Lisa Murkowski, the Alaskan voters saved her bacon in the last election and, at the time, she vowed to always fight for them.  I don’t recall her saying anything like she would fight for them as long as it was in line with the Republican party’s thinking and it did not hurt the party.  Anyway, they cannot fool themselves by clinging to what he said to them about Roe v Wade being settled law especially when he is a proven liar and they know this!  Therefore it has to be that they feel that they can somehow dupe voters.  What a sad commentary for these two women if this ultimately turns out to be their way of thinking!

Even if they decide to vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh and are able to dupe voters, they will never be able to look at the woman in the mirror and say that she is a true statesman who puts country before party; who values her oath of office and puts country before personal political gain.  Our country is in a desperate situation and badly needs Senator Collins and Senator Lisa Murkowski to stand up, woman up and defend our Constitution!  Women have taken the lead in politics in many ways lately and each one of these two incumbent senators needs to do their part to protect our country while at the same time supporting and reinforcing the strong effort of these other neophyte women, in the words of President Obama, to bring some semblance of sanity to politics.

The true sad part of this article is that I have not even mentioned any other Republicans’ names who might vote against confirming Judge Kavanaugh.  Surly, one would think, there will be plenty of Republicans who – after hearing Judge Kavanaugh lie (again) while testifying before congress – will vote against confirming him.  But these are not normal times.  We must remember that a major part of the reason that Judge Kavanaugh was exposed as a liar during his testimony was because Democrats forced the release of documents concerning Judge Kavanaugh that were classified as ‘committee confidential’ by Republicans and, therefore, barred from public consumption.  The senate, after issuing threats to do so, still might punish Senator Cory Booker for his part in forcing the release of these documents.

American politics have all but gone completely insane and there is no one in sight who has the courage, determination, strength and support to reintroduce that lost sanity.  As a matter of fact, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan are complicit in enabling Mr. Trump in the outrageous and unorthodox things that he is doing.  They have completely abdicated their responsibilities and are blindly rubberstamping everything that he is doing even though they know that many of those things are detrimental to the United States and her allies.  This is altogether shameful and neither of these men, after their current term, should ever be elected to a political position again!

The upcoming 2018 and 2020 elections are extremely important.  What we do as American voters at those times will say who we want to be.  What is happening in this country right now does not reflect who we really are as Americans!  We need to rid ourselves of “Trump’s America” and return to being the true America: the America that we have always been and always been proud of!  We do not need to, or should we ever want to, pattern America after the countries run by despots!  They should be patterning themselves after us; the land of the free!  Let’s not let Mr. Trump or the Republican party or anyone else lure us into being anything other than that shining city on a hill that we have always been.

So if there is anyone, no matter who they are, who is trying to sabotage America and lead her down the primrose path, let’s fight back with all of our strength and refuse to allow it.  We can do this!  We can do it by way of our vote, staying informed, always challenging our elected officials when necessary and demanding that they put country first and do the right thing.  So always remember, whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent, your vote is the most important one of all…unless you don’t use it!

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line

Senator John McCain, The Man

While I was reading an article in the New York Times and reflecting on Senator John McCain’s funeral services I was captivated by a picture of him with his daughter Meghan.  As I looked at the picture of him standing alongside her, the pride that he had in her and the love that he held for her was so obviously captured in that photograph that those feelings and their depth seemed to leap from the page and engulf me.  This photo was taken by Richard Perry of the New York Times in 2008 while Senator McCain was campaigning in Ohio.  Ms. McCain’s serene smile in that photo, just as sure as her father’s smile expressed his feelings for her, seemed to express her contentment and the love and pride that she had in him.  Kudos to Mr. Perry for an outstanding photograph taken at just the right moment; it captured the true essence of a father and daughter’s unconditional love for one another.

Back in February 2017, I posted an article to this website entitled ‘I Can’t Not Like Senator John McCain’.  At that time, I really did not know why it was so hard for me to not like him.  After all, there were so many times that he was so stubborn and unyielding on issues…even when he was wrong (at least in my hardcore Democrat opinion).  I was determined to dig deeper in my effort to find out why I couldn’t shake liking him.  Accordingly, I watched as many of the ceremonies as I could that led up to his recent burial.  I found that the things that were said about, the man, John McCain gave me a much better picture of why it was so hard for me to not like him.

I can’t recall exactly when I wrote and posted the article to this site sharing the kind of look that my wife gave me when I said that I could vote for Senator McCain for president but I would probably be in danger of that same kind of death roll of the eyeballs if I told her that I like what I have learned about Meghan McCain’s way of thinking, that I believe that she would make a great politician and that she is the kind of Republican politician that I would like to see Democratic politicians have robust discourse with on all of the issues that America is faced with.  So don’t tell my wife about what I just said.  And if you do tell her, I will be forced to hold you responsible for any misery that I might have to pass through.

Seriously speaking, as I have said many times before, Senator McCain is a patriot and true statesman.  My line of thinking was reinforced by the accolades showered upon him by members of congress from both sides of the isle during the previously mentioned ceremonies.  In addition to my thoughts on Senator McCain, I become more convinced each day as I learn more about his daughter Meghan, that she would be just as strong and principled as he was if she were an elected official.  I find myself hoping that she will seriously consider following in her father’s footsteps by serving her country in that capacity; by seeking out and serving deserving causes that are greater than herself.  Only time will tell if she will do this.  But since she is already a chip off of the old block, why not go all in and help America to remain great?  Why not create her own legacy while blazing her own trail and making America even greater than she already is?!  Think about it, Meghan.  You could, in your late father’s words, ‘show them how tough you are’ and make a difference at the same time.

Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line