1. As predicted…The wounded Ethics Alarms commenter who sued me for defamation is appealing the Massachusetts judge’s ruling granting my motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action. His main objective, I assume, is just to waste as much of my time and money as possible. Apparently he either has posted or will post the entire transcript of the hearing and a recording of the proceedings on his website.
2. It’s official! The Bret Kavanaugh confirmation is officially and ethics train wreck. It was already a national embarrassment. Putting it over the top and on the metaphorical rails was the truly nauseating smear attempted by Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Cal). Here is her statement:
“I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”
This is pure innuendo with no content whatsoever, and thus dirty politics, indeed McCarthyite politics. But wait! There’s more! From the Intercept:
It purportedly describes an incident that was relayed to someone affiliated with Stanford University, who authored the letter and sent it to Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Democrat who represents the area. Different sources provided different accounts of the contents of the letter, and some of the sources said they themselves had heard different versions, but the one consistent theme was that it describes an incident involving Kavanaugh and a woman while they were in high school.
I’m sorry if heads are exploding, but I’m especially concerned about those who will try to rationalize what Feinstein, and the Democrats, are doing in their desperation to defeat the nomination of a completely qualified Supreme Court candidate. A second, third or fourth-hand hearsay account from an anonymous source alleging some kind of possibly sexual misconduct (by 2018 #MeToo rules, I’m sure) was passed along to Feinstein, who announced that she was referring it to the Justice Department, and the alleged conduct of an undefined nature occurred when Kavanaugh was a high school student.
3. Trump Tweets Dept. Why? Why? In advance of Hurricane Florence, the President felt compelled to send off a tweet expressing doubts about the official death figures when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017. Actually, we know why: from the beginning, the President has attempted to dispute the criticism the extent to which Puerto Rico was crippled by the storm, which destroyed roads and bridges and leaving much of the Caribbean island without electricity for months. He has some justification in this: local officials relied on the hostile U.S. news media to assist them as the tried to shift accountability from their own incompetence to Washington, D.C.—after all, it worked for New Orleans. Claiming that the ridiculously low death figures in initial counts were accurate as a way of arguing that disaster was averted is not persuasive or rational. He tweeted:
“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000.”
My Facebook friends…to be fair, mostly the friends of my friends, who are significantly more deranged on balance than my own beloved left-wing shills…went completely bonkers over this. Several said that the tweet proved that he should be impeached. They said it was a lie. No, and no..the tweet is just stupid public relations, and Presidents shouldn’t make themselves look stupid to members of the public who don’t pay close attention to what’s going on.
I’ve covered the revised hurricane death tolls before. Nobody knows what the real figure is, and it is fair to question the newer estimates, which were produced by public health experts at George Washington University in Washington. Their report was commissioned by the U.S. territory’s governor, Ricardo Rossello, and he was looking for big numbers: the more deaths, the more U.S. aid. The report’s methodology compared predicted mortality without the factor of a hurricane, and island deaths totals after Maria. It then made the assumption that all of the extra deaths from September 2017 to mid-February 2018 could be attributed directly or indirectly to Maria. I’m serious: that’s where the 2, 975 figure came from. The news media misrepresented the study as well. Here’s Reuters:
The death toll from Maria, the most powerful storm to hit there in almost a century, was raised last month from 64, a number widely discounted as far too low, to 2,975. That number was produced by public health experts at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in a report commissioned by the U.S. territory’s governor, Ricardo Rossello. The study found that those deaths could be attributed directly or indirectly to Maria from the time it struck in September 2017 to mid-February of this year.
False! the study didn’t “find” that at all. It assumed it; it theorized it; it argued it. There is a material difference between finding something and assuming it’s there.
Blogger and author Peter Grant writes,
“I find this study highly suspect. One can find similar increased death tolls in other areas, but with autopsies, witness statements, etc. that make it possible to analyze them properly. Example: the opioid epidemic that’s ravaging several US states at present. Death rates due to the misuse of opioids are climbing dramatically, but in every case, the cause of death can be measured, medically confirmed, and verified. How do we know that opioids weren’t responsible for at least some of the “excess” deaths in Puerto Rico? What about deaths caused by vehicles? How do you know whether an accident was due to increased traffic, caused by aid distribution after the storm, or a drunk driver? The first might be blamed on the hurricane; the second, certainly not. Without medical and other evidence, one can’t assign a definitive cause to each casualty; but the study conducted there did not examine such evidence. It only looked at numbers, and made assumptions.”
But that’s an argument a blogger can and should make, not the President of the United States. The President should not be saying, as Trump implicitly was, “Aw, it wasn’t THAT bad.” As is so often the case, he deserves the criticism, but not for what he’s being criticized for.