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Now that Christine Blasey Ford has come forward with details of her accusation that a stumbling drunk Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when she was 15 and he was 17, the solemn mechanisms of a Washington political crisis are swinging into place. You have the expected denial from the nominee and the White House's pledge that it will support him all the way, and members of his party moving to slam Ford as unreliable, not to mention Chuck Grassley's very astute list of 88 Lies About 65 Women who magically appeared Friday to say Kavanaugh certainly hadn't tried to rape them. Now, with Dems (and a few wavering Republicans) demanding a final vote be delayed so the Judiciary Committee can hold additional hearings and debate, the Rs are still aiming at the goal of rushing Kavanaugh's confirmation through. At least for the moment.


By Sunday evening, two Republican senators, Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, had said they were in favor of delaying Thursday's scheduled confirmation so Judiciary can hear from Ford. Then again, they're both retiring, so political "courage" in at least pretending to stand up to Trump comes cheap for them. Notice, also, that neither says they're considering voting against confirmation. Flake, who's on the Judiciary Committee, told the Washington Post,

I've made it clear that I'm not comfortable moving ahead with the vote on Thursday if we have not heard her side of the story or explored this further [...] For me, we can't vote until we hear more.

Corker also issued a statement saying a delay in the process "would be best for all involved, including the nominee. If she does want to be heard, she should do so promptly." A total, very very cautious, profile in almost-courage.

Then it was time for the scurrying around and pretending to take action, with Republicans trying to look like they were doing something to accommodate this minor inconvenience without slowing down at all:

Republicans reached out to Democrats on Sunday to try to schedule separate calls for Monday with Kavanaugh and Ford. But Democrats had not agreed, officials familiar with the back-and-forth said, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) demanded that the FBI reopen its background investigation of Kavanaugh, 53.

Garrett Ventry, [a] spokesman for committee Republicans, said in response: "Democrats have chosen once again to call for delay."

Senator Lisa Murkowski, the target of wishful thinking that she might oppose Kavanaugh because of his opposition to Roe v. Wade (everywhere but during his hearings, natch), didn't quite call for a delay, but was at least delay-curious, telling CNN, "If there is real substance to this, it demands a response."

And then there's Maine's Susan Collins, who has been engaged in an elaborate game of pretending she's persuadable on Kavanaugh. Sunday afternoon, Collins was fimly noncommittal about Ford's having come forward, only saying she was "very surprised" and reiterating that she'd talked with Kavanaugh Friday and that he'd remained "very emphatic in his denial." By the time she talked to the New York Times Sunday evening, though, Collins was ready to take a moral stand. Against mean Democrats for trying to block a good man at the last minute.

"What is puzzling to me is the Democrats, by not bringing this out earlier, after having had this information for more than six weeks, have managed to cast a cloud of doubt on both the professor and the judge," she said. "If they believed Professor Ford, why didn't they surface this information earlier so that he could be questioned about it? And if they didn't believe her and chose to withhold the information, why did they decide at the 11th hour to release it? It is really not fair to either of them the way it is was handled."

Disability rights activist Ady Barkan, who's led the movement to raise money for a challenger if Collins votes for Kavanaugh, tried to appeal to Collins's conscience, as if she had one at all. Barkan, who has ALS and knows a thing or two about how putting Kavanaugh on the Court could affect healthcare, tweeted Sunday,

To up the ante just another notch, Ford's attorney, Debra Katz, said on NBC's "Today" show that Ford would be willing to testify under oath to the Judiciary Committee. She added that Ford had no opinion on whether Kavanaugh should withdraw:

"She's not taking a position on that," Katz said. "She believes that these allegations obviously bear on his character and his fitness, and the denials of course bear on his character and fitness."

"This is not a politically motivated action," Katz added. "In fact, she was quite reluctant to come forward."

At this point, it looks like plenty of Republicans are in full Burn Everything mode and are prepared to try to bulldoze the nomination through, regardless of what happens to them in November. But it's also possible that just the prospect of a nationally televised hearing with Ford telling the Senate everything she remembers is enough to tip Kavanaugh into withdrawing.

Mitch McConnell, while evil, is also not stupid -- he wasn't keen on Kavanaugh from the start, and warned Trump he'd be difficult to confirm with his paper trail. So we wouldn't be at all surprised if Yertle "reluctantly" agrees to stretch out the process long enough for the heat on Kavanaugh to build just enough to make him withdraw -- plus, perhaps, a quiet word of advice from Mitch? McConnell wants to hold the Senate if at all possible, and he may well decide voter suppression, ratfucking, and hacking won't be enough to do the job.

Then, even if Democrats do win back the Senate thanks in part to all this fuckery, the Rs can just do a rushed lame duck session confirmation of any of the women on the list the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation gave Trump. It would be a woman, and how could Dems oppose a woman? Will of the people, you know. America wanted Trump and a Republican majority, so shut up.

[WaPo / Politico / WMTW-TV / NYT / WaPo]

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Welcome to another edition of Yr Sunday Nice Things feature, where we take a break from the daily craziness so we can decompress for a little while. Today, we're going to relax with the ineffable mental calm that comes from an oddly rectangular English cow. It's really beautiful to see what can happen when people all over the internet come together to collaborate on a little art project. We call it...

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