Chuck, Thom And More

Unlike the comments coming from the White House I won’t disparage anyone based on their accent or where they live. However I will commence today’s article by questioning the intelligence of two Republican members of the Senate based on what they said on the opening day of the Kavanaugh hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Let’s explore.

I monitored parts of Tuesday’s session including almost the entire opening hour. If Chuck Grassley isn’t the least intelligent member of the Senate, he is certainly in the discussion of who is. Grassley displayed his inability to control a meeting, lack of oratory skills, and ignorance of procedure on a national stage Tuesday. To put it in the vernacular he looked and acted stupid. In his defense smart is a word that I’ve never heard associated with the senior Senator from Iowa and his position was similar to that of an attorney defending an obviously guilty client.

One of the points of contention was the “dropping” of 42,000 pages of material without prior notice 15 hours before the start of the hearings. Keep in mind this happened on a national holiday. Freshman Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina contended that this was not a problem and could have easily been read by any of the Democrats. On the assumption that you were available and aware the second the documents dropped you would have to read every minute of the 15 hours at a pace of 2,800 pages per hour. That leaves no time for sleep, eating, potty breaks, getting dressed or transported to the meeting’s venue. I have two granddaughters who have off the charts reading ability. On more than one occasion I have seen one read an entire novel in about an hour. 300 pages is an average length of a novel. At that amazing rate it would take 140 hours (that equals almost 6 complete days or 3 and one-half 40 hour work weeks) to read 42,000 pages. Tillis is also in “the discussion”. Is it any wonder that he couldn’t seem to get his alma mater correct in his 2014 Senate race? The race we recently learned he narrowly won with the aid Cambridge Analytica.

Now if Jeff Sessions were still in the Senate I think he would also be in “the discussion” but that has nothing to do with his accent or the fact that he hails from Alabama as Donald Trump contends. All that aside, it is simply bad politics for any Republican to cast aspersions on the South. The reality in American politics for the past several decades is that a Republican cannot possibly win national election without a solid or almost solid South.

I’m far from a Jeff Sessions fan and never have been. However, all of President Trump’s criticism of him is for the few things he has been correct on. Trump’s latest tirade, conveyed via Twitter of course, was because the Justice Department recently indicted the first two Republican members of the House that endorsed Trump on felony charges. Trump did not contend that Chris Collins of New York or Duncan Hunter of California were innocent; his contention was that Sessions shouldn’t indict Republicans. Perhaps I should consider the source; this is the self-professed “Law and order candidate” who is currently an unindicted co-conspirator in two felonies.

In the Kavanagh hearing the main Republican talking point is the historically large number of documents that have been released. On the surface that is true, but we have to dig into the numbers a bit to see the truth. 148,000 pages that have been released to the committee are designated as “Committee confidential”. That means that the documents are not available to the public and that the committee members are not allowed to question the nominee as to them. They represent approximately 30% of the total of the documents released.

Also last Friday Trump exercised executive privilege over some 100,000 pages of documents from Kavanagh’s time in the George W. Bush administration. After spending much of the 2016 campaign attacking Jeb Bush by attacking his brother’s administration it is nice to see that Trump suddenly has such concern for that administration.

The reason the number of documents released is so large is because so many exist, not because of any transparency. Remember Mitch McConnell didn’t want Kavanagh as the nominee because such a huge record exists which McConnell knew would make conformation more challenging. McConnell may be evil, but he is a master of the Senate.

During the 2016 campaign then candidate Trump constantly berated the deals America had made. He contended they were all bad and that he could make much better deals and do so quickly. He went so far as to say Americans would be winning so much that they might even tire of winning. NAFTA was one of his targets. Last week Friday was his self-imposed “deadline” for a new NAFTA deal. There was even the ill-fated attempt at a conference call announcement of a deal with Mexico to which theoretically Canada would simply cave to. Somehow it didn’t work out that way. To date Trump has proven to be very adept at destroying deals, alienating allies and turning America from an international leader into an international outlier.

To think, as of this writing the Wednesday session of the Senate Judiciary Committee hasn’t even commenced and there were several topics that I didn’t even cover. How much more can happen this week?

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