Happy Birthday President Putin

It is late Saturday morning as I pen this. I know the outcome of the Kavanaugh nomination; I don’t know its “final score’ in the Senate but most of all I’d like to discuss some of how we got to this point and its repercussions. Moscow is 7 hours ahead of Washington, DC. October 7, 2018 is Vladimir Putin’s 66th birthday. Somewhere in the 5pm hour (Washington DC time) the United States Senate is scheduled to vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. Therefore even if Putin is an early riser by the time he wakes up on his birthday Donald Trump will have a big present waiting for him. Let’s explore.

I’d like to take a moment to review the closing hours of the confirmation drama which effectively ended Friday afternoon. Going into the last 48 hours or so there were five supposedly undecided Senators, (Democrats Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia along with Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska), that political junkies were watching.

First Heitkamp declared she was a no vote. I’m not certain of her motivation. I’d like to think it was a moral judgment but it could have easily been a political calculation. Heidi is up for reelection in November and is currently trailing by 12 points in the polls. In other words her chances look very bad. In view of that she may have decided that she is toast and did the right thing in what she perceived as a vote free from political consequences. My more cynical side figures that she knew she was done if things stayed the same and threw a Hail Mary pass. Remember Heitkamp is the last remaining Senate Democrat that voted against Manchin-Toomey. She did that very early in her term and is hardly a profile in courage. Perhaps someday we will know the truth.

Next Murkowski voted no on the motion to proceed and shortly thereafter announced that she would not vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

Soon after that reporters caught Flake getting into his car and he announced that he would be a yes vote. That did not surprise me. Flake talks a big game but in the end is just another Trump enabler. He voted with Trump to kill Obamacare, to approve the Trump Tower Tax Cut and now to confirm Kavanaugh, (including in committee).

A few minute after 3pm on Friday Collins took to the Senate floor. Two sentences into her 45 minute speech I knew she was a yes vote and it was all over. For the remainder of the speech she sounded like a female Chuck Grassley who could actually talk. She repeated every Republican talking point. The cameras had hardly gotten off of Collins when Manchin emerged from his office to tell reporters that he too would vote to confirm. Manchin was simply playing safe politics and didn’t want to be the deciding vote. He wanted the “Kavanaugh spotlight” off him so he could get back to his 2018 reelection race. After Murkowski declared I was among the many who felt that Collins and Manchin would both go the same way.

All this was preceded by an FBI supplement background “investigation”. I’ll use a word I thank Joe Biden for to describe it: malarkey. New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez used the more common street term. All the details are not known at this time but I’d like to comment on several that are.

The White House controlled the investigation. When the truth comes out the Trump administration and its enablers will try to blame the FBI when in reality they sent agents out with severe constraints. Neither Kavanaugh nor his primary accuser Dr. Catherine Blasey Ford was questioned. Who conducts an investigation without questioning the accused and the primary accuser?   The FBI was allowed to question 10 people; reports are that they got 9 to talk. Kavanagh’s accusers offered more than 3 dozen witnesses none of which were even contacted by the FBI.   There were countless people who independently contacted the FBI offering information. Many went to the extent of hiring lawyers to contact the FBI on their behalf. None of them were questioned. This was a case of not following leads; that is contrary to FBI training and standard operating procedures. I can only imagine how justifiably frustrated the field agents where.

Every allegation of Kavanaugh’s wrongdoings involved drinking. There is reason to believe that he had a drinking problem. There is also reason to suspect that he may still have a drinking problem. I am not a trained investigator and have never been involved in law enforcement but you don’t have to be Dick Tracy to figure out it would be prudent to pursue that. Of course, that is if you wanted a real investigation which the Trump White House never did. Did anyone check with bartenders near Kavanaugh’s office and home? How about liquor stores near either or along the route home? Kavanaugh is a member of the Chevy Chase Club (country club). Do you think it would have been a good idea to have a chat with the bartenders there? Kavanaugh affirmed his love of both baseball and beer. How about finding where he sits at the Nationals’ games and check with the beer vendors?   None of that was done. The investigation was a sham and the Trump White House set up the FBI to take the blame when the truth inevitably comes out.

Now you might ask: what does all this have to do with Putin? Putin’s strategy has been to have democracy undermine itself and in the process make Russia great again. (Maybe they will just put a patch emblazoned with the word “Russia” over America on all those red hats.) While due to a wedding and a possible courtesy vote of present the final count is unknown we know that when Putin wakes up Sunday morning Moscow time Trump can call him to wish him a happy birthday and tell him he has another loyal and beholden Associate Justice that will allow the conspiracy to continue.

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