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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  The World Laughs at Trump
      •  Kavanaugh's College Roommate Supports Ramirez
      •  Murkowski Warns Senate to Listen Carefully to Ford
      •  Mystery Questioner's Identity Quickly Leaks
      •  Trump Slams Ramirez
      •  Nelson Trails Scott Badly among Older Latinos in Florida
      •  Candidates Are Ignoring Cyber Security
      •  Today's Senate Polls

PW logo Trump Official Questioned If N-Word Was Racist
Democrats Expand the House Map
Turnout Surges Among Young Voters
New Allegation Surfaces About Kavanaugh
Trump Says Kavanaugh Allegations Are ‘All False’
Collins Has Serious Concerns Over Kavanaugh

The World Laughs at Trump

As expected, Donald Trump addressed the new session of the U.N. General Assembly yesterday, with most of the world's leaders in attendance. They have been watching him for more than two years now, so they were prepared for what might be coming (bluster, megalomania, etc.). He, on the other hand, generally speaks only to adoring crowds at rallies, or else to very friendly TV personalities who lob him only softball questions. So, he was not prepared at all for what was coming. Here is the opening portion of the address:

One year ago, I stood before you for the first time in this grand hall. I addressed the threats facing our world, and I presented a vision to achieve a brighter future for all of humanity.

Today, I stand before the United Nations General Assembly to share the extraordinary progress we've made.

In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.

He has used this exact line at rallies, to thunderous applause. But to those who are not true believers™, and are educated enough to know about the chap who won the Civil War and helped destroy slavery, or the pair of fellows who each won world wars, or the gentleman who literally created the executive branch, the claim came off as both absurd and utterly-Trumpesque. And so, the crowd responded as people do in such circumstances: They laughed. Here's the video (the key portion begins at about 0:50):

While it's possible they could have been laughing with him, that really doesn't make much sense, because he meant the line earnestly. And Trump was definitely caught off guard by the response, as he himself laughed a bit and said, "I didn't expect that reaction, but that's OK." If and when someone points out to him what the laughter really meant (or if he figures it out on his own), though, he is not going to be happy.

Presumably, the crowd was not laughing when the President got to the meat of his speech, though, which has Stephen Miller's fingerprints all over it. For example, there was this:

We have secured record funding for our military—$700 billion this year, and $716 billion next year. Our military will soon be more powerful than it has ever been before.

In other words, the United States is stronger, safer, and a richer country than it was when I assumed office less than two years ago.

That bit is rather reminiscent of this, from a speech given by one Adolf Hitler in 1941:

Today I am at the head of the strongest Army in the world, the most gigantic Air Force and of a proud Navy. Behind and around me stands the Party with which I became great and which has become great through me...Our enemies must not deceive themselves—in the 2,000 years of German history known to us, our people have never been more united than today.

Trump also offered this:

That is why America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination.

I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship.

We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.

Again, rather similar to this passage from a 1935 Hitler speech:

The Germany of today is a National Socialist State. The ideology that dominates us is in diametrical contradiction to that of Soviet Russia. National Socialism is a doctrine that has reference exclusively to the German people. Bolshevism lays stress on international mission. We National Socialists believe a man can, in the long run, be happy only among his own people. We are convinced the happiness and achievements of Europe are indissolubly tied up with the continuation of the system of independent and free national States. Bolshevism preaches the establishment of a world empire and recognizes only section of a central international. We National Socialists grant each people the right to its own inner life according to its needs and its own nature. Bolshevism, on the other hand, establishes doctrinal theories that are to be accepted by all peoples, regardless of their particular essence, their special nature, traditions, etc.

Normally, it is a cheap shot to compare someone to Hitler, but there are some occasions when the shoe fits. Trump has made no secret of the fact that he wants to dismantle the post-World War II order, which was specifically designed to stop the rise of further führers, and to return things to their pre-World War I state. Now, he's gone before the representatives of that world order, and told them directly to their faces (and the base loves him for it; just read some of the comments on the video clip above).

The dark overtones of Trump's speech were not lost on his audience. For example, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who was singled out by the President for special criticism, said: "It is unfortunate that we are witnessing rulers in the world ride public sentiments and gain popular support through the fomenting of extremist nationalism and racism and through xenophobic tendencies resembling a Nazi disposition." Other leaders, the ones who were not personally attacked, were a little more reserved, but none of them had positive things to say, and most of them decried militarism, ultranationalism, unilateralism, and the like when talking to the press after the address. Of course, Trump cares little about what they have to say, only about what the base thinks. And so, by his calculus, the address was a rousing success—one of the best of his presidency and, quite probably, one of the finest speeches ever given by a President of the United States. (Z)

Kavanaugh's College Roommate Supports Ramirez

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh took another hit yesterday when his freshman roommate at Yale, James Roche, issued a statement in which he said that he believes Kavanaugh could well have exposed himself to Debbie Ramirez, as she claims. Furthermore, he knew Ramirez well and he cannot imagine her making up her story. Here is the first part of his statement:

I was Brett Kavanaugh's roommate at Yale University in the Fall of 1983. We shared a two-bedroom unit in the basement of Lawrence Hall on the Old Campus. Despite our living conditions, Brett and I did not socialize beyond the first few days of freshman year. We talked at night as freshman roommates do and I would see him as he returned from nights out with his friends.

It is from this experience that I concluded that although Brett was normally reserved, he was a notably heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time, and that he became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk. I did not observe the specific incident in question, but I do remember Brett frequently drinking excessively and becoming incoherently drunk.

I became close friends with Debbie Ramirez shortly after we both arrived at Yale. She stood out as being exceptionally honest, with a trusting manner. As we got to know one another, I discovered that Debbie was very worried about fitting in. She felt that everyone at Yale was very rich, very smart and very sophisticated and that as a Puerto Rican woman from a less privileged background she was an outsider. Her response was to try hard to make friends and get along.

Based on my time with Debbie, I believe her to be unusually honest and straightforward and I cannot imagine her making this up. Based on my time with Brett, I believe that he and his social circle were capable of the actions that Debbie described.

While this is not an eyewitness testimony, as Kavanaugh's roommate and Ramirez' friend, Roche is a credible character witness for both of them and so it carries some weight when he says Kavanaugh was a heavy drinker who was frequently aggressive and Ramirez is an honest person. Obviously this is not proof of anything, but it is a bit more evidence that if one of the two is lying, it is Kavanaugh.

Another Yalie also got into the act yesterday. On Fox News, Kavanaugh claimed to be a virgin long after high school. However, another classmate of his, Steve Kantrowitz, contradicted him yesterday with this tweet:

Kantrowitz's sentiments have also been echoed by several other people who knew the Judge in his younger days, and who find the choir-boy image he's trying to craft for himself to be ridiculous. "Brett was a sloppy drunk, and I know because I drank with him. I watched him drink more than a lot of people. He'd end up slurring his words, stumbling," said Liz Swisher, a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh's. "There's no medical way I can say that he was blacked out...But it's not credible for him to say that he has had no memory lapses in the nights that he drank to excess." Lynne Brookes, another classmate and a former roommate of Ramirez's, declared, "You can't lie your way onto the Supreme Court." She also recalled specific incidents where she saw the future judge get "ridiculously drunk" and do "ridiculous things."

Even Kavanaugh's friends don't seem to be doing him any favors. Chris Dudley, a former NBA player and GOP politician who was close with the SCOTUS nominee during their Yale days, said: "I went out with him all the time. He never blacked out...There was drinking, and there was alcohol. Brett drank, and I drank. Did he get inebriated sometimes? Yes. Did I? Yes. Just like every other college kid in America." It is worth noting, perhaps, that (Z) was in college for many years, and was never once inebriated. So, it's not "every" college kid. Further, unless Dudley was attached at the hip to Kavanaugh, he can't actually confirm that there were no blackout incidents. And so, all Dudley has really done is affirm that yes, Kavanaugh regularly drank to excess.

At this point three people (Christine Blasey Ford, Ramirez, and Kantrowitz) are calling Kavanaugh a liar and one (Roche) has said that Ramirez is not a liar, which implies that Kavanaugh is. Others have painted a general picture of his character and his behavior, one that is distinctly at odds with the one he painted when appearing on Fox News on Monday night. So, we now have far more than the unsubstantiated statement of one person. And this is before Michael Avenatti releases any bombshells he may have, which he said he was planning to do today. In short, if this was anyone else, it would be time for an investigation. Imagine, for example, if folks had come forward and made claims like these about Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State. There wouldn't have been just one investigation, there would have been a dozen of them. But, as we have been reminded time and again, most politicians tend to be interested in turning over every stone when the accused is a member of the other political party. And the GOP is particularly comfortable with that particular hypocrisy. (V & Z)

Murkowski Warns Senate to Listen Carefully to Ford

When Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow, one person who will be listening very carefully is Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). And she wants the other senators to do likewise. Yesterday, she said: "We are now in a place where it's not about whether or not Judge Kavanaugh is qualified. It is about whether or not a woman who has been a victim at some point in her life is to be believed." The implication is pretty clear: If she believes Ford, she is potentially a "no" vote on his confirmation. If all Democrats vote "no" and all other Republicans vote "yes," the score will be 50-50 and VP Mike Pence will get to exercise his power as president of the Senate to break the tie. But if a second Republican also votes "no," Kavanaugh will go down and all hell will break loose.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has expressed a similar view to Murkowski's. She is still on the fence, at least in public. She could be the second "no" vote that sinks the ship. After Ford's testimony, the two women will undoubted talk to each other to prevent a situation in which one votes "yes" and one votes "no," causing a lot of grief for the naysayer without actually achieving anything. Either way, they surely want to vote the same.

On the other hand, maybe it is already in the bag and Murkowski and Collins are merely pretending that Ford's testimony is important to keep their female voters happy. Yesterday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that Kavanaugh would be confirmed. If he had real doubts about how Murkowski and Collins will vote, the usually cautious McConnell would have worded that differently.

The current GOP plan is to have the Judiciary Committee vote Friday morning and then take a floor vote on Monday or Tuesday, pretty much independent of what Ford says tomorrow or what other evidence shows up. It is very clear that the Senate leadership has little to no interest in finding the truth. The goal is getting Kavanaugh approved as fast as possible so the senators can go home to campaign. (V)

Mystery Questioner's Identity Quickly Leaks

In an attempt to avoid the optics of 11 old white Republican men attacking Christine Blasey Ford tomorrow, Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has hired a female attorney to wield the hatchet. This is an extremely unusual decision. In virtually all other hearings before Senate committees, the senators themselves ask the questions, not their staffs and certainly not hired help. Basically, this is a show of cowardice on the part of Grassley. He wants to shoot Ford down, but he doesn't have the guts to do it himself or have his Republican colleagues do it. He specifically fears the thought of Democratic commercials featuring clips of this GOP Senator or that one browbeating Ford.

The Chairman, acting curiously secretive for someone who is supposedly a public official, refused to name the female questioner whose services he had secured. Several of his GOP colleagues similarly refused to divulge her name. Nothing stays a secret for long in Washington these days, though, and so we now know it is Rachel Mitchell, who oversees the bureau that prosecutes sex crimes for the Maricopa County Attorney's office in Phoenix. Once it was clear the cat was out of the bag, Grassley confirmed it is indeed her. In contrast to Kavanaugh himself, it is hard to find much to complain about with Mitchell. She has a quarter-century experience working on these matters, accompanied by a long and distinguished resumé. However, the next time the Republicans hold a hearing on Hillary's email server, the Democrats are sure to demand that the senators shut up and an outside lawyer ask all the questions.

There are still some questions remaining about these proceedings whose answers are not known, however. For example, will the Democratic senators (who definitely want to ask their own questions, of both Ford and Kavanaugh) be allowed to do so? Under normal circumstances, that would be a no-brainer, but these are not normal circumstances. Similarly, will Deborah Ramirez be given an opportunity to tell her story? The White House has signaled openness to the possibility, and ignoring her would be (even more) bad optics, but there has not yet been any indication that she's even been given an invite. And finally, there is Michael Avenatti's bombshell witness(es) that he is supposedly revealing today. How do they all fit in? In short, anyone who says they know for sure how this all ends is also probably willing to sell you their "insider information" on which "sure winner" football games to bet this weekend. (Z & V)

Trump Slams Ramirez

When it comes to the women who have accused Brett Kavanaugh of misconduct, Donald Trump has been unusually restrained, at least by his standards. There is no question he would like to start firing with both barrels, but someone has somehow convinced him to keep his lip fairly well buttoned. That said, there are limits to everything, and on Tuesday he could not help but offer up a few thoughts about Deborah Ramirez, the Yalie who accused Kavanaugh of waving his business in her face. Speaking to reporters before his U.N. speech (see above), Trump declared that Democrats were waging a "con game," and that, "The second accuser has nothing. The second accuser thinks maybe it could have been him, maybe not. She admits she was drunk. She admits time lapses." The President also said that sometimes—in case you didn't know—people falsely accuse others of crimes they didn't commit. And finally, he said that even if Ramirez' claims are true, that should not be disqualifying. "Oh, gee, let's not make him a Supreme Court judge because of that," Trump said sarcastically.

Needless to say, this monologue does little other than to remind everyone of Trump's total lack of self-awareness. He really doesn't need to warn anyone who follows modern politics about con jobs, or about people who falsely accuse others of crimes (perhaps even going so far as to lead crowds in a chant of "Lock her up" directed at the falsely accused). Meanwhile, a fellow who was supposedly so very sorry about grabbing women by the pu**y thinks that a very similar kind of behavior is not a problem whatsoever. He is embracing the notion that many men have, namely that women would like nothing more than to take a nice, long look at their private parts, preferably close up. Needless to say, the men are virtually always wrong about this, as Louis CK (among others) can now confirm. In any event, we will get some clue in six weeks if there is anything that will cause suburban white women to turn against the administration and the GOP. Certainly, Trump & Co. are doing their best to make the decision as easy as is possible. (Z)

Nelson Trails Scott Badly among Older Latinos in Florida

AARP and Univision hired Bendixen & Amandi to run a poll among Florida Latinos who are 50 and older. The poll was in English and Spanish. The bottom line is that Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) is crushing Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) by 14 points, 52% to 38%, whereas Ron DeSantis (R) is in a statistical tie with Andrew Gillum (D), 44% to 42%. The difference is simply that Scott is a very hard worker and running an excellent campaign, while Nelson is out of practice.

Florida's Latino population is bifurcated. Miami-Dade County is the home to large numbers of Cuban Americans, who are mostly Republican. Orange County (Orlando) is where most of the Puerto Ricans live, and they are largely Democrats. The data show this very clearly. Scott is crushing Nelson by 25 points in Miami but losing to him by 4 points in the Orlando area. Similarly, DeSantis has a 14-point lead over Gillum in Miami but is 18 points behind in Orlando.

A couple of observations are in order. First, turnout will be crucial. If more Puerto Ricans show up to vote than Cuban Americans, Nelson and Gillum will do well, and vice versa. Second, the poll was only of Latinos who are 50 are older. It didn't survey younger Latinos at all. Young people tend to be much more Democratic than old people, but also tend to be much less likely to vote. (V)

Candidates Are Ignoring Cyber Security

According to an FEC filing, only six of the over 900 candidates running for the House or Senate have spent over $1,000 on cybersecurity. Most say it is too expensive and too difficult. This is analogous to a bank saying it keeps all of its depositors' money on a table in the back room because vaults are expensive and difficult to install.

It is a virtual certainty that hackers from Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea are going to interfere in some races, either to help candidates they like or hurt candidates they don't like, and the candidates basically are too stupid to realize that this is a problem. Even candidates who are dimly aware of the threats say that securing their cell phones, email networks, and computers is a low priority compared to campaigning.

But they can't (later) say they weren't warned. In July, DNI Dan Coats said: "The warning lights are blinking red again." Also in the summer, Microsoft said it detected and thwarted hacking attempts on three congressional candidates. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has reported that the Russians tried to hack her computers.

The evidence of problems is everywhere, but according to Theresa Payton, chief executive of Fortalice, a cyber security firm: "Everyone's hit the snooze button." She also said that to do just the basics costs $15,000. The next step up is in the $25,000 to $50,000 range, which buys some security monitoring tools, an email warning system, and some basic training to instruct staff not to click on random attachments that show up unsolicited. In the banking world, this would be equivalent to installing a security camera, locking the front door after banking hours, and putting a hidden alarm button within range of each teller. It's really not even close to being adequate. (V)

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Arizona Kyrsten Sinema 48% Martha McSally 45% Sep 16 Sep 20 Marist Coll.
Florida Bill Nelson* 48% Rick Scott 45% Sep 16 Sep 20 Marist Coll.
Florida Bill Nelson* 53% Rick Scott 46% Sep 20 Sep 24 Quinnipiac U.
Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren* 56% Geoff Diehl 30% Sep 17 Sep 21 MassINC

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Sep25 Rosenstein Might Quit
Sep25 Kavanaugh Will Not Withdraw
Sep25 More Kavanaugh Accusations Coming Soon
Sep25 Trump Goes to the U.N.
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Sep23 Kavanaugh Accuser Will Testify...Probably
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Sep22 NYT: Rosenstein Wanted to Wear A Wire to Record Trump
Sep22 We Should Know Sometime Today if Ford Will Testify...Maybe
Sep22 With Tax Cuts Fizzling, Republicans Return to Culture-War Ads
Sep22 Moore Film Opens
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