Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for August 7th, 2021

Brett Kavanaugh Without Tears

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Jackie Calmes writes in the Washington Monthly:

The following is adapted from Jackie Calmes’s book Dissent: The Radicalization of the Republican Party and Its Capture of the Court, published in June by Twelve, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing. Calmes, a columnist at the Los Angeles Times, previously covered Congress, the White House and presidential campaigns for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. 

“My family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed, by vicious and false … accusations.” That’s what Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh complained during his 2018 confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh was objecting to a ten-day delay before the Senate gave him the opportunity to answer what he considered partisan accusations of youthful sexual misconduct. Kavanaugh was also, of course, objecting to the allegations themselves.

But the family of Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster, who committed suicide in July 1993, endured not ten days but three years of a politically-motivated investigation into the spurious accusation that Foster was murdered by his close friends Bill and Hillary Clinton, or by someone close to them. The purported reason for killing Foster was to silence whatever evidence he might have against the couple, including an alleged affair with the First Lady—evidence that was never found, almost certainly because it didn’t exist. The leader of the Foster investigation was an ambitious 29-year-old lawyer named Brett Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh emerged from Yale Law School, two appellate clerkships, an internship with the Solicitor General, and a third clerkship at the Supreme Court as a deeply conservative but not especially partisan young man. That changed after the Solicitor General Kavanaugh worked for, Ken Starr, was appointed independent counsel to investigate the Clintons and an Arkansas real estate investment called Whitewater. In 1994, Starr invited Kavanaugh to join him for what he promised would be a short gig. It lasted nearly four years.

Kavanaugh spent three of those years and about $2 million chasing the Foster allegations after the U.S. Park Police, suburban Virginia police, the FBI, a senior House Republican, a bipartisan Senate panel, and Starr’s predecessor as independent counsel—a panel of judges led by a Reagan appointee replaced the first one, Robert Fiske, with the more partisan Starr—all concluded that Foster, who suffered from depression, killed himself. Foster’s widow, Lisa Foster, had no doubt. Kavanaugh didn’t much doubt it himself after he’d investigated the matter less than a year.

Foster, Bill Clinton’s friend since childhood and Hillary Clinton’s former law partner in Little Rock, had reluctantly followed the first couple to Washington. Quickly overwhelmed by the pressure and partisan attacks, he blamed himself for a series of crises that marred the Clintons’ first months. He was repeatedly mocked on the Wall Street Journal’s conservative editorial page. On the afternoon of July 20, 1993, Foster drove from the White House and across the Potomac River to Fort Marcy Park in McLean, Virginia, where he walked through the trees to a Civil War-era cannon and shot himself through the mouth with a .38-caliber handgun. A colleague later found a note in the White House—Foster’s inventory of complaints against the media, Republicans, and others in Washington. It ended, “Here ruining people is considered sport.”

After Starr replaced Fiske, hard-line House Republicans and Christopher Ruddy, a right-wing journalist hired by the reactionary billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife to investigate Foster’s death, pressed him to reopen the Foster case. It wasn’t hard to persuade Starr. His protégé, Kavanaugh, threw himself into the work.

Kavanaugh reviewed gruesome photos and notes on Foster’s body. He visited the site where Foster was found, went with investigators on interviews, and examined Foster’s financial records. He ordered analyses of carpet fibers from Foster’s home, car, and office for matches of those found on his clothes; right-wing conspiracists had suggested that Foster was rolled in a carpet after he was killed, his body taken to the federal park and posed to suggest suicide. Kavanaugh even got a hair sample from Foster’s teenage daughter, now long after her dad’s death, to compare with strands on his clothes.

In June 1995, Kavanaugh wrote in a memo to Starr and his team: “At this point, I am satisfied that Foster was sufficiently discouraged or depressed to commit suicide.”

Then he described six ways to expand the probe.

They would search all of Fort Marcy Park and its many trees for the missing bullet; without it, Kavanaugh suggested, theories would persist that Foster was killed elsewhere and dumped there. To identify a fingerprint on the gun, Kavanaugh proposed searching a Foster family home in Hope, Arkansas, for a print from Foster’s deceased father for comparison. The IRS would “perform a full financial analysis of Foster.” Investigators would “track down all of Foster’s foreign travel,” and “investigate an alleged Swiss bank account” in his name (it didn’t exist). The sixth step remained under discussion: investigating whether Foster had an affair. “We have asked numerous people about Foster’s alleged affair with Mrs. Clinton,” Kavanaugh told the team, “but have received no confirmation of it. If we want to pursue this line of investigation further, however, we should ask Mrs. Clinton about the alleged affair at her next interview.” (The First Lady, according to someone familiar with the case, “was never asked any such question.”)

In a July 1995 memo, Kavanaugh expressed greater certainty than he had the previous month about the probable cause of death. “To my mind,” he wrote, “the evidence clearly establishes that Mr. Foster was sufficiently depressed or discouraged to have committed suicide.” Foster had talked to a sister about seeing a psychiatrist. At Fort Marcy, he was found with a list of doctors in his wallet. He’d broken into sobs at dinner with his wife the previous weekend, and had just begun taking antidepressants. He “wrote a note that is a mixture of fury and despair,” Kavanaugh wrote, and “was overwhelmed by the sense of failure.” (Three days later, FBI agent Chuck Regini similarly wrote to Kavanaugh that “we have established beyond a reasonable doubt” that Foster shot himself.)

Kavanaugh also dismissed talk of a White House cover-up, writing in the July memo, “At this point I do not believe there is evidence warranting criminal prosecution of any individual in the Foster documents investigation.”

Yet the probe dragged on more than two years longer.

The same deference to the Republican right wing that led Starr and Kavanaugh to reinvestigate Foster’s death compelled them to drag it out long after they concluded Foster committed suicide. Kavanaugh’s files at the National Archives are stuffed with material from and about the conspiracists. Included is a five-page fundraising letter from conservative televangelist Jerry Falwell hawking a $38 video “exposé” entitled The Death of Vince Foster: What Really Happened? and seeking additional money to “help us with this vital truth campaign.” For some on the right, the Foster investigation had become too important a revenue source to cut short merely because no crime was committed.

Exchanges among the Starr, Clinton, and Foster legal teams became increasingly tense with time, and offer early evidence of the petulance Kavanaugh would later show the nation at his confirmation hearings. In late 1995—two and a half years after Foster died and months after Kavanaugh privately had concluded his death was a suicide—the Starr team pressed for . . .

Continue reading. I think the technical term is “heartless hypocrisy.”

Written by Leisureguy

7 August 2021 at 3:39 pm

A 3-part story about short bowel syndrome and the FDA

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I’m always wary of information I find on the internet, and I prefer trusted sources. Failing those, I like when posts include links to supporting evidence. (It’s also useful to know some sources not to trust: Dr. Mercola, for example, deals heavily in misinformation, particularly wrt Covid.)

Kevin Drum is for me a trusted source, and one reason is that he is also cautious about the information he gets via the internet — and via the media, that matter. (As he points out, journalists reporting financial trends very seldom correct for inflation and thus end up comparing apples and oranges.)

This post shows clearly how some internet “information” is totally bogus and apparently generated just for clicks and giggles. Drum writes:

This is a three-part story of heroism, intrigue, and ultimately treachery in the world of drug approval.


Tyler Cowen points me this weekend to a righteous rant about the FDA from psychiatrist Scott Alexander at Astral Codex Ten. After blasting them for several COVID-related decisions, he tells us about another example of FDA folly: . . .

Continue reading. And do read the whole post.

Written by Leisureguy

7 August 2021 at 3:28 pm

Superb snooker defensive play: O’Sullivan v Wilson Final F10 2018 Champion of Champions

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Written by Leisureguy

7 August 2021 at 2:41 pm

Posted in Games, Snooker, Video

Declaration Grooming, Chatillon Lux, and The Holy Black SR-71 slant

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This brush has a snakewood handle and a very puffy knot, and it does a fine job, caressing the lather onto the face. It was easy to load from Declaration Grooming’s Unconditional Surrender in their bison-tallow formula, and the SR-71 slant left a very smooth finish with no problems, though I’m not so taken with the heavy handle. Different strokes for different folks — I imagine some love the heft.

Chatillon Lux’s aftershave lotion really doesn’t require the turbo skincare assist from Grooming Dept’s Hydrating Gel, so I used the aftershave neat.  Unconditional Surrender is a great fragrance.

I slept late, but now off for my walk.

Written by Leisureguy

7 August 2021 at 10:40 am

Posted in Shaving

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