Politics roundup: Kavanaugh hearing produces questions and tension


The hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh unearthed tension, protests, and much confusion starting on Tuesday.

Kavanaugh hearing starts with tension

Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh started on Tuesday. The proceedings were marked by tensions both inside and outside of the hearing room. Protestors outside were vocal with their displeasure, while Democratic lawmakers speaking directly to Kavanaugh expressed their own concerns.

Kavanaugh has hedged his answers on questions important to protestors and resistant politicians. He hasn’t quite answered whether or not he thinks that Roe v. Wade, the landmark case supporting abortion rights, has a good legal standing. He also declined to say whether or not Presidents can pardon themselves, or if they can be subpoenaed in the course of an investigation. Kavanaugh also has a record of supporting gun ownership and pushing back against expanded health coverage laws.

It’s almost certain that Kavanaugh will secure his spot on the Supreme Court with little more than symbolic resistance. With the exception of Merrick Garland, Barack Obama’s nominee who failed to secure said nomination after significant Republican resistance, Supreme Court hopefuls generally get their spot on the bench.

Kyl to succeed McCain

While Senator John McCain’s death left many memorializing his life and deeds, certain practicalities remained in the wake of his passing. Though he was ill for some time, and publicly so, McCain was still a sitting senator. After his death, it fell to Arizona governor Doug Ducey to appoint the late senator’s replacement.

Ducey selected Jon Kyl, 76, a former senator in his own right who retired from that position in 2013. Kyl has also worked as a lobbyist at law firm Covington & Burlington. Currently, he is using his position as an influential private citizen to shepherd Brett Kavanaugh into the Supreme Court.

Though Kyl may no longer be able to help Kavanaugh as he has been doing, he is almost certainly a shoe-in vote for the nominee when the Senate votes for Kavanaugh’s confirmation later this month. He’s also expected to be a reliably conservative voter.

Kyl will remain as an Arizona senator until 2020, when voters will take part in a special election to find a more permanent replacement. Kyl says that he will not run in that election. The winner will finish out the term until 2023.

Woodward’s book raises White House hackles

Bob Woodward, for the uninitiated and the forgetful, is a Washington Post journalist and current editor at the newspaper. Woodward along with fellow young reporter Carl Bernstein, did much of the early reporting on the Watergate scandal starting in 1972.

Since then, Woodward has created something of a cottage industry publishing books critiquing other political administrations. This week was the turn for the current President and his associates, who have admittedly given Woodward and other commentators plenty of material.

Woodward’s book, Fear: Trump in the White House, claims to contain accounts from top administration officials. Said officials paint a picture of a White House rolled by a buffoonish “Shakespearean king”, one who can be fooled by the simple removal of a letter from his desk and who subjects underlings to his mercurial moods and uninformed decision-making process. Perhaps most damning is how advisors seem to view the President himself as a national security threat, one that must be mitigated and circumvented.

Other efforts to “expose” the inner workings of the current White House have fallen rather flat. Michael Wolff’s expose had some interesting stories, but others were proven to false or something near to it. Omarosa Manigault’s Unhinged was similarly unsubstantiated and, well, unhinged of its own accord. Woodward, however, has the strength of his past investigative reporting shoring up the reputation of Fear. Is that enough to take it seriously? According to some reports, a building “witch hunt” within the administration may be a clue to the seriousness of Woodward’s allegations.

This also draws attention to a so-called “resistance” being within the White House. But with so little concrete information and so much gossip, what are we to make of all of this? And can someone working within such an administration be working for good by running interception on a foolish leader? Or, are they simply part of a corrupt machine?

And, finally, your palate cleanser

The FBI has announced that it has found a missing pair of red sequined shoes famously worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz. MGM Studios actually made multiple pairs of Garland’s “ruby slippers” (which were actually silver in the original novel, but became red in order to take advantage of new color film technology). The pair in question was stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, in 2005. Thieves took advantage of poorly secured doors and a malfunctioning alarm system to snatch the heels. Since then, amateur and professional investigators alike have guessed about the shoe’s fate. Some, including TV presenter Josh Gates of Expedition Unknown, even speculated that the shoes were submerged in a paint can in the bottom of a nearby body of water.

While we’re waiting on the FBI to release more information, now is a good time for some Wizard of Oz trivia. That includes horrifyingly toxic makeup for both the Tin Man actor and Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West. You should also read up on L. Frank Baum, the author of the original Oz series, and his attempt to create a uniquely American tale.

light. Related Story. Senator McCain leaves many questioning future politics

Heck, just for some rather dubious fun, take a minute and see if you’re ready to watch the ominous sequel, Return to Oz. This 1985 Disney movie, ostensibly for kids, starred a young Fairuza Balk as Dorothy. It’s arguably more faithful to the tone of Baum’s books, which were themselves plenty odd. That didn’t stop kids from being traumatized over the course of this spooky, messy yet fascinating flop of a film.