Notes and Comment Blog

The sudden attention has been unwelcome

Sep 23rd, 2018 5:59 pm | By

Ooooookay, most of you have already seen this, some of you told me about it, but anyway – Ronan Farrow once again:

Senate Democrats are investigating a new allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. The claim dates to the 1983-84 academic school year, when Kavanaugh was a freshman at Yale University. The offices of at least four Democratic senators have received information about the allegation, and at least two have begun investigating it. Senior Republican staffers also learned of the allegation last week and, in conversations with The New Yorker, expressed concern about its potential impact on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote. The Democratic Senate offices reviewing the allegations believe that they merit further investigation.

Nononononono – let’s go faster faster faster faster until we’re going so fast that nobody can see or hear anything at all, so that we can get Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court before any more women say he shoved his dick in their faces. After all it would be kind of poetic to have him be the guy who makes sure women are still slaves to their own reproductive systems, including when guys like Kavanaugh get them pregnant against their wills.

The woman at the center of the story, Deborah Ramirez, who is fifty-three, attended Yale with Kavanaugh, where she studied sociology and psychology. Later, she spent years working for an organization that supports victims of domestic violence. The New Yorker contacted Ramirez after learning of her possible involvement in an incident involving Kavanaugh. The allegation was conveyed to Democratic senators by a civil-rights lawyer. For Ramirez, the sudden attention has been unwelcome, and prompted difficult choices. She was at first hesitant to speak publicly, partly because her memories contained gaps because she had been drinking at the time of the alleged incident. In her initial conversations with The New Yorker, she was reluctant to characterize Kavanaugh’s role in the alleged incident with certainty. After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. Ramirez is now calling for the F.B.I. to investigate Kavanaugh’s role in the incident. “I would think an F.B.I. investigation would be warranted,” she said.

Kavanaugh denies it.

The White House spokesperson Kerri Kupec said the Administration stood by Kavanaugh. “This 35-year-old, uncorroborated claim is the latest in a coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear down a good man. This claim is denied by all who were said to be present and is wholly inconsistent with what many women and men who knew Judge Kavanaugh at the time in college say. The White House stands firmly behind Judge Kavanaugh.”

The White House doesn’t know the claim is false. The White House shouldn’t be throwing women to the wolves this way. It’s disgusting.

By his freshman year, Kavanaugh was eighteen, and legally an adult. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh swore under oath that as a legal adult he had never “committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature.”

The New Yorker has not confirmed with other eyewitnesses that Kavanaugh was present at the party. The magazine contacted several dozen classmates of Ramirez and Kavanaugh regarding the incident. Many did not respond to interview requests; others declined to comment, or said they did not attend or remember the party. A classmate of Ramirez’s, who declined to be identified because of the partisan battle over Kavanaugh’s nomination, said that another student told him about the incident either on the night of the party or in the next day or two. The classmate said that he is “one-hundred-per-cent sure” that he was told at the time that Kavanaugh was the student who exposed himself to Ramirez. He independently recalled many of the same details offered by Ramirez, including that a male student had encouraged Kavanaugh as he exposed himself. The classmate, like Ramirez, recalled that the party took place in a common room on the first floor in Entryway B of Lawrance Hall, during their freshman year. “I’ve known this all along,” he said. “It’s been on my mind all these years when his name came up. It was a big deal.” The story stayed with him, he said, because it was disturbing and seemed outside the bounds of typically acceptable behavior, even during heavy drinking at parties on campus. The classmate said that he had been shocked, but not necessarily surprised, because the social group to which Kavanaugh belonged often drank to excess. He recalled Kavanaugh as “relatively shy” until he drank, at which point he said that Kavanaugh could become “aggressive and even belligerent.”

Mark Krasberg, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico who was also a member of Kavanaugh and Ramirez’s class at Yale, said Kavanaugh’s college behavior had become a topic of discussion among former Yale students soon after Kavanaugh’s nomination. In one e-mail that Krasberg received in September, the classmate who recalled hearing about the incident with Ramirez alluded to it and wrote that it “would qualify as a sexual assault,” he speculated, “if it’s true.”

Bumpy times ahead.

Oh no, not a calendar!

Sep 23rd, 2018 3:55 pm | By

Oh come on.

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh has calendars from the summer of 1982 that he plans to hand over to the Senate Judiciary Committee that do not show a party consistent with the description of his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, according to someone working for his confirmation.

Dear Diary: Today did not go to party where did not assault Christine Blasey who was not there and neither was I.

The calendars do not disprove Dr. Blasey’s allegations, Judge Kavanaugh’s team acknowledged. He could have attended a party that he did not list. But his team will argue to the senators that the calendars provide no corroboration for her account of a small gathering at a house where he allegedly pinned her to a bed and tried to remove her clothing.

Amazing! He will produce evidence that does not show he assaulted Christine Blasey when he was 17 and she was 15. Who could have seen that coming?!

The calendar pages from June, July and August 1982, which were examined by The New York Times, show that Judge Kavanaugh was out of town much of the summer at the beach or away with his parents. When he was at home, the calendars list his basketball games, movie outings, football workouts and college interviews. A few parties are mentioned but include names of friends other than those identified by Dr. Blasey.

*gasp* What a bombshell! I’m sure he recorded every single name of every single person who was at every single gathering he attended that summer. I’m sure there’s no chance that he could have recorded some people but not all.

God I hate these people.

One of his proudest moments

Sep 23rd, 2018 10:53 am | By

This really is something else.

One of my proudest moments [was] when I lookeda Barack Obama in the eye n I said [raising hand and pointing as if sticking his manly finger in Obama’s face] “Mister President you will not fill this Supreme Court VAcancy.”

You just know what he was really saying was “Nigga you will not fill this Supreme Court VAcancy.”

The crowd cheered.

He (and the Republicans in general) had no actual substantive reason to refuse to fill the seat. None. It was a complete defiance of precedent, rules, normal procedure, the whole idea of working together to accomplish necessary functions of government. It was just a power move, and a calculated insult to Obama.

We’ll totally respect you but you’re lying

Sep 23rd, 2018 9:30 am | By

Lindsey Graham is quite clear about his determination to ignore anything Christine Blasey Ford says in her testimony to Congress in a few days.

“You can’t bring it in a criminal court, you would never sue civilly, you couldn’t even get a warrant,” Graham said on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace. “What am I supposed to do? Go ahead and ruin this guy’s life based on an accusation? I don’t know when it happened, I don’t know where it happened, and everybody named in regard to being there said it didn’t happen.”

Ruin his life? He’s a Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. How is that ruin?

But more to the point, what about her life? Why is it always so easy for these guys to ignore her life? Why do they have no shame, still, about treating women as not real people, expendable, side issues, sluts who like to cause trouble for men for absolutely no reason apart from a tiny attempted rape a long time ago?

“Unless there’s something more, no I’m not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh’s life over this,” Graham said. “But she should come forward, she should have her say, she will be respectfully treated.”

Announcing in advance that you’ll ignore her no matter what she says is not treating her respectfully. It assumes she’s lying, and it boasts of wasting her time and effort and money and peace of mind, and it tells the world that the man matters while the woman does not, even though he (allegedly) assaulted her and not the other way around.

Updating to add some tweets commenting on this artless admission:

The senators’ sneers and the pundits’ dismissals

Sep 23rd, 2018 9:06 am | By

Jennifer Weiner is also interested in women’s anger right now. She remembers the Anita Hill hearings all too well.

I remember her turquoise suit, her red lipstick, her perfect posture, her poise. I remember Justice Thomas’ denials, and the senators’ sneers and the pundits’ dismissals. She followed him from one job to another, they’d say. A few jokes about pubic hairs on Coke cans? Couldn’t have been that bad, right?

I knew why she’d followed him. By 21, like most women, I’d had experience with the way the world makes excuses for young men (and old ones), and instead trains its scrutiny on the women who dare to complain. What’s your problem? Was it really such a big deal? C’mon, it wasn’t like he raped you. Better to tell yourself that the boss who groped you at the office party was just an old goat and the teenage boy who grabbed you at the pool party was just high-spirited and that all the ones in between were just … men. Better to tell yourself that the devil you know is better than the one who might be waiting in the next office. Better to work hard and hope you’ll get an assignment or a promotion or finally end up in a place where men like that have no sway over you.

Except guess what? The joke’s on us. There’s no such place. Clarence Thomas sits on the Supreme Court, and in the White House sits a man who confessed on tape to how he was “automatically” attracted to pretty women and just starts to kiss them when he sees them, and how “when you’re a star, they let you do it.”

And Trump is on Twitter saying “why didn’t she report it?!”

Watching the #MeToo movement gain traction, as women’s voices were finally heard and powerful men finally, finally experienced consequences, felt like a restoration, as if someone was coloring me in again. Here we are. Yes, we matter. We’re real, just like you.

Bill Cosby was found guilty. Harvey Weinstein is going to trial. Les Moonves lost his job as chief executive of CBS, even if a CBS board member, Arnold Kopelson, said, “I don’t care if 30 more women come forward and allege this kind of stuff.” Things are getting better, I thought. We are on the right track.

Except, even putting Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination aside, over the past few weeks it’s felt like someone fired a starter pistol, one whose report was pitched only for abusers’ ears. One by one, like bad dreams, the #MeToo men have come back from the allegations against them, having suffered — if that’s even the right word — the equivalent of a misbehaving child’s timeout.

They’ve come back and they’re whining about it, and the quality press is publishing their whines, and shrugging indifferently when we ask them why.

Women aren’t supposed to want revenge any more than we’re supposed to be angry. It’s not socially approved, not attractive, not ladylike. We swallow our pain and keep our own behavior exemplary while excusing the bad behavior of others, knowing, from examples like Professor Hill’s, what could happen if we speak up, and what we stand to lose.

Women individually are seen as monstrous if we seek revenge. Collectively…that’s rather different. Get mad, and organize.

How angry these women were

Sep 23rd, 2018 7:53 am | By

Deborah Cameron looks back on the anger of the early women’s movement:

The first piece of writing students do for the course I teach on second wave feminism is a short response to the material they’ve read in the first two weeks–mostly personal essays and group manifestos dating from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Their responses are always varied, but there’s one thing that gets at least a passing mention from almost everyone: how angry these women were.

For Teresa Green, who turned her response into this 2016 guest post, what was most striking wasn’t just the anger itself, it was “the fact that they boldly express it with no qualms about the male egos or female delusions they tread on”. Other students have been equally struck by this lack of inhibition. Even if today’s feminists feel the same rage, they seem wary of expressing it in the same unapologetic way.

I remember that. It was glorious.

But as I write this (in autumn 2018), women’s rage seems to be having a moment, with two new feminist books on the subject appearing in the space of a few weeks. Soraya Chemaly’s Rage Becomes Her was published this month; Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger will be out in early October. As yet I haven’t read either, but to judge from the publicity and the excerpts the authors have published, they are both calling for women to embrace their anger as a source of power. Chemaly is particularly critical of the way patriarchal cultures deny women the right to be angry, telling them that anger is ‘unfeminine’ and therefore shameful; Traister emphasizes the political as well as personal significance of women’s anger, which she regards as one of the driving forces behind ‘every major social and political movement that has shaped this nation [i.e., the USA]’.

It’s difficult though. It’s difficult in ways that aren’t surmountable with sheer courage and determination, because those too are difficult in exactly the same way. It’s difficult because of the deeply entrenched mental pictures we have of how this works – that anger in men is powerful and scary, while in women it’s laughable or disgusting or both. The reason is obvious: men can back it up (in theory – many men can’t, morally or psychologically or physically) while women can’t. It’s like a baby’s tantrum.

Numbers help though. Get mad, and organize.

Maybe another hemisphere would be far enough

Sep 22nd, 2018 5:18 pm | By

Four Post reporters give us some background:

When Donald Trump won his upset presidential victory in 2016, Christine Blasey Ford’s thoughts quickly turned to a name most Americans had never heard of but one that had unsettled her for years: Brett M. Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh — a judge on the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — was among those mentioned as a possible replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016. When Trump nominated Neil M. Gorsuch, Ford was relieved but still uneasy.

Then, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced his retirement, and Ford, 51, began fretting again.

“Her mind-set was, ‘I’ve got this terrible secret. . . . What am I going to do with this secret?’ ” her husband, Russell Ford, 56, recalled.

To many, Kavanaugh was a respected jurist. To her, he was the teenager who had attacked her when they were in high school.

And, apparently, had never made any move to apologize or acknowledge that he did a bad thing to her. That’s another aspect of him. He just went ahead with his life, untroubled.

Ford had already moved 3,000 miles away from the affluent Maryland suburbs where she says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a house party — a charge he would emphatically deny. Suddenly, living in California didn’t seem far enough. Maybe another hemisphere would be. She went online to research other democracies where her family might settle, including New Zealand.

“She was like, ‘I can’t deal with this. If he becomes the nominee, then I’m moving to another country. I cannot live in this country if he’s in the Supreme Court,’ ” her husband said. “She wanted out.”

But it’s all her fault, because she forgot to “file charges.”

As senators weigh Kavanaugh’s confirmation, the endless news cycle has pried into every corner of his accuser’s life to find out who Christine Blasey Ford really is.

The answer is someone very different than who she was. In Bethesda, Ford’s life was one of cloistered advantage, with her time spent at a private school for girls, at the Columbia Country Club and at parties where she moved easily among the privileged and popular.

But after high school she got out of there and never went back.

Quietly, she garnered a reputation for her research on depression, anxiety and resilience after trauma — telling almost no one what she herself had endured.

“I have lived with that story my whole life,” she said in an interview with The Post before her name became public. “I’ve moved on. I have done wonderful things and have a great career and a great community, and have done a total reboot living in California.”

And now she has to go back and be grilled by those horrifying evil men.

It’s going to suck.

Plinyheim Museum of Modern Art

Sep 22nd, 2018 2:49 pm | By

Pliny the in Between on the MeToo gauntlet:

Decree 770

Sep 22nd, 2018 2:45 pm | By

Atwood based The Handmaid’s Tale on reality, including recent history. Shannon Quinn gives some examples:

During her research process in the 1980’s, Margaret Atwood found an article about a fundamentalist Christian group in New Jersey called The People of Hope, who wanted to return to the old ways of society spelled out in the Bible. The group was started in 1975 by a New York stockbroker and ordained Catholic priest named Robert Gallic. They called the women “The Handmaidens of God”. Atwood took a pen and circled the word “Handmaidens” with a pen. She found the name for her dystopia’s subservient female characters, and the inspiration for the fictional religious group who would take over the government.

Women in The People of Hope were subservient to men, and children were not allowed to date. Marriages between young adults were arranged by their parents.

And of course you don’t even need to look to a New Jersey cult: the Amish have been fetishizing The Old Ways since before the ways were old. There are pockets of fundamentalism all over the US and there are some in Canada. Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Quiverfull, Haredis, Islamists – throw an apple core in any direction and you’ll hit one.

One of the specific events that Margaret Atwood found during her research process was “Decree 770” in Romania. This was a law that passed in 1967 that made abortions and all forms of contraception illegal. This had nothing to do with religious beliefs. It was an action that the government believed was necessary for the future of their country.

They wanted more people, see, so they enslaved women to get them.

The Communist Party wanted the population to increase from 23 million to 30 million in a single year, so they enacted Decree 770. After the change of law in 1967, and women no longer had access to birth control, the number of babies born that year skyrocketed to roughly double what they had been the year before. Thousands of new preschools and nursery schools had to be built. Orphanages were overflowing with children whose parents could not afford them.

Aside from making abortions illegal and taking contraception off of store shelves, women’s bodies were literally policed. Decree 770 forced women to visit the gynecologist once a month to check for pregnancy, and police officers stood in the halls to make sure women complied. If a woman was pregnant, the doctors followed her progress very closely.

Jeezus. There I was thinking that idea was fiction…

In the world of The Handmaid’s Tale, one of the biggest problems in society that lead to the cult’s political takeover is pollution. One of the missions of Gilead was to clean up the environment and un-do the damage done by mankind with toxic dumping grounds and locations of radiation spills. In the show, they clean carbon emissions by 78%, but it comes at the cost of women’s lives. The “un women”- mostly lesbians, radical feminists, and adulterers, are forced to clean up radioactive materials in a place called “the colonies”. They literally work themselves to death, as their bodies fall apart from radiation-related disease.

During the 1970’s, prisoners in the Soviet Union were forced to do manual labor in uranium mines to gather enough material for their arsenal of atomic bombs. Obviously, prisoners were exposed to extremely high levels of radiation. The average lifespan of a prisoner in these mines was just two years. Everyday, trains filled with new prisoners would arrive at the mines. They estimate there were roughly 5,000 men who died working there. It was common for prisoners to collapse, and die on the spot. Their overseers would smash their heads in if they fell, because they did not want anyone to escape by faking their death.

Dystopian fiction is superfluous; humans have already thought of it all.

A matter of values

Sep 22nd, 2018 11:38 am | By

A very very far-right Congressional Representative, Paul Gosar, has a bunch of siblings who did a political ad…for his opponent.

The brothers and sisters — Tim, Jennifer, Gaston, Joan, Grace and David — appeared in campaign advertisements for David Brill, the Democrat hoping to unseat Gosar in Arizona’s 4th Congressional District in the upcoming midterm election.

The Gosar siblings framed their endorsement of Brill as a matter of values, saying their brother, who has long drawn headlines for his far-right views, and his politics were simply too much for them to stomach.

“We gotta stand up for our good name,” said brother David Gosar in the advertisement. “This is not who we are.”

“I couldn’t be quiet any longer, nor should any of us be,” said sister Grace Gosar.

“I think my brother has traded a lot of the values we had at our kitchen table,” said another sister, Joan.

The Post talked to David Gosar.

David said he doesn’t talk to his brother much anymore. The split came around the time of his congressional run, when, David said, his brother told him he believed the “birther” theory that President Obama’s birth certificate is fake. (A 2010 clip from Politico quotes Paul Gosar as declining to say whether he believed Obama was born in the United States, saying it was “for the courts and for other people to decide.”)

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, you have to be kidding me,’ and then he went and got elected,” David Gosar said. “I’m not going to break bread with a racist.”

(It actually isn’t for the courts and other people to decide, because there was never any reason to think Obama wasn’t born in the US in the first place. Nobody gets to “decide” he wasn’t born here when he was.)

Rep. Paul Gosar knows how to get attention.

In January, he drew bipartisan rebukes after he said that he asked the Capitol Police and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to check IDs at the State of the Union to arrest and deport any undocumented immigrants in attendance.

At least one senator, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), planned to bring an undocumented “dreamer” to the speech as a guest.

The next month, Gosar said FBI and Department of Justice officials such as Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, former acting attorney general Sally Yates, and former FBI director James B. Comey should face “treason” charges due to developments in the Russia investigation.

This summer, he spoke at a rally in London for one of Britain’s most notorious anti-Muslim campaigners, Tommy Robinson, drawing rebukes from Muslim-American groups.

But perhaps his most notorious moment came in 2017 in an interview with Vice News, when he spread a baseless conspiracy theory that the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that summer had been “created by the left.”

He’ll probably win anyway, because his district is profoundly Trump.

Don’t believe them, they’re all lying sluts

Sep 22nd, 2018 9:22 am | By

The Times editorial board says, sarcastically, have sympathy for the poor Republicans who tried so hard to pretend they’d improved since the shitshow over Clarence Thomas.

Leave it to Donald Trump to strip away the mask and reveal the troglodyte beneath. Administration officials reportedly labored to keep him from going on the attack against Dr. Blasey, but after a few days, the presidential id once again rose up and overwhelmed them and their message. On Friday morning, Mr. Trump tweeted:

“I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with Local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!”

Because that’s how that works – if you’re raped or attempted-raped, then you instantly report it to Local Law Enforcement Authorities and they instantly file charges and that takes care of it. Done and dusted. Local Law Enforcement Authorities always believe the victim or her loving parents; Local Law Enforcement Authorities never treat the victim or her loving parents with suspicion or contempt; judges ditto; the perp’s lawyer ditto; the jury ditto. The victim’s life is never made hell by the whole process, and justice is always served, and everything works out. Because that’s the world we live in.

Dr. Blasey has already said that she did not tell anyone about the assault at the time, much less file charges — most victims don’t. So what Mr. Trump is charging here, complete with a snide slap at Dr. Blasey’s parents, is straightforward: The woman is lying.

Of course he is. Think of all the women who have “lied” about his assaults on them. The woman is always lying, and the man is always a tragically maligned Good Guy who simply likes to grab women by the pussy when he gets a chance.

Outside of Mr. Trump’s bubble, however, it is widely recognized as no longer acceptable to respond to a woman’s claims of sexual assault by calling her a liar. Doing so carries real political risks in the age of #MeToo.

Does it though? What about the rehabilitation of Louis CK and John Hockenberry and Jian Ghomeshi? What about the hand-wringing about the men who had their lives wrecked?

As insulting as this “she’s just a confused girl” defense may be, it is modestly less offensive than the snickering boys-will-be-boys excuses emanating from certain musty corners. Or the related contention that this was a case of teenage horseplay gone awry — an innocent misunderstanding, if you will. The most head-smacking defense thus far may have come from Franklin Graham, the evangelical leader turned Trump lackey, who spun the alleged attack as a portrait in chivalry: “Well, there wasn’t a crime committed. These are two teenagers and it’s obvious that she said no and he respected it and walked away.”

Hm, yes, pinning her down and covering her mouth and yanking at her clothes is obviously respecting her no and walking away. Unmistakably. Thank god for evangelicals, yeah?

Republicans have repeatedly made clear that, even as they go through the motions of responding to Dr. Blasey’s accusations, they have no intention of letting this nomination get derailed. On Friday, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, spoke at the Values Voter Summit, reassuring evangelical activists that the Senate was going to “plow right through” and, “In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court.” Similarly, late Wednesday night, Mike Davis, a top Republican staffer for the Senate Judiciary Committee, tweeted, “Unfazed and determined. We will confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”

Which is pretty stunning if you think about it. They can’t know he didn’t do it, they have no good reason (bro loyalty doesn’t count as a good reason) to assume he didn’t do it, so clearly they don’t care whether he did it or not, they’re going to put him on the court to make sure women are forced to stay pregnant against their wills no matter what.

Inviting his cheering audience to relive the night

Sep 22nd, 2018 8:13 am | By

Unconscious humor in Times report on Trump’s rally in Missouri last night purportedly to boost the Republican candidate for senator:

Thousands of supporters waved cardboard signs and wore hats bearing Mr. Trump’s election slogans — “Make America Great Again,” “Keep America Great” and “Drain the Swamp” — while two large placards bracketing a giant American flag declared “Promises Made” and “Promises Kept,” the argument the president has been making about his first two years in office.

Signs in support of Mr. Hawley were few and far between, and the digital banner around the arena directed people to send a text to Mr. Trump’s campaign, not Mr. Hawley’s, to sign up as supporters.

The president spoke at length about how his candidacy and electoral victory in 2016 had defied predictions, inviting his cheering audience to relive the night of the election with him. He imitated news anchors calling states in his favor, and described his election as “one of the greatest nights in the history of our country, but far less importantly, one of the greatest nights in the history of television.”

The dynamic reflected the strategy Mr. Trump has embraced as he campaigns for Republicans this year, hoping to transfer his own popularity among core party supporters to candidates who need a highly motivated base of voters to succeed.

Yes, sure, that’s definitely what he was doing, and not at all simply enjoying the chance to brag about himself to a cheering crowd for the umptyumpth time.

Sand transformed

Sep 21st, 2018 3:18 pm | By

Archaeologist Ticia Verveer on Facebook:

These lovely glass birds contained cosmetics in powder form, to which access was gained by breaking the end of the bird’s tail. This type of powder container was made by glassblowing, a technique perfected circa 50 BC by Roman glassworkers in the eastern Mediterranean region.

Production of these small glass birds was particularly abundant during the reign of Emperor Augustus (27 BC-AD 14) and was still quite popular until circa AD 70.

Although many such birds have been found in Greece, Cyprus, and Syria, northern Italy (particularly Piedmont) and the canton of Ticino in modern Switzerland seem to have been the principal region for the production and distribution of this type of container.

No automatic alt text available.

H/t Vanina

Friday night massacre?

Sep 21st, 2018 12:49 pm | By

How to keep up. An hour or two ago the Times published a story reporting that Rod Rosenstein was talking about invoking the 25th Amendment in 2017.

Many many journalists and lawyers and such on Twitter pointed out that Trump is likely to see this as the perfect pretext to fire Rosenstein, and wondered if the Times had really thought this through. There were a lot of tweets of the infamous Times headline about the FBI’s finding no evidence of Russian interference some ten minutes before the election. The Post published a story disputing the Times version of what happened.

Frankly it’s all rather alarming.

More leg!

Sep 21st, 2018 12:36 pm | By

In other news, it’s no longer August so here in the US the frenzy about Halloween is being whistled up by marketers. How about a sexy handmaid costume??!

An upsetting dystopian future has emerged where women no longer have a say. However, we say be bold and speak your mind in this exclusive Brave Red Maiden costume.

Oh yes, that’s the way to “be bold and speak your mind” – by wearing a tiny skirt to signal “this way to the important bit” and shoes you can’t walk a step in. Hahaha theocratic oppression of women, great, now spread your legs, bitch.

All steps necessary to protect his professional reputation

Sep 21st, 2018 12:04 pm | By

It turns out Jordan Peterson thinks you can sue people for uttering opinions.

In June, he threatened to sue Down Girl author and Cornell University assistant professor Kate Manne for defamation, after she criticized his book, 12 Rules For Life, and more generally called his work misogynistic in an interview with Vox. (Peterson previously filed a lawsuit against a university whose faculty members, in a closed-door meeting, argued that showing his videos in a classroom created an unsafe environment for students.) In letters to Manne, Cornell, and Vox, Peterson’s lawyer, Howard Levitt, demanded that all three parties “immediately retract all of Professor Manne’s defamatory statements, have them immediately removed from the internet, and issue an apology in the same forum to Mr. Peterson. Otherwise, our client will take all steps necessary to protect his professional reputation, including but not limited to initiating legal proceedings against all of you for damages.”

But saying his work is misogynistic is opinion, and opinion is protected.

Among the statements Levitt objected to: Manne’s contention that Peterson’s book included “some really eyebrow-raising, authoritarian-sounding, and even cruel things,” as well as her observation that “it doesn’t seem accidental that [Peterson’s] skepticism about objective facts arises when it’s conveniently anti-feminist.” The lawyer and his client were equally unhappy with this line: “I also suspect that for many of Peterson’s readers, the sexism on display above is one tool among many to make forceful, domineering moves that are typical of misogyny.”

So Peterson even wants to sue Manne for expressing an opinion about Peterson’s readers.

So far, Peterson hasn’t made good on his threat to file suit, though neither she, Cornell, or Vox have complied with his requests. “It’s a classic attempt to chill free speech,” Manne says. “Like many of his ilk, what he really seems to be demanding — when one examines his actions rather than words — is to be able to speak free from legitimate social consequences, such as other people talking back.”

Ironies abound, but one is that Manne — a young, untenured scholar who argues that misogyny isn’t about hatred as much as it is about enforcing hierarchies — is being threatened with legal action by an older man who ranks much higher than she does in the professional and cultural pecking order.

And the celebrity order and the 80 thousand dollars a month on Patreon order.

Another irony is that Vox’s Sean Illing wrote that he interviewed Manne precisely because she, “unlike many Peterson critics, actively engaged with his ideas.” Says Illing of Peterson’s saber-rattling, “I found the request absurd and forwarded it to our legal advisers, who confirmed that it was baseless, and then I happily ignored it. We did not alter the piece and we did not take it down.”

Baseless because no you can’t sue people for an opinion you don’t like. If you could we all would have sued Trump into the gutter two years ago.

No, do it to that other guy

Sep 21st, 2018 11:11 am | By

Well now they’ve gone too far. Libeling women who allege sexual assault is one thing, but when you start libeling a man you might be going too far. Unless he’s her husband or something. Right-wing fixer attempts to deflect the allegations about Kavanaugh by tweeting that hey maybe it’s this other guy, here, look at his yearbook and photo and stuff.

On Thursday night, Twitter was aflame with the news that a prominent conservative legal strategist had gone public with the theory that another man may have been the perpetrator of the alleged sexual assault against Christine Blasey Ford.

The strategist suggested that Ford had confused this man for Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh — and worse, he named the other man, in effect publicly accusing him of committing attempted rape.

Named him, tweeted photos of him, the whole nine yards. Now he has tweeted that that was very naughty and he’s terribly sorry.

Ford promptly denied that she had confused this man for Kavanaugh, whom she has accused of attacking her when both were teenagers during the 1980s. But, as some commentators — including conservative ones — were quick to point out, Kavanaugh needs to clarify whether he had any advance knowledge of this strategy of pinning the blame on someone else.

It will be interesting if they ram through Kavanaugh anyway and then the other guy sues him and wins.

The conservative strategist who floated the alternate attempted rape theory, Ed Whelan, has been active in conservative judicial circles for a long time, and is close to Kavanaugh. He posted a long Twitter thread — which we will not link to here, and nor will we name the man he fingered — that rather creatively employed maps and floor plans of the house at which he suggested the attack took place. Whelan also posted the name and a photo of his alternate suspect.

I of course promptly went to Twitter to find it all, which is how I know about Whelan’s laughable apology. It’s easy to find, but I’ll follow the Post’s lead in not linking or naming. Lindsay Beyerstein on Twitter said don’t RT it either – screenshot it, talk about it, but don’t RT.

Whelan apologized on Friday morning for publicly implicating someone else, and it is, of course, entirely possible that Kavanaugh had no knowledge whatsoever of Whelan’s machinations. Indeed, it is worth noting that if Kavanaugh did know or had been involved in discussions about this strategy, and either tacitly allowed Whelan to proceed or did not actively try to stop it, it would constitute an unthinkably boneheaded blunder on his part — which perhaps militates against him having knowledge of it.

Still, there are plenty of unanswered questions about this episode hovering around. On Thursday, a top aide to Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, a Utah Republican who sits on the Judiciary Committee, mysteriously told everyone to keep an eye on Whelan’s Twitter feed. Though he has since claimed no knowledge of Whelan’s plan, this at least raises questions as to whether it had come up in internal discussions with the very Republicans who will vote to move Kavanaugh’s nomination forward.

Indeed, Steve Schmidt, who ran Supreme Court confirmation efforts for Republicans in the past but recently left the GOP, was quite forceful on this point. He noted on Twitter that “it is inconceivable to me,” based on his own experience, “that Whelan published that email without discussions, debate and assistance” from the White House and “GOP Senators and staff.”

When it comes to Kavanaugh’s role, we do know, per The Post’s reporting above, that Kavanaugh was at least involved in discussions about a strategy that would acknowledge the attack but say it was someone else — which itself invites further questioning.

Even Tom Nichols agrees with that much.

Aides quietly stunned

Sep 21st, 2018 10:24 am | By

Aaron Blake warns journalists not to let Trump move the Overton window on them. No, the fact that he managed not to call her a lying slag for a few days is not a shining example of restraint.

CNN ran a pretty amazing heading on Thursday: “Aides quietly stunned by Trump’s respectful handling of Kavanaugh accuser.”

I saw that headline yesterday, and nearly gagged, and did not read the story about Trump’s aides’ quiet amazement that he managed not to wave his dick on camera.

Trump has been “respectful” and shown “restraint” only by his own, very artificially depressed standard. It’s notable that he hasn’t directly attacked Christine Blasey Ford as a liar or completely discounted her account — as he has with women who previously accused him and his allies of sexual assault — but Trump has more than hinted in both of those directions.

Of course he has. All that shit about poor poor Kavanaugh, and what a fine man he is, and how hot his daughters are and how kind of presentable his wife is despite being so much older than the hot hot daughters – all that was an attack on Christine Blasey Ford.

Trump’s initial comments Monday included saying Ford should be heard, but he also repeatedly referred to the lateness of the allegation — a clear allusion to the idea that this could all be politically motivated.

On Tuesday, Trump said of Kavanaugh: “I feel so badly for him that he’s going through this.” Trump added: “This is not a man that deserves this.” These are not the things you say about someone you think may have committed sexual assault. And you could say the same thing about what Trump said Wednesday, when he called Kavanaugh an “extraordinary man” with an “unblemished record.”

Well to be fair those are things Trump would say about someone he thinks may have committed sexual assault: let’s not forget that he admires that kind of thing, and brags about doing it when he doesn’t know there’s a mic on.

Trump has now questioned the timing of Ford’s accusation and the fact that a report wasn’t filed; he has suggested Kavanaugh is the real victim here; and he has cast the whole thing as “besmirching” Kavanaugh.

It’s abundantly evident that Trump is sending a signal to his base that this is all a ruse, and occasionally throwing in a “Hey, we should let her testify” doesn’t really change that.

Trump is also sending a signal to “his base” and to everyone else that women are lying slags out to ruin men, and they need to be kept firmly down.

The war is on

Sep 21st, 2018 9:46 am | By

Somebody somehow got Trump to refrain from flinging his shit at Christine Blasey Ford for the first few days, but of course it couldn’t last. Of course not.

That’s gorgeous, isn’t it, coming from him? The proud, indeed boastful, grabber of women by the pussy? The guy who has mused aloud about sex with his own daughter? The guy who gave his warm approval when Howard Stern called Ivanka “a piece of ass” on live radio? The guy who walked into the dressing room of the “Miss Universe” pageant so that he could leer at women in their underwear? The guy whom multiple women have accused of various gradations of sexual assault?

The Times explains a few things:

Many women are reluctant to come forward and report sexual assaults to authorities, in part because they fear they will not be believed.

And they fear this not because they’re stupid flighty airheads but because of men like Pig Trump who shout their disbelief from inconspicuous places like the White House. They fear they will not be believed because that is what happens – they are not believed. Pig Trump talks as if “filing charges” meant the perp would instantly be arrested and sentenced and locked up, but that’s not how that works. He should know that better than most, since he hasn’t been arrested and sentenced and locked up.

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, assured an audience of conservative Christians on Friday that Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation would go through.

“Keep the faith. Don’t get rattled by all of this. We’re gonna plow right through it and do our job,” Mr. McConnell said at the Values Voter Summit. “In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court.”

Don’t worry, guys. We’re not gonna let some bitch get in our way.

Did y’all hear?

Sep 20th, 2018 5:57 pm | By

Republican Congressman Ralph Norman today:

“Did y’all hear this latest late-breaking news from the Kavanaugh hearings?” Norman said during his opening remarks of a debate against his Democratic challenger Thursdayin South Carolina,according to The Post and Courier. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out that she was groped by Abraham Lincoln.”

The congressman made the joke after telling the crowd that he almost had to miss the debate and travel back to Washington to address the accusation.

Haw haw haw haw – geddit? Abraham Lincoln, because Ginsburg is so old. Haw haw haw, sexual assault is so hilarious.