Notes and Comment Blog


The performance

Sep 26th, 2018 5:06 pm | By

In case you want to watch the waking nightmare that is that Trump press conference.

CBS picks out some highlights.

 

Mr. Trump reiterated his support for Kavanaugh throughout the press conference, lauding him as one of the great intellects of the country. But he did say he could change his mind after testimony from the women accusing the nominee. “That is possible,” he said.

Asked by CBS News’ Steven Portnoy what message the president is sending to young men with his stance on Kavanaugh, Mr. Trump decried a situation he sees as “guilty until proven innocent.”

“In this case, you’re guilty until proven innocent,” he said.

This is the guy who paid for a full-page ad in the New York Times demanding the death penalty for the Central Park 5, and who insisted they were guilty after DNA evidence showed they were not.

Mr. Trump was asked about an incident the day before when world leaders laughed, after he declared his administration had accomplished more than perhaps any other.

The president declared coverage of that event fake news.

“They weren’t laughing at me, they were laughing with me,” Mr. Trump said.

The president said he told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to get into the “time game” over denuclearization in North Korea.

The president said that, whether denuclearization takes two years, three years, or five months, it doesn’t matter.

Mr. Trump, pressed insistently by CBS News correspondent Weijia Jiang, admitted that the accusations of sexual misconduct against him from multiple women “absolutely” affect how he views the allegations against Kavanaugh.

The president went off about how “women who got paid a lot of money to make up stories about me. We caught them and the mainstream media refused to put it on television.” Their accusations, false ones, the president said, certainly affect his view of the Kavanaugh allegations.

“It does impact my opinion,” the president said. ” Because I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me. I’m a very famous person unfortunately. I’ve been a famous person for a long time. I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me. Really false charges.”

“I know friends who’ve had false charges,” he continued. “People want fame, they want money. So when I see it I view it differently than somebody sitting home watching television when they say ‘Oh, Judge Kavanaugh, this or that.’ It’s happened to me many times. I’ve had many false charges.”

“I had a women sitting in an airplane, and I attacked her while people were coming on to the plane when I had a bestselling book coming out. It was a totally phony story. When you say, ‘does it affect my thinking in respect to Judge Kavanaugh,’ absolutely, because I’ve had it many times. If the news would have reported these four people. When I heard they caught these four people, I said this is a big story. And it was, for Fox.”

Fox News’ John Roberts asked the president if there was an opportunity missed in not having the FBI further review the allegations against Kavanaugh.

“Well the FBI told us they’ve investigated Judge Kavanaugh six times, five times,” but “here there was nothing to investigate,” Mr. Trump said.

The president then went on to say Democrats are carrying out a “con” job in pushing the allegations and allowing the process to slow down. Mr. Trump said that behind closed doors, Democrats “laugh like hell.”

It’s worth watching at least a couple of minutes of it, to get a sense of how off the charts nuts he seems. As in, advanced dementia.



Guest post: It’s not about the lying

Sep 26th, 2018 3:42 pm | By

Originally a comment by iknklast on It’s the lying.

Of course, that idea of lying is what makes this interesting. Democrats have gone down for lying, and Clinton’s impeachment centered a lot around his lying. But the interesting thing is that the Dems were, for the most part, dealing with consensual sexual acts between consenting adults (even accepting the possibility that Lewinsky couldn’t be consensual because of disparate power, but with that caveat, most women can’t be truly said to be consenting, since men in general have disparate power over women in general).

The Repubs, on the other hand, who seem to get away with it, are not consensual. Anita Hill did not consent to being sexually harassed by Clarence Thomas. The girls that Roy Moore messed with were not adults, and therefore unable to give consent to an adult male. Kavanaugh also was not dealing in consensual sex, either in his teenage exploits or the more recently alleged college exploits.

So it really is about the lying to most people, and that is the problem. I don’t hold with lying, but I also believe that a person’s consensual adult sexual life is their own business, and should not be part and parcel of the election/impeachment process.

But rape? No, Kavanaugh is not about the lying, it is about the rape. Rape – a crime. But not just a crime, a crime against another human being, a human being with less power, a human being who is denied their own bodily autonomy by the choice of another human being to rape. A crime which deprives human beings of their peace of mind, their happiness, their confidence. And even if rape itself did not occur (no penetration), it is still a crime – sexual assault. And it is targeting a specific group, a group historically oppressed and disenfranchised, a group that in general has less power and less ability to affect change. And those excusing it should ask themselves – would they excuse such a thing if it happened to them? Would they feel it was just juvenile antics? Would they be willing to sit in their living room for the rest of their life watching the news talk about the person who had perpetrated this act on them, and realizing that this man was now in one of the most desired jobs in the entire country, making decisions that affect the life of the victim (and everyone else) and nothing being done about it – except, of course, mocking and shaming the ones who bravely came forward? We all know the answer to that – if they were the victim, they would scream from the rafters until the perp was shamed and censured. They would not stand for it. But if it’s a woman?

The problem often is couched as lying, and in the case of Gary Hart and Bill Clinton, I think that’s reasonable. In the case of consensual sex, I think it’s reasonable to say it’s about the lying. But in a case of sexual assault, it is not reasonable. That tells women that they don’t matter, it’s okay what a guy does to them as long as he doesn’t lie about it. (And a lot of people have suggested that it would have been okay if he would just admit it and say he’s learned from experience, he’s sorry, and he won’t do it again – note: THIS DOES NOT MAKE IT OKAY).



Trump distracted from Kavanaugh battle by pesky meddling UN

Sep 26th, 2018 11:53 am | By

Trump thinks Kavanaugh is doing a bad job of defending himself so he’s taking over.

President Donald Trump has grown increasingly dissatisfied with the way Brett Kavanaugh has defended himself in wake of sexual assault allegations that have threatened to derail his Supreme Court nomination, multiple sources tell CNN.

It has led the President to believe that he must personally take charge of defending his embattled nominee ahead of Thursday’s critical appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Trump made the decision to hold a news conference on the eve of the hearing, making it the fourth he has held as president.

Trump is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, but is being kept up to date on the latest developments with Kavanaugh. An official traveling with him said he is still standing squarely behind Kavanaugh.

No wonder he looked so tired and bored and drunk when he gave his speech yesterday; he was impatient to get back to the real fun.

Trump, who watched the [Fox] interview, thought Kavanaugh appeared “wooden,” according to one person familiar with the President’s thinking, and told several other allies he should have been more aggressive in his defense.

“You’re also not seeing him on his footing,” Trump said after the interview aired. “This isn’t his footing. He’s never been here before. He’s never had any charges like this, I mean charges come up from 36 years ago that are totally unsubstantiated.”

While Trump is totally used to it because he’s been assaulting women his whole adult life.

Though Kavanaugh has been flabbergasted as the women have come forward, he has remained measured publicly, while Trump has become increasingly agitated and animated while discussing the allegations.

The drama has overshadowed what was supposed to be a week of diplomacy at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Ahead of the President’s arrival in New York last weekend, aides hoped an intensive schedule might deter him from further inflaming the precarious confirmation proceedings back home, which most Republicans concurred was best played out without Trump’s intervention.

But Trump has been fixated on the Supreme Court confirmation battle as he shuttles between meetings with world leaders and wields the gavel at Wednesday’s meeting of the United Nations Security Council. He made clear what was on his mind when the President turned to his Colombian counterpart, President Iván Duque, Tuesday and said: “You must say, ‘How is this possible?’ “

So typical of Trump. “You must be interested in what I’m interested in.”

Trump addressed the matter again Wednesday, minutes before he chaired the Security Council meeting, remarking he would have pushed Kavanaugh’s nomination through the Senate two weeks ago if he were responsible for the proceedings.

“They could have pushed it through two weeks ago and we wouldn’t be talking about this right now, which is what I would have preferred,” Trump said, describing Kavanaugh as a “gem” who had been unfairly maligned.

Oh yes we would, you pig. You can’t shut us up, not unless you stage a real coup.

Trump, who has been accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen women and denied the allegations, has often said punching back is the most effective defense.

The President’s idea of a robust defense is causing heartburn during a tense week on Capitol Hill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has conveyed to Trump that his comments are only complicating the confirmation process further and Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who will be a critical vote for Kavanaugh, said she was appalled by the President’s remarks, calling them “completely inappropriate and wrong.”

Hey, rapey guys have to defend each other.



It’s the lying

Sep 26th, 2018 10:42 am | By

Historian Claire Potter says it’s the lying at least as much as the sexual assaults.

The phrase “he said, she said” is often used to characterize the opaqueness of a sex crime: Without a direct witness, someone must be lying. But who? Is it equally likely that the accuser and the accused will lie? Conservatives don’t think so. Kavanaugh, as Thomas did, has categorically denied all charges, and his supporters have characterized Blasey as the agent of a smear campaign orchestrated to keep Kavanaugh off the court.

But Blasey’s story resonates with feminists and, in a change from 1991, with male Democratic senators — some of whom are former prosecutors shaped by the legal world that feminists made. Blasey’s supporters are strongly implying that Kavanaugh is lying and that Republicans are determined to keep Blasey — and possibly a second and a third accuser — from disproving these lies.

That so many people are focused on the question of lying instead of the underlying acts is the result of a fairly recent historical development. Lying has, of course, been a staple of American public life for centuries. But the exposure of lies, especially when those lies intersected with politicians’ dissolute private lives, became a staple of the new political journalism that emerged from the ashes of Watergate in 1974.

That’s what ended Gary Hart’s political career, she explains.

The destruction of Hart’s candidacy and the appetite of Americans for televised scandal set the stage for the Hill-Thomas hearings in a way that a decade of conversation about sexual harassment, a word that had entered the law in 1979, had not. And yet the question of whether Thomas had, as Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson put it, a “Rabelasian” sensibility that Hill was turning to political purposes was inseparable from whether he was lying about what had occurred.

Patterson speculated that Thomas probably had said and done the things that Hill had described — and that he had lied about it. In an op-ed in the New York Times, Patterson defended those alleged lies. “Judge Thomas was justified in denying making the remarks,” he wrote, “even if he had in fact made them, not only because the deliberate displacement of his remarks made them something else but on the utilitarian moral grounds that any admission would have immediately incurred a self-destructive and grossly unfair punishment.”

Grossly unfair? To be denied a seat on the Supreme Court he’d never deserved in the first place? Unfair to say a liar, which in this case meant also a perjurer, should not be on the Supreme Court? Let’s not forget why Bush nominated Thomas at all: it was because he felt it wouldn’t look too swell to put a white guy in Thurgood Marshall’s seat but he couldn’t find an outstanding Republican black guy so he had to go with a mediocre one. (There was of course no question of putting a woman in that seat, black or white – we already had the woman!)

In hindsight, it seems fairly clear that Thomas’s supporters — two of whom, Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), are still on the Judiciary Committee — knew that he had sexually harassed Anita Hill and other women. Journalist David Brock, who famously characterized Hill as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty” during the hearings, later admitted that he had not only lied about Hill as part of a coordinated effort to protect Thomas but that he had helped Thomas to silence another potential accuser.

And Joe Biden also helped to silence the other potential accuser.

As the accusations against Kavanaugh pile up, it seems likely that some, if not all, Senate Republicans and President Trump, suspect — or even know — that Kavanaugh has done what his accusers say he has done. And it seems clear that many Republicans are embracing Patterson’s approach, arguing that even if Kavanaugh is lying about his dissolute youth, who can blame him given how disproportionate the punishment would be over a crime from decades ago?

Except not getting a very important public official job that’s all about law and truth and integrity is not a punishment. No doubt Kavanaugh would be very disappointed (as so many teenage girls were no doubt disappointed to find themselves being raped by classmates), but people are disappointed not to get jobs all the time. I see no reason at all to treat Kavanaugh’s potential disappointment as more important than anyone else’s, let alone as a “punishment” let alone a disproportionate one.

Republicans are still determined to push the Kavanaugh nomination through, despite the fact that a growing number of journalists and attorneys are dedicating themselves to finding evidence to support Blasey’s claims. The question is whether any potential victory will be worth the cost. Kavanaugh may end up on the Court, but he’ll be tainted and delegitimized in the eyes of millions of Americans. Is that how Brett Kavanaugh wants to go down in history?

Yes, it apparently is.



A total low-life

Sep 26th, 2018 10:08 am | By

Now Avenatti has dropped the bomb he’s been promising.

A third accuser of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Wednesday publicly identified herself and alleged that Kavanaugh and others while in high school spiked the drinks of girls at parties with intoxicants to make it easier for them to be gang raped.

The woman, Julie Swetnick, said Kavanaugh was in line with other boys, including his close friend Mark Judge, waiting to rape those girls at many parties, and that she once became a victim herself. The allegations were detailed in an affidavit released by her lawyer, Michael Avenatti.

Trump has already issued a statement.

Such a dignified, thoughtful, fair-minded president.

The White House had no immediate comment on Swetnick’s allegations, which were signed under penalty of perjury.

Trump’s tweet came after the piece was written and posted – I know that because it came in as a breaking news pop-up headline while I was reading the piece. That’s the White House comment – Avenatti is a total low-life.

Image result for gangster bugs bunny

A 1980 graduate of Gaithersburg High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, [Swetnick] said she has has held multiple work clearances for work done at the Treasury Department, U.S. Mint, IRS, State Department and Justice Department, among others.

Swetnick, in the affidavit posted on Twitter by Avenatti, claims that she saw Kavanaugh, as a high school student in Maryland in the early 1980s, “drink excessively at many” house parties in suburban Maryland. At the time, Kavanaugh and Judge were students at the the private Catholic school Georgetown Prep.

She said he and Judge engaged in “abusive and physically agressive behavior toward girls,” which “included the fondling and groping of girls without their consent” and “not taking ‘No’ for an answer.”

During the years of 1981 and 1982 she said she learned of efforts by Kavanaugh, his friend Judge and others “to spike the drinks of girls at house parties I attended with grain alcohol and/or drugs so as to cause girls to lose inhibitions and their ability to say ‘No.’ “

But they went to a Catholic school, as Kavanaugh said with such emphasis on Fox Monday night. Surely Catholic boys treat girls with respect.



To promote this worthy cause

Sep 26th, 2018 9:18 am | By

Hey kids of all ages, looking for a fun new Halloween experience? The West Midlands police have just the thing for you!

The West Midlands force used its Facebook page to advertise a charity event that will see thrillseekers pay £75 to bed down in Birmingham’s old Steelhouse Lane lock-up.

The message said: ‘These cells were occupied by none other than the original Peaky Blinders, Fred West and many more. Be there if you dare!’

That’s serial murderer of women Fred West, who killed at least 12 young women, at least 8 of whom were raped, bound, tortured, and mutilated.

Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party, said: ‘We have seen the glorification of violence against women used to sell all manner of things. To see police turn it into a funfair experience shows that they either don’t understand the root causes of the violence, don’t see the extent of it or don’t care about it.’

Or they just think it’s funny.

West Midlands Police said the event, organised by a third party, was to raise funds for a charity helping victims of modern slavery.

‘West’s name was used to promote this worthy cause,’ a spokesman said.

‘On reflection the organiser has agreed that using his name was insensitive and has, therefore, removed it from any advertising of this event.’

Try reflecting sooner next time.



Don’t tell the women

Sep 25th, 2018 12:10 pm | By

So now there’s the Ghomeshi-Buruma backlash, because of course there is. I’ve been expecting it.

Some of the biggest names in English letters, including Joyce Carol Oates, Ian McEwan, Lorrie Morre and Colm Tóibín, have released a joint letter in which they express dismay at what they call the “forced resignation” of the editor of the New York Review of Books under a #MeToo stormcloud.

Ian Buruma stepped down from the editorship of America’s most prestigious literary magazine earlier this month in the wake of his decision to publish a highly controversial article by former broadcaster and alleged sex attacker Jian Ghomeshi. The 3,400-word essay, in which Ghomeshi played down allegations of sexual violence brought against him by 20 women as “inaccurate” under the headline Reflections from a Hashtag, kicked up a storm on social media.

You know…I wonder what would have happened if Ghomeshi had been accused of assault by multiple men? Not “sex play” gone a little overboard but just plain assault. Would Ian Buruma have thought a self-absorbed whine by the accused a good idea then?

The signatories to the joint letter said they found it “very troubling that the public reaction to a single article – repellent though some of us may have found this article – should have been the occasion for Ian Buruma’s forced resignation”.

“Repellent” is meaningless. “Repellent” conceals rather than explaining. It’s not “repellent.” It ignores a large number of women who were beaten up to focus on a self-centered piece by the man who beat them up. It’s about treating men as people and women as things.

The correspondents continued: “Given the principles of open intellectual debate on which the NYRB was founded, his dismissal in these circumstances strikes us as an abandonment of the central mission of the review, which is the free exploration of ideas.”

Like “ideas” about how it’s ok for men to assault women? Those ideas?

But wait, it gets better (worse – much worse).

The letter injects an ethical tension between #MeToo’s push against largely male sexual misconduct and the sometimes conflicting impetus towards freedom of expression right into the heart of the literary world. It also pits many of the NYRB’s most celebrated writers against the magazine’s own publisher, Rea Hederman.

On Monday, Hederman released an official account of the events leading up to Buruma’s dramatic departure. By contrast to the views expressed by the joint letter-writers, and by Buruma himself who has depicted himself as a victim of social media bullying, Hederman said Buruma’s exit had nothing to do with the “Twitter mob”.

It had everything to do, he said, with mistakes and misjudgments made by Buruma.

In a statement circulated to 300 NYRB contributors, Hederman said that Buruma had cast longstanding editorial practice aside and excluded all the magazine’s female staff from the process that led to Ghomeshi’s article being published. The draft of the article was shown to only one male editor on the staff, while six female editors – including four long-term staff members who had worked with Buruma’s predecessors, Bob Silvers and Barbara Epstein – were effectively shunned.

Wow.

Hederman went on to reject claims by Buruma that the staff rallied behind the decision to publish the article. The statement said that in fact many editors “felt his comment that the staff came together after initial objections to the Ghomeshi piece did not accurately reflect their views.”

I disputed that at the time. Buruma himself simply talked nonsense about it – he said there were disagreements about publishing but also there was consensus. I pointed out that was incoherent; I had no idea he’d fixed it by excluding all the women. Fucking hell.

The contributors who signed the joint letter may not have even known that.

It is not clear whether the signatories to the joint letter, who also include Anne Applebaum, Alfred Brendel, Ariel Dorfman, Alan Hollinghurst, Michael Ignatieff, Caryl Phillips and James Wolcott, had had the chance to read Hederman’s account before expressing their collective outrage.

In his statement, Hederman was also critical of the way that Buruma had handled the editing and packaging of the Ghomeshi piece. In particular, the point of view of the 20 women who have come forward to tell stories of abuse against the former broadcaster should have been reflected.

How about Ian Buruma, Jian Ghomeshi, John Hockenberry, and Brett Kavanaugh all go off to a tiny island somewhere to talk it over for the rest of their lives. I’d add Bill Cosby but he’s just been sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison.



That woke him up

Sep 25th, 2018 11:37 am | By

Then, feeling much better once that awful boring pre-written speech was over, Trump energetically got on with attacking the women who say Brett Kavanaugh assaulted them.



We embrace the doctrine of ME FIRST GET OUT OF MY WAY

Sep 25th, 2018 11:31 am | By

The part where he talks trash about the International Criminal Court.

His delivery is truly terrible – he slurs his words and looks as if he can barely keep his eyes open. He comes across as drunk or exhausted at best. Note the flub where he says “reported” for “repeated” and pretends he didn’t.

As far as the United States is concerned the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority.

He’s utterly disgusting.



The crowd laughed

Sep 25th, 2018 10:17 am | By

Trump did his talk at the UN today. He came across as…barely conscious. Drugged or exhausted or strokey.

He started with his usual boast, and the UN people laughed.



Dehumanizing language

Sep 25th, 2018 10:01 am | By

Twitter is working on new rules.

For the last three months, we have been developing a new policy to address dehumanizing language on Twitter. Language that makes someone less than human can have repercussions off the service, including normalizing serious violence. Some of this content falls within our hateful conduct policy (which prohibits the promotion of violence against or direct attacks or threats against other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease), but there are still Tweets many people consider to be abusive, even when they do not break our rules. Better addressing this gap is part of our work to serve a healthy public conversation.

With this change, we want to expand our hateful conduct policy to include content that dehumanizes others based on their membership in an identifiable group, even when the material does not include a direct target. Many scholars have examined the relationship between dehumanization and violence. For example, Susan Benesch has described dehumanizing language as a hallmark of dangerous speech, because it can make violence seem acceptable, and Herbert Kelman has posited that dehumanization can reduce the strength of restraining forces against violence.

Notice anything? In the “on the basis of” bit? Here it is again:

Some of this content falls within our hateful conduct policy (which prohibits the promotion of violence against or direct attacks or threats against other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease)

See it? There’s only one redundancy, or pairing. There’s no “race, race identity” or “ethnicity, ethnicity identity” or “national origin, national origin identity” or “sexual orientation, sexual orientation identity” or ditto for age, disability, or serious disease – there is only the one pair: gender, gender identity. There is, of course, no mention of “sex” at all.

Why? Why just the one? If one, why not all? Why is it only gender (and sex) that is considered to have a twin in the form of “identity”? If it works for gender (and sex) then why doesn’t it work for all of them?

Twitter’s Dehumanization Policy

You may not dehumanize anyone based on membership in an identifiable group, as this speech can lead to offline harm.

Definitions:

Dehumanization: Language that treats others as less than human. Dehumanization can occur when others are denied of human qualities (animalistic dehumanization) or when others are denied of human nature (mechanistic dehumanization). Examples can include comparing groups to animals and viruses (animalistic), or reducing groups to their genitalia (mechanistic).

“Or reducing groups to their genitalia” – by which they mean knowing who has which genitalia, which set of genitalia can rape which other set of genitalia, which set of genitalia can push out a baby and which cannot, which set can impregnate a woman and which cannot, which set can be taken out in public to threaten or shock or intimidate and which cannot, which has historically been seen as a symbol of and even actual basis of power and authority and which has not. Twitter thinks that is “dehumanizing.” Well Brett Kavanaugh’s shoving his set in the face of a classmate while laughing at her was pretty dehumanizing, but I don’t think pointing out that Kavanaugh is the class of human who has a dick to take out is dehumanizing.

Then they give the same list all over again, in case you missed it.

Identifiable group: Any group of people that can be distinguished by their shared characteristics such as their race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, serious disease, occupation, political beliefs, location, or social practices.

Emphasis added.



A glimpse of the teenage years

Sep 25th, 2018 8:52 am | By

Ok that’s it. From the Times:

Brett Kavanaugh’s page in his high school yearbook offers a glimpse of the teenage years of the man who is now President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee: lots of football, plenty of drinking, parties at the beach. Among the reminiscences about sports and booze is a mysterious entry: “Renate Alumnius.”

The word “Renate” appears at least 14 times in Georgetown Preparatory School’s 1983 yearbook, on individuals’ pages and in a group photo of nine football players, including Judge Kavanaugh, who were described as the “Renate Alumni.” It is a reference to Renate [last name], then a student at a nearby Catholic girls’ school.

The Times gives her last name, but I was alerted to this news by a suitably angry post from Lindsay Beyerstein pointing out that the Times redacts people’s names all the time for the flimsiest of reasons but didn’t see fit to redact this one, and that’s infuriating. Yes it is.

But the story itself…that is fucking disgusting. That man must not be on the Supreme Court. Boys don’t say that kind of thing out of affection or gratitude; it’s slut-shaming. Boys importune girls for sex and call them sluts in the same breath.

Two of Judge Kavanaugh’s classmates say the mentions of Renate were part of the football players’ unsubstantiated boasting about their conquests.

“They were very disrespectful, at least verbally, with Renate,” said Sean Hagan, a Georgetown Prep student at the time, referring to Judge Kavanaugh and his teammates. “I can’t express how disgusted I am with them, then and now.”

So that’s who he was in high school. He was a cruel entitled bullying pig who joined with other cruel entitled bullying pigs to leave a permanent slut-taunt at a high school girl in their yearbook. That’s who he is.

(Now, scrolling down on the Times story, I see a headline “Pigs All the Way Down” – yes, exactly.)

Ironically, Renate X is one of the 65 women who signed a letter saying how awesome Kavanaugh is. She wasn’t aware of the yearbook item then.

“I learned about these yearbook pages only a few days ago,” Ms. X said in a statement to The New York Times. “I don’t know what ‘Renate Alumnus’ actually means. I can’t begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue. I pray their daughters are never treated this way. I will have no further comment.”

Oh, we all know what it means. The meaning is hideously obvious.

Alexandra Walsh, a lawyer for Judge Kavanaugh, said in a statement: “Judge Kavanaugh was friends with Renate [X] in high school. He admired her very much then, and he admires her to this day.

“Judge Kavanaugh and Ms. [X] attended one high school event together and shared a brief kiss good night following that event,” the statement continued. “They had no other such encounter. The language from Judge Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook refers to the fact that he and Ms. [X] attended that one high school event together and nothing else.”

Bull shit.

Some of Judge Kavanaugh’s high school peers said there was a widespread culture at the time of objectifying women.

“People claiming that they had sex with other people was not terribly unusual, and it was not terribly believable,” said William Fishburne, who was in Judge Kavanaugh’s graduating class and was a manager for the football team. “Not just Brett Kavanaugh and his particular group, but all the classmates in general. People would claim things they hadn’t done to sort of seem bigger than they were, older than they were.”

“People.” It was an all-boys school. It wasn’t “people,” it was boys.

Bill Barbot, who was a freshman at Georgetown Prep when Judge Kavanaugh was a senior, said Judge Kavanaugh and his clique were part of the school’s “fratty” culture. “There was a lot of talk and presumably a lot of action about sexual conquest with girls,” Mr. Barbot said.

“Sexual conquest,” aka rape. If it’s conquest, then it’s rape.

Ms. Dolphin was a subject of that braggadocio, according to Mr. Hagan and another classmate, who requested anonymity because he fears retribution. They said Judge Kavanaugh and his friends were seeking to memorialize their supposed conquests with the “Renate” yearbook references.

“She should be offended,” Mr. Hagan said of Ms. Dolphin. “I was completely astounded when I saw she signed that letter” on Judge Kavanaugh’s behalf.

Others say it was just what everybody did, no big deal, lighten up, boys will be boys, yadda yadda.

Michael Walsh, another Georgetown Prep alumnus, also listed himself on his personal yearbook page as a “Renate Alumnus.” Alongside some song lyrics, he included a short poem: “You need a date / and it’s getting late / so don’t hesitate / to call Renate.”

[That’s how it’s pronounced? Weird.]

Mr. Walsh, a bank executive in Virginia, was one of scores of Georgetown Prep alumni who signed a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee leaders vouching for Judge Kavanaugh’s “sharp intellectual ability, affable nature, and a practical and fair approach devoid of partisan purpose.” He did not respond to requests for comment.

Ms. Dolphin was aware that members of Judge Kavanaugh’s clique were reciting that poem, according to a person familiar with her thinking. She told the football players that she found it offensive, believing it made her seem like a cheap date, and she asked them to stop.

A cheap date, a desperate date, a will say yes to anyone date – aka a slut. The poem is a slut-shame poem.

That man should never be on the Supreme Court.



Packing up

Sep 24th, 2018 6:00 pm | By

The mass migrations have begun.

A woman in Charleston moves out of a house that has flooded three times in three years.

Millions of Americans will confront similarly hard choices as climate change conjures up brutal storms, flooding rains, receding coastlines and punishing heat. Many are already opting to shift to less perilous areas of the same city, or to havens in other states. Whole towns from Alaska to Louisiana are looking to relocate, in their entirety, to safer ground.

The era of climate migration is, virtually unheralded, already upon America.

The population shift gathering pace is so sprawling that it may rival anything in US history. “Including all climate impacts it isn’t too far-fetched to imagine something twice as large as the Dustbowl,” said Jesse Keenan, a climate adaptation expert at Harvard University, referencing the 1930s upheaval in which 2.5 million people moved from the dusty, drought-ridden plains to California.

This enormous migration will probably take place over a longer period than the Dustbowl but its implications are both profound and opaque. It will plunge the US into an utterly alien reality. “It is very difficult to model human behaviour under such extreme and historically unprecedented circumstances,” Keenan admits.

The closest analogue could be the Great Migration – a period spanning a large chunk of the 20th century when about 6 million black people departed the Jim Crow south for cities in the north, midwest and west.

“The Great Migration was out of the south into the industrialized north, whereas this is from every coastal place in the US to every other place in the US,” said Hauer. “Not everyone can afford to move, so we could end up with trapped populations that would be in a downward spiral. I have a hard time imagining what that future would be like.”

Grim.

Within just a few decades, hundreds of thousands of homes on US coasts will be chronically flooded. By the end of the century, 6ft of sea level rise would redraw the coastline with familiar parts – such as southern Florida, chunks of North Carolina and Virginia, much of Boston, all but a sliver of New Orleans – missing. Warming temperatures will fuel monstrous hurricanes – like the devastating triumvirate of Irma, Maria and Harvey in 2017, followed by Florence this year – that will scatter survivors in jarring, uncertain ways.

I’m not sure about the “few decades” part, since that’s just more of what’s already happening.



They debase our public discourse

Sep 24th, 2018 4:14 pm | By

They’re being all self-righteous about it.

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, facing mounting allegations of sexual impropriety and growing doubts over his confirmation to the Supreme Court, vowed on Monday to fight the “smears,” saying he will not withdraw his nomination.

“These are smears, pure and simple. And they debase our public discourse,” he wrote in a letter to the senior Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “But they are also a threat to any man or woman who wishes to serve our country. Such grotesque and obvious character assassination — if allowed to succeed — will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from service.”

They debase our public discourse, says the guy who wanted to ask Clinton if he’d stuck a cigar into Lewinski.

“I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process,” he continued. “The coordinated effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. The last-minute character assassination will not succeed.”

But what if the allegations are true?

McConnell and the gang are joining in.

“I want to make it perfectly clear, Mr. President: Judge Kavanaugh will be voted on here on the Senate floor,” Mr. McConnell said, addressing the Senate’s presiding officer and leaving no room to pressure the nominee to withdraw. “Up or down. On the Senate floor, this fine nominee to the Supreme Court will receive a vote in this Senate in the near future.”

Not such a “fine” nominee if the allegations are true, is he.

And in an extraordinary public relations push, Judge Kavanaugh is set to make his first televised remarks about the allegations in an appearance on Fox News on Monday night that airs at 7 p.m. He and his wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, taped the interview on Monday afternoon with the anchor Martha MacCallum, during which, the network said, the judge addressed the accusations and described the effects of those claims on his family.

Fox News for god’s sake.

It is a remarkable step for a Supreme Court nominee to submit to a television interview before a confirmation vote, and Judge Kavanaugh’s team chose a network that features ardent right-wing commentators.

And that’s putting it politely.



Return of the cigar

Sep 24th, 2018 3:49 pm | By

Helaine Olen at the Post warns us that Kavanaugh is not the folksy nice guy he pretends to be.

Now that a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, has stepped forward to accuse a drunk, teenaged Brett Kavanaugh of gross sexual misconduct, The Post’s weekend piecerecounting the behind-the-scenes prep he’s undergoing to prepare him for his expected testimony later this week in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee takes on even more resonance.

In short, Kavanaugh wasn’t interested in answering questions about his past:

But Kavanaugh grew frustrated when it came to questions that dug into his private life, particularly his drinking habits and his sexual proclivities, according to three people familiar with the preparations, who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. He declined to answer some questions altogether, saying they were too personal, these people said.

And yet – and yet – in the view of the Brett Kavanaugh of twenty years ago, no question was “too personal” for Bill Clinton.

Kavanaugh not only thought Clinton needed to be questioned about his relations with Lewinsky; he also wanted Clinton to be interrogated in the most detailed and specific way possible. He drew up a memo with a series of 10 sexually explicit questions about Clinton’s relationship with Lewinsky. He claimed he wanted to establish Clinton had no defense for his “pattern of behavior.” As a result, “[the] idea of going easy on him at the questioning is thus abhorrent to me,” Kavanaugh wrote in the summer of 1998.

To say that the questions Kavanaugh came up with for Clinton were prurient doesn’t do justice to the gross invasiveness and detail he sought. These queries are of the sort that are even now uncomfortable to write out and list in a family newspaper, or discuss in mixed company. Sexual proclivities? “If Monica Lewinsky says you inserted a cigar into her vagina while you were in the Oval Office area, would she be lying?” and “If Monica Lewinsky says that you masturbated into a trashcan in your secretary’s office, would she [be] lying?”

Note that this was about two adults doing consensual things; it was not about non-consensual assault.

The allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford and now Kavanaugh’s Yale classmate Ramirez do not, like Lewinsky and Clinton, involve two consenting adults. They are, instead, accusations of serious, nonconsensual sexual misconduct. They raise questions much more legitimate than the questions Kavanaugh would have had Clinton answer. They indicate, to use Kavanaugh’s own words, a possible “pattern of behavior.”

Of violent, abusive, mean behavior – the penis in the face item that Ramirez reports was used to mock her afterwards; Kavanaugh was a young bully. He may have improved since then but I bet there are plenty of good lawyers who were never young bullies.

But 20 years later, it turns out there was a purpose and need for those questions for Clinton — just not one Kavanaugh or anyone else could have imagined at the time. Thanks to their existence, we can say with certainty that Kavanaugh is not just the nice, aw-shucks guy he would have us think.

The questions Kavanaugh wanted to ask of Clinton — long before anyone went public with allegations against him — are clear proof there is a side to Kavanaugh that many of his defenders, both male and female, do not want to acknowledge. Now that he faces not one, but two accusations of misconduct, he deserves every question that comes his way, no matter how invasive.

But but but girls’ basketball.



Toly plickal

Sep 24th, 2018 2:05 pm | By

Trump says oh gee it’s all so political.

On Monday in New York, President Donald Trump dismissed the second allegation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as “totally political.”

Meaning what, exactly? That the nomination of Kavanaugh wasn’t political? They can’t be serious. How about Mitch McConnell’s boast about looking Obama in the eyes and saying, with a macho stab of the finger, “you will not fill this Supreme Court vacancy”? That wasn’t political?

The Supreme Court is political. I know it’s supposed to be above that, but it’s not and never has been.

White House counsel Kellyanne Conway said in an interview with CBS on Monday morning that the allegations against Kavanuagh are “starting to feel like a vast left-wing conspiracy.”

And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went off on Democrats Monday afternoon, accusing them of conducting a “shameful, shameful smear campaign.”

What about the refusal to hold hearings on Merrick Garland? That wasn’t political? That wasn’t a vast right-wing conspiracy?

Chris Cillizza goes back a few years:

But the politicization of this hearing happened a long time ago, and Republmicans are at least as culpable for it as are Democrats.

It began with then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid changing the Senate rules on confirming judges in 2013. It worsened — badly — when Republicans were unwilling to even consider the nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the seat vacated by deceased Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. The changing of Senate rules to end debate to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Court by a simple majority in 2017 further inflamed things. The deeply riven and partisan environment is the one into which Kavanaugh was nominated. And it has only gotten worse.

There’s zero debate that Senate Democrats — particularly those on the Judiciary Committee — bear a massive amount of animosity toward McConnell and the Senate GOP leadership due to the blocking of Garland.

And why wouldn’t they? Why wouldn’t we?



About those lifetime Fellows…

Sep 24th, 2018 10:41 am | By

Dave Ricks alerted me to some news from the American Association for the Advancement of Science:

The governing body of the American Association for the Advancement of Science voted Saturday to enact a policy under which an elected AAAS Fellow’s lifetime honor can be revoked for proven scientific misconduct or serious breaches of professional ethics.

The AAAS Council adopted and approved the new policy that includes procedures AAAS will follow in considering the revocation of an elected AAAS Fellow’s status. The action came during a special meeting of the AAAS Council, a member-elected body that includes the AAAS board of directors, at AAAS’ Washington, D.C. headquarters.

The new policy will go into effect on October 15, 2018. AAAS issued a related statement on the policy and notified its membership.

Margaret A. Hamburg, AAAS president and chair of the AAAS Council, said the Fellow Revocation Policy “provides a mechanism and procedure for AAAS to consider and act to revoke the status of an elected AAAS Fellow ‘in cases of proven scientific misconduct, serious breaches of professional ethics, or when the Fellow in the view of AAAS no longer merits the status of Fellow.’”

“Harassment has no place in science,” said Hamburg. “We must do more as a scientific community to create a respectful and supportive environment for our colleagues and students.

“We need effective and responsive policies in academic departments and institutions, scientific societies, and government agencies that define expectations of behavior and provide clear reporting processes, as well as consequences for violations,” Hamburg added.

Recently, AAAS has been working with other professional societies and research funding agencies, including the National Science Foundation, in updating policies relevant to sexual harassment in the scientific community. The AAAS Annual Meeting code of conduct prohibits harassment and provides a clear reporting process. AAAS also will be convening scientific societies in coming months to discuss how societies can respond to harassment concerns.

In addition, AAAS has devoted extensive work on a new initiative, known as SEA Change, designed to shift the culture of academic institutions to better address harassment and social inequities – a program that the National Academies cited as a model in its June report on “Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.”

In recent years, a subcommittee of the AAAS Committee on Council Affairs, which reports to the Council, has been examining and drafting procedural recommendations to revoke a Fellow’s status. The committee approved its recommendations and presented the Fellow Revocation Policy to the Council.

The new AAAS policy requires a member to submit a written request seeking the revocation of a Fellow’s status. Such a request should include investigative report findings made either by a federal or state agency, a court of law, a professional organization, an academic institution or to cite an admission of conduct by a Fellow. Requests for revocation, as well as questions about the policy, should be sent to fellowinquiry@aaas.org.

See also:

 



No it was just an extended conversation!

Sep 24th, 2018 10:05 am | By

No wait, he didn’t resign/he wasn’t fired after all!

Maybe. Who knows. They’re messing with us.



He just likes to have pretty clerks

Sep 24th, 2018 9:32 am | By

Amy Chua has firmly denied the report that she told female law students to display “model-like” femininity when interviewing for clerkships with the judge.

Chua said in the statement that, contrary to allegations that she told students that it was “no accident” that Kavanaugh hired attractive clerks, she “always” told her students to prep “insanely hard” and that substance was “the most important thing”.

But another former law student who was advised by Chua and approached the Guardian after its original story was published on Thursday said his experience was consistent with the allegations presented in the article.

The male student, who asked not to be identified, said that when he approached Chua about his interest in clerking for Kavanaugh, the professor said it was “great”, but then added that Kavanaugh “tends to hire women who are generally attractive and then likes to send them to [supreme court Chief Justice John] Roberts”.

It was a reference to Kavanaugh’s role as a so-called “feeder” judge, whose clerks often go on to win highly coveted clerkships at the US supreme court.

The student alleged that Chua then added: “I don’t think it is a sexual thing, but [Kavanaugh] likes to have pretty clerks.”

Not sexual at all, purely aesthetic, like wanting flowers in the room.



Here we go

Sep 24th, 2018 9:12 am | By

Word is Rosenstein is either about to be fired or about to resign.

Correction: word is he has resigned.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the official in charge of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, has verbally resigned to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, according to one person familiar with the matter.

The resignation was delivered to Kelly late last week, but it’s unclear whether Rosenstein is planning to follow through with a formal resignation, the person said. A second person said that Rosenstein isn’t expected to be in the job after Monday.

So in other words the Times helped Trump fire Rosenstein. Brilliant.

This is the long-dreaded coup.