The Case of Brett Kavanaugh

1024px-The_Kavanaugh_family_and_Donald_Trump

W.J. Astore

President Trump’s latest nominee for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, has been accused of sexual assault as a teenager.  Of course, I have no idea if Kavanaugh is guilty of this charge, and I doubt if such a charge could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.  Kavanaugh’s accuser (her name is Christine Blasey Ford) says he was “stumbling drunk” when he assaulted her; Kavanaugh denies the accusation.  Indeed, he claims he wasn’t even at the party when the alleged assault occurred.

Supporters of Kavanaugh are already dismissive of the accuser and disparage her motives for coming forward (consider this mocking and reprehensible post by Donald Trump Jr.).  Naturally, those who are opposed to Kavanaugh are motivated by their animosity against him to believe the accuser even before she’s testified.  So it goes in hyper-partisan America.

A hearing is scheduled for Monday, September 24th; both Kavanaugh and his accuser will testify.  I imagine both will seem credible.  And people watching will probably see what they already believe.

I’m opposed to Kavanaugh’s nomination, but I was opposed before this assault accusation was revealed.  My opposition is idiosyncratic.  To me, Kavanaugh comes across as a toady to men in power.  He praised Trump for the allegedly exhaustive process that led to his nomination.  He’s led a life of insularity and privilege, from expensive private prep schools to the Ivy League (Yale and Yale Law School) to the usual clerkships and appointments.  Strong political partisanship in favor of Republicans has characterized much of his career in the law.  From his Wiki biography:

As an attorney working for Ken Starr, Kavanaugh played a lead role in drafting the Starr Report, which urged the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. Kavanaugh led the investigation into the suicide of Clinton aide Vince Foster. After the 2000 U.S. presidential election (in which Kavanaugh worked for the George W. Bush campaign in the Florida recount), Kavanaugh joined the administration as White House Staff Secretary and was a central figure in its efforts to identify and confirm judicial nominees.

His hyper-partisanship and especially his toadying before Trump make him unsuitable as a Supreme Court justice.  Indeed, Trump seems to have selected him over other conservative candidates because Kavanaugh believes a sitting president can’t or shouldn’t be indicted, a stance that’s quite attractive to Trump, who prefers spineless yes-men.

We need Supreme Court justices who uphold the law without being deferential to the powerful.  We further need justices with more than a measure of compassion for the weak.  From all I’ve read and seen, Kavanaugh won’t be that kind of justice, so I’m opposed to his nomination.

Next Monday’s hearing, and Kavanaugh’s ultimate fate, will likely further divide America along political and gender lines.  Once again, sadly, the Trump administration has found fresh ways to divide rather than to unite us.

Update (9/19): The Monday hearing is in jeopardy as Kavanaugh’s accuser calls for an FBI investigation.  Meanwhile, Kavanaugh’s supporters have come up with a strategy to defuse the sexual assault charge, as reported in the New York Times today:

Mr. Trump’s advisers and Judge Kavanaugh’s allies appeared to be settling on a strategy of defending him by suggesting that this must be a case of mistaken identity. Under the emerging strategy, Judge Kavanaugh’s defenders would accept that Dr. Blasey was in fact assaulted but would insist that it must have been by someone other than Judge Kavanaugh because he denied it.

The approach reflects the shifting reality of the #MeToo movement when it has become politically perilous to directly attack the credibility of women who come forward to tell their stories. By suggesting that perhaps there was confusion after more than 30 years, White House allies said that they could offer wavering Republicans whose votes are critical for his confirmation another explanation for the he-said-she-said conflict without tearing down Dr. Blasey.

You might call this the “It wasn’t me” strategy.

27 thoughts on “The Case of Brett Kavanaugh

  1. I would like to see a delay until after the November elections. This because of the outrageous way that Obama was prevented from seating a justice though the vacancy occurred long before the end of his term. Gorsuch sits in a stolen seat on the Court.

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  2. A note on background per WIKI – Kavanaugh was raised in Bethesda, Maryland. As a teenager he attended Georgetown Preparatory School, where he was two years senior to future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

    Georgetown Preparatory School is a Jesuit university-preparatory, boarding and day school for boys in grades 9–12, school in North Bethesda, Maryland. It is among the most selective prep schools.

    Further info on Bethesda > The average price of a four bedroom, two bath home in Bethesda in 2010 was $806,817 (which ranks it as the twentieth most expensive community in America.
    Bethesda is a very wealthy and well-educated area. According to the 2000 Census, Bethesda was the best-educated city in the United States of America with a population of 50,000 or more. 79% of residents 25 or older have bachelor’s degrees and 49% have graduate or professional degrees. According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the CDP was $117,723, and the median income for a family was $168,385.
    ***********************************
    What are the odds that a Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and a nominee for the Supreme Court would both attend the same High School??? I am not sure a statistician could calculate it, given all the possible variables.

    Humans have selected for genetic modification plants and animals, here we have with Gorusch and Kavanaugh – selection based upon class and religion. It has a ring of the old British Empire System, where advancement is based upon coming from the “right family” and attending the “right schools”.

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    1. America has a class system equally as pervasive and self-sustaining as Britain’s. Shouldn’t be a surprise, as it was a mostly British cultural group that ran the colonies. America is just unique in denying that your parents’ net worth largely determines your personal opportunity.

      One of the biggest problems colleagues and friends of mine face, as professionals in their thirties in both the private and public sectors, is the fact that hiring and promotion is still mostly controlled by white, middle class suburbanites. Who have a far more insular view of the world than they like to think. And who translate their own cultural values into hiring decisions.

      It isn’t so much that this is unusual for humans, but the unwillingness of most Americans to accept that we’re badly affected by a class system that intersects with race, ethnicity, & gender, makes it difficult to effect change.

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    2. Speaking of “the right schools” and the American class structure, I had (yet another) taste of that sort of thing back in 1977 when I graduated from California State University Long Beach. Almost six years in Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club (a.k.a., the United States Navy) had put me significantly behind my generational peer group (high school class of 1965) who had stayed out of the military on educational deferments, gotten their degrees, and embarked upon their careers by the time I got back from Vietnam in early 1972. Also, since the G. I. Bill education benefits only paid a few hundred dollars a month, I had to work a full time job while going to school nights in order to support my wife and two little sons. But after five more years of plodding away at the educational grindstone, I finally got my bachelor’s degree in Economics with a minor in Asian Studies. Time for my interview with a State Department recruiter who had come out to the West Coast looking for people like me, or so I thought.

      I figured I had the job nailed. Six years of military service (a year-and-a-half of it overseas as an advisor and interpreter/translator); graduate of the U.S. Navy nuclear power program; graduate of the Defense Language Institute program in Vietnamese; a year-and-a-half in Taiwan as a foreign exchange student studying Mandarin Chinese and Japanese; and good marks in every undergraduate course in the catalogue having anything to do with Asia. The recruiter took a long time reading through my resume and then spoke words to me that I will never forget:

      “You have obviously prepared yourself better than anyone I’ve ever seen. But I came out here to the West Coast looking for minorities. We want to show the world how diverse and inclusive we are. We get our white guys from Ivy League schools like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. I can’t go back to my boss and tell him I came three thousand miles just to return with one more white guy who speaks three Asian languages.”

      I felt like asking: “What other guy?” but saw no sense in prolonging the embarrassing disappointment. So I thanked the man for his honesty — no government employee would ever tell the awful truth like that today — and went home to inform the wife that my career in the Foreign Service didn’t look like it would happen after all.

      But I still had a house payment to make and a family to feed, so I got a substitute teacher’s job during the day and a security guard job at night down at the oil-tank farms in San Pedro (Los Angeles Harbor). I spent my days baby-sitting for other teachers’ students, and many long nights making my rounds in the darkness, looking up at the stars, and listening to the hypnotic lapping of the waves on the shore. But my two jobs paid the bills and my wife got a job, too. So we got by and didn’t lose the house.

      After a year of that dreary subsistence/existence, my mother helped me get a job as a manufacturing planner at the Hughes Aircraft Company, Ground Systems Group, where she worked as an electronics assembler and tester. Nobody there considered me the wrong kind of “white guy” from the “wrong” school. I had a bachelor’s degree and the company got more money and contracts from the government by hiring degreed employees. Also, I agreed to work cheap. I never did catch up with my generational peer group, but I did hang on for fifteen years, long enough to get my two sons through high school and off to college on their own.

      I’ve spent my whole life as the “wrong kind” of “white guy,” but seeing what a mess the “right kind” of “white guys” have made of America and the world — with more than enough help from the “right kind” of “white and non-white” American women — I wouldn’t trade places with any of them. They have done well for themselves while making life a living hell for millions of others. I don’t know anything about this white male judge who may or may not have laid hands on a fellow white student (female) while attending the same privileged high school thirty-six years ago, but between the Hothouse Orchid and the Special Snowflake, I couldn’t give a shit, either way. The “black guy” President Obama didn’t lift a finger to get his own “white guy” nominee confirmed for the Supine Court — for almost a year — so if the Republicans ram this guy through, the Democratic party “resistance” will have only themselves to blame.

      From what I can see from this side of the Pacific Pond, the U.S. government — and especially its fuck-up-and-move-up military establishment — consists of nothing but the wrong kind of people from the “right” kind of schools — which include the several military academies where officer cadets swear an oath “not to lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate among us those who do.” Really. They actually say demonstrably bogus shit like that. You should have heard their briefings back in Saigon in the 1960s and early 1970s: known far and wide as “the Five O’Clock Follies.” Nobody believed their transparent lies then, any more than one should swallow their jaded jargon jive at one o’clock or two o’clock or twelve o’clock today. Anyway, F. Scott Fitzgerald nailed them all, military and civilian, in The Great Gatsby:

      “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

      A pox on their suburban “houses” and their hideously expensive “schools.” Too much lying, cheating, stealing, and tolerating going on in America’s “highest” places. Now, if only the Democrats and the Corporate Media and the “intelligence community” will uncover just how “the Russians” somehow managed to keep Mrs Bill Clinton (the once and future Goldwater Girl) from getting her promised career pony, then Representative Nancy Pelosi might get to play “new sheriff in town”– again — just like she did after the 2006 mid-term elections made her the first female Speaker of the House, a “historic first” which changed absolutely nothing.

      The “#me-too” ambush coming too late in the game, I think the Republican judge will get the Supine Court job. The Democrats will fail again. They get paid to do that. How pathetic.

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      1. The wrong kind of white guy — yes, that about sums it up, Mike. I come across stuff in the USA that suggests if you’re white and male, you have it made — as if being white and male trumps (or conveys) class/money/connections. Sure, being white and male often makes certain things easier, but that status is not exactly a passport to the halls of power.

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        1. The hard thing is that most available statistics show that the majority of people with the highest/most class/money/connections in the USA *are* white males. So from the outside looking in, it *appears* that all white males have a guaranteed advantage in this stratified hierarchy shot through with inequality we keep trying to call a ‘society’. The crucial family background stuff is less immediately apparent than skin tone and expressed gender (unfortunately).

          And if you aren’t white and male, that difference is both difficult to observe and difficult to communicate to an audience. So just like white males tend to cluster ‘women’ and ‘black men’ and whomever into an undifferentiated mass, even when they know there’s significant true variation, those on the flip side of the situation do the same thing. That turns into rhetoric that unites privilege and race, despite the more complex reality. But, still, it is mostly just rhetoric. Very few activists want policy that is any more radical than what they’ve got in Scandinavia, where long-term commitment to gender equality has produced, well… men get paid paternity leave. I mean, if more paid time off is the result of gender equality… I’ll take it yesterday, please.

          Anyway, a lot of white males misperceive the situation as a zero-sum game, where *their* gaining equal rights will diminish *our* own increasingly marginal ability to sustain a livelihood (which is what we’re all after, in the end). They fail to realize that the activists clamouring for equality are our natural allies on rolling back systems of privilege that actually harm us too.

          The USA has always been saddled with a functionally British cultural elite that carried on the exact same empire-building projects as their counterparts across the pond – and so accumulated the fortunes that ensure their continued dominance of American politics and society. In reality, most people are on the wrong side of the privilege equation. Because that’s how it works. Privilege and inequality are self-reinforcing over time, and tend to reduce the number of people within the ‘in’ set whenever they can’t accumulate wealth/power at their accustomed rate. Inequality breeds oligarchy, and a class/caste system to maintain the status quo… until it all falls apart. As inequality grows, the stakes of being ‘in’ grow too, until those left ‘out’ are so desperate they have no recourse but violence, and then *kabooms* all around.

          So me, as (deep breath) a married cisgendered heterosexual white Anglo-Saxon property owning male citizen, I’ll tolerate being lumped in rhetorically with the privileged set. Aside from my own moral and ethical principles, I’m down with the pragmatism of it all too: their enemies, in the end, are my enemies.

          And if somebody someday does seriously try to establish some sort of gynocratic dystopia where white men are subjugated, I’ll feel like an idiot for a while – then resist that. But at present, I’ll take the minor risk of this future if it offers a chance to assault the class system itself.

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  3. Why do I feel like it’s the 90s again? Economy booming into a bubble, impeachment talk, a supreme court nominee who probably committed sexual assault…Ugh.

    Given that almost every woman I know has experienced assault or near-assault at the hands of some bro like Kavanaugh, I have little trouble believing that this probably happened. And has probably happened multiple times in this guy’s career.

    Otherwise, he’d be wise to just say “I did dumb stuff when I was younger. I’m so sorry.” and leave it at that. The whole thing would fade away as enough people usually accept the “dumb in youth” argument. It’d be enough of a fig leaf to keep people like Susan Collins on-side.

    But no, he won’t, because once that door opens, I betcha other victims will come forward. People who get away with assault once, too often realize that they can get away with it again, since we still live in a world where the accusation of assault brings as much if not more scrutiny on the accuser than accused.

    I’m pretty much of the view that the Dems should be shutting down government until the Trumpists* are gone, period point blank. So any derailment of a Trump appointee, I like.

    *I keep wishing that the Dems and the sane wing of the GOP would decide that they could technically impeach Trump on anything they decide is worthy, impeach Pence under the same pretext (hey, he signed onto his boss’ criminal regime), and install Paul Ryan as President before he is replaced as Speaker of the House by Pelosi next year.

    Hey, it’s less far-fetched than most of the alternative scenarios for getting rid of TrumPence. The GOP base would never accept Pelosi, so Ryan it’d have to be. Dems would gain by being able to claim in 2020 that they ‘won’ the resistance, and Ryan would have 2 years to try and rebuild the GOP (while being a lame-duck president) and restore public confidence in national elections.

    I don’t like Paul Ryan at all, but at this point some kind of legislative nuclear option makes a hell of a lot more practical sense to me than waiting for Trump to launch a real nuke, (or die, and then the Pence theocracy begins). Sure, it would spark a Constitutional Crisis, but we’re there already. Better to have the Legislative Branch start reclaiming some of its lost powers than let the Executive pack the Judiciary and keeping doing random crazy stuff like launching self-defeating trade wars – or a shooting war.

    Given that the Supremes gave us Bush in 2000, would a Trumpist court find an excuse to negate some aspect of the 2020 election to keep him (or Pence) in office?

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    1. I would like to take a stab at responding to the rhetorical questions in your opening paragraph, Mr Tanner, but first let me say that (1) I find “probably” an insufficient standard of “proof” and (2) “sexual assault” an equally vague noun phrase which, apparently, can cover just about anything a woman finds objectionable in male behavior. Please allow me to illustrate what I mean. I speak with some experience in these matters.

      Back in the early 1990s when I worked for the Hughes Aircraft Company in the Southern California aerospace industry, I shared an office with a lady colleague whom I had known and worked with for many years. She had a romantic relationship with the manager of our section, but since neither of them had wives or husbands at the time, no one thought much about it. Anyway, I had a small swimsuit calendar on one cornier of my desk that featured some demure Asian models in one-piece bathing suits which I quite enjoyed looking at from time to time. To see the calendar, one would have to enter my office, come around my desk, and sit in my chair. Meanwhile out in the open bullpen area adjoining my office, some of the lady planners had fashion magazines open to the lingerie section and one lady had a glass coffee mug on her desk showing a naked man with his hairy butt on prominent display. No one seemed in the slightest bit disturbed by this.

      One day, our manager came into my office and asked me to put away my swimsuit calendar. I asked him why. He said that there had been some complaints. I asked “from whom?” He wouldn’t tell me, but said that I would have to put away the calendar nonetheless. When I asked again, “Why?” he said that the company wanted to avoid any “sexual harassment” legal problems. So I asked him, “What does ‘sexual harassment’ mean?” He said: “Anything a woman says that it means.” Since I had never had the slightest sexual contact with any of the women with whom I worked — unlike my boss and the lady colleague sharing my office — I protested against the chicken-shit “standards” operative at work but took down and put away my calendar anyway.

      As a form of silent protest, I got a picture of newly elected President Bill Clinton’s wife, all dressed up in her trademark lady-lawyer pantsuit, and hung it up on my office wall where anyone passing by in the corridor couldn’t help but see it. You might not believe the number of right-wing Republican engineers who would see the picture, poke their heads into my office, and hiss at me: “Communist!”

      At least the men would tell me what they didn’t like about my pictures to my face; more than I can say for the anonymous women who preferred to slander me from the safety of the shadows, even when I had never done anything to any of them. Perhaps my real “crime” consisted of ignoring one or more of them in favor of better looking Asian women in one-piece bathing suits pictured on a calendar. I can’t say for sure, but … you know … “probably.” Good thing for me that I never brought my Sports Illustrated (swimsuit edition) to work.

      I do not automatically take a woman’s word at face value any more or less than a man’s. Either can have any number of motives for behaving as they do and straightening these out in a public — and political — forum necessarily involves evidence and certain procedural rules. The game can get rough and those unprepared to take their lumps ought not to suppose that they can play however they wish. The Democrats went after Justice Clarence Thomas with “sexual” allegations by Anita Hill. The Republicans retaliated and went after Bill Clinton with several women accusers. Now the Democrats come back again with the same tactic against this latest Republican judicial nominee. This sure does look a lot like the 1990s, at least from the standpoint of “sexual politics.” The whole puritanical circus makes Americans look stupid and childish to the rest of the world. But since Americans don’t think that they have anything more important to argue about than “sexual” — meaning, “something concerning women” — innuendo, the circus will undoubtedly go on … and on … and on. What a piss-poor excuse for a “nation.”

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  4. Another Case of Exploitable “Sexual” Innuendo

    First, to save the reader having to wade through a considerable amount of legal terminology, I have included notes from Wikipedia as an addendum to this comment. I will excerpt here only the phrase “sexual assault” as a somewhat equivalent term for “statutory rape,” which applies in many jurisdictions to consensual sexual intercourse involving one or both persons below the age of consent, which may range from 15 to 18 years off age, depending upon the state. The crime of rape, of course, clearly refers to forcible sexual intercourse (oral or vaginal or anal) without the consent of one of the participants, regardless of their ages.

    As to the actual allegations against Brett Kavenaugh, from a recent press report, What we know — and still don’t — about the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. Absent an FBI investigation, the case hinges heavily on first-person accounts and character testimony. Vox (September 22, 2018):

    “[Ms] Ford publicly came forward in a Washington Post story on Sunday; she accused Kavanaugh of forcing himself on her while the two were at a party in high school. She says he pinned her down on a bed, attempted to remove her clothing and covered her mouth when she tried to scream. Kavanaugh has unequivocally denied these allegations”.

    Nowhere in these allegations does Ms Ford accuse Mr Kavanaugh of actually having sexual intercourse with her, either with her consent or without it. So, it seems to me, the use of the legal term “sexual assault” implies a crime that in fact did not take place. Ms Ford claims — now — to have found Mr Kavenaugh’s alleged behavior — then — unwelcome and objectionable. Whether the alleged behavior actually took place or whether Ms Ford actually found it unwelcome or objectionable begs the real question of whether any legally recognized crime occurred, how anyone might prove that it did, and what statute of limitations applies after more than three decades. Since no person has to prove their innocence — the law simply presumes that as a first principle — and the entire burden of proof rests with the accuser, it does not seem to me that Ms Ford has any worthwhile standing as an authority on Mr Kavenaugh’s worthiness to assume a seat on the U.S. Supine Court.

    I dispute that this is a “case” against an accused person, whatever his or her name. I submit that it is a case against his or her accuser, as the U. S. Constitution and centuries of jurisprudential precedent clearly stipulate. Accepting an allegation of wrongdoing at face value without the slightest concern for the rights of the accused violates the very core of any legal system worthy of the name.

    Personally, I would oppose Brett Kavenaugh’s nomination simply on the grounds that he took willing and eager part in the scurrilous jihad against President Bill Clinton carried on for years by “Judge” Kenneth Starr, about as disreputable a “special prosecutor” as the United States has ever known. Partisan hacks like him don’t come any lower on the scale of “legal” degradation. That said, for the Senate Democrats to adopt Kenneth Starr’s own “sexual” shit-show tactics against someone they could effectively oppose on any number of defensible legal and political grounds, strikes me as too stupid to stipulate.

    And those so-called “feminists” who go along with this cheap sort of political character assassination only make things tougher on those women who actually have suffered rape, battery, or other forms of violent assault and who then turn to the courts for justice. Sloppy abuse of the words “sexual” and “assault” can and will have effects quite contrary to those apparently anticipated by the short-sighted Senators calling themselves “Democrats” today.

    This guy, Brett Kavanaugh, will go through to confirmation, and as with the Republican President who nominated him and now occupies the Oval Office, the brain-dead and thoroughly aimless “Democrats” will have only themselves to blame for not having a better alternative program and a more honorable means of achieving it.


    Wikipedia Notes*

    In some common law jurisdictions, statutory rape is nonforcible sexual activity in which one of the individuals is below the age of consent (the age required to legally consent to the behavior). Although it usually refers to adults engaging in sexual contact with minors under the age of consent, it is a generic term, and very few jurisdictions use the actual term statutory rape in the language of statutes.

    Different jurisdictions use many different statutory terms for the crime, such as sexual assault (SA), rape of a child (ROAC), corruption of a minor (COAM), unlawful sex with a minor (USWAM), carnal knowledge of a minor (CKOAM), unlawful carnal knowledge (UCK), sexual battery or simply carnal knowledge. The terms child sexual abuse or child molestation may also be used, but statutory rape generally refers to sex between an adult and a sexually mature minor past the age of puberty, and may therefore be distinguished from child sexual abuse. Sexual relations with a prepubescent child is typically treated as a more serious crime.

    In statutory rape, overt force or threat is usually not present. Statutory rape laws presume coercion, because a minor or mentally handicapped adult is legally incapable of giving consent to the act.

    Additionally, in California law, for instance:

    … when both parties are under the age of 18, it is uncommon for either of them to face statutory rape charges. The reason is that it is difficult to determine which of the two willing parties is to be considered the victim and which is the perpetrator. In reality, the law says that they are both criminals and victims, so prosecutors will likely decline to charge either person with the crime. Instead, the two minors may be asked to visit their local probation department to discuss the dangers of sex before adulthood.

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    1. Speaking of statutory rape: in 1944, my mother, 15 years old at the time, had to leave home in Indiana because her dad and mom had gotten a divorce and her dad couldn’t afford to feed her any longer. So she went to live with her mother who had remarried, this time to a U.S. Navy sailor stationed in Norfolk Virginia. While in Norfolk, my mom met a young sailor, age 23 (or so he said) and they agreed to get married. Virginia law would not permit this because of her age, so the two of them took a bus across the border into North Carolina where different laws allowed them to get married (with a note of permission from the bride’s mother). I still have a copy of their marriage certificate and the accompanying support document where dad lists his age as 23 and mom lists hers as 18. Later in life mom admitted to me that she and my dad had “of course” both lied about their ages. Just how much they had lied, I didn’t learn until much later in life. My dad could have gotten thrown in jail for transporting my underage mother across state lines “for immoral purposes.”

      After my dad got out of the Navy in 1946, he and mom moved to Portland, Oregon, where his dad (my grandfather) lived on a houseboat. I came along in November of 1947 and my birth certificate lists my dad as 21 years of age and my mom as 18. So it would appear, according to the existing documentation, that in the three years since their marriage, my mom had not aged at all and my dad had lost two years of life. Somebody did some lying all right.

      I only mention these things because times and societal values change. People change, too. And holding people responsible today for things they did in the past under very different circumstances seems both unrealistic and unfair.

      My dad died in a car crash on May 10, 1952, six months before my 5th birthday. I remember very little about him. Mom had him buried in Willamette National Cemetery. His headstone reads: “Born 28 August, 1925 (aged 26).” I don’t remember exactly when this occurred to me, but that birthdate would have made him 22 years old on the day of my birth and not 21, as recorded on my birth certificate. When I asked my mom about that, she told me a little story that I have since checked up on to determine its truth.

      It seems that when WWII broke out, my dad wanted to join the Navy but he had only finished his sophomore year of high school. Back then, if your parents signed papers claiming that you had reached the age of 17, then you could join up. The military didn’t ask too many questions. For her part, grandmother would not hear of letting her 16 year old son join the military and go off to war. But my dad had noticed his father’s car often parked in front of the house belonging to a certain native-American Indian woman and threatened to tell my grandmother about it if my grandfather didn’t lie about dad’s age and sign his Navy enlistment papers. My grandfather caved in to the blackmail and signed the papers, which infuriated grandma. Even worse, my dad’s older brother, 17 and just back from Army basic training, found out about grandpa’s extra-marital activities and told his mom. That tore it; a divorce ensued; and grandpa moved to Oregon where he lived the remainder of his life as a confirmed bachelor.

      So my dad’s age on my birth certificate indicates the truth, while his age as stated on his marriage and death certificates indicate conscious deceptions. He had reasons for both, I know, and it doesn’t much matter now what I think about things. He and my mother had sexual relations enough times to produce me and my younger brother. We, in turn, had sexual relations with women enough to produce two sons and two daughters. My two sons have had sexual relations with women enough to produce one grandson and one granddaughter. Men and women do these sorts of things. Making a big and scandalous thing about sex for purely political purposes seems to me both childish and stupid. And yes, men and women lie, for all sorts of reasons. So?

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    2. Mike: I disagree with you. Let’s assume, for the moment, Christine Blasey Ford is telling the truth. Having a drunk guy, much stronger than you, pin you down, feel you up, run his hands all over you, while covering your mouth with your hand so you can’t scream, sure sounds like assault to me. And it sure seems like there was sexual intent. Again, assuming her story to be true, she only got away when the other drunk bully jumped on his friend, causing them all to tumble so she could escape.

      Also, Ford has said she was scared for her life; that she was traumatized and underwent therapy for it. This therapy came many years before the current controversy. Indeed, she chose to specialize in the psychology of trauma and stress disorders, perhaps as a way of coming to grips with her own nasty experience c.1982 as a 15-year-old.

      Of course, false accusations exist. But I’d wager there are a lot more false denials than false accusations.

      Let’s think of ourselves as fathers with 15-year-old daughters. How would we respond to her tears when she came to us and told us this story (again, assuming it to be true)? Would we laugh it off? Tell her it’s “boys being boys”? Ask her if she led the boys on? Ask her what she was wearing or what she said to get those boys so excited? Ask her, as your note implies above, whether she enjoyed it?

      No. Some men would reach for the nearest bat or shotgun, but leaving vigilante justice aside, I think we’d call the police and report an assault.

      This has nothing to do, as you know, with my article. My opposition to Kavanaugh pre-dates the accusation. I don’t presume to know whether he did it, and I withhold judgment until the hearing, which may yet prove inconclusive.

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      1. Based on my spouse’s years working with victims of abuse – there are many, many more false denials than false accusations. The hell an accuser is put through is a tremendous disincentive to making an allegation even when there’s recent physical evidence. And there are many, many openly misogynist judges still in circulation.

        Worse, the really bad ones figure this out, and know that if they say “she’s crazy” or some variation, they can insert enough doubt into a judge, jury, or prosecutor’s mind to escape intact (prosecutors worship conviction rates. And, naturally, try to take on ‘easy’ cases). Then they do it again. And again. They keep on keeping on until they finally do it enough that someone is willing to make the self-sacrifice necessary to actually make an allegation stick long enough to be investigated. Then, all too often, others finally feel safe enough to come forward.

        This is why I say that I believe any woman (any person, actually) who says they’ve been assaulted. True or not, what I believe actually doesn’t matter. They’ll face enough scrutiny in the criminal justice system. Why add more scepticism, especially when my belief or disbelief is completely irrelevant to the formal process of deciding guilt or innocence?

        And on the Kavanaugh note, I have to say that the point of a public hearing is specifically to make life hell for an appointee seeking a position of power. Especially one with a life term! I am confident that you could force every nominee through a brutal hearing that spills all their darkest personal secrets, and still at the end of the day come up with a nice, boring, competent Supreme Court justice.

        Exposure of any indication of questionable morals should be reasonably disqualifying, when you are after one of the most important jobs in the country.

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  5. You can assume anything you wish, Bill. But you know what we used to say about spelling the word “ASSUME,” namely, that it makes an ASS out of U and Me. If you had just stuck with your final line about about withholding judgment until the hearing, then we could probably agree at least on the necessity of substantiating inflammatory accusations with factual evidence before expecting other people to grant the slightest credence to their accusations. You know of the Queen in Alice and Wonderland who demanded: “Sentence first, verdict afterwards.” Well, if one does not subject an accuser to rigorous skepticism, then one has, in effect, arrived at a verdict of sorts without even waiting for the trial. And since everyone remains innocent until proven guilty, any trial that does not return a verdict of “guilty, as charged,” has simply restated the innocence of the accused. Nothing “inconclusive” about it.

    I shouldn’t have to keep repeating this, but no one has to prove their innocence. We presume that as a fundamental principle. The Fifth Amendment goes so far as to guarantee an accused person the right to say nothing at all when accused of wrongdoing. This precludes extorting “confessions” through torture or other means of coercion. Let those who accuse others of wrongdoing bear the complete burden of proving their claims. Therefore, as a rule, I never assume that an accuser has told the truth about anything. If they can prove what they say, then fine. But until they do, I suspect them of lying. Unlike yourself in this case, I think that everyone lies: women every bit as much and often as men.

    I have waited to see if anyone else would pick up on this, but since no one has, let me inject two words into this discussion of “sexual” accusations as a mask for unstated political objectives: namely, “Julian Assange.” As you might recall, many years ago two Swedish women had consensual sex with Mr Assange but later complained to police that he had “assaulted” them because a condom broke. Later, the two women retracted their ridiculous accusations and the Swedish police dropped the case. Then, under pressure from the U.S. and U.K. governments, another prosecutor — a woman — reopened the case and demanded that Mr Assange appear at police headquarters for “questioning.”

    Fearing that the Swedish government would extradite him to the United States where many government officials had publicly and with no trial convicted him of committing independent journalism (a crime in the U.S. and U.K.) by printing government documents of interest to American and British citizens, he travelled to England where the U.K. government took him into custody and held him under house arrest even though he had committed no crime in either England or Sweden. Once released on bail, he applied for asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in Airstrip One (London) and has remained there, isolated and surrounded by police who have promised to arrest him should he leave, for over five years, even though the Swedish government has dropped the “sexual” charges that began the whole ordeal. Obviously, the ludicrous “sexual” allegations against Mr Assange had nothing to do with the real political objectives of several world governments: the U.S., U.K., Sweden, Australia, and even (after a recent change of administrations) Ecuador whose new president has made it clear that he would like Mr Assange to leave and take his journalism elsewhere.

    Bottom line: women will accuse another woman or a man of anything if they have sufficient motive for doing so. Money, publicity, or revenge for some real or imagined slight, for instance. And even if they later retract their accusations, the real political objectives that lay behind the accusations remain operative and persist. Having worked for Kenneth Starr, Brett Kavenaugh should understand as well as anyone how this “sexual” stuff works. He probably just never thought that anyone would pull the same underhanded shit on him. So I don’t feel sorry for him. I just don’t think that what a drunken teenage high school student did or didn’t do at a party thirty-six years ago matters a hill of beans if the woman making the allegations needed three decades to get worked up about it. Perhaps she thought she could get a greenmail payoff to just go away, sort of like the deal Bill Clinton wound up giving Paula Jones (whose lawyer probably got most of the money).

    Finally, two different takes on all this “sexual assault” exploitation stuff:

    “Transphobic” Swedish Professor May Lose Job After Noting Biological Differences Between Sexes. A university professor in Sweden is under investigation after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded”. By Tyler Durden, the Duran (September 21, 2018).

    “Transphobic”? What does that even mean?

    and:

    Toilet Wars. By Israel Shamir, The Unz Review (September 22, 2018).

    Hilarious.

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    1. Mike: When I said let’s “assume” Ford is telling the truth, I meant the truth that she had been assaulted, as she wrote, 36 years ago. I did not assume that Kavanaugh was the assaulter. Indeed, he denies being at the party where the assault took place. Is he lying? Was he too drunk to remember? Is she lying? Or perhaps she misidentified her attacker? Perhaps some clarity will be provided by the hearing on Thursday. I’m still reserving judgment; but, as I said, I was already against Kavanaugh for other reasons.

      The Assange case has nothing to do with this. Your mother’s experience (consensual) has nothing to do with this. Your experience with someone complaining about your swimsuit calendar has nothing to do with this. Period.

      I can identify with the terror of a 15-year-old being forcibly held down, groped, and prevented from screaming (to the extent she feared for her life), then escaping (by luck, it seems, since the young men on top of her were both drunk and wrestling one another), and then deciding not to talk about it for years and years. This was 1982, not 2018 with the #MeToo movement. I find this scenario plausible because many women who’ve been assaulted, even raped, choose not to report for various reasons, one of which is that they simply won’t be believed.

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      1. I disagree with you, Bill. I have spent a good deal of time reviewing — at considerable length — precisely why I think as I do. You can “assume” what you want. You can find “plausible” or even (like the British) “likely” anything you want. You can “identify” with any character in any story you like, regardless of a lack of evidence that (1) anything “sexual” actually happened and (2) that whatever happened has anything to do with judicial confirmations three decades later. In short: rumor and innuendo seem to work for some people, at least when they wish them to do so. They don’t work for me.

        The rumored “sexual assault with no sex” occurred in Maryland. Maryland has laws about statutory rape, as I have detailed above. Maryland has laws regarding the statute of limitations applicable to alleged crimes. If this person, Ms Ford, wishes to file suit against Brett Kavanaugh in court seeking “justice” for what she claims to have experienced long ago, then she will have to live with the laws of Maryland. A Senate judicial hearing has no legal standing in the state of Maryland, and so it seems to me that the female in question has chosen the wrong venue in which to pursue her objectives and/or those of her political sponsors. [Again, see the analogous — and ongoing — persecution of Julian Assange for “sexual assaults” that never happened in any country but which have effectively imprisoned him for years nonetheless.] Ms Ford can claim that she felt “too frightened” to avail herself of legal remedies available to all citizens, but I don’t buy it. When it comes to the legal rights of all citizens, either we use them or we lose them.

        You also do not seem to understand the concept of statutory rape, even though I went to considerable length trying to explain it to you. “Consenting” to have sex does not legally apply to persons under the age of consent because the law does not recognize a minor person’s (boy’s or girl’s) right to consent to sexual intercourse. You might even recall the case of famous R&B guitarist Chuck Berry who did time in jail for transporting a minor person across state lines even though the female in question consented to have sex with him. Her consent didn’t matter. Her age and his (not to mention his race) did. I won’t bother going over this legal truism again.

        Just as an aside: what prevented the “terrified” female person in this story from screaming her head off the second someone’s hand came away from her mouth? What prevented her from screaming for the next three decades with no one’s hand over her mouth? And what prevented her from kicking the shit out of two drunk teenagers — who had obviously lost all interest in her — wrestling with each other on the floor? I personally know some girl soccer players whom I helped coach in the 1980s who would have had a field day with tempting targets like that. 2-0 for the girl’s team.

        Anyway, I don’t hold individual persons automatically guilty of anything just because “many women” or “many men” say that this or that happens all the time so it must have happened in this case, too. Nothing about the general necessarily applies to the particular. We should judge individual cases on their individual merits. As Charles Sanders Peirce said: “The truth remains true even if no one believes it, and a falsehood remain false even if everyone believes it.” The truth — or Reality — doesn’t care what people believe. I just want to see some reality instead of the hysterical bullshit on the corporate news channels.

        So, again and finally, I do not wish to see Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to a seat on the Supine Court and I have stated some of my reasons for opposing his nomination. I just don’t have the slightest interest in what Ms Ford has to say because I don’t see its relevance to matters of legal decision-making, whatever happened or didn’t happen at a drunken teenage party thirty-six years ago. On the other hand, I find it perfectly acceptable to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination on legal, or even clearly-stated political grounds, like, “I don’t want to see Republicans get anything they want; they’ve more than had their turn.” No need to explain the “opposition party” actually doing some principled opposing. The Republicans certainly understand and live by this political rule. But since Ms Ford never saw fit to utilize the legal system of our country to seek redress for whatever she claims to have suffered, I find her “sexual” opinions of no interest whatsoever. If the Democrats can’t do any better than hysterical Russophobia and #MeToo/media warlock hunts, then they ought to emigrate to Sweden where one of the world’s greatest “sexual assault” scams originated, aided and abetted at every turn by the U.S. and U.K. governments for reasons having nothing to do with sex.

        Good thing that Ms Ford never had me to deal with. I might have “assaulted” or “harrassed” her by looking at pictures on a swimsuit calendar on my office desk. Oh! The Trauma! I can understand why all those “wrong kind of white men” voted for a fraud and con-man like Donald Trump. They didn’t think much of him, but they couldn’t stomach the thought of pussy-whipped Bill Clinton’s other half back in the White House trying to keep the pizza-delivery interns in their blue dresses [thank you Brett Kavanaugh] from flashing their thong underwear at the ol’ horn-dog. I remember once when the late Sri Lankan Ambassador, Dr, Ananda W. P. Guruge, said to me: “Bill Clinton must have the worst sex life of any man you can imagine.” I replied to him: “The Clintons have one child, so they must have had sex at least once. But they don’t have two children.” He just laughed. Most of the civilized world thinks that America’s puritan sexual hang-ups only make Americans look weak, pathetic, and — yes — effeminate. Try getting actual working-class men to vote for that.

        In summary: I don’t care what Ms Ford says. Too little. Too late. Too tendentious. Too tawdry. Now, whenever a woman has a genuine case of rape to report, fewer people will believe her. Crying “wolf!” doesn’t work for boys. Crying “sexual assault” without any sex ought not to work for girls either.

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        1. Crying “sexual assault” without any sex ought not to work for girls either.

          I would disagree with this statement. I know of a situation when I was back in college, where a young woman was assaulted in a dorm room. Her, No’s were not accepted and he turned physical. Cries for help, went unanswered, even though there were people in hallway. He finally gave up and she escaped the room. So what do you call this???

          My daughter, when she was in H.S. worked part time in a diner. My daughter told my wife, the manager an older man was grab assing the young women who worked there, including her. My wife went to diner to observe and sure enough she observed Mister Handy Man Manager grabbing at my daughter. My wife raised hell, and called the corporate HQ. Mr. Handy Man Manager was fired, after being confronted by Corporate.

          I am not a lawyer, but I would say in both cases this was assault, and sexual in nature. You could say in the event of a mugging of a woman by a man it is just assault as he stole her purse and that was it.

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      2. Mike: Actually, we agree. We’re both against Kavanaugh for reasons other than claims of sexual assault.

        We disagree in that you have already passed judgment on Ford’s claims. You find them implausible and probably part of a smear campaign. I reserve judgment on her claims until the forthcoming hearing, but I find them plausible and worthy of investigation.

        Is this an accurate summary of our positions?

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        1. No. I do not consider your statement an accurate summary of our positions, but I welcome the opportunity to state again my views in this matter.

          First of all, you claim that I have already passed judgment on Ms Ford’s accusations because, in your words, I “find them implausible.” On the other hand, you have pronounced her accusations “plausible,” even though you claim to have reserved judgment. How does my finding her claims “implausible” constitute “passing judgment” while your finding them “plausible” amounts to “reserving judgment”? You will pardon me for not assenting to your inconsistent standard in regard to matters of judgment. For my part, as a means of actually reserving judgment, I have mentioned, by way of example, possible alternative interpretations to Ms Ford’s “story” since many such alternatives exist — if one has not yet made up one’s mind prior to hearing any arguments presented in open public forums.

          Second, I have not judged Ms Ford accusations either “plausible” or “implausible” because I have seen no evidence upon the basis of which I could reach an informed judgment. I consider her allegations “unproven,” “undemonstrated,” “unsubstantiated,” and therefore unworthy of consideration until such time as she can present and prove them in the proper public venue: one competent to reach an appropriate judgment. I refuse, on principle, to grant apriori credulity to word-of-mouth “stories” circulating in the print and broadcast media. Furthermore, I resent any accuser of another person, man or woman, demanding that I take their word at face value. Especially when only a cursory search of the Internet turns up travesties of “justice” like this: 26 Years Later, Justice for Men Imprisoned for a Bogus Rape, New York Times (May 7, 2018). Not even an uncommon story.

          Furthermore, so as to make clear the logical basis for my thinking as I do, first consider the following dialectical fallacy which, in my opinion, undermines the position of those who have already judged Ms Ford’s story “plausible.” From Attacking Faulty Reasoning – a Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments, by T. Edward Damer (Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2001):

          Appeal to Pity

          Definition: This fallacy consists in attempting to persuade others of a position by appealing to their sympathy instead of to relevant evidence, especially when some more important principle or issue is at stake.

          One who appeals to pity is actually exploiting emotional sensitivities rather than presenting convincing evidence that a claim is true or that an action has merit. The use of pity violates the relevance criteria of a good argument, for the pitiable consequences of a claim’s being true have no bearing on the truth or falsity of a claim.

          Attacking the Fallacy

          If you allow yourself to be overcome by the force of an emotional appeal, it is important to remember that you are no less guilty of fallacious reasoning than the one who formulates the appeal. You have allowed the description or projection of a pitiable situation to count as evidence, even though, in most cases, it does not constitute any evidence at all. The possibility that someone may be disappointed or suffer some kind of mental anguish because of your failure to give a desired response to a claim or proposal is usually an irrelevant consideration in the determination of the merit of a claim or of the proposed action.

          I do not consider “feeling sorry for someone” a sufficient reason to believe just anything they say and I do not automatically feel sorrow or pity for women until I have a good reason for doing so. And Ms Ford has given me no such reason. She appears to have done well enough in life. Frankly, I have no idea what she has to complain about.

          Moving along to further support for my position, I would like to take note of a recent column by Joe Lauria, of Consortium News (September 24, 2018): The New York Times as Judge and Jury. The article subheading reads: “Seeking to maintain its credibility, The New York Times dispenses with the criminal justice system and basic principles of journalism to weigh in again on Russia-gate.”

          Now, if you will permit me to restate your position as I see it. You find it perfectly acceptable for Ms Ford, her lawyers, her supporters, and her political patrons to dispense with the criminal justice system and basic Constitutional principles in order to weigh in against the judicial confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. As I have said and will repeat: I would oppose Mr Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supine Court for any number of reasons, but I refuse to dispense with the criminal justice system and basic Constitutional principles in order to do so. If I may cut straight to the heart of the matter, as Joe Lauria succinctly phrases it:

          The Times also adds: “There is a plausible case that Mr. Putin succeeded in delivering the presidency to his admirer, Mr. Trump, though it cannot be proved or disproved.”

          This is an extraordinary statement. If it cannot be “proved or disproved” what is the point of this entire exercise [emphasis added]: of the Mueller probe, the House and Senate investigations and even of this very New York Times article?

          Attempting to prove this constructed story without proof is the very point of this piece.

          As Mr Lauria says, The New York Times cannot prove or disprove anything regarding “The Russians” and President Trump’s 2016 election campaign but persists in trying to “prove” a constructed story without proof anyway. I suppose we could call this absurd concept “Proof by Plausibility.” In other words: “It could possibly, conceivably, or hypothetically have happened, therefore it must have happened.” Bad syllogism. On the RT.com “Crosstalk” program Bullhorns: No norms (September 24, 2018), analyst Mark Sleboda points to this same New York Times article and adds:

          “Plausible case? It cannot be proved or disproved. This is the way the legal system, justice, and the media should work. If you’re making an accusation, you have to prove it. We don’t have to disprove something that you can’t even attempt to prove” [emphasis added].

          To which the program host, Peter Lavelle added:

          “Proving a negative.”

          Here we come to the crux of the matter. I maintain that the accuser bears the burden of proving her allegations, while the accused is under no obligation to prove anything, and may indeed remain silent. In traditional courtroom dialectics, this tactic by the accusing party with a weak case goes by the name of “shifting the burden of proof.” Since the accuser cannot prove her case one way or the other, she — or her lawyers — will seek to force Mr Kavanaugh to “prove” what he denies doing. In other words, he must “prove” his innocence, the presumption of which he already enjoys without saying anything. Owing to his experience in the Kenneth Starr jihad against President Bill Clinton, Brett Kavanaugh, of all people, ought to know what happens when a person accused of “sexual misconduct” foolishly opens his mouth.

          I could go on deconstructing the accuser’s bad logical position — I have several books on the subject — but I should interject at this point my view that Ms Ford should file a complaint with the Maryland police, who would have jurisdiction in this matter since that state’s laws concerning retroactive statutory rape, or retroactive attempted rape, or retroactive assault and battery would apply. Then, if she obtains a judgment in her favor, she could seek some form of “compensation” from Mr Kavenaugh. In other words, Ms Ford needs to avail herself of the legal system instead of attempting to “tell a story” to a panel of United States senators who, in any event, cannot do anything about her claimed retroactive psychological “trauma” or judge the legal ramifications of her “story.”

          So, to recapitulate my position. I believe nothing an accuser says when I have no factual basis upon which to reach an informed judgment. Accusers have no right to demand my credulity in advance of publicly presenting evidence supporting their allegations. Accused persons enjoy the presumption of innocence precisely so that mere accusations alone cannot count as “proof” of wrongdoing. The legal system should handle criminal matters and the political system should handle political matters. I have no problem with opposing Mr Kavanaugh’s judicial appointment on political grounds. I have no problem with Ms Ford seeking “justice” in the state of Maryland for alleged “criminal” conduct by Mr Kavanaugh as a teenage high school student thirty-six years ago. I do object, however, to “show trials” and “media frenzies” serving as transparent excuses for not directly confronting real political differences in open debate.

          Additionally, if I can refer once more to Joe Lauria’s deconstruction of the New York Times article seeking to “prove a constructed story without proof,” the essential problem facing those seeking to use alleged “Russian meddling” and alleged “sexual assault” as a means of derailing both President Trump and the Brett Kavanaugh Supine Court confirmation:

          [The authors] claim to have a “mountain of evidence” but what they offer would be invisible on the Great Plains. With the mid-terms looming and Special Counsel Robert Mueller unable to so far come up with any proof of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to steal the 2016 election—the central Russia-gate charge—the Times does it for him, regurgitating a Russia-gate Round-Up of every unsubstantiated allegation that has been made—deceptively presented as though it’s all been proven.

          Finally, the political calendar drives this whole charade. The Republicans want to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supine Court so that they and President Trump can boast of their “achievements” before the November mid-term elections. The Democrats hope like hell that the Mueller warlock-hunt among “the Russian meddlers” won’t blow up in their faces until after people vote. Having bet the political farm on not one, but two dead horses, the sorry-ass Democrats can only hope to stall for time. Hence this desperate, last-minute attempt to delay the Kavanaugh confirmation — which, unfortunately, will happen — by introducing unproven and unprovable allegations of “retroactive sexual assault” by a well-off white snowflake with a ph.D who hardly looks the least bit “assaulted.”

          Sorry for the length of this reply, but I wanted to state my position in sufficient detail and with suitable corroboration. I understand the bizarre and corrupt political environment in the United States and I feel convinced that this supplies the context for analyzing both the Brett Kavanaugh judicial confirmation hearings and the “Russiagate” hysteria. I remain skeptical that the Democrats can succeed at whatever they attempt to do, and so I expect this “sexual assault” nonsense to fizzle out as well. It didn’t work on Justice Clarence Thomas and I don’t see it working this time around, either. Ms Ford and her lawyers and her supporters and her political patrons don’t have to convince me of anything. I don’t live in the United States and I vote “Green” and anti-war by absentee ballot. Instead, the accusers of Mr Kavenaugh and “the Russians” have to convince a sufficient number of American voters in states where “educated snowflake feminism,” LGBTQxyz virtue-signalling, and “Vladimir Putin did something” do not impress.

          I can’t even begin to tell you how pathetic, lame, weak, and stupid Americans look from this side of the Pacific Pond.

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          1. OK, Mike. But I’m getting tired of being lectured at length on my site. I’m getting tired of puerile comments about “assume” and making an ass out of you and me, a saying I learned in roughly the third grade and abandoned by the fifth grade. I’m getting tired of long-winded comments about the Russia investigation that have nothing to do with the subject of my post. I’m getting tired of categorical statements about “how pathetic, lame, weak, and stupid Americans look.” Really, all Americans? How fair and enlightened of you to say this.

            I welcome comments at my site that stay on subject, that aren’t overly long, and that don’t attack and disparage an entire people as “pathetic, lame, weak, and stupid.”

            My site should not be the place for you to vent your spleen in a self-indulgent way. To do this, start your own site and fire away.

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    2. Mike: One more point. Without hearing from the accuser, Trump, Pence, and McConnell have expressed unequivocal support from Kavanaugh. Trump in particular has asserted that if she’d been assaulted as bad as she said, she would have reported it in 1982. In essence, she’s lying, Trump said.

      I wonder why women are often reluctant to come forward?

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      1. Of course the Republicans will stand up for one of their own, Bill. What else would any sane person expect of them? They know that in the end, enough Democrats will vote with them so that a select number of Republicans (probably women) can vote a meaningless “no.” Just watch what happens. The fucking R-D Corporate Duopoly has choreographed this whole farce. None of them give a tinker’s damn if some drunken teenage boy copped a feel of some girl’s tit at a party three decades ago. Do you think any of them would invite Paula Jones or Linda Tripp to one of their parties on Martha’s Vineyard?

        As for President Trump’s support for his own nominee: I just did a little checking and the statute of limitations in Maryland for “assault” — which I assume includes “rape” — runs out in one year. Therefore, if the alleged “assault” (or “aggravated annoyance”) took place in 1982, then Ms Ford should have reported it to the police sometime in 1982-83. Reporting it any later would not have met the statute of limitations requirements. So what President Trump said was not that far off the mark. On the other hand, waiting thirty-five years to mention the reputed event, and not even to the Maryland police but to California Senator Diane Feinstein (who sat on the “story” for three months before sharing it with her Senate colleagues) doesn’t seem even remotely reasonable. Didn’t she even tell her parents? And what did they do if she did tell them? Nothing? I just can’t find myself getting too worked up over what I know will come to nothing, for reasons that I’ve explained in exhausting detail already.

        Again, as I’ve said, I consider Brett Kavanaugh an unprincipled, partisan hack for “serving” with Kenneth Starr during the blow-job impeachment of President Bill Clinton. The Democrats could have dredged up the entire Starr Report, read it into the Congressional Record page by page, highlighted every part that Brett Kavanaugh played in that travesty. The U.S. has not had a “special prosecutor” for many years precisely because Kenneth Starr and the Republicans abused the statute so ruthlessly and to so little effect. But the Democrats won’t do this because it would cast a cloud over their own, rapidly unravelling “Russia-gate” shit-show “investigation” by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. So the Republicans will get away with this nomination because the Democrats ran the worst candidate imaginable for President in 2016 and so lost their chance to name two Supine Court justices. I distinctly remember all the public admonitions to vote for You-Know-Her because of the Supine Court. Apparently, not enough people in not enough states found that argument persuasive. I certainly didn’t. President Obama didn’t fight at all for ten months while his nominee Merrick Garland languished without even getting a hearing from the Republicans in Congress. The Democrats don’t stand for anything except getting their table-scraps handouts from billionaire donors who order them to lose — which they do with awesome and predictable regularity.

        Finally, I don’t buy the “reluctant to come forward” excuse some women put forward to explain why they don’t avail themselves of the U. S. Constitution and legal system. What other system do they think they have available to them? I realize that the poor can’t afford any part of the system and receive only vicious abuse from it, but the special snowflakes of the privileged class, like Ms Ford, could easily afford to make the system work for more women if they truly wanted to. But this would require good test cases based on real merit and not frivolous wastes of time like this one. From what I understand, the U.S. military sets new records for real sexual assault — on men as well as women — every year. Congress might try dealing with that.

        Which for some reasons reminds me of the early 1960s when girls all wore one-piece bathing suits to the beach. Then they saw movies with French actresses like Brigitte Bardot wearing bikinis. They all wanted to wear bikinis, but didn’t dare come down to the beach in broad daylight by themselves wearing one. So you would see 8-to-10 girls in bikinis huddled together in little giggling packs, seeking to show off all the skin they could, but only when socially “safe” to do so. Back in those days, “French” meant “pornography.” Nothing new about women and this #MeToo pack mentality. Just saying …

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        1. Trump an admitted sexual predator, ( you do remember the famous “pussy” tape) recently was quoted as advising one of the many predators in his wealthy cabinet or a supporter that the best way of dealing with a woman’s accusations of sexual assault was to “Deny, deny, deny”. That is phenomenally easy compared to a woman’s choice to ‘come out’.
          Assault of women in this country I believe is endemic. Rich men can afford to lie, their female victims have already paid the price.
          As a country we will be better to head the victim. The Republicans only head the deniers.

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  6. Some heartfelt comments by Michael Murray, re his parents, and great restraint from WJ Astore! Truth in Disclosure (from me): I don’t give a damn about the ‘Supreme’ Court anymore, after they stopped the vote counting of Bush/Gore in Florida. It’s States rights as far as I’m concerned. They should have rejected the plea.
    Anyway, we’re having this brawl over another possible mediocrity, Kavanaugh. Which, at 73yo I find quite hilarious: we were WAY ahead of you youngers back then. Out of a small class, 4* of our prettiest girls were getting married! Right after graduation, 1963! This came as no surprise to us classmates – we knew they went ‘all the way’ – but would never betray them to our (collectively) “awful” parents. *Still friendly with 3; grandmas & great grandmas now. We have better things to discuss, but I’m sure their views on Christine Blasey Ford would not jive with some on this post or the NYT for that matter: Splendour in the Grass beats FBI hearings hands down!!
    The 3 have no regrets, and are actually quite open about their pasts today. Will Ford be able to say that in old age??

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  7. I admit I gave up on following the discussion above, but maybe I can add my own female experience – being roughly the same age as Mr Murry, we’re talking about the same periods in time. So let me also disclose some personal history :-). I have been lucky enough never to have been assaulted in any way as a child or teenager, but got my share when in my twenties/ thirties, as I suppose most women do.

    Never have I felt to be ‘discriminated’ as a woman and the idea that I would get a job because – as I used to put it graphically – I had boobs while another candidate did not, was abhorrent to me. I wanted to be be chosen for my qualifications not my gender and I have never felt jealous of men. Hell, my three years older brother who was relatively small for his age until grown-up, regularly got beaten up by bigger boys and I’ve always realised that boys/men have their own share of problems. Later I realised that plenty of boys/men also get sexually assaulted or even raped, sometimes even by women …
    I also often felt sorry for young men who were expected to ‘make the first step’, which automatically included potential rejection and in some cases being publicly ridiculed by mindless girls. We girls did not need to take such risks, we could quietly wait for overtures which we then could accept or not and I realized that in many way our role was the easier one. Unless of course some girl was desperate for attention but was not getting it and decided to act herself.
    I also realised that we had to be careful how much ‘petting’ we should accept if we did not wish to agree to anything more, as the poor guy might not only interpret our initial behaviour wrongly, but also might simply physically get too close to a ‘point of no return’ to be able to graciously stop his advances.
    Those after all were the seventies, where – at least in the Netherlands where I then lived – there was a feeling that as ‘everything is allowed’, there is no reason not to do ‘everything’. In those days that country was going through a violent de-calvinisation process, with many people swinging wildly into the opposite direction.

    So let’s see what sexual assault I’ve experienced, other than a shy fellow student letting his hands wander beyond what might be considered ‘decent’ but which definitely was in no way assault, or unwanted invitations which were merely irritating.
    We’ll start in Italy, early 1970s, where I lived with my (not Italian) actor friend and wore very short mini. As I have long legs, the skirts seemed even shorter.
    By then 24 yrs old – I one day ran into an aquaintance of his, a film stuntman who apparently had heard of us just having split up and invited me for lunch. I was hungry and accepted, expecting it to be in some nearby trattoria, but he drove us to his roof penthouse with three huge terraces, and started laboriously cooking minestrone soup while we chatted.
    The table was set (for objective reasons of shade) on the terrace adjacent to his bedroom so we had to walk through it to set the table and at some point he picked me up me and laid me on the bed (trust film staff to know their classics, Rhett Butler-style). As I resisted, he – convinced of his (undeniable) charm – memorably wispered hoarsely : “I see that you are one of those women who want to be taken by force’.
    I didn’t, and my icy reaction made him realise that I was deadly serious. He insisted though that once he had made the bloody soup, I’d eat it.
    So we did – the minestrone was wonderful, he sure was a great cook – with me very careful not to say or do anything that might make him change his mind and when I left his appartment there was an exchange roughly like this : ‘I thought you were Charles’ friend’, to which he retorted that if I was serious about Charles, I never would have come to his place without him. Interesting, there obviously had been a cultural misunderstanding with me from easy-going Netherlands not sufficiently aware of Italian customs in that respect, or him of Dutch ones. I’d been lucky, it could have ended differently (he no doubt would have feared the wrath of my barely-ex friend), but I learned from it a) to be more careful accepting such invitations and reflecting on how this might be read by the man in question; b) when getting into a room/house with someone I do not know well enough to trust him blindly, first thing to check where the exit is, whether there’s a key in that door and whether my ‘companion’ turned it when entering.
    The tale is a favourite at social gatherings with friends, as I have enough of a sense of humour to mock my own mishaps.
    But if now I had to recount the details to the FBI or a senate panel, there’s no way I’d know for instance how many times we walked through his bedroom before it happened, whether earlier on he made any verbal suggestions while preparing the soup in the kitchen, not to mention where he lived.

    Before that, there was hitch-hiking from Austria to Italy. I had asked border crossing officials (this was before Schengen) to identify a truck for me that would go all the way to Rome. They did, it had a nice driver and a young co-driver, maybe his son, I do not remember. But as often is the case with trucks, halfway (and by that time in the middle of the night) when checking by phone with his boss, he was told to go elsewhere.
    He found a new truck for me and exhorted its drivers to take care of me and take me to Rome safely. One was sleeping in the berth behind us, the other one drove onto a deserted truck parking lot in the middle of nowhere and suggested we ‘get on with it’. I realised that I stood no chance if the two would team up and not knowing where I was, running away was no option either – I probably would not even make it out the door as truck cabins take some climbing.
    So I opted for deceitful diplomacy. Pretended to be interested in his advances but not there, with his friend possibly waking up, uncomfortable circumstances etc. They would be driving past Rome to Naples, so I asked whether he would be passing by Rome again any time soon and suggested we meet then at my place and gave him a – slightly altered – Rome telephone number.
    He never smelled the rat, pulled out of the parking lot and when I got off in the morning outside Rome, he gave me the huge plastic sunflower he kept in his cabin. Another close shave. Which year exactly was it? Which border crossing? No idea.

    Another truck ride – with only one driver and in broad daylight in the Netherlands – and the driver ‘exposed himself’ (as I now know this is called euphemistically …). I pretended not to see, looked straight ahead and got out at the first opportunity. Truck cabins are wide and if you keep close to your door the driver cannot reach you unless he stops the truck.

    Then there was the hand that groped me from behind when standing at a pedestrian crossing waiting for the green light, in broad daylight, in central Amsterdam. I turned around and slapped the guy – fiftyish if I remember correctly – in the face. He pretended he did not know what this was about.

    All of this definitely was at the very least sexual harassment and I am certainly not making excuses for them or blaming myself for getting harassed, but I did realise that if I had worn more demure clothes, some of this may not have happened. There’s no point arguing whether that is OK and fair or not, it simply is that way. I’m all for freedom to dress the way one wants to (although, sometimes the taste is appaling …), but one cannot claim full freedom for oneself while realising what effect it has on men and then expect those who are exposed to it to take upon themselves all of the effort to keep the situation decent and safe. We have a measure of choice : dress any way we like while knowing that that increases the risk of harassment or even assault and just assume that our luck will never run out and all the world’s men owe us 100% restraint, or be realistic and prefer to reduce the risk by dressing according to circumstances – so for instance mini in daytime in populated areas but not in deserted dark alleys at night.
    I never made a secret of any of these experiences, but only mention them when such matters are discussed among friends.

    When 32 or so my luck ran out, they were three and you cannot win with three – even when they are teenage kids – as they were. They evidently were not criminals or serial rapists, they just had the ‘luck’ to find me in a vulnerable position, left when I shouted at them but then apparently figured they’d never have such an opportunity again and returned before I could remove myself from that risky situation.

    And here we get to points which play out in the Kavanaugh case and T’s claim, that the assaulted 15 yrs old girl would have alerted the FBI if it really had happened, and on the other hand the countless women who since then explained why they do not always alert authorities or even their parents.

    In my case, there was no point in going to the local police as it was a moonless evening, there is no way I could possibly have described or recognised the assailants. I did, however, realise I would have to recount the whole event in detail to the police (I did not live in that country, was travelling), who for all I knew would enjoy the revelations and ask for as many details as possible. Finally, having a poor memory and knowing that in order to remember something, you have to rehash it as often as possible while the last thing I wanted was to drag such memories around for the rest of my life, even as it happened I decided to shut out whatever I could not control at that moment. The following days I forced myself not to dwell on it but to concentrate on whatever else until its immediate impact faded. A strategy I highly recommend. There are very few things that trigger any memory of what happened.
    What I did do, however, was leave a letter for the owner of the remote shoestring guesthouse (a policeman of all things) where I stayed, informing him about what happened and why this could have happened, urging him to prepare a proper place for his guests to bathe rather than them having to do that in a nearby stream.
    Hopefully he will have done that and my experience will at least have saved other girls a similar experience.
    This I never told anyone at all as long as my mother was still alive (another 11 years) to avoid her ever hearing about it and as a result never having a quiet moment anymore during my further travels and later during work abroad. Since then, this obviously still is no subject for social gatherings and I only rarely mention it when I think the first-hand experience might explain something about a subject that often is discussed by ‘outsiders’ (such as here :-). Most of my friends do not know this either, as there’s no need for that.

    I only remember it was September 1981 because I remember when I travelled there. Otherwise, if like Kavanaughs alledged victim I had been haunted by the memory and finally felt compelled to publically come out with it (which unless you are a confirmed exhibitionist must be absolute hell and take supreme patriotism to do this to spare your country a rogue supreme court justice), I would not have remembered when exactly it had happened or where. I would have to remember the name of a remote village, she whose house it was where the party took place. Apparently one with a swimming pool, but maybe they all have one? If she ever went to only one party she would remember, but if there were several and it was in the house of someone she normally did not visit? After graduating from highschool and not being a party-goer at all myself, I did end up at parties of people I hardly knew, taken there by a mutual friend, and I had no clue where that was. In the US kids much earlier than in Europe had cars. Maybe she was taken by friends from one party (where her parents presumed she was) to a different one, as often happens during summer holidays and thus might not even remember where exactly it was.

    Why she did not tell her parents? Probably some dosis of shame (maybe it did happen in a place that had not been vetted by them), but also do not underestimate the care kids feel for their parents, wanting to avoid at any cost to cause them pain. She also might have realised that that would be the end of any parties at all, provided she herself still felt like going to any other ones. Maybe such wild parties were common and while shaken, she also felt relieved she eventually had escaped and thought she would soon forget about it. Maybe she feared she’d seem ‘childish’ in front of fellow students, be called a ‘baby’.

    And if she did tell her parents, should they have gone to the FBI and expose their already traumatised child to detailed police questioning, which can be callous and would be extremely embarassing for her? Maybe even a medical police examination? There would be a public scandal, the alleged perpetrator’s parents might have been powerful enough to turn the tables and accuse the girl of provoking or confabulating. He was seventeen, should there have been a court case with a conviction of some kind?
    If it were my child, I would want at all cost to spare her additional harassment and possibly public ostracism. I would want to meet the parents of the presumed perpetrator(s) and have a stiff talk with them and their son(s), also with those in whose house this occured and the posh prepschool.
    Stop it from ever happening again, rather than seeking revenge or legal punishment.

    Kavanaugh is innocent until proven guilty – which obviously would be very hard to do in a few hours … – but the stories as such of by now three women, do not sound over the top at all (except maybe the latest one, but even that cannot be excluded off hand). I think we all know young well-to-do boys from powerful families who think that that gives them the right to do whatever they want: boys will be boys. Add alcohol (and maybe heaven knows what else) and wanting to impress their palls, and such scenarios become all too probable.
    Remains the questions whether the assailant was Kavanaugh but in my opinion, even if he was not the culprit, he evidently was part of a social group where such things happened and must have known about it and possibly have participated in it or at least have turned a blind eye. That should be enough to disqualify him from the exceptionally responsible post he’s applying for.
    No one is perfect and unblemished, but such a function requires an unequivocally clean CV and/or honesty and repentance about past missteps.

    Of course plenty of other judges, prosecutors, lawmakers and other politicians – also in other ‘democracies’ – have similar histories and were just lucky enough never (yet) to be exposed. Kavanaugh has the tough luck to have wanted a top job right in the middle of the #me too movement and must now face the consequences. May it make others with a murky conscience make think twice before risking their careers and families for their career ambitions. The only victims I feel sorry for in his case are his kids, whose life from now on will also be hell, even if their social circle will unite to shield them.

    Curious to see which of the competing ‘bombshells’ will prevail tomorrow in the press : this one or T’s shrewdly arranged meeting with Mr Rosenstein …

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    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Pamela.

      Your concluding thought: It won’t surprise me in the least if Trump fires Rosenstein, using the hearing as “cover.” The media will have to focus on the hearing, even as Trump gets rid of a man who is indeed dangerous to him.

      If and when Kavanaugh simply becomes too toxic, Trump will unceremoniously dump him and nominate another conservative who’s anti-abortion. This time, he may even nominate a woman. I do recall one was on his short list before he picked Kavanaugh.

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