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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Links - 30th September 2018 (Kavanaugh)

Andrew Sullivan: At Kavanaugh-Ford Hearings Everyone Lost

"Yesterday was a spectacle I hope we do not have to experience again. We watched two human beings, Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh, exposed in the rawest possible fashion to the entire world, over the gravest of accusations, with no definitive evidence apart from personal testimony to draw on, 36 years after an alleged crime took place. It was a grotesque political drama, in which everyone lost.

Both Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh have been traumatized and ill-served by the process. At the all-day Senate hearing, there was no real sifting of evidence about her allegation that he sexually assaulted her, because nothing but memories were on the table. (We still don’t even know when or where the alleged attack happened.) Other witnesses were not called to testify, which they obviously should have been, if only to say (as they all have) that they had no memory of the event. So we were left to judge the credibility of two individuals, who both said they were 100 percent certain...

He behaved, it seemed to me, exactly as an innocent man would behave if accused of a crime in his teenage years — especially a crime that was unveiled by his political opponents at the very last moment. It was one that he could not possibly refute (no one can prove a negative) and it catalyzed a media frenzy — multiple gang rapes! — that continues to get more extreme every day. There’s a reason we have statutes of limitation. When alleged crimes happened decades ago, proof is very hard, and allegations much easier. And when the alleged perpetrator was also a minor, we’re in a very weird and difficult place...

Even his yearbook was being dissected. Stupid cruelties and brags from teenage boys were now being used to define his character, dismiss his record as a judge, his sterling references, his respected scholarship, his devoted family, his relationship with women in every capacity. He had to fend off new accusations, ever more grave and ever more vague.

And there were times, it seems to me, that he simply couldn’t win. If he hadn’t hired and mentored many women, it would be proof he was a misogynist and rapist. But the fact that he did hire and mentor many of them was also proof he was a misogynist and a rapist, who only picked the pretty ones. If he hadn’t shown anger, he would have been obviously inhuman. When he did express rage … well, that was a disqualifying temperament for a judge. It didn’t help that the Democrats made no pretense of having an open mind, or that any glimpse at mainstream media — let alone media Twitter — revealed that it had already picked a side. This was, for the major papers, especially the New York Times, a righteous battle against another white straight male, and the smug, snarky virtue-signaling on Twitter was in overdrive. Even Kavanaugh’s choking-up was mocked — just another contemptible “bro-crier.”

And so when Lindsey Graham suddenly unloaded on the Democrats, I felt a wave of euphoria. “Yes,” I said to myself. “Go get ’em, Butters!” When Senator Blumenthal got all self-righteous about a single lie destroying someone’s credibility, I actually LOL-ed. Then I remembered all those op-eds and essays that decided to judge one moment in one man’s teens as somehow deeply revealing about … white privilege, toxic masculinity, white supremacy, toxic homosociality, bro culture, alcoholism, patriarchy … you name it, Kavanaugh was suddenly its foul epitome. He was an instant symbol of all the groups of people the left now hates, by virtue of their race or gender or orientation. And maybe he is. But did any of that necessarily make him guilty of anything, except by association?...

By dinnertime, I felt like I’d vote for him, if I were a senator — because I found the Democrats so nauseatingly priggish. Then I remembered I was against the Kavanaugh nomination for other reasons entirely...

When public life means the ransacking of people’s private lives even when they were in high school, we are circling a deeply illiberal drain... These lines are also blurred in authoritarian regimes, where the power of the government knows few limits in monitoring a person’s home or private affairs or correspondence or tax returns or texts. These boundaries definitionally can’t exist in theocracies, where the state is interested as much in punishing and exposing sin, as in preventing crime. The Iranian and Saudi governments — like the early modern monarchies — seek not only to control your body, but also to look into your soul. They know that everyone has a dark side, and this dark side can be exposed in order to destroy people. All you need is an accusation.

The Founders were obsessed with this. They realized how precious privacy is... it is the distinguishing mark of specifically totalitarian societies that this safety is eradicated altogether by design. There, the private is always emphatically public, everything is political, and ideology trumps love, family, friendship or any refuge from the glare of the party and its public... You are, in fact, always guilty before being proven innocent. You always have to prove a negative. And no offense at any point in your life is ever forgotten or off the table.

Perhaps gay people are particularly sensitive to this danger, because our private lives have long been the target of moral absolutists, and we have learned to be vigilant about moral or sex panics. For much of history, a mere accusation could destroy a gay person’s life or career, and this power to expose private behavior for political purposes is immense...

It seems to me that the Democrats have ensured this past week that if Kavanaugh is confirmed, they will have created an embittered foe in the Thomas mold. And if they end up with Barrett, they will have have someone on the Court more certain to strike down Roe than Kavanaugh."


Daniel Jordan - "Seems like the term dog whistle has become so popular lately. But it's not being used correctly; perhaps some politicians really are brilliant enough to speak in such coded double entendres to their own base. Certainly the idea that Trump and his supporters both use and hear such dog whistles so frequently seems to be incompatible with the idea that Trump is an inarticulate man... For one to skillfully use double entendres and coded messages as masterfully as has been accused requires a certain kind of mental acumen that I really don't think Trump himself possesses... Now take a look at what we have here with Kavanaugh being accused of using dog whistling as if it's appealing to a base....he's not needing to be elected. This is not a campaign. He needs to be confirmed; the term could not possibly apply unless the public in their ignorance is buying into the absolute political theatrics demonstrated by Dem. senators Harris and Booker. More often than not the term is being used by left leaning politicians to create or interpret their own 'code' to reiterate to their own base what they should think about their political opponents. Typically in the form of 'veiled' racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, mysogyny etc. It really just amounts to absolute histrionics which is continuing to fuel things such as the #walkaway campaign. People are waking up to how baseless these accusations are. The hyperbolic nature of such things has been a big part of what is polarizing most western democracies."

Partisan Bias, Motivated Reasoning, and the Debate Over the Kavanaugh Nomination - "One of the most striking aspects of the debate over the sexual assault accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is the extremely high correlation between what people think of the allegations and whether they believe Kavanaugh should be confirmed aside from them"

Benny on Twitter - "We learned today that Ford cannot remember:
- Time/date/location of party
- Who drove her to party
- Who was at party
- Who pushed her into room
- Who drove her from party
- Date/who paid for her polygraph
- Grandmother's funeral date?
But "100% sure" it was Kavanaugh 36 yrs ago"

Traumatic Moments Are Burned Into Memory, Scientists Say - "memory is fallible. A question on many people's minds is, how well can anyone recall something that happened over 35 years ago? Pretty well, say scientists, if the memory is of a traumatic event."
Yet, if you can only remember one thing...

Trauma, PTSD, and Memory Distortion - "people do not store the details of an experience in their memory accompanied by labels specifying their origins. Instead, they rely on heuristics, such as how familiar the event details feel, to determine whether a remembered detail actually occurred or was merely suggested or imagined. Critically, post-event processing—such as actively imagining new details or experiencing unwanted intrusive thoughts—can increase the familiarity of new details enough that people may mistakenly claim those new details as genuine memory traces. This is memory distortion... The participants scored well on their ability to recognize scenes that they had indeed been shown as part of the video. However, about one-fourth of the time, they “recognized” scenes that they hadn’t actually seen! They were far more likely to “over-remember” the traumatic scenes than the non-traumatic ones, and they did so with confidence... those with the PTSD-like symptoms were more likely than the others to “over-remember” traumatic elements of the film that they hadn’t actually seen. This is further evidence of a link between PTSD symptoms and memory distortion."

Fundraiser for Ford Family by Team Christine Blasey Ford : Help Christine Blasey Ford - "$528,475 of $150,000 goal"
"She has nothing to gain"

PIERS: The day DC died of shame: Two broken souls publicly tortured - "Kavanaugh’s not just any man. He’s one of America’s most experienced, respected judges; so a man who until two weeks ago, was considered to be someone of total integrity, someone beyond reproach... For these two previously unknown people to be dragged through such a revolting public court of gladiatorial barbarism for the delectation of a mass TV audience was painful, so painful I could barely watch at times. Yet it was an absolutely inevitable consequence of the way Washington has spiralled in recent years into a vile cesspit of extreme partisan bullsh*t – fuelled by rampant, vicious social media... what we watched today was nothing short of a circus - a long, disturbing, wretched circus; a circus watched by a baying global mob, most of whom decided long before the hearings began whom they believed... The Democrats, led by Senator Dianne Feinstein, timed this bombshell to cause maximum damage to the nomination process, and to exploit the inevitable scandalous headlines to influence the vital midterm elections in just 40 days time. Feinstein knew about Ford’s allegation two months ago. The right thing to do would have been to publicly demand an immediate investigation – including, if necessary, by the FBI. Instead, she held it back, waiting to strike when the potential political gain was at its most timely. In doing so, she behaved in exactly the same reprehensibly partisan self-serving manner that Republicans have behaved over previous Democrat Supreme Court nominations. But that makes her just as bad as them. Shame on Senator Feinstein, shame on the Democrats.

The Kavanaugh Circus Could Destroy The "Me Too" Movement - "Farrow and his colleague Jane Mayer did a huge disservice to the Me Too movement by publishing an incredibly thin sexual-abuse allegation against Brett Kavanaugh. That story, a prime example of how some media outlets and left-wing voices have mishandled the accusations against the judge, will likely create a climate in which fewer victims are believed, more innocent men suffer for crimes they didn’t commit, and neutral observers are more inclined to doubt claims of sexual assault... They write of Kavanaugh’s accuser, Deborah Ramirez: “In her initial conversations with The New Yorker, she was reluctant to characterize Kavanaugh’s role in the alleged incident with certainty,” saying she was only willing to go on the record “after six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney,” at which point “she felt confident enough of her recollections.” Their effort to publish this story should’ve stopped right there. What’s more, they couldn’t find a single eyewitness to confirm that Kavanaugh was present at the party Ramirez describes, or even to confirm they heard this account from the accuser herself. One friend of Ramirez’s told The New Yorker: “This is a woman I was best friends with. We shared intimate details of our lives. And I was never told this story by her, or by anyone else. It never came up. I didn’t see it; I never heard of it happening.”.. Hawaii senator Mazie Hirono has advanced the extremely dangerous notion that it doesn’t matter whether Kavanaugh committed misconduct or not. Last week, she insisted that “not only do women like Dr. Ford . . . need to be heard, but they need to be believed” and that all men need to “just shut up and step up.” And when CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Hirono Sunday whether Kavanaugh has “the same presumption of innocence as anyone else in America,” the Democratic senator replied, “I put his denial in the context of everything that I know about him in terms of how he approaches his cases.” With this answer, Hirono - who casts herself as one of our government’s foremost opponents of sexual abuse - dealt a significant blow to the seriousness of the Me Too movement. If it doesn’t actually matter whether alleged abusers actually abused anyone, and it’s just a question of partisanship, why should Americans listen to the stories of victims at all? Just decide whether or not you like the politics of the person being accused, and that’s that."
Rolling Stone Jackie must be laughing

Juanita Broaddrick Shows Up At Kavanaugh Hearing To ‘Look Hypocrite Democrats In The Eye’ - "Juanita Broaddrick, a woman who has accused Bill Clinton of rape, showed up outside the Senate calling Democrats “hypocrites” for not believing her allegations... “I have twenty times more evidence for my rape by Bill Clinton than Dr. Ford has against Kavanaugh,” Broaddrick says, “Democrats turned their backs on me. They refused to read my testimony or acknowledge me in 1999 when I went public with my story. Democrats turned their backs on me.” Broaddrick said that the mantra the ‘All women deserve to be believed” does not apply to her. “All women are to be believed if they’re not conservatives and as long as the assault was not done by Democrats.” Broaddrick brought up the domestic abuse allegations against DNC Co-Chair Keith Ellison: “Ellison is leading the Democratic party right now. He should be kicked out of office. Karen Monahan has 10 times the evidence that Dr. Ford does. Where is her hearing?”"

Robby Starbuck on Twitter - "So according to Julie Swetnick’s accusation we’re supposed to believe that a gang of serial rapists were terrorizing young women at house parties and not only did no one ever report it but she KEPT GOING TO THE PARTIES? Oh and the FBI missed this on 6 background checks? Really?!"

EXCLUSIVE: Woman Who Partied with Georgetown Prep Football Team Disputes Gang Rape Allegations - "The latest allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh the day before Christine Blasey Ford is scheduled to testify have thrown another grenade into the confirmation process. Significant holes have already been demonstrated in the accusations made by Julie Swetnick that Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were present at parties where she says she witnessed excessive drinking and drugging of girls at parties where "gang" or "train" rapes occurred. Swetnick claims to have repeatedly witnessed such events at multiple parties before she eventually became a victim herself... Lisa Miller, who graduated in 1981 from Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, a private Roman Catholic college-preparatory school for girls, spoke to PJ Media about the new allegations from Julie Swetnick. According to Miller, such activity described by Swetnick did not happen. She said such activities would have been widely known.

Kavanaugh Gave a Messy, Angry Performance That Would Never Be Allowed From a Woman
Feminists: Men should be more in touch with their feelings
Also feminists: Not like that!!!

Andrew Sullivan: America, Land of Brutal Binaries - "it is close to impossible, in this polarized climate, to deal with the specifics and complexities of each scandal from a non-tribal perspective. And so it seems that Kavanaugh is either a perfect exemplar of judicial expertise and impeccable moral conduct, or he is a lying rapist determined to destroy and control the lives of all women. Ghomeshi is evil, and granting any space for such a monster to defend or account for himself is itself an act of oppression, which must be shamed and punished. Those appear to be our choices, ladies and gentlemen, in this particular polarization cycle. There is little nuance in these battles and absolutely no mercy for anyone unlucky enough to get caught up in their swirling vortex. This is what our culture is driving us toward, and it’s a culture where each moment of conflict galvanizes and tribalizes us still further, in what seems like an endlessly repeating loop of resentment, righteousness, and revenge. It’s now even invaded the Catholic church. Haidt and Lukianoff note how humans are constructed genetically for this kind of tribal warfare, to divide the world instinctively into in-groups and out-groups almost from infancy. For homo sapiens, it is natural to see the world, as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks put it, as radically “divided into the unimpeachably good and the irredeemably bad.” It is much harder to see, as Solzhenitsyn did, even after he had been sent to the gulag by his ideological enemies, that good and evil run through every human heart... offering someone a chance to provide testimony in a private session wherever she chooses is not “silencing” her. Senator Hirono has gone further and told half the citizenry to “shut up” solely because they are male... "props to everyone at NYRB for this, it’s rare to have a win.” The “win” was a journalist getting another journalist fired for attempting to start a difficult conversation... Their hypothesis is that the members of the iGen generation (those born in the mid- to late 1990s) have been raised (unwittingly and with good intentions) in such a way to maximize tribal identities rather than dilute them. They have been told, in Haidt’s and Lukianoff’s view, that safety is far more important than exposure to the unknown, that they should always trust their feelings, and that life is a struggle between good people and evil people. This infantilizes them, emotionalizes them, and tribalizes them... “When my brothers try to draw a circle to exclude me, I shall draw a larger circle to include them.” Those words were written in 1945 by Pauli Murray, a transgender, black civil rights activist... Today’s well-intentioned activists — the ones driving much of the conversation around Kavanaugh and, on a much smaller scale, Buruma — in contrast, are drawing an ever smaller, purer, more tightly policed circle, in order to wage a scorched earth war against another, ever-purer, tightly policed circle. And God help anyone who gets in their way."

Two men tell Senate that they, not Kavanaugh, assaulted Christine Blasey Ford - "Two men have come forward to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to claim that they are the ones who actually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford during a house party in 1982 — and not Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh."
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