It is disgusting.
Here is a few tweets of note:
I can’t find anything funny in this, but the commentary on “female prosecutor” was on point.
There was a tsunami/earthquake overnight:
I think I need a break…from everything!
This is an open thread.
And for once it really is a good morning. I slept well last night for the first time since the news that Trump’s SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted women in high school and college. I just hope the FBI investigation will be a thorough and serious one.
Aside from the sexual assault accusations, the investigators must look into Kavanaugh’s drinking habits. As most of you know I am a recovering alcoholic (sober 37 years now), so I speak from experience when I say that Kavanaugh displays all the behavioral hallmarks of an active alcoholic. For example, he is inappropriately defensive–even belligerant–when asked about his drinking; at the same time, he can’t stop talking about it how much he likes beer. Of course, I’m not alone in noticing this.
Robin Abcarian at The Los Angeles Times: Was I the only one who shuddered at Brett Kavanaugh’s belligerent comments about beer?
Like a lot of people who have lived with or been friends with people who love beer a little too much, I experienced some familiar, unpleasant emotions as I watched the Supreme Court nominee’s behavior disintegrate Thursday in his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing….
Once senators started to question him, his high dudgeon, which was defensible, turned into something darker and far more revealing about who he is: a political operative who had the great good fortune to be named as judge to a court that is a proving ground for future Supreme Court justices. Someone, it became clear, who likes beer, but does not want to be asked about drinking. In fact, he mentioned some version of liking beer at least 12 times, according to the hearing transcript….
When Kavanaugh was asked by Rachel Mitchell — the prosecutor hired by committee Republicans to keep the proceedings civil — whether he consumed alcohol during high school, he could have simply said “Yes.”
Instead, he began one of several alcohol-related rants. “Yes, we drank beer,” he said. “My friends and I, the boys and girls. Yes, we drank beer. I liked beer. Still like beer. We drank beer. The drinking age, as I noted, was 18, so the seniors were legal, senior year in high school, people were legal to drink, and we — yeah, we drank beer, and I said sometimes — sometimes probably had too many beers, and sometimes other people had too many beers…. We drank beer. We liked beer.”
When Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse asked him whether the phrase “Ralph Club” in his high school yearbook referred to vomiting related to drinking, Kavanaugh could not even bear to entertain the question. He could have simply said “Yes.” Most people know that “ralphing” is a side effect of over-consumption.
Instead, he obfuscated. “Senator, I was at the top of my class academically, busted my butt in school. Captain of the varsity basketball team. Got in Yale College. When I got into Yale College, got into Yale Law School. Worked my tail off.”
“And did the word ‘ralph’ … refer to alcohol?” Whitehouse asked.
“I like beer,” replied Kavanaugh. “I like beer. I don’t know if you do…. Do you like beer, Senator, or not? What do you like to drink? Senator, what do you like to drink?”
More examples at the link.
Aside from his denial and defensiveness, Kavanaugh demonstrates what people in the recovery community call an alcoholic personality. It’s difficult to explain what I mean by that, but anyone who has been close to an active alcoholic would see it in Kavanaugh. He appears to be a high functioning alcoholic, and because he has been enabled all his life by the people around him he may never before been challenged publicly in the way he was on Thursday. But I’d bet any amount of money that the people close to him have been exposed to his alcoholic behavior. Frankly, as I watched Kavanaugh’s shocking performance on Thursday, I wondered if he might have been drinking before the hearing.
Alcohol affects the brain and changes the way we think. Excessive drinking can affect behavior even when the person is not under the influence. It affects your entire personality and prevents you from becoming a fully functioning adult. Based on Kavanaugh’s performance on Thursday, I think he hasn’t matured that much emotionally since high school because he has been drinking heavily for a long time. Another alcoholic characteristic Kavanaugh demonstrates is his inability to be honest with himself and other people. There is no way a man like this should be a judge on any court, much less the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh’s testimony on Thursday also called into question his judicial temperament and whether he could be impartial. Alan Liptik at The New York Times: A Bitter Nominee, Questions of Neutrality, and a Damaged Supreme Court.
His performance on Thursday, responding to accusations of sexual misconduct at a hearing of the same Senate committee, sent a different message. Judge Kavanaugh was angry and emotional, embracing the language of slashing partisanship. His demeanor raised questions about his neutrality and temperament and whether the already fragile reputation of the Supreme Court as an institution devoted to law rather than politics would be threatened if he is confirmed
“This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit,” he said, “fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.” [….]
The charged language recalled Judge Kavanaugh’s years as a partisan Republican, working for Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated a series of scandals involving Bill and Hillary Clinton, and serving as an aide in the administration of George W. Bush. It was less consistent with the detached judicial temperament that lawyers associate with an ideal judge.
All of this, said Judith Resnik, a law professor at Yale, was “partisan and not judicious.” Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation in the wake of his performance, she added, could leave the Supreme Court “under a cloud of politics and scandal from which it would not recover for decades.”
More expert opinions:
“Every bit of research ever done on the subject concludes that judges are human beings with emotional reactions that influence how they decide cases,” said Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, a law professor at Cornell.
“This process clearly has ignited a passionate reaction in Judge Kavanaugh that will doubtless influence him for the rest of his life,” Professor Rachlinski said. “Research on how emotions influence judges suggests that he will be unable to set this experience aside when deciding cases involving relevant subjects or parties who are closely aligned with those he has today treated as personal enemies.”
Eric J. Segall, a law professor at Georgia State, said Thursday’s hearing both illuminated Judge Kavanaugh’s political outlook and was likely to affect his voting on the Supreme Court if the Senate confirms him.
“His time in the executive branch and his work for Starr suggested he was one of the most partisan nominees in a long time,” Professor Segall said.
Read the rest at the NYT. Based on his history, Kavanaugh would likely use his seat on the Supreme Court to enact revenge on Democrats and on women.
But what about the reopened background investigation? The FBI will likely investigate Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations against Kavanaugh first. The Los Angeles Times asked former FBI agents about what clues they saw in the public testimony.
Former FBI officials expressed confidence Friday that agents could quickly interview key witnesses and track down potential leads into Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both high school students in the early 1980s.
“There is plenty of lead value in the testimony that was provided during the confirmation hearing and there are plenty of living witnesses that can be identified, contacted and interviewed,” said James McJunkin, a former top FBI official. “They can do this fairly quickly.”
Information from the hearing could provide “crumbs agents could follow,” said Bobby Chacon, a former FBI agent who retired in 2014. “There might less than a handful of interviews they may want to do and follow up.”
FBI spokeswoman Jacqueline Maguire declined to comment.
Ford’s dramatic testimony and details scrawled on the calendars Kavanaugh said he kept from the summer of 1982, when Ford believes the alleged assault occurred, offered promising lines of inquiry, the former officials said.
Among other clues, Ford provided the names of several potential witnesses to her account, including two classmates of Kavanaugh’s at Georgetown Preparatory School in the Washington suburbs.
The personal calendar that Kavaugh provided also contains many clues.
Former agents noted that Kavanaugh’s calendar entries from 1982 could help provide timelines and additional witnesses. They noted, for example, a calendar entry on July 1 of a party with several friends, including Judge and Smythe.
It seems likely that the calendar will be a rich source of names and other information. Many people have focused on the July 1 entry. Philip Bump wrote out it at The Washington Post: Kavanaugh is pressed on the key July 1 entry in his calendar. But only to a point.
Rachel Mitchell, hired by the Republican majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee to navigate the questioning of Kavanaugh and Ford, pointed to one particular calendar entry that got some attention after the calendars came out. It read:
Tobin’s House — Workout / Go to Timmy’s for Skis w/ Judge, Tom, PJ, Bernie, Squi
The reference to “skis” is apparently to “brewskis,” or beers. The entry was July 1, a Thursday. Mitchell asked him about it.
MITCHELL: The entry says, and I quote, go to ‘Timmy’s for skis with Judge, Tom, P.J. Bernie and … Squi?’
KAVANAUGH: Squi. It’s a nickname.
MITCHELL: To what does this refer, and to whom?
KAVANAUGH: [after explaining the “Tobin’s House” part] It looks like we went over to Timmy’s. You want to know their last names, too? I’m happy to do it.
MITCHELL: If you could just identify: Is ‘Judge’ Mark Judge?
KAVANAUGH: It is. It’s Tim Gaudette, Mark Judge, Tom Kaine, P.J. Smyth, Bernie McCarthy, Chris Garrett.
Notice two things here. First, that “Squi” was in attendance at the party — someone who, we learned thanks to Mitchell’s questioning of Ford, was going out with Ford over the course of that summer. Second, notice those two other attendees, one of whom Mitchell highlighted: Mark Judge and P.J. Smyth.
Not too long after this, Lindsey Graham began yelling and screaming and Rachel Mitchell was erased from the hearing. Certainly FBI agents will want to talk to Tim Gaudette, whose home the boys planned to go for beer and Chris Garrett who was Ford’s connection to Kavanaugh.
It’s also interesting that the day of the party was the Thursday before the long Fourth of July weekend, so it wasn’t just an ordinary weekday (Kavanaugh claimed that he and his friends only drank on weekends.) And is there any connection here to the FFFFFourth of July entry in Kavanaugh’s yearbook?
I assume reporters will be following up on these clues even if the FBI doesn’t. It’s going to be an interesting week.
So . . . what stories are you following today?
I’m fucking triggered today and I’m exhausted. I have that limpness that comes from a huge long crying jag without even having that huge long crying jag and its emotional release.
The display of white male fragility and rage at not having a unencumbered, petal strewn path to power yesterday has left me feeling drained and sad. It’s difficult to understand how we’ve arrived at this point. We appear doomed to spend the rest of our lives trying to undo it all over again.
It is truly a sad day for any one that cares about civil rights.
The current state of the US Senate will probably embolden Trump to go after Sessions, Mueller and Rosenstein and Lindsey Graham will be installed as the next AG as a reward for his shameful behavior yesterday. It was an all day display of Rageholics and spoiled brats that will do anything to maintain their wealth and power over others.
All kinds of organizations are calling for Kavanaugh’s name to be withdrawn or a launch of a full investigation but I seriously doubt that will happen. There are only baby men and their enablers in the Republican party. Any show of statesmanship and patriotism has left the building.
Here are some headlines because I feel quite drained and sad. Women are being given the bum’s rush back to the 19th century. I’m just waiting for them to repeal our voting rights. Next move will be to reinstate slavery, I’d bet. Just repeal all those inconvenient amendments to the Constitution that make the rest of us a little less fearful for our lives and then enshrine us as less than human; less than any white straight rich powerful male.
The e-mails show that Mike Davis, a senior Republican committee staffer, approached Ramirez’s attorneys on Sunday evening, shortly after The New Yorker published a piece about Senate Democrats investigating her allegation of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh during their college years. Ramirez told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. Kavanaugh has repeatedly said that the allegations are false.
From the start, Ramirez’s legal team had called for the F.B.I. to conduct an investigation. Her attorney John Clune told Davis that Ramirez was seeking an F.B.I. investigation and said that, “on appropriate terms, she would also agree to be interviewed in person.” But when Clune proposed a phone call several times, Davis repeatedly insisted that Clune answer two questions: Did Ramirez possess evidence in addition to what was in the New Yorker article? And was she willing to provide testimony to the committee’s investigators?
Clune answered the Republican staffer’s questions, suggesting that Ramirez did, in fact, have additional witnesses and other evidence. And, he said, of Ramirez’s willingness to testify to the committee’s investigators, “We couldn’t answer without learning more from you about the details of whatever process you are contemplating. After hearing more, we would advise the client accordingly.” Davis then requested that Ramirez’s team provide evidence in the form of a letter, e-mail, or statement to the committee’s investigators before he would consider a call. Clune continued to try to schedule a call with a Democratic staffer on the e-mail thread, but Davis wrote back to him, saying that, “before we discuss a phone call or any other next steps, again, we need to have the following information,” and reiterated the two questions.
At that point, Heather Sawyer, the Democratic staffer who was copied on the e-mails in accordance with committee policy, wrote to Davis, “As you’re aware, Ms. Ramirez’s counsel have repeatedly requested to speak with the Committee, on a bipartisan basis, to determine how to proceed. You refused. I’ve never encountered an instance where the Committee has refused even to speak with an individual or counsel. I am perplexed as to why this is happening here, except that it seems designed to ensure that the
Majority can falsely claim that Ms. Ramirez and her lawyers refused to cooperate. That simply is not true.”
The American Bar Association is calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to halt the consideration of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until an FBI investigation is completed into the sexual assault allegations that have roiled his nomination.
In a strongly worded letter obtained by CNN Thursday, the organization said it is making the extraordinary request “because of the ABA’s respect for the rule of law and due process under law,” siding with concerns voiced by Senate Democrats since Christine Blasey Ford’s decades-old allegations became public.
“The basic principles that underscore the Senate’s constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI,” said Robert Carlson, president of the organization, in a Thursday night letter addressed to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein.
“Each appointment to our nation’s Highest Court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote,” Carlson wrote. “Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate’s reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court.”
From Axios: The next ugly fight: Impeachment(s)
In a foreshadowing of how much uglier U.S. politics could get, top Democratic operatives are already talking about impeachment of Brett Kavanaugh as a 2020 campaign issue if he gets confirmed to the Supreme Court.
The impeachment talk reflects the conclusion of Democrats and Republicans close to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh’s confirmation is more likely than not — and certainly more likely than it was 24 hours ago.
- A well-known Democratic strategist says the “only question is who calls for it first.”
- And top Republicans expect President Trump to begin making an even bigger issue of his own possible impeachment as a way of whipping up supporters in the final month of this fall’s midterm campaigns.
- A veteran Republican close to Senate leaders and the White House: “Impeachment of Trump and Kav will be an animating issue on both sides.”
Why it matters: Yesterday’s epic hearing — a tearful, outraged Kavanaugh following a tearful, credible Christine Blasey Ford — will likely stand as a nine-hour distillation of our toxic era.
What to watch: “Democrats tonight are depleted, raw, furious, and churning,” emails an adviser to Ford’s camp.
- A Republican insider texted his belief that Kavanaugh will make it (something the insider had doubted earlier in the day) and added: “What ugly times. We may be doomed.”
The war was embodied by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) who rallied the GOP by caustically accusing Democrats: “What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020.”
- The N.Y. Times’ Jeremy Peters tweeted: “[W]hat I saw today was a fury between members of opposite parties that is as profound and unnerving as I’ve ever seen. They’re not faking it.”
Be smart: If Kavanaugh is confirmed, Democrats could be expected to question the legitimacy of his swing Supreme Court vote. Congress degraded itself yesterday. And the Trump White House of course has serious credibility issues.
- So the United States of America will be three-for-three in diminished trust in its branches of government.
From Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post: The most telling moment: Kavanaugh goes after Sen. Klobuchar
Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh decided that to have any chance to reach the court, he would have to shed the pretense he was a fair-minded, calm, judicious thinker. He came out in the afternoon filled with venom, screaming at the committee. His life was being ruined, he claimed. This was a Clinton-like smear. His anger was both frightening and unexpected — if you thought he was that intellectual whom conservatives have swooned over. He yelled, and he cried. If you thought he was sincere, one could also appreciate how partisan and emotional he had become.
The shouting didn’t end with his opening statement. He barked at the ranking Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Then the Republicans got into the screaming act, pushing their outside lawyer Rachel Mitchell aside in favor of histrionics from Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.). If President Trump loved the nasty, male grievance game, the rest of us had reason to wonder if anyone of this temperament — Cornyn, Graham or Kavanaugh — should be in a position of power. If they were women, they would be called “hysterical.”
Kavanaugh, as of this writing, made a couple major errors.
First, he refused to call for an FBI investigation (even when Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois invited him to ask it of White House counsel Donald McGahn). When Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) questioned about his friend Mark Judge, Kavanaugh slipped and said “you’d have to ask [Judge]”, who of course the Republicans refuse to summon as a witness. The refusal to get the facts is both a telling admission of concern about what they would find and a violation the judicial goal of truth-seeking. It’s a political calculation, exactly what you don’t want to see from a judge.
The worst moment was his confrontation with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) who questioned him about blackout drinking. She explained that she understood alcohol abuse because her father was an alcoholic. Have you ever blacked out? she asked. He sneered in response, “Have you?” It was a moment of singular cruelty and disrespect. One saw a flash in the exchange with Klobuchar the same sense of entitlement, cruelty and lack of simple decency that Christine Blasey Ford allegedly experienced way back when, the memory seared in her brain of two obnoxious teens laughing at her ordeal.
During his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the allegations of sexual assault made against him by Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh harangued the committee in a plaintive squawk. He seemed perpetually on the verge of tears ― especially, for some inscrutable reason, when he lovingly recalled how well-organized his father’s daily calendar was ― yet also incandescent with partisan fury and petulance about the injustice being done to him.
And Republican men, from pundits to the president, apparently reveled in it. Those in the room, such as Sens. Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch and Ben Sasse, used their questioning time to apologize fulsomely to the judge and to shout imprecations against government overreach, Democratic perfidy and the great cruelty being done to Kavanaugh by investigating credible assault allegations against him prior to confirming him to a lifetime seat on the highest court in the nation.
I’m really afraid we’re going to be stuck with him the same way we’re stuck with Trump. Putin is probably serving champagne at the St Petersburg Troll Farm as we speak.
Okay, that’s about all I can take of this for the moment. Vent away! Cry! Do whatever you have to do! Be excellent to yourselves. We have each other and I love you all!
Today beginning at 10AM, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a brief hearing in which one of the women who has accused SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford, will tell her story and Kavanaugh will respond by lying and obfuscating.
I can’t imagine anything useful could come out of the hearing, since each questioner will have only 5 minutes to address complex issues. At best, the spectacle of 11 white men hiding behind a woman prosecutor might lead to more public outrage against the GOP and their deeply flawed nominee. It’s not clear what how Democrats will handle the questioning; they’ve kept their plans close to the vest.
I wanted to get this post up early so we can follow the hearing and aftermath together. I hope people will join in. Here are some reads to check out today.
The Daily Beast: ‘Disaster’: Trumpworld Starting to Sweat Over Brett Kavanaugh’s Mounting Sexual Assault Allegations. Excerpt:
Going into this past weekend, the Trump White House was sounding self-assured about Kavanaugh’s prospects, with senior aides saying they felt he could weather the allegations and horrifically bad press. Since then, two other female accusers have come forward, and the swagger from Team Trump has been replaced with, at best, a shaken confidence.
Officials inside the White House, as well as outside advisers, told the The Daily Beast that mood has become less bullish. Senior aides fear delivering Trump a major failure and humiliation that he can—and likely will—pin on those around him and squeamish Republican lawmakers. There is palpable fear that the party’s base will turn on Republicans should the Kavanaugh nomination fail.
Top donors, meanwhile, have said that they will continue writing checks out of a growing fear that the party could lose the Senate in addition to the House this coming fall. But one major contributor warned that lawmakers had to show them that they had put up a sufficient fight to get Kavanaugh on to the Court or else the checks wouldn’t come….
At this point, Trump’s team and Kavanaugh’s camp are publicly maintaining calm and privately encouraging allies to do the same. On a Monday conference call with White House surrogates, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, had insisted that the “president and this White House continue to stand strongly behind Judge Kavanaugh,” according to a person on the line. By Wednesday, a senior West Wing official said that the president’s posture remained unchanged.
But aides also acknowledge that Kavanaugh’s prospects were growing more endangered. “Thursday could be a disaster or it could be…a victory, we don’t know,” one aide said, referencing the planned testimony Kavanaugh and his accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford plan to give to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Yesterday during his deranged press conference, Trump seemed to suggest that he could decide to dump Kavanaugh. But he was all over the map in his embarrassing, manic performance. Todd Purdum summarizes Trump’s 81-minute rant at The Atlantic: President Trump’s Surreal News Conference Didn’t Do Kavanaugh Any Favors.
In more than 80 surreal minutes of what seemed less like a news conference than a public free-association session on a therapist’s couch, the president of the United States dismissed accusations of sexual misconduct against Judge Brett Kavanaugh as “all false to me,” then insisted he wanted to hear Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony because “I can be convinced of anything. Maybe she will say something.”
He portrayed Kavanaugh’s Democratic Senate opponents as the organizers of a “big, fat con job,” then acknowledged without missing a beat that he would withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination “if I thought he was guilty of something like this, sure.” He praised Kavanaugh as “one of the highest-quality people that I have ever met,” then suggested that the judge’s life was not so spotless, allowing that even George Washington may have had “a couple of things in his past.” [….]
Who can say whether Trump’s apparently unbridled, even unhinged, display of id amounted to just that? Or to a free-form, last-ditch effort to defend the nomination on the eve of crucial testimony from Ford and Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday? Or to a calculated trial balloon for withdrawing it (“I could pick a woman, and she could have charges made from many years ago also,” he said at one point)? Or to some combination of all of the above? The assessment of Nicolle Wallace, the former George W. Bush and John McCain aide, was succinct, and indisputable.
“I suspect,” she tweeted, “that the 25th Amendment might be discussed more widely if there were daily press conferences.”
Yesterday, Morning Consult released a news poll on the Kavanaugh nomination: Republican Women Lose Faith in Kavanaugh — and Trump — After Week of Accusations.
Public support for Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat has dropped to its lowest point since President Donald Trump nominated him in July, driven in large part by a sector of the president’s base: Republican women.
A new Morning Consult/Politico poll, conducted Sept. 20-23, found support for Kavanaugh’s confirmation is underwater among registered voters for the first time since his nomination, with 37 percent opposing the Senate confirming him and 34 percent supporting it.
The new finding marks a 5-percentage-point drop in net support since a poll conducted last week, after Christine Blasey Ford detailed her allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while the two were in high school, a charge he has repeatedly denied.
Read more at the link above.
Important reads from women writers:
Lili Loofbourow at Slate: Brett Kavanaugh and the Cruelty of Male Bonding.
For what it’s worth, and absent evidence or allegations to the contrary, I believe Brett Kavanaugh’s claim that he was a virgin through his teens. I believe it in part because it squares with some of the oddities I’ve had a hard time understanding about his alleged behavior: namely, that both allegations are strikingly different from other high-profile stories the past year, most of which feature a man and a woman alone. And yet both the Kavanaugh accusations share certain features: There is no penetrative sex, there are always male onlookers, and, most importantly, there’s laughter. In each case the other men—not the woman—seem to be Kavanaugh’s true intended audience. In each story, the cruel and bizarre act the woman describes—restraining Christine Blasey Ford and attempting to remove her clothes in her allegation, and in Deborah Ramirez’s, putting his penis in front of her face—seems to have been done in the clumsy and even manic pursuit of male approval. Even Kavanaugh’s now-notorious yearbook page, with its references to the “100 kegs or bust” and the like, seems less like an honest reflection of a fun guy than a representation of a try-hard willing to say or do anything as long as his bros think he’s cool. In other words: The awful things Kavanaugh allegedly did only imperfectly correlate to the familiar frame of sexual desire run amok; they appear to more easily fit into a different category—a toxic homosociality—that involves males wooing other males over the comedy of being cruel to women.
In both these accounts, Kavanaugh is laughing as he does something to a woman that disturbs or traumatizes her. Ford wrote in her letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, “Kavanaugh was on top of me while laughing with [Mark] Judge, who periodically jumped onto Kavanaugh. They both laughed as Kavanaugh tried to disrobe me in their highly inebriated state. With Kavanaugh’s hand over my mouth, I feared he may inadvertently kill me.”
“Brett was laughing,” Ramirez says in her account to the New Yorker. “I can still see his face, and his hips coming forward, like when you pull up your pants.” She recalled another male student shouting about the incident. “Somebody yelled down the hall, ‘Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie’s face,’ ” she said.
If these allegations are true, one of the more shocking things about them is the extent to which the woman being mistreated exists in a room where the men are performing for each other—using the woman to firm up their own bond.
Please read the whole thing if you haven’t already.
Alexandra Lescaze, also at Slate: We Didn’t Call It Rape. Lescase writes that the allegations against Kavanaugh are very familiar to her as a graduate of a DC-area private school.
I wish I were surprised. A week ago Sunday when Ford first shed her anonymity, detailing her sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh to the Washington Post, I wrote a note in the Facebook alumni group of my high school, National Cathedral School. I told my 1988 classmates that Ford’s story was bringing back disturbing high school memories. Apparently, I was not alone. A lot of women now in their 40s and 50s, who went to these single-sex D.C. prep schools in the 1980s, have been reaching out to each other in fraught emails and chats over the past week. Not only did the Holton-Arms alumnae start a petition in support of Ford, their fellow alum; there’s also one for anyone to sign who survived that toxic time and place.
I don’t personally know Ford now, and I didn’t know her in high school. But as the Holton women wrote, what Ford is alleging is “all too consistent with what we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.” And what Elizabeth Rasor alleges Mark Judge told her is not foreign to me, either. Whether and how the nation comes to hear more about these specific stories, they have evoked a collective scream.
A large part of my high school experience were the parties at cavernous houses with multiple bedrooms, huge dark basements with enormous sofas and yards, and lots and lots of beer. No parents—thinking back on it now, as a parent myself—were ever around. We traveled in groups and knew never to leave a friend alone at a party, but there was so much drinking that we sometimes lost track of each other. It could be difficult to know where your friends were and—if they were in a room with a boy—what was going on in there.
Every June, we had Beach Week—a tradition also described in a Washington Post piece about Ford—in which teenagers actually rent houses to party at the beach, something I still don’t quite comprehend. I distinctly remember being at a Beach Week party with my then-boyfriend when it dawned on us that there was a drunk girl in a room down the hall, and boys were “lining up” to go in there and, presumably, have their way with her. We didn’t know for sure, but my boyfriend and my friend’s boyfriend went to interrupt it and sent her on her way down the stairs. All I remember about her is that she was in the class above us and had dark hair. My friend has told me she remembers boys saying, “I’m next,” which was why our boyfriends went to stop it.
More to check out, links only:
Emily Jane Fox at The Atlantic: “I Was Ashamed”: After Ford’s Accusation, Holton-Arms Alumnae Wrestle With Their Own Truths—Together.
Jessica Valenti: How Very Bad Men Get Away With Rape. “It takes one person to commit a rape, but a village to let them get away with it over and over.”
Kate Manne at The New York Times: Brett Kavanaugh and America’s ‘Himpathy’ Reckoning.
If you watch the hearing, I hope you’ll share your reactions in the comment thread below.
Last night I said a prayer…in Hebrew. (Yeah, I can remember that from all those years back when I “converted” for my first husband.) I lit my two candles and Temple of India incense before my Virgin Marys, Lady of Guadalupe, La Morenetas, Green Tara and Hillary Clinton statues…I pulled out all the stops, you would say, to ask for strength to get through this shit. Only to find out that the woman who the GOP dickwads at the Kavanaugh hearing have got to question Dr. Ford is the sexual assault prosecutor for Maricopa County.
Mitchell is a registered Republican and has donated to the campaign of Mark Brnovich, Arizona’s Republican attorney general. But Nannetti, her predecessor and former supervisor, said that she has- never known Mitchell to be influenced by politics.
“Rachel will do her job as a professional,” Nannetti told The Washington Post. “And she will do it with the utmost respect to the committee. She does not play politics when it comes to anything involving her work.”
Under the leadership of then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office did not thoroughly investigate hundreds of sex crimes that were reported between 2005 and 2007. After those files were turned over to the county attorney’s office, Mitchell was one of the prosecutors who sorted through them to figure out which cases were still viable, Nannetti said. She later conducted training sessions for the sheriff’s office, in hopes of avoiding a repeat.
Mitchell has not entirely avoided controversy during her 26-year career at the county attorney’s office. In 2003, the Phoenix New Times reported that her office had declined to prosecute a man accused of physically abusing his quadriplegic wife. At the time, Mitchell said that it would be difficult to prove what happened, and that her office wouldn’t take a case if there wasn’t a likelihood that it would result in a successful prosecution. She also questioned the credibility of the woman, who had initially denied that she was being abused and then changed her story after filing for divorce.
In 2011, Mitchell’s office again faced criticism after a former Jehovah’s Witness elder was offered a plea agreement that allowed him to spend only six months in jail, which the New Times described as a “slap on the wrist.” At the time, Mitchell said that the victim’s allegations would be difficult to prove in court because he didn’t know the specific dates on which the alleged abuse took place.
I don’t know what to expect…I just want this bastard to be gone for good.
Some tweets of interest:
This is an open thread….