Thursday Reads: Horror Show on the Hill

Good Morning!!

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.

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.

Amanda Marcotte: GOP will still confirm Brett Kavanaugh — because of allegations, not in spite of them.

If you watch the hearing, I hope you’ll share your reactions in the comment thread below.


133 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Horror Show on the Hill”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Stay strong, Sky Dancers! Embrace your anger and take care of yourselves today. I love you all.

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Wow. Check out Karen Pence’s reaction to Trump being elected.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Grassley begins the hearing with a long, offensive speech praising Kavanaugh and lying about why Sen. Feinstein kept Ford’s letter confidential.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    I’m not sure if I can make it through this. My heart is racing and I’m completely tensed up.

    • Delphyne49 says:

      It’s heartbreaking listening to her testimony and how her voice is shaking. I can hear the 15 year old girl speaking.

    • Fannie says:

      I have had to get up and walk around, and go from room to room, and I must point out once again, my meltdown when I was ganged raped, and I just lost it, and can’t forget that happening here with all of you, and JJ. What really hits me now, is how her educational levels, how that has helped develop her character, and how she is has been helping students all these years, and how she is helping individuals like ourselves. She is in our heads, and in our hearts. The psychological effects today, are taking me in a new direction, not just for myself, but for all women. It will be a matter of hours, and we will know what conversations will the had in all the homes, and businesses across the country. I know millions of Americans felt the same way she did then, and what she is going through now. The seriousness and intensity must be something we all deal with.

      • NW Luna says:

        I hope she knows we are all sending her love and compassion and strength.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        I love you, Fannie. And you still have your sense of humor intact after all you went through.

        • Fannie says:

          Thank you Pat. Ms. Mitchell pissed me off when she asked her about taking the polygraph in a hotel room. She ask Ms. Ford, was there a BED in the room! Ms. Ford said, no, we were in a conference room at the hotel. I want to have answers as to why Ms. Ford is being interrogated by a prosecutor? This is not a trial. I wish a democrat would tell us what Kavanaugh was thinking when he had his hand over her mouth. One other thing, Ms. Mitchell came out asking about her therapy records. Where they online? I remember Hippa Laws, and Hillary Clinton developing those laws to protect a rape victim. Needless to say, Luv you Pat and all my sky dancers.

  6. bostonboomer says:

  7. bostonboomer says:

  8. bostonboomer says:

  9. Pat Johnson says:

    If this is “fairness” then I have no idea any longer what fairness is.

  10. bostonboomer says:

  11. roofingbird says:

    Repugs set this up to ding Democrats. The lunch break is revealing.

  12. Fannie says:

    With Kavanaugh, we will never have a better life in this country.

  13. roofingbird says:

    A talking head asked whether the electorate was going to go to their corners ask look through red or blue glasses. I would suggest those glasses are going to be shaped xx and xy.

  14. NW Luna says:

    My Senator. I am so proud of her.

  15. Fannie says:

    Lindsay Graham said this doesn’t mean anything, and I am voting for him tomorrow! In other words she is a liar, and we do not believe her. We need to see him removed from office.

  16. NW Luna says:

  17. NW Luna says:

    WTAF?

  18. NW Luna says:

    More on the subject of the cruelty of male bonding which BB discussed above.

    • NW Luna says:

      They may not have “a particular hatred for women” (though IMO they do) but they certainly treat women as chattel.

    • quixote says:

      This is a drum I’ve been hammering since forever. One of my more recent (and long 😦 ) efforts, Playing the man card is not about being a man.

      This is not about “masculinity.” Those guys wouldn’t know masculinity if it bit them on the arse. It’s about a caste system. It’s the same as any other system of privilege based on birth that humans have created. You get the similar put-down-and-bonding rituals in all of them. It marks membership in the high status group, not masculinity, not nobility, not being a Brahmin, or white, or rich.

      Those are just markers of the caste.

      The distinction is important because it’s not the marker of caste that’s the real problem. It’s the caste system. Calling it, eg “toxic masculinity” just makes it easier for men to think it’s some real part of them, and not just a vicious power play same as all the other chattel holders have tried.

      And the other reason it’s important, is that it’s much easier to see the commonalities in methods and cruelty and deprivation when the repeated pattern is obvious.

  19. Fannie says:

    The investigator, hasn’t investigated, the investigator……..in Maricopa Co. Az.

  20. Fannie says:

    If I had a teddy bear I’d grab it tight…………….gonna to take a warm shower now. I melted down when Cory Booker acknowledged her children, her husband, and what they have been through. Ms. Ford was teary eyed, because more often than not, people don’t think about their pain, and that stirred me up. He took the words right out of my mouth, so sorry for what they are going through too.

  21. Fannie says:

    Graham says he doesn’t know this, he doesn’t know that, and we damn well all know the FBI can be called in to find out! But NO, Trump doesn’t believe in the FBI. This is not a court of law Graham, ashol.

  22. NW Luna says:

    I like to think this is an Avenging Witch coming for Orrin Hatch and Lindsay Graham. Note the dragon skull in her broomstick.

  23. Fannie says:

    One of Ms. Ford lawyer is sitting behind Kavanaugh. It’ll be tough, but I am sticking with it.

  24. RonStill4Hills says:

    I was listening to the discussions of Georgetown Prep and the utter nonsense that the Moronic Joe panel was saying about “gang rape” factories when I was thunderstruck about a memory from my high school experience.

    I went to a private religious affiliated boarding academy, where sex and drugs were RAMPANT.

    Somehow I hadn’t thought about his till now.
    It was 1982-83, I was a Junior and a friend J- was totally devastated because his girlfriend went to a party over home leave, got wasted and allegedly had sex with four or five Senior boys.

    At the academy everyone had to have a job, and students could stay at school over leave and work to pay off tuition. P-, the girlfriend stayed to work. She was nice and well liked but considered ”wild.”

    The “party” was hosted by the son of a prominent faculty member.

    The thing that stuns me even now is that once the story got out:

    1). The word rape was never mentioned, even though P- was in a blackout.
    2) telling parents or faculty just never EVER came into the picture.
    3) the big concerne was not what happened to P-, it was whether or not J- would be considered a p***y if he didn’t break up with P-.
    4) the police weren’t even an after thought. They were no thought at all.

    We were not a “”gang rape factory.” We were probably on balance tamer than most schools and yet, a gang rape sure as shit took place.

    EVERYONE on campus eventually knew about it and NOONE told.

    I had not forgotten about it, I had just stopped thinking about it. It receded into a “non-memory” until this morning.

    They media guys were acting like the stories told by the Kavanaugh accusers are just too EXTREME to be believable, but I can tell you we had EXACTLY what they described happen at a church school in the 80’s and it was absolutely business as usual.

    • NW Luna says:

      This. Yes, that’s how it was, and still is far too often. It’s the girl’s fault she “had sex with” — translated: was raped — by 1 or more boys. So totally the cultural norm for the boys to feel they can use any means to get what they want. The frightened bewildered girls get the blame.

    • quixote says:

      Yes. The whole thing is like too much lightning at night, giving flashes of stark illumination showing the cages of misogyny all over the place.

      Very weird having flashbacks not only to the time, but also showing how much the structure around it has changed.

      At least it is changing. Although a large part of me keeps shouting, It’s 2018 I Can’t Believe I’m Still Protesting This Shit.

  25. Riverbird says:

    Kavanaugh is shouting. I wonder if he’s persuading anyone.

  26. Fannie says:

    He is angry, he’s crying, and praying for the woman. Oh please, his tone is much like Trump.This man does not have the temperament to serve on the highest court. He’s an attempted rapist, and he’s part of the Good Ol’ Plow Boys.

    • NW Luna says:

      Praying for the woman? His gawd is a predator. Forget the “Do unto Others” part, Judge?

    • NW Luna says:

      And of course he also says it’s all the Clintons’ fault. I’d laugh if he wasn’t so despicable and dangerous.

  27. Fannie says:

    He hasn’t say a damn thing about what the republicans have been saying, it’s all about democrats.

  28. NW Luna says:

    Trigger warning.

  29. NW Luna says:

  30. NW Luna says:

  31. Riverbird says:

    He’s shouting at Dianne Feinstein. I’ve never seen anything like this.

  32. Fannie says:

    He is out of control, sounds like Trump, must be on something like Trump, and he’s suppose to be a judge. Mercy no, he’s unfit to be on the supreme court. He’s cold, cruel, insensitive.

  33. Fannie says:

    Why are the republicans on the panel even in the room? They don’t need to be there, that’s why they are paying Ms. Mitchell.

  34. NW Luna says:

  35. RonStill4Hills says:

    I got to hear a little of Kavanaugh while athe dentist. He sounds like a completely whiny petulant bullshit artist. The opposite of a sober judge and totally unable to drop the guise of victimhood long enough to give a straight answer to a question.

    Lindsey Graham is a whiny piece of shit too.

  36. Fannie says:

    I can’t help but see Kavanaugh as a child alocholic. He’s in terrible trouble and it shows. Lindsay Graham isn’t giving up on his hero. Now we know, Lindsay Graham was pretending to be McCain’s friend.

  37. bostonboomer says:

    Rachel Mitchell disappeared and no one has explained what happened to her.

  38. bostonboomer says:

  39. bostonboomer says:

  40. NW Luna says:

  41. Fannie says:

    Crapo (Idaho) says there has been investigation…………however somebody is lying today, either Kavanaugh or Ford. It is the responsibility of the FBI to find out who is lying, and get the facts to us.

  42. bostonboomer says:

  43. Sweet Sue says:

    So, Kavanaugh is as petulant, vituperative, snarling and thin skinned as the manbeast who nominated him. Kavanaugh must never, never have the privilege of sitting on the Supreme Court.

  44. Sweet Sue says:

    Kavanaugh is as vicious, whiny, belligerent, petulant and thin skinned as the man/beast who nominated him. He must not be given the privilege of sitting on the Supreme Court. His judgement and temperament make him unfit for any court, including food. Let him get a co-host gig on the Alex Jones show. No one watching him rant about the Clintons and liberal money and organizations could ever believe that he would be fair, open minded and honest, informed by rationality and conscience rather than vitriolic partisanship and his own self regard. I’m not saying that he won’t prevail -pray, God-he won’t-but I am saying that if he does, it will be a national tragedy. Graham, too, looked unhinged and history (if there will be history in the future) will not judge him kindly.

    • Catscatscats says:

      👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

  45. Sweet Sue says:

    Also, I’m sure this process has been hard on Kavanaugh’s family and, maybe, he has received death threats(?) but his family didn’t have to move out of their house!

    • NW Luna says:

      Also doesn’t have to pay for his own security and lawyers. And we all know this process is so much harder on Dr. Ford and the other women who came forward than it is on this snool.

  46. bostonboomer says:

    Republican governor of Massachusetts:

  47. Minkoff Minx says:

    This one is good

    View this post on Instagram

    #synchronizedperiods

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  48. NW Luna says:

    Perceptive article on how the words used can imply blame.

    Who’s a victim? Who’s an ‘accuser’? The loaded language of sexual assault.

    Over the past week, the phrase “Kavanaugh’s accuser” has multiplied and mutated like a virus in a sci-fi story: “Second Kavanaugh accuser in standoff. . .” “Third Kavanaugh accuser steps forward.” “Lawyer for Kavanuagh’s second accuser. . . .” The persistence of that headline convention is perplexing, and it’s dangerous. And that’s because “accuser” is the wrong word to begin with.

    Try substituting that “accuser” language in discussion of any category of crime other than sexual assault: “Fred, the accuser in a recent burglary case . . .” or “Miriam, the accuser in a bank robbery case. . .” It just doesn’t roll off the tongue.

    As a feminist and former criminal defense attorney, I’m familiar with this syntactical trick. American law has never had special terms for victims of crimes other than rape: We have only the generic terms “victim” or “witness,” as in murder victim and robbery witness. But victims of the crime of rape have had an entire lexicon of specialness foisted upon them. That vocabulary sets sexual assault victims apart from victims of other crimes and supports the long history of patriarchal insistence on control of women. It insinuates that the person who was assaulted is unreliable.