September 29, 2018

"Her neon mouth with the blinkers-off smile/Nothing but an electric sign/You could say she has an individual style/She's part of a colorful time..."

The colorful time was the 1960s and Marty Balin was a transcendent voice...

Marty Balin, dead at 76. Here's the the NYT obituary by Jon Pareles.
[Grace] Slick was often singled out for attention, and she sang lead on “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love,” the 1967 hits that made the band national headliners. “I always let everybody else take the credit,” Mr. Balin told High Times magazine in 2000. “Grace was the most beautiful girl in rock at the time, so they gave her credit for everything.” In the documentary film “Monterey Pop,” when Mr. Balin sings his ballad “Today,” the camera instead shows Ms. Slick, who was mouthing the words with him. Mr. Balin quit Jefferson Airplane in 1971....

At the Saturday Café...


... don't get lost in the weeds.

Now, I am getting email from the Democratic Party soliciting donations based on Brett Kavanaugh.

Yesterday morning, I blogged about getting an email solicitation from the party, under the name of Cory Booker, that didn't mention Kavanaugh. I speculated about what that might mean. But yesterday evening, I got this email, from the party, with the subject line "Brett Kavanaugh" (signed by Seema Nanda, the CEO of the Democratic National Committee). Since I blogged about the Kavanaugh-free email. I've got to share the text of this:
After watching Republican senators' shameful performance in this week's Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, I'm more certain than ever that it is a moral imperative for Democrats to take back control of Congress this November and the White House in 2020.
Shameful? What was shameful?

The University of Wisconsin won a big patent case against Apple in 2015, but it has now lost in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

"We hold that no reasonable juror could have found literal infringement in this case" said the unanimous court, reported in U.S. News.

Elena Kagan won't talk about the Kavanaugh controversy, but she will talk about how the Court functions with only 8 Justices.

Kagan was speaking at UCLA law school on Thursday night, and she spoke with experience about the problem of an 8-Justice Court's vulnerability to 4-4 splits, since that is the situation her Court confronted for the year that passed between the death of Antonin Scalia and the swearing-in of Neil Gorsuch.
"None of us wanted to look as if the court couldn’t do its job," she said. "I think we all felt as though the country needed to feel that the court was a functioning institution no matter what was happening outside."...

She said justices engaged in lengthier discussions at the time and even worked on finding agreement on smaller points when they couldn’t settle the larger issues at stake.... Even with a full court, Kagan said consensus-building, “especially perhaps in a time of acrimony and partisanship in the country at large, makes a lot of sense.”

“The court’s strength as an institution in American governance depends on people believe in it having a certain legitimacy ... that it is not simply an extension of politics,” she said.
I read that to mean that it's more important to sustain belief in a myth than to see the actual truth. The myth is that the Supreme Court is "not simply an extension of politics." I note that she phrases the myth at a more easily credible level than what some people would like us to believe — such as the Court is completely above all politics. That is, after all, the myth that prevails at confirmation hearings, where the nominees all say that they will do nothing but decide cases according to the law and no political leanings will come into play and distort their entirely legal reasoning. Kagan only says that the Court decides cases in a way that is "not simply an extension of politics."

Not "simply," but how about complexly? Not merely "an extension" of the politics, but isn't it, as it operates independently, doing something that a sophisticated person will understand to be political?

It's strange to be talking about the importance of useful beliefs over truth in the context of the controversy Kagan ostensibly seeks to avoid. What are the other institutions whose strength depends on our believing that they have a certain legitimacy?

The Senate. Should we believe in its legitimacy to keep it strong? That's not the Kagan idea. To transplant her idea to the Senate: The Senate itself should do what it can to inspire our belief it is performing its advise-and-consent role grounded in good procedure and principle. It is struggling to do that, and the struggle is much easier to see than the inner workings of the Supreme Court.

The patriarchy. Is it good for us to believe that it is legitimate? Just calling it — what is it?! — "the patriarchy" makes it sound illegitimate. I bet you — some of you — want to say it doesn't even exist. But if it does exist in America, it wants us to believe in it as something with a different name — perhaps meritocracy or individual choice. Believe in that, and you'll keep it strong.

The #MeToo movement. Its strength as an institution depends on people believing in it as having quite a lot of legitimacy. It's fragile. Overuse it and it will collapse. Won't it? If not, we should be afraid of its strength. But unlike the Supreme Court, it's not a small group of people who can consult and reach consensus about how far to extend its power and how to perform its power in public. There are millions of people who can tap the power of the movement. There's the relatively careful release of the Christine Blasey Ford allegations, and there's the follow on enthusiasm of Michael Avenatti and who knows who might suddenly speak up on social media?

Ambiguity of the day (from GQ): "If your friend says she wants to cut off every dick in a five mile radius, let her!"

The article, by Marian Bull, is "How to Talk to the Women in Your Life Right Now," and by "right now," she means:

There's quite possibly a lot of good advice there. But what made me select this — out of everything — to blog was the absurd, grisly second meaning of "If your friend says she wants to cut off every dick in a five mile radius, let her!"

ADDED: I'm reminded of a poster I saw in Amsterdam back in 1993. I made a drawing — previously, blogged here — in my "Amsterdam Notebooks":

Amsterdam Notebook


What called that to mind was my discussion with Meade as he was writing this comment:
"If your friend says she wants to cut off every dick in a five mile radius, let her!"

And then tell her: Only five miles? "No artificial limits as to time or [distance] should be imposed on this [mass amputation]."

And then run, old man. Run like hell.
I had suggested that Meade could avoid attracting language/anatomy pedants by using the word "amputation" instead of "castration."

I'm also reminded of the Ernest Hemingway story, "God Rest You Merry Gentlemen" (1925). Summary:
Two physicians sit in the Emergency Room of a Kansas City hospital on Christmas Day.... The doctors are telling the narrator of their most interesting encounter of this holiday season: a distraught adolescent, in a religious frenzy, had come in requesting castration for his "awful lust." The two docs managed to blunder the encounter so sufficiently that the boy left, only to return a few hours later bleeding dangerously from his penile self-amputation. The self-centered conversation returns to verbal ego-play between the two physicians, without a hint that either has considered the magnitude of the medical malfeasance against the boy.

September 28, 2018

Walking in the corn today...



At the Pope Farm Conservancy, where there are no sunflowers this year.

Talk about anything in the comments. This is intended as an open thread, even though I'm not saying "café." "Corn Café"... that would sound stupid.

Effectual Flake!

I called him "ineffectual," but no! He was effectual. He was efflaketual.

"Senate GOP agrees to one-week delay on Kavanaugh confirmation to allow for FBI probe."

Nice graphic depiction by Drudge. It's got a great-masters-oil-painting feeling to it. I'm thinking of Caravaggio...

... and Rembrandt...

"But for her decision to come out about Brett Kavanaugh and to remake herself as a California surfing mom, [Christine Blasey Ford] is the archetypal Republican voter..."

"A wealthy, white suburban woman, married, with children. Her parents are Republicans. Her father plays golf with Brett Kavanaugh’s dad at Burning Tree. Her parents have been noticeably silent — stonily so, with no letter of support, only the most begrudging words. It chilled me to read what her father, Ralph Blasey, wrung from himself to offer the Washington Post, in the conditional tense: 'I think all of the Blasey family would support her. I think her record stands for itself. Her schooling, her jobs, and so on.' Then he hung up. A second call yielded this hypothetical: 'I think any father would have love for his daughter.'"

From "Christine Blasey Ford Is a Class Traitor/That's why she scares Republicans" by Irin Carmon (NY Magazine).

"I reported the Bloomberg article to Facebook as 'False News.'"

Writes John at Facebook, linking to a Bloomberg article with the headline, "Kavanaugh Wrongly Claims He Could Legally Drink in Maryland."

From the hearing transcript:
My friends and I sometimes got together and had parties on weekends. The drinking age was 18 in Maryland for most of my time in high school, and was 18 in D.C. for all of my time in high school. I drank beer with my friends. Almost everyone did. Sometimes I had too many beers. Sometimes others did. I liked beer. I still like beer..
That does suggest he drank beer when he was underage, but I don't see him claiming that it was legal.

"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."

Writes Andrew Sullivan in "Everyone Lost at the Ford-Kavanaugh Hearings" (New York Magazine).
A civilized society observes a distinction between public and private, and this distinction is integral to individual freedom. Such a distinction was anathema in old-school monarchies when the king could arbitrarily arrest, jail, or execute you at will, for private behavior or thoughts...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....

The Founders... carved out a private space that was sacrosanct and a public space which insisted on a strict presumption of innocence, until a speedy and fair trial. Whether you were a good husband or son or wife or daughter, whether you had a temper, or could be cruel, or had various sexual fantasies, whether you were a believer, or a sinner: this kind of thing was rendered off-limits in the public world....

[In totalitarian societies], 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. Spies are everywhere, monitoring the slightest of offenses. Friends betray you, as do lovers. Family members denounce their own mothers and fathers and siblings and sons and daughters. The cause, which is usually a permanently revolutionary one, always matters more than any individual’s possible innocence. 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.
On the subject of family members denouncing each other, remember that ad we were just talking about, with 6 siblings telling people not to vote for their brother. "I couldn't be quiet any longer," one sister said with emotive intensity. I predict that the day is coming when a Supreme Court nominee's own children come forward and report random sexist microaggressions heard over the dinner table.

I remember long ago when I was a young law professor sitting next to a federal judge who wanted to tell me how to become a federal judge. (Weirdly, the Judge was Alex Kozinski.) I told him I didn't want to be a judge, because it's better to be a law professor: You have more freedom of speech and behavior — freedom to be an individual. You don't have to continually present yourself as sober and conventional for years and years and years. Who wants to live like that? But now, a quarter century later, the standard of how constrained you need to be is unfathomably strict. Who will be left to aspire to such a cold, lifeless prize? And we, the people, are the losers, because these Justices of the Future will have little to do with the rest of us fallible humans. How will they understand what is at stake?! Why would they value freedom of speech, when they let theirs go when they were 10?

I'm reminded of President Nixon's nomination of G. Harrold Carswell. There were a few reasons why this was a bad nomination, but what was so memorable about it was one Senator's effort to defend him against the charge that he was "mediocre":
Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Frankfurters and Cardozos.
We don't need a mediocrity on the Court, of course. We don't want the representation of mediocrity, but we do want flesh and blood people, not nine abstemious, over-careful, controlled strivers who've excluded all daring and fun from their lives going back to the age of 10.

Flake makes an ineffectual stand, but the Judiciary Committee votes to report the Kavanaugh nomination to the floor of the Senate.

The vote is on strict party lines. Senator Flake spoke just before the vote, and it seemed as though he was conditioning his vote on a one week delay, during which the FBI could do an investigation. But as his little speech wore on, it became apparent that he was only expressing the view that the Senate should delay its action for a week, but his committee vote would be yes. After the vote, it was made clear that everyone understood that the Committee has no power to dictate a delay to the full body of the Senate. The leadership of the Senate will decide how to go forward with the vote, and Senator Flake was only saying what he would need to feel "comfortable" voting for Kavanaugh in the full Senate.

ADDED: There's some discussion in the comments about my use of the word "ineffectual." I'll concede that Flake was effectual if the effect he meant to have was no effect. He was able to take a stand about how he felt about the importance of a one-week delay without causing the delay actually to occur. I do follow a general rule of thumb that people do what they want to do, and using that, I should say that Flake did exactly what he wanted, because he wanted the effect of no effect.

AND: Here's what confronted Flake as he made his way to the committee meeting this morning:

"You’re telling all women that they don’t matter — that they should just stay quiet because if they tell you what happened to them, you’re going to ignore them... You’re just going to help that man to power anyway... That’s what you’re telling all of these women. That’s what you’re telling me right now. Look at me when I’m talking to you! You’re telling me that my assault doesn’t matter, that what happened to me doesn’t matter and that you’re going to let people who do these things into power! That’s what you’re telling me when you vote for him! Don’t look away from me! Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me — that you’ll let people like that go into the highest court in the land!"

"I was always praised for my body, and I felt like people had expectations from me that I couldn’t deliver."

"I felt very vulnerable, because I can work out, I can eat healthy, but I can’t change the fact that both of my kids enjoyed the left boob more than the right. All I wanted was for them to be even and for people to stop commenting on it."

From "Gisele Bündchen Reveals She Got a Boob Job After Breastfeeding Kids — but Instantly Regretted It."

"When I woke up, I was like, ‘What have I done?’ I felt like I was living in a body I didn’t recognize," but her best husband in the world, Tom Brady, said "I love you no matter what," and that taught her, "What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger."

I'm blogging this as refreshment from other, more dire problems afflicting women. Body image can be troubling for many of us, but this is Gisele Bündchen, famously beautiful, rich for her beauty, married to a beautiful man who is rich for his physical prowess. You don't get any more beautifully elite than her. She was always praised for her body, and that creates an exquisite problem: other people expect you to have a beautiful body, and they notice and talk about little things that have gone wrong, things that for all her hard work on her body — exercise, eating right — were something she could not control. Two babies enjoyed the left boob more than the right. It's those outside forces, the people with their expectations and the babies with their left-boob preference, that drove her to seek outside help. In search of perfection, she got the surgery, and surgery, she learned, is another imperfection, an alien imperfection. Better the unevenly sucked breasts than the surgically invaded ones! But she learned. She learned through the wisdom of her gorgeous husband and the hoary old aphorism that maybe he taught her or maybe she found for herself:

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Now, back to Christine Blasely Ford and Brett Kavanaugh. Did what didn't kill them make them stronger?

ADDED: If you Google "What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger" (or "What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger"), you don't get a lot of interesting stuff about Nietzsche and the uses of his aphorism, you get a screenful of stuff about Kelly Clarkson and her hit song "Stronger." If Nietzsche weren't already dead, it would make him stronger, presumably, to see that.

I just got a fund-raising email from the Democratic Party, signed Cory Booker, and it says nothing about Kavanaugh or Supreme Court nominations.

That's a screen capture of part of the email. I'll put the full copied text below the fold. The letter tells me that the midterm elections are important — "the most important in our lifetime."

Why? We need "to put a check on President Trump."

That's the big issue this morning, as far as I'm supposed to be concerned.

Later in the letter, there's a list of "our Democratic values" — "From voting rights, to workers' rights, to a woman's right to make her own health care decisions." A bland grab bag of old issues. Nothing building on the energy of the last few days.

I've heard reports that Democrats are raising money on the Christine Blasey Ford allegations and the demonizing of Brett Kavanaugh. Maybe some other Democratic Party email list does that, but from my point of view, the party is absolutely not doing that. The absence of this issue is especially telling since it's going out under the name Cory Booker, who's been a very active antagonist to Brett Kavanaugh in the televised hearings. I wonder how this issue has been polling for them. Badly, I'm going to guess.

Senator Whitehouse, just now: "I don't believe 'boof' is flatulence. I don't believe 'the devil's triangle' is a drinking game."

"And I don't believe calling yourself a girl's 'alumnius' is being her friend. And I think drinking 'til you 'ralph' or 'fall out of the bus' or 'don't remember the game' or need to piece together your memory the next day is more consistent with Dr. Ford's and other's testimony than his own. If Dr. Ford's testimony is true, I hope we can all agree that Kavanaugh has no business on the Court. And I for one believed her."

On the front page of Urban Dictionary right now:
Devils Triangle
A threesome with 1 woman and 2 men. It is important to remember that straight men do not make eye contact while in the act. Doing so will question their sexuality....

by W_J May 11, 2008

to have taken it in the butt; had anal sex.

Nick boofed Mal last night.
by Andrea M. October 11, 2004
These definitions go back to the early 00s, so they're not concocted to hurt Kavanaugh, but they don't go back to the early 80s, so they're somewhat weak as definitions used by teenaged Kavanaugh in his yearbook.

Also on the front page at Urban Dictionary because of (I presume) the Kavanaugh hearings (WaPo transcript):
7 f's
Find them
French them
Feel them
Finger them
Fuck them
Forget them

I did the big 7 f's last night
by * * February 21, 2007
The 7 f's relates to this part of Whitehouse's questioning of Kavanaugh yesterday:
WHITEHOUSE: And there are, like, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven F’s in front of the Fourth of July [on Kavanaugh's high school yearbook page]. What does that signify, if anything?

KAVANAUGH: One of our friends, Squi, when he said the F word starting at a young age, had kind of a wind-up to the F word. Kind of a “ffff.” (LAUGHTER) And then the word would come out. And when we were 15, we thought that was funny. And it became an inside joke for the — how he would say, “Ffff” — and I won’t repeat it here. For the F word. 
In the same questioning session, Whitehouse had asked Kavanaugh about "Devil’s triangle," and Kavanaugh had said, "Drinking game."
WHITEHOUSE: How’s it played?

KAVANAUGH: Three glasses in a triangle.


KAVANAUGH: You ever played quarters?


KAVANAUGH: OK. It’s a quarters game.
Asked about "boofed," Kavanaugh had said "That refers to flatulence. We were 16."
WHITEHOUSE: OK. And so when your friend Mark Judge said the same — put the same thing in his yearbook page back to you, he had the same meaning? It was flatulence?

KAVANAUGH: I don’t know what he did, but that’s my recollection. We want to talk about flatulence at age 16 on a yearbook page, I’m — I’m game.

ADDED: Do I agree with what Whitehouse said "I hope we can all agree" about? I think many people, when they are young, drink and say crude things about sex, including things like that 7 fs business and voicing enthusiasm for anal sex and threesomes, and I don't think any of that junk is even relevant to the question whether a person with a long professional career has the character needed to serve on the Supreme Court.

But Whitehouse only asked us to agree that if Ford's allegations are true, he should not serve on the Court, and I will agree to that. The question remains whether Ford's allegations are true, and Whitehouse is using Kavanaugh's testimony about the meaning of "boofed" and "Devil's triangle" to attack his credibility. If we think he lied under oath about that, then it's more likely that he lied about other things, including his denial of Ford's allegations.

The Committee vote on Kavanaugh is scheduled for noon Eastern Time.

I'm watching the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning, voting along strict party lines. The Democrats moved to subpoena Mark Judge, and that failed. The Republicans voted to schedule the vote for noon, and that succeeded.

Now, some Democrats have walked out. Three I think. They've found microphones out in the hallway, and others remain in place, delivering statements. Right now, Leahy is repeating Dr. Ford's phrases — "indelible in the hippocampus" and "uproarious laughter."

His side has already lost, but it has not lost the midterm elections, and both parties have staunchly closed ranks for that upcoming battle.

Framing Brett Kavanaugh as an exemplar of masculine anger and aggression.

I'm reading "Brett Kavanaugh and the Adolescent Aggression of Conservative Masculinity" by Alexandra Schwartz in The New Yorker. Schwartz writes about Kavanaugh's "wildly emotional performance, in which he alternated between shouting, as he blamed the Clintons and the Democrats for conspiring to torpedo his nomination to the Supreme Court, and weeping, as he spoke about the pain that he and his family have experienced in the weeks since accusations of sexual assault against him became public."

First, Kavanaugh never wept. He struggled to contain his emotion, often sticking his tongue into his left cheek, which seemed to be his way of controlling himself. He was under an immensely powerful attack and fighting for his life. What he did was not "wild" (nor was it tame). It was real emotion, under some degree of control. If he had been completely controlled, I suspect the New Yorker writer would have called him steely and cold, and that would be characterized as masculine (and thus scary and bad).
Kavanaugh choked up and sobbed...
He didn't sob! He came to the verge of breaking down into crying, but he never did. He just stopped talking, did that tongue move, and waited to regain composure. Can men do that? How many times have I heard progressive women assert that men should cry and why don't men cry, come on, men, cry, we'll think better of you if you do, it's a strong man who can cry? But let him approach a breakdown into tears and he's already weeping and sobbing and he's condemned — as he was when he did not cry — as manifesting the bad kind of masculinity.
... as he described his father’s detailed calendars, which apparently inspired his own calendar-keeping practice; he seemed unable to gain control over himself, gasping and taking frequent sips of water. 
He didn't seem that way to me. He seemed that way to you? And actually it seems like bullying to subject a man to emotional torture and then taunt him for approaching tears, even as he fights like hell to control himself. I think of school yard bullies who terrify a targeted boy and make his own vulnerability to tears into further torture by saying things like, What's the matter, is the little baby going to cry?
The initial impression was of naked emotional vulnerability, but Kavanaugh was setting a tone. Embedded in the histrionics were the unmistakable notes of fury and bullying. 
I'm blogging as a read, so I brought up bullying before I saw Schwartz's use of the word. But she's accusing Kavanaugh of bullying! How does that work?
Kavanaugh shouted over Dianne Feinstein to complain about the “outrage” of not being allowed to testify earlier; when asked about his drinking, by Sheldon Whitehouse, he replied, “I like beer. You like beer? What do you like to drink, Senator?” with a note of aggressive petulance that is hard to square with his preferred self-image of judicious impartiality and pious Sunday churchgoing. 
If you protest bullying, you're the bully. Stop bullying me about bullying you. I think maybe Schwartz caught herself making Kavanaugh seem sympathetic — the poor man was weeping and sobbing — that she needed to flip into making him the attacker. He was defending himself, but look: He defended himself with "aggressive petulance."
What we are seeing is a model of American conservative masculinity that has become popular in the past few years, one that is directly tied to the loutish, aggressive frat-boy persona that Kavanaugh is purportedly seeking to dissociate himself from. Gone are the days of a terse John Wayne-style stoicism. Now we have Trump, ranting and raving at his rallies; we have Alex Jones, whose habit of screaming and floridly weeping as he spouts his conspiracy theories is a key part of his appeal to his audience. When Kavanaugh is not crying or shouting, he uses a distinctly adolescent tone that might best be described as “talking back.” He does not respond to senators. He negs them. His response, when he is asked about his drinking, is to flip the question and ask the senators how they like their alcohol; his refusal to say whether he would coöperate with an F.B.I. investigation brings to mind a teen-ager stonewalling his parents. If Kavanaugh is trying to convince the public that he could never have been capable, as a teen-ager, of aggression or peer pressure, this is an odd way to go about it.
Well, that's an interesting observation, and I'll let that part stand for now, because I want to watch the hearing which is beginning again. What Schwartz is describing is something I would not have called "masculine," but men are doing it. Is Kavanaugh like Trump?! Imagine Trump in the position Kavanaugh was in yesterday and how he might have behaved and spoken.

ADDED: Let me get back to that last paragraph. First, Schwartz sets aside an older form of "conservative masculinity" — "the loutish, aggressive frat-boy persona." I don't know why this is considered specifically conservative. There is, indeed, something we call the "frat boy." I've had an aversion to this type of person since I was a college student and no one I knew would want anything to do with a frat boy. At the time, I believed fraternities were obsolescent and would soon be gone. I thought football was about to die too. Clearly, I was wrong, but I'm just saying I never liked the "frat boy" I never wanted anything to do with. I mean, there was one frat boy I once went to a movie with. I can't remember his name. Let's say it was Bob. The friends I had called him "Frat Boy Bob," and though I liked him, I never overcame my aversion to the general stereotype that I and my friends had stamped onto him. I can't remember his name, as I said, but I do remember the movie. It was the 1962 Orson Welles version of "The Trial" — with Anthony Perkins as — in the words of IMDB — "An unassuming office worker [who] is arrested and stands trial, but he is never made aware of his charges." I wonder if Frat Boy Bob ever became aware of my charges against him.

Schwartz sees Kavanaugh as distancing himself from the "frat boy persona." She adds, "Gone are the days of a terse John Wayne-style stoicism." I think she's positing a second older form of "conservative masculinity," the John Wayne type, but maybe she means to conflate John Wayne and the frat boy, which strikes me as ludicrous. I'm not convinced that the stoical and terse masculine type is gone, and Kavanaugh has some of that some of the time. He has a frat boy part to him too. He likes his beer. He went to parties. He owned up to that and he owned up to embarrassment because he didn't have the sexual activity that might seem to go along with that style, but he told us he was also proud of not acting out sexually because he had religious scruples. Schwartz makes no mention of the conservative masculinity that comes from religion and that demands sexual continence.

Schwartz posits a new sort of masculinity that is "is directly tied" to the old frat boy style. What's the direct tie? Did this new thing evolve out of the frat boy or spring from the same inborn impulses? I don't know what she means. She's observing something and it reminds her of something else, so these things are tied. As she proceeds to describe this newly popular form of masculinity, the model is less the frat boy (a college character) than the teenager:
When Kavanaugh is not crying or shouting, he uses a distinctly adolescent tone that might best be described as “talking back.” He does not respond to senators. He negs them. 
Negging is adolescent?! Maybe The New Yorker thinks "negging" is just being negative. But here's the Wikipedia article on negging, which is how I've understood the slang since first hearing it:
Negging is an act of emotional manipulation whereby a person makes a deliberate backhanded compliment or otherwise flirtatious remark to another person to undermine their confidence and increase their need of the manipulator's approval. The term was coined and prescribed by the pickup artist community, several of whose members have proposed it as an effective method to build attraction.
And as far as "talking back" — Kavanaugh was responding to questions. Yes, he was resistant to them much of the time, but the Democratic Senators were trying to manipulate and handle him and get him to damage himself. Perhaps Schwartz thinks Kavanaugh seemed like a teenager because she saw the Senators as adopting a parental scolding tone and she liked that and was disappointed that it didn't cow Kavanaugh. He stood up to them. Why isn't that good? It isn't good if you want him to let Senators treat him like a teenager. Then, his failure to accept the position they put him in looks like he's a bad teenager (and not the good little boy you characterize him as trying to be).

But what does any of that say about present-day conservative masculinity?!

Impeaching Justice Kavanaugh? Senator Whitehouse says, "The hourglass is running on Brett Kavanaugh...."

I video'd this clip from "Morning Joe" just now. It's Whitehouse, prompted to talk about continuing the investigation after the confirmation and working on impeaching and removing the future Justice Kavanaugh:

He's ready to go and endeavoring to sound ominous, even as he looks weary.

We've heard a lot lately about witch hunts. Whitehouse — with his hourglass running on Brett Kavanaugh — reminded me of pop culture's most famous witch, scaring us with her hourglass:

ADDED: There's such an effort to create anxiety in the populace, but they themselves are anxious about the election. Note that Whitehouse resists saying the word "impeachment" as the scowling interviewer foists it on him. The interviewer is Susan Del Pescio, who is identified on her Wikipedia page as "a political strategist and media and Republican political analyst" (emphasis added).

September 27, 2018

At the Front-Yard Café...


... you can finally relax.

"JUST IN: The Senate Judiciary Committee expected to vote Friday morning on Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court, according to multiple GOP congressional aides."

Tweets NPR.

I'm also seeing this Trump tweet:
Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him. His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting. Democrats’ search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist. The Senate must vote!
Here's Alan Dershowitz:
The Senate Judiciary Committee needs to slow down and postpone its vote on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court until the FBI can investigate accusations of sexual misconduct leveled against him by three women....

Maybe we can get closer to the truth, although that is not certain. But right now there are too many unanswered question to bring the confirmation of Kavanaugh – currently a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia – to a vote of the Judiciary Committee as scheduled on Friday, much less to a vote of the full Senate.

Kayaker gets smacked by an octopus thrown at him by a seal.

Get out of my ocean, suckers.

Let's watch the Kavanaugh hearing.

1. It's about to start. I'll update this post as we go.

2. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has taken her seat. She's nervously looking around, getting patted on the back. She's wearing a dark blue jacket over a dark blue top and has her hair done in a way that allows it to fall over her face and to need to be pushed back. Senator Grassley begins by apologizing to both Blasey and Kavanaugh for the incivility to which both have been subjected. He says he intends to preserve civility in the hearing and to make it "comfortable" for both witnesses.

3. Grassley criticizes Democrats for sitting on the allegations, allowing them to leak out belatedly, and failing to resolve matters in a bipartisan way. Democrats, he says, are to blame for the pain that "Dr. Ford" has suffered in recent days. He praises himself for doing he could to accommodate her. (I put "Dr. Ford" in quotes to indicate that's what she is being called here. I had switched to calling her "Blasey" after reading in the NYT that she preferred that name. From here on, I'll write "Dr. Ford" without quotes.)

4. Dianne Feinstein: "She wanted it confidential, and I held it confidential, up to a point..."

5. Feinstein casts an aspersion on Grassley: He didn't introduce Dr. Ford. Grassley, angered, interrupts to say that he didn't forget to introduce her. He was going to introduce her at the point when he was inviting her to begin speaking.

6. Still waiting for Feinstein to finish reading her intro statement. Dr. Ford seems to be struggling to keep her composure. After Feinstein, I presume we will hear Dr. Ford read this statement, already released to the press.

7. "I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified...." she begins, in a creaky voice.

8. Sorry, but I got an hour and a half behind. Will resume.

9. Now, I've watched the entire opening statement by Dr. Ford. She seemed very credible to me. Though she was reading, she seemed to be reliving a real, traumatic experience. It's hard to imagine that she could be infusing her speech with that kind of emotion phonily. Even an excellent actress would have difficulty affecting that kind of emotion.

10.  Rachel Mitchell, the prosecutor brought in to ask questions for the Senators, receives 5 minutes of time from Senator Grassley. Mitchell's use of the time is awkward, because she begin with documents that Ford must read and comment on, and Ford takes her time and makes small corrections to the documents. Grassley interrupts to say his time is up, and shifts the proceedings forward to the next Senator, Dianne Feinstein,

11. Feinstein takes her turn and focuses on the difficulties Ford experienced as her name became known. This material bolsters Ford's credibility, especially to the extent that it seems that Ford knew how painful this exposure would be before she decided to go public. Feinstein's time runs out quickly and Mitchell gets another 5 minutes to continue where she left off.

12. Mitchell's approach enables Ford, just by being careful, to slow everything down. The time will run out. The day will end. Maybe Kavanaugh supporters wanted it to play out like that, but Ford is a credible person, and I think the Republicans chosen approach, including the use of Mitchell, will backfire on them, and Kavanaugh will not be confirmed. I'm saying this at 11:06 ET in my recording, that is, an hour before I'm writing this update.

13. At 11:13 ET, Ford speaks of the "indelible" memory of Kavanaugh and Judge laughing — "having fun at my expense." "I was underneath one of them, while the 2 laughed, 2 friends having a really good time with one another."

14. At 11:56 ET, during the questioning by Senator Whitehouse, I exclaim aloud: "The Democrats are winning by a lot here." Whitehouse is talking about the lack of an investigation.

15. Grassley gets angry and yells — about why there is no new investigation — but it feels so wrong that he's yelling in the presence of Dr. Ford. She's the allegedly traumatized victim — don't yell around her! The Republicans are either too bland — operating through Mitchell — or irksomely angry — through Grassley. Do they know how badly they are losing right now? I wonder how Brett Kavanaugh is doing.

16. I'm skipping ahead, looking to see if Kavanaugh's testimony has begun. It has not. I talk with Meade for a while about what Kavanaugh might say if he were asked if he is 100% certain that Ford is wrong when she says she's 100% certain that Brett Kavanaugh did what she remembers. Here's what I imagined Kavanaugh saying: I cannot be 100% certain. I know that I drank far too much on some occasions when I was an immature teenager, and though I've said that I don't remember ever suffering alcohol-induced amnesia, I cannot know for an absolute certainty that it never happened. Watching Dr. Ford testify has been a horrific experience for me. What if there is a blank, dark spot in my memory where drunken young Brett Kavanaugh did what Dr. Ford describes? I pray to God that's not true, but I cannot say 100% that it's not true, and if it is, I am so terribly sorry. I beg Dr. Ford's forgiveness. I hope for God's forgiveness. I hope that my life's work as a sober adult makes up for what I may have done all those years ago. I still believe I have devoted and useful service to give to my country, and I humbly submit myself to your vote, Senators. And I thank all of you for considering my case, and I want Dr. Ford to know that my heart goes out to her, and my heart goes out to every victim of sexual assault. Thank you.

17. I picture Trump watching the hearings with Ivanka. Somehow I imagine Ivanka reacting like me. I wonder what they are saying to each other. Remember that Trump said at his press conference yesterday that he would watch and judge Dr. Ford for himself, that he had an open mind about it, and he could "believe anything."

18. I've been listening to Kavanaugh for a long time without stopping to write anything. Let me quickly say that I'm finding his opening statement extremely powerful and persuasive.

19. It was a long day! Let me try to wrap up this post. I thought Kavanaugh did really well in his written statement, expressing strong outrage and real emotion. In the questioning, this demeanor sometimes felt too strong. He interrupted and shouted back and seemed to show some hate and contempt for some of the Senators. He said more than once that his family had been "destroyed," and yet his wife is his "rock." The rock is not destroyed.

20. This was the ultimate he said/she said. Both were tremendously strong and they told diametrically opposed stories. If I had to decide, I would not go by who's more likely to be telling the truth, but how everything we've heard weighs on the question whether or not to confirm. In view of everything we know about Kavanaugh, does he deserve confirmation even with the degree of doubt we have about something terrible he might have done when he was 17 (and a couple of other, much weaker allegations)? I suspect most people will end up in the same position they had on him anyway, because it's a matter of weighing. But when I think about how BK and CBF could be so far apart, I have 3 explanations: 1. BK has some alcohol blackout holes in his memory, and what CBF remembers is in one of them, 2. CBF has a false memory and really believes it (caused by some genuine trauma), 3. BK has no route but forward, and he knows he did it, but feels entitled to what he's worked all his life to attain. Since there's no way back to his old life, he must force his way through this obstacle. And he's barreling ahead to save his life and save his family. Cornered, he had to fight like hell, and that includes lying.

"What exactly is Saint Laurent saying about female sexuality and empowerment here?"

I'm reading Robin Givhan in the Washington Post. The post title is the headline. There are lots of photographs of glamorous clothes with an edge of trashiness. I clipped out part of one photograph. Not randomly selected. It's what caught my eye as I scanned the page with the idea of "female empowerment" foremost in my mind. I've left out what Givhan calls the "teeny-tiny shorts" (which are what we used to call "hot pants").

Let's see how Givhan answers the question posed in the headline:
Yes, the female form is beautiful, but is it made more beautiful by borrowing clothes from the boys, by wrapping it in a cloud of debauchery, by having parts exposed in a way that makes a woman “all legs” instead of full human?

This is not to say that the collection was bad or offensive or improper, only that it raised questions. And raising questions is good, particularly in this moment when the culture, both here and in the United States, is considering its male and feminine norms....
I guess I'm not going to get an answer to the question, only more questions. Questions good. Why not a column full of questions? Maybe we women writers should be all questions, just like the runway models are "all legs."
[Male designers at Saint Laurent] have told women that it is empowering and satisfying to wear teeny-tiny snakeskin shorts with towering heels, to splash through shallow waters with breasts bared on a night chilly enough that guests were swaddled under blankets. They have told them that the ideal female form has the spindly legs of a filly — so immature and scrawny that one half expects the model to collapse in a heap from the sheer exhaustion of having to walk upright....

Yes, the female form is beautiful. It’s inspirational. But what has it inspired? And has that been empowering to women or simply satisfying to men?
So, yeah, we do end with more questions. I was going to say it's the same old questions I've always seen about fashion designers, but really the questions have evolved. What I used to see (half a century ago) was the question whether the designers hated women. This idea was typically tied to the observation that they didn't sexually desire women at all: The designers are gay and that's why the clothes are hostile to women. What we see in this new column is the idea that male sexual desire for women is driving the designs. Are the designers not gay anymore? Why would expensive clothes be designed to "satisfy" men? The women are the clients. What's the logic here?

Oh, I see I'm doing questions, even as I want Givhan not to proceed in the form of question-asking. All right. I'll posit some answers to her questions. Why shouldn't I take the power to say what's what? I will! The clothing is designed to call out to women. It looks the way it does because that has been working to sell clothes. The women who buy those clothes think those clothes will benefit them, and the perception that this is what heterosexual men desire in a woman is a perception that needs to take place in the mind of the woman, and that is the perception the designer is trying to stimulate. If the woman buys clothes that she perceives as satisfying male desire, she is seeking sexual power over men.

And I suspect that one reason Robin Givhan doesn't say that is because it criticizes the woman. The question "has that been empowering to women or simply satisfying to men?" leaves women in the down position, where we can muse MeTooishly. That's a politically advantageous place to stop. And how much of the advertising in The Washington Post comes from the fashion industry? That's another reason to end with musing questions and not rough critique — economic interest.

Raising questions is good, particularly in this moment....

A NYT illustration scoffs at the very idea of empathy for men... Is heartlessness now required to demonstrate #MeToo good faith?

What could justify this embarrassingly crude and desperate propaganda?

The illustration reminded me of the sarcastic childhood rejoinder "Oh, boo hoo hoo" — aimed at someone whose tears are not worth sharing. It is a proper accompaniment to the column, which offers the coinage "himpathy," to refer to empathy for men. The column-writer Kate Manne is a philosophy professor (at Cornell).

She defines "himpathy" as "the inappropriate and disproportionate sympathy powerful men often enjoy in cases of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, homicide and other misogynistic behavior." So... it's only himpathy and deserving of our resistance if it's "inappropriate and disproportionate." In which case, we're just restating the question: How do we respond to accusations against a person? What is appropriate? What is disproportionate?

A charitable reading of Manne has her saying merely: Take care that your empathy isn't skewed, as it very well may be in a system in which men have so much prominence and women have traditionally been kept from speaking out about sexual subordination.

In that light, let me try to give a sympathetic reading to the illustration: The man is gigantic, like a movie star on a big screen, and the woman is tiny, so his tears fall like buckets of water on her tiny head. We see his pain because he's so big, but what about her? We need to see how she feels. This shows, the sympathetic reading says, why our empathy gets skewed: He's so big his pain is plainly visible, and she's so inconsequential, we're tempted to indulge ourselves and keep our own lives simpler by not seeing her.

Newspaper illustrations are often hastily done and not successfully expressive of the idea the artist hoped to convey. This one particularly bothered me because I, subjectively, perceived it as expressing hate, the way a gang mocks a cowering victim. That might be me and my "himpathy," and I suppose I'm meant to worry that the #MeToo movement will hate me too. Me, the big traitor. (But I'm okay. I learned how to live with that internalized intimidation a long time ago.)

But let's look at the text of this column. It's the column that drives the illustration, not the other way around:
Once you learn to spot himpathy, it becomes difficult not to see it everywhere....
You mean, you become skewed in the other direction? Template in hand, how do you know when your ideas are inappropriate and disproportionate?
What the Kavanaugh case has revealed this week is that himpathy can, at its most extreme, become full-blown gendered sociopathy: a pathological moral tendency to feel sorry exclusively for the alleged male perpetrator — it was too long ago; he was just a boy; it was a case of mistaken identity — while relentlessly casting suspicion upon the female accusers. It also reveals the far-ranging repercussions of this worldview: It’s no coincidence that many of those who himpathize with Judge Kavanaugh to the exclusion of Dr. Blasey are also avid abortion opponents, a position that requires a refusal to empathize with girls and women facing an unwanted pregnancy.
In the context of seeing what is big and not seeing what is very small, Manne brings up abortion. All of the above paragraph strikes me as straining exaggeration, but I'm stunned that it ran headlong into the problem of abortion. Can we coin a word that means the inappropriate and disproportionate sympathy born individuals often enjoy in cases of violence against the unborn?
What makes himpathy so difficult to counter is that the mechanisms underlying it are partly moral in nature: Sympathy and empathy are pro-social moral emotions, which makes it especially hard to convince people that when they skew toward the powerful and against the vulnerable, they become a source of systemic injustice. So, for those for whom himpathy is a mental habit prompted by biased social forces, and not an entrenched moral outlook, the first step to solving the problem is simply learning to recognize when it’s at work, and to be wary of its biasing influence.
Is that "himpathy" specific or is Manne saying that we should always examine our empathy and analyze whether we are just shallowly doing what works in going along to get along or whether we really have deep roots in morality? There are many ways to be shallow. We could be in thrall to the patriarchy, but we could also be hoping to catch the upsurge of the #MeToo movement.

September 26, 2018

At the Twitter Prison Café...


... you're free to talk about whatever you like.

The photo shows a storefront on the east side of Madison.

Julie Swetnick "said she witnessed Judge Kavanaugh... lining up outside a bedroom where 'numerous boys' were 'waiting for their "turn" with a girl inside the room.'"

"Ms. Swetnick said she was raped at one of the parties, and she believed she had been drugged. None of Ms. Swetnick’s claims could be independently corroborated by The New York Times, and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, declined to make her available for an interview.... Unlike two other women who have accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, one who went to college with him and another who went to a sister high school, Ms. Swetnick offered no explanation in her statement of how she came to attend the same parties, nor did she identify other people who could verify her account.... In her statement, Ms. Swetnick said that she met Judge Kavanaugh and Mr. Judge in 1980 or 1981 when she was introduced to them at a house party in the Washington are... She said she attended at least 10 house parties in the Washington area from 1981 to 1983 where the two were present. She said the parties were common, taking place almost every weekend during the school year. She said she observed Judge Kavanaugh drinking 'excessively' at many of the parties and engaging in 'abusive and physically aggressive behavior toward girls, including pressing girls against him without their consent, "grinding" against girls, and attempting to remove or shift girls’ clothing to expose private body parts. I also witnessed Brett Kavanaugh behave as a "mean drunk" on many occasions at these parties.'"

The NYT reports today.

If the allegations are true, there must be many, many other witnesses. Where have they been all these weeks? And why would she go to "at least 10 house parties" if they were as she described?

The NYT suggests there's a gap in the account because Swetnick doesn't say how she got to go to the same parties as Kavanaugh. We're told Swetnick grew up in Montgomery County, Md., and graduated from Gaithersburg High School — a public school — in 1980 and attended the University of Maryland. That puts her in a less elite crowd. She's also 2 years older than Kavanaugh and graduated from high school 3 years before he did, so it makes it a little hard to picture them at the same parties. Did older, state-college women go to parties with prep school boys years younger than them? If they did and the boys raped them, repeatedly and systematically, how could the boys get away with it, and why are there not many more women coming forward with the same allegations? And why are we getting this through Michael Avenatti?

"#MeToo depends on the credibility of the journalists who report on it."

This is an excellent WaPo column by Megan McArdle.

McArdle says she was ready to write "It's now clear that Brett Kavanaugh's nomination cannot go forward" if another sexual assault allegation came out, but she changed her mind when she saw that New Yorker article about Deborah Ramirez. McArdle had thought that "a second allegation would be stronger, not weaker, than the first." She's "frankly surprised the New Yorker ran the article."
And so I'm writing a different column than I expected, about something I hadn't fully understood until I watched that seismic shift [toward expediting the process lest after nominee would go down to a string of unverifiable allegations]: the extent to which the success of #MeToo depends on the credibility of the journalists who report on it.

We hear the slogan "believe women" a lot, but even its strongest media proponents can't really mean it literally, because journalists know how often people tell them things that aren't true....

As #MeToo has grown, mainstream media outlets have generally been scrupulous about getting that confirmation before they publish. It's hard to overstate the dangers when that filter fails. When Rolling Stone failed to check allegations about gang rape at the University of Virginia, the magazine both smeared innocent young men and caused other victims to be treated more skeptically. And when a weak story breaks into an already raging political conflagration, it not only creates skepticism under which future abusers can shelter but also threatens to turn #MeToo into yet another divide in the culture wars.
In the #MeToo movement, it has seemed that multiple accusations have been crucial in taking down prominent men. And now here is a prominent man who began as the target of a desired takedown.  The first accusation inspired credulity because of the built-up strength of the believe-all-survivors ethic, but the second one felt so weak that it not only failed to strengthen the attack, it roused suspicion about the first accusation.

If only the authorities would do their work, then we could rely on them, McArdle seems to say. They've been "generally... scrupulous" in the past. Oh? Somehow I rankle at that idealized image. And I resist the complacency about professionalized journalism and its alliance with a political movement. It's up to us, the citizenry, to maintain our vigilance. No shortcuts. You can't "believe all women" or trust the "mainstream" press. Pay attention and sharpen up, or we are lost.

NOTE: This is the fifth in a series of posts about Kavanaugh this morning. Comments on this post should only be about this article. Here's my post warning you that a series of posts is forthcoming. If you want to draw attention to other articles, do so in the comments section for that post, not this one.

"Anita Hill Says Kavanaugh Accuser Hearing 'Cannot Be Fair.'"

That's the headline at NPR (with audio). What's unfair about the Senate hearing? Hill says:
"In a real hearing and a real investigation, other witnesses would be called, including witnesses who could corroborate, witnesses who could explain the context of the experiences of Dr. Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh during that period in their lives, as well as experts on sexual harassment and sexual assault."
I think Hill is using the idea of corroboration very broadly, since there are no other witnesses for the incident Blasey alleges nor are there witnesses to her contemporaneous hearsay about the incident. Hill is, I think, talking about witnesses who heard Blasey tell her story after Kavanaugh became a Supreme Court prospect, decades later, as well as general experts on how to understand and interpret the behavior and testimony of those who tell of sexual victimization.

Hill goes on to reject the Senate as the investigator. The Senate, she says, is not a "neutral body." And, speaking of her own experience before the Senate Judiciary Committee, there is "an inherent power imbalance."

The Senate has the constitutional role to decide whether to confirm the nominee. I resist the idea that it "cannot be fair." It must be fair, and if it is not, it still makes the decision. It makes a lot of decisions, and many of them are unfair or believed to be unfair. Yell and scream about that. I guess that's what people, including Hill, are doing. The Senators are responding to the political pressure, and whatever they do, they'll be criticized. Delay or don't delay. Vote yes or no. And there are lots of elections in 6 weeks, so we the people who think the Senate is unfair/fair will have our say.

NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of posts about Kavanaugh this morning. Comments on this post should only be about this article. Here's my post warning you that a series of posts is forthcoming. If you want to draw attention to other articles, do so in the comments section for that post, not this one.

"I know that lying to the Senate is a crime just like lying to the FBI, but, culturally and politically, people do think the FBI actually is the super-serious police..."

"... and since doing background checks is part of its portfolio, having the FBI do a seventh or add an addendum to the sixth background check of Brett Kavanaugh doesn’t seem crazy to me. Lots of people reject all of this and say that the GOP should stop the circus and just vote right now.... But if [Christine Blasey Ford] passes the threshold of sounding believable enough, it seems likely that the only choice will be calling the FBI."

Writes Jonah Goldberg in "Is It Time for the FBI?" (National Review). He puts a link on "super-serious police" and it goes to this September 18th tweet by his National Review colleague Charles C.W. Cooke:
The FBI is not The Super Serious Police. It’s an agency that is tasked with investing alleged violations of federal law, and even then with a limited remit. The Kavanaugh case, whatever the details, does not qualify. Feinstein knows this. Maybe most journalists do not.
Goldberg is citing that not for the stated proposition — "The FBI is not The Super Serious Police" — but for the background premise people believe the FBI is the super-serious police.

Here's Joe Biden to yell at you about what the FBI isn't:

I think the FBI has taken a lot of credibility hits lately. There's no good reason to palm off responsibility to them as though they're some sort of oracle of truth. Maybe you think there should be an authority that could be deferred to, but there isn't one, and, in any event, the authority in place in the confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee is the U.S. Senate. I know they're awful, partisan, and ridiculous, but it's their job and they need to step up to it and do what they can. And we can judge them as they do their constitutional work, and we've got a constitutional check on them coming right up in 6 weeks. It's only as good as it is, this democracy. But don't give up!

NOTE: This is the third in a series of posts about Kavanaugh this morning. Comments on this post should only be about this article. Here's my post warning you that a series of posts is forthcoming. If you want to draw attention to other articles, do so in the comments section for that post, not this one.

"It’s like any witness preparation times 2,000. You come at them with the worst version you think the antagonists are likely to ask them..."

"... and you probe for their emotional stability: Can they take it?... This is pressure like you’ve never seen. … That’s why they call it 'murder boards.'"

Said Georgetown lawprof Emma Coleman Jordan, quoted in "Democrats in the dark on eve of historic Kavanaugh hearing/Senate Democrats have had no apparent contact with Christine Blasey Ford — and have no idea how she'll hold up" (Politico).

Asked whether she has confidence in Ford’s prep team, [Senator Dianne] Feinstein said that "I have no idea” and insisted that “we’re not getting involved in any of that. I assume her own lawyers are prepping her. We’re not. Let me make that very clear."
NOTE: This is the second post in a series of posts about Kavanaugh this morning. Comments on this post should only be about this article. Here's my post warning you that a series of posts is forthcoming. If you want to draw attention to other articles, do so in the comments section for that post, not this one.

"Kavanaugh’s ‘choir boy’ image on Fox interview rankles former Yale classmates."

WaPo reports on the inner feelings of a large group of human beings.

"... rankles former Yale classmates." There should at least be a "some" in that headline: rankles some former Yale classmates.... 

They're purporting to talk about a set of persons that includes thousands. I'd say "hundreds" if it was only Yale Law School, but this is about Kavanaugh's college years. Within such a large group, of course, you're going to find people who are rankled by Kavanaugh's self-presentation as a paragon of virtue. That would naturally happen even if this weren't a situation where many — most? — people are motivated by larger political goals.

I'm torn between wanting to say how can the Washington Post know what's going on in the nervous system of the set "former Yale classmates" and thinking it's completely obvious and unspecial for almost anyone to be annoyed or suspicious about anyone who tries to put himself across as good to the core. I've said the same thing myself a couple times: When someone relies heavily on his own purity, it makes me wonder about the dark side. Surely, if Kavanaugh were a fictional character, he'd be a secret monster. What's he hiding behind his humble visage?

The WaPo article quotes, first, Liz Swisher, "who described herself as a friend of Kavanaugh in college":
“Brett was a sloppy drunk, and I know because I drank with him. I watched him drink more than a lot of people. He’d end up slurring his words, stumbling,” said Swisher, a Democrat and chief of the gynecologic oncology division at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “There’s no medical way I can say that he was blacked out. . . . But it’s not credible for him to say that he has had no memory lapses in the nights that he drank to excess.”
She's a doctor, and there's no "medical way" to say he had blackouts, but she says it anyway, in the form of saying that he can't say that he didn't. Swisher swished that around nicely, not putting her medical credibility at risk at all.
Lynne Brookes, who like Swisher was a college roommate of one of the two women now accusing Kavanaugh of misconduct...
Whoa! I'm surprised that this roommate-of-an-accuser status is revealed only after I've digested Swisher's semi-medical diagnosis.

I'm about to put up a series of Kavanaugh posts.

There are so many bloggable Kavanaugh headlines right now. I was going to collect them all in one post, but I want to react to them separately, so I'm going to string them out to avoid one long post. And this post is just a place-keeper to tell you that's what I'm about to do.

So when you see the first in the series, don't see it as a signal to dump everything you currently have to say about the ongoing Kavanausea.*

As these posts go up, please react to the specific post and, especially, please don't initiate discussion of another article that I haven't gotten to yet. If you're seeing an article you'd like to see in this forthcoming series of posts, you can drop the link to that on the comments on this warning post.

This is, I think, the first time in the 15-year history of this blog that I've ever done a post like this.

* I was going to TM that word but I see that ZeroHedge noticed the portmanteau potential yesterday.

I want to see how this looks....

I knew after last night, they were a half game out, but I wanted to gaze on the graphic depiction.

ADDED: The season could end in a tie, and we'd have to play the Cubs to see who wins the division. Then the loser will be the first wild card in the National League, and if Cubs/Brewers win the wild card game, the Cubs and Brewers will play again (because the winner of the wild card game will play the winner of the Central Division).

ALSO: It was a rough night last night for the Cubs: "Racial slurs hurled in bleacher brawl at Wrigley on Hispanic Heritage Night" (Chicago Sun Times):
The incident began following the Cubs’ 5-1 loss to the Pirates. The game featured specially priced tickets, which included t-shirts saying “Los Cubs.”

Danny Rockett — who hosts a Cubs podcast called The Son Ranto Show — began videotaping.... In a second video posted by Rockett, the same man from the first video can be more clearly heard yelling slurs at other fans.

“You threw the first punch,” he yells. “You threw the first punch! You threw the first punch.” He then cups his hands around his mouth and hurls two racial slurs for hispanics.

The man who used the slur immediately saw Rockett videotaping and says, “Don’t record me!” and comes toward him. Security can be seen pressuring Rockett to put his phone away: “You’re on private property. You don’t have permission to videotape anyone.” The video then ends....

When asked on Twitter what started the fight, Rockett responded with one word: “Racism.” However, after being contacted by the Sun-Times, Rockett said, “I really don’t know. Probably just drunks going back and forth. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary really until it was a melee.”

Cubs spokesman Julian Green said... denied a claim made by a woman in the video in which she accused security of taking the “white people’s side,” saying everyone involved was removed. Green did say the security guard was “incorrect” about fans filming — there’s no policy against recording video at Wrigley. “People film every time they come to games,” he said. “We will brief our staff about that.”

PLUS: Another tweet from Rockett: "To all the people who followed me because of that fight I hope you like the #Cubs. Cause that’s all I tweet about. #Nofightinginthebleachers"

September 25, 2018

At the Tuesday Night Cafe...

... talk about anything.

"The second accuser has nothing. The second accuser thinks maybe it could have been him, maybe not. She admits she was drunk."

"She admits time lapses. She was totally inebriated and all messed up and she doesn’t know... Gee, let’s not make him a supreme court judge."

Said Trump about Deborah Ramirez. He said while sitting next to the President of Colombia at the United Nations, The Guardian reports.

The CNN headline says "Toobin calls out Kavanaugh's 'weird' interview."

Toobin is on CNN, talking about Kavanaugh's interview, and guess what he calls "weird"?

According to Toobin, Kavanaugh disrupted the usual appearance of nonpartisanship for Supreme Court nominees by going on Fox News, AKA "Republican television." That's what's "weird"! "Go on the 'Today' show, go on '20/20'" he advised. I'd say what's weird is the pretense that anyplace is neutral.

What does "weird" mean anyway? Originally, "weird" was a noun that meant fate or destiny or someone with the power to control destiny. As an adjective, it meant having the power to control fate. Think of the "weird sisters" in "MacBeth."

In the 1800s, the meaning becomes "Partaking of or suggestive of the supernatural; of a mysterious or unearthly character; unaccountably or uncomfortably strange; uncanny" (OED). The poet Shelley wrote, "Some said, I was a fiend from my weird cave, Who had stolen human shape." And then it was "Out of the ordinary course, strange, unusual; hence, odd, fantastic." There was Charles Dickens writing, "He was a man with a weird belief in him that no one could count the stones of Stonehenge twice, and make the same number of them."

The OED recognizes the colloquial phrase "weird and wonderful" — meaning "marvellous in a strange or eccentric way; both remarkable and peculiar or unfathomable; exotic, outlandish. Frequently ironical or derogatory." Oscar Wilde wrote, "There is psychology of a weird and wonderful kind." And T. E. Lawrence wrote, "Their food is weird and wonderful." This intrigued me. "Weird and wonderful" is a standard phrase. I'll never hear "Bennie and the Jets" the same way again:
Oh, but they're weird and they're wonderful
Oh, Bennie, she's really keen
She's got electric boots
A mohair suit
You know I read it in a magazine
B-B-B-Bennie and the Jets

Oh, but he's weird and he's wonderful/Jeffrey Toobin is really keen/He's got electric news/Contemptuous boos/It's the best news I've ever seen....

"I want to create scenarios and imaginary fashion places where real clothes for everyday life can cheer you up."

Said Giuliano Calza, the co-founder of God Can’t Destroy Streetwear, quoted in "Models Wearing 3 Breasts Strut Down The Runway At Milan Fashion Week/The prosthetics were an homage to 'Total Recall,' the designer told HuffPost" (HuffPo).

Here's the "Total Recall" inspiration (warning: naked breasts):

Cheer up!

"At the time of the assault, I was 30 years old, and a fit confident athlete. I was strong, and skilled, with great reflexes, agility and speed."

"Instead of being able to run, jump, and pretty must do anything I wanted physically, during the assault I was paralyzed and completely helpless. I couldn't move my arms or legs. I couldn't speak or even remain conscious. I was completely vulnerable, and powerless to protect myself... After the assault, I wasn’t sure what had actually happened but the pain spoke volumes. The shame was overwhelming. Self-doubt and confusion kept me from turning to my family or friends as I normally did. I felt completely alone, unable to trust anyone, including myself.... Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it. He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself and others."

Today, at the sentencing hearing, reported in The Daily Beast.

ADDED: The judge has sentenced Cosby to 3 to 10 years in prison. And he "must undergo monthly counseling for the rest of his life and report quarterly to authorities. He'll be in the sex offender registry. The LA Times reports.

Let's remember that Cosby had gotten away with it until a comedian named Hannibal Burress made some jokes in 2014:
“Bill Cosby has the fuckin’ smuggest old black man public persona that I hate,” Buress said at the time. “He gets on TV, ‘Pull your pants up black people, I was on TV in the ‘80s! I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom!’ Yeah, but you rape women, Bill Cosby, so turn the crazy down a couple notches.” Buress also asked members of the audience to “Google ‘Bill Cosby rape’” when they got home, joking that it would have a whole lot more results than a search for his name, “Hannibal Buress.”

"We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable global bureaucracy. We reject the ideology of globalism and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism."

Trump at the U.N. today.

I'm reading the NYT article about it.
Mr. Trump’s message drew a mostly stone-faced response from the audience in the General Assembly chamber. But there was one moment of levity, albeit at the president’s expense. When he declared that his administration “has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” the audience broke out into murmurs and laughter.

Pausing, Mr. Trump said, “I did not expect that reaction.” Then he added, “But that’s O.K.”
"But that's O.K." is Trump's standard phrase when he's acknowledging a statement that he does not like. It's not really okay. It's more: I see that, and I'm not going to take the bait and talk about it now.

The NYT lobs a confusing new issue into the Kavanaugh controversy: the phrase "Renate Alumni" in the yearbook at Kavanaugh's high school.

It's really hard to summarize "Kavanaugh’s Yearbook Page Is ‘Horrible, Hurtful’ to a Woman It Named." My first question is: Who wrote the words in the yearbook? If not Brett Kavanaugh, why must I understand this? And why is the NYT choosing to dilute the carefully built up allegation made by Christine Blasey Ford? Is that allegation fading somehow? Is the NYT trying to get hits after it passed up the Deborah Ramirez story that had us all reading The New Yorker last Sunday?

I don't want to quote too much of the article, but I can't paraphrase what I can't understand, so forgive me:
The word “Renate” appears at least 14 times in Georgetown Preparatory School’s 1983 yearbook, on individuals’ pages and in a group photo of nine football players, including Judge Kavanaugh, who were described as the “Renate Alumni.” It is a reference to Renate Schroeder, then a student at a nearby Catholic girls’ school.

Two of Judge Kavanaugh’s classmates say the mentions of Renate were part of the football players’ unsubstantiated boasting about their conquests. “They were very disrespectful, at least verbally, with Renate,” said Sean Hagan, a Georgetown Prep student at the time, referring to Judge Kavanaugh and his teammates. “I can’t express how disgusted I am with them, then and now.”
So Sean Hagan seems to have brought this tale to the NYT and we're handed his characterizations of what it all means. Who is he? The material seems too minimal to matter, so you have to tell us why it matters, and Sean Hagan is quoted. That's it! Well, who's he? What are his interests? And, again, did Kavanaugh write the yearbook text?!
This month, Renate Schroeder Dolphin joined 64 other women who..., signed a letter to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which...  stated that “he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect.”
So suddenly Schroeder is Dolphin. I'll just guess that's her married name. This article is carelessly written.
“I learned about these yearbook pages only a few days ago,” Ms. Dolphin said in a statement to The New York Times. “I don’t know what ‘Renate Alumnus’ actually means. I can’t begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue. I pray their daughters are never treated this way. I will have no further comment.”
What was said to her that made her react like that. She can't understand it, but she's also horrified by it, and she won't talk about it anymore. Was she given the Sean Hagan interpretation and shocked and that's how the NYT got her quote? And now we the NYT readers are supposed to feel her shock, because look at what she said? And she's not saying anything more.
Alexandra Walsh, a lawyer for Judge Kavanaugh, said in a statement: “Judge Kavanaugh was friends with Renate Dolphin in high school. He admired her very much then, and he admires her to this day. “Judge Kavanaugh and Ms. Dolphin attended one high school event together and shared a brief kiss good night following that event,” the statement continued. “They had no other such encounter. The language from Judge Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook refers to the fact that he and Ms. Dolphin attended that one high school event together and nothing else.”

Ms. Dolphin said she had never kissed Judge Kavanaugh. “I think Brett must have me confused with someone else, because I never kissed him,” she said through her lawyer.
Well, there's a factual discrepancy. Kavanaugh (if his lawyer has it right) believes he kissed a girl who believes he did not. It seems someone at the yearbook collected all the names of boys who said they'd kissed the same girl and made a joke out of it. But was Kavanaugh involved in the yearbook making? And does this really matter now? Dolphin had good enough memories to have signed the letter. Now, she's mad about the yearbook, and we're supposed to hold that against him?
Four of the men who were pictured with Judge Kavanaugh in a photo captioned “Renate Alumni” said it was simply a reference to their dating or going to dances with Ms. Dolphin.... Some of Judge Kavanaugh’s high school peers said there was a widespread culture at the time of objectifying women....

Bill Barbot, who was a freshman at Georgetown Prep when Judge Kavanaugh was a senior, said Judge Kavanaugh and his clique were part of the school’s “fratty” culture.
Oh! We're going to listen to the freshman's ideas about the seniors! And why are we hearing from Bill Barbot? Who is he? How did the NYT find him? And why him and not one of 100 other possibilities among all the boys in all the years when Kavanaugh went to high school?
“There was a lot of talk and presumably a lot of action about sexual conquest with girls,” Mr. Barbot said.
Presumably!!! Such extreme dilution. A freshman remembers how seniors, in general, looked to him 35 years ago.
Ms. Dolphin was a subject of that braggadocio, according to Mr. Hagan and another classmate, who requested anonymity because he fears retribution. 
Again, who is Hagan? But, look, he's bolstered by some anonymous person. And the subject is that Dolphin was a girl boys bragged about. Not Kavanaugh, specifically, but, you know, it was the sort of thing that happened. Such a weak dilution of a hint of wrongness.
“She should be offended,” Mr. Hagan said of Ms. Dolphin. “I was completely astounded when I saw she signed that letter” on Judge Kavanaugh’s behalf.
Hagan Hagan Hagan. Who the hell is he and why is the NYT running with this? It's such a weak effort at piling on the attacks that it makes the earlier attacks seem weaker.

The NYT offers this effort at defending Kavanaugh:
“These guys weren’t any different than other boys high schools across the country,” said Suzanne Matan, a friend of Judge Kavanaugh’s from their high school days. “And I chose to hang out with those boys and many other girls did, too, because they were fun, and they were safe, and they were respectful.”
I assume many readers will interpret that first sentence to mean "boys will be boys" — a damning excuse — despite the various kind — somewhat kind — words.

Finally, an answer to my question:
The Georgetown Prep yearbook’s personal pages were designed and written by the individual students, according to alumni. A faculty adviser reviewed the pages.
If that's true, it's important. Why is this crucial fact buried in the article? I'm writing about it as I go along, so I don't know what I'd have written if that had appeared in the beginning. I note that Kavanaugh's page says "Renate Alumnius." That's a typo/misspelling isn't it, "alumnius"? Isn't that evidence that he did not write it? When I was in high school, you filled out a form offering info to the  students who made the yearbook and they used that to write what they, in the end, chose.

There's more to the article — things written on other boys' pages, a caption on a photo of the football team (including Kavanaugh), a statement by 4 boys in that photo (saying "Renate" referred to "innocent dates or dance partners" and criticizing the NYT for its "twisted and forced... shabby journalism"), etc. — and that's it for this new puff of smoke.

The exploitation of children in the viral video industry.

Protesters chanting "We believe survivors" drive Ted Cruz out of a D.C. restaurant.

Here's the write-up in the NY Post:
Following Cruz and his wife through the restaurant, the self-described constituent and “survivor of sexual assault” then proceeds to shout: “Senator, I have a right to know what your position is on Brett Kavanaugh.”

To which Cruz says, “God bless you, ma’am.”

The activists eventually surround his table, prompting the Republican and his wife to leave. “Let’s go ahead and go,” Cruz can be heard saying....

“Vote no on Kavanaugh!” one protester screamed at him. “Cancel Kavanaugh for women’s rights.”
Is this group for real? Because they are helping Kavanaugh. False flag? Stupid people? Deliberately careless chaos-making?

This seems to be their Facebook page. The same videos are posted there. 400+ comments, including:

1. "Beto is way hotter than you, dude"

2. "Beto wouldn’t approve of this type of behavior!!! Just saying"/"Then fuck him too. Power to the people, not the politician."/"Who gives a shit? Beto ain’t the revolution."/"You must not know who the clash are then. Beto name checked their song the clampdown in reference to Ted Cruz, he might not be able to outwardly approve of harassing ted Cruz but I doubt he's opposed to it."

3. "There is a whole lot of people commenting here that come November 2018 are going to be crying like they did in November 2016! Antics like these drive people in the middle away! Not wanting guilt by association!"

4. "This is disgusting, you people are simply thugs. You win the argument with reasoned debate not harassment and chants. Morons"

5. "I wish these douchebags would try that shit in front of me, they would all be taking a trip to the local trauma center. I have had enough of the leftist bullshit and its time we conservatives fight back"

At that Facebook page, they are also identified as @AntifaDC.

As for those comments, I don't agree with any of them. I mean #1 is technically true, just irrelevant. I agree with part of #3 but wouldn't make an outright prediction about the midterms. 2 of the sentences in #4 are true, but the middle one is only a nice idea. #5 — which may itself be false-flag, shows the right can be just as ugly as the left. #2 is a jumble of comments, but what's the bit about The Clash? I have to do research. Okay:

From Spin, "Beto O’Rourke Could Be the First Candidate for U.S. Senate to Reference The Clash in a Debate":
Beto O’Rourke might just be the coolest candidate in U.S. Senate history. It’s a well-known fact that he grew up playing in punk bands with At The Drive-In’s Cedric Brixler-Zavala, and he also jammed with Willie Nelson at the songwriter’s annual Fourth of July picnic this year in Austin. Now as Splinter points out, the Texas democrat snuck in a reference to The Clash’s 1979 song “Clampdown” in a debate Friday night with Senator Ted Cruz. What can’t he do?

“I want to make sure that, again, we’re not giving away to corporations or special interests,” O’Rourke said. “That’s what Senator Cruz would do thanks to the contributions that he’s received from those political action committees. He’s working for the clampdown and the corporations and the special interests. He’s not working for the people of Texas.”
Here's "Clampdown" at YouTube, and here are the lyrics. Excerpt:
In these days of evil presidentes
(Workin' for the clampdown)
But lately one or two has fully paid their due
For (workin' for the clampdown)
Ha! Get along! Get along!
(Workin' for the clampdown)
Ha! Get along! Get along!
(Workin' for the clampdown)
Speaking of Ted Cruz and restaurants, according to his wife, "He's the first one to say let's go out and eat hair. Human hair."