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Monday, September 17, 2018


1.  Brett Kavanagh did in fact do, as a seventeen year old prep school student, what he is accused of having done.

2.  He did not do this sort of thing just once.  Men who do this do it again.

3.  Sooner or later, another woman will surface with her story.

I have absolutely no knowledge of the matter.  We shall see.


Guy Tennenbaum said...

Of course he did. Brett Kavanaugh is literally an archangel of the Patriarchy, sent to rape women and lock them up for excersicing their bodily autonomy.

That is not in any way a joke.

However, I wouldn’t be surprised if women choose to maintain their silence given how grotesque and violent the right-wing goon trolls are.

s. wallerstein said...

I hope that Kavanaugh is rejected, but while I never tried to rape anyone in high school, I did a lot of things at that age that I'm far from proud of and I hope that they never become public. I've grown a lot since then and changed a lot and perhaps Kavanaugh has too. As I said, it's great that someone as rightwing as Kavanaugh does not become a member of the Supreme Court, but in general, I don't believe that middle-aged adults should be judged by what they did when they were teenagers.

Guy Tennenbaum said...

Obviously Kavanaugh hasn’t grown enough if he’s still denying what he did just to gain power.

And even if he issued a full mea culpa, it should still disqualify him, in my opinion.

David Palmeter said...

I’m all for anything that can derail Kavanaugh’s nomination, but I share s. wallerstein’s concern about youthful screw-ups ruining middle aged lives. There seems to be a lot of this going on with lesser forms of sexual harassment, e.g., equating Al Franken’s juvenile attempt at humor with Roy Moore’s cruising the malls on Friday nights trying to pick up junior high school girls. They’re all lumped together, and any consideration of degree, age or other relevant factors is absent.

Killing another human being, in contrast, can lead to a sentence of death or life without parole, or to 20 years or less, with time off for good behavior.

That said, what Kavanaugh is accused of is far more than a teen-age prank.

David Palmeter said...

This is from NBC's First Read:

David Palmeter said...

The quote from NBC didn't come through, for some reason. Perhaps because I copied pasted, although the text was there before I posted it. Anyway, here it is:

David Palmeter said...

I just typed it and it didn't take! What's going on? OK, here's a third try:

"If Kavanaugh is confirmed, it's a #MeToo tattoo. If he's not confirmed, he becomes Bork 2.00--a new cause celebre in the culture wars."

Guy Tennenbaum said...

@ David Palmeter,

I could easily see Kavanaugh playing a Fox News version of Mr. Rogers. It’s what he’s really suited for.

Better a culture war clown than a judge with real power.

MS said...

I am convinced that Christine Ford is telling the truth. In an earlier comment I argued that Kavanaugh committed perjury when he gave his implausible rationalization for what he meant in his email about Roe v. Wade being unsettled law. A person who would lie under oath in order to advance his aspiration to become a S. Ct. justice will lie about anything. Moreover, when he was on Ken Starr’s prosecutorial team, he contended that Clinton’s consensual adulterous relationship with Monica Lewisnky disqualified him as President. He wanted Clinton to be asked sexually graphic questions under oath in order to humiliate him. Obviously, what Prof. Ford is accusing Kavanaugh of is far worse. And no, I don’t give him a pass just because he was a teenager. We guys in our youth may have engaged in various forms of sexual indiscretion. But there is a big moral difference between copping a feel and attempted rape. What Prof. Ford has described as happening is horrific. She was forcibly held down by another student. they locked the door, something was put in her mouth to muffle her screams, and they turned up the music so that she could not be hard as Kavanaugh attempted to rip her clothes off. Sorry, that is not just a youthful indiscretion. It is being reported that Prof. Ford has already passed a polygraph.

Kavanaugh may have asked for forgiveness from his God, and may have strived for atonement by regularly going to church and coaching his daughter’s basketball team, but in my book, this guy is a creep, and he has already risen higher than he deserves.

Guy Tennenbaum said...

This just in. Kavanaugh was seen arrriving at the White House this morning. No immediate explanation for the visit was given.

Could he be tendering his withdrawal? Nah. My guess is Kavanagh and T***p are now brazenly strategizing together. If the latter was able to overcome his grab-em-by-the-pussy embarrassment, why not learn from the best?

At least they’re no longer trying to hide what’s been obvious to everyone — everyone, that is, (as Brian Leiter just reminded us) except for Akhil Reed Amar and that ridiculous Amy “Mama Tiger” Chua. Seriously, what’s going on at Yale Law School?

MS said...


I erroneously stated that Prof. Ford's assailants put something in her mouth to muffle her screams. She has asserted, rather, that they covered her mouth.

The only thing that would persuade me that she may be mistaken is if, when she testifies, she reports that it was a Halloween party, her assailants were wearing masks, and she identified Kavanaugh by his voice. I would not be surprised if the Republicans offer this as a possible explanation for her erroneous belief.

s. wallerstein said...

My position is that as a general rule, no one should be held responsible 30 years later for something that they did as a teenager. I certainly not going to confess my teenage sins and crimes here.

However, in politics at times you have to play dirty and thus, it seems ok to use whatever Kavanaugh did as a teenager against him.

David Palmeter said...

Kavanaugh's offense, if that'w what he did, could have resulted in a jail sentence. It would have been a felony. It would have kept him out of law school, if not college, would have kept him off the Federal appellate bench. The allegation is for something far more serious than teen age hormone-induced aggressiveness.

s. wallerstein said...

David Palmeter,

What is the limit for juvenile offenders in the U.S.? Kavanaugh was 17 at the time. In Chile at least you have to be 18 to go to jail, that is, an adult prison.

In 1970 I met D. He had just come out of jail for armed robbery, which he had committed when he was around 20 and a heavy drug user. Since then, he's published poetry and a decent novel (which even sold a few copies), has been a teacher (in an alternative school, I'm not sure if he could get a job in a public school) and an activist for peace, human rights and women's rights. D is perhaps the most credible, the most honest and the most decent person I've ever met. From what you say, he could never have gone to law school (I don't know if he had the slightest interest in going to law school) or have been a judge. That's a shame because he would have made a truly solomonic judge. I don't know why someone has a committed a felony cannot go to law school: that seems ridiculous to me. People change, people learn from experience and one might be a better lawyer and judge for having spent a bit of time in jail.

LFC said...

I think someone who has committed a felony is not necessarily barred from attending law school. I believe there are cases of ex-felons becoming lawyers, though I can't cite any just offhand.

@Ed Barreras: Kavanaugh was Amar's student. That's the starting point for that.

(Assuming the allegation is true, Kavanaugh's "best" defense may be that he was so drunk he didn't know what he was doing. But I don't know if that would fly.)

If Kavanaugh is defeated (and btw I wd vote against him), there shd be no illusion that the next nominee will be significantly better. Trump likely will have time to nominate someone else and get a vote on that person before January, even if the Dems take the Senate in Nov.

MS said...

At 17, in most states, Kavanaugh would have been tried as a minor and not have been sentenced to an adult prison. If convicted, he would, at worst, have been sentenced to a period of time in a juvenile reformatory. Regarding law school, in most states, in order to be allowed to take the bar exam and become a licensed attorney, one has to undergo a character evaluation in which a past criminal record will generally prevent admission to the bar. There are, as with everything, exceptions. A few months ago 60 Minutes had a story about a former prison inmate, Shon Hopwood, who had been convicted for bank robbery. While in prison, he became fascinated by the study of law and became a jailhouse lawyer. He wrote a S. Ct. brief for a fellow inmate, whose argument was used in the S. Ct. by the inmate’s assigned defense attorney and the conviction was overturned. He thereafter wrote several more briefs in cases which were accepted for review by the S. Ct. (This is an anomaly – many lawyers go through their career seeking review in the S. Ct. in many cases, without success.) After his release, he obtained a J.D. at the University of Washington Law School. He was admitted to the bar because he had sponsors who praised his legal work as a jailhouse lawyer. He is now a law professor at Georgetown Law School.

I, in several comments on this blog, have criticized others for making moral judgments about an individual’s character based on one or more moral transgressions. So, there may be a bit of hypocrisy in my attitude towards Judge Kavanaugh. However, I am not assessing whether Kavanaugh is a “good” or “bad” person; I am evaluating whether he is fit to be a S. Ct. justice. Since he has been practicing law, and in several of his dissents, he has demonstrated to me a history of serving as a political operative for Republican right wing causes, a lack of empathy for those less fortunate (despite his protests to the contrary), and a willingness to be disingenuous to advance his career. In addition to his work on the Ken Starr prosecution team that I alluded to above, while on that team he advanced a Rush Limbaugh theory that Vince Foster did not commit suicide, but was murdered to cover up an affair he was purportedly having with the First Lady. Vince Foster’s widow begged for him to stop, because the story one, was not true, and two, its repetition was causing her and her children emotional pain. Kavanaugh refused to accede to her requests and pushed Starr to reopen the investigation into Foster’s death. See And while serving as legal counsel in the Bush Whitehouse, he endorsed the use of water-boarding and other “enhanced interrogation” techniques.

The majority in many of his dissents have accused him of twisting and manipulating the facts and law. There is, of course, his dissent opposing permission to the teen-age Latino refugee to obtain an abortion until she had been assigned an American sponsor. And I have previously commented on his dissent to an OSHA ruling that Sea World had violated the statute with respect to the death of an orca trainer. He presents himself as a humble, religiously devout, family loving adherent to the Constitution and an independent judiciary. I regard him as a fraud.

s. wallerstein said...


From what you write about Kavanaugh's record as an adult, I would vote against him without hesitation. He's not fit to be on the Supreme Court.

David Palmeter said...

I overlooked the juvenile point. As to law school admission, I suspect that few law schools would admit anyone with such a violation apart from a program for ex-convicts who come from disadvantaged playgrounds and have served their time. It would be tough to get the OK of a character and fitness committee with such a record.

The politics of this nomination now are fascinating. If the delay puts the vote off until after the election, the chances of Kavanaugh's being affirmed by the Senate decrease greatly. So far, most of the political talk I've seen and heard concentrates on the need of the Democrats to get two Republican votes--Collins and Murkowski--to block the nomination. This is true, given the simple math: 49 Democrats need two of the 51 Republicans to block Kavanagh. 50-50 won't do it because Pence would break the tie.

But this analysis assumes that all 49 Democrats would vote against him. That's a questionable assumption. The Democrats running this year in red states--Mancin, Heitkamp et al--are under great pressure to vote for Kavanaugh. While doing so won't guarantee their re-election, not doing so will pretty well defeat them--at least according to the pundits I've heard and read.

But after the election, whether they've won or lost, it will become a free vote for them. They would have six years to recover. In that case, 49 Democrats are much more likely, and that 49 plus Collins and Murkowski would do it.

I suspect before that vote happened, McConnell would pull the nomination off the floor, and Kavanaugh would be sweating over whether he could remain on the Court of Appeals.

Jordan said...

David Palmeter, I think your point about Mancin, Heitkamp, et. al. is what makes Ford's accusations so politically useful. They give these red-state Democrats the cover they need to vote against Kavanaugh in a way that doesn't look totally partisan. If the hearings reveal significant worries about Kavanaugh's character, that of course won't be enough to sway the hard-line Republicans, but it makes it considerably easier for the Dems to get to 49, and then hope to sway Collins and Murkowski.

Anonymous said...

I read a psych assessment of Kavanaugh online that said that cupping the mouth to muffle the screams crosses into serious assault territory. It is no longer "boys will be boys" or "which 17-year-old would'nt have fun" type of indiscretions. Many others have picked up on this, and some have even said that there may be other instances that we don't know yet.

After reading some of his rulings as a judge and some cases he pursued as a prosecutor, especially the Vince Foster suicide case, it is clear that man has some serious mental issues. It is abnormal for a good Catholic educated boy to break that badly.