That Was the Week that Was


Intense conversations about difficult subjects: women with women, men with men, women with me.

A chance for the country to digest the spectacles of Thursday and of Friday morning. To find an appropriate visceral and emotional reaction.

To think about the shitstorm rationally, insofar as we are capable of rational thought.

Polling. Lots of polling.

The FBI doing its thing.

Information being made public about some of what the FBI is doing.

Going out on a limb here, but, around Wednesday or Thursday, a news conference of folks with personal knowledge of Kavanaugh’s behavior at Georgetown Prep, and, probably more importantly, at Yale. That would be Yale College and Yale Law School.

Furthermore, what happens at the Federalist Society will not, at the end of the day, stay at the Federalist Society.

Some kind of written FBI report at the end of the week. Which will immediately become public knowledge.

By the end of the week, even many of the Fox Bubble folk will have figured out that Mitch McConnell and his merry band of misogynist lemmings are making an horrific mistake.

I do not (just) mean an horrific mistake within a normal person’s frame of reference.

I mean specifically an horrific mistake within Mitch’s own reptilian frame of reference.

shit and fan

The Train Roars Through Gender Gap


“The Opposition to Kavanaugh Can Be Emotional”

Bloomberg reports,

When it comes to Kavanaugh, voters are split, especially between men and women. Women, by 15 percentage points, think Kavanaugh should not be confirmed (26 percent yes, 41 percent no), according to an Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 adults taken earlier this week. Men, meanwhile, narrowly back his confirmation, 41 percent to 36 percent. Support for Kavanaugh’s nomination had already dropped to less than half among Republican women, according to a Morning Consult/Politico poll, before Thursday’s hearing.

The opposition to Kavanaugh can be emotional.

You don’t say!

I am so tired.

The train is very, very urgent. It is moving a man’s career forward. It is very difficult to get the train to stop.

The presumption is that the train will not stop. The presumption is that you will be a scream thrown on the tracks. That it will require a great many of you to be thrown onto the tracks before the train will grind to a halt. It can never be just the one; it must be several at once. Someday we will know the precise conversion. We will tell them: Do not bother unless there are 20 others like you, because the train will continue, and you will be crushed. …

To make the train stop, you must throw yourself in front. Your whole self. Your fear of flying. Your family.

You must throw yourself in front of the train, but still it may not be enough. These trains move very fast. We must not ask why. …

In the Bible, Thomas says he will not believe what Jesus has survived unless he can stick his hand into the wounds. But this is not a reasonable thing to ask of someone who is not God, to stick your hand into their wound. I am tired of watching people become wounds. Half the Internet is a wound. Have you stuck your hand in it enough? …

Even as she testified Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford kept apologizing. (“I’m sorry,” she said. “I can read fast!” she said. She was here to be “helpful,” she said.)

Someday I want to not be tired.
Someday I want us not to apologize.

Women are used to squinting to see our own stories in the stories of others. To reading ourselves into the words “all men are created equal.” To being the thing tied to the tracks to raise the stakes.

Alexandra Petri, It is very difficult to get the train to stop

Life Lessons from the Week that Was

head in the sand

If you are going to undertake a project of national importance, while under intense public scrutiny, it is wise to begin with an accurate general understanding of the relevant facts.

This is so, even if you have no morality and are perfectly prepared to tell all the lies you can get away with telling. Even in that circumstance, you need to have a good general understanding of the relevant facts. Because, inter alia, having an accurate knowledge of the facts will inform your decision as to which lies you can and cannot get away with.

Half of your constituents are women. Of your female constituents, an astonishingly large percentage will have vivid memories of one or more acts of sexual battery.

This fundamental fact limits your ability to argue successfully that you believe the victim but that the ideological purity of the Supreme Court trumps a history of bad behavior.

It was the last straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.

It would be well to remember this truth as you prepare to shovel on that last shovelful of bullshit.

Finally, if you are a Supreme Court nominee and a mean drunk, it is unwise to fortify yourself with several martinis prior to giving your testimony.


I Think He Had a Little Talk with Melania and Ivanka

getting the memo

Trump Gets the Memo:

President Trump said … he found the testimony of the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, credible and “very compelling, and she looks like a very fine woman to me.”

He said he did not have any message for the senators considering the nomination. “They have to do what they think is right and be comfortable with themselves,” he said.

Yesterday, the White People’s Republican Party Became the White Men’s Republican Party

mens rights

It is one thing to say, “I don’t believe the women.”

It is another step to say, “I don’t care about the women.”

On the latter point, the Trump base was pretty much split down the middle in the days before the hearing. A poll taken just before the hearing indicated that “Forty-eight percent of white evangelicals say that embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed even if the allegations of sexual assault against him are true.” As did 52 percent of self-identified Republicans.

Yesterday’s Republican shenanigans, which will continue today, are a “heroic” effort to drive up the I-don’t-care numbers, using wild-eyed tribal emotion.

They are transforming the Party of White Privilege into the Party of Male Privilege.

But half of all people, and more than half of all voters, are women.

It seems that, in their blind rage, they have lost the ability to count.



A Few Words from the American Bar Association

When I was a practicing lawyer, I was active in the American Bar Association, and held various positions of responsibility in that organization. They even doled out a hundred or so letterhead pages with the blue logo, so that, when duly authorized to do so, I could speak on behalf of the committees, task forces, and publications I headed.

You may choose to believe that the ABA is a wild-eyed leftist body, unconcerned with the interests of our country’s elite. You may also choose to believe that the moon is made of green cheese.

Here are last night’s thoughts from the American Bar Association.


Dying on Kavanaugh H:ill


It’s late Thursday night, September 27. Despite today’s performance, Trump and the Republican senatorial leadership say they are determined to pick Kavanaugh Hill as the hill to die on.

Republicans are failing the Sara Jane test. Dr. Aardvark and I had a long talk with Sara Jane this evening. Normally guarded in her expression of political views, Sara Jane, one of our fellow residents here at Happy Acres, often chooses Fox News as her source of information. This evening she was incensed at the senators who failed to give credence to an obvious victim of sexual assault.

I think that Sara Jane will be voting in November. And I think she will remember today.

Republicans could easily deep six Kavanaugh and pick a right wing woman judge. Why don’t they? I don’t know—and I don’t necessarily accept the analysis of the following article, but I do commend it to your attention: GOP will still confirm Brett Kavanaugh — because of allegations, not in spite of them: Republican leaders know that to stop #MeToo they must scare women into silence. Confirming Kavanaugh may do it:

Why are Republicans so ready to stick with a guy credibly accused by three women — especially in the #MeToo era, when there’s significant political fallout awaiting anyone who is perceived as minimizing, covering for or excusing sexual misconduct? Viewed through the lens of horse-race politics, where everything is about media spin and electoral calculus, the GOP’s unwillingness to swap out Kavanaugh for someone else looks baffling.

But if one accepts the possibility that some considerations matter more than the immediate political fallout, then the choice makes more sense. I would argue that, in a way, Republican leaders are sticking with Kavanaugh not despite of the sexual assault allegations, but because of them. They are no doubt highly aware that the #MeToo movement has damaged the ability of powerful men to treat women however they like and get away with it. By rushing forward with the Kavanaugh confirmation, and refusing to treat the allegations against him with anything approaching seriousness or respect, Republicans can strike a major blow in the backlash to #MeToo.

Handing feminists a major defeat, at this historical moment, can go a long way towards rebuilding the world the way that powerful men like it, where they can harass and abuse women, sometimes even rape them, and get away with it. In the long run, that goal takes priority over more immediate concerns, such as who wins a majority in the midterm elections.

“We sometimes believe that people who work in politics are infinitely cynical, that there’s nothing they won’t do for political advantage and no goal that takes precedence over winning,” Paul Waldman writes in the American Prospect. But ultimately, having power is about imposing your values and vision of the world on society. For a lot of men, especially powerful, conservative men, it’s extremely important to keep women in a submissive, objectified role. That, in their view, is a goal worth sacrificing for.

The Republican political leadership is mad as hell, and they are not going to take it any more.

See you in November, assholes.

make my day

Of Prolonged Virginity, Cruelty, Omertà, and Toxic Homosociality

Toxic Behavior Word Cloud

Several posts ago I wrote that the allegations against Kavanaugh are not inconsistent with his claims of extended virginity. (I implied that it might have been better, all around, for him to have just found a willing young woman with whom he could play hide the sausage, after which, feeling refreshed, he would get back to his pre-law studies and she to her organic chemistry.)

I am afraid I missed the toxic homosociality part of it.

A Slate post addresses Brett Kavanaugh and the Cruelty of Male Bonding:

For what it’s worth, and absent evidence or allegations to the contrary, I believe Brett Kavanaugh’s claim that he was a virgin through his teens. I believe it in part because it squares with some of the oddities I’ve had a hard time understanding about his alleged behavior: namely, that both allegations are strikingly different from other high-profile stories the past year, most of which feature a man and a woman alone. And yet both the Kavanaugh accusations share certain features: There is no penetrative sex, there are always male onlookers, and, most importantly, there’s laughter. In each case the other men—not the woman—seem to be Kavanaugh’s true intended audience. In each story, the cruel and bizarre act the woman describes—restraining Christine Blasey Ford and attempting to remove her clothes in her allegation, and in Deborah Ramirez’s, putting his penis in front of her face—seems to have been done in the clumsy and even manic pursuit of male approval. Even Kavanaugh’s now-notorious yearbook page, with its references to the “100 kegs or bust” and the like, seems less like an honest reflection of a fun guy than a representation of a try-hard willing to say or do anything as long as his bros think he’s cool. In other words: The awful things Kavanaugh allegedly did only imperfectly correlate to the familiar frame of sexual desire run amok; they appear to more easily fit into a different category—a toxic homosociality—that involves males wooing other males over the comedy of being cruel to women.

There is lots more. I hope you have plenty of Lysol on hand for your post-read shower.

A Guest Blogger and Experienced Sex Litigator Imagines His Line of Questioning


This communication from old friend Clarence Darrow, who has told me that his professional experience has taught him the myriad ways in which love can go wrong:

Arius, I have been thinking about how I would best use my five minutes for dealing with Kavanaugh.  There are so many possibilities, but right now, given his generous acknowledgement that young girls are sometimes sexually assaulted, and even that Dr. Ford may have been a victim (and mixed him up with another drunken Catholic school boy lout—they do wear uniforms), my question would go something like:

Q Judge, you have recognized that sexual assault of young women is a regrettable reality, and indeed that Dr. Ford may indeed have been a victim of such a trauma, and understandably is confused about who did it…

A. Yes, senator, alas, that is all too true.   I don’t question the trauma she experienced or that similar traumas are experienced all too often by young women.

Q. You recognize that sexual assault can sometimes result in pregnancy?

A. (sensing danger but not knowing where to go, considers denying that detailed knowledge of human reproduction but finally decides to recognize that biologic reality) Yes, I have had heard that.

Q. Do you believe that 15 year old adolescent girls, pregnant as a result of rape by a drunken 17 year old, must give birth to that fetus?

Chairman Grassley: roughly yanked from his torpor, pounds the gavel:

“Out of Order”

If I were advising Kavanaugh I would advise him to time the question from Democratic senators and take up the rest of five minutes with the answer.



In Brett Kavanaugh and the moral ugliness of casual lying Greg Sargent recounts some regrettable incidents from his own youth and meditates on the Kavanaugh’s highly problematic claim of having been an innocent youth:

“He’s trying to paint himself as some kind of choir boy,” a Republican woman who recalled encountering a drunken Kavanaugh at a fraternity event told The Post. “You can’t lie your way onto the Supreme Court, and with that statement out, he’s gone too far. It’s about the integrity of that institution.”

John Harwood documents a broader pattern still to Kavanaugh’s misrepresentations and evasions, including on his views of Roe v. Wade and on whether he knew he was trafficking in stolen documents as a partisan hatchetman in past confirmation fights. “The judge’s self-description strains credulity in multiple ways,” Harwood concludes, which “has deepened questions about his present-day credibility — a bedrock requirement for the lifetime job he now seeks.”

Straining for charity and fairness, Sargent concludes,

My guess is that Kavanaugh panicked. All that grooming for this position — Georgetown Prep, Yale, the Federalist Society gatherings and schmoozing, all the slimy, sordid partisan committee grunt work against Democrats, and, in fairness, all the grinding study and hard work — flashed before his eyes.

I don’t know if the content of these seeming misrepresentations about Kavanaugh’s drunkenness and frat-goon treatment of women should be disqualifying. I tend to doubt it. I do think this apparent willingness to casually engage in such trivial dishonesty — about who he once was and where he came from — amounts to an ugly mark on his character that says a lot about who he is now. And that is something one might add to the case against him.

Aardvark’s Additions

Be it said that Sargent’s reluctance to disqualify potential Supreme Court justices for “frat-goon treatment of women” is highly problematic. As is Sargent’s conclusion that current lying is a worse sin that ancient drunken loutishness.

Here’s the thing. Ask yourself this question: If you are a privileged preppy, and the notion strikes you to grab a teenage girl and try to take her clothes off, what stops you?

Just think about that for a minute.

Maybe fear of being punished. But my question stipulates that the hypothetical youthful lout isn’t afraid of being punished, and that said lack of fear is reasonable under the circumstances.

So what else stops you, if anything stops you at all? The answer: empathy stops you.

The ability—indeed, the irresistible compulsion—to put yourself in the place of another human being.

And if you lacked empathy in high school and college, I don’t think you’re going to find it at age 53.

And if you lack empathy, I don’t want you on the United States Supreme Court.


Greetings to today’s readers in France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. To those of you in other countries, I want to thank your leaders, from the bottom of my heart, for laughing at Donald Trump yesterday. I am sorry that it has come to this. But to have Donald Trump and his enablers know that the whole world is now laughing at us is a liberating and encouraging development.

Atlas Chugged


Meanwhile, Republicans go into full white male victimhood mode.

Clearly, they could cut their losses, nominate a female judicial wingnut, and have done with it. As it is, they are royally pissing off huge portions of the female population, not to mention the sensible males among us.

So why don’t they cut their losses and pick a woman judge?

Beats the hell out of me, but my best guess is that they are just dinosaurs.

Regardless, this is the new progressive battle cry: “When they go low, we kick ‘em in the nuts.”

Wally Cleaver Pledges Animal House

that dog won't hunt

Paul Waldman, What Brett Kavanaugh should have said

Kavanaugh’s Fox News interview risks contributing to a credibility gap: “The Supreme Court nominee’s memory of himself is very different from his portrayal in a yearbook. That could undercut his denials about bigger things.”

As the day wears on, it becomes clearer with each hour how big is the gap between Kavanaugh’s portrayal of himself as Wally Cleaver and the reality of the Animal House environment which he chose for himself in high school and college.

He is supposed to be a great jurist. A great jurist would know that if there are some really bad facts, and if those really bad facts can be proved beyond peradventure of doubt, you cannot get away with mindlessly repetitious denials.

What you have to do instead is to admit that which your adversary can prove anyway, do your best to explain it away, minimize the badness of it, express remorse for the provably bad stuff you did, and deny the really bad claims that your adversary can’t actually prove.

In other words, you have a choice between a defense that has some grounding in reality and a defense based on convincing folks to believe six impossible things before breakfast.

The former course would not demonstrate good character, but it would show good judgment. Choosing the unmoored-from-reality approach to advocacy is evidence either of stupidity or it is evidence of terror born of desperation.

Could be evidence of both.

From everything that we have reason to believe thus far, stupidity wins the day as an explanation. Waldman, for example, does a good job of showing how Kavanaugh should have handled himself, without denying a lot of things that are easily proved to be true.

But lurking about in the undergrowth are Avenatti, his thus far elusive clients, and their nascent claims about “pulling trains.”

So it’s probably best not to rule out terror born of desperation as the main thought running through Brett Kavanaugh’s great judicial mind.

river in Egypt

Twelve Reasons Why


A neoconservative offers eight reasons to despise Ted Cruz. Bret Stephens writes,

Because he’s like a serpent covered in Vaseline. Because he treats the American people like two-bit suckers in 10-gallon hats. Because he sucks up to the guy who insulted his wife — by retweet, no less. Because of his phony piety and even phonier principles. Because I see him as the spiritual love child of the 1980s televangelist Jimmy Swaggart and Jack Nicholson’s character in “The Shining.” Because his ethics are purely situational. Because he makes Donald Trump look like a human being by comparison. Because “New York values.” Because his fellow politicians detest him, and that’s just among Republicans. Because he never got over being the smartest kid in eighth grade. Because he’s conniving enough to try to put one over you, but not perceptive enough to realize that you see right through him. Because he’s the type of man who would sell his family into slavery if that’s what it took to get elected. And that he would use said slavery as a sob story to get himself re-elected.

Plowing Through the Minefield, Fortified by Dutch Courage

A web site just offered me the opportunity to “View President Trump Live at the United Nations.” Concerned for my sanity, I declined.

Meanwhile, Eugene Robinson wins today’s prize for Best Mixed Metaphor of the Day: Republicans are going to ‘plow right through’ a minefield.

Good show, Gene!

And this from one of Kavanaugh’s Yale roommates:


Here’s a thought, Brett. And I expect your old buddy Jimmy would agree. Before your big day on Thursday, how about fortifying yourself with a big dose of Dutch courage?