What Are The Odds?

by John Holbo on September 26, 2018

Kavanaugh. Suppose – just suppose – we wanted to estimate the likelihood that BK was guilty of sexual assault in his bad old “what happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep” days. Given that Ford (and Ramirez) have accused him, what is the likelihood he is guilty?

Kavanaugh’s defenders seem divided between two calculations of the odds:

1) the charges are so bad they are extremely unlikely to be true. BK is a decent sort now, so it’s pretty intolerable to entertain the possibility that he was horrible as all that before. Likelihood Ford’s story is true: approx 0.

2) the charges are so likely to be true (‘boys will be boys’) that therefore they can’t be serious. BK is a decent sort, but everyone like BK engaged in horseplay like this in high school. The non-seriousness of Ford’s charges is established by the very fact that the likelihood of her story is high: approx 1.

The fact that conservatives scatter, away from the mid-point, is an argument in itself for giving Ford’s charges a credence value somewhere in the middle.

Here’s another argument for a rough 0.5 rating. Ford’s defenders emphasize her account is credible. BK’s defenders emphasize that, after more than 30 years, memory must be suspect. The defenders are more wrong than right, I suspect. Yet the skeptical point may be right for slightly different reasons. Paradoxically, although we should regard Ford as highly believable, we shouldn’t necessarily believe her highly. Focusing on the relative reliability of memory, in a case like this, is likely to trip you up into a base rate fallacy. Wikipedia’s example is good enough: suppose 1 in 1000 drivers is drunk and the breathalyzer will always catch that, but it has a 5% false positive error rate. 95% accuracy sounds good. But, in light of the low base, only 2% of the drivers the test ‘catches’ are drunk. Ford’s allegations against BK are not entirely analogous, but the basic point holds that if you think it is unlikely, in the abstract, that BK is guilty, and you think there is some chance Ford is mistaken, you should land somewhere in the middle.

Let’s make up numbers. The first one we have to make up is going to be pretty important, and we’ll keep coming back to it, so let’s be clear what we are asking, and think what we really want to answer.

Let’s estimate the likelihood that BK was guilty of something of the sort, independently of Ford’s accusations. That is, take the rest of what we know: 1983, privileged, football, heavy drinking, best friends with Mark Judge, “what happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep”, what he wrote in the yearbook, joined Truth and Courage at Yale, etc.

What percentage of possible guys who fit this Band of Bros Truth and Courage profile are guilty of sexual assault at some point?

I say: 10%. 1 in 10 guys like that assaulted some girl at some party at some time.

That’s quite high. (I mean the chance, not the estimate.) Probably Mitch McConnell agrees with me. I infer this from the fact that he didn’t like BK as nominee. He saw the risk from his background, I guess.

Let’s call this 10% number the Sixteen Candles Creep Factor (SCC Factor). I name it in honor of Michael Brendan Dougherty, who concedes the factor, but wants us to rule it out of consideration.

Should it be ruled out of consideration? Is it unfair to think of someone as a 10% sexual assaulter, just for being wild in the John Hughes era? It would be unfair in certain contexts. But it isn’t irrational to judge the likelihood that someone did something based on a sense of the type of person they seem to be (or have been.) Indeed, there’s really no way you can arrive at any estimate of the likelihood of BK’s guilt or innocence without making up some such number. Even so, there could be procedural objections to ‘profiling’. Let’s come back to this.

We are still thinking through the base rate fallacy problem. Let’s run the numbers right. I have said: 10% chance BK is guilty before we hear from Ford.

And now he stands accused by Ford (and also Ramirez). How much should I update my priors, as they say? Well, suppose I think Ford’s memories should be deemed 90% credible. That is, there’s only a 10% chance she is maliciously fabricating or, more likely, mis-remembering who, what (where and when.) The reasonable thing to conclude, balancing these chances, is that BK is 50% likely to be guilty. He’s a 0.5 sexual assaulter. (That’s hard to think. We’ll come back to this.)

0.5 is lower than a lot of his accusers seem to rate his likely guilt. But higher than most of his defenders concede. (Apart from those who give him – and all boys – an approx 100% chance. But I don’t think the Senate is going there quite yet.)

I’m easing into baby Bayesian analysis. Let me just use Bayes Theorem.

First, let me concede (what is perfectly obvious) that there is no way for a bit of formalism to transmute a 30-plus-year old he-said-she-said into something magically more knowable than it possibly can be. There is a garbage-in, garbage-out quality to what I am about to do. But the value of it is as follows. I need to estimate four or five (depending how you count) likelihoods. Then combine them. You don’t like it? Fine. Pick YOUR numbers. Because, if you want to make a reasonable estimate, you should probably go through these thinking steps for yourself.

Bayes’ theorem:

P(A|B) = P(B|A) x P(A)/P(B)

Informally this says the chance of A given B equals the chance that B given A times the (independent) chance that A, divided by the (independent) chance that B.

Here are our A & B.

A = BK committed sexual assault.
B = serious allegations of sexual assault are made in the course of BK’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

We want to solve for P(A|B); that is, the likelihood that A is true, given B is true.

To do this, we need to estimate P(A) and P(B) and P(B|A). Three pieces.

We’ve got P(A). It’s my SCC factor. I said 10%. So:

P(A) = 0.1

P(B) is trickier. Independently of BK’s guilt, what is the likelihood that he will be (would be) accused of such serious wrongdoing during his confirmation hearing? (Suppose you had been taking odds on him being accused of sexual assault before the hearings started? What odds would you have taken?)

Basically we need to estimate two ‘chances’ to figure this. 1) The likelihood that, if guilty, he will be (rightly) accused. 2) the likelihood that, guilty or innocent, he will be wrongly accused. (You can be wrongly accused even if guilty. A Gettier case, get it?) Figuring 1 & 2 and adding them is a bit tricky. Maybe it’s easier to start by arriving at an estimate of P(B|A).

What is the chance that BK will be accused assuming he is guilty?

That is, we assume ourselves down from the overall possibility space – nine-tenths of which is populated by innocent BK’s. We are looking at just the guilty BK quadrant and trying to estimate the chance this lot will be accused. The less possible-world-y, more intuitive way to think about this that we are estimating guilty BK’s fear factor, going in.

Imagine you are BK and you did bad stuff but what happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep has gotten you through life so far, up, up the ladder of success. But a Supreme Court confirmation hearing is a new magnification of microscope. You’ve been vetted, yeah, and none of the bad stuff showed, so it’s probably not going to show now. It was a long time ago. Any accuser will be a target of death threats and smears. The Federalist Society has got your back and guys like Ed Whelan will come up with galaxy brain spin. Nevertheless, if you know you did something bad, you’ve got to worry. Ronan Farrow is a thing.

How worried are you if you are guilty BK? I dunno. 50%? Let’s go with that, for lack of anything better. It’s got to be a significant worry, if you really are guilty. If you did something like what Ford said, and it never came out before, but now you are being confirmed for the SC, maybe there’s a 50% chance that someone like Ford comes out now?

P(B|A) = .5

But wait! This isn’t quite the right number because we need to add in the chance that you could be guilty and wrongly accused. But we’re getting there. (Hold that thought.)

Wrongful accusations come in two different kinds. Dirty tricks and delusions, let’s call them. Or: the Nixonian CREEP factor (NC Factor), and the Unexploded Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Factor (UCEG Factor).

First, dirty tricks.

The thing about Nixon’s Plumbers: it didn’t make sense. Such an elaborate, devious, low-down thing to do, yet not worth it. Downside risks outweigh likely upside benefit. Dumb, dumb.

The fraudulent framing of a Supreme Court nominee would be like that. You’d have to be a special, scheme-y sort of nut to try it. (Feinstein? I think not.) It would be hard. It would need a conspiracy. All under bright lights. And for what? To get Amy Coney Barrett in? And if the scheme is exposed? Someone goes to jail. Everyone on your side loses credibility for a generation. Nevertheless, crazy-stupid happens. We can’t logically discount the possibility that Ford is a fanatical, lone-wolf, left-wing operator. (All we can say is there is no evidence whatsoever that she is one. Zero. None.)

To humor the paranoid, I rate this possibility: 5%. That is, every time a Supreme Court nominee gets a hearing, there is a 5% chance the candidate will be the target of some sinister, elaborate frame-up. (Honestly, 1 in 100 would be likelier, but, sure: 5%. Just to see the numbers.)

Next, delusions.

The obstacle here is: crazy and credible do not mix.

It isn’t easy to be so troubled as to suffer from severe delusions, yet your delusions are basically plausible. Your personal history must not reveal you are crazy. But you have to be crazy. Furthermore, you need to be close to the person you accuse. You need to be able to establish that there were places and times – drunken parties, say – where the crazy contents of your delusion could have happened.

Again, I humor the paranoid: 5%. Let it be so. Every Supreme Court nominee is 5% likely to have a secret crazy person in their personal orbit – someone no one has noticed is crazy, but who is waiting to jump out and swear to the Senate that a bunch of untrue stuff is true. (I think 5% is on the high side here. I give it more like 1 in a 1000, because politics is crazy so never say never. But, sure, 5%. Just to see the numbers.)

Now we have the pieces we need. First, we modify P(B|A) to include the chance of false accusations.

P(B|A) = 0.6 (0.5 chance of accusation assuming guilt + 0.1 chance of sinister frame or delusion irrespective of guilt.)

And we need to figure out P(B) – that is, the likelihood of accusation irrespective of actual guilt or innocence. Per above, there is a 0.05 chance of BK being guilty and accused. (That’s from a 0.1 chance of guilt, and a 0.5 chance that IF guilty, he’ll get accused.) There’s a 0.1 chance of him being innocent and accused (per my paranoid assumptions about conspiracies and crazy people.) Thus:

P(B) = 0.15 (0.05 + 0.1)

We have P(A) = 0.1. We calculate:

P(B|A) x P(A)/P(B) is

0.6×0.1/0.15 = 0.4

The likelihood of A (BK’s guilty) given B (BK’s accused) is 40%.

Did I do the math right? (Correct me if I slipped, or if you think I misapplied the formula.)

[UPDATE: per Salem’s comment, I am treating some probabilities as mutually exclusive when they should be independent, hence potentially overlapping. It comes out about the same: 39 instead of 40. I am not going to update the math because I want to think a bit about the clearest way to present the case – and events have overtaken the facts, such as they were. See comments #45,7]

If my calculations are reasonable, then, even under highly paranoid assumptions about possible frame and false witnesses, BK is quite likely to be guilty. Which is too high for confirmation, surely. (If I lower the paranoid chances to 1% each, which I would probably prefer, we get about a 75% chance of guilt. You decide.)

Being 40% likely to be guilty is a confusing state. Morally, there’s no such thing. Either he did it or he didn’t. Emotionally, there’s no right way to feel about someone who is 0.4 guilty. What emotion would that be: 40% righteous indignation against, 60% righteous indignation on behalf of? [UPDATE: had those number reversed. Corrected now.] There isn’t some ‘burden of proof’ to be lifted and carried, since there is nowhere to tote it to. No epistemic there we can get to from here. Nope, this is probably as far as it goes: BK is someone about whom it is reasonable to have a high level of dark suspicion, concerning his character and early life. (Quite apart from his judicial philosophy and mid-career as a partisan dirty trickster.)

This is, of course, a perfectly normal state of affairs, despite its moral imponderability: uncertainty whether someone did a thing.

There is no uncertainty, however, as to what the Republicans should do, if they care about credibility for the court – or if they are even able to see 3 inches past the tips of their partisan noses. Pull BK on the grounds that this is not good. BK is going to kill Roe v. Wade. That’s what they are hiring him to do (among other, more business-related matters.) Now when that happens, pro-choice folks will say old white, Republican men just want to control women’s bodies. And they will be able to point to BK. They will say they believe this is BK doing the same thing as the time he held a girl down and covered her mouth. And, if they are honest, all Republicans will be able to reply is: well, you very well could be right about the girl, but we think you’re wrong about why he did it this time. This time it was for moral and legal reasons, even if – who knows? – that time maybe he wanted to control a woman’s body, illegally, against her will for immoral reasons.

Honestly, part of me is glad to get BK, if it has to be someone so conservative. It rips off the mask. The fact that they could swap in Amy Coney Barret, with no loss of ideological extremism – actually, an increase – suggests it isn’t even just ideological extremism. (I take for granted it has little to do with views about proper hermeneutic techniques to apply to old documents, but I would hope Federalist Society members would at least have the decency to feed the Constitution to the moloch of partisan ideology, not the moloch of negative partisanship. Standards, people.) Nope, they are going to ram BK through to ‘own the libs’. It will be bad for them, bad for the court, bad for the country.

Are they the least little bit right to be enraged at the Dems for raking their boy over the coals? Maybe the document leaked as part of a delaying tactic? Maybe that was a bit of a dirty trick? Eh. The basic problem is that 10% chance in my numerator. They nominated a former hard-drinking bad boy Georgetown Prep bro, in 2018, to the Supreme Court. What a stupid plan.

But shouldn’t there be some ‘innocent until proven guilty’ procedural norm? I do wish people would only ask this after conceding he looks quite likely to be guilty. There is obviously no legal barrier to nixing him via a no vote. It won’t violate existing anti-discrimination laws to do so. If Republicans want to take a high moral stand on ‘innocent until proven guilty’, even though not legally obliged, then they can’t whine when people insist on taking a reasonable view of the facts: namely, there’s a good chance the new Justice got away with sexual assault, and lies about it to this day. There isn’t any way to make that not true by saying ‘innocent until proven guilty’.

Here’s another way to put it. I can imagine a possible world in which very comprehensive, well-intentioned anti-discrimination law might, weirdly, make it impossible to nix a SC nominee just because you suspect him of being guilty of a serious crime. That is, I can imagine a law that would make it illegal to ‘profile’ job candidates and refuse them employment if they are deemed to have criminal backgrounds (as part of a push to re-integrate offenders into society, say.) If that made it impossible to reject a SC nominee on the grounds that he didn’t have the character for the job, that would be a perverse consequence of such a law. But given that we don’t actually live in a world in which such a law is, in fact, generating this perverse consequence, there’s no need to pretend we are in that world, only to the extent of insisting on this particular form of perverse consequence of rigid anti-discrimination policy.

One last point: there’s a lot of ‘suppose he’s guilty’ in this post because that’s what Bayes’ theorem needs me to estimate, and the fact that BK’s likely to be guilty is the concern here. But suppose he’s innocent! He’s really innocent. It could well be. That is, he was kind of a drunken shithead in high school and college (by his own admission.) But he never assaulted anyone. Ford is mistaken, her memory somehow in error. She experienced something terrible, traumatic, but it wasn’t him.

Who – or what – should we be indignant at, if – IF – he’s innocent?

If BK really is innocent then, in a sense, he, like Ford, is a victim of the fact that a whole class of serious crimes went frequently unpunished and unreported back in 1983, and still today. BK wasn’t assaulted, like Ford, but the fact that there were so many assaults, and so many went unpunished, makes it plausible that he is guilty of unpunished assault. Lots of unpunished crime is bad for victims, of course, but, to a lesser extent, for everyone else, including those who might, later, stand wrongly accused in the course of some belated effort to see delayed justice done.

Suppose, instead of happening in 2018, #METOO erupted in 1978 and was so successful that – within a few years – it became much more common for victims like Ford to report all such things promptly, and receive the sympathy and redress they deserved. That would have made it better for Ford and, decades later, better for BK, who would, as a knock-on result, be a lot less likely to be falsely accused. And, were he falsely accused, the false charge would be harder to make stick.

If BK is a victim here, he’s not a victim of some social justice warrior crusade gone crazy, he’s a victim of the fact that it started too late to help the likes of him.

{ 164 comments }

1

SamChevre 09.26.18 at 3:26 pm

I think I disagree on two parameters.

The first is the SCC factor: I think it’s mis-specified. The probability shouldn’t be “random heavy-drinking Georgetown Prep student” but “Random heavy-drinking Georgetown Prep student who all the women we’ve asked but one said was respectful and not grabby.” In most accounts I’ve heard, as far back as my mother’s accounts from 1960’s, women had a pretty good idea of who was and wasn’t likely to behave badly toward them, and while the details might not have circulated, the “so-and-so is not very nice when drunk” did.

The second is the probability of dirty tricks. Given the awesome quote from the Atlantic yesterday (below), this is prime dirty-tricks territory–and Anita Hill went on to have a much more successful career than most other adjunct professors at low-ranking law schools, so the risk seems to me to be very low. And the potential pay-off is huge–even a 10% chance that the Senate flips means that another solidly Conservative Justice is not at all to be taken for granted. So I’d put the NC factor at 50%.

Atlantic Quote: “I’ve seen faculty defend his character, even if they disagreed with his ideas. I think those two concepts are inseparable, and we’re seeing that today. You can’t devalue a woman’s right to choose and respect women.”

2

Patrick 09.26.18 at 3:45 pm

Great blog! One thing:

Being 40% likely to be guilty is a confusing state. Morally, there’s no such thing. Either he did it or he didn’t. Emotionally, there’s no right way to feel about someone who is 0.4 guilty. What emotion would that be: 60% righteous indignation against, 40% righteous indignation on behalf of?

Shouldn’t this be the other way around– 60% for (since 60% chance innocent) and 40% against?

3

Jerry Vinokurov 09.26.18 at 4:05 pm

“Random heavy-drinking Georgetown Prep student who all the women we’ve asked but one said was respectful and not grabby.”

Ah yes, the extremely normal practice of tracking down 65 women who allegedly knew you at your all-boys’ school to sign a letter saying you’re a swell dude only to have some of them later indicate that they were misled as to the nature of the letter. Not to mention the fact that in light of recent accusations a number of the signatories have simply withdrawn their “endorsement,” such as it was.

The second is the probability of dirty tricks. Given the awesome quote from the Atlantic yesterday (below), this is prime dirty-tricks territory–and Anita Hill went on to have a much more successful career than most other adjunct professors at low-ranking law schools, so the risk seems to me to be very low. And the potential pay-off is huge–even a 10% chance that the Senate flips means that another solidly Conservative Justice is not at all to be taken for granted. So I’d put the NC factor at 50%.

This is some repulsive shit.

Atlantic Quote: “I’ve seen faculty defend his character, even if they disagreed with his ideas. I think those two concepts are inseparable, and we’re seeing that today. You can’t devalue a woman’s right to choose and respect women.”

This quote has the inconvenient, for conservatives, property of being true.

4

Orange Watch 09.26.18 at 4:29 pm

SC@1:

The potential payoff is exaggerated. There’s nothing stopping a lame-duck Senate ramming an equally-conservative alternative justice through before they’re gone. The SCOTUS payoff is for seating someone like Kav, not for seating Kav. The payoff for seating Kav is far narrower. And the seating of a Kav-or-equivalent justice ahead of the election is an entirely and unevaluated different matter…

5

Cranky Observer 09.26.18 at 4:47 pm

SamChevre: don’t forget Kavanaugh’s awesome intellect.
– that surely swings the probabilities in his favor.

6

Trader Joe 09.26.18 at 6:32 pm

I think this is the right sort of analysis if this was a topic that could be solved on a mathematical or scientific basis. But as noted in the OP – its not. None of us was there and the people who were there or might have been there differ in the so called ‘facts’ of what may have happened.

In the end, all the science we can bring to bear basically comes down to personal intuition, which carries with it all the personal biases, about what they are looking at. Some easily leap to the conclusion he’s guilty as sin – they may be right. Others easily leap to the conclusion she’s full of crap – they also may be right.

40% guilty/60% innocent…it actually feels about right.

Then its consequences – should a 40/60 ratio preclude being on the Supreme Court, probably. What about being a Senator, a mayor, a dog catcher, an accountant, a sandwich maker. Where is the line where “maybe he did it, maybe not, can’t tell” should be put back in the box and not held against someone. It is why there is due process after all. Like it or not, sometimes the guilty go free.

Unrelated tangent: The next time a Democratic president/Senate seek to confirm a liberal justice they had better have someone purer than the driven snow….don’t know if this is dirty tricks or not, but it’s a helluva play-book for some Republican operative(s) when the day comes.

7

Cian 09.26.18 at 7:40 pm

Sam I’m not entirely sure what you’re accusing Anita Hill of, but to respond quickly:
+ I’ve never seen any evidence that she was part of a dirty tricks operation.
+ The evidence supporting her case has got stronger over the years.
+ She was a tenured professor at the time – and her career was if anything damaged by the controversy.

I seriously doubt any sane woman would look at Anita Hill (or for that matter the women who accused Bill Clinton) and draw any conclusion other than this is going to cost me a lot if I go public.

8

cian 09.26.18 at 7:41 pm

More on Anita Hill:
“But conservative members of the State Legislature, led by Representative Leonard E. Sullivan, a Republican from Oklahoma City, have called Professor Hill a perjurer, said she should be in prison, demanded her resignation, tried to cut off matching money for the professorship and introduced legislation to shut down the law school.”

9

CJColucci 09.26.18 at 8:31 pm

Post-Thomas, nobody made any claims of sexual misconduct, true or false, against Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Harriet Meyers, Sonia Sotomayor, or Elena Kagan (though there were some whispers about matters that, in decent circles, don’t count as “misconduct”). Let’s add in perhaps the only people who have a higher profile than Supreme Court nominees: No one made any claims of sexual misconduct against Al Gore, George H.W. Bush, whoever-the-hell was his VP candidate, Bob Dole, whoever-the-hell was his VP candidate, Joe Lieberman, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Tom Kaine, or Mike Pence. There were claims of sexual misconduct against Bill Clinton, John Edwards, and Donald trump, but they were true. It just doesn’t look s if claims of sexual misconduct, true or false, are that likely.

10

PatinIowa 09.26.18 at 8:43 pm

“Random heavy-drinking Georgetown Prep student who all the women we’ve asked but one said was respectful and not grabby.”

We don’t know it’s all the women they asked. We know it’s all the women they asked who gave them the answer they wanted. One of them seems to be changing her mind: https://www.thecut.com/2018/09/woman-who-supported-kavanaugh-shocked-by-yearbook-reference.html

With respect to the OP, it’s three now. So we’ve moved from he said/she said to he said/they said, which was predictable, and I think changes the calculations significantly.

Whether or not Kavanaugh is individually guilty, the fact that over a thousand women from Holton-Arms and nine hundred women from Yale (every time I look, the numbers have gone up) have signed letters saying, “Yes, this was the way these men acted when we were in school” should disturb us all, especially since it seems it hasn’t changed all that much. Brett’s Deke brothers were the ones chanting “No means yes, yes means anal,” at Yale in 2015, after all.

11

billcinsd 09.26.18 at 8:47 pm

SamChevre @ 1 — The number of accusers from HS and his freshman year of college now stands at 3, not one. Also, many people have a different personality when drunk and with their friends than when sober and interacting socially.

Finally, Blasey-Ford discussed this with her husband and therapist 5-6 years ago. That is quite the long game to be playing for dirty tricks

12

Gareth Wilson 09.26.18 at 9:24 pm

Obviously anyone considering a prominent position in public service should do this analysis on themselves. If the odds are too high, regardless of whether they know they’re innocent, they should give up and work for a hedge fund.

13

medrawt 09.26.18 at 10:09 pm

Not to dispute the general line of thinking, but McConnell had plausible reasons for recommending against BK other than intuiting that in 1983 he probably did things that McConnell himself almost surely doesn’t give a damn about (and wouldn’t have in 1983) but might prove bad optics now: there’s a reason they’ve refused to release the vast majority of the material related to Kavanaugh’s tenure working for the Bush administration, and I think it’s stuff in there that McConnell is aware of (perhaps the dissembling about BK’s role in prepping other judicial nominees, perhaps something about torture, perhaps something else) that caused him to try to suggest that BK wouldn’t be an easy nomination.

14

john c. halasz 09.26.18 at 10:30 pm

What are the odds? No, the question should be: what are the ends?

15

SamChevre 09.27.18 at 12:31 am

Cian @ 7

A quick clarification–I’m not accusing Anita Hill of anything. I’m saying the cost of accusations against a Supreme Court nominee, which are not substantiated at the time, does not appear to me to be as high as they do to Holbo. His assessment: “And if the scheme is exposed? Someone goes to jail. Everyone on your side loses credibility for a generation.” That didn’t happen to Anita Hill; I apologize for the mistake–I thought she was still untenured–but she’s still done better than the average professor at a low-ranked law school.

I’d believe the Democrat’s concern about the accusations against Kavanaugh were in good faith if there was a significant number of Democrats willing to specify which candidate on the short-list they’d be willing to vote in favor of between now and November 1.

16

Patrick (a different one) 09.27.18 at 12:43 am

Do you really think 1/10 is fair for this specific sexual assault (holding a girl down, covering her mouth to stop her screams, etc)? Or are you doing the all too common trick of grouping in lesser acts that are still technically sexual assault to inflate the figures?

How would you feel about a similar analysis re, say, whether Trayvon Martin threw an unprovoked first punch, complete with a population estimate of black teen male “thuggishness” inserted in place of your sexual assailant population rate?

If you think these are completely different because in one example you’re using population estimates of a social group to condemn a powerful person and in the other it’s a socially disfavored person, have you considered whether rejecting reciprocity in social norms is about as healthy for social activism’s success as a bullet to the head?

17

John Holbo 09.27.18 at 12:49 am

“Anita Hill went on to have a much more successful career than most other adjunct professors at low-ranking law schools, so the risk seems to me to be very low.”

SamChevre, what does this have to do with dirty tricks? Are you assuming Anita Hill was lying? Why? It seems to me utter madness to suppose that her motive in doing what she did was to have a more successful career than most other adjunct professors, by leveraging her (likely, she had to expect) pillorying by the Senate Judiciary.

This is a good example of what the post is trying to illustrate. If you are willing to indulge nigh-Infowars-grade paranoia, the numbers will come out differently. But it’s kind of weird to do that.

18

SamChevre 09.27.18 at 1:28 am

John Holbo @ 15

To clarify: I do not know whether Anita Hill was lying; I do think she wanted Thomas not to be confirmed, and her accusations were not substantiated and he was confirmed anyway. And nothing bad happened to her; I’d take the lack of adverse consequences to mean that “unsubstantiated but sensational accusations against a Supreme Court nominee” is not high-risk.

I should note that I’d have preferred a different nominee than Kavanaugh; I’d prefer a nominee who isn’t from the “elite politically-connected family, elite prep school, elite law school, various government positions” track, because I think someone who has experience being non-elite (like Thomas or Sotomayor) is more likely to think about the consequences of their judgments.

19

hix 09.27.18 at 1:33 am

Well, what are the odds he will rule any different as a judge if he is guilty and what are the odds a replacement with a clean peresonal behaviour record will rule any different than him?

Id say, pretty low on both counts, so it really doenst matter all that much either way.
Things only get complicated when removing the person has the potential to change anything in terms of policy decissions (and yes it is sad to speak in terms of policy about a judge in the first place).

20

Sebastian H 09.27.18 at 1:40 am

I think you’re right, though I would add an additional “something skeezy happened that wouldn’t qualify as attempted rape” percentage, but I don’t think it changes your total dramatically. The problem is that people usually don’t think of bad outcomes coming from medium percentage changes of being guilty as being just. For example if I know that one of two employees stole from me but I can’t figure out which one, most people won’t think it is just to fire one of them at random. Or if I have two employees who could have stolen from me, and one had six opportunities and the other hand four opportunities, people would rarely think it is ok to fire either of them on that basis (and would think it was especially weird to fire the one who had four opportunities.

For me personally, the three individual cases don’t make me think that any one of them could be prosecuted beyond a reasonable doubt, but together they make me think that at he did at least one thing that I would count as disqualifying overall. Sort of “there’s smoke there’s fire” concept.

21

John Holbo 09.27.18 at 1:45 am

“I do not know whether Anita Hill was lying”

Well, that was confusing because you were lumping her with the dirty tricksters, who are, by hypothesis, lying. I believe that Anita Hill was probably telling the truth. But if she wasn’t, it wasn’t because she was part of some conspiracy to lodge intentionally false accusations against Thomas. That’s the thing I’m saying is more trouble than it’s worth, because conspiring the make false claims under oath, for little payout, is a bad plan.

22

John Holbo 09.27.18 at 1:48 am

“Do you really think 1/10 is fair for this specific sexual assault (holding a girl down, covering her mouth to stop her screams, etc)?”

I think it’s actually pretty fair for a guy like that. Just straight up odds.

“How would you feel about a similar analysis re, say, whether Trayvon Martin threw an unprovoked first punch, complete with a population estimate of black teen male “thuggishness” inserted in place of your sexual assailant population rate? “

That’s why profiling is problematic, per the post. Procedurally, you may be forbidden to profile, for good reasons. For social justice reasons, broadly. But I don’t see that those actually apply in this case.

23

Mitch Guthman 09.27.18 at 2:20 am

Two points worth considering:

First, memory is fallible in the abstract but is probably quite reliable in the instant case. We’re not talking Ford’s ability to describe a stranger or a place or even what she had for breakfast last week. It’s the fact of the event itself that is significant and it was presumably rare enough to be memorable, plus she’s familiar with the accused so the question is simply whether she remembers the basic events clearly and it seems to me that the passage of time wouldn’t effect that at all.

Second, her charges have been circumstantially corroborated by Kavanaugh’s pervy friend who’s now hiding refusing to voluntarily testify under oath or to speak with the FBI. So it would seem that time hasn’t dimmed his memory at all. His memory was sharp enough that it took him about two seconds to know that he needed to lawyer up, clam up, and leave town. Lawyers call this consciousness of guilt.

I don’t have the mathematics to factor these two points in but they seem significant to me. If Ford holds up under cross examination, I think the local prosecutor would be almost compelled to charge Kavanaugh with sexual assault.

24

John Holbo 09.27.18 at 3:50 am

Let me clarify: I meant to bet 10% not ‘for this specific sexual assault’, i.e. this exact set of details – that wouldn’t make sense – but for some sexual assault of equal or even greater seriousness. I am saying 10% of boys who fit this profile were guilty of a fairly serious sex crime, actual assault or rape. So I’m disagreeing with Sebastian, who is willing to go 10% but including in that more minor ‘skeevy’ stuff. I don’t think it would be especially useful for us to try to parse ‘skeevy’ very precisely. Clearly Sebastian is a bit less inclined to think the worst and we can agree to disagree slightly. I do it’s a major factor in the case that 10% for the serious stuff is a reasonable baseline prior for a guy like this. Given that, it doesn’t take much to push the number much higher. One plausible accusation does it. And accusations are likely to be plausible. They were idiots to nominate this guy without gaming this out. And, if they liked him so much they wanted to risk it, they were double idiots not to plan to withdraw at a moment’s notice if something bad did come up.

25

John Holbo 09.27.18 at 4:10 am

Mitch makes a point about memory, and it’s right, but I don’t think it quite has the implications he thinks. (I tried to bring this out in the post.) Normally you wouldn’t think that memories of a party from 30+ years ago would be 90% accurate. Hell, memories of a party from last month wouldn’t be. But I think it is highly likely that Ford would remember this terrible thing happening to her with great accuracy. I don’t think you can go higher than 90%, however, because you have to allow for the possibility that the trauma resulted in some confusion or delusion or repression. And thirty years is a long time. There is also the (very small) chance that for some bizarre reason we don’t know she’s lying. But, even if we give Ford 90% accuracy, and BK fully a 10% chance, independently, of being the kind of guy who would do such a thing, that still only gets us to a 50% chance. The two 10% values kind of cancel. (It’s weird. It doesn’t feel right, I know, but it is. Like the breathalyzer case from the post.)

You often hear: believe the victim. The weird thing is that trusting the victim is a reliable truth-teller, even with a very high level of confidence, doesn’t imply that you should believe what the victim says in a given case. That sounds like a flat contradiction but it’s actually just reasonable.

As to Mark Judge: suppose he has no memory of any such event whatsoever. Total blank. (Highly plausible, I’d say.) But he knows the kind of kid he was. There have to be lots of blanks. Lawyering up and shutting up is not the most public-spirited thing he can do, but it’s the best way to protect himself and his friend. I don’t think that Judge’s behavior can be said to be indicative of consciousness of guilt, as opposed to consciousness of risk. He is highly conscious that he is at risk, if only of having all his shitty behavior dragged forth to embarrass his friend, by association. And that’s the least of tit. Possibly it will turn out he himself did some godawful thing, doesn’t remember, and the more he says, the more he steps into the light, the likelier that some victim of his he doesn’t even remember steps forward and fingers him. He wants the whole thing down the memory-hole yesterday. And shutting up and staying shut up is the best way to get this media nightmare over.

26

Jim Vandewalker 09.27.18 at 4:26 am

the Georgetown boys were known to be the absolute worst.

What the hell was the story on Georgetown Prep? Was/is there no adult supervision? Did/do the jocks run the place? Those yearbook pages for Kavanaugh and Judge are bloody awful. If the yearbook advisor was completely supine, was there no Assistant Principal For Keeping Little Shits In Line who read this? Were there no parents who were revolted by the glaringly obvious sniggers about “Renate Alumnius”? Kavanaugh’s mother was an assistant state attorney (imagine Christine Ford reporting her attempted rape tothe alleged rapist’s mother). She was okay with Brett going off for a drunken Beach Week between his junior and senior years? The drinking and the run-ins with the Rehoboth Beach police are pretty explicitly spelled out. This was all okay with Jesuits?

27

politicalfootball 09.27.18 at 4:32 am

They were idiots to nominate this guy without gaming this out.

You guess a 10% probability of people with certain attributes being guilty of sexual assault. Without opining on that estimate, I’d suppose the folks behind the nomination have even greater odds of being sex criminals whose public careers were nonetheless unimpeded.

I mean, by your logic, the president should have declined to run, knowing what could come out of his closet.

Why should anyone expect that this would bite Kavanaugh? As you note, one sincere defense of Kavanaugh among Republicans is that this stuff happens all the time. In truth, there is a strong possibility that any given Republican officeholder has raped somebody. (Call it “the Hastert Rule.”)

I’d personally bet against it at this stage, but even now, Kavanaugh may end up on the court.

28

John Holbo 09.27.18 at 4:39 am

Housekeeping note: Jim Vandewalker is responding to comment, alleging that the Georgetown boys were the absolute worst, which has been removed at the request of the poster. We’ll leave it at that. But the topic is interesting: how could it have been so bad? It really seems to have been. We’re hearing a lot about it. (I was playing Dungeons & Dragons in Oregon at the time and, honestly, I never saw shit like that even in the deepest dungeons.)

29

bad Jim 09.27.18 at 5:01 am

The obvious approach for the next Democratic president is not to appoint someone “purer than the driven snow”, but simply another woman, which is precisely what our former president did.

30

bad Jim 09.27.18 at 6:37 am

The prospect of a Supreme Court populated only by women shouldn’t be alarming, unless you aren’t disturbed that until recently it was populated only by men, and that the attire they share is traditionally androgynous.

31

nastywoman 09.27.18 at 6:43 am

– the only thing I can say is:

”I’ve known them – Hallie (ph), I’ve known them for a long time and a lot of these people. A lot of people. And some I’ve been disappointed with. I have been disappointed with some others like – you know, there are charges that are pretty weak. But I’ve known people for a long time. I never saw them do anything wrong. I never saw them do anything wrong. And there’s some that probably I agree. I can tell you there’s some that I – I’ve been watching for a long time. And in a couple of cases they weren’t Republicans, and a lot of cases they were not. They were exactly the opposite. But I’ve been watching them for a long time and I knew for a long time these were not good people, and they were never brought up”.

– and there was – and is – never no ”math” involved!

32

Simple Simon 09.27.18 at 8:40 am

Three points:
(i) Kavanaugh will testify that he did not assault anyone. Under oath. So you need to compound the probability that he did commit one or more assaults with a charge that he perjured himself.
(ii) Caesar’s wife! Sober as a judge. Bayesian thinking will take these both into account.
(iii) In his defense, BK claims he was and remained a virgin for all relevant years. Parsing Ford’s account, it sounds very much like BK tried – in a very clumsy and heavy-handed way to ‘pop’ his cherry. Judge, his pal, much more experienced and knowing, intervened before BK got too far, not by stern admonition, but by playing the clown and disturbing BK’s freedom of maneuver.

More telling, it seems that BK targeted (very) drunk girls that he considered vulnerable – either because they were much younger or because of inferior social class. Sounds consistent with his subsequent career as bully. Being respectful of girls of his own class, from respectable families with fathers and brothers he might know … of course! He’s not a fool.

33

J-D 09.27.18 at 9:43 am

CJColucci

No one made any claims of sexual misconduct against Al Gore, George H.W. Bush, whoever-the-hell was his VP candidate, Bob Dole, whoever-the-hell was his VP candidate, Joe Lieberman, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Tom Kaine, or Mike Pence.

You’re thinking of Dan Quayle and Jack Kemp? Ah, sic transit gloria mundi; one day a rooster, the next a feather duster.

Admittedly Quayle was always a small potatoe.

34

ph 09.27.18 at 9:46 am

“Did it work?
Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden questioning Thomas on SNL.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shkJfRpktGc

Re: the OP. Guilty of what, precisely? My view is that all victims should be believed in the sense that what they believe to be true, is true. What are the consequences?

Well, if the victim is accusing a GOP judge, or a GOP presidential candidate, shameful withdrawal and possible criminal prosecution are the only two ‘fair options. If the victim is accusing an ‘ally’ on the question of the woman’s right to choose, the picture becomes murkier. Bill Clinton has been plausibly accused of rape, Ted Kennedy allowed a young woman in his care to drown in his car, and not only survived, but thrived, as a key Obama ally, going on to earn accolades from all as the Lion of the Senate. Joe Biden is ‘all hands’ with even very young women.

I’m prepared to believe the incident in question took place. As I’m not American, I’ve no idea how the moral system actually works – leave a young woman to drown alone at night in the dark and enjoy a life of honor (with plenty of time for more boozing and inappropriate behavior of various kinds).

As long as Kennedy and Clinton get a free pass from the press, and from many liberals, some are going to suspect that sexual assault and manslaughter victims must pass some sort of political litmus test. Where it gets really interesting, however, is when the accused Democrat happens to be black and progressive. In that case, all bets are off. Ask Keith.

35

John Holbo 09.27.18 at 11:05 am

Bless you, ph, i’m sure you are right that Bayes’ Theorem should incorporate a permanent Chappaquiddick clause. But how should it be formalized?

36

Saurs 09.27.18 at 11:12 am

Above and belowthread, you’ve declined to fully apply these maths to his own memory. He initially said it did not happen, rather than that he doesn’t remember it. Only in the last 48 hours, leading up to today’s hearing did he concede with qualifications that he may have met Blasey Ford, but continues to insist they had no mutual friends. It’s useful to note when, where, and in response to what does he offer hedged denials, relying on semantics and/or memory, versus categorical ones. And, of course, he has a history of declining recollection of things we know categorically happened. (He also knows they happened because many of these events are substantiated with irrefutable written evidence.)

Wrongful denials of credible accusations containing highly plausible details and buttressed with corroboration that is not organized by way of an alumnae facebook page. Committed by crazy (nutty & rape-y) men pulling dirty tricks in the here and now. This is also a thing, and, in fact, the thing that is currently happening.

If BK is a victim here, he’s not a victim of some social justice warrior crusade gone crazy, he’s a victim of the fact that it started too late to help the likes of him.

Indeed. Lord knows, accusations of rape used to stick like glue to any man they touched. Soon they will be allowed to avail themselves of that delicious “sympathy and redress” of which you speak, a terrific runner-up prize women have enjoyed for decades in the absence of justice (and of judicial appointments themselves, of course).

37

ph 09.27.18 at 11:13 am

I’m sure I’ve no idea, but I’d recommend a provision for Ricky Ray Rector, as well.

I confess I find the OP to be in quite bad taste and your quip about Chappaquiddick worse. Guess you’ve never lost a young loved one to a drunk driver. Funny, huh?

38

Layman 09.27.18 at 11:36 am

Sam Chevre: “I do not know whether Anita Hill was lying; I do think she wanted Thomas not to be confirmed, and her accusations were not substantiated and he was confirmed anyway.“

This is a remarkably bad way to describe what happened to Hill. So bad that it smacks of bad faith. As I recall, people who could have substantiated Hill’s accusations were waiting outside the committee room waiting to be called as witnesses. They were never called, because the men in charge didn’t want to hear any substantiation. That explains why the Committee is on the same path now: Refuse to call anyone in a position to speak directly to the allegations (cough cough Mark Judge cough).

In any event, I think you have to weight the odds by the additional circumstances. Why is it only the accusers who are calling for investigation by law enforcement, which ups the stakes for perjury? Why is Kavanaugh not asking for them to be interviewed by Federal agents? Why are his defenders reluctant to put any witnesses under oath? It certainly seems like only one side is worried about the legal consequences of perjury. Add that to your calculation.

39

Mounikakits 09.27.18 at 11:49 am

First, memory is fallible in the abstract but is probably quite reliable in the instant case. We’re not talking Ford’s ability to describe a stranger or a place or even what she had for breakfast last week. It’s the fact of the event itself that is significant and it was presumably rare enough to be memorable, http://www.edclas.com
plus she’s familiar with the accused so the question is simply whether she remembers the basic events clearly and it seems to me that the passage of time wouldn’t effect that at all.

40

Saurs 09.27.18 at 12:02 pm

Let’s add in perhaps the only people who have a higher profile than Supreme Court nominees: No one made any claims of sexual misconduct against Al Gore, George H.W. Bush, whoever-the-hell was his VP candidate, Bob Dole, whoever-the-hell was his VP candidate, Joe Lieberman, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Tom Kaine, or Mike Pence. There were claims of sexual misconduct against Bill Clinton, John Edwards, and Donald trump, but they were true. It just doesn’t look s if claims of sexual misconduct, true or false, are that likely.

Bush Sr is a known groper currently armed with a terrible joke he thinks pre-emptively cancels out any offense at his ass-grabbing (he announces to his victims that his favorite magician is “David Coppa-feel” and then demonstrates the neat trick implied therein).

Anyway, people keep saying this, that accusations are few and far between (“just look at Gorsuch!”) and the reason for that is either that false accusations aren’t, pace flavor of the month right-wing paranoia, commonly used for high-profile rat-fucking and/or that the quality and cleanliness of our masters and their hands has plummeted since the nominally “anti-establishment” crews, true to form and forever sloppy as fuck and palpable vulnerable to soft-touch blackmail, entered the scene.

But it’s simpler than that: most victims do not formally report their predators so there’s no paper trail to follow, men of power and influence are rarely privy to missing stair stories shared amongst their prey, the FBI is actually sloppy when it comes to this shit (primarily because they don’t think it’s disqualifying), and this kind of oppo didn’t and rarely does rate for background but is off-the-record in all senses, untouchable, and keeping it that way continues to function as honor is thought to operate amongst thieves.

The point is, the certainty in this, along with the male hysteria, is absurd. Law enforcement cocks up sexual assault on a regular basis, systematically, intentionally, and pretty universally. Why in the hell would they be any different here? “Live girl dead boy” only gets you so far, as this situation aptly demonstrates. There are a million tried-and-true offenses, and this group of chucklefucks are drowning their sorrows in a vast and oversized everything bagel-style bout of victim blaming cum dissembling (slanderous offense, nutty, didn’t happen, wasn’t him, too long ago, no big deal, anyway, why was she there, why didn’t she say anything, slutty, choose your own Real Groper doppelganger from this selection of bland white male allsorts, et al).

41

SamChevre 09.27.18 at 12:07 pm

John Holbo @ 21
conspiracy to lodge intentionally false accusations

OK, I withdraw my objection; that’s a much narrower class than I was thinking of.

But in that case, I think we need a class for the accusations I was (incorrectly) including in dirty tricks–maybe the “opportunistic stupidity” class. I’m thinking of Pizzagate, Benghazi!, the sexual portions of Whitewater, birtherism… There’s not a conspiracy: no one paid someone else to lie. It’s more like a game of telephone with wilful malice, capitalizing on Huey Long’s famous comment. “Man is born in sin and conceived in iniquity: there is always something.”

42

John Holbo 09.27.18 at 12:13 pm

ph: “I confess I find the OP to be in quite bad taste and your quip about Chappaquiddick worse. Guess you’ve never lost a young loved one to a drunk driver. Funny, huh?”

Let me get this straight: you roll into the thread, propound the ethical theory that ‘nothing is permitted because Chappaquiddick’ – or ‘all is permitted because Chappaquiddick’ (or all is possible, or infinitely improbable, on the strength of Chappaquiddick?) And then – then – when it is noted that this is a bit of a joke, after all, you add an indignant ‘no Chappaquiddick jokes!’ clause.

What can be the meaning of this ‘who put pineapple juice in my pineapple juice’ riddle of yours, ph?

43

John Holbo 09.27.18 at 12:27 pm

“But in that case, I think we need a class for the accusations I was (incorrectly) including in dirty tricks–maybe the “opportunistic stupidity” class. I’m thinking of Pizzagate, Benghazi!, the sexual portions of Whitewater, birtherism… There’s not a conspiracy: no one paid someone else to lie.”

OK, that’s a more reasonable point. What if some on the left went full Pizzagate, with lots of folks saying crazy stuff? Well, let’s hope Avenatti isn’t taking us there, in his weird way. But we aren’t there yet. The Ford thing isn’t that. The situation is this: a woman tells a terrible story and, in part because society sucks, in part because of the life the nominee has led, it’s entirely plausible. Just uncorroborated. When an apparently sane person tells a plausible story it, naturally, budges the needle of belief to some degree. And that’s BK’s problem. Reasonable folks suspect him.

I will admit that, with the third woman coming forward, a skeptic could say: maybe this is just a symptom of a kind of erupting national craziness around this case. So we kind of have to stop believing what people say, if there’s no – you know – evidence. I just saw tonight that two – two! – guys have evidently come forth to say they were the ones who maybe ‘encountered’ Ford. That’s completely messed up and I don’t believe it. That’s part of why I focus just on Ford in the post. I’m applying a serious discount rate to any new stories that aren’t backed up. It’s just too likely that people get worked up and fabulate stories, or are – at this point – put up to telling stories that favor one side or the other.

44

Michael Sullivan 09.27.18 at 12:42 pm

A couple points. One, I definitely don’t think your prior for BK or someone who presented generally like him in high school is too high. If anything it’s too low! If we start including things that are creepy and/or technically assault or potential assault that aren’t actually criminal or where consent shouldn’t have been assumed but could have reasonably existed, then the prior for ALL men of that age during that general time period is probably quite a bit higher than 10%.

I share the affluent white background, though I suspect not nearly as affluent as most of the dudes at Georgetown prep, and I was in high school in 1983. In all other respects, I had quite the opposite profile. Drama club, choir, nerd supreme (when nerds weren’t cool yet)
identified as feminist, etc. And yet I vividly remember two times where I performed one of these “minor” assaults, pushing someone up against a wall and trapping them for a bit. The girl in question turns out not to have minded much and wanted to get with me though I wasn’t interested, but that’s irrelevant to what I did. I definitely did not have affirmative consent or any good reason to think that I did.

I’m ashamed of this, but the fact is that I did it, a bunch of my friends were in the room egging me on, and it was generally considered something against the rules but not really serious and that almost everybody did like underage drinking.

Women of my age cohort pretty universally attest that assaults similar to mine, bra snaps, feel ups, etc were extremely common, and still are, and various kinds of boundary pushing or creepy behavior we’re nearly universal.

There’s another sanity check on your Bayesian analysis to be considered. What our court system often considers “beyond a reasonable doubt.”. Eyewitness testimony from a mugging, say. The implicit prior we put on the accuracy of such testimony is closer to 99.9% in cases that don’t involve rape by a known party. Yet it’s easier to identify an acquaintance than a stranger and muggings are certainly pretty traumatic. Why is sexual assault always “he-said, she-said” while armed robbery is not and victims who testify credibly with certainty that they can identify their attacker are generally simply believed. The prior for armed robbery by a random person has got to be FAR lower than for sexual assault even of the magnitude alleged here.

What’s different about a rape allegation? Or alternately, should it be much harder to convict people for other crimes than it is?

45

Salem 09.27.18 at 12:46 pm

Your maths is a bit off.

P(B|A) should be 0.55, not 0.6: 1 – (1-0.5)*(1-0.1), because the probabilities aren’t additive.
P(B) should be 0.14 (0.5*0.1 + 0.9*0.05), you have done (0.5*0.1 + 1*0.05).

These errors are in opposite directions, so the overall result is not much affected – it’s now 39% (or 75% if the false accusation is cut to 2%).

46

John Holbo 09.27.18 at 12:55 pm

Oh, Salem is quite right about P(B). But why aren’t the probabilities additive for P(B|A)? Have to think about that. (Sorry, talk me through it. I’m being dense, perhaps.)

47

Salem 09.27.18 at 1:18 pm

The “explanation” is that if you add the probabilities, you are neglecting the possibility that someone gets (or would have got) both types of accusations. Let’s walk it through.

P(B|A) is the chance that someone is accused, given that they’re guilty. We are told there are two ways for someone to be accused:

* Justly, which is assumed to have a 0.5 probability for the guilty.
* Unjustly, which is assumed to have a 0.1 probability for everyone.

These probabilities aren’t fully defined, but it makes most sense to view them as independent – just because someone gets a true allegation against them doesn’t prevent a malicious or mistaken allegation being levelled. So the chance someone is not accused of anything, given they’re guilty, is (1-0.5)*(1-0.1) = 0.45, so the chance they are accused of something is 1 – 0.45 = 0.55.

48

John Holbo 09.27.18 at 1:36 pm

Salem is right.

49

politicalfootball 09.27.18 at 2:51 pm

There’s a theme to pretty much all of ph’s commentary that I’m not sure has been explored here. Ph’s primary concern is not assessing facts, but in certifying who has the authority to weigh the facts — the rest follows. Should the accusations against Kavanaugh be taken seriously? If so, are they disqualifying?

Ph doesn’t opine directly, telling us rather that certain people – liberals – aren’t fit to judge Kavanaugh negatively. What about Chappaquiddick?

Holbo chooses to amuse himself by pretending ph’s argument was serious: How, then, should we should fit Chappaquiddick into our analysis? Ph declines to say, but instead tells us Holbo is unfit to raise this issue because of his (assumed) lack of personal acquaintance with alcohol-fueled vehicular tragedy. Holbo is not wrong, exactly; he is unqualified to explore this issue.

Everyone thinks that ph’s primary tool is bullshit — and yes, bullshit is a key component of the ph oevre (“As long as Kennedy and Clinton get a free pass from the press …”) — but the linchpins of his technique are ad hominem and appeal to authority.

50

Lobsterman 09.27.18 at 2:58 pm

Yes, but Kavanaugh is a high-status conservative Catholic. Sexual assault is something they “do.”

51

steve smith 09.27.18 at 3:01 pm

The real question is not whether the math is right, it is whether we need another privileged white male asshole on the supreme court. That BK is in fact an asshole has been established beyond reasonable doubt (yearbook, mark judge, testimony of contemporaries). This alone should disqualify him, if his tenuous grasp on on the meaning and purpose of the constitution is not sufficient to do so.

52

CJColucci 09.27.18 at 3:23 pm

I unaccountably omitted Neil Gorsuch as yet another post-Thomas nominee who didn’t face charges — true or false — of sexual impropriety. Bush Sr. is now known to be a groper, and I’m not sure anyone is surprised, but nobody accused him when it might have mattered. As for my brain-fart on Dan Quayle and Jack Kemp, I throw myself on the mercy of the commentariat. FWIW, I lived in Buffalo in the mid-70s when Kemp was a Congressman, and there were always rumors about him. Dull stuff, of the sort you’d expect about a vigorous, young, physically attractive heterosexual male, but never raised in public and probably not disqualifying today.

53

Mitch Guthman 09.27.18 at 6:18 pm

@ John Hobo at 25

If the question you’re trying to address is the likelihood that Ford is recounting events truthfully and accurately, it seems to me that you’re going about it the wrong way. The critical point is the normal criteria by which we test memory are not relevant here since knew the men she named and therefore it’s simply the fact of the event that matters. This is an extraordinarily memorable event which would have burned itself indelibly in her memory. So, unless she’s simply perjuring herself, the event happened as she described it and her testimony deserves more weight than the 90% probability.

Equally, since we’re passing judgement for ourselves and not in a court of law, I think you have rather generously discounted the behavior of Kavanaugh’s pervy friend, Judge. My point was that his conduct in refusing to answer questions under oath or where there would be a criminal penalty for lying is strong circumstantial evidence that he cannot deny Ford’s accusation. To me, his being a pervy guy who has probably done so many horrible things in his life that it just makes sense for him run away is itself circumstantial evidence of his poor character. Wouldn’t the fact that he’s exactly the kind of pervy guy who does this kind of stuff generally make it more likely that he was guilty in this specific instance regardless of whether his memory is blurry or not?

54

anon/portly 09.27.18 at 6:25 pm

Wouldn’t it have been simpler to just make a matrix, instead of using Bayes rule, and confusing people with the formula?

Take 100 Brett K’s. 10 are guilty, 90 are innocent.

Of the 10 guilty ones, 5 will be rightly accused, 5 will be (not rightly) not accused.

Of the 90 innocent ones, 9 will be (dirty trick or delusion – wrongly) accused, 81 will not be accused.

But then of the 10 guilty ones, 1 of them (under some independence assumptions) will be wrongly accused also, so 5.5 of them will be accused (5 accused once and .5 accused twice, both rightly and wrongly).

Now at this point you have 5.5 accused guilty BK’s and 9 accused innocent BK’s, 5.5/(5.5 + 9) = 5.5/14.5 = approximately 38%.

Or using Bayes (.55)(.1/.145) = .055/.145 same thing.

However notice that really that extra .5 person who is accused twice should be thrown out, as long as we considering only the Ford accusation, so we really want (I think) 5/(5 + 9) = 5/14 = approximately 36%.

On the odd chance that what I’ve written above actually makes sense, a few further points….

It seems at this point we haven’t really accomplished much since so much depends on the number of guilty + accused BK’s (5) versus the number of innocent + accused BK’s. By driving that second number from 9 to 1 or 2 obviously we get a much higher probability, by driving that first number down we get a much lower one.

It seems to me that the first number includes a number of varieties of “Guilty BK’s.” Guilty BK type 1, where the guilt was established contemporaneously, for example. We don’t have this type of Guilty BK. Or, Guilty BK type 2, guilt not established contemporaneously and only guilty once. We might have this type of Guilty BK. Or Guilty BK type 3, guilty x times, x > 1. We might have this type of Guilty BK also but as x gets higher and we consider only Ford, probably not.

It seems plausible to me that the number of Guilty BK’s receiving only the one Ford-like accusation (again, as long as we’re just looking at Ford alone) might only be 1 or 2, if there are 10 guilty BK’s.

Then again the number of innocent BK’s receiving a Ford-like accusation might be a lot less than 9 also. Notice that the “9” was arrived at by assuming a 5% chance of a “secret crazy person” and a 5% chance of a “lone-wolf, left-wing operator.”[1] Ford, if her charge is untrue, is most likely to be a little bit of both of these things, isn’t she? How many of those would there be? 1? 2? Less than 1? People do become very politically passionate, and also a little bit crazy, and perhaps these qualities tend to reinforce each other. [2]

All of this is to say that it looks a lot more like 1/(1 + 1) or maybe 1/(1 + .2) or maybe .2(.2 + 1) or something like that to me. Not 5/(5 + 9). I think the 5/(5+9) analysis makes it look too much like “somewhere around 50/50.” Then again it doesn’t seem like either number has been driven extremely low, based on what we know as yet, so maybe “somewhere around 50/50” is right.

[1] It seems like in coming up with the 5, factors specific to Kavanaugh were considered, whereas in coming up with the 9, factors specific to Ford were not considered, but maybe I have this wrong.

[2] If we knew that Ford routinely left comments on Crooked Timber, what would be the odds that BK was innocent? 99%? 101%?

55

Paul Ramer 09.27.18 at 7:44 pm

“Innocent until proven guilty” is how courts work. We aren’t in court. Right now he is in the court of public opinion (and he is also interviewing for a job which he can be denied for the flimsiest of reasons). We cannot adjudicate the facts because the Republicans aren’t even willing to let all witnesses, testimony and facts be heard. From my perspective, he looks guilty, now it is up to him to prove his innocence (if it ever existed).

56

Orange Watch 09.27.18 at 9:42 pm

SC@17:

I’d believe the Democrat’s concern about the accusations against Kavanaugh were in good faith if there was a significant number of Democrats willing to specify which candidate on the short-list they’d be willing to vote in favor of between now and November 1.

That’s an exceedingly bizarre standard to apply, and one that suggests you’re advancing it in bad faith. The current Senate leadership waited 13 months after the prior seat on SCOTUS was vacated before holding the first confirmation hearing. Why does it make any sense whatsoever to demand that a “significant number” of Democrats agree to seat a new Justice less than 3 months after the seat’s occupant chose to vacate it, without seeing the potential replacement’s documents or hearing their testimony? Your “standard” boils down to “I’ll believe objections to BK are in good faith if and only if a significant number of Senate Democrats agree to value arbitrary timelines set for GOP electoral convenience over the wounded, battered scraps of integrity remaining to the nomination process.”

57

ph 09.27.18 at 11:27 pm

John, there’s a lot to like about what you normally write.

Posing the question in the abstract is one thing. However, I’m not at all sure why you feel your thought experiment/analysis cannot be done without any reference to rape, or sexual assault, specifically one which is so fraught with the possibility of error and problematic evidence, and one which invites confirmation bias. Were you engaged in such a neutral activity I’d feel differently. You’re not.

You’re making this specific in a way that is both political and/or sexist. The presumption of innocence remains the foundation of pretty much all civilized society. This value collides with the impossible to prove claim of a victim.

Credibility has routinely been based on wealth, class, gender, religion, and ethnicity. I attached the SNL clip to illustrate the farcical double standard involved, where a panel of entitled white male scumbags, including Ted Kennedy, render judgment on the veracity and behavior of two African-Americans.

Whatever Clarence Thomas did, or didn’t do, he didn’t abandon Anita Hill in the back-seat of his car to drown. Ford suffered the same way tens of millions of women at least, I’d guess, have suffered in the 35 years since and continue to suffer today. It was wrong then and it is wrong now. If your interest is calculating in the abstract, I’m with you.

But the suggestion that this hearing isn’t anything but a politically-fueled battle is farcical.

58

Ogden Wernstrom 09.27.18 at 11:32 pm

I’m trying to figure out what the Chappaquiddick incident has to do with sexual predation. Would the Chappaquiddick clause cover only those drowning incidents that were non-consensual?

While I’m at it, I’m also trying to figure out whether we should expect The Senate to be smarter or more-honorable than the electorate? I think that appointment to office with the advise and consent of The Senate calls for more in-depth knowledge than we expect voters to have in an election. Clinton was re-elected after some of the accusations against him had been made. (But some voters held his past actions against Hillary.) Kennedy had plead down and was sentenced and convicted…and still re-elected by the people. I think that Biden’s lack-of-respect for personal space was not well known before the last time he ran solo, 10 years ago.

Myself, I would have been willing to cut Kavanaugh some slack if he had admitted to things he had done, pointed out what was wrong, apologized and showed that he had changed. But he’s the one claiming to be whiter purer than the driven snow.

59

Cranky Observer 09.27.18 at 11:40 pm

We may have to re-estimate that P(A).

60

John Holbo 09.28.18 at 12:27 am

“Wouldn’t it have been simpler to just make a matrix, instead of using Bayes rule, and confusing people with the formula?”

Yep. I have been thinking the same thing. Obviously there was never going to be much hope of arriving at surprising knowledge out of too-little data. The point of the exercise is sort of to shake people away from the extreme ends. Feeling very sure one way or the other.

My estimate has been somewhat overtaken by events, as Cranky notes. Whatever estimates people make, going forward, will be based on things that happened after I posted. So I won’t bother trying to fix my own math further.

ph: “Posing the question in the abstract is one thing. However, I’m not at all sure why you feel your thought experiment/analysis cannot be done without any reference to rape, or sexual assault”

I don’t really see how a thought experiment about sexual assault can be done without any reference to sexual assault. And I really don’t see – seriously – how bringing Chappaquiddick in helps. You are in parody territory, ph. Are you seriously suggesting that the way to estimate the likelihood that BK is guilty is to solve, not for P(A|B) but P(A|B|C) where C = Chappaquiddick. That is what you are saying (that or nothing) and I, understandably, took you to be joking. But you are apparently serious, and indignant at any attempt to turn your serious proposal into a joke. I am at a loss.

61

John Holbo 09.28.18 at 12:27 am

Sorry for delay in turning comments on. I fell asleep. What can I say?

62

John Holbo 09.28.18 at 12:40 am

One final note about Salem’s analysis: it’s correct. Dumb mistake on my part. But, given that it’s correct, the analysis should be taken another step. Salem writes, above:

“* Justly, which is assumed to have a 0.5 probability for the guilty.
* Unjustly, which is assumed to have a 0.1 probability for everyone.”

Given Salem’s own analysis, we have to revisit the 0.1 probability, which will need to be adjusted down somewhat. At this point it gets kind of pointless because the artificiality of my imagined scenarios gets too embarrassing. We have fraud and delusion and guilt, and then prospective overlappings of all three factors. You could have a guilty BK rightly accused, and fraudulently accused and delusionally accused (if the stars came into alignment just so.) In fact these things are rather likely to go together, since a bit of real guilt makes a frame-up easier … And, ultimately, the math would only budge a few points one way or the other. So. Yeah. Probably the most intuitive way to represent it would be to draw a big logical space and start coloring in with the right degrees of overlap, but I’m not going to break out my colored pencils this morning.

63

John Holbo 09.28.18 at 12:49 am

Basically, it makes most sense to regard the various factors as semi-independent, rather than fully independent (that is Salem’s correction) or somehow non-independent (that was my error). But it’s hard to stick numbers to semi-independence, and the difference is slight so, what the hell. (End of my math lesson. I’m bad at math, honestly.)

64

John Holbo 09.28.18 at 1:08 am

I guess we could use the math to grade Lindsey Graham’s indignant performance. He is definitely in Infowars epistemological territory today. He seems to give the likelihood of a vast left-wing conspiracy about a 0.9 chance, in any given case. That will certainly leave BK’s likely guilty where it started, around .1. (Which is probably still too high to confirm.)

Saurs makes an interesting point above: what should we make of BK’s obviously calculated-cagey memory-performance to date? I would actually say that is not so much suspicious as lawyerly. That is, imagine that BK is innocent – or honestly thinks he’s innocent. (But knows he drank a lot.) I think he would act about like how he actually acted, at least up to his latest performance. That is, his behavior isn’t more suspicious than the independent facts already suggested. His ‘memory’ is calculated to get him through, but that is what you would expect him to aim for, whether he was guilty or innocent.

65

J-D 09.28.18 at 1:21 am

John Holbo

I am at a loss.

That’s because you’re seeking clarification from ph (formerly kidneystones). Has history taught us nothing?

66

Orange Watch 09.28.18 at 1:32 am

politicalfootball@49:

It is at times such as these that we should remember what Aristotle said about trolls.

67

Mitch Guthman 09.28.18 at 2:07 am

@ John Holbo at 65,

I think your reasoning is backwards. I don’t think it follows that because a man who thinks he’s guilty and a man who knows he’s guilty are indistinguishable to all outward appearances we should arbitrarily ignore all those indicators of guilt. It seems to me that what we should do is conclude that me is probably guilty and then adjust our thinking accordingly. Ford’s testimony becomes more credible and Kavanaugh’s guilt is manifest, particularly in light of the way he’s lived his life

68

John Holbo 09.28.18 at 2:21 am

“I think your reasoning is backwards. I don’t think it follows that because a man who thinks he’s guilty and a man who knows he’s guilty are indistinguishable to all outward appearances we should arbitrarily ignore all those indicators of guilt. It seems to me that what we should do is conclude that me is probably guilty and then adjust our thinking accordingly.”

Just to be clear: we should judge that he is probably guilty because, quite apart from the quality of his testimony, he is probably guilty (per the post.) We aren’t ignoring the evidence of his testimony, but it’s equally consistent with guilt and innocence so it’s a wash, and we revert to ‘probably guilty.’ I can’t claim to have watched the testimony. I’ve been reading and watching a few clips. I haven’t changed my mind. Ford was highly credible before and testified credibly. So we are where we are.

69

ph 09.28.18 at 2:36 am

Hi John, I’ve re-read your OP and find less to like than I’d hoped. That’s my failure. I drew a sharp distinction in my original comment between these sorts of academic exercises, which I do find to be in appalling taste, and the consequences facing the ‘guilty.’ (I then included the link to the NYT apology in the hope that you might get a better sense of why some find such speculation offensive.)

I take no pleasure in pointing out that for you and others here Mary Jo Kopechne is a place, rather than a person.

You’re quite right to note that her death appears quite different from Ford’s complaint. But you’ve yet to consider/address why Ford should be believed, and Juanita Brodderick should be ignored. And that’s the commonality and my complaint. Accusations of misbehavior involving women by Dems and supporters of a woman’s choice are papered over, or ignored. Consider how long Weinstein was allowed to pay run rampant while being fêted by Hillary Clinton and the Obamas.

When Juanita Broaddrick came forward again in 2016, how did the CT community respond? If a woman is raped, or sexually assaulted, or left to die in a car by a prominent Dem, the women is ignored, or demonized as ‘trailer-trash.’ All Clinton’s accusers sat at a table on the national stage. What did we hear? Crickets. I see the OP too much as an exercise in anti-Republican bigotry. I’m perhaps wrong in that.

70

John Holbo 09.28.18 at 2:46 am

“But you’ve yet to consider/address why Ford should be believed, and Juanita Brodderick should be ignored.”

ph, I’m going to give you one more chance to prove your case. If you can find the place in the OP where I actually said – or clearly implied – that we have a moral duty to ignore Juanita Brodderick, then you can leave a comment proving your case. Obviously Juanita Brodderick should not be ignored, and the way she was treated was wrong; so if I implied otherwise, I will retract. On the other hand, if you are falsely accusing me of using fake Bayesian analysis to prove Juanita Brodderick should be ignored, then this would be a good time for a time out so you can pull yourself together.

So, this or nothing: the place in the OP where I say or imply we have a moral duty to ignore Juanita Brodderick. Put up or shut up.

71

ph 09.28.18 at 3:12 am

Hi John, I’m making no charge that you imply, or state explicitly that we have a moral duty to ignore Juanita Broaddrick. I’ll repeat that: I make no charge here, or anywhere else else that you argue/imply Broaddrick should be ignored. I could make the same request, show me where I did.

For the recond, I’d be happy to state that you, as individual, would argue the opposite, that all victims can and must be heard.

The problem is that I can’t recall anyone ever writing a post at CT (I’m not that regular a reader), ever defending Juanita Broaddrick. Even acknowledging that Broaddrick has received nowhere near the level of support showered upon Ford, would help your OP a great deal, in my view. I’ve read you enough to have zero doubt on where you stand on the legitimacy of her rights, and (we assume) the veracity of her account.

The problem for me is that I can’t recall ever reading a defense of Broadderick, here.

The fact that the son of one of America’s most famous neo-fascists remains an ‘icon of the Democratic party’ speaks to the hold the Kennedy clan retains over Democratic politics, a clan that is the very embodiment of entrenched sexism and entitlement.

I hope this clears things up.

72

John Holbo 09.28.18 at 4:24 am

“The problem for me is that I can’t recall ever reading a defense of Broadderick, here. “

So your argument is that CT should have defended Broadderick at some point but failed to. Therefore, it is appalling that I would consider whether BK should be confirmed. (Because it is appalling for us to do ANYTHING besides defend Broadderick? Even go to the bathroom?)

Or, possibly, your argument is that, in a world in which CT failed to defend Broadderick, all things are permitted, therefore it is permissible (obligatory?) for BK to be confirmed? (Only two wrongs can make a right? Or only these two wrongs may make a right?)

This does clear thing up, but not to your advantage, ph.

You basically have a wish-fulfillment fantasy that nothing has changed since the bad old days when powerful men could get away with anything. The psychic advantage of this wish-fulfillment fantasy is, I surmise, that it allows you to be extra indignant at, hence resistant to, practical change for the better. That is, any time any Democrat even tries to do the right thing you can say this is the very worst thing on the transcendental a priori ground that it is a lie. This is comforting to you but not realistic. The truth is we live in a world in which some things have changed for the better, but not enough. It’s true that the badness of Clinton probably delayed #METOO by 20 years. But it doesn’t follow that #METOO now is a total lie, therefore the worst thing, because foreverwar against Clinton. Just because an innocent woman drowned doesn’t mean we are morally bound to confirm a probable sexual predator [shouldn’t have said that. Should have said ‘someone who has a high probability of being guilty of sexual assault’] to the SC, since any failure to do so would be an insult to her memory. Confirming a probable sexual predator to the SC just isn’t any fit way to honor any victim’s memory. So objecting to him, as I do, is not, as you think it must be, an insult to the victim’s memory. You are just wrong about that.

73

John Holbo 09.28.18 at 4:46 am

There’s actually a simpler way to say this: if Ted Kennedy were alive today and nominated for the SC, the fact that he killed a woman would come up at his hearings, and he would not be confirmed. If Bill Clinton were floated as a nominee for the SC, his sexual past would disqualify him even among Democrats. Things change. There’s no reason to apply the sort of double-standard you seemingly want, ph, whereby Republicans rightly get a pass, wrongly, now, because, in the past, both powerful Republicans and Democrats wrongly got passes regularly.

74

John Holbo 09.28.18 at 4:47 am

Why am I arguing with ph? I’m losing my mind.

75

Orange Watch 09.28.18 at 4:58 am

JH@74:

That’s probably the most cogent reply to “But Chappaquiddick/But Clenis” I’ve ever read. However, I shall implore you as I did politicalfootball to consider my comment @66, or better still, go do something 3d.

76

ph 09.28.18 at 5:14 am

Hi John, I don’t recall posting much on Me Too, so I’ll use this comment for couple of final points.

First, re: the Clinton couple. I don’t believe any individuals held back the Me Too movement. I stand by my original point (made repeatedly by women elsewhere) that attacking a pro-choice male is a different decision to attacking a male (or female) who opposes choice. I support Me Too, but I’d prefer that we really do treat all women equally.

Second, I don’t know where you’re getting the ‘nothing has changed for the better’ stuff from. The fact that I believe politicians are still scumbags doesn’t mean the rest of the world hasn’t improved in many respects. I don’t believe politicians are generally motivated to do ‘the right thing,’ but rather to advance their own interests and those who pay them. That applies to Canada, Japan, the UK, the US, etc. and is one of the constants in my world view. You belong, it seems, to a political tribe with an identity and a set of shared beliefs, note the ‘it seems’ absent in your claim that I hold various positions, positions that do not in fact hold.

Third, I’m agnostic on the BK nomination. I have no way to tell if what BK did is what Ford remembers. Do you? It seems not. My guess is that plenty of opponents would oppose BK’s nomination on any grounds. I don’t in the slightest way believe that confirming, or opposing BK besmirches the memory of Kopechne. I do believe that Juanita has a stronger case to make. She’s alive, she’s still waiting for ‘justice’ and she’s been blocked by America’s leading journalists for tweating that ‘all women but Juanita must be believed.

Finally, you may wish to reconsider the utility of trying to read what’s left of my mind. I’ll tell you what I think, that should be bad enough. You’re flat-out wrong on pretty everything you’ve written about my positions on this thread, including your apparent belief that I implied, or stated, that you were calling for the silencing of Juanita et al.

What I’m saying is the fact that you and the rest of my moral superiors here have yet to post a word in her defense might suggest to a hostile reader that you don’t actually care about her voice as you do others. You feel you don’t need to? Fair enough. But I’ll remind you that Trump won white women, and that the spirited defense of Ford appears to many to be politically motivated, cynical, and hypocritical. Have a nice day!

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John Holbo 09.28.18 at 5:24 am

ph: “What I’m saying is the fact that you and the rest of my moral superiors here have yet to post a word in her defense might suggest to a hostile reader that you don’t actually care about her voice as you do others. You feel you don’t need to? Fair enough.”

Doesn’t posting words in her defense, as I just did, count as posting words in her defense?

“the spirited defense of Ford appears to many to be politically motivated, cynical, and hypocritical.”

Again, you are advancing your weird, signature argument that, since both sides do it, wrongly, it’s only right to give only Republicans a pass when they do it, wrongly. So the fact that Ford’s supporters are partisans is shocking and wrong and the fact that BK’s supporters are partisans is not shocking and entirely excusable (even commendable? That honest, heartland Trump feeling?)

“I have no way to tell if what BK did is what Ford remembers. Do you? It seems not.”

Oddly enough, I just wrote a post about this. Would you like to subscribe to my newsletter?

78

pomo queer theorist 09.28.18 at 5:25 am

@John Holbo @74

masochism?

79

ph 09.28.18 at 6:09 am

Your spirited defense of Juanita!

“Obviously Juanita Brodderick should not be ignored, and the way she was treated was wrong;” One entire sentence on a comment thread dated 9/28/2018. Kudos! Did I miss the rest? If there’s more, why employ ‘obviously?’ That’s it?

JH: manslaughter, rape, 17 year-old gropes 15 year-old while both drunk at party and scares the hell out of her; all suffice to disqualify one for a place on the SC? OK.

You win.

80

John Holbo 09.28.18 at 7:33 am

“If there’s more, why employ ‘obviously?’ That’s it?”

I employed ‘obviously’ to modify ‘should not be ignored’ because it is obvious that it was wrong to ignore her. Obviously. And I thought it was funny that you denied I ever said it – even once! – right after I said it. At least once. (Learning to crawl. First you acknowledge basic stuff – like that I just said things I just said.)

Look, ph, if I made a post about it – as opposed to just a comment – you would complain I didn’t make it last year. If I went in a time-machine and did it last year you would complain that I didn’t go back in time and then hire someone to sky-write it instead of just posting it. You will wage foreverwar against the Clintons no matter what I do or say. You be you. I’m just pointing out: it’s nuts. You live by a weird double-standard, for reasons best known to yourself. (You say it isn’t a wish-fulfillment fantasy. Well, it must be something.) You have made no attempt to explain why this double-standard should apply. Why does one side get a pass and the other doesn’t just because both sides were very bad before? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

As to all those things being disqualifying for a seat on the SC: do you disagree?

81

J-D 09.28.18 at 8:12 am

John Holbo

Why am I arguing with ph? I’m losing my mind.

You were warned.

82

ph 09.28.18 at 9:45 am

Hi John, I’m about done with this, really. I supported the Clintons up until 2008-9, and we gave money to the Clinton Foundation for the good work they do. I don’t expect anything from the Republicans and generally believe they’re worse on about every issue.

I do expect better from the Democrats and in some cases they deliver. Given the choice between Hillary and Sanders, I’d choose Sanders every time. Given a choice between Sanders and Trump, I’d choose Sanders every time. Obama, the DNC, and the Clintons rigged the primary to exclude all competition, especially Biden. On foreign policy the Democrats proved as bad as the Republicans, or worse. Canadians might be smart enough to see Trump as a threat, but we’re gullible enough to believe Democrats. So, we got sucked into destroying Libya. That’s about it.

As for BK, I believe you walked yourself onto extremely shaky ground.

Are you really arguing that we should treat a juvenile who at 17 groped a juvenile in the same fashion as an adult who committed manslaughter, drunk driving, and leaving the scene of an accident, and a different adult who while sitting as the governor of U.S state apparently raped a volunteer? Or, is the SC such a pristine body in this special situation treat all equally.

Are you arguing that a single instance of juvenile groping makes BK a life-long sexual predator? Should he have been tried as an adult? Should he have been forced to register as a sex offender. Do you wish all similar cases prosecuted in the courts? If you do, fair enough. But punish the young as we do adults seems an extremely illiberal stand to take.

That’s my best reply. I’d be happy to support the Democrats again. I can’t stand the Canadian prime minister because I don’t like dynasties, and I think him a tool. Many of us have had enough of the Clinton’s, but how can we miss them when they won’t go away?

Listen to some Dan Hicks, relax. The world is much better place now that the Bushes, Cruz-Rubios, and Clintons aren’t running the show. Peace.

83

James Wimberley 09.28.18 at 9:48 am

medrawt: Thee are other possibilities why McConnell, the most skilled politician on the GOP team, may have been leery of Kavanaugh. He presumably has access to the FBI vetting reports. These did not go back to schooldays or college, so could not cover any frat-boy sexual misconduct. Maybe it was (recent) drinking. Maybe it was gambling. Maybe it was the large debts and their unexplained cancellation. Maybe it was the health risks. (Kav is still quite young, but if he still drinks, and he’s certainly angry, his tenure on SCOTUS may be disappointingly short. See Scalia.) Overall, Kav looks like a souvenir hand grenade brought back from Vietnam. Why take the risk, when you have the clean-living hardliner Amy Barrett?

84

nastywoman 09.28.18 at 10:05 am

@
”But I’ll remind you that Trump won white women”-

Me-Not! –
-(and I’m blond too)
but writing – Von Clownstick ”won white woman” is probably the weirdest doo-doo – right after BK’s explanation of ”Boof” and ”Devils Triangle”?-

And then coming up with some lame high school defense about another drunk was worst?

The excuses having voted for a FF are getting worst – or let’s say funnier and funnier – and why – if some dudes used to love their ”boofs” and ”triangling” so much – why do they have somebody like ph defending them – and deny that they ever loved it?

Just be proud of it – like our ”Erected President”!

85

nastywoman 09.28.18 at 10:23 am

– and what are the odds that the FF understand this?

”Throughout her four-hour testimony, Blasey’s sincere desire to accommodate those around her was made clear in the words she used. She apologized for misspeaking, even about small details like visiting her family in Delaware, not D.C. She reiterated to the committee that her motivation in coming forward was “to be helpful,” that she was used to being “collegial.”

The research psychologist repeatedly thanked Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) for allowing her to be there and double checked that her allotted break times worked for him. At one point, she told him that she would have been “happy to host” him in her home state of California.

For countless women watching Blasey, these gestures struck a chord. Every knee-jerk “thank you” and “I’m sorry” felt like words so many had uttered before, part of a familiar display of courtesy we’d all performed at some point ― out of sheer necessity. Out of a desire to make other people, not ourselves, feel comfortable at all costs….
Unlike women, men can yell their way to respect. Their anger is viewed as powerful, no matter how misdirected or unhinged it is. In stark contrast to Blasey’s steady testimony, Kavanaugh came out with metaphorical guns blazing. He yelled. He interrupted. He talked back to Democratic senators, even asking Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) whether she drank to the point of memory loss….
If Blasey’s comportment had mirrored Kavanaugh’s, “she would have been excoriated,” said Tannen. “She would have been seen as a Valkyrie. She had to be composed. Everything about her was pulling in on herself. Everything about him was expansive and explosive.”
For too many of the thousands of American women watching today’s hearing, this contrast felt uncomfortably familiar. To see this dynamic ― her contained politeness, his blazing rage ― play out on the national stage, when the stakes are so high, was nothing short of excruciatingly painful.

Women have spent millennia being polite, even in the face of overwhelming pain and trauma. So many women have spent their lives trying to figure out the right way to behave in order to be taken seriously. The right way to be forceful without being disliked. The right way to protect themselves in a world that often shows how little they are valued.

Politeness, on its face, can be a good thing. Expecting at least the performance of kindness between fellow citizens seems like a no-brainer. But when only one gender is expected to act accordingly, when men are bound by no such conventions and face no consequences for violating norms, women’s politeness is essentially weaponized against them.

86

J-D 09.28.18 at 11:18 am

CJColucci

You’re apologising for having forgotten Dan Quayle? Really?

87

John Holbo 09.28.18 at 12:29 pm

ph: “As for BK, I believe you walked yourself onto extremely shaky ground.

Are you really arguing that we should treat a juvenile who at 17 groped a juvenile in the same fashion as an adult who committed manslaughter, drunk driving, and leaving the scene of an accident, and a different adult who while sitting as the governor of U.S state apparently raped a volunteer? Or, is the SC such a pristine body in this special situation treat all equally.

Are you arguing that a single instance of juvenile groping makes BK a life-long sexual predator? Should he have been tried as an adult? Should he have been forced to register as a sex offender. Do you wish all similar cases prosecuted in the courts? If you do, fair enough. But punish the young as we do adults seems an extremely illiberal stand to take.

That’s my best reply.”

Look, if you aren’t even going to read the post, don’t read the post. You clearly haven’t and that’s fine. You skimmed it, saw nothing about Chappaquiddick and fired off an angry comment. Again, fine. But I think that makes it the case that your best reply is poor quality, ph. Because the answer to all your “are you really arguing x?” indignation is “Well, no, obviously not.” And then all the air is out of the balloon, isn’t it?

88

Layman 09.28.18 at 12:37 pm

kidneystones: ‘If a woman is raped, or sexually assaulted, or left to die in a car by a prominent Dem, the women is ignored, or demonized as ‘trailer-trash.’’

Al Franken is on line 1, holding for you.

89

bob mcmanus 09.28.18 at 1:28 pm

Are you arguing that a single instance of juvenile groping makes BK a life-long sexual predator?

Don’t know about Holbo, but I will, joining the four other Republican racists rapists on the Bench. Thing is, as these gynocides reach middle age, they think it is way cooler to assault millions of women at once than one at a time.

But hell, fifty years of feminism and we have a Supreme Court controlled by misogynists, not to speak of the rest of the gov’t. Done good, girls. They are women, hear them roar…cry a lot. Cried real good. Any day now, this call for empathy from rapists is gonna do the trick.

Just one feminist trying a 2 x 4 or shotgun and I might return to giving a shit. Just one.

Traister is right (though she did demand on twitter that white men cry with her. I obeyed.). Demonstrate feminine rage so I can see it. Oh wait! I’m mansplaining to really smart women who know what they are doing and doing with passion. They have a plan. Just fifty more years.

90

politicalfootball 09.28.18 at 2:12 pm

Whatever Clarence Thomas did, or didn’t do, he didn’t abandon Anita Hill in the back-seat of his car to drown.

Again: The truth of an allegation doesn’t matter. The question is: Are you qualified to make a judgment? Whatever Clarence Thomas did is completely irrelevant to the question of what Clarence Thomas did.

91

Orange Watch 09.28.18 at 2:15 pm

nw@85:

Speaking as someone who despises and avoids HuffPo for a multitude of reasons both fair and unfair, thank you for referencing that article, as I’d’ve otherwise likely missed it. It sums this up painfully but perfectly.

92

politicalfootball 09.28.18 at 2:31 pm

88: Of course, there is also Louis CK and Schneiderman. I’m sure I’m forgetting others.

In the ph-verse, Weinstein’s behavior is condoned by Democrats. In the real world, Weinstein has been vilified by liberals and is currently being prosecuted by a Democrat.

93

Cian 09.28.18 at 2:40 pm

Are you really arguing that we should treat a juvenile who at 17 groped a juvenile in the same fashion as an adult who committed manslaughter, drunk driving, and leaving the scene of an accident, and a different adult who while sitting as the governor of U.S state apparently raped a volunteer? Or, is the SC such a pristine body in this special situation treat all equally.

He obviously isn’t arguing this. But congratulations on raising ‘whatabouttery’ to hitherto unimagined levels of crazy.

Here are some Democrat politicians who have been forced recently to resign by members of their own party:
+ John Conyers
+ Ruben Kihuen
+ Al Franken
+ Eric Schneiderman

But really, don’t let reality distract you. There are also more and more people in the Democratic party who have been criticizing Clinton in recent years over the sexual assault allegations. But again, reality is for losers, right?

94

Cian 09.28.18 at 2:45 pm

After Ford’s testimony I was fairly sure that this was true. After watching Kavanaugh’s deranged performance I was convinced that he’s guilty. Not that any of this matters, he will be put on the court anyway.

Also heard several stories recently about women of my acquaintance who went through similar, or worse, experiences at high school/college. Still processing how ubiquitous this seems to be – but I feel like THAT conversation needs to happen.

95

John Holbo 09.28.18 at 3:04 pm

I will retract one point. It isn’t right to call BK a ‘sexual predator’ on the basis of what is alleged. That term carries long term, serial connotations that are not warranted. It is right to say – per the post – that there is a high probability he is guilty of the alleged sexual assault.

96

CJColucci 09.28.18 at 3:13 pm

You’re apologising for having forgotten Dan Quayle? Really?

Now that Murphy Brown has been revived, I expect he will appear on the new show.

97

bob mcmanus 09.28.18 at 3:43 pm

that there is a high probability he is guilty of the alleged sexual assault.

Which alleged sexual assault? My count is at least six accusers detailing dozens of assaults (Swetnick sworn affidavit), as recently as 1998, not counting yesterday’s attacks on women Senator in the hearing. But whatever.

One more time. And last, still reading Lenin.

1) You will watching Justice McRapey killing women for the rest of your lives because Republicans control more states, both electing Senators and limiting their ideological range (no Manchins)

2) We are not going to change the disproportionate power of small states except by…controlling 37+ states, all three chambers of each. By achieving this, Republicans now have a dominant radical control of all levels of governance, and a strong shot at a controllable Constitutional Convention.

3) Secession will not happen.

4) The only way to control a state ideologically is to have a majority of bodies in that state.

5) In twenty years, 11 states with have 70% of the US population. Probably Democrats will have Texas and a lock on the Presidency. And those 39 abandoned states will elect 65 Lindsey Grahams and devour us.

Wiki: “[Rebecca]Traister was raised on a farm, the daughter of a Jewish father and a Baptist mother.[3] She attended Germantown Friends School and Northwestern University. After college, she moved to New York.”

Cashing in is all of modern American feminism.

98

politicalfootball 09.28.18 at 4:33 pm

Why am I arguing with ph? I’m losing my mind.

To understand issues in modern society, in the US and elsewhere, you have to understand folks like Donald Trump, Lindsey Graham et al. So the study of trolls is an important field of knowledge.

I’m trying to work toward a better trollology. It’s tempting to mock ph for his factual and logical errors — Lord knows I do it — but I am trying to get away from that. It’s silly to say that ph is wrong about something when there’s precious little evidence that he’s trying to be right. There is no chance he is going to adopt an epistemology that prioritizes factuality and logic, so if you’re going to talk to him at all, you have to meet him on his terms.

The first step, as I see it, is to stop thinking in terms of ph’s “errors” and start thinking in terms of “methods.” Ph is not making a factual error when he accuses you of never expressing sympathy for Juanita Broadderick. The factual matter – as he clarifies later – is trivial or irrelevant.

I’m still working this out. My discussion of his frequent uses of appeals to authority is one of my efforts in this regard.

99

politicalfootball 09.28.18 at 4:37 pm

Re: Juanita Broadderick, I wanted to quote Cian’s 7:

I seriously doubt any sane woman would look at Anita Hill (or for that matter the women who accused Bill Clinton) and draw any conclusion other than this is going to cost me a lot if I go public.

This is not some kind of odd or exotic belief among liberals.

100

Saurs 09.28.18 at 4:38 pm

Which one are you referring to? He’s been accused by four women of at least two sexual assaults, a variety of groping, and one physical attack that the victim characterized as sexual.

101

politicalfootball 09.28.18 at 4:39 pm

CJ Colucci in 9:

There were claims of sexual misconduct against Bill Clinton, John Edwards, and Donald trump, but they were true.

102

Jerry Vinokurov 09.28.18 at 4:39 pm

But hell, fifty years of feminism and we have a Supreme Court controlled by misogynists, not to speak of the rest of the gov’t. Done good, girls. They are women, hear them roar…cry a lot. Cried real good. Any day now, this call for empathy from rapists is gonna do the trick.

Jesus Christ, what is with you fucking guys? This is even more repulsive than the garbage that SamChevre vomited up in the first comment.

103

politicalfootball 09.28.18 at 4:48 pm

Many of us have had enough of the Clinton’s, but how can we miss them when they won’t go away?

This is what I mean when I talk about “technique.” Ted Kennedy, in ph’s world, likewise won’t go away – because ph wants to keep talking about him.

This isn’t some idiosyncracy about ph. Fox News and Donald Trump have made huge efforts to keep the Clintons in the news. This is a method, not an error.

My preliminary theory is that it’s about control. We have seen the way that ph credentializes people: If you’re a liberal, he says, you are not fit to have an opinion on sexual harassment by conservatives. But here we see that if you are a liberal, you aren’t even fit to choose what liberals should say about themselves. The liberal agenda doesn’t exist outside of the dictates of ph, Trump, Fox et al.

104

Lupita 09.28.18 at 5:35 pm

Just one feminist trying a 2 x 4 or shotgun and I might return to giving a shit. Just one.

Some years ago, I was walking down an avenue and this idiot on a bike yelled something at me. I was carrying an umbrella so I whacked him an he fell onto the traffic. I still feel like I’m going to vomit when I remember the sound of screeching cars trying not to run over him, the guy’s terrorized expression, and what could have happened. I will go to my grave feeling guilty for what I did.

Violence is never the answer, not in response to machos themselves nor to neo-Victorian feminine frailty in all things sexual, annoying as they both are.

105

Orange Watch 09.28.18 at 6:08 pm

Ofc, the question when BK comes before the Senate is not just “did he do what he was alleged to have done”, and “if he did do what he was alleged to have done, is his behavior at 17 reason not to confirm him”. There’s also “if he did do what he was alleged to have done, did he lie to the public and perjure himself in sworn testimony to the Senate” – and if it’s truly not a big deal like our resident concern troll keeps trying to tell us, then he’s lying in Senate to save face. And if that’s the case, he should frankly be removed from the bench he’s sitting on for his perjury, though unlike confirmation impeachment rightfully has rather higher hurdles. Which is all the more reason we shouldn’t be rushing through confirmation, and which is, ofc, somewhat the point of rushing through confirmation…

106

nastywoman 09.28.18 at 6:55 pm

@89
”Demonstrate feminine rage so I can see it”.

Gladly –
and always trying to do my best –
(even if it sometimes get’s censored on CT) –
and about:
”But hell, fifty years of feminism and we have a Supreme Court controlled by misogynists” – as long as we get the misogynists out of more relevant ”institutions” –
(like – Hollywood) ”all good” –
and don’t forgot what J-Law -(and I – ME!) – said – way before Robert DeNiro…

107

anon/portly 09.28.18 at 8:48 pm

72 Clinton probably delayed #METOO by 20 years.

Maybe I’m the only one who sees it this way, but it seems to me that here JH conceded – graciously – the nub of the gist of the only point that can be made by bringing up Juanita Brodderick. I would think ph/k would be happier….

108

BigGuy 09.28.18 at 8:50 pm

I’m a retired CPA who worked as a broker for a decade. I went to Wharton undergrad and like a million other adults in NYC I’m not living up to my potential. I was drawn to this discussion titled “What Are the Odds?”, but I do not have the patience on a late Friday afternoon to read through the computations at the beginning of the thread. I am sorry for that.

There’s no need to compute the odds, though. Watch video of BK’s testimony with the sound off. Pay attention to how he blinks. You won’t have to sit through it all. Within five minutes, you’ll be sure every word he says is false.

Consider too that at the press conference where Trump presented him, BK said:
“No President has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.”

We know that’s FALSE. If BK began his job interview to be on the Supreme Court with a LIE, why believe he will be TRUE to the USA? He will not. He will serve President Trump first and will serve our country second.

109

Adam Hammond 09.28.18 at 9:10 pm

Wow! took a while to get through the comments. Great post, IMO.

There is a long, white tradition of false accusations regarding sexual misconduct. It yielded a century of strange fruit.

There is a growing parade of people whose lives have *actually* been ruined by being labelled a sex offender: Men who had consensual sex with their girlfriend just after their 18th birthday (but before hers). They don’t get to teach at Harvard either.

If we are going to talk about unfair accusations, broken justice, and ruined lives, let’s take a breath … step back a moment.

If you multiply the odds by the costs of the outcomes there is no game theory doubt about the correct choice. Even if Bayes said 20/80 chance of guilt, we would weigh an 80% chance of a personal injustice of a scale lost in the noise of modern life (successful man is smeared and embarrassed – misses heart’s desire – lives in opulent comfort for the rest of his life – politicians forced to their second-choice nominee) versus a 20% chance of giving a lifetime appointment to a craven liar and unapologetic molester.

110

anon/portly 09.28.18 at 9:44 pm

60The point of the exercise is sort of to shake people away from the extreme ends. Feeling very sure one way or the other.

95 It is right to say – per the post – that there is a high probability he is guilty of the alleged sexual assault.

I think the real point of the post is not just to shake people away from the extreme ends but also to show that it’s hard to say whether the probability is high or low, based just on the Ford allegation.

Of course one might take the view that Ford’s testimony yesterday makes her less likely to be a false accuser, or Kavanaugh’s makes it more likely that he’s guilty of at least one sexual assault, and then you can at least say the probability is higher now.

At this point I would suggest that we really don’t have that many facts, just a lot of speculation, really. (Although maybe everything has changed since the last time I looked at Vox). At the moment I would say there’s a certain “tension” between what is being inferred from various sources about Kavanaugh’s youthful behavior and how he is defending himself now, but also that Ford’s story is still mostly uncorroborated, at least as I understand it.

But that’s not my point. My point is: flip it around. Go to the Alternative Universe where the prez is a Dem, Kavanaugh looks to be a staunch pro-abortion vote, Ford is a Republican accountant from Milwaukee, the midterms are coming up and the Dems are trouble, etc etc etc. Make Clarence Thomas a liberal and Bill Clinton a Republican if you want. The Republicans of course are aghast that anyone would not believe every word Ford says.

Do the readers of Crooked Timber think this Kavanaugh is quite so likely to be guilty? Of course not, they’re only human like the rest of us. Kavanaugh to the mind of many was already a villain before all this came up, remember.

111

Collin Street 09.28.18 at 10:25 pm

That term carries long term, serial connotations that are not warranted.

I think it’s a reasonable working hypothesis; if someone said “I think that the evidence suggests Brett Kavadon’trespecthimenoughtocheckspelling is a serial and habitual rapist” then it’d absolutely pass as fair-comment-in-the-public-interest even in the UK.

Oh, and by the way, this:
Are you arguing that a single instance of juvenile groping makes BK a life-long sexual predator? [my emphasis] is sufficiently disingenuous as to be clearly disqualifying from consideration as a reasonable-good-faith commentator. I can expand on exactly why people who craft deliberate false statements that require correction require exclusion, but I really shouldn’t need to.

112

John Holbo 09.28.18 at 11:28 pm

“Which alleged sexual assault?”

In the context of the original (Bayesian) analysis it’s indefinite: some sexual assault.

113

politicalfootball 09.29.18 at 12:05 am

Jesus Christ, what is with you fucking guys?

bob isn’t one of any set of “you fucking guys.” Best as I can reckon, he is sui generis.

114

politicalfootball 09.29.18 at 12:11 am

Maybe I’m the only one who sees it this way, but it seems to me that here JH conceded – graciously – the nub of the gist of the only point that can be made by bringing up Juanita Brodderick.

Yeah, see, this is what people don’t get. This would be the nub of ph’s legitimate point, if he had one, but it’s purely incidental to his actual point.

115

John Holbo 09.29.18 at 12:17 am

Here’s my take on how things look different after the hearing, relative to the analysis in the post. Ford remains highly credible. But I doubt that you can ever go higher than about 90% for 30+ year old memories of a trauma that wasn’t reported until years after the fact. BK looks awful but, honestly, I don’t think he looks more likely to be guilty than he did before, but the guilt – if it’s guilt – is worse.

Suppose he’s guilty: well, then he’s obviously lying now in the worst way. Having done this thing as a kid wouldn’t necessarily be disqualifying if, somehow, there was evidence the adult BK had come to grips with it – admitted it, atoned somehow. Can you ever confirm someone to the SC who did something atrocious when he was 17? Sure, in the abstract. But in general, no. Because you don’t want people looking at the court and thinking: there’s the rape-y guy. But all that’s out the window because, if guilty, he’s utterly unrepentant, dissimulating, angry and obviously feels he can assert his privilege. He has the right not to be thought guilty. He really believes that. Even though he (by hypothesis) knows he’s guilty. Very Trumpian mindset. Not acceptable. Can’t confirm such a person. If there’s a middling chance the candidate is that sort of person, can’t confirm. Lifetime appointment. No way.

Suppose he’s innocent: imagine you are guy who was a drunken asshole in high school and wrote a bunch of bad shit in your yearbook but, oddly enough, you never did anything bad. It was just sexual bravado. Secretly, you were a virgin. At least you never committed assault. Presumably you did something bad, but less. Just suppose. Hey, stranger things have happened. And now this. What a fucking nightmare. Of course you are pissed off. Of course you are angry. And of course you are lying about the shit in the yearbook because you realize it looks bad. The stuff in your yearbook points towards the thing you actually didn’t do (we are assuming that.) It’s understandable that if you are wrongly accused of something, but true details in your life point, wrongly, towards the conclusion that you did that thing, even though you didn’t, then might, wrongly, try to conceal the truth about the details. You might lie in the service of the truth: I’m innocent!

BK is a smart lawyer. He is either guilty or innocent of sexual assault. If he’s guilty, then he’s REALLY guilty – i.e. he has bad character now, per above. If he’s innocent, he would be expected to behave this way. Ergo, the fact that he behaves this way does not change my estimate of how likely he is to be guilty. But it makes the guilt worse, because the ‘but he was only 17’ defense is gone. He’s not 17, and he’s now behaving very badly IF he behaved badly back then.

What about the other accusers stepping forward? They should be heard, and they raise the chance that he’s guilty. But, given the insane level of attention to the case, we have to be a bit more skeptical. Two – two! – men have evidently stepped forward to say maybe they ‘encountered’ Ford, not BK. I call bullshit and shenanigans on that Spartacus “I’m Brett Kavanaugh” news. Given the partisan high stakes you fully expect dirty tricks and delusions on both sides past this point. That means there is a much higher chance that any woman who steps forward only now with an uncorroborated story about BK is not telling the truth. Normally it would be crazy to step forward and make shit up about an SC nominee, and very unusual to suffer sincere delusions about all that. But when a couple hundred million people get very upset about something – as Americans are about this case – you expect a few people to go crazy. I would actually predict false accusations to be made against BK at this point, including some false accusations that are Republican plants. The smart CREEP play would be to put some woman up to making false accusations, get attention for that, then blow them up – discredit them – to cast retroactive doubt on Ford. I have, per above, about 90% confidence in Ford. I am not likely to go much higher than that based on any stories any other woman tells past this point. Nor much lower.

116

politicalfootball 09.29.18 at 12:17 am

sufficiently disingenuous as to be clearly disqualifying from consideration as a reasonable-good-faith commentator.

Right! But that’s old news. The question is: What can we learn from a troll? I maintain the answer is not “nothing.”

117

b9n10nt 09.29.18 at 1:10 am

JH @113

“Of course you are lying about the shit in the yearbook”

Fair enough the hearing doesn’t make him more likely to be guilty. And fair enough that the anger and lying are understandable. But to be regarded as a “person of character” precisely means having the inner resources to deal with hardship without acting unethically.

Social-emotional intelligence: This is actually the one thing that can be revealed in a job interview. Us mere plebes have to submit to job interviews with our material livelihoods on the line. It’s a stress test of our social-emotional intelligence: think on our feet and perform the social graces while masking our own anxiousness and vulnerabilities. Not so fundamentally different from what K went through yesterday. And certainly akin to what Prof. Ford went through.

The fact that he couldn’t do what we all who pursue a profession do as a matter of course -what Prof Ford did just hours prior- and yet he (rightly) gets “understandable” while most of us (wrongly) would suffer recriminations is unjust.

The non-woke can’t see the double standard. They breezily transmit these “systems of privilege”: So natural, so understandable how K could be angry and lie. So natural, so understandable to fire/not hire/find guilty/disrespect any mere plebe who behaves the same way.

118

john c. halasz 09.29.18 at 1:46 am

tinOh, Jezz… It’s amazing how much media space this affair has taken up, when there’s lots more going on in the world that get routinely neglected. (Not really surprising though, government by scandal having long been a practiced technique by partisans of the duopoly, to distract from their own misrule). But just a few small legal points, though IANAL. According to Maryland law, the age of legal criminal responsibility is 18 yo. BK was 17 at the time of the alleged offense. If the offense is serious enough, then the charged defendant, if 16 or older, can be bumped up into adult court and so prosecuted. If not, then juvenile records must be sealed and have no effect on the defendants adult life. The alleged offense seems to be, under Maryland law, “4th-degree sexual offense”, which doesn’t qualify for an upgrade, which would be “3rd-degree sexual offense” at minimum, (the other two being called clearly rape). (“Sexual assault” is a vague term, varying by state, and could cover anything from unwanted touching to aggravated rape AFAICT, but that just serves the purposes of rhetorical manipulation). So by standard legal principles, this business should never have been raised. OTOH Prof. Ford is a mature woman, and it’s hard to believe that a traumatic incident when she was 15 yo would have scarred her for life, with no chance of her working it through. (That there would have been a lot of bad behavior amongst elite entitled preppies, maybe especially if they were RC, is not a cause for surprise, though I’ve never been in such a milieu).

So what’s the point here, other than diversionary political gamesmanship? Substituting one reactionary SCOTUS nominee for another, when the courts have long since been rendered a political football and stacked by the “law and economics” movement in both “major” parties? Ignoring the fact that SCOTUS has been and is the most reactionary institution in the archaic U.S. Constitution, as if it were the last line of defense in preserving our “(il)liberal democracy”? To promote opinionating in direct proportion to self-importance, since obviously “opinion leaders” are the most effective and born to rule? To attempt to regulate all sexual behaviors/desires/defences, which, to use the old Freudian jargon, are not exactly “ego-syntonic”, in the service of an ideal puritanical republic, (long since defunct), and thereby eliminate all anxieties?

This melodrama/soap opera is entirely an affair of the 10%. The 90% have harder, less speculative and more factual truths to deal with. I don’t know whether I’m sad or glad that you all are so easily entertained and distracted from the affairs of the actual world, by your own limited political imaginations.

119

J-D 09.29.18 at 1:53 am

CJColucci

You’re apologising for having forgotten Dan Quayle? Really?

Now that Murphy Brown has been revived, I expect he will appear on the new show.

If that happens, I expect a lot of viewers wondering who he is.

120

J-D 09.29.18 at 2:03 am

politicalfootball

Why am I arguing with ph? I’m losing my mind.

To understand issues in modern society, in the US and elsewhere, you have to understand folks like Donald Trump, Lindsey Graham et al. So the study of trolls is an important field of knowledge.

Do you think that arguing with ph is an important step towards developing an understanding of ph?

121

politicalfootball 09.29.18 at 2:56 am

Do you think that arguing with ph is an important step towards developing an understanding of ph?

I do think it’s unwise to argue with ph, but I think it’s useful to engage his arguments. The difference is subtle, but it’s real.

And, of course, I’m not really interested in understanding ph qua ph anyway. As I say, I’m working toward a better trollology.

122

b9n10nt 09.29.18 at 4:07 am

jch @118

1). The next Federalist Society product may be better than K for biographical reasons even if she is ideologically identical. We can hope that an SC judge will change for the better, and conclude that K has produced enough evidence that he is unlikely to do so.

2). I assume that you see “cultural politics” such as the K affair as a bourgeois diversion from addressing more thoroughly manifest forms of oppression and suffering. Fundamental, radical changes in economic and politcal relations are necessary for human flourishing, so how can K affair possibly matter, right? Well…alternatively we can see that suffering and oppression is primarily psychological/cultural, subtle though persistent, as opposed to grossly material/political,. For example, we can’t be sure that an Appalachian factory worker is necessarily, objectively experiencing more suffering than a retail manager even though the latter has higher social status than the former. This understanding is a corollary of your own insight that (paraphrasing you from a recent thread) equality is simply a fact. That is profoundly true, and i think allows us to take cultural politics as a means of liberation seriously.

3). It would therefore in this moment be urgent to publically express condemnation and outrage at the behavior of Republican Senators and their media enablers, lest our preoccupation with the grosser manifestations of human misery signal a consent to regress into believing ourselves as deservedly unequal: are we a mass of peasants who need to struggle and revolt against an elite Other, or are we a mass of Equals who can simply “molt” our chitinous bondage and emerge more truly free?

The evolution from “I don’t deserve…(to be free of sexual coercion and humiliation, for example)” to “everyone deserves…” is precisely the end that all this hoped-for material/political revolution is struggling to achieve.

Maybe it’s cultural representation that matters to the lived experience of being human, and maybe it’s the case that absolute measurements of material welfare are distractions.

123

b9n10nt 09.29.18 at 4:24 am

jch @118:

“To attempt to regulate all sexual behaviors/desires/defences, which, to use the old Freudian jargon, are not exactly “ego-syntonic”, in the service of an ideal puritanical republic, (long since defunct), and thereby eliminate all anxieties?”

No, to equalize the sexual anxieties.

Psychological liberation and material liberation are impossible without each other. But the greater end is psychological liberation and living as “we are all equal”.

124

nastywoman 09.29.18 at 6:02 am

@118
”So what’s the point here?”

getting rid of a…holes?
-(one of the most important tasks in society… AND politics)

125

nastywoman 09.29.18 at 6:17 am

– and about:
”I’m trying to work toward a better trollology”.

that might not work in countering ”comedy” – as it is quite obvious that ph is ”Colbert” – the early Colbert of a ”Joyful Liberal” pretending to be a ”Reactionary Conservative” in order to render all a…hollerlogy ad absurdum.

126

nastywoman 09.29.18 at 6:52 am

– and about@118:
”This melodrama/soap opera is entirely an affair of the 10%. The 90% have harder, less speculative and more factual truths to deal with”.

Meaning:
Women dealing with abusive Men?

127

engels 09.29.18 at 8:58 am

Maybe people should take a step back and ask why 90% of American politics seems to consist of these scandals

128

engels 09.29.18 at 9:04 am

Maybe America is the only country in the world that takes sexual
abuse seriously. Or maybe it’s sometiong else…

129

engels 09.29.18 at 9:42 am

130

Lee A. Arnold 09.29.18 at 10:58 am

John Holbo #115: “BK is a smart lawyer. He is either guilty or innocent of sexual assault.”

Maybe Kavanaugh doesn’t know if he is guilty. Maybe he is a blackout drunk who suspects that Ford is telling the absolute truth about him — he tried to rape her — but he has no memory of it. His crying lying whining indignation at the hearing would fit this possibility too.

Either way, and unfortunately for him, he has chosen convenience, and to deny it and to try to wriggle out of this dilemma with a bunch of lies that may now catch up to him during a further week of scrutiny.

This may also allow time to revisit his other misleading statements to the Senate in 2004 and 2006 regarding his partisan activities in the Bush White House. http://time.com/5398191/brett-kavanaugh-supreme-court-senators/

131

Lee A. Arnold 09.29.18 at 11:21 am

Whether or not Kavanaugh makes it to SCOTUS this certainly gives more fuel to the #metoo era that was initiated by none other than the pussygrabbing president who nominated him. (Trump’s cognizance of this fact may be the factor that has moderated his comments about Ford’s testimony.) It also may open a new era (finally!) in which the center and the left pay as much attention to the politics of judicial appointments as the right has done for decades. A lot of the left is still consumed by the self-righteous cries of “Why don’t people worry about the important things?” but perhaps others will get their asses in gear and start working with serious countermovements to the Federalist Society and ALEC.

132

Layman 09.29.18 at 11:48 am

JH: “Ergo, the fact that he behaves this way does not change my estimate of how likely he is to be guilty.”

No, I don’t buy that line. Ford sat there in terror for hours while someone else pressed her with questions designed to convey that Ford was lying about a deeply traumatic experience, and she never once even raised her voice. Contrast with Kavanaugh, who I think quite clearly doth protest too much. He’s guilty.

133

Layman 09.29.18 at 11:52 am

john c. halasz : “So what’s the point here, other than diversionary political gamesmanship?“

Not rewarding known bad actors. Did you have a difficult question you need answered now?

134

nastywoman 09.29.18 at 12:44 pm

The Democrats’ decision to ignore Kavanaugh’s stances on important policies tacitly conveys that they either endorse torture themselves or don’t much care about it, that they either tolerate the imperial presidency or don’t care about it, that they sign off on un-American views about government or are willing to look the other way.
The Democrats’ decision to ignore Kavanaugh’s stances on important policies tacitly conveys that they either endorse torture themselves or don’t much care about it, that they either tolerate the imperial presidency or don’t care about it, that they sign off on un-American views about government or are willing to look the other way.
”Why Do We Tolerate Kavanaugh’s Complicity With Torture”?

We don’t –
and that article you quoted – and that… man, who wrote that article seems to be one of these comedians – who love to bring up ”something completely else” – if women talk about men behaving very, very badly?

So perhaps you could answer the following question:

Why do men so often love to change the subject and bring up ”something completely else” when other men are caught behaving very, very badly”???!

Like the comedian ph with Chappasomething or others here with:
”It’s amazing how much media space this affair has taken up, when there’s lots more going on in the world that get routinely neglected”.

Oh for sure – there’s lots more going on in the world that get routinely neglected – like just last week there were these guys standing on the Marktstätte with Anon-masks and the sign ”the truth” in their hands – demonstrating against US torturing animals and even eating them!

Can you believe it?
And I told them I’m NOT complicit with such torture”?-
-(even if I might eat a peace of meat sometimes)

Sooo?! –
because – in this article you mentioned somebody brought up that ”In 2009 Obama refused to prosecute Bush-era CIA torturers” – you would much rather like to talk and write about that -(and Hilary?) – instead of talking about torturing animals – or men behaving very, very badly?

Why?

135

Patrick (a different one) 09.29.18 at 2:06 pm

“That’s why profiling is problematic, per the post. Procedurally, you may be forbidden to profile, for good reasons. For social justice reasons, broadly. But I don’t see that those actually apply in this case.”

I ended a friendship with a highschool acquaintance over the Trayvon Martin shooting. He took one look at Martin’s profile picture (young black man in a hoodie) and judged that it was likely that a young “thug” would initiate the assault, giving the shooter a valid self defense right.

I ended it rough. I and my brother pretty much trolled his facebook comments on the issue with sarcastic responses about how racist he was until he blocked us. I don’t get along with my brother very well, but we understand each other enough that we can be vicious when we team up- almost saying what we’re saying, in a funny but subtly biting way that is disguised enough that the target nods along at the tangential comments we make at first, until he slowly realizes what they make in aggregate.

It sounds like the message behind this post is that I may have made a mistake.

My racist now-ex-friend didn’t know enough math to cite to Bayes- he went to a police academy, not a fancy college. He was more likely to say something like “we all know what those kinds are like,” than “here is my prior for the background population rate of analogous criminality among that demographic.”

But its not a substantially different message, and while I think that there’s something terribly low class, morally deficient, and ignorant about this approach, it wasn’t just in his phrasing.

I get the response that’s being offered in the comments- I understand that you’re arguing that my friend was completely right to presume a greater likelihood of Trayvon Martin’s criminality based on his race and appearance, but that for social justice reasons relating to a societal tendency to overestimate the DEGREE of that greater likelihood, he should have voluntarily chosen to be less accurate in his implicit Bayesian analysis in that specific instance in order to nudge society towards a more accurate weighting of those matters in future cases- sort of a “don’t be racist towards black teens now so that we can be more accurately racist towards them in the future” kinda deal.

I get that this makes a coherent world view, but I guess I’m kind of skeptical about whether knowing Bayesian math makes you any better at ballparking the inherent level of criminality among a population of people you despise than my friend was, or any better at applying it to specific people. I think maybe the better social justice angle is to never do this at all, because arguments of the form “let me tell you what them there kind are like,” are accurate only a vanishingly low percentage of the time.

That’s my Bayesian prior, at least.

136

b9n10nt 09.29.18 at 3:12 pm

engels “Why Do We Tolerate Kavanaugh’s Complicity With Torture?”

Because who counts isn’t who exists. Simply being human doesn’t matter. Even poor Americans have some ability to affect the status of the Us, at least compared to distant foreigners.

I do hope or even believe that as we attend to pain and suffering among our own, the circle of empathy will naturally expand to others, even foreigners. So maybe caring about women’s sexual suffering when it used to be ignored is a necessary step toward caring about the sufffering of people who, as of now, simply don’t matter.

See Yemen.

137

engels 09.29.18 at 3:22 pm

I didn’t defend him or mention Hilary but your liberal obsession with teenage dick-waving to the exclusion of things like participation in the re-introduction of torture as an official state policy of the world’s preeminent war-mongering empire is deeply creepy, certifiably insane and as American as apple pie.

Btw fuck the Democrats

138

Jason Weidner 09.29.18 at 4:17 pm

There’s actual social science research done on this. This thread, for example, by a sociologist who studes adolescent sexual violence, highlights some of the releveant areas of research (and provides citations). It’s discouraging to see educated people act as if we really have no idea about any of this and it’s just “he said – she said.”
https://twitter.com/NBedera/status/1044973884653486080

139

b9n10nt 09.29.18 at 4:24 pm

Patrick (a different one) @ 135 re: assessing the guilt of Trayvon Martin vs. Kavanotgonnabothertospellhisnamecorrectly (thx Collin Street)

Isn’t there a fundamental difference between the two cases? Ford had no incentive to lie to her therapist 5 years ago, and traumatic memories will tend to be more accurate than commonplace ones. The Trayvon Martin shooter had clear incentive to lie (or express “motivated remembering”; when stakes are high we begin to honestly believe events occurred as we wished them to have).

And I would certainly NOT say K is more likely to be guilty because of his ethnicity and social class*; again he’s likely to be guilty almost entirely because of the credible allegations coming from an unmotivated person. Rather, his and Republican’s performance during these confirmation hearings is explained by their social class as opposed to some coincidence of each Republican’s individual perfidy.

*My priors lead me to the conclusion that K is not likely to NOT be guilty because of his social class: sexual assault is/was endemic across social/ethnic subcultures.

140

engels 09.29.18 at 7:25 pm

Just one feminist trying a 2 x 4 or shotgun and I might return to giving a shit. Just one.

Valerie Solanas?
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valerie_Solanas

141

Nigel 09.29.18 at 8:26 pm

‘But hell, fifty years of feminism and we have a Supreme Court controlled by misogynists, not to speak of the rest of the gov’t’

Well if the silly crying women didn’t have the ethical fortitude to murder all the misogynists on the Supreme Court and the government, thereby becoming morally implicated in their dominance, what’s your excuse?

142

Nigel 09.29.18 at 8:52 pm

ph expects better of Democrats, so he’s going to keep supporting Trump until they learn their lesson? Genius.

143

engels 09.29.18 at 9:27 pm

Imagine if there was a #metoo movement for victims of American torture and they all got to say their piece in front of the Senate before a white-collar waterboarder like Kavanaugh was confirmed as a supreme court judge

144

engels 09.29.18 at 9:38 pm

Or imagine a system of quotas that limited the numbers of graduates who emerge from the putrid, racist, entitled swamp that is the American prep school system in prestigious over-paid positions to something close to their numerical representation in the American population as a whole, thus throwing both Kavanaugh and Ford on the dole queue.

145

Raven Onthill 09.29.18 at 10:26 pm

Empirically, taking a woman who knows the man they are accusing and does not have obvious reasons to make a false accusation, based on social science statistics, the likelihood that the accusation is true is enormously high – over 90% at least. So, on the empirical odds, the likelihood is that Dr. Ford is telling the truth. (This does not apply to the Clinton investigation, where there were obvious reasons to make false accusations – huge rewards and threats of imprisonment.)

The question then comes up: what probabilities does one put into the model Dr. Holbo has set out to produce the observed results? But I am a busy bird this afternoon and will have to dig into this later, if at all.

146

Raven Onthill 09.29.18 at 11:47 pm

“Ford remains highly credible. But I doubt that you can ever go higher than about 90% for 30+ year old memories of a trauma that wasn’t reported until years after the fact. “

Suppose it were an assault with a knife. Would it then be reasonable to argue that the victim’s memories are unreliable?

To all intents and purposes, the probability that Dr. Ford accurately remembers a rape attempt and the perpetrators is 100%. Dr. Ford knew both Kavanaugh and Judge prior to the rape attempt so the likelihood of misidentification is small. She discussed the rape with her therapist in 2012 and this is documented, which adds credibility to an already credible claim; well before the Trump administration nominated Kavanaugh for an appointment as a Supreme Court Justice, making it impossible that her testimony was suborned after the nomination or even after Trump’s election. Perhaps – probably – some of the details are wrong, but her memories of the fact of the attempt and the identities of the people who made the attempt are reliable.

Add to that the stochastic terrorism to which anyone who makes such a report is subjected – Dr. Ford has received death threats, has moved out of her house, and sent her children to a different location – at this point we are grasping at straws in arguing that she is an unreliable witness. At this time, as far as can be told, Dr. Ford is telling the unvarnished truth and we are on the verge of appointing a rapist to our highest court.

147

Raven Onthill 09.30.18 at 12:03 am

Ph: it wasn’t groping. Kavanaugh and Judge pushed her into a room, locked the door, turned up the music to cover her screams, then Kavanaugh jumped on top of her.

(And I have now wasted far too much time on this. I am so angry.)

148

Raven Onthill 09.30.18 at 1:09 am

engels: for heaven’s sake, a man who rapes is also likely to be a man who supports torture. These two things are not separable in human character.

149

J-D 09.30.18 at 1:42 am

john c. halasz

… It’s amazing how much media space this affair has taken up, when there’s lots more going on in the world that get routinely neglected. …

This melodrama/soap opera is entirely an affair of the 10%. The 90% have harder, less speculative and more factual truths to deal with. I don’t know whether I’m sad or glad that you all are so easily entertained and distracted from the affairs of the actual world, by your own limited political imaginations.

You chose to spend your time contributing to this exchange.

150

John Holbo 09.30.18 at 1:49 am

Thanks to Jason for the useful research link. I had seen that then lost it and couldn’t find it.

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2375127

There it is for the curious.

151

John Holbo 09.30.18 at 2:00 am

Patrick, “It sounds like the message behind this post is that I may have made a mistake.”

Well, yes and no. You made a mistake reading the post. I think it was ok to drop the friend.

There is a serious, hard issue about when it’s ok to profile. Your mistake is assuming that if it’s ever ok then, logically, it can never be not ok. I don’t buy that. We are going to profile. That is, make judgments of likelihood based on our assessment of the kind of person we are dealing with. Sometimes that’s ok sometimes not. We have our sense of what seem like ok and not cases. Trayvon, not ok, for reasons fairly easy to spell out. You can’t shoot someone on vague suspicion. BK ok because how not? But it’s tough to formulate rules here that don’t go wrong. But at least we can agree that an insane all-or-nothing rule would not be best, surely.

152

nastywoman 09.30.18 at 5:50 am

@137
”Btw fuck the Democrats”

– so you mentioned ”the Democrats”? –
(like this funny article you quoted) –
So your obsession with mentioning ”the Democrats” and changing the subject to the exclusion of anything like you don’t like to talk about seems to be not creepy at all anymore –
NOT currently certifiably insane anymore –
as our Erected President does it all the time and if somebody asks him about ”the women” he currently tends to answer with ”the much more relevant economy” – and you quote articles of some dude which – currently – is ”as American as apple pie”.

And do you know about this theory that FF von Clownstick became our President only BE-cause he was/is far to obsessed with ”dick-waving”? –
(as you like to call it?)

– and I even didn’t have to quote any article from Freud -(or Kant)

153

engels 09.30.18 at 9:29 am

These two things are not separable in human character.

Lynndie England managed it
https://www.yahoo.com/news/blogs/envoy/abu-ghraib-guard-lynndie-england-says-iraqi-prisoners-214645632.html

154

engels 09.30.18 at 10:52 am

…Where Ken Starr’s career, and those of Hill’s inquisitors, somehow survived their creepy enthusiasm for public sex talk, it is now time for senators, prompted by Ford, who need to explain why, in the US, serious questions about a man’s fitness for high office should repeatedly require a woman to elaborate on sexual experiences or molestation, for the entertainment of the masses, in a roomful of hostile men. …
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/30/christine-blasey-ford-had-dignity-public-parading-of-sex-assault-victims-has-to-end

155

engels 09.30.18 at 1:37 pm

…Of particular note is his position on international law, spelled out in a lengthy minority opinion in the 2010 Guantánamo case of Bihani v. Obama. Ghaleb Nassar al-Bihani, captured while serving as a cook for a Taliban-allied militia, claimed that his detention violated international law. Kavanaugh rebuffed this argument on the grounds that international law norms, unless written into congressional statutes or included in a limited subset of U.S. treaties, “are not part of domestic U.S. law.” Kavanaugh’s claims are controversial. The United States’ international law obligations derive principally from its treaty commitments and from customary international law, a set of rules originating in a general practice and normative consensus among states. Kavanaugh’s position that international law norms are generally not part of domestic law conflicts with language in the Constitution declaring that “all treaties” made by the United States “shall be the Supreme Law of the Land.” It is also contrary to a long history of Supreme Court decisions, including O’Connor’s opinion in Hamdi. … Customary international law is a central pillar of the prohibition of torture. …
https://www.justsecurity.org/60238/brett-kavanaugh-risk-return-torture/

156

Layman 09.30.18 at 1:42 pm

engels : “I didn’t defend him or mention Hilary but your liberal obsession with teenage dick-waving to the exclusion of things like participation in the re-introduction of torture as an official state policy of the world’s preeminent war-mongering empire is deeply creepy, certifiably insane and as American as apple pie.”

On the other hand, it’s perfectly clear that you can’t get any Republican Senators to reject Kavanaugh because he’s a proponent and enabler of torture – because they like torture!- but it’s possible you can get one or two to reject him because he’s a creepy misogynist who assaults women. If that looks to you like Democrats caring about the latter but not the former, I think that’s just your failure to understand the situation.

157

Ogden Wernstrom 09.30.18 at 2:33 pm

@118:

…it’s hard to believe that a traumatic incident when she was 15 yo would have scarred her for life…

You have lived a charmed life. If you are close to anyone, they have all lived charmed lives, too – or, maybe, they do not care to confide in you.

engels: “Btw fuck the Democrats”
I’m married to one, so I’m doing my part.

158

engels 09.30.18 at 3:14 pm

It may be I don’t understand the situation very well and the comment Layman quotes is kind of a pointless rant which I will happily withdraw. But my distaste at the way all this is playing out again is unlikely to go anywhere I’m afraid.

159

nastywoman 09.30.18 at 4:04 pm

@
”but it’s possible you can get one or two to reject him because he’s a creepy misogynist who assaults women”.

I didn’t want to point to such obvious… ”understanding” – of US Law –
even as I once had learned that in my homeland you have to get the Mafia easier for tax evasion than for any other ”crimes” – but as Engels –
(the ”real” Engels – Friedrich) – would have said:

“Fox hunting always keeps me in a state of devilish excitement for several days”!

and that’s ”the thing” about changing the subject – and suddenly writing about torture if others talk about ”men behaving badly” – Friedrich Engels – a proper communist who knew more about class war than all the backbenchers in Britain – never dismissed fox-hunting as just another aristocratic excess. To his mind, blood sports were not a political act or expression of feudal superiority. Instead, he regarded the chase as an essential component of English culture, which also offered numerous insights for the coming revolution. So he wrote to his great friend Karl Marx in 1857:
“On Saturday, I went out fox-hunting – seven hours in the saddle, it’s the greatest physical pleasure I know. I saw only two out of the whole field who were better horsemen than myself, but then they were also better mounted… At least 20 of the chaps fell off or came down, two horses were done for, one fox killed (I was in AT THE DEATH).”

So why do we tolerate communists ”Complicity With Torture?”
And what does that silly question have to do with the silly question of the dude the fake Engels quoted on a blog who is a lot about ”crooked Timber”?

160

LFC 09.30.18 at 4:17 pm

engels @155 links to Mayerfeld’s piece from August on Kavanaugh’s attitude toward international law as evidenced in a 2010 dissent K. wrote.

A v quick perusal indicates that Mayerfeld’s underlying point is K’s dismissive attitude toward intl law in general and customary intl law in particular — see the paragraph where Mayerfeld mentions the 1804 case called The Charming Betsy (which was the name of a ship btw).

K’s position on torture is/was one consequence of his general position on intl law (and its status in U.S. law), a view that cd have or has had other (unfortunate) consequences. Mayerfeld’s title focuses on torture, but the most imp pt of the piece is not about torture specifically but about intl law and K’s attitude toward it.

Although engels thus seems to have missed the core point of Mayerfeld’s piece — either that or, more likely, engels deliberately downplayed the core point b.c it would have distracted from his main concern of making his usual barbed comments — I nonetheless appreciate engels’s linking it here, b/c I had not seen it.

161

engels 09.30.18 at 10:39 pm

Mayerfeld’s title focuses on torture, but the most imp pt of the piece is not about torture specifically but about intl law and K’s attitude toward it

You may not believe this but I also thought that was the most interesting aspect. I remember getting in an argument with a right-winger here more than a decade ago on the context of a discussion about war crimes who maintained the US does not recognise jus cogens. I assumed that was a crank position but thanks to Kavanaugh and his ilk it’s evidently entering the mainstream. What a time to be alive!

Nastywoman, I’m not a fake, just not as famous.

162

ph 09.30.18 at 11:25 pm

Engels is right, imo.

The question of BK’s position on torture as an adult seems a much more important issue. But that discussion would involve examining the adult positions of a great number of Dems, and the ‘heroes’ of the resistance. Can’t have that.

As American as apple pie? Other folks love ‘apple pie’ just as much!

163

nastywoman 10.01.18 at 7:16 am

@162
”Engels is right, imo”.

Again we agree as – “Fox hunting might keep a man in a state of devilish excitement for several days”! BUT about ”examining adult positions” you probably should talk to your Japanese wife about American apple?

Does she belong to the ”Other folks” who love ‘apple pie’ just as much?!

164

Nigel 10.01.18 at 1:09 pm

‘The question of BK’s position on torture as an adult seems a much more important issue. ‘

I imagine so. You support a man who has stated that he thinks suspected terrorist’s families should be tortured. I guess that position has the virtue of not requiring a great deal of examination.

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