Cool-headed deliberation is the job, after all.

by Gina Schouten on October 5, 2018

I’ve been reading that the deliberations over Kavanaugh’s appointment in light of Blasey Ford’s allegations against him are firing up voters on the right in the sense that those voters, like Kavanaugh, find the mere investigation to be crazy, a moral outrage, incomprehensible. I’ve never felt so strongly like I’m living in a completely different reality than those who disagree with me politically. This makes me want to say why I think what I think as plainly as I can, because however wrong it might be, I’m almost certain it isn’t crazy or immoral or incomprehensible. Before the testimony, I thought only that further inquiry was in order. Now, in light of Kavanaugh’s testimony, and independent of Blasey Ford’s, I think Kavanaugh has shown himself to be unfit for appointment to the Supreme Court. Here’s why.

I basically thought that Blasey Ford’s testimony was credible enough that the Republicans should appoint someone else instead on the basis of that evidence alone. This doesn’t mean I think he’s guilty beyond reasonable doubt. That’s a very high standard, plausibly appropriate for a criminal trial, but not at all appropriate here. If I’m looking to hire someone for a very important job, and I have very good reason based on credible evidence to believe he did something very bad and is unrepentant, it’s okay for me to use that credible evidence as a basis to choose a different candidate, even if the evidence leaves room for reasonable doubt. This is especially clear, it seems to me, when the job is a very powerful and prestigious one, when the candidate I opt against based on the credible evidence will not be left seriously badly off as a result of my choosing someone else—for example, when my choosing someone else will not mean that his kids go hungry—and when there are plenty of equally qualified candidates.

I think reasonable people can disagree with me about this, and that’s why I thought that, since the Republicans clearly didn’t want to simply appoint someone else, there should at least be a delay and further inquiry. Suppose you’re among those who disagree with me. Suppose you  think the credible evidence doesn’t rise to the level of credibility at which we should give the job to someone else based on that evidence.

You should still think we should give the job to someone else. Kavanaugh’s behavior in response to the inquiry gives us a completely independent, completely adequate reason to think he is unqualified for this job. Whether or not the accusation is true, a reasonable person recognizes that credible evidence of this sort should be taken seriously, even if it comes at a cost to him. Of course, even the most reasonable person might be irately incredulous when he first learns about the allegation against him. But a reasonable person who has had a chance to think things through does not respond to those who are concerned about the allegation—and about doing right by the alleged victim—the way Kavanaugh has responded. A reasonable person who has had the chance to reflect might think, “This is very bad for me, and unfair since I didn’t do this thing. But of course other people don’t know that I didn’t do this thing, and so, even though it is bad for me, it’s right that they should ask me about it.” Still, a reasonable person might lose their temper even after going through this process of reflection, in a moment of intense questioning for example. But a reasonable person does not maintain a baseline of bombastic rage, and a reasonable person certainly does not endorse such a reaction as the appropriate response.

It’s easy to think that Kavanaugh’s behavior is just how someone would respond to a false accusation. But it’s not how someone should respond, when the accusation is credible, when others are doing right by taking it seriously, and once the accused has had the chance to compose himself and to remind himself that it’s nothing personal that some don’t automatically dismiss the allegation. What Kavanaugh is now going through must indeed be awful and, conditional on the supposition that he didn’t do it, we should regret him having to go through it. But one can still behave reasonably when awful things happen. Even in the criminal context where it actually applies, the presumption of innocence doesn’t rule out inquiry or investigation. What are we to make of Kavanaugh’s rage at being questioned even in this less stringent evidential context? I think we should think it is unreasonable. I’m guessing you’d hold yourself to a higher standard than the one he’s set.

But maybe you think that this is too high a standard of reasonableness. You might think that a reasonable person could behave just as Kavanaugh has; he faces a very serious allegation, and it would certainly be difficult for him to avoid being defensive if he’s innocent. You might think that only an exceptionally reasonable person would behave the way I’m saying Kavanaugh should behave.

I’m not sure, but okay. Still, shouldn’t we expect our Supreme Court justices to be exceptionally reasonable? Aren’t they unqualified insofar as they show themselves to fall short even of that admittedly high standard? Reasonable cool-headed deliberation is the job, after all.

In short: Even if we think that Kavanaugh is innocent of sexual assault, we should think that his behavior in light of the allegation is disqualifying. We should not have matters of our basic civil liberties 1/9th decided by a bombastic person who cannot recognize that credible allegations have to be considered carefully even when considering them carefully comes at a cost to him. If this were a normal job, we would choose a different candidate. We should choose a different candidate for this job.

Maybe you think I am unreliable about this because of my political orientation. But even a broken clock is right a few times a day. (I can’t waste one of my times saying the correct number of times.) Even if you think I’m guilty of motivated reasoning, the reasoning might still be right. The conclusion might still be true. The reasoning is here for you to check. If there’s a problem, I’d like to see it.

On Tuesday, our president publicly mocked a woman who credibly claims to be a victim of sexual assault. And a rally full of people cheered him on. It is too depressing to think that so many people stand with him in this nomination either because they don’t care whether or not Kavanaugh did this, or because they believe Kavanaugh is innocent, but they don’t care that he is so full of rage—indeed, maybe they even join him in his rage—toward those of us who aren’t yet convinced.

{ 114 comments }

1

mpowell 10.05.18 at 2:49 pm

Not that I think Kavanaugh shouldn’t be voted down or anything, but I’m not sure how much the rage, the obfuscating about drinking habits, etc, isn’t just a political performance. But I also think that public performances by politicians should be taken simply on their face – I’m of the view that the public persona is a better understanding of the genuine person in these kind of cases. So I don’t have any real objection to your conclusion, but I am seeing it is nearly hopeless to reach the other side at this point.

There is an irony here in that since Kavanaugh helped launch an obviously illegitimate politically motivated campaign into a politician’s sex life, of course he is pissed off now to be on the receiving end of what he perceives to be the same thing. The irony comes from the fact that his hypocrisy in the matter intensifies his anger instead of the other way around.

Ultimately, I think the best feasible outcome is for Kavanaugh to be quickly confirmed, to have more allegations leak out (even if he hasn’t actually raped anyone I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more inappropriate sexual conduct in this past), for Republicans to pay a price at the polls in November and then for a Democratic house to open an investigation on his finances (dwarfed, of course, by the investigation into Trump’s finances). The sexual assaults of Kavanaugh and Trump will probably move the needle less than their financial crimes (which I have no doubt of Trump’s guilt). the Dems need a House win in 2018, but they also need to win really big in 2020.

2

Lynne 10.05.18 at 3:00 pm

Clearly and calmly stated, which is a feat after the crowd’s cheering at Trump’s mockery.

I don’t understand people who would cheer in that situation, whatever their opinion of whether Kavanaugh should be appointed. Equally disturbing to me (and I take only occasional, reluctant interest in American politics) is the apparent indifference of the Senate to the public reaction. In a democracy, public opinion should matter, especially when such a powerful appointment is in the balance. The Supreme Court! I have seen commenters here say that the American Supreme Court is held in too high regard. I guess I’m not in a position to know, but can that really be true, I wondered, since Clarence Thomas’ appointment? It certainly seems to me that the appointment of Kavanaugh would erode public confidence in the justice system.

Kavanaugh’s nasty, partisan side should never have appeared. As a longtime judge, he should have more self-control, and, one would hope, be capable of a more impartial reaction here, whatever his private feelings.
Thanks for the post.

3

FredR 10.05.18 at 3:14 pm

I don’t think Kavanaugh’s anger was a response to the accusation, but rather to the way it (and other accusations) was handled by the Democratic Party and the national media.

4

engels 10.05.18 at 3:25 pm

I’m not American or familiar with the commanding heights of the US legal system but I struggle to see how can anyone read stuff like this and not think that the whole thing is a cess pit: almost every paragraph is absurd
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/oct/01/kavanaugh-clerk-hire-casts-light-on-link-to-judge-forced-to-resign-in-metoo-era

5

Sebastian H 10.05.18 at 3:27 pm

“Of course, even the most reasonable person might be irately incredulous when he first learns about the allegation against him. But a reasonable person who has had a chance to think things through does not respond to those who are concerned about the allegation—and about doing right by the alleged victim—the way Kavanaugh has responded. A reasonable person who has had the chance to reflect might think, “This is very bad for me, and unfair since I didn’t do this thing. But of course other people don’t know that I didn’t do this thing, and so, even though it is bad for me, it’s right that they should ask me about it.” Still, a reasonable person might lose their temper even after going through this process of reflection, in a moment of intense questioning for example. But a reasonable person does not maintain a baseline of bombastic rage, and a reasonable person certainly does not endorse such a reaction as the appropriate response.”

I think this is broadly correct. I’m not sure I would go as far as you in defining what the perfect victim reaction should be to some one if they were falsely accused of attempted rape during their teenage years half a lifetime later in a way that was going to resist trying to prove a negative. I think the range of reasonable reactions is pretty wide BUT REFLECTIVE OF GENERAL TEMPERAMENT. And the sort general temperament reflected here isn’t good for a judge on the Supreme Court. I’d give a lot of leeway for that kind of reaction for lots of other jobs.

6

Z 10.05.18 at 3:35 pm

We should not have matters of our basic civil liberties 1/9th decided by a bombastic person who cannot recognize that credible allegations have to be considered carefully even when considering them carefully comes at a cost to him. If this were a normal job, we would choose a different candidate. We should choose a different candidate for this job.

Yes, exactly. Thank you for the post.

7

Patrick S. O'Donnell 10.05.18 at 3:36 pm

I find it more than plausible that Kavanaugh fancies himself as deserving of the privileges and feelings of superiority that are often part and parcel of being a member of the entitled meritocracy in this country, although I suspect he subscribes to the principle of noblesse oblige by way of easing his conscience, hence the frequency of first-person references (as a possessive pronoun) to a “lifetime of public service,” the “coaching of young girls” and so forth. In addition, we might plausibly if not reasonably infer that he believes his feelings of contempt, anger (if not rage), and defiance (for example) are justified because the accusations of sexual assault and accounts of his drunken behavior have spilled over onto and thus sullied the images of sanctimonious purity with which he and his supporters have painted his roles as a “son, husband and dad.” That portrait, in conjunction with the “good name” his legal career has—in both his mind and the minds of his supporters—etched in stone, serve as sacred artifacts or insignia of his meritocratic entitlement. Still, one wonders how a person of his intelligence and “fine breeding” as it were, can live in good conscience with an abundance of evasions and lies that typically add up to denial and self-deception.

I’ll hazard a guess: the (often perverse) moral psychology intrinsic to substitutionary atonement doctrine in Catholicism which, I believe, is intimately tied to the Church’s teachings and practices of sacramental confession requiring “disclosure of sins (the ‘confession’), contrition (sorrow of the soul for the sins committed), and satisfaction (‘penance,’ i.e. doing something to make amends for the sins),” are at least a necessary condition to a possible if not plausible psychological explanation. Assuming Kavanaugh is a “good Catholic,” the moral psychology of substitutionary atonement in conjunction with the act of confession permits him to view his past behavior in a far more forgiving and excusing light than the rest of us (at least those of us who do not believe in substitutionary atonement or practice sacramental confession) and again, in his mind at least, thus serves to rationalize or pardon his expressions of anger and defiance at those believed responsible for soiling the sacred signs associated with his “good name”(as well as the conspicuous lapse in the kind of judicial temperament one associates with a candidate for the Supreme Court). One result of putting things in this psychological and theological framework is that it suggests or implies the possibility that Kavanaugh does not see himself as truly evading moral responsibility, for such responsibility as is relevant was assumed and faced in the theological precincts and moral psychological context of his Catholic faith.

8

Donald 10.05.18 at 4:10 pm

This all seems quite sensible to me, and I think a person who believes Kavanaugh is innocent in the Ford assault case should be able to grant you your good faith argument.

But, using Rod Dreher as an example, they won’t. It is more pleasing to the tribal narrative to assume the absolute worst about the other side. I don’t think the left is innocent of this sort of crap either. A lot of people have lost the ability to empathize in any way with people who hold very different views. We all lose our tempers sometimes, but we ought to be able to pull back and try to imagine why someone else might think the way he or she does even if we think that person is completely wrong.

Sermon over. I don’t know what to do about it.

9

engels 10.05.18 at 4:12 pm

Good to see Harvard doing the ethical thing by not inviting a white-collar waterboarder back to teach for an 11th year
https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2018/10/2/kavanaugh-is-out/
https://www.justsecurity.org/60238/brett-kavanaugh-risk-return-torture/

10

Jacob Steel 10.05.18 at 4:14 pm

I’m hoping that he’s not confirmed, but I was hoping that even before he was accused of sexual assault, and I’m wary of trying to present a decision I’d already made on partisan political grounds as high-minded neutral concern over personal conduct.

If the boot was on the other foot – if a liberal judge had the same personal conduct, and if there was a realistic chance that failure to confirm him would result in the senate changing hands before a replacement could be rushed through, a hardline conservative being selected in his place, and Roe vs Wade being overturned, etc – would you still oppose his confirmation?

11

Patrick 10.05.18 at 4:15 pm

“Kavanaugh’s behavior in response to the inquiry gives us a completely independent, completely adequate reason to think he is unqualified for this job.”

This is the thrust of the recent group letter submitted by a rather large number of law professors.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2018/10/04/unprecedented-unfathomable-more-than-law-professors-sign-letter-after-kavanaugh-hearing/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.027b3cc216ba

as well as his friend and former defender, Benjamin Wittes

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/10/why-i-wouldnt-confirm-brett-kavanaugh/571936/

I think its a dispositive point.

In fact I think you give him and his position and the “but he was under stress” argument a lot more credit than it deserves.

I’ve seen judges dealing with defendants and litigants who get defensive, mouthy, and start back talking. They’re generally MASSIVELY more brutal than the Senate was with him, and the defendants and litigants are usually in a lot more jeopardy than he was.

By the norms of his own profession as I’ve observed them, he can’t maintain the same professional demeanor his profession expects from those who are within its power.

I mean maybe being an overly sensitive bully who can dish it out but not take it is a very judicial way to be, but that’s not something we should be proud of or encourage.

12

oldster 10.05.18 at 4:26 pm

I agree with this, and also find it hard to understand the opposition.

When you are hiring for any job, you look for red flags: indications that the candidate may be not only unqualified, but a personnel disaster waiting to happen.

This guy showed more red flags than the PLA on Mao’s birthday. He was a walking red flag. No sensible person would have hired him to mow the lawn, much less watch the kids, much less serve on the bench.

There will be a grim satisfaction in watching him shatter. His finances, his drinking, and his abusiveness are all going to catch up with him.

13

Donald A. Coffin 10.05.18 at 4:38 pm

I agree completely with what you have to say–and you said it much more calmly and much better than I could have.

And I also agree that his finances got way too little attention.

And I’m afraid we’ll have him around for decades…

14

engels 10.05.18 at 5:48 pm

History repeats itself, the first time as Hillary the second time as Bart
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/oct/05/brett-kavanaugh-us-senate-vote-supreme-court

15

Harry 10.05.18 at 6:05 pm

“If the boot was on the other foot – if a liberal judge had the same personal conduct, and if there was a realistic chance that failure to confirm him would result in the senate changing hands before a replacement could be rushed through, a hardline conservative being selected in his place, and Roe vs Wade being overturned, etc – would you still oppose his confirmation?”

The situation isn’t parallel, right. If Kavanagh isn’t appointed, we get a different conservative judge. So its actually kind of hard to excuse the reaction to all this by saying, “oh well, there’s more at stake for them”.

Still, I think its a good question. I agree with the OP, and, yes, I think I would oppose confirmation if the judge were exactly like Kavanagh except being liberal even if it seriously risked a hardline conservative judge being put in place. Unless I was confident that the alternative would be equally unfit for office, I suppose.

But its hard to know for sure when you’re not in the situation. For what its worth, I spend the Clinton/Lewinsky period feeling that I was living in a lunatic asylum, as people around me insisted first that Clinton was telling the truth (when he was obviously lying) and then that what he did was no big deal (when if it had been anyone else they’d have recognised it as abusive behavior, even independently of the lying). That said, I thought (rightly as it turned out) that Democrats were acting against their own (and my) interests by supporting him.

16

Gina Schouten 10.05.18 at 6:05 pm

Jacob (10): It’s a good question, and since I’m fairly suspicious of my own motivated reasoning, it’s one I’ve asked myself. I can’t know for certain, of course, but I’m pretty confident I’m not being merely partisan here. I would dislike having any judge of Kavanaugh’s ideological bent appointed. This is different. I would dislike passing up an opportunity to have a judge more ideologically to my liking appointed because of problems with temperament, but I think I’d support the pass. And I KNOW I would not think that those calling for the pass were crazy or morally bankrupt. (Well, I might think they were on other grounds but not in virtue of their calling for it. You get the point.)

17

Elliot Grant 10.05.18 at 6:08 pm

A well-argued and persuasive post: thank you. But since the polarisation of US politics has now reached the point that it has, perhaps the time has come for another look at the system for appointing Supreme Court judges, however difficult it might be to make changes

18

Gina Schouten 10.05.18 at 6:10 pm

Sebastian (5): Right, that’s a better way of putting it, I think. Thank you.

Donald (8): I don’t know either, and of course I agree that the left does it too. But figuring out how to do better seems like it should be a very high priority. The fact that ideological tribes and family tribes diverge seems important here.

19

Gina Schouten 10.05.18 at 6:13 pm

To clarify my response to Jacob in (16): By “I think I’d support the pass” I mean that I think I’d support passing up the opportunity to appoint. Probably clear from context but just in case.

20

Jim Harrison 10.05.18 at 6:32 pm

The absolute minimum job requirement for a Supreme Court justice is competent hypocrisy, sometimes referred to as respect for decorum. A competent hypocrite would not have gone off against his accusers as Kavanaugh did, thus delegitimizing the partisan decisions he will surely make once he’s on the court.

21

Raven Onthill 10.05.18 at 6:35 pm

Yes. There’s even a name for it in the language of law – judicial temperament, which Kavanaugh has shown he lacks. Beyond that he is dishonest and shows no regard for the oath he took when he took the stand.

The man is of poor character and lacks judicial temperament. He ought not sit on any court. These are conservative objections and in ignoring them, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Republicans have stunning shown that their claimed ideology is an excuse for the pursuit of raw power.

22

Joseph Brenner 10.05.18 at 7:16 pm

I think you’re over-thinking

23

Joseph Brenner 10.05.18 at 7:23 pm

I gather you’re thinking about stuff like this:

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/10/kavanaugh-hearings-republican-women-voter-turnout.html

But I think you’re just over-thinking.

Some women really do like to make excuses for their bad boys, and
have at best mixed feelings about the many and various things
that get sold as feminism… and feminists can be remarkably
tone-deaf about talking to anyone who isn’t already on their side
(“You must *believe* women!”; “Uh, guys, ‘presumption of
innocence’?”).

As for Kavanaugh, there’s plenty of reasons to say no, just to
pick one, “torture”. People who can rationalize that away really
shouldn’t be on the Supreme court.

Anyway: a third of the United States is a right-off. Every fight
for the forseeable future is going to be a fight for the
independent/undecided middle third, and a matter of mobilizing
the liberal/left base– whose apathy is a thing of stunning awesomeness:

https://www.mcclatchydc.com/podcasts/beyond-the-bubble/article219366050.html

> “Our research has continually shown… that there is a large segment of voters, particularly millennial voters of color, who are not automatically motivated to turn out because of Donald Trump, and in many ways see the election of Donald Trump as another proof point on why voting doesn’t matter,” said McHugh.

And the undecideds are not exactly easy to understand, either:
“I just don’t know what I think about Donald Trump yet.”

24

Joseph Brenner 10.05.18 at 7:27 pm

Weirdly enough for me, this pun was not intended:
“Right-off” should’ve been “write-off”.

25

engels 10.05.18 at 7:43 pm

Could anyone point to the part in the statement where he gets so angry he disqualifies himself as a judge? I started watching the beginning and it didn’t seem that bad (given the favourable hypotheses stated) but I admit I got bored very quickly (obviously I’d be against his appointment for lots of other reasons).

(Btw contrary to the premise of the OP it seemed to me that he doesn’t find the accusations ‘credible’, and I guess he might reasonably maintain that his reaction to (as he sees it) groundless partisan attacks won’t predict his behaviour as a judge discharging his duties. I do fear that this ‘no emotions please we’re technocrats’ stuff is part of what drives at least 50% of America’s population up the wall, unlikely as that may seem to all the cool-headed and qualified folks here.)

26

engels 10.05.18 at 7:57 pm

(Ok I found the bit people are presumably talking about. It is odd. My first thought is was that someone shouldn’t be serving as a judge while in such an distressed state but it isn’t a permanent disqualification—ironically I think that line of thinking would be problematic from an equal opportunities/mental health perspective.)

27

nastywoman 10.05.18 at 8:13 pm

Not being ”cool-headed” at all –
as most of our US relatives don’t respond to ”cool-headed” at all –
They want it really ”hot” – or better said:
like loud, obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us –
Advise – ”anybody” to go about 30 miles.” – and only if you yell and scream at them – and tell them what J-Law wanted to tell Von Clownstick and what De Niro said – they slowly start to listen.

And sometimes I think we are faaar to nice and polite?

28

Nishi Shah 10.05.18 at 8:16 pm

Terrific post, Gina, I’d expect nothing less from you! I agree with you almost completely, but I wonder if you are fully appreciating BK’s perspective. He surely thought that the hearing last week was a corrupt, rigged, game and that the Dems didn’t care about the truth, they just wanted to take him down. While I don’t think that is correct, at least not of all the senators, I can understand why he might have thought the irregularities of the procedures pointed in that direction. Also, it did seem to me that some of the senators, such as Leahy and Durbin, were trying to embarrass him.

Also, remember that he needed to persuade Trump to stick by him, and was basically told to amp things up by McGahn.

If this is all true, wouldn’t it be reasonable to think that BK’s behavior, in what he had reason to think was a corrupt process with people seeking to take him down rather than get at the truth, gives us weak grounds to believe that he would act in such a way once he is on the court? After all, what we know of his time as a judge gives us no reason to think he would act in such a an angry and partisan way once he is on the SC.

Thanks for the excellent post. What a model of clarity and passion without vitriol or name-calling!

29

nastywoman 10.05.18 at 8:28 pm

– on the other hand – who ever went to an average Spring Break in my homeland had to know it would end like that.

Or as Von Clownstick said:

I can honestly say I never had a beer in my life – okay –
that’s one of my only good traits –
I don’t drink
(laughter!)
I never had a glass of alcohol –
for whatever reason –
can you imagine if I had –
what a mess I be –
(again laughter)
– and that’s why I -(FF von Clownnstick) nominated Bart!

30

engels 10.05.18 at 9:29 pm

“Honestly, I don’t think I have ever been so angry in all of my adult life,” says Ginger Howard, a Republican national committeewoman from Georgia. “It brings me to the point of tears, it makes me so angry.” In interviews with roughly a dozen female conservative leaders from as many states, this was the overwhelming sentiment: These women are infuriated with the way the sexual-assault allegations against the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have been handled. They are not convinced by Ford or any other woman who has come forward. They resent the implication that all women should support the accusers. And they believe that this scandal will ultimately hurt the cause of women who have been sexually assaulted. Above all, these women, and the women they know, are ready to lash out against Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections. …

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/10/conservative-women-kavanaugh-ford/572023/

31

czrpb 10.05.18 at 10:13 pm

It is too depressing to think that so many people … don’t care that he is so full of rage—indeed, maybe they even join him in his rage—toward those of us who aren’t yet convinced.

I think this is the case. I do think an inflection point has been passed …

32

Orange Watch 10.05.18 at 10:19 pm

Nishi Shah@27:

The counterpoint to the idea we shouldn’t read too much into his testimony is that certain aspects (e.g . the alleged perjury) is consistent with prior occasions when he testified.

And the flip side of the idea that this was all performance that’s indicative of nothing is ofc that in that case it’s a misleading performance under oath before the Senate and the public. That’s not all that much of an improvement.

33

Heliopause 10.05.18 at 11:04 pm

I think the temperament argument is at least cognizable. Not sure if I agree with it. I think that if you are accused of a serious crime out of the blue after several decades, it’s given the widest possible media dissemination, with most elite media outlets clearly on the side of the accuser, and your wife and young daughters thereafter are deluged with death and rape threats, it’s understandable if you get angry and defensive. But I understand the argument that a SC Justice shouldn’t be getting angry or defensive regardless of the provocation, and the partisan comments he made, while not surprising, are problematic.

As for the credibility of the accusations, let’s start with the most credible one:
1. Accused forcefully denies it.
2. No tangible evidence.
3. Corroborating witnesses named, none of whom corroborate it.
4. Accusation never related to anyone until decades later during “therapy,” and it’s still a question whether the specifically accused person was named even then.
5. Allegations suspiciously all emerged publicly at the 11th hour of the confirmation process.

Of the three main allegations this is the most credible one. The so-called second one is similar to the first but not as credible. The so-called third one, which for a time received serious reportage from elite media, is laugh out loud ridiculous.

I’ll also mention that legions of internet sleuths are unleashing a torrent of accusations not only on Kavanaugh’s alleged adolescent predilections but those of Dr. Ford as well. I’ll mention only that they exist with no further comment because, unlike this nation of panty sniffers, I have standards.

So, all that on the table, I guess I have to make clear: Brett Kavanaugh is a reactionary. He is a dumb reactionary. He was involved with some of the most nauseating crimes of the W Bush administration (you remember him, erstwhile war criminal now Resistance hero). Kavanaugh shouldn’t be allowed in the visitor’s gallery of the Supreme Court much less the bench itself.

But do you see my problem here? Not wanting a dumb reactionary on the Supreme Court, but having to reduce our collective evidentiary standards to absolute dogshit in order to do it? You see how I’m conflicted about that?

“plausibly appropriate for a criminal trial”

Yeah, here’s what our more rigorous criminal trial standard has accomplished: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innocence_Project

They’ve exonerated hundreds and, extrapolating from their numbers, there are doubtless thousands more languishing. 70% of their exonerees are minorities. That’s what we as a society have done with a HIGHER evidentiary standard than the one we’re employing here. So you see why I’m uneasy with lowering our evidentiary standards even more, right?

It’s conflicting. We don’t want a dumb preppie reactionary on the Supreme Court. On the other hand the only way to stop him is seemingly to toss all rules of evidence right out the window, ensuring that an even larger quantity of innocent black and brown men will spend their lives in prison than already are, if these evidentiary standards are more broadly applied.

Is it worth it? After all, anyone Trump nominates will certainly vote the vast majority of the time with the conservatives, just as Kavanaugh will. The Justice being replaced, Kennedy, was the Official Swing Vote, but he didn’t vote with the liberals on Bush v Gore or the attempted Obamacare repeal or many other issues of importance to liberals, and he voted with the conservatives on some decisions regarding abortion restrictions. He was good on LGBT rights. What are the chances that The Resistance can hold out for another Kennedy? That’s almost impossible to predict. Interestingly, Kavanaugh clerked for Kennedy. Did some of Kennedy’s “swing” views rub off on Kananaugh or is he just what he appears?

34

Fake Dave 10.06.18 at 1:02 am

@ Engels 28

That Atlantic article has been making the rounds, but I don’t really get what it’s actually supposed to prove. The quotes are mainly from a fairly small number of committed Republican activists. Not even just rank-and-file conservative women, but people who are personally and directly invested in their party’s political projects. It’s basically exactly what you would expect people in that situation to say. Admittedly, there has also been a lot of quoting of Democratic activists saying Democratic activist stuff as well, but I also don’t consider that to be much of a story.

If the point is to prove that not all women are liberal feminists and some might even strongly disagree with liberals and feminists, I’d like to give the Atlantic kudos for cracking the case. If the point is to suggest some sort of broad-based backlash among conservative women in general though, they probably should talk to people who aren’t in the business of actively trying to shape media narratives.

35

cassander 10.06.18 at 1:08 am

>I think Kavanaugh has shown himself to be unfit for appointment to the Supreme Court. Here’s why.

You thought Kavanaugh was unfit before all this, so that’s neither suprising nor particularly relevant.

>I basically thought that Blasey Ford’s testimony was credible enough that the Republicans should appoint someone else instead on the basis of that evidence alone.

What evidence? She can’t even remember what year the supposed incident happened in.

>If I’m looking to hire someone for a very important job, and I have very good reason based on credible evidence to believe he did something very bad and is unrepentant, it’s okay for me to use that credible evidence as a basis to choose a different candidate,

We don’t have credible evidence. We have a totally unfalsifiable accusation 30 years after the fact. If I showed up outside the window of your next job interview and started screaming that you had groped me back in highschool, I doubt you would agree you shouldn’t be hired.

>It’s easy to think that Kavanaugh’s behavior is just how someone would respond to a false accusation. But it’s not how someone should respond, when the accusation is credible, when others are doing right by taking it seriously, and once the accused has had the chance to compose himself and to remind himself that it’s nothing personal that some don’t automatically dismiss the allegation.

This amounts to saying “We falsely smeared you as a gang rapist in front of the entire world, but y0u mad bro?” It’s ridiculous.

>On Tuesday, our president publicly mocked a woman who credibly claims to be a victim of sexual assault.

You keep using this word, credible. The word you actually mean is “not immediately disprovable”, and the accurate term is unfalsifiable. Because that’s what’s been made, accusations so vague they can’t possibly be disproven, in a way most calculated to gin up political reaction. And you’re painting the people opposed to this witch hunt as the bad guys.

36

ph 10.06.18 at 1:10 am

Hi Gina. I enjoyed your OP, particularly the effort you made in questioning your own neutrality, and in your subsequent response to comments. Nice work. I agree with @3 and with the comments re: theater. Twas exactly that. Ford quite naturally wanted to maintain her privacy. Why was Ford dragged before the cameras? Feinstein had her letter in July and said nothing even to other Dems until the last minute.

Twas a spectacle designed primarily by partisans who did what they could to avoid any real investigation of the facts until the very last minute, facts be damned. The media is openly biased against the administration and that hostility bled into the coverage, with Flake being ambushed by ‘protesters’ with the cameras close by.

As for the rally and Trump, what did you expect? You’re wrong, imo, to believe Trump and his supporters are consumed with rage. We’re not. We’re delighted with his successes. Ford should never have been put in front of the cameras by the Democrats. Unless, of course, Dems understand full-well exactly how Trump et al might respond.

BK (and his family) were dragged right into the middle of this Show Trial where his guilt was assumed, maligned as a pedophile in the press for coaching his young daughter’s basketball team, and you’re surprised/put off he didn’t adhere to normal standards of decorum?

37

ph 10.06.18 at 1:26 am

Emily Yoffe at the Atlantic – the best piece I’ve read to date on this…

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/10/brett-kavanaugh-and-problem-believesurvivors/572083/

38

anon 10.06.18 at 1:58 am

It is so hard to understand that as Election Day comes closer the polls are tightening up. What a remarkable occurrence! It only seems to happen every other year.

The cause for it this time is .

39

Kurt Schuler 10.06.18 at 2:05 am

“Kavanaugh’s behavior in response to the inquiry gives us a completely independent, completely adequate reason to think he is unqualified for this job. “

No. In this situation he is not a judge, his is the accused. I would expect someone falsely accused to be hopping mad about it. If you want evidence of his behavior as a judge, he has written nearly 300 opinions. You don’t refer to a single one, nor do you refer to anything else he has written. You can start here:

http://www.loc.gov/law/find/kavanaugh.phpfd

You talk about feeling like you are living in a different reality. That is how I feel when you omit anything about Kavanaugh’s long record as a judge. It makes me suspect that either you know nothing about it or you have no coherent criticism of it. Something like this, for instance, with more detail and more deeply argued, would be a worthwhile contribution to debate:

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/Why-does-a-Republican-oppose-Kavanaugh-The-13279461.php

40

bad Jim 10.06.18 at 2:12 am

There is no question that Kavanaugh lied about the legality of his drinking. He claimed that the drinking age in Maryland was 18. By the time he turned 18, it was 21. All the while he was treasurer of the 100 keg club he was underage.

There is a legal dictum, which Kavanaugh is said to have cited in an opinion, that the testimony of a witness who has lied does not merit belief.

41

bad Jim 10.06.18 at 2:40 am

The most comprehensive article on the subject, widely cited but absent from this thread, is by Nathan J. Robinson, at Current Affairs: How We Know Kavanaugh Is Lying.

42

John Quiggin 10.06.18 at 2:59 am

From the Repub point of view, the perceived short term benefit of sticking it to the Dems seem to have outweighed the long term cost in the next round of the culture wars, over abortion, that is presumably* the object of the exercise. Overturning Roe v Wade will be done with a majority relying votes of Thomas and Kavanaugh, which doesn’t seem like a promising start to implement radical change on this issue.

*Kennedy was pretty rightwing on most economic issues, AFAICT, so the shift doesn’t seem likely to be all that sharp, whichever conservative Repub was appointed.

43

Raven Onthill 10.06.18 at 3:40 am

Cook County lawyer Jack Leyhane on judicial temperament: https://leyhane.blogspot.com/2012/10/a-few-words-about-judicial-temperament.html

I’ve appeared in front of judges who had awful temperament… and were good judges… and I’ve appeared in front of judges who were the distilled essence of excellent judicial temperament… and were terrible judges.

He doesn’t regard temperament as the most important thing about a judge though as counsel before the bar he appreciates it.

Read the whole thing – it’s interesting.

44

Collin Street 10.06.18 at 3:47 am

Overturning Roe v Wade will be done with a majority relying votes of Thomas and Kavanaugh, which doesn’t seem like a promising start to implement radical change on this issue.

Sure, but “ignoring the second-order and systemic impacts of a person’s actions and presuming that they act against a constant background situation” is pretty much universal for right-wingers, as I’m pretty sure I’ve set out before.
+ reputation costs get ignored [“they won’t trust us next time”]
+ displacement effects get ignored [“they’ll go somewhere else”]
+ opportunity costs get ignored [“if we invade russia we won’t be able to sustain operations in the west”]
+ motivation costs on the enemy get ignored [“once everyone who [currently] resists us is dead there will be no opposition”]
+ systemic collective-action/coordination effects get ignored [“my cutting my carbon emissions won’t have much effect on global carbon emissions, so nobody should bother”]

And a potential explantion for all this is that they don’t really understand that the rest-of-the-world is made up of individual actors just like them. It’s them as actors and all of us just make up the undistinguished / fungible background.

[it is beyond obvious that there is something severely wrong with Brett Kavafuckhisname, just as it’s beyond obvious that there’s something equally-severely wrong with Donald Trump, with Boris Johnson, with Tony Abbott, with Ted Cruz, with… well, all the people pointed out to us as leaders of the Right. We’re doing nobody any favours if we pretend that what we see is within the bounds of normal behaviour.]

45

nastywoman 10.06.18 at 4:13 am

and –
”NRATV host Dan Bongino went on a tear Friday about the drama between Democrats and Republicans over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, declaring: “My entire life right now is about owning the libs.”
After baselessly arguing that Democrats didn’t even read the FBI investigation of Kavanaugh and questioning whether Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) looked confident, Bongino said that he is dedicated to “owning the libs.”
“That’s it. The libs, because they have shown themselves through this Kavanaugh abomination of a process to be ― I’m talking about the libs on Capitol Hill and sadly some of these radical groups ― to be pure, unadulterated evil, what they did to this guy,” he said.
“You have to lose, I’m sorry. We win, you lose, the new rules are in effect. My life is all about owning the libs now. We have got to get this guy appointed on the Supreme Court.”
With those words, Bongino effectively became a living, breathing meme ― the face of the right-wing phrase “own the libs.”
In July, Eve Peyser in Rolling Stone described the concept of “owning the libs” as “blatant self-sabotage for dumb political reasons.” She wrote, “To ‘own’ someone on the internet is to dominate and humiliate them, and the ‘libs’ can loosely be defined as anyone to the left of Sean Hannity.”
Peyser said the phrase “own the libs” came about in 2015 when someone “tweeted at Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, attaching a photo of himself lying face down in a dumpster.” User @randygdub then tweeted, “Thinking about the one guy who laid down in a dumpster to own libs online and hoping ted cruz does it too.”

So our whole life right now is about owning the a… holes – and the backlash to the backlash of the Republicans will be totally awesome – That’s it., because they have shown themselves through this Kavanaugh abomination of a process to be ― I’m talking about the Republicans on Capitol Hill and sadly some of these radical right wing groups ― to be pure, unadulterated evil, what they did to US.
They ultimately have to lose, I’m sorry.
We will win ultimately,
They lose, the newer rules will be in effect and I#m young enough to see it through –
They had to get this guy appointed on the Supreme Court.”

And we will ”own them” totally and absolutely!

46

nastywoman 10.06.18 at 4:53 am

and
@35
”You thought Kavanaugh was unfit before all this, so that’s neither suprising nor particularly relevant”.

How true – as in this case the ”game of evidence” has just became ”a game” not unlike the drinking games of ”Little Boys behaving badly” – and the question if Blasey Ford’s testimony was credible enough – that the Republicans should appoint someone else instead on the basis of that evidence alone” is just an excuse for ”Little Boys behaving badly”

And as there are so many ””Little Boys behaving badly” in my homeland – and they even have these girlfriends and wives who might not agree – but anywhoo wear ”their mens hats” -(if you know what I mean) – WE finally have to… ”spank” them really hard –

All of them – from the erected President down to Bart.
-(if you know what I mean?)-

– and afterwards – in a few years – when THEY finally start to understand ”what had happened” – and that it wasn’t at all about somebody ”falsely smearing somebody as a gang rapist in front of the entire world” – and that it was all about finally outing that really ”bad” behavior was ”winning” for a while in the homeland – and that ”Little Boys” thought they could get away with it – and they really – really desperately needed – to be ”witch hunted” in order to finally ”credible” behave.

And by painting the people opposed to such ”very helpful educational witch hunts” – as the bad guys – was just delaying the obvious very hard… spanking!

47

bad Jim 10.06.18 at 4:53 am

Bad as Kennedy was, he bequeathed us gay marriage.

The fear is that the latest lineup will ratchet us back to the Lochner era, cutting down the thick forestry of federal regulation planted in the New Deal and nurtured and replenished thereafter.

Kavanaugh is the Revenge of Bork, and nothing, no law, no regulation, no precedent, that shields the weak from the strong, the minority from the majority, the poor from the rich, women from men, anyone from Christians, will survive their pitiless “originalist” jurisprudence.

It’s been argued that John Roberts might moderate his stance out of concern for his legacy. We’ve seen scant evidence so far. Gutting the Voting Rights Act in the Shelby decision was gratuitous vandalism that caused immediate harm. Why suppose that shifting the court’s balance to the right will change its central tendency?

48

Raven 10.06.18 at 5:04 am

Gina, your opinion is shared by retired Justice John Paul Stevens, who was appointed to SCOTUS by Republican President Gerald Ford and served there for 34 years (1975-2010).

On Thursday Justice Stevens said that he had previously “thought (Kavanaugh) had definitely the qualifications… to sit on the Supreme Court and should be confirmed if he was ever selected… But I think that his performance during the hearings caused me to change my mind….”

(Per the NYTimes summary, ‘Judge Kavanaugh’s statements at those hearings, Justice Stevens said, revealed prejudices that would make it impossible for him to do the court’s work, a point he said had been made by prominent commentators.’)

49

nastywoman 10.06.18 at 5:10 am

and from Laura Bassett:

”On Saturday the Senate will likely confirm to the Supreme Court the kind of man many women have known or dated at some point in our lives ― the wealthy, entitled frat boy who cries, shouts and lies when you confront him with his behavior, because he has rarely had to face a consequence in his life. And that man will be the deciding vote on major abortion cases, potentially blocking access to the procedure for generations of women”.

SCREAM!!

Republicans pretended to listen to them….But ultimately, all of the party’s unease with the Me Too movement coalesced around the figure of poor, put-upon rich white guy Brett Kavanaugh. A line was being drawn. He was not going to be another guy who went down for a 30-year-old claim, no matter how credible the witness or how many lies he told under oath or how many more people came forward to support her claims….

The government cupped its hands over women’s mouths and turned the music up”.

50

hix 10.06.18 at 5:13 am

The appropiate amount of public emotion display looks like a pure cultural issue to me, not a real indicator of any on job performance skill. The US norm seems to be in general in favour of more emotions in politics than what im used to. One example outside the specifities of such public hearing theatralics would be the expectation that the president needs to do some representative public griefing after every catastrophe.

That said, those hearings are just absurd, even under normal circumstances. So for me the bigger question is not if the guy is guilty, much less how i would asses the likelyhood of guilt based on his performance or Fords performance, or my stereotypes about typical behaviour of people with his social background. Rather, the question for me is how to replace that public theatre with a better solution for everyone.

51

fgw 10.06.18 at 6:03 am

Unfortunately, this was neither a criminal court nor a job interview. A supreme court nomination is now bounty, and to the victor go the spoils. But only, of course, to put judges on the court who will realize the Founder’s intent.
Our president gave the game away when he said about Franken resigning: doing what honorable people consider to be the honorable thing is now collapsing like a wet noodle. The only surprise is how circumspect he was regarding the underlying vulgarity of what he really meant to say.
This is about Trump and McConnell sticking their genitalia in a little more than half the country’s face. Plow right through indeed.
Trump will be crowing about this “win” soon, and unlike John Quiggin I am not optimistic about a long term downside. More likely they will be rewarded with a Senate majority with not a bad chance of a third appointment.

52

engels 10.06.18 at 10:26 am

I don’t really get what it’s actually supposed to prove

I didn’t intend it to prove anything but I thought the very different attitude to anger in the OP and in the interviews was interesting for one thing.

53

Gina Schouten 10.06.18 at 11:07 am

Kurt (39) and Raven (43):
Kurt, I do know a bit about his judicial record. Enough to find plenty I don’t like about it, but not enough to want to / know how to make a case that Republicans too should dislike it. I talked about disposition because that’s what I think makes him not just a judge that Democrats should the unhappy about but a judge that is unqualified by the lights of standards we should share regardless of party.

Raven, I don’t think that disposition is the most important thing, either. I don’t think good disposition can suffice to qualify a person for the job, of course. But I do think that it can be enough to *dis*qualify.

54

Gina Schouten 10.06.18 at 11:20 am

(Both important things for me to clarify, so thanks.)

55

engels 10.06.18 at 11:37 am

I want to suggest that getting angry is a means of affectively registering or appreciating the injustice of the world, and that our capacity to get aptly angry is best compared with our capacity for aesthetic appreciation.38 Just as appreciating the beautiful or the sublime has a value distinct from the value of knowing that something is beautiful or sublime, there might well be a value to appreciating the injustice of the world through one’s apt anger—a value that is distinct from that of simply knowing that the world is unjust. Imagine a person who does everything, as it were, by the ethical book—forming all the correct moral beliefs and acting in accordance with all her moral duties—but who is left entirely cold by injustice, feeling nothing in response to those moral wrongs of which she is perfectly aware. I don’t want to say that such a person has done anything wrong. But I do think it is natural to say that there is something missing in her; indeed, that it would be better, ceteris paribus, if she were capable of feeling anger towards the injustice she knows to exist. …

http://users.ox.ac.uk/~corp1468/Research_files/Srinivasan-2017-Journal_of_Political_Philosophy%20FINAL.pdf

56

Lee A. Arnold 10.06.18 at 12:01 pm

JQ #42: “the perceived short term benefit… seems to have outweighed the long term cost”

I agree completely, although on some issues the costs may be in the very long term. Ending Roe v. Wade won’t stop abortions; it may lead to a constitutional amendment that protects reproductive rights. On other issues, ending administrative regulations of various sorts will throw voter pressure back onto the legislatures to fix the social and environmental problems more permanently, and conservative dark money won’t prevail against the voters.

Another thing that isn’t going away soon is investigation of Kavanaugh. It is widely reported that the White House restricted this final FBI background check for fear of more damage to Kavanaugh’s chances; press reporters will be following all the trails; and Congressional Democrats are eventually going to obtain his records in the Senate hacking scandal during the Bush Administration, which may show perjury for which he would still be liable.

The other long term problem is the continuing viability of the GOP. Trump looks like a dead end. The Democrats are the party of the young, of young women, of ethnic diversity, and of environmentalists and climatologists. Kavanaugh’s accession to the court will reinforce this Democratic status, sometimes starkly.

The only thing the GOP has going for it in the short term? To ride the brief wave of global financial retrenchment into the United States, which makes Trump’s supporters think that something wonderful is going on; and to take credit for the continuing recovery until the bills become due. And/or, to start another war.

57

Gina Schouten 10.06.18 at 12:21 pm

Cassander (35):
“You thought Kavanaugh was unfit before all this, so that’s neither suprising nor particularly relevant.”

I know you said a lot but I want to reply to this in particular because it’s another welcome opportunity to clarify. A lot depends on what you mean by “before.” Before what? Before the allegations I thought he would likely destroy a lot of judicial and legislative protections that I regard as very important. I thought he would make decisions that would make our society less just. But I wouldn’t have said that’s disqualifying in this context. Before his oral testimony but after hers, I thought he had probably done what she said but that I didn’t *know* that, and anyway reasonable people could certainly disagree and that we should look deeper but would almost certainly find no proof. After his testimony I thought we had sufficient reason to think him guilty to justify giving the job to someone else. But after his testimony I also thought there was the independent reason—the one we should ALL get behind—that I try to bring forth in the post.

But. I don’t see why the matter of what I thought when should make the *argument* irrelevant. Surely one can come to have a new reason for thinking something one already believed to be true? And surely that new reason can be a different kind of reason than one had previously—in this case, one that doesn’t depend on ideology for its recognition.

58

nastywoman 10.06.18 at 12:49 pm

or by
Dolores Huerta and Andrea Nill Sanchez:

The Brett Kavanaugh Vote Was A Test Of Machismo, Not Politics

…Machismo is more than just sexism, chauvinism or even misogyny; it’s the belief that men are superior to women. It also refers to the culture that enforces that belief, one which protects male domination and social standing through subjugation, stereotypes and a gentlemen’s agreement to have one another’s backs”.

And this ”culture” has to be destroyed –
Totally –
Absolutely –
with a lot of ”hot-headedness”!

59

Lynne 10.06.18 at 5:48 pm

Dr. Smantha Nutt is a physician and founder of War CHild Canada/USA. She wrote in today’s Globe and Mail. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-lessons-women-are-asking-men-to-learn/#_=_

60

engels 10.06.18 at 6:06 pm

Barbara Ehrenreich on Twitter: “A liberal I know bemoans the possibility that Kavanaugh will discredit the entire Supreme Court. Actually, that’s exactly what I’m hoping for. The presidency has been discredited. Why not SCOTUS? As some of the more intemperate among us used to say in the 60s, Tear it all down!”
https://mobile.twitter.com/B_Ehrenreich/status/1048608057167699969

61

Murc 10.06.18 at 8:10 pm

@35 Wow, there’s a lot of bad faith ridiculousness here.

What evidence? She can’t even remember what year the supposed incident happened in.

So what? I would have to sit down with a calendar to work out what year a lot of stuff that undoubtedly happened to me in high school happened in, and some of those things I wouldn’t be able to pin to a specific year. Doesn’t mean they didn’t happen, or that I couldn’t produce people to corroborate them.

We don’t have credible evidence. We have a totally unfalsifiable accusation 30 years after the fact.

Many accusations are unfalsifiable. What’s that got to do with anything?

And you’re wrong here. We don’t have an accusation. We have three. Where I come from, we call that a pattern. Dare I say, even an investigable pattern.

Because that’s what’s been made, accusations so vague they can’t possibly be disproven

Even if we accepted this, which we shouldn’t, because you’re wrong on so many levels, there’s still Kavanaugh’s relentless perjury before the committee, and his shadow financial dealings. The perjury by itself should disqualify him. The financial dealings should be investigated, thoroughly, and the end result of that investigation would almost certainly be MORE perjury is discovered.

62

Murc 10.06.18 at 8:20 pm

@36

Ford quite naturally wanted to maintain her privacy. Why was Ford dragged before the cameras? Feinstein had her letter in July and said nothing even to other Dems until the last minute.

What this has to do with anything of substance, I can’t imagine.

Twas a spectacle designed primarily by partisans who did what they could to avoid any real investigation of the facts until the very last minute, facts be damned.

By “partisans” you mean “Republicans.” They are the ones who have refused to investigate anything about Kavanaugh at all, and continue to do so. It is the Democrats who insist that Kavanaugh be fully vetted, as befits a nominee to the Supreme Court.

The media is openly biased against the administration

One, this isn’t true. Two, if it WERE true, the Trump Administration’s actions have made it worthy of bias. It’s myriad calumnies and enormities would absolutely justify bias against it. When someone repeatedly demonstrates themselves unworthy of trust, decency, or basic humanity, you should become biased against them going forward.

and that hostility bled into the coverage, with Flake being ambushed by ‘protesters’ with the cameras close by.

You have placed protestors in scare quotes. Why?

You’re wrong, imo, to believe Trump and his supporters are consumed with rage. We’re not. We’re delighted with his successes.

Which makes you bad people who support bad things.

Ford should never have been put in front of the cameras by the Democrats. Unless, of course, Dems understand full-well exactly how Trump et al might respond.

It is not the responsibility of others to stop Trump from doing monstrous things. It is Trump’s responsibility to not behave monstrously.

BK (and his family) were dragged right into the middle of this Show Trial where his guilt was assumed,

Perhaps an actual investigation would prove or disprove the accusations of the multiple accusers who have stepped forward.

Of course. That would leave the perjury, which by itself makes Kavanaugh a dirtbag.

maligned as a pedophile in the press for coaching his young daughter’s basketball team,

You got multiple links there, buddy?

I am doubtful you could produce a single press outlet that’s done that, and even if you could, you can find a single press outlet for a lot of outrageous claims. That doesn’t necessarily mean “the press” is responsible.

and you’re surprised/put off he didn’t adhere to normal standards of decorum?

Adhering to standards is part of the job he’s interviewing for.

63

Raven 10.06.18 at 8:25 pm

Lee A. Arnold @ 56: “Ending Roe v. Wade won’t stop abortions; it may lead to a constitutional amendment that protects reproductive rights.”

Or perhaps, more generally, an Equal Rights Amendment to assure that women are treated equally under law to men, e.g. with regard to bodily autonomy? Oh wait, that’s been tried, and is still hanging fire, still not ratified by enough states. What chance then, that the same states which have been busily closing up the abortion facilities they do have will choose to ratify an ‘amendment that protects reproductive rights’?

64

anon/portly 10.06.18 at 8:48 pm

The comment above that resonates with me is 39. If Kavanaugh has been a judge all these years, suddenly this one short period of testimony is what matters? I can’t see this as a worthwhile argument in trying to persuade anyone who wasn’t previously disposed to vote against Kavanaugh to change their mind. If he lacks the proper “temperament” or disposition to be a judge, surely the best evidence for this would be in his long record as a judge.

Maybe if every Supreme Court nominee faced a charge, which they were certain was false, and about which charge they were as inwardly distressed as Kavanaugh, then we could see how he handled it, relative to the others. But we lack that information.

For me the better argument, if one is trying to convince a Republican Senator to vote against Kavanaugh, is that the whole thing hasn’t been investigated seriously. You’ve got people – even Democratic Senators, I think – taking arguments like the ones referenced in 41 seriously, like they really have value. I’m supposed to be confident that I know Kavanaugh’s percentile value wrt to statistics like “time spent between the ages of 17 and 20 at or above intoxication level x?” Why? Because of evidence along the lines of high-school yearbook entries? (Not to mention that I’m supposed to know what Kavanaugh’s percentile value for that statistic is supposed to imply, vis-à-vis his behavior and memory, let alone his integrity and character then or now).

But if the Republicans agreed to bring up the whole Ford matter in the first place, then it should have been taken seriously. It seems very unlikely to me that if Ford’s allegation is true that Kavanaugh wouldn’t have behaved similarly at other times. I think having little more to go on wrt whether Kavanaugh is lying than subjective impressions of credibility is a valid reason to vote no. It doesn’t have to be so, not necessarily. The weakest part of his Senate performance, to me, was when someone asked him if he, Kavanaugh, wanted further investigation and he ducked the question. It’s too bad that this point wasn’t addressed to him in a more thorough and determined and perhaps subtle and thoughtful way.

65

engels 10.06.18 at 10:10 pm

Jeremy Waldron (@JeremyJWaldron) tweeted at 5:37 PM – 6 Oct 2018 :
How now will signatories to the law professors’ letter treat “Justice” Kavanaugh? Business as usual for clerkships, invitations to speak, etc?as though the content of the letter was just something we all said during nomination process, not to be taken seriously afterwards (http://twitter.com/JeremyJWaldron/status/1048598037705252864?s=17)

66

Cranky Observer 10.07.18 at 12:09 am

https://www.businessinsider.com/brett-kavanaugh-opening-statement-transcript-senate-christine-ford-2018-9
“This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about president trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record. Revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups. This is a circus. The consequences will extend long past my nomination. The consequences will be with us for decades.
[…]
For decades to come I fear the country will reap the whirlwind. The behavior of several of the Democratic members of this committee at my hearing a few weeks ago was an embarrassment, but at least it was a good old-fashioned attempt at working. Those efforts didn’t work. When I did at least okay enough at the hearings that it looked like I might actually get confirmed a new tactic was needed. Some of you were lying in wait and had it ready.
This first allegation was held in secret for weeks by a Democratic member of this committee and by staff. It would be needed only if you couldn’t take me out on the merit. When it was needed this allegation was unleashed and publicly deployed over Dr. Ford’s wishes. And then — and then as no-doubt was expected if not planned, came a long series of false, last-minute smears designed to scare me and drive me out of the process before any hearing occurred, crazy stuff, gangs, illegitimate children, fights on boats in Rhode Island, all nonsense reported breathlessly and often uncritically by the media. This has destroyed my family and my good name. A good name built up through decades of very hard work and public service at the highest levels of the American government.”

I suppose reasonable people may differ, anon/portly, but for a Supreme Court nominee to (a) refer to “revenge on behalf of the Clintons given (i) his own actions during the Starr/Gingrich affair (ii) having been appointed by a President who claims ‘she’ll [candidate Secretary Clinton] be in prison and instigates chants of “lock her up” at his rallies (rallies?!? – for a sitting President?) (b) utters several falsehoods concerning the manner in which the allegations were made public then claims an “orchestrated political hit… by Democrats” has indeed forfeited any claim to having a judicial temperament.

Although to me personally anyone who must claim and proclaim loudly that he possesses admirable trait A almost certainly does not possess that trait, in any case.

67

mclaren 10.07.18 at 12:48 am

You people are using logic and reason to explain what’s going on with the Kavanaugh hearings. What’s going on is the victory of fascism. That has nothing to do with logic and reason.
Kavanaugh was picked in order to force the bottom 90% of the proles to realize that the oligarchs are in charge. Kavnaugh was picked because of his attempted rape, not despite it. Kavanaugh was picked because he’s a viciously sadistic blackout drunk, not despite his angry drunken violence. Kavanaugh was picked to prove to the American people that their rage and revulsion against being brutalized means nothing, and that our masters can do anything they want, any time they way, and we proles are utterly powerless to do a thing about it.
Look, liberalism has been defeated. It’s on the run. Democrats have lost 1000+ elected offices over the last 8 years and they lost the presidency twice even though the majority vote favored the Democratic presidential candidate.
Having been defeated, leftists find themselves in the “pursuit phase” of combat. The pursuit phase occurs when the defeated enemy is on the run and the victorious army now accelerates the attack. The goal? Not just to defeat the enemy but to annihilate ’em. Wipe ’em out.
The pursuit phase is the point of the battle when the fleeing soldiers get shot in the back, blasted with artillery rounds as they try to flee, napalmed and blown up with cluster bombs by close air support as they frantically attempt to run away. Remember the “highway of death” in Desert Storm in 1991? Giant traffic jam of fleeing Iraqi soldiers getting blasted into hamburger by A-10 warthogs and M1A1 tanks and pursuing U.S. mobile infantry?
That’s what the Kavanaugh hearing is. The oligarchs are now in control of America, the fascists have won, so it’s time for the pursuit phase. The goal is not to win — they already did that. The object is now to break the American people, the way a 13-year-old girl gets broken when human traffickers turn her into a whore.
The goal here is to utterly demoralize the American people, to break their will, to destroy their willingness to resist. You do this by degrading the victim to the utmost possible degree, in every possible way. Human traffickers beat their victims, rape them around the clock non-stop with a gang of burly thugs, burn the girls with cigarette butts, force the victims to lick toilet bowls clean, they piss in the victim’s mouth and rape them with foreign objects. The goal is to destroy the victim, to turn her into a piece of meat, to wreck her image of herself until she thinks of herself as nothing, a lump of flesh, not even human.
That’s what’s going on with the Kavanaugh hearings. The fascists want the American people to think of themselves as lumps of flesh, utterly without agency. We are peons to be used and abused by the rich and powerful as they like. If the Kavanaughs of the world want to rape us, that’s their prerogative. If the Kavanaughs of the world want to put out cigarettes in our eyes, that’s their right — we have nothing to say about it. If the Kavanaughs of the world demand we lick their toilet bowls clean, then we must do it…and afterwards we must thank the Kavanaughs of the world for giving us this wonderful opportunity. “Thank you sir, may I have another?”
Like breaking a political prisoner or breaking some underage girl kidnapped into a brothel, the goal here is to break the American people. Facsists don’t just want obedience: they want total submission, absolute dominance, they want the proles to whimper their gratitude when the fascists beat and kill and starve them.
It’s going to get much worse. This is only the start. The barricades set up around the Supreme Court tell us that the oligarchs eagerly anticipate unleashing riot-armored muggers with badges against demonstrators. We’ll see so many women getting clubbed and tased and beaten and having their arms and legs broken and their eyes gouged out and their teeth smashed in, the Marquis de Sade would have a spontaneous orgasm. It’s all part of the program: breaking the will of the American people, forcing them to submit totally, crushing the spirit of the average American until s/he thinks of herself as nothing but a helpless piece of meat, a nonentity, a piece of human trash that can be disposed of without a thought.

68

cassander 10.07.18 at 2:32 am

@61

>So what? I would have to sit down with a calendar to work out what year a lot of stuff that undoubtedly happened to me in high school happened in, and some of those things I wouldn’t be able to pin to a specific year. Doesn’t mean they didn’t happen, or that I couldn’t produce people to corroborate them.

And if you’re trying to remember whether you asked out Cindy in 1997 or 1998, that’s fine. If you’re going to publicly accuse someone of a heinous crime, you should take the time to get your ducks in order if you want anyone to take you seriously.

>Many accusations are unfalsifiable. What’s that got to do with anything?

If I showed up at your job and accused you of raping someone, at some point, in the last 20 years, I’d rightly be shown out the door by security. If I accused you of raping me back when we were in high school together, the police might hear me out, but they’d stop listening once I told them I didn’t even know what year it happened. This is a good thing, or at least it is if you value the idea that guilt must be proven. Apparently you don’t.

>And you’re wrong here. We don’t have an accusation. We have three. Where I come from, we call that a pattern. Dare I say, even an investigable pattern.

The only pattern is that each one is even less credible, less specific, and less falsifiable than the last.

>The perjury by itself should disqualify him. The financial dealings should be investigated, thoroughly, and the end result of that investigation would almost certainly be MORE perjury is discovered.

I would absolutely love to know what you think of bill clinton’s perjury and financial dealings. Somehow I doubt you’ll treat them the same.

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J-D 10.07.18 at 2:46 am

Lee A. Arnold

Trump looks like a dead end.

I can’t figure out what this is supposed to mean. Is there any chance you could clarify the statement?

70

arcseconds 10.07.18 at 2:47 am

cassander @ 35 :

The word you actually mean is “not immediately disprovable”, and the accurate term is unfalsifiable

‘Unfalsifiable’ is a term from Karl Popper’s philosophy of science, and refers to theories or statements that no possible evidence can disprove. It does not mean statements for which there happens to be no disproving evidence, or statements that are difficult to disprove. Ford’s testimony is certainly falsifiable in this sense, e.g. diaries and calendars that show that Ford and Kavanaugh were actually never at parties together, credible witnesses and textual evidence that Ford studiously avoided all parties and drinking, someone could actually produce a Kavanaugh look-alike who lived in the area and is actually a convicted rapist, and a credible witness saying he was at a party Ford attended and went into a bedroom with her, etc.

While not strictly falsifying the statement, Ford herself could be substantially discredited if it turned out she commonly made demonstratably false accusations of sexual assault.

If I showed up outside the window of your next job interview and started screaming that you had groped me back in highschool,

I’m assuming you did not actually go highschool with Gina, and probably you’re completely different ages and lived thousands of miles apart, so this would seem to be pretty disanalogous to the case in question. It’s also a completely made up example which — I’m guessing — never actually happens (someone stalking someone else they barely know to a job interview in order to scream a false accusation of sexual assault), so I’m wondering what light this casts onto anything. I suggest there are more parallels with other examples of abuse that happened some time ago which are only reported later, which are taken seriously by courts. Pedophilic priests and institutional abuse in children’s home spring to mind.

Ford’s actions seem to me to be best explained by her actually being assaulted by Kavanaguh. What’s your explanation for them?

I couldn’t tell you the exact dates or even year of when I went to Japan, or the occasion I was seriously assaulted, or
What evidence? She can’t even remember what year the supposed incident happened in.

This is perfectly normal. Most people do not remember the exact year or dates of many significant events that happened to them.

Lots and lots of crimes are successfully prosecuted on the basis of nothing more than the victim’s say so. They pick the person who assaulted them out of a line-up, etc. Are you proposing that this is always an insufficient standard?

If so, doesn’t this give a free reign to sexual predators? All they need to do is to make sure there are not seen by anyone other than the victim. If they know each other (which they normally do) physical evidence probably doesn’t tell you much.

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bad Jim 10.07.18 at 5:10 am

Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable, but juries tend to find it convincing, except, of course, when sexual assault is alleged. This is odd. It ought to be the other way around. We aren’t good at identifying strangers, especially in a brief encounter, and especially if they’re of a different race, but we’re very good at identifying people we know.

Personal accounts are given undue weight: claim that somebody got a flu shot and turned into a teenage werewolf, or that a friend of a friend was cured of cancer with coffee enemas and copious consumption of juiced vegetables, and people will believe you, even though the events involved are rare and the mechanisms inferred are implausible.

Claims of assault of a sexual nature, which are known to be commonplace and whose causes are well understood, tend to be viewed much more skeptically.

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nastywoman 10.07.18 at 5:50 am

and this fromm the NYT:
”Christine Blasey Ford had just finished testifying that he had tried to force himself on her as a teenager, and nearly everyone in both camps found her credible, sincere and sympathetic. President Trump called Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, and they agreed she was impressive. “We’re only at halftime,” Mr. McConnell said, trying to be reassuring.

Mr. Trump thought it was time to bring in the F.B.I. to investigate, as many opponents of Judge Kavanaugh had urged, but when he called the Hart Building, Donald F. McGahn II, his White House counsel, refused to take the call. Instead, Mr. McGahn cleared the room and sat down with Judge Kavanaugh and his wife, Ashley Kavanaugh. The only way to save his nomination, Mr. McGahn said, was to show the senators how he really felt, to channel his outrage and indignation at the charges he had denied.

Judge Kavanaugh did not need convincing. He was brimming with rage and resentment, so when he went before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he did not hold back. His fire-and-fury performance — “you have replaced ‘advice and consent’ with search and destroy” — suddenly turned the tables. While Democrats thought he went too far, demoralized Republicans were emboldened again. In their war room, White House aides watching on television cheered and pumped their fists”.

That’s what we are dealing with – and that’s why WE it might be very helpful to show a lot more how we ”feel”.

73

Raven 10.07.18 at 6:11 am

arcseconds @ 68: “If so, doesn’t this give a free reign to sexual predators? All they need to do is to make sure the[y] are not seen by anyone other than the victim.”

Bingo. … This is enhanced when the attackers are plural, and can then vouch for each other, i.e. the implicit threat to the victim is “Our word outnumbers yours; if you say anything, we’ll both/all call you a liar!” (Incentive for the victim to remain silent.)

Another enhancer is being an authority figure, even simply of a higher social rank. You may recall the prior political figure brought into controversy for past sexual assaults on girls, recent Senate candidate and former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, had been (at the time of the alleged assaults) a 30-something assistant DA, well-positioned to intimidate 14- and 16-y.o. victims into silence.

Do you think other victims and abusers (present and future), seeing how Dr. Blasey Ford has been treated, threatened with violence at home, accused of conspiracy by Senators and the new Justice-nominee, mocked by the President of the United States, have not made notes to themselves of how revelations are likely to be received concerning abuse by authority figures? Will this encourage or discourage abusers?

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Lee A. Arnold 10.07.18 at 11:39 am

J-D #67: “clarify”

Long term trends. I meant that Trump does not appeal to the voters who will dominate in the not-so-distant future, and the GOP will need them: younger people, women, urbanites, people who want healthcare, people who would rather be sure that allegations sexual assault are fully investigated.

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Lynne 10.07.18 at 1:36 pm

Raven @ 73. Exactly. Whenever there is an event that discourages victims from coming forward, that event is also encouraging abusers. And let’s face it, there are already men who expect to get away with much more than they should. The Blasey Ford-Kavanaugh fiasco reinforces their belief.

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Lee A. Arnold 10.07.18 at 3:33 pm

Raven #63: “What chance then, that the same states…will choose to ratify an ‘amendment that protects reproductive rights’?”

I am well aware of the ERA and I am under no illusions about how difficult it will be! Note that if SCOTUS overturns Roe v. Wade, abortion rights will likely revert to state level, with some states forbidding it, some allowing it. So the political battle will initially be at the state level, which is also where Constitutional amendments are finally approved.

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anon/portly 10.07.18 at 7:28 pm

66 I suppose reasonable people may differ, anon/portly, but for a Supreme Court nominee to (a) refer to “revenge on behalf of the Clintons given (i) his own actions during the Starr/Gingrich affair (ii) having been appointed by a President who claims ‘she’ll [candidate Secretary Clinton] be in prison and instigates chants of “lock her up” at his rallies (rallies?!? – for a sitting President?) (b) utters several falsehoods concerning the manner in which the allegations were made public then claims an “orchestrated political hit… by Democrats” has indeed forfeited any claim to having a judicial temperament.

To me the question raised by the OP is not whether we should think Kavanaugh lacks judicial temperament, but whether his performance before the Senate makes this an argument “we should ALL get behind,” as GS says in 57.

I grant that it’s a an argument with some validity, but I don’t think it’s an argument that anti-Kavanaugh people should expect pro-Kavanaugh people to find very convincing.

Remember, the argument is that even if Kavanaugh is innocent, his reaction to the false charge disqualifies him. It’s immediately apparent to me that a pro-Kavanaugh person would find this a little suspicious – sort of a “heads I win, tails I win” type argument.

Although I think Kavanaugh came off poorly, I also think the situation was extreme and unusual, and Kavanaugh has to be cut some slack (again, presupposing he’s telling the truth, of course). I would vote against any nominee who held a “Fox News” type worldview, simply on the basis of lack of intellectual competence, but I don’t expect people who hold that worldview to agree with me.

I brought up the “yearbook” evidence in 64 without maybe a good reason to bring it up, so let me bring it up again. Suppose I was endeavoring to convince a right-wing friend to be more anti-Trump (a real-life situation for me the past couple of years, as it happens). Suppose this friend said to me, “this whole thing isn’t about “the truth,’ it’s about throwing anything at Kavanaugh that might stick, or work.” Then he showed me the picture of the Democratic Senators sitting next to a blow-up of Kavanaugh’s yearbook page. What am I supposed say to him?

To me the idea the “disposition” argument is too close, or too indistinguishable, from an “anything that might stick or work” type argument to make the “we should ALL get behind” it point realistic or persuasive. I’ve read that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been critical of Trump in public remarks. Suppose at some point she gets a little hot under the collar and makes some remarks that could be interpreted as “intemperate” by Trump supporters. Would this be a valid argument that she has the wrong disposition to be a judge? That’s ridiculous, her long record as a judge tells us that, regardless of her personal political views.

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engels 10.07.18 at 8:19 pm

79

J-D 10.07.18 at 10:23 pm

Lee A. Arnold

I hope I don’t seem as if I’m nagging about this, but your meaning is still not clear to me.

When I read what you wrote about how Trump does not appeal, I reflect that there are many voters who have negative attitudes towards Trump, but it’s not clear to me whether you mean:
that this will affect how they vote when Trump is a candidate;
or that this will affect how they vote for as long as Trump is President;
or that this will affect how they vote even after Trump has left politics.

When I read what you wrote about how the Republicans need those voters, the ones you refer to who have negative attitudes towards Trump, it’s not clear to me what you are asserting about the effect of these voters’ attitudes on the election results achieved by Republicans.

It seems to me practically certain that a significant number of voters will be discouraged from voting for other candidates of his party because of their negative attitudes towards Trump, but I think something similar has been true of the majority of US Presidents so it doesn’t seem to me that the observation would justify describing Trump as a ‘dead end’. After all, it also seems to me practically certain that a significant number of voters will be encourage to vote for other candidates of his party because of their positive attitudes towards Trump.

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Lee A. Arnold 10.08.18 at 3:06 am

J-D #79, A “significant number of voters” is not necessarily a winning number for the GOP to count upon. Trump voters were already numerically smaller in 2016 than Clinton voters. The GOP has been taken over by Trump but the future belongs to young, diverse, and environmental voters, a large majority of whom are not responding to the policies nor the style. Kavanaugh ensures that their memories will be continually refreshed.

E.g. if Roe v. Wade is overturned the deciding vote will be from a man who stands credibly accused of attempting to cause an unwanted pregnancy. Nominated by Trump and confirmed by Republicans who avoided answering why Kavanaugh’s other obvious lies don’t reflect on his credibility about Ford. It’s not a court case; they don’t need “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

81

J-D 10.08.18 at 3:41 am

Lee A. Arnold

A “significant number of voters” is not necessarily a winning number for the GOP to count upon.

I know it isn’t, and I didn’t suggest it was, so I don’t understand why you are making this point.

Trump voters were already numerically smaller in 2016 than Clinton voters.

Strange as it may seem, that is another fact I was already aware of. More people voted for Hillary Clinton than voted for Donald Trump; but even though that was true, it’s still Donald Trump who’s living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, isn’t it?

The GOP has been taken over by Trump but the future belongs to young, diverse, and environmental voters, a large majority of whom are not responding to the policies nor the style.

I don’t understand what you mean by ‘the future belongs’ to them. Is that the same thing as asserting that they will carry future elections, or is it different?

If you mean that there are some indicators that are encouraging for opponents of the Republican Party, then I agree that’s true, but it’s still not clear to me whether you intend a stronger claim.

82

nastywoman 10.08.18 at 3:44 am

– and what did Von Clownstick say?
He only heard women who were ”furios” about what has been done to the Frat Boy.
That proves that WE who are furious what had ben done to US – were not loud enough.

That we haven’t been hot-headed enough!
That we haven’t yelle at the Frat Boys loud enough!

But that’s going to change – with the help of some ”sisters” who even changed ”apples policies” in 24 hours!

83

nastywoamn 10.08.18 at 4:04 am

”The crowd in front of the U.S. Supreme Court is tiny, looks like about 200 people (& most are onlookers) – that wouldn’t even fill the first couple of rows of our Kansas Rally, or any of our Rallies for that matter! The Fake News Media tries to make it look sooo big, & it’s not”!

tweeted von Clownstick – while he has not even 2/3 of Taylor Swifts twitter followers.

84

Raven 10.08.18 at 6:19 am

nastywoman @ 83: Yes, well, Trump’s (lack of) competence and impartiality as a crowd-size-estimator was well and fully demonstrated by his comparison of Inauguration Day crowd sizes between his own and Obama’s first Inauguration Days, whereof he asserted his own had the much greater crowd (it clearly did not, per photos). Whoever chooses to believe his estimates at this point must already be a committed True Believer.

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Lee A. Arnold 10.08.18 at 9:51 am

J-D #81: “I know it isn’t, and I didn’t suggest it was… Strange as it may seem, that is another fact I was already aware of. …it’s still not clear to me whether you intend a stronger claim.”

Now I’m sure that I don’t know what you mean. What is an example of a “stronger claim”? What do you have in mind?

86

J-D 10.08.18 at 4:18 pm

Lee A. Arnold

Now I’m sure that I don’t know what you mean. What is an example of a “stronger claim”? What do you have in mind?

I just gave you one example. ‘Young, diverse, and environmental voters, to whom Trump does not appeal, will carry future elections’ is a stronger claim than ‘the future belongs to young, diverse, and environmental voters, to whom Trump does not appeal’. Here’s another example. ‘The effect of nominating Trump will be to lose future elections for the Republicans’ is a stronger claim than ‘the effect of nominating Trump will be to lose votes for the Republcians at future elections’.

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Lee A. Arnold 10.08.18 at 5:00 pm

J-D #86, I am afraid that I am still do not understand your meaning. How would the phrase “carrying future elections” be distinguished from the phrase “the future belongs to [certain] voters”, within the context of a political discussion?

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Orange Watch 10.08.18 at 5:43 pm

nastywoman@83:

The thing that’s the hardest to parse about that tweet isn’t anything about crowd sizes, it’s that a sitting president who is not actively campaigning for re-election (yes, I know he technically filed paperwork 6h after being sworn in) is regularly holding “rallies” and no one blinks.

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Raven 10.08.18 at 6:00 pm

Dunno, J-D @ 86; I think it’s a mighty strong claim to say ‘the future belongs to young, diverse, and environmental voters, to whom Trump does not appeal’. — Unless you specify the range of future you mean (far vs near?), and the intermediate events you assume as conditions (political correction rather than complete Trumpist takeover à la 1930s Germany… as a bit later we might have hoped the future of Germany belonged to the White Rose pamphleteers).

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engels 10.08.18 at 6:56 pm

So glad that when most the inhabited world is underwater we can go back a warm, cuddly, inclusive capitalism…
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/07/climate/ipcc-climate-report-2040.html

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J-D 10.08.18 at 7:17 pm

A claim with a lot of specific verifiable content is stronger than a claim with little content, or content which is generalised and vague.

Dialogue about a strong claim
Critic: They lost the election.
Maker of strong claim: Yes, they did. What about it?
Critic: Well, you said they’d win the election.
Maker of strong claim: That’s true, I did say that.
Critic: So your claim has been proved wrong.
Maker of strong claim: I guess I have to admit that.

Dialogue about a weak claim
Critic: They lost the election.
Maker of weak claim: Yes, they did. What about it?
Critic: Well, you said the future belonged to them.
Maker of weak claim: And it does!
Critic: But they lost the election.
Maker of weak claim: I never said they’d win the election. What I said was that the future belonged to them.
Critic: So what does that mean, if it didn’t mean that they were going to win the election?
Maker of weak claim: It means that the future belongs to them!

It’s easy to determine whether a strong claim has been confirmed, because it has meaningful content. A weak claim has less meaningful content, and so it’s harder to determine whether it has been confirmed.

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Ralph Hitchens 10.09.18 at 2:43 am

We can add stupidity to the bill of particulars. Kavanaugh was apparently too stupid to watch and internalize the essence of Clarence Thomas’s testimony all those years ago. It was a textbook example of contained rage, expressing his anger at the charges levied against him but maintaining self-control.

Why Kavanaugh could not do likewise puzzles me, and should have raised questions on both sides of the Committee. We saw a man with no self-control, easy prey to the Fox News myths about liberal conspiracies, the Clintons, George Soros, etc. As a card-carrying Democrat I have zero confidence that the new associate justice would ever give me a fair hearing.

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Raven 10.09.18 at 3:40 am

J-D @ 91: Except, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), our planet has only until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change, which leaves a very narrow window for those ‘young, diverse, and environmental voters, to whom Trump does not appeal’ to own the future’; after that, irreversible effects will forever deny it to them: the damage done by decades of Reagan-Bush-Trumpian malignly neglectful policies will be unfixable.

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Raven 10.09.18 at 4:37 am

Lee A. Arnold, followup: It appears not to have required waiting for the Supreme Court to first actually reverse Roe v. Wade…:

[Democratic Underground] Just so you know, here in Indiana…it’s starting

Saw a post on Facebook from a guy that I was friends with in high school that I still keep in contact from time to time, he was attending a pro-life event here in a deep red part of Indiana where the group is now openly calling for a ban on abortion in Indiana and their meeting was basically saying that “with the supreme court now fully in conservative control it’s time to put pressure on state leaders to move to ban abortion in the state”. The comments from people were saying they should b/c it would obviously be challenged but the supreme court would have a better than 50/50 shot at upholding the ban and overturning Roe. If it’s happening here, I guarantee you it’s happening all over the country in conservative states. …

95

Ray Vinmad 10.09.18 at 7:00 am

This is a very long thread, and so I’m not sure whether it’s worth leaving a comment.

But one thing that sheds light on many of the differences in perception is that there is a massive misinformation machine running that all the people on the right are tuned in to. They are getting *completely* different information than we are. And they were hearing *detailed arguments* about why Dr. Ford’s evidence was scanty.

They did not consider the Yale allegations in as much depth, which had corroboration at the time. Leaving those out was a serious advantage for the GOP.

Kavanaugh supporters would claim things like –he’d been vetted 7 different times by the FBI. (They counted all his government positions as vetting him, so fallaciously assumed that the failure to uncover this charge meant it was false). There was a very elaborate narrative about how Ford couldn’t have gotten home, Ford did not collect her friend so couldn’t have been afraid, etc. Much of this is based on background beliefs that display a great ignorance of what it’s like to be in a situation where one fears for one’s life, and how a traumatic crime affects choices, and reasoning. .

They were also incensed that Avenatti was involved, and assumed that was relevant for all the charges. It all looked like a hit job to them.

They also were taken with the idea that he’d ‘made a mistake as a teen.’

Another narrative advantage they gave themselves is the one you mention– they turned the discussion into one about guilt or innocence, and drew on the inapt ideas about due process.

Even going in, before any charges, this appointment was a travesty.

My point is only that there is a gap of values but there is also reasoning from a wholly different information sets. There was an overlap between them. For them, he was being railroaded as part of a political hit, so his outrage was justified. Therefore they conclude, this says nothing about his temperament. There are many things wrong with this reasoning. But it’s good to understand how it washes away any critical look at a complex situation.

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arcseconds 10.09.18 at 7:38 am

Raven @ 73:

Well, apparently if it’s one person’s word against another, we’re just supposed to believe the ‘superior’, which is apparently Kavanagh in this case:

https://inveritateblog.com/2018/10/02/judging-the-judge/

I am not sure why a professor of psychology at name-brand institutions is inferior to a circuit judge, but I am sure there must be a good reason for this…

It’s not just sexual predators who get a pretty free rein here, of course, there’s lots more crime besides, common-or-garden assault for example. I was mugged once and the perpetrator caught on my say-so. Probably this was a terrible miscarriage of justice, as obviously we can imagine cassander accusing you of mugging him, therefore it’s highly likely I was just making the whole thing up, therefore people travelling alone just have to wear the odd mugging, there’s nothing society can do about that. The logic is impeccable.

Or maybe I’m the superior here? So hard to be sure of anything any more…

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Lee A. Arnold 10.09.18 at 10:14 am

Now I think I understand. I start from the premise that there are no exact predictions of the future in politics (and maybe not many in the social sciences), and that other readers and writers here understand this already. So anyone coming to read a social sciences blog who senses a strong claim of the type you suspect, should probably check their own priors in regard to method and material.

Focusing in from there, making a prediction about specific elections is crazy — I won’t even predict the results of the US election only a month away. You can only make guesses by the current tracking polls.

I wrote “Trump looks like a dead end” in the middle of a paragraph that clearly states it is about the “long term viability of the GOP” and observes that the Democrats in the long-term have been picking up some very desirable demographics. Context is everything.

In fact I would go further and guess that even the current Republican leadership realizes he’s a dead end — they are riding this turkey for all it’s worth (judicial appointees etc.) and inventing slogans on the fly (this week, “the Democrats are the party of the mob”) (pretty much what “demo” means really) but if Trump dropped dead tomorrow they’d all be secretly very happy. Did I write, “context is everything”?

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Cian 10.09.18 at 2:01 pm

Lee:

The status quo is a dead end. The Democratic party as currently constituted has no future, the Republican party as currently constituted has no future. We’ve glimpsed two possible futures for both parties (Bernie Sanders for the Democrats, Trump for the Republicans). Trump is a clown, but he also grasped something quite significant – people in the US generally despise the current elite/system. The politician who can successfully ride that anger – be they on the right, or left – will do very well. Trump’s problem was that he couldn’t/wouldn’t deliver, which means he couldn’t reach out beyond revanchist Republicanism. Bernie’s problem was that the Democratic party machine is very good at resisting change.

But at some point one of the following two things will happen:
1) A smart Republican will work out how to take Trump’s message and then remake the Republican party in a way that can build a successful coalition. That’s totally doable, the thing that currently makes it unlikely is that Right wing intellectuals are extremely decadent.
2) A smart Democrat on the left finally works out how to break the Democratic party machine and can reach out with a popular left wing message, on the back of some kind of popular organizing wave. Some moves are happening in that direction, but again the lack of left wing organizations, organizing structures and the sheer power of the Democratic party machine (despite it’s uselessness politically) makes this unlikely.
3) The current status quo and at some point the political system loses all legitimacy and all bets are off. Look at Brazil, Hungary, etc – and worry. The right mostly control the institutions, and intellectually are at a point where light dictatorship probably wouldn’t bother them. It won’t happen while they think they can win, but if they start to lose and there’s no strong social movement to counter them…

Neoliberalism is dead, the social movements that made the modern Democratic and Republican party what they are (literally) dying. Something will replace them – the question is what. But assuming that demographics mean that liberals have a lock is very dangerous.

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nastywoman 10.09.18 at 8:09 pm

and about:
“Trump looks like a dead end”

”Taylor Swift’s decision to jump into politics over the weekend, announcing her support in an Instagram post for two Democrats in Tennessee and urging her 112 million followers to register to vote, appears to have contributed to a flurry of last-minute registrations before deadlines in many states.

In the hours after Ms. Swift shared her political views on Sunday, the voter registration site Vote.org recorded a flood of requests, both nationwide and in the pop superstar’s adopted home state of Tennessee.

More than 166,000 people across the United States submitted new registrations on Vote.org between Sunday and noon on Tuesday, with about 42 percent of the registrants falling between the ages of 18 to 24, officials at the site said.

In October 2016, 405,000 people registered on Vote.org, the largest age group being people in their 30s, said Raven Brooks, the website’s chief operating officer. That month, about 22 percent of the registrants were between the ages of 18 to 24, a far lower percentage than the 42 percent that registered in recent days.

“The bottom line is that she did significantly impact registrations, and in interesting ways,” Mr. Brooks said in an interview. “They are completely inverted from what we saw in 2016.”

“We have never seen a 24- or 36- or 48-hour period like this,” the spokeswoman, Kamari Guthrie, said in an interview, adding that the current spike even surpassed the one that occurred when former President Barack Obama mentioned the website.

100

Collin Street 10.09.18 at 9:10 pm

1) A smart Republican will work out how to take Trump’s message and then remake the Republican party in a way that can build a successful coalition.

I don’t actually think so. If you’re building a US traditions of racism point towards the black and the hispanic: in europe, say, anti-semitism and anti-ziganism means you lose say ten or twenty percent of the population directly and you can still build a winning coalition “democratically” over what’s left over, but in the US you can’t. You need to fuck with the electoral system as well.

[see also israel and singapore]

101

Raven 10.09.18 at 11:15 pm

Cian @ 98: “The Democratic party as currently constituted has no future, the Republican party as currently constituted has no future.”

Taken in a certain sense, this is of course true: both parties are ‘currently constituted’ of human beings presumably already of voting age (18) and thus even the youngest are likely to die off entirely within the next 80-90 years. The older and more influential members (notably elected officials like Congressional leaders) who are currently guiding and shaping the party will die off even sooner, so as ‘currently constituted’ the term is short indeed.

Of course new members will replace the old; the question is how closely or distantly the new members will resemble the old in motivation, goals, ideals, how they in turn will guide and shape their parties.

Looking at the Republicans, I am not optimistic. The young GOPlins seem as heartless and cruel as their elders.

Looking at the Democrats, well, you’ve seen the demonstrations, the new candidates (especially women!) signing up to run even where no Democrats have dared run before, and if you have not yet read the pro-Democratic discussion site Daily Kos, well then I recommend it. That looks very much like an active next generation or two.

102

J-D 10.10.18 at 12:24 am

If something actually happens, that proves it was possible: people actually do make predictions about political developments, so it is possible to do. Obviously, sometimes these predictions turn out to be incorrect, just as predictions about other subjects sometimes turn out to be incorrect. For example, in 2016 some people predicted that Hillary Clinton would be elected President while some other people predicted that Donald Trump would be elected President: we all know how one of those predictions was correct and one incorrect.

I don’t know whether anybody predicted in 1804 that the Federalist Party would never recover, but it was a prediction that could have been made at that time. I don’t know whether anybody predicted in 1852 that the Whig Party would never receover, but it was a prediction that could have been made at that time. I don’t know whether anybody predicted in 1866 that the Democratic Party would never recover, but it was a prediction that could have been made at that time. Obviously, unlike the other two, it would not have been a correct prediction.

It would be possible to predict now that at least one of the two major parties will be affected by a major damaging split at the 2020 election; it would be possible to predict now that a new major party will emerge at the 2020 election. I don’t expect either of those predictions to come true. On the contrary, I predict the opposite: I predict that neither of the major parties will be affected by a major damaging split at the 2020 election and that no new major party will emerge at the 2020 election. Both these predictions have meaningful content: if either or both of them is incorrect, it will be cleearly shown to be incorrect by events.

So there are some things I am predicting, and if my predictions are wrong we will find out.

If somebody predicts, for example, that negative reactions to Trump will drive young voters away from the Republicans, that will be at least partly testable: there will be surveys that indicate the fraction of young voters voting Republican at the 2020 election and it will be possible to compare the results with the results of similar surveys at earlier elections (it will not be so easy to confirm how much, if any, of the effect is a result of reactions to Trump, but investigation is possible, at least in principle).

If somebody writes that Trump is a dead end, I can’t figure out whether anything at all is actually being predicted.

Likewise, if somebody writes that neither the Democratic Party as currently constituted nor the Republican Party as currently constituted has any future, I can’t figure out whether anything at all is actually being predicted.

Claims like those are weak claims in the sense that it is hard to think of any future developments which would tend either to confirm or to disconfirm them, as a result of their content being so vague.

Making your assertions vague has the effect that it is hard to put them to the test. It is not always clear whether this is a bug or a feature.

103

Lee A. Arnold 10.10.18 at 12:47 am

Cian #98: “The Democratic party as currently constituted has no future”

The Democratic Party as currently constituted is not much of anything, so the future remains to be seen. Presently it looks set to get an infusion of younger people with a large number of females — all of whom are talking as if they are ready to expand New Deal-type programs. And some of the existing Democratic leadership will be very happy to act upon that, if they can. For example, they are all talking about universal healthcare, including in the leadership.

I wrote here in the week after the 2016 election that the Democrats would likely and luckily get a total makeover due to the rejection of Hillary Clinton, while Trump would split the Republicans and destroy the brand. It still looks to me like this is what is going on. I think they’ve been doomed to die ever since Reagan sent them onto a self-contradictory crash course with reality.

“Neoliberalism” (if I ran the world, I would decree that this word ought to be explicitly defined any time anyone drags it back into a discussion as some kind of big reason things are happening) is NOT dead however. This is largely because there is no seriously thought-out economic theory to oppose or to augment market economics (although it really shouldn’t be too hard to cook one up) and this always makes it easy for the money trust to argue for its own favored policies against the people who want to change things for the better. Neoliberalism will die only after its intellectual framework is seriously challenged in a way the common voter can simply and easily understand.

104

nastywoman 10.10.18 at 4:02 am

@102
”Presently it looks set to get an infusion of younger people with a large number of females — all of whom are talking as if they are ready to expand New Deal-type programs”.

how true – and may I try to mention Taylor Swift again -(and a post which really would be worth going through moderation – even if it quotes the NYT?)

And what is it with (some) of you guys and this constant ”Democrats bashing”?

HELLO!!
It’s the only one – of the two party WE have – one should vote for!

105

nastywoman 10.10.18 at 6:39 am

”They burning witches if you aren’t one –
so lock me up – loght me up
go ahead light me up –

They say I did something bad
Then why’s it feel so good?
They say I did something bad
But why’s it feel so good?
Most fun I ever had

I never trust a narcissist
But they love me
So I play ’em like a violin
And I make it look oh so easy
‘Cause for every lie I tell them
They tell me three
This is how the world works
Now all he thinks about is me
I can feel the flames on my skin
Crimson red paint on my lips
If a man talks shit, then I owe him nothing
I don’t regret it one bit, ’cause he had it coming”

A famous American Philosopher opening the AMA’s

106

Lee A. Arnold 10.11.18 at 12:58 am

J-D #102: “I predict that neither of the major parties will be affected by a major damaging split at the 2020 election and that no new major party will emerge at the 2020 election. Both these predictions have meaningful content: if either or both of them is incorrect, it will be clearly shown to be incorrect by events.”

These are examples of stronger claims, but no matter whether they turn out to be true or false, the underlying REASONS why you made those predictions (whatever those reasons were; we need not state them) might not be confirmed or disconfirmed by the test: Maybe you just got the date wrong and it happens in 2024; or else you are right but some other contingency changed things. Or maybe your predictions turn out to be true, but it was accidental and you never knew what you were talking about in the first place. Because it’s not like physics or chemistry, where the boiling point of lead is the point where all samples of lead will boil. It’s a complex social system with a billion connections. So even though your predictions are easier to put to the test, they might NOT have more meaningful (or perhaps useful) content than the “vaguer” assertions that Trump has alienated certain kinds of voters and that the GOP is going to need those voters to win elections in the future.

107

Lee A. Arnold 10.11.18 at 1:09 am

Raven #64: ” It appears not to have required waiting”

Some states are going to challenging Roe before SCOTUS as a states rights issue, and I think also some states have already passed “trigger” laws so that if Roe is overturned, abortion is immediately criminalized in those states.

108

Raven 10.11.18 at 1:54 am

Lee A. Arnold @ 106: “Because it’s not like physics or chemistry, where the boiling point of lead is the point where all samples of lead will boil.”

What’s funny is that as usually defined, that’s simply a temperature (1749 °C, 3180 °F), which is the point at which lead will boil under standard pressure, but not at which it will boil under much higher pressure… this also being a matter of basic physics and chemistry. So the statement doesn’t apply, for instance, to “all samples of lead” down under the Earth’s crust, in the mantle and core, or under matching conditions.

109

J-D 10.11.18 at 5:48 am

Lee A. Arnold

It’s true that sometimes a sound analysis will produce a prediction which is not confirmed in the event, perhaps because of some confounding factor that could not have been foreseen, and sometimes a faulty analysis will produce a prediction which does appear to be confirmed in the event, just by fluke. I know all that. What I still don’t know is whether, when you wrote that ‘Trump is a dead end’, it was supposed to be any kind of prediction at all. Again, when you write that the Republicans will ‘need’ the votes of people Trump has alienated to win elections in the future, I don’t know whether that’s supposed to be any kind of prediction at all.

If somebody tells me that Trump has alienated a lot of voters, I understand what that mean; if somebody tells me that as a result it will be harder for the Republicans to win elections, I understand what that means. But I’m still not clear on whether that is what you mean, or whether you mean more than that, or less than that, or something different entirely.

110

Lee A. Arnold 10.11.18 at 10:24 am

Raven #108: “So the statement doesn’t apply, for instance, to ‘all samples of lead'”

And further, even after you have specified those extra conditions, physical science is also subject to the tradeoff between the definitiveness or detail of the prediction vs. the security or confidence in the prediction. Rescher wrote an interesting little book, Epistemetrics (2006) in which he calls this “Duhem’s Law of Cognitive Complementarity”.

111

Lee A. Arnold 10.11.18 at 11:12 am

J-D #109: “I don’t know whether that’s supposed to be any kind of prediction at all.”

I am afraid that I still don’t understand how you would take the meaning of this sentence, “Trump looks like a dead end,” as anything other than a simile, apropos to the argot, of a median GOP strategist’s likely outlook on Trump’ unattractiveness to a growing bloc of voters — who are then listed in the sentence which immediately follows it. What are the linguistic or grammatical triggers in the original comment (#56) that make you think otherwise?

112

Ogden Wernstrom 10.11.18 at 5:37 pm

Since Kavanaugh said something to the effect of, “What goes around comes around”, while under oath, I expect he will have to recuse himself on cases that appear to involve any of the parties he broadly accused (while under oath).

I hope that attorneys presenting cases to The Supreme Court can request that BK recuse himself, but I fear that is not the accepted method. He is probably left to his own sense of duty and decorum when it comes to recusing himself, and the only clear indicators for recusal involve cases that a justice had been involved with prior to appointment, I think.

A defense that begins with “Accused forcefully denies it” uses the advantage described in a recent Atlantic article, though the article is primarily about disadvantages experienced by female attorneys. If your blood pressure is a little low, reading that article may provide some relief.

I do plan to bookmark this thread, and await the day that any of the right-wing reactionary apologists-for-Kavanaugh attempt to use insinuations/questions/accusations about the suitability-for-office of anyone they oppose. (Do I deceive myself about where these recently-created goalposts will be at that moment?)

Republicans really feel a desire to pwn-the-libs, kill #MeToo, and control women’s bodies, so Blasey-Ford’s accusation just made them want Kavanaugh even more. Did anybody notice whether some of the Republican Senators remained seated for a while (or held something to block the front of their trousers when they stood up) at the end of Ford’s testimony or BK’s forceful denial? Isn’t this an erection year? (…hat tip to nastywoman)

113

J-D 10.11.18 at 11:52 pm

Lee A. Arnold

I agree with you about ‘Trump’s unattractiveness to a growing bloc of voters’.

Trump is unattractive to a growing bloc of voters.

That’s true, but what makes it worth announcing?

114

Lee A. Arnold 10.12.18 at 1:13 am

J-D # 113, My comment at #56 is comprised of addenda to John Quiggin’s comment at #42 on the short term vs long term cost and benefit of the Kavanaugh nomination specifically from the Repub point of view. One item is the last sentence of that paragraph: one of the long term costs may be that some of Kavanaugh’s decisions will remind that bloc of voters of the unattractiveness of the Trump Republicans well beyond Trump’s time in office.

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