Interesting Read: “Want to help prevent rape? Withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination”

Sandra Newman, in the Washington Post:

The most charitable explanation for the laissez-faire attitude of Kavanaugh’s defenders seems to be that sexual assault is so common that many people find it normal… This produces a strong incentive to believe some rapes are worse than others; that the rapes on crime shows are atrocities, while those that our acquaintances or ideological allies perpetrate are regrettable mistakes. The high prevalence of sexual violence can also produce a feeling of helplessness: if it’s so common, perhaps it’s just a given of male sexuality that nothing will ever change?

However, the evidence suggests we can prevent rape. First, it occurs at radically different rates in different societies. It may seem shocking that 6 to 15 percent of American men admit to serious sex crimes, but the percentage of men who say they’ve committed rape in China is 23 percent, and in Papua New Guinea, it’s a staggering 60.7 percent. The percentages of women who say they’ve been raped in these countries are similarly high. This large variation makes it clear that rates of rape are highly malleable. Sexual assault in wartime is notoriously high — but it also differs dramatically from army to army, and the rate changes rapidly in response to policy changes from above. For instance, the notoriously high rate of sexual violence by the Red Army at the end of the Second World War decreased abruptly when the Soviet leadership decided it was a political problem and instituted rules to discourage it. In the Salvadoran civil war, rapes by government soldiers plummeted once the United States threatened to withdraw military aid if the government’s human-rights record didn’t improve.

The crucial elements seem to be whether a rapist fears punishment and whether he feels it will be viewed as a serious crime by peers. In her study “Understanding Sexual Violence,” conducted for the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health in 1990, Diana Scully conducted extensive 89-page interviews with over 100 incarcerated rapists. Her first significant finding was that rapists assumed they would never be punished. As one said: “I knew I was doing wrong. But I also knew most women don’t report rape, and I didn’t think she would either.” The rapists were also remarkably preoccupied by what other people would think of them, talking about their victims’ moral failings and lying about details of their crimes to make them seem less violent. They overwhelmingly saw the kind of rape they had personally committed as normal. As one subject put it, “When you take a woman out, woo her, then she says: ‘No, I’m a nice girl,’ you have to use force. All men do this.”

Scully concluded that these calculations played a crucial role in their decisions to force women into sex. Rapists saw rape as “a rewarding, low-risk act” they could engage in safely, and for which no reasonable person would blame them. In their eyes, their incarceration was the result of plain bad luck. All this is chillingly reminiscent of the reaction of powerful men targeted by the #MeToo movement — and of the reactions of conservatives this week who are willing to propose that Kavanaugh is guilty while excusing his act as a drunken mistake.

Sexual assault is a crime that is notoriously difficult to prove. Even with the laudable intent of preventing future rapes, we reasonably balk when forced to decide whether to put a possibly innocent man in prison. There is no such problem when considering whether to deny someone the chance to be a Supreme Court justice. All but five men in the world already share the terrible fate of not serving on the court. And, perverse though it may seem, the nomination of an accused sex offender is a great opportunity. Delaying or withdrawing this nomination will send a message that there is no such thing as ordinary, forgivable, just-a-bit-of-drunken-boyishness attempted rape. If we care about all the sexual assaults that haven’t yet occurred; if we care about the girls and boys who will become victims; if we care about preventing the debilitating, life-threatening trauma disorders victims often suffer, we must treat attempted rape as disqualifying for a Supreme Court justice.

Thursday Morning Open Thread: Gauntlets, Thrown

The usual Media Village Idiots witter about the ‘inevitability’ of Justice Kavanaugh, but full marks to our Democrats for standing up.

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Kavanaught the Diligent & His GOP Defenders

(Tom Toles via

When Kavanaugh was first announced as Trump’s personal SCOTUS pick, I assumed he was just another extremely average Repub apparatchik who’d spent his career trying to rise through unswerving allegiance where his natural advantages and top-tier upbringing had failed. What we knew then of his history — writing pornographic searches for Ken Starr, helping orchestrate the Brooks Brothers riot to put Dubya in the White House, assisting the Cheney regency in crafting legalistic justifications for torture — could just have been careerism, not ideology. Of course, those actions still would’ve made him no more eligible for a slot on the Supreme Court than I am, but at least he could’ve passed for A Good Man, under sufficiently relaxed circumstances…

Guess I should’ve trusted professional GOP operative Rick Wilson: Everything Trump touches dies.

And it looks like the Repubs are going all in on sending the remaining shreds of their credibility down the crapper along with Kavanaugh’s reputation.

(Drew Sheneman via

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Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Slow Your Roll, Dude…


Republicans should be holding themselves to an especially high standard on this, and not only because they have nominated and elected a president who has had serious accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault leveled at him. Politicians of both parties have, over time, been guilty of terrible crimes. But Republicans have a particular obligation here because their public-policy positions have put them on the side of those who oppose equality and full citizenship for women, and because they nominate far fewer women for elected office. To be sure: Many Republicans (including many Republican women) strongly dispute that they are in any sense anti-woman. This, then, is an excellent time for them to demonstrate that they really do consider crimes against women to be major offenses…

“The country?” Meaning, you & your rich white male friends?…

AP News Open Thread: Julian Assange, the Biter Bit?

This is the AP, not some blog with a history of overreaction, so… cui bono, at this particular moment?

LONDON (AP) — Julian Assange had just pulled off one of the biggest scoops in journalistic history, splaying the innards of American diplomacy across the web. But technology firms were cutting ties to his WikiLeaks website, cable news pundits were calling for his head and a Swedish sex crime case was threatening to put him behind bars.

Caught in a vise, the silver-haired Australian wrote to the Russian Consulate in London.

“I, Julian Assange, hereby grant full authority to my friend, Israel Shamir, to both drop off and collect my passport, in order to get a visa,” said the letter, which was obtained exclusively by The Associated Press.

The Nov. 30, 2010, missive is part of a much larger trove of WikiLeaks emails, chat logs, financial records, secretly recorded footage and other documents leaked to the AP. The files provide both an intimate look at the radical transparency organization and an early hint of Assange’s budding relationship with Moscow.

WikiLeaks has repeatedly been hit by unauthorized disclosures, but the tens of thousands of files obtained by the AP may be the biggest leak yet.

The AP has confirmed the authenticity of many of the documents by running them by five former WikiLeaks associates or by verifying non-public details such as bank accounts, telephone numbers or airline tickets.

One of the former associates, an ex-employee, identified two of the names that frequently appeared in the documents’ metadata, “Jessica Longley” and “Jim Evans Mowing,” as pseudonyms assigned to two WikiLeaks laptops.

All five former associates spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, in some cases because they didn’t want their past association with WikiLeaks to become public, and in others because they feared legal retaliation or harassment from the group’s supporters…

Metadata suggests that it was on Nov. 29, the day after the release of the first batch of U.S. State Department files, that the letter to the Russian Consulate was drafted on the Jessica Longley computer…

Satire-day Morning Open Thread: Too. Much. News.

Schadenfreude Open Thread: Hire A Grifter, Prepare to Be Scammed

Oh, look, “No Labels” is up to their old tricks…

My sincere thanks to commentor TenguPhule for this link from the Washington Post“Contractors sue nonpartisan group No Labels”:

The nonpartisan political group No Labels, along with a number of affiliated super PACs, is facing a lawsuit from contractors who say they were stiffed for millions of dollars of work in the 2018 cycle, let go in favor of political strategists with ties to the group’s president, Nancy Jacobson — and her husband, Mark Penn.

In the complaint, which was filed in the Supreme Court of New York this week, strategists Matthew Kalmans and Sacha Samotin say that their firm, Applecart, helped conceive No Labels’s current strategy of creating PACs that can invest in primaries and general elections to boost centrist candidates; they seek $3.7 million in damages, saying that money they were owed was shunted away from them, in breach of contract…

Penn, a former political strategist for both Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, has gained new national attention for criticizing special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of the Trump administration. While not affiliated with No Labels, he used a Tuesday appearance on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” to talk up a plan — advanced by No Labels — to elect a speaker of the House with bipartisan support.

“There’s a problem-solvers group that is looking to have some influence, if the result is close, in terms of changing the rules and naming the speaker,” Penn said.

The 45-page complaint tells a story of political blunders that Applecart blames on Penn and that No Labels affiliates blame on Applecart. According to the complaint, it was Kalmans and Samotin, Republicans who identified as moderates, who presided over the group’s first political successes…

… Former senator Joseph I. Lieberman, a No Labels co-chair, said that Applecart had looked promising but wilted under inspection.

“They were charging us for things they had not even done,” Lieberman said.

Kalmans and Samotin say the pushback is simply false — that Applecart was simply not paid for 1,714 hours of completed work … That debacle, they say, was “a pretext on which to hand over strategic oversight of No Labels’ super PAC campaign to Penn.” And the rest will be fought out in court.

“No Labels” was a Repub scam from the get-go, with “Independent” Droopy Dawg Lieberman’s involvement as a leading indicator.

Nice to see the GOP is dumb or venal enough to pick up a guy who could outpush even the Clintons’ notorious loyalty to long-time associates, just in time for him to further sully the GOP’s “Okay, Trump’s A Criminal But Hey, Tax Cuts!” message for the midterms.