The Laughter

The Wall Street Journal has a headline tonight.

Trigger warning: Talk about rape below the fold. I find this very upsetting myself.

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A Crack In The Wall

I have literally vegged all day. I stopped feeling guilty about it around 2 pm. Feel much better for having done it.

I came up for air and MSNBC was queued when I turned the TV on. This is the first thing I heard:

Flake says he is ‘not comfortable voting yes’ yet on

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) on Sunday said he is “not comfortable voting yes” on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until the Senate Judiciary Committee learns more about the sexual assault allegation against him.

“We need to hear from her,” Flake told Politico hours after Kavanaugh’s accuser identified herself publicly. “And I don’t think I’m alone in this.”

Flake told The Washington Post that he does not believe the Judiciary Committee should move ahead with its Thursday vote on Kavanaugh until the senators hear more from Christine Blasey Ford, the California psychology professor who went public with her accusation against Kavanaugh in a Post investigation on Sunday.

Read more here

Who knows if Flake is doing more than lip service. He’s run his mouth off before and then dropped right in line.

What do you think? Maybe we burn up his phone lines?



Associate Rapey Justice Kavanaugh?

So, even though we’ve been properly busy dealing with the fact the Carolinas are washing out to sea and Manafort is doing his best canary impression, there has been yet more news out there that needs some appellate Jackal review.

Brett Kavanaugh, it seems, has some “boys will be boys” ‘splaining to do:

A secretive letter shared with senators and federal investigators by the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee charges that a teenage Brett M. Kavanaugh and a male friend trapped a teenage girl in a bedroom during a party and tried to assault her, according to three people familiar with the contents of the letter.

The letter says that Mr. Kavanaugh, then a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in suburban Washington and now President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, had been drinking at a social gathering when he and the male friend took the teenage girl into a bedroom. The door was locked, and she was thrown onto the bed. Mr. Kavanaugh then got on top of the teenager and put a hand over her mouth, as the music was turned up, according to the account.

This would have been roughly thirty five years ago (Kavanaugh is 53), and it would seem a hard charge to substantiate. And yet Kavanaugh and his GOP allies are clearly running scared.  There is a letter signed by sixty five women who were high school contemporaries with Kavanaugh (not “classmates” as GOPsters have said, and some outlets report — Kavanaugh went to an all-male school).  The letter basically says that the young right-wing thug-to-be was a prince of a young fellow.

Here’s the odd bit, though:  how do you find sixty five women who knew Kavanaugh as a kid back in the eighties and would be willing to vouch for him? Grassley’s office says this was all organized by the nominees former clerks, starting at five last night. You weigh the odds that this is bullshit.  For me, it seems very clear that the GOP has known this might drop and has been prepping for it for some time.  Recall that Senator Hirono asked Kavanaugh about any sexual harassment claims made against him as a legal adult — as in out of high school. The framing of that question looks interesting now.  It also suggests that some noise around this potential obstacle to Kavanaugh’s nomination was already buzzing. The GOP knew; can’t prove it (yet) but I’d be stunned if they didn’t.

Similarly, the “male friend” referenced above and has tried to give his wing man some cover. Steve M. over at No More Mister Nice Guy gives the necessary background on this mook:

Judge is identified as “a writer in Washington, D.C.” But Judge is not just any writer. As Elon Green notes on Twitter, he wrote a notorious (and implausible) 2012 Daily Caller piece titled “The End of My White Guilt.” In it, he says his bicycle was stolen in a predominantly black D.C. neighborhood, after which he was infuriated when “a liberal friend” told him not to pursue the thief. “That person needs our prayers and help,” the friend said, according to Judge. “They haven’t had the advantages we have.” Result: “My white guilt died.” [all links in the original]

Judge doesn’t write about sex on a regular basis, but when he does, it’s clear he’s part of the “Help! Help! I’m Being Repressed!” school of conservative punditry.

[Go read the whole thing; the good stuff — as in the repulsive bits — are all there.]

So here’s the deal: there is an uncorroborated accusation against Judge Kavanaugh that claims he was a high school attempted-rapist. There is a very rapid circling of the wagons. Senator Collins is getting increasingly testy about people who harsh her mellow about voting for a perjurious goniff who has made it clear in all kinds of ways he’s going to vote down Roe v. Wade.  Most of his paper record is still chucked down the memory hole. There may be, and I certainly hope there will be more shoes to drop.  And Grassley’s determined to hold a committee vote next Thursday.

All of which allows me to begin to think there’s a non-zero chance Kavanaugh might crash and burn.  It’s not odds-on yet, not by any means, but this confirmation process has been a shitstorm from day one.  I’m even just starting to believe that even if Kavanaugh gets onto the court he might not last long there.  That paper trail is not going to stay hidden forever — and if this attempted rape account proves to be true (and I have no reason to doubt it), well…one thing’s become clear over the last several years.  When a guy twists this way, most often, it’s never just one woman to be treated as prey.

We live in waaaaaay too interesting times.  And the Republicans are, once again, shown to be waaaaaay more interested in power, and the immediate win, than doing even the minimally right thing (which in this case would be swapping out a non-rapey reliable right wing vote for the rapey one).

Have at it, fellow jackals!

Image: Giuseppe Crespi, Tarquin and Lucretiac. 1695-1700



Just When You Thought They Couldn’t Get Skeevier…

My son, for reasons known best to himself, has taken to watching old Jon Stewart clips, and this morning he was watching a long one, a sit down between Steward and Bill O’Reilly.

Stewart comes off as the smarter, more moral one in the particular bit I saw, but I told my kid I still hated the whole premise.  Stewart was normalizing a monster — even giving him a little bit of his own thoughtfulness as cover.  It wasn’t news back then that O’Reilly was a stone racist and a grotesque boss, a harassing womanizer dragging a tail of NDAs behind him.

But while I watched a true PGO came to me: the GOP obviously has no monopoly on men who are assholes to women, but it does seem to have more than its share, or rather the share you’d expect, given both specific ideology* , and the broader authoritarianism that both depends on and breeds the certainty that to be white and male is to have the right to f**k — and f**k with — the women who are their due.

Hence Porter and Farenthold and Moore and a magazine writer who thinks mere lethal injection is too good for the wanton harlots who choose to have an abortion — and the male-led magazine that thought such views were “provocative” — until it became clear just how provoked the intended gallows-bound (and their friends) had become.  And of course, hence the omphalos of modern Republican moral degeneracy, the Shitgibbon himself.

But I have to say, the latest entrant into the GOP-Sleazebag sweepstakes actually managed to surprise even my jaded self.  Meet Mr. Benjamin Sparks:

A Las Vegas political adviser who worked on national campaigns and high-profile Nevada races sexually enslaved and battered his ex-fiancée before police responded to a domestic dispute, the woman told the Review-Journal.

The 46-year-old woman provided copies of emails, text messages and a signed contract laying out her duties as a “slave in training” to Benjamin Sparks.

Sparks isn’t some small-time local operative.  He was a 2012 Romney spokesperson, and worked for Goggle-Eyed Homunculus Scott Walker during the recall campaign.  And he really, really doesn’t like the idea of female autonomy:

According to emails, documents and text messages obtained by the Review-Journal, Sparks and his ex-fiancée signed a five-page contract stating that she would be his “slave and property.”…

Her specified duties were what you might expect, given that starting point and then escalated to the point of rupture. (Go to the link if you want the details.)

“Slave and property.” Dwell on that phrase.  I’ll wait.

Not All Republicans would be a true statement.  But too much Republican rhetoric, policy and conviction rests on a view of women that taken to pathological extremes, ends with Benjamin Sparks putting down on paper his belief that a woman could be chattel.

There are all kinds of reasons these shandes and goniffs need to get their asses handed to them this November. This is one. A big one.

Open this thread can be.

ETA: Several commenters have pointed out that consensual relations between adults aren’t the problem, and they’re right (as always, IMHO). The issue here for me is the way Sparks took what appears to have been one stage of initial consent and translated that into a one-off permission that gave him the right actually to treat his partner as property.

*Anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-non-discriminatory-treatment in work and society politics that are all underpinned by the conviction that women can’t be allowed to have full agency over their own bodies and their own decisions.

Image: J. Collier, Three grotesque old men with awful teeth pointing and grimacing at each other, 1810. (Via Wellcome Images.)



Outed: The Originator Of The “Shitty Media Men” List

In October, a Google spreadsheet entitled “Shitty Media Men” was posted. The idea was for women to be able to post their experiences of sexual harassment by media men. The list took off, but the originator became concerned about the potential trouble it could bring her and others and pulled it after a day or so. Of course, nothing on the internet is completely gone.

The list was an outgrowth of the informal networks women have had to warn each other about harassers and a response to the revelations about Harvey Weinstein. The originator did not reveal her name. Yesterday Moira Donegan came out in an article in “The Cut.” Apparently there was quite a bit on the list, although I haven’t seen it.

Her coming out was in response to a planned article in Harper’s Magazine by Katie Roiphe. Roiphe made her name by arguing for the status quo in sexual harassment back in the 1990s. She doesn’t seem to have changed her mind much.

As word spread of the Harper’s article, Nicole Cliffe, editor of the now-defunct “The Toast” (which had some great interpretations of famous paintings and other good stuff), said she would pay writers who might have articles lined up at Harper’s for their articles if they would pull them. Apparently some have.

Roiphe said that she did not know the name of the list originator, but Donegan says that a Harper’s fact-checker called her to ask if she was the one.

The New York Times has a long article with more details. It’s worth reading that and Donegan’s article before exploding in outrage one way or another. Roiphe’s article, undoubtedly undergoing massive revision, is scheduled for the March Harper’s.

 

The Times revelations about Weinstein opened up a can of worms. It’s about time that these genteelly protected rapists and harassers were outed. But it’s still not clear that it’s safe for women to do, hence the protection of their identities. The change in expectations is very sudden, although I’m sure that academics will be tracing a long history of attempts to end the acceptance of this mistreatment that have failed. Roiphe began her rearguard actions in the early 1990s.

It’s hard for men to process this, and a great many have taken advantage of their societal protection. The anonymity can be abused, but that is also an excuse that has been used to ignore the calls for help. Let’s see how Donegan is treated.

 



Do Not Let Me Hear Of The Wisdom Of Old Men

 

Donald Trump’s North Korea tweet was obvious enough that the instant responses to it included the word “dick-measuring” and the thought that he probably can’t find the button. It is becoming more and more obvious that he is indeed the WYSIWYG president. “There is no wizard behind the curtain — just an old, angry, obnoxiously ignorant man.”

The world is changing fast – away from the assumed preference for old white men. Even when their privilege was intact, within their value system they had a lot to be angry about. First, the physical decline. As we get older, it becomes more difficult to keep weight off, more difficult to maintain muscle tone. Joints begin to ache. Men’s sexual abilities decline starting at around age 20. There’s some cognitive decline; reflexes slow down.

Additionally, society keeps changing. People of color, women, people whose sexuality differs from cis-het all are being legitimated. Some are taking prominent jobs away from their rightful owners, those cis-het white men. Read more



Floriduh Man to Ohio Man: Hold My Beer!

In a clear attempt to maintain Florida’s well earned status as the home of turning the crazy up to 11, a Florida Democratic Party Official has turned to his Ohio Man counterpart and said hold me beer!

From The Tampa Bay Times:

Stephen Bittel’s rocky tenure as Florida Democratic Party chairman ended in disgrace Friday after he resigned following accusations from women that he leered at them, made suggestive comments and created an unprofessional work environment.

Bittel said he is working with party leaders to set a date to elect his successor.
Elected in January after a contentious internal campaign, Bittel lasted less than a year on the job.  His departure marks the latest case of sexual impropriety shaking the state Capitol.

Bittel’s position became untenable after all four major Democratic candidates for Florida governor urged his ouster following a Politico Florida report late Thursday in which six women anonymously complained about Bittel’s behavior. They said he was “creepy” and “demeaning.” Bittel apologized, but it was not enough.

Bittel appears to have gone all out in his attempt to earn his Floriduh Man! card and keep Florida much, much stranger than Ohio.

Floriduh Man: offensive and educational!

Open thread!