Trump Triples Down on Kavanaugh

Skulking around the UN building and looking for an opportunity to embarrass us on the global stage yet again, Trump commented on the Kavanaugh controversy:

A written account of the remarks for those who can’t bear to hear Trump’s snuffling, sneering delivery:

President Donald Trump on Monday affirmed his continuing support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh despite the second allegation of sexual misconduct against him that surfaced Sunday, saying that it’s “unfair,” “unjust” and “totally political.”

“He is a fine man with an unblemished past and these are highly unsubstantiated statements from people represented by lawyers,” Trump said on the sidelines of an event at the United Nations. “We should look into the lawyers doing the representation. Judge Kavanaugh is an outstanding person, and I am with him all the way.”

“There’s a chance that this could be one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate for anything but I am with Judge Kavanaugh and I look forward to a vote,” Trump continued. “For people to come out of the woodwork from 36 years ago and 30 years ago and never mention it, all of a sudden it happens, in my opinion, it’s totally political.”

This is a nightmare scenario for the GOP no matter what they do, IMO. If Kavanaugh withdraws or the nomination otherwise fails, the evangelical hypocrites will pitch an ear-splitting hissy fit. I’ve rarely seen them so dug in on an issue.

If Kavanaugh is seated despite credible allegations of sexual assault, non-brainwashed women will rightly see it as an elite old boy’s club — led by a leering, highly unpopular degenerate who will no doubt continue to say offensive things — closing ranks around one of their own miscreants.

One way or another, they seem very eager to die on this hill.



Christine Blasey Ford Will Testify

She called their bluff. Via The Post:

The Senate Judiciary Committee and lawyers for Ford have been in negotiations for days about whether she would appear before the panel. Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in the 1980s when both were teenagers.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, had given Ford until 2:30 p.m. to respond to a revised offer to testify at a Wednesday hearing. Her lawyers asked the committee for a call later Saturday to work out other specifics.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

From what I’ve read, I get the impression Dr. Blasey and her attorney are sharp. For one thing, they’re insisting that the senators question Dr. Blasey directly rather than bring in counsel to question her. In other words, sanctimonious old farts like Grassley and Hatch will be grilling the professor rather than imported female Republican operatives to soften the optics.

The Post also has an interesting piece on Christine Blasey Ford’s escape from the DC suburbs to California. An excerpt:

When Donald Trump won his upset presidential victory in 2016, Christine Blasey Ford’s thoughts quickly turned to a name most Americans had never heard of but one that had unsettled her for years: Brett M. Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh — a judge on the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia — was among those mentioned as a possible replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016. When Trump nominated Neil M. Gorsuch, Ford was relieved but still uneasy.

Then Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced his retirement and Ford, 51, began fretting again.

“Her mind-set was, ‘I’ve got this terrible secret. . . .What am I going to do with this secret?’ ” her husband, Russell Ford, 56, recalled…

“She was like, ‘I can’t deal with this. If he becomes the nominee, then I’m moving to another country. I cannot live in this country if he’s in the Supreme Court,’ ” her husband said. “She wanted out.”

She came forward instead, which took a ton of courage. I have no idea if her testimony will derail the nomination. I suspect not since the Republicans who control congress are spineless, evil or both. But I’m grateful to Christine Blasey Ford anyway. She’s a patriot.



Aaaaand he finally went there…

Republican reactions to Dr. Blasey’s allegation that SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school have been predictably crass, clueless and bizarre. Only one of those reactions has been surprising (to me, at least): Trump’s relative restraint. I think we all knew it wouldn’t last:

I feel a great disturbance in the GOP Force, as if millions of Republican voices suddenly cried out, “FUCKING SHUT THE FUCK UP, YOU STUPID FUCKING FUCK!” and were silenced (by cowardice).

ETA: Speaking of clueless assholes who aren’t helping their pal Kavanaugh with their dumb rants and foolish interventions:

Not good enough. We need a full accounting of how Special Ed coordinated his ill-fated smear job (of a Kavanaugh supporter!) with Republicans in Congress, the Federalist Society and maybe even White House advisers. Josh Marshall has the goods on that here.



Tiger Clerk-Model Pipeline

Remember the “Tiger Mother” person who was in the news several years back for her book extolling or lampooning (depending on whom you believe) über-strict, traditionalist child-rearing practices? Yeah, me neither, but it turns out she and her husband (Jed Rosenfeld) are both law professors at Yale, and they vetted and advised students who were applying for clerkships with federal judges, including Brett Kavanaugh.

Chua served as a character witness for Kavanaugh at his rollout, calling him a “mentor to women.” She and Rubenfeld offered tips to students seeking clerkships, advice that was in some cases controversial. Via TPM:

An unnamed Yale Law School student said that two of her professors, Jed Rubenfeld and his wife, Amy Chua, warned her that then-federal judge Brett Kavanaugh liked his female clerks to have a “certain look,” according to a Wednesday Huffington Post report.

“He did not say what the ‘certain look’ was. I did not ask,” the woman told the Huffington Post. “It was very clear to me that he was talking about physical appearance, because it was phrased as a warning ― and because it came after the warning about Judge Kozinski.” Alex Kozinski retired in December to a chorus of sexual harassment accusations.

We’ll get to Kavanaugh in a minute, but first, why were Rubenfeld and Chua warning clerks away from Kozinski instead of informing the bar association or whatever organization handles federal judges that there was a sexist pig on the bench who was serially harassing and assaulting clerks and other women in the workplace?

I am not a lawyer, but if it was such common knowledge that that professors made a point to steer students away from Kozinski, why couldn’t they steer investigators toward him?

Via The Guardian:

According to one source, Chua invited a group of students that she mentored to a bar last year to catch up and discuss their plans for clerkships. The conversation turned to a high-profile #MeToo case that was emerging in the news at the time involving a well-known public figure.

The group began to talk about whether the federal judiciary would ever face similar scrutiny, and, according to a source, Chua said she did not believe it would. She told the students she had known about allegedly abusive and harassing behavior by another judge, Alex Kozinski, who was head of the ninth circuit and was forced to retire from the bench last year after more than a dozen women accused him of harassment.

The conversation then turned to Kozinski’s protege and good friend Kavanaugh, who one source said was a familiar name even though he had not yet been nominated to the high court. Chua allegedly told the students that it was “no accident” that Kavanaugh’s female clerks “looked like models”. Student reacted with surprise, and quickly pointed out that Chua’s own daughter was due to clerk for Kavanaugh.

A source said that Chua quickly responded, saying that her own daughter would not put up with any inappropriate behaviour.

Jesus Chicken-Fried Christ. It’s pretty obvious why Chua didn’t think the federal judiciary would face that kind of scrutiny — all these people in elite, powerful positions knew about it and did jackshit to stop it!

The Guardian reports that Chua is currently hospitalized and unable to comment, and Rubenfeld is the subject of an “internal investigation” at Yale for reasons unknown to him, he says. I’m going to make a bold prediction: It has something to do with sexual harassment.

Good God, hose out the entire place and rebuild from scratch. Our elites are fucked up. And I don’t want to hear one more peep out of so-cons about campus PC run amok. Sounds like we need more awareness about how to treat one another like equal human beings, not less.



Personal Security Arrangements

This morning, in the lees of my post about how the Senate GOP majority is likely to misplay their hand in regard to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford*, commenter dimmsdale asked the following question:

Adam, if you know, Id be curious to get an expert’s view of the kind of protection she should have. Thinking the sort of services Gavin DeBecker offers. do I have that right?

I’m generally familiar with DeBecker’s work, but cannot comment on exactly what his firm does as I’ve no first hand experience with it or him. I do hold a personal security and close quarters combatives tactical certification from a training course I took when I was in graduate school back in 1994. I took the course from one of DeBecker’s competitors. Other than working as one of the lead bouncers (coolers) at a large entertainment venue/nightclub for a few years in grad school, I have never actually been employed to do this type of work. I had the opportunity to take the course, decided it would be an interesting adjunct to martial arts training, and the added bonus was that British Special Operations legend Lofty Wiseman was one of the instructors!

Over the summer, I was contacted by one of our readers asking what I recommended for a friend who needed personal security protection due to an ongoing set of legal issues. My sanitized (references to location, person, etc.) recommendations are below as an answer to dimmsdale’s question.

  1.  I’m not sure I still have enough details, so keep that in mind when reading the following.
  2. The first thing your friend’s attorney needs to do is contact the local police and get something documented on the record about: a) the harassment that’s already happened and b) the general concern for your friend’s safety. This may include needing to request a restraining order/order of protection.
  3. If your friend and her attorneys are seriously concerned, then professionals need to be hired. Have the attorneys check to see if they can hire local law enforcement off duty to a) stay with your friend and park their cruisers in her driveway while doing so and b) serve as a personal security detail.
  4. If local law enforcement where you’re at doesn’t do this, then the attorneys need to ask for increased police patrols in her neighborhood and at her place of work.
  5. If local law enforcement where you’re at doesn’t do this, then the attorneys need to hire professionals who work in work in your state. Usually these will be private investigators/private security professionals licensed to work in your states and often these folks are retired law enforcement, military, and/or intelligence personnel. They should be licensed, bonded, and insured. If the latter is not the case, then your friend’s attorney will need to ascertain the liability insurance that will be need to be purchased, and then purchased, in order to legally protect whomever you’ve hired to provide personal security.
  6. If they’re targeting your friend, change her appearance. If she’s got long hair, cut it short. If she’s got short hair, change the style and start letting it grow out or get a good wig. If she’s blonde, die it a dark color. If she’s brunette or has black hair, dye it blonde. If she’s conservative, style it provocatively and die it hot pink, purple, and green. If she likes to dress casual – jeans,  t-shirts, button down shirts, pullovers, – put her in bonnets, sundresses, and sandals. If she likes to wear skirts and dresses, put her in jeans, boots, and button down shirts. If she dresses professionally, dress her casually, if she dresses casually, dress her professionally. Basically make it harder to quickly identifier on the street, in a restaurant or store, or in a crowd. The same suggestions apply to men using appropriate male attire.
  7. Get a dog and put it in her house as an early warning system. And make sure it isn’t unattended outside as pros, or knuckleheads who think they are, will try to bait and either sedate or bait and kill the dog to get it out of the way.
  8. If she doesn’t have it already, order a decent home surveillance camera system and have it installed. Something that uploads to the cloud and streams to her phone and her attorneys’ phones.
  9. If they’ve got a good target on her car, get her a different car with different tags.
  10. If possible, just get her out of town to some place safe where she can be protected. Or relocate her in town. Some place with limited access and clear sight lines with people she can trust. Don’t just stash her at a hotel or B&B.
  11. If you all are this worried about her security, don’t try to DIY this. Have it all done properly and professionally. Have the attorneys document everything they felt had to be done, have her and the attorneys and whichever professionals are hired document anything that might be suspicious or a concern, no matter how slight or coincidental or seemingly explainable.
  12. If she has a firearm: a) ascertain if she actually believes she can use it if she has to, b) ascertain if she’s got the training to do so under stress, c) and then it has to be on her person at all times. Home carry, bathroom carry, shower carry (make sure to protect against rust), on the nightstand when she sleeps, carry outside the home to work, the store, church, etc. Anywhere she can legally have it and carry it would need to be carried. And it has to be on body carry. No purse carry. No trunk or glove box carry. On the body where it can be unlimbered and brought to bear on target quickly and effectively. If she doesn’t really believe she could use it and/or is uncomfortable carrying it everywhere then it either needs to go into a proper safe and stay there for the duration or given to a friend who’s not involved in any of this mess for safekeeping. Otherwise it’ll be taken from her and used against her. Same thing if she’s got a “front closet” shotgun or rifle. It’s either always within arm’s reach when at home or it’s secured in a safe. She can’t be in the bedroom sleeping and the shotgun is in the front hallway closet where she can’t get to it.
  13. If you’re going to hire professionals, defer to their judgement on whether your friend should be armed.

Updated at 11:46 PM EDT

14. Turn off the geolocation on your devices and social media so you can’t be tracked through using your various social media accounts or through your fitness monitoring device.

15. There are two options for what to do about online/social media. Either shut and lock everything down and go completely dark, or lock everything down as much as possible security wise, but continue to use it to give the impression that nothing out of the ordinary is going on.

Also, Anne Laurie sent this along from the ACLU:

If the #MeToo movement had caught on in 1997, the many people coming forward would still have had to worry about getting sued, in addition to the myriad other consequences of challenging their harassers. But because it caught on in 2017, they also have to worry about getting hacked and being subject to mass online attacks, trolling, and other forms of harassment that can unfortunately be the cost of speaking out.

I’m a technologist with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology team, but outside of my day job, I’ve been working for the better part of a decade with people — mostly, but not all, women — who have been targeted online. I’ve also been a sexual-misconduct whistleblower myself, so I know the personal cost of speaking out. People often feel powerless in the face of unknown threats from the internet, but there’s a lot that whistleblowers can do to stay safe while coming forward.

The digital defense tips below are for individuals. They address threats against specific people, not the systemic problem of harassment. There’s an important conversation happening about how institutions — from universities to software platforms to law enforcement — handle online threats. In the meantime, though, these are some concrete things that individuals can do to feel a little safer about speaking out and confronting power.

Much more at the link!

I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH that you want professionals involved if you are seriously concerned for her safety and well being!!!!! And I can’t stress enough that these discussions should be had with her attorneys and between them and local law enforcement and then whichever professionals are hired.

In the case of Dr. Blasey’s, there are a couple of other items to be considered. The first is that because a lot of the threats that have been made have been made online, and because her email has been hacked and she’s been impersonated online and in social media, her attorney needs to get the local FBI Field Office and the state police/state bureau of investigation involved. The former will also, partially, get around the White House’s refusal to ask the FBI to do a supplementary background check regarding her allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. The second, as I stated in item #11 in the list of suggestions above, is that Dr. Ford, her family, and her attorney should not try to establish their security as a DIY project. Given the political moment we’re living in, this is not the time to wing it. Unfortunately one of the prices of Dr. Blasey’s courage in coming forward is that her life as she and her family know it is now over.

 

* There was a robust discussion in the comments last night as to whether it is Dr. Blasey, Dr. Ford, or Dr. Blasey Ford. My understanding from the reporting is that she uses Blasey as her professional surname and Ford, which is her married name, as her personal surname. I’m using Dr. Blasey because unless/until it is otherwise reported, this is how she wishes to be professionally known.



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?…



Age of Consent

Christine Blasey Ford knew that coming forward with her allegation against SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh would open an alt-right hellmouth that would engulf her and her family, but she did it anyway. I think that’s a lot more patriotic than torching a pair of Nikes.

In yesterday’s thread on the topic, I said I thought there was maybe a 5% chance Ford’s revelation would sink the Kavanaugh nomination. Many of y’all were more optimistic. Maybe you were right.

There’s a lot of butt-hurt about the possibility — mostly from men, mostly on the right, but not exclusively. The complaint is that shit that went down in high school shouldn’t haunt someone forever.

To some extent, that’s true. My husband and I were discussing this last night. We’re about the same age as Kavanaugh and Ford. Like most folks in our demographic cohort, we’re glad our youthful exploits weren’t captured on social media.

We discussed many stupid things we’d done and said back during the Reagan administration — shameful, embarrassing, irresponsible shit. But neither of us ever sexually assaulted anyone.

Yes, things were different in the 1980s — go watch “Pretty in Pink” if you want to cringe at outdated sexist and racist stereotypes that were mainstream at the time. But the incident Ford describes wasn’t acceptable back then either, even as our societal consensus on consent was, shall we say, more primitive.

The folks who are mostly arguing in bad faith about Kavanaugh do occasionally raise valid issues about how fair it is to hold people accountable for past behavior that clashes with current mores, and also adult culpability decades later for behavior during adolescence. That’s a conversation worth having.

But as someone pointed out on Twitter, it’s mostly those same people who have no problem with smearing unarmed victims of police shootings with old social media material and think it’s okay to lock teenagers up for life without parole.

Overall, I’m grateful for the progress we’ve made on the consent issue. It didn’t keep a serial sexual predator out of the White House in 2016. In fact, resistance to new norms almost certainly helped propel the orange fart cloud to the Oval Office.

But if it can help keep an ideologue credibly accused of sexual assault from joining a serial sexual harasser on the highest court in the land — a court that issues rulings affecting women’s bodily autonomy — I’ll count it as progress.