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 Lucretia, c. 1695-1700
Linda Bloodworth Thomason, friend of Bill and Hill and creator of “Designing Women,” has something to say about Les Moonves, the CBS head honcho who was recently ousted after heroic journalist Ronan Farrow exposed him for assaulting and harassing women for decades. Thomason was a CBS hit-maker who nabbed a record-breaking writing and producing contract with the network in the early 1990s. That all changed when Moonves came on board:
I was never sexually harassed or attacked by Les Moonves. My encounters were much more subtle, engendering a different kind of destruction…
During that period, because my contract was so valuable, I continued trying to win over Moonves. And he continued turning down every pilot I wrote. Often, if he would catch me in the parking lot, he would make sure to tell me that my script was one of the best he’d read but that he had decided, in the end, not to do it. It always seemed that he enjoyed telling me this. Just enough to keep me in the game. I was told he refused to give my scripts to any of the stars he had under contract. Then, I began to hear from female CBS employees about his mercurial, misogynist behavior, with actresses being ushered in and out of his office. His mantra, I was told, was, “Why would I wanna cast ’em if I don’t wanna fuck ’em?”
People asked me for years, “Where have you been? What happened to you?” Les Moonves happened to me.
Somewhere in the middle of all this, I was walking the halls one day in the original CBS building. In spite of no longer having gainful employment, I still felt proud that I had been allowed to make a creative contribution to the network I had grown up with — starting with Lucy and Ethel, who had electrified me and inspired me to write comedy. I never dreamed that I would become the first woman, along with my then-writing partner, Mary Kay Place, to write for M*A*S*H. I took pride in being part of a network that always seemed to be rife with crazy, interesting, brash women, from Mary Tyler Moore and Rhoda, to Maude, to Murphy Brown, to the Designing Women. Many of these female characters paved the way for women to be single, to pursue careers and equal pay and to lead rich, romantic lives with reproductive rights.
As I walked, I noticed that the portraits of all these iconic women were no longer adorning the walls. I don’t know why and I didn’t ask. I just know that the likes of them have rarely been seen on that network again. Thanks to Les Moonves, I can only guess they all became vaginal swabs in crime labs on CSI Amarillo…
And as for you, Mr. Moonves, in spite of the fact that I was raised to be a proper Southern female, and with your acknowledgement that I have never, in my life, spoken a single cross word to you, despite the way you treated me, may I simply say, channeling my finest Julia Sugarbaker delivery: “Go fuck yourself!”
Read the whole thing at The Hollywood Reporter.
Moonves was originally slated for a big payout after CBS kicked his sorry ass to the curb. But outrage from the public and from women he’d destroyed over the course of his career caused CBS to backpedal. From Farrow’s New Yorker piece:
Update: Three hours after the publication of this story, CNN reported that Moonves would step down from his position at CBS. Later the same day, CBS announced that Moonves had left the company and would not receive any of his exit compensation, pending the results of the independent investigation into the allegations. The company named six new members of its board of directors and said it would donate twenty million dollars to organizations that support the #MeToo movement and workplace equality for women. The donation will be deducted from any severance payments that may be due to Moonves.
The Moonves episode is a timely reminder about misogyny’s widespread damage. Powerful shit-stains like Les Moonves and Harvey Weinstein may finally experience some financial, social and hopefully legal costs for their abuse. But another leering pig, Donald Trump, has thus far escaped his reckoning, and a sexual harasser still sits on the highest court in the land, where he may soon team up with two Trump appointees to curtail women’s reproductive freedom.
We should never forget that misogyny (with an assist from a foreign autocrat and an anti-democracy, white supremacist-pandering Republican Party) gave us Trump and cheated us out of our first woman president. We should also keep in mind that misogyny continues to narrow possibilities and therefore blights our society in ways that are beyond reckoning.
As Rebecca Traister noted in a powerful piece in New York Magazine last year, our national narratives are still being shaped by lecherous, powerful men:
In hearing these individual tales, we’re not only learning about individual trespasses but for the first time getting a view of the matrix in which we’ve all been living: We see that the men who have had the power to abuse women’s bodies and psyches throughout their careers are in many cases also the ones in charge of our political and cultural stories.
The Latin origin of the word “matrix” roughly translates to “womb,” and in modern usage, it denotes a medium in which events take place, a space where development occurs. But there’s nothing nurturing about the misogyny matrix, in which abusers not only destroy individuals but serve as political and cultural gatekeepers.
That matrix, where all of us live right now, is poison to society, as is white supremacy. And we’ll never “rise up and live out the true meaning” of our equality creed until both misogyny and white supremacy are defeated.
Back at the end of May, Illinois became the thirty-seventh state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. (Thirty-eight states are required for ratification.) Even though I didn’t post about it at the time, events of the past few weeks have confirmed my conviction that embedding the ERA in the Constitution is one of our best weapons against the creeping authoritarianism of the revanchist GOP and its dishonest brokers in all three branches of government. And I’m not alone!
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2014 remarks at the National Press Club said if she could choose any amendment to add to the US Constitution, it would be the Equal Rights Amendment. “I think we have achieved that through legislation, but legislation can be repealed, it can be altered,” Ginsburg continued. “So I would like my granddaughters, when they pick up the Constitution, to see that notion — that women and men are persons of equal stature — I’d like them to see that is a basic principle of our society.”
It will probably not come as a surprise that the states which have so far failed to ratify are those of the Confederacy, plus Utah and Arizona. That doesn’t mean any of these states are unflippable, not even Arkansas (hello, Senator Doug Jones) or Georgia. The original 1970s impetus to revive the ERA — which, it should be remembered, was first proposed in 1923 — was vitiated by a series of state-level legal and social changes. But Anthony Kennedy’s retirement, and the Reichtwing jubilation greeting the Oval Office Occupant’s chance to steal another seat on the Supreme Court, make it clear that the ERA is every bit as essential to our continued existence as a free nation as the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. Without protection at the highest level, our rights to equal protection will never be more than provisional.
I respect the DOJ IG office, which is why I urged them to do this review. The conclusions are reasonable, even though I disagree with some. People of good faith can see an unprecedented situation differently. I pray no Director faces it again. Thanks to IG’s people for hard work.
— James Comey (@Comey) June 14, 2018
I’m sure he really, honestly believes he was acting in good faith, there was nothing else he could do, just following orders, ma’am. Small consolation: His reputation seems to be “everything” to Mr. Comey — and history has never been kind to the “just following orders” defense.
You could've listened to your boss, but she was a woman.
You could've respected protocol, but you wanted to punish a woman.
You could've revealed Trump's campaign was under investigation, but he wasn't a woman.
You could've been held accountable, but then again you're not a woman https://t.co/l47MiTCLtL
— Selena Adera?? (@Selena_Adera) June 14, 2018
According to the testimony of the Attorney General in the IG report, nine days before the election she and the FBI Director discussed how a “deep and visceral hatred of Secretary Clinton” by a cadre of senior NY FBI agents “has put us where we are today” w/r/t the Weiner laptop. pic.twitter.com/Owg69kuAlG
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) June 16, 2018
Loretta Lynch: Comey’s boss
Sally Yates: Comey’s other boss
Hillary Clinton: Comey’s likely boss
Someone had a problem working for women. https://t.co/gZJp4I6KEG
— Philippe Reines (@PhilippeReines) June 15, 2018
Comey’s constant, unbending public refusal to acknowledge he made *any professional mistakes of any kind* — let alone learn from them — is both a sight to behold and one of the original causes of the mistakes, a total blind spot for his own personal righteousness. https://t.co/wSj1Y5j1tz
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) June 15, 2018
CNN spent more time covering James Comey's letter about having found some redundant and immaterial emails in October 2016 than the full-time Republican propaganda network. https://t.co/y4O54b12Gf
— Scott Lemieux (@LemieuxLGM) June 16, 2018
That the press headlines out of the IG report aren’t, “Boy howdy, Clinton got screwed” is a pretty good sign how whacked by Trump the current narrative is.
— Schooley (@Rschooley) June 16, 2018
There’s never a pause in the rush of BREAKING NEWS these days, so I’m just gonna start posting good links irregardless. From the New York Times, “The star of the documentary “RBG” has embraced her popularity as another tool in her effort to help women advance”:
WASHINGTON — No one knew when, or even how or where, Ruth Bader Ginsburg would pop up. The Supreme Court justice was due at a screening here of “RBG,” a new documentary chronicling her exemplary life. But she was not tied to the night’s tightly scripted schedule — at some point she would just appear, “like a ninja,” an organizer said.
Gathered in a theater at the Naval Heritage Center, the crowd was amped. There were lawmakers (progressive Democrats and a smattering of conservatives); the justice’s family, friends and former law clerks; her colleague Justice Stephen Breyer; and self-described fan girls and boys…
When the justice arrived, bodyguards encircling her, the audience gave her a standing ovation, then hushed until she claimed her seat. She wore her hair pulled back with one of her beloved scrunchies, in navy velvet; a maroon tweedy blazer; slate-blue belled slacks; jewelry in just about every possible place jewelry can go; and carried her own large handbag. In front of her, arms shot up for the stealth selfie-with-a-famous-person snap. She didn’t mind.
Justice Ginsburg is an unlikely celebrity but then again, we live in an age full of those. What makes her ascendance to pop culture icon — the Notorious RBG, y’all — truly surprising is that, at 85, she is having fun with her unexpected fame, and making careful and inspired use of it for her own savvy ends.
“Ruth was so far ahead of her time that she was alone for decades,” Gloria Steinem wrote in an email, listing the ways her friend and feminist compatriot of nearly half a century has been at the forefront of cultural shifts. “Ruth acted on the intertwining of racism and sexism long before it was called intersectionality. And she was principled in her own field,” the law, even though, as a woman, she was not initially welcome in its highest ranks…
Ireland has done what, as a not-much-younger-human I would have thought impossible in my lifetime: it has legalized abortion — and by an overwhelming margin.
In doing so, it has struck a blow that will resonate worldwide, and especially here, I think and hope. Most important, it says to the forces of reaction that all people are people (even women!) and to hell with any doctrine, policy or party that says and does otherwise.
The Irish can have nice things. So should we — and can if we mobilize the energy that is already here to say “not on our watch” this November.
We’ll be talking about that all summer, I’m sure. For now, lets celebrate a huge win — for a small island and all its friends.
Image: John Duncan, The Riders of the Sidhe, 1911.