Patterico's Pontifications

9/21/2018

Blasey Ford Camp Outlines Conditions; GOP Working On Counter Offer (UPDATE: Blasey Ford Camp Responds To Committee Deadline)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:07 am

[guest post by Dana]

Yesterday, Christine Blasey Ford’s attorney, Debra Katz, outlined the conditions that must be met in order for Blasey Ford to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

Ford will not appear any sooner than next Thursday*;

No questions to be asked at hearing by any outside counsel — only by Senators;

Mark Judge must be subpoenaed;

Kavanaugh would testify first, then Ford would testify, and Kavanaugh would have no opportunity to respond or rebut;

The Friday deadline for her to provide written statement before the hearing would be waived;

Provide adequate security;

Only one pool camera in hearing room;

Ford and Kavanaugh allotted the same amount of time to talk.

* Regarding a written statement by Friday is a “non-starter,” and testimony on Monday is a “dealbreaker” according to Katz:

…because “[i]t is simply not possible for her to prepare such testimony while at the same time trying to take appropriate security precautions in the face of the avalanche of threats she has been receiving.”

Obviously, the demand that Kavanaugh would testify first and have no opportunity for rebuttal is so problematic, it is unacceptable. As some have pointed out, yes, this isn’t a court of law, however:

Just this morning, CNN is reporting that the GOP is working on a response Blasey Ford’s demands:

Two sources say the Senate Judiciary Committee will likely send a proposal to Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer proposing a Wednesday hearing, with Ford testifying first and Brett Kavanaugh second.

The proposal would have outside counsel asks the questions.

As noted:

Offer not final and not sent, per numerous GOP sources. Discussed on Judiciary R call this morning

We need to hear from both of them. Given that both sides of the aisle agree that a very serious allegation has been made, both the accuser and the accused should be provided a secure forum in which to which to be heard and be available for questioning and examination. In spite of various factions already assuming Kavanaugh’s dishonesty and Blasey Ford’s honesty and/or Kavanaugh’s honesty and Blasey Ford’s dishonesty, if the primary concern is rooting out the truth, then wouldn’t both sides of the political aisle want them to testify? And wouldn’t the individuals themselves want that opportunity as well? Ultimately, the public needs to hear from both to see if their claims stand up under scrutiny. If that hasn’t yet happened in full, how on earth has anyone already made a definitive call about guilt or innocence? Unless, of course, the real priority here isn’t really about any allegation and denial. And that, sadly, is where we find ourselves: If the voracious and insatiable appetite of partisan politics demands the exploitation of an individual’s alleged assault and the subsequent destruction of another individual – whether innocent or guilty, then so be it.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

UPDATE: Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary Committee gave Ford a 10 p.m. Friday deadline to make her decision as to whether Christine Blasey Ford would testify on Wednesday:

The committee, led by chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Ford could testify Wednesday — a day earlier than she demanded, but also two days later than the day the committee had originally announced, Monday. The committee is also proposing that Ford testify before Kavanaugh, as opposed to after, and that outside counsel handle the questioning. According to a GOP committee aide, the exact language in the counter offer asks Ford, “Please respond by 5 p.m.”

Katz responded to the letter, which she made a point to note that it had been sent at 4:00 p.m.:

“I advised you that Dr. Ford had traveled to meet with the FBI for several hours about the death threats she had been receiving, and we would need until tomorrow to confer with her and to be able to provide you with a well-considered response,” Katz said in the letter. “Rather than allowing her the time she needs to respond to the take-it-or-leave-it demand you conveyed, you sent us an email at 5:47 p.m. – which you again gave to the media first – insisting that we accept your “invitation” for a Wednesday hearing by 10:00 p.m. tonight.”

She further claimed:

The 10:00 p.m. deadline is arbitrary. Its sole purpose is to bully Dr. Ford and deprive her of the ability to make a considered decision that has life-altering implications for her and her family. She has already been forced out of her home and continues to face harassment, hate mail, and death threats. Our modest request is that she be given an additional day to make her decision.

You can read the response in its entirety here.

As a reminder, the next term of the Supreme Court begins Oct. 1.

9/20/2018

The California Nanny State (Nearly) Dictates Statewide School Starting Times

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:47 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Earlier today, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that had been duly passed by the Democrat-dominated state legislature which would have prohibited middle schools and high schools in the state from commencing classes any earlier than 8:30 am. This legislation had passed the Assembly by a fairly close 41-34 margin (with five abstentions) and the Senate by a more healthy 23-14 margin (with three abstentions). The narrowness of the Assembly vote suggests there thankfully won’t be much appetite for trying to override Brown’s veto.

Heaven forbid that local school districts make decisions based upon the needs of their own families, rather than the legislature imposing a one-size-fits-all solution. This is what it’s like living in California in 2018. Now that the problems of homelessness, pensions, unaffordable housing, poverty, and crumbling infrastructure have been solved, the legislature can start micromanaging morning start times for sleepy teenagers.

This is an increasingly rare case of Governor Brown being Good Jerry, the pragmatic sole adult in the room (or, more pointedly, in the Democrat caucus room). Once in a while he has managed to rise above his manifest weirdness and shoot down some of the more puzzling flights of fancy upon which his legislative allies regularly embark. But Moonbeam is leaving us in January, and I for one have zero faith that a Democrat successor like Gavin Newsom won’t gladly indulge the Sacramento nutcases and sign these ridiculous bills into law. As crazy as it sounds, we will soon come to miss Jerry Brown here in the Golden State.

Sic transit gloria Californiae.

– JVW

9/19/2018

Kavanaugh Classmate: I Did Not Attend the Party Christine Ford Says I Attended

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:25 am

The story seems to be falling apart:

In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, another former classmate of Brett Kavanaugh’s denies attending a party like the one described in the allegation made by Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexually assaulting her three decades ago when they were teenagers.

. . . .

“I understand that I have been identified by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as the person she remembers as ‘PJ’ who supposedly was present at the party she described in her statements to the Washington Post,” Smyth says in his statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I am issuing this statement today to make it clear to all involved that I have no knowledge of the party in question; nor do I have any knowledge of the allegations of improper conduct she has leveled against Brett Kavanaugh.”

Hmmm.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

9/18/2018

Noah Rothman on What’s At Stake with the Kavanaugh Nomination

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:21 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Over at Commentary, Noah Rothman has an excellent post about why it is important to fight for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and not throw in the towel or, worse, tuck in our tail and hide. Here is how he sees it:

According to Senate Judiciary Committee Democrat Chris Coons, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when she was a minor, did not want to come forward. In an eerie echo of Anita Hill’s public ordeal, her accusations were “leaked to the media.” With her confidentiality violated, Ford had no choice but to go public. Coons could not say where that leak came from, but he did confess that “people on committee staff” had access to the letter in which Ford made her allegations. Draw your own conclusions.

In a more sane world, the professional feminists would be aghast at the fact that a Democrat (and let’s be real: it’s almost certainly a Democrat) staffer leaked the contents of the letter to the media, thus ensuring that Ms. Ford would inevitably be unmasked and forced to go public. Yet one doesn’t have to be a cynic to reckon that any discomfort or even anguish that Ms. Ford will be forced to endure pales in comparison to the opportunity to torpedo the nomination of a conservative justice. More from Rothman:

[. . . ] For some, this has become a proxy battle in the broader cultural reckoning that began with the #MeToo moment. Quite unlike the many abusive men who were outed by this movement, though, the evidentiary standard being applied to Kavanaugh’s case is remarkably low. His innocence has not been presumed, and a preponderance of evidence has not been marshaled against him. It is not even clear as of this writing that Kavanaugh will be allowed to confront his accuser. At a certain point, honest observers must concede that getting to the truth has not been a defining feature of this process.

[. . .]

The experiences that Dr. Ford described are appalling. Even for those who are inclined to believe her account and think that she is due some restitution, no true justice can be meted out that doesn’t infringe on the rights of the accused. Those in the commentary class who would use Kavanaugh as a stand-in for every abuser who got away, every preppy white boy who benefited from unearned privilege, every hypocritical conservative moralizer to exact some karmic vengeance are not interested in justice. They want a political victory, even at the expense of the integrity of the American ideal. If there is a fight worth having, it’s the fight against that.

That’s the part that I like best. Deep down inside many on the left probably have doubts that Kavanaugh behaved in the manner alleged. Democrats have been said to have serious regrets about forcing out Al Franken on unsubstantiated groping allegations (though Franken was of course undone by the picture of his boorish behavior), but after years of putting up with this sort of behavior from the Ted Kennedys, Chris Dodds, and Bill Clintons of the world they had no choice but to cut him loose. It should therefore come as no surprise that they are seeking the proverbial pound of flesh from the GOP side in return. But just as Democrats lived to regret tampering with judicial filibusters, so too should they be careful about the furies they unleash with this latest stunt.

Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.

– JVW

9/17/2018

Brett Kavanaugh’s Accuser Goes On The Record

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:26 am

[guest post by Dana]

Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford has gone on the record:

Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.

While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.

There was no police report filed, and she did not tell her parents about the incident, nor anyone else, until 2012 when it came up during couples therapy:

The therapist’s notes, portions of which were provided by Ford and reviewed by The Washington Post, do not mention Kavanaugh’s name but say she reported that she was attacked by students “from an elitist boys’ school” who went on to become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.” The notes say four boys were involved, a discrepancy Ford says was an error on the therapist’s part. Ford said there were four boys at the party but only two in the room.

Notes from an individual therapy session the following year, when she was being treated for what she says have been long-term effects of the incident, show Ford described a “rape attempt” in her late teens.

Ford’s husband backed up his wife’s claims:

In an interview, her husband, Russell Ford, said that in the 2012 sessions, she recounted being trapped in a room with two drunken boys, one of whom pinned her to a bed, molested her and prevented her from screaming. He said he recalled that his wife used Kavanaugh’s last name and voiced concern that Kavanaugh — then a federal judge — might one day be nominated to the Supreme Court.

This is a horrible situation with a very serious accusation being made. So serious that it will leave Ford and Kavanaugh, and their respective families damaged as a result. None of this can be undone. Ever. Even if the accusation is proven to be false, the damage to Kavanaugh is already set. Instead of “An honorable man was falsely accused of sexual misconduct,” the story will be misleadingly limited to “A wealthy, powerful judge faced serious questions about attempted rape.” It will be inescapable for all of the Kavanaughs. And if the accusation pans out and Ford’s story stands up to serious scrutiny, then Ford, who would have already suffered for decades, will be reliving the incident all over again, and this time on a public stage.

On top of this, there is a whole lot of stink to go around. Feinstein cynically decided to use an alleged sexual assault as a political weapon. Here is her latest statement, which doesn’t ring true to me because her actions don’t back up her claims of how very seriously she takes accusations of sexual assault, when one recalls that she sat on the information for two months, and that she never questioned Kavanaugh about the accusation, whether privately or while he was under oath. Also, if she really believed the matter should be treated with an extreme level of seriousness, would she have redacted the accuser’s name so that even the FBI didn’t know who she was?

“It has always been Mrs. Ford’s decision whether to come forward publicly. For any woman, sharing an experience involving sexual assault—particularly when it involves a politically connected man with influence, authority and power—is extraordinarily difficult.

“From the outset, I have believed these allegations were extremely serious and bear heavily on Judge Kavanaugh’s character. However, as we have seen over the past few days, they also come at a price for the victim. I hope the attacks and shaming of her will stop and this will be treated with the seriousness it deserves.

“I support Mrs. Ford’s decision to share her story, and now that she has, it is in the hands of the FBI to conduct an investigation. This should happen before the Senate moves forward on this nominee.”

(Note: according to this report, given that the “FBI doesn’t plan to investigate the allegation as a criminal matter, […] Feinstein wants the bureau to review it as part of Kavanaugh’s background check.”) Amusingly, and without an ounce of self-awareness, , Feinstein also said that “the FBI should have the time it needs to investigate this new material.” And again, how does Feinstein say this with a straight face, given that she held onto the “new material” for two months? Wouldn’t that have provided the FBI with the time they needed to investigate? While the Democrats are clamoring for a delay in the vote because time is needed for an investigation, it was Feinstein herself who delayed any timely investigation from taking place.

There is also a lot of stink concerning Harris, Booker, and the professional Left, all of whom made concerted efforts to smear Kavanaugh during the hearings and lie about him. And even when shown to be lies, they were repeatedly pushed.

So now an accuser who has come forward to tell her story. It does not sound fantastical nor absurd. It sounds possible. But it is an accusation without any corroboration or eyewitnesses. Until then, it remains just an accusation which involves three individuals, with two of them denying it happened. We need to hear more in order to make a clear and accurate assessment of what happened, and to test her story to see if it holds water. With that, the political aspect for a long term impact going forward should not be ignored: “At this point, the GOP has to go to the wall for Kavanaugh or the Dems will have fully weaponized mere allegations as a method to destroy credible nominees. The precedent would be set and be too dangerous to future nominees. And we know the Dems would defend their own.”

As for the GOP, there is no indication that the vote will be delayed.

Brett Kavanaugh released a statement this morning:

This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes – to her or to anyone.

Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday.

I am wiling to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the Committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity.

With regard to Ford, her attorney said this:

“Her recollection of these events is crystal clear,” Ford’s attorney Lisa Banks told Morning Edition. “She will agree to participate in any proceedings that she’s asked to participate in.”

I’ll end the post with this sharp bit of observation regarding where we are at now and how to test the veracity of the claim made against Kavanaugh. Read the whole thing:

Yet unless all parties start telling the same story, there is no way to know for certain if this event occurred. We don’t need certainty, however, to make a decision on whether a man should sit on the Supreme Court. I have the same standard for Brett Kavanaugh as I did for Roy Moore, for Donald Trump, for Bill Clinton — or for any other politician who’s accused of misconduct. Is it more likely than not that the allegation is true?

Given the totality of the evidence, I believe it is more likely than not that Bill Clinton committed rape and sexual harassment. I believe it is more likely than not that Donald Trump has committed sexual assault. I believe it is more likely than not that Roy Moore engaged in sexual misconduct with underage girls. But the evidence against Kavanaugh falls far short of the evidence arrayed against each of these men. So far at least it falls far short of the evidence against virtually any other politician or celebrity who has faced consequences during this #MeToo moment.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

9/16/2018

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 159

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Sehet, wir gehn hinauf gen Jerusalem” (Behold, let us go up to Jerusalem).

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 8:27-38:

Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

Jesus Predicts His Death

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

The Way of the Cross

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

Your Cross is already prepared for You,
where You will bleed to death;
here scourges are sought, there reeds are bound,
Your bonds await You;
Ah, don’t go there Yourself!

. . . .

I follow after You
I will stay here with You,
through spitting and shame,
do not scorn me!
I will still embrace You on the Cross,
I will not leave You,
even as Your heart breaks.
I will not release You from my breast,
When Your head grows pale
at the last stroke of death,
And if You must depart at last,
Then I will hold You fast
You shall find Your grave in me.
In my arm and bosom.

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at least The Jury Talks Back.

9/15/2018

NYT: Mattis on His Way Out?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:03 pm

I’m almost done with the Bob Woodward book, and one thing it makes clear is that Jim Mattis is a calming influence in the Trump administration. When Trump wanted to do something stupid — like pull troops out of South Korea or Afghanistan, or kill a critical trade deal with South Korea — Mattis would step in and talk Trump off the ledge, calmly and respectfully.

Which makes this report extra distressing:

Back when their relationship was fresh and new, and President Trump still called his defense secretary “Mad Dog” — a nickname Jim Mattis detests — the wiry retired Marine general often took a dinner break to eat burgers with his boss in the White House residence.

Mr. Mattis brought briefing folders with him, aides said, to help explain the military’s shared “ready to fight tonight” strategy with South Korea, and why the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has long been viewed as central to protecting the United States. Using his folksy manner, Mr. Mattis talked the president out of ordering torture against terrorism detainees and persuaded him to send thousands more American troops to Afghanistan — all without igniting the public Twitter castigations that have plagued other national security officials.

But the burger dinners have stopped. Interviews with more than a dozen White House, congressional and current and former Defense Department officials over the past six weeks paint a portrait of a president who has soured on his defense secretary, weary of unfavorable comparisons to Mr. Mattis as the adult in the room, and increasingly concerned that he is a Democrat at heart.

Mattis is often the voice of reason in the room. Woodward describes how Trump repeatedly questioned the need for Special Access Programs that would allow the U.S. to detect a North Korean nuclear launch in seven seconds from South Korea, rather detecting it 15 minutes after launch from Alaska. People would explain it, again and again, but Trump never seemed to understand. Trump asked this and many other stupid questions in one meeting, causing Mattis to explain: “We’re doing this in order to prevent World War III.” The gathered officials in that meeting were frustrated, as Woodward describes:

Among the principals there was exasperation with these questions. Why are we having to do this constantly? When is he going to learn? They couldn’t believe they were having these conversations and had to justify their reasoning. Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed, telling close associates that the president acted like — and had the understanding of — “a fifth or sixth grader.”

Mattis is the adult in the room, and Trump is indeed the fifth- or sixth-grader that Mattis says he is, according to Woodward’s book. And we can’t afford to lose another adult. Back to the NYT:

The fate of Mr. Mattis is important because he is widely viewed — by foreign allies and adversaries but also by the traditional national security establishment in the United States — as the cabinet official standing between a mercurial president and global tumult.

“Secretary Mattis is probably one of the most qualified individuals to hold that job,” Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in an interview. His departure from the Pentagon, Mr. Reed said, “would, first of all, create a disruption in an area where there has been competence and continuity.”

Bad, bad news. I hope we make it through this guy’s administration without him blundering us into a major war.

UPDATE: In the interest of completeness, I should note that Mattis claims: “The contemptuous words about the President attributed to me in Woodward’s book were never uttered by me or in my presence.” John Kelly has said something similar about the things attributed to him. (The book also quotes Rex Tillerson as calling Trump a “fucking moron” as widely reported by others. Tillerson has never denied that.)

I don’t believe Mattis or Kelly. I think they have decided that keeping their positions is more important than telling the full truth about everything they have said about Trump. But I should note their denials.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

The Latest Efforts To Sink Brett Kavanaugh

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:01 am

[guest post by Dana]

[ I’ve been working on this post for a few days, but because the circumstances are fluid with new information coming out all the time, I’m just going to throw it all together now and let you have at it. If I’ve missed any updates, add them to the comments. ]

Just one week before the confirmation vote was set to happen, Sen. Diane Feinstein passed along information to federal investigators regarding an alleged incident of sexual misconduct involving nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The questionably-timed announcement was intentionally vague, as Feinstein declined to give any details, and redacted the identity of the accuser before handing over the information to the FBI:

The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Thursday that she received information from a person about Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh and referred it to federal investigators — but declined to make public any details, citing confidentiality issues.

The information came in a letter, which describes an alleged episode of sexual misconduct involving Kavanaugh when he was in high school, according to a person familiar with the matter. Democrats on the Judiciary Committee first learned about the contents of the letter at a meeting called at the last minute on Wednesday night. The letter had been relayed to Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) by Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), two people familiar with the matter said.

“That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”

(After last week’s embarrassing fiasco at the confirmation hearings, including the unbecoming theatrics of Kamala Harris and Cory Booker (only to be followed up by Hillary Clinton peddling an already proven lie), this latest effort to block confirmation of the nominee has a whiff of desperation. This especially after Harris’ manipulative and dishonest efforts to take down Kavanaugh ended up being a Big Nothing.)

After the FBI received the information, they passed on opening an investigation:

According to a person familiar with the matter, the FBI does not now plan to launch a criminal investigation of the matter, which would normally be handled by local authorities, if it was within the statute of limitations. The FBI instead passed the material to the White House, as an update to Kavanaugh’s background check, which already had been completed, the person said. The move is similar to what the bureau did when allegations were leveled against former White House aide Rob Porter.

An FBI official said, “Upon receipt of the information on the night of September 12, we included it as part of Judge Kavanaugh’s background file, as per the standard process.”

Also, there is a question about the timing of the announcement:

Ms. Feinstein, who received the letter from Ms. Eshoo’s office this summer, informed fellow Democrats on the Judiciary Committee about its existence and its contents on Wednesday evening but did not share the letter itself.

Sitting on the information and remaining closed-lipped about it both perplexed and frustrated her colleagues:

Sources familiar with Feinstein’s decision suggested that she was acting out of concern for the privacy of the accuser, knowing that the woman would be subject to fierce partisan attacks if she came forward. Feinstein also acted out of a sense that Democrats would be better off focussing on legal, rather than personal, issues in their questioning of Kavanaugh. Sources who worked for other members of the Judiciary Committee said that they respected the need to protect the woman’s privacy, but that they didn’t understand why Feinstein had resisted answering legitimate questions about the allegation. “We couldn’t understand what their rationale is for not briefing members on this. This is all very weird,” one of the congressional sources said. Another added, “She’s had the letter since late July. And we all just found out about it.”

Feinstein’s office later defended her handling of the information:

Senator Feinstein was given information about Judge Kavanaugh through a third party. The Senator took these allegations seriously and believed they should be public. However, the woman in question made it clear she did not want this information to be public. It is critical in matters of sexual misconduct to protect the identity of the victim when they wish to remain anonymous, and the senator did so in this case.

Yet, as Charles C.W. Cooke points out, this isn’t exactly what she did:

But Feinstein hasn’t done that. Rather, by trickling out bombshell insinuations while denying anyone a chance to evaluate them, she’s played both sides. Worse still, having caused a cynical one-way firestorm, she’s now praising herself for her discretion.

Now, about the alleged incident:

In the letter, the woman alleged that, during an encounter at a party, Kavanaugh held her down, and that he attempted to force himself on her. She claimed in the letter that Kavanaugh and a classmate of his, both of whom had been drinking, turned up music that was playing in the room to conceal the sound of her protests, and that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand. She was able to free herself. Although the alleged incident took place decades ago and the three individuals involved were minors, the woman said that the memory had been a source of ongoing distress for her, and that she had sought psychological treatment as a result.

It doesn’t say whether the this was reported to law enforcement at the time.

Kavanaugh emphatically denies that this ever happened:

I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.

Also, Kavanaugh’s classmate has gone on the record to counter the accuser’s claims. Mark Judge, a writer in Washington, D.C. told the Weekly Standard:

“It’s just absolutely nuts. I never saw Brett act that way.”

Judge says he first learned he was named in the letter during an interview with the New Yorker. “[Ronan Farrow] said: As you know, you’re named in the letter. And I did not know,” he said.

The Kavanaugh classmate told TWS that the New Yorker did not provide him the name of the woman alleging wrongdoing, a specific date of the alleged incident, or the location where the incident is alleged to have occurred. The woman alleging misconduct has requested that her identity be protected, according to media reports.

I asked Judge if he could recall any sort of rough-housing with a female student back in high school (an incident that might have been interpreted differently by parties involved). “I can’t. I can recall a lot of rough-housing with guys. It was an all-boys school, we would rough-house with each other,” he said said. “I don’t remember any of that stuff going on with girls.”

Yesterday, 65 women who knew Brett Kavanaugh in high school sent a letter to Senators Grassley and Feinstein outlining their support for the nominee:

We are women who have known Brett Kavanaugh for more than 35 years and knew him while he attended high school between 1979 and 1983. For the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect. We strongly believe it is important to convey this information to the Committee at this time.

The signers of this letter hold a broad range of political views. Many of us are not lawyers, but we know Brett Kavanaugh as a person. And he has always been a good person.

(Responding to skeptics, Virginia Hume, who also signed the letter, explained how the letter came about.)

If this ends up being nothing but a smear campaign, Allapundit reminds us about the long-term impact of such a campaign:

Speculation like we’re engaged in right now is precisely what the smear would be designed to achieve. They can’t stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation but they can certainly try to delegitimize him, whether to call his decisions on the Court into question among liberals or to goose turnout for their party this fall or both. The sensational detail about referring the matter to the FBI is a master stroke of ratf*cking: No matter where this goes now, even if it completely disappears off the national radar screen, it’ll pass into progressive lore that Kavanaugh is some sort of sex criminal who not only doesn’t deserve to be on the bench but should actually be doing time somewhere…

It will stay on the national radar for awhile, though, as either Feinstein or Eshoo or one of their staffers is destined to leak something. Maybe liberals will end up spinning it out into their very own version of QAnon. “Breadcrumbs” about the secret Feinstein letter all the way to Election Day.

So here we are: Sen. Feinstein never asked Kavanaugh about the alleged incident, nor brought it to his attention, whether behind closed doors or during the hearing. Further, she did not tell her colleagues on the committee that she had the information. The identity of the accuser remains unknown. The accuser does not want to pursue the matter any further. The vote is scheduled for next week to confirm Kavanaugh.

Sen. Orrin Hatch released a statement expressing his frustration with this turn of events. In part:

I do not intend to allow Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation to be stalled because of an 11th hour accusation that Democrats did not see fit to raise for over a month. The Senator in the best position to determine the credibility of these accusations made the conscious decision not to take action on them, and the authorities to whom the accusations have been referred have decided not to take action either.

Every accuser deserves to be heard. But a process of verification is also necessary. In this case, the accusations were made in a private letter, which has been misrepresented in a number of media stories, from an accuser who has declined to go public and has asked for privacy. The letter sent to investigators has had her name redacted, meaning no further investigation could take place. The claims are wholly unverifiable, and come at the tail-end of a process that was already marred by ugly innuendo, dishonesty, and the nastiest form of our politics. The American people deserve much better from the Senate as an institution.

Yet, in spite of everything, this appears to be where the dial has moved:

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Personally speaking, I couldn’t have expressed it any better:

If this Kavanaugh charge is true, damn him. If it isn’t, damn the accusers — because a charge like this leaves a mark hard to efface.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

New Commenting Rules

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:02 am

I’ve become less patient with wading through nonsense in the comment section. So we’re going to have some new rules.

Personal attacks on commenters (or me) are out. Criticizing the arguments is fine. Criticizing the person is not. [UPDATE: Criticizing public figures is just fine. What would a blog comment section be without that?]

Violations will be handled according to my judgment and the judgment of moderators I trust. There will indeed be a sliding scale, depending on your track record.

For example, I will go much easier on commenters of all political stripes who bring analysis and reason to the table. aphrael is an example from the left. From the Trump-supporting right I have seen excellent honesty and civility from commenters such as “GOOCH” and Stephen J. If someone like that leveled a personal insult at someone, I’d be very surprised — but I would be inclined to go easier on them because of their track record (some short, and some, like aphrael, very long) of sensible commentary. The longer your track record, the greater the leniency. But even there, there is a breaking point.

The converse is also true: if you’ve always been a jerk, I’ll toss you out the second you violate this rule.

As an example of the latter sort of commenter, a nasty sort calling himself or herself “School Marm” recently tried to post a comment that concluded: “Jesus, you’re stupid.” I trashed the comment and banned School Marm for life. Would I do that to anyone who said those words? No, but School Marm had a long and consistent history of being a royally unpleasant [insert word here that would probably get moderated]. I just now reviewed some of this person’s more recent comments, and each and every one was hateful and filled with vituperation. It was a joy to use this occasion as an excuse to rid myself of this particular [repeat same word] forever.

Another rule: you may get called on your untrue statements, and there may be consequences for failing to man up and apologize if you’re wrong. Recently, I have become more aggressive about forcing people who made nasty and untruthful comments to either back up their statements or apologize. I have rid myself of a handful of total jerks this way. The scenario goes something like this: jerk commenter says “Patterico is always saying [insert something I never said].” In such cases, I tell them that they have a choice: prove their assertion (which of course they can’t) or apologize and retract (which, for people of a certain mindset, is unthinkable). This technique has rid me of about five people who were constantly lying about me. It’s fun holding liars to account. Keep that in mind if you’re contemplating making an angry and sloppily thought out accusation about things I have said.

That leads me to the key principle: DO NOT MISCHARACTERIZE OTHER PEOPLE’S POSITIONS. Also, do not mischaracterize other people’s positions. One more thing: do not mischaracterize other people’s positions.

Few things are more corrosive to honest discussion than constantly having to say: “That’s not what I said. Nope, that’s not what I said either. Nope, you’re still misrepresenting what I said.” One particular commenter here — a longtime commenter who used to guest blog here and often had interesting and insightful things to say — is no longer welcome to comment at this blog because he simply could not stop doing this to me. Virtually any time he took a position opposite to mine, he would mischaracterize my position — and the more viscerally upset he became, the more vicious the distortions of my statements. It became unworkable to keep him around — and when, in a single thread, he misrepresented my position badly in three separate ways, I used the “retract and apologize or prove it” strategem. He failed to retract and apologize, and the rest is history — and so is he, as far as this blog is concerned.

Don’t let that be you.

Some words have been added to the filter. Some are legitimate words but are overused in a particular context. (Example: Mitt Romney is not a “pervert” and I tire of reading that a dozen times in a thread. So now, that word causes a comment to get red-flagged. If you want to use the word “pervert” for a legitimate reason, guess who you can blame for that? I won’t say, because I don’t want to embarrass him, but his handle rhymes with the word “flappyseat” and he often leaves the first comment on any given thread.) If you get caught in the filter, don’t assume you have been banned. Comment threads are being monitored. If you put a lot of effort into a comment and it did not appear, feel free to email.

I have always encouraged freedom of expression. However, the level of nastiness has driven some good people away, and made reading the comments difficult for the rest of us. This is an attempt to do better.

The rules are simple, and won’t affect most honest and good-natured people at all. The rest of you will have to be more careful.

I’m not cross-posting this at The Jury Talks Back, because that blog has a different purpose: to provide a forum for people who would never say anything to anyone that they wouldn’t say to their face at a gathering in my living room. It’s a more polite forum for discussion and it’s underpopulated. If that ethic appeals to you, consider commenting there more.

P.S. Dana recently had a post called Report: College Professor Shoots Himself To Protest President Trump. It was a very good post that merited adult discussion. However, for a particular brand of overly partisan tribalist, there was no resisting the temptation to suggest that the professor should have killed himself. Such comments are so reprehensible that I deleted every such comment and closed the thread. But the post deserved, and continued to deserve, discussion by people who can refrain from such idiocy. That discussion can still be had at the version of her post at The Jury Talks Back, and I encourage people to go there and discuss it, subject to the rules that apply there.

9/14/2018

New York Times Misleads Readers … About Nikki Haley’s Curtains (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:47 am

[guest post by Dana]

In New York Times , this breathless insinuation appears on the Politics page:

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Here are the first 5 paragraphs of the Oh-My-Gosh-She-Didn’t! report:

The State Department spent $52,701 last year buying customized and mechanized curtains for the picture windows in Nikki R. Haley’s official residence as ambassador to the United Nations, just as the department was undergoing deep budget cuts and had frozen hiring.

The residence, in a new building on First Avenue, has spectacular views, and Ms. Haley is the first ambassador to live in it. For decades, her predecessors lived in the Waldorf Astoria hotel. But after the hotel was purchased by a Chinese insurance company with a murky ownership structure, the State Department decided in 2016 to find a new home for its top New York diplomat because of security concerns.

The government leased the apartment, just blocks from the delegation’s offices, with an option to buy, according to Patrick Kennedy, the top management official at the State Department during the Obama administration. The full-floor penthouse, with handsome hardwood floors covering large open spaces stretching nearly 6,000 square feet, was listed at $58,000 a month.

While ambassadors around the world are given residences, there are only two such residences in the United States — one for Ms. Haley and the other for her deputy.

Ms. Haley’s residence is particularly grand since it is used for official entertaining. But her deputy’s is also very nice, having served as the location for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s intimate steak dinner in May with Kim Yong-chol, North Korea’s top nuclear weapons negotiator. During the dinner, Mr. Pompeo used its sweeping views to point out various features of New York City’s skyline to the senior official from the world’s most reclusive country.

Pretty unbelievable, right? Who does she think she is? Isn’t this just typical of the flashy, brassy, best-of-everything Trump?

But, buried down in the sixth paragraph, we find this nugget:

A spokesman for Ms. Haley said plans to buy the curtains were made in 2016, during the Obama administration. Ms. Haley had no say in the purchase, he said.

Ah, you don’t say! (As a reminder, NYT, Haley did not assume office as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations until January 27, 2017. Just saying…)

So how are the media elites framing the story? Just how you would expect them to:

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And from one of the left’s newest, bright lights:

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(Notice the number of retweets.)

It’s almost like the NYT wants readers to believe that only in the “Trump-era diplomatic front” of lavish excesses does an ambassadors dwell in such sumptuous surroundings.

Dishonest hacks.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

UPDATE: Facing criticism, an editors’ note has been appended to this story:

An earlier version of this article and headline created an unfair impression about who was responsible for the purchase in question. While Nikki R. Haley is the current ambassador to the United Nations, the decision on leasing the ambassador’s residence and purchasing the curtains was made during the Obama administration, according to current and former officials. The article should not have focused on Ms. Haley, nor should a picture of her have been used. The article and headline have now been edited to reflect those concerns, and the picture has been removed.

–Dana

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