Friday, September 28, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford, and the case of the compartmentalized rapist — a meditation

It's possible that when Robert Louis Stevenson wrote this book 
he was on to something bigger than he guessed. [Illustration via
Wikimedia Commons.]
Back in the early 1980s, about the same time that Christine Blasey Ford says she was sexually abused by Brett Kavanaugh in the DC area, an advertising colleague of mine, a suit-and-tie kind of guy from the account management side, got arrested for rape in New Jersey. 

And not just for one rape. He was accused — and later convicted — for being a serial rapist. His modus operandi was to hide in the bushes in a park, and then jump out and attack women who were jogging by themselves.

Shock and disbelief

He was a husky, good-looking, college-educated midwesterner — and his arrest threw many of his women co-workers into shock. True, we were working for a small oddball advertising agency that was exceptionally laggard in cleaning up its sexist behavior. But he was not perceived as one of the male chauvinists.

“He was the only guy in account management who looked out for us,” one of the young women on staff told me. “He treated us fairly. He mentored me. I worked late with him lots of times. So did other women. We trusted him.”

I recalled a conversation he and I had, perhaps a year before that, when almost out of the blue he asked if I thought some rape victims were “asking for it.”

“No," I replied. "I mean, asking how could they ask for it? Who asks to get raped?” 

“Well, you know…just asking for it.”

Mentor or predator?

That brief conversation helps explain to me how a “nice guy” who helped and mentored his women co-workers could also be a brutal sexual predator.

 In an office setting he was always a perfect gentleman, and always a kindly mentor to the women  he knew. But the office setting, office attire, and office behavior were in just one compartment of his mind. A strange woman in nylon jogging shorts, her bare legs exposed, running through the park, was in another compartment, the “asking for it” compartment. And therefore she was fair game for rape. 

He was Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde, depending on which mental compartment was open for business at the moment.

By the way, I looked him up on the Internet before starting to write this. He’s out of prison now, living in New Jersey, looking middle-aged and overweight. His time in prison seems to have given him a thuggish look. I found him and his photograph on a registered sex offender website.

A hypothesis about Kavanaugh

So what does he have to do with Brett Kavanaugh? Bear with me a bit more while I explain a hypothesis.

Many people somehow sort others into distinctively separate compartments There might be a “nice” compartment and and “asking for it” compartment. Or there might be “matters to me” and “insignificant to me” compartments.

I’ve had male friends who’ve had brief extramarital flings and didn’t quite grasp the shocked and furious response of their wives, because the affairs these guys had “didn’t mean anything.” The guys sincerely didn’t understand, at least not on a visceral level, why their wives were upset by what they saw as a "trivial" affair.

Which brings me finally to Kavanaugh. Do I believe that he is mostly straight arrow, goes to church every Sunday, loves his family, teaches his daughter to pray, and never tells off-color jokes in mixed company? Absolutely.

I also believe Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony that Kavanaugh yanked her into a bedroom when they were both teen-agers, tried unsuccessfully to pull her clothing off, forcibly ran his hands over her body, covered her mouth with his hand so that she couldn't scream for help, ground his hips against her — and then laughed about it with a friend. 

Ford's testimony about the laughter between Kavanaugh and another friend tells me something. It says that Ford was in an “insignificant” compartment, unlike the 45 or so women who were former Catholic prep school or law colleagues of Kavanaugh, and who wrote in support of him. 

Ford simply didn’t matter all that much to him. Little wonder Kavanaugh can claim none of this happened. Even if he was cold sober, Ford fit in the wrong compartment, and was therefore easily forgotten. 

Or perhaps Kavanaugh does remember, at least a little bit. No matter. In either case, how outrageous it must seem that someone from the compartment reserved for people who don't matter can emerge after three decades from nowhere important to sully his name and damage his career.

Tirades and tears

And so Kavanaugh launches into a raging tirade before a Congressional committee, alternately red-faced and weeping. I believe both the rage and the tears. I believe he is apoplectically furious that this person, a woman of no significance to him, has the temerity to ruin his reputation. And I believe his weepy self-pitying disbelief that somebody from the Nobody Compartment has done this to him.

I also believe he has no place on any Federal bench, whether in an appeals court or the Supreme Court. Neither the tears, nor the tirades, nor the allegations of drunkenness, nor the very believable ones of sexual predation comport with judicial temperament.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Eleven reasons why Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh is not guilty of sexual abuse (as overheard by The New York Crank while listening to the news)

Brett Kavanaugh swearing about something else.
Photo: Wikimedia commons

By now,  you must be from Mars if you don’t know that a college professor named Christine Blasey Ford has accused Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s choice for the next seat on the Supreme Court, of sexual abuse.

Here’s why any red-blooded American can ignore the charges and cheer on Senate Republicans as they ram through Kavanaugh’s confirmation before some damn FBI investigation gets in the way and accidentally reveals a bunch of stupid facts.

1. Kavanaugh says he didn’t do it. Since everybody says he’s a “family man,” what more evidence of his innocence do you need?

2. Even if he did do it, he did it when he was still a high school student, so it doesn’t count because boys will be boys. 

3. It happened so many years ago that the statute of limitations has expired, therefore it doesn’t count. Not that anybody’s saying he did it. They’re just saying.

4. 65-or-so of Kavanaugh's closest high school women friends “spontaneously” wrote to say they know Brett Kavanaugh and he’s  a straight arrow. Anybody who had 65 close women friends in high school and who can get them all to say he’s a great guy, is a guy who couldn’t possibly have tried to commit rape because, umm, uh, something something something. Right?

5. Maybe it happened, but somebody else did it. In fact, the person who did do it is Kavanaugh's evil twin, whose name is Doppelgänger Kavanaugh.

6. The FBI should not be invited to investigate, because investigating stuff is so not what the FBI does. Even President Trump says so. Besides, if Kavanaugh had done it, they would have investigated, but since they didn’t investigate, there’s nothing to investigate, otherwise they would have investigated.

7. The fact that Ford took and passed a lie detector test proves nothing, since lie detector tests are not admissible in court. Even though there is no court. Of course, if she flunked a lie detector test, that would be another matter entirely. Ditto, if Kavanaugh took a lie detector test and passed. But he won’t take a lie detector test because he’s innocent, so why should he have to take it? (Not that he wouldn’t pass it if he did take it.)

8. The Drudge Report says Ford is a “mad” and a “troubled” professor. Therefore Kavanaugh couldn’t possibly have tried to rape her.

9. She got lousy review on Rate My Professors dot com. Of course, the websites Grabien and the Gateway Pundit, which pointed out those lousy ratings, failed to point out that they had the wrong Professor Ford at the wrong university. But both last names begin with the letter F, so close enough, right? Especially since one student rated the wrong Professor Ford as “the worst teacher I ever had.” What other proof would you need that the other Professor Ford is lying about a sexual assault?

10. The charges against Kavanaugh should be investigated by an impartial outside counsel appointed and approved by the Republican majority of  a Senate Judiciary Committee. How much more impartial can you get?

11. It’s a mere coincidence that Garrett Ventry, who was a Senate Whitewash Committee’s — I mean Judiciary Committee’s  — aide has stepped down after denying evidence that he was fired from a different political job in part because of a sexual  harassment allegation against him. In fact he denies that he’s any more guilty than Kavanaugh but resigned “to avoid causing any distraction from the work of the committee." Because, you know, nothing will distract you from looking into sex more than sex will distract you from looking into sex. Or something like that. 

And furthermore: I've just belatedly come across Franklin Graham's weigh-in on this matter. “Well, there wasn’t a crime that was committed. These are two teenagers and it’s obvious that she said no and he respected it and walked away.” Obvious how? Not according to Kavanaugh, who says it never happened at all. And certainly not according to Kristine Blasey Ford, who says he lay on top of her, put his hand over her mouth so she couldn't scream, felt her up and dry humped her. So where does Graham come off with his analysis? My best guess is, in a moment of divine inspiration, he averaged "never happened" with "sexual abuse" and came up a harmless incident in which Kavanaugh gave it the old high school try and she said no, so he left. And also, I am Film Commissioner by Popular Acclaim for the planet Uranus.

More and more I'm thinking that the Republicans feel such a terrible urgency to silence Kristine Blasey Ford and hide the whole thing under the rug because there's much worse — much much worse — still capable of coming out.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Thanks, doctors, for insisting I get prescriptions for all the opioids I didn’t need, want, or ask you for. One of these days they’ll come in handy.

As opioid deaths continue rising steeply, you’d think some doctors 
would be loathe to prescribe the damn stuff. I’m not so sure.
The accident happened about a year and a half ago. 

I was out for a short bicycle ride along the East River in Manhattan, where I live. Suddenly, my skinny front tire got caught in a groove between two large squares of pavement. Fortunately, I wasn’t going very fast at the time. 

My front wheel froze. I ended up going head-over-handlebars and landing on my side. The fall knocked the wind out of me, but after a few minutes, I got back up on my bike and headed home. That night, when I tried to lie on my side, the area around my rib cage felt a bit tender. The pain was never excruciating, but it wasn’t going away, either. After a few days, it finally dawned on me that I might have cracked a rib. 

It took me a couple of days more after I contacted my primary care physician to get him to recommend an orthopedist, and then to get in to see the orthopedic doc. An X-ray confirmed that I had indeed fractured a rib. The doctor said there wasn’t much to be done about it. He gave me a kind of strap to wear around my chest for the next few weeks until the rib healed, and told his physician's assistant to write out a prescription for me.

“What’s the prescription for?” I asked the doc.

“Oxycodone,” the doctor replied.

“What for? I’m not in any real pain.”

“But you will be,” the doctor insisted.

Well, that scared the hell out of me. Naturally, I ran to the drug store and filled the prescription. I still have it, and all 25 of the 325-milligram Oxycodone pills that were prescribed for me. The promised pain simply never arrived. I think there might have been one night when I needed to take a Tylenol.

Later that year, I underwent hip replacement surgery. Now that was painful for a while. They had me drugged to the gills in the hospital. When it was time to go home, they sent me home with a prescription for — yup Oxycodone again. Only this time the prescription was for 5-milligram pills, 90 of them. I was instructed to take no more than than eight tablets a day. I remember taking five the first day, three for the next two days, and one the day after that. Then I stopped.

So my stash had grown to 25 big dose Oxycodone pills, and 78  smaller dose pills. Then, last week I had surgery to remove some overactive parathyroid glands. Afterward, some member of the surgeon's team — a nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant (I’m not sure which) —  came by my bedside and said she was sending me home with a prescription for Hydrocodone.

“Isn’t that habit-forming?” I asked.

“She smiled, a bit smugly, it seemed to me. “Not if you use it intelligently,” she told me.

Well, I am using it intelligently. I’ve intelligently added five more 325 milligram tablets to my stash of other unused opioids. So I now have 30 big dose Oxycodone pills and 78 smaller dose pills. There are several ways my little drug accumulation could come in handy.

First, the Republican Party is getting ready to slash Social Security and Medicare payments that senior citizens like me have paid for via payroll deduction all our adult lives. To quote Newsweek:
Florida Senator Marco Rubio admits that the Republican tax cut plan, which benefits corporations and the wealthy, will require cuts to Social Security and Medicare to pay for it.
Fortunately, if the government cuts my income, I have a way to supplement it, at least for a little while. According to the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services of New York, Oxy is selling on the street for a buck a milligram. That makes my little stash of unwanted dope worth over $10,000. 

I could use that money to replace what Marco Rubio and other Republicans are planning to confiscate from my Social Security income and hand over to the rich to reward them for...being rich.

Or I could just save it for the day when I have some incurable disease that the same pig-headed doctors who today try to stuff me with Oxy will insist I get treatment for — with chemotherapy for example. It will make me sick as a dog, render me dependent on other people for basic everyday needs, reduce me to a prisoner in my own home, and in the end might extend my life by six suffering weeks.

When that time comes, it'll be down the hatch with all those little Oxys, followed with a chaser of a really nice cabernet sauvignon. And I’ll be sure to leave thank you notes to all the docs who insisted I have those pills. Copy to the news media.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Who ratted out Donald Trump to the New York Times? So glad you asked.

So, everybody's accusing everybody else of having written an anonymous op-ed piece from inside the White House about how Trump's own staff is resisting him.

And everybody else is denying it's them.

For example, according to the New York Times, "Pence, Pompeo and a Parade of Administration Officials" are saying it's not them.

I like that just because of the alliteration. But before I fly off on an alliterative tangent of term paper terminology, back to Pence, Pompeo, and the putrid parade of presidential apparatchiks. (Take that, Spiro Agnew, wherever you are — and the nattering nabobs of negativism you rode in on.)

It seems that Pence is so outraged that he has "vowed" never to write for the Times again. Alas, that was only an Andy Borowitz sendup headline. Too bad. If real, it would have been proof that no matter how alarming an event may seem, there's always a silver lining.

On the more serious side, Nancy Pelosi thinks it might indeed be Pence, if not Dan Coates, if not Mike Pompeo, if not...well, let's start with Pence:

Over on the No More Mister Nice Guy Blog, Steve M is citing several other ideas:
Yastreblyansky has been floating the theory that the author was Larry Kudlow, with quite a bit of persuasive evidence. Now I'm reading William Saletan's argument for why the author had to be Jon Huntsman, and I'm finding that convincing.
That same piece also takes note that Javanka think it's John Kelly. And when you get right down to it, it could be anybody from Nikki Haley, to Steve Mnuchin, to the White House butler. Umm, did I mention Melania, if you'll allow that somebody helped her with her English?

But I have an entirely different theory. Call it the Murder On The Orient Express Theory. Like the umpteen suspects in the Agatha Christie novel, and the film, and the remake, I think it'll turn out that they all did it.

They, the people named above and everybody else in the White House — all of them upset, outraged, and finally infuriated by Donald's meltdowns and all the broken diplomatic and political crockery he leaves in his wake — sneaked into the Oval Office while The Trumpster was in bed upstairs, playing with his Tweeter. There, they took turns — each one typing a word or two until the whole Op-Ed piece was written.

Then, after sending it to the Times, they all ran and hid, staying out of the Trumpster's sight until they heard his first agonized cry silly, not "Murder." He yelled "Treason!"

There! I've solved it! I must now go to my compartment and rest. Porter, do kindly telegraph ahead to the police at the next station, and meanwhile,  bring me a cup of tea and my tin of mustache wax.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

The Democrats can’t do anything about stopping Brett Kavanaugh from getting on the U.S. Supreme Court. Here’s how to get him off again.

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at his own con-
formation hearing, September 5, 2018. Will he tell a U.S.
Senate subcommittee lies that could later get him impeached?
I’ve been intermittently watching the Senate Confirmation hearings about Brett Kavanaugh today. And I am disappointed with my fellow Dems.

Most of their questioning as of this writing has to do with getting him to tip his hand on how he will rule on currently constitutional issues, from matters pertaining to abortion to matters pertaining to whether the President of the United States can be subpoenaed and whether he can pardon himself.

Those are questions Kavanaugh can easily duck and weave his way through. I think the Democratic senators are missing an opportunity. Hear me out:

Since Republicans control the votes, nothing the Democrats ask will keep him off the court bench. However, one day, the tables will turn. There will be a Democratic majority in both the House and the Senate. Democrats ought to be looking toward that day with an eye to impeachment and removal. And this is where Republican refusal to release documents can play into the hands of those who feel Kavanaugh is a threat to the Constitution.

The Republicans are keeping documents away from the full committee for a reason. If they simply contained weather reports and the lyrics to Christmas carols, the Republicans would surely release them. But somewhere, at some time during his White House tenure. Kavanaugh did something, or maybe many things that he doesn’t want to admit to today. And that’s why tens of thousands of documents are being withheld. 

If the Republicans refuse to release the documents, we are entitled to speculate as to what might be in them.

Maybe Kavanaugh encouraged torture.

Maybe he said something like, “To hell with habeas corpus and the Constitution. Nobody will second guess us anyway.”

Maybe he admitted that the then Republican-leaning Supreme Court had stolen the election from Gore and given it to Bush, and wasn’t that a laugh.

Maybe he was the one, or part of a team, that “infiltrated the Democrats’ confidential internal files about which of President George W. Bush’s nominees to try to block and with what tactics.”

Maybe he lied in these matters:
At his appeals court confirmation hearing in 2006, Judge Kavanaugh — who had worked as an associate White House counsel in the Bush administration — told senators that he did not know anything about the infiltration of Senate Democrats’ files on judicial nomination fights or about the warrantless wiretapping program before they eventually became public. 
But Mr. Leahy indicated that documents marked “committee confidential” show that Manuel Miranda, then a Republican staffer on the Judiciary Committee, had sent Judge Kavanaugh emails about Mr. Leahy’s private concerns about a judicial nominee whose hearing was coming up and a draft letter Mr. Leahy had not yet sent. He also suggested that the files may show that Mr. Miranda made a reference to having a mole on the committee or spying on Democrats, and that Mr. Miranda may have suggested meeting outside of their workplaces. The senator also indicated that Mr. Kavanaugh may have had some involvement with a memo written by John Yoo, who was an attorney in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel who wrote opinions secretly blessing the surveillance program as lawful.
Just get it all down, in sworn testimony. Kavanaugh will get appointed, no matter what the Democrats do, say, or ask at the hearing. But when the Democrats are in power again, the entire body of withhold evidence can be subpoenaed. 

And if  any of my speculations turn out to be correct, and Kavanaugh lied to the Senators at these hearings, he can then be impeached and removed from the Supreme Court, and thereafter prosecuted for perjury.

The remaining constitutional question may then become whether any decisions Kavanaugh signed on to after getting his seat under false pretenses can still be considered a valid decision. After all, if the New York Crank put on a Kavanaugh mask and decided a case, any decision based on my vote would certainly be disqualified. I don’t see why that same theory shouldn’t apply to a judge appointed under false pretenses.

So the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee should stop asking hypotheticals about legal decisions and start asking purely factual questions:

• Did you ever endorse or help to defend the practice of torture of prisoners of war captured by the United States?

• Did you ever seek to deprive prisoners taken in Afghanistan or Iraq of habeas corpus?

• Did you ever endorse, or help to defend, or know about secret programs to surveil American citizens without a court warrant?

• Did you ever have knowledge of any illegal act that you failed to report to the Attorney General of the United States?

•Did you ever see, touch, or know of property of Senator Patrick Leahy, including but not limited to papers, recordings, and strategy documents stolen from the office or campaign of any U.S. Senator?

• Did you report that theft to the legal authorities as required by law?

These questions are answerable by a single yes, or no. They do not force Kavanaugh to speculate on future decisions. They simply ask him to tell the truth about past events. 

Let him lie his head off.

And then, when the time comes, knock him off the bench with his own sworn testimony and toss him into the slammer.

Get to it, Democrats.