Saturday, September 29, 2018

Insightful Perspectives on the Kavanaugh/Ford Hearing

A break from my hiatus to share some important and insightful commentary on Thursday's extraordinary day of testimony from President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who testified she is “100 percent positive” that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school party in 1982.

During the hearing, Kavanaugh angrily declared he was innocent, and claimed he was the victim of a left-wing plot of “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.”

Following are a number of progressive perspectives on the Senate Judiciary Committee's Kavanaugh/Ford hearing of Thursday, September 27, 2018.

Right now, we are watching one white cisgender man fall apart on national television from the rage, terror, and fear he is experiencing over the loss of his entitlement, privilege, and lifetime free pass from accountability for his actions.

This is a microcosm of how all the intertwined systems and people that maintain systemic misogyny and patriarchy are reacting to losing their power. We are going to win, but they are not going to let go without a fight.

Heidi Hess
via Facebook
September 27, 2018

Make no mistake: The drama on Capitol Hill today was about power: On one side, the power of men who harass or abuse women and get away with it, the power of privileged white men to entrench their power even more on the Supreme Court, the power of men to take away a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body.

On the other side of today's drama was the power of women with the courage to tell what has happened to them, to demand an end to white male privilege, and to preserve and enlarge their constitutional rights. Dr. Ford was poised, articulate, clear and convincing. No one who witnessed her testimony and her responses today can conclude that she failed to tell the truth. More than that: She radiated self-assured power.

Brett Kavanaugh showed himself to be a vicious partisan – a Trump-like figure who suspects leftwing plots against him, who refuses to take responsibility for his actions, who uses emotional bullying and intimidation to get his way.

Kavanaugh may still get on the Supreme Court, but after today there can be no doubt about his temperament or character, or his politics. A large share of the public will never trust him to be impartial. Many will never believe his denials of sexual harassment. Most will continue to see him as the privileged, arrogant, self-righteous person he has revealed himself to be.

I hope today’s performance convinces a critical mass of American women to do what must be done November 6, to give themselves a firm and clear voice in the Senate and in the rest of American government -- to empower themselves at a time when the President, the majority of Congress, and a majority in the Supreme Court intend to disempower them.

Robert Reich
via Facebook
September 27, 2017

From the drama of the hearing – Dr. Christine Ford's steadfast calm, Frat Boy Kavanaugh's unglued, partisan, bullying, entitled male rage, the deranged shrieks of a handful of vile GOP relics – have come scraps of news. In an unprecedented step, the American Bar Association, whose once-unanimous, "well-qualified" rating Kavanaugh touted during one of his hissy fits, has rescinded their endorsement, arguing the proceedings should be halted until the FBI investigates. America Magazine, a major Catholic Jesuit publication, has called for Kavanaugh's nomination to be withdrawn. And Tennessee's Bob Corker, after witnessing that hysterical, self-righteous, obfuscating, mansplaining performance by a guy clearly too unstable to manage a Cinnabon, never mind sit on the Supreme Court, inconceivably said he's voting yes. For many of us, what lingers are the striking visuals of an ugly, surreal day when privilege met accountability and was some pissed, but America proved likely too broken to do right.

– Abby Zimet
Excerpted from "Reaping the Lunatic Whirlwind"
Common Dreams
September 28, 2018


Oh, they have done it now. They have done what thousands of feminists, hundreds of feminist organizations, and millions of women working as social and political activists over the years have not been able to do: they have harnessed the power of a thousand hurricanes. It is not just that they have triggered the memories of every woman who has ever been sexually harassed or abused. Now they have triggered the memories of every woman who has ever had her opinions ignored or her feelings scorned.

Ted Cruz pointed out in his testimony that Dr. Ford was treated with respect. I suppose he means that because they didn’t throw eggs at her. What those men don’t understand is that being silent after hearing her speak, as though actually she had not spoken, does not show respect. Basically ignoring what she said does not show respect. Making it all about “Brett, poor baby, he is one of us and he is hurting” does not show respect. In fact, their entire strategy now rests on ignoring what she said . . . not even grappling with her credibility, much less allowing a further investigation or more witnesses to testify. And every woman who has ever felt that her words meant nothing, that they somehow disappeared into the air after she spoke them and simply bounced off the ears of a man or men in the room, whether she was ever touched inappropriately or not, she is triggered now.

Congratulations, Senators Grassley, Hatch, Graham, Cruz et al. You’ve done it now. I think you might have just elected the first woman president. A fierce, giant force just been awakened among us. And unlike Quan Yin sitting silently next to my television, we will not be silent. In the coming days and weeks and years, we will speak our truth. We will hear each other and we will believe each other. And this time, by men by by women alike, we will be heard.

Marianne Williamson
via Facebook
The Huffington Post
September 28, 2018

Even under that charitable interpretation, Kavanaugh’s performance in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee makes him eminently unfit to sit on the highest court of the land.

A justice on the Supreme Court has to rule on a whole host of issues that are of huge partisan significance: If he is confirmed, he will have to settle substantive questions of public policy – from abortion rights to the health care mandate – on which Democrats and Republicans have hugely differing preferences. Just as importantly, he will also help to set the parameters that are supposed to ensure that Democrats and Republicans can appeal for the votes of their fellow citizens on fair terms.

But how can somebody who has accused Democrats of a “calculated and orchestrated political hit” be seen as impartial when he rules on a gerrymandering case that could deliver a huge advantage to Republicans? How can somebody who describes serious allegations of sexual assault as “revenge on behalf of the Clintons” be expected to give both sides a fair hearing if the outcome of a presidential election should once again be litigated in front of the Supreme Court? And how can somebody who denounces the “frenzy on the left” to derail his nomination be trusted to ensure that the left’s most vocal enemy, Donald Trump, does not overstep the bounds of his constitutional authority?

Because of Mitch McConnell’s refusal to hold hearings on the confirmation of Merrick Garland during the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency, the current composition of the Supreme Court is already tainted. Now, the confirmation of as nakedly partisan a jurist as Kavanaugh would go a long way toward destroying whatever remains of the Supreme Court’s legitimacy.

– Yascha Mounk
Excerpted from "The Kavanaugh Stakes Just Got Higher"
September 28, 2018

The masters of the universe, it turns out, are losers.

The Brett Kavanaugh hearing was a kaleidoscope of family and God and prestigious clerkships spliced with boofing and ralphing and brewskis. It was a thorough dressing-down. In the end, one was left with the impression of an unremarkable guy who was born on a conveyor belt to power, without much obligation to distinguish himself from his peers. On the contrary, his success was relatively guaranteed on the condition that he didn’t distinguish himself from them, that he simply play nice with the fellas – and not necessarily so nice with women – from prep school to the Ivy League to the White House and beyond.

What struck me most about yesterday’s hearing, cutting through Kavanaugh’s tone-deaf retorts and indignant whinging and his frequent professions of love for beer, is how utterly ordinary he is. This guy is juvenile, arrogant, sexist – and very familiar. It pointed to a larger truth: the people running the show are callous and dangerous, but they’re also astonishingly average. They have no irreplaceable qualities or insights that would oblige us to put up with their bullshit. They would hate for us to realize this.

– Meagan Day
Excerpted from "The Banality of Brett Kavanaugh"
September 28, 2018

Too many women woke up Friday morning feeling too much the way they felt the morning after the 2016 election – crushed by a suffocating sadness. The day before, a talented, thoughtful, long-suffering woman who did everything that was asked of her faced off against a boorish, angry, entitled bully, and unbelievably, she came up short. The Ford-Kavanaugh hearings were a master class in the annihilating expectations that bind women versus the lofty entitlement that shapes the world for men. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was patient, kind, deferential. She listened. She asked what was best for the senators questioning her. She wanted to be “collegial.” Her sadness and grief were evident but tightly wrapped, behind an emotional burka.

In contrast, Kavanaugh bullied and belittled the Democratic senators, trying to filibuster their five minutes with nonsense details about sports and studying, while hissing partisan bile. His low point was essentially accusing Senator Amy Klobuchar of blackout drinking, when she gently asked about evidence that he regularly drank to excess. It was a particularly cruel crack given that she had just confided her father’s struggle with alcoholism (another quintessentially feminine way to try to humanize a difficult line of questioning). Frankly, Kavanaugh’s demeanor confirmed stories that he could be angry and belligerent, especially when drunk. I don’t know if he has a drinking problem or not, but I have seen those tears of self-pity and self-righteousness when those who do are cornered: Everyone else is to blame for this awful place I find myself in. Why won’t you all trust me? You’re ruining my life!

Kavanaugh told lies big and small. He cruelly lied about the meaning of a sexual reference to a female classmate in his douchey yearbook notes, one she found “hurtful.” He lied about the meaning of “boofing” and “devil’s triangle” and “Beach Week Ralph Club.” He lied about the drinking age in Maryland. He lied about not watching Blasey Ford’s testimony; a Wall Street Journal piece featured him doing so. In the earlier hearings, he’d lied about receiving stolen Democratic documents when he was helping prep George W. Bush’s judicial appointments and being in on discussions of torture as staff secretary. We’re not yet sure he is a rapist, but we know he is a congenital liar.

– Joan Walsh
Excerpted from "The Heart-Wrenching Trauma
of the Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh Hearings
The Nation
September 28, 2018

America is a patriarchy built on white supremacy; the one informs the other. Blasey Ford’s testimony reminded me as a woman of color that when you are being humiliated, it’s a cultural expectation that you accept that humiliation. You are, after all, just incidental in it.

This message was supplemented by Kavanugh himself as he gave his testimony: his erratic, angry performance a perfect distillation of whiteness and maleness and how our country – its institutions, its decision-makers – continue to defer to it.

Women, having just seen Blasey Ford be so accommodating to the people questioning her, saw Kavanaugh’s rage and bluster and knew their anger could never be so accepted – treated with so much sympathy – in the halls of the senate.

Black men also knew this to be true. Kavanuagh’s level of rage would be disqualifying should they have employed it. What was collectively embraced by the Republican senators – all of whom were white, all of whom were male – as righteous indignation by Kavanaugh would have simply been viewed as “dangerous”or “threatening” had it come from a black man.

Which gets us to the heart of what it is to live in a country that is very much still a patriarchy, where white supremacy is the foundation of the very Senate: It’s the question of who gets to be a victim – which is to say, who gets to be virtuous.

By and large, when Anita Hill testified before the Senate against then-nominee Clarence Thomas in nearly identical circumstances, she was not afforded such virtue by the press, nor by the public, nor by the process.

But Blasey Ford – almost universally lauded as “credible” and “vulnerable” – was afforded this virtue, and when the press uses the term the “perfect victim” it’s important to interrogate exactly how whiteness and class play into it.

But all things being equal – when Blasey Ford was matched against a man of equal privilege, of equal background – it was Kavanaugh who got to hold onto his virtue in the eyes of his male contemporaries. He insisted on that virtue. To watch him weaponize his rage, his tears, and his silence throughout that dreadful hearing was to watch a white man used to acting with impunity. And if you are not white or male it was stunning to behold: not unlike watching a creature you’d only read about in books squawk and preen and cry in the wild. A man who can treat a Supreme Court seat not as an honor or privilege, but a birthright. Someone who doesn’t treat power as something given or earned—but something he is owed.

This was white male arrogance on display. And it was a sight.

– Anne Branigin
Excerpted from "Brett Kavanaugh and
America's Insistence on White Male Virtue
The Root
September 28, 2018

The FBI must not only look into the accusations made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, it should also examine the veracity of Brett Kavanaugh's testimony before the Judiciary Committee. A fundamental question the FBI can help answer is whether Judge Kavanaugh has been truthful with the committee. This goes to the very heart of whether he should be confirmed to the court, given the very serious fact that lying to Congress is a federal crime.

If you are concerned with a delay in this confirmation process, remember that Senate Republicans refused to allow the Senate to consider Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court for nearly a year.

In addition to investigating the accusations made by multiple women, a thorough investigation should include a review of Judge Kavanaugh’s numerous untruthful statements in his previous testimony before Congress.

– Bernie Sanders
Excerpted from "Sanders Demands FBI Investigate
Whether Kavanaugh Lied to Congress
September 29, 2018

Related Off-site Links:
What Brett Doesn't Know: Ten Lesson From the Ford-Kavanaugh Hearings – Kristine Mattis (Common Dreams, September 28, 2018).
National Sexual Assault Hotline Spiked 147% During Christine Blasey Ford Hearing – Abigail Abrams (Time, September 27, 2018).
Brett Kavanaugh and the Cruelty of Male Bonding – Lili Loofbourow (Slate, September 25, 2018).
Kavanaugh Has Exposed the Savage Amorality of America's Ruling Class – Harry Cheadle (Vice, September 21, 2018).
He Wouldn't Say a Word to Christine Blasey Ford But Unhinged Lindsey Graham Breaks Silence, Has 'Full-Blown Temper Tantrum' to Defend Kavanaugh – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, September 27, 2018).
Do We Really Want a Man Consumed With Rage, Self-pity and Hate on the Supreme Court? – Robin Abcarian (The Los Angeles Times, September 27, 2018).
Christine Blasey Ford Is a Class Traitor – Irin Carmon (Daily Intelligencer, September 27, 2018).
Why Christine Blasey Ford Isn’t Allowed to Be Mad – Lili Loofbourow (Slate, September 28, 2018).
A Republican Yale Drinking Buddy of Kavanaugh's Tells CNN He Lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee – Peter Weber (The Week, September 28, 2018).
Kavanaugh Is Lying. His Upbringing Explains Why – Shamus Khan (The Washington Post, September 28, 2018).
Brett Kavanaugh Really, Really Likes to Perjure – Kyle Whipple (Common Dreams, September 28, 2018).
27 Years After Anita Hill, Congress Still Got It Wrong – Amanda Terkel (The Huffington Post, September 27, 2018).
Brett Kavanaugh’s Testimony Was a Spectacle of Angry Male Bonding – Claire Fallon (The Huffington Post via Common Dreams, September 28, 2018).
Catholic Magazine Revokes Endorsement of Brett Kavanaugh After Hearing – Carla Herreria (The Huffington Post via Yahoo! News, September 28, 2018).
Yale Law Joins American Bar Association in Request for FBI Investigation of Sexual Assault Allegations Against Kavanaugh – Steve Kiggins (USA Today, September 28, 2018).
The Lies That Senators Must Tell Themselves to Support Brett Kavanaugh – Editorial Board (The Boston Globe, September 28, 2018).
An Injudicious Man, Unfit for the Supreme Court – Editorial Board (The New York Times, September 29, 2018).
Hell Hath No Fury Like an Entitled White Man Denied – Jonathan Capehart (The Washington Post, September 28, 2018).
A Justice Kavanaugh Will Be a Pyrrhic Victory for the GOP – Jamelle Boule (Slate, September 28, 2018).
Here's What Experts Who Study Sexual Violence Say About the Credibility of Christine Blasey Ford's Testimony – Melissa Healy (The Los Angeles Times, September 28, 2018).
The Unbearable Dishonesty of Brett Kavanaugh – Briahna Gray and Camille Baker (The Intercept, September 29, 2018).
How We Know Kavanaugh Is Lying – Nathan J. Robinson (Current Affairs, September 29, 2018).
ACLU Breaks Nonpartisan Tradition by Opposing Brett Kavanaugh – Jane C. Timm (NBC News, September 29, 2018).
Republicans Fear Political Fallout from Kavanaugh TurmoilPBS Newshour) September 29, 2018).
Trump Said Kavanaugh Accuser Ford Was "a Very Credible Witness," Orders FBI InvestigationABC News (September 29, 2018).
Parkland Dad Fred Guttenberg Reminds Kavanaugh His Life Is "Not Ruined" – Sebastian Murdock (The Huffington Post, September 29, 2018).
Christine Blasey Ford Would Have Been Called "Hysterical" If She Acted Like Kavanaugh, Says Nancy Pelosi – Sebastian Murdock (The Huffington Post via Yahoo! News, September 29, 2018).
Kamala Harris Leads Walkout on Senate Committee Vote on Kavanaugh – Kate Irby (McClatchy DC Bureau, September 28, 2018).
"Listen to the People!" Democrats Walk Out of Committee Meeting in Protest as GOP Pushes Toward Kavanaugh Vote – Julia Conley (Common Dreams, September 28, 2018).
Under the Fog of Kavanaugh, House Passes $3.8 Trillion More in Tax Cuts – Glenn Fleishman (Fortune, September 28, 2018).

UPDATES: White Male Rage Boils Over After Kavanaugh Hearing: But Women Aren’t Scared Anymore – Heather Digby Parton (Salon, October 1, 2018).
Matt Damon Is a Sniffing, Shouting Brett Kavanaugh on Saturday Night Live Season Premiere – Serena McMahon (NPR News, September 30, 2018).
The Angry White Male Caucus: Trumpism Is All About the Fear of Losing Traditional Privilege – Paul Krugman (The New York Times, October 1, 2018).
All the Lies Kavanaugh Told – Paul Blumenthal and Jennifer Bendery (The Huffington Post, October 1, 2018).
Brett Kavanaugh Didn't "Lie" — He Just Told Some "Little White-Male-Privilege Lies" – Rex Huppke (Chicago Tribune, October 1, 2018).
Kavanaugh, Who Said He Had “No Connections” to Yale, Was a Legacy Student – Molly Olmsted (Slate, September 30, 2018).
Outside Prosecutor Rachel Mitchell Writes Memo Aimed at Discrediting Christine Blasey Ford – Molly Olmstead (Slate, October 1, 2018).
María Gallagher, Ana Maria Archila and the Amazing Power of Everyday People Raising Their Voice – Will Bunch (Common Dreams, October 1, 2018).
Meet Ana María Archila, One of the Sexual Assault Survivors Who Confronted Jeff Flake and Triggered FBI Kavanaugh ProbeDemocracy Now! (October 1, 2018).
Brett Kavanaugh’s Comments in That Hearing Raise Ethics Questions That Will Likely Follow Him Whether Or Not He's Confirmed – Zoe Tillman (BuzzFeed, October 1, 2018).
Brett Kavanaugh Should Not Be Believed by the Legal Standards of Judge Kavanaugh – Ryan Goodman (Slate, October 2, 2018).
Kavanaugh Reminds Us the Presumption of Innocence Isn’t for Everyone – Ja’han Jones (The Huffington Post, October 2, 2018).
Mitch McConnell Says FBI’s Kavanaugh Report Won’t Be Made Public – Igor Bobic and Arthur Delaney (The Huffington Post, October 2, 2018).
Kavanaugh Hearings Showcase GOP’s White Male Persecution Complex – Jared Rodriguez (Truthout, October 2, 2018).
National Council of Churches Calls for Kavanaugh's Nomination to Be Withdrawn – Avery Anapol (The Hill, October 3, 2018).
More Than 500 Law Professors Condemn Kavanaugh for "Lack of Judicial Temperament" – Matt Ferner (The Huffington Post via Yahoo! News, October 3, 2018).
Rachel Mitchell Crossed a Line No Prosecutor Should Cross With Her Christine Blasey Ford Report – Michael J. Stern (Slate, October 3, 2018).
President Trump Mocked Kavanaugh Accuser Christine Blasey Ford at a Mississippi Rally – Eli Meixler (Time, October 3, 2018).
Trump's Mockery of Ford Emboldens Rape Culture – Tami Sawyer (CNN, October 3, 2018).
White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders Refuses to Answer Questions’s On Trump’s Different Standards for Kavanaugh and the "Central Park Five" – Matt Shuham (Talking Points Memo, October 3, 2018).
Brett Kavanaugh’s Anger May Be Backfiring – Aaron Blake (The Washington Post, October 3, 2018).
Bernie Sanders Predicts Supreme Court is Headed for a Crisis – Matt Stevens (The New York Times, October 3, 2018).
I Know Why Evangelical Women Support Brett Kavanaugh. I Was Raised to Do the Same – Carly Gelsinger (The Huffington Post, October 4, 2018).
The Brett Kavanaugh Case: This Is How White Male Privilege Is Destroying America – Chauncey Devega (Salon, October 4, 2018).
Trump Repeatedly Wrong on Ford’s Testimony – Eugene Kiely, Robert Farley and Lori Robertson (, October 4, 2018).
Brett Kavanaugh Also Lied About His Rulings on the Environment – Sharon Lerner (The Intercept, October 4, 2018).
Amid Growing Outrage Over Confirmation Process, Corporate Powers Spending Millions to Help GOP Ram Through Pro-Business Kavanaugh – Jessica Corbett (Common Dreams, October 4, 2018).
Kavanaugh Pens Whining Op-Ed Insisting America Ignore Those Things He Said – Hunter (Daily Kos, October 4, 2018).
"People" Aren’t Divided on Kavanaugh’s Confirmation. White People Are – Anne Branigin (The Root, October 4, 2018).
Thousands of Protesters Rally in Final Push to "Cancel Kavanaugh" – Andy Campbell (The Huffington Post, October 4, 2018).
NJ Senator Pulls No Punches After Viewing FBI Kavanaugh Report, "It's a Bullshit Investigation" – Jen Hayden Daily Kos, October 4, 2018).
Kavanaugh Shouldn’t Be Confirmed, Retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens Says – Associated Press via PBS Newshour (October 4, 2018).
If the Rule of Law Means Anything, Kavanaugh Must Be Impeached – Nathan J. Robinson (Common Dreams, October 5, 2018).
Reject the Emmett Till /Brett Kavanaugh Comparison – LeRon Barton (, October 5, 2018).

Opening image: David Hayward (aka Naked Pastor).


crusiera said...

I am constantly amazed at your roundup posts, you put out a lot of quality stuff!!

Michael J. Bayly said...

Thanks, Crusiera!