A Holier-than-thou Bullshit Factory

Published by marco on

Out-of-date and chock-full of devil’s advocacy.

I’ve listened to some coverage of the Kavanaugh hearings on The Intercept. This includes an unusually giddy and convinced Jeremy Scahill and a typically partisan Amy Goodman.

What shines through is this notion that being blackout drunk (i.e. not remembering parts of an evening) is an indication of alcoholism, or having a drinking problem. It’s also the sign of a really good party.

These people all sound like shrill churchgoers who can’t even bear to hear of a drinking game or bear to hear of the terminology used at parties. Poor Amy Goodman has to attend a Harvard College that allowed a group like “The Rapists” to exist on its hallowed grounds. It’s not a particularly funny joke, but it’s pretty clearly a joke.

Amy and Jeremy happily burble about how “old white guys” are likely to act and how believable it is that young guys at such a school would act that way. It sounds suspiciously like saying that someone is guilty of something because it sounds like “something a black guy would do”.

They even discuss how the hearing should be psychological torture (e.g. don’t let him take breaks, don’t let him gather his thoughts).

There is the question of Kavanaugh’s comportment, characterized as “white male rage”. As pointed out in the article You Mad, Bro? by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice) As with any other epithet, it’s a,

“[…] deliberate effort to create a stereotypical characteristic to be used as a tool to undermine any reaction by white males to attacks against them. It’s the same false shorthand that its users complain are wrongfully used, except flipped on its head for use against white guys.”

It saddens me to see Jeremy fall into this trap. I would have thought the open-minded could allow a bit of anger when responding to a rape accusation. Or an attempted-rape accusation. Or an attempted-harassment accusation.

On the same subject, Bloomberg published an article about Chinese spy chips. I read it. It consists of several claims by unnamed officials along with a heap of denials by everybody involved. The technical explanation of the hack and its potential effects was laughable.

This article is being taken as truth—despite Apple and Amazon having denied it emphatically several times. The article is unsourced and by a single, unknown journalist—this isn’t Seymour Hersh we’re talking about.

This is just another example of a fake-ass shitstorm raging over America, sure to disappear without a trace as soon as it slumps in a news cycle. The Kavanaugh hearings will also fade once he’s a justice, just as Clarence Thomas’s did. This, despite Jeremy and Amy’s fervent hopes that Thomas’s seat on the bench would be in danger should Kavanaugh be denied the post—as if that would establish some sort of retroactive precedent. I don’t like Clarence Thomas or his opinions, but that’s madness.

Democracy Now!: Glenn Greenwald on U.S. Hacking, Edward Snowden, the Dangers of Obsessing over Russia & More by Glenn Greenwald (YouTube)

Greenwald makes some good points here, but he also points out the difference between Ford’s credible testimony vs. Kavanaugh’s explosion, saying no sane person could have come away not believing her testimony. I believe she believes it, but that’s neither here nor there. All else aside, is it not reasonable for someone to lose their composure when they are many times accused of rape? Especially if you accept that it’s possible that he didn’t do it? Or imagine that he didn’t do it, wouldn’t it be reasonable to lose your cool when your entire nomination starts to hinge on exactly that accusation instead of any of your other qualifications? Is this condemnation of Kavanaugh’s behavior not akin to chastising women for not being able to critique society without sounding “shrill”?

In the article Roaming Charges: Give Me Condos or Give Me Death! by Jeffrey St. Clair (CounterPunch), the author seems so certain as well.

I didn’t pay that much attention to the trial, but I can’t help but notice that the strongest believers keep coming back to the believability of Ford’s testimony, saying that,

“For most of the people who watched her, her story didn’t need any more corroboration.”

And that Kavanaugh had torpedoed himself,

“Kavanaugh’s petulant demeanor, lies and own writing from the time offered all the confirmation that was needed.”

The standard of evidence, though, is pretty low,

“Here’s a partial list of the more than 40 people with corroborating evidence that the FBI failed to interview, including a former Yale seminary student named Kenneth Appold, who told the New Yorker he is “one-hundred-per-cent certain” that he was told a drunken Kavanaugh shoved his penis in Deborah Ramirez’s face during a party in a Yale dorm room.”

Jesus, that’s rock-solid. I can’t believe that the guy’s not already in jail.

I’m not sure how many of us from the eighties would hold up to the argus-like scrutiny of the present day. The gaze is pitiless. It understands no nuance, no mistakes. It is like the church in the days of the Inquisition. I just spent some time reading through some of my papers from grade school, high school and college. I doodled a lot, I wrote a lot of notes in the margins. I wrote a lot of letters. I received a lot of letters. Many unenlightened things were written that have nothing to do with who I am today. Of that I am certain. It wouldn’t matter one bit, though, to the ravening masses.

Did you use the word “gay” as a slur, no matter how slight? You are homophobic. There is no way you could have changed your attitude in 30 further years of life. You must still answer for this thought-crime from days past.

I don’t defend Kavanaugh. From the little I’ve read, I admire nothing about him. I condemn the way he is being attacked. It is an attack of certainty with no requirement for evidence. It will backfire. It always does. First they came for Kavanaugh, and I said nothing…

The article Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming by Ted Rall addresses the hypocritical reaction to Kavanaugh’s 45-minute–long crying jag at his nomination hearings. Rall points out, quite rightly, that,

“Senator Elizabeth Warren, a progressive considering a 2020 presidential run, mirrored Trump’s description of Kavanaugh but for Dr. Ford: “brave, compelling, and credible.” Calling Kavanaugh “unhinged,” she said he “whined, ranted, raved, and spun conspiracy theories.” Praise versus contempt: the personal has never been more political. Had the roles been reversed, had Dr. Ford been the angry/weepy one, there is no world in which Warren would have described her as unhinged.”

Bereft of anything other than he-said/she-said (though many will imbue one or the other statement with more veracity based on “impressions” and “believability”), we’re left with an unsatisfying analysis of Kavanaugh’s behavior.

“Were Kavanaugh’s tears the frustrated, desperate expression of an innocent man falsely accused before his friends, family and an entire nation? Or, as one of detractors alleged, did he w[h]imper “because his past finally caught up with him and deep down, he knows it”? Could it be something in between, a blend of anger because some of the accusations are false and self-pity because others are true? We’ll probably never know what really happened at those high school and college parties.”

With political leanings reversed, Kavanaugh’s teary testimony would be lauded as the courage of a modern man trying to deal with the unfounded allegations of a steely harpy intent on taking him down, no matter what.

Crashing The Court: Kavanaugh and Consequences by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice)

“Even if Kavanaugh was the perfect model of probity, he wouldn’t be my flavor of justice. Then again, neither would anyone else Trump might appoint, so I’ve long since come to grips with the fact that the newest member of the Nine wasn’t going to win my heart.

“[…]

“The question now is whether the Supreme Court, with Justice Kavanaugh and the “conservative” wing, can fulfill its constitutional function or has lost the trust of a nation.

“[…]

“You can spend your time hating Kavanaugh for being horrible. I prefer to spend my time fighting for good law. And as long as Justice Kavanaugh is on the Court, I will spend my time trying to persuade him to see the law my way rather than scream about how awful he is.”

On a final note, I know a lot of slang. I grew up at about the same time as Kavanaugh, went to college in America at about the same time. I have heard and spoken almost every slur and rude thing there is to say. I am nearly a human Urban Dictionary. I had never heard of a menage a trois referred to as “devil’s triangle” until this hearing. And yet, I keep reading that “everyone knows” that’s what it really means. Today I learned I’m not so hip, I guess.

This is the first time I’ve heard and read journalists that I admire getting bent out of shape about what I think are all the wrong things, losing their composure, as it were. Their demeanor is one of barely suppressed outrage that this ‘frat boy” could be nominated despite them knowing what a horrible person he is.

He seems to hold appalling positions, but we hardly heard about those. This felt like the witch hunt of Clinton all over again—focusing on his sexual predation rather than his systematic dismantling of the poor. Kavanaugh is a trained corporate stooge who will almost certainly smoothly fill Scalia’s shoes on the court. That’s the reason you don’t want him,

Unfortunately, you have to find reasons not to nominate him that are salient. The process doesn’t really allow for anything but this ludicrous circus that ended up proving nothing, other than that the U.S. is a ludicrous and dangerous country full of utter buffoons. It is a syphilitic captain lashed to the tiller and is careening toward our shores.