How Conservative Women Protect Rapists

Ask a woman about her experience with sexual assault and you’re likely to hear that a trusted female confidant, perhaps a mother, aunt, pastor’s wife, or authority figure, pressured her to keep silent. They may have even blamed her. Their advice often came with a subtle warning of ruined prospects and the looming hostility of once-trusted allies. Cover your bruise, put that flag pin on your lapel, and smile pretty. Your initiation into the conservative women’s club is complete.

Perhaps nothing about the Kavanaugh saga has been as depressing as the response from white conservative women. What seems like an opportunity for women in the conservative movement to assert their intellectual and moral independence has instead triggered the instinct toward herd discipline. We find ourselves confronted once again with lessons from the Iron Law of Oligarchy, institutional needs will trump public interest almost every time.

A CNN panel of Republican women, asked about the Kavanaugh allegations, featured quotes like this, “tell me what boy hasn’t done this in high school.” Another brave sister explained, “I have no sympathy,” and “maybe he didn’t pay attention to her afterwards.” Kellyanne Conway described herself as a sexual assault survivor in an interview, before carrying on her lucrative job defending a sexual predator’s agenda. A mom in Montana, cornered for a “person on the street” TV news interview stated, in front of her daughters, that groping was no big deal.

The money quote comes from West Virginia’s GOP Chairperson and pearl-clutching church-lady, Melody Potter, “I’ve got women in my church who were not politically active at all who were incensed with this.” Yea, I bet you do. No one will do more to intimidate, ridicule and silence sexual assault survivors than the women around them who benefit in even the smallest way from the status quo. That tends to be true, perhaps even more so, if those women have themselves experienced an assault. Once initiated, there is a terrible urge to force others to walk the same path.

German sociologist, Robert Michels, first described in 1911 what he called an “iron law” that democratic institutions must inevitably harden into oligarchies. His core concept wasn’t so novel. It was an obsession of the architects of the American revolution, filling volume after volume of the Federalist Papers. When Jefferson somewhat rashly explained in 1797 that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” he was describing the institutional rot our founders thought was inevitable in any social system.

What Michels added was an understanding of the organizational dynamics behind this tendency toward oligarchy, borrowed in part from Max Weber. In order to accomplish anything once in power, a new order must embrace a degree of specialization and hierarchy. People carve out places for themselves all up and down that hierarchy, developing an attachment to the existing order stronger than their other interests. Even those relatively low in the order develop a pathetically sad stake in its preservation. Whatever policy or ideological goals may have inspired the system at its birth, the urge toward institutional survival eventually gains primacy.

Once an oligarchy has taken hold, an individual within it is faced with a choice between the ideals that benefit people like them generally, or a chance to gain one tiny advancement in an established institution. They will almost always chose their own modest, relative advancement, even if it harms their interests in absolute terms. That’s how the Iron Law of Oligarchy operates.

These oligarchies are not, in fact, either unstoppable or unbreakable, but they are very persistent. Under conditions of vibrant political competition and independent law enforcement, and weakened by high levels of education and broad prosperity, these oligarchies struggle to mature. However, in any human system insulated for a time from competition, free flow of information, or the regenerating influence of failure and regeneration, the Iron Law of Oligarchy takes hold. Any system that cannot die will develop horrifying rot.

Why would someone like Kellyanne Conway agree to work for a sexual predator, helping him harass and intimidate prey like herself? Call it the Conway Gambit. How much do I have to gain personally, from cooperating with the machine against my own larger class or identity interests?

For a soulless sellout like Conway, the formula is simple. If she wasn’t a women defending an administration hostile to women’s rights in every way, you never would have heard of her. Her gains are measurable on a 1099 form, making the choice comprehensible, if reprehensible. The calculations get more obscure as you move farther down the institutional hierarchy. At the level of that mom in the TV interview defending sexual assault in front of her daughters, the role of tiny increments of relative status in guaranteeing compliance becomes more powerful and sickening. At the lower end, there’s no TV glamor in the Conway Gambit, just a crab-basket dynamic corroding all our interests in pursuit of tiny, purely relative, individual advantages.

Examine her comments carefully.

“Groping a woman? At 18? I mean, how many guys do you know who think that’s no big deal? It doesn’t take away from his character and his job to do what he needs to do as a Supreme Court nominee. If he was pro-abortion, the liberals wouldn’t be fighting this hard.”

Here’s her message to her daughters: You are weak and insignificant. Your bodies and your experience are “no big deal.” It’s your obligation as a Good Girl to accept that men of the finest leadership character will assault you. That’s their right. You must focus on the vital institutional goal of insuring that all women’s rights are permanently limited.

Absent institutional logic, her comments are flatly insane. However, if you’ve ever belonged to a conservative church congregation her reasoning is clear as sunshine. I may have nothing specific to gain from tolerating a morally repugnant mandate from the institution, but if I ever express a whiff of dissent, my place there will be lost beyond recovery. I may have little money, little power, and little status, but that authoritarian community can nonetheless be a lifeline of emotional and even material support. A nod of disapproval from a pastor or from a pearl-clad alpha-church lady can destroy whatever meagre place I once had in a vital social institution. Shunning is the ultimate silence.

When her daughter comes to her with a story of sexual assault by a prominent member of their community, what do you think she’ll do? That script has already been written.

Imagine you’re a woman who’s been victimized in this oppressive system and gained some protection and status by suffering quietly. Who do you come to resent more, the man who sexually assaulted you or your female cousin, classmate, or former church member who rebelled, had an abortion, went off to college, and built a prosperous, independent life that functions as a daily insult to your life choices? Nobody loathes independent, successful women with quite the intensity of the angry Good Girls who accepted the toll for remaining in their assigned place. Institutions have power which they protect by doling out their own meagre currency, in this case the sanctimonious righteousness gained from principled suffering. No one will defend patriarchy with the vigor of the women who live by the crumbs falling from that table.

Nothing about the left leaves it immune from the Iron Law. Twenty years ago most of the icons of feminism were defending Bill Clinton and denigrating women he abused to protect their cherished institutional goals. However, recent history demonstrates why liberals have stopped coddling their sexual predators. As Trump-era conservatives have doubled down on racism and misogyny, the opportunity they’ve left open is too good to ignore. Republicans aren’t just tolerating rapists, they’ve elevated them into icons. For the left, this has created incentives for reform too attractive to resist. Nevertheless, old habits persist. Last year when Al Franken and John Conyers faced convincing sexual harassment charges, the dean of the institutional left leapt to their defense.

Nancy Pelosi could have been reading from Donald Trump’s cue-cards as she deployed the standard dodge-and-doubt tactics against the victims, but her defense quickly crumbled. With their rhetorical guns trained on comically skeevy Republican targets like Roy Moore, the institutional left had little to gain from continuing to protect abusers in their ranks. Institutions, exposed to multiple voices and competing interests, are sometimes capable of painful change.

Though the Iron Law is not unbreakable, it doesn’t break gently. Left, right or center, everyone who wants to effect change of any kind in a political system must come to terms with this reality. In a healthy system, significant change is sometimes possible through compromise, consensus and “win-win” arrangements. When a system has stagnated into oligarchy, the terms of the iron law take over and change can only emerge from a thudding defeat.

Changes that created modern American life rose from the most lopsided trouncing in modern history. A decade of reform followed in the wake of the 1964 democratic revolution, ending Jim Crow, creating Medicare, granting women the right to work and own a credit card, creating the Environmental Protection Agency, workplace reforms, the Clean Air & Water Acts, and hundreds of other measures without which we would live in a 3rd world country. Those measures rose not from compromise, but from dominion established through a comprehensive electoral revolt. Major change is almost never possible through compromise and consensus.

Once again, as will happen, our core institutions have calcified. Evolution in our wider society is placing pressure on those hardened institutions to bend, to undergo another process of reform and regeneration. There is no reform without losers, and the losers are fighting back. Many of the unlikeliest foot soldiers against women’s rights are conservative women bitterly oppressed by this system. Most will happily battle their sisters to gain the tiniest additional scraps rather than join with them to overturn the table and benefit everyone. Make no mistake, they will have to be defeated, not persuaded.

58 Comments

  1. As far as I can tell, the Brett Kavanaugh thing is pretty straightforward. Here’s my breakdown:

    1) the death threats and nasty behaviour that both Ford, and Kavanaugh, and their families have been hit with are inexcusable. Nobody deserves that crap. Both sides of this fight have enough loonies to make these people miserable, of that there is no doubt. Still, that aside – Kavanaugh, now a SC Justice, will get all the secret service protection he needs, I’m sure. Meanwhile Ford can’t go back to her house. She gets no protection.

    2) Setting aside the bad behaviour, it’s not unreasonable for Ford to have been outed. Feinstein claims she didn’t break confidentiality, but even so – the nation deserved a serious investigation of these credible allegations. Ford has a duty to the nation as a citizen and she fulfilled that duty admirably. She should be protected for the service she has done the nation, regardless of whether Kavanaugh was confirmed or not. Her testimony was cogent, serious and thoughtful. She did her duty as a citizen.

    3) Due process is a huge red herring. Due process is what we have for making sure we don’t put people in jail. Beyond Reasonable Doubt standards are for the criminal courts. This is a job interview. There were plenty of other qualified conservative candidates. Given the accusation is credible, the main reason the Republicans pushed through was because a) they didn’t want to give the other side an inch, and b) because they were afraid they would not get another nominee through before the election, where there’s a theoretical chance they would lose the Senate.

    4) Anyone who thinks Kavanaugh’s life was ruined by this is being ridiculous. The worst that would happen to him is that he would go back to being an Appellate Judge. Oh no.

    5) During the subsequent hearings Democrats were entirely within reason to probe Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook and past. In a he-said-she-said situation, you try to look at corroborating circumstances to try to get a sense for which outcome is more likely. In that context, examining his high school career is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. Gathering evidence from people who were willing to come forward to corroborate Kavanaugh’s bad behaviour during high school would have been a perfectly reasonable thing for the FBI to do.

    6) Regardless of the merits of the accusation, Kavanaugh’s behaviour during the hearing absolutely disqualified him in any reasonable mind. For the following reasons:
    a) (Judicial temperament issue) blatant disrespect to Senators
    b) (Judicial temperament issue) getting angry and shouty – it’s entirely reasonable to expect a judge to keep a calm demeanour, even under trying circumstances. If Hillary Clinton can do it for 11 hours during a Benghazi hearing, so can a judge.
    c) (bias issue) Clearly showing animus to the left and giving the strong impression that he was highly partisan
    d) (perjury) Lying under oath – about simple things (like what a Devil’s Triangle is) and in more complicated cases making statements that multiple other people who knew him at the time state are lies (such as his drinking habits).

    Put that all together and you get a clear argument that whether or not he is innocent or guilty of the charges, it is perfectly reasonable to expect someone in a job interview for a Supreme Court Justice to be a) respectful, b) calm, c) not publicly blame a political party for the situation he is in (even if that’s what he thinks), and d) tell the truth under oath about verifiable issues.

    In the end what we see here is a naked exercise of political power that will harm the Court and the country for decades to come.

    1. It didn’t have to be like this. Brett Kavanaugh could have been calm and respectful. He could have said what is clearly true – that he was a heavy drinker during his high school days, that he was nonetheless innocent of the allegations, and that regardless of his behaviour in high school it is his character over the last 20 years that counts. He could have said all these things, and he could have gotten confirmed with much less acrimony (whether or not they are true). But he didn’t. He decided to give the left a punch in the nose instead. Not suitable behaviour for a Justice of the Supreme Court.

    2. This sums up my feelings regarding the Kavanaugh nomination. The only thing that I would add is that the supplemental investigation should have been thorough, but limited. However, it was so limited as to be a total farce. The investigation should have included the other various allegations beyond Ford and Ramirez and interviewed some of his HS buddies. You can see my posts below regarding my estimation of how Kavanaugh and his buddies acted during HS. Simply put he has a serious case of AFFLUENZA.

      The additional comment that I have is that I believe Flake, Collins, Manchin, Murkowski and the others who requested the supplemental investigation left the determination of the detailed scope to McConnell (really what Flake and Collins, in particular, wanted was a investigation that would cover their rears, but did not want a really thorough investigation). McConnell willingly provided that scope to McGahn who then communicated it to the FBI. Effectively McConnell micromanaged the investigation to provide exactly the results that Collins, Flake and Manchin felt they needed to get to a YES vote. So as you stated, the entire confirmation process was a raw exercise in political power. But that has become the norm under this Administration. Decades will be required for SCOTUS to recover from this.

      Furthermore, the Repugs have been able to spin this so that they have been able to get a significant boost just prior to the midterms. Just yesterday a poll was released for the WA 8th CD showing a 10+ percent increase in the Republican candidate’s ratings from just prior to the poll to Oct 9. That race was showing the D candidate to have a 0.5 – 1% lead; it changed to a 10% lead for the R candidate. This is a prime pickup opportunity in a Seattle area suburban – exurban – rural district, which has been trending D for years. Given the demographics and the fundamentals, i believe it is a fleeting boost and that it is an outlier, but it shows the effect of the Kavanaugh furor.

  2. Hi Fiftyohm
    “As far as his reaction is concerned, he became pissed-off. I’ve been pissed-off too when accused of something I didn’t do.”

    Two things
    (1) – If you get pissed off I expect you to CONTROL yourself – somebody who cannot control himself is no damn good at all in a supervisory position

    (2) – They were “prepared” statements – so not only could he NOT control himself he could not even look far enough ahead

    Again NOT what is required in a supervisory position

    I regard this as a simple “stress test” – like the “proof test” of a chain – and he FAILED!!

      1. Big Animal House fan? Yeah, me too. Thing is, in watching the testimony, I didn’t get any Boone at all, let alone a whiff of Bluto.

        I’ve got a sneaking suspicion you’d never hire anyone from a Prep, or a frat, or an Ivy for any reason. Too bourgeois.

      2. I would have preferred that Kavanaugh take a lie detector test as did Dr. Ford. I agree that Kavanaughs behavior was inappropriate and contrived. His insulting response to questions that were politiely delivered by Sen. Amy Klobuchar were rude and nonresponsive.

      3. Mary,

        Obviously, I am biased, but it is rather obvious Kavanaugh wasn’t interested in trying to clear his name. Had I been in his situation, I could have demanded a full investigation with polygraph. Of course, that is only true because I would be sure of my innocence.

        What do you think of Kavanaugh’s choice of hiring four female law clerks?

        I would hope he did it to help counter is obvious male viewpoint. I can only hope that he actually cares about trying to be unbiased. I guess we will see.

      4. I think Brett Kavanaugh is a seriously flawed human being who has no business being on any court of jurisprudence. He would not agree to a polygraph because he knew he wouldn’t pass it and would have to explain that. I make nothing of the fact that he has hired four female clerks except they better not accompany him on any “after hours” events that involve access to alcohol. Let us hope the women are extremely well-qualified so that they can do his job for him. He obviously is limited in his abilities.

      5. I have a young female family member who was sexually assaulted when she was eleven by a 16 y/o lifeguard, he lured her into the pool’s pump room and then forced his hands into her swimsuit. when he was arrested his and his family’s reaction was VERY similar to way that Brett Kavanaugh behaved when he gave his statement to congress – that is forcibly outraged that anyone could even consider that he would do anything like he was accused of and if he did, well then he is a boy, boys get curious and “boys will be boys”. That young man was sentenced to 10 years in prison, Kavanaugh got confirmed to the Supreme Court. A forceful denial does not indicate that he was innocent of what he was accused of, it is however an indicator of his feelings of entitlement.

  3. First of all, Chris, I hope that things are going well for you. I’ve been out of the loop for a while.

    There are several misconceptions here about why conservative women have rallied to support Kavanaugh.

    As a bonafide conservative woman, let me clear things up for you. It all comes down to the issue of fairness and being innocent until proven guilty.

    Unfortunately for Democrats, there is no proof that Kavanaugh ever committed any kind of sexual assault. No one can corroborate Ford’s claims and her memories of past (and recent) events is noticeably fuzzy.

    But, you say, women should be believed. That is an admirable sentiment but please go back in time and tell that to the men who were lynched by the KKK or the men sitting in jail until DNA evidence proved them innocent. Even the Salem Witch Trials had more evidence against the accused than what was presented against Kavanaugh.

    If in fact women should be believed, why not believe all the women who have come forward to support Judge Kavanaugh? By all their accounts, he has been an excellent father, husband, son, mentor, boss, coworker, friend and defender. The two girlfriends he had in high school stated that the actions described by Ford would be totally out of character for the young man they knew.

    The way both Kavanaugh and Ford’s names have been dragged through the mud is despicable. The way both their families have been terrorized should not be condoned. Democrats used Ford as a sacrificial pawn. The strategy did not work out. Dems put down your pitchforks and put out your torches before you hurt yourselves.

    For an interesting perspective:

    https://thefederalist.com/2018/10/05/im-immigrant-minority-woman-going-republican-democrats-treatment-kavanaugh/

    1. Hi Objv
      The problem is NOT the accusations – they could be wrong

      The problem is Kavanaugh’s REACTION – prepared reaction – to those accusations

      That reaction at a job interview would make him completely unsuitable to ANY supervisory position!

      And then you have his finances – when hundreds of thousands of dollars of “mystery money” appear in anybodies finances it’s a worry

      If that money appears in a JUDGE’S finances it’s beyond a “worry”

      1. Hmmm… Agreed it shouldn’t be about the accusations, but it is. Exactly what mystery money are you talking about? If this is regarding the Mother Jones piece, you really, really ought to forward your concerns to the IRS. I’m certain they have no idea, and will be very interested!

        As far as his reaction is concerned, he became pissed-off. I’ve been pissed-off too when accused of something I didn’t do. Of course we do not know for certain what he did or didn’t do here, and we probably never will, but would you be pissed-off if you were accused of smmething you didn’t do? I managed (‘supervised’ if you will) engineers my entire professional life. And I’d occasionally get pissed-off. And I’d never, ever, hire some spineless SOB that didn’t. It means they just don’t care enough. Did you work as script QC for Romper Room or something? C’mon…

      2. Hey there Fifty! Should a nominee for SCOTUS be able to comport himself with more restraint? Think back to the many personal indignities Obana endured – with grace and dignity as befitted the office of president. Also, had the FBI been allowed “full” range as trump stated and not the limited scope of interviews of corroborating witnesses, I’d feel better. The republicans held off on Obama’s nominee for almost one year and they couldn’t hold off to allow a full fbi investigation?

        There were too many reports by Kavanaughs colleagues and acquaintances that deserved to be heard given the importance of the position and lifetime appointment. We all know this was rammed through, and the process was sullied as a result.

        What if we find out after the fact with certainty that Kavanaugh was lying?

      3. And to be clear: I think Dr. Ford’s testimony is what she believes to be accurate. In other words, I believe her. I do not believe she concocted the incident from whole cloth. This does not mean I necessarily think it to be accurate. That takes something more. It’s a very important distinction.

    2. Oh fuck. You would have the balls to mention lynching in this context.

      The worst outcome that asshole might have experienced from this airing of his past was to be condemned to life as a mere Appellate Court judge. The horror.

      And “innocent until proven guilty,” boy that takes some balls. How many Clinton campaign staff have been convicted of crimes? How many of the people beaten at Trump rallies got a trial first?

      His name was “dragged in the mud?” Everyone collaborating with this regime has tarred themselves. Their careers and credibility should be destroyed. In time, they likely will. In 1945, everyone in France was busy pretending they’d secretly been in the resistance. Watch that unfold as the days of retribution come.

      You haven’t seen pitchforks yet. Still being sharpened.

      1. Awww, Chris, how sweet. I knew you missed me. 🙂

        Luckily, I have no balls.

        If I did, I’d be protecting them right now.

        Instead of coming across as defenders of women, Democrat senators made it appear that they were happy to sacrifice one of their own to settle a political grudge.

        Honestly, was there a need to out Ford? She wanted to stay anonymous. This whole matter could have been handled earlier in the process and more discretely. Democrats knew that she would be put through the wringer and that it would likely be impossible to prove that anything ever happened to her. Was it fair to put her in that situation?

        I feel bad for Ford. I also feel bad for Kavanaugh’s wife and two daughters. I can identify with them. My husband was wrongly accused at work a couple decades ago. It wasn’t a case of sexual abuse but I remember the mix of grief, anxiety, and anger I felt because the man who accused my husband lied.

        As I watched Kavanaugh’s wife during the hearings doing her best not to cry, that time in my life came back to me. I’ve been sexually assaulted. I’ve had to deal with my husband’s cancer and other health problems, but nothing has come close to the devastation of watching helplessly when someone I loved was having their reputation destroyed. We all process traumatic events differently, but the key in the other situations was that I could fight back or take concrete steps to manage the situation. During the time my husband was being accused at work, I felt totally out of control and stressed out to the max.

        Was the Democrat’s eleventh-hour ploy worth it? Ironically, in an attempt to protect women the women connected to the confirmation suffered the most.

        So while understandably you sharpen your pitchforks, is the collateral damage worth it in the end? Does the mob really win?

      2. 50 and Chris, I hope you are right about those filthy corrupt chickens coming home to roost. If the Dems can flip at least one chamber of Congress, there’s a decent chance for that accountability.

        As for Kavanaugh, it shouldn’t have come down to Ford’s accusations. The DQ should have been the lack of a promise to recuse himself if the matter of any investigations into Trump’s corruption had to be heard by the SCOTUS. Or the lingering questions about how those debts were resolved.

        As for him getting emotional, that itself doesn’t bother me, although the twin hypocrisies of “If Ford had acted that way she would have been called ‘shrill’ and ‘hysterical’ “ and Ken Starr’s hatchet man crying about “political hatchet jobs” are an irritant. But the lying about his past should have been the final nail. That’s new levels of chutzpah, passing yourself off as a squeaky clean altar boy when pretty much everyone who knew you says “no, you were a party-hard douche-bro, just like us.” Being a party-hard douche-bro doesn’t make you irredeemable; plenty of them grow up. But lying about it in this context? No, that person doesn’t get hired by me. But I get why he lied- if he admits to lots of heavy drinking, there’s an obvious way to reconcile his accounts with Ford’s accounts. That not proof, just the elimination of a contradiction.

      3. OBJV,

        You are assuming that the leak came from Sen. Feinstein’s office. While we will likely never know with certainty, I suspect that the leak came from the WA Post. They had the info as well and reporters are notorious for not necessarily being closed mouth. In any event there were a large number of rumors floating around DC that there was an explosive incident in Kavanaugh’s past and a number of investigative organizations were chasing the story. Dr. Ford went public when it became obvious that the story was going to break.

        One thing to always remember is that a secret never stays secret in DC – there is the old saying that “if you want a friend in DC, get a dog.”

        The old WWII saying that “loose lips sink ships” is still applicable.

      4. Let me add to my previous comment that Mitch McConnell’s office had the info early as well. Probably Kavanaugh also knew that the incident was going to come out. He very likely remembered it and had already briefed McConnell’s office. They were able to release the letter attesting to Kavanaugh’s propriety signed 65 women who knew Kavanaugh in HS within 1-2 days. That does not happen overnight, as the right wingers have tried to BS us into believing.

        Another thing that strikes me is that none of the accusations against Kavanaugh came from women who were in peer high schools, i.e. 1st class catholic schools. Kavanaugh and his buddies looked down on Holton-Arms as a 2nd or 3rd class school. That is also the case for Ramirez. They apparently figured that the girls in those schools were suitable play things for their “one eyed men”. They were always perfect gentlemen when interacting with girls from peer schools – after all, those girls were potentially marriageable.
        This is typical of the “good-ole boy” mores that were and are typical of the false masculinity of many men and was prevalent in the antebellum South among the enslavers. I recently read a column by a hispanic woman, who referred to that as “machismo.” I think that is appropriate.

    3. Hiya, Objv! So happy to see your time away hasn’t dulled your edge for deflection, sophistry, and good ol’ fashioned bullcrappery.

      That being said, and in the spirit of the usual exchange, I’ll relish my usual dismantling of you piece by piece. Let’s begin!

      >] As a bonafide conservative woman, let me clear things up for you. It all comes down to the issue of fairness and being innocent until proven guilty.

      Oh, you sure picked a whopper to start this one off with, didn’t you? You, someone who’ll go to her grave never having given Hillary Clinton so much as an inch when it came to benefit of the doubt; thinking you’ve any legitimacy to speak on these issues is so ridiculous it’s enough to make one’s stomach churn.

      Sit your hypocritical ass down.

      >] Unfortunately for Democrats, there is no proof that Kavanaugh ever committed any kind of sexual assault. No one can corroborate Ford’s claims and her memories of past (and recent) events is noticeably fuzzy.

      That Ford went out of her way to claim uncertainty about her memories boosts her credibility, not the other way around – as opposed to Kavanaugh’s Creepy Calendars (solid entry for Rick Wilson’s Everything Trump Touches Dies sequel, btw) and his absolute, 100% certainty that he wasn’t a repeated blackout drunk, contrary to numerous corroborated assertions from HIS OWN ROOMMATE and others.

      https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/03/politics/yale-roommate-kavanaugh-cnntv/index.html

      Oh, and speaking of the overbearing elephant in the room. If he was indeed a blackout, aggressive drunk, then it’s highly likely that he wouldn’t remember the alleged incident at all – surely something someone of Kavanaugh’s intelligence knows perfectly well, and yet he went out of his way to insist that we should take him at his word.

      You don’t have to believe Kavvy’s guilty to recognize that he’s lying, and doing it very badly.

      >] If in fact women should be believed, why not believe all the women who have come forward to support Judge Kavanaugh? By all their accounts, he has been an excellent father, husband, son, mentor, boss, coworker, friend and defender. The two girlfriends he had in high school stated that the actions described by Ford would be totally out of character for the young man they knew.

      You mean women like Renate Dolphin who came out in support of Kavanaugh only to turn around and find herself painted by her ‘friend’ as some of bow-legged slut?

      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/24/business/brett-kavanaugh-yearbook-renate.html

      Please, *by all means*, continue this line of argument. I f’ing dare you.

      >] The way both Kavanaugh and Ford’s names have been dragged through the mud is despicable. The way both their families have been terrorized should not be condoned. Democrats used Ford as a sacrificial pawn. The strategy did not work out. Dems put down your pitchforks and put out your torches before you hurt yourselves.

      Except for the actual reality of one having been elevated to the highest court in the land the other not being able to return to her home in the face of a relentless deluge of death threats, that was a very mov… oh, who the hell am I kidding? Seeing Dear Leader throw whoever he needed to under the bus for a moment’s false equivalency must have it coming to you like second nature by now. Lordy.

      Oh, and you haven’t seen f’ing pitchforks yet. But don’t worry, the first serious round’s coming straight at you in just a little under a month. 🙂

      1. “But don’t worry, the first serious round’s coming straight at you in just a little under a month.”

        Ryan, I don’t read OBJV’s comments anymore because it’s not worth the headspace dealing with trolls (ever notice how she pops up when the conservatives get a clear win, but never has anything to say when anything else happens?), but as I was scrolling down to check other responses your last sentence caught my eye.

        Please be aware that making a Supreme Court nominee cry has energized the agents of dumbfuckery by igniting their fear of being publicly cucked, and now, actually, toss up governor, House, and Senate races have shifted ‘leans red’:

        https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/09/us/politics/kavanaugh-republican-midterm-races.html

        The problem is that the liberal white women were already energized and enraged by Trump, so previous polls measured disinterested or unaffected conservative interest in voting. Now their masculinity is threatened.

        As always, things could change, four weeks left, yadda yadda yadda. But I wouldn’t start the gloating pre-emptively, especially when confronting a troll.

      2. Ryan,

        As far as your first assertion: True – I have not given Hillary an inch. After watching her antics for almost thirty years, I don’t feel the need to. She’s corrupt, greedy and tries to destroy other women who stand in her way – she’s the ultimate swamp creature.

        When it comes to Ford’s memories, they are more than hazy. They are malleable. Initially, she thought she was attacked in her late teens, but when that proved to be impossible, she changed the timeline. Her therapist wrote down that Ford claimed four boys were in the room but Ford later reduced the number to two claiming a transcription error on the part of the therapist. Ford’s ex-boyfriend claimed that Ford coached a friend on how to take a polygraph in direct contradiction to her testimony before the Senate. He also stated that Ford had no fear of flying or enclosed places during the years he dated her.

        https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/oct/3/christine-blasey-fords-ex-boyfriend-says-she-coach/

        The most disturbing events during the Kavanaugh confirmation process has been how BOTH sides have been threatened. Even Kavanaughs young daughters have not been exempt.

        I don’t wish physical harm on anyone, but recent events have caused the unhinged crazies to come out of the woodwork and that worries me. Pitchforks down, please. 🙂

      3. “She’s corrupt, greedy and tries to destroy other women who stand in her way – she’s the ultimate swamp creature.”

        Yet you give Trump a pass on all the far worse things he has done. You are the ultimate IOKIYAR hypocrite

      4. Dow,

        Not to worry, I only popped in and will soon leave the safe space Chris has created here. Believe it or not, no trolling was intended.

        I mistakenly thought that a discussion between two sides was still possible.

      5. >] “Ryan, I don’t read OBJV’s comments anymore because it’s not worth the headspace dealing with trolls (ever notice how she pops up when the conservatives get a clear win, but never has anything to say when anything else happens?), but as I was scrolling down to check other responses your last sentence caught my eye.

        Please be aware that making a Supreme Court nominee cry has energized the agents of dumbfuckery by igniting their fear of being publicly cucked, and now, actually, toss up governor, House, and Senate races have shifted ‘leans red’:

        https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/09/us/politics/kavanaugh-republican-midterm-races.html

        The problem is that the liberal white women were already energized and enraged by Trump, so previous polls measured disinterested or unaffected conservative interest in voting. Now their masculinity is threatened.

        As always, things could change, four weeks left, yadda yadda yadda. But I wouldn’t start the gloating pre-emptively, especially when confronting a troll.

        Two-faced as this might sound, I’m not declaring victory yet; far to the contrary in that despite Dems’ historic enthusiasm and lead in the polls, it’s all too realistic a possibility that Election Night could end with Republicans still in complete control.

        If I had to give a reason as to sounding confident, it’s because there’s no point in doing otherwise. People need to feel encouraged about progress and honestly believe in the hope of victory. Going out of one’s way to say such and such might happen and there’s *this* reason and *that* reason why we might lose scores great for realism – but this midterm will be decided by whichever side is more passionate, angry, and enthusiastic. That’s all.

        And as far as Objv is concerned, I know. Believe me I get it.

        Honestly, whatever goes through her mind when she pulls her usual crap like that means less than nothing to me. As far as I’m concerned, she’s a small-minded, weak little thing that needs the occasional smack down, and I’m more than happy to spare a moment every now and again to give it to her.

        Beyond that, it’s nothing worth dwelling on or being given a second thought.

      6. @Ryan: “Going out of one’s way to say such and such might happen and there’s *this* reason and *that* reason why we might lose scores great for realism – but this midterm will be decided by whichever side is more passionate, angry, and enthusiastic. That’s all.”

        2016 taught me not to trust the future, but rather to fight for it.

      7. “As far as I’m concerned, she’s a small-minded, weak little thing that needs the occasional smack down, and I’m more than happy to spare a moment every now and again to give it to her. ”

        Lovely! …. And, you wonder why Democrats continue to lose women voters. You’ve already lost the conservative ones. With that kind of vitriol, you’ll lose many of the moderate and independent ones, too. Yes, the midterms will be interesting.

        Sorry I checked back.

      8. “Lovely! …. And, you wonder why Democrats continue to lose women voters. ”

        What the fuck are you smiling? There’s a 25 point gender gap among women in favor of the Democrats. The record numbers of women running for office this year are overwhelmingly Democrat.

        Even after 2 years you still claim Trump was the lesser evil. Even after he’s made it clear that he’ll fling dynamite into the our cultural and political divides for his own amusement? Even after he and the GOP had nothing to offer for fixing healthcare or infrastructure or immigration? Even after they planted that fiscal time bomb that is tax cuts for the rich? Even though the scientists are warning us that we have less time than we thought to deal with the damage we’re doing to the planet, and the ignorant fool yells for “more coal” and cites brain dead conspiracy theories? Even after he’s dialed the bigotry past 11? I dare you to lay out a reality based scenario describing how Clinton would be worse.

    4. Objv,

      You said…
      “…there is no proof that Kavanaugh ever committed any kind of sexual assault”

      This happens to be a pet peeve of mine. You are talking in absolutes. There is evidence of a potential crime. You make argue the evidence is insufficient “proof” that doesn’t cross the threshold of reasonable doubt. But to say there is “no proof” is flat out wrong, imo.

      Would you also say there is “no proof that Bill Clinton ever committed any kind of sexual assault”?

      Multiple women have accused both men.

      1. dfcord,
        Ford’s only proof is a thirty-year-old hazy memory that no one can corroborate. I’m not saying that the assault didn’t happen. I’m just saying that there is insufficient proof that it did.

        Is an unproven allegation enough to derail someone’s career? If so, no one (Democrat or Republican) will ever be confirmed to the Supreme Court again.

        P.S. There is plenty of evidence that Bill Clinton committed sexual assault and even rape. There’s just not enough time in the day to list it all!

      2. Usually Trolls have a tough time being consistent between multiple threads.

        In one post you wrote…
        “I mistakenly thought that a discussion between two sides was still possible.”

        A discussion between two sides generally requires a common definition of terms and agreement of facts.

        Term “no proof” – does this mean “no evidence, period” or just “no evidence beyond a reasonable doubt”?

        You wrote “There is plenty of evidence that Bill Clinton committed sexual assault…”
        This is true since multiple witnesses have claimed it is true.

        There is also plenty of evidence that Kavanaugh commited sexual assault because multiple witnesses have claimed it is true.

        You can state there is “no proof that Kavanaugh ever committed any kind of sexual assault” if you apply a strict standard of innocent until proven guilty.

        Then there is “no proof that Bill Clinton ever committed any kind of sexual assault” if you apply the same standard.

        If you can not apply a consistent standard or set of terms when attempted to communicate, then you are just a biased Troll.

  4. A fine piece. What disturbs me – and I’m a man, so feel free to discount my opinion – is that I read far too many articles by activist women on this topic who claim that the women who support abusive men, or who hate immigrants/black people/the poor etc, must have been themselves abused by a man and so their views are not really their own.

    This approach is deeply denigratory of women, by making out that regressive, right-wing women are not to have their views taken as seriously as the identical view expressed by a man. Let’s blame these women for what they say and do, and stop enabling them by passing the buck to their husbands, partners, clergy or male bosses. Women have brains just like men do.

    1. John, we should never paint with a broad brush. As a liberal and female, I do not presume nor assume that conservative women who espouse different positions are not entitled to their opinions; however, I do expect all women to have an informed level of sensitivity and honesty about the issue of sexual harassment and abuse. It’s real and it’s as old as time. Lisa Murkowski is a fine example of a conservative female who thinks for herself and stands on principle, irrespective of party. Women are responsible for the choices they make but this assumes they are not placed in positions in which the choice(s) are impacted by circumstances outside their control.

      As a woman, a mother, and one who believes deeply in individual responsibility and fairness, I believe women are smart and capable of making good decisions “when things are within their control.” What we are really talking about here are different standards of behavior expected of women and men. Why is aggressive sexual behavior of a young man considered “boys will be boys” whereas a woman is considered to be promiscuous and a slut? Her reputation is sullied whereas his is enhanced because he is performing to the acceptable male stereotype. Reputations of women are more vulnerable to this type of criticism than are those of men. This applies to all women, regardless of political persuasion, and women bear babies, all too often the unintended consequence of unwise, unprotected sex.

      I support the Violence Against Women Act and find it horrifying that any woman would not (any man, as well). I also support marriage quality even as I recognize others feel differently about this for deeply held reasons. As parents and friends, we need to educate and support our young people – male and female – regarding what is safe and appropriate behavior, while advising them clearly about the consequences of the choices they make. Surely we can recognize that bad stuff happens but we should do our best individually and collectively to protect our young people from being in harm’s way and support them when necessary.

    2. “must have been themselves abused by a man and so their views are not really their own. ”

      Yeah I actually did a little of that in my comment below and I want to clarify:

      I think it’s problematic that people jump on the “homophobic = repressed homosexual, conservative woman = abuse victim” sort of thinking. I’m sure there are many instances of that, of I have known homophobes who simply were raised and taught to hate homosexuals and lacked self-reflection to think about what that means BECAUSE they weren’t homosexual. It was easy just to assume that homosexuals didn’t ‘naturally’ exist.

      In the same way, claiming that conservative women must have been abused is missing the fact that they could just literally be ignorant. Having never been forced down on a bed by a drunk man while other men laughed as you feared for your life, they may hear that description and think of the times a man playfully wrestled with them in a completely consensual situation. Then they figure this woman is ‘making a big deal out of it’ because, “after all, Dr. Ford didn’t really get raped.”

      And this conversation is happening while a lot of conversation about what consent means is new to a lot of people, even young people, especially in a culture where sex education is, shall we say, regional, and even the best sex education has unclear, confusing, or outright missing conversations about consent.

      Even I talk about consent taking for granted basically years of conversation women have had with me in my adulthood, that was never the conversation or message I received before I was old enough to vote.

  5. I don’t disagree with what you’re saying, but I’d like to frame it in a different way.

    When people were debating Bernie’s calls for free college in 2016, there was often someone, regardless of left/right, who would argue, “But I had to pay my way through college, why should other people be given what I paid for and invested in personally?” Underlying that is a sort of sunk-cost fallacy, that something is made more valuable because of higher cost or effort required to attain it. And you see a lot of that not only in white conservatives, but first and second generation immigrants who themselves claim support for higher immigration controls.

    Additionally, trauma victims have to go through a lot of work to come to terms with their trauma, and there are a variety of ways to do that with various results, that affect the way your brain thinks. If you don’t have a guided and supported method of overcoming trauma, if left to your own devices, the primary way to deal with trauma is to harden or die. That hardening often means a type of blocking out of certain methods of thought that recognize or remember the trauma, and any adjustment your brain makes to block out trauma also blocks out inputs of related thoughts.

    So if you’re a person who grew up in a society where all men abused you or were expected to, and your only method of dealing with that trauma is to harden and suppress parts of yourself, and that suppression is considered strength and maturity, then it’s ridiculous and even self-entitled of some young woman to be arguing that she should earn the award of a good relationship without the work that a relationship means to the woman who grew up in that society.

    “I paid my dues — why are you trying to skip paying them?” is what is being said when a woman tells another woman “If you do get raped, might as well close your eyes and enjoy it.”

    And the reason that cynicism is so sad is because of the line you shared:

    “I mean, how many guys do you know who think that’s no big deal?”

    What that literally means is that the speaker doesn’t believe that there are men, or could be men, in the world who don’t sexually assault women in their youth. You don’t have to argue about the heirarchy of church’s to point out what fear that gives conservative women — you don’t have to go much further from their own household. In sum:

    If people are arguing that Kavanaugh is a bad person for his party behavior as a young man, then what conservative women hear is that their own husbands, and sons, are bad people. And that the work they did to deal with the trauma of being assaulted wasn’t worth it.

    In other words, if other people believe that they deserve better, then don’t they mean you deserve worse, because that’s what you ended up with? And you have no other option?

    Now project that to the Supreme Court, and the same dynamic is happening, the reason why Graham and Grassley and McConnell are getting so frustrated and Susan Collins is pursing her lips and shaking her head in support of all that. Because they fundamentally know that if Kavanaugh is disqualified from the Supreme Court for that type of behavior, then no conservative justice will pass muster. “All boys do it” means “We know that every single one of our nominees has probably done something similar.”

    I called this behavior cynicism and that’s pretty much the definition of it — the belief not only that better options don’t exist, but also that you don’t deserve them.

      1. However we might justify our actions in the name of saving the country, thwarting pseudo-authoritarian rule, or whatever else – the cold-hearted truth of the matter is is that’s *exactly* what we’re doing. We are coming to smack them down, stare them dead in the face and tell them that the living hell of the trial by fire that was their life in so many ways was utterly and completely wrong.

        And, really, for no other reason other than plain ol’ human weakness and some asshole’s random whim.

        Insofar as meaning goes though, the only one who can decide that is them. Will that hell be a stepping stool for them to step onto a higher road or will they let it become a chain that’ll drag them down into depravity?

        If it’s the former, reach out a hand in friendship and give them whatever support they need. If it’s the latter, then they’re enemies that need to be defeated at the polls, again and again until their miserable existence finally flames out.

  6. This WaPo story is worth reading (if you aren’t a subscriber, you still can read a few artfir free each month):

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/opinions/arlington-texas/?utm_term=.f0f99a09a8f2

    It seems to me that if you are a woman attacked by someone above you in the pecking order, you are very likely catch hell if you dare speak out. But if it’s someone lower, you could get sympathy and even be used for political propaganda.

    These Aunt Lydia types are very clearly no allies of mine. I once had a “live and let live” attitude towards them, but I can’t afford that anymore.

  7. I was just reading an article on Women voting for Bolsonaro in the upcoming elections in Brazil and the words spoken by wealthy upper class women in Sao Paulo or poor women in the middle of the Amazon could be EXACTLY the words of a woman defending Trump or Kavanaugh.

    Is is surreal how on a different continent, in a different country with different language, different culture, different history, etc. these statements could be read and you wouldn’t know if they were spoken by a female Brazilian Bolsonaro Supporter or a female US Trump supporter.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/10/brazil-bolsonaro-election-far-right-lula-election/572203/

    Here some excerpts:

    “He might be rude or aggressive, but at least he’s authentic. The other politicians say all the nice things, but they’re just phony. And he won’t be rude once he gets into office. He’ll change and straighten up after he wins.”

    “They judge Bolsonaro as being homophobic and machista,” or macho and sexist. “I don’t agree with all of Bolsonaro’s proposals, but I just don’t want more of the same.”

    She showed me a WhatsApp message her pastor had sent to the congregation, urging them to elect someone who will defend God, the Christian religion, and the “traditional family.”

    “I believe in the traditional family,” Ferreira said. “I believe in kids respecting their parents. I believe in the hierarchy of a family, with the father at the top, in teaching kids the right rules. And I don’t want our schools teaching children about sex.”

    And here the background of this gentleman:

    [Bolsonaro] … sparring with a female congresswoman as photographers and journalists encircle them. […] “I wouldn’t ever rape you, because you don’t deserve it … Slut!” he says, before jabbing her in the shoulder and sending her stumbling backwards.

    1. “He’ll change and straighten up after he wins.”

      HA! Some people refuse to learn. I remember my rude awakening on that. I had voted for Bill Clinton, with full knowledge that he was an adulterer (but I didn’t know about sexual harassment or assault accusations at the time). I disapproved of that, but thought that since he would be in the spotlight of the Presidency, he’d behave himself. Obviously, history proved me to be 100% wrong on that one. I learned the lesson of “what you see is what you get” back in 1998, and I have not forgotten it.

  8. As a former (and hopefully future) activist in the labor movement, the “law” you highlight covers a multitude of institutions including the workplace. Time and again, I would confront those who would rather preserve their status – or their potential status – than stand shoulder to shoulder with those challenging unfair and capricious bosses that target subordinates so they can gain “bad-ass” currency and be considered for future advancement in the structure. I would appeal to their sense of justice and solidarity and be answered with, “I just put in an application for a better job and I don’t want to rock the boat and jeopardize my future. ESPECIALLY not for X who is not really worthy of being defended anyway.” When I would explain that we’re defending the due process that should be available to anyone irrespective of their “worthiness”, my actions to defend workers in the cross hairs of a vindictive manager / supervisor were twisted around and portrayed as an example of how unions defend the lazy and undeserving.

    I tried organizing professionals who were convinced that their talent was so valuable and so in demand that they could make a better deal on their own rather than bargain collectively to benefit the entire class of their peers. I tried organizing line staff and paraprofessionals who insisted that they wouldn’t risk their own careers of quiet desperation on behalf of others who they also viewed as unworthy. I explained that if we don’t challenge the management now, that next time, after the undeserving were weeded out of the workplace, that they would likely be that manager’s next target. I take no pleasure in in telling them “I told you so” when my warnings and “croakings of doom” came true.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to reading ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’. 🙂

  9. Given that the whitewash with a complicit FBI is complete, I figure this is a fait accompli for fascism, with another victory in the war against democratic institutions. My deleted comments about how to deal with it I stand by.

    So I will go off topic with another red flag about NEXT. Those that think that corporations feel think they will run the show with some modicum of largesse are hopelessly deluded:

    https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/10/04/tech-expert-resigns-from-sidewalk-toronto-advisory-panel-over-data-ownership-concerns.html

    There may be a paywall up now, but think if you register you get 5 free articles.

      1. Yeah, what you state is pretty obvious in that regard. What I think is the key is that corporations are only in it for the profit, not for any higher motive. Domino’s paves roads to sell more pizza’s, nothing more. This woman was an idealist, and naive. She saw the reality and did not like it.

        As stated here many times by you and anyone else, data is the new currency, and those that think corps like Google will help build cities as some way of helping in some purely beneficial way are delusional.

        Bezos bumping the minimum wage to 15 bucks in his sweatshops is not the effort of someone seeing the light, but one where he sees a way of retaining people to maximize profit in a very thin labor market. You did see that after announcing the bump to 15 dollars, he wiped out the bonus plan and stock plan for the same workers.

        Corporations are inherently evil. How many studies have shown that the behavior of a large corp emulates that of a psychopath? I am not talking about some mom and pop small store, but the giga-corps, and now, terra-corps. Capitalism may be the best method we have because of the failings of human nature, specifically greed, but it is still an awful system.

        One last note on the insanity and total inequity of the current system. Say Bezos bumped the salary 5 bucks and hour for all 350,000 of his workers (remember, a lot are knowledge workers and 5 buck/ hour for them is peanuts, and did not get a raise). 5 bucks an hour, based on 50 weeks * 40 hours = $10,000 / employee, or 3.5 billion dollars / year. Bezos’ net worth has jumped well over 10 times that this year alone.

      2. The guy fixing potholes on my street isn’t doing it for a higher motive. He’s getting paid to do a job. Yea, he’s a city employee, but he doesn’t care who works for and he isn’t serving some higher calling. He would do exactly the same job in exactly the same way if the bureaucrat signing his check worked for Google. He’s working for a living.

        “Corporations are inherently evil.” Really? Nothing is inherently evil. A corporation is a tool, like a hammer or a gun or a government or a committee. It’s an organization. Build one badly and it will suck. Create a balance of incentives that reward evil behavior and the machine will crank out evil behavior, and that behavior will come from corporations, “mom and pop stores,” governments, churches, etc.

        When people are successful in organizing themselves through institutions that channel their interests, good things happen. When people fail to organize themselves thusly, they become prey. The tools or techniques are largely interchangeable. What determines outcomes is the relative success of a group of people in building means of collaboration.

        Right now, an old means of collaboration, our democratic institutions, are failing to yield results. Meanwhile, those who bet their lives and futures on a different method of organization, corporations and businesses, are prospering and look set to grow more and more powerful. It is not always thus, but that’s how life is unfolding now.

        That trend can produce good outcomes or horrors. In the early 20th century, when forces were running in the opposite direction, that same trend toward centralized government power produced both the Pax Americana and the horrors of the Soviet Union. Just because you invest in government rather than corporate power doesn’t mean you get better outcomes.

        Just depends on the environment of incentives and punishments that emerge around those institutions. Want it to be different? Work to strengthen the institutions you prefer, helping them adapt to emerging demands. Want to trigger a cascade of failure? Stubbornly dig in on a failing position, refusing to adapt, change or compromise around emerging demands.

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