Ethics Morning Sickness, 9/29/2018: The Ford-Kavanaugh Hearing Hangover

According to several sources, Republicans not only have the votes to confirm Brett Kananaugh,  a couple of Democrats may even join their ranks. If true, that’s amazing, and also the most encouraging piece of news I’ve heard since Aaron Judge went on the Disabled List.

I don’t have any special fondness for Brett Kavanaugh, and I have no stake in his confirmation. All I have ever cared about is having outstanding, smart, analytical judges on the Supreme Court. I was thrilled when President Obama nominated Elena Kagan, who fits that description; depressed when he appointed touchy-feely mediocrity Sotamayor, lowering the quality of judicial talent so he could check off a diversity box, but then, that’s Obama. Justices like Blackmun, Souter and Kennedy, all appointed to skirt controversy rather than to ensure a competent Court, do subtle, long-lasting damage to our laws. Aggressive, thoughtful, brilliant jurists like Scalia and Ginsberg keep the third branch of government strong. Kavanaugh is undeniably the kind of qualified, experienced judge who has always been routinely confirmed by the Senate regardless of the President nominating him or his party affiliation. What the Democrats and their allies among activist and the news media have done to Brett Kavanaugh is more than wrong; it is very dangerous, and threatens further the basic comity and respect without which no democracy can function. The treatment of Kavanaugh, which I have discussed in detail elsewhere—the demonizing, the fear-mongering, the character assassination, based purely on an unremarkable judicial philosophy—continues down a slippery slope, already greased by “the resistance,”  that ends in civil war.  The Democrats will only turn away from this disastrous path when they conclude that it won’t work, that the American public rejects “the ends justify the means” as an operating strategy. There are signs that the Democratic Senators televised conduct during the Kavanaugh hearings may be a tipping point. I hope so. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Nothing much has changed in my assessment since I wrote this post ten days ago. I still don’t believe or disbelieve Ford or Kavanaugh. There is no basis on which to believe either of them, but the accuser has the burden of proof, and as was true ten days ago, she can’t meet it and didn’t meet it. Nobody confirms her account. She cannot provide specifics, even as to where the alleged attack occurred, who held the party where it allegedly occurred, or an exact date, making investigation nearly impossible. Her parents, who are alive, have not confirmed her account; apparently she didn’t even tell them about the incident. Her testimony was convincing. So was Kavanaugh’s. Those who say “they believe” either party might as well have a “Bias has made me stupid” sign on top of their head. In yesterday’s New York Times, a full page ad listed thousands of names of men proclaiming “We believe Anita Hill. We also believe Charistine Blasey Ford.” All they are doing is virtue signaling for their pals, proclaiming their partisan affiliation (believing Ford is required to save abortion, and depending on which hysterical activist or pundit you listen to, female suffrage, gay marriage and the continued abolition of slavery), and or proving that they lack the power of critical thought.

I’ll have to sort through all of the logical fallacies used against Kavanaugh later: I’m sure a new rationalization for the list or twelve is in there. For example, I have been told and read that women believe Ford because they know other victims of sexual assault who never reported it. But that doesn’t justify believing Ford! It indicates that the fact that she waited all this time, until evidence was gone and memories faded, to suddenly make her accusation when it was most politically useful to her party doesn’t prove she isn’t telling the truth, but it doesn’t make it any more likely that she is, either. A commenter yesterday suggested that there should be more sympathy and accommodation for victims who are afraid to come forward soon after a sexual assault. “I would like to remind you that women often are not able to speak out against harassment until long after the fact because they are afraid and unable,” she wrote. I replied,

Then they lose their chance. There are a lot of things in life like that. If I’m reluctant to speak up and challenge a mob harassing a US Senator while he’s dining with my family, I can’t wait 20 years and do it then, can I? If you are afraid to report a community criminal when you have evidence against him because you’re afraid to snitch, it’s no mitigation to report the evidence after more people have been hurt because of your delay. How about women who don’t stop their boyfriends from sexually molesting their children because they are afraid? Is it acceptable that they wait until the Statute of Limitations has run, the damage has been done, and the kids are grown and molesting children themselves before they speak up?

You don’t have to remind me of the dilemma. I’m sorry, but I am really sick of this argument…It’s an excuse and a rationalization. It makes fairness and due process impossible, and it allows false accusers to manipulate others. Three decades? Holding a complaint until the exact moment when it can’t be defended against AND will do the most damage?

It’s explainable, perhaps, but it isn’t ethically excusable.

The “Survivors should be believed” mantra is per se unethical—dishonest, contrary to basic principles of justice, illogical, bigoted and unfair. To begin with “survivors” falsely rigs the question: if the accuser is lying, like “Mattress Girl,” or Wanetta Gibson, or the Duke LaCross accuser, or “Jackie,” the anonymous alleged gang rape victim who commend Rolling Stone ,she’s not a survivor. She’s a liar, or deluded. Second, no accuser should ever be believed without actual evidence, and the proposition that women have a special right to be believed without any is flat out sexist bigotry against men.

[Digression: speaking of sexist bigotry, the New Yorker—nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!–published this monstrosity, “Brett Kavanaugh and the Adolescent Aggression of Conservative Masculinity” by Alexandra Schwartz. Ann Althouse does a nice defenestration of the author and this piece of sexist offal, so I don’t have to.]

As for hypocrisy, it is astounding that Democrats have the cojones  to take this cynical pose after nominating Hillary Clinton, after using its 2012 convention to lionize Bill Clinton, with Juanita Broaddrick at the Kavanaugh hearings, and as the party is pretending that the DNC co-chair, Keith Ellison, hasn’t been credibly accused of domestic abuse. You would think that the news media would make an issue of–no you wouldn’t. What was I thinking?

There were two Ethics Heroes yesterday, and if somehow this attempt to warp basic principles and traditions of American justice and fairness is decisively defeated—and by that I mean that such tactics become taboo, not that Kavanaugh is confirmed—all Americans will owe both of them a debt of gratitude.

The first is Senator Lindsey Graham. This was a true Joseph Welch, “Have you no sense of decency?” moment, and desperately needed. Graham was the perfect messenger, too: a moderate conservative, often attacked by the hard-right because he believes in bi-partisanship, well-liked and respected on both sides of the aisle, a lawyer, and an established truth-teller.  For him to use as strong terms as he did in condemning his colleagues’ conduct was remarkable. The anti-Trump, biased news media and its pundits are calling Graham’s performance a rant. It was no rant; it was a coup de gras. Read the whole thing here. A sample:

Graham: Are you aware that at 9:23 pm on the night of July the 9th, the day you were nominated to the Supreme Court by President Trump, Sen. Schumer said 23 minutes after your nomination, “I’ll oppose judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything, I hope a bipartisan majority will do the same. The stakes are simply too high for anything less.” If you weren’t aware of it, you are now. Did you meet with Sen. Dianne Feinstein on August 20?

Kavanaugh: I did meet with Sen. Feinstein.

Graham: Did you know that her staff had already recommended a lawyer to Dr. Ford?

Kavanaugh: I did not know that.

Graham: Did you know that her and her staff had this allegations for over 20 days?

Kavanaugh: I did not know that at the time.

Graham: If you wanted an FBI investigation, you could have come to us. What you [Democrats] want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020. You’ve said that. Not me.

You got nothing to apologize for. When you see Sotomayer and Kagan, say hello because I voted for them. I’d never do to them what you’ve done to this guy. This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics and if you really wanted to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn’t have done what you’ve done to this guy. Are you a gang rapist?

Kavanaugh: No.

Graham:  …This is hell. This is going to destroy the ability of good people to come forward because of this crap. Your high school yearbook. You have interacted with professional women all your life, not one accusation. You’re supposed to be Bill Cosby when you’re a junior and senior in high school. And all of a sudden you got over it. It’s been my understanding that if you drug women and rape them for two years in high school, you probably don’t stop.

Here’s my understanding. If you lived a good life, people would recognize it like the American bar association has the gold standard. “His integrity is absolutely unquestioned. He is the very circumspect in his personal conduct, harbors no biases or prejudices. Entirely ethical. Is a really decent person. Is warm, friendly, unassuming. He’s the nicest person.”

…One thing I can you should be proud of: Ashley, you should be proud of this. That you raised a daughter who had the good character to pray for Dr. Ford. To my Republican colleagues, if you vote no, you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics.

…I hope you’re on the Supreme Court. That’s exactly where you should be. And I hope that the American people will see through this charade. And I wish you well. You well. And I intend to vote for you, and I hope everybody who’s fair minded will.

Exactly.

The other hero was Kavanaugh, who also evoked memories of Welch ripping the mask of respectability from Joe McCarthy. The late Robert Bork sat back and took the lies and insults Ted Kennedy and other Democrats  used to paint him as some kind if a judicial Satan, confident that he would be confirmed after some symbolic grandstanding. He was wrong. Clarence Thomas escalated a bit, using one flash of anger and the perfect phrase to de-fang the late attack on his character, calling it a “high tech lynching.” Kavanaugh isn’t black like Thomas, however, and his righteous indignation, if it was going to be effective, had to be more extensive, pointed, passionate, and tough. Did he regard it as a necessary tactic to save his nomination and good name, or did he understand that much more was at stake? I don’t know. I also don’t know if it was enough. I hope so. Everyone should hope so.

If it was, Judge Kavanaugh will deserve a place of honor in American history for exposing, and defeating,  one of the ugliest and most corrosive breaches of political decency in U.S. history.

44 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society

44 responses to “Ethics Morning Sickness, 9/29/2018: The Ford-Kavanaugh Hearing Hangover

  1. sgs

    Well, the ABA is now saying they recommend holding back on the nomination.

    By the way, funds raised on Gofundme for CB Ford have crossed $500K (there’s more than one fund) – I would like your perspective as an ethicist on this. People are saying they believe Ford because she stands to lose a lot, whereas I have consistently argued she stands to gain far more than lose, because as a a. psychology academic and b. a professor in California, there’s not much that any administrator or the APA can do to censure her even if they were inclined to do so (and they are not – the psychology academia circle is one of the most left-skewed, per Jonathan Haidt) On the other hand, she would have been aware of the immense benefits that would come her way, such as book deals, TV deals, lecture circuit opportunities. My question is this: should it sway our judgment of her integrity if we were to assume her knowledge (as a savvy citizen) of future material benefits of her stance? If we were to assume her likely partisan displeasure against a conservative “straight white male” getting to the SCOTUS through a Trump seal of approval?

  2. The “Survivors should be believed” mantra is per se unethical—dishonest, contrary to basic principles of justice, illogical, bigoted and unfair. To begin with “survivors” falsely rigs the question: if the accuser is lying, like “Mattress Girl,” or Wanetta Gibson, or the Duke LaCross accuser, or “Jackie,” the anonymous alleged gang rape victim who commend Rolling Stone ,she’s not a survivor. She’s a liar, or deluded. Second, no accuser should ever be believed without actual evidence, and the proposition that women have a special right to be believed without any is flat out sexist bigotry against men.

    As for hypocrisy, it is astounding that Democrats have the cojones to take this cynical pose after nominating Hillary Clinton, after using its 2012 convention to lionize Bill Clinton, with Juanita Broaddrick at the Kavanaugh hearings, and as the party is pretending that the DNC co-chair, Keith Ellison, hasn’t been credibly accused of domestic abuse. You would think that the news media would make an issue of–no you wouldn’t. What was I thinking?

    Then they lose their chance. There are a lot of things in life like that. If I’m reluctant to speak up and challenge a mob harassing a US Senator while he’s dining with my family, I can’t wait 20 years and do it then, can I? If you are afraid to report a community criminal when you have evidence against him because you’re afraid to snitch, it’s no mitigation to report the evidence after more people have been hurt because of your delay.

    Broaddrick lost her chance. that is why I never claimed to believe her.

    i wonder how many of these senators believed Paula Jones?

    Did women turn against Bill Clinton after Paula Jones made her accusations?

  3. Other Bill

    It was glorious.

    “No matter how the judge’s fate unfolds, history will well remember Lindsey Graham’s fiery rebuke of Democrats for the behavior they have displayed for decades. Is this a long overdue reckoning that will change their behavior? That seems unlikely as the midterms approach and 2020 looms. But if Cory Booker and Kamala Harris think they boosted their stock for the presidency, they may soon learn otherwise.

    Compactly contained within one day witnessed by millions, we saw Democrat behavior so unhinged and repulsive that Republicans finally came out of their shells and called them on it. It was glorious.”

    https://townhall.com/columnists/markdavis/2018/09/28/untitled-n2523392

  4. Steve-O-in-NJ

    Oh, I dunno, according to John Thune they are coming up a little short now, no defections from the Democrats, and Heidi Heitkamp is implying she is going to vote no.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      Thune said they “still have a little work to do” but of course the AP headline blared “GOP DOESN’T HAVE THE VOTES.”

      • Other Bill

        Get a load of this!

        “Late Thursday, the magazine of the Jesuit religious order in the United States withdrew its endorsement of Kavanaugh, saying the nomination was no longer in the interests of the country and “should be withdrawn.”

        “If Senate Republicans proceed with his nomination, they will be prioritizing policy aims over a woman’s report of an assault,” the “America” editors wrote. “Were he to be confirmed without this allegation being firmly disproved, it would hang over his future decisions on the Supreme Court for decades and further divide the country.””

        So the Jesuit order that supervised (failed to supervise?) that Georgetown Prep Yearbook and let those kids get away with publishing an
        embarrassment like that, is now saying Kavanaugh is unacceptable. That takes balls.

  5. Emily

    It occured to me that Graham’s speech was the single most honest, important, and sorely needed thing I’ve heard a politician say in my lifetime. I hope the media plays his “rant” 24/7, and I trust the rational people of both parties to recognize it for what it is.

    • Other Bill

      Mrs. OB said last night I was in the best mood she said she could remember me ever being. In retrospect, I was ebullient and I think it was because of Graham and the others letting loose for once. It was glorious.

      • C’mon, better than when HRC won the popular vote…?

        Think some of those Congressional Lefties were a tad late this morning because they were getting sutures for the new @$$holes Lindsey Graham cut ’em?

  6. Steve

    Did the democratic party just get every Male to go vote Republican during the primaries?

    I live in ohio in a relatively balanced district and just got home from lunch and the talk at Tony Packos was all about yesterday, people talking to each other from table to table, Packos always has a healthy mix of gender, class and races. No one was really taking about Ford, most of the talk was about the judge and his treatment.

    I have to wonder if this will lead in another 2016 for the democratic party.

    • Steve

      I intended to say midterms

      • Other Bill

        The fact the Dems have indicted and convicted Kavanaugh of being a earnest, straight, white guy lawyer jock from a Catholic boys high school has not gone unnoticed by this less earnest, straight, white guy lawyer jock from a Catholic boys high school.

        • Remember, to view this accurately always return to the true motivation of the Left. The only guilt Kavanaugh bears is not his whiteness or his maleness. Those features are mere tactical points of attack.

          No, Kavanaugh is guilty because he will effectively place a block on judicial activism by the Left for a decade or more. That’s what he’s guilty of. He’ll force lawsuits to actually appeal to the Constitution and not emotion laden activist tripe.

          He’s guilty also, because the Left has convinced themselves that their sacred liberty to slaughter their unborn will go away with him on the Court. (This isn’t true of course…but his first “sin” most certainly is)

  7. The anger shown by Kavanaugh and Senator Lindsey Graham is exactly what the Democrats need to see and hear. Too bad Democrats are too damned self-centered, biased, and morally bankrupt to understand any anger except that which they approve of.

  8. A.M. Golden

    I doubt Jimmy Stewart in character – any character – could do an impassioned speech that well and that necessary.

  9. Jack wrote, “According to several sources, Republicans not only have the votes to confirm Brett Kananaugh, a couple of Democrats may even join their ranks. If true, that’s amazing, and also the most encouraging piece of news I’ve heard since Aaron Judge went on the Disabled List.”

    A couple of Democrats voting for Kavanaugh doesn’t surprise me, they were probably going to vote for him before all this shit storm started.

    I have no hope whatsoever of the Democratic Party pulling their collective heads out of their ass.

  10. Sarah B.

    I unfortunately know too many people who are saying that Graham is the most disgusting human being on the planet, how dare he say anything like that partisan hack that he is, and so forth. These are the same folks who say that Kavanaugh was a horribly unqualified partisan political idiot that would never vote anything but the party line, and how he sounded 100% guilty the whole proceeding, how could anyone think he had a shred of compassion or innocence about him. This seems to once again fall on party lines and deaf ears. Any liberal friends I have are going off the deep end telling me how yesterday proved that the Republicans are the party of Satan, Kavanaugh is responsible for gang raping many women, and how if anyone leans conservative at all or does not vote 100% Democrat, that we are rapists and rapist enablers and should all go to, well, they don’t believe in God or an afterlife, but still, if there was a Hell…

    I, like many women, have had my own experience of sexual assault. No, I didn’t tell anyone except my husband, and no, I’m not going to press charges on a 20 year old boy 15 years ago. No, I won’t bring it up to wreck his life, and I feel I have good reason for keeping it private. I do understand keeping your mouth shut about these things and many of the reasons, some good, some horrible. However, I don’t automatically believe a woman because she claims something happened. I know way too many girls from college who made false claims and accusations to completely credit any accusation without some evidence. Girls who were afraid of pregnancy, girls who wanted to be thought of as pure as the driven snow, girls who wanted to get back at a boy for an insult, real or imagined all made up accusations. A college friend of mine would tell everyone she was raped because a boy fingered her and she decided after the fact that it was unwelcome. We all knew she was nuts, but that didn’t stop her from telling us every chance she got, with the psychological trauma getting worse each time. Seeing this makes me doubt any woman’s testimony, though I can be convinced with some realistic evidence. This apparently, to my liberal friends, makes me some evil non-woman for thinking that another woman might lie for her own benefit. I am also an evil non-woman for thinking that she might have had something happen but is confused about the details or that she, a psychologist who should know that dealing with repressed memories has a very high chance of creating memories and the trauma to go with them, relied on a repressed memory therapy. Rational people would discuss these points, but so many of my left-leaning friends won’t even consider it and declare that he is guilty as sin. In my opinion, rational people are sadly lacking.

    • have you asked them if they voted for Bill Clinton in 1996?

      • Sarah B.

        I know they did, and they’ve totally rationalized it away. They also voted for Hillary because she was a woman. Again, any sexual stains there are rationalized away. They’ve neatly immunized themselves against any real discussion and the way they stop me and other women is “You can only hear your own voice.” Then they slander us. They also tell men who stand against them to stop mansplaning. I’ve just about had it with this whole group. Some of these folks I thought were rational, until recently.

  11. This was as vicious a takedown as I have ever seen:

    “Graham: I cannot imagine what you and your family have gone through. Boy, you [Democrats] all want power. God, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham. That you knew about it and you held it. You had no intention of protecting Dr. Ford. None.

    “She’s as much of a victim as you are. God, I hate to say it because these have been my friends, but let me tell you, when it comes to this, you’re looking for a fair process, you came to the wrong town at the wrong time, my friend.”

    Reading the statement doesn’t do Sen Graham’s anger justice. Also, the transcript does not demonstrate the warning (with finger-pointing) he gave to his Republican colleagues about not voting for him.

    jvb

    • Other Bill

      It was glorious. Man, talk about “speaking truth to power.” Probably the first time I’ve ever seen it. It usually means “Lefties speaking to other lefties.”

  12. Chris Marschner

    This is from a faculty member at Stanford. Dr. Ford was identified as a faculty member at Stanford and Univ. of Palo Alto.

  13. Trump is recommending a 1 week investigation. Hopefully this will give the Left a chance to have some sort of responsible catharsis. I don’t see how their amping up like this can release responsibly.

    • I dunno, Michael. If you give an inch, will the Democrats demand a mile?

      jvb

      • Oh. No doubt they’ll flush a few more manufactured accusations.

        But really, I would rather them cram this through because the Left cannot be allowed to win this way.

        But then again… one more week before confirming Kavanaugh is one more week of Democrats making complete asses of themselves. They aren’t looking very good through all of this.

        • The week works to Kav’s benefit. The Democrat stalling game won’t go any farther, and unless the FBI finds real evidence, there will be no excuse for voting against him, or claiming that the GOP was “afraid” to investigate. And the whole charade only appeals to the hard core left base, as in “crazies.” They’re losing support and votes.

          • I am 95% certain this is right, but

            ”The Democrat stalling game won’t go any farther”

            I’ve heard this no less than 4 times since the stalling began. Yet somehow they keep managing to get their stalls to work and then advocate for more stalls.

            If this nation were sane… oops, if the Left were sane, Kavanaugh would be sitting on the court for what, over a week now?

            I’ve lost track of time in all this. How many months ago were women cosplaying in red nun dresses, grown men wearing full body condoms, and the entire Leftwing of the nation freaking out about Zina Bash resting her arms?

          • The Shadow

            In a former job, we had a phrase for situations like this – “excuse elimination.” It was about those things you did just to prevent excuses or blame directed at you.

            All those recently with Kavanaugh Derangement Syndrome have all been crying for an FBI investigation. So now they get one and that excuse is eliminated. Every additional craven ploy and excuse will hopefully just show the lack of ethics of DiFi and her crew.

            And if all else fails, I hope President Trump nominates Amy Barrett just to watch the Dems twist themselves into pretzels trying to not support a strong, smart, and successful woman.

          • Chris Marschner

            Jack
            I think moving forward the Senate should adopt rules regarding introduction of allegations similar to those employed for public comment periods
            Doing so would help eliminate these late, politically motivated, hits.
            Obviously, the judiciary committee could consider late breaking events that involve law enforcement and the nominee but allegations arising after the close of the comment period would be barred from consideration.

          • This does beg the question of how the hard core left became corrupt.

            • They are socialists. Socialists are corrupt. QED

              There is an exception to this rule a thumb: Idealists might not be corrupt, just mistaken and naive. Note that once in total power, socialists (communists) shoot the idealists.

          • Steve-O-in-NJ

            Ford’s attorney is already squawking that this shouldn’t be limited in time or scope. She wants it to go wherever it goes, as long as it goes, just like a bitter ex-wife who wants a DV complaint she swore out but is on shaky ground on to stay open as long as possible to hold her ex back. I’d like to think Jeff Flake called for this investigation because it was the only way to get Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins on board, who are necessary to win this. However, you know the Democrats will flush out a few more ridiculous accusations in the meantime, who hopefully won’t be duds like Ramirez (who refuses to testify) or Avenatti’s client (who’s going to believe her?).

        • Wow, did this ever turn out true.

          Left: Guys, Guys, America isn’t falling for the conjured up accusations about sexual assault.

          Left: But we’re also losing them on this whole “he likes beer” angle.

          Left: Well, we can’t go whole hog any more with even wilder sexual acts…we couldn’t even get innuendos of pedophilia to stick and the claims that he ran a gang-rape ring aren’t sticking AT ALL.

          Left: Ok Ok Ok, then we need to tone it back since we’ve clearly jumped the shark. We need something that won’t be as salacious as sex and won’t make us look like utter buffoons.

          Left: I’VE GOT IT! Let’s get someone to say he started a bar fight!

          Left: Brilliant! America will really believe we aren’t complete loon bags then!

          Leftist spokesman: Brett Kavanaugh may or may not have thrown ice at someone in college!

  14. I found this analysis quite interesting: critically examining Ford’s body language and ‘pretty pose’.

  15. Well, one good thing happened as a result of this fiasco. It’s brought me back to prayer.

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