NYTimes: Kavanaugh’s nomination would have been defeated if only some survivors stayed silent

So, the NY Times has a theory which is theirs: Julia Swetnick’s sworn statement is responsible for Kavanaugh’s confirmation. From the article:

The Republican senators got into a lengthy conversation about Mr. Avenatti and how he could not be trusted and concluded that Ms. Swetnick’s claims did not add up. Why would she as a college student repeatedly go to high school parties where young women were gang raped? No one came forward to corroborate the allegation, and news reports surfaced about past lawsuits in which Ms. Swetnick’s truthfulness was questioned.

“This was a turning point,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “That allegation was so over the top, it created a moment that was scary, quite frankly. But that moment was quickly replaced by disgust.”

… One Republican congressional official called Mr. Avenatti’s involvement “manna from heaven.” From the other side, a Democratic congressional official called it “massively unhelpful.”

So there you have it: don’t go to the wrong parties, if you’re going to be raped, make sure that you have sympathetic witnesses, and if you hire the wrong lawyer, then when justice doesn’t happen, it’s your fault. Of course, they don’t actually identify even one yes vote by someone who would have voted against Kavanaugh if only Swetnick had shut up like a good girl, much less the two that would have been necessary to change the outcome. But that’s not what’s important. What’s important is don’t speak up, unless you speak up a little bit, politely, about things that are appropriate dinner table conversation. Otherwise when injustice happens, it’s on you. Because goodness knows that if women were just encouraged to shut the fuck up a little bit harder, we wouldn’t have a perjurer and probable sexual assault perp sitting on the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

So if you’re thinking about speaking up about the assault that happened to you, think again: you’re probably just making things worse. Our newspaper of record has said so.

Bad Journalism 101: Perverted Motels Edition

Content Note: Child Sex Abuse

So, we here in my head are, as you might expect from the title of this blog, quite interested in both perverts and perversion. We believe that our blog name can and should be interpreted in 2 ways:

  1. Perverts deserve justice in the same way non-perverts deserve justice, and
  2. The course of justice must sometimes be perverted, that is redirected from what in the past had been considered the just outcome. After all, every major advance in justice has been denounced as a perversion of justice by someone.

But despite our interest in these topics, we never expected to have to defend motels from non-consensual obscene photography. Yet, apparently there is such a need. The following is an actual quote from Rawstory:

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Rush Limbaugh: Sharknado is Real!

I kid you not, Rush Limbaugh fell for a satire article about oncoming Hurricane Florence, discussing it on air (and retweeting it? – I can’t find the source on that) to let his followers know that sharks

are being lifted out of the Atlantic Ocean and dumped into the storm because it’s so strong it’s sucking them in there.

The longer version might be even more laughable:

In addition to the pig manure, in addition to the slop, in addition to the floods, in addition to the cars rolling around on the waters in front of your house, in addition to the mudslides and the landslides, now you might end up with a shark in your front yard. I’m telling you right — you think I’m making this up? This appeared somewhere!

Yes. It appeared in the prestigious Pulitzer Prize-winning media outlet, “somewhere”. Oh, Rush.

Bizarrely, after asserting the sharks might end up in your front yard, he later added:

Of course the only water that might contain sharks would be storm surge. It isn’t going to be raining sharks. And that’s — The predominant water source in a hurricane is rainfall.

How sharks are being “lifted out of the Atlantic Ocean and dumped into the storm” without ever leaving the oceanic waters is a conundrum, surely. But if anyone can find a way to make a dumb “Sharknado is real!” fake news story even dumber, rest assured that Rush is the one to accomplish that feat.

EnlightenmentLiberal Improved My Thinking and Writing

So just a few days ago I wrote a piece titled, “You are not the hero.” I thought I was pretty clear that the problem was that the author of the NYTimes anonymous op-ed about resisting Trump’s orders was being lionized by many in the media, including FtB-friend Ed Brayton (with whom I normally agree).

Enlightenment Liberal came along and wrote a comment to that post that made me uncomfortable. Where I thought I’d been clear, EL expressed disagreement that I should believe every Trump employee has a duty to resign. While we had a short back-and-forth and realized we were in agreement, I wondered why that wasn’t clear already and re-read my piece. There are many times when I write something long, but that includes definitive statement X, only to be told that I believe or assert Not-X. Since I’m pretty careful with my writing, I expected that probably I had been clear and that EL just misread a long-winded post.

But that’s not what I found. In addition to using a vague word “situation” to sum up a few things about the author and the media’s treatment of the author that really should have been spelled out, there was also something important yet entirely missing. Although I took it for granted that an important part of the context is that it’s actually been the Republicans who fetishize rule of law at the national level (and have done at least since Nixon), I realized on re-reading that I hadn’t included that bit of context anywhere in my original post and others wouldn’t take it for granted.

See, here’s the thing: although I would have been mildly irked with anyone of any party being lionized in this circumstance, the depth of my feeling, the true source of my outrage, was that someone who is clearly a powerful person in the Republican party is clearly going to the media to seek not only absolution but also praise for disobeying the law and the lawful orders of the President whose orders that person – if working in the Executive – is bound to follow.

My contempt for, e.g., the author’s co-optation of the term “resistance” in this particular political moment where resistance means something very different than supporting the caging of children but opposing withdrawal from a bi-lateral trade agreement with South Korea is an integral part of my perspective on the lionization of the op-ed author. Slacktivist author Fred Clark captured well the particular flavors of the editorial that were responsible for my reaction to the media’s lionization of the op-ed author:

All of which means that this op ed reads less like an indictment of the president than the feckless defense of some Vichy functionary desperately trying to save his neck by pretending after the fact that he’d been a subversive saboteur all along. (h/t to Jenora Feuer)

I do think that it would be good if every single person currently on the White House staff along with every single senate-confirmed appointee originally nominated by Trump turned in resignations in a rapidly cascading event that left Trump alone in the White House without even anyone to answer the phones or process paperwork to hire new staff. I think that would be glorious. Yet I also don’t think that everyone who needs a paycheck should be ethically required to quit their jobs.

There’s a clear focus to my opposition to the media treatment of this editorial, and it’s dependent on seeing the contradictions between the power to further policies within the government (which the author maintains and embraces, praising the majority of Trump’s agenda) and the powerlessness of a functionary to a mad king (which the author employs rhetorically to absolve, through the ambiguity of anonymity, every single not-President person working in the Executive Branch), as well as the contradictions between the fetishization of rule-of-law to the extent that the right demonizes people with the entirely legitimate view that the 2nd Amendment does not deny the government the power to prohibit private ownership of weapons unneeded for legitimate private purposes and frequently used dangerously or illegally (even murderously) and the editorial seeking praise specifically for violating the rule of law.

For whatever reason, the importance of these contradictions weren’t clear in my original post. Nor was this: rule of law is a very important value, but it’s not the only value. Keeping your job within Trump’s administration doesn’t make you a demon, but you’re still not a hero. And if you’re deluded enough to think you are or should be the hero of this story, deluded enough to write a NYTimes op-ed about your heroic efforts that names yourself, literally, the Resistance, then you absolutely deserve scorn.

But you – and everyone else – also deserve a more carefully worded post than I originally created.

You Are Not The Hero

While this is an unoriginal thought even though the topic is only 24 hours old, I still need to say it:

Hey, you! Author of that anonymous NYTimes editorial about how Trump is so bad but the Trump administration is so good? Yeah, you. You are not the hero.

PZ has mentioned this and gets it right, but many here remember Ed Brayton, whose writing I greatly respect, and Ed Brayton gets it wildly wrong. He says exactly the opposite:

I suspect that this kind of thing might well topple a lot of other dominoes and set off a reaction where a significant chunk of Republican politicians, advisers and thinkers decide that this is the time to take down the elephant.

And frankly, they would be heroes, and history would treat them as such.

No. When you pull out a gun on a kid playing in a park and then you put the gun back in your holster, you are not a hero. You’re Frank Freuding Garmback. You don’t get to be the hero just because you’re not Timothy Loehmann. You’re probably not a bad person, but you’re not a hero.

But for a Constitution- and Rule of Law-fetishizing author of this Op-ed to be called a hero is worse than lionizing a Frank Garmback: the editorial writer makes no effort to encourage invocation of the 25th. The editorial writer is engaged in apologia for the administration if not the President, and the anonymity, far from being a necessary capitulation to the exigencies of working for Trump, is in fact a tool to absolve every administration official and White House employee of their complicity.

Here’s the truth: the constitution gives two ways to take a madman out of the White House: impeachment and the 25th. If you recognize that governmental legitimacy and authority in the US flows from its constitution, then while you are an employee or appointee of the executive branch, you are duty bound to follow the directives of the President. To respond to dangerous incompetence for the office by subverting the authority of the sitting president rather than openly calling for the impeachment and removal of the president by congress or the invocation of the 25th and removal of the President by the Vice-President and the cabinet, you are shredding the constitution.

This author rejects, quite fully and fundamentally, the authority of the US Constitution, and defends as heroes the people who arrogate to themselves power legitimately given only to someone actually elected to executive office. These are not the actions of a hero. Nor is the use of anonymity to give cover to anyone and everyone who might possibly have written the editorial.

Quit. Invoke the 25th if you have the standing to do so. Openly advocate for the invocation of the 25th and/or the impeachment described in Article II, Section 4 and authorized in Article 1, Sections 2 & 3 (and quite possibly get fired for doing so).

Those are the ethical and effective options of someone who has put themselves in this position by seeking and accepting a job in this administration. The author chooses none of these.

And what is worse, though we don’t know the author’s identity (and, like PZ, I’m not interested in knowing it), it is most likely that anyone in a position to write such an editorial actually worked to put Trump in office. In this case, we’re not looking merely at someone who finds themselves faced with the possibility of losing a job and decides that betraying the constitution is preferable. We’re talking about someone who actively participated in the creation the very catastrophe which they want credit for partially ameliorating.

When you set a fire that burns a house and kills two people, you aren’t a hero because after the fire consumed the staircase you got two people out of a bedroom on the main floor. Yours in the blame for the deaths, not the credit for the rescue.

You are not the hero.

 


ETA: As is so often the case, someone else has written a pithier version of what I perseverate upon. In this case, it’s chrislawson over at PZ’s thread on this topic. Nice work, Chris. Very well done.

Edited: Enlightenment Liberal made me realize that this comes across as saying that one cannot ethically stay and subvert an administration. Rereading the post, I realized that what I was thinking at the time was not as clear in my writing as I would like: If you want to be a hero, you must stand in vocal opposition. There can be many reasons to stay in your job, keep your paycheck, and do your best to limit the harms of a Trump. But these are not the actions of a hero. So I edited the 1st sentence of the paragraph immediately following the paragraph with the Frank Garmback reference.

Originally that sentence began like so:

<blockquote>And the situation with the anonymous editorial writer is worse</blockquote>

The new sentence begins like so:

<blockquote>But for a Constitution- and Rule of Law-fetishizing author of this Op-ed to be called a hero is worse than lionizing a Frank Garmback</blockquote>

The “situation” is now spelled out as lionizing someone who came to power through participation in a rule-of-law and Constitution fetishizing party for publicly seeking praise for their rule-of-law and Constitution-subverting acts.

Hopefully the new sentence will communicate the background facts (about fetishization) that weren’t in the original post at all as well as highlighting (again) that the issue is about <i>being a hero</i>. Continuing to collect your paycheck and doing your best to subvert bad things might be ethically justifiable, depending on what you do and how you do it it might even be ethically praiseworthy to some minimal extent, but it doesn’t make you a hero.

Crip Dyke’s Private Conversations: Tomi Lahren and the “Original Feminists”

An insight into the private conversations your friendly, neighborhood Crip Dyke has when she’s away-from-blog:

Tomi Lahren insists that dead feminists would roll over in their graves at this new-fangled feminism that insults men and wears hats.
I’m just wondering where she got that one.

Ah, Tomi. Will there ever be a day when you cease being so entertainingly wrong?

 


PS: I think I’m gonna kick-start the “OF” trend. “Crip Dyke OF” has a nice ring to it.

First Amendment Issues are NOT (necessarily) Free Speech Issues

All freaky, kinky, queer women are human beings.

Not all human beings are freaky, kinky, queer women (more’s the pity).

So how is that related to the first amendment? The First Amendment (FA) protects more than just speech. It protects a total of 5 separate rights. Let’s take a look at the full text and then break it down:

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Science Magazine is Failing Us

Science journalism is failing us in important ways. This post will be far shorter than I might like it to be, but I want it to be readable, and in any case I plan on following up soon with more information and also, I hope, a detailed action plan.

Here I simply want to point out a single article. In another post, I’ll also be discussing an article on the dismissal of Francisco Ayala from UC Irvine and the pattern of sexual harassment that led to that dismissal. But right now, let’s tackle an interesting article with a headline that is … terrible, in ways we will investigate later. The headline reads thus:

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Classic Contributions to Science Journalism #2.1mya

In the coverage of recently published research revealing that stone tools in China – which research suggests were crafted by individual members of Homo erectus – date back 2.1 million-fucking-years, we get this gem contributing to our understanding of why this finding is so important in understanding the habits and abilities of our ancestors and not just their birth dates:

Another key finding is that the new dates show that “already before 2 million years, hominins were able to cope with a range of environmental conditions,” says archaeologist Wil Roebroeks of Leiden University in the Netherlands, who is not a member of the team. During the long span of occupations at Shangchen, which is about the same latitude as Kabul, the climate fluctuated from warm and wet to cold and dry. “They must have been freezing their buns off,” adds paleoanthropologist Rick Potts of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

That’s right, just try reading that entire last sentence out loud and in one take without interrupting yourself laughing. Pure brilliance.