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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review


Indelible in the hippocampus: Kavanaugh, Kavanaugh, Kavanaugh

During a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University, was asked by Senator Patrick Leahy what was the strongest memory of an alleged sexual assault committed by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, which she said was assisted by his friend Mark Judge, and Blasey Ford testified, “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the laugh—the uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.”1 In his 45-minute-long opening statement, Kavanaugh asserted that the hearing was, among other things, a “national disgrace” and “revenge on behalf of the Clintons”; said that he was not at the party described by Blasey Ford in her testimony, which he said he did not watch; and that because of the Democrats he “may never be able to coach” girls’ basketball again.2 To support his testimony that Blasey Ford may have been sexually assaulted, by a different person, Kavanaugh submitted his calendar from the summer of 1982 as evidence, which showed at least two parties and one gathering during that summer, when the attack in question took place.3 The Supreme Court nominee, whose high school yearbook credited him as “treasurer” of the “Keg City Club,” and who described in a 2014 address to law students at Yale, where he had been a legacy student, “group chugs” that ended with “falling out of the bus onto the front steps of Yale Law School,” testified that he “liked beer” and “still like[s] beer” but had never drunk to the point of “blacking out”; that he had never “passed out” from drinking, but that he had “gone to sleep” after drinking; that his definition of “too many beers” was “whatever the chart says”; and that there was a “bright line” between “drinking beer … which I fully embrace” and “sexually assaulting someone, which is a violent crime.”4 5 6 7 Former classmates have refuted Kavanaugh’s characterization of his alcohol consumption, including one who described Kavanaugh as “often belligerent and aggressive” and said that he witnessed Kavanaugh throw a beer in another man’s face, which started a “fight that ended with one of our mutual friends in jail.”8 Kavanaugh, who in an interview with Fox News claimed to have been a virgin throughout high school and for “many years thereafter,” testified that “boofing,” which is mentioned in his yearbook and was at the time a common euphemism for anal sex, was a joke about flatulence, and that the “Devil’s Triangle,” which then commonly referred to sex between a woman and two men, was a drinking game, a usage of the phrase not recalled by former classmates and which was not included in the Wikipedia entry for “Devil’s Triangle” until that page was updated by someone on Capitol Hill during the hearings.9 10 11 After complaining that Blasey Ford’s accusations were “sprung on” him, Kavanaugh stated that Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk, a memoir described in its opening pages as being “based on actual experiences” by Judge, its author, was actually “fictionalized” and would not directly answer whether the character called “Bart O’Kavanaugh,” who vomits inside a car and passes out during “Beach Week,” was based on him.12 13 14 Republican senators blocked a motion to subpoena Judge, a conservative writer who once celebrated the beauty of “uncontrollable male passion” and who once admitted to a girlfriend that in college he had taken turns having sex with an intoxicated woman, and a copy of Judge’s memoir sold online for $850.15 16

The American Bar Association announced that voting on Kavanaugh’s nomination should be delayed until a thorough investigation of Blasey Ford’s allegation was completed; a prominent Catholic magazine withdrew its support for Kavanaugh’s candidacy; and a poll found that 48 percent of white evangelicals would support Kavanaugh even if the allegations against him were true.17 18 19 Former Vice President Joe Biden, who as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee during Clarence Thomas’s nomination described an FBI report into Anita Hill’s allegations as not being “worth anything,” said that, because of Blasey Ford’s testimony, “millions of women,” the United States as a whole, and the Supreme Court, deserve an FBI investigation into allegations against Kavanaugh.20 Senator Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving Republican senator in the history of the United States, described Blasey Ford to the media as “attractive” and “pleasing” and bemoaned that the questioning of Kavanaugh’s character was being driven by “porn star lawyers with farcically implausible claims,” and Representative Steve King, who proposed that a border wall be built using funds from Planned Parenthood, food stamps, and other programs, said that if Blasey Ford’s testimony was the “new standard” then “no man will ever qualify for the Supreme Court again.”21 22 23 24 Senator Lindsey Graham, who was in 2016 one of several Republican senators who said they would not confirm then-president Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, until after the election, said that the hearing was “all about delaying” the nomination; called the hearing the “most despicable thing” and the “most unethical sham” he’d seen in politics; said that if Blasey Ford’s testimony was sufficient disqualifying evidence then “God help anybody else that gets nominated”; told a rape survivor in the halls of Congress to “go to the cops”; and asked for an investigation into how Blasey Ford’s allegations were leaked to the media, but said that an investigation into Kavanaugh’s past was unnecessary because “I don’t believe that you could accomplish what he’s accomplished to have been a serial rapist in high school and stop it for the rest of your life.”25 26 27 28 29 30 31 Senator Jeff Flake, who said he is not running for reelection because of “regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms,” announced he would vote in committee to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination, and was confronted in an elevator by two women who identified as sexual assault survivors, and then said he would not support Kavanaugh’s nomination until a limited FBI investigation, lasting no longer than a week, had been completed.32 33 The Trump Administration ordered the FBI to reopen the aforementioned investigation and said the agency had “free rein”; the White House counsel’s office directed the FBI to interview only four people, and said that its scope should include only accusations made by Blasey Ford and a second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, but not those made by a third accuser, Julie Swetnick, a rape survivor who in a sworn deposition described seeing boys, including Kavanaugh, “lined up outside bedrooms” at parties where “numerous boys” were “waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room.”34 35 36

Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least 22 women and is the president of a country that funded death squads in El Salvador that raped and killed three American nuns and a laywoman, said that he could “pick a woman” for his nominee and that she too “could have charges made from many years ago also,” that Democrats would vote against George Washington, who was not a lawyer or a judge, if he was nominated for the Supreme Court, and that “there’s nothing beyond Supreme Court; this is beyond Supreme Court.”37 38 39 40 41 Roman Polanski announced that he is shooting a new film, J’Accuse, about the Dreyfus affair, and scientists found that people can die simply from “giving up on life.”42 43Matthew Hickey

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