Weekly Review — October 2, 2018, 2:28 pm

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

Share
Single Page

More from Harper’s Magazine:

Podcast December 13, 2018, 12:46 pm

John Cleese and Iain McGilchrist

Two-brain solution: two nights of insightful conversation with the esteemed comedian and the internationally renowned psychiatrist

Weekly Review December 11, 2018, 12:33 pm

Weekly Review

John Kelly resigned; “ballot harvesting” uncovered in North Carolina; a robot ran over bear repellent at an Amazon warehouse

Weekly Review December 5, 2018, 1:21 pm

Weekly Review

George H. W. Bush died; military law enforcement officers broke up a catfishing ring; a London ambulance trainee went rogue

Get access to 168 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

January 2019

Machine Politics

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Polar Light

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Donald Trump Is a Good President

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Resistances

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Long Shot

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Machine Politics·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The Goliath of totalitarianism will be brought down by the David of the microchip,” Ronald Reagan said in 1989. He was speaking to a thousand British notables in London’s historic Guildhall, several months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Reagan proclaimed that the world was on the precipice of “a new era in human history,” one that would bring “peace and freedom for all.” Communism was crumbling, just as fascism had before it. Liberal democracies would soon encircle the globe, thanks to the innovations of Silicon Valley. “I believe,” he said, “that more than armies, more than diplomacy, more than the best intentions of democratic nations, the communications revolution will be the greatest force for the advancement of human freedom the world has ever seen.”

At the time, most everyone thought Reagan was right. The twentieth century had been dominated by media that delivered the same material to millions of people at the same time—radio and newspapers, movies and television. These were the kinds of one-to-many, top-down mass media that Orwell’s Big Brother had used to stay in power. Now, however, Americans were catching sight of the internet. They believed that it would do what earlier media could not: it would allow people to speak for themselves, directly to one another, around the world. “True personalization is now upon us,” wrote MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte in his 1995 bestseller Being Digital. Corporations, industries, and even whole nations would soon be transformed as centralized authorities were demolished. Hierarchies would dissolve and peer-to-peer collaborations would take their place. “Like a force of nature,” wrote Negroponte, “the digital age cannot be denied or stopped.”

Illustration (detail) by Lincoln Agnew
Article
Long Shot·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Ihave had many names, but as a sniper I went by Azad, which means “free” or “freedom” in Kurdish. I had been fighting for sixteen months in Kurdish territory in northern Syria when in April 2015 I was asked to leave my position on the eastern front, close to the Turkish border, and join an advance on our southwestern one. Eight months earlier, we had been down to our last few hundred yards, and, outnumbered five to one, had made a last stand in Kobanî. In January, after more than four months of fighting street-to-street and room-by-room, we recaptured the town and reversed what was, until then, an unstoppable jihadi tide. In the battles since, we had pushed ­ISIS far enough in every direction that crossing our territory was no longer a short dash through the streets but a five-hour drive across open country. As we set out to the north, I could make out the snowy peaks in southern Turkey where they say Noah once beached his ark. Below them, rolling toward us, were the wide, grassy valleys and pine forests of Mesopotamia, the land between the Euphrates and the Tigris where our people have lived for twelve thousand years.

The story of my people is filled with bitter ironies. The Kurds are one of the world’s oldest peoples and, as pioneers of agriculture, were once among its most advanced. Though the rest of the world now largely overlooks that it was Kurds who were among the first to create a civilization, the evidence is there. In 1995, German archaeologists began excavating a temple at Göbekli Tepe in northern Kurdistan. They found a structure flanked by stone pillars carved with bulls, foxes, and cranes, which they dated to around 10,000 bce. At the end of the last Ice Age, and seven thousand years before the erection of Stonehenge or the pyramids at Giza, my ancestors were living together as shamans, artists, farmers, and engineers.

Fighters of the YJA-STAR, the women’s force in the PKK, Sinjar, Iraq, November 2015 (detail)
Article
Polar Light·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

To get oriented here is difficult. The light is flat because the sky is overcast. The sun’s weak rays create only a few anemic shadows by which to judge scale and distance. Far-off objects like mountain peaks have crisp edges because the atmosphere itself is as transparent as first-water diamonds, but the mountains are not nearly as close as they seem. It’s about negative-twelve degrees Fahrenheit, but the wind is relatively calm, moving over the snow distractedly, like an animal scampering.

[caption id="attachment_271890" align="aligncenter" width="690"]True-color satellite image of Earth centered on the South Pole during winter solstice © Planet Observer/Universal Images Group/Getty Images. True-color satellite image of Earth centered on the South Pole during winter solstice © Planet Observer/Universal Images Group/Getty Images.[/caption]

Four of the six people living here are in their tents now, next to their cookstoves, two by two, warming up and preparing their suppers. I’m the fifth of the group, almost motionless at the moment, a hundred yards south of the tent cluster, kneeling on a patch of bluish ice in the midst of a great expanse of white. I’m trying to discern a small object entombed there a few inches below the surface. Against the porcelain whites of this gently sloping landscape, I must appear starkly apparent in my cobalt blue parka and wind pants. I shift slowly right and left, lean slightly forward, then settle back, trying to get the fluxless sunlight to reveal more of the shape and texture of the object.

A multiple-exposure photograph (detail) taken every hour from 1:30 pm on December 8, 1965, to 10:10 am on December 9, 1965, showing the sun in its orbit above the South Pole, Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station © Georg Gerster/Panos Pictures
Article
Donald Trump Is a Good President·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In all sincerity, I like Americans a lot; I’ve met many lovely people in the United States, and I empathize with the shame many Americans (and not only “New York intellectuals”) feel at having such an appalling clown for a leader.

However, I have to ask—and I know what I’m requesting isn’t easy for you—that you consider things for a moment from a non-American point of view. I don’t mean “from a French point of view,” which would be asking too much; let’s say, “from the point of view of the rest of the world.”On the numerous occasions when I’ve been questioned about Donald Trump’s election, I’ve replied that I don’t give a shit. France isn’t Wyoming or Arkansas. France is an independent country, more or less, and will become totally independent once again when the European Union is dissolved (the sooner, the better).

Illustration (detail) by Ricardo Martínez
Article
Resistances·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The prepositions you’re most likely to encounter after the title of a poem are “for” or “to” and sometimes “after”—“for my daughter”; “to Bobby”; “after Pound”; etc. They signify dedication, address, homage, imitation. In the recent poems of Fred Moten, we encounter “with,” a preposition that denotes accompaniment. The little difference makes a big difference, emphasizing collaboration over the economy of the gift, suggesting that the poet and his company are fellow travelers, in the same time zone, alongside each other in the present tense of composition. (Given Moten’s acclaimed critical work on jazz, the “with” is immediately evocative of musical performance, e.g., “Miles Davis with Sonny Rollins.”) Not all “withs” are the same—there is a different intimacy in the poem “fifty little springs,” which is “with aviva,” Moten’s wife’s Hebrew name (which means springtime), than there is in “resistances,” which is “with” a critic and an artist, interlocutors of Moten’s. (The poem “13. southern pear trees” has no preposition after the title, but is excerpted from another responding to the work of Zoe Leonard, and so is still a work of fellowship.) The scale of that “with” can be small (“with aviva, as if we were all alone”) or vast (“with everybody we don’t know”), but either way the poem becomes an instance of alongsidedness instead of belatedness; the poems request, with that subtle prepositional shift, that we think of ourselves as participants in the production of meaning and not mere recipients of someone else’s eloquence.

“Untitled,” 1989, by Zoe Leonard © Zoe Leonard (detail)

Estimated number of times in the Fall of 1990 that George Bush told a joke about his dog asking for a wine list with her Alpo:

10

French researchers reported that 52 percent of young women exposed to Francis Cabrel’s ballad “Je l’aime à mourir” gave their phone numbers to an average-looking young man who hit on them, whereas only 28 percent of those exposed to Vincent Delerm’s “L’heure du thé” did so.

Migrant children were teargassed; carbon dioxide levels have reached three to five million year high; missionary killed by remote tribe

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Happiness Is a Worn Gun

By

Illustration by Stan Fellows

Illustration by Stan Fellows

“Nowadays, most states let just about anybody who wants a concealed-handgun permit have one; in seventeen states, you don’t even have to be a resident. Nobody knows exactly how many Americans carry guns, because not all states release their numbers, and even if they did, not all permit holders carry all the time. But it’s safe to assume that as many as 6 million Americans are walking around with firearms under their clothes.”

Subscribe Today