Thoughts on Life, Love, Politics, Hypocrisy and Coming Out in Mid-Life
Saturday, September 29, 2018
Friday, September 28, 2018
America's Insanely High Prescription Drug Prices
As the prior post noted, America continues to have one of the most flawed and expensive health care systems of any developed nation. Much preventative treatment is not covered and our prescription drug prices are obscenely high compared to drug prices in other developed nations. Why? Largely, because large pharmaceutical companies have bought and paid for members of Congress, especially Republicans. The other reason is that programs like Medicaid and Medicare continue to fail to negotiate lower prices, in part because of politicians in the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies. Imagine if there was a drug that could have a 99% track record of preventing disease but was so expensive - at least in America - that only a tiny percentage of those who would benefit can afford it even if they have "good insurance." Due to the lack of affordability, many become ill and huge medical costs are incurred - costs that could have been avoided. The drug exists: Truvada which taken daily and known as PrEP prevents HIV infection. It cost about $55 to produce a year's supply, yet in America, the cost to patients is $20,000 per year. I have focused on PrEP, but the same phenomenon applies to countless drugs that drive up medical costs into the stratosphere. A piece in the New York Times looks at the USA experience versus other developed nations. Here are highlights:
Last week, the High Court of England and Wales announced a momentous decision: It invalidated the pharmaceutical company Gilead’s patent on Truvada, opening the way to generic competition.Truvada, a combination of two drugs, is one of the world’s most-used H.I.V. medicines. For treating H.I.V., it’s used along with a third drug. But many H.I.V.-negative people also take Truvada daily as a preventive. That’s called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.
In the United States, Truvada is available only as a brand-name drug. It costs $20,000 a year.
Here’s how it will work in Britain’s National Health Service, according to Dr. Andrew Hill, a senior research fellow at Liverpool University who studies the cost of medicines. “The N.H.S. will say to a group of generic companies: ‘We need PrEP for 20,000 people. Give us your best price.’” The cost of making PrEP is $55 per year, Dr. Hill said. He believes that the generic will sell for between $100 and $200.
All over the world, more and more people are taking H.I.V. drugs. These medicines are very good at their job — keeping people healthy and noncontagious — so most patients will take them until they die of something that isn’t H.I.V. Patients are also starting earlier on antiretroviral therapy; the new recommendation is to start immediately upon diagnosis. And now with PrEP, a potentially enormous new group of patients has arisen: H.I.V.-negative people who are at risk for catching the virus.
It’s lucky, then, that Truvada will have generic competition. It should allow the health service to greatly lower costs and offer PrEP to anyone who needs it.
The health service does an admirable job with H.I.V. Around the world, countries measure the percentage of people living with H.I.V. who have no virus detectable in their blood. In the United States, only 49 percent have achieved this. In Britain, the number is 78 percent.
While the National Health Service has a lot of problems, it has some huge advantages over the American system that allow it to provide high-quality H.I.V. care in a cost-efficient manner. So it’s worth looking at what the British health service does right, because some of those strategies could work in America, even though the two systems are structured very differently.
Even when brand-name drugs have no generic equivalents, the medicines in the British system cost a small fraction of what they cost in America. Most brand-name triple therapies cost about $6,500, said Dr. Laura Waters, an H.I.V. physician who is a member of the health service’s H.I.V. Clinical Reference Group, which sets policy. She said that a combination pill that includes some generics would cost between $2,600 and $4,000. Full generics usually cost 70 to 80 percent less than comparable brand names. One completely generic H.I.V. regimen costs $400 per year.
If America were to use more generics, much of the savings would stay with insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers. That doesn’t help people with H.I.V. “The resources saved can and should finance a more aggressive effort to fight AIDS in America,” said Anil Soni, head of global infectious diseases for Mylan.
Could it happen with Medicare or Medicaid? Just a few states — New York, Georgia, Florida, California and Maryland — are responsible for a large share of Medicaid’s spending on H.I.V. drugs. They could lead a drive toward using more generic drugs. These drugs are already available, but doctors don’t prescribe them. Like the National Health Service, Medicaid would have to find ways to encourage (or cajole, entice or force) doctors to prescribe generics. If the generics were more widely used, that would encourage competition that could further drop the price.
Every day, America pays for H.I.V. drugs at higher and higher prices, for more and more people. There is no choice but to reform an unsustainable system.
“I just don’t understand why American payers don’t look up reference prices,” Dr. Hill said. “It’s $150 in England, so why are they spending $10,000? Surely they don’t have unlimited budgets in the U.S. But they behave as if they do.”
Again, the same phenomenon applies to countless other drugs and is one of the reasons for America's exploding health care costs.
Republicans Continue to Undermine Pre-Existing Condition Coverage
|Missouri Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley apparently has taken the Hypocrite's oath.|
America continues to have the most costly and inefficient health care systems in the world. It literally costs multiples of what other nations with national systems are paying and it costs lives because many who need health care cannot afford it. If Republicans have their way, health care insurance will become even more expensive and those with pre-existing conditions may find themselves un-insurable. This from the party that claims to uphold "Christian values" even as it seeks to slash social programs to cut a deficit cause by a massive tax cut give away for the extremely wealthy and large corporations which have not reinvested their huge windfall in increased employee wages or massive capital investments. It's little wonder Millennials are walking away from the GOP - and religion. A column in the New York Times exposes the Republican hypocrisy. If you care about health care, vote Democrat in every race on November 6, 2018. Here are column excerpts:
On graduation, most medical students swear some version of the ancient Hippocratic oath — a promise to act morally in their role as physicians.When it comes to how political figures deal with health care, however, we’ve come to expect the opposite, at least on one side of the aisle. It often seems as if Republican politicians have secretly sworn a Hypocrite’s oath — a promise to mislead voters to the best of their ability, to claim to support the very protections for the sick they’re actively working to undermine.
To see what I mean, consider the case of Josh Hawley of Missouri, who is running for the Senate against Claire McCaskill.
Hawley is one of 20 state attorneys general who have brought a lawsuit attempting to repeal a key provision of the Affordable Care Act — the provision that protects people with pre-existing medical conditions, by requiring that insurance companies cover everyone of similar age at the same rate regardless of medical history. Kill that provision, and millions of vulnerable Americans will lose their insurance.
But here’s the thing: Protecting coverage for pre-existing conditions is overwhelmingly popular, commanding majority support even among Republicans. And McCaskill has been hammering Hawley over his role in that lawsuit.
So Hawley has responded with ads claiming that he, too, wants to protect those with pre-existing conditions, as supposedly shown by his support for a bill that purports to provide such protection.
I have to say, you almost have to admire the sheer brazenness of the dishonesty here. For the bill Hawley touts is a fraud: It’s full of loopholes allowing insurers to discriminate in ways that would end up making essential health care unaffordable for those who need it most. For example, while it would require that they offer insurance to, say, cancer patients, it would allow them to sell policies that don’t cover cancer treatment — which would mean that policies that did cover such treatment would become prohibitively expensive.
And the fraudulence of this bill aside, even serious, nonfraudulent regulation of insurance companies isn’t enough in itself to provide affordable coverage for pre-existing conditions.
That was New York’s experience: Before the A.C.A., it had strong regulations on insurers, but high premiums meant that only people with health problems bought insurance on the individual market (as opposed to getting it from their employers), and this in turn kept premiums high.
To make regulation work, you have to back it up with incentives for healthy people to sign up, including subsidies that help lower-income families afford insurance. In other words, if you really want to make essential care available for pre-existing conditions while continuing to rely on private insurance companies, you need a system that looks a lot like … Obamacare. Indeed, New York premiums dropped in half when the A.C.A. went into effect.
Hence the Hypocrite’s oath. Republicans hate the idea of guaranteeing that all Americans receive essential health care, and they really, really hate the taxes on high incomes that help pay for Obamacare subsidies. And you can imagine an alternative political universe in which the G.O.P. openly admitted its true goals, justifying them on the basis of economic freedom, or something.
But in this universe, Republicans have decided that they must conceal their intention of taking health care away from those who need it most. So they’re doing what Hawley is doing: resorting to a combination of sabotage and smoke screen. On one side, they’re hacking away at the edges of the Affordable Care Act in the hope that it will implode. On the other, they’re pretending to want the very things — like guaranteed coverage of pre-existing conditions — they’re trying to destroy.
[T]his is why many Democrats are talking about Medicare for all. Obamacare was a market-friendly health insurance reform designed in part to mollify conservatives; their response was scorched-earth opposition, followed by a series of attempts to exploit public confusion about how the Affordable Care Act works and what it will take to sustain it. So there’s something to be said for a simpler system that would be harder to game politically.
[P]olls show that Democrats hold a large edge over Republicans on the question of which party people trust more on health care. But that gap would surely be even bigger if more voters realized what the G.O.P. is actually trying to do.
I truly believe the rise of deliberate and blatant dishonesty of the GOP directly tracks with the rise of Christofascists in the party base and party bureaucracy. No one is more dishonest.So let’s be clear about this: If you or anyone you care about suffers from a pre-existing medical condition, Republicans are trying to take away your insurance. If they claim otherwise, they’re lying.
Posted by Michael-in-Norfolk at Friday, September 28, 2018 No comments:
Labels: 2018 midterm elections, Affordable Health Care Act, Claire McCaskill, GOP lies and untruths, Josh Hawley, pre-existing conditions, Republican sabotage
48% Of Evangelicals Back Kavanaugh Even If Guilty
After today's testimony by Christine Blasey Ford - who came across as a totally credible witness - and the belligerent response of Brett Kavanaugh, it is unclear whether the Senate Republicans will belatedly uphold decency and have a detailed FBI investigation and delay their vote or give Kavanaugh - who seems cut from the same cloth as some I knew in college who participated in "trains" on incapacitated or inebriated young women - a pass and place him on the Supreme Court. Regardless of the outcome, Senate Republicans have made it totally clear that the GOP can no longer claim any shred of morality high ground. Most disturbing is the reality that nearly half of evangelical Christians want Kavanaugh confirmed EVEN IF HE's GUILTY. After two decades of monitoring evangelicals and "family values" organizations and witnessing the manner in which evangelicals Christians ushered in the embrace of lies and moral bankruptcy overtake the GOP, I candidly am not surprised. As I have said a number of times, no group lies more or is more filled with hypocrisy than evangelicals who parade around with false piety and while making a mockery of the message of the New Testament. A piece in Vox looks at the moral bankruptcy of evangelicals. Here are excerpts:
Forty-eight percent of white evangelicals say that embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed even if the allegations of sexual assault against him are true.Marist asked 1,000 respondents from September 22 to 24 whether they would support Kavanaugh if the allegations by Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh assaulted her at a high school party decades ago, were found to be true.
Support for Kavanaugh’s confirmation falls along partisan lines with 12 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of Republicans saying yes.
Aside from the 48 percent who said they would support Kavanaugh’s appointment to the court, 36 percent of white evangelicals say they would not support it, and 16 percent did not have an answer. Mirroring the poll results, many prominent white evangelicals have spoken out in Kavanaugh’s defense, characterizing the allegations against him as part of a liberal plot to waylay his nomination. Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the evangelical Liberty University, sent 300 women Liberty students to Washington, DC, to support Kavanaugh during this week’s Senate confirmation hearings.
Likewise, prominent evangelical Franklin Graham has expressed support for Kavanaugh, minimizing the nature of the alleged assault and characterizing it as merely a clumsy come-on, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network, “She said no and he respected it and walked away.”
Yet the Marist poll results suggest that, for many white evangelicals, another factor is at play in their support for Kavanaugh: They don’t think what he did is bad enough to be disqualifying.
Or, as one unidentified woman Trump and Kavanaugh supporter from Montana said, according to MSNBC, “It’s no big deal.” While the woman did not reveal her own religious affiliation, her words are nevertheless indicative of many conservatives’, particularly white evangelicals’, stance on the allegations against Kavanaugh.
Such a perspective fits neatly within the context of evangelical sexual culture, which in recent months has been characterized by a wider suspicion of the #MeToo movement. Within evangelical culture, as I’ve written previously, the idea that women are “supposed” to be the gatekeepers of male sexuality, that male sexual urges are inherently uncontrollable, and the idea that forgiveness is automatically “owed” to any alleged abuser, converge to create a climate in which allegations of sexual harassment and abuse tend to be seen as minor or, at least, forgivable.
Certainly, the evangelical community is already redeeming its own people accused of sexual misconduct during the #MeToo movement. Earlier this month, former Southern Baptist Convention president Paige Patterson — who left his position as president of the Southwestern Baptist Seminary in disgrace after accusations of sexism — returned to public ministry with a pair of sermons that denigrated the #MeToo movement and focused on the problem of false rape allegations.
Today, as Christine Blasey Ford testifies in front of the Senate, GOP senators will be trying to argue that her assault never happened. But what might be even scarier is the idea that, if it did, plenty of Americans wouldn’t even care.
I cannot undo the reality that I was baptized as a Christian, but I will certainly do all in my ability to distance myself from evangelical/conservative Christians and the toxic moral bankruptcy that they represent.
Thursday, September 27, 2018
India Strikes Down Sexist Pro-Male Adultery Law
The Supreme Court of India is on a role. First it struck down the British colonial era law (Section 377) criminalizing homosexuality. Now, it has struck down a law (section 479) dating from the same era that imposed unequal adultery penalties on women and which protected male infidelity. Ironically, the ruling comes on the eve of male U.S. Senate Republicans making it clear to all that they view women as inferior, not to be believed and existing only for the control and gratification of men. While India's Supreme Court is moving quickly to push that nation to enter into the modern world, America under Republicans and their Christofascist masters is rapidly going retrograde and rushing to reimpose inequality. The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court would be a huge step backwards for America. A piece at CNN looks at the ruling in India. Here are highlights:
India's top court has abolished a colonial-era law criminalizing extramarital sex, in a landmark ruling campaigners have hailed as a victory for women's rights.Under the 158-year-old adultery law, known as section 479, a man could be imprisoned for up to five years for engaging in sexual relations with a married woman without the consent of her husband. The Supreme Court struck down the law Thursday, ruling it retrograde and discriminatory towards women. "It's time to say that (a) husband is not the master of (his) wife," Chief Justice Dipak Misra, read out from the judgment. "Legal sovereignty of one sex over the other sex is wrong."
The five-judge bench was unanimous in its decision, declaring the law a clear violation of the fundamental rights granted in the constitution.
The law allowed a husband to prosecute any man who engaged in sexual relations with his wife. In addition, it prevented a wife from prosecuting either her husband or woman in which he was engaged in extramarital relations. "You exact fidelity from a woman but not from a man?" asked Justice D. Y. Chandrachud during the four-day long hearing.
"It is a big victory for women's status and position within marriage and within families" said Jayna Kothari, an attorney and the executive director of the Center for Law and Policy Research in Bangalore. "The adultery offense was used really as a threat against women by their husbands," she said, adding that it was mainly used where marriages had already broken down and partners moved on.
The controversial law had long been championed by family rights campaigners, who argued that it was necessary to preserve social stability. The Indian government, a coalition led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, had supported adultery remaining a criminal offense, suggesting that rather than scrapping the law, it was amended to be gender neutral, with equal punishment for both men and women.
However, in its ruling, the Supreme Court dismissed concerns that the abolition of the law would result in higher rates of infidelity. "Each partner to a marriage is equally responsible to keep the sanctity of marriage intact," said the ruling.
It is the second ruling favoring sexual liberation in India this month following the repeal of Section 377, a colonial-era law criminalizing consensual gay sex.
The Shortsighted GOP Push for Kavanaugh
As I have often noted, for eight (8) years I was a precinct chair member of the City Committee for the Republican Party of Virginia Beach. I even filed the articles incorporating the body with the State Corporation Commission. Back in those days, part of the Party agenda was planning for the long term future of the Party. Those days are long gone and now, perceived short term expediency trumps all else - no pun intended - and there seems to be no thought of what short term actions may trigger in the long term. The trend began back shortly before I resigned from the GOP when Christofascists were voted onto local city and county committees with the short term view of rallying "conservative Christians" to support the Party. Since then, white supremacists have been welcomed in and, in the figure of Brett Kavanaugh, anti-women misogynists have been welcomed to the GOP fold. Meanwhile, the younger voters, Hispanics, college educated voters and minorities - the growing segments of the electorate - have been driven into the arms of the Democrats. A piece in The Atlantic looks at the long term repercussions Republicans may suffer if the ram through Kavanaugh's confirmation. Here are excerpts:
By refusing to call other witnesses, or enlist the FBI in a fact-finding investigation, or summon relevant witnesses, Senate Republicans have systematically steered the hearing into a cul-de-sac of competing memories between Ford and Kavanaugh. The plan to vote on the nomination within days gives away the game: No one would schedule votes that quickly if they were committed to fully evaluating whatever testimony Ford provides on Thursday, much less the other charges confronting Kavanaugh.
The allegations from Avenatti’s client, Julie Swetnick, could scramble Republicans’ decision making. But even if the Senate pushes forward and confirms Kavanaugh, the battle over his selection is virtually guaranteed to continue. Indeed, it’s already possible to identify at least four distinct rounds of future electoral and legislative conflict over Kavanaugh if he’s confirmed.
The 2018 election: The Kavanaugh controversy erupted as polls were already showing a threat to GOP candidates this fall, in the form of an intense backlash against Donald Trump that’s fueling unprecedented deficits among college-educated white women and energized turnout among African American women. Democrats have positioned themselves to benefit from that energy by nominating a record number of women in House, Senate, and gubernatorial elections.
Republicans have feared that if they don’t confirm Kavanaugh, they will depress turnout among their base supporters. But elevating him to the Supreme Court amid these allegations risks compounding their problems with the female voters already most hostile to Trump (partly for his own history of alleged sexual abuse). Even before Ford testifies, nearly three-fifths of college-educated white women opposed Kavanaugh’s confirmation in a recent Fox News poll. . . . The fierce recoil from Trump among college-educated white women is the single greatest source of Republican vulnerability in House races this year; if the party’s defenses among blue-collar white women also crack, a difficult election night could turn disastrous.
A House investigation: Democrats frustrated that Republicans have refused to fully investigate the allegations against Kavanaugh—or examine evidence suggesting that he provided false or misleading testimony on multiple issues in previous confirmation hearings—would get another chance to revisit those questions if the party wins the House majority in November. Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice, a Democratic group that advocates on judicial nominations, says he is “100 percent certain” a Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee “would seek to reopen investigations that Republicans during this process have refused to conduct.” . . . at the very least, Kavanaugh could face a more searching examination than Senate Republicans have conducted if he’s confirmed.
The 2020 election: Republicans expect Kavanaugh to tip the Court’s balance by providing a more reliably conservative vote than Anthony Kennedy, the justice he would replace. The paradox is that the more a Justice Kavanaugh would fulfill these expectations, the more he would renew the animosity over his confirmation. “It won’t just be something that will be easily forgotten, because you will have decisions coming out that he will be the fifth vote for,” Fallon notes. The clouds shadowing Kavanaugh would intensify the backlash on the left if he were to provide decisive votes on contentious issues. That would potentially raise the Court’s relevance in the 2020 presidential election, particularly if the legal right to abortion is rescinded or hollowed out by five male, Republican-appointed justices, two of whom (Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas) have been accused of sexual misconduct.
After 2020: If Kavanaugh is confirmed, he will cement a Republican-appointed Court majority whose oldest member (Thomas) is only 70. That means, health permitting, the majority could function into the 2030s as a barricade against Democratic priorities, such as strengthening environmental regulation, protecting voting rights, or expanding civil-rights protections around race, gender, and sexual orientation.
If Democrats regain unified control of the White House and Congress in 2020 or thereafter, that prospect could inspire the first serious effort to enlarge the Court’s membership since Franklin D. Roosevelt tried and failed in his second term. Lingering resentment over the GOP’s refusal to consider Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Court under former President Barack Obama has already spurred discussion about a future effort to add more justices, which Congress can do without a constitutional amendment. It won’t ever be easy to pass legislation changing the Court’s structure. But the hardening Democratic belief that Kavanaugh’s nomination was tainted could increase pressure to explore the option in the years ahead if he is confirmed.
As to Lindsey Graham's bizarre behavior in supporting Kavanaugh, my comment is as follows: I wish Graham would come "out of the closet" so that Trump or whoever in the GOP could no longer blackmail him.
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Senate Republicans Put the Integrity of the Supreme Court at Risk
|If Kavanaugh is innocent, why isn't he demanding an investigation to clear his name?|
The circus that has become of the Senate hearings on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme continues to raise additional doubts as to the character and the veracity of Donald Trump's nominee. Having worked as an attorney for 41 years and earned admission to the state bars of Virginia, Alabama and Texas, I take judicial appointments VERY seriously since the quality and character of presiding judges can greatly impact the dispensing of justice. Indeed, a biased or unfit judge can deprive a litigant of a fair trial or appeal. Moreover, unfit or questionable judges put the legitimacy of the judicial system in question. The U.S. Supreme Court is the highest court in the land and the court of last resort for those seeking justice. The allegations against Kavanaugh, if true, are serious and, in my view, disqualifying for a lifetime appointment.
So why the Republican rush to confirm Kavanaugh in light of such serious allegations? I see two possible explanations. The first is that the Senate - at least the Republican portion of it - remains a "good old boys club" that believes women are like children and should be seen and not heard. They exist to serve as arm candy for their male companions. The second is equally cynical: important cases are coming up the litigation pipeline and without Kavanaugh a four-four split on the Supreme Court will leave the anti-conservative position Circuit Court of Appeals ruling controlling. That is the only urgency from the GOP perspective. Never mind that the Supreme Court was left with only eight justices for 10 months after Justice Scalia died and Mitch McConnell stonewalled against holding hearings on Barack Obama's nominee. A main editorial in the New York Times looks at the harm being done by Senate Republican intransigence and denigration of women. Here are highlights:
Enough. With a third woman [actually, a fourth at this time] stepping forward with accusations that the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh committed sexual assault as a young man, this destructive stampede of a confirmation, driven so far by partisan calculation, needs to yield at last to common sense: Let qualified investigators — the F.B.I. — do their job. Let them interview the many witnesses whose names are already in the public record, among them Judge Kavanaugh’s close high-school friend Mark Judge, then weigh the credibility of the various claims and write a report for the White House and the Senate Judiciary Committee.To jam Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation through now, without seeking to dispel the darkening cloud over his head, would be to leave the public in doubt about his honesty and character — and to set an even lower standard for taking claims of sexual abuse seriously than the Senate did 27 years ago in considering the accusations against Clarence Thomas by Anita Hill.
Yes, partisan games have no doubt been played on both sides. But the only reason for so much urgency about this confirmation is politics; the same cannot be said about calls for holding a fair and thorough investigation.
To recap: On Wednesday morning, the bomb-throwing lawyer Michael Avenatti made public an affidavit from Julie Swetnick, a woman who grew up in the Washington suburbs and claims to have traveled the same 1980s social circuit as Judge Kavanaugh. Ms. Swetnick says that he drank excessively at many parties she attended; that he was verbally abusive and physically aggressive toward young women, fondling and grabbing them; and that he was part of a group of young men who would spike the punch at parties with alcohol or illicit drugs with an eye toward incapacitating the female attendees, including Ms. Swetnick herself, and then abusing them.
These are grotesque charges — and, like the previous ones, they leave oceans of room for speculation and doubt. This is precisely why the Senate needs to stop trying to ram through this nomination by some arbitrary deadline and arrange for a thorough and nonpartisan inquiry.
Unlike Christine Blasey Ford or Deborah Ramirez, Ms. Swetnick is not claiming to have been assaulted directly by Judge Kavanaugh. But her accusations directly speak to his repeated insistence that he never behaved in a demeaning or disrespectful manner toward women. In his recent interview on Fox News, the nominee, seated primly beside his wife, presented his teenage self as a virtual choir boy, chastely focused on academics and sports and weekly church attendance. The nominee even said that he remained a virgin throughout high school and “for many years thereafter.”
That was a risky defense, and Judge Kavanaugh seems to be reconsidering it. In an opening statement prepared for him to deliver at his appearance before the Judiciary Committee on Thursday, the nominee now allows that he was “not perfect” in high school. He admits that he may have drank too much on occasion (though rarely on school nights) and that he may have said and done things that now make him “cringe.”
In saner times, the Senate would have paused in its mad rush to confirm Judge Kavanaugh when the first credible allegations of sexual assault surfaced. As things stand, Chuck Grassley, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has shrugged off these latest accusations and asserted that the show will go on without further inconvenience or delay.
This is dereliction of the Senate’s duty — and it is now up to senators who know better, who prize the dignity and duty of their chamber, to demonstrate that they are indeed something more than partisan tools.
The one question I keep coming back to is this: If Kavanaugh is innocent, why is he not demanding a delay in the Senate process so that an investigation can be done that would clear his name. I'm sorry, but his failure to make this demand suggests that he knows what the investigation would reveal, namely, that he IS guilty as alleged. If I were him, I would want to clear my name. His failure to demand this speaks volumes to me.This is not, as Republicans have claimed, a matter of demanding the destruction of a man’s career based on vague or unsubstantiated claims. It is a matter of treating such allegations with the proper gravity. There is no other way to protect the integrity of the nominating process — and of the nation’s highest court.
Posted by Michael-in-Norfolk at Wednesday, September 26, 2018 No comments:
Labels: Brett Kavanaugh, discrediting the judiciary, party over country, party over decency, Senate Republicans, sexual assault, U.S. Supreme Court, unfit judges
Kavanaugh’s College Classmates Out Him as "Sloppy Drunk"
Many of us know the type either from high school, college or the working world: the guy who drinks far too much and then with no inhibitions shows his true self and does unacceptable things. I even had one law partner years ago who was basically a functioning alcoholic who lost his facade of civility after a few too many drinks. On out of town trips, as the lowly associate, I'd drive rather than have him drive drunk and on legal cases, I and others would keep him focused and often write scholarly articles he claimed as his own without so much as a footnote mentioning the true authors/assistants. As a piece in New York Magazine notes, many of Brett Kavanaugh's classmates recall him as a stumbling drunk. Do we want someone like this on the U.S. Supreme Court regardless of whether the sexual assault allegations are true? The image and the legitimacy of the Court should count more than Kavanaugh's sense of entitlement to a position on the court. Here are article highlights:
The two accusations of sexual misconduct facing Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh have one big thing in common—alcohol. Christine Blasey Ford says a drunken Kavanaugh attempted to her rape her in high school and Deborah Ramirez says she was drunk when Kavanaugh thrust his bare penis in her face at a college party.
Kavanaugh denies both allegations. He also denies ever drinking to the point of blacking out. In an interview Monday with Fox News, Martha MacCallum asked if there was “ever a time that you drank so much that you couldn’t remember what happened the night before?”
“No, that never happened,” said Kavanaugh, who insisted his focus in school was on academics, athletics, church, and “service projects.”
But that squeaky clean image does not comport with the memories of some of Kavanaugh’s college classmates. Now they’re coming forward to dispute his attempt to make himself out of be a “choir boy.”
“Brett was a sloppy drunk, and I know because I drank with him. I watched him drink more than a lot of people. He’d end up slurring his words, stumbling,” Liz Swisher, a college friend of Kavanaugh’s, told the Washington Post. “There’s no medical way I can say that he was blacked out. . . . But it’s not credible for him to say that he has had no memory lapses in the nights that he drank to excess.”
The New York Times spoke to “nearly a dozen people who knew him well or socialized with him” and they all said Kavanaugh was a heavy drinker at Yale.
These stories largely match with the image of Kavanaugh that his college roommate, James Roche, put forward in a statement Monday. Roche said Kavanaugh was a “notably heavy drinker” and he recalled his one-time roommate “frequently drinking excessively and becoming incoherently drunk.”
Not every ex-classmate tracked down to talk about Kavanaugh remembered him as a complete sponge. Former NBA center Chris Dudley, a close friend of Kavanaugh’s at Yale, told the Post: “I went out with him all the time. He never blacked out. Never even close to blacked out.” Turns out, the former Knick might not be the most reliable source about his college years though. In 2010, while running for governor of Oregon as a Republican, he told a local paper that, despite records showing he registered as a Democrat after his freshman year of college, he had no recollection of ever belonging to the party.
France Calls for No Trade Deals with On Countries outside Paris Climate Accord
Since the end of World War II, America has been one, if not the only, preeminent super power in the world. Much of this hegemony was accomplished and maintained through international alliances such as NATO and trade treaties. Now, the Trump/Pence regime is shredding the template that has kept America strong and seeking to destroy mostly beneficial trade treaties. Indeed, Trump and his sinister and apparently equally ignorant Vice President seemingly want to take America back to 1920's - 1930's style isolationism (which helped set the stage for WWII) even though the world and global trade has changed radically in the intervening almost 100 years. The mindset is just as delusional as pro-Brexit voters in the United Kingdom who dream of the long gone British Empire. Today, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested what may become a new reality as America slinks back into isolationism: a unified Europe, Mexico, Canada, South America and most of Asia all joining in trade agreements that would truly isolate America. A piece in The Independent looks at the possible picture of the future. Here are article highlights:
Emmanuel Macron has announced France will no longer accept “commercial agreements” with countries that do not “respect” the Paris Climate Accord during a fiery speech at the United Nations General Assembly.The French president called for the upholding of trade rules that “guarantee fair competition on equal footing” during his Tuesday speech, following a Monday afternoon meeting with Donald Trump and the US president’s speech on Monday morning. Mr Macron appeared defiant towards Mr Trump, suggesting he’d no longer negotiate trade deals with the US after its withdrawal from the climate agreement last year.
The US is now reportedly the only nation in the world which remains opposed to the Paris Agreement, after Mr Trump decided to pull out of the accord in 2017.
Mr Macron also appeared to reject the US president’s “America First” policies, arguing that international superpowers should seek peaceful resolutions for global issues, from the Syrian Conflict to Iran’s nuclear programs.
He also criticised the president’s decision to pull out of the Iran Nuclear deal, touting its success in preventing the country’s "nuclear military path”.
“What will bring a real solution to the situation in Iran and what has already stabilised it? The law of the strongest? Pressure from only one side? No!“ he said. “We know that Iran was on a nuclear military path but what stopped it? The 2015 Vienna accord.”
The speech deeply contrasted that of Mr Trump, who spoke on Monday about “America’s policy of principled realism,” while criticising components of the United Nations.
“We will not return to the Human Rights Council until real reform is enacted. We will also not provide any support to the International Criminal Court,“ he [Trump] said, adding that “the ICC has no authority. It violates all principles of justice and due process.”
“We will never surrender America’s sovereignty,” Mr Trump continued. “We reject the ideology of globalism. America is governed by Americans.“
The presidentalso announced the US would reduce its funding towards the UN peacekeeping budget to under 25 per cent.
I'm sure that Trump supporters will sneer at France's position, but before they do so, they might want to reflect on the reality that France has a transportation/infrastructure far better than America's and a health care system that is the most efficient in the world which doesn't leave its citizens in bankruptcy when serious illness occurs.
Other Nations at U.N. Openly Laughed at Trump
Having traveled in France and the United Kingdom earlier in the month, I can honestly say that having Donald Trump as the occupant of the White House proved to be an embarrassment. Trump is literally loathed in both nations (a feeling I can fully appreciate). Now, that loathing came home to roost as Trump engaged in a narcissistic spew of batshitery at the United Nations. His reality free speech literally triggered laughter from diplomats from around the world and not because Trump was telling jokes. Rather Trump himself was the joke as is America the joke given that it has such a buffoon in the White House who could not even win the popular vote. Trump and his evil minion, Mike Pence are quickly isolating America from the rest of the world which, if past allies, China and developing countries come together with new trade and climate treaties could damage America greatly. Only Trump and his knuckle dragging base don't seem to realize that significant long term damage is being done. A piece in the Washington Post looks at Trump's - and by extension, America's - plummeting stature on the world stage. Here are excerpts:
President Trump has long argued that the United States has been taken advantage of by other nations — a “laughing stock to the entire World,” he said on Twitter in 2014 — and his political rise was based on the premise that he had the strength and resolve to change that.
But at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Trump got a comeuppance on the world’s biggest stage. Delivering a speech that aimed to establish U.S. “sovereignty” over the whims and needs of other nations, the president’s triumphant moment was marred in the first minute when he was met by laughter — at his expense.
The embarrassing exchange came when Trump boasted that his administration had accomplished more over two years than “almost any administration” in American history, eliciting audible guffaws in the cavernous chamber hall.
“He has always been obsessed that people are laughing at the president. From the mid-’80s, he’s said: ‘The world is laughing at us. They think we’re fools,’ ” said Thomas Wright, a Europe analyst at the Brookings Institution. “It’s never been true, but he’s said it about every president. It’s the first time I’m aware of that people actually laughed at a president. I think it is going to drive him absolutely crazy. It will play to every insecurity he has.”
For Trump, the moment wasn’t just embarrassing. It also punctured one of the core fabulist assertions of a president who has, according to Washington Post fact-checkers, made more than 5,000 false or misleading statements since taking office.
As the midterm elections approach, Trump has begun boasting of a long list of accomplishments for his administration, at one point reciting them at a recent campaign rally from two pieces of paper that he pulled from his suit jacket.
In doing so, the president typically has claimed sweeping success and placed himself favorably in historical comparison to the nation’s greatest leaders. At a rally in Springfield, Mo., last week, Trump was wrapping up an hour-long address to supporters with some flowery teleprompter prose about the courage of America’s founders when he strayed from the script to assert that his election in 2016 was “the greatest movement in the history of our country.”
At the United Nations, Trump’s claim to have done more in less than two years than most of the 44 previous administrations defied any bounds of reality — or hubris. The difference was that he was not talking to a room full of excited, red-hat-wearing “MAGA” supporters who cheer him on.
[Y]ou kind of feel good that Trump was finally escaping the bubble of political rallies that continually gives him the impression that everyone agrees with the false claims he is making,” said Smith, who watched Trump’s speech from Berlin, where she is spending a year as a fellow at the Bosch Academy. “There was a moment I thought to myself, ‘This is good that the president is being exposed to how the rest of the world sees him.’ ”
On social media, Trump’s critics quickly mocked him on Tuesday. “American Presidents used to set the global agenda at the UNGA. Now Trump gets laughed at,” tweeted Ben Rhodes, who as a top national security aide to President Barack Obama helped craft U.N. speeches.
“The world just laughed @realDonaldTrump,” comedian Wanda Sykes tweeted. Referring to the famed theater in Harlem in which the audience boos and heckles bad performers offstage, she added, “Stay tuned, they might go full ‘Showtime at the Apollo’ on him.”
By the afternoon, Trump was projecting an air of nonchalance, telling reporters that his boast in the speech “was meant to get some laughter.” But most observers weren’t buying it from a president who seldom laughs at himself and whose default expression is an unsparing glare.
“It’s got to hurt,” said Wright, the Brookings Institution analyst. “It was on camera and it was spontaneous. It was on one of the biggest stages in the world.”
Anyone who truly cares about America, including its standing in the world, should want Trump - and his ass kissing, yes am VP, Mike Pence - removed from office as soon as possible. It will tajke years to undo the damage being done to the long term prospects of the nation.
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
APA: Why Women May Not Report Sexual Assault
One of the favored attacks on the victims of sexual assault is that often they remain silent or take years to finally come forward. The phenomenon is not just limited to women as the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal has revealed hundreds - actually thousands - of victims who remained silent at the time of their assault and molestation. It is, in fact, a common phenomenon well known in the mental health practitioner field, yet Republicans from Donald Trump - a self-proclaimed sexual predator - down through the ranks of the GOP Senate leadership is ignoring as they strive to protect Brett Kavanaugh from a perhaps long over due accounting. The American Psychological Association ("APA") has issued a statement on the phenomenon that ought to bear weight with decent, moral people not consumed with partisanship or extreme ideology. Here are highlights from the statement:
Following is a statement by Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, president of the American Psychological Association, regarding what the scientific research says about the reporting of sexual assault in light of the allegation by Christine Blasey Ford, PhD, with respect to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh:
“Sexual assault is likely the most under-reported crime in the United States. About two-thirds of female sexual assault victims do not report to the police, and many victims do not tell anyone. Sexual assault is a terrifying and humiliating experience. Women choose not to report for a variety of reasons — fear for their safety, being in shock, fear of not being believed, feeling embarrassed or ashamed, or expecting to be blamed.
“A lack of reporting does not mean an assault or attempted assault did not happen or is exaggerated. Research demonstrates that false claims of sexual assault are very low — between 2 and 7 percent. This tells us that far more women are assaulted and don’t report than women who make false claims.”
Daniel noted that Ford’s alleged assault is reported to have occurred when she was 15 — the developmental stage of exploring and determining one’s identity, a time when many teenagers do not feel comfortable discussing any sexual issues with their parents, let alone an assault.
[R]esearch has shown that memory of traumatic events is stored differently in the brain,” according to Daniel. “Some memories are so emotionally charged that they become frozen in time, and some particulars can be recalled in excruciating detail, as if the event just occurred, while others may be forgotten. The American Psychological Association is concerned that public statements questioning the integrity of Dr. Ford and the veracity of her allegation due to her prior lack of reporting will make it even more likely that other sexual assault victims do not report their experiences.”
Yes, you read that right - sexual assault is widespread and the percentage of false reports is very low. As to why women remain silent, one need only look at the trashing that Christine Blasey Ford are experiencing at the hands of privileged white men. For Fox News viewers, this is what the APA is and what it does:
The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA's membership includes nearly 115,700 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society.
The Christofascists' New Anti-LGBT Rallying Cry
|Mitch McConnell with hate group leader/white supremacist linked Tony Perkins.|
Over the weekend Family Research Council ("FRC") - a certified hate group - held it disingenuously named "Value Voters Summit" in the nation's capital. The key note speaker was Mike Pence - a religious extremist in his own right. Also addressing the group was Mitch McConnell who disgustingly praised FRC Tony Perkins, a man with well documented ties to white supremacy organizations. Such is the state of today's GOP that someone like Perkins could have Trump's ear and have McConnell basically groveling to Perkins and assured the Bible thumpers that Kavanaugh would be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court no matter what issues or damning facts might arise. As is the norm for such gatherings of Christian extremists, abortion and gays were the topics of rants and lies. This year, a new anti-LGBT rallying cry was formulated pursuant to which lies and disinformation will be disseminated. A piece in Rewire looks at this latest nastiness. Here are excerpts:
“Gender ideology” took center stage at this weekend’s Values Voter Summit (VVS) in Washington, D.C. And side stage. And student mixer. In each instance, it was used as a handy catchall: Objecting to “gender ideology” allows Christian conservatives to consolidate all their objections to treating LGBTQ people with dignity into one scary talking point.
This year, Vice President Mike Pence gave the keynote address following evangelical and conservative darlings like the Benham Brothers (house flippers and sons of Operation Save America’s Flip Benham), Michele Bachmann, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, David Daleiden (of Planned Parenthood hit-video fame), Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Masterpiece baker Jack Phillips, and many others.
The turn to “gender ideology” marks a change for this conference and for conservative talking points in general, which in the past have focused more directly on bathroom bills and specious fears for the safety of children. If you’re not familiar with the term, that’s not surprising. More popular with European conservatives, “gender ideology” as a conservative rallying cry has only grown in domestic U.S. circles in the past year or two.
Among conservatives, “gender ideology” encompasses a broad range of horrors: LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination laws, transgender-inclusive school and ID-document policies, and comprehensive sex education, to name a few.
Rather than ginning up support around specific topics, the broader lens of “gender ideology” allowed speakers to talk about a range of theoretical harms to religious freedom if politics are permitted to be overrun by the “new secular orthodoxy” of sexual orientation and gender identity, as Emilie Kao of the Heritage Foundation called it during her presentation on religious liberty.
[O]n Saturday, moderator Peter Sprigg—researcher at FRC and author of many a [anti-gay] blog about LGBTQ people and policies—introduced the panelists to talk about “How Gender Ideology Harms Children.” First up was disreputed former head of Johns Hopkins Department of Psychiatry head Dr. Paul McHugh. In 1977, Dr. McHugh ended Johns Hopkins’ groundbreaking trans-affirmative medical program. Johns Hopkins reversed the ensuing decades of anti-trans pseudo-scientific rhetoric in 2017, when it reopened its Center for Transgender Health. At VVS, Dr. McHugh gave the same speech he’s been giving at conservative conferences since his retirement, comparing transgender people to people with eating disorders: “We work not to affirm their belief [that they are transgender], but to correct it.”
Throughout his remarks, Dr. McHugh cited discredited research, misrepresented data on trans children, and flat-out lied.
Elizabeth Johnston, known for her Activist Mommy blog and her campaigns against comprehensive sex education, was the last to speak from the stage on Saturday morning. Johnston is a fiery speaker who was the perfect closer for an audience primed to hear her lies and misinformation. Schools are teaching our kids “gender confusion” and how to have oral and anal sex, she claimed. She described comprehensive sex education as “sexual abuse and grooming.”
The week before last, a similar panel was held at the World Congress of Families, in Moldova. Peter Sprigg was there too, giving a PowerPoint presentation on “Five Myths of Gender Identity.” Sprigg was joined by several European anti-transgender activists, and the talking points they shared were very similar to those sprinkled throughout VVS on Saturday.
I dealt with and corresponded with Peter Sprigg some years ago. He has NO legitimate credentials, continually disseminates deliberate lies about LGBT individuals, and has covered up for "ex-gay" frauds whom he knows are not "cured" of their homosexuality. Combine Sprigg and other bogus "experts" with Tony Perkins' white supremacist ties, and the only values upheld by "values voters" are lies, bigotry, racism and homophobia.The similarity is no coincidence: Right-wing and Christian conservatives have been trading tactics and talking points across the ocean for several years now as they try to fight the gains made by the LGBTQ community. And the broadening of their rhetoric is also not a coincidence: Framing support for the LGBTQ community as “gender ideology” allows anti-LGBTQ activists to scare, confuse, and galvanize their voters as we move into an important election season here in the United States, and into a crucial moment in political history across the world.
Today's GOP: Pigs All the Way Down
|Students, faculty members and staff
members walked out of Yale University’s Sterling Law |
Building on Monday to protest Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Like women, gays are looked down as some form of lesser human by the macho "boys club" that rules much of the nation's political system and most of corporate America. Of course, once one is viewed as "other" or "lesser," it becomes easy for the privileged class - in this case, heterosexual white males - to mistreat those they deem their inferiors. For gays, we are often targeted for abuse and continued discrimination. For women, less than equal rights and having their lives/bodies controlled by men are a consequence. Over the years, I have experience such males in high school, the fraternity scene at the University of Virginia, and, of course, in the Virginia legal community and large law firms. A column in the New York Times looks at this ugly reality in America and why male Senate Republicans are desperate to confirm Brett Kavanaugh if for no other reason than to reassert that they are privileged and gays, women, minorities are not. Indeed, we are less than equal. Here are column excerpts:
Over the weekend, the controversy over Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination evolved in a way guaranteed to create maximum partisan bitterness and mistrust.
Regardless of what happens to Kavanaugh, however, this scandal has given us an X-ray view of the rotten foundations of elite male power. Despite Donald Trump’s populist posturing, there are few people more obsessed with Ivy League credentials. Kavanaugh’s nomination shows how sick the cultures that produce those credentials — and thus our ruling class — can be.
Let’s start with Kavanaugh’s high school, Georgetown Prep, also the alma mater of Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first Supreme Court pick. There’s now a wealth of reporting painting the private school as a bastion of heedless male entitlement. Kavanaugh’s high school friend Mark Judge — who Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh’s first accuser, says was in the room when Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted her — has written extensively of his drunken teenage debauchery. According to The New Yorker, Judge confided in an ex-girlfriend, Elizabeth Rasor, about an incident where he and other boys took turns having sex with a drunken woman. (Judge denies this.)
From Georgetown Prep, Kavanaugh went to Yale. There he joined the fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon, or DKE, which was, according to The Yale Daily News, “notorious for disrespecting women.” (Long after Kavanaugh graduated, the fraternity, once headed by George W. Bush, was banned from campus after video emerged of pledges chanting, “No Means Yes! Yes Means Anal!”) Kavanaugh was also a member of an all-male secret society called Truth and Courage, which had an obscene nickname affirming its dedication to womanizing.
It may not be fair to judge Kavanaugh by the company he kept. But it’s telling that these were the crucibles in which he and other members of our ostensible meritocracy forged their identities and connections.
Posted by Michael-in-Norfolk at Tuesday, September 25, 2018 No comments:
Labels: Brett Kavanaugh, denigration of gays, denigration of women, Georgetown Prep, GOP moral bankruptcy, Senate Republicans, spoiled rich boys, white male privilege, Yale Law School
Monday, September 24, 2018
A Second Kavanaugh Accuser Comes Forward
In response to my question of whether Brett Kavanaugh is unbelievably arrogant or stupid if he knew allegations of sexual misconduct might arise yet nonetheless accepted Trump's nomination, one reader may have hit the nail on the head when replying: He thought his elite prep school connections would shield him from scrutiny. Whatever the case, The New Yorker first broke the story last evening that a second women has come forward to allege sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh, this time while he was in college and seemingly continuing the pattern of drunken misbehavior and contempt for women who it would appear he sees as sex objects to be used by men. True to form, Kavanaugh says the event never happened and apparently wants the nation to believe that these women are motivated by purely political agendas, something that to me sounds unbelievable. The Trump White House, headed by a serial molester who views women as existing for his gratification, is joining the refrain that it's all a smear campaign. Here re highlights from the piece in New Yorker:
As Senate Republicans press for a swift vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Senate Democrats are investigating a new allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. The claim dates to the 1983-84 academic school year, when Kavanaugh was a freshman at Yale University.
Senior Republican staffers also learned of the allegation last week and, in conversations with The New Yorker, expressed concern about its potential impact on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote. The Democratic Senate offices reviewing the allegations believe that they merit further investigation. “This is another serious, credible, and disturbing allegation against Brett Kavanaugh. It should be fully investigated,” Senator Mazie Hirono, of Hawaii, said. An aide in one of the other Senate offices added, “These allegations seem credible, and we’re taking them very seriously. If established, they’re clearly disqualifying.”
The woman at the center of the story, Deborah Ramirez, who is fifty-three, attended Yale with Kavanaugh, where she studied sociology and psychology. Later, she spent years working for an organization that supports victims of domestic violence.
For Ramirez, the sudden attention has been unwelcome, and prompted difficult choices. She was at first hesitant to speak publicly, partly because her memories contained gaps because she had been drinking at the time of the alleged incident.
Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. Ramirez is now calling for the F.B.I. to investigate Kavanaugh’s role in the incident. “I would think an F.B.I. investigation would be warranted,” she said.
The White House spokesperson Kerri Kupec said the Administration stood by Kavanaugh. “This 35-year-old, uncorroborated claim is the latest in a coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear down a good man.
Ramirez, who was raised a devout Catholic, in Connecticut, said that she was shaken. “I wasn’t going to touch a penis until I was married,” she said. “I was embarrassed and ashamed and humiliated.” She remembers Kavanaugh standing to her right and laughing, pulling up his pants. “Brett was laughing,” she said. “I can still see his face, and his hips coming forward, like when you pull up your pants.” She recalled another male student shouting about the incident. “Somebody yelled down the hall, ‘Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie’s face,’ ” she said. “It was his full name. I don’t think it was just ‘Brett.’ And I remember hearing and being mortified that this was out there.”
[A]fter several days of considering the matter carefully, she said, “I’m confident about the pants coming up, and I’m confident about Brett being there.” Ramirez said that what has stayed with her most forcefully is the memory of laughter at her expense from Kavanaugh and the other students. “It was kind of a joke,” she recalled. “And now it’s clear to me it wasn’t a joke.”
A classmate of Ramirez’s, who declined to be identified because of the partisan battle over Kavanaugh’s nomination, said that another student told him about the incident either on the night of the party or in the next day or two. The classmate said that he is “one-hundred-per-cent sure” that he was told at the time that Kavanaugh was the student who exposed himself to Ramirez. He independently recalled many of the same details offered by Ramirez, including that a male student had encouraged Kavanaugh as he exposed himself.
The story stayed with him, he said, because it was disturbing and seemed outside the bounds of typically acceptable behavior, even during heavy drinking at parties on campus. The classmate said that he had been shocked, but not necessarily surprised, because the social group to which Kavanaugh belonged often drank to excess. He recalled Kavanaugh as “relatively shy” until he drank, at which point he said that Kavanaugh could become “aggressive and even belligerent.”
Another classmate, Richard Oh, an emergency-room doctor in California, recalled overhearing, soon after the party, a female student tearfully recounting to another student an incident at a party involving a gag with a fake penis, followed by a male student exposing himself.
Mark Krasberg, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico who was also a member of Kavanaugh and Ramirez’s class at Yale, said Kavanaugh’s college behavior had become a topic of discussion among former Yale students soon after Kavanaugh’s nomination. In one e-mail that Krasberg received in September, the classmate who recalled hearing about the incident with Ramirez alluded to the allegation and wrote that it “would qualify as a sexual assault,” he speculated, “if it’s true.”
Several other classmates said that they believed Ramirez to be credible and honest, and vouched for her integrity. James Roche was roommates with Kavanaugh at the time of the alleged incident and is now the C.E.O. of a software company in San Francisco. “Debbie and I became close friends shortly after we both arrived at Yale,” he said. “She stood out as being exceptionally honest and gentle. I cannot imagine her making this up.” He said that he never witnessed Kavanaugh engage in any sexual misconduct, but did recall him being “frequently, incoherently drunk.”
We may never know the full truth, but too things are clear: (i) given the allegations, Kavanaugh does not belong on the U.S. Supreme Court ) or the DC Circuit), and (ii) it is beyond disturbing that Senate Republicans don't care about the allegations - or women in general.
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