Monday, September 17, 2018

In the Matter of Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh

In the matter of Christine Ford against Brett Kavanaugh, David French offers a thoroughly sober assessment of Ford’s claims. Surely, it feels like a late hit. It feels like something that was conjured up at the last minute to delay the Kavanaugh nomination.

French, a trial lawyer, examines the evidence. He begins by examining the evidence against other political figures, beginning with Bill Clinton:

Given the totality of the evidence, I believe it is more likely than not that Bill Clinton committed rape and sexual harassment. I believe it is more likely than not that Donald Trump has committed sexual assault. I believe it is more likely than not that Roy Moore engaged in sexual misconduct with underage girls. But the evidence against Kavanaugh falls far short of the evidence arrayed against each of these men. So far at least it falls far short of the evidence against virtually any other politician or celebrity who has faced consequences during this #MeToo moment.

One notes that when Bill Clinton was accused of rape on national television, Sen. Feinstein and her minions had nothing to say. Precious few feminists were appalled by the accusation-- Patricia Ireland of NOW being one of the exceptions.

Since the events in question happened nearly 35 years ago, we do not want to trust mere memory. As happens in most cases, we prefer what French calls “contemporary corroboration” to memory.

One understands that people choose to do what they choose to do. One does not want to speculate about the mind of a fifteen year old girl who has undergone a terrifying assault. And yet, do you consider it plausible that she told no one? Was she so terrified that her parents would find out about her drinking that she did not even confide in a close girlfriend? If she came home from a party in a state of extreme distress, do you imagine that her parents simply ignored her anguish and did not probe for answers?

In Ford’s case there was no corroboration:

According to the Washington Post, “Ford said she told no one of the incident in any detail until 2012, when she was in couples therapy with her husband.”

Time is not memory’s friend.

That’s almost three decades of silence — three decades when memories can grow cloudy and recollections can change.

And, of course, Ford brought up the incident in couples counseling, when it could serve a purpose. Was her marriage failing? Were she and her husband headed for divorce? Had their sex life declined? Was she trying to elicit sympathy from her husband and her therapist?

Or, was she offering the kind of rationalization that makes sense to certain narrative-loving therapists. That is, perhaps she was explaining that her sex drive had gone dormant because of the aftereffects of a trauma. For all we know, the situation was more complex. We do not know anything about the way her or her husband’s sex drive played out in their marriage. And we do not know the role that medication or hormones might have played.

In short, we know that she introduced the story to serve a purpose. Might this have led to a misremembering of what happened? We do not know. And we must allow for the fact that Ford believes completely that her memory is accurate... even though it is not accurate.

Keep in mind that there is such a thing as false memory syndrome. This, via Wikipedia:

False memory syndrome (FMS) describes a condition in which a person's identity and relationships are affected by memories that are factually incorrect but that they strongly believe.[1]Peter J. Freyd originated the term,[2] which the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF) subsequently popularized. The term is not recognized as a psychiatric illness[3] in any of the medical manuals, such as the ICD-10[4] or the DSM-5;[5] however, the principle that memories can be altered by outside influences is overwhelmingly accepted by scientists.

French adds that when Ford told a therapist about the incident she changed a detail. She said that four boys were involved, not the two that she later named. Now, Ford asserts that the therapist made a mistake in taking notes. Given that the therapist was taking real time notes, how likely is it that she would have mistaken two for four.

But even the allegedly corroborating notes of the therapist raise a separate problem. They actually contradict her story on a key detail. According to the Post, “The notes say four boys were involved, a discrepancy that Ford says was an error on the therapist’s part. Ford said there were four boys at the party but only two in the room.” Nor do the notes mention Kavanaugh’s name, even though her husband says Ford named Kavanaugh in the sessions.

Those are important discrepancies, and if six years ago she told the therapist four men and says two men now, that suggests that her memory of the event may be suspect.

Naturally, French continues, we want to find out whether any of the other attendees at the party have any recollection about what happened. The other man who is accused, named Mark Judge, has vigorously denied that any of it happened:

Yet given all the years that have passed, would it be possible to find anyone who remembers being at that party? Would they remember any details at all? If someone saw Kavanaugh stumbling drunk at the party, that would obviously bolster Ford’s account. If another attendee says, “He was totally sober and with me the whole time,” that helps Kavanaugh. But the odds of getting details that precise are long indeed, and there is always a chance that a motivated classmate might lie — for either person.

French concludes with an important pont. Ford's allegation seems to stand alone. In many of the high profile #MeToo cases, once the perpetrator is accused many other women come forth to report sexual harassment. Whether it was Bill Clinton, Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer or Les Moonves, sexual predators do not just do it one time. They manifest a pattern of behavior.

Finally, there are no other allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. If there’s one thing we’ve seen time and again, it’s that one allegation often triggers a cascade of additional claims. There seem to be precious few men who engage in serious sexual misconduct just once. If this was the kind of behavior that Kavanaugh engaged in, then look for more people to come forward. If no one does, however, we’re left with a sole claim, made by an opposing partisan (Ford is an outspoken progressive), that Kavanaugh strenuously denies, that lacks any contemporaneous corroboration, and that is contradicted in material respects by her therapist’s own notes.

A sole claim, by a partisan, lacking contemporaneous corroboration… should not be allowed to destroy a man’s life.


sestamibi said...

This sordid little drama once again illustrates the two cardinal principles of feminism:

1) The truth is whatever I believe it to be.

2) Life must be all bliss, all the time, and government must step in to make it so.

Cue additional accusers in 3, 2, 1 . . .

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I was with my wife's family this past weekend. They absolutely hate Trump. And they think this whole Kavanaugh thing is absurd.

High school? Yet somehow I doubt will want to move on from this one.

It is remarkable that this is being taken seriously. Feinstein sat on this accusation until it reached maximum dramatic value. This is Anita Hill all over again.

But it sure paid off for Anita Hill, didn't it? She is a full professor at a private, top-50 college. She has a fellowship, is a trustee, has received awards, honorary degrees, etc. Meanwhile, Clarence Thomas still lives under the shadow of the accusation. At the time of his confirmation, Thomas called the last-minute accusations a "high-tech lynching." And so it was.

Breyer, Ginsburg and Sotomayor do not seem to be in the best of health. Just imagine if one of them passes, and there's another vacancy. It'll be Cirque de Soleil.

Ares Olympus said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The more information I find the more I see this as a political hit job. for the reasons state here:
Also it does seem the Kavanaugh's mother was a judge who was instrumental in a foreclosure action agains't Ford's family. The "supposed" witness states that it is a lie. One is reminded of the "Duke Lacrosse" case. Here the people were exonerated because there were ATM records that did not jibe with the accuser's time frames. I would posit that this is why this accuser cannot remember dates, times, et al???
Also a number of reviews of this professor demonstrate her hatred of all things Conservative. Sociology Department? Might be why the Washington Post called her a researcher instead of a professor? Misleading!
Even Susan Collins is skeptical.
If one thinks or says something enough they begin to believe it and her politics are enough to reinforce the desire for this to be true when it is not. A therapist can convince people to believe almost anything. One only needs to look at the people who have been mental abused by so called therapist.
It does seem that she was held in abeyance when Romney did not get elected.
Only someone who wants this to be true would lap up such thin gruel.


trigger warning said...

If he's guilty, it's a pity Kavanaugh wasn't an "entertainer" at the time. If he had been, Ford's lawyer, Katz, would be defending Kavanaugh like she defended Franken. I've noticed that many of the Ford Believers also believe in superconducting electrical transmission lines. What a coincidence!

Also, coincidentally I'm sure, they rolled out Anita Hill for a cameo.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

WSJ: "The therapist saved her notes, which describe Mrs. Ford recounting being assaulted by students “from an elitist boys’ school,” but didn’t name Judge Kavanaugh, the article said."

Mrs. Ford attended the all-girls Holton-Arms school of Bethesda, MD. Tuition today is $42,975 per year.

"... elitist boys' school"? Who's kidding who?

But none of this matters, does it? The accusation is impossible to refute. This isn't a jury trial, it's to shape public opinion. To destroy Kavanaugh's honor.

Maryland has no statute of limitations on sexual assault. If this episode was so destructive, Mrs. Ford can still have her day in court. How does Mrs. Blasey-Ford think she'd do in front of a real jury?

Democrats didn't care about Bill Clinton's issues with women, including nine sexual encounters in the Oval Office with an intern who was in her early 20s. They don't care about Keith Ellison's physical abuse of women. They delightfully took Weinstein's money. JFK lived in Camelot, until you find out how many women he had. Teddy Kennedy drowned a woman, and was the lion of the Senate. That's for starters.

And now Sen. Jeff Flake has picked up the mantle of McCain's TDS. Flake thinks Mrs. Ford's story should be heard. Good grief.

It's pure politics, in all its hypocrisy and ugliness.

Christopher B said...

It's reasonable to assume that this incident, or something very much like it, did happen to Mrs. Ford. I think it's also reasonable to assume that we'll never tie Mr Kavanaugh to it.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

The real play in all this is to turn Susan Collins. That's the whole game. It's a power play.

I do think conservatives miss something in these kinds of dramatic incidents. They think that evidence, proof and logic works on Democrats -- their colleagues, constituents and allies.

Nothing is further from the truth, because truth doesn't matter a whit.

Today's loyal Democrat tent is run by emotionalism. Pure, raw, unadulterated emotion. They believe things because they want to believe them. And the goal is to feed their base emotional fuel and turn 'em loose on their family, friends, neighbors, etc. Progressivism is a religion, complete with dogmas. One of the dogmas is that white men are privileged sexual predators.

When we try to appeal to their intellect (e.g., evidence), we are making a mistake. They're trotting out these lie detector results Mrs. Ford took with a former FBI agent. Please. Ted Bundy passed a lie detector test.

Like Clarence Thomas, I think Kavanaugh's best play is to show the devastating human impact of this circus. He can't win in the world of denials, categorial denials and unequivocal denials. The accusation is not refutable. It's designed that way.

Bill Peschel said...

As noted above, Kavanaugh's mother oversaw the accuser's family's bankruptcy, so there's a personal connection there that's suspicious.

Kavanaugh, in 2012, was also posited as Mitt Romney's first appointment to the Supreme Court, at the same time his accuser "remembered" her assault in couple's therapy.

Finally, both Feinstein and The Washington Post heard this accusation in July. The Post decided to keep quiet about what they learned until Feinstein revealed it at the very last minute. Very cooperative of The Post to sit on blockbuster information until they were allowed to reveal it.

Ares Olympus said...

It looks like the under oath "He says, she says" testimony is on, and you only need 1-2 GOP senators to tip the balance, although we also need to add the witness friend in Mark Judge. A key Republican on the committee, however, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, told Politico that he was “not comfortable voting yes” on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination until he learned more about Dr. Blasey’s account. Mr. Flake’s objection could force a delay for the committee, which has 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

Still, if the Republicans find a way to push the vote forward AND get their 51 votes, the motive for any sworn testimony disappears. That is to say the only reason Kavanaugh is willing to testify is that his future is dependent upon their votes, but once their votes are given successfully, he can change his mind and say he's already made his statement.

So it is much more of a tightrope than I first imagined. The margin of error for the GOP is razor small, and GOP members like Flake (who isn't running for reelection) has no need for party loyalty. But really I think if the statements under oath are offered, under "he says, she says", everyone's confirmation bias will win by home team allegiance, and he'll be the newest Supreme Court Justice for the next 36 years with luck. So best for the GOP just to get the under oath statements over with ASAP.

Anonymous said...

In a world that punishes people for things dead people did 150 years ago, anything is possible. This vicious loon has found the perfect crime, forcing a good man to prove a negative.

Deana said...

This accusation against Kavanaugh is an obvious lie.

That being said: Any woman who had not had a man try to remove her clothes at some point in her life has to know down deep that she is very unattractive. Normal women know how to handle a situation like that, one way or another. Normal women don’t run to therapy for something like this. Why are progressive women so fragile?

A Biden-Dreg said...

I agree, Deana. She is an SJW zealot, and, as Vox Day writes (correctly so),

"SJWs Always Lie".

She's billed as a "clinical psychologist", but, in truth (assuming the flying editorial monkeys of Wikipedia World got it right), her terminal degree is in Ed Psych, the uttermost bottom of the psychology barrel, and neither of her MAs are in clinical psychology. The vehemency with which her Wikipedia/Hagiopedia page is being rejiggered is obvious and full of typos end errors (at this moment, anyway).

The lie came up when her marriage was on the rocks and she and her husband were in marital therapy. I suspect she needed a "trauma" to discount her deficits. In truth, Kavanaugh was one of her male peers that an emo like her could only fantasize about - good looking, well-off, athletic, superbright, obviously going places, and popular with girls.

It's the Prog version of Islamic taqiyya.

--- TW

Ares Olympus said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.