The Morning Jolt

Law & the Courts

Another Day, Another Unidentified Source

Demonstrators protest against Brett Kavanaugh in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C, September 24, 2018 (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Making the click-through worthwhile: Jane Mayer contradicts her own reporting; the Washington Post calls Texas Democratic messiah/Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke a liar; why we should be wary when people start shifting the debate from specific allegations to nebulous discussions of culture; and Ted Cruz gets attacked in public.

We’re Now In the ‘No One Remembering Means Everyone Secretly Remembers’ Stage

Jane Mayer insisted last night that the allegations against Kavanaugh were “the talk” of campus at Yale University.

From her own article, co-written with Ronan Farrow:

The New Yorker has not confirmed with other eyewitnesses that Kavanaugh was present at the party. The magazine contacted several dozen classmates of Ramirez and Kavanaugh regarding the incident. Many did not respond to interview requests; others declined to comment, or said they did not attend or remember the party.

In the article, Mayer and Farrow cite one unidentified source as claiming he heard about the alleged incident at the party at the time.

From the New York Times, yesterday:

The Times had interviewed several dozen people over the past week in an attempt to corroborate her story, and could find no one with firsthand knowledge. Ms. Ramirez herself contacted former Yale classmates asking if they recalled the incident and told some of them that she could not be certain Mr. Kavanaugh was the one who exposed himself.

That’s not “the talk of the campus.” That’s the opposite of “the talk of the campus.” But Mayer will most likely go unchallenged on her claim that one unidentified source claiming he heard about it at the time means that the allegation was widely known.

The Democrats’ Golden Boy Lies About His DUI

In Friday night’s Texas Senate debate, Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke claimed that he never tried to leave the scene of a serious accident that he caused after driving while intoxicated.

No fewer than twelve major publications, including quite a few not-so-political ones — Spin!  Town & Country! — wrote glowing profiles of O’Rourke in the past year. Most of those profiles echoed the Democratic line that O’Rourke is Lone Star Jesus. (GQ wrote two!) I doubt many of those publications will get around to mentioning this assessment by the Washington Post:

O’Rourke’s assertion that he did not try to leave the scene of the accident, however, is disputed by the police records. So that’s worthy of a fact check.

The accident had been observed by a witness. He told Carrera that O’Rourke, driving a Volvo, had passed him a high rate of speed through a 75 mph zone and then lost control and “struck a truck traveling the same direction.” O’Rourke’s car then crossed the large grassy center median and came to a stop…

“The defendant/driver then attempted to leave the scene,” Carrera reported. “The reporter then turned on his overhead lights to warn oncoming traffic and try to get the defendant to stop.”

Similar information appears in another document, the incident and crime report: “The driver attempted to leave the accident but was stopped by the reporter.”

The Post notes that the police report describes the then 26-years-old O’Rourke as extremely drunk —  Blood/Breath Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.136 and 0.134, and described as having difficulty standing up — and doubts he could remember the event and its aftermath more accurately than the reports written by sober police officers and witnesses at the scene. The Post’s Fact-Checker gives him Four Pinocchios.

Texas Monthly  wrote an 8,500-word profile of O’Rourke and spent one half of one sentence on it.

When the Debate Shifts from Specific Individuals to ‘Culture’ . . .

In an argument about a highly charged topic such as the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, be wary whenever someone tries to shift the discussion away from the specific allegations and known facts and over toward the broader and discarnate issues of culture.

It’s entirely probable that someone at a Maryland suburban prep school did something terrible in the early 1980s. Or it’s entirely probable that someone at Yale University or Yale Law School did something creepy at a party with heavy drinking during that time period. But the probability or evidence of those types of actions doesn’t tell us whether Kavanaugh did something like that. Muggings occur in New York City, but that doesn’t tell us whether any particular person in the city mugged someone.

Nonetheless, we’re probably going to hear a lot of talk in the coming days about an allegedly toxic culture in the places Kavanaugh spent his younger years — even, strange as it may seem, at Yale Law School.

In a courtyard just off the main hallway, students have hung signs criticizing the law school’s institutional culture, as rumors swirl about how much a deputy law school dean knew about allegations of sexual harassment against appellate court judge Alex Kozinski, who resigned last year after multiple allegations by former female staffers and clerks and for whom Kavanaugh clerked in the early 1990s. “Sex Sells @ YLS,” one sign reads. “Is there nothing more important to YLS than its proximity to power and prestige?” another asks.

I don’t know who put up that sign, but I’d love to ask . . . isn’t the proximity to power and prestige a big reason why you applied, and why people want to go to the Ivy League schools? What, you think everybody wants to attend because of the winter weather in New Haven or Cambridge?

Before we scoff at the image of Yale Law School being a hotbed of bacchanalian excess and venal corruption, keep in mind. . . Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton went there.

The term “ruling class” gets thrown around wildly and usually stupidly, but if there is a ruling class in this country, it consists largely of Yale Law School alumni: Sonia Sotomayor, Jerry Brown, David Boies, Cory Booker, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Coons, Robert Reich, FBI director Christopher Wray, Gary Hart, Joe Lieberman . . .

You know who else went to Yale Law School? A huge chunk of the conservative legal establishment: Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, John Bolton, John Yoo, Michael Mukasey . . .

The Atlantic article linked above quotes a student who asks, “Where does [the allegations against Kavanaugh] fit into the larger story of the law school?”

If, in an effort to get Kavanaugh, the left wants to retroactively declare that Yale University and its law school are and always were some sort of teeming cesspool of abuse and exploitation and elitist unaccountability . . . go ahead, fellas. Of course, a declaration like that spurs some questions about what the likes of Booker and Blumenthal saw and did when they were there. If this “institutional culture” of harassment and protecting the powerful was so deeply ingrained and so pervasive in the school for so long, how could those men somehow emerge with clear consciences? How could they themselves remain silent about it for so long?

There are a lot of Yale Law School graduates in the highest ranks of the progressive legal world — no doubt all of them should face the same suspicions. Were they complicit in continuing or even promoting and strengthening an exploitational culture?

If the aftermath of this whole angry mess is that Yale Law School has a permanent cloud over it, and everyone who went there is regarded with newfound suspicion . . . which side of the political divide do you think is going to pay the higher price?

When you try to indict a man by indicting the culture around him, you end up indicting a lot of other people in the process. If Yale graduates feel like their school and formative years are being rewritten and smeared, they probably ought to speak up about it now.

ADDENDA: Two observations on the group that harassed Senator Ted Cruz and his wife at an Italian restaurant in Washington, D.C., last night.

Shortly before 1 a.m., the group posted on Twitter, “This is a message to Ted Cruz, Bret Kavanaugh, Donald Trump and the rest of the racist, sexist, transphobic, and homophobic right-wing scum: You are not safe. We will find you.” That’s a straight-up threat, and a job for U.S. Capitol Police and any other police authorities that handle security for lawmakers. Congressional leadership gets around-the-clock protection, but security for other members of Congress is handled on a case-by-case basis.

One of the protesters harassing Cruz and his wife said to the senator, “Beto is way hotter than you.”

Texans are choosing a senator, not a boyfriend. But the comment says a great deal about the mindset of that protester, and perhaps all of his compatriots.

The more time I spend covering politics, the more I’m convinced that a significant chunk of grassroots political activists aren’t really arguing about politics at all. These folks are actually grappling with personal psychological issues and projecting it onto the world of politics. Every problem they had with a parent is projected onto authority figures. Every religious person who ever scolded them or made them feel guilty becomes the embodiment of organized religion and demonstrates its menace. Because they’ve had a bad experience with a member of a minority group, that experience reveals something sinister about every member of that minority group. The cop who wrote them a ticket instead of giving them a warning demonstrates the danger and corruption of law enforcement, the boss who fired them for shoddy work exemplifies the inherent cruelty of the capitalist system, and every frustrating experience they had with an ex-girlfriend demonstrates some defect in all women.

This is why things get so personal with them so quickly. They cannot distinguish their worldview from themselves, and so if you contradict that worldview, they believe that you have attacked them personally. In their minds, expressing doubt about an accusation of sexual assault means you support rape; scoffing at the need for higher taxes means you’re greedy and want them to endure more financial difficulties; and as a Yale freshman puts it in The Atlantic article linked above, “You can’t devalue a woman’s right to choose and respect women.” Only 31 percent of women believe abortion should be legal in all circumstances — meaning, in the mindset of the student, 69 percent of women do not respect women.

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