The Morning Jolt

White House

This Week Will Make the Clarence Thomas Confirmation Hearings Look Civil and Agreeable

Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh at his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, September 4, 2018. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

We need a way to evaluate accusations of sexual misconduct against public figures beyond “I like the accused person” or “I don’t like the accused person.”

Up until Sunday afternoon, the vague-but-ominous-sounding accusation against Kavanaugh didn’t have a named accuser, and those of us who prefer to see the judge confirmed had an exceptionally strong argument: You can’t destroy a man’s career and reputation on the basis of an anonymous allegation and no evidence.

Now it’s no longer an anonymous accusation; the Washington Post printed the account of Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey Ford Sunday afternoon, and the accusation now has some more specifics. But there’s a catch:

After so many years, Ford said she does not remember some key details of the incident. She said she believes it occurred in the summer of 1982, when she was 15, around the end of her sophomore year at the all-girls Holton-Arms School in Bethesda. Kavanaugh would have been 17 at the end of his junior year at Georgetown Prep.

Ford said she does not recall the date “around the end of her sophomore year” or the exact location, or “who owned the house or how she got there.” It’s natural that some memories would be hazy after 36 years and alcohol consumption at the time of the incident; in Ford’s account, she had a beer. But this means that if anyone can contradict any detail of her account, she has the built-in excuse of a hazy memory. Perhaps Kavanaugh could prove he was away from the D.C. area during some periods of late spring or the summer of 1982, but because the allegation can’t even be narrowed to a particular month, that would be pointless.

There is evidence that Ford discussed her experience and allegations before now, but that has complications:

Ford said she told no one of the incident in any detail until 2012, when she was in couples therapy with her husband. The therapist’s notes, portions of which were provided by Ford and reviewed by The Washington Post, do not mention Kavanaugh’s name but say she reported that she was attacked by students “from an elitist boys’ school” who went on to become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.” The notes say four boys were involved, a discrepancy 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.

As noted, Kavanaugh denied the accusation. The White House points out that Kavanaugh has undergone six FBI background checks over the course of his career and none of them uncovered this event, or any other events like it. The one other witness that Ford names, Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate Mark Judge, denied her allegations in a statement to The Weekly Standard:

Now that the anonymous person has been identified and has spoken to the press, I repeat my earlier statement that I have no recollection of any of the events described in today’s Post article or attributed to her letter. Since I have nothing more to say I will not comment further on this matter. I hope you will respect my position and my privacy.

The Post writes, “Ford named two other teenagers who she said were at the party. Those individuals did not respond to messages on Sunday morning.”

As of this writing, there are no photographs of the two together, no letters between them, no physical evidence proving that the two met each other, much less that the events occurred as she described.

The allegation against Kavanaugh is almost certain to get lumped into the discussions about #MeToo and powerful men engaging in wanton sexual misconduct. Unless more women come forward, this will be exceptionally unfair to the judge; all of the most infamous cases of #MeToo have involved multiple accusers and patterns of abuse. In at least two cases that were briefly high profile, the accusations were found to be either false or insufficiently provable to carry consequences. CNN reinstated Ryan Lizza, formerly of The New Yorker, after conducting what it called “an extensive investigation” and concluding, “based on the information provided and the findings of the investigation, CNN has found no reason to continue to keep Mr. Lizza off the air.” AMC reinstated television host Chris Hardwick after a suspension for allegations of being abusive in a past relationship, declaring “given the information available to us after a very careful review, including interviews with numerous individuals, we believe returning Chris to work is the appropriate step.”

The Post‘s story ends with Ford’s husband declaring:

“I think you look to judges to be the arbiters of right and wrong,” Russell Ford said. “If they don’t have a moral code of their own to determine right from wrong, then that’s a problem. So I think it’s relevant. Supreme Court nominees should be held to a higher standard.”

Indeed, but . . . Kavanaugh has been a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals since 2006. If this allegation is serious and important enough to deter his confirmation by the Senate now . . . why was it not serious and important enough to deter his confirmation by the Senate twelve years ago?

The coming week is going to be an ugly one, with half of the political world screaming at the other, “How can you be so certain that she’s telling the truth?” and the other half yelling back, “How can you be so certain that she’s lying?” The problem is that if Kavanaugh is confirmed, a (likely vocal) segment of the public will forever accuse him of committing sexual assault and getting away with it — and if Ford is telling the truth, he did. If Kavanaugh is rejected, it means an accuser can come forward after 36 years, with no evidence beyond her own account, and not able to remember key details, and ruin the life and career of a man.

Why Democrats Think $40 Trillion in New Spending Is Reasonable and Feasible

On Sunday morning, Jake Tapper tried to get Democratic congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to explain where she would find the $40 trillion needed to pay for her agenda. I know this will shock you, but she didn’t have many good answers.

TAPPER: Your platform has called for various new programs, including Medicare for all, housing as a federal right, a federal jobs guarantee, tuition-free public college, canceling all student loan debt. According to nonpartisan and left-leaning studies friendly to your cause, including the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities or the Tax Policy Center, the overall price tag is more than $40 trillion in the next decade.   You recently said in an interview that increasing taxes on the very wealthy, plus an increased corporate tax rate, would make $2 trillion over the next 10 years. So, where is the other $38 trillion going to come from?

OCASIO-CORTEZ:  Well, one of the things that we need to realize when we look at something like Medicare for all, Medicare for all would save the American people a very large amount of money. And what we see as well is that these systems are not just pie in the sky.  They are — many of them are accomplished by every modern, civilized democracy in the Western world.  The United — the United Kingdom has a form of single-payer health care, Canada, France, Germany. What we need to realize is that these investments are better and they are good for our future.  These are generational investments, so that not just — they’re not short-term Band-Aids, but they are really profound decisions about who we want to be as a nation and as — and how we want to act, as the wealthiest nation in the history of the world.

Tapper pressed again, and she continued:

 OCASIO-CORTEZ:  What these represent are lower costs overall for these programs. And, additionally, what this is, is a broader agenda.  We do know and we acknowledge that there are political realities.  They don’t always happen with just the wave of a wand.  But we can work to make these things happen.  And, in fact, when we — when you look at the economic activity that it spurs, for example, if you look at my generation, millennials, the amount of economic activity that we do not engage, the fact that we delay purchasing homes, that we don’t participate in the economy and purchasing cars, et cetera, as fully as possible, is a cost. It is an externality, if you will, of unprecedented — unprecedented amount of student loan debt.

TAPPER: So, I’m assuming I’m not going to get an answer for the other $38 trillion.

We can scoff at how, when pushed for specifics, Ocasio-Cortez provides a steady stream of gobbledygook. But if you’re wondering why today’s Democrats are embracing socialism and new spending programs that are wildly expensive and ambitious even by the standards of the past generation of Democrats . . . how much of it reflects the end of the Republican party as the debt-focused party? We used to have one party that ignored the debt and another that paid lip service to it. Now we have two parties that ignore it.

We’re on pace for a trillion-dollar deficit this year, during an economic boom. And this is with the amount of money collected by the federal government in terms of taxes, fees, and tariffs increasing :“Receipts totaled $2,985 billion during the first 11 months of fiscal year 2018, CBO estimates — $19 billion more than during the same period last year.” Even with the tax cuts, the government is taking in oodles of money, but it’s still spending it at a faster rate.

Many Democrats consciously or subconsciously notice, “If there’s no political or noticeable economic consequence to running a $1 trillion-per-year deficit, why not spend even more and have a $2 trillion or $3 trillion annual deficit?”

ADDENDA: Yesterday was a deep disappointment for my Jets, but probably the team that had it roughest was the Buffalo Bills, who had cornerback Vontae Davis decide to retire at halftime of yesterday’s game against the Chargers. That’s not a metaphor for playing half-heartedly in the second half; he decided he “didn’t feel like himself” and took himself out of the game.

I hope Bills coach Sean McDermott’s halftime pep talk wasn’t about the importance of not quitting.

“Okay, guys, I know we’re trailing and it looks tough, but let’s go out there and show them that we never give up!”

“Coach, I’m retiring immediately.”

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