Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The New York Times Anti-Kavanaugh Bombshell Is Actually a Dud

If you opened Twitter on Sunday morning, you were likely greeted with the bombshell headline of the top trending news story: “NYT reporters’ book details new sexual assault allegation against Brett Kavanaugh.”

The allegation, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly write in a New York Times story adapted from their forthcoming anti-Kavanaugh book, is this: “We also uncovered a previously unreported story about Mr. Kavanaugh in his freshman year that echoes Ms. Ramirez’s allegation. A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.”

Wait a second. Who did what to whom?  Kavanaugh’s “friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student”?

Can someone explain the logistics of the allegation here? Was Kavanaugh allegedly walking around naked when his friends pushed him into the female student?

No, if I’m reading Pogrebin and Kelly right, the friends didn’t push Kavanaugh in the back. Rather, the “friends pushed his penis.”

What? How does that happen? Who are the friends? Who is the female student? Were there any witnesses besides Stier?

All that the authors write in the New York Times essay about corroborating the story is this: “Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly. (We corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier.)”

So they corroborated the fact that Stier made the allegation to the FBI, but the authors give no indication that they have corroborated any details of the alleged incident.

The book isn’t released until Tuesday, but Mollie Hemingway got a copy, and she writes on Twitter: “The book notes, quietly, that the woman Max Stier named as having been supposedly victimized by Kavanaugh and friends denies any memory of the alleged event.” Omitting this fact from the New York Times story is one of the worst cases of journalistic malpractice in recent memory.

If you take this confusing accusation in the essay at face value, it doesn’t even appear to be an allegation of assault against Kavanaugh.

If Kavanaugh’s “friends pushed his penis,” then isn’t it an allegation of wrongdoing against Kavanaugh’s “friends,” not Kavanaugh himself? Surely even a modern liberal Yalie who’s been to one of those weird non-sexual “naked parties” would recognize both the female student and Kavanaugh are both alleged victims in this alleged incident, barring an additional allegation that a college-aged Kavanaugh asked his “friends” to “push his penis.”

The new allegation is supposed to help lend credence to the on-the-record allegation that Kavanaugh’s Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez made in 2018. Pogrebin and Kelly sum up Ramirez’s allegation: “She and some classmates had been drinking heavily when, she says, a freshman named Brett Kavanaugh pulled down his pants and thrust his penis at her, prompting her to swat it away and inadvertently touch it. Some of the onlookers, who had been passing around a fake penis earlier in the evening, laughed.”

Pogrebin and Kelly downplay Ramirez’s own doubts about whether Kavanaugh did what she now alleges, choosing rather to lard up their New York Times story with details that are supposed to demonstrate how under-privileged Ramirez was: She had to sell ice cream during the summer in high school, bought a cheap car, and only had an above-ground swimming pool as a teenager (the horror).

None of these details corroborates her accusation against Kavanaugh. But the story is framed to make it seem like Kavanaugh was the type of privileged jerk who might expose himself in front of an under-privileged college classmate.

As I wrote last October, here’s why Ramirez’s allegation was dubious:

Deborah Ramirez is the Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s who now claims that Kavanaugh exposed himself as a college freshman at a party. Ramirez’s claim was already dubious because (1) named eyewitnesses deny the allegation and (2) Ramirez herself wasn’t sure in recent weeks if Kavanaugh had done what she now alleges. “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,” the New York Times reported. Ramirez was only willing to make the allegation, the New Yorker reported, after “six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney.”

Pogrebin and Kelly write that a couple of students say they had heard about the alleged incident in the days after it allegedly occurred, but the authors provide no indication there is any first-hand witness to corroborate the allegation.

We already knew before Kavanaugh was confirmed last October that the “corroborating” source for Ramirez’s claim, classmate Kenneth Appold, was not present when the alleged incident occurred, but Appold told the New Yorker he was “one-hundred-percent-sure” he heard about it from an eyewitness. Shortly before Kavanaugh was confirmed, the New Yorker reported that Appold’s supposed eyewitness “said that he had no memory of the incident.”

Maybe Pogrebin and Kelly’s book is stronger than their essay. But I’m skeptical. “In the end they turn up no smoking gun,” Hanna Rosin writes in her New York Times review of the book.



Dems Concede Trump's campaigning played a Major Role in Helping GOP Win NC Special Election

Democrat's have been desperately looking for signs that a blue wave is building that will give them dominance in Congress and flip the White House to their side.

They didn't get it in North Carolina's 9th district.

A closely watched special election gave the Democrat's a perfect opportunity to strike a psychological blow against Trump and the Republicans when their candidate, Dan McReady, jumped out to a huge lead in the polls. The Democrats poured money into the race  and worked to get out their vote in the GOP-leaning district.

Then, Trump entered the picture.

Even Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairwoman Cheri Bustos acknowledged that the president contributed to Bishop's win, writing in a statement, "We fell an inch short tonight, but it took more than $6 million in outside Republican spending and a last-minute Trump rally" to seal Democratic candidate Dan McCready's fate in the 9th District.

McCready's campaign spent approximately $4.7 million on the race, while Bishop's spent only $1.9 million. Outside spending primarily from national party committees helped Bishop to the tune of $5.8 million, though, compared to McCready's roughly $1.4 million.

The clean sweep heartened the president, who has long emphasized the national implications at stake. Trump unloaded on McCready in the fiery rally on Monday night, telling attendees that "to stop the far-left, you must vote in tomorrow's special election."

That effort, Trump said late Tuesday, had clearly paid dividends.

Trump tried out some attack lines on the Democrats during his rally on Monday that we might be hearing from a lot of Republicans come November 2020.

At the rally Monday, the president specifically called out McCready as a dangerous proponent of "sanctuary cities" and rolling back gun rights.

"Just recently, Mecklenburg County set free an illegal alien charged with first-degree rape and crimes against a child," Trump said, his voice rising. "Support for sanctuary cities is disloyalty to American cities — and McCready wants sanctuary cities, with all of their protections for people who are serious criminals. Tomorrow is your chance to send a clear message to the America-hating left."

The special election was called when the Republican candidate Mark Harris's 2018 campaign against McCready was accused of fraud in winning a close race. Trump won the district by 11 points in 2016 but, like many suburban districts, it had been trending blue in recent elections.

McCready was counting on a turnout of more moderate suburban voters to put him over the top. But the energy appeared to be all on the Republican side on election day. Trump's presence put Bishop over the top.

What should encourage the Republicans the most is not just Trump's obvious ability to energize Republicans, but that the GOP message still resonates with Trump voters. Whatever hopes the Democrats had of Trump supporters losing faith will have to wait another day.



Appeals Court Judge Says Not So Fast on Pathetic 30-Day Sentence for Rand Paul's Politically Motivated Attacker

Contrary to the punchlines of late-night comics, the attack that Rand Paul suffered back in 2017 when his neighbor tackled him over landscaping disagreements was not funny at all. The crime left Paul with major complications including recurring bouts of pneumonia after damage to his lungs, and multiple surgeries including a partial lung removal and corrective surgery on a hernia. It isn’t a stretch to say that Senator Paul could have died. The attack was severe and the damage has been long-lasting.

Unfortunately, his attacker, Rene Boucher, was not only lauded by late-night comics and cruel people on Twitter as a hero, but he was only given a 30-day sentence in jail for his violent crime. An appeals court ruled on Monday that Boucher will be resentenced as his current sentence is “well-below guidelines,” as reported by CBS News.

U.S. District Judge Marianne Battani was the sentencing judge who opined that the attack was "dispute between neighbors" and claimed it was not motivated by politics. She took into consideration that Boucher was a veteran, involved in community service, a church-goer with college degrees and an advanced medical career to impose the light sentence. Unfortunately for her, the appeals judge, Judge Jane B. Stranch, disagreed, saying those facts are "almost all disfavored as grounds for a below-guidelines sentence." Then she hit the defense with jaw-dropping rationale, not often seen in our courts.

"To prioritize a defendant's education, professional success and standing in the community would give an additional leg up to defendants who are already in a privileged position...Indigent defendants are less likely to impress a sentencing court with their education, employment record or local reputation. But they are no less deserving of a reasonable and compassionate sentence."

Check your privilege, Boucher. You’re not going to get away with assaulting a sitting senator with a slap on the wrist.



Long-Sought Village Jesus Visited After Crucifixion Possibly Found

Archaeologists may have discovered the village where Jesus is said to have appeared after he was crucified.

According to the Gospel of Luke, after Jesus was crucified, two of his disciples walked to the village of Emmaus; along their walk to the village, a stranger walked beside them and asked what had just happened in Jerusalem. It wasn't until they reached Emmaus and stopped for dinner that the stranger revealed that he was Jesus, in this biblical story.

In a paper set to be published in the series "New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region," two archaeologists propose that an archaeological site called Kiriath-jearim may be Emmaus. The location of Emmaus has long been a topic of debate, with a few different sites proposed in the past.

Archaeologists now propose that the site of Kiriath-jearim (shown here) may be Emmaus — the village that Jesus appeared in after he was crucified, according to the Gospel of Luke.

Several clues point to Kiriath-jearim being Emmaus. For instance, the Gospel of Luke says Emmaus is "60 stadia" from Jerusalem, a distance about equal to the 8 miles (13 kilometers) that separates Kiriath-jearim from the Old City of Jerusalem, wrote Israel Finkelstein, professor emeritus at the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University in Israel, and Thomas Römer, a professor of biblical studies at Collège de France, in the forthcoming article.

Recent excavations at Kiriath-jearim have also uncovered a series of fortifications that were renovated during the first half of the second century B.C., and according to the Book of Maccabees, the Seleucid Empire (an empire ruled by the descendants of one of Alexander the Great's generals) controlled much of the region, fortifying several sites, including Emmaus.

Excavations indicate that these fortifications at Kiriath-jearim were renovated about 2,200 years ago, an event that appears to be described in the Book of Maccabees. Emmaus was one of the sites that was mentioned as being fortified at that time.

Excavations indicate that these fortifications at Kiriath-jearim were renovated about 2,200 years ago, an event that appears to be described in the Book of Maccabees. Emmaus was one of the sites that was mentioned as being fortified at that time.

The researchers can't be completely certain that Kiriath-jearim is Emmaus and not another site fortified by the Seleucids. But the fact that the site is located 60 stadia from Jerusalem supports the proposal. Additionally, the other sites mentioned in the Book of Maccabees that the Seleucids fortified don't appear to match up well with Kiriath-jearim.

Adding more evidence for the proposal, pottery found at Kiriath-jearim suggests that the site was inhabited around the time that Jesus is said to have lived. This means there would have been an active village at the site for Jesus' disciples to visit and where Jesus could have appeared.



Are the Democrats Committing Electoral Suicide?

Last Thursday's debate was supposed to be a boon for Democrats, but there are signs and signals everywhere that this is a party in trouble at the top -- and maybe everywhere else, too.

Presidential contender Marianne Williamson was locked out of the most recent debate, after appearing in the first two rounds, for not meeting the DNC's entry requirements. But she did watch, and concluded that "We might be in trouble here," based on what she saw -- or rather, didn't see. On MSNBC she said, "This president is not just a politician, he is a phenomenon. The Democrats are sharpening their knives and he will be bringing a gun to this battle."

I'm not sure Williamson and I watched the same debate, the debate in which the term "white supremacist" was freely thrown down at Trump by Joe Biden, the supposed moderate in the Dems' crowded field. Trump, who not only has Jewish grandkids but has worked closely with Don King and even with Al Sharpton, was called just about the worst possible thing in American politics, with zero evidence. And the rest of the candidates joined in the Bizarro World accusation. It isn't so much that the Democrats are bringing a knives to a gunfight; it's more like they're bringing kazoos to the symphony.

Jonathan Chait, another left-leaning writer, also noticed his party's predicament in his latest for New York magazine. Chait worries that Biden is the only candidate who might not be "too radical" to win in 2020, but that he might be "too old." Chait notes that "general election voters tend to punish more ideologically extreme candidates," but that the Democratic candidates are mistaken in their belief that primary voters are "ready to embrace socialism, or at least something close to it." The part of Chait's article that really caught my eye, however, is when he describes nearly two-dozen presidential contenders as "racing left, treating the consensus on progressive Twitter as though it were a simulacrum of the real Democratic Party."

It's one thing for Donald Trump to use Twitter to blast through the veil of political correctness that shades everything the Mainstream Media publishes. For Republican voters, and more than a few frustrated moderates and centrists Democrats, it's liberating. It's quite another thing when Democratic presidential candidates use Twitter to "embrace and extend" the political correctness (and the progressive radicalism) that infests left-wing Twitter -- and that the rest of the country has rightly tired of.

The question voters must ask themselves is this: Do I want a president who has made strides on restoring economic and wage growth, who is confronting China on trade, standing up to the mullahs, wiping out ISIS, hitting back against stultifying political correctness, standing out of the way of American's unprecedented energy boom, securing the southern border, cutting taxes and regulations... but whose tweets annoy me sometimes. Or do I want a president who promises to undo literally all of that -- and more?



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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