Archive for the ‘Kavanaugh, Brett’ Category

A Never-Trumper asks: Is it too late to get one of those red hats?

October 19, 2018

We previously posted results of a Rasmussen survey that showed 64% of Republicans are “very angry” about the way that Kavanaugh was treated … and practically all of them are more likely to vote in the midterms than they previously were.

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Today, let’s provide some human context to the numbers…

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How reliable is your memory?

October 12, 2018

Simple answer: not very … it’s subject to gaps, distortions and falsehoods.
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The Kavanaugh-Ford imbroglio really piqued my interest in brainworks, memory and psychotherapy.

Studying up on the topics, I stumbled upon a 2013 TED Talk by Dr. Elizabeth Loftus – a research psychologist specializing in memory.  Her specific areas of interest are the effects of trauma and therapeutic memory reconstruction.

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click to view

Trust me, the entire 15 minute talk which has been viewed by almost 4 million people and is loaded with evidence and examples – is engaging and educational.  Well worth watching!

For now, here are some key snippets from the talk…

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Everybody has an opinion on Dr. Ford’s allegations; some are hyperventilating.

October 10, 2018

But, how well informed are the opinions?
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In a previous post, we presented a post-testimony survey finding  that only 37% of respondents thought that Kavanaugh should be confirmed.

That is, until they were informed that Dr. Ford’s accusations could not be corroborated by anyone … not  even her “lifetime” best friend.

When so informed, jumped to about 60% said that he should be confirmed.

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See Poll: So, should Kavanaugh be confirmed or not?

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But, some recent polls indicate that a majority still say that Kavanaugh shouldn’t have been confirmed.

How to square that circle?

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The politics of the Supreme Court…

October 8, 2018

Now that Kavanaugh is confirmed, let’s take another look at ideological balance on the SCOTUS.
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Let’s put things in context…

Political scientists Andrew Martin and Kevin Quinn developed  a measure to calibrate how liberal or conservative SCOTUS justices are … based on their rulings.

As near as I can tell, the measure is uncontested by either ideology.

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Source

First, let’s pull some takeaways from the chart…

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If you’re serious about the Kavanaugh decision, read Sen. Collin’s speech…

October 7, 2018

Don’t just rely on biased summaries from your usual cable news favorites.
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Read the text   View the speech

For my right-leaning friends, the speech gives you most of what you need to fend off your left-leaning friends.

For my left-leaning friends, the speech matter-of-factly provides context and Collins’ legal reasoning behind her conclusions on both Ford’s accusations and Kavanaugh’s likely judicial rulings.

In the final analysis,  this polarizing bruhaha really centered on abortion rights and Rowe vs. Wade, here’s an extract of what Collins argued on those specific  questions…

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Why won’t Ford’s lawyers turn over the polygraph details and therapist notes?

October 5, 2018

And, do they really want the FBI to interview her?
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“Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford,  responded Wednesday to Grassley’s request for notes from Ford’s therapy sessions and recordings of a lie detector test she took related to her allegation that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her during a high school party in the 1980s.” source

 

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Let’s unpack that offer (demand?)…

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NPR: vast majority of Dems have high confidence in the FBI

October 5, 2018

Or, at least they did before yesterday.
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Yesterday, we reported an NPR survey indicating that the Dem’s enthusiasm advantage has evaporated.

Buried in the survey’s “internals”, but not reported in the headlined story, was an interesting question:

“Do you have a great deal of confidence, quite a lot, not very much confidence, or no confidence at all in The FBI?”

For the total sample, 59% said “great deal” or “quite a bit”;  36% said “not very much” or “no confidence”; 5% were “unsure.

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Survey Results

Drilling down, the results get more interesting…

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Poll: So, should Kavanaugh be confirmed or not?

October 4, 2018

Former Clinton strategist Mark Penn took an interesting analytical cut at survey results from Harvard’s Center for American Politics Studies CAPS.

Penn’s overall conclusion:

“The testimony of Ford and Kavanaugh had a powerful but not decisive effect on the public.”

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         Source: CAPS data; Penn analysis

Let’s drill down on the data logic…

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NPR: Dem’s enthusiasm advantage has evaporated.

October 4, 2018

“Kavanaugh Effect” awakening GOP voters.
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Interesting study conducted by NPR

Prior to the Ford-Kavanaugh hearings, 78% of  Dems considered the midterm elections to be very important.

The obvious underlying force: adversity to President Trump.

Only 68% of GOP considered the midterms to be very important.

Chalk that up to midterm complacency and confidence that all folks would appreciate that the economy is doing quite well.

That’s a 10 point gap in a proxy measure of voter enthusiasm and likelihood of turning out to vote.

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Survey Results

Recent events have closed that gap…

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What’s up with Dr. Ford’s parents?

October 3, 2018

They may be able to break the case.
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I’ve read a couple of reports that Dr. Ford’s parents are on the FBI interview list.

Assuming that the reports are true and that  they cooperate, I think that might provide some important information.

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Among the aspects of Dr. Ford’s testimony that struck me as very odd was that her parents didn’t show up to lend support.

Kavanaugh’s parents were prominent.

Every parent that I’ve chatted with has said they’d be there to show support for their son or daughter.

But, not Dr. Ford’s parents.

And, when Rachel Mitchell asked who, other than her lawyers, had  had been advising her, Dr. Ford answered “My beach friends.”

Say, what?

Following up, Mitchell asked if she had sought advice from her parents.

Dr. Ford answered emphatically: “NO !”

Why is that?

 

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She lied! Under oath, about polygraphs…

October 3, 2018

Dr. Ford fell into in a perjury trap.
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Overnight, several sources, including the WSJ, broke a fact-laden story that Dr. Fox lied under oath when queried about polygraph tests.

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In the Senate hearing, Prosecutor Mitchell asked a series of questions about polygraphs: Did anyone coach you before your’s? As a psychology prof, have you studied up on polygraphs? Have you ever coached anyone on how to take a polygraph?

Ford answered “no” to all 3 questions. Mitchell nonchalantly said “OK, let’s move on”

At the time, I thought the “have you coached” question seemed a bit odd.

Turns out that mild mannered Mitchell may have set a perjury trap … either because she knew the answer or because it was a standard protocol question …. regardless,Dr. Ford took the bait.

Here’s the story…

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Here’s a gut-check question for you …

October 2, 2018

Let’s personalize the issue-of-the-day.

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Consider this scenario…

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Psst: Somebody wasn’t sold on Dr. Ford’s testimony.

October 1, 2018

Rachel Mitchell apparently didn’t drink the kool-aid
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Remember Rachel Mitchell?

She’s the multi-decade experienced sex crimes prosecutor who interviewed Dr. Ford during last week’s Kavanaugh hearing.

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She was, at the moment, a fright to the right (boring, too slow, no knockout punches) and darling of the left.  After all, she oft referred to Dr. Fox as a victim and seemed to be buying Ford’s story.

But, Ms. Mitchell has issued her final report and the table has been turned…

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Verdict: Feinstein, Dems found guilty of obstruction of justice!

September 28, 2018

Victimized both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh.
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Sorry, but I have to start today with a chest pound.

Yesterday’s post Where’s the beef? made 3 major points:

1) The outside prosecutor wouldn’t be effective in the 5-minute ping-pong format.

2) Dr. Ford would be a sympathetic accuser but would still end the day with no evidence or corroboration to support her claims.

3) Kavanaugh would need to emphasize the damage done to him and his family… while aggressively  attacking the process and the Democrats scorch-the earth strategy.

BINGO!

What I underestimated was how good Kavanaugh’s A-game would be.

Let’s drill down to some takeaways…

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Where’s the beef?

September 27, 2018

And, other things to watch for in today’s hearing.
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I expect today’s hearing will be long on emotional drama, short on facts (which are known in some circles as evidence), and won’t change many entrenched opinions.

Any opinions that are changed will be based not on evidence but on apparent credibility… how Ford and Kavanaugh present themselves.

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More specifically, here’s what I expect…

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Breaking: Man says he, not Bret, did it.

September 27, 2018

Let’s stick to the facts:

In a statement released Wednesday evening, Judiciary Committee Republicans revealed that on Monday, they conducted their “first interview with a man who believes he, not Judge Kavanaugh, had the encounter with Dr. Ford in 1982 that is the basis of his [sic] complaint.”

They conducted a second interview.

Then,, they received a “more in-depth written statement from the man interviewed twice previously who believes he, not Judge Kavanaugh, had the encounter in question with Dr. Ford.”

The man has not been identified and his testimony has not been corroborated, though committee investigators indicate that he provided substantiating details re: time and place.

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According to NBC News, Democrats reacted predictably:

“They are desperately trying to muddy the waters.

Twelve hours before the hearing they suggest two anonymous men claimed to have assaulted her.

Democrats were never informed of these assertions in interviews, in violation of Senate rules.”

To that, Sen. Oren Hatch tweeted:

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For the record, the news of the issued statement (a fact) was reported by FNC.

click to view the video version

As of now, it hasn’t shown up on CNN’s or MSNBC’s web sites or newscasts.

They’re still hyping  Avanati’s gang rape story.

Hmmm…

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Avenatti jumps the shark !

September 27, 2018

Now, we’re moving from the sublime to the ridiculous … or, as Kavanaugh said “The Twilight Zone.”

In a nutshell the accuser – who reportedly holds a security clearance and contracts on-and-off with the government – says that circa 1981, Kavenaugh (and  buddy Mark Judge) spiked party punch bowls causing women to become inebriated and vulnerable to subsequent gang rapes.

She presents no witnesses or corroborators, but knows for sure.

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How does she know?

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The politics of the Supreme Court…

September 26, 2018

As I’ve stated before, Dems may win the current battle by scorching Kavanaugh, but may end up losing the war regarding SCOTUS balance.

Let’s put things in context…

Political scientists Andrew Martin and Kevin Quinn developed  a measure to calibrate how liberal or conservative SCOTUS justices are … based on their rulings.

As near as I can tell, the measure is uncontested by either ideology.

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Source

First, let’s pull some takeaways from the chart…

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Did Kavanaugh make a fatal gaffe during the FOX interview?

September 25, 2018

A couple of things that he and wife Ashley said are head-scratchers.

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First, let’s deal with the stupid (but not fatal)  “I was a  virgin” answer.

Here’s the relevant part of the transcript:

B. Kavanaugh: We’re talking about an allegation of sexual assault.

I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone.

I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years there after.

What was he thinking? Why didn’t he stop after “never assaulted anyone”?

Being a virgin (at the time)  isn’t  a compelling defense point … and opens Kavanaugh up to ridicule and dispute.

It was a totally unforced error that is a distraction … but, not a fatal wound.

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There was a way more serious gaffe.  If haven’t heard it called out by the pundits. See if you can spot it:

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Where in the world is Dr. Ford?

September 25, 2018

Odds dropping that she’ll post at Thursday’s Senate hearing.
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Trending are speculations that Dr. Ford will be a no-show on Thursday.

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Her lawyers’ are griping that Grassley is “bullying” by bringing in an experienced sex crimes prosecutor to do the questioning.

I find that odd since their battle cry is “FBI investigation” … that they want unbiased law enforcement to dig deep into the case.

Perhaps Grassley should commission an experienced prosecutor who is a former FBI agent to do the questioning.

That would flatten out the surf…

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A few other pivotal observations that you might have missed….

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Justice Amy Coney Barrett !

September 24, 2018

Kavanaugh is toast … and, she’s the likely nomination.
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The new allegations reported in the New Yorker are likely  fatal to Kavanaugh’s nomination.

They’re everything that the Ford accusations weren’t:  heavy on details with specific time and place; eyewitnesses; contemporaneous word-of-mouth.  See the  New Yorker article for the graphic details.

I thought that Kavanaugh would survive Ford’s suspiciously-timed, gap-filled, uncorroborated charges.  In fact, I thought the odds were less than 50/50 that Ford would show up to testify this week.

But, these new accusations are a game-changer.

Hard to imagine Kavanaugh surviving this onslaught.  I expect that his nomination will be withdrawn.

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So, let’s advance the story and anticipate the next steps…

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OMG: Is Spartacus’ presidential bid doomed?

September 21, 2018

By his own account, Booker is guilty!
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Here’s a gut-check for for Democratic moralists.

I initially wrote “integrity check” but quickly realized how silly that would sound.

Let’s assume for a moment that Kavanaugh is guilty of the unproven and unsubstantiated allegations.

And, let’s accept the premise that unwanted groping is – at any age – attempted rape.

And, let’s conclude that attempted rape is disqualifying for the highest offices in the U.S. government.

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OK, that disqualifies Kavanaugh for the SCOTUS.

But, it also disqualifies Sen. Booker for the presidency.

Here’s the story

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Scientifically speaking, should the accuser be expected to remember when and where?

September 20, 2018

First, the disclaimers: On balance, I support Kavanaugh for the SCOTUS (though he wasn’t my first choice) … and, I’m not a psychologist.

But, over the years, I’ve done a lot of reading on how  brains work … largely focused on how students students learn – cognitively and mechanically.

So, politics aside, I found the accuser’s story (as reported to the WaPo) to be curious … mostly because of the self-admitted memory gaps … e.g what year the alleged  incident took place? where the incident took place? who else was present?

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The cable coverage has been predictably biased on the question of how much an accuser should be able to recall … cherry-picking folks who fit their respective narratives.

CNN/MSNBC have rolled out experts arguing that memories of traumatic events are usually vague, fragmented and incomplete. Think: fog of war.

FOX has presented rape victims who claim precise recall of all sights, sounds and smells from start-to-finish. Think: mechanical evidence gathering.

Note: I do channel-switch to hear both sides.  If you don’t, try it to get a more complete picture.

I wanted a more scientific treatment, so I did some digging.

Here’s what I found…

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A simple, fast way to move forward on the Kavanaugh allegations…

September 19, 2018

Let’s recap …

The Dems wanted her story told.

GOP said okay. Put it on next Monday’s schedule – public or private.

Dems say: not until a full FBI investigation is conducted.

Say, what?

FBI has already said that’s outside their scope and isn’t going to happen.

So, what to do?

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Here’s my idea…

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Justice Amy Coney Barrett ?

September 17, 2018

Dems may win the battle but lose the war … vice versa for the GOP
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It’ll be an interesting couple of news cycles as the Kavanaugh accusations either get substantiated or vaporize.

My initial take:  the allegations are serious but the case details are sketchy and the timing is suspicious.

In a court of law, I’d rather be Kavanaugh’s attorney since (a) the allegations go back 35 years (to high school!); (b) the accuser’s memory is fuzzy (e.g. where was the party held?) (c) no corroborators have stepped forward or have been discovered (who else attended the party?); (d) no other accusers have stepped forward to implicate a pattern of behavior; (e) first disclosure was made 30 years after-the-fact to a marital counselor.

But, in the court of public opinion – where accusation and verdict are synonymous and facts are fungible – I’d rather be the accuser’s attorney.

The quasi-legal situation should play out in warp speed over the next couple of days.

Today, let’s look at the politics…

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What will be remembered about the Kavanaugh hearings?

September 13, 2018

Now that the dust has settled a bit, let’s pause and reflect on what happened last week.

I think it’s commonly accepted that no votes were changed … GOP senators will vote ‘yea’; Dems will vote ‘nay’ (save for the couple of Trump-state Dems running for re-election) … and Kavanaugh will fill the vacant 9th spot on the SCOTUS.

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Historically, SCOTUS hearings have only 1 or 2 memorable takeaways.

For example, Robert Bork was uncivilly ‘Borked’ … though most people can’t recall the incendiary issue.

Answer: Bork was characterized as being callous to protecting people’s privacy (think: wire taps)

Clarence Thomas was characterized as “Long John Dong” — a misogynist who alleged told dirty jokes in the presence of women.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been cited in every subsequent hearing for the “Ginsburg Rule” that shields judicial candidates from answering hypothetical questions or ones related to cases that may come before the court.

So, what will be remembered about the Kavanaugh hearings?

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Ben Sasse rises above the fray…

September 10, 2018

He and Kavanaugh seemed like the only adults in the room last week.
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Not sure if that’s a benefit or a liability of being retired, but I had the TV on for much of the Kavanaugh hearings last week.

Save for the hilarity of Sen. Booker’s “Spartacus Moment”,  most of the proceedings were predictable histrionics and talking points (from both sides).

I was impressed with Kavanaugh’s ability to “take a punch”. (<= one of my highest commendations).

The only other “actor” who made me spin my chair around was Sen Ben Sasse.

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I’d barely noticed Sasse before … but his opening remarks resonated with me.

Rather than laundry-listing political talking points, Sasse took Congress to task for failing to address difficult issues and “punting” rather than legislating.

Here are a couple of snippets from Sasse’s opening remarks…

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