A Test of This Particular Time

Woody Allen did something right. There’s Satchel Ronan O’Sullivan Farrow – the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen – named after the famous black baseball pitcher Satchel Paige – the actress Maureen O’Sullivan was his maternal grandmother – Ronan is Irish. Bard College – a B.A. in philosophy at fifteen – a J.D. from Yale Law School. He’s a member of the New York Bar. He began a Rhodes Scholarship at Magdalen College, Oxford. He studied toward a Doctor of Philosophy there, researching the exploitation of the poor in developing countries. In the middle of all that he was a UNICEF Spokesperson for Youth, and then joined the Obama administration as Special Adviser for Humanitarian and NGO Affairs in the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He worked for Richard Holbrooke on that, and then he was appointed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as her Special Adviser for Global Youth Issues and Director of the State Department’s Office of Global Youth Issues.

And then Obama was gone and Trump was in charge. Ronan Farrow became a journalist. His articles in the New Yorker uncovered the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations. He took down Harvey Weinstein. Then he took down Eric Schneiderman. And then he took down Les Moonves. Ronan Farrow has a nose for sex scandals.

He should. Mia Farrow was never marred to Woody Allen. She had married André Previn, and they adopted Soon-Yi Previn, a little girl from the slums of Seoul. Woody Allen later hit on her – he was in his late fifties – but he finally did marry the then barely-of-age adopted daughter of his ex-lover. He made her an honest woman. That was a little creepy but no one should have been surprised. There was Manhattan (1978) – his hit movie about a man in his late fifties in love with a seventeen-year-old sweet young thing – as if that were the most natural thing in the world and kind of cool.

That doesn’t seem cool now. Nothing about Woody Allen seems cool now. His son is the cool one now. Mia Farrow has hinted that Frank Sinatra could have been her son Ronan’s biological father. Ronan Farrow probably wishes that were so.

Ronan Farrow will never turn into his father. He proved that again. From Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer in The New Yorker now it’s Senate Democrats Investigate a New Allegation of Sexual Misconduct, from Brett Kavanaugh’s College Years:

The claim dates to the 1983-84 academic school year, when Kavanaugh was a freshman at Yale University. The offices of at least four Democratic senators have received information about the allegation, and at least two have begun investigating it. Senior Republican staffers also learned of the allegation last week and, in conversations with The New Yorker, expressed concern about its potential impact on Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote.

They want this guy on the Supreme Court. Senior Republican staffers knew all about this new stuff and decided to plow ahead anyway, in spite of this stuff:

The woman at the center of the story, Deborah Ramirez, who is fifty-three, attended Yale with Kavanaugh, where she studied sociology and psychology. Later, she spent years working for an organization that supports victims of domestic violence. The New Yorker contacted Ramirez after learning of her possible involvement in an incident involving Kavanaugh. The allegation was conveyed to Democratic senators by a civil-rights lawyer. For Ramirez, the sudden attention has been unwelcome, and prompted difficult choices. She was at first hesitant to speak publicly, partly because her memories contained gaps because she had been drinking at the time of the alleged incident. In her initial conversations with The New Yorker, she was reluctant to characterize Kavanaugh’s role in the alleged incident with certainty. After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. Ramirez is now calling for the FBI to investigate Kavanaugh’s role in the incident. “I would think an FBI investigation would be warranted,” she said.

In a statement, Kavanaugh wrote, “This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name – and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building – against these last-minute allegations.”

He is unhappy with Satchel-Ronan here. But there are worse details buried deep in the story. One is Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s alleged accomplice in the incident with the Ford woman, apparently admitting, to a girlfriend in college, what sounds like a gang rape he participated in, in high school:

After seeing Judge’s denial, Elizabeth Rasor, who met Judge at Catholic University and was in a relationship with him for about three years, said that she felt morally obligated to challenge his account that ” ‘no horseplay’ took place at Georgetown Prep with women.” Rasor stressed that “under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t reveal information that was told in confidence,” but, she said, “I can’t stand by and watch him lie.” In an interview with The New Yorker, she said, “Mark told me a very different story.” Rasor recalled that Judge had told her ashamedly of an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunken woman. Rasor said that Judge seemed to regard it as fully consensual. She said that Judge did not name others involved in the incident, and she has no knowledge that Kavanaugh participated. But Rasor was disturbed by the story and noted that it undercut Judge’s protestations about the sexual innocence of Georgetown Prep.

Woody Allen’s son really is making up for his creepy father, by exposing these creeps, but Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti wants in on this:

I represent a woman with credible information regarding Judge Kavanaugh and Mark Judge. We will be demanding the opportunity to present testimony to the committee and will likewise be demanding that Judge and others be subpoenaed to testify. The nomination must be withdrawn.

Axios puts that in context:

Avenatti later tweeted that he had been in contact with Mike Davis, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s chief counsel for nominations. In an email, Avenatti told Davis that his team was aware of “significant evidence” that Brett Kavanaugh, his former classmate Mark Judge and others targeted women with alcohol and drugs at parties in the 1980s in order to allow “a train” of men to take advantage of them sexually…

This all comes as Washington gears up for a planned Thursday hearing featuring Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who first accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault in the 1980s and alleges that Judge was in the room when it happened.

That hearing may not happen:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called late Sunday for a delay in further consideration of Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh after a second woman accused him of sexual misconduct.

“I am writing to request an immediate postponement of any further proceedings related to the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh,” Feinstein (Calif.) wrote in a letter to Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee’s chairman.

Her letter came after the New Yorker magazine reported that Deborah Ramirez, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale University, said he exposed himself at a party when they were both first-year students.

Ramirez, who told the magazine that they both had been drinking at the time of the incident, acknowledged some gaps in her memory but said she remembered another student shouting Kavanaugh’s name.

But this was all happening too fast:

Grassley did not immediately respond to Feinstein’s call for a delay. Spokesman Taylor Foy said the majority Republican committee staff learned about Ramirez’s allegations from Sunday evening’s New Yorker article. Neither Ramirez nor her attorney have contacted the chairman’s office, Foy said, adding Democrats never informed the GOP staff of these allegations.

Foy said the Republican committee staff learned about all this late on Sunday evening. The New Yorker says they knew about this for more than a week and had discussed all this with the New Yorker reporters, who took notes, the week before. But that may not matter. Nothing may change:

Before Ramirez’s allegation was made public, some Republican senators indicated that they were unlikely to waver in their support for Kavanaugh.

“What am I supposed to do, go and ruin this guy’s life based on an accusation?” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said on Fox News Sunday. Ford’s allegations that Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party in the early 1980s would be too thin to hold up in court, Graham said. “I don’t know when it happened, I don’t know where it happened, and everybody named in regard to being there said it didn’t happen. I’m just being honest: Unless there’s something more, no, I’m not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh’s life over this.”

Graham says he needs more information, but there’s a reason he doesn’t have more information:

Ford’s attorneys said Sunday that they agreed to the hearing despite the committee’s refusal to let her speak after Kavanaugh’s testimony, interview other people she identified as present at the party where the alleged assault took place, or ask the FBI to look into her allegations in advance of her appearance. Senate Democratic leaders sent a letter to President Trump on Sunday urging him to direct the FBI to conduct an investigation into Ford’s claims, arguing it would take only a few days.

Ford’s lawyers also said they had not been told whether the Republican senators on the committee would themselves ask Ford questions or defer to staff or an independent lawyer to question her.

That was the Sunday morning topic:

It is customary that senators ask their own questions during public hearings. But there is a potential political risk if the all-male, all-white roster of Republicans on the panel – few of whom have any experience questioning sexual assault victims – grills Ford in a way that reminds viewers of 1991, when Anita Hill told the panel that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had repeatedly sexually harassed her. Thomas was confirmed.

“The Anita Hill hearing was a disaster, but they did have an FBI investigation; they did have other witnesses,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, charging that Republican senators had “predetermined the outcome” and set up a “he said, she said” showdown around Ford’s allegations.

“The Senate, Congress, failed the test in 1991,” Murray continued. “How the Senate handles this, and how the Senate Republicans handle this, will be a test of this time, in 2018, in the ‘Me Too’ movement, can we do better? And I feel we are failing that if we don’t do it correctly.”

This may be a test of this particular time, 2018, as if things have changed over the years, but the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker and Robert Costa see what cannot change:

The Republican Party’s fight to save President Trump’s embattled Supreme Court nominee amid allegations of sexual assault has surfaced deep anxieties over the hyper-masculine mind-set that has come to define the GOP in the nation’s roiling gender debate.

The images are striking: The specter of Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee – all 11 of them men – questioning U.S. Appeals Court Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s female accuser. A senior GOP aide working on the confirmation resigning amid his own sexual harassment allegations – a viral photo of “women for Kavanaugh” featuring more men than women – a South Carolina Republican congressman making a crude joke about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg being groped by Abraham Lincoln.

And then there is the party’s id, Trump, who as a candidate denied more than a dozen accusations of sexual assault and harassment and sought to silence and to retaliate against his accusers – and who as president has defended one accused man after another.

Rucker and Parker and Costa see two ways of seeing this particular time:

Democrats have embraced the #MeToo movement to galvanize female voters and attempt to lift scores of female candidates to victory in November’s midterm elections. A growing number of Democratic women are also considering presidential campaigns in 2020.

By contrast, strategists in both parties say Trump’s agenda and style – and the fact that the GOP leadership stands mostly in lockstep with him – are undoing years of often painstaking work by party leaders to court more female and minority voters.

Trump risks solidiying the Republican Party as the party of men.

That does have its risks:

Though he is not on the ballot this fall, he is framing the midterm elections as a referendum on his presidency, and that has leaders and operatives in the party fearing what GOP strategist Alex Castellanos termed a “pink wave” of women powering a Democratic takeover of the House and perhaps the Senate to deliver a rebuke to Trump.

“The antipathy to Trump from women – college-educated, white, suburban women – transcends anything I’ve ever seen in politics,” Castellanos said. “And it’s not just against Trump’s policies, of course. It’s against Trump as the 1960s ‘Mad Men’ alpha male. It’s Trump who grabbed women where he shouldn’t. Women are coming out to vote against Donald Trump because they see him as a culturally regressive force that would undo the women’s march to equality.”

No good will come of this:

Trump is the embodiment of his political base’s instincts, grievances and worldview, roaring about what he sees as injustice against accused men and pulling his party along with him.

“Everything about this kind of encapsulates in one moment the problem the Republican Party has with women, ranging from it being male-dominated – with Trump’s Cabinet and the Republican leadership in Congress – to issues of dismissing women who experienced harassment and assault with typical kinds of victim blaming,” Democratic pollster Anna Greenberg said.

But that just might be the whole idea:

The ideological currents of conservatism have tilted toward a defense of men. Self-described “men’s rights activists,” who say men are being oppressed by federal law and society, have become widely read on the right. Jordan Peterson, a University of Toronto psychology professor, has gained global celebrity for his call to action to support men.

Among younger conservatives, some of the most popular political figures are defenders of traditional gender norms, including commentators Ben Shapiro and Charlie Kirk. Shapiro has signed on with Fox News Channel to produce a weekend program, while Kirk is close with the Trump family and recently appeared on the cover of the Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine.

“Good men must teach their sons the art of manliness, or societies crumble,” Shapiro wrote in Newsweek this year.

Perhaps so, but that might be inevitable:

The shifts in partisanship coincide with a gender divide on Trump’s popularity. The president’s approval rating has averaged 13 percentage points higher among men than among women, 45 percent to 32 percent in Post-ABC polling since April 2017.

“What we did in the 2016 election is trade fast-growing, well-educated suburban counties for slower-growing, less-well-educated small-town and rural counties,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres said. “That worked for Donald Trump in 2016, by the hair of his chinny chin-chin, but it’s not a formula for long-term success.”

On the other hand, there is this:

To attend one of Trump’s boisterous “Make America Great Again” rallies is to see that scores of women have not allowed the #MeToo reckoning to dampen their enthusiasm for Trump or their belief in whatever he tells them.

Melina Palken, 60, a retired Army physician who raises sheep and dairy cows, drove 16 hours from her home in Elk City, Idaho, to see Trump on stage in Las Vegas on Thursday night. Asked about the Kavanaugh allegations, she said, “Oh, my God, you have to live under a rock to not know that man is the sweetest ever and he would never do anything like that to women.”

Palken added: “He’s, like, pure as the driven snow.”

On the other hand, there’s Jennifer Weiner:

Clarence Thomas sits on the Supreme Court, and in the White House sits a man who confessed on tape to how he was “automatically” attracted to pretty women and just starts to kiss them when he sees them, and how “when you’re a star, they let you do it.” Now that president has picked his own Supreme Court nominee, a man who, as a young lawyer, worked with Ken Starr to expose President Bill Clinton’s affair with an intern. A man who has now been accused of assaulting a young girl at a party when they were both in high school. A man whom President Trump is defending on social media, tweeting, “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents.”

As a woman, as a loving parent myself, I am angry. I’m beyond angry. As the spectacle of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination unfolds, I find myself caught in the undertow of bad memories, stuck in a simmer of rage. My hands furl into fists. My jaw clenches. My teeth grind in the night. I send my daughters out into the world each day, with a wave and a smile, and then I come inside and want to cry out of fury and frustration, because the world has not changed fast enough. It’s one thing to say #MeToo, but if I find out it’s them, too, I can picture myself hunting down the man who hurt them and dismembering him with my fingernails and burning the whole world down.

Weiner remembers:

When Clarence Thomas won his seat, I felt like someone had taken an eraser to the core of my being, and had rubbed a bit of me away. I felt diminished, a little less real and, certainly, a lot less likely to be believed if I had anything to say about male colleagues.

And now it’s this:

Women aren’t supposed to want revenge any more than we’re supposed to be angry. It’s not socially approved, not attractive, not ladylike. We swallow our pain and keep our own behavior exemplary while excusing the bad behavior of others, knowing, from examples like Professor Hill’s, what could happen if we speak up, and what we stand to lose.

Do men know how to be sorry? Do they have any notion of how to fix what they’ve broken, or what it would take to repair the damage they’ve wrought? And could women seek revenge? Do we even know how?

That seems to be the test of this particular time – how to fix what’s broken – how to repair the damage. Ronan Farrow had a rather creepy father who may have done a lot of cultural damage. Ronan Farrow tries to fix what’s broken. He digs deep and finds out what was going on, and what is going on, and reports that. He has brought down some nasty people, but there are so many of them still out there, and there are those who are now beyond anger. There are more of those every day. The test of this particular time will be whether things finally explode.

Could women seek revenge? Yes.

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About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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2 Responses to A Test of This Particular Time

  1. Mia Farrow was never married to Woody Allen. And she was married to Andre Previn before she was with Woody; she divorced Previn a year before hooking up with Allen.

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