Friday, September 28, 2018


Is Kavanaugh's indignation at the character assassination at odds with judicial temperament? Take a couple of cliche counterexamples:

It's routinely said that a lawyer shouldn't represent himself if the lawyer is accused. That's because a lawyer will lack the same detachment when he's a defendant. That doesn't mean  he lacks detachment when representing a client.

Likewise, it's routinely said that a doctor shouldn't treat his own family for a dangerous medical condition because he's too emotionally invested in his own family to make dispassionate medical judgments. That doesn't mean he lacks the critical detachment to treat patients who aren't that close to him. 


  1. At the same time, what about Ford's "indignation"? Why does her "indignation" get a pass when Kavanaugh's doesn't? Why don't her emotional pleas and the like make her unfit to be a psychologist? Shouldn't a psychologist be even-tempered and level-headed?

    If Ford has been almost raped, then what about Kavanaugh who has been "raped" by the likes of Diane Feinstein, the Democrats, the media, etc.?

  2. If you want to make a case for your fitness for the office, you probably shouldn't come off as a hostile jerk and you probably shouldn't, due to lack of self-control, indicate that your ability to impartially judge cases to come on the merits has been compromised by rage against the liberal machine.

    Furthermore, it's not a good look to give dubious, questionable answers to explain evidence of your boozy past. Devil's triangle is not a quarters game in any world except Kavanaugh's, nor is boofing farting. Weak stomach excuses for ralphing around beer consumption is garbage. Kavanaugh lied. He may not be lying about Ford, but he is most definitely lying about his boozy past and there are a multitude of witnesses testifying to that fact. Republicans, no less.

    Guilty of sexual assault, or not, Kavanaugh is NOT qualified for this office. He is dishonest and he clearly has a vendetta after these proceedings.

    1. Yes, you're right, how dare someone be indignant that they've been condemned without evidence of a horrendous crime. I mean, really, just jail him for it.

    2. SDG,

      i) Your first paragraph simply ignores the counterexamples I gave.

      ii) He's been a sitting judge for a dozen years. The test of whether his has a judicial temperament is his track record as a judge.

      iii) As for lying, that depends. If he committed sexual assault, then the primary problem is not that he lies about it, but that he did it in the first place.

      If, however, he's lowballing innocuous high school drinking because Democrats will unfairly and hypocritically use that to disqualify him, then that doesn't trouble me. If people use your honesty as a weapon to harm you, even when you did nothing relevantly wrong, why play into their hands?

    3. The idea that Kavanaugh was a drunk throughout high school and college seems highly unlikely, given his academic excellence.

    4. Steve Hays Robert A. J. Gagnon, you've attended two Ivy League institutions. In your personal observation, are there top students who drink to excess at Fri-Sat parties, but turn it off during the week to make the grade? Put another way, if a student has a serious drinking problem at an elite university, will that make him less academically competitive?

      Robert A. J. Gagnon There were Fri-Sat heavy drinkers who could perform well academically the rest of the week, though normally heavy drinking was associated with lower academic performance. At the same time all students enrolled were high academic achievers.

    5. Steve,

      i.) Your counter examples are largely uncompelling. Kavanaugh's statements went well beyond issues of detachment for lawyers and doctors, but rather reflected a political animus aimed at the left that belies a newfound inability to see future cases outside of that lens. That's not to say I don't blame him, but furiously peddling an (ironically) unprovable allegation about a conspiracy on the left doesn't speak to a man who will be able to be impartial to the necessary degree required for the office.

      ii.)His track record as a judge in the past doesn't reflect the life-changing ordeal he has been through. His testimony reflects where he currently is and that's not in a remotely impartial place. Perhaps that will change, I don't think so.

      iii.) Lowballing is a soft description. Call it what it is. He's lying to cover the depth of his abuse of alcohol because it calls his credibility into question.

      You are correct, whether or not he sexually assaulted Ford is the primary problem, but that doesn't eliminate other problems. Like a man who won't be honest in defending himself against allegations. Honesty is an important quality for someone who is supposed to be in the business of executing justice.

    6. SDG

      "about a conspiracy on the left"

      1. I don't recall Kavanaugh saying there was a "conspiracy", but it's possible I missed it.

      2. At the very least, it seems obvious the left has made a concerted effort to smear Kavanaugh as best as they can in order to keep him from the nomination. I'd say that's enough to justify Kavanaugh's statement.

      3. If there's anger, then why couldn't it be "righteous" anger?

      "Honesty is an important quality for someone who is supposed to be in the business of executing justice."

      1. Has it ever been proven beyond reasonable doubt that Kavanaugh is lying or being dishonest? If not, then why assume he's dishonest? Why not withhold judgment?

      2. Sure, it'd be ideal to have an honest judge. However, we live in reality, not Perfectville.

      If another conservative nominee is offered, the Democrats will find a way to smear him or her too. After all, if a man like Kavanaugh can be smeared, then so can practically anyone.

      And if Democrats win by this tactic, then it only emboldens them to use it all the more.

      3. I suspect you've fallen into some of the left's traps. For example, Ben Shapiro points out these traps the left likes to use:

      Frame Your Opponent "I have argued that the left's entire playbook consists of a single play: characterizing the opposition. It's incredibly effective. And the only way to get beyond character arguments is to frame your opponent – make it toxic for your opponent to slur you. Then, hopefully, you can move the debate to more substantive territory. This is the vital first step. It is the only first step...There is no way to convince someone that you don't hate him or her. You can convince him or her, however, that your opposition is a liar and a hater."

      Frame the Debate "As a general matter, the left's favorite three lines of attack are (1) you're stupid; (2) you're mean; (3) you're corrupt. Sarah Palin is supposedly stupid; Mitt Romney is supposedly mean; Dick Cheney is supposedly corrupt."

      4. Conservatives tend to care about having a person of good character in office. The left pays lip service to having a moral person in office when it suits them, but they care a whole lot more about having a leftist in office.

      Hence, this is our Achilles' heel: if moral deficiency is enough to disqualify a person from office, then the left knows it can make conservatives think a person is morally deficient and thus disqualify that person from office.

      By contrast, morality isn't a priority for the left. Rather, leftisim is a priority. Thus, conservatives can't sink a leftist candidate by making the left think that person is morally deficient. We're not playing the same game. The left has changed the rules.

    7. i) It's fine with me if Kavanaugh now as a personal vendetta against the liberal establishment. They went out of their way to make a powerful enemy.

      ii) I don't know what you mean by the depth of his alcohol abuse. He's not an alcoholic. And I doubt he would have been such a competitive student at an Ivy League prep school, then Yale U, then Yale law school, if he had a serious drinking problem. Is your allegation confined to whether he was a weekend party boy in high school an college? Is so, how is that germane to his current competence?

    8. I would love it if the left made Kavanaugh a personal enemy. THEY did this. They should reap it.

  3. Steve,

    i. Ok. That's an effective end to that avenue of discussion and that's fine. I get where you come from on that.

    ii. The point I'm getting at re:alcohol use, is not that alcohol use, even if excessive, is disqualifying 40 years after the fact. I'm sure he is competent and all evidence points to his having ceased from any sort of heavy drinking. The point I am trying to make is that his lies re: the nature and extent of his alcohol abuse make him dishonest. They demonstrate that he is willing to be deceptive in order to achieve his end, even if it is a noble one. That's not a quality I find attractive in a judge.

    1. Has it ever been proven beyond reasonable doubt that Kavanaugh is lying or being dishonest? If not, then why assume he's dishonest? Why not withhold judgment?

  4. EoD:

    1. Kavanaugh blasted the Democratic side of the Judiciary Committee as being engaged in a purposeful attempt to smear him so as to get him to withdraw or to have his nomination pulled. He accused Feinstein of awaiting till the 11th hour to spring this on him and of the Democrats in general of engaging in a "political hit job". They would have had to conspire together throughout the whole of this event in order for that to occur. There is no evidence that they did. Rather, there is contrary evidence that they didn't with maybe the exception of Feinstein, though evidence suggests that the outing of Ford and her allegation is the work of Ford's lawyers or of the representative Ford first contacted before Kavanaugh was even nominated.

    2. I don't think we can say with any certainty that the Democratic senators on the Committee were attempting to smear him. They didn't put forth the allegations, nor can they be tied to mining for these allegations. What they did do, was call for an investigation into those allegations. That's not smearing. I watched the entirety of the hearing and not once did they accuse him of committing these acts - they questioned him about them and called repeatedly for an investigation. Kavanaugh blustered and filibustered and gave no real answer to even legitimate meaningful questions. Rather, he was hostile, dismissive, and disruptive. It was not a good look by any stretch. One can be passionate in their own defense without acting poorly.

    3. There can be righteous anger, but that righteous anger is to be properly measured and controlled, not bridging the gap into sin.

    4.Re: Shapiro's comments. My opinion concerning Kavanaugh's behavior comes from watching the proceedings, not from listening to liberal assessments of his behavior and character. I'm not convinced he's guilty without collaborating evidence. I am convinced that he doesn't have the necessary character re: impartiality and honesty.

    i.) It's not hard to see where Kavanaugh lies re: Devil's Triangle, boofing, and ralphing. In addition, multiple classmates who reject the assault charge also reject his characterization of his drinking. We DO have corroborating witnesses that testify to his heavy drinking.

    ii.)So we just throw up our hands and say "we'll never get an honest judge, so might as well nominate a dishonest judge"? Nonsense.

    6. Sure, the left doesn't "play fair" and they aren't concerned about morality. That doesn't mean we are called to sacrifice our commitment to it. It is the response to the attempt to caricature the nominee that determines the viability of the candidate, whether senator, governor, congressman, judge, etc...I would have been fine confirming Kavanaugh even in light of the allegation if he had maintained his composure and passionately and honestly defended his integrity.

    1. Hm, I guess we have almost opposite interpretations of what happened and what didn't happen despite watching much of the same material. At least I certainly didn't come away with the conclusions about Kavanaugh you've come away with. Not sure what explains our differences.

      Also, I think there's a way of asking questions that on the face of it seems innocuous but the questions themselves are anything but.

      I'll have to write more later after I get a freer moment.

    2. Looks like Steve Hays said it better than I ever could:

    3. "Kavanaugh blasted the Democratic side of the Judiciary Committee as being engaged in a purposeful attempt to smear him so as to get him to withdraw or to have his nomination pulled."

      Seems to me that he's got great powers of observation.

  5. These two statements: "he lacks detachment when representing a client," and
    "he's too emotionally invested in his own family to make dispassionate medical judgments,"
    are known as the 'affect bias.' Dr. Jerome Groopman talks about its dangers to doctors and their patients in his book How Doctors Think.

    1. Slight correction: I think Groopman terms it "affective error", not "affect bias", in How Doctors Think.

      More to the point, I think there is some overlap with Groopman's affective error and what you say, but I don't think affective error is necessarily always identical or equivalent to what you say.

      Here are a couple of excerpts from Groopman's book:

      "We all tend to prefer what we hope will happen to the less appealing alternatives; this natural tendency is termed 'affective error.' We also lull ourselves into thinking that what we wish for will occur when we get the first inkling, however fragmentary, that our wish may come true. In short, we value too highly information that fulfills our desires."

      "Affective error resembles confirmation bias in selectively surveying the data. The former is driven by a wish for a certain outcome, the latter driven by the expectation that your initial diagnosis was correct, even if it was bad for the patient."

    2. Thanks for the correction. Groopman draws heavily from Tversky and Kahneman--they name it the 'affect heuristic.' The difference between a heuristic (rule-of-thumb, or mental shortcut) and a bias is very slight: an error that results from the use of a heuristic is called a cognitive bias. Though it should be noted that not every heuristic leads to a bias.
      An 'affect bias' results when the availability heuristic brings forward the more readily accessed ("available") emotions instead of a more deliberate 'rational' means. For instance, a doctor advises a close friend to forgo an expensive yet prudent diagnostic test, merely to save his friend discomfort and money. Were the patient not so beloved, the doctor would more objectively order the test.
      As a financial professional I can attest that mistakes are more likely when a client is a personal friend (esp. with unreasonable expectations), which might cause one to override routine precautions.

    3. Thanks, RJ Patten. I'm in med, and I have an interest in oncology (Groopman is an oncologist), so it's an interesting topic for me.

      I suspect different groups of professionals (e.g. physicians, financial professionals, statisticians) may have slight differences or at least emphases in how such terms are used.