The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age

    Memories of my Yale blackout.


    Yesterday I said I'd eat my hat if Kavanaugh were not in fact confirmed and now I wouldn't bet a nickle that he will be confirmed. My comment yesterday was before Jeff Flake, in a heartfelt moment, did the right thing to slow down the confirmation process by insisting on at least a cursory FBI investigation of current credible allegations against Kavanaugh. One fact that was not clarified in the hearing was that one does in fact remember black out incidents---because of the very odd feeling when you actually wake up. I remember that I blacked out, once at Yale from drinking, and once much later in life--- two days after my son was born.

    It was senior year and I woke up in the early evening on a fraternity house couch. I remember some friends were looking down at me, "Hey, Oxy, it's time to wake up, we're supposed to sing". I can't remember which frat house, I didn't belong to one. I know it wasn't the Deke House because I didn't like that frat house and my strong opinion was that the Dekes were, universally, jerks. If I had a list of frat houses I could remember---oh, wait, my memory is coming back, there was a "St" in the name.

    Waking up on a couch in a strange place and seeing friends is what I remember specifically. The last thing I remember about the prior events was sitting on the bleachers in Yale bowl at half-time during a Princeton-Yale game.  If I had a list of the years Princeton was at Yale, it would help my memory. Oh wait, I remember I had been drinking from a square whiskey bottle. I think I had a date that weekend but I can't be sure. If I could see some Smith College yearbooks from the period, it might bring my memory back. I have no idea how I got from the game to St. Anthony's---there you go.

    I hate to reveal this, but I watch cheap crime T.V. and because no one here probably ever does that, let me explain that in many cases, the perps claim to have blacked out. This is usually a second line of defense when it looks like they might go down for Murder 1 and a cop with a beer gut who wants to save the state from an expensive, possibly sensational trial, suggests a rage instance where the perp blacks out and commits a horrible act---which then leads to a plea to Man 1 or 2. No need for a bunch of histrionics in a court room. Just get this thing over with. Do the time and move on. You can still lead your life and maybe get your old job back.

    Because of my second blackout, I believe rage blackouts are possible. Again, what is significant is the startling feeling when you wake up. Note, I didn't kill anyone or grind my hips against anyone. And by then I didn't enjoy drinking at all---and never beer, which gives me indigestion. 

    After my son's birth my wife was having some discomforts, we had to go back to the hospital, came back home, I hadn't slept in two or three days. I went to the local pharmacy to fill a prescription for her. The clerk was behind the counter, in fact she was behind a cage behind a counter.  I gave her my credit card. I was taking a break from my University job running a student services center and must have forgotten a payment or two. The last thing I remember was her saying she was cutting up my credit card and couldn't fill the prescription. When I woke up I was standing behind the counter and a cop was talking to me. The clerk was standing nearby. How I got back behind that counter I'll never know. I guess they both understood my stress because I wasn't charged and went home to find some cash.

    As Kavanaugh's room mates appeared on T.V. last night and talked about Lawrence Hall and Kavanaugh's choice to claim choir boy status as a kind of defense against his being a sloppy drunk while at Yale, I felt the first small pangs of sympathy for him. I think he has been lying and he is going to go through more hell than he ever imagined. I wish that at least he would have been honest about the kind of character that is associated with ass wipes at certain fraternity houses, present company excluded. Perhaps Kavanaugh should just plead Blackout 1 or Blackout 2 and we can end this tragic event in our history, bring justice to Dr. Ford and others, and raise the issues of sexual assault and truth telling to a new and better understanding---instead of the reverse.

    Ah, St. Anthony Hall.  Remember it well. Now for those Smith yearbooks.



    What is so interesting about memory recovery is that I had no recollection of the name of the place, St. Anthony Hall,  until I wrote this. 

    Yeah it gets stranger as one gets older, doesn't it? I just figure it's like the library has too many books in it and they no longer get filed correctly and it's a messy job finding stuff.

    Hey, Arta. And under proper questioning, a ton of stuff is going to continually come out from witnesses. I was especially convinced by the two women on O'Donnell last night. And the fact is that if Kavanaugh hadn't lied about his character back then, they might not have come forward. Pride go-eth before the fall.

    This line is clarifying to me Kavanaugh's choice to claim choir boy status as a kind of defense against his being a sloppy drunk while at Yale, I didn't think of it that way, didn't even see the absurdity.

    And that got me thinking: I guess I didn't think of it that way because I got used to living with an alcoholic and his reasoning. And you stop trying to analyze it and just go "oh the demon is here" and no longer expect rational talk.

    I was kinda of planning not to go there in commenting on Kavanaugh, to the alcoholism thing, because I thought: it doesn't really matter, the reason for the scary temperament, just that it's there. And one cannot really tell from just short term experience with the person's behavior. But I will say that it was definitely recognizable to anyone who has experienced the receiving end of severe alcoholism. It's the possessed by a demon thing with the illogic and the absurd excuses and stories and the bragging etc. etc. etc.

    I suppose I haven't much experience with men who aren't alcoholics in that state of anger, so I wouldn't know for sure.

    My dad was congenial when drunk, which was a lot of the time, and he was a Kentucky guy who sipped from bourbon during the day, which we kids knew but the casual observer would not have picked up on. My Dad could be belligerent when he was sober. Kavanaugh's behavior pattern during the hearing was very disturbing to me, aside from what he actually said. 

    Arta, a good article on "male rage" just popped up on WAPO, byline Nussbaum. I think Republicans are going to rue the day they band-wagon-ed onto Kavanaugh's temper display.

    Found it, here's the link, thank you. I have actually long been interested in the topic apart from alcoholism, since I a couple of decades ago I saw a 60 Minutes program or some such about men who suffered from extremely bad tempers. I.E., road rage, wife beating, that kind of thing. The show was very strikingly about how a segment of those with such problems could easily be "cured" when given the correct neuro-psycho pharmaceuticals. It was the kind of show with a point so striking that it wasn't easy to forget.  Suggesting that it is a hormonal thing that no one understands well yet. Certainly the problem is one that women, exhibit much more rarely....unless they are "butch" type women, that is. Now it could still be nurture rather than nature, but I suspect it is more the latter when you have actually come in contact with a true extreme "road rage" type.

    Hmmm, I seem to recall some women with some big drunken tempers, not butch. THink it's more how they channel it, and certainly women tend to be weaker if an altercation does happen, so they take road rage out in a different way than a man might. But I think it's mostly that women simply don't tend to drink as much, or didn't would have to update standards.

    As for the post-coital comedown, I think it can happen to both sides (especially for women if it hasn't been quite coital finalis, but not only - tell me if I'm wrong, not that arguing with Adam Smith seems a winning proposition under any circumstances)

    Arta, thanks for the link. 

    The NYTimes has on same meme: Kavanaugh Borrows From Trump’s Playbook on White Male Anger

    By Jeremy W. Peters and Susan Chira, Sept. 29, 2018

    Tony Gardner, a 60-year-old retired pipe fitter from Robbinsdale, Minn., flipped on Fox News on Thursday to watch Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh indignantly defend himself against an accusation of sexual assault from decades ago. If anything, Mr. Gardner said, Judge Kavanaugh was “too timid” in trying to refute the claims and fight back against senators examining his fitness for the Supreme Court.

    “He’s probably perfect for the job, but the questions they’re asking are the wrong ones,” said Mr. Gardner, a supporter of President Trump. “How will he judge? Not, did he feel up a woman when he was 18? I don’t know any guy who didn’t feel up a woman when he was 18.” (Judge Kavanaugh was accused of forcing himself on Christine Blasey Ford when they were teenagers.)

    For many conservatives, especially white men who share Mr. Trump’s contempt for the left and his use of divisive remarks, the clash over Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation has become a rallying cry against a liberal order that, they argue, is hostile to their individual rights, political power and social status. Judge Kavanaugh’s claim that Democrats wielded the sexual assault allegation to try to sink his nomination has been fiercely disputed on the left, but resonated among conservatives suspicious that the real agenda is to hurt the president.

    Judge Kavanaugh’s furious denials of the allegation and his tirade before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday also underscore how Mr. Trump’s own angry rhetorical defenses of himself — including his insistent dismissals and demeaning insults in response to sexual misconduct accusations against him — have become such an effective playbook with the Republican base. Republican politicians now regularly portray critics, Democrats, the news media and even people making allegations of sexual misconduct as liars or fakes, and strike aggrieved tones as they present themselves as victims of conspiracies or leftist cabals [....]

    I had plenty of blackout drunks from living above a bar, as a musician etc.
    Woke up 1 time at the foot of my bed, roommates put me there apparently.
    Did lots of dumbass things well into 30's (especially earlier when drunk driving wasn't as taboo).
    That said, what I drink anymore is typically my 1 or 2 beers (Euro size half liters),
    but not drinking every day by any means.
    Nothing much changed, aside from marriage & then kids, which changes
    your window of opportunity (especially if not doing a lot of work travel).
    Just in case people think binge drinking younger means alcoholic forever,
    nope, just was an enthusiast of that along with an enthusiast of so many other things,
    even blogging. Managed to avoid doing the too self-destructive hobbies for too extended a stretch.

    Anyway, the customs have changed over the decades, among other things.

    Hey, Peracles. I haven't been here for two years, so belated congrats on your headliner status. Well deserved.


    Deserved or not, I painted it on when they weren't looking and it stuck.

    I think this is the story with most of us, some more some less. I had a few blackouts in my early 20's too. Even if we believe Kavanaugh was a friendly and respectful drunk he was a heavy drinker so the idea that he never had blackouts is a lie. Just one of many lies he told under oath. Lies he didn't need to tell. Casual lies. 

    This is the thing I've found so interesting about the job I've worked for the last 8 years. The stupid and casual lying of the visitors when I have to deal with them breaking the rules. They do it so quickly and so easily. Obvious lies that no one would ever believe. I'm no saint and I've lied. But not like this. Only when I feel forced to by government employees or the cops.

    Obvious lies that no one would ever believe.

    Well said, good description.

    And that happens to be one of the classic symptom of alcoholism, it's even in all the AA book stories, it is one thing I recognized.

    Again, I'm not saying one can diagnose alcoholism this way, as other people show these signs. Just saying that in his rants in testifying, there were many many aspects, including other things like facial expressions and gestures, the puzzled angry victim thing, that those who have spent time with serious alcoholics recognize as very familiar.

    Hey, Kat. Right, the casual, or ancillary maybe, lying is really interesting here with Kavanaugh. I noticed in his Fox interview after he denied having young sex, he added, '....or anything close to it", which was just gratuitous. Seems it opens a whole line of questioning. What does he mean by his amplifying remark---which is sometimes an indication of guilt.

    Just want to assure you that if I was bit by rattlesnake at your ghost town, I would lie about that for a few big. 

    /laughs Why would you lie about that? I'd be screaming, "Holy shit! I'm bit by a rattle snake. HELP!" 

    I'm talking about silly shit. A few weeks ago someone came in late one night. I stopped them, told them we were closed. That's why the gate was closed. They said the gate was wide open when they came in. I considered that possible. I didn't lock it as another visitor was staying late. I just closed it and wrapped the chain. The visitor might not have closed it when they left. I followed them back to the gate to close and lock it and when we got there, there it was closed and chain wrapped. No one will drive down a road, see a gate wide open, drive through, and for no fucking reason close it behind them and wrap the chain. Why lie? It was closed. They opened it and being some what considerate closed it behind them. Then they lied about it. Why?

    I've trespassed. There was a huge park left to grow wild in Gainsville with trails for hiking. I'd go in at night after it was closed to walk my dog. Occasionally some one was working late and I got caught. I didn't tell them I didn't know the park was closed or that I didn't know that it was wrong to climb the gate. I might have said I was sorry but usually I just let them berate me and moved on. What would be the point of lying? There was no effective lie that any sane person would believe. I don't get why some one would tell obviously unbelievable lies.

    Perhaps I'm just a better liar. Perhaps some people are just really bad at it.

    Kat, I've always enjoyed your stories of what must be an enchanting and unusual place. Me, I'm out in the sticks near the Red River in Texas.  Occasionally I can imagine the original native American culture here, the making of the unique long bows used, the wild life. I'm still managing a business, and using spare time to chase feral hogs out of my pasture or doing woodworking projects. 

    Another kinda Yale blackout, where you remake your narrative as a bootstraping meritocrat:

    Actually, that is astounding that Kavanaugh would have made such a false claim.

    It's true, however that Increase and Cotton Mather were instrumental in the founding of "Yale", Cotton going there after a stint of duty murdering women in Salem Massachusetts. The Mathers gave Yale the inscription, "Lux et Veritas".  Well so much for the Veritas part.

    Good to see you again, Oxy Mora, and you are bringing up an important and troubling matter.

    There are things I experienced in this regard including what other people in my family experienced. There are also a lot of odd work life events where what people report is not completely wrong but missing stuff. I guess one might call it a gray out. The events are not a total blank but the file is corrupted.

    The acts we know are wrong stand in the foreground. They are just as important as the ones we cannot account for. Being a witness to oneself is a lousy job.

    Thanks Moat. Good to be back. 

    Just want to add that Amy Klobuchar got the closest to this topic during the testimony. The cool way she brought it back to the question makes me like her better than others who were there.

    Thanks for that link, that exchange is what led me along this line. And I think it might be a pivotal one. And the more you see Klobuchar's technique the smarter she looks. 

    Toward the end of the week Kavanaugh will be faced with a mountain of witness statements. And most likely he will keep denying that he was a drunk who passed out, blacked out. What if there was a picture, something like that.


    A picture, like one of Dorian Gray?
    One element that is coming out from other witnesses reporting on this particular situation is that other people were at their own borderlines of witnessing themselves while trying to figure out what was happening to other people. And that is why it is not as simple as accusing people of being bad.
    Why were you there? What did you want then? Who did you want to be?

    Dorian Gray. His early innocence in life only reclaimed in death. That's heavy. 

    I do see the possibility of a dissembling of Kavanaugh's life story.

    But even so, he might still be excused and function as a choir boy on the Supreme Court, where, even after his time, he will become a painting--- hanging not in youthful innocence, but in infamy. 

    Interesting take from the art critic who is currently famous for 15 minutes for winning a Pulitzer:

    FFFFFFFiguring out the particulars of the FBI investigation is driving me to drink. I watched 60 minutes and Flake seemed to suggest that initial interviews could 'lead" to other inquiries. A man named Charles Ludington said he will "deliver" a statement to the FBI tomorrow----but what the FFFFFphuck---does this mean dropping it off at the front desk, or submitting for the investigation. Some are saying the FBI can't delve into Kavanaugh's drinking habits, but if taken into consideration, Ludington's statement will say that Kavanaugh threw a drink at a guy, started a fight, and a mutual friend went to jail. So is this a serious investigation? I don't effing know. 

    It's simply crazy - now it's trying to find a graceful way to pull the plug for people who are anything but graceful.

    It seems that the investigation can create tangents, but time is already short.

    They don't want a serious investigation. They want a whitewash they can use to say there was a serious investigation. I think it will be difficult to do an effective whitewash. Every rock they turn over will show kavanaugh was a heavy drinker and  an aggressive and belligerent drunk who bullied his male peers and abused and humiliated female peers.

    Kat, at first I was angry with Senators for not calling out this dual personality, but in the end I think he did a lot of damage to himself. 

    Apart from the drinking, there is the issue of Kavanaugh going on a rant about Democrats and the Clintons while he was sober. He cannot be an unbiased jurist.

    rmrd, thanks for the comment. Whether any of this will soften up the other side is questionable. But the kind of partisan he is was made very clear. Actually I was surprised he was that biased.

    On the booze front, Yale classmate, Charles Ludington tells FBI that Kavanaugh was a "belligerent and aggressive" drunk.

    The article also points out:

    Nothing prevents the FBI from talking to witnesses who come forward, such as Ludington. But it's not clear what, if anything, the FBI can do with the information he provides, given that Kavanaugh's drinking at Yale is not an issue the White House has authorized the FBI to investigate.

    Meanwhile, Trump denies there are any restrictions and that it is all up to the Senate committee which is not true.
    Bartender, shots all around.

    Thanks, Moat. I'm doing a slow burn thinking that the FBI investigation is going to be a dud, despite information from key witnesses like Ludington.

    I don't have much hope but I have a little.
    White House Counsel Don can shrink the scope of allegations but cannot exclude the penumbra of corroboration and contradiction that surrounds them. So, in this case, add another grain of rice on the Ramirez side of the scale.

    Just came out that Kavanaugh was active in trying to orchestrate a defense of the Ramirez story before it came out. Yet during the hearing in relation to a question of when he first heard of the Ramirez story was "when it came out.  Oh, choir boy was orchestrating some songs for witnesses. 

    St. A's isn't really a frat

    Unverified---thanks for that, and I meant no offense. I should have cleared that up as the distinction did come to me a couple of hours after I wrote this. 

    When I started the piece I had no idea of any name, then came the "St.", followed by a blank, then came "Anthony", etc. I remember it looking like a frat house, I was sprawled on a couch, or in the least an overstuffed chair----probably borrowed from the Deke House----apologies for the association.

    Note: An "alcohol blackout", I learned last night , is an AMA term, the condition of a period of time passing (one is not in fact "passed out", or "asleep"---as Kav suggested---) you simply can't remember. During this phase, which is a blank, one could have walked (I got myself behind the pharmacy counter) driven a car, or even had sex, or not----now I remember, my date asked me to stop my Chevy in front of a gas station on Whitney Ave. so she could go to the bathroom and I never saw her again.

    Edit to add: Someone should clean up the Wikipedia page on St. A's.


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