March 11, 2023

Posted by orrinj at 2:39 PM


Judge says jury in E. Jean Carroll case can see 'Access Hollywood' tape and testimony of two other accusers (Tierney Sneed and Kara Scannell, 3/10/23, CNN)

A federal judge on Friday said that E. Jean Carroll, in her defamation case against former President Donald Trump, can use as evidence the testimony of two other sexual assault accusers as well as the "Access Hollywood" tape, in which he bragged about being able to grope women.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan rejected Trump's request that the judge block the accusers from testifying at trial. Trump also asked the judge to block the Access Hollywood tape from being played at the trial.

Carroll, the former magazine columnist who sued Trump for defamation after he denied raping her in the mid-1990s, has indicated that she will call Natasha Stoynoff and Jessica Leeds, two women who came forward with allegations against Trump in 2016, as well as use their videotaped depositions.

Posted by orrinj at 2:35 PM


Republicans Went All In On Partisan Probes -- And Have Nothing To Show (Laura Clawson, March 11 | 2023, National Memo)

"Jordan is overextended and short-staffed, biting off much more than he can chew," a former Sen. Chuck Grassley staffer tweeted in late February. "This is doomed to fail." One of the quoted tweets on that came from an EpochTV host, who added, "Is it once again all talk & no action from the GOP - this time from the Weaponization Committee?" And Fox News' Jesse Watters said, "Make me feel better, guys. Tell me this is going somewhere. Can I throw someone in prison? Can someone go to jail? Can someone get fined?" [...]

And the subcommittee's first hearings are not going to have made it easier to sell potential staffers on the career-building opportunities here. Jordan is using the hearings to float one false story and conspiracy theory after another--for instance, misquoting his own witnesses, who told Twitter that a possible hack-and-leak operation law enforcement was warning social media companies about might involve Hunter Biden. Former Twitter executive Yoel Roth said under oath that as far as he remembered, the specific warning about Hunter Biden came from someone at another tech company, but Jordan claimed it came from the government. If you're a lawyer looking to make your career, you have to be pretty far off in Sidney Powell territory to think that being associated with that level of evidence-based claim is going to help.

"There is a feeling right now that this will simply be a Fox News clip generator -- this really needs to be a comprehensive, well-resourced examination of the security state," an unnamed "person familiar with the committee's operations" told the Post. "It can't be a way for members to get three- to five-minute hits on the Sean Hannity show. If they want this to be real, it has to be done right."

But right now all the Republican investigations are exactly that: Fox News clip generators. And Jordan isn't the only committee chair drawing some internal criticism. Punchbowl News reports that James Comer, chair of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, is drawing some gripes as he announces one investigation after another without making much of an impact. 

Except on the sheep, who think they must be winning! 

Posted by orrinj at 2:32 PM


Rupert Murdoch: Fox News fired Kimberly Guilfoyle for 'inappropriate behavior' (MARTHA ROSS, March 10, 2023, East Bay Times)

After her departure from Fox, Guilfoyle became a contributor to Newsmax. Along with One American News Network, Newsmax aggressively pushed false claims of voter fraud. In its lawsuit, Dominion alleges that Fox News hosts and executives harbored doubts about such claims but promoted them anyway because they worried about losing audience to Newsmax or OAN.

The idea that Murdoch wanted Guilfoyle gone adds weight to the New Yorker report, published a month before the 2020 election. The report suggested that Guilfoyle had to leave Fox News, where she had worked since the mid-2000s, because of sexual harassment allegations made by a former assistant. Before the New Yorker report, the popular explanation for Guilfoyle's departure from Fox was that she wanted to avoid conflicts of interest posed by her new romance with Trump Jr.

Reporter Jane Mayer detailed allegations in a 42-page draft complaint, which said that Guilfoyle showed lewd photos of male genitalia to colleagues, regularly discussed sexual matters at work, urged the assistant "to submit to a Fox employee's demands for sexual favors," and exposed herself to the assistant while asking for a critique of her naked body.

The story furthermore described efforts by Guilfoyle to cover up the allegations, citing well-informed sources who said the network paid the former assistant up to $4 million to avoid a trial.

Posted by orrinj at 2:28 PM


Man accused of painting 'groomer' on Md. libraries charged in child porn case (Jasmine Hilton, March 10, 2023,, Washington Post)

A 31-year-old Takoma Park man alleged to have spray-painted the word "groomer" on two Maryland library buildings last year in an act of hate directed at LGBTQ people has been charged with possessing child pornography, according to charging documents.

Q is a false flag op. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Ron DeSantis's book ban mania targets Jodi Picoult -- and she hits back (Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman, March 10, 2023, Washington Post)

There's a big problem with DeSantis's claims: The people deciding which books to remove from classrooms and school libraries didn't get the memo. In many cases, the notion that banned books meet the highly objectionable criteria he detailed is an enormous stretch.

This week, Florida's Martin County released a list of dozens of books targeted for removal from school libraries, as officials struggle to interpret a bill DeSantis signed in the name of "transparency" in school materials. The episode suggests his decrees are increasingly encouraging local officials to adopt censoring decisions with disturbingly vague rationales and absurdly sweeping scope.

Numerous titles by well-known authors such as Jodi Picoult, Toni Morrison and James Patterson have been pulled from library shelves. The removal list includes Picoult's novel "The Storyteller" about the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor who meets an elderly former SS officer. It contains some violent scenes told in flashbacks from World War II and an assisted suicide.

There's a reason people don't want their children to learn about things like Jim Crow and the Holocaust...

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


How Young Women Fight Loneliness--Walking Together in the Park by the Hundreds (Chavie Lieber, March 10, 2023, WSJ)

At the height of the pandemic, walks became a daily serotonin boost for many. Walking even got a sexy rebrand from the TikTok crowd, complete with "hot-girl walk" accessories and a Spotify playlist. Now it's become a group activity, as walkers look to expand their social horizons. Instagram and TikTok have helped the "girls who walk" trend reach cities including Washington, D.C., Cincinnati, Houston, Miami, Dallas, Nashville, San Francisco, Phoenix and Philadelphia. Groups meet weekly and some draw hundreds of attendees.

While walking groups might bring to mind women of a certain age power-walking and gossiping with neighbors, these newly formed clubs are drawing younger city dwellers looking to make new connections.

"It can be hard to make friends in a big city, especially during the winter when you're inside for weeks on end," said Micaila Marcinko, a 25-year-old Chicago native who started Chicago Girls Who Walk last March. "This is pretty easy. You just show up and walk."

Ms. Kohn said she was walk-skeptical growing up, always turning down her mom's invitations to stroll while on vacation. But now she's an evangelist. 

Many of the women at her walking group in New York said they attended for the social component.  Darinka Sutic, 29, said she had just moved to Jersey City, N.J., from Kansas for a job promotion and didn't have many friends in the area. She struck up a conversation with Karen Benedetto, a 23-year-old advertiser who was also trying City Girls Who Walk for the first time. 

"I've been staring at this on TikTok for like a year and my roommate is out of town this weekend so that was my excuse to come," said Ms. Benedetto. 

Leanna Peters-Williams, 38, learned about the group on Instagram and has attended roughly 10 walks.  

"It really feels like a community," said Ms. Peters-Williams, who was there with her 10-year-old daughter and her medical aide.  

An unacknowledged source of the current loneliness is the war on fraternal organization. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Here's Why the Science Is Clear That Masks Work (Zeynep Tufekci, Mar. 10th, 2023, NY Times)

Why aren't there more randomized studies on masks? We could have started some in early 2020, distributing masks in some towns when they weren't widely available. It's a shame we didn't. But it would have been hard and unethical to deny masks to some people once they were available to all.

Scientists routinely use other kinds of data besides randomized reviews, including lab studies, natural experiments, real-life data and observational studies. All these should be taken into account to evaluate masks.

Lab studies, many of which were done during the pandemic, show that masks, particularly N95 respirators, can block viral particles. Linsey Marr, an aerosol scientist who has long studied airborne viral transmission, told me even cloth masks that fit well and use appropriate materials can help.

Real-life data can be complicated by variables that aren't controlled for, but it's worth examining even if studying it isn't conclusive.

Japan, which emphasized wearing masks and mitigating airborne transmission, had a remarkably low death rate in 2020 even though it did not have any shutdowns and rarely tested and traced widely outside of clusters.

David Lazer, a political scientist at Northeastern University, calculated that before vaccines were available, U.S. states without mask mandates had 30 percent higher Covid death rates than those with mandates.

Perhaps the best evidence comes from natural experiments, which study how things change after an event or intervention.

Researchers at Mass General Brigham, one of Harvard's teaching hospital groups, found that in early 2020, before mask mandates were introduced, the infection rate among health care workers doubled every 3.6 days and rose to 21.3 percent. After universal masking was required, the rate stopped increasing, and then quickly declined to 11.4 percent.

In Germany, 401 regions introduced mask mandates at various times over three months in the spring of 2020. By carefully comparing otherwise similar places before and after mask mandates, researchers concluded that "face masks reduce the daily growth rate of reported infections by around 47 percent," with the effect more pronounced in large cities and among older people.

Brown, who led the Cochrane review's approval process, told me that mask mandates may not be tenable now, but he has a starkly different feeling about their effects in the first year of a pandemic.

"Mask mandates, social distancing, the other shutdowns we had in terms of even restaurants and things like that -- if places like New York City didn't do that, the number of deaths would have been much higher," he told me. "I'm very confident of that statement."

So the evidence is relatively straightforward: Consistently wearing a mask, preferably a high-quality, well-fitting one, provides protection against the coronavirus.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


What key players at Fox News said about the network and its viewers (Sarah Ellison, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff and Shelly Tan, March 10, 2023, Washington Post)

Paul D. Ryan
Board member

"I see this as a key inflection point for Fox ... A solid pushback (including editorial) of his baseless calls for overturning electors, etc. will undoubtedly accrue pushback and possibly a momentary ratings dip, but will clearly redound to our benefit in terms of credibility."
-- Text messages to Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch, Dec. 6, 2020.

Paul D. Ryan, a former speaker of the House and leading light of the GOP before his brand of intellectual conservatism was swamped by the MAGA movement, joined the Fox Corp. board after leaving Congress. He has urged the party to move on from the former president, saying that Republicans "lose with Trump."

In correspondence uncovered by Dominion, Ryan texted to the Murdochs in December 2020 that he thought that Fox was at a "key inflection point." In calling for pushback of Trump's baseless claims, Ryan hoped the network could appeal to center and center-right voters.

"The sooner we can put down the echoes of falsehoods from our side, the faster we can get onto principled loyal opposition," Ryan wrote. "I truly hope our contributors, along with Tucker, Laura, and Sean get that and execute."

Poor sweet Paul Ryan.  One can kind of understand the reluctance of conservatives to reckon with the racist reality of the Tea Party, but to not grasp it by 2021 was dangerous naivete.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Why the Mental Health of Liberal Girls Sank First and Fastest: Evidence for Lukianoff's reverse CBT hypothesis (Jon Haidt, Mar 9, 2023, After Babel)

In May 2014, Greg Lukianoff invited me to lunch to talk about something he was seeing on college campuses that disturbed him. Greg is the president of FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression), and he has worked tirelessly since 2001 to defend the free speech rights of college students. That almost always meant pushing back against administrators who didn't want students to cause trouble, and who justified their suppression of speech with appeals to the emotional "safety" of students--appeals that the students themselves didn't buy. But in late 2013, Greg began to encounter new cases in which students were pushing to ban speakers, punish people for ordinary speech, or implement policies that would chill free speech. These students arrived on campus in the fall of 2013 already accepting the idea that books, words, and ideas could hurt them. Why did so many students in 2013 believe this, when there was little sign of such beliefs in 2011?

Greg is prone to depression, and after hospitalization for a serious episode in 2007, Greg learned CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). In CBT you learn to recognize when your ruminations and automatic thinking patterns exemplify one or more of about a dozen "cognitive distortions," such as catastrophizing, black-and-white thinking, fortune telling, or emotional reasoning. Thinking in these ways causes depression, as well as being a symptom of depression. Breaking out of these painful distortions is a cure for depression. 

What Greg saw in 2013 were students justifying the suppression of speech and the punishment of dissent using the exact distortions that Greg had learned to free himself from. Students were saying that an unorthodox speaker on campus would cause severe harm to vulnerable students (catastrophizing); they were using their emotions as proof that a text should be removed from a syllabus (emotional reasoning). Greg hypothesized that if colleges supported the use of these cognitive distortions, rather than teaching students skills of critical thinking (which is basically what CBT is), then this could cause students to become depressed. Greg feared that colleges were performing reverse CBT.  [...]

In September 2020, Zach Goldberg, who was then a graduate student at Georgia State University, discovered something interesting in a dataset made public by Pew Research. Pew surveyed about 12,000 people in March 2020, during the first month of the Covid shutdowns. The survey included this item: "Has a doctor or other healthcare provider EVER told you that you have a mental health condition?" Goldberg graphed the percentage of respondents who said "yes" to that item as a function of their self-placement on the liberal-conservative 5-point scale and found that white liberals were much more likely to say yes than white moderates and conservatives. (His analyses for non-white groups generally found small or inconsistent relationships with politics.) 

I wrote to Goldberg and asked him to redo it for men and women separately, and for young vs. old separately. He did, and he found that the relationship to politics was much stronger for young (white) women.

Identity politics trains people to behave like victims.