SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER: the irresistible allure of American Show Trials


Why are we so fascinated by the Brett Kavanaugh Karno’s Circus? The Slog investigates.



I’ve spent over forty years seeing bits of America (tip: it’s huge, I still have 80% to go) and it remains a forever remarkable country. At University, my main course in a joint Honours Degree was American Political Studies. I’ve conducted business in the US, and my brother’s two kids live there. I’ve had “a thing” about the assassination of John F Kennedy for half a century. And I follow every Presidential election obsessively: for some reason, the process fascinates me. I liked most of the ordinary Main Street Americans I met, hate New York these days, love Boston, am ambivalent about LA, get bored (and cold) in Chicago, find Pennsylvania charming, adored New Orleans and was terrified by the Deep South (that was a long time ago). Last but not least, I worked for many years with Madonna’s father-in-law.

This is the sum total of background knowledge I bring to this piece, and so at the outset I accept that it wouldn’t pass muster as expert opinion. To American readers, I suggest you think of it as an informed European’s perspective on a country that is a curate’s egg in the following ways: most of the inhabitants have better manners than the British, but not enough of them accept that the Nation is being ruined by a phalanx of unelected Alternative States and liberal/pc Thought Control; and the political scene is never less than lively, but almost all the politicians have been bought by monied interests.

So apart from the better manners, it’s very much like the UK really. The two languages are a difficulty, but both sides struggle through it.

Strange then that, while I see the West’s main enemies as its own Alt States, there is something about the show-trial of elective Congressional approval of Presidential appointments that I’ve always found damaging and illogical. In theory, the check and balance of vetting one President’s nomination with the views of democratically elected lawmakers across the piece is a sound block to the emergence of dictatorship. In practice, it turns into an unpleasant media farrago that benefits nobody except the partisan propagandists. And when it comes to Supreme Court judges, it is nothing less than the politicisation of the highest court in the land.


All of which brings me to the (by turns hilarious and disturbing) process of Donald Trump nominating Brett Kavanaugh as the next star on the slippery grass of the United States Supreme Court.

Every so often, some American graffiti establishes itself on this side of the Pond: student radicals and the assassinations of the 1960s; Watergate; Wall Street greed; the second Iraq War; pc gone mad and crypto-fascist; the Madonna and Michael Jackson phenomena; the first black President; and perhaps above all, the man we allegedly love to hate, Donald Trump.

Within the complex farrago of anti-matter called Fuck Reason Get Trump, most Europeans are all scandaled out when it comes to US politics. The locker room to Russian takeover bid saga, when reported in the context of CIA duplicity and the FBI’s inability to ejaculate, has left we moderate Brits in particular not so much glued to the process as glinting at the sun and glazed over, more than ready for sleep.

For the British Left (naturally) it has led to life-changing direct action such as floating a Donald Barrage Balloon over London when he came to pay his respects to the family spawned by George III. The Corbyn Labour Party is quite happy to remainin the grip of creepy things under EU stones like Guy Verhofstadt, Wolfgang Schäuble and Mario Draghi; but for Corbynistas, the POTUS these days is only ever ‘Trump’, as if he might be the foul fart odour of an aged, lush elephant emitted through the horns of Beelzebub.

Nevertheless, for some reason, the Congressional approval of Mr Kavanaugh has broken through the fog of widespread British indifference. And I suspect I might have a inkling as to why that is.


Put simply, the Kavanaugh approval has everything. As the recently defunct press title The News of the World used to proclaim, “All human life is there”.

We have Brett himself: after an Ivy League breeze into the top end of US Law, Kavanaugh was active in various investigations concerning President Bill Clinton. He played a lead role in drafting the Starr Report, which urged the impeachment of  Clinton. After the 2000 U.S. presidential election – in which Kavanaugh worked for the George W. Bush campaign in the Florida recount – Kavanaugh joined the administration as White House Staff Secretary and was a central figure in its efforts to identify and confirm judicial nominees. He’s also not wild about abortion.

Sooooo, he has pure GOP DNA, and isn’t at any time in the near future likely to endear himself to those who think Bill’s wife should really be the President. As an SCJ nominee, bipartisan he isn’t.

And that reality invites the next element: charges of sexual abuse. Out of nowhere, suddenly three women allege that he ruined their lives.

From the hidden depths of nearly forty years ago, Christine Blasey Ford says that, during a wild High School house Party, the nominee groped her, dry-humped her groin on a bed, “tried to tear her clothes off”, and put his hand over her mouth to stop her screaming. She “feared for her life”. She feared for her life?

She feared for her life so much, she kept shtum until this month – just as the wannabe sex maniac was about to join the Supreme Court. To be exact, she went to Senator Dianne Feinstein – a prominent Democrat – and filed a complaint against Kavanaugh.

No reason to doubt that one, then.

Enter Deborah Ramirez five days later with an equally sudden case of memory-jog. She says that at Yale, she got drunk with Brett, and he exposed himself. The New York Times  (that beacon of political objectivity) picked up the story, and eagerly interviewed several dozen of her classmates. Not one had firsthand knowledge of the incident: but some of those classmates told the NYT guys that Ramirez had told them “she could not be certain Mr. Kavanaugh was the one who exposed himself”.

Well, game set and match there.

Finally, within 24 hours we had Julie Swetnick (back once again in High School) who says – hold your breath, this is a clincher – she went to Parties “where boys preyed on girls” (no shit?) and Kavanaugh attended those parties. This little doozey was put forward by an attorney with form in the Get Trump offensive, Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing Stormy Daniels in her suit against the President. Avenatti first of all tweeted about his client, which was very Trumpian but not exactly professional.

So to summarise, all the allegations originate from the third quarter of the last century, all of them came from Democrat sources, none of the woman pursued or even made complaints at the time, none of them accuse Kavanaugh of rape, and none of them suggest he so much as touched a tit during these life-changing episodes. As Brett was just a no-account kid at the time, no plea based on fear can be considered. Even the Trump Loather General New York Times has been forced to conclude that there is doubt sufficient in the second case such that no civil Court in the world would entertain even hearing it.

But hey – he’s being nominated by Trump, right? Who likes to grab pussy, right? He’s a rapist, right? Of course he is…it stands to reason. So justice must be seen to be done.

Also present in all three allegations are the standard issue manipulated linguistics of contemporary hysterical feminism: she feared for her life, he exposed himself, the boys preyed on the girls.

Put like that, it sounds like reprehensible behaviour. When I was a teenager, dry humping was the contraceptive of choice, not the overture to murder. Whenever I’ve been involved in drunken sex, my even hazy memory of it is that sexual exposure by both partners is kind of a prerequisite to getting to the really interesting part called intercourse. At parties, boys zeroed in on the best looking chicks for the same reason  that girls fluttered their carefully groomed eyelashes at the best looking blokes. This was called (variously) “chatting up”, “getting off with” and “being on the pull”. I never yet met any man or woman from that time who would’ve described the activity as predatory. Rather, it was normal preparatory behaviour in the process of looking for a wife/husband.

Last but not least, we have in the last 48 hours seen a case of stalking a senior politician in order to change the result. For myself, I would make the stalking of politicians who lie their heads off (that is, most of them) a de rigueur Olympic sport. But when that politician is trapped in an elevator, threatened, yelled at and humiliated, then I think that’s what I’d dub violent picketing to achieve a political end.

This is what happened to Republican Jeff Flake. Two women claiming to be victims of sexual abuse cornered him in the lift.

The incident in turn presented another feature of contemporary public life: trial by media.  The women were wired for vision and sound which went out exclusively live on CNN. So no case to answer for media entrapment here….nothing to see, move along  please.

The first woman Ana Maria Archila, is the executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy in New York – make of that what you will – who told the Senator “You’re telling all women in America that they don’t matter. They should just keep it to themselves because if they have told the truth you’re just going to help that man to power anyway.” The second woman, one Maria Gallagher, demanded “Look at me when I’m talking to you. You’re telling me that my assault doesn’t matter and that you’re going to let people who do these things, that you’ll let people like that go to the highest court in the land and tell everyone what they can do to their bodies.”

And those, ladies and gentlemen, were assertions based on the three cases I reviewed above. In truth, they accused Jeff Flake of complicity in rape on the basis of accusations where no rape had been at any time either established or even suggested.

But the confrontation having gone out on CNN and made Jeff look like the dork of the century, by the time he got back to the Senate Committee room, Flake had clearly experienced a Saul at Tarsus moment. He went into a huddle for over an hour with Democrats….and then voted to delay the nomination he had previously supported. Perhaps he isn’t called Senator Flake for nothing.


As a result of all this, Trump has reluctantly ordered another FBI enquiry into Mr Kavanaugh’s past (this will be the fifth) and the usual rentagobs are screaming all over US Twitter asking why “a proven serial rapist” is being nominated for the Supreme Court.

Now for all I know, Brett Kavanaugh may well be a dangerous sex pest who will use his judicial vote in future to approve legislation freeing every rapist in America and insisting on the inclusion in the US Constitution, as a new Freedom amendment, the droit de seigneur of every American male to take any woman he fancies by force.

But the evidence against this likelihood is, for any sane observer, damn near conclusive. Furthermore, if he is a sex maniac, then for the last thirty years Kavanaugh has controlled himself remarkably well: he married his wife Ashley in 2004, they have two young daughters, and she has an independent political career in her own right. No hint of rumour surrounds them as a couple.

However, Mrs Kavanaugh has received some very unpleasant emails, including one sent to her office that said, ‘My condolences to you for being married to a rapist. Although you probably deserve it, FUCK YOU AND YOUR RAPIST HUSBAND’, and another passed on by the Wall Street Journal which wished her well along the lines of ‘May you, your husband and your kids burn in hell, please put a bullet in your husband’.

My summary opinion at this point is not extreme, but empirical. I believe that what attaches this case to our psyches is the horrible nature of perverted democracy, media bias, sociopathic smears, Congressional showtrials, and the intolerant violence of all those wedded to an ideology that is, collectively, so redolent of life in the 21st century.

In this particular instance, it is those who award themselves the title “liberal” who stand in the dock. But at another moment, it will be the neoliberal economic and neoconservative foreign policy tendencies who seek to distort facts and undermine the survival chances of genuine Free Speech democracy – by showtrialing not Republicans, but foreign bogey men in Libya, Iraq, Syria, Greece, Poland, Russia and Hungary.

I feel increasingly strongly that thinking media consumers get gripped by this macro bullying because, not too far below the surface, they know that some vital Red Lines are being crossed: that more and more with every passing year, reason is being out-shouted by the fake insistence of unnatural belief systems – whether they have a religious, ethnic, economic, gender, sexuality or fiscal basis.

The two real fundamental supports for Citizen Rights are a culture of tolerance, and a fearlessly independent judiciary resisting political corruption. The US is neglecting both – as is Great Britain and the European Union.

© John Ward & Media Ink, 2018