Thursday, September 20, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh v Dr. Ford

Brett Kavanaugh v Dr. Blasey Ford. The underlining issue is the attitude of the Republican Senators toward a woman who is reliving a trauma of sexual assault. It is consistent with those senators’ past actions, but times are changing and the senators’ attitudes are fossilized. That President Trump has had a hand in this should not be excused either, since he has refused to order the FBI to investigate the veracity of both parties. The drama is unfolding as this is written, but the damage to the GOP has already been done. The burden falls mostly on the shoulders of the GOP Senators and they are the ones who deserve the wrath of women expressed in the voting booth November 6.
There must be plenty of mid 50 year olds, male and female, who are resurrecting memories of their high school years they experienced in the 1980’s, but  high school out of control preppies  behaving like that in those days were not unique happenings.   The danger is their old attitudes could color their judgment calls and so far Brett Kavanaugh has denied the event ever happened, much less has he expressed any remorse.  By that measure, Donald Trump’s behavior is appalling, having himself admitted to sexual assault well into his latter years, as accusers have charged  and we have  his own attitudes toward grabbing on tape. The critical  problem on the table at this moment, though,  is  how the Republicans in Congress are treating Dr. Ford or will attack her as a person in an attempt to paint her as the guilty party. That has been standard operating procedure by defenders of male misbehavior in the past. The old attitudes prevail in they way GOP Senatora  are treating her .  Women of  certain ages are having flashbacks as how their traumas have been treated and how shame and fear they too would not have been  respected or believed if they publicly recounted their own experiences.   That is the reason the #metoo movement has gained so much political traction and the pink pussy  ears have become their symbol.  Add to that, the attempt to overturn Roe v Wade is part of the same general political revolt of women who are no longer willing to tolerate  male patriarchal attitudes or male  control over their bodies  any more.  In short, this is a revolt of women and both issues, how Dr. Ford is respected during this ordeal and how the Supreme Court will act in a woman’s right to choose have landed in the lap of the Kavanaugh nomination.  This is not any nomination, either. If Kavanaugh’s nomination is successful, he will insure his attitudes toward women and their respective rights and power will be reflected as the swing vote in the Court for years to come.
Here is why anger at the GOP Senate should and has  rightly become  the focus:   Once again, a woman’s recounting of a traumatic sexual encounter, an attempted rape, is the same old, same old reaction, pattern of  a group of powerful older males  who close minds as they close ranks. Their attitudes and prejudices were made public. Some already opined  Dr. Ford was just “mixed up “, in advance of any examination of evidence. Some of the same very Senators  had also played a role in the disservice to Anita Hill in the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court hearings, including Senate chair of the same Judicial  committee, Chuck Grassley , and Orin Hatch.  Demanding that the committee vote proceed without requiring  testimony under oath of  anyone other than Kavanaugh and Dr Ford, from the male witness, Mark Judge,  to Dr. Ford’s twenty potential witnesses with knowledge of the event, is an outrage.
Dr. Ford is a reluctant witness. She foresaw the ordeal of becoming public. The death threats, email hacking have been an attempt to intimidate her. It also will make it difficult for others to come forward on her behalf , fearing the same treatment..Unless the FBI treats such threats and intimidation as a crime and take action at once, that would also be an outrage.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Why Dr. Ford is justified in demanding an FBI investigation before her testimony

September 21: The FBI does not have to wait for the White House to deal with death threats and harrassment of Dr. Ford. This is within their domain. Imagine if some classmate of Dr. Ford may know something to back up her one does in Mexico ..having the guts to come forward when death threats and harrassment is what they will face. This is witness tampering and the demand must be made to the FBI to stop this.
September 20:The Kavanaugh hearings and the request by the accuser for an FBI investigation is justified. It is appropriate and the FBI has the ability and power to do it under their powers to screen federal appointees and nominations at the request of the executive branch. There are far too many avenues to check out and unanswered. There is a witness , Mark Judge, to interview under oath. There are lie detector results to review. There are Dr. Ford's classmates to interview, as well, who may remember something and have the fortitude to face the white male GOP committee members. My question: should we accept Kavanaugh and his friends saying they do not remember anything like this because they were a bunch of out of control drunks and remember nothing and leave it at that? Even then, that would certainly damage their (Brett Kavanaugh and his friend'scredibility) and leave Dr. Ford's testimony more credible.
There was an FBI investigation conducted for Anita Hill in the Clarence Thomas approval process and they did a disservice by not requiring her to speak to embarrassing details of the porno pictures Clarence made her see, but times were different then. but little has changed the GOP now in the time of the #metoo days when she said against he said is now taken more seriously and is a political hot button issue with women. . Hill was railroaded then. . Dr. Ford is being railroaded now, too, by the GOP committee members, by stonewalling her request for an FBI investigation first...and making it clear they themselves would not investigate or subpoena witnesses under oath.. . In this case, unlike Hill, there is a witnesss to the actual act identified , Mark Judge, who claims in a letter to the Senate committee he remembers nothing and with a history and a book he wrote that he was in a drunken stupor in those days.. In Hill's case there were witnesses, not of the Thomas' acts itself, but of what co-workers may have heard from Hill and they were not allowed to testify. Here are the questions that the FBI could answer if they did conduct an investigation:
Mark Judge, that third party named by Dr. Ford as awitness to the event, refused to appear before the committee and he should be questioned under oath.
Are there any of Dr. Ford's fellow classmates who could testify the party at the private home took place on or about that date? Kavanaugh claims there was no such party, he attended much less he has never done such a thing.

September 17:From my facebook postingI just heard Mitch McConnell rail against the Democrats for bringing up the accusation of alleged attempted rate of a teenager by the GOP nominee for the Supreme Court.Brett Kavanaugh at the last moment. What a crock.. I choked when he demanded regular order..No waiting for the FBI to check out the accusation; no delay. Regular order from McConnell? It was h e, who refused to even interview Merrick Garland, the Democrat's nominee, for over 400 days in order to leave the space open for a GOP president in the White House. Now he is trying to jam this approval through before the public gets wise or hears more negative stuff in the thousands of pages of documents they have buried under the guise of executive privilege. When the GOP Senate could not get enough votes to approve Neil Gorsuch, their candidate, McConnell changed Senate rules. Instead of 60 votes (which would have had to include some Democrats), now the rules were changed by the GOP to require only a simple majority...This makes a mockery of the Supreme Court...forever to be a partisan body depending who has the simple majority...and without any need to reach out across the aisle. Talk about regular order and who is fair. Ye gads.: The best regular order is to vote GOP Senators out in November..

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Democrats' strongest messages for the midterms

A version of this was published  in the Sky Hi News September 18-19, 2018

The Democrats’  messages for the November midterms are taking form. What may become  stronger is “  Put a check on President Trump’s behavior and  policies; vote for Democrats in November”.   Why stronger? It has  broader appeal than to just the Democratic party’s faithful since it  has already been championed by some well known Never Trump and traditional conservatives like  Joe Scarborough, David Frum,  George Will, and columnist/radio host  John Ziegler,   who see a defeat of Trump supporters in the mid-terms as a way to clean the GOP house of Trumpism for the future.
The Democrats’ message is strong on its own merits: “ The President personally is not fit for the job and a GOP Congress is complicit in keeping him in office.  Our system of checks and balances is not working when the same party controls all of the levers of power in Washington.  At least one part of the legislative branch needs to hold Trump accountable by holding hearings given their  power to subpoena witnesses testifying under oath.”  The anonymous op-ed in the New York Times, the release of Bob Woodward’s book “Fear”, and  insider insights into the White House chaos authored  by Omarosa  Manigault Newman could  kick  this political science approach into even higher gear.
The issue most on the minds of  voters under 65 per Kaiser Family Foundation polls is the rising  cost of health care and especially whether affordable coverage for pre-existing conditions will continue to be affordable. Trump rule changes would allow higher premiums for  all coverage of pre-existing conditions even for those with employer provided insurance.  A mid August Reuters/Ipsos poll revealed that the concept of Medicare for All is supported by 70% of voters, 85% of Democrats and 52% of Republicans.  In October, just before the midterms, the new premium prices will be announced and , based on the Congressional Budget Office estimates, Fox Business News reports that the  increase will be 15% due to Trump’s removing the individual mandate, resulting in fewer healthy participating in Obamacare. So far projections of the cost of Medicare for All  or shrill shouts that this is socialism has not dimmed the support. So long as the GOP dominated Congress controls the agenda, the issue will not be debated nor will credible light be shone on the funding challenges.
“Vote Democratic so you can impeach him” is a message that  is not gaining traction.   A mid-September poll by Quinnipiac indicated  56% Americans do not want impeachment proceedings to begin versus 36% who do. There are good  reasons impeachment and  using the 25th Amendment are not feasible. To remove Trump  using both measures requires a 2/3 vote in the Senate.  That  needs bi-partisan support no matter if the Senate turns more blue in November.
There are two wild cards that may make impeachment  more popular. The  impact of the Woodward, Omarosa, op ed tell-alls  is not yet known. The other is whether findings  from the Mueller investigation  would finger the President himself for obstructing  justice or conspiracy with the Russians to throw the 2016 election his way. The report will probably not be made  before the November 6 elections. As an issue, Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 elections  is still a matter of speculation though public opinion is turning against Donald Trump. Real Clear Politics polls saw a large dip in blue collar support after Trump’s fawning over Putin at Helsinki. Most recent polls .A Washington Post/ABC poll August 31: Nearly two-thirds of American adults support Mueller's ongoing investigation.  64 %  believe Trump should not fire Attorney General Sessions though Donald Trump says he will fire him after midterms, probably installing am interim  DOJ chief that could squash or cripple Mueller’s probe and report.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Mutiny in the Oval Office

A version of this was published in the Sky Hi News September 12, 2018

History can be the stuff of fiction and fiction can become the stuff  played out in history.  This past week the pre-release of a  book by  Bob Woodward,  an anonymous op-ed in the New York Times, and the Senate committee’s hearing/grilling of the President’s nominee for Supreme Court Justice ,Brett Kavanaugh, read like fiction, but all were  far too disquieting. This was not movies like “Mutiny on the Bounty” or  “The Caine Mutiny ”.  It was  real life in real time unfolding before our very eyes,  except  the final scene has not been written.  Like one of those computer games where you can choose among story line options,  the Congress, the media, and the American people still have a chance to rewrite the ending.
A Senate  hearing about whether to approve Kavanaugh to the highest court unveiled a candidate who once opined a view of the Constitution that could save the current  captain from walking the proverbial plank.  He refused to comment on past stated beliefs  that no president in office should be subject to a criminal investigation while in office, leaving us wondering how he would vote should  Mueller investigation issues were challenged  before the highest court.  Kavanaugh in the past has also advocated giving the executive branch greater power in executing laws and regulations, weakening the concept of checks and balances and separation of powers. His view appears to be  the three branches of government are equal except the executive branch is more equal than others.(Apologies to George Orwell in Animal Farm: "all animals are equal though some animals are more equal than others"). Granting more  power to an anti-democratic, imperial wannabe president like  Trump is a scary idea.
Both the pre release excerpts the Woodward  book and the New York Times anonymous op-ed painted a picture of an Oval Office in chaos by a "senior official" who observed President Trump “continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic” and saw it was a duty to protect the country from an “the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.” Senator  Bob Corker (R-Tenn) commenting on the Op-Ed: "This is what all of us have understood to be the situation from day one.”.. For the public not privy to such belt way cloak room  whispers, what was chilling was learning   how close we came to war or damaging our  ally by  removing a trade treaty with South Korea or  the issuance of   an assassination order on the Syrian president, which the staff  “resistance” said it thwarted.
 As predicted, the President called the Woodward book  “a total piece of fiction” and tweeted king-like about the op-ed as   “TREASON?” .. “If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!” and demanded the Justice Department find the disloyal author. Nevermind the writer had not committed a crime and did not conspire with a foreign power.  Trump  launched a hunt for the writer with obsessed rage like  the deranged captains of the Bounty and the Caine who were  determined to find who stole their cheese or strawberries.  With an NBC/you gov poll showing 60% of Americans considering him usually dishonest, his credibility carries little weight compared to the track record of Bob Woodward’s meticulous documentation and reputation from Watergate until the current era.
  That the  GOP controlled Congress would take any action to be a check on this executive's abuse of powers  is wishful fantasy.  If anyone is gutless, it is the GOP Congress . It was their inaction that left the in -White House “resistance” as a last resort to check what they saw as an out of control President.
 The last remaining  voice in this all is the court of public opinion expressed in the ballot box  this November that could give a backbone for Congress to perform a check on executive power as our founders envisioned.  Voters in November will have the ability  to shape the final chapter and set our democracy sailing on a corrected course.