Friday, October 26, 2018

Civility

So, it is becoming painfully obvious that by allowing our public discourse to degrade to name calling and intimidation and an "anything to win" philosophy, we are as disunited as country as we have been in quite a while.  While the times surrounding the Civil War (civil defined as related to ordinary citizens and their concerns, as distinct from military or ecclesiastical matters), could certainly be labelled as the apex in our history of a country divided, the unrest associated with the Civil Rights movement (there is that word civil again) and the Vietnam War, also come to mind.

In reality, domestic divide on the most important issues of the day, lively debate, even rancor, heated words, and anger should be understood as the byproducts of a democracy in which everyone has a say, and is listened to, and in which freedom of speech is of the utmost importance.  It is very easy to see the alternative, nations where political adversaries are jailed or disappeared, where the press is controlled by the government, and where public dissent with the policies of those in charge is consigned to secret meetings, whispers, and underground publications.

Democracy, real democracy, is messy, boisterous, even unruly, at times.  Which is precisely why we are embroiled in so much division.  Both sides feel that the future is at stake.  Both sides feel that the wrong path, the other sides' path, will lead to ruin.  Both sides feel that the other side is the problem.

And, that is OK as long as both sides realize that neither side is always right or always wrong.  And that debating the issues, laying out the facts and reasoning for one's viewpoints, then listening while those in opposition lay out their facts and reasons, is the basis, the very foundation of our American democracy.  We seem to forget that many of the root issues we debate today, were debated just as vociferously by the founders before and after they conceived and signed the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.  State rights vs federal, business interests vs citizens, the rule of law, voting rights, the place of a specified religion in the laws of the nation, and on and on, the issues we wrangle over today have not changed as much as some would have you think, were not "decided" upon in the late 1700's by those who created this country.

Anyone who has read the views of Jefferson, Adams, Washington, Franklin, Monroe, Hamilton, etc, knows that they disagreed, sometimes fundamentally, about the issues.  But, despite those disagreements, they found enough common ground to establish the amazing set of rules that guide us today, including the creation of three branches of government, so that there are checks and balances to prevent the emergence of an authoritarian government. 

Which brings us to the other definition of civil, acting in a courteous and polite fashion.  Again, were the founders always civil in their disagreements?  Of course not, they were human, after all, with their own set of foibles and flaws.  Did they continue to write letters to each other, even after the big decisions were made, and the country began its course to marry the incredibly lofty ideals of the Constitution and Bill of Rights with the more baser drives of greed and a lust for power, that can poison those who get a taste for too much of either.  Perhaps a review of the letters written by Adams and Jefferson to each other might remind us that these two great minds still debated and struggled with the practical realization of the ideals they set forth in 1776.

It is high time we demanded from ourselves and our leaders, some civility.  No more confronting those we disagree with politically as they eat a meal with their families.  No more calling a candidate for public office wacky or low IQ.  No more referring to another political party as evil.  No more comparing an occupant in the White House with an orangutan.  No more stereotyping in which all people of a certain group, whether it be race, gender, religion or political affiliation, are judged by the actions of a few, because that kind of judgement condemns us all and frankly, if the creator uses that philosophy when she decides who is to enter heaven and who is not, we will all find a closed sign on the pearly gates.

Also, no more negative campaign literature and ads.  Let's outlaw them, not because we don't believe in free speech, but because we expect our candidates to tell us what they will do for us, what policies they will support, what their philosophy is regarding the environment, or income inequality, or immigration, or any of the important issues upon which we should be making our decisions when we cast our ballots.  (Perhaps we might consider starting a campaign whereby all negative mail is returned to sender, forcing them to dispose of it after paying for its delivery).

And, the big one, let's all take a breath, a step back, a respite even, from liking and retweeting and whatever else is done on social media with all the horrible comments about those with whom we disagree.  It is not only uncivil, it plays into the hands of our enemies, those countries that our turning our advanced freedoms against us, by implanting all kinds of divisive comments within the social media structure and watching with glee as we spread it among our fellow citizens.  Those who would see our democracy fail, are using the strengths of our country against us, and we are falling head and tails into their trap.  We are losing the battle because we are being used to fight against ourselves.

I ask this of all politicians, GOP and DEM alike.  Disagree, it is OK, and important.  But do so with the understanding that, in the end, you must work together to improve the lives of all Americas, those who support you and those who do not. 

Finally, I implore President Trump to lead the way in this endeavor.  To truly be the most important person in our country by setting the example.  By taking the high road when insulted by a liberal pundit, by allowing questions of media outlets that reflect a different point of view, by understanding that he won an election, not a crown, and that he represents all the American people, not just those who voted for him or who cheer him at his rallies.  Only then, can he achieve credibility with those that disagree with his politics and policies, and only then can he ask for others to "clean up their acts".



 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Wedding

I wrote this story a while back, but not sure if it was before or after the 2016 Presidential election.  My thoughts, at the time, were that we needed a third party in America that represented the middle left and right as opposed to the far left and right.  That as long as we were diametrically opposed to each others' ideas, only saw the worst of each other rather than seeking common ground, then we would continue to drive away moderates from each party, and discourage only the most radical on each side to vote.

Speaking of voting, there are some new approaches being tried in various parts of the country in terms of a ranking vote system.  There are many versions of a ranking system vote count, one of which is that the electorate votes for multiple candidates, in descending order of preference, usually top 2 although top 3 could also be utilized if there happens to be 5 of more candidates.  If no candidate gets 50% of the #1 votes, the candidate with the least #1 votes is eliminated, and the person selected as #2 by that particular voter gets assigned the #1 vote.  If still no candidate has 50% of the votes, the next candidate from the bottom with the least amount of votes is eliminated and his/her #2 selected candidate gets the top vote.  This continues until someone garners more than 50% of the votes.

Regardless of the specifics, a ranking vote system encourages independent candidates to run, as well as those who may have lost a primary but think they could win in a general election.  It also encourages voters to select someone they like regardless of whether they think that candidate can win, knowing that their vote won't be wasted as their #2 choice would still be used if their candidate receives few votes.  It also encourages the electorate to learn more about the candidates as they will need to make a 2nd choice.

Another new approach being tried is to list the names of the candidates without their party affiliation.  While those who are familiar with their party's candidates may still vote a straight party ticket, those who do not pat attention to individual candidate traits and merely pull one party lever or the other would at least have had to do some research to know who is a DEM and who is GOP.  Also, if they happened to meet a candidate from a third party who was working the area and engaging the community, they might be more inclined to vote for them when they see their name on the ballot; more so if a party affiliation was attached and it was one for which the voter did not normally select.

For me, we need to encourage our citizens to learn more about the candidates than just their party affiliation, we need to inspire a confidence that it does matter who we vote for, they are not all crooks, and we need to weaken the hold that our two party system has on the system as, at least on this topic, they work well together to maintain their political power by squeezing out independents and/or party members that don't agree 100% with everything the party promotes.

My story, The Wedding, reflects my belief that our democracy needs change at the most fundamental level, but not necessarily in the way the story unfolds.  I much prefer the adaptation of some of the ideas discussed above to require the electorate to research the candidates they select with as much knowledge, reflection and passion as they discuss their favorite sports team, reality show or latest gossip. 

Complacency is our mutual enemy because it is complacency that makes the ground of our democracy that much more fertile for the bad seeds of partisanship, manipulation, and fear of the other.  The protagonists in The Wedding, if you can call them that, understand that, count on that, and ultimately use it against the first instincts of the leadership of the two parties who merely circle the wagons to protect their power rather than to do what is best for the citizens who turn to them for guidance.


                                                                The Wedding

The wedding had been in the planning stages for quite a few years. At first it was merely a joke between families. A what if, that provoked hearty laughter. But over time, the thought took on a life of its own. It grew on certain members of each family. It percolated on the back burner of various rooms ornately furnished. It lingered in the air of those meetings, sporadically producing a wafting odor that became more familiar over time. Eventually, the thought, which had always produced laughter, altered the tone of that laughter from light and frivolous to tense, with meaning. Finally, the bride’s paternal grandfather proposed what everyone had been sensing in the undertone of that laughter but none dared to speak.

A wedding to merge the families.

The families were very familiar with each other, knowing one another as only bitter rivals can. When the future bride’s great grandfather met the future groom’s great grandfather on that greatest of political stages, there was no denying the deep and mutual dislike which that campaign had fueled. Each was the epitome of all that was held in contempt by the other.

Their mutual dislike went beyond party platforms, beyond the traditional friction between old money and new. When the upstart governor had defeated the incumbent, the dislike blossomed into hatred. Everything that could be done to unseat the winner, was attempted, no holds barred. To some, it appeared that the fortune of the country was less important that the ruination of the victor.

But time and nature looked favorably on the loser’s family. When the rules of term limits eliminated another run, only one family had sons. The pendulum swung back, the power returned to its rightful place.

But time continued to march on. After a brief interruption by a surprise and historic character, the stage was once again set for a direct confrontation. Yet another son took one nomination while the spouse, who had bided her time within striking distance by occupying various other posts, grabbed the other. And again, history repeated itself, both in the name of the eventual winner, and in the historic nature of that victory.

Strangely though, and despite the intensity of the campaign, the rivalry was not without its healing. The families were beginning to sense a trend. The electorate was confused. Vitriolic partisanship had begun to erode the ability for positive leadership. Midway through the 2nd term, it became clear to the families that a new strategy was needed, to both preserve the country, and their power to run it.

The next election was a bloodbath, as both parties seemingly ran down the path of distortion and outright lies to gain votes. In retrospect, there were some who wondered aloud why the leadership of each was so foolhardy, but few knew that the strings of this disastrous set of tactics were being manipulated behind the scenes by each respective family. They had separately developed a mirror imaged, longer term perspective. It only took a few casual meetings for the families to merge their individual plans into a bigger, even bolder one.

In the next national election, the winning party had changed but the strategy still reflected the old way. Turnout was a record low, which justified the bipartisan rhetoric each had used, but sowed even more effective seeds of disillusionment in the electorate. In retrospect, there were a few victories in support of that new paradigm, but not so many that the mainstream media took notice.

But the families noticed.

They doubled their efforts while still retaining the appearance of party loyalty. Those that they admitted into their circle remained under the radar while being prepped for campaigns that reflected the families’ vision.

The next election cycle featured some wins in key places, some state, some federal, spurred, in part, by the passing within a few months, of the great grandfathers of each family, and in part to the growing dissatisfaction of the electorate with the status quo. Yet most of the political world was still in the dark about what was going on. It was a plan steeped in subtlety, and most politicians, air wave pundits and corporation bought commentators were far removed from such sophistication. The manipulation of the mainstream parties continued while the families surreptitiously built a web of candidates that reflected their grand scheme.

Until the next election, later called the watershed election of the families’ influence. Suddenly, there was a third party in play, a party with influence, not due to the number of its elected members but due to the attractiveness of its message to the electorate. In fact, that was the most ingenious part of the families’ plan; not to dismantle the two established parties but to bring them out of the darkness of their unwillingness to compromise. Of course, the families knew it would take a change in the minds of the electorate, but they also had calculated correctly that that change did not have to be profound, only noticeable. The insecurity of the two great parties’ leadership would do the rest.

Finally came the coup d'e tat. The timing was impeccable; just the right amount of surprise, mixed with the feigned “I thought so” by those who can’t accept that they were caught unawares. Clearly, the families had executed their plan perfectly; how else could such an announcement been accepted so easily by the nation.

And so, the biggest news that spring was splashed across tabloids and newspapers alike:

                                              Bush - Clinton Announce Fall Wedding

                                                                  Epilogue

The following year, the newlyweds announced their intention to run for president and vice president. While not universally accepted, the families’ had planned so assiduously that the idea of a married couple serving in the highest offices of the land struck a chord with the electorate. Some psychologists posited that the willingness for such a power structure reflected a secret desire by Americans for a king and queen. Some thought the new atmosphere of cooperation, after such an extended period of partisanship and governmental deadlock, lent itself beautifully to the thought of husband and wife as leaders.

But finally, if one were to ask the patron and matrons of the families, they might answer that is was all the result of a desire to provide effective leadership to a country they loved, even if that leadership had to be contrived by such a plan as theirs. And it was this plan that enabled the United States to begin an era of peace and prosperity that reached all income and social levels of the country and lasted for the entire reign of the Bush-Clinton dynasty that followed The Wedding and the election of the first husband and wife presidential ticket.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Switch Back

Just finished watching the recently released movie about Bobby Riggs and his challenges all women in general, and the women's pro tennis tour during the 1970's in specific. 

Of course, it was a movie so there is not any real way to know how factual and how fictional was the depiciton.  Still, after seeing the recent Kavanaugh hearings and the rally-around-the-male attitude of the GOP Senators, it was a bit disturbing that gender equality had not progressed as much as we would like, not to mention LGBTQ rights, and the ability to love who you love without government interference and societal judgement.

Towards that idea, and because I forgot to refer to this story in my post about the recent Kavanaugh hearings, here is a story I wrote a few years back.

                                                            The Switch Back


The day before was like any other day. People went to work, got married, had babies. Athletes and actors performed on TV, the mail was delivered, school was in session. Trains and planes ran on time, dogs were walked in the parks, children played in schoolyards and in the streets. Armies waged war, politicians did, whatever it is they do.

Then came the Switch.

In fact, as a percentage of the world’s population, it was barely 10%. But, for those who experienced it, the shock was devastating. And, as if it was controlled by a purposeful hand, it effected the rich and powerful at an alarming rate.

The Switch barely touched Africa. The Polar Regions and most of Indonesia were spared. Few people in South and Central America were changed, but many in North America, especially the United States experienced it. Europeans were also inordinately altered. Oddly, every United Nations representative, every head of state, every religious leader (excepting the Dali Lama), almost every person of influence was switched overnight.

But this wasn’t a science fiction inspired alien body snatching plot. This switch involved individual race and gender. Those that were white became black and vice versa. Those that were male became female, and again, vice versa. Overnight, the make-up of the world’s movers and shakers changed from white male to black female. On the outside. Internally, those who were changed were the same person as before. The same experiences, the same background, the same ambition and intelligence, just a new exterior.

The first few days after the Switch, the world paused. What did this mean? Was it a message from God? Explanations were offered, everything from an end of the world precursor to an environmental cause to an alien plan to disrupt the fabric of humanity. But, as the days became weeks, then months, it became clear that there was no explanation that would suffice; it was time to take stock, adjust and move on.

Then, slowly, proposals for change began to emerge. The hidden biases of the financial world were brought to light. The income gap between genders was addressed. The percentage of poverty among minorities and women was prioritized. The dominance of history that had been justified as resulting from the natural superiority of the white male was redefined as the consequence of better education, better opportunity, better resources.

As time passed, the world settled into a new paradigm. Certainly, there were some who merely exchanged the belief in their new appearance’s supremacy for their old. Why were they picked for the Switch, they argued, except due to the fact that they were more loved, more special in the eyes of the Creator. But for most, the new dominance of those decidedly not white, not male, was seen as an opportunity to rise or fall without obstacles, on the merits of their hard work, integrity and perseverance. Skin color, gender, became less important, less cared about.

And then came the Switch Back. Again, it was as sudden as the Switch; overnight. Everything was as it had been. The white male was back in charge, the majority of those in power, those with influence.
Again, the world paused. Had it been a global hallucination? Did it really happen? It quickly became obvious that no pictures, no physical evidence of the Switch existed. It was if the lessons learned in the past nine months were meant to be remembered via faith alone, without tangible proof.

Without hard evidence, there were some who preferred not to remember. They introduced bills and trumpeted calls to reverse some of the changes that had transpired, changes that had almost eliminated the prejudices of race and gender that had plagued the world before the Switch. There were even some religious leaders that claimed the Switch Back should be interpreted as a return to the normal, an admittance that the experiment of the Switch was unsuccessful.

Now, a mere 30 days since the Switch Back the debate continued. On one side, the forces of those who chose to ignore the lessons of the Switch. Those who were more comfortable with their age old belief in the preeminence of the white male. On the other side were those that had internalized the changes that the Switch inspired. Those who believed that the Switch was meant to nudge humanity towards a true equality.

Only time would tell which side would prevail. And whether the lessons of the Switch would be maintained or ignored by the reality of the Switch Back.




Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Future of Politics

Last night I finished reading "Thank You for Being Late" by Thomas Friedman after a marathon session, in a few parts, during the day and evening.   There is much to discuss, far more than I can summarize in a few hundred words.  In fact, it is most likely a backwards step for me to review all that made an impression on me as I could not possibly retell what I read in any way that would convey Friedman's book with even a fraction of effect.  In other words, read it as soon as possible for yourself.

The point of this post is to imagine a time in the future when the politics of America reflects the real needs of our citizens, regardless of their party affiliation.

Of course, that will also require the citizens of America to become far more involved in their democracy, to research the candidates as people not representatives of one party or the other, to understand when our government works to advance or regress our country, and to vote in every election as if our freedom depends on it, because it does.   

In the future, there will be far less money poisoning our political process, whether the Citizens United ruling is reversed or the electorate has finally realized that its representatives should be more like them, economically, by gender, by race, by perspective. 

In the future, campaigns will present positive messages about programs and policies which will improve the lives of the citizenry, not attack ads paid by special interest groups.  And these campaigns will begin in March and end in November, so that the winners can return to their local halls, state capitals and Washington DC to do the people's work, while continuing to listen to their constituents in addition to those who did not emerge victorious because despite falling short, they too represent the viewpoints of the voters.

In the future, civility will be the rule, not the exception.  This is not to say that debates won't be heated or contentious, and that strong words may not flow.  But it will mean that once the vote is taken, the losers will accept defeat graciously, while the winners will acknowledge the concerns of the losers, both understanding that the next round may produce the opposite result and each will need to accept and respect the other when on the other end of the tally.

In the future, the three branches of our government, that special triad conceived by the founders to provide stability and balance in our government, will be aligned more equally so that power is shared but also checked.  Ideally, the electorate will come to realize that no party or ideology should control too much of that power, which will force our public servants to work together, knowing that when they don't others will be elected.

In the future, politicians will spend less time "governing" and more time communicating with their constituents.  This does not mean that the House or Senate will not be session, but it does mean that those elected will be held accountable for their votes because they have heard it directly, or have gained the trust of those who chose them, to be able to explain a vote that may not necessarily reflect a majority of the votes; in other words, to lead the voters when they need to be led.  And, should the occasion arise, to accept defeat at the next election for doing what is right, even if not popular.

In the future, pro-business laws and rulings will not be to the detriment of the environment.  Our leaders will have either proven to us, or us to them, that a thriving economy can exist with a respect for the environment; that both are necessary and achievable. 

In the future, short term benefits will be desired only after the long term benefits are calculated.  We so often see the harm of boom and bust when in the throes of the bust, yet pretend each boom will last forever.  Long term security, which is what every financial adviser recommends for their clients as they look towards retirement, seems lost on us when we discuss our communal security. 

In the future, there will be a need for less government regulation because more and more people will embrace the understanding that being responsible is a reward in itself, which removes the need for laws to remind us to do what is right.   We will finally realize that immoral acts cannot be excused because "it is not against the law", which means our leaders, in business and in government, will know they must act legally and morally, the latter being more important. 

In the future all of these ideals, and much more, are possible, if we demand them.  If we raise the bar on our personal participation in our democracy, raise the bar on our expectations of how our leaders govern our country, and reflect on the priority of money and possessions in our personal lives and judgement of others.       


Monday, October 8, 2018

White Male Backlash

This past Friday night I, I watched the latest edition of Bill Maher's Real Time on HBO.  I have been a fan of Maher for quite some time, even remembering his original show Politically Incorrect.

At one point during the show, there was a interlude between two of the guests related to the Kavanaugh hearings.  The white, male guest, Andrew Sullivan, is a frequent panelist on the show, representing the conservative perspective.  Over the years, he has been both booed and cheered, booed when he defended conservative values and policies, cheered since the election of President Trump as Sullivan is among many old school republicans who are not fans of the president.  For those of you who have never watched a Real Time episode, there is an obvious attempt to allow for time for opposing viewpoints to Maher's mostly liberal perspective by having what he calls "returning champions" on the show, meaning those who represent opposing viewpoints with wit and intelligence, while handling the general disagreement of Maher's other guests, and the audience, with aplomb.

The other guest in this particular instance was Soledad O'Brien, an American journalist who anchors her own nationally syndicated political show called Matter of Fact.  I can't say I have seen her on Real Time before, but I am familiar with her from watching a few episodes of her show and on other politically oriented panel discussions.

The dialogue in question surrounded Sullivan's statement that a portion of the tone of the Kavanaugh hearing and the more liberal media coverage surrounding the alleged sexual assault, seemed to equate all white males with sexual aggression.  A stereotype attack, if you will, that Sullivan found both alarming and insulting.  This is not to suggest that he was defending Kavanaugh's behavior, if one were to believe he was guilty of attacking Ford, just that it seemed that there were many who automatically considered Kavanaugh guilty, merely because he is a white male, as if that is how all white males behave.  Sullivan found this disturbing in the same way that all minorities, blacks, women, Native Americans, Muslims Mexicans, immigrants, etc are disturbed by the automatic prejudice that they have endured throughout history. 

O'Brien countered that the hearings and investigation into Kavanaugh's past, had nothing to do with his gender or race, but that it was all about his ability to perform the critical duties, impartial duties, of a Supreme Court Justice.  She denied Sullivan's claims that the hearings were distorted to resemble an indictment of all white men.

I think that at this point, it behooves liberals and democrats to ignore the "feelings" of the white male.  Yes, they have ruled the world, pretty much from the beginning, but especially over the last 500 years when humanity moved from a mostly agrarian society to an industrialized, mechanized, urban one.
And yes, they have worked tirelessly to enhance their dominance, through sheer brute force, divine right claims, old boy networks, and actual laws which denied every minority from the Native Americans to the slaves brought to work their plantations, to the women who bore their children, to have access to the same opportunities that they claimed for themselves.

Still, despite and because of those facts, we need to be sensitive to the angst the white male is feeling today.  We ignore it at our peril, just as Hillary did in the 2016 election because the fact is, we need the white male to continue to believe he is the center of the universe, even as that center evolves to be more inclusive.  Just as every minority, both individual and as a group will recount, it is not just about the reality that stands in their way to gain equal opportunities, but the realization that no one cares, that there exists a denial that both they deserve the same opportunity, and that they are capable of taking advantage of it when provided.

It is not easy being king of the hill for virtually, forever, and then to face the real possibility that that status is waning.  That real, fair competition for success and riches might soon replace the automatic rewards that the past has bestowed upon them by virtue of the birth lottery.  That dominating business and politics will take more than just having a Y chromosome which has mutated from the second X chromosome. 

And, even worse for the privileged, white male, the prospect that going to the right schools paid for by parents who made sure no bad behavior could not be excused or made non-existent, that fighting for one's country in a war zone is easily avoidable, and that their path to the top of their chosen profession will be made smoother by donations and campaign contributions, might still not be enough if the decisions became a matter of blind evaluation, must seem horrifying.  In a world where so many white males bemoan entitlement when referring to those who receive Social Security, Unemployment Compensation, Disability payments or some other type of government funding, it must be horrifying to think that their programs of entitlement, private prep and high schools, legacy enrollments at the best colleges, social and business contacts handed down from mom and dad, might also be at risk.

With all due respect to Ms O'Brien, she should have agreed with Sullivan that there was some unfair bias at work against the white male during the hearings.  That a white male prejudice is one of the many factors powering the MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, among others.  That she is sensitive to Sullivan's concerns, because we need to be better in our assessments of people than merely judging them by their white skin, male gender and blue blood pedigree.  That prejudice, no matter from which side of the aisle, or gender, or race, should not become the main component of any debate.

She should have said all those comforting things perhaps while touching or holding his hand so he felt more at ease and understood.

Then, and only then, she should have looked deeply into his eyes and said

"Doesn't feel good, does it?  Now you know how we have felt, forever."

Perhaps that is the only path towards a return to civility in our public discourse.  To acknowledge each other's pain and discomfort, share out stories in non-judgmental ways, listen to the other sides' anxieties and fears, marry them with our own stories, and work together to create a world where no one is ignored, no one is made to fell second class, and where we all benefit, together.



 


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Kavanaugh nomination

As the nation collectively takes a breath from the emotional testimonies of Dr Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, I wanted to share some thoughts on the process we have witnessed, the credibility of the story as recounted by Dr Ford, the current FBI investigation and the possible outcomes of this very important nomination.

First, as most people have expressed, Dr Ford's testimony was compelling, believable and heart wrenching.  She displayed courage in coming forward despite her inability to remember specific details surrounding the alleged attack knowing her reputation would be forever altered.  Most importantly, she has provided a powerful example for other women who have experienced, but not reported, their deepest secrets of past assaults, as well as for women who will experience future attacks from men who they know casually or intimately.  Our record in supporting these women in the past has ranged from actually blaming them for their situation to disregarding their charges as lies or mistakes.  Of course, we saw similar responses during these past few weeks, but there also appears to be a majority of public opinion in support of her story in that we believe she believes an attack occurred.

Whether the attack emanated from Judge Kavanaugh, however, is not as readily accepted.  And therein lies the problem.  We seem to believe both of them.  Is this possible?  That both are telling us the truth?
If you were to call your friends from 35 years ago and ask them about a specific party or event on a particular day, I imagine you would get inconclusive and contradictory stories from your friends.  If that day featured nothing special, just another day of swimming, or camping, or partying, with no significant events to distinguish it from any other day, there would be very little chance of finding consistency in your friends' recollections.  And so, some of those who have been asked about the attack do not remember it happening or even if they were at the party, because, for them, there was nothing special about that day. 

However, if you were to ask someone where they were on 9/11, most people knew the exact events of their day.  Where they were when they first heard the news, what they did to stay up to date of the events as they transpired, perhaps even what they ate for dinner as they watched the horrible event unfold on TV.  As Dr Ford stated, it is implanted on our hippocampus. 

For Dr Ford, the attack is implanted in her memory.  She will never forget the details, especially the laughter of the boys in the room at the time.  For everyone else in her circle of friends who were not aware of her victimization, there is nothing comparable to call on for a strong memory.

Judge Kavanaugh, one might think, would also have a strong memory of the time if this was an extraordinary event in his life, but not if, for him, it was not a big deal.  And certainly not if his alleged inebriation interferes with his memories.  It is hard to imagine that Kavanaugh had a history of "rough play" as some have said to defend him, as, not withstanding the other accusations that have surfaced, there does not appear to be a pattern of reported assaults or other examples of he said, she said encounters. 

At this point, I tend to believe Ford's story, and that Kavanaugh was responsible for the attack, but that he does not remember, or has convinced himself to only remember what confirms his opinion of himself.  He more than once demonstrated that trait by dismissing his obvious habit of drinking beer to excess by responding how hard he worked as a student, how many sports he participated in, and how loyally he attended church.  What is ironic, is that he identified with so many of the groups from high school, the smart ones, the athletic ones, the religious ones, who so often turned out to be the ones who were the worst offenders of actions that were "bad", but were always defended by those who had a reason to ignore their missteps; parents who did not raise them that way, teachers who enjoyed them in class, coaches who gained a bit of respect through their athletic achievements, pastors who used them as examples of a "good" boy or girl. 

As for the FBI investigation, I don't expect any surprises.  There may be evidence that Kavanaugh was in the area of the attack, or perhaps even evidence that Ford has incorrect memory of the location.  I expect that the third party in question, Mark Judge, will again be interviewed.  Chances are, he will add no new information other than that he does not recall the event.  Chances are, the investigation will not be able to prove or disprove either story, which means we are back to he said, she said.  Which means we are back to support for Kavanaugh by the GOP who want him confirmed to tilt the Supreme Court towards a more conservative philosophy, and support for Ford by the Dems who are against his nomination for fear he will tilt the court to rule against women's reproductive rights, rule for presidential immunity from prosecution, rule against regulations to address climate change, rule for big business over worker rights, and enhance corporations' status as citizens. 

Still, and despite the GOP having a majority in the Senate and that fact the President Trump supports his nominee, there could still be a surprise result.  Perhaps Senator Flake or Collins or Murkowski or one of the other 3 GOP female Senators will alter their vote.  It will take two of them though, as if only one votes against the nomination creating a 50-50 tie, VP Pence will then have the deciding vote.

For me, Kavanaugh's responses raised a flag against his nomination beyond my disagreement with his judicial philosophy.  He seemed very aggressive with Democratic Senators, not just in defending himself, which was OK, but in attacking them as to why the hearings were extended.  He seemed anti-Democratic party/pro President Trump when his demeanor should reflect much less politics, much more respect for the law.  And the law says that the Senate must evaluate him before recommending him for nomination. 

Is there politics involved in this process?  Of course, but that is part and parcel to the process, especially when it was only last year that the GOP refused Obama's nominee after the death of Judge Scalia.   Do I expect a Supreme Court Justice to be a member of one party or the other and support that party at the polls?  Of course, but I do not expect a Supreme Court nominee to be so obvious in his support of that party, and so antagonistic against the other.   I already questioned whether his future rulings might hurt the middle class, the environment, women's rights, and the balance of power between our three branches of government, but now I also wonder if he may rule against cases merely for political reasons, not legal ones.  Hopefully, should his nomination be approved, Kavanaugh will get over this process, his perceived attack of his family and reputation by the Democratic party, and conduct himself on the highest court in the land as a true arbiter of the law, without party preference.