Saturday, September 29, 2018

Kavanaugh's Calendar Key to FBI Probe

So the Dumb-ocrats got what they asked for, a new FBI investigation into allegations the teenage Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted 15-year-old Christine Blasey (Ford) back in the summer of 1982. The Feds also will look into two other allegations of sexual misconduct alleged to have occurred during his high school and Yale undergraduate days.

Unlike the professional background checks the FBI performed six times on Kavanaugh for his successive federal jobs, the new investigation will focus on his behavior before he earned his education degrees. Here’s how The New York Times described the scope of the inquiry:

Of particular interest might well be the calendars Kavanaugh innocently enough submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee as evidence he could not have sexually assaulted Blasey Ford. While Democratic senators tried to decipher some of his obscure (to them) notations, they missed an opportunity to reveal to the nation the extent to which Kavanaugh was a party boy and not the wholesome football and basketball varsity jock and top student he projected during Thursday’s hearing. 

Kavanaugh acknowledged his love of beer, an infatuation with the brew he said he maintains to this day. But several times he either misled or provided incomplete responses to inquiries about his calendar entries.

He claimed he legally drank beer during his senior high school year, when he was 18. But Maryland had raised the legal drinking age to 21. None of the Dumb-ocrats seemed aware of this discrepancy. 

For a more detailed explanation of his calendar’s cryptic meanings, including keys to “Renate Alumnius,” “Devil’s Triangle,” “boofing,” and “Beach Week,” read Vox from September 26, the day before the committee hearing (apparently the Dumb-ocrats and their staffs did not):

No doubt, the anguish on the faces of Kavanaugh’s family reflected the pain and trauma they have gone through over the past two weeks. But I also wonder if some of the horror evidenced on their faces came from the revelation that their all-American boy and husband was not the straight shooter he portended to be in his youth. Did his parents know he routinely got drunk? As both his parents were lawyers, they should have been aware the legal drinking age had been raised to 21. Aware now of how frequently he abused alcohol, could a seed of doubt be festering within their devotion to their son?  

So we await an FBI report likely to corroborate Kavanaugh swallowed prodigious amounts of beer back then, but likely to fail to pinpoint any fact to corroborate Blasey Ford’s testimony. 

It will be her word versus his. Her memory seared into the hippocampus part of the brain versus his beer-saturated recall aided by calendar entries he is reluctant, probably embarrassed, to fully explain. 

And on this division, the fate of Kavanaugh’s seat on the Supreme Court and with it the future of our country, hang in the balance. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Dumb-ocrats Miss Revealing Kavanaugh's Inner Man

From police procedurals in film and TV, to real life criminal cases, we have seen how law enforcement can secure convictions by planting evidence. What we saw Thursday during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh committed a sexual assault as a teenager was an official decision to withhold testimony that could corroborate or refute the charge against a member of the white male establishment. By refusing to subpoena Mark Judge, an alleged eyewitness to the assault, and other witnesses, such as the administrator of the polygraph test taken by Christine Blasey Ford, the all male Republican majority on the committee ensured that justice would be blind as well as deaf and dumb. 

On Friday a semblance of fair play returned to the committee. Though a party line vote sent Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate for consideration, Arizona senator Jeff Flake said his aye vote would be contingent on the FBI doing an investigation of the charge, a request Democrats continually made Thursday. 

Mark Judge’s cooperation is not assured. Late Friday afternoon the president ordered a supplemental FBI probe to be completed within a week.

Meanwhile, what the divided nation is left to debate are the performances of Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford. Righteous indignation, even contempt, by the accused; anguish and trauma reluctantly displayed by the accuser. 

They were the star performers. But the senators also provided fascinating but not uplifting displays of statesmanship. Both sides grandstanded, though none as over the top as Republican Lindsey Graham. 

I’m most disappointed with the Democrats, or as I think we should henceforth call them, the Dumb-ocrats. With the whole world watching they allowed Kavanaugh to bulldoze them, to fire up his base while they failed to dig deeply into his psyche. 

The Dumb-ocrats kept asking him to call for an FBI investigation. The Dumb-ocrats kept asking if he was an excessive drinker, prone to blackouts. They kept asking if he sexulally assaulted women. Did they really think he’d surrender an “aha” moment and admit to being imperfect? 

Dumb-ocrats, rather, should have gently probed his character, his judicial reasoning, his family values. By exposing them they would have made it clear to any who had not already committed to his confirmation that Brett Kavanaugh was not the all-American judge, father and coach he tries to put across.

If the questions the Dumb-ocrats posed were insufficient, what should they have asked? I provided some in my last blog (, but a wider range of questions were submitted by New York Times readers from across the country (

I liked the one from Lynda of Gulfport, FL: “Which actions in your life do you now regret taking but have learned from and have made you a better husband, father, teacher and judge? Have any of the mentors in your career been men you admired professionally, but that you had private concerns about with regard to their attitudes toward women in your workplace? As a father to two daughters, did you ever feel any responsibility to express a concern about the language used to describe women in any of your workplaces?”

I read somewhere the following question: Would you permit your daughters, when they are 15, to go to the type of parties you attended in high school? 

Answers to these questions were insight opportunities lost because of Dumb-ocratic obsession with trying to reveal a smoking gun. As the Trumpster would say, Sad.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Nine Hours of She Said, He Said: Few Changed Minds Over Blasey Ford-Kavanaugh Affair

The contrast between the demeanor of the two star witnesses testifying Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee could not have been starker. The accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, was demure and almost naive in her demeanor to be helpful. She was not seeking revenge. She was merely performing her civic duty. 

The accused, Brett Kavanaugh, was forceful, angry, argumentative, tearful and combative in maintaining his innocence and anguish at the destruction of his character and his family’s peaceful all-American existence. 

Whom to believe? My guess is few minds were changed by anyone who watched or listened to the full hearing, as I did over nearly nine hours. 

But there’s information I didn’t find out, based on questions not answered because they were not asked. Here are questions I would have liked to have heard posed and answered by Kavanaugh so the public could more adequately gauge his sensitivity to the issue of sexual assault and harassment: 

*Define the #MeToo movement

*Do you believe it has legitimacy?

*Do you believe the women and men who have come forward in #MeToo cases are sincere?

*Do you see any similarity between #MeToo victims and the boys, now men, who for many years did not speak up about abuse by Catholic priests?

*Can victims suppress the memory of their assault?

*Why do you believe so many women and men did not report a sexual assault when it occurred?

*Can someone do violent actions after excessive drinking?

*Do you believe excessive drinking can result in not remembering events?

*As a jurist do you believe an independent investigation provides a benefit when statements are disputed? (Democratic senators tried to ask this last question by asking Kavanaugh if he would ask for an FBI investigation, but he declined, hiding behind a comment that he would submit to whatever the committee desired, knowing full well that the Republican majority would not vote for such an inquiry.)

There is little reason to believe Blasey Ford had any ulterior motive in bringing forth her allegations of sexual assault and possible rape, allegations she confided to her husband and therapist years before Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. 

His fervent defense was what could be expected. It was compelling. Regrettably for him, his denials brought to mind similar denials by the president who nominated him who repeatedly disparaged Stormy Daniels and denied knowing of payments to her, denials that turned out to be facts. 

Indeed, rarely if ever has any political figure—and Kavanaugh is a political figure—readily admitted to any sexual indiscretion. 

Kavanaugh may well be telling the truth. 

Or Blasey Ford is.

We just may never know which one is.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Battle for Supreme Court Seat Pits Presumption of Innocence v. #MeToo Moments

The presumption of innocence is a foundation of our judicial system. How ironic then that a nominee for the highest court in the land is presumed guilty by many of sexual misconduct as a teenager on the disputed word of his accuser, the victim, a charge denied by the nominee. 

Of course, not everyone believes the victim. Absent a corroborating eyewitness, it is her word versus his to an incident from their youth some 35 years ago. 

The burden of proof beyond a shadow of doubt, it would seem, does not favor the victim. But we are not dealing with a court of law here. Rather, we are in the court of public opinion. In this era of #MeToo, a woman’s word of alleged sexual transgression deserves not just to be heard but to be accorded the respect she was denied during the alleged assault. 

Thirty-five years ago it was common for women to keep quiet, to not go to police after being abused, particularly if the attack was not consummated with sex. Donald Trump again exhibits his ignorance and disdain for women with his tweet questioning why Christine Blasey Ford did not go to the FBI back then to accuse Brett Kavanaugh of attempted rape. Regrettably, we have come to expect such behavior from the misogynist-in-chief. 

The real tragedy here is the failure of Republican senators to show even a modicum of fealty to the advise and consent aspect of their constitutional authority. Without even listening to Blasey Ford on Thursday they have made up their minds she is mistaken. The Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill imbroglio 27 years ago provides precedent that the FBI investigates sexual misconduct allegations made against Supreme Court nominees. Yet Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley and his Republican brethren reject FBI involvement. 

Blasey Ford alleges Mark Judge witnessed the attack and by his actions precipitated her ability to free herself from Kavanaugh’s grasp. Judge says he will not testify. But why does the Judiciary Committee not force his testimony? Why is he not subpoenaed? We are, after all, trying to find an untainted justice to pass judgment on the rest of us 325 million Americans.

Both Kavanaugh and Judge, through speeches and writings, have admitted to excessive drinking while in high school. They admit to a code of silence to any indiscretion they might have perpetrated. Is their clouded alcoholic memories and adherence to a code of silence to be believed more than a young woman’s traumatized recall of an horrific incident she subsequently related to friends and mental health professionals?    

Brett Kavanaugh presents as a wholesome suburban dad, coaching his children’s basketball teams. The facade has been shattered by Judge and Kavanaugh’s own actions and words. His Georgetown Prep high school conduct mirrors that of others who have attended privileged private schools. Not the conduct of fictionalized Dead Poets Society New England students. But more like that of real life St. Paul’s School of Concord, NH, students who made rape a right of passage ( Kavanaugh has already spoken in public about his excessive drinking in high school and beyond. 

There is, of course, an understandable reason Republicans want to expeditiously approve Kavanaugh’s nomination. The sooner he gets confirmed the sooner a more pronounced rightward tilt emerges on the Supreme Court which begins its next term October 1. 

Moreover, as we have seen over the last day, the longer the Kavanaugh saga plays out the more likely other women will come forward with tales of alleged youthful indiscretions that cannot simply be explained as the typical behavior of teenage boys ( Someone should ask the 11 male Republican members of the Judiciary Committee, as well as GOP Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn, if their adolescent behavior included illegal underage drinking, including drinking to excess.

There are some who believe Republicans want a quick vote because they fear a blue wave of voting in November might cost them majority status in the Senate and the ability to confirm Trump nominations. But that’s a red herring argument. Even if a blue wave happened the GOP would retain control until new senators are sworn in next January, leaving sufficient lame duck time for Republicans to approve Kavanaugh or any other candidate Trump sends their way. 

One could argue that rushing Kavanaugh through the confirmation process under a #MeToo cloud is a riskier strategy as it could inflame and energize women and men to elect Democrats who would not blindly rubber-stamp Trump’s predilections. 

The battle over the timing of Blasey Ford’s appearance before the panel is another manifestation of male dominance over women. There likely would be no tangible difference in the end result given Republican intransigence to listen with an open mind. At stake, however, is the integrity of a third branch of our government. But Republicans already have shown their lust for power exceeds moral standards. They embraced for president a known philanderer and misogynist. To retain a Senate seat in Alabama they supported an accused sexual predator. 

In case it has not been raised to your level of consciousness, the vote on Kavanaugh has once again placed two GOP women senators in the spotlight. Like their “no” votes on the repeal of Obamacare, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are said to represent the moral backbone of their party. Will they place country first or party first? 

Even before Blasey Ford stepped forward Collins and Murkowski pinned their support of Kavanaugh to their belief he would not vote to overturn Roe v. Wade and a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. Kavanaugh evaded providing a direct binding commitment to that position. The Blasey Ford allegation raises further questions about his probity to issues affecting women’s rights and equality. How will they vote, especially in light of the extreme pressure they face when next they seek re-election? Regardless of how they vote they will face pressure from the left or from the right.  

But is there no Obamacare-vote-male-equivalent to John McCain among male GOP senators? Will Jeff Flake finally cast a vote that parallels his outspoken anti-Trump rhetoric? Or Ben Sasse? or Bob Corker? Words alone are not sufficient. Action is needed to salvage the soul of the Republican party. 

The solidarity of Democrats in opposition to Kavanaugh also cannot be assured. Barring a smoking gun result from Blasey Ford’s testimony, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and nine others in vulnerable states might reason it would be wiser to vote for Kavanaugh than risk alienating conservatives in their states. After all, some Trump nominee will be seated. Why risk an election over a fait accompli?

The answer goes beyond state borders. As the party that professes its belief in women’s rights, Democrats cannot afford to have any candidate, anywhere, waver in support of this foundational tenet. Women’s rights are as central to Democrats as support for the Affordable Care Act, defense of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and voting rights. 

Barring Kavanaugh’s convincing exoneration of the allegations against him, any less than complete rejection of his confirmation would be an inexcusable capitulation by Democrats. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

American Values Under the Microscope

Hardly a day goes by without someone advocating our return to traditional American values. But just what are they? Are they the values of the Declaration of Independence (“All men are created equal”), or the Constitution’s acceptance of slavery coupled to a formula equating Afro-Americans to but two-thirds of a white man? 

Do our historical values include the willingness of a vast segment of our citizenry to go to war to defend their ownership of another human and to treat that person as property without any rights or feelings? That they believed slavery was divinely ordained? And, after they lost the battle to retain bondage as a permitted way of life, do our values include devotion to laws to eternalize the second class citizenry of former slaves and others who came to our shores as free men but whose skin tone was darker than white folks? 

Do our values include the near annihilation of indigenous Americans and their near perpetual subjugation on reservations? 

Do our American values include our historic prejudice against most immigrant groups, from the Irish to the Chinese to the Southern Italian, the Eastern European, the Jewish, the Hispanic? Did you know that while we encouraged Chinese immigration to build the transcontinental railroad and other infrastructure projects, legal immigrants from China could not become naturalized U.S. citizens until 1943?

Were you aware that concurrent with Russian pogroms against Jews in the 1880s, white Americans ransacked Chinatowns across the country and killed their residents? At the same time, Southerners threw out Reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan grew and Jim Crow laws became widespread in the states of the Confederacy. 

It seems white Americans, regardless of era, are endlessly mandating and legislating rules and regulations to protect their supremacy even as demographics works against them. To keep their hold on the levers of power, white America—now mostly those who are conservative Republicans—preach fear. 

“Fear is powerful,” former president Barack Obama has said. “Telling people that somebody’s out to get you, or somebody took your job, or somebody has it out for you, or is going to change you, or your community, or your way of life—that’s an old story and it has shown itself to be powerful in societies all around the world. It is a deliberate, systematic effort to tap into that part of our brain that carries fear in it.”

Before you jump to the conclusion that fear-mongering is exclusively a Republican tactic, recall that John F. Kennedy ran on fear of a missile gap versus the Soviet Union; Lyndon Baines Johnson made voters fear a nuclear holocaust if Barry Goldwater became president. It is instructive to note, however, that Richard Nixon’s law and order platform and George H. W. Bush’s Willie Horton election campaign ad played on racial fears.  

To Charles Blow of The New York Times, fear drives conservative thought and action. It is not a fear of loss of physical security. Rather, it is fear of loss of power. 

A little history: Woodrow Wilson is lauded for his leadership on the world stage, for his 14 Points program for peace after the Great War, including the creation of the League of Nations,  which ultimately America did not join (

But Wilson, a Southerner born and bred, brought to the White House racist beliefs. He removed blacks from civil service jobs. The military was segregated. And, despite his advocacy of democracy with its inherent foundation of free speech, Wilson stifled dissent to his conduct of America’s involvement in the war in Europe. 

With the compliance of a Democratic controlled Congress, Wilson attacked his detractors through the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918. The laws made it illegal to “willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of the Government of the United States.” Nearly 1,000 people were convicted of violating the law which the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional (

Under a president who has declared the press “an enemy of the people,” and a Republican Congress that has abdicated its constitutional responsibility to act as a check and balance to executive excess, imagine the potential for similar authoritarian action, especially after a Republican majority is confirmed on the Supreme Court. 

In his eulogy of Senator John McCain, his long time friend and former Senate colleague Joe Lieberman said our founding values were freedom, human rights, opportunity, democracy and equal justice under the law.

To former vice president Joe Biden our values entail “inclusivity, tolerance, diversity, respect for the rule of law, freedom of speech, freedom of the press” ( 

Lieberman and Biden’s recitations are values we should strive for but in many instances have failed to achieve, not just in the distant past but in the last 50 years as well. We continue to deny human rights and opportunity to all; voting rights have been restricted; intolerance is endemic; respect for the rule of law has been undermined; freedom of the press has been challenged; diversity is portrayed as anti-American.

Two hundred years ago for many our values included the idea that it was permitted, even biblically sanctioned, that slavery was an acceptable practice. A hundred years ago it was accepted that women were not appropriately competent to be entrusted with the right to vote. Until 1913 with the ratification of the 17th Amendment, the choice of U.S. senators was kept out of the hands of the public at large. Senators were chosen by state legislatures. There are some politicians today, mostly Republicans given their dominance of state legislatures through gerrymandered elections, who would like to go back to that system by rescinding the 17th Amendment. So much for their dedication to democracy!

American values are an evolving concept. Every so often they are assaulted, as they were under McCarthyism. Only through education can we hope to instill in each and every American a knowledge of where we came from and what we have attained and how far we still have to travel to reach the ideals Lieberman and Biden illuminated. 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Imagine If Trump Were Jewish and Had to Seek Forgiveness for His Offenses

Come Sunday at sundown Jews the world over begin a 10 day period of inner reflection. Starting on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, and culminating on Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, the time is known in Hebrew as “aseret yemai teshuvah,” the 10 days of repentance. 

Just imagine if Donald Trump were Jewish. And orthodox. I know it’s farfetched, but who would have thought Ivanka would convert and be orthodox. 

Anyway, I bring this up because with the onset of Rosh Hashana many Jews engage in a repentance practice called “mechilah.” 

As no one is immune from a fall from grace, particularly as it applies to our dealings with other human beings, mechilah provides a custom to seek and obtain forgiveness from those you might have offended, knowingly or unwittingly, over the previous 12 months. 

Prayers and acts of repentance for transgressions against god’s commandments may secure divine forgiveness. But wrongs committed against another person require two-step absolution. God alone does not grant forgiveness for interpersonal failures. Only the person one has offended can absolve the transgressor before god may intervene. 

So Jews go around asking for mechilah, for forgiveness. 

Return now to the opening premise. Just imagine how peripatetic Trump’s next two weeks would be if he had to seek forgiveness from all he had offended in the last year. 

Where to begin?
John McCain? Too late. But there are plenty more on his list from whom to solicit forgiveness. 

Jeff Sessions would be at or near the top of the list, as would Omarosa. Michael Cohen, for sure. Long time favorite target Hillary Clinton would be joined by his new Twitter and campaign rally foil, Maxine Waters. 

A special corner of his list would be dedicated to law enforcement and the intelligence community. Robert Mueller. James Comey. Andrew McCabe. Peter Strzok. Lisa Page. John Brennan. James Clapper. Bruce Ohr. Rod Rosenstein.

Politicians, both domestic and international, engendered Trump outrages in the last year: Jeff Flake. Bob Corker. Chuck Schumer. Nancy Pelosi. Theresa May. Angela Merkel. Kim Jong-un. Justin Trudeau. Of course, a special  measure of forgiveness would be asked of the as yet unknown administration insider and member of the “resistance” who contributed an anonymous, scathing depiction of the Trump presidency to The New York Times. 

Then there are the journalists who have vexed Trump to public insult: Carl Bernstein. Don Lemon. Jim Acosta. Joe Scarborough. Mika Brzezinski. Bob Woodward. 

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that corporations are people, Trump would also have to seek mechilah from Google and Twitter, from Amazon, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN. 

Mechilah is generally expected to be a one-to-one forgiveness ritual. But in Trump’s case, perhaps a communal approach might be in order as he seeks mechilah from all Mexicans and from all the Latino families he traumatized by forcibly separating children from their parents when they sought asylum entry into the United States. His disparagement of the Muslim community, at home and abroad, also calls out for forgiveness.

But perhaps the most deserving recipient of Trump’s mechilah plea would be the American people, their values and their institutions which Trump has dishonored and abused time and again. 

We cannot expect our leaders to be perfect. But as was said of John McCain in a tearful eulogy by his close friend Lindsey Graham on the floor of the Senate, “He taught me that honor and imperfection are always in competition. I do not cry for a perfect man. I cry for a man who had honor and always was willing to admit to his imperfection.” 

McCain would be considered a “ba’al teshuva,” a master of repentance. You don’t have to be Jewish to earn that honorific.