Archive for September, 2018

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Buggering Little Altar-Boys

September 28, 2018

altar boys

Well, yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh were quite the spectacle. What began with the compelling testimony of Prof. Blasey Ford devolved into the predictable Republican response which was to deconstruct the timeline leading up to the hearing to validate their manipulation of the process and place the lack of action on anyone else, most notably any Democrat involved in the hearing.  While avoiding confronting the overwhelming credibility of Prof. Ford’s testimony, they retreated to arguing about who was to blame for their current dilemma, totally irrelevant to deciding the fate of the Supreme Court nomination. Rather this opposition was created to form a firewall against the future, the potential for a proper investigation that might support an unfavorable truth, the surfacing of more allegations and critical delays in the process that might carry the decision past the midterm election and place control of the process in the hands of the Democrats.

Then the most bizarre thing occurred.  Following his coaching to punch back, Kavanaugh took wild swings at his perceived opposition, alternating between angrily yelling and crying, a strange brew concocted for the appearance of strength and sympathy.  No one has ever followed the Trump playbook to the degree and with such specificity as Kavanaugh–lie, keep on lying, don’t back down and strike out at your enemies. The metamorphosis from the naïve, innocent choirboy portrayed a few nights earlier on Fox News was stunning as the belligerent Kavanaugh portrayed in letters and comments by people who knew him from that period, took form before our very eyes.  Kavanaugh was defiant while deflecting from addressing questions directly or just refusing to answer by sitting in silence.  Twice, he was rude and disrespectful of Democrats by asking two different senators to answer the very question of them that he had been asked by them. For example, when Senator Klobuchar asked him if he ever blacked out after drinking too much, he turned it around and asked her if she had blacked out while drinking—twice, no less!

Kavanuagh’s singular defense was total denial followed by lists of numbers of people who wrote support letters and a lengthy review of all his good deeds, none of which addressed the questions at hand.  The only thing missing from his coached testimony was the phrase, “like the world has never seen.”

Imagine this scenario played out on a different battlefield.  It makes it easier to understand.  A Catholic bishop is being reviewed for a promotion to cardinal.  Trouble is he’s been buggering little boys and an accuser stands before him.  Asked about the charges he responds thus: “I’ve been a priest for over thirty years.  In that time I have given over 2 million sacraments of communion, performed 1,678 weddings, baptized 3,456 babies, heard 60,343 confessions, 4,023 visits to the sick in hospitals and I have support letters from over 1000 parishioners and well-wishers,,,” Trouble is none of this matters if he put his dick in this little altar-boy’s mouth. How this was uncovered, when it was uncovered and how long it took to bring it to a hearing, all are not relevant.  The only thing that matters is the truth of the allegation.

Unfortunately, the quest for the truth parallels the Democratic strategy to create delays.  Looking back on the failed Merrick Garland nomination, this is right out if the Republican playbook.  As Kavanaugh so aptly put it, “What goes around comes around.” But the truth of one does not negate the truth of the other.  These facts can coexist without being causative, yet there should be no fault if one supports the other. It’s what might be called a windfall.

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Blinders on a Racehorse

September 25, 2018

racehorse“Before you cross the street, look both ways.”  It’s what we tell our children.  Perhaps the Republicans running the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Brett Kavanaugh would have done well to learn this lesson and heeded this sound advice.  What we see as a street, they see as a race track and their approach to managing the hearings is to restrict the view by putting blinders on the racehorse and giving it a kick.  Ah, but it still has to cross the ever-widening street and currently it’s running loose on the track with no direction home as Bob Dylan might have said.

Kavanaugh is sounding less and less believable as evidenced by his appearance on Fox News last night. Stumbling and stuttering through his interview he kept falling back on the same weak talking points fed him by his handlers in the long hours spent at the Whitehouse the past two days. Interesting?  Sure, it betrays the true nature of the relationship between Kavanaugh and the GOP, more specifically Trump. Kavanaugh is all too willing to do as he’s told and say whatever they feed him. Do we expect this to change if confirmed? Is this the man we want in the Supreme Court, a puppet?  I think not.

After managing the hearings to suppress evidence of Kavanaugh’s record in office, some 90% of his documents, Grassley as chair of the committee has attempted to control the testimony of witnesses to the GOP’s advantage and now the anger he has aroused is rising like vomit following food poisoning and erupting uncontrollably. Lies and a gavel cannot clean up this mess.

First came the allegation of Professor Christine Blasey Ford of a sexual assault in high school.  That was followed by the accusation of Deborah Ramirez as reported by Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker, that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her and thrust his genitals in her face while at Yale. Next, the New York Times turned up his high school yearbook where he boasts being part of the “Renate Alumnius,” a group of his high school football buds who all have said to have a “relationship” with one Renate Schroeder, now Dolphin, of a nearby Catholic girl’s school, the implication being that they all knew her sexually and were reveling in their shared conquest of this spoiled maiden. Further digging reveals that Kavanaugh belonged to a secret all male society at Yale known as TNC (for “Truth and Courage”) but euphemistically referred to as the “Tit and Clit” club, later shut down by Yale.  Additionally, Kavanaugh was also a member of the fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon, which later was banned from the Yale campus for five years after fraternity brothers gathered outside a women’s center chanting “no means yes, yes means anal.”  The record of Kavanaugh’s associations is a series of bad choices at best and criminality at worst.

Just when it seems that it can’t get any darker enters Michael Avenatti who announces that he represents a woman who will be making a televised interview on Wednesday revealing yet one more sexual charge to add to the growing list, one entirely more substantial and disgustingly repulsive, that Brett Kavanaugh participated in her gang rape, a rape that Avenatti claims is supported by several witnesses who he has secured to support her assertion.

Who holds the moral high ground in this farce? In placating the evangelical religious right with a right-to-life candidate, nominated by an immoral President, the GOP has abrogated any right to a moral position, backing Trump’s selection of a nominee that shares his values in ways both obvious and hidden. Kavanaugh reveals his weakness by willingly following the GOP’s direction and has confirmed that he knows he must pass his exam by getting the “cheat sheet” from fellow student, Trump, who passed his test by simply lying and never waivering from the lie. These are our leaders? This is what we teach our kids? The decline of truth and accountability produces cynicism, an infection that erodes participation in our democracy and the future of this nation. In the year of “Me Too” lesser figures have fallen from grace and office, for offenses dwarfed by Kavanaugh’s activities and associations.  Today, as “America’s dad”, Bill Cosby, faces sentencing, it’s time to realize that there can be no sacred cows.  No one is above the law and certainly not those who administer it.

 

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Gone Fishing

September 23, 2018

99_inch_Striped_Marlin-p-131Whether it’s sitting on a grassy bank at the end on a cane pole in the shade of a tall tree watching the plastic red & white bobber on a still lake, or riding the back of a 45-foot cabin cruiser deep sea fishing for marlin, fishing is an endeavor requiring, skill, knowledge, experience and no short amount of patience. First bait must be acquired and then the successful fisherman must travel to where fish are suspected to be, but it’s not just a guessing game. Experience is more than intuition and a good guess.  No, real fishermen know where the fish are and they know how to catch them and in today’s world, they are aided by all manner of technical devices to locate them.

Deep sea fishing for that really big one is a thrill, but even with a guide, is usually rewarded only after many boring hours of patience.  Once hooked, that big one will put up a fight until exhausted and dragged into the boat.  But no matter the size, all fish will wiggle, flop and squirm even when facing the inevitable.

Be patient, we have a good guide and the big one is hooked.  Sure, he’s putting up a fight but the line is strong and he will be reeled into the boat.  Expect him to struggle and flop around even when the end is inevitable, but take comfort, he’ll look great hanging on the wall a few years from now.

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The Big Rubber Stamp

September 20, 2018

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As Monday draws near, Brett Kavanaugh’s SCOTUS nomination seems all but certain.  Unless Professor Ford’s testimony is given and is supported with the corroborating testimony of others who were present at the party where the alleged sexual assault occurred, the process will be a stalemate of “he said/she said” and Kavanaugh will sail into a lifelong seat on the United States Supreme Court.  The central issue in this controversy is whether Kavanaugh is the kind of man who does not respect women and their rights.  After being nominated by a self-professed pussy-grabbing groper of a man who cheats on his wife with porn stars and playmates, it seems that Kavanaugh and Trump may share similar values with regard to women, but equally so, none of his so-called Christian “family-value” Republican colleagues seem to care. No, they are hell-bent on a single-minded course to overturn Roe v. Wade. Cannot anyone see the underlying connection between these events and Republican ideology?  Is it not all about control over women’s bodies? Is this truly a religious issue or a political assessment, a plea for votes?  Does the truth matter or is this just a calculated exercise in the appearance of fairness in order to save as much Republican support as possible in the midterm election, straddling the fence between the esoteric religious beliefs of their supporters and the pragmatic awareness of women’s rights to control their own bodies as expressed through the “Me Too” movement.

Abortion, is it the taking of a life?  Evangelicals would have us believe it so, but in truth, it’s not so clear cut.  Certainly, a fetus is a form of life.  There are many forms of life that are not human such as plants and animals and there are other living organisms as well.  While all these forms are living things, none is a human being.  Human organs are also full of life. A liver has life within it, as does a kidney, a heart and so on, yet none of these organs constitutes a human being in and of itself. They grow and eventually decay as life passes from them. So, it would take infinite wisdom to determine at what point a fetus is no longer an organ within a woman’s body and has become a human being, a life form capable of self-sufficiency outside her body if called upon. Scientists look at this conundrum and label it “fuzzy logic.”

All religions share the common belief in an after-life of one sort or another and the belief in a system of reward and punishment for the deeds of one’s life on this earth, which depends on the existence of something called the “soul.”  Without a soul, there can be no afterlife.  Central to the argument against abortion is whether the fetus is an independent human being and therefore may possess a soul.

To maintain the separation between church and state is very tricky indeed, as almost all laws have as their basis moral precepts derived from religious law… “thou shall not steal, thou shall not murder, thou shall not commit adultery etc.” These universal precepts can be agreed upon by all, but we have to ask,” is murder a religious concept?”  “Is thievery a religious concept?” or are these pragmatic realities around which are formed social systems we know as laws, which brings us to the issue of abortion and the battle between women’s rights and religious beliefs.

Bluntly put, religious beliefs have no place in law but figure prominently in politics.  It would be wrong to adjudicate a legal issue to placate or reward a religious constituency.  There is an extreme danger in supporting religious-based legal decisions as it takes us just one small step away from a Theocracy such as the Taliban maintain.  The Taliban and other religious forms in that region of the world have had total control over women’s bodies for centuries, their education, their rights, their mode of dress and their right to speak openly.  While we are not that far gone in the United States, the confirmation of a man to the Supreme Court, a man who has attempted a rape and whose nomination is supported by the “good ole boys” who are all too willing to normalize his behavior as a youthful rite of passage while decrying his accuser as mistaken and confused, betrays their willingness to ignore the rights of women to determine what happens to their own bodies.

So, the plan seems pretty clear: Offer Prof Ford the limited opportunity to speak; have Cavanaugh deny her claims and rubber stamp his nomination. The Senate Judiciary Committee will not seek the truth through investigation, but will stage an event in an attempt to placate women voters while fulfilling Trump’s promise to overturn Roe v. Wade with his hand-picked nominee, a man who has demonstrated both in theory and in practice that he does not support women’s rights.