On Kavanaugh, & why I’ll talk about politics on my blog

I’m sure we’ve all heard this before; the things you’re not supposed to talk about in polite company: religion, politics, and money. Unfortunately for me, politics and religion (as it relates to a place’s culture, history, and a nation’s current position in the world) are two of the topics that most fascinate me and that I like to discuss.

Without sounding too self-important, I believe that I have become adept at figuring out the type of person who can have a civil, informed, and enlightening discussion about these delicate topics without being offended or getting upset. I often enjoy conversations with someone who disagrees with me and is informed about a topic more than I do with someone who is similar to me in beliefs. Having discussions with others who don’t agree with me challenges my way of thinking, makes me defend my opinions, and gives me a window into their way of thinking and views on life.

Now I’m by no means an expert on foreign policy or politics, and I have no formal degrees in these subjects. What I do possess is a lifetime love of politics and international affairs. Literally since the age of 7 or 8, I have followed current world events and am interested in the history that leads up to these events. When other kids were watching cartoons, I was tuned into a 24-hour news network.

That being said, there are also many “current events” that I have little to no knowledge of, such as the economy, tax policy, global warming, and many others. I have a broad view of the topics and my feelings towards the issues, but it is not the type of knowledge on which I could have an informed discussion.

Knowing this about me, please take my opinions in this post forward with a grain of salt. Or, just skip altogether. 🙂

The idea for this post originated when a great mentor and support for me, Etti, who was one of my professors in college, asked me what I thought about the Kavanaugh mess. I watched the entire hearing on Thursday from Dr. Ford’s opening statements until the last senator questioned Judge Kavanaugh for the allotted 5 minutes.

It is of course very complicated, and it has devolved into nothing about finding the truth and everything about the optics of the circus before the midterms.

Yes, I think Dr. Ford should have had the right to tell her story and testify, but I have a major problem with Senator Diane Feinstein’s handling of the situation.

She had the knowledge of the complaint early in this confirmation process, and though she was “sworn to secrecy,” I’m not sure exactly what that means or what she agreed to in terms of keeping the identity of the person with the complaint a secret. For Senator Feinstein to not have brought up the allegations in the Judiciary Committee’s closed-door session with Judge Kavanaugh or in her individual meeting with him before the hearings I think is very wrong. This is exactly the reason Senate-confirmed positions seemingly have things such as closed-door hearings and 1-on-1 private visits with the senators.

I thought Dr. Ford was mostly a credible witness, and I believe she should have the time to tell her story. Unfortunately, by no fault of her own, I believe the timing of the revelation is purposeful on the part of the Democrats to disrupt the process before the elections. Had the allegations been addressed in the closed-door hearings I mentioned above, perhaps her identity could have remained private. From what I have heard her say, one of her major worries in coming forward was that she didn’t want to have her name splashed across the headlines. By waiting until the 11th hour, this is exactly what happened.

I thought some of her answers were odd and quite naive on her part. For example, she claimed she didn’t know about the committee’s offer to come to her in California because she doesn’t like to fly. I find this strange because not only should her lawyer have told her about the offer, it was public knowledge. I knew about their offer simply from news reports. Her fear of flying was also puzzling to me because though she claims anxiety around flying, she admitted to many vacations and trips she took to Hawaii and other places around the Pacific Ocean. This doesn’t matter at all in terms of her allegations, I just found the exchange about this between her and the prosecutor odd.

It hardly needs to be said to anyone who watched even a minute or two of Judge Kavanaugh’s opening statement, but his opening statement was filled with emotion that ran the gamut from anger to indignation to tears. I know there is always speculation on how a person acts after a tragedy or accusation (Are they not crying enough, are they crying too much? Is anger the sign of a truly innocent person who is falsely accused or the arrogance of someone who is guilty and mad he got caught?), so I don’t put much stock in that. I didn’t find the substance of his responses when answering the senators’ questions very “compelling.” His “I enjoy beer” line was used too many times, often in response to questions that weren’t about that, and for him to say that he has never forgotten something when he was drinking heavily… I obviously have my own complicated issues and past with alcohol, but I find it hard to believe. That, to me, then, makes it easier for me to question other things he says or denies.

All of this brings me to the biggest issue I have, and that is the question of  “burden of proof” in cases such as this and what constitutes “enough” in the era of the #MeToo movement. Obviously “beyond a reasonable doubt” does not apply here, and either does the civil burden of “preponderance of the evidence,” so it is difficult to know how to evaluate such an allegation in terms of how it should affect his nomination and those of others going forward. One of the pillars of our justice system, of course, is the presumption of innocence, and I wouldn’t want just any allegation to derail someone’s career, but then how do we deal with allegations that cannot be proven or disproven?

I am very uncomfortable with presuming guilt as a legal issue based on an accusation, but how much proof is “sufficient” to deny someone a job when we have cases such as this? And not just high profile cases, but everyday people who may be accused of something and lose or fail to obtain a job because of that. I don’t have an answer. Thoughts?

So now we have the FBI investigation. To me, this is all about optics and public perception. As has been pointed out on many news programs, the FBI doesn’t investigate state crimes, as these allegations would be, and further, they don’t draw conclusions in background investigations. They gather facts. I can’t see them finding anything that is going to sway a vote for confirmation one way or the other. This seems to me to put the Democrats in an odd position: they got their investigation, but if nothing new turns up, I suppose their next line of attack will be that it wasn’t thorough enough. What else can they say?

So to wrap up what has become a marathon post, my biggest issues are 1. the withholding of the letter during the FBI checks, closed-door hearings, and 1-on-1 meetings, and 2. the burden of proof the Senate or any other average company looks for when deciding to hire and/or fire someone and to evaluate when to deny someone an opportunity such as this.

I have lots more thoughts but that’s enough for today. I haven’t reread this so I hope it makes sense!