Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sexism v. Rule of Law

Sexism v. Rule of Law
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
September 23, 2018

In the United States of America we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights - including the presumption and preponderance of innocence until proven guilty. This applies to Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike. Believe it or not, this even applies to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“Justice, though due to the accused, is due to the accuser also… We are to keep the balance true.” Those are the words of Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo from 1934.

They key word here is balance - something Democrats, both currently and formerly in the Senate, Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford, and her attorney Debra Katz seem to have conveniently forgotten.

“This woman is to be believed. This was attempted rape,” said former Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

“I believe her,” said Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA). “Coming forward to testify takes an extraordinary amount of courage,” she added.

“During every step of this process, I’ve found every single piece of information from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford eminently credible, sincere, and believable,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

“Not only do these women need to be heard, they need to be believed,” said Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI). “There’s not even a modicum of fairness extended to her through an appropriate FBI investigation so there can be at least some attempt at corroboration.” 

“She must be believed,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), adding that Ford should not participate in the hearing, calling it “a sham.”

“I believe Dr. Ford, the survivor. There’s every reason to believe her,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

To this collective group of fawning, obsequious sycophants who have forgotten about the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven, where is the proof? An accusation has been levied, and Ford, 51, a professor at Palo Alto University in California and research psychologist, should most assuredly be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Heard? Absolutely. But the tough questions must be asked. Believed? Not so fast. The women quoted above are sexist in their expectation that the mere accusation be taken at face value. Courtroom or not, Kavanaugh is still innocent until proof of guilt is produced. Four so-called witnesses named by Ford have each denied any knowledge of these accusations - either they were not present, did not know Kavanaugh, or simply do not recall any such incident. Of the four people who refuted Ford’s assertion, one, a woman, and lifelong friend of Ford’s, Leland Ingham Keyser, said she does not know Kavanaugh nor has any recollection of the event in question.

(As Ford’s allegations pertain to an alleged incident dating back more than three decades, the statute of limitations has expired. Three decades-plus ago, both Kavanaugh and Ford were teenaged high schoolers. Kavanaugh attended the upper-crust Georgetown Prep in North Bethesda, MD while Ford attended the equally hoity-toity Holton-Arms School minutes away in Bethesda. While Ford and her supporters have described the all male school as white, privileged, rich, and elitist, little has been said of Holton-Arms. Having lived and worked in the Capitol region for years, Holton-Arms is a female version of Georgetown Prep, and the schools have earned their reputation as more than its fair share of immoral behavior - sex, drugs, alcohol - has been executed by both males and females.)

To Boxer, it must be asked, how do you know it was attempted rape? Because Ford said so? And no woman has ever lied about rape or sexual assault before. Oh wait…

In March 2006 Crystal Gail Mangum, a student attending North Carolina Central University falsely accused three Duke University lacrosse players of rape. This reduced the reputations of the three innocent Blue Devils to cinder, virtually unable to show their faces publicly.

In September 2012 Jackie Coakley lied about being gang rapped at the University of Virginia fraternity house Phi Kappa Psi. This story appeared in Rolling Stone magazine before ultimately being fully discredited. No retraction can return the reputations to the accused.

Sadly, false accusations and lies only hurt legitimate victims who must get justice, not a slap on the wrist, as was meted out to Brock Turner, the scumbag at Stanford University, thanks to an ineffective judge. That judge, Aaron Persky, this year, became the first California jurist recalled in 86 years - long overdue. 

This is not a war on women, but instead, a war by an insidious group of political hacks hellbent on keeping the last shred of power they are able to hang onto regardless of who gets destroyed in the interim - be it a Supreme Court nominee, his marriage, or his young daughters, forced to endure the smarmy and the salacious. With no evidence, justice clearly will not be served for Brett Kavanaugh.

To Feinstein, it must be asked, what are all these pieces of information to which you referenced? Where are they? Have you been sitting on them since the receipt of the July 31 letter about these accusations in the first place? Why did you not come forward sooner? It should be noted that Feinstein later admitted that she’s not sure “everything’s truthful” from Ford. Speaks volumes, but barely registered above a whisper from the mainstream media who is working in concert with the Democrats in their complicit efforts to derail the Kavanaugh appointment to the High Court.

To Hirono and Gillibrand, it must be asked, are you aware that the FBI does not conduct the type of investigation you are demanding? That this would be a state matter were the statute of limitations not expired?

To Senator Blumenthal, it must be asked, what are the specific reasons to believe Ford? Do you know something the rest of us don’t know, including, apparently, Ford herself, who said she neither remembers the when or where of the alleged attack?

As for coming forward to testify, Ford won’t take yes for an answer. Virtually all her demands have been acquiesced to by the Republicans serving on the Judiciary Committee. Chairman Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said, “we’re doing everything we can to make her comfortable,” including, but not limited to, having the hearing open or closed, public or private, next Monday, next Thursday, could be next Shavuot for all anyone knows at this point.

Once certain demands had been agreed to, Ford and her attorney moved the goal line with increasing demands such as only committee members could question Ford - no outside attorneys, that Kavanaugh cannot be in the room, and that Kavanaugh should be questioned first. That last one is ridiculous, because as George Washington University Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley said, “you swing, then we pitch.”

Crafty demands - make Kavanaugh testify first. To what? “I didn’t do whatever it is my accuser will accuse me of later?” Not allowing him in the same room with Ford. Whatever happened to the right to face one’s accuser? Has the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution been eviscerated? I realize this witch hunt is an attempt to destroy the reputation of a potential Supreme Court nominee, but to deny him the standard rights afforded to any accused as found in the Constitution?

Another crafty demand of not permitting outside attorneys to question Ford, just the stodgy, old, white men sitting on the Judiciary Committee. Think of the optics. Apparently Gillibrand already has when she called the potential hearing “a sham” while recommending Ford not sit for the hearings. Gillibrand also said the mere attempt to have Ford testify in the first place is “bullying,” assuming Ford is some waif or wallflower who is unable to face the committee without falling apart.

Then the goal line was moved yet again, when Ford said she is afraid to fly and the testimony would have to be delayed until she could drive to Washington from California. Anyone ever hear of Skype? Even a technologically stunted individual such as myself is still able to manage Facetime (thanks to my daughters, of course).

This is an obvious political ploy by the Democrats to prevent an otherwise qualified jurist from being seated on the Supreme Court, in hopes the clock will run out until the midterm election this November, not that that should stunt the proceedings. During the Bill Clinton administration it famously was “deny, deny, deny,” while now the mantra is “delay, delay, delay.”

“Sexual assault allegations should not be deployed strategically for political gain,” wrote Grassley in a letter to Feinstein. He is right, of course, and even liberal pundit Jessica Tarlov, a frequent guest on Fox News agreed as much, saying, “this is absolutely political.”

The Democrats are defending Ford while the Republicans are defending the process.

Additionally, Kavanaugh said this is a case of mistaken identity. Ford’s lawyer, Katz, said “zero chance,” yet ignoring that Ford herself cannot recall the when and where.

“People can have false memories and still pass a polygraph,” said Turley.

Further, for Kavanaugh to suggest a case of mistaken identity, is to consider that something did happen to Ford, sadly, but that Kavanaugh was not the perpetrator. My words, not Kavanaugh’s.

Now, at the 11th hour, with Ford’s assertions lacking credibility, and with Kavanaugh publicly supported by a cadre of women who have known him personally and professionally for decades, another accuser has come forward. Deborah Ramirez, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale claimed Kavanaugh flashed her at a party. Statements from named people close to both Ramirez and Kavanaugh during their time at Yale have categorically refuted her claim, attesting to his character, including Ramirez’s best friend from college.

“This is a woman I was was best friends with. We shared intimate details of our lives. And I was never told this story by her, or by anyone else. It never came up. I didn’t see it; I never heard of it happening,” said the friend, as reported by the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative group supporting Kavanaugh.

To be fair, there are numerous sexual assault/rape victims who do not talk about their assault, do not report the assault, block out the assault for years, for myriad reasons. There is no procedural timetable by which victims must adhere. They should all be heard, as averred above, but the level of credibility by which they should or should not be believed, should be on a case by case basis. Further, The New York Times, hardly a conservative bastion by any stretch of the imagination, reported it could not corroborate the allegations from the second accuser, Deborah Ramirez.

What’s actually more disturbing than the accusations themselves, is the absolute rush to judgement sans evidence. This is a mockery of the system of jurisprudence under which we the people of the United States have lived for the last 231 years.

Worse than that, is the possibility that should Kavanaugh’s nomination fail, he will not only appear guilty, but the nomination process will be destroyed in perpetuity with only a mere baseless accusation enough to implode the nomination of anyone for any reason, or worse yet, no reason other than politics. 

The Supreme Court is to be devoid of politics, and not too long ago that was evidenced by the near unanimous support for two polar opposite justices - the late Justice Antonin Scalia and current Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In 1986 Scalia secured his place on the High Court with a 98-0 vote of approval, including yea votes from such liberal luminaries as senators Joe Biden (DE), Al Gore (TN), Ted Kennedy (MA), and Pat Leahy (VT). On the flip side, in 1993, Ginsburg earned her seat on the Court by virtue of a 96-3 favorable vote, including yea votes from such conservative senators as the aforementioned Grassley, Orrin Hatch (UT), Mitch McConnell (KY), and Strom Thurmond (SC). If Kennedy could vote for Scalia and Thurmond could vote for Ginsburg, the political shenanigans should, and must cease. The continued polarization and politicization of the Senate process and the Supreme Court itself is damaging the Republic.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

September 11 - What Real Sacrifice Looks Like

September 11 - What Real Sacrifice Looks Like
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
September 9, 2018

September 11 falls, yet again, on a Tuesday, just as it had in 2001. The day started out as a picture-perfect peaceful, bucolic day - bright sunshine, puffy, innocent white clouds - only to be permeated by death, destruction, devastation, and terrorism.

While the pre-ordained intent of the 19 Islamic extremist terrorists became clear upon impact, and the loss of human life intentional - male and female, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim, the nearly 3,000 slaughtered became the first casualties of the current war on terrorism.

A brief timeline of the harrowing events of September 11, 2001:

Between 7:59 AM and 8:42 AM four flights take off from Boston’s Logan, Washington’s Dulles, and Newark airports, each headed for Los Angeles except the Newark flight, headed to San Francisco.

8:46 AM: American Airlines flight #11 is flown into #1 World Trade Center - the North Tower - by five Muslim extremist hijackers murdering the 11 crew, 76 passengers and hundreds inside the tower instantly. This is an example of unintended, yet real sacrifice.

9:03 AM: United Airlines flight #175 is flown into #2 World Trade Center - the South Tower - by five Muslim extremist hijackers murdering the nine crew, 51 passengers, and hundreds inside the tower instantly. This is an example of unintended, yet real sacrifice.

9:05 AM: President George W. Bush is alerted to what is now believed to be terrorist attacks. “Terrorism against our nation will not stand,” said Bush.

9:37 AM: American Airlines flight #77 is flown into the Pentagon in Arlington, VA by five Muslim extremist hijackers murdering the six crew, 53 passengers, as well as 125 military and civilian personnel on the ground. This is an example of unintended, yet real sacrifice.

9:59 AM: The South Tower collapses in 10 seconds after burning 56 minutes. More than 800 civilians and first responders are murdered. This is an example of unintended, yet real sacrifice.

10:03 AM: United Airlines flight #93 crashes into a field in Shanksville, PA when passengers and crew storm the cockpit. There are no survivors of the seven crew and 33 passengers due to the murderous plot by the four Muslim extremist hijackers. Flight #93 was 20 minutes from Washington, DC where the White House and/or the Capitol Building were the presumed targets. This is an example of intended sacrifice - heroism, in fact, knowingly sacrificing their lives in an effort to prevent thousands more from perishing should that plane had reached its intended target.

10:15 AM: The damaged section of the Pentagon E-Ring collapses.

10:28 AM: The North Tower collapses after burning 102 minutes. More than 1,600 civilians and first responders are murdered. This is an example of unintended, yet real sacrifice.

5:20 PM: World Trade Center #7 collapses. The 47 story building had already been evacuated and no fatalities are reported.

8:30 PM: President George W. Bush addresses the nation.

The sacrifices made by the nearly 3,000 victims, intended or unintended, are supreme - they are lost to us forever except in our memories and the memorials in New York City, Arlington, VA, and Shanksville, PA. Having grown up in the shadows of the original World Trade Center, it had been more than a decade since visiting, until this summer when my wife, daughter, and I finally made it to One World Trade Center to see the new tower and the memorials where we could pay respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice - family friends like Lee Adler.

While thousands of people were naturally fleeing the scenes of the terrorist attacks in efforts to save themselves, there were hundreds of first responders moving just as deftly toward the falling towers, toward the burning Pentagon attempting to rescue total strangers from all walks of life without asking about their backgrounds, religious beliefs, ethnic origins, or sexual orientation. These men and women also made the supreme sacrifice - many of whom never made it home to their families.

Additionally, there are multitudes of first responders who, 17 years later, are suffering from myriad cancers related to toxic dust from the terror sites in New York City and Arlington. For those still in these dire circumstances, they should visit the Victims Compensation Fund website: 

When the stories of the suffering endured by the people who made genuine sacrifice are recalled, I find it more than just insulting that a football player should be made the face of a sneaker company with the tagline: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” 

This ballplayer has sacrificed nothing. He made a decision to grandstand by refusing to stand for the National Anthem of the United States in an effort to bring attention to an issue of concern to him. Most people remember him taking a knee, but not the reason for doing so, thus defeating the purpose. Had this player requested space in any newspaper in the country for the purposes of an editorial, it would have been granted.

I am a fervent supporter of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and that free speech is the bellwether of the success of this country. “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it,” credited to Evelyn Beatrice Hall (1868-1956), speaks volumes and I agree with it strongly. I think players who take a knee are wrong for doing it, and I don’t have to buy the products they endorse, but it is still their right, however misguided, to do so. However, let the consequences fall where they may. 

Opine before the media - give interviews, write editorials - attention will be paid, and agree or disagree, your rights will most certainly be defended. Taking a knee is a publicity stunt that is offensive to those who served and continue to serve - some of whom are unable to stand or take a knee because of the genuine sacrifices they have made.

Now, apparently, this particular player is suing his former league for collusion. Bottom line, if he were a quality player, he would be in uniform today. There are many players, unfortunately, who have committed felonies and are still playing pro ball. No, he has sacrificed nothing, and now he is being rewarded for his petulance.

In addition to remembering the sacrifices made by those who died on September 11, and in the subsequent battles, we must also maintain our faith. I offer a selection from Jewish liturgy as this year, September 11, is also the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

“Save us because of Your mercy. Shield us from enemies and pestilence, from starvation, sword, and sorrow. Remove the evil forces that surround us, shelter us in the shadow of Your wings. You O G-d, guard us and deliver us. You are a gracious and merciful King. Guard our coming and our going, grant us life and peace, now and always.”

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. He grew up in northern New Jersey in the shadow of the Twin Towers. On September 11, 2001, he was writing for a newspaper in northern Virginia, 10 minutes from the Pentagon.