On Blasey Ford, Innocence, Evidence and #MeToo

Since September 13th, when Senator Dianne Feinstein announced she possessed a letter alleging Judge Brett Kavanaugh had attempted to rape a woman while they were both in high school, I have been riveted to the news, to each breaking item, and to the investigation that followed.

Initially, I believed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford wholeheartedly.

By Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote, in one of the fastest-paced news cycles in my memory, my opinion shifted from one firmly on Blasey Ford’s side, to one that questioned whether she ever believed Kavanaugh had been her assailant at all.

How did I get here? It’s been a wild ride.

When I first read Dianne Feinstein’s letter, I was flippant: “Oh, an anonymous accuser. Guess we’ll have to wait and see if her name is leaked.” (Yeah, I saw that coming. I’ve been in politics for too long.) In my view, if the author was not willing to put her name to her allegations, her allegations were worth the paper on which they were written.

The next day, the Washington Post published its interview with Ford and because she provided her name and the account she offered seemed plausible, my initial reaction was to believe her. I read the article to my boyfriend and said something along the lines of “Damn it… I guess Kavanaugh assaulted someone in high school, but the victim’s only just reporting it. Guess we should have appointed Barrett [Amy, a conservative woman that had also been on Trump’s shortlist of potential nominees prior to his selection of Kavanaugh] instead. That’s not gonna be good for mid-terms.”

I took her seriously her because I recognize that women accusing men of sexual assault are not frequently lying. I believed her because she put her name to the allegation, which meant severe blowback if her claims were false. I believed her because she named other classmates at the party– people that I immediately recognized could likely be tracked down for confirmation of her claim. I believed she was unlikely to make up a party with other known people in attendance, knowing the media would immediately find and question them. I believed her because she is a professional, with a life and career other than chasing the media spotlight (read: Michael Avenatti) and with only her testimony and Kavanaugh’s denial on which to base my decision, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I took her seriously her because I know what it’s like to have your abuse dismissed and had I been in her shoes, I would have wanted to be believed (or at least had my allegations treated seriously).

Trust but verify. We must take women’s accusations seriously and be unafraid to follow the evidence where it leads.

Immediately, the Senate Judiciary Committee invited Ford to speak to them– publicly or privately– and Kavanaugh called for a hearing to clear his name. Quickly, Ford offered the names of every person she alleged had attended the party: Leland Keyser, PJ Smyth, and Mark Judge.

In short order, these individuals provided sworn statements (under threat of perjury) to the Senate Judiciary Committee saying that they did not remember the party or having known Christine Ford. Christine Ford’s friend (who she later claimed was the person with whom she had arrived at the party) Leland Keyser likewise claimed to not recall having ever mett Brett Kavanaugh nor attended any party with him at any point in time. That was the first moment I hesitated, though I didn’t immediately think too much of it. I did make a mental note to remember that Leland Keyser didn’t remember having met Kavanaugh, because that ruled out her being with Ford at any party, at any time, where Kavanaugh was present. It seemed far more likely she’d remember a guy she hung out with sometimes than whether he was at a particular party three+ decades earlier.

Then Kavanugh scrounged up a calendar from 1982 (who does that?!?!) that showed he was out of town most weekends (cue another shift in Blasey Ford’s claim, from, “The party probably happened on a weekend,” to “It also could have happened on a weekday.”) and that he listed the parties he attended and the friends that were there. Christine Ford’s party wasn’t listed.

This was influential to me for a couple of reasons:
1. Why dig up a calendar that old unless you’re 100% certain it will contribute to your innocence? This was the moment I became convinced he was never blackout drunk in high school, regardless of how drunk he was. Occam’s Razor: If he was guilty of attempting to rape Ford, there was no reason to find and present the calendar. No one expects a person to keep a calendar for decades or to keep such a detailed calendar. No one would have ever questioned whether he retained a calendar for 36 years. It was 36 years ago– there’s no way he remembered whether he had inscribed a particular party on his calendar. The only reason it made sense to search for and present the calendar was if he remembered every moment of high school and thus knew for a fact that he never partied with Dr. Ford and thus no such party would be listed.

2. The calendar showed other parties and listed the friends in attendance, but did not include this party in particular. Nowhere in Blasey Ford’s claim did she seem to allege the attempted rape had been premeditated, nor did anything about the alleged crime suggest that. Ergo, the party should have been recorded in his calendar if he’d attended.

At this point, I became convinced that her assailant was not Kavanaugh. I believed that she believed he did it, but the calendar convinced me she was mistaken.

On Thursday, before/during/after her testimony,  more changed. In rapid succession:

  • Sen. Feinstein released her entire letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee and the FBI wherein she finally turned over Dr. Ford’s note, along with the letter itself.
    Dr. Ford had been on vacation in Delaware when she wrote the letter and had flown home, in contradiction to claims that she was too traumatized and afraid to fly. In her questioning, Rachel Mitchell quotes media reports referencing Dr. Ford’s alleged fear of flying and Dr. Ford says that it’s true, friends helped her “get up the gumption” to fly. She then follows it by noting that she actually flies to Delaware every year. We found out that she also spent a year flying around Hawaii for her PhD studies.
  • Dr. Ford changed her testimony regarding the number of people at the party. The therapist’s notes reviewed by the Washington Post had said there were four attackers involved in Dr. Ford’s assault. Dr. Ford told them that was a mistake in transcription; there had been four boys in total at the party and two involved in her assault. In her letter to Sen. Feinstein, she stated that there were four people present at the party other than her. She testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that a female friend had also attended: Leland Ingham (now Keyser).  On the stand, she stuck with that claim: Four boys + Leland, who denies remembering the party or having met Kavanaugh.
  • Dr. Ford changed her story about the layout of the home where the party took place. She testified in her letter to Feinstein that the home had a “short “stairwell that cut up from the living room. To the Washington Post, she described leaving the family room to head upstairs and running through the living room on her way out the door. On the stand, she called it a “narrow” stairwell and described the living room/family room area as being small and combined. This change came after the Senate Judiciary Committee published a schedule detail indicating its investigators had visited the two party homes from that era in the geographic area she specified and concluded that the floorplans did not match her description. 
  • Dr. Ford changed the breadth of the geographic area in which the assault could have taken place. In her letter to Sen. Feinstein, she claimed the party took place in a “suburban Maryland area home.” To the Washington Post, she said the party took place in “Montgomery County, not far from the Country Club.” On the stand, she updated that to say that the party may have taken place anywhere within a 20-minute drive radius from the country club and her home.
  • The PaloAlto Post dug up Dr. Ford’s remodel permit that allowed her to add doors to her home and found it was filed in 2008. They thought this would defend her: A friend told the WSJ that she needed a second door out of her bedroom because of the assault and it was true! She’d added a door to her bedroom. Problem: On the stand, Dr. Ford testified that the door she’d added because of claustrophobia was a front door. However, the second front door was added to allow for an ADU (Additional Dwelling Unit) that can be and often has been sealed from the main residence. That door does not create an additional egress for Ford; it is the primary egress and mail-receiving door for tenants. This contradicted her testimony that she and her husband were fighting over the irrational addition of this unnecessary second front door in 2012, leading them to a marriage counselor where she disclosed the attempted rape.
  • Dr. Ford lived in a 500 sq. ft. apartment in Palo Alto prior to her marriage to her husband and purchase of their home.  An ex-boyfriend of eight years sent the Senate Judiciary Committee a letter noting specific years that he and Dr. Ford had been friends, then dated, then had a long-distance relationship. He noted in the letter that she had lived in a tiny apartment with just one door for a portion of their relationship without ever complaining about claustrophobia. This also contradicted her testimony that claustrophobia arose as a result of her attempted rape in high school.
  • Dr. Ford helped her best friend (Monica McLean) prepare for a polygraph she took prior to beginning work for the FBI. Though Monica McLean’s lawyer disputed this after Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Dr. Ford has not disputed it (despite her lawyers disputing other claims made in sworn statements) and neither Ford or McLean have disputed any other portion of his letter. I thus think that it is safe to surmise that McLean believes it unlikely the Senate will pursue perjury charges against her and that Dr. Ford’s ex-boyfriend is telling the truth. This contradicted Dr. Ford’s testimony under oath that she had “never” provided anyone with tips or recommendations for taking a polygraph and belies the claim that she was extremely stressed by the polygraph, didn’t know what to expect and wasn’t even sure what to call the sensor attached her for the polygraph.
  • Dr. Ford did not name Kavanaugh in the polygraph statement on which her polygraph results were released, nor did she specify any time more specific than the “80’s.” Her lawyers will not release the series of questions she was asked in response to her interview or whether she passed them.
  • Dr. Ford’s attempted rape was alleged to have taken place across a variety of contradicting time frames. In Dr. Ford’s text to the Washington Post, she said it had happened in the “mid-80’s.” In her 2013 therapy notes reviewed by the Washington Post, she alleged to have been assaulted in her “late teens.” In her letter to Sen. Feinstein, she said the assault happened in the “summer of 1982 when she was 15.” In her polygraph statement, she crossed out “early” leaving only the “80’s”. Her lawyers refuse to release her therapy notes so others can independently verify what they may have said.
  • Finally, Dr. Ford testified that she was driven home from the party but cannot explain who drove her, how someone knew to pick her up, or why her best friend at the party didn’t think it was weird she left early, didn’t question how she got home, and never followed up to ensure Dr. Ford was okay. So she left a party early, unexpectedly, by her own account under oath, did not stop to gather her things or call anyone, and was magically able to immediately get in a car with someone and drive home. Her best friend didn’t follow up with a phone call to ask where she went. No one asked why she left the party early or whether she got home safely. No one has come forward to say they drove her. No one noticed she seemed uncomfortable.

Here’s where it gets conspiratorial. Remember Monica McLean, the FBI agent she helped with a polygraph?

  • McLean was the “beach friend” that encouraged Dr. Ford to send her letter to Senator Feinstein.
  • Dr. Ford was visiting McLean’s current city (McLean is now retired) in Delaware when she wrote the letter.
  • McLean texted Leland Keyser, after she submitted her written statement, pressuring her to “clarify her story,” according to the Wall Street Journal. 
  • McLean signed the letter of Holton Arms students supporting Ford.
  • McLean was with Ford during her testimony on Thursday.
  • When McLean was in the FBI, she worked as a PIO for the Southern District of New York, sometimes in cooperation with Preet Bharara, a district attorney fired by President Donald Trump, who was previously Senior Counsel for Senate Minority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer.
  • Dr. Ford’s delay (alleged to be due to an inability to fly) of the hearing between her and Kavanaugh allowed just enough time for Deborah Ramirez to finish deliberating whether to come forward and for Avenatti to find a trash human willing to lie about horrible things.  I will not be naming Avenatti’s client because she clearly sought only the spotlight. I will not be granting her that.

Like me, Senator Chuck Grassley would now like to know: How much of Dr. Ford’s timeline was conspiracy?

If she really disclosed the assault because of a dispute over doors, why was that door permitted four years before her disclosure? Why was it not set up to alleviate her trauma?

Why did she lie about having helped someone with a polygraph? If she really told her therapist she was assaulted at 15 in 1982, why won’t she release her therapist’s notes?

If she really passed the polygraph, why won’t her lawyers release the questions she was asked in relation to her interview and her answers to them?

Even to a completely rational mind, this all sounds very strange and deceptive.

That is how I, a survivor of child abuse and a woman whose abuse was dismissed because I wasn’t old enough to be believed, came to disbelieve another woman. I believe she suffered abuse at the hands of men and I believe she’s telling a true story, but her shifting timeline and changing details have led me to believe that someone besides Brett Kavanaugh was her attacker.

Many women will not have corroborating evidence because their abuse takes place in secret and they are too ashamed to confide in anyone, too afraid of being blamed. This must change. 

Dear friends, have courage! Share your experiences! Report evil men, if not for your own sake, for the sake of other women that may be abused by them in the future.

Treat every allegation seriously (nearly every woman has a story) but please, be courageous enough to follow where the evidence leads. 


Terrorism Doesn’t Care About Your Safe Space

Dear American Liberals,

LGBTQ+ are Americans as much as I am an American. A terrorist attack at a nightclub with a predominantly LGBTQ+ clientele is not an “LGBTQ+ tragedy,” it is an American tragedy.

I will not give Orlando victims any more “special attention” than I gave the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, the victims of the Paris Bataclan attacks, the victims of the San Bernardino Massacre, or the victims of 9/11, because each of these attacks was a hate crime, having been perpetrated by Islamic extremists against anyone following an ideology less puritanical than their chosen interpretation.

Therefore, in the wake of a terror attack, I will do whatever I can to help and comfort victims, but their suffering is not “worse” because they’re not cisgender and straight. Would you tell a cisgender heterosexual suffering PTSD flashbacks that their trauma is less real, because they weren’t specifically targeted? What about victims of the Orlando attack that are cisgender and/or heterosexual allies?

The LGBTQ community is always united in struggle, so instances of direct violence and harm affect even those displaced from the situation. Moments of mass violence are always threatening and scary, but they especially hit home when directly impacting “safe spaces” for a community that is constantly on guard for discrimination, harassment and harm.

Let’s discuss this bit from Mashable:

  1. Why does “being united in struggle” mean that a terror attack affects you more than it affects me?
    After Nidal Hasan, motivated by the same ideology, opened fire on soldiers at Fort Hood, we didn’t hear that “the military community is always united in struggle,” so the attack would affect even those outside of Fort Hood. In fact, the terror attack was first classified as “workplace violence,” in spite of mounds of contrary evidence.
  2. Why was the night club considered a “safe space?”
    Were non-allies kicked out for being less than supportive? And if so, isn’t that even less tolerant than say… a flower shop refusing to decorate a gay couple’s wedding? (Arlene’s Flowers provided flowers for the plaintiffs on many occasions over the years, and only balked at servicing the wedding.)
  3. As a character in a recent episode of South Park complained, “Reality’s here! He’s trying to crash the party!”
    Reality here: You can make your home a safe space, provided no one in your family ever leaves, and provided you live remotely enough to prevent overhearing traffic and neighbors. A night club will never be a “safe space.” Public spaces cannot prevent you from experiencing harm. LGBTQ+ are not special snowflakes.

If you want equal rights, and to be treated equally, stop telling me you require special treatment. The #pride flag shouldn’t be flying at half staff over the Space Needle; the American flag should be there. Americans should be gathering to support and defend each other, regardless of sexual orientation. Don’t tell me you’re more victimized than someone else. Don’t tell me I’m “erasing you from your tragedy.” Don’t want to be othered? Don’t expect to be treated as a separate class of terrorism victim. We are all Americans, and we are all the targets of terrorists because we value freedom and liberty over convert or die. Fifty Americans were killed today, and another 50+ were injured. Thousands of Americans have today felt the sting of Islamic terrorism as it personally affected them, their families, and their friends.

Regardless of screed, race, or sexual orientation, terrorism is a horrific scourge, and must be fought by all Americans, standing united.

Speak Up & Speak Out! Caucus this Saturday!

Washington State has two parts to our presidential selection process:

  1. We caucus. This year, 49% of Washington State’s Republican delegates are assigned to a candidate based on caucus results.

    This year, that happens on Saturday, February 20th. There are five locations spread across Kitsap County, and you should caucus at the location that includes your precinct. (Registered to vote, but not sure what precinct you’re in? Click Here.) Registration opens at all Kitsap County caucus locations at 9:00am, and caucus procedure begins promptly at 10:30am.

  2. We hold an open primary election. Open primary means that no one is bound by party preference– Democrats can vote in a Republican primary, and Republicans can vote in a Democratic primary (though we really wish they wouldn’t– Trump is a scourge to all). As in any other election, you may only vote once.

    This year, Washington State’s primary presidential election will be held on May 24th, and 51% of Washington State’s Republican delegates will be assigned based on the results of that election.

Kitsap County Caucus Locations:

  1. Woodward Middle School (Precincts 301-345)
    9100 NE Sportsman Club Road
    Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
  2. Baymont Inn & Suites (Precincts 001-099)
    5640 Kitsap Way
    Bremerton, WA 98110
  3. Olympic High School (Precincts 101-175)
    7070 Stampede Blvd.
    Bremerton, WA 98311
  4. North Kitsap High School (Precincts 401-464)
    1780 NE Hostmark St.
    Poulsbo, WA 98370
  5. Marcus Whitman Junior High (Precincts 200-297)
    1887 Madrona Dr. SE
    Port Orchard, WA 98366

Make your voice heard! Generally, Washington State doesn’t matter for much, but this year, we have a chance to DUMP DONALD TRUMP and right the GOP’s ship.

I’ll be caucusing for Marco Rubio this Saturday, and as he is the GOP’s only hope of regaining the White House, I hope you will, too!

Rebutting Puff Po: 2nd Amendment

A few days ago, I came across this Puffington Post article by Samantha Rosen, which presents a tired liberal fantasy: That the 2nd Amendment protects only a military right to keep and bear arms, not an individual right.

To defend her claim, she purports that,

Nowhere in the text, however, is it stated that an individual right to keep and bear arms is preserved. More overtly, the text refers to the collection of people who would make up a militia if the federal government were to abuse its power.

Earlier in the same editorial, she acknowledges that,

The ultimate check on a tyrannical government, the Framers of the Constitution believed, was an armed population.

If the Framers believed an armed population was the ultimate check on a tyrannical government, and, as she acknowledges, that was really the motivation for the 2nd Amendment, then who are the people that would “make up a militia if the federal government were to abuse its power?”

Samantha never clarifies, because she knows that militias, in the context of Revolutionary America, were made up of individuals that owned muskets and volunteered to defend their country at a literal minute’s notice.

The “militia” is every and any citizen of the United States.


Political Action Committees are Necessary

Today, a friend shared the following video:

I crafted a ridiculously long comment about 45 seconds in, then watched the rest of it and opened the affiliated website to learn more about the proposed “Act,”and promptly decided the idea merited its own blog post.

1. At approximately 45 seconds in, the video makes a dangerous assertion about what an “ideal Republic” would look like.

“Ideal Republic:” Chances of a bill passing Congress compared to percentage of support that bill has among the American people.

This is not an ideal Republic. In fact, this graph does not depict a Republic at all. This is a graph of ideal Direct Democracy. That is, if 51% of the people are for it, Congress would pass the law, even if the other 49% think it’s a terrible, no good, very bad idea.

In an ideal republic, representatives vote not based on what people want, but on what is best for the country, regardless of whether it is popular. In an ideal democracy, representatives vote perfectly based on what people want.

Originally (prior to the 17th Amendment), the United States was a split Republic, or a Democratic Republic, or a Republic with Democratic leanings. “We the People” elected representatives, and they were accountable directly to We the People, but representatives elected United States Senators, who answered back to the Representatives, not We the People.

The Founding Fathers intentionally avoided “ideal democracy,” because in an “ideal” democracy, the 51% rules the 49%. Our founding fathers wanted minority groups to have a voice, and they wanted US Senators to be elected by other representatives specifically because the 51% might revolt and vote out the representatives closest to them for making a decision that gave long-term stability for the country, even if it was unpopular at the moment. Senators were a check to the power of “We the People.” Senators chosen this way were still subject to term limits, but on a six year cycle instead of a two year cycle, so that by the time representatives needed to choose a new Senator, We the People would have had three elections to decide whether or not the law in question was actually worth a full changing of the guard.

2.  Each video I’ve seen that gripes about the influence of money in politics neglects some extremely important details.

  • Economy of Scale
  • The Role of the Individual in Special Interests

Economy of Scale
In Washington’s 6th Congressional District, 233,582 people cast ballots in the 2014 election. That’s not counting registered voters (there are over 400,000 of those in the 6th CD), which means my US Representative, Derek Kilmer, has 233,582 constituents that care about what he does. Of those, 83,025 voted for Marty McClendon. Marty was an exceptionally conservative candidate, so it’s fairly safe to presume those 83,000 people are always going to dislike Congressman Kilmer. Theoretically, he’s still supposed to represent them, but winning votes is important, so Congressmen don’t typically waste time with voters that refuse  to vote for them “on principle.” Simple math leaves us with 150,582 voters that are generally congenial to Congressman Kilmer.

Wikipedia says each US Representative can hire a maximum of 18 full time staff and 4 part-time staff. Their data is from 2000, and the footnoted link is broken, so I couldn’t independently verify it, but for now, I’m going to make my calculations with it anyway. If there are 22 staff people, in order to hear from everyone that voted for Congressman Kilmer, each staff person is responsible for meeting with approximately 6,844 constituents. Each staff person would need to meet with 570 constituents a month, or around 19 constituents a day, if they took no days off throughout the entire year.

The above calculations should make it clear that there is not enough time in the day for each Congressman/woman and their staff (assuming they have the maximum number of 22, and assuming Wikipedia’s numbers are accurate) to meet with all constituents that have an interest in Derek Kilmer’s decisions and do anything else. This leads to my next point:

There are 150,000 constituents that think their ideals and requests are the most important. It doesn’t matter how many bills are passed, you will have to do something to stand out from the crowd and convince your representative that your ideas are most vital. As an individual, your voice will not matter unless you are independently wealthy or are a personal friend of said representative. It never, ever, ever, will unless the United States shrinks enormously in population. You probably don’t have time to lobby the government to let you do what you want. Neither do the majority of other people, so their individual voices get muted.

The Role of the Individual in Special Interests
Forgotten in this video, and in many others, is the reality: You are a special interest. Not you, individually, but your ideas, goals, and values are all represented by different PACs.

Do you like dogs? There’s a PAC for that.

Do you think Washington should secede from the United States, along with OR and part of ID and become “United Cascadia?” There’s a PAC for that (even though they don’t believe they need permission to do it, they’ll still take your money).

Are you a socialist who doesn’t think anyone should have more than a defined amount of wealth? There’s a PAC for that.

Are you a corn farmer? Do you raise goats? Are you a biologist? Do you breed reptiles? There is a PAC for each of those causes. When you don’t have the time or the ability to influence the government, because you’re too busy feeding your family, pay a PAC. The PAC hires people whose entire job is to badger individuals in the government to listen. That PAC has money from many people that think the same way you do, which buys other peoples’ time and energy.

And herein lies the rub. But Elizabeth, you might say, our elected officials are working for the people. we shouldn’t have to pay for their time and energy! So then I ask you, if you want someone not already independently wealthy and connected to represent you, how do you suggest that person feed their family? If you and 150,000 other people are vying for their time and energy, of which there is a limited quantity and duration, how do you suggest they choose a cause?

By importance, you say!
Okay. So Joe Snow is your state representative. You represent one cattle rancher in the Cascades, and you need changes made to the Interstate so that you can ship your cattle to market more effieciently.

Joe Snow doesn’t know you, nor does he know any other cattle ranchers, and he doesn’t know anything about cattle ranching, so he assumes it’s a minor problem, hears you out, but doesn’t pursue it. After all, getting something special like that for one person in the Transportation budget is a heck of a job. Instead, he prioritizes reworking an intersection in a city where a young man was killed. That city is in his district, has ten thousand people in it, and three thousand of them have contacted his office to beg for a change. When the intersection change is made, he talks about saving lives in his re-election campaign.

You recognize that what he did for the city is a vital endeavor, but hey! You and your cattle ranching friends still need your highway fixed. You go to the butcher, the grocery stores that purchase your meat, and other cattle ranchers that would benefit from your proposed change. You and the other cattle ranchers explain that you provide 70% of the beef supplied by local grocery stores, and together employ several hundred people in the district. You tell the representative, hey, SNAP recipients across the state won’t be able to afford ground beef if he doesn’t do something to help you.

Now, he sees that your complaint is actually affecting several thousand people. You formed a PAC, and now you have influence. Thus we see that the individual’s role is to find other people with the same special interest and in doing so, become a PAC capable of wielding political influence.

Maybe in my next blog post, I’ll actually explain why the Anti-Corruption Act is a bad idea… I didn’t get there in this one, clearly.