Saturday, September 29, 2018

He Failed the Job Interview for the Highest Court in the Land

On Thursday, a very compelling, articulate, credible woman told her truth of a sexual assault naming her attacker.  Dr. Christine Blasey Ford does not remember exact details, like how she got home when she was running for her life.  Victims of assault don't remember because there has been TRAUMA.  Trauma changes everything. But she absolutely remembers the person(s) who physically assaulted her in the room and the man who held his hand over her mouth removing her ability to breathe.  The sounds of Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh's laughter is forever burned in her memory.  Her life has been affected for the last 37 years.

Thirty Seven Years.

Sexual Assault survivors are affected for the rest of their lives.

How many women don't come forward because they are shamed, scared and know they will not be believed?  After the President, who has been accused of sexual assault himself, said it was Dr. Ford's fault for not coming forward when she was fifteen, survivors who have never previously uttered a word to anyone, spoke of their painful stories en masse.  Yet even when women do the bravest thing possible, it just doesn't matter. It comes down to a "he said, she said." The old white men side with the other man.  The statistics are sad and dismal.  Women do not come forward.  Cases do not go to trial and there are not convictions. Rape kits sit untested. There are not usually witnesses to assaults.  And the assaulters get away with their behavior.

The hearing on Thursday was a "he said, she said" without any other witnesses allowed.  She was very credible. He was angry, condescending, and evasive.  So what is the answer? Old white men apologize to the entitled white man and vote him in.  They ignore her truth and are astonished and moved at his emotion.  But his emotion was from being found out and letting his family down. And the white male senators couldn't handle one of themselves crying. "The Democrats broke this man."

No, Kavanaugh broke himself.

Most men and even women, especially these male Senators, don't know how to recognize emotional behaviors in front of their eyes.  They run from anything vulnerable.  They recognize and adulate power.

It is sad that he feels so entitled, that he came out swinging for a lifetime spot on the most dignified and important bench in the United States.  He is no longer qualified because he failed his job interview.  He was playing to a jury of one who appreciates bold and brash denials.  Roy Cohn, the McCarthy lawyer taught that one man jury how to do it so well.

It is time for the old white men's club to be dismantled.

I wish I were one to get out there and march and speak up.  But my calling is to write. Perhaps because I live in the Deep South Bible Belt and it was ingrained in me by the culture to smile, be pretty and stay quiet. This is my own personal quiet revolution.  Writing these words are a coming out in the midst of a deeply red state with very small blue spots in cities.  My senators are the worst. One gives quotable shticky one liners and the other writes articles for mysogynistic, racist websites.

I identified with Dr. Ford sitting in that interview.  She was bright, articulate and funny.  When she began speaking about the assault, she became the fifteen year old girl again.  That is what trauma does to one.  But she knew who attacked her.

Judge Kavanaugh was on a high pressure job interview for a seat on the highest bench in the land.  When he began speaking it was belligerent, partisan, entitled and condescending.  This is not how a judge should comport himself or herself and shows his true character.  Assault charges aside, he is not the best candidate for the job because of how he behaved Thursday.   What his actions revealed was a white man who has always had privilege and could not believe that he was being called out.  He was crying because he got caught.  From his actions under oath, it is entirely believable that he could act aggressive and violently when alcohol enters his bloodstream.

He must have been the shy kid who drank excessively and wasn't having sex but wanted to. He was conflicted about a natural desire and what was dictated by his religious culture.  There seem to be several classmates coming forward to reveal he was a nasty drunk and not exactly the do gooder that he wants the world to believe. None of us are good as we want ourselves to be but don't fib about it under oath.

Kavanaugh is not the best person for this job to legislate women's issues for the next thirty to forty years.  Nominate another candidate. Push that candidate through before the midterms.

It is unfortunate that Dr. Ford's story was leaked when she wasn't ready.  It is unfortunate that the other accusers came forward at the last minute of an arbitrary deadline.  For survivors, there is strength in numbers.   But the allegations have been brought out, and now Senators have to deal with it and follow tradition of due process and not throw hissy fits about it.  Senator Graham doesn't want to know the truth. Did he watch her testimony?  Thank goodness Senator Flake got caught in that elevator with a brave survivor speaking her truth.  And now there is one week for the FBI to gather more information. One week only was given for a lifetime appointment.

In the hearing, Judge Kavanaugh over and over refused to say out loud, let the FBI clear my name.  He kept repeating, I'll do what the committee says.  Because he knew the Majority on the committee was behind him.  He doesn't want further digging.  Why?  He absolutely doesn't want Mark Judge to testify.  He knows he drank too much at times and something in him deep inside, that he's not ready to admit yet, doesn't know what happened every time.   Kavanaugh lied about several facts including Renate, the triangle, and boofing, or whatever it was. There are other lies related to judicial matters.  Instead of answering the blackout drinking question, he made a turn to aggressively ask the kind and seemingly meek female Senator Klobuchar if she had the alcohol problem.   This is what a defensive, guilty aggressive person does.  He is trying to paint himself as the victim when Dr. Ford's life has been affected for the last thirty seven years.  People at that particular gathering where the assault took place may not know anything because she ran away and didn't tell anyone as survivors do, but there are people that could testify to a pattern of his behavior, mental health professionals that would explain her memory gaps, lie detector results for both of them and character witnesses on both sides. And then there are the other accusers.

We are at a place today, where getting the facts still may not make a difference because of the makeup of the Senate.

The Senate Judiciary Majority are completely ignoring the other accusers that have come forward because they don't want to know anymore and they want to push this nomination through. (Merrick Garland, anyone?)   Those accusers are willing to testify under oath to the FBI, the non-partisan information gathering body.  Kavanaugh doesn't, but why?  He just kept repeating, "I was ready to show up the next day to clear my name."  The next day would not give any time for an investigation.  How does a Federal Judge not understand that concept?

Courtesy of Megamamas
When people are found out, they do lie to save themselves. Our President is one of those who lies every day, day in and day out.  He has no credibility whatsoever in this matter.  He calls all his accusers liars.  And he was found out to be lying about Stormy Daniels per his own lawyer.  Judge Kavanaugh has proven to be on the same page as the partisan pussy grabber in chief to double down and repeat a lie until it seems it's the truth.  Judge Kavanaugh defended himself in a brash, aggressive manner maybe because that's who he really is or for Trump so that he would remain the nominee.   There is no doubt he and his family has suffered in the last 2 weeks, (contrast that with 37 years) but when you want to sit on the most respected, highest court in the land for the next thirty to forty years, the candidate must be thoroughly investigated even when new allegations come at the very last moment. 

Sexual assault victims do not come forward.

Dr. Ford showed more character, bravery and composure after a lifetime of suffering.  She did her civic duty.  She's reliving her worst trauma in front of the nation but she didn't whine and complain like Dr. Kavanaugh.  Women can be Steel Magnolias.  Judge Kavanaugh is having to come to grips with his past too.  Perhaps he could have come clean and said, I don't remember what happened when I drank too much, it is possible but I don't know.  I am a changed man now.

Those are pipe dreams I know.  But one day in the future.

There were witnesses to his past and I hope we find out more of the truth. I don't count on it because I have equal parts pessimism and optimism in me.

I do know, he failed the job interview.

I hope beyond all hope, that there is a wave of qualified women and minorities coming forth to lead and dismantle the old boys club.  Women came forward after Anita Hill and ran for office in record numbers.  It is accepted that what Dr. Hill said back then was true about Judge Thomas and she was maligned in the process.  And some of the same men back then are still judging now.   What will we know about this particular assault in the future?  What truths will come out over time?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A Lesson on Paying Attention and Seeing Signs

A former first grade teacher that taught both of my girls was having stomach troubles after having beaten breast cancer a few years earlier.  She and her husband have a high school sophomore daughter, the same age as my eldest and an older son that is a senior in high school.  She was quiet and reserved but you knew she was present.  It took me a while to understand this though.  Having people in your life that are with you full on in the moments that you spend with them is an amazing gift.  It's nothing about themselves in that moment, it's all focused on you.  I have been diligently learning how to be present, especially with my children.  Shirley possessed that ability with such quiet grace.

I didn't really get to know her during the lower school years but after she retired, I had an experience when we were both chaperoning a middle school cotillion dance session.  This is when I saw the mom side of her and her sense of humor.  It was a wonderful surprise to get to know that side.  I didn't see her much after that as our children were at different schools.  But I struck up a friendship with her husband through social media.  He is the most gracious, friendly, down to earth, and kind man.  He doesn't meet a stranger and he sends a note to mark the smallest of occasions.   I think he read one of my blogs and made me feel special because he took the time to comment on what had struck a chord with him.

You never know how a small action can affect another person in a positive way.

This past April, I was sitting in an Old Navy dressing room with one of my daughters and I got a FB message from him, that was written by Shirley.  My heart dropped and the tears fell as I understood what I read. She had just been diagnosed with stomach cancer and the prognosis didn't seem good.

From an outsider's perspective, her writing and what her husband shared as times went on, she was strong and brave and had accepted her fate with a deep faithfulness.  I was awed by their strength. She had lost her own father young in her life.  She had conversations with her children for them to understand they knew her and would know what she would think for matters in the future.

Those are brave and vulnerable conversations.

This family's journey has struck something in me and has stayed with me.

As time progressed, there were updates through FB and then Caring Bridge.  By summer, they stopped treatment because she wanted to live out the rest of her time, with her family and travel.

From a selfish point of view, I thought what if I were in the same situation leaving my daughters and husband behind.

Life just doesn't seem fair.  I have come to expect that stuff just happens, and I think about my faith. Could I handle a journey like that?  Could I be gracious?  I still have a lot of fear and anxiety that pop up for me yet I am coming to understand the true unconditional nature of God.

I know for sure, that God has ways of helping me understand things that are too much for me, if I stay aware and open.  The signs of God's unconditional love never look like what I think they will, but they fill the need if I am patient and let go.  They are obvious especially as I practice observance.

In our neighborhood, for many months, there have been three pet bunnies that have roamed across the street in my neighbors' yards and sometimes in our own yard.  They ran mostly between the three yards directly across from my house.  When I have come outdoors, I never remembered to look for them.  I was always unexpectedly delighted in spotting a combination of the white one or the two brown ones.  Seeing those white cotton tails hop away brought me such joy in that moment.  But I also knew those bunnies weren't going to be around forever.  After a while, we noticed we hadn't spotted the white bunny for some time.

One Saturday a few weeks ago, Shirley's husband posted a picture on Facebook of a fox that was in their neighborhood.  On Sunday afternoon, my neighbor posted a picture with a very similar looking fox, with one of the brown bunnies that it had killed next to it.

What a coincidence.

I couldn't help but think of this family. They don't live that far away from us by foot with a BREC park and woods nearby.

Within days,  I received the news that Shirley had moved to a hospice facility.

And not much time after that, my husband texted me on his way to work that the fox was lying dead on one of the streets of our neighborhood.  It looked like it was peacefully sleeping with not a mark on it.

Again, my thoughts turned to this family.  What does this mean?

A few days later, my neighbor and I who have talked many times about the wildlife that has showed up in our area, texted me a picture of a beautiful white stately egret that was on her back fence.

That night Shirley passed away.

The next day, I read the news that she had moved into the great mystery.  That afternoon, Mallory and I spotted the egret with our own eyes in another neighbor's yard.

On the morning of her service, I was walking the dogs and it hit me that I really, really wanted to spot the remaining bunny before I left.  I had seen it previously and neighbors had seen it recently.

But then I got it.

I wasn't going to see the bunny.  I had already seen the beautiful white egret.

I don't have control over what happens in this world.  I have to look for the Divine signs that life goes on. Loved ones are still with us if we pay attention.

When I read the quotes in Shirley's funeral program, I was taken aback with what had been chosen.  They were so perfect and so meaningful.  It's more important what you do in your life in the time you have, how you make people feel and to celebrate even when things come to an end.  Be grateful for the moment at hand.  This has been a goal of mine to learn to live life in the moment at hand.

Shirley was a beautiful, gracious and faithful soul.  She inspires me to live my life authentically as I am.