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The US has nothing to teach the world about justice or politics

The US has nothing to teach the world about justice or politics

Igor Ogorodnev wrote when referring to the status of dignity and honor, as well as honesty and justice, when it comes to American politics. Never has the depravity of the American political and media establishment been more easily shown than in the recent weeks concerning the confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

This process, which is stuttering along, hampered by #MeToo inspired “slam the man” sexual allegations that lack corroboration, showed the disgusting level of partisanship and dishonesty exhibited by the opposition group to the Judge – the Democrat Party of the United States of America:

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Many outside the US watched Thursday’s hearing with open-mouthed revulsion at the bad faith, lack of due process and inhumanity on display. Dysfunction in the biggest Western democracy sets a poor example to the rest of the globe.

The present does not own the monopoly on ugly scenes in Congress – the McCarthy interviews are on tape, after all. Nor do either of the parties – from Kenneth Starr’s ultimately futile humiliation of Bill Clinton, to their intransigence during Obama’s two terms, Republicans largely set the tone for the partisanship that reigns today.

But make no mistake about it: in the age of a hysterical and agenda-driven news media, and a social media that amplifies its worst aspects, the Kavanaugh and Ford testimonies marked a new low. And it is the Democrats that have guided the process into a high-stakes wrestling match in a toxic swamp.

Disagreeing with Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination on ideological grounds, and questioning his record and temperament are fine, even if it is to whip up your base before the upcoming mid-terms. This what the confirmation hearings were for (minus the choreographed interruptions from the gallery).

But to pull out a last-minute 36-year-old sexual abuse accusation that you have sat on for weeks, as Dianne Feinstein did, is a dirty trick, notwithstanding her protestations to senators on Thursday that she didn’t time the release of Ford’s testimony, or leak her name (who did then? This person acting against the wishes of a self-described abuse victim must surely be found and punished). As are the systematic stalling tactics in full evidence at the questioning – the condition-setting for the hearings, the alleged flying fears that fell apart after two questions, the “What about Mark Judge, when can we speak to him?” and the demands for an additional FBI inquiry, during which yet more allegations are sure to come out, as Michael Avenatti tap-dances around his office in anticipation. Could a single senator in the room from either party disagree, hand-on-Bible, that the Democrats are hoping to drag out the process to give themselves a better chance?

To do this, the party was prepared to turn a political attack into a personal one, and personal trauma into a political weapon. Whatever traction #MeToo had as a non-partisan campaign that concerns all women is now in question. “Believe women” has turned from an expression of sympathy to reticent victims to a battering ram for short-term political gain, deployed while faux-innocently asking “Why would any woman lie?” in the one case where the reasons to do so are glaringly obvious.

The Republicans’ scurrying to confirm their candidate is similarly blatant and unseemly. They called the accuser to speak, but how many of them would have changed their mind whatever she said? Five? Three? No one? Staging this hearing for them was as much of a charade about the optics. So polite on Thursday, by Friday Lindsey Graham was calling the accusations “garbage.”

Yet this is not what made Thursday’s proceedings tragic. Politicians in that room play their power games and have known each other for decades – but here, real people were involved. For all the disingenuous pretense that this was just a job interview (most employers don’t suddenly ask jobseekers to prove they are not a rapist to get to the next round), their entire lives were at stake over how they would come across in a single afternoon.

Christine Blasey Ford’s account might be fiction or her own truth, but here was a woman who was evidently genuinely traumatized, and having to relive the moment. And if she is telling the facts as they did happen, and she was assaulted by a drunk, violent Brett Kavanaugh, this is hardly the format that best serves to bring her justice. She said she was no pawn, but she was surrounded by politically-motivated lawyers, participating in some improvised talk show format in which smarmy praise from Democrats who regard her exactly as that chess piece, alternated with fragmented lawyerly questioning from a female prosecutor (once again all optics) looking for a “gotcha!” moment in frustrating five-minute chunks. She had been used.

Some observers said she “won” because she looked credible. The entire modern law was invented and allowed to flourish in America, that most legalistic of states, so that people wouldn’t be judged on their “credibility.” It’s fine that she turned out to be an educated, well-spoken woman, but what if she had turned out a little twitchy, or stuttered? Would that have meant that she wasn’t assaulted? After all, many viewers questioned Ford’s patchy memory, the number of times she looked down at her notes, or even her high-pitched voice.

[The] same goes for Brett Kavanaugh: Some saw a man under extreme pressure in indignant tears as he strove to save his name against allegations so vague they couldn’t even be substantively refuted. Yet his opponents online said his passion made it easy to imagine how angry he would have got before raping Ford (“and this is him sober”), while his tears – a quality supposedly demanded from modern men – merely made him too unbalanced to be a judge. Many just posted photos of unflattering facial expressions and the blotches on his face.

In any case, even if Ford provided specific details of her ordeal, this wouldn’t have changed anything. Kavanaugh would still have turned around and denied it. Thursday’s hearing was not just inadequate as a court, with its burden of proof, witnesses, evidence, judges and jury – it wasn’t even a tribunal attempting to establish the truth. Instead, it was designed to have the opposite effect, with all sides smearing each other for political gain entirely on the basis of he said/she said accounts.

In all of this, Mr. Ogorodnev completely gets the picture. What is amazing, as usual, is how much of the American press simply cannot find their way to the facts as clearly as this piece has so far summarized it. But Ogorodnev doesn’t stop here:

“This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics,” said Graham as the hearing wrapped up. But even if he was right, he was not the man to say it. Both over the longer term and in the past few weeks, it is [he] and the other senators who have allowed this human baiting show to take place.

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And a cruelty circus there was: the tarred human targets drew to themselves millions of vitriolic opinions, self-righteous statements, and outright lies. Thousands of women told stories of their own sexual abuse (though there is a question if one man, not proven guilty, should be punished for another man’s crime, or even for the cause of equality before the law), abortion advocates reminded viewers that Roe v. Wade was in danger, the Washington Post wrote dissections of various slang terms in Kavanaugh’s yearbook.

On the other side, Republicans spoke of vast left-wing conspiracies – a subject the prospective Supreme Court justice himself raised – and reposted talking points from the questioning and fake memes casting doubts on Ford’s sexual morals, which somewhat misses the point, as well as being slander.

If there was nuance, it got drowned under the majority of the comments that went along strict party lines. Perhaps in an existential battle for the future of America’s legal system the ends justify the means and no one cares about the collateral. More chilling than all this was the tone of callous disregard for the people involved: even if someone believes that a man or woman may only have a ten percent chance of being innocent, shouldn’t they be treated with humanity, particularly in a murky situation like this? Neither Kavanaugh nor Ford are monsters, and even if they were, what of the compassion and tolerance on which much of America prides itself?

Instead, there were two sacrificial lambs in a kangaroo court among lying, plotting, openly amoral politicians, amid a cacophony of raw noise.

This is how the world saw the US on Thursday.

Scores of countries across the world live according to constitutions modeled on the US Bill of Rights, political systems fashioned after that of the US, legal practices that treat America as the gold standard. American leaders are icons of world history, countries hang on to their every word, and many attempt to emulate and follow them (yes, even Trump).

The US revels in this role, and just this week its leader spoke of its “unique values” and how America made the world better and stood up for it. These scenes are not going to persuade Saudi Arabia that democracy is efficient. It excites not awe but laughter within the walls of the Kremlin.

The US has two choices: to fight as best it can to preserve the remaining value of its institutions – Congress, the supreme court, security agencies, and the presidency – or to continue its all-out battle against itself, where everyone is a loser, even when someone is declared the winner either on this nomination, the mid-terms, or 2020.

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Sally Snyder
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Sally Snyder

Here is an article that looks at one of the little-discussed reasons for concerns about a Kavanaugh judgeship:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2018/09/judge-brett-kavanaugh-and-surveillance.html

If Justice Kavanaugh had his way, mass collections of Americans’ private data would be routine in spite of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution which protection from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Andrew Wilson
Guest

At this point, ideologies or political preferences are not the issue. Those were debated earlier. Using the pain of real people to change the outcome of a recognised and acceptable process is wrong and the United States will suffer for having allowed it.

Don’t allow yourself to justify the witchhunt on the basis of your preferences in respect of abortion or other issues. If you do so you are a part of the problems that are making the United States a laughing stock and contributing to the increasing possibility of a breakup of the Union.

john vieira
Guest

Oh bull…that has been happening since the 1960’s in the USA. The last bill slithered through by Obama as a Christmas present in 2016 enshrined Orwell’s “1984”…

Platon
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Platon

And Clinton and Obama were different… how?

Tjoe
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Tjoe

Apparently the Duran has become a partisan hack for the GOP. I voted Trump but Kavanaugh is going too far.

Sean
Guest
Sean

Why so? What happened to due process? A man is innocent until found guilty in a court of law. Have you a problem with that?

Lisa Karpova
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Lisa Karpova

ameriKKKa is fascist, not a democracy, therefore you are guilty until you can prove otherwise.

Platon
Guest
Platon

Corporat Fascism to be precise.

Platon
Guest
Platon

Yah, I bet you did!

Donna
Guest
Donna

Lindsey Graham: “This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics.”

No, he wasn’t talking about the invasion of Iraq based on sham WMDs; or the invasion of Libya based on sham intel; or the invasion of Syria based on a sham civil war; or the orchestrated coup in the Ukraine based on a sham notion of democracy. He wasn’t talking about any of those minor shams. He was talking about the BIG sham — the Kavanaugh-Ford sham — only sham that counts for the US public and the US Congress.

Old Uncle Dave
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Old Uncle Dave

Emails which were released show Kavanaugh committed perjury during his 2006 hearings for a seat on the District Court. He should be impeached for that.

Platon
Guest
Platon

I do not know of a single american who does not perjure himself daily before breakfast. Do you?

Vera Gottlieb
Guest
Vera Gottlieb

And about morals, ethics, democracy…either.

Platon
Guest
Platon

Only jews should be allowed on the Bench… or in Congress… or the Senate… or as heads of Mass Media Corporations. Because only jews are fully human. Right?

John Nolan
Guest
John Nolan

Do Oceania citizens understand that the world is tired of laughing at their collective stupidity, their immoral, corrupt leadership, their demonic policies, as their political lap dogs pee on the furniture, the carpets, the public, whilst barking at reflections of themselves in a global mirror? How can any supposedly sane society tolerate the crap they are fed by their media, c.n.n., wishington pist, etc. Have the masses no access to alternate reporting of world events, or are they so brain dead, drugged and boozed into mental impoverishment, pretending all is well, and convinced that Russia is the source of all… Read more »

Platon
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Platon

Destroying such a monstrosity will be doing a kindness to it.

Platon
Guest
Platon

The USA makes me want to reach for a can of Raid.

Platon
Guest
Platon

Congratulations Trotskyites! Compared to this, Stalin’s ‘show trials’ were classy affairs.
That is quite an achievement!

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