False Alarums

Even young children are aware of what is fair and what isn’t … and boy, they’ll let you know about it. Heck, even the animals know about fairness. As a teenager, a primitive form of animal life to be sure, I remember coming home from my first day at high school and telling my long-suffering mother, “Mom, high school isn’t fair!”

And what did that wise woman answer?

“Who ever told you that life is fair?”

Agreed, it isn’t … but we have put into place an entire range of laws and customs to make it fairer. And chief among them is the American law that says we are all innocent until proven guilty, the “presumption of innocence”.

This assumption is not just in the courts, it is in all parts of our lives—schools, jobs, meetings, everywhere.

This assumption is one of few defenses that we have against false accusations. Most folks likely haven’t been falsely accused of a felony in their lives … but I seem to be the guy blessed by experiencing a host of oddball things that others got to miss.

This one started out on a lovely sunny day in about 1969 in Santa Cruz, California. I drove into town, parked by the beach, and walked through the Boardwalk. It’s a riot of sound and color, plus that known attractant for a young victim of testosterone poisoning … young women. I walked and marveled, feeling like a total rube.

santa cruz boardwalk.png

So I walked the full length of the beach. And when I was walking back from the Boardwalk, to my surprise, a police car pulled up alongside me and told me to stop right there.

He got out of the car and started to question me. Where was I from? San Francisco. Where was I going? LA. Where was I staying? Wherever night fell. How did I get to the beach? My car. Where was my car? A couple blocks further on.

About that time, a taxi pulled up alongside the police car. The policeman said, “Is this the man you saw breaking into the parked cars?”

“Parked cars”, I thought? “Breaking in”? Whaaa? … it began to dawn on me that I was in serious trouble.

The taxi driver got out. He walked around me, studying me intently.

“That’s him,” he said.

“Are you sure?”, the policeman asked.

“100% sure”, the driver said, “That’s the guy I saw taking things from cars. No question.”

I was mystified. Foolishly, I’d always believed that eyewitnesses were reliable. But I’d been checking out the babes at the Boardwalk, not breaking into cars.

And now, here was some guy I’d never seen saying he was sure that I was a thief. A common thief!

I gotta say, at that point, I almost lost my judicial temperament and tried to rearrange the taxi driver’s facial molecules … a wave of rage broke over me, and it was only the presence of the policeman that kept me from threatening the driver with unpleasant alternatives. Alternatives like “Admit you’re not telling the truth or I’ll smash you so flat you’ll have to unlace your shoes to take a piss!”, with various bad words thrown in for flavor.

With great effort, I restrained myself from saying bad words. I pasted some totally bogus smile on my features and denied that I was the thief. The officer said “Let’s go look at your car.” I said fine, and we walked to where I’d parked. There, he had me empty my pockets. He patted me down. Nothing. He turned to the car.

Now, at the time I was driving an MG Midget, one of the smallest cars of that era.

Google ChromeScreenSnapz168.png

So it didn’t take the officer long to search the car. He checked the glove box, the door pockets, and under the seats. Then he took everything out of the trunk one at a time and examined it.

He took out my guitar and shook it, and when it rattled he was convinced he’d found something. He couldn’t see what it was, though … so he handed me the guitar. I shook it in that certain way guitarists know and out fell … a guitar pick.

Then he found my bag of white powder. At this point, I’m sure visions of busting a drug kingpin were floating through his head. He tasted it and frowned. Sweet, not bitter … huh?

I told him it was the powdered milk for my coffee.

Finally, once everything was out of the trunk, he gave up. He didn’t apologize, nor should he have. It was on the taxi man, not on him. He told me to drive safely. And somewhere in there, the taxi driver had driven off and I hadn’t even noticed.

So I was left there, so furious I could barely see straight, with no one to lash out at. Frustrated? You bet. I wanted the taxi man to come back so I could tell him what I really thought of him. My brain was flashing “UNFAIR! UNFAIR! UNFAIR!” in big red neon letters …

Now, I bring this up because the memory of all of this came flooding over me as I watched Judge Kavanaugh get angry at his tormentors on the Judicial Committee. For the first time in my life I thought “Man, I got off easy. I didn’t have a wife and two daughters getting death threats. I wasn’t accused on nationwide TV and every newspaper on the planet. And I wasn’t accused of a sexual crime, just garden variety robbery. I’m a lucky man!”

And perhaps because I’d been through a very minor version of what the Judge has endured, I understood his anger perfectly. In fact, I was surprised and impressed that he wasn’t angrier. I can’t imagine what he’s been through. And I was overjoyed that he’d actually gotten angry and called out the sham proceeding for what it was—attempted character assassination.

Now, since he gave his impassioned speech, the case against him has been shown to be totally bogus. Even Dr. Ford’s longtime friend says she has no memory of Dr. Fords claims, and that she never met Kavanaugh. And the other claimed participants have said the same, all under penalty of perjury. There’s not one scrap of evidence or testimony that supports her claim.

In fact, at this point Sasquatch has more witnesses than Dr. Ford has …

sasquatch.png

Now, in a sane world that would have been the end of it. But nooo … I’ve been astounded at how fast the accusation from the Democrats has seamlessly morphed from:

“Judge Kavanaugh is disqualified because he’s a serial gang-rapist!”

to

“Judge Kavanaugh is disqualified because he got angry when we falsely accused him on nationwide TV of being a serial gang rapist!”

This is the modern version of the Salem witch-finding procedure—throw the witch in the water, and if she floats, it proves she’s a witch …

Or as we practice it today, falsely accuse someone of being a heinous sexual criminal, and if they get angry,  they’re obviously not qualified …

Here’s what I say about this. If I had to endure what Judge Kavanaugh has gone through, the threats, the bogus media articles, the leaks, the accusations from Senators, the fact-free rabid claims of guilt, I can assure you that I would not have been anywhere near as calm as he was. I know what it’s like to be falsely accused, and I can assure you—it angrifies the blood mightily …

And if you do NOT get angry when you are falsely accused of being a serial gang rapist, I do not want you to be a judge of anything. Anyone who doesn’t get angry in that situation is a damn robot, and I don’t want them anywhere near a position of power of any kind.

All I can say is, I greatly hope he gets confirmed. Oh, and one more thing.

If y’all truly think he doesn’t have the “judicial temperament”, how about you come up with some real evidence from his thirteen years on the bench that backs up your fact-free claim? Y’all remember evidence, right? It’s part of the way that we make the world a fairer place—we require evidence, not just accusations. If he’s too angry or too prejudiced as you claim, surely you can provide us with some evidence of that, it would have surfaced at some point during his time on the bench.

I’ll wait … and while we are waiting, we can consider the wise words of John Adams, who somehow saw into the future far enough to discern the real issue underlying the Kavanaugh farrago …

john adams big.jpg


Here, sunshine after rain, sunshine smiling on the surrounding forest greenery, sunshine that reminds me that despite our worst efforts, the earth abides …

My best to you all,

w.

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30 thoughts on “False Alarums

  1. Thank you for your work and writing. The clarity you bring to the subjects, even if I might differ somewhat from your take, makes thought, reasonable logical thought much easier. My wife is German, and experienced fact-free accusations as a child. She was repeatedly punished by her mother who, it appears, believed everyone but her daughter. She is still sensitive to allegations to this day. She listened to the testimony, and promptly said, “It doesn’t make sense.” She repeated it in German emphatically. It said all without an FBI investigation as far as I was concerned.

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  2. Excellent article! I am so disappointed in the way this was “handled’ by the opposition and the press. To make things worse, it also brought his wife and children into the process… fully unacceptable for a so-called fair and truthful system that is supposed to demonstrate why the selected candidate should be confirmed. This particular process will be remembered, sadly, as an example of how NOT to run a government process but how to destroy a man and his family for political gain !

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  3. Willis, a great post. Back then, you made a mistake of having a long hair (I guess). Judge Kavanaugh made a mistake of being male.

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  4. John Adams was an optimist*, he said “If such an idea as that were to take hold”. He could have said “When…”, for as we know, such an idea has periodically taken hold and it never ended well. It never does.

    *That’s rhetorical. He probably was not an optimist.

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    • YMMV, I was intrigued by your mention of the word “optimist”; I’ve lived in the same house here in Birmingham, England for over 30 years and have spent years boring people with my tale of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who came to Birmingham in the 1790s as it was a hotbed of radicalism and he thought his Radical magazine would get a wider audience here. He also worked as a tutor to a banker’s dissolute son very close to where my house now stands. Thus, it’s unlikely though not totally impossible that Coleridge was standing on the road outside my house when he invented the word “optimism”.
      This has amused me for years and recently, when someone doubted any of these details, I attempted to prove the circumstantial evidence and found that I couldn’t be more wrong because Coleridge invented the word ” pessimism”. Ouch.
      Willis, this is indeed a marvellous quotation.

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  5. Willis: “In fact, at this point Sasquatch has more witnesses than Dr. Ford has …”

    And they all remember where, what day, how they got there, and how they got home.

    That was an excellent personal story to illustrate your broader point. I did get a laugh when I found out your car was an MG Midget. No wonder you kept the pick in the guitar; no room for it otherwise. 😜

    For the last 20 years of my career, I bought and used my own office supplies: pens, note pads, tape, paper clips, high-lighters, etc., and brought in and used my own tools, even when company tools were provided. The only exceptions were copy paper – a pain to put my own in the machine – and staples. I did not ever want even the merest thought to arise that I would take anything from the company I worked for, including theft of time.

    I am nearly impossible to rile, but impugn my integrity and the room better be cleared.

    Really well done article, Willis.

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    • H.R., I grew up among cowboys and ranchers who generally had little in the way of valuable possessions … except for their honor, which they prized above all. Best way to get me angry? Same as with the cowboys and ranchers—accuse me of lying or being dishonest …

      w.

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  6. OK, I am 97% sure I closed the italic after quoting you, Willis. Chefio mentioned to me that sometimes, when he does a fix for someone, the HTML is ok but WordPress blows by the close. (Most of the time its actually my fault, but he has caught a few where I was innocent.)

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      • Ha! Slash and burn? I got burned by a slash.

        I was sure I had the right arrow in place. I did! Necessary, but not sufficient.

        Thanks, Willis, and thanks for letting me know the exact error of my ways.

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  7. I wasn’t aware of that quote but it shows the depth of our founders understanding of why we have such laws.

    The fact that you were driving a Midget brought back my much more minor brush with the law. I was driving my Midget (looks like yours had side curtains also) in Baltimore which I wasn’t totally familiar with and following a bus. Of course in a Midget I had zero visibility ahead of me and decided to follow the bus which was making a left turn. Halfway though the turn I looked up and saw the sign: “Left Turn Buses Only”. Of course by then I had already made the turn and a furious cop blew his whistle at me and motioned me to the side of the road. “Crap” I thought. I knew I was wrong but I had no way of knowing I’d broken a traffic law when I made the turn. Never heard of such a law either. The cop huffed and puffed and demanded my license which I handed to him. I wasn’t even going to try to explain what happened and just take my medicine. He stared at me and said “How old are you?” “I’m twenty officer” I replied. He stared at my license in disbelief handed it back to me and stormed off muttering about teenagers (I looked really young at the time). My jaw dropped. If I’d been a year or two younger he would have read me the riot act and probably gotten the ticket. Talk about age prejudice! Actually made me mad even though I got out of a traffic ticket.

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  8. Well stated and illustrated with your own experience. False accusations have almost no power to make anything better and the ability to ruin lives and relationships. They were aimed at me in my professional career trying to force me to loose my license and cost me and my family 2 years of heart aches and headaches. In the end I was absolved but the accuser was untouched and never even apologized.
    Another good post on this debacle is at https://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2018/10/03/which-women-should-we-believe/ where Donna points out the hundreds of women that have given the Senate information underscoring the good judges high moral character and asks us “How do we decide which women to believe?”

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  9. LORD POLONIUS
    My lord, I will use them according to their desert.

    HAMLET
    God’s bodykins, man, much better: use every man
    after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping?
    Use them after your own honour and dignity: the less
    they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.
    Take them in.

    (Be grateful most people don’t judge you as your 17 year old self)

    However much certainty the principals (Kavanaugh and Blasey-Ford) might have in their own minds, it is impossible for either one to impart that same certainty to those of us who weren’t there and don’t know them. Anyone whose knowledge is only second or third hand and claims certainty regarding who is telling the truth and who is lying is a fool. 99.9999995% percent of all Americans simply cannot know what did or did not happen 35+ years ago between Kavanaugh and Blasey-Ford.

    If you wanted to be objective and thorough, you would take the approach that centuries of experience have taught us are most effective.

    First, look for forensic evidence: pictures, recordings, DNA, and anything else that does not depend on witnesses. I suspect there is none remaining; certainly nothing has been brought forth.

    Second, look for contemporaneous accounts recorded at the time or shortly thereafter: police reports, diaries, letters, calendars, etc.

    Third, identify and interview everyone identified as potential witnesses and continuing with everyone else they suggest as a potential witness.

    Fourth, examine the internal consistency of the different accounts. More specific and detailed is better both because it suggests a more authentic memory and because it supplies more specific assertions that can be corroborated or refuted. An account containing few specific assertions is more difficult to investigate.

    Finally, examine the history and likely motivations of the principals. A history of alcoholism, drug use, mental illness or documented untruthfulness are all appropriate reasons to discount a person’s testimony. In this case both Kavanaugh and Blasey-Ford have ample motivation to lie: Kavanaugh wants the job and Blasey-Ford identifies with those who claim women suffer if he gets it (“millions of women will die …”).

    When all that is done unless there is hard forensic evidence, the best you can say is the preponderance of evidence supports one story or the other.

    Those who haven’t already seen Akira Kurasawa’s 1950 masterpiece Rashomon, or the 1964 remake The Outrage should do so: your notions of certainty and witnesses credibility will be challenged.

    Having only indirect evidence to go by, I believe everything revealed so far supports Kavanaugh and nothing supports Blasey-Ford. But there is no question that Senate Democrats entered the confirmation process in bad faith, determined in Senator Schumer’s words to defeat the nomination “by any means possible”. And the past several weeks have demonstrated just how low they are willing to go. They took an account that was vague and unsubstantiated and turned it into the assertion that a distinguished attorney was a serial rapist. And they abandoned any pretense of reason and fairness at the same time.

    There was ample time for the accusation to be investigated quietly but Senator Feinstein withheld the letter until the 11th hour. Blasey-Ford claimed she was afraid to fly and couldn’t possibly make it to Washington on the date initially offered (false statement: refuted by facts subsequently presented). Senator Grassley offered to fly the entire Judiciary Committee to California to interview Blasey-Ford. She claims she was not aware of the offer (either false, or indicating professional malpractice by her attorney — recommended to her by Senator Feinstein).

    With everything taken together, it is clear that the factual basis of Blasey-Ford’s claim was never of interest to Democrat Senators; it was just a pretext they could manipulate into the appearance of a reason to make wavering Republican Senators cave.

    They crazy thing is I believe Democrats are wrong in thinking Kavanaugh will take away “the precious” (Roe v Wade). He may very well vote to overturn that decision [it’s a poor one IMHO], but at the same time I believe he will respect the power of the States to establish their own rules on abortion by legislation. Would that be so bad? So even if Texas bans all or most abortions — can they stop someone from getting on a plane and flying to California?

    But Democrats can’t see that. The party of Tolerance and CoExistence simply cannot tolerate or co-exist with anyone who doesn’t accept their shibboleths. They are just a step or so shy of being complete totalitarians, and appear to be lacking any internal restraint on taking the next step or two in that direction.

    Ronald Regan said many years ago (when the Democrat party was much more centrist than today):

    I didn’t leave the Democrat Party; the Democrat Party left me.

    I also used to be a Democrat, but don’t judge me by that — I was only 17 at the time.

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  10. I just received advertising asking me to move my writing to an editor who studied at the Journalism Institute for Social Diversity at Wayne State. Nuff said? PS Johannes-Gutenberg University near Frankfurt now has an Obama Institute, set up by Obama’s sister.

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  11. One more thought on “judicial temperament”, since retired SC Justice John Paul Stevens has brought it up. Appeals court judges never deal with the actual litigants; issues of fact have been settled by the original trial and what is in dispute on appeal is whether the trial judge applied the law correctly. Even if the actual litigants are present for oral argument they are never questioned; attorneys do all the talking (assuming the judges don’t interrupt them all the time). And oral arguments occupy just a sliver of the time judges spend considering a case; the vast bulk of the dispute is laid out in briefs which the judges study in their chambers.

    So in terms of challenges to one’s temperament, appellate judges work in a very low-stress environment. They interact with their clerks and their colleagues, and in the case of the US Supreme Court, the lunchroom staff. And I doubt even the most spirited disagreement between justices even begins to approach the venom and rancour we saw directed at Kavanaugh during the hearings. Judges are supposed to be disinterested, which is a lot easier if the issue does not involve you personally. Hence the old saying: “any lawyer who has himself for a client has a fool for a lawyer.”

    I think Kavanaugh can manage to keep his cool just fine.

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  12. Thank you, Mr. Eschenbach, for another interesting episode.

    I cannot help but be greatly amused by the solicitation to the right for donations to the “Union of Concerned Scientists.” It warms the cockles of my heart to know that the UCS is wasting its supporter’s donations with a fruitless appeal to readers of your blog.

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  13. He didn’t apologize, nor should he have.

    I disagree. I am not a cop but I worked in law enforcement for thirty years and road along with the police on numerous occasions. At least in my mind, the difference between a mediocre and great cop was how they treat the people they come in contact with.

    I’ve seen cops chat amiably with career criminals and murder suspects and all to a purpose. Being a hard-ass, simply makes suspects raise their guard and innocents less cooperative.

    As for the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, it is obvious that she lied several times: about her “fear” of flying and about her “second front door”.

    The lie about fear of flying was no big deal since its only purpose was delay, but attributing the fear to her encounter with Kavanaugh should have tossed red flags.

    The lie about the second front door was more deeply troubling. Again, she attributed the need for the door to the alleged attack when in reality it was merely to create rental income. But there was no motivation to lie about the door – it was just a lie, but again attributing it to the alleged attack was utterly false for no good reason.

    Suspects and witnesses often lie to deflect guilt or avoid embarrassment — but when they lie to embellish an accusation, it is almost always because the accusation is false.

    That alone should have ended the testimony.

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    • Thanks for the interesting insights, Almost Iowa. One point. The policeman was professional and courteous throughout. He was not unkind or harsh. I was serious when I said he didn’t owe me an apology. I felt no rancor towards him. He had a mistaken witness and a job to do, and he did it well.

      And yes, your point about her lies is well taken. All of this could have been avoided by doing it in closed session six weeks ago when her accusations surfaced.

      The more I saw of Dr. Ford, the less I liked her. I think she’s right that something happened to her sometime somewhere or other … I absolutely don’t think Judge Kavanaugh was involved.

      Regards,

      w.

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      • I have big doubts about Dr. Ford. A body language expert (and I have to say I have my doubts about the practice) says that she was lying through the whole testimony. To me she seemed to be a total neurotic. Since we’ll never see a thorough background investigation on her (the howls from the left would be deafening) we’ll never know whether she purposefully lied about the whole thing, was manipulated, or just delusional. Remember too that she’s a trained psychologist. I suspect she knows how to manipulate impressions. I’d love to hear her talking outside of this star chamber to see whether that little girl voice is her normal one or a put on.

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        • The very idea of therapy bringing back buried events causes me to shudder. After the family which ran a Daycare was accused of molesting children and the psycho-vultures created the memories in the children, the parents were sentenced to extremely long terms in state prison. After 7 years it turned out that the memories were manufactured by the PVs. The family was subsequently released and pardoned, but after way too long. I personally have had a family member worked through the same process, with the same totally bizarre results. There are some very sick members in the field of psychiatry.

          Liked by 1 person

          • https://www.thisamericanlife.org/504/transcript

            One incident, and the two stories told about it: about a vulnerable refugee teenager, Emir Kamenica and his young teacher, Lauren Ames, who relate two wildly divergent memories, and tales, about what happened between them decades ago. Read and ponder the reliability of memories as decades pass and people grow up and move on.

            NOT a sex crime tale, by the way.

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  14. People used to take this kind of thing, slander and reputation, more seriously.

    He called

    Bill Smith

    A Liar
    — inscription on a boulder at Mount Pisgah Cemetery, Cripple Creek, Colorado.

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  15. Now that he has been confirmed, the burning question is which one of Kavanaugh’s new colleagues will be the first one to suggest they go out and get a beer? Or maybe they will stick with Court tradition: “hey new guy: bring me a coffee!”.

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  16. Wow, it’s obvious but I it didn’t really hit home until I was reading something on WUWT. The left is very consistent. If you disagree with me then you’re evil is their mantra, be it climate or sexual assault. Anyone who makes a claim that they agree with must be right regardless of evidence to the contrary. Poke holes in Dr. Ford’s story or climate claims and they’re ignored. Ford lied about being afraid to fly, the reason for the door, and her claustrophobia for example. Climate alarmists have the Climategate emails and the “hide the decline”. Find lies and attempts to deceive and you’re called a denier or worse, while you are accused of the being the liar without proof. And of course there’s the screaming and personal attacks which they accuse the right of but their the first to resort to it.

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  17. A psychologist should have no less integrity and forthrightness than we expect a judge to have or an engineer, accountant, medical doctor or anyone whom we are obliged to trust to serve society skillfully and honestly.

    Professional engineers are subject to disciplinary hearings by Associations of P. Engineers (provincial or state juridictions) for matters concerning ethics, quality of work, etc. In mentoring a young engineer, a question in the application for membership even requires one to testify to the good character of the candidate! Similar requirements are apparently front and center for the other professions, too. globally.

    The deviousness of changing fundamental professional claims Dr. Ford had on her website bio and shredding her facebook pages in order to hide compromising info on her is pretty damning of where she is ethically.

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