Friday, September 28, 2018

9/27/18 A Day Of Supreme Injustice

The Kavanaugh Senate hearing is inscribed in stone as is the name of our Supreme Court.  A day of exceptional injustice.  Let us count the ways:
l.  It is confirmed that in spite of decades of work by millions in America, women are still treated and regarded as second class citizens in this patriarchal society.   Christine Blasey Ford was treated as unapproachable by old, white, Republican men with their deferring to a skilled, temperate female prosecutor hired to ask her questions because they were simply unable to empathetically treat her as an equal.  They knew their misogyny would be on full public display.  If you are unaware, Ms. Ford was an accuser of Brett Kavanaugh for an act of sexual violence against her.    The majority party controlling the committee and hearing were fearful complete due process in the form of routine fact gathering by the FBI might disadvantage the male Supreme Court nominee over his woman accuser.

Ms. Ford's testimony was lauded for her quiet, measured and humble recounting of the details of the sexual attack.  She in fact did it convincingly and with grace and composure.  Kavanaugh's testimony was lauded by his supporters as powerful, confrontational, full of rage and tears of either rage or self pity.  They wanted a strong, alpha male performance from him and got it, with abundant denial of any possibility that he engaged in sexual assault, excessive drinking or behavior out of character with his upper class, elite and superstar youth defined by hard academic work, athletics, service and church.
Ms. Ford would have been castigated had she exhibited anger and rage about the assault on her person.  Patriarchy required that Ms. Ford present herself in a ladylike fashion.  She did so as a deeply wounded person. 

Had the performance styles reversed with Ms. Ford  testifying with anger, confrontation, rage and tears, she would have be judged poorly in the one on one  contest set up by the Republicans.   Had Kavanaugh been quiet, measured and totally under control emotionally, he would have been judged as wimpish and judged poorly.  Ironically, had he comported himself as you might wish a judge, with those characteristics, he would be less likely to be confirmed for the appointment.   Stereotypes of male and female behavior prevailed both among the testifiers and the male Republicans seated on the committee.  The arc of justice for males and females in America has barely moved in my many decades of life.  Real men are expected to be aggressive.  Real women are expected to be passive and submissive.

2.  Accusation and denial of sexual assault were treated as equal by the committee.  This was not a court proceeding where there is a presumption of innocence for an accused.  Women accusers with credible stories about their abuse must be believed in non-judicial proceedings.   The woman accuser was treated with no deference compared to the accused though the risk and impact on her life and that of her family has been and will be much more extreme than the on the life and family of the very privileged accused, Kavanaugh. The accuser was not given fair play with the denial of testimony from corroborating witnesses to the assault event.  Ms. Ford will not benefit financially or socially by coming forward with her story.  She will be vilified in some circles as was the case with Anita Hill, an accuser decades ago.  Ms.  Anita Hill suffered greatly for years following, while the accused has enjoyed decades on the highest Court of our land with much social advantage.  A similar future is not expected for the very courageous and temperate Ms. Ford.

The very worst possible outcome for Kavanaugh will be remaining on the Circuit court for a life time appointment and life among Washington D.C.'s elite. It is likely he will be elevated to the Supreme Court, whose decisions therefore will be tainted by his lying background and myth making about his extraordinary intellectual skills.

3. The Republican majority on the committee failed to provide the routine background investigation on  the event, its players and witnesses.  Why the rush?  There is no timetable for such a nomination. They failed to provide all necessary background documents as is routine for such proceedings in congressional committees.  Why?   The only plausible explanation is that they did not want all the background facts to be known on the fitness of Kavanaugh for this lifetime appointment.  Though Kavanaugh's testimony was an eruption of raw, raging anger and self-pitying tears, he was subjected to far lesser scrutiny on both his public record and his character as is routine in such nominations, immensely important factors for any reasonable body to deliberate on his fitness for this appointment.The only plausible explanation is that the majority did not want full scrutiny to jeopardize this highly ideological, right wing elitist.

In sum, this process and outcome was damaging to a very frayed democracy and presents a dismal future for justice in our badly damaged system of checks and balances.

Allow me to ask those who saw both Ford and Kavanaugh's testimony.  Who exhibited the judicial temperament we hope for in nominees for the highest court in our land?  The answer is obvious.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Delaware's Elections Task Force's Failure of Imagination

On September 11, 2018 a task force empowered by legislation passed a couple of years ago to replace decertified voting machines, unveiled its choice.  The process was absent any meaningful voter/citizen participation and input about its new machine it hopes will record and count our votes correctly.  It is called the Express Vote xl from the infamous voting systems manufacturer, ES&S.   Any consideration of un-hackable paper ballot voting systems, such as voting at home or polling place based paper ballots and scanners were completely ignored.  The techies at the Commission got their toy; Delaware voters got potentially screwed.  And a former Vice Chair of the Deldems was their lobbyist, selling us out in terms of voting cyber-tampering security. Below is a presentation I made at the announcement meeting.  It at least evoked about an hour of very robust discussion, but concluded with a unanimous vote to recommend this vulnerable, brand new (certified in July 2018 by the EAC) system cyber security experts across the country have researched and deemed unreliable.  It now goes to the legislature for funding.

Task Force, your process completely failed to engage Delaware voters.  It was secretive, minimally publicized and without voter input.  
First, the process undertaken several years ago to replace our voting system was flawed from its inception.  It was non-transparent, late, devoid of citizen participation and education on potential voting method options before you jumped to machine purchases.
You failed take advantage of an historic opportunity provided by our need to replace an unrecountable 22 year old voting technology.  Our legislature’s task force creation bill chose machines over methods.
You bypassed  an opportunity to inform your electorate on voting options used successfully elsewhere and engage our voters in a public discussion about those options, cybersecurity and their preferences, such as paper ballots at home or at polling sites.
Instead, the task force bill treated this historic event as just another routine purchase of machines, failing to imagine a different future. Again, machines over methods.
Second, we voters were poorly represented in the task force meetings with sporadic and spotty participation of our elected officials.  This was their fault and they share the shame. Hardly any voters were involved.  The minutes revealed no robust discussion over potential future voting methods to be explored.
As the process ensued, our elected officials were denied a voice in the selection process on an absurd premise that they would have a conflict of interest with scoring and choice.  This was an abrogation of their responsibility.   You legislators and commission members provided no public forums to engage voters in discussion of election technology options. Worst of all,  we were denied expert outside opinion on cyber security research and voting system vulnerabilities.
Third. Missing also was any public discussion about the decade long history of technical malfunctions leading to protests and lawsuits all over the country.  You were in denial about to the emerging public crisis about Russian intrusion into the country’s voting systems.    It was as if that issue just bypassed Delaware while raging all over the country. You dismissed the return to paper ballot voting in many jurisdictions, a foolproof defense against tampering and cyber intrusion. Your indifference to this solution led to no paper ballot system vendor bids.  Task force, you own this malfeasance.
You have chosen to approve untested new voting technology.  You have subjected Delaware voters to needless risk that our votes will be  not properly counted and recorded.  The solution, at least temporarily, was right in front of you, paper ballots in some form, either filled out at home or at polling sites.  You denied us this solution for 2018.
You ignored the expert advice from a dozen or more university research organizations and a hundred or so cyber security scholars, who LOVE technology and are not owned by the vendors who have a record of lying, misrepresentation and non-transparency.  That advice is to provide voters with unhackable, countable paper ballots  until cyber secure, proven and risk limiting auditing techniques are available with confidence.
You own the shame of malfeasance and arrogance. Worst of all, you failed to engage your imagination.  You chose machines over methods.