Innocent until proven guilty

I would think that if you are going to grant somebody a lifetime position with as much power as that of a Supreme Court Justice, you would want that person to be beyond reproach. Instead, Republicans seem determined to ram through Brett Kavanaugh on a standard of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

As I noted in my last post, “innocent until proven guilty” is a standard unavailable to the poor.[1] Indeed, we blame the poor for being poor,[2] the homeless for being homeless.[3] And I strongly doubt women who have come forward to accuse men of rape, sexual assault, or sexual harassment, only to find themselves accused and slut-shamed, feel that the standard has applied to them. Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Clarity on Brett Kavanaugh,” Not Housebroken, September 24, 2018, https://disunitedstates.org/2018/09/24/clarity-on-brett-kavanaugh/
  2. [2]Kristina Cooke, David Rohde, and Ryan McNeill, “The Undeserving Poor,” Atlantic, December 20, 2012, http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/12/the-undeserving-poor/266507/; Herbert J. Gans, The War Against The Poor: The Underclass And Antipoverty Policy (New York: Basic, 1995); Henry A. Giroux, “Neoliberalism and the Machinery of Disposability,” Truthout, April 8, 2014, http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/22958-neoliberalism-and-the-machinery-of-disposability; Michael B. Katz, “How America abandoned its ‘undeserving’ poor,” Salon, December 21, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/12/21/how_america_abandoned_its_undeserving_poor; Lucy Mangan, “If you don’t understand how people fall into poverty, you’re probably a sociopath,” Guardian, January 24, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/24/if-you-dont-understand-poverty-youre-a-sociopath; Jeffrey Reiman, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, 7th ed. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2004).
  3. [3]Gary Blasi, “The 1% wants to ban sleeping in cars – because it hurts their ‘quality of life’,” Guardian, April 15, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/15/ban-sleeping-in-cars-homeless-silicon-valley; Tana Ganeva, “5 shocking ways America abuses its homeless,” Salon, September 13, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/09/13/5_shocking_ways_america_abuses_its_homeless_partner/; Alastair Gee, “Low-income workers who live in RVs are being ‘chased out’ of Silicon Valley streets,” Guardian, June 29, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/29/low-income-workers-rvs-palo-alto-california-homeless;  Rich Gutierrez and Leslie Patron, “Displacing the Unprofitable and Undesirable in California’s San Jose,” Truthdig, April 22, 2017, http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/displacing_unprofitable_undesirable_in_san_joses_fountain_alley_20170419; Monica Potts, “Dispossessed in the Land of Dreams,” New Republic, December 13, 2018, https://newrepublic.com/article/124476/dispossessed-land-dreams; Stephanie Thomson, “We shouldn’t treat the homeless like criminals,” Guardian, August 25, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/25/we-shouldnt-treat-the-homeless-like-criminals; Emily Alpert Reyes, “As businesses cite blight, overnight RV parking bans on L.A. streets grow — and the homeless scramble,” Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2018, http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-rv-homeless-20180317-story.html; David Whiting, “11,000 sign petition to clear homeless from Santa Ana River Trail; state of emergency considered,” Orange County Register, August 31, 2017, http://www.ocregister.com/2017/08/31/11000-sign-petition-to-clear-homeless-from-santa-ana-river-trail-state-of-emergency-considered/

Clarity on Brett Kavanaugh

Lindsey Graham ought to be ashamed of himself:

“What am I supposed to do, go and ruin this guy’s life based on an accusation?” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said on “Fox News Sunday.” [Christine Blasey] Ford’s allegations that [Brett] Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party in the early 1980s would be too thin to hold up in court, Graham said. “I don’t know when it happened, I don’t know where it happened, and everybody named in regard to being there said it didn’t happen. I’m just being honest: Unless there’s something more, no, I’m not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh’s life over this.”[1]

We are not talking about “ruin[ing] this guy’s life.” We are talking about confirming a possible sex offender,[2] who enjoys the protections the rich and powerful afford to each other,[3] to the highest court in the land, where he would, for better or for worse, participate in decisions affecting hundreds of millions of people. Read more

  1. [1]Karoun Demirjian, Amy Gardner, and Seung Min Kim, “Senate Judiciary panel’s top Democrat calls for delay in Kavanaugh hearing after new allegation,” Washington Post, September 23, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/as-hearing-on-kavanaugh-assault-allegations-loom-senators-seem-unwilling-to-budge/2018/09/23/99f3fd3e-bf37-11e8-90c9-23f963eea204_story.html
  2. [2]Emma Brown, “California professor, writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter, speaks out about her allegation of sexual assault,” Washington Post, September 16, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/california-professor-writer-of-confidential-brett-kavanaugh-letter-speaks-out-about-her-allegation-of-sexual-assault/2018/09/16/46982194-b846-11e8-94eb-3bd52dfe917b_story.html; Karoun Demirjian, Amy Gardner, and Seung Min Kim, “Senate Judiciary panel’s top Democrat calls for delay in Kavanaugh hearing after new allegation,” Washington Post, September 23, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/as-hearing-on-kavanaugh-assault-allegations-loom-senators-seem-unwilling-to-budge/2018/09/23/99f3fd3e-bf37-11e8-90c9-23f963eea204_story.html; Deanna Paul, “A former sex-crimes prosecutor analyzed Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh. Here’s her take,” Washington Post, September 18, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/09/18/former-sex-crimes-prosecutor-analyzed-fords-allegations-against-kavanaugh-heres-her-take/
  3. [3]Eliot A. Cohen, “The Crisis of the American Elites,” Atlantic, September 23, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/09/the-crisis-of-the-american-elites/571060/; Emily Witt, “The Boys’ Club That Protects Brett Kavanaugh,” New Yorker, September 22, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-boys-club-that-protects-brett-kavanaugh

The morality of polarization

See update for December 23, 2019, at end of post

So Donald Trump bragged about being able to grab a woman “by the pussy”[1] (he dismisses this as “locker room talk”[2]), almost certainly had an affair with an adult film star,[3] and went on to nominate a judge for the Supreme Court who now stands credibly accused of attempted rape at a drunken party in his teen-aged years.[4] Read more

  1. [1]Jeff Stein, “Here’s what happens if Trump drops out,” Vox, October 8, 2016, http://www.vox.com/2016/10/8/13211050/what-happens-trump-dropout
  2. [2]British Broadcasting Corporation, “US election: Trump says obscene remarks were ‘locker room talk,’” October 10, 2016, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-us-2016-37604151
  3. [3]Anderson Cooper, “Stormy Daniels describes her alleged affair with Donald Trump,” CBS News, March 26, 2018, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/stormy-daniels-describes-her-alleged-affair-with-donald-trump-60-minutes-interview/
  4. [4]Emma Brown, “California professor, writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter, speaks out about her allegation of sexual assault,” Washington Post, September 16, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/california-professor-writer-of-confidential-brett-kavanaugh-letter-speaks-out-about-her-allegation-of-sexual-assault/2018/09/16/46982194-b846-11e8-94eb-3bd52dfe917b_story.html; Deanna Paul, “A former sex-crimes prosecutor analyzed Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh. Here’s her take,” Washington Post, September 18, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/09/18/former-sex-crimes-prosecutor-analyzed-fords-allegations-against-kavanaugh-heres-her-take/

Epistemology as inquiry

One of the things we need to remember about philosophy—this was in the introductory class I had at American River College back in the late 1970s— is that philosophy does not answer questions but rather poses and explores them.

This is a crucial point: When you have decided you know the answer, you cease to question it. And then it ceases to be a topic of inquiry or even a philosophical topic. Read more

A quick discourse historical analysis: “They say 1 in 3 won’t retire. They haven’t met you.”

I was driving on an elevated portion of the freeway through Oakland when I saw a billboard from Prudential—I don’t know what unit in what I assume to be a complicated corporate structure—that said, “They say 1 in 3 won’t retire. They haven’t met you.”

Now, I’m not a fan of advertising, let alone billboards, anyway. But an advertisement like this is clearly not targeted at me. I have nothing for a financial planner to work with; I very definitely am one of those one in three. Read more

On the quest for an objective news source

I’ve commented a few times now that no matter who wins an election in the U.S., the losing side feels oppressed. We distrust each other’s information, calling it “fake news.” We distrust each other’s motivations, calling them hate. In effect, we deny each other’s legitimacy.

So a question has come up a couple times now: Where should we go for objective news? Read more