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Objectivity is very near death in America

04question mark 2492009 1920For some time, I have thought that objectivity is dying in – or disappearing from – America. The confirmation process for Brett Kavanaugh solidified my suspicion. Objectivity is very near death in America. From the Cambridge Dictionary, objectivity is “the state or quality of being objective and fair.” Then, for being objective: “Not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.” Given these definitions, consider some of what transpired during this confirmation process. 

President Donald Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court. He met, individually, with all senators who were willing to do so. Included was Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-C.A. Kavanaugh also testified for over 30 hours before the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

After his testimony, but just before the committee was to vote on making a recommendation to the full Senate, an allegation of sexual assault against Kavanaugh from 36 years ago was made public. The allegation was made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford who had written to her congresswoman, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-C.A. 

Ford requested anonymity. The letter was passed to Feinstein, who did not act to address the allegation in accordance with procedures of the Judiciary Committee on which she is the senior Democrat. Instead, after the letter was with Feinstein for about two months, in a manner yet unexplained, the media was given the allegation and ran with it. 

Ford’s allegation is summarized as follows in an article by Eli Rosenberg and Lindsey Bever titled “‘Shut up and step up:’ Sen. Hirono’s blunt message to men.” 

“In an interview with The Washington Post, Ford alleged that Kavanaugh corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering in Maryland when she was in high school, pinned her to a bed, groped her over her clothes and attempted to pull off the clothing she was wearing.” 

There were two other women who later made allegations against Kavanaugh – these also from 30+ years ago. They were Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick. After extensive negotiations with Ford and her attorney, a hearing was set before the Judiciary Committee. Ford and Kavanaugh testified. Republicans engaged Rachel Mitchell, an Arizona prosecutor specializing in sex crimes, to question Ford. Democratic senators did their questioning of both. 

When it became clear that the nomination was about to move forward, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, along with opponents of Kavanaugh around the country, pushed for and got a supplemental FBI background check. Indications are that the FBI report did not unearth any additional information to support the sexual abuse allegations. 

In the end, Judge Kavanaugh was confirmed. However, this highly accomplished man who had a sterling reputation as a judge, Harvard professor, father, husband, public servant and gentleman has had all of that destroyed. Not only was his life destroyed, but those of his wife and two little girls were also tremendously adversely impacted. These human beings were treated as meaningless by Democrats in the Senate and by others across this country who are so focused on possessing power at any cost. 

  That quest for power by any means also ensnared Ford. She wanted to remain anonymous but was forced into the fray by one or more opponents of the Kavanaugh nomination when their primary tactic of obstruction failed. Sexual abuse allegations should be, and must be, investigated. Women and men who make such allegations must be heard and treated with respect. 

  The great challenge is to address these cases, and all matters, with objectivity. The Democrats’ handling of the Kavanaugh abuse allegations came nowhere close to objectivity. Prosecutor Mitchell provided a report as to her conclusion based on the testimony of Ford. It is available at www.axios.com/brett-kavanaugh-rachel-mitchell-prosecutor-memo-2c3233cc- 1d42-416b-af04-02700aa9a711.html. Her summary follows, but I encourage reading the full report. 

  “In the legal context, here is my bottom line: A ‘he said, she said’ case is incredibly difficult to prove. But this case is even weaker than that. Dr. Ford identified other witnesses to the event and those witnesses either refuted her allegations or failed to corroborate them. For the reasons discussed below, I do not think that a reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence before the Committee. Nor do I believe that this evidence is sufficient to satisfy the preponderance-of-the evidence standard.” 

  Mitchell explained, “There is no clear standard of proof for allegations made during the Senate confirmation process.” 

  Given this situation, she provides an assessment of Ford’s allegations in the legal context. That is, the world in which Mitchell operates. Consequently, she presents facts and reaches a conclusion based on examination of those facts. This is being objective and fair. Here are a few of the facts presented and assessed in her report. 

• “Dr. Ford has not offered a consistent account of when the alleged assault happened.” 

• “Dr. Ford has struggled to identify Judge Kavanaugh as the assailant by name.” 

• “Dr. Ford has no memory of key details of the night in question – details that could help corroborate her account.” (Who invited her; how she got there; location of the house where the attack took place; how she got home.) 

• “Dr. Ford has not offered a consistent account of the alleged assault.” 

• “Her account of who was at the party has been inconsistent.” 

• “Dr. Ford’s description of the psychological impact of the event raises questions.” (Afraid to fly but flies frequently.) 

  Mitchell’s list of facts goes on. Now turn to how Democrats conducted themselves during this process. Without any corroboration of the allegations, they labeled Kavanaugh a sexual abuser. The following quote from an article by Thomas Jipping titled “Opposing Kavanaugh by ‘Whatever Means Necessary’” sent a clear message that Democrats would not be objective in considering the Kavanaugh nomination. 

  “Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) is out to show us that he’s one politician who can keep a promise. On July 9, within minutes of President Trump’s announcement of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his Supreme Court nominee, Schumer vowed to ‘oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything I have.’ When he said everything, he meant it.” 

  Then there is this, regarding Kavanaugh, from Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, as reported in an article by Tyler O’Neil titled “Dem. Senator: Kavanaugh Doesn’t Deserve ‘Presumption of Innocence’ Because I Disagree With Him.” 

  “‘I put his denial in the context of everything that I know about him in terms of how he approaches his cases,’” the senator said, suggesting that the presumption of innocence — a core tenet of English common law and American law going back more than one hundred years — depends on a person’s judicial philosophy.” 

  Hirono sees no need to review this candidate in light of qualifications, experience, intellect, judicial temperament or basic facts. No, simply reject this man and destroy his life while doing great harm to his wife and daughters simply because you disagree with what you think is his judicial approach. There is no objectivity here. 

  I could go on for pages making the case that Senate Democrats and their cohorts across this country showed zero objectivity in this confirmation process. The question now is how will those Americans who recognize the great danger that is faced by our country in this near-death condition of objectivity respond to the crisis. My hope is that we will take action to save objectivity from death. Doing so requires that we follow the example of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. 

  In the face of the onslaught by Judiciary Committee Democrats, he said, “You may defeat me in the final vote, but you’ll never get me to quit. Never.” By voting and every other action that is civil and legal, we must act – never quit. 

  As you decide how to respond to the Democrats’ treatment of Kavanaugh, consider the following from an article titled “Howie Carr: We are all Brett Kavanaugh.” 

  “We are all Brett Kavanaugh now. The politics of personal destruction that the Democrats and the media – but I repeat myself – have used in this despicable campaign to crush Kavanaugh could just as easily be deployed against anybody who gets in their way, male or female.” 

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Reporting the good news

03HudsonWe’ve all heard the phrase, “Bad news travels fast.” That seems like the case these days. In fact, a reporter once told me the news doesn’t report on planes landing. I guess no one would read a story with the headline “Plane successfully lands at Charlotte Douglas.” That’s why I’m very happy to see folks here in North Carolina report on good news that really matters. 

A little over a week ago, WSOC-TV Channel 9’s headline read, “Senate sends President Trump bipartisan opioids bill.” This comprehensive, bipartisan package will help get to the root of the opioids epidemic that’s ravaging communities across the country, including many right here in North Carolina. The package includes three of my bipartisan bills to help get unused opioids out of medicine cabinets and off the streets. 

While this might seem minor at first glance, it’s a huge issue – over 70 percent of heroin addictions begin in the medicine cabinet. As many as 92 percent of patients don’t use their full opioid prescription. Making sure we safely dispose of opioids before they fall into the wrong hands is a critical step in solving this national problem. 

  As your voice in Congress, I’ve worked to combat the opioid crisis for years, and I’m proud to be a leader on this front. 

  This isn’t a partisan issue – it’s an American one, and I’ll continue to work with my colleagues, President Trump and local leaders to stop the deadly cycle of opioid addiction. 

  In The Fayetteville Observer, another recent headline read, “Trump signs spending plan, avoiding government shutdown.” Representing Fort Bragg, the epicenter of the universe, I was proud to not only support this critical funding bill, but also to have my amendment included to provide more training for our Special Forces. Overall, this bill provides $17 billion to our military to increase training for our troops and improve warfighter preparedness. And it gives out troops a well-deserved 2.6 percent pay raise. This is in addition to another pay raise last year. 

  The Charlotte Business Journal also reported, “Ivanka Trump talks higher education, workforce pipeline during Mooresville visit.” As Senior White House Advisor, Ivanka joined Congressman Ted Budd and me at the NASCAR Technical Institute to discuss job training. As a former trustee of Rowan- Cabarrus Community College, I know these programs are some of the best avenues we have to train workers for jobs in high-demand fields that would otherwise go unfilled. That’s exactly why I’ve made this a top priority and worked with the Trump administration to transform our career and technical education system. 

  We’ve made incredible progress – especially with the recent signing of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353). I will continue to work to close the skills gap and help equip workers with the tools they need to get good jobs. 

  Last, but not least, The News & Observer reported, “Washington sends $1.7 billion to the Carolinas in Hurricane Florence aid.” Getting responsible disaster relief funding was truly a bipartisan effort. This is just the first installment to help families in North Carolina rebuild, and I’m glad to see this bill head to Trump’s desk to be signed into law. 

  You see, if you look closely, there is some good news out there. We’ve taken major bipartisan steps on issues that impact our daily lives, and we’ll continue to do so through the end of this year and beyond. 

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Miss Potts, me and FBI investigations

16Christine Blasey Ford swearing in “You’d better be careful,” my wonderful seventh grade teacher, Miss Winifred Potts, preached to my class more than 65 years ago. 

Miss Potts had a set of strategies to encourage us to behave, in and out of class. To discourage mischief- making while she was writing math problems on the blackboard, she told us that people said she could see out of the back of her head. 

Her most persuasive tactic, one she used when one or some of us were flirting with serious trouble, was to tell us about her visits from the FBI. 

“They come to talk to me when one of my former students is up for a big job in the government. I have to tell them the truth about what I know that person did in my class. Just remember that when you are thinking about getting into trouble with me.” 

Ironically, federal intelligence agents did visit my hometown about 10 years later to ask questions about me. I do not know whether they talked to Miss Potts, but one of my high school teachers told me that federal agents had asked about my connections to suspected troublemakers. 

Those questions were, I think, because of my effort to gain a top security clearance when I was in the Army and being considered for a position in the Army’s counter- intelligence corps and training in counterintelligence operations. 

That training was designed to prepare me to work on background investigations for others who were seeking security clearances or assignments to sensitive positions. 

After my counterintelligence training, I took on other positions in the Army and never had a chance to use the investigative skills I learned in training. 

Later on as a lawyer, I once was employed to investigate an alleged scheme to secretively and illegally funnel corporate funds into a political campaign. Working on this project, I learned the frustrations of seeking the truth from people involved in the activities that brought about the investigation and from their friends and colleagues. 

Finally, many years later, the FBI came to interview me about my connection to a political candidate. This connection was remote, but investigators heard that I had been in the same room with the accused when important information was promulgated. 

At first, I had no memory of the event whatsoever. But the FBI agent kept coming back until I remembered a few details. Then he requested copies of all of my emails that might have any connection with the accused or his family. I was impatient with what I thought was wasted time and effort on the part of the agent. But I was impressed with his diligence and commitment to get to the bottom of whatever connection I might have had. 

Why have I burdened you with all these personal details and unexceptional personal experiences? 

It is only to assert that I know just a little something about the intricacies and difficulties of conducting FBI and other serious investigations. I think that “little something” puts me in a position to assert that I know investigations can be amazingly productive when diligent investigators with good resources are put on the case and given the time to find the facts. 

Time is critical. 

Time to prepare and conduct the interviews. Time to run down leads and to follow up. The facts don’t magically appear, and when the facts do appear, they are often conflicting and require more follow-up. 

So at the end of a hard-charging but time-limited weeklong FBI investigation of Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford, we may know much more than we do now. 

But that will not be nearly all there is to know. 

Photo: Dr. Ford

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Kudos to Cool Spring Downtown District

02PubPenComicConThe city of Fayetteville needs and wants a vibrant downtown. The new Astros baseball stadium and tens of millions of dollars in new construction and economic development on our doorstep bring us nearly endless opportunities. Now is the time for city officials and downtown organizations like the Greater Fayetteville Chamber, the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, the Downtown Alliance and Cool Spring Downtown District to come together to define and solidify a joint mission and to brand downtown as a destination. It’s time to find common ground that nurtures cooperation, instills confidence and exudes enthusiasm and hospitality. 

Spending $38 million on a baseball stadium will not be enough to accomplish this. Case in point: the unfortunate closing of the Walmart store in the Murchison Road community. I’m not a Walmart shopper, nor am I a fan of its overall national corporate strategy. However, this was a national corporate entity that stepped up to solve a Fayetteville community problem after a study identified that neighborhood as a food desert. 

Walmart Inc. is savvy when it comes to corporate planning and development. Walmart built that store on the premise that not only was it needed, but it would be supported by the people of the community and serve as the economic catalyst for Fayetteville’s future development of the Murchison Road corridor. 

But in less than four years, those warm and fuzzy sound bites and politically motivated assumptions failed to materialize. 

Why? Three reasons. 

  The study was based on political bias and faulty information. There was a lack of sufficient planning. And there was no advertising, marketing or promotion. Lesson learned? We’ll see. 

Back to downtown Fayetteville and its future possibilities. Cool Spring Downtown District, a nonprofit organization under the interim direction of former Fayetteville mayor Tony Chavonne, seems to be emerging as the catalyst for promoting the history, charm and attributes of downtown Fayetteville. Most impressive is the recent hiring of a marketing professional who understands how media works and acknowledges that if we want people to come downtown, they must first be invited and have a reason for coming. 

  I say this because for the first time that I can remember, downtown Fayetteville – via the CSDD – is actively marketing and promoting Fayetteville to more than 10,000 visitors who will attend the annual Comic Con at the Crown Coliseum the weekend of Oct. 20-21. 

  Like I said, the first step is to invite them. Comic Con visitors, vendors and celebrity guests have all been invited downtown, and we are giving them a welcoming party on Saturday night at Huske Hardware House Oct. 20 from 8-10 p.m. And guess what? You are also invited! 

  We tip our hats to CSDD and the folks at Huske Hardware. This is a wonderful example of how to successfully market, promote and advertise our community. We want to invite people to visit downtown to experience our history, view our art, eat in our restaurants and shop in our stores. And this is a great start. 

  Congratulations to CSDD. This is the start of something good, and we are proud to be a part of it. 

  Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly. 

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Riding the storm out

21Florence copy For many people in the Carolinas, this week has been hellish with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. My heart goes out to so many that have lost so much. 

A few days prior to getting my storm preparation on, I was doing a mental inventory of what I needed versus what I had. Then I thought to myself, my motorcycle has a lot of things that I might be able to use. 

I have two bikes, a Suzuki DR-650 and a BMW R1200GS. Both are great bikes on and off the road. 

I have traveled on both bikes for weeks in some very remote places, so I am capable of living off the grid with them. As I looked at the situation, I started breaking things down. I’ve always had a Plan A and Plan B for critical situations. Plan A was to stay at the house. Thus far, I have not experienced flooding but could easily be land-locked. Plan B, if needed, was to evacuate to a friend or family member’s house. 

 

For Plan A, the motorcycle bags non my GS could be used as water- proof luggage. I have a Rugged Geek RG1000 Safety 1000A Portable Car Jump Starter, Battery Booster Pack and Power Supply with LCD Display, INTELLIBOOST Smart Cables, LED Flashlight and USB and laptop charging. This is great for keeping things charged around the house. 

My bike has a nice first-aid kit that has tourniquet supplies in the event of a serious motorcycle emergency. This includes stitches, Band-Aids, trauma bandages, blood clotting bandages and a few other things. 

My wife had bought me a generator after Hurricane Matthew for a Christmas present. Gas was somewhat a concern for me since I have not used the generator before, so I was not sure how much gas I needed. I had three 5-gallon gas cans but was not sure how long that would last. However, I knew I had two motorcycles with almost 5 gallons each that I could siphon from and my wife’s car, which has about 18 gallons. 

I did discover I had a small problem with my hose that I had in the bike. It was cut
to siphon gas from motorcycle to motor- cycle and not from the bottom of a car tank to the bike’s tank. SoI was short about 5 feet. This put me in a small panic. Before the night of the storm, I found a hose at Auto Zone. Relief!

I have a SPOT emergency transponder that I have mounted on whichever bike I’m on. This device runs on AAA batteries and is waterproof. It is very small and has a snap-link that can clip onto anything. The SPOT works over satellite to an emergency call center that in turn will notify 911. 

As a last result, I could also use the power adapter on the bike to charge electronics or use my electric air com- pressor to blow up our air mattress in the event we needed to put up an extra guest. 

If I needed to execute Plan B and get the heck out of dodge, I’d need maps. Detailed maps. I didn’t have time to get them for the state, but my Garmin GPS on the bike has a car mount. That would be great because my Garmin GPS has detailed trails and other specifics that my cell phone or car GPS does not have. 

For travel water, I have a few cases of water in the garage, but for the bikes, I have two 2-quart canteens and a CamelBack hydration pack for extra water. 

I also have a small gas stove that I could use to cook or boil water if I needed to purify water. 

Although the hurricane has passed, our day-to-day things we have around us can always be used as dual-purpose. 

I hope we never have to go through another storm like this again, but Mother Nature always does what Mother Nature does. 

If there is a topic that you would like to discuss, you can contact me at motorcycle4fun@aol.com. RIDE SAFE! 

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