Congressional Hearings Then and Now

Even as I write this, I’m listening to the impeachment hearings. I’ve borne witness to live testimony at every opportunity. I’m finding it riveting.

I’m really impressed with some of the dedicated public servants I’ve had the opportunity to hear. There really are bureaucrats out there who are well-meaning and full of integrity. That makes me feel as though our country may be able to recover from all this divisiveness and corruption. Someday.

Unfortunately, these testimonies have also shined a light on some of the cockroaches in our government. Those who are choosing not to testify are not participating in the process of revealing truth and clarifying the situation. Justice is not the end goal for these people. Their integrity will forever be in question, as far as I’m concerned. Clearly, they have something to hide.

Other cockroaches include those who are trying to stir up drama by using inflammatory phrases in the hopes that they’ll make good sound bites. Comparing this situation to a “drug deal” or an “inquisition” is not helpful, nor is it even remotely accurate. Implying that the closed-door depositions are somehow out of order is absurd. In all types of hearings, depositions are behind closed doors. The only time one sees a deposition is in the movies. Also, attempting to out the whistleblower is an effort to find a scapegoat to deflect attention from the subject of the impeachment.

But worst of all, without a doubt, are the tweets and the bullies who are attempting to intimidate witnesses. It makes this country look like a banana republic. It makes us look like thugs. And it makes me ashamed.

But even as I listen to these hearings, I remember the 8 year old me during the Watergate scandal. Little me threw more than one tantrum because the hearings pre-empted all her children’s programming. And it seemed to go on for an eternity. She was sooooooooo bored! She was furious at her mother for not being able to tell “someone” to restore decent television to the land.

What a difference maturity and life experience make. How radically one’s priorities shift over time. And thank goodness for Netflix.

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The Whistleblower

People seem shocked that the Republicans are calling for the exposure of whistleblower that started the current impeachment investigation. I’m not. People hate those who blow the whistle on their team. I know this because I’ve blown a whistle or two in my lifetime. It never went well for me.

The idea that this whistleblower is some sort of a rat, or a troublemaker, or a liar, is outrageous. I think this person is a hero. Anyone who sees something that’s morally, ethically or legally suspect, and speaks up about it despite all possible repercussions, is admirable. It takes courage.

And make no mistake, this person is not dictating what happens with the information he or she put forward. That person simply identified a situation that seemed wrong, brought it to the proper authorities, and those authorities are now in charge of investigating those allegations. It’s that simple.

That the Republicans are trying to imply that keeping this person’s identity a secret is some nefarious conspiracy by the Democrats is absurd. It’s. The. LAW. And for good reason. If you start exposing whistleblowers, then no one will have the courage to speak up when they see things that they feel are wrong.

And, lest we forget, just about every allegation that the whistleblower has made has been corroborated by other witnesses. So what’s the point in exposing the whistleblower?

I’ll tell you the point. The Republicans are anxious to have a scapegoat to deflect attention from the questionable behavior of Trump. They can’t afford to have us look at Trump too closely at the moment. We might notice that the emperor has no clothes.

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Sitting Beside Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

Yesterday morning, I’m sure I knew on some level that the hearings regarding Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged assault of Christine Blasey Ford were about to begin. But I pushed that out of my mind. I mowed my lawn. I vacuumed. I took a bath and got ready for work. It was a typical day for me. At least that’s what I was allowing myself to pretend.

Driving to work at 2 p.m., I could no longer maintain that comforting level of dissociation. I listen to NPR on my commute, and the hearings were still in full force. By that time, I was listening to an outraged, belligerent Brett Kavanaugh.

I tried to keep an open mind. If I were falsely accused, I’d be furious, too. If people were ruining my reputation on national TV, I’d probably show my a$$ a little, too. And guilty or innocent, I’m willing to concede that the man has been through a lot.

Here’s the thing that I couldn’t ignore. When he was asked if he’d urge the president to allow the FBI to investigate, he refused. If you’re truly innocent, what do you have to hide? Why wouldn’t you allow a bevy of professionally trained law enforcement officers look in to the situation? If you’re innocent, the FBI would help you prove that, without a shadow of a doubt, and then you could waltz into your life-long Supreme Court appointment, vindicated, with nary a bad stench wafting behind your judicial robes.

He talked about a Democratic conspiracy. He talked about the revenge of the Clintons. But he did not want an FBI investigation, which would surely expose those things. True conspiracies are rather easy to expose. Why wouldn’t he be calling for proof? I sure as heck would, if someone were trashing my good name.

As I arrived at work, I knew that I’d have to hear Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony as well. So I pulled up a Youtube video of it, and to my horror, it was more than 4 hours long. But I had to watch it all.

Okay, I admit I fast forwarded through the lunch break, in which the cameras were trained on empty chairs. Same with the 15 minute break. But still. That was a lot of testimony.

I felt obligated to listen, with a critical ear. Fair’s fair. But it was a hard thing to hear.

And after all that I heard, I believe her.

If she were lying, why would she risk exposure by urging further investigation? If she were lying, why would she risk failing a polygraph test (which apparently she cried all the way through for good measure)? She had so much to lose by coming forward. She’s lost her home and her anonymity and her safety. Even if someone were paying her off, it would never be enough.

So as the testimony wore on, I found myself imagining that I was sitting beside her, holding her hand. Because what she did was incredibly brave, and no doubt terrifying. I’m sure millions of women who watched were sitting beside her in spirit, too. Because she was speaking for all of us. #WhyIDidntReport

If the Republicans ram Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination through without further investigation, I think historians will see this as the point when our democracy officially died.

This country is standing on a very dark and ominous precipice. No matter which way this goes, we’re never going to be the same.

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“I’m Bored!!!”

I was just the right age to be tortured by the Watergate hearings. I was 8 years old in 1973 and those hearings pre-empted daytime television for weeks. At that age, it felt like years. I had no idea that a gripping piece of political history was unfolding before my eyes. I thought I would lose my mind, since television was one of my primary forms of after school entertainment back then. I remember wailing, “I’m bored!!!” to my mother, and she’d reply wearily, “Read a book.” Usually I’d just sit on my swing and cry. I was such a brat.

I have no idea where I got the idea that I should be entertained at all times. It’s insane, when you think about it. Saying you’re bored is like saying you are entitled to constant pleasure. I don’t know anyone who enjoys that level of privilege. Even the super-rich have to suffer through board meetings and long flights to Australia. Boredom visits us all.

I suspect that Generation Z will have an even harder time coping with boredom, because they have so many different ways to avoid it. If they’re treated to presidential investigations (fingers crossed, here), well, there’s always Netflix. I would have killed to binge watch something, anything, I Love Lucy, whatever, back in 1973.

Nowadays I’m kind of grateful for boredom. Please, God, give me a routine, predictable day with no surprises. Because the older you get, the more you experience those moments of “un-boredom” that are exciting little tastes of hell. The death of loved ones. Waiting for medical test results. Those times when your kid drops off the radar. Political shenanigans. Work SNAFUs. That strange noise in the back yard when you’re home alone.

You’re not bored at those moments, believe you me! Not even a little bit! That’s when you realize that boredom is actually a luxury.

So boredom can visit me any time it wants. I’m always grateful for an excuse to take a nap. And yeah, okay, my mother was right. You can never read too many books.

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Zzzzzzzzzzz…

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