Letters to the editor, Oct. 18

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

What I am sure of on Kavanaugh

When Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois asked Dr. Christine Ford, “To what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?” Dr. Ford answered, “One hundred percent certain!” The Senate of the United States is a (self-made) pompous place and its senators often excessively verbal. (Perhaps such goes with our lore that the chamber is contemplative.) Durbin’s question should have been to the issue of what happened to Dr. Ford and not to her belief(s). For her part, Ford should have rejected Durbin’s framing the question about her beliefs. Unfortunately, she, as a modern-day academic, followed Durbin and quantified her (own) belief.

As a response, “one hundred” is misleading. It firms-up nothing that is relevant! We were not interested in Dr. Ford’s beliefs. We wanted to know what happened. Dr. Ford’s reply should have been framed in terms of what happened—not in terms of her frame of mind. Her answer to Durbin should have been prefaced by her assertion, “Senator, it is not a matter of my belief, Brett Kavanaugh was in my face!”

Unfortunately, her professionalism—the quantified belief business—plunked us squarely in today’s swamp of reductionism where claims are taken as personal, and personal is treated as (nothing but) belief. We are left isolated in a mass.

If one doubts my point, if one thinks what we have here is at its foundation belief, then remember that is precisely where the committee’s members, Dems, right along with Republicans, took their refuge. Clearly there are connections between claims about what happened to Dr. Ford and belief—it would be absurd for her to claim that Kavanaugh was in her face and she does not believe it. But investigating what happened is a bigger job, with much wider implications, than investigating what Dr. Ford believes. Asserting, ‘He was in my face!’ has ‘he’ as its subject and what he did as its predicate. It takes us in one direction. Asserting, ‘I am one hundred percent sure!’ has Dr. Ford as its subject. It allows all of us to keep her as our focus.

The committee, and Dr. Ford in her own defense, failed their respective tasks —which is why this whole thing, on this occasion, became a nation-wide one-room sham. Once again, right up Donald Trump’s alley!

John Giannone, ST


This election, remember the climate

Dear Editor:

The United Nations climate organization (IPCC) recently released a report saying humanity needed to take dramatic action immediately – unprecedented in scope in human history- if we are to avoid a civilization-threatening climate disaster.

The NY Times Magazine devoted an entire edition in August to a story on how we are too late to save humanity because our politicians will never agree to do so. Climate change is humanity’s greatest threat, and it is happening much faster than the worst-case scenarios previously outlined.

I am running for state comptroller on the Green Party line in support of the simple step of getting the state to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels so that we no longer seek to profit from the destruction of the planet. It is morally wrong and an increasingly bad financial investment.

Since 350.org started the divestment campaign five years ago to help create the political will to act on climate, more than 1,000 institutions with $7.2 trillion in investments have agreed to divest. New York City and the Republic of Ireland have agreed to do so as well.

The hardest task we face is to commit to a society-wide emergency mobilization to save humanity.

The good news is that we already know how to do a lot of things that will help, like renewable energy from wind, solar and geothermal. Moving to those energy sources means millions of new living wage jobs, thousands of fewer deaths annually in NYS from air pollution, and much lower electric rates in the future. Scientists with the Drawdown Project recently put out a list of the 100 most effective (including on cost) steps we can take to reduce climate change – many of them surprising (increasing education of women, agriculture practices.)

We need to vote this election for candidates who are wholeheartedly committed to climate justice and taking immediate action. Ask them how they stand on the issue. Vote knowing that the lives of your children and grandchildren depend on it.

Sincerely,

Mark A. Dunlea

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