Not since “No Child Left Behind” (declaring that every child should perform at or above the 40th percentile,) has Congress shown such incompetence in comprehending simple math.
This was quite apparent in Susan Collins’ 40 minute justification of her yes vote! We all understand this cannot be decided either way with absolute certainty; but her conclusion that the “more likely than not” standard should apply, is deeply flawed. This standard would apply if we were deciding which of two candidates should be elevated to the Supreme Court. There are scores of equally qualified candidates; and finding one without such a sordid past, just can’t be that hard. Basically Collins has said the probability that Kavanaugh has lied, is somewhere below the 50 percentile mark. Now I don’t know if he lied about everything; but it’s pretty clear from both sworn and volume of volunteered testimony, he lied about some things. And it can’t be that hard to find a candidate who at least pretends to be non-partisan!
For the sake of argument, let’s ignore the testimony, the blather from both sides, and the hostility of the candidate, and call it a 50/50 proposition. Is that really a good enough standard in this case? Perhaps as a juror in a trial of an accused serial killer, you would see a 90% probability as too low for a guilty verdict. But what percentage would you accept for this guy to date your daughter? Both political parties argued as if this were just about his reputation or her reputation and forgot about you and me in the process. This decision should have been about the integrity, judgment and impartiality of the person who will make decisions for us — some of them life or death decisions, affecting some three hundred million Americans for years to come! The applicable standard should have been the same standard you used to protect your own daughter.
Even without any direct evidence, there are lots of behavioral indicators to move the needle off center; but the most reliable evidence, is statistical evidence independently tested using the scientific method. but even that can be misused! For instance, how did Ms. Collins distinguish that the testimony against Al Franken which she deemed credible while she found the testimony against Bret Kavanaugh not credible? Perhaps too generously, we’ll assume the difference had nothing to do with political affiliation. As I understand, her explanation of the allegations against Kavanaugh were not credible because they are “shocking” (rape and attempted rape is statistically speaking an uncommon way to describe a relationship between two people,) and therefore less credible. On the other hand, the allegations against Franken were not shocking because sexual assaults such as “hugging too hard,” are relatively more common, making them more credible. I think we can all agree this “shocking” factor, should not be used to gauge credibility; but rather, to determine the level of investigation required!
There is obvious and unassailable statistical evidence already available to the Senate that Ms. Collins failed to mention.
That is the polygraph report for Dr. Ford. Maybe she [Collins] didn’t mention it because it defeats the case she was trying to make; but there might be other more subtle reasons (Gosh, wouldn’t it be nice if there was an easy way to tell if your elected representatives were sincere?) The plain truth is, polygraphs are reliable approximately 90% of the time. When taken by itself, the fact that Dr. Ford passed the polygraph with testimony contradicting Judge Kavanaugh’s version, gives us 9 to 1 odds in Ford’s favor. Judge Kavanaugh could even the odds by submitting his own polygraph. However, if he fails the test, it goes to 99 to 1. With his resources, I have no doubt his lawyers already have his polygraph results. From this we can only infer a 99% chance that Kavanaugh was lying. Of course Ms. Collins knows all of this, so the 40 minutes was all about making her decision easier for us to swallow. It failed!
While I have regarded Ms. Collins as one of the most respected and deliberative members of the Senate, this was not her finest hour. In trying to have it both ways, her speech on Friday took deception to a new level surpassing even those Senators told us outright lies, but at least had the courtesy of declaring that they were firmly on one side or the other.