FORD VS. KAVANAUGH

Occam’s Razor – A New Parlor Game

Guest Opinion published October 4, 2018, Siskiyou Daily News

First of all, I want to say that even though this article is an attempt at satirical humor, I do not intend to minimize the importance of a significant event that is still a work-in-progress, an event that will become historic no matter how it plays out.  The importance of it is frightening because it can threaten the continued existence of our constitutionally-based form of government.

I have written about this before, but it’s truer now than ever.  I believe that many of the people that run our country are no longer interested in determining what is true or false, or what is actually best for the nation.  They are only interested in keeping their party (and themselves) in power.  What other explanation is there to explain why almost every vote on every issue comes down to Democrats versus Republicans?  Sure, it makes sense with some policy issues.  The Democrats generally are identified as “leftist” on social and economic issues, with the opposite being true of Republicans.  But I don’t think it makes that much sense when it comes to the “advice and consent” function of the Senate regarding the selection of a United States Supreme Court Justice.  It is a life term.  The Democrats want someone more progressive, and the Republicans want someone more conservative.  I get that.  But what they all should be wanting is a solid, ethical, well-educated jurist who understands and will apply the law.  What is distressing today is the blood-thirsty fervor with which this conflict is playing out, and the cheap-shot eleventh-hour tactics that have taken place.  (There are a few politicians willing to break ranks with their political parties from time-to-time, and they are vilified unmercifully.  I personally think, for the most part, that they are courageous).  What is happening today is unprecedented.  For example, Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed by a Democratically-controlled Senate 68-31.  23% of the Senate Republicans voted to confirm her.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Clinton appointee, was approved by the Senate 96-3.

What about the people on the street, the ordinary Americans like you and me?  My wife and I have friends who we have known for many years.  Friends you go on camping and back-packing trips with and get together with on weekends.  On a typical Friday night we would go to someone’s house for dinner.  Inevitably, after dinner, the bottle of Brandy would come out, and that is when the political discussions got really good.  Our group of friends included the full spectrum of political ideologies, from right-wing Republicans to left-wing Democrats (I’m not naming names).  We argued, and maybe even shouted at each other, but the worst that happened was the Brandy hangover the next morning.  We agreed to disagree, and our friendships still endure.

But that does not seem to be the case among ordinary Americans any more.  Today, if you believe Ford and I don’t, I am evil, hate women, believe that the Nineteenth Amendment should be repealed, and should be neutered, because women always tell the truth.  Today, if you believe Kavanagh and I don’t, I am a Me-Too-er who believes that all women have been brutally raped by elitist white men who went to prestigious prep schools, and that all men are inherently evil.

I want to make politics fun again.  I propose to invent, copyright, and get rich from a parlor game while this whole affair is still headline news.  I will call it Occam’s Razor.  Occam’s Razor is a philosophical idea from the 14th Century.  Actually, it is a form of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid).  Its basic premise is that if there are two or more explanations for an occurrence, the simplest explanation is usually more correct.  Another way to say it is that the more assumptions you have to make to support an explanation, the more likely the explanation is incorrect.

Here is the parlor game.  I will break it down into steps:

  1.  Open the Brandy bottle;
  2. Divide into two teams;
  3. Give each team a form to complete (see below);
  4. Give each team 15 minutes to fill out the form;
  5. When the forms get turned in, everyone gets to vote on which team wins;
  6. The winning team gets whatever is left in the Brandy bottle;
  7. No one gets to kill anyone.

Here is the form:

OCCAM’S RAZOR GAME FORM

Kavanagh Did It

Assumptions:

1.

2.

You can use more space if necessary.

Kavanagh Didn’t Do It

Assumptions:

1.

2.

You can use more space if necessary.

Bob Kaster

Yreka, CA

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