Wednesday, November 22, 2017

No Men-- Especially No Men In Public Office-- Should Ever Think They Are "Untouchable" When It Comes To Workplace Sexual Harassment


-by Valley Girl

I wrote an email to Howie a few days back saying in part "I totally agreed with your tweet. This is what leadership should be about. It seems that they are not willing to name names because it will hurt their own careers. Howie, you have a lot of connections. Is there any way you could winkle this information out of someone? Get them to name even a few names? My gut feeling is that once even a few names are mentioned, then the floodgates will open."

Howie asked me to do a guest post. I’ve been working on that. Getting into the weeds, as I usually do. I started checking out Barbara Comstock (R-VA), who I didn’t know anything about before, but who now seems to have little record of bravery of any sort. I’ve compiled quite a dossier on her.

And, reminding myself of the details of Jackie Speirs’ history-- 1978 including when she went, as a congressional aide to Leo Ryan, to Jonestown, Guyana. By the end of the trip, Ryan was dead-- the first and only congressman to be assassinated in office-- along with three journalists and one cult defector. Speier and nine others had been shot and left for dead at a remote airstrip; they waited 22 hours for help to arrive.

Yes, she does have a solid history of bravery, courage, and public service. Watch this for context as to what Howie was talking about-- a House hearing:

Also note that this video above leaves out something: via CNN: During the hearing to review the House's sexual harassment policies, Comstock said it was "important that we name names."... exactly what Howie challenged her to do in his tweet.

And, also from the same CNN link, note this, if you follow the link-- "Speier, a Democrat who has gone public with her own allegations of sexual assault while she served as a Hill aide decades ago, testified before the panel Tuesday that two currently sitting members of Congress-- one Democrat, one Republican-- have 'engaged in sexual harassment' but have not yet been reviewed." NO, CNN is wrong on this quote. Speier actually says: two members… one Democrat, one Republican, who have been subject to review, or not have been subject to review, who have engaged in sexual harassment.

Fast forward with the post I’ve been working one-- I’m on EST, so I missed this news by several hours, until I woke up this morning. And ended up ditching most of what I’d already written. Note again Speier’s actual comment above.

The Buzz Feed story blows the lid off one of these two-- John Conyers. Title and subtitle: She Said A Powerful Congressman Harassed Her. Here’s Why You Didn’t Hear Her Story. "When you make private settlements, it doesn’t warn the next woman or the next person going into that situation."
Michigan Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not “succumb to [his] sexual advances.”

Documents from the complaint obtained by BuzzFeed News include four signed affidavits, three of which are notarized, from former staff members who allege that Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sexual favors, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public. Four people involved with the case verified the documents are authentic.

And the documents also reveal the secret mechanism by which Congress has kept an unknown number of sexual harassment allegations secret: a grinding, closely held process that left the alleged victim feeling, she told BuzzFeed News, that she had no option other than to stay quiet and accept a settlement offered to her.

“I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go,” she said in a phone interview. BuzzFeed News is withholding the woman’s name at her request because she said she fears retribution.

The woman who settled with Conyers launched the complaint with the Office of Compliance in 2014, alleging she was fired for refusing his sexual advances, and ended up facing a daunting process that ended with a confidentiality agreement in exchange for a settlement of more than $27,000. Her settlement, however, came from Conyers’ office budget rather than the designated fund for settlements.

In this case, one of Conyers’ former employees was offered a settlement, in exchange for her silence, that would be paid out of Conyers’ taxpayer-funded office budget. His office would “rehire” the woman as a “temporary employee” despite her being directed not to come into the office or do any actual work, according to the document. The complainant would receive a total payment of $27,111.75 over the three months, after which point she would be removed from the payroll, according to the document.

The process was “disgusting,” said Matthew Peterson, who worked as a law clerk representing the complainant, and who listed as a signatory to some of the documents.

“It is a designed cover-up,” said Peterson, who declined to discuss details of the case but agreed to characterize it in general terms. “You feel like they were betrayed by their government just for coming forward. It’s like being abused twice.”

Two staffers alleged in their signed affidavits that Conyers used congressional resources to fly in women they believed he was having affairs with. Another said she was tasked with driving women to and from Conyers’ apartment and hotel rooms.

In her complaint, the former employee said Conyers repeatedly asked her for sexual favors and often asked her to join him in a hotel room. On one occasion, she alleges that Conyers asked her to work out of his room for the evening, but when she arrived the congressman started talking about his sexual desires. She alleged he then told her she needed to “touch it,” in reference to his penis, or find him a woman who would meet his sexual demands.

She alleged Conyers made her work nights, evenings, and holidays to keep him company.

In another incident, the former employee alleged the congressman insisted she stay in his room while they traveled together for a fundraising event. When she told him that she would not stay with him, she alleged he told her to “just cuddle up with me and caress me before you go.”

“Rep. Conyers strongly postulated that the performing of personal service or favors would be looked upon favorably and lead to salary increases or promotions,” the former employee said in the documents.

Three other staff members provided affidavits submitted to the Office Of Compliance that outlined a pattern of behavior from Conyers that included touching the woman in a sexual manner and growing angry when she brought her husband around.

One affidavit from a former female employee states that she was tasked with flying in women for the congressman. “One of my duties while working for Rep. Conyers was to keep a list of women that I assumed he was having affairs with and call them at his request and, if necessary, have them flown in using Congressional resources,” said her affidavit. (A second staffer alleged in an interview that Conyers used taxpayer resources to fly women to him.)

The employee said in her affidavit that Conyers also made sexual advances toward her: “I was driving the Congressman in my personal car and was resting my hand on the stick shift. Rep. Conyers reached over and began to caress my hand in a sexual manner.”

The woman said she told Conyers she was married and not interested in pursuing a sexual relationship, according to the affidavit. She said she was told many times by constituents that it was well-known that Conyers had sexual relationships with his staff, and said she and other female staffers felt this undermined their credibility.

“I am personally aware of several women who have experienced the same or similar sexual advances made towards them by Rep[.] John Conyers,” she said in her affidavit.

A male employee wrote that he witnessed Rep. Conyers rub the legs and other body parts of the complainant “in what appeared to be a sexual manner” and saw the congressman rub and touch other women “in an inappropriate manner.” The employee said he confronted Conyers about this behavior.

“Rep. Conyers said he needed to be ‘more careful’ because bad publicity would not be helpful as he runs for re-election. He ended the conversation with me by saying he would ‘work on’ his behavior,” the male staffer said in his affidavit.

The male employee said that in 2011 Conyers complained a female staffer was “too old” and said he wanted to let her go. The employee said he set up a meeting in December 2011 to discuss “mistreatment of staff and his misuse of federal resources.” The affidavit says that Conyers “agreed that he would work on making improvements as long as I worked directly with him and stopped writing memos and emails about concerns.”

Another female employee also attested that she witnessed Conyer’s advances, and said she was asked to transport women to him. “I was asked on multiple occasions to pick up women and bring them to Mr. Conyers['] apartment, hotel rooms, etc.”

“I don’t think any allegations should be buried... and that’s for anyone, not just for this particular office, because it doesn’t really allow other people to see who these individuals are,” said the former staffer. “When you make private settlements, it doesn’t warn the next woman or the next person going into that situation.”

Another staffer said Conyers’ reputation made people fearful to speak out against him. Aside from being the longest-serving House member and the ranking member of a powerful committee, Conyers is a civil rights icon. He was lauded by Martin Luther King Jr. and is a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“Your story won’t do shit to him,” said the staffer. “He’s untouchable.”
Jerry Nadler (D-NY) is the second most senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee after Conyers. This was his statement yesterday: "The allegations against Ranking Member Conyers are extremely serious and deeply troubling. Obviously, these allegations must be investigated promptly by the Ethics Committee. There can be no tolerance for behavior that subjects women to the kind of conduct alleged. We also must support efforts to reform the way the House of Representatives handles these matters to make the process easier and more supportive of victims, as well as more transparent."

I'll leave this post with a brief mention of the salience of "political correctness" in the societal explosion we're going through now. I borrowed it from an essay by Adam Serwer in The Atlantic: "Political correctness is a vague term, perhaps best defined by the conservative scholar Samuel Goldman. 'What Trump and others seem to mean by political correctness is an extremely dramatic and rapidly changing set of discursive and social laws that, virtually overnight, people are expected to understand, to which they are expected to adhere.' From a different vantage point, what Trump’s supporters refer to as political correctness is largely the result of marginalized communities gaining sufficient political power to project their prerogatives onto society at large. What a society finds offensive is not a function of fact or truth, but of power. It is why unpunished murders of black Americans by agents of the state draw less outrage than black football players’ kneeling for the National Anthem in protest against them. It is no coincidence that Trump himself frequently uses the term to belittle what he sees as unnecessary restrictions on state force."

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How Bad You Think It's Going To Hurt Republicans Who Voted To Raise Taxes On Their Constituents?


I often mention how hard it is for the House Democrats to effectively message a progressive agenda because so manyDemocrats in Congress do not adhere to progressive policies. And when the GOP passes most of their toxic agenda, Ryan and McCarthy have rounded up a few putative Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- basically Blue Dogs and New Dems and their fellow travelers-- Raul Ruiz (Palm Springs), Al Lawson (Tallahassee), Tom Suozzi (Long Island), Jack Rosen (Vegas suburbs), Tim Walz (Rochester, MN), Julia Brownley (Ventura Co.) and Donald Norcross (Camden)-- the House Democrats find it difficult to attack them effectively because it would be condemning so many of their own members.

Now the Republicans are experiencing something similar. Remember how 13 House Republicans decided to stand up for their constituents last week and voted against the Ryan Tax Scam? Ryan's bill drastically raises annual taxes on middle class voters, particularly in California, New York and New Jersey, causing usual rubber stamp Republicans like Darrell Issa (CA), Dana Rohrabacher (CA), Tom McClintock (CA), Elise Stefanik (NY), Peter King (NY), Lee Zelden (NY), John Faso (NY), Dan Donovan (NY), Frank LoBiondo (NJ), Chris Smith (NJ), Leonard Lance (NJ) and even Appropriations Committee chair Rodney Freylinghuysen (NJ) to vote NO.

The Democrats are going after Republicans in California, New York and New Jersey who voted YES, since constituents of Members like, for example, Mimi Walters (Orange County), Ed Royce (Orange County), David Valadao (Central Valley), Jeff Denham (Modesto), Devin Nunes (Fresno), Tom MacArthur (Toms River), Claudia Tenney (Binghampton), Tom Reed (Jamestown) and John Katko (Syracuse) will be paying thousands of dollars more in taxes per year, in some cases over $20,000 more annually.

But the Mafia candidate backed by Bannon in the Staten Island primary, Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm, is seeing a different kind of opportunity from the vote. Though Grimm hisemlf, during his brief time in Congress before being tried and imprisoned, had an extremely moderate voting record and would have certainly not have voted for the bill, has reinvented himself as a Bannonite. Tuesday he penned an "exclusive" OpEd for neo-Nazi website Breitbart to denounce mainstream conservative Republican Dan Donovan for opposing the bill on behalf of Staten Island and Brooklyn homeowners. "13 GOP House members," he wrote, "voted against the President. Some of these Republicans have the elite distinction of voting against every major legislative initiative the President has brought to Congress. That willful disregard is as unfortunate for the voters as it is short-sighted for these career politicians." Clearly guided by Bannon, Grimm continued attacking his erst-while colleagues and, of course, the man he's running against:
Anyone in politics knows these Members will have zero influence on policy matters going forward. Not only will the President’s team move on to govern without them, they will do so gladly while awaiting their more effective replacements. Some are already facing tough primary challenges.

Take, for example, the case of my opponent, Rep. Dan Donovan. As the sole Republican from New York City-- representing a remarkably pro-Trump district-- Donovan might be expected to use his position to fight back against the radical leftist agenda of Mayor Bill de Blasio and the tax-and-spend policies of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Instead, Donovan’s voting record is liberal enough to make a conservative voter’s blood boil.

In fact, these Republicans working to stymie the President have emboldened the country’s most liberal mayors and governors to effectively lead the national debate and dictate federal policy, leaving these Members unable to provide any relief to the hard-working families they represent. If we are unable to pass common-sense reforms because they upset the “bluest” states in the country, then why bother trying to win the White House at all?

Using the excuse, over and over again, that “I voted against the President because it would take money away from my state” is not governing, and serves nobody but the Democrats that seek to derail the President’s agenda.

Congress has had input on three areas of policy essential to President Trump’s agenda – immigration, healthcare, and tax reform. On all three, liberal Republican politicians like Donovan are using the aforementioned excuse to explain away votes that undercut every pledge they’ve made on the stump.

Let’s think this through: these Members voted against repealing Obamacare because doing so would have undone the program’s Medicaid subsidies to hospitals. Yet, they all ran on repealing it knowing this full well. Were they lying when they were campaigning? Or were they utterly ignorant of how healthcare works? It must be one or the other, or, more likely, a combination of both.

This is a perfect example of why Congress is so unpopular with Americans: saying one thing when asking for votes and doing another once elected.

Banning sanctuary cities should be an easy call for any reasonable person. Still, seven Republicans voted against it, including Dan Donovan. This was yet another pillar of Trump’s campaign: immigration reform, starting with border security and ending the illegal practices of sanctuary cities. But, once again, pandering to leftist local officials ruled the day over an extremely popular conservative initiative.

If a Republican Member of Congress will not use the federal purse strings to enforce the law and reclaim our sovereignty, what exactly are they good for?

The broader problem for voters is the very real and tangible fact that, after voting against every major legislative initiative the President has put before Congress, their representatives have lost their seats at the negotiating table. They have become irrelevant and even persona non grata at the White House and thus cannot be effective in representing their districts.

The tax relief bill passed without them, the sanctuary city bill passed without them, and soon ObamaCare will be repealed and replaced without them.

If we know anything about President Trump, beyond his vision for the country and his determination to get things done, it’s that he demands loyalty and results. He will not reward these Quisling obstructionists when the largest infrastructure project in modern history begins. And that is a very sad reality for hardworking people in places like New York’s Staten Island and Brooklyn, who need transportation infrastructure more than any other place in the nation.
This is what John Faso, who represents a swing district in the Hudson Valley and Catskills, told his constituents about why he voted NO: "The complete removal of the deduction for state income taxes and the limitation on deductions for local property taxes will impact New York families more severely than taxpayers in other states. While the full SALT income tax deduction for individuals is repealed, full deductibility will remain in effect for corporations and other business entities, thereby protecting taxpayers in states like Texas which rely more heavily on corporate taxes. Since New York taxpayers already send over $40 billion more in tax dollars to Washington than we receive back in federal benefits and services, we are not being subsidized by any state. Frankly, I resent the accusation that New Yorkers are being subsidized by the rest of the nation, when in fact the opposite is true... [T]he statewide impact of the proposal will dramatically and negatively impact state revenues as wealthier taxpayers and their businesses flee New York State to lower taxed jurisdictions. These revenue reductions will ultimately hurt our district as the state’s tax base is further eroded."

And this is from an interview Donovan did yesterday with City and State New York:
C&S: How would the tax plan, as passed in the House, affect your constituents?

DD: To many of my constituents, it's going to end up in a tax increase. The tax plan as it stands now, about 46 states will receive a benefit over 10 years of about $100 billion in less taxes they’ll be paying. Four states will end up paying close to $17 billion more in taxes, and New York happens to be one of those four states, the others being California, Maryland and New Jersey. The elimination of the state and local tax deduction, the deduction in the amount of money that people are going to be able to deduct on their mortgage interests, the cap of $10,000 in which people can deduct their property taxes, and the elimination of the personal exemption-- a family of four, that’s $16,200 that they can deduct right now-- even if they take the standard deduction, that's going to be eliminated. So, the tax cuts for the rest of America seem to be being paid for by those four states.

C&S: Do you think that the repeal of the state and local tax deduction will be included in the final version of the bill?

DD: I’m not sure. My hope is that it’s restored. The income tax is completely gone, the deduction. And the property tax is capped at a $10,000 deduction. The Senate bill doesn't even have the property tax in it. It has no relief for people paying state and local taxes, so it’s completely gone in the Senate version. In that respect, the Senate bill is even worse than the House bill. But I believe that there are members of Congress, at least in the House, who voted yes on the tax plan (who) were told that when the two bills go into conference-- obviously these two bills don’t mirror one another. So the Senate passes their bill next week, you have two bills that don’t mirror each other, they have to go to conference to work out their differences. I think that there are people who are hopeful that the SALT deduction and some of their other concerns will be addressed in that conference, and we’ll have to wait and see if that’s actually going to happen or not

C&S: Have you spoken with any of the representatives from New York who voted for the bill, to see...

DD: Everybody-- this issue is so parochial-- everybody has to vote in the manner in which they think is best for their constituents. Four folks from New York who voted for it, and there’s one Republican member from New Jersey who voted for it-- the other four Republicans from New Jersey voted no as well for similar reasons that I voted no-- you’d have to ask them their reasoning for voting for it. I would suspect-- I don’t know for sure-- that they could believe this helps their constituents. But until the vote actually happened, we weren’t sure how some members were going to vote. I think it was very clear that two of our members from the Republican delegation were going to be yeses, and myself, Pete King, and Lee Zeldin were very vocal about our opposition to the elimination of the state and local tax deduction and some other things. And then Elise Stefanik from upstate and John Faso from upstate also voted no. I suspect they’re very concerned about the elimination as well.

C&S: Do you think that the tax plan, if passed with the SALT deduction repeal, will be a factor in the 2018 election in New York?

DD: It’s hard to say. The election is a long way off. But I think constituents are able to determine-- and voters are very smart-- determine that the person that they elected stands up for them. The person that they sent down to be their voice expressed their concerns, and their interests, and had their best interest when they voted. So I think that the voters will do an analysis of how well they were represented by the person they sent down there and vote accordingly. Whether or not there’s certain people who voted yes, and it was bad for their constituents, or people who voted no and their constituents think this is a good bill-- I think those are people who will probably be more concerned. And someone like myself, who believes that I was representing the people that sent me there to represent them, and I was their voice opposing this, because it is the deduction that is the No. 1 most common deduction used by New Yorkers. It’s something that’s been in the tax code since 1913. And the ’86 reform, when Ronald Reagan reformed the tax code, the state and local tax deduction was kept in there. That’s how important this is. The result of eliminating this deduction ends up being a double taxation on people. People in New York will be taxed on money they don’t have because they paid that money in taxes for their state and local municipalities. So there’s federalism here involved, and I suspect that’s why it was first put into the tax code, that our government won’t take what is rightfully the state’s. Taxing people on money that they’ve already paid taxes on is double taxation. It's wrong.
And our art director's take on this... well, you probably already noticed it on top. He's been working on it since the vote!

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Even If Trump's Motivations Are As Foul As You Would Expect, Stopping The AT&T/TimeWarner Merger Is Good Policy


We tend to think-- and for good reason-- that anything the Trump regime does, is wrong. And in most cases, that is a good rule of thumb to follow, But not in the case of blocking the AT&T merger. No doubt Trump is meddling in the Justice Department antitrust case because of his petty vindictiveness, but blocking the merger between AT&T and Time Warner is good policy. This merger would have been celebrated by the Obama administration-- the same way the Comcast/NBCUniversal acquisition was. And that doesn't make it right-- it just shows a sickness from which we collectively averted our eyes. What it all amounts to, then and now, is far too much media clout-- sheer power-- being concentrated in far too few hands.

Early yesterday, anti-trust activist Zephyr Teachout tweeted that "The way to deal with White House meddling in antitrust is not to stop enforcing the law (the Clayton Act), especially at a time of increasingly extreme concentration of power." Instead Congress must hold hearings. A little while later, continuing the conversation on twitter, Evan McMullin wrote that "After years of hostility to CNN, the Trump Administration's efforts to block AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner, CNN's parent company, should be investigated by Congress. This is about protecting our free press-- and our freedom-- from a wannabe despot."

So here's the skinny: on Monday the Justice Department sued AT&T to stop the $85.4 billion acquisition of TimeWarner. Almost all of Trump's campaign promises were idiotic and worthless, but when he said "AT&T is buying Time Warner, and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few," someone had put some smart ideas in his dumb head. And, regardless of his venal motivations, stopping the merger is excellent policy. Makan Delrahim, the head of the Department of Justice's antitrust division, said "This merger would greatly harm American consumers. It would mean higher monthly television bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy."

Friend of this blog, Matt Stoller, an expert on monopolies: "The business model of a combined AT&T Time Warner is rife with conflicts of interest. AT&T’s direct control over essential news and entertainment would give that corporation a permanent pricing advantage over rival cable networks. Similarly, AT&T would have a natural interest in favoring its own channels on its cable, satellite, and mobile video distribution networks, over other networks."

Earlier Tuesday morning Bloomberg's David McLaughlin reported that despite the muttering about Trump's venality, "the move actually follows a mainstream approach to antitrust policy that sees risks to competition even from mergers that don’t combine direct competitors. The difference this time is the hard line drawn by the government on how to fix the resulting harm. Typically these cases are settled with conditions designed to keep a level playing field for rivals. On Monday, the Justice Department shook observers by filing a lawsuit seeking to block the deal... Despite his Republican credentials and his stint as a corporate lobbyist, Delrahim is taking a surprisingly tough stance on a deal that the companies and many investors expected would settle."

Delrahim’s opposition to the AT&T deal follows rising criticism from some quarters, particularly Democrats, that lax antitrust enforcement is to blame for increasing concentration across the economy. These critics have been calling on enforcers to take a tougher stand against mergers to protect consumers.

...Government lawsuits against deals that don’t involve direct competitors are almost unheard of. The last such case litigated to conclusion was a 1979 suit involving truck trailers and wheels, which the government lost.

For years, companies pursuing deals like AT&T’s bid for Time Warner, which unites a supplier with a distributor, have won approval by agreeing to restrictions on how they operate rather than selling assets.

“Those type of fixes aren’t always effective,” said Steven Salop, an economist at Georgetown University Law Center, said about behavioral remedies. “They’re unenforceable, leave loopholes that let companies avoid their restrictions, and cannot cover all the ways a firm can harm competition in the future.”

Delrahim has signaled that merging companies will have a harder time getting deals done by agreeing to those kinds of settlements. In a Nov. 16 speech in Washington before a roomful of the city’s top antitrust lawyers, he sharply criticized the agreements as replacing “competition with regulation.” They require enforcers to police future conduct of the companies to ensure they’re living up to their promises, Delrahim said.

That view fueled Delrahim’s push last week that AT&T sell its DirecTV business or Time Warner’s Turner unit to win approval, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Selling assets to resolve antitrust concerns are common in deals where direct competitors are combining. The idea is that by selling an overlapping business, the enlarged company won’t be able to use market power to raise prices. Those fixes are favored by enforcers because they let the market do the work of protecting competition rather than relying on a company’s promises to behave in a certain way.

The government said in its complaint Monday that the Time Warner takeover would lead to higher bills for consumers and less innovation in the industry. The combined company could use its control over programming like CNN and HBO to harm rivals by forcing them to pay hundreds of millions of dollars more a year for the right to distribute the content, the government said. The deal also would enable AT&T to impede competition from online video distributors, which would reduce choices for consumers, the Justice Department added.

“That potential harm would be reduced if AT&T sells either Turner Broadcasting or DirecTV,” said Salop, who has consulted with a competitor about the AT&T-Time Warner deal.
Anti-trust expert and Iowa congressional candidate Austin Frerick is able to look at what the Justice Department is doing with very clear eyes. "First off, " he told us yesterday, "Americans don’t want antitrust to be a political tool of any president. That said, AT&T has warned that DoJ’s Time Warner lawsuit will chill other deals... Good! This is the point. Anti-competitive mergers are bad. The era of unchecked corporate consolidation needs to end and if the starting point is here, so be it. We can look back at it as one of the few good things of the Trump Presidency."

Now, if Trump could only see how his FCC's anti-Net Neutrailty agenda is even worse than the AT&T acquisition of TimeWarner when it comes to putting too much power in too few hands! Now, watch Elizabeth Warren, giving the an address about America's monopoly problem:

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Is There A Central Core To Trumpism-- Aside From Kleptocracy?


I'm still sticking with the theory that there's a mammoth and unstoppable tsunami forming up now and preparing to sweep away the Republican majorities in the House and maybe even the-- nearly impossible-- Senate. This kind of thing-- from a respectable Michigan blogger and party activist-- makes me wonder if it really is unstoppable though. Can this kind of clueless embrace of a Bannon-inspired war of the sexes actually derail a tsunami? Maybe...

I get the feeling that Bannon isn't... the 3 Stooges-- and that he's not going to at least try to turn back the tsunami. I mean, can you imagine what the loss of 50-60 House seats would do to his agenda and Trumopanzee's illegitimate presidency? You can't? Look at that nice Nancy Ohanian painting at the top of the page more closely. Trump 2019.

Meanwhile, Adam Serwer drew a portrait of Bannon's nationalist agenda that helps reminding us what's worth fighting against as we battle not just the specter of vile patriarchy but also against women being made to feel uncomfortable by unreconstructed pigs. "Thirty years ago," he began, reminding us what gravity is, "nearly half of Louisiana voted for a Klansman, and the media struggled to explain why. It was 1990 and David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, astonished political observers when he came within striking distance of defeating incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator J. Bennett Johnston, earning 43 percent of the vote."
Was it economic anxiety? The Washington Post reported that the state had “a large working class that has suffered through a long recession.” Was it a blow against the state’s hated political establishment? An editorial from United Press International explained, “Louisianans showed the nation by voting for Duke that they were mad as hell and not going to take it any more.” Was it anti-Washington rage? A Loyola University pollster argued, “There were the voters who liked Duke, those who hated J. Bennett Johnston, and those who just wanted to send a message to Washington.”

What message would those voters have been trying to send by putting a Klansman into office?

“There’s definitely a message bigger than Louisiana here,” Susan Howell, then the director of the Survey Research Center at the University of New Orleans, told the Los Angeles Times. “There is a tremendous amount of anger and frustration among working-class whites, particularly where there is an economic downturn. These people feel left out; they feel government is not responsive to them.”

Duke’s strong showing, however, wasn’t powered merely by poor or working-class whites-- and the poorest demographic in the state, black voters, backed Johnston. Duke “clobbered Johnston in white working-class districts, ran even with him in predominantly white middle-class suburbs, and lost only because black Louisianans, representing one-quarter of the electorate, voted against him in overwhelming numbers,” the Washington Post reported in 1990. Duke picked up nearly 60 percent of the white vote. Faced with Duke’s popularity among whites of all income levels, the press framed his strong showing largely as the result of the economic suffering of the white working classes. Louisiana had “one of the least-educated electorates in the nation; and a large working class that has suffered through a long recession,” The Post stated.

By accepting the economic theory of Duke’s success, the media were buying into the candidate’s own vision of himself as a savior of the working class. He had appealed to voters in economic terms: He tore into welfare and foreign aid, affirmative action and outsourcing, and attacked political action committees for subverting the interests of the common man. He even tried to appeal to black voters, buying a 30-minute ad in which he declared, “I’m not your enemy.”

Duke’s candidacy had initially seemed like a joke. He was a former Klan leader who had showed up to public events in a Nazi uniform and lied about having served during the Vietnam War, a cartoonishly vain supervillain whose belief in his own status as a genetic Übermensch was belied by his plastic surgeries. The joke soon soured, as many white Louisiana voters made clear that Duke’s past didn’t bother them.

Many of Duke’s voters steadfastly denied that the former Klan leader was a racist. The St. Petersburg Times reported in 1990 that Duke supporters “are likely to blame the media for making him look like a racist.” The paper quoted G. D. Miller, a “59-year-old oil-and-gas lease buyer,” who said, “The way I understood the Klan, it’s not anti-this or anti-that.”

Duke’s rejoinder to the ads framing him as a racist resonated with his supporters. “Remember,” he told them at rallies, “when they smear me, they are really smearing you.”

The economic explanation carried the day: Duke was a freak creature of the bayou who had managed to tap into the frustrations of a struggling sector of the Louisiana electorate with an abnormally high tolerance for racist messaging.

While the rest of the country gawked at Louisiana and the Duke fiasco, Walker Percy, a Louisiana author, gave a prophetic warning to the New York Times.

“Don’t make the mistake of thinking David Duke is a unique phenomenon confined to Louisiana rednecks and yahoos. He’s not,” Percy said. “He’s not just appealing to the old Klan constituency, he’s appealing to the white middle class. And don’t think that he or somebody like him won’t appeal to the white middle class of Chicago or Queens.

A few days after Duke’s strong showing, the Queens-born businessman Donald Trump appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live.

“It’s anger. I mean, that’s an anger vote. People are angry about what’s happened. People are angry about the jobs. If you look at Louisiana, they’re really in deep trouble,” Trump told King.

Trump later predicted that Duke, if he ran for president, would siphon most of his votes away from the incumbent, George H. W. Bush-- in the process revealing his own understanding of the effectiveness of white-nationalist appeals to the GOP base.

“Whether that be good or bad, David Duke is going to get a lot of votes. Pat Buchanan-- who really has many of the same theories, except it's in a better package-- Pat Buchanan is going to take a lot of votes away from George Bush,” Trump said. “So if you have these two guys running, or even one of them running, I think George Bush could be in big trouble.” Little more than a year later, Buchanan embarrassed Bush by drawing 37 percent of the vote in New Hampshire’s Republican primary.

In February 2016, Trump was asked by a different CNN host about the former Klan leader’s endorsement of his Republican presidential bid.

“Well, just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke. Okay?,” Trump said. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So, I don’t know.”

Less than three weeks before the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump declared himself “the least racist person you have ever met.”

Even before he won, the United States was consumed by a debate over the nature of his appeal. Was racism the driving force behind Trump’s candidacy? If so, how could Americans, the vast majority of whom say they oppose racism, back a racist candidate?

During the final few weeks of the campaign, I asked dozens of Trump supporters about their candidate’s remarks regarding Muslims and people of color. I wanted to understand how these average Republicans-- those who would never read the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer or go to a Klan rally at a Confederate statue-- had nevertheless embraced someone who demonized religious and ethnic minorities. What I found was that Trump embodied his supporters’ most profound beliefs-- combining an insistence that discriminatory policies were necessary with vehement denials that his policies would discriminate and absolute outrage that the question would even be asked.

It was not just Trump’s supporters who were in denial about what they were voting for, but Americans across the political spectrum, who, as had been the case with those who had backed Duke, searched desperately for any alternative explanation-- outsourcing, anti-Washington anger, economic anxiety-- to the one staring them in the face. The frequent postelection media expeditions to Trump country to see whether the fever has broken, or whether Trump’s most ardent supporters have changed their minds, are a direct outgrowth of this mistake. These supporters will not change their minds because this is what they always wanted: a president who embodies the rage they feel toward those they hate and fear, while reassuring them that that rage is nothing to be ashamed of.

“I believe that everybody has a right to be in the United States no matter what your color, no matter what your race, your religion, what sex you prefer to be with, so I’m not against that at all, but I think that some of us just say racial statements without even thinking about it,” a customer-care worker named Pam—who like several people I spoke to, declined to give her last name—told me at a rally in Pennsylvania. However, she also defended Trump’s remarks on race and religion explicitly when I asked about them. “I think the other party likes to blow it out of proportion and kind of twist his words, but what he says is what he means, and it’s what a lot of us are thinking.”

Most Trump supporters I spoke with were not people who thought of themselves as racist. Rather, they saw themselves as antiracist, as people who held no hostility toward religious and ethnic minorities whatsoever-- a sentiment they projected onto their candidate.

...The specific dissonance of Trumpism-- advocacy for discriminatory, even cruel, policies combined with vehement denials that such policies are racially motivated-- provides the emotional core of its appeal. It is the most recent manifestation of a contradiction as old as the United States, a society founded by slaveholders on the principle that all men are created equal.

While other factors also led to Trump’s victory-- the last-minute letter from former FBI Director James Comey, the sexism that rationalized supporting Trump despite his confession of sexual assault, Hillary Clinton’s neglect of the Midwest-- had racism been toxic to the American electorate, Trump’s candidacy would not have been viable.

Nearly a year into his presidency, Trump has reneged or faltered on many of his biggest campaign promises-- on renegotiating nafta, punishing China, and replacing the Affordable Care Act with something that preserves all of its popular provisions but with none of its drawbacks. But his commitment to endorsing state violence to remake the country into something resembling an idealized past has not wavered.

He made a farce of his populist campaign by putting bankers in charge of the economy and industry insiders at the head of the federal agencies established to regulate their businesses. But other campaign promises have been more faithfully enacted: his ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries; the unleashing of immigration-enforcement agencies against anyone in the country illegally regardless of whether he poses a danger; an attempt to cut legal immigration in half; and an abdication of the Justice Department’s constitutional responsibility to protect black Americans from corrupt or abusive police, discriminatory financial practices, and voter suppression. In his own stumbling manner, Trump has pursued the race-based agenda promoted during his campaign. As the president continues to pursue a program that places the social and political hegemony of white Christians at its core, his supporters have shown few signs of abandoning him.

One hundred thirty-nine years since Reconstruction, and half a century since the tail end of the civil-rights movement, a majority of white voters backed a candidate who explicitly pledged to use the power of the state against people of color and religious minorities, and stood by him as that pledge has been among the few to survive the first year of his presidency. Their support was enough to win the White House, and has solidified a return to a politics of white identity that has been one of the most destructive forces in American history. This all occurred before the eyes of a disbelieving press and political class, who plunged into fierce denial about how and why this had happened. That is the story of the 2016 election.

...The plain meaning of Trumpism exists in tandem with denials of its implications; supporters and opponents alike understand that the president’s policies and rhetoric target religious and ethnic minorities, and behave accordingly. But both supporters and opponents usually stop short of calling these policies racist. It is as if there were a pothole in the middle of the street that every driver studiously avoided, but that most insisted did not exist even as they swerved around it.

That this shared understanding is seldom spoken aloud does not prevent people from acting according to its logic. It is the reason why, when Trump’s Muslim ban was first implemented, immigration officials stopped American citizens with Arabic names; why agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol have pursued fathers and mothers outside of schools and churches and deported them, as the administration has insisted that it is prioritizing the deportation of criminals; why Attorney General Jeff Sessions targets drug scofflaws with abandon and has dismantled even cooperative efforts at police accountability; why the president’s voting commission has committed itself to policies that will disenfranchise voters of color; why both schoolchildren and adults know to invoke the president’s name as a taunt against blacks, Latinos, and Muslims; why white supremacists wear hats that say “Make America great again.”

...Trump’s great political insight was that Obama’s time in office inflicted a profound psychological wound upon many white Americans, one that he could remedy by adopting the false narrative that placed the first black president outside the bounds of American citizenship. He intuited that Obama’s presence in the White House decreased the value of what W. E. B. Du Bois described as the “psychological wage” of whiteness across all classes of white Americans, and that the path to their hearts lay in invoking a bygone past when this affront had not taken place, and could not take place.

That the legacy of the first black president could be erased by a birther, that the woman who could have been the first female president was foiled by a man who confessed to sexual assault on tape—these were not drawbacks to Trump’s candidacy, but central to understanding how he would wield power, and on whose behalf.

Americans act with the understanding that Trump’s nationalism promises to restore traditional boundaries of race, gender, and sexuality. The nature of that same nationalism is to deny its essence, the better to salve the conscience and spare the soul.

...Trump defeated Clinton among white voters in every income category, winning by a margin of 57 to 34 among whites making less than $30,000; 56 to 37 among those making less than $50,000; 61 to 33 for those making $50,000 to $100,000; 56 to 39 among those making $100,000 to$200,000; 50 to 45 among those making $200,000 to$250,000; and 48 to 43 among those making more than $250,000. In other words, Trump won white voters at every level of class and income. He won workers, he won managers, he won owners, he won robber barons. This is not a working-class coalition; it is a nationalist one.

...Those numbers also reveal a much more complicated story than a Trump base made up of struggling working-class Americans turning to Trump as a result of their personal financial difficulties, not their ideological convictions. An avalanche of stories poured forth from mainstream media outlets, all with the same basic thesis: Trump’s appeal was less about racism than it was about hardship-- or, in the euphemism turned running joke, “economic anxiety.” Worse still, euphemisms such as “regular Americans,” typically employed by politicians to refer to white people, were now adopted by political reporters and writers wholesale: To be a regular or working-class American was to be white.

One early use of economic anxiety as an explanation for the Trump phenomenon came from NBC News’s Chuck Todd, in July 2015. “Trump and Sanders supporters are disenchanted with what they see as a broken system, fed up with political correctness and Washington dysfunction,” Todd said. “Economic anxiety is fueling both campaigns, but that’s where the similarities end.”

The idea that economic suffering could lead people to support either Trump or Sanders, two candidates with little in common, illustrates the salience of an ideological frame. Suffering alone doesn’t impel such choices; what does is how the causes of such hardship are understood.

...When you look at Trump’s strength among white Americans of all income categories, but his weakness among Americans struggling with poverty, the story of Trump looks less like a story of working-class revolt than a story of white backlash. And the stories of struggling white Trump supporters look less like the whole truth than a convenient narrative-- one that obscures the racist nature of that backlash, instead casting it as a rebellion against an unfeeling establishment that somehow includes working-class and poor people who happen not to be white.

Political correctness is a vague term, perhaps best defined by the conservative scholar Samuel Goldman. “What Trump and others seem to mean by political correctness is an extremely dramatic and rapidly changing set of discursive and social laws that, virtually overnight, people are expected to understand, to which they are expected to adhere.”

From a different vantage point, what Trump’s supporters refer to as political correctness is largely the result of marginalized communities gaining sufficient political power to project their prerogatives onto society at large. What a society finds offensive is not a function of fact or truth, but of power. It is why unpunished murders of black Americans by agents of the state draw less outrage than black football players’ kneeling for the National Anthem in protest against them. It is no coincidence that Trump himself frequently uses the term to belittle what he sees as unnecessary restrictions on state force.

But even as once-acceptable forms of bigotry have become unacceptable to express overtly, white Americans remain politically dominant enough to shape media coverage in a manner that minimizes obvious manifestations of prejudice, such as backing a racist candidate, as something else entirely. The most transgressive political statement of the 2016 election, the one that violated strict societal norms by stating an inconvenient fact that few wanted to acknowledge, the most politically incorrect, was made by the candidate who lost.

...[A] majority of white voters backed a candidate who assured them that they will never have to share this country with people of color as equals. That is the reality that all Americans will have to deal with, and one that most of the country has yet to confront.

Yet at its core, white nationalism has and always will be a hustle, a con, a fraud that cannot deliver the broad-based prosperity it promises, not even to most white people. Perhaps the most persuasive argument against Trumpist nationalism is not one its opponents can make in a way that his supporters will believe. But the failure of Trump’s promises to white America may yet show that both the fruit and the tree are poison.

Nancy Ohanian has a clear vision of the Trumpist base

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


-by Noah

Tonight's meme goes a long way in explaining how Alabama got where it is right this moment. Sure, it's a joke, but, then, maybe it isn't.

Don't you love it when the South gets all uppity about being stereotyped as a bunch of racist, inbred, barefoot, backward yahoos? Well, every damn time we people with a more diversified gene pool start to thinkin' that maybe, just maaayybee, places like Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, the Carolinas, and Georgia are about to catch up with, at least, say, the 1980s, well, there they go again! This Judge Roy Moore thing shows us that Alabama might as well be some wacko country in the Middle East, wedged somewhere in the 14th century between Iran and Pakistan. Better yet, let's just call it Al Abama and stick it in one of the isolated tribal mountain areas of Afghanistan.

The inbreeding thing was always a big part of jokes about the South, but, I have to admit that I had forgotten about the pedophilia factor. Then, I think of Louisiana's Jerry Lee Lewis marrying his 14 year old cousin. We guess things just haven't changed.

Al Abama's eager embrace of their defiant pedophile candidate shocks and dismays normal people. So does the emphatic jihadist support that Moore gets from fanatical Christian fundamentalists, people who are so much like the Taliban that one would have to be forgiven if they couldn't readily tell the difference between the two. Really, can you look at those Duck Dynasty freaks and others like them throughout the south and not think they look and sound like Muslim terrorists? They even sport the same beards, not to mention the bad case of crazy eyes. But, shouldn't we have seen it coming? I mean, just look at how many times we've seen clips of southerners parading around in their pickup trucks, showing their pride in their Confederate flag just like ISIS drives around in their pickups flying theirs. Then, there's that whole monuments to the good ol' days of Jim Crow and slavery thing in recent months. "It's our heritage" they cry and moan. Well, yes. It is. All of this is.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Why Is Paul Ryan Trying To Harm The Electric Car Industry With His Tax Scam?


Ryan's Tax Scam certainly picks winner and losers-- it is designed that way-- and although people in blue states like California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois are singled out for the worst treatment, people who drive electric cars are also targeted. Yesterday, released a study showing that that electric vehicles will be hard hit by Ryan's scam. The survey of 23,217 vehicle owners found that political Independents reported feeling 6.7% more financially burdened than Republicans and 1.34% more burdened than Democrats. Similarly, women on average reported feeling 6.2% more financially burdened than men by the cost of vehicle ownership.
Republicans feel 5% less burdened by the cost of vehicle ownership than the average owner; by contrast, Independents are the group that feel the most burdened.
60% of Democrats and 51% of Independents are willing to pay higher taxes for road quality improvements; by contrast, only 47% of Republicans are willing to do so.
Women are 6% more burdened by the cost of vehicle ownership than men.
The average used electric vehicle sells 26.4 days faster than a used gasoline vehicle; however, with elimination of the tax credit, competition gets considerably more difficult for used EVs, impacting their value proposition.
The study also looked at the impact the plan would have on electric vehicles given the proposed elimination of the $7,500 EV tax break. Currently, used electric vehicles on-average sell 26.4 days faster than gasoline vehicles. However, with projected higher resale values, competition gets significantly more challenging. For example, a 2016 electric Nissan Leaf’s main price-point competitor is currently an economy car-- the 2016 Honda Civic-- but with the projected increase would become a luxury hatchback-- the 2016 Lexus CT200h.

Finally, the study also asked vehicle owners if there were any transportation-related topics for which they would pay higher taxes. According to the results, 60% of Democrats and 51% of Independents are willing to pay higher taxes for road quality improvements; by contrast, only 47% of Republicans are willing to do so. Through another lens, the survey found that in aggregate 54% of men and 52% of women support higher taxes for increased road quality.

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In Washington Everyone Hates The Most Toxic Swamp Creature Of All, Donald J. Trump


Poor Trumpanzee. Everyone knows what an incompetent imbecile he is-- and Republicans in high positions increasingly are forced to bite their tongues to pretend otherwise. Some just can't do it any longer. Yesterday, BuzzFeed's Joseph Bernstein reported that last July National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster just couldn't take it any longer and let Oracle CEO Safra Catz know what he thinks of the orange pile of amorphous dung he works for. Five second-hand witnesses are all saying the same thing, namely that McMaster told Catz Trump is an "idiot" and a "dope" with the intelligence of a "kindergartner." There are people who don't already know that. Maybe back in July there were.
A sixth source who was not familiar with the details of the dinner told BuzzFeed News that McMaster had made similarly derogatory comments about Trump’s intelligence to him in private, including that the president lacked the necessary brainpower to understand the matters before the National Security Council... [T]hree of the sources said that McMaster disparaged multiple members of the administration to Catz, including Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, and President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. Of Kushner, one source told BuzzFeed News, McMaster said he had no business being in the White House and should not be involved in national security issues... Catz was so alarmed by the tenor of McMaster’s comments about President Trump and Israel that she confided her concerns to several administration officials, as well as Adelson.
Reaction to Trump is far worse in Congress where, according to multiple sources, "most" Capitol Hill Republicans "hate him enough to wish he would drop dead." One top Senate staffer told me today that Senate Republicans generally think Trump "is destroying the party and maybe the country." In one of his deranged, Adderall-fueled Twitter rants over the weekend, Trump lashed out, foolishly, at Jeff Flake:

When I read it to him, a Republican congressman wouldn't believe me and said he would call me back. After he read it himself, he said he would give me an official version and an off-the-record version of his reaction. Then he changed his mind and just gave me the off-the-record version, saying he didn't want a "bunch of Trump ghouls" coming to his office in the district and bothering his staffers. "Who writes something like this? Not even a 14 year old like that cocksucker Moore molested. This sounds like someone in the 3rd grade. Or someone mentally impaired. I think he has early stage Alzheimer's. I hope it kills him fast so we don't get dragged though years of excruciating loss of cognition in public... I voted for Hillary, first time in my life I voted for a Democrat... if you ever connect me to that I'll deny it. I didn't like her either but she's a fully-functioning adult. He's not."

Jeff Flake was more circumspect. As Roll Call pointed out Monday morning, "Losing Flake would put the bill in serious jeopardy of failing, robbing Trump of a year-end legislative victory."
Flake was caught on an open microphone Saturday saying if Republicans "become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast."

The tweet raised eyebrows in Washington, with congressional observers and reporters firing off their own tweets noting Flake had not previously announced how he intends to vote on a tax overhaul bill that cleared the Finance Committee late Thursday evening.

Several White House officials had not responded to an inquiry seeking more information about Trump’s prediction, including the basis of his prediction. Several hours after the president’s 6:22 p.m. post, a Flake aide disputed Trump’s prediction.

“Sen. Flake is still reviewing the tax reform bill on its merits. How he votes on it will have nothing to do with the President,” the aide said.

But the president’s tweet introduces another new dramatic twist in his and Senate GOP leaders’ efforts to score their first shared legislative victory since Trump was sworn in on Jan. 20.

That’s because Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., already has signaled his opposition unless changes are made to benefit small businesses. If both Flake and Johnson oppose the measure, it would leave no margin for further defections for GOP leaders and the White House. And several other Republicans have expressed skepticism over the measure, including about its projected impact on the federal deficit.
If Flake and Johnson are serious about not voting for the bill, there are several other Republicans, including McCain, Bob Corker, Ben Sasse, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Oklahoma conservative James Lankford, who, for one reason or another, could provide that 3rd vote to kill Trump's little victory. Collins, for example, who was on CNN's State of the Union Sunday, told Jake Tapper that she's a NO vote unless changes are made to the bill. She's unhappy about how the bill dumps the individual mandate for healthcare, and she opposes the elimination of the federal deduction for state and local taxes and she opposes the steep drop in the corporate tax rate.

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Let's Face It, Men Are Pigs


For society, the sexual harassment scandals should be about two things:

1- mending the patriarchal environment we live in to change, over the long-term, the way men think they are entitled to behave

2- (a corollary)- dealing very harshly with instances of men using power relationships to prey on people dependent on them for careers

I used to be an astrologer. I studied it in Amsterdam, took it very seriously. I was good at it too-- really good. It was a gift. But the gift came with a warning: use this gift to further your own material desires and kiss the gift goodbye. So I never charged for my services and I never used my abilities to try to seduce anyone. I can't remember exactly what I did wrong, just that I did do something-- this was like decades ago-- and BOOM! it was gone. I don't know a Gemini from a Mars-Mercury conjunction in Sagittarius any more. No, really, I have books of charts I drew for people and now I not only couldn't draw a chart if my life depended on it, I can't even read them. Fortunately my full-time gig was chef at the time.

Much later I wound up in the music business. Were there men who used their positions of power to seduce aspiring artists? Well... let me think about that for a second. Um... yes, everything single day, in every single way. Kind of horrifying-- and real life in the fast lane. And, yeah, there were some guys who didn't believe in that and didn't do it. (I mostly hung out with those kinds of people, because... who wants to be around a pig too much?)

I'm gay and a couple times men with some kind of career power hit on me when I was much younger. I found those situations easy to navigate and I think most men do, not all men... most men. One guy with huge power tried to sleep with me. I was very friendly, very not freaked out and very firm that that was never going to happen. He could have hurt me real bad, career wise, but he did the opposite. He did the same thing with lots of other young males. He would come on to guys-- sometimes a singer would fall for it and put out, but mostly they didn't. I never saw him react vindictively towards anyone who turned him down. He pretended he'd use his power to hurt some of them, but to my knowledge he never did.

Once he was in the front seat of my car and a much younger guy was in the backseat. He tried imposing, very aggressively, on the younger guy, who was looking for a job (actually desperately looking for a job). The younger guy was straight and very clear he wasn't playing that game. The older guy persisted, even physically. The younger guy rolled up a newsprint magazine and when the older man turned around and lurched at him, he slammed him across the snout with the rolled up magazine-- it was BAM. The older guy started screaming the kid would never work at our company. But the younger guy soon was working at our company and, in fact, eventually the power dynamic changed and it's the old reprobate who comes to him for industry favors now-- favors never granted. Straights can be vindictive like that I guess.

There was another senior executive at one of the top labels who was obsessed with penis size. You know how a normal person shakes hands when he meets someone? If the judged the power dynamic amenable, he would grab a guys crotch to be able to estimate dick size (instead of shaking hands). It certainly would make a lot of people uncomfortable. He got arrested one time when he played that with an undercover cop-- maybe twice if I recall correctly. But that guy never held it against anyone either. He seemed to handle the rejection well, kind of made a big joke out of it-- ha, ha. Once he did it to another executive's young relative, very young relative. That wasn't funny at all and the kind was traumatized. That was bad and there were a lot of social repercussions, though no one called the police or anything like that.

I don't think Al Franken should resign. His career is over; he's a pariah. I bet he doesn't get reelected. My opinion would change if it comes out that he acted inappropriately towards one of the women in his office or who he came in contact with because he was a senator. But slapping a woman's butt? Disgusting and reprehensible behavior. He's a pig and should be treated like one. But forced to resign? I don't think so.

I'm worried that there are going to be tendencies-- we see them already-- for people to look at this kind of behavior through self-serving lenses. There's no doubt in my mind that Alabama voters should refrain from voting for Roy Moore, a Republican-- and I felt the same way before the news about him molesting children came out. Now it's another cudgel to beat him up with. I heard a political woman saying the other day that not only should Al Franken be forced to resign but that he should be replaced by a woman. I see this going into bad places-- as well as good places (see numbers 1 and 2 above. We're evolving as a species and those not evolving are busy dying.

Look, one more thing, before the NPR report. I used to run the concert program at my college. It was the mid-60's. Bands always wanted to score and it was easy as pie for them. The young women concert-goers were very willing. I never quite understood why women threw themselves at band members-- not just sensitive songwriters but even drummers and bass players. Women that persuasion used to always offer me bribes to let them to backstage so they could meet the bands. It was pretty sordid. Years later a band I was looking after, Wire Train was playing at a small punk club in San Francisco, the Mab. Some gross little groupie-- underage-- was making a big scene about getting backstage. The band told me to get rid of her. I didn't especially care one way or the other-- except you always have to do what the band says-- so I told her, nicely, that the band wasn't seeing any guests before the show. That night I had a sleepover guest and we were awoke by a tremendous explosion. And then we both fell back asleep. When I woke up in the morning and went outside, what was felt of my yellow Renault was a smoldering wreck. Who the hell blew up my car? I never did figure it out. But a couple of decades later, that gross little groupie messaged-- a drugged up mess-- asked me if I remembered when she had blown up my car. How many people do you know who can say Courtney Love blew up their car? I still do buy into the phrase though, "believe women." It doesn't mean throw caution to the wind though. It means never thinking about dismissing a woman's testimony (always an integral party of patriarchal society).

But take it easy and let's call out the self-serving we see as well, as this social crisis-- with its opportunities and pitfalls-- continues to unfold. The backlash could be horrifying; it probably will be. This report from NPR on sexual harassment in our country is worth listening to:

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