Category Archives: Law/Justice

Saturday Odds & Sods: Papa Was A Rolling Stone

Hesitation Waltz by Rene Magritte.

It’s been a frustrating week at Adrastos World HQ. Every time I think my pernicious and persistent cold is getting better, I backslide. I would have preferred to be really sick for a few days and then better. Make up your mind, cold.

In local news, the lame duck New Orleans City Council has been up to all sorts of mischief: voting to approve a new power plant for Entergy that won’t solve our blackout  problems and allowing taller buildings to be constructed alongside the Mother of Rivers.  I suspect that the presence of Mayor-elect Cantrell on the Council is one reason they feel free to take such votes. It does not bode well for those who hoped the incoming Mayor would be more neighborhood/citizen friendly. Score another win for real estate developers who are the worst people in the world. Exhibit A for this argument currently lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

This week’s theme song is a tribute to Temptations singer Dennis Edwards who died earlier this month at the age of 74. Papa Was A Rolling Stone was written by Norman Whitfield and Barret Strong and was a monster hit in 1972. Here are two versions for your enjoyment: the Temps and David Lindley.

Now that I’ve dissed real estate developers and my stupid cold, it’s time to roll over to the break. I’m too enfeebled to jump.

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Meme Of The Week: Teacher Of Fortune

The country has been buzzing this week over the notion of arming teachers. Let’s clear something up: it’s not Trump’s idea. The NRA has been floating this misguided and downright moronic idea for years. If the Insult Comedian ever had an original thought, his brain would explode thereby injuring the dead nutria atop his head.

This ridiculous idea is based on the “good guy with a gun” myth, which, in turn, comes from the movies as Michael F pointed out yesterday. Wayne LaPierre and Dana Loesch have obviously seen too many action movies: vigilante flicks have long been a Hollywood staple. Things don’t work like that in real life as we learned from the story of the terrified deputy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

I won’t go into the practical problems with this ludicrous idea because I don’t feel like writing a 2,000 word post on this subject. I think that this meme from my friend Michael Styborski sums up how preposterous the arm the teachers notion is:

Your President* Speaks: Dumbbell Caveman Edition

It’s President’s Day. The Current Occupant is currently at his Florida pad and there’s a tweet storm brewing. Who am I kidding? He’s been watching Fox News, hanging out with his idiot sons, and whining about the cards life dealt him all weekend. Self pity is never pretty and when it comes from an Insult Comedian with a dead nutria atop his head it’s uglier than Steve Bannon’s wardrobe. What’s the deal with the shirt layering, Steverino?

A note about the featured image/meme. I was searching for a Magritte painting for Odds & Sods when I came across Perpetual Motion. This image of a caveman with a dumbbell head screams Donald  Trump. The analogy breaks down somewhat since the caveman dumbbell is svelte and fit but what’s not to like about the bone in his hand? Trump is boning the country, after all. Bigly.

The Kremlingate indictments obtained by Team Mueller have the Kaiser of Chaos flailing and ranting. His is not the leadership that doesn’t let one see him sweat. The flop sweat has been rolling in rivulets across the Tweeter Tube.

I picked three of the Trumpiest tweets ever to quote and dissect. By Trumpiest I mean self-serving, self-pitying, and reprehensible as he blames everyone but himself for his latest woes.

This tirade is factually challenged even for Lyin’ Donny. The FBI’s Miami office is the one that dropped the ball on Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland shooter. It has nothing to do with investigating Kremlingate. The president* claims to love local law enforcement, especially those who beat the shit out of suspects, but they fucked up in this instance as well.

More importantly, the murder of 17 students and teachers is not about Donald Trump. He thinks he’s the sun, the stars, and the moon when he’s really just a black hole of suck. If Trump were a planet, he’d be Uranus. Believe me.

The main event on Trump’s twitter feed this weekend was, of course, Kremlingate. Trump’s national security adviser may not be the McMaster of his domain but he seized upon the indictments to tell the truth about Russian interference in the 2016 election. His boss was not happy with his statement. McMaster forgot to lie, which is a Bozo no-no in the Trump administration.

I doubt if the Insult Comedian read the indictment but I did. It makes a plausible case that the election results were influenced by the drumbeat of anti-Clinton propaganda. We all know ostensibly liberal people who swallowed whole what turned out to be Russian disinformation. The most gullible among them sat out the election or voted for useful idiot, failed folkie, and Crunchy Granola Machiavelli, Jill Stein.

The charge of collusion between Democrats and Russia is absurd but predictable in the fact free zone that is Trumpworld. The Russians were out to get the former Secretary of State and help the Kaiser of Chaos. Speaking of chaos:

Trump *is* the chaos the Russians were hoping to create. The federal government is dysfunctional, understaffed and at war with itself. They helped elect a president* who has so many scandals going that some of them cannot break through the wall of white nationalist noise and corruption erected by Team Trump. It’s the only wall they’ve built thus far.

As a veteran political observer, I still believe the country can move past this catastrophic presidency*. We’ve had terrible presidents before but none of them deliberately set out to damage the country and its institutions; not even Tricky Dick. Once again, Trump is worse than Nixon.

Ever since finding the dumbbell caveman painting, Perpetual Motion, I’ve had a classic Yessong in my head. Perpetual Change is what we need right now as an antidote to the selfish nihilism of Trump and what I dubbed the Me Party in 2013. They need to be drubbed up and down the ballot in 2018 to give the country a better chance to recover from the misrule of the Dumbbell Caveman and his wrecking crew. Believe me.

Yes gets the last word:

Words Matter

The word treason is being thrown around rather freely of late. It is a very specific crime. In fact, it is the only crime that is defined in the Constitution:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

An additional definition is offered in the constitutional dictionary:

treason n the offense of attempting to overthrow the government of one’s country or of assisting its enemies in war.

At the risk of sounding pedantic, Team Trump has skirted around the edges of treasonous behavior but has not committed the offense itself. We’re not at war with Russia and while conspiring with them to alter election results is an extremely serious crime, it’s not treason. There are other laws on the books and they’ve broken many of them. For one thing, the entire administration is a rolling (reeling?) RICO violation. And RICO is some serious shit.

Why does this matter? Words matter, that’s why. Words are the weapon of choice in a democracy. In fighting a corrupt, mendacious, and authoritarian government, it’s tempting to fight fire with fire. But the reality of what the Trumpers have done is so bad (to use the Insult Comedian’s favorite word) that hyperbole is unnecessary. Words matter.

I firmly believe that you fight lies with the truth, not exaggeration or hyperbole.  The facts are damning enough, gilding the Trumper lily to heighten drama is tempting but gets in the way of exposing their manifest and manifold malefactions. The truth is dramatic enough and will send many of this president’s* men to prison. Truth trumped (pun intended, it always is) Nixon’s lies and it will eventually take Trump down. Words matter.

The most important word in the political lexicon right now is ELECTIONS. One thing that politicians understand is the power of the ballot box. It’s why GOPers have worked so hard to make it difficult to vote. They only want the *right* people to vote. That’s why the resistance’s focus should be on registering voters and getting them to the polls. That’s how you send politicians a message, by voting them out.

Words matter. Use them wisely and well.

I’m old enough to remember when conservative Republicans stood with Eastern European dissidents against totalitarian communism. Now they stand with a former KGB agent whose goal in life is to avenge the “humiliation” of the Soviet Union. That’s why the last word goes to the late Vaclav Havel who knew something about defeating the big lie with truth.

 

Parsing the Medill #MeToo Debacle

Yes, even at the Jesus H. Christ School of Journalism Gods, people can be total dipshits:

Ten women released an open letter on Wednesday accusing Northwestern University Professor Alec Klein of persistent sexual harassment and bullying since he has been at the helm of the school’s “crown jewel” investigative journalism program.

Calling it the storied journalism school’s “#MeToo Moment,” the eight former students and two former staffers of the Medill Justice Project wrote that Klein’s “controlling, discriminatory, emotionally and verbally abusive behavior has to end.”

Klein, who has been at Northwestern for a decade and in charge of the Justice Project since 2011, has taken a leave of absence while the university sorts out all the allegations brought forth in the letter. This is likely to take some time, as a) digging into charges that range back five or more years isn’t easy and b) the women who signed the letter set up an email address for others to use if they want to add their stories regarding Klein and his behavior toward them.

Klein’s lawyer, Andrew T. Miltenberg, issued a statement that really does a nice job of making him look guilty as hell:

“While Mr. Klein denies the allegations that are being made, he intends to respect the confidentiality and privacy of Northwestern University and its internal process,” Miltenberg wrote. “It is unfortunate that these allegations are being made in a rush to judgment, denying Mr. Klein of due process. We are confident that upon review, the allegations will be determined to have been unfounded.”

If you are playing “clearly guilty bingo jargon,” you probably got the cover-all here: “denies allegations,” “respect the confidentiality” “respect the… process,” “rush to judgment,” “due process” and unfounded allegations.

Klein, for his part, issued a letter that blamed all of this on a “disgruntled employee” and then pivoted to how great his teaching evaluations have been.

The university conducted an extensive investigation, interviewing current and former employees, former students and others, and reviewing emails, expenses and other records. The complaint was determined to be completely unfounded. I was cleared of any wrongdoing and the claim was dismissed. The university determined the complainant was not credible and documented, through records and her own words, several falsehoods in her charges.

Klein, a journalist, needs to be a little more accurate here. According to media reports, the claim was not “completely unfounded,” but rather it was a situation where the U declined to roll the dice on pursuing it because it didn’t think it had enough to get the goods on him. It’s like that line from “And the Band Played On,” about what do we think, what do we know and what can we prove? In this case, you couldn’t prove the situation was rotten but it did have some serious stank on it. The school paid Olivia Pera off and as part of the payoff, the rule was that she couldn’t reapply for a job, not that she would want to:

 

“I went through absolute hell,” Pera said. “My family saw me go through such personality changes. My son saw me crying every day. That’s not something your kid should see. I have nothing but bad memories of Northwestern.”

The allegations regarding Klein are problematic, and there is nothing I would like more than to jump up and down on this guy. I have frequently come out against professors who treat students like sexual canapes, the arrogance of the elitism that comes with places like the Med-Dildo land that is that journalism school and people who are generally sleazy fucksticks. That said, there are really two sets of allegations here and they need to be separated before hanging this guy from a yardarm.

First set: He’s a sexually sleazy, lecherous fuck:

And let’s be clear: Some of us have also experienced sexual harassment and sexual misconduct.

  • He attempted to kiss a prospective employee, prior to hiring her. On the same occasion, he asked if she smoked marijuana and asked to smoke with her and ordered her several cocktails.

  • He asked a female employee to come to his hotel room “for drinks” on a business trip.

  • He gave unwanted neck massages while a female employee was trying to work.

  • He asked for a hug in return for giving an employee a requested day off.

  • He made other unwarranted physical contact, such as grabbing a student’s hand during conversations

  • He made sexually graphic remarks at work

  • He talked about his sex life and pressed for explicit details about others’

  • He frequently commented on employees’ physical attractiveness, appearances, attire and bodies

  • He told female students they would be good fits for broadcast journalism because they were “good-looking.

  • He asked if an employee was having another baby when she mentioned that her stomach hurt

  • He asked an employee if she was a stripper

  • He sent texts “intended for his wife” to a female

 

I’ll give him a pass on the text issue, as my Twitter followers have often been subjected to the, “So do we still need milk?” Tweets when I fucked up and hit the wrong button. Other than that… What the fuck? Your students are not a smorgasbord of pussy, so knock it off. And as for the asking the woman back to your hotel room thing, could you be any more sleazy while still being cliche? If you’re not with your wife and you suddenly have that pent up dick rage you seem to possess, there is nothing dumber than what you attempted to do. Here’s some advice: Go back to your room, find that little bottle next to the conditioner and go fly a solo mission.

Second set of allegations: He’s a fucking miserable human being:

Let’s start breaking these into “zones of danger.”

  • He repeatedly accused students of insubordination and reprimanded them to the point of tears over minor or perceived offenses, such as pushing back on an editorial misjudgment or offering an alternative method to pursue an investigation, or agreeing with a peer’s suggestion instead of what Alec Klein proposed. Several of us were summoned into his office individually, made to sit on a short cushion in a corner as he hurled accusatory vitriol about our mistakes and then refused to accept any apology. He sometimes retaliated by lowering students’ final term grades even though these disagreements had nothing to do with academics.

  • He retaliated against an employee by giving her a poor performance review after she defended herself against his verbal abuse.

  • He has yelled at employees and students and accused them of “ignoring him” for not immediately answering his phone calls or emails — at times, outside of working hours, or when one employee was on vacation, despite her returning his call within a few minutes.

  • He continued to show retaliatory behavior after discovering that students went to senior staff at Medill to voice their concerns about him.

  • He was openly dismissive in class to a student who struggled with English and made it apparent that he did not like her Middle Eastern accent. According to this student, he “killed” her confidence and made her feel like “nothing,” and he screamed at and hung up on her friend whom she had put on the phone with him for help.

The concept of retaliation, reprimand and dismissiveness are often in the eye of the beholder, especially in student-faculty relationships. Not saying these things didn’t happen, but on occasion students aren’t as amazing as they think they are and any attempt to demonstrate that is likely to lead to “melting snowflakes.” It also pains me to say this, but I have found that students at some of the best (as in most prestigious, highest ranked etc.) institutions are the ones that are the least able to deal with hearing that they don’t quite measure up. If I had a nickel for every time a kid blamed a bad grade on me or cried over not being told he or she was perfect in every way, I wouldn’t need a job any more. This group needs more cooking before it becomes soup.

Chunk two:

  • He has said: “You aren’t as smart as you think you are ”

  • He has said: “You will never be a journalist.”

  • He told one of us, after learning her mother is a professional writer: “Your mother is a writer, I’d expect you to be a better writer.”

  • He told one of us she needed an A- to earn his recommendation. He later promised a male student in the same class a recommendation in exchange for a B+.

  • He scolded employees for “taking too much credit” for their work and in one instance denied any credit until proof was provided.

When I hear back from students years later, I find out that a lot of shit came rolling out of my mouth that I can’t believe actually did. Part of it is working in a newsroom environment. Part of it is finding the need to buzz a kid with a fastball to back him or her off the plate a bit. Part of it was that I fucked up and learned that I needed to smooth off some of the rough edges. Part of it is that I’m just a dick sometimes, despite my best efforts.

I’ve said the first one, I’m sure. The second one was actually said to me when I was in high school, by a female teacher. She told me that not only would I never be a journalist, but that I’d never be ANYTHING and that I needed to go to a trade school if I wanted to be able to support a family. The third one is weird. The fourth one is something that I could easily see happening. I can’t remember what I ate for lunch yesterday as opposed to who I promised what to whom. The last one, again, some kids need to get backed off the plate or forced to prove stuff. Even students I’ve had dead to rights on plagiarism or other such things would deny it and threaten and bluster until I literally had to say, “You bring your proof and I’ll bring mine and we’ll see what the U has to say.” Then, they fucking crumbled. If these items alone were the basis for a complaint, I could see how the admin would wave this off and call it a day.

CHUNK 3:

  • He often required excessive and unnecessary closed-door meetings during which he pressed several of us to divulge deeply personal details about our lives, only to later use this information against us as a tool of manipulation.

  • He questioned whether an employee had actually attended her grandfather’s funeral after she had requested and taken the day off.

  • He has said about and to female students that they are “too emotional” and “immature.”

This is really problematic stuff in that a) it shows a gender bias and b) it infuses him into the private lives of his students and employees. The gender thing is already discussed above. The other one is something that is an issue because we have to draw lines as faculty and prevent ourselves from crossing them. I have always told newsroom students that I don’t care who you’re sleeping with or what you’re drinking or where you threw up last night. That’s none of my business. However, if I can’t get photos for the front page because my design editor was sleeping with the photo editor, but now they broke up and they’re not talking… OK, NOW I have to care.

I think logically that a lot of this stuff in chunks one and two wouldn’t be as horribly problematic if it weren’t for the first set of allegations (stuff on the harassment) and the last chunk of section two (getting involved in their business). Yes, this isn’t nice workplace behavior in those other two subsections, but I found out something once about stuff like this: There’s no law that prevents people from being an asshole at work.

I had a long discussion with HR and with a harassment specialty lawyer when I was getting knocked around by a particularly shitty colleague in ways like those listed in the two  (non-sex stuff) chunks. I was told, “Look, this isn’t good and he shouldn’t be able to do this, but there is no law against him being a dick.” I wasn’t pleased with that answer, but I got it.

However, there ARE laws about getting your business into my private business. There ARE laws about keeping your fucking hands to yourself and not treating everyone like they’re a fuckdoll with a personality, installed at work for your amusement.

And those laws need to be enforced everywhere, including this situation.

Exhuming McCarthy

Trump with arch-McCarthyite Roy Cohn.

I spent the weekend in the Carnival bubble, which is a good place. I stayed there even when two of the leading resistance activists in my area came over for a parade party yesterday. We didn’t feel like dissecting the Nunes memo and what, if any, significance it might have.

The memo itself is a damp squib: Nunes has admitted that he hasn’t read any of the underlying material. He’s emulating his dear leader who was left alone with a 3 1/2 page memo for several hours. Trump claims to have read it but I think he watched teevee instead. The Nunes memo does, however, aid and abet the possibility of what many have called a slow motion Saturday Night Massacre.

It’s not an original insight to apply the label neo-McCarthyism to Nunes and his doings, especially now that he plans to give Foggy Bottom a spanking next. The State Department was Tailgunner Joe’s main target, after all.

One hears the word unprecedented a lot in the age of Trump. Sometimes it’s used correctly. But it is not unprecedented for Republican politicians to attack arms of government to suit their own political aims. It’s what Joe McCarthy did and it’s what Devin Nunes and Donald Trump are doing right now.

Once again Trump proves that he’s worse than Nixon. Tricky’s assault on the FBI and CIA was mostly subterranean whereas Trump’s is out in the open and on the tweeter tube. Trump’s is more egregious: he is willing to take down the FBI to save his own ass. It surprises but does not shock me that GOPers do not understand that if one is not-guilty one does not need to obstruct justice by finagling to shut an investigation down. One is not the loneliest number in this post.

Will it work? I’m not sure. Slate legal eagle Dahlia Lithiwck thinks it might. If nothing else, the Nunes memo has sown the seeds of chaos, confusion, and discord that Team Trump thrives on. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos. His operating principle is that if you throw enough shit against the wall some of it will stick.

The post title is taken from an REM song from their great 1987 album, Document. Exhuming McCarthy was written in response to the Iran-Contra scandal and the rise of the likes of Newt Gingrich who specialized in McCarthyite attacks on their opponents. The lyrics are just as relevant to the current situation and the Current Occupant who lie as easily as the worst of the Reaganites. The good news is that they’re not as good at it as St. Ronnie and his cohort. Reagan had an aura of niceness that mitigated his lies in the eyes of many. Trump is a prick who is only believed by hardcore cultists. The Reaganites attack on the truth worked: it remains to be seen if the Trumpers efforts will work. One thing I’m sure of: Reagan would be appalled by Trump’s fealty to the neo-Soviet government of Vladimir Putin. Even the Reaganites had their limits.

A reminder: Donald Trump considers Joe McCarthy’s henchman Roy Cohn a mentor as you can see in the featured image at the top of the post. As I wrote during the campaign, oy such a mentor.

The last word goes to-who else?-REM as it did in the Trump-Cohn post.

The law and justice in the life of a parent in the Larry Nassar case

On occasion, the law doesn’t do what we want it to do. It’s a byproduct of our attempt to remain civilized in the face of uncivilized behavior. It’s a byproduct of being “the more powerful force” or “the better person” when we are forced to confront something truly horrific. Without this level of decorum and rule of law, we would be no better than animals and tyrants, we are told.

And all of those things are right. All of those things are true. We can’t just attack people for what we perceive to be inappropriate or illegal actions that wrong us or others. The law is what protects the weakest and the most disenfranchised among us. Without the law, all of the positive strides made by people of color, women, LGBTQ individuals and immigrants would be cast aside and only the white, rich and powerful would thrive.

I get it. I really, really get it.

And yet, sometimes… sometimes, polite society isn’t going to get us where we want to go. Sometimes, there isn’t enough years on a sentence or enough words to reveal our anger. Sometimes, we just can’t with the whole idea of “being a better person” or “knowing there is a special place in Hell for people like this.”

As pitcher Gene Brabender once noted in “Ball Four” about certain situations, “Where I’m from we talk for a while and then we start hitting.”

To say I condone the actions of Randall Margraves today would be difficult. I’m supposed to be more calm and rational than the monster that is Larry Nassar. I’m supposed to be more dignified than the scourge of anger or the fury of rage. I’m supposed to be better than this.

Unfortunately, I’m not. I totally get it.

My kid was in gymnastics for a short while and every day, I thought about the issues that are often associated with that sport. It carries a huge risk of injury, body dysmorphia, social awkwardness, biological alteration and more. It carries with it a huge commitment, both financial and physical. It draws on some of the worst instincts of parents and competitors (trust me, I sat in that observation deck and had to put on headphones to avoid the horrible things parents said about other kids and their own). I let it ride until she was about 7 when we decided to make her choose gymnastics or karate and we kind of nudged her toward karate.

I never once thought, “Hey, if she gets hurt I wonder if there’s a child-molesting asshole there ready to pop a couple fingers into the inner recesses of her body for his own sick pleasure.”

I never once thought, “I bet if there is a guy like that, he’ll be protected, covered for and overall allowed to do it to the point where CNN needs a goddamned scoreboard to keep track of the accusers.”

I didn’t think these things and that makes me terrified and it makes me understand guys like Randall Margraves. He knew all the “real” risks associated with this sport his kids loved. He understood the issues that come with this and how hard it is for people like his daughters to compete at the highest level. He accepted them and trusted the sport, the team and the support staff.

To be hit with something like a Larry Nassar is to be blindsided in a way that makes you question everything you are as a parent. To have to sit there and listen to lawyers parse the “degree” to which something happened or how the number of potential victims is really “not believable” has got to be more than even the most decent human being can withstand.

In a vacuum or in theory, we should condemn someone like Randall Margraves for his actions because, well, it’s just not what we do.

In practice, I’m surprised nobody tried this sooner.

Quote Of The Day: GOP Fantasy Camp Edition

It comes from former Justice Department spokesman, Matthew Miller on the damage done by GOP attacks on reality:

The first one they went after, starting decades ago, was the media. Now Republicans don’t believe what they hear on any channel other than Fox News. Then they moved to scientists … and now you see in polls Republicans who just don’t believe in scientists. They’ve turned on universities, and you see this rising discontent among conservatives about university. They are now turning on federal law enforcement.

And if a significant percentage of the population — 35, 40 per cent — believes that federal law enforcement is biased, you’ll see those people less likely to co-operate with investigations, less likely to blow the whistle, and less likely to believe DOJ prosecutors when they sit on juries. It is extremely damaging to the long-term ability of those institutions to do their jobs.

This is all about saving Donald Trump’s ass. I am horrified that they’re willing to go such extreme lengths so save his skin but I’m not surprised. The GOP has been running a political fantasy camp since Reagan who often confused real life with old movies. The Beavis-Duce administration amped up the fantasy quotient by lying us into war and attacking members of the “reality based” community. I wish people would stop saying the Bushies weren’t as bad as those of us with memories longer than a nano-second think they were. They were horrible.

Another thing that alarms me is the erosion of the oversight functions established after Watergate. We learned that the FBI and CIA abused their power, and Congress clamped down on them. There was NO oversight of the CIA until the 1970’s and J Edgar Hee Haw was a law unto himself.  The oversight functions ain’t what they used to be, but under Trump they may disappear.

Remember when the Republicans were the law and order  party? You can’t have law and order without law enforcement and for all its flaws the FBI is one of the premier law enforcement agencies in the world. It’s beyond insane to damage it in the name of protecting the criminal who currently lives in the White House, especially since the FBI’s culture is conservative and predominantly Republican.

As a member of the reality based community, I hope the “Nunes report” blows up in his and the president’s* face. Of course, the Alex Joneses of the world will believe that the FBI released a letter that damaged Hillary Clinton but was really designed to hurt Trump. That’s what Fox News and the GOP fantasy camp has led us to.

The last word goes to Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton. Rock-n-roll can’t cure what ails the country but it can’t hurt it either.

 

Hush Money

I’ve never seen the movie depicted above. I assume that it’s about blackmail. The phrase hush money is a venerable one, dating as far back as 1709. And no I was not the original coiner…

The first time I heard the term was after transcripts of the expletive deleted  Watergate tapes were released. Tricky Dick’s potty mouth was one reason his popularity plummeted.

I’ve had hush money on my mind ever since the Stormy Daniels story came out of the cake. I remain gobsmacked that this story hasn’t had silk stockinged legs. It’s got it all: sex, lies, and pay-offs. The problem is that there are so many scandals that the MSM is less interested in pursuing this president’s* tiny penis. After all, he’s got a big mouth that keeps saying stupid shit. So much so that the Guardian’s Steve Bell depicts him thusly:

That’s right, Trump the Talking Terlet. Btw, Bell depicted former British PM John Major as wearing his underpants on top of his trousers and David Cameron as encased in a condom. Good times.

Back to the Insult Comedian. His big bazoo is the gift that keeps on giving, which is why I’ve come to the conclusion that the person who should be paid hush money is the president* himself. This is the guy who told Lester Holt why he *really* shitcanned Comey and volunteered to testify under oath. Dumbass. You’re the president*, not just a sleazy real estate developer: your words matter, dipshit. That’s the problem with being a serial prevaricator. It’s hard to keep the lies straight.

I have some unsolicited advice for Ty Cobb and John Dowd. The only way to shut your client up is to bribe him. He loves taking bribes; in fact, he lives to take them. He’s the grifter-in-chief, after all. Sure, the hush money will only work for a while but a few moments of Trumpian silence could be golden. Believe me.

Don Donaldo Wants To Wet His Beak

I haven’t used Trump’s wise guy nickname for quite some time: Don Donaldo, Il Insulto Comico. It’s not because he’s stopped grifting but because there’s so much shit going on, which is why I also call him the Kaiser of Chaos. It’s time for Don Donaldo to play a return engagement at First Draft.

<drum roll>

Today on Life Imitates The Godfather Theatre:

Remember the infamous “Bridge to Nowhere”? The Montana Sheep Institute or the now-shuttered North Carolina teapot hall of fame?

Congress years ago eliminated funding for these types of pet projects, known as earmarks, after they became derided as government boondoggles, largess and a pathway to corruption.

President Trump now wants to bring them back.

In a freewheeling meeting about immigration with congressional Republicans and Democrats this week, Mr. Trump lamented the gridlock that has gripped the capital in recent years and suggested that earmarks, the practice of stealthily stuffing funding for pet projects into legislation, be exhumed from the legislative graveyard.

“Our system lends itself to not getting things done, and I hear so much about earmarks — the old earmark system — how there was a great friendliness when you had earmarks,” Mr. Trump said Tuesday. “Maybe all of you should start thinking about going back to a form of earmarks.”

So much for draining the swamp. Of course, he might have already changed his position by now. He’s an ignorant and erratic swamp critter, after all.

I have mixed feelings about earmarks. One person’s pork is another’s important project but the system *was* repeatedly abused. Pork barrel spending was a frequent target of the late Senator William Proxmire (D-Wisconsin) who was a liberal but a cheapskate and proud of it. Proxmire had his Golden Fleece Award, which he bestowed upon shady pork barrel spending projects from 1975 to 1988.

In contemplating earmarks and pork, one should consider the source. In 2018, the source is the most personally corrupt president* in American history. Don Donaldo has ties to both the Italian-American and Russian Mafia. In short, he’s in it for himself.

That brings me back to this episode of Life Imitates The Godfather Theatre. In Godfather Part II,  young Vito Corleone made his mark on the New York crime scene by whacking the greedy, cruel, and ugly Don Fanucci. Here’s Don Fannucci’s best known line:

Like the avaricious fictional mob boss, Don Donaldo wants to wet his beak. That’s why earmarks should not be revived as long as he’s the Current Occupant. Let’s keep his beak dry.

Fuck Yeah, Dianne

Dianne Feinstein is a cautious politician. In her four terms in the Senate she’s developed a reputation as an institutionalist who will work in a bi-partisan manner to get shit done. That has changed with her release of the Glenn Simpson/Fusion GPS transcript, which bends Senate norms in the national interest. I’m still working my way through the transcript so my focus is on Senator Feinstein who became a national hero yesterday.

Apparently, the final straw for the senior Senator from California came when Grassley and Little Lindsey referred Christopher Steele for prosecution last week. She was not consulted and thought the notion of prosecuting a whistleblower was ludicrous. Feinstein has a long fuse but, by all accounts, she was royally vexed. In releasing the transcript, she’s dared Grassely to do something about it. He seems to be folding like a poker player caught dealing from the bottom of the deck.

The big news coming out of the Feinstein-Grassley smackdown is confirmation that Senate Republicans have been lying about the origin of the FBI’s Kremlingate investigation. They’ve claimed that Steele and Fusion GPS started the investigation, which means that it’s somehow Hillary Clinton’s fault. Simpson’s testimony UNDER OATH proves that Grassley has been blowing smoke to divert attention from the fact that the FBI was already on the case when contacted by Steele.

The Insult Comedian chimed in on the tweeter tube:

That’s one of his worst nicknames ever. Dianne Feinstein is famously blunt and direct. If she’s sneaky, I’m a Trumper. Additionally, she has never said that collusion has not been found, and the release of this document is legal and in the public interest. It’s Senate Republicans who have disgraced and abased themselves to protect a criminal president*.

I chuckled when I typed the post title. Dianne Feinstein has always been a prim and proper pol. I doubt that she swears but fuck yeah is the ultimate accolade here at First Draft. So fuck yeah it is.

Dianne Feinstein is one tough cookie. It’s what happens when you’ve lost three elections and keep coming back for more. If Donald Trump thinks she’s going to crumple, he’s even crazier than I think he is. It’s just more dick waving from the idiot-in-chief. It’s a waste of time. Dianne don’t play that.

I am proud of my former mayor at this moment. She’s not always right but always tries to do the right thing. In this instance, she stuck the landing.

Fuck yeah, Senator Feinstein.

First Draft Potpourri: End Of The Line

It’s my final full-blown post of 2017. Hey, stop cheering. There *will* be a Saturday Odds & Sods but it will be the best of Adrastos. It’s been an eventful year so it’s going to be an exhaustive as well as exhausting list. There’s nothing like being in opposition to raise one’s blogging game and 2017 was all about resisting and opposing.

Since there won’t be a theme song on Saturday, I thought I’d throw some Traveling Wilburys at youse:

Let’s begin with a some shameless self-back patting. Hopefully, the contortions won’t hurt too much.

The Jon Swift Roundup 2017: I was asked to participate by the estimable Batocchio and I submitted my Glengarry Glen Ross on the Bayou post. Click on this link to check it out. There’s some very good writing by some very good bloggers, and me.

I guess it’s time for some more super group mishigas:

Speaking of egomaniacs:

Roy Moore:  Sore Loser- Judge Pervert is still challenging his loss to Doug Jones. He continues to display his ignorance of the law by filing a last-minute law suit. The man who will never be a Senator’s complaint boils down to “too many black people voted.” It’s good to see that he’s staying on message.

Judge Pervert fancies himself something of a cowboy. Doesn’t he know that cowboys are supposed to ride off into the sunset like Alan Ladd in Shane?

Now that we’ve taken a walk on the Brandon de Wilde side, let’s talk twitter, toots.

Tweets Of The Week: If you’re on the tweeter tube, you know Al Giordano who is the self-described “majority whip for the accomplishment wing of the [Democratic) party.” Al is a veteran political journalist and organizer who is still willing to make election predictions:

I concur with the analysis of the distinguished gentleman from the get shit done wing of the party. I also enjoyed this waltz down memory lane:

The main issues of the 1974 election were Watergate, Nixon, and Ford’s pardon of the Trickster. I despair every time I hear people say that the Dems need a new policy issue to run on in 2018. As much as one might wish that they did, most voters do not vote on policy, they vote their gut. The big issue in 2018 will be: TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP.

If the right people turn out, there’s a Blue Wave building. Btw, in 2006 the issue was: BUSH, BUSH, BUSH. We did pretty well that year as you might recall.

One more tweeter tube related segment:

I follow Rosenberg on twitter and have helped his sleuthing a few times. The tweeting twits at the twitter are trying to thwart his efforts. I’ve given them an earful and you should too.

The Mueller Probe: I’ve been following it avidly as well as the smear campaign against the FBI and its former director. It’s amazing that there are Republicans willing to take down the leading federal law enforcement agency in order to save Trump’s worthless ass. They’ve really drunk the orange Kool-Aid.

There’s been much speculation about Trump firing Bobby Three Sticks. The background noise is ominous but my hunch is that it’s less about removing Mueller and Rod Rosenstein and more about discrediting the investigation in the eyes of the Republican base. It was the modus operandi of Team Reagan during the Iran-Contra probe: they relentlessly villified special counsel Lawrence Walsh whose probe was, quite literally, endless.

The drums are louder thirty years later but I still think Mueller will survive unless Trump gets a wild orange hair up his ass. Then all bets are off. I think Bobby Three Sticks has a 2/3 chance of surviving 2018. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong.  It won’t be the first or last time for that, y’all.

Let’s lighten things up and go to the movies.

The Last Jedi: I like Star Wars but don’t love it. I have some friends who are *really* into the series. I like teasing them about their Star Wars Boners. Yeah, I know, I’m a jerk but you knew that already.

The Last Jedi was good but not boner worthy. I give it 3 stars, an Adrastos Grade of B- and a mild thumbs up. I kept hoping that Peter Capaldi would show up and give us the Doctor Who cross-over than I alone dream of.

Finally, thanks to our readers for really rocking it. You’re the top, which is why Der Bingle and Cole Porter get the last word:

 

 

 

Still Winging It With The Insult Comedian

I wrote a post about you know who in December, 2015 that I’m inordinately proud of. It was written when nobody thought Trump had a chance to secure the Republican nomination let alone steal the general election. I did not get that right in Winging It With The Insult Comedian but I nailed his essentially nihilistic and chaotic nature. For some reason, people still do not get it and think that Trump has some sort of nefarious master plan. There is no plan: he’s still winging it.

My belief that Trump is a walking id (a nickname bestowed upon former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin by my pal Liprap) is confirmed yet again in an epic piece in the Sunday edition of the Failing New York Times. Here’s the money quote:

“For most of the year, people inside and outside Washington have been convinced that there is a strategy behind Mr. Trump’s actions. But there is seldom a plan apart from pre-emption, self-defense, obsession and impulse.”

There you have it in a wingnut shell. Those who confidently predict that Trump will fire Robert Mueller seem to base it on a wave of recent attacks in right-wing media. They see it as a concerted effort akin to bombing an enemy during wartime before sending in the infantry. There may be a concerted effort but it’s more about convincing the president* to do something stupid and impulsive by firing Bobby Three Sticks than a White House driven strategy. Trump may admire generals but does not govern like one. He lashes out on impulse; usually while watching cable news with his tiny fingers hovering above his phone’s twitter app. Donald don’t do strategy.

Do I think Trump might fire Mueller? Yes I do. In the immortal words of Frank Zappa, “I figure the odds be fifty-fifty.” But it would be stupid and self-defeating because the probe will continue. There’s precedent: Leon Jaworski finished Archibald Cox’s work during Watergate. This sort of complex federal investigation has a life of its own as some of Trump’s less deranged advisers have surely told him. Will he listen? Beats the hell outta me. I don’t know and neither does anyone else.

Trump is still winging it. If he fires Bobby Three Sticks, it will be on impulse after being overstimulated by a specific event such as the inevitable indictment of Slumlord Jared. He’s not going to do so as part of a concerted campaign. He will do it on a whim, which is why he’s so dangerous.

The Insult Comedian’s mercurial nature led to another Adrastos nickname: the Kaiser of Chaos. There’s disorder in the court of the Kaiser. How that’s for a lead in to my Three Stooges test?  Here we go: Trump is 2/3 Moe and 1/3 Curly.  Anyone who says they know what this inherently unstable and unpredictable figure will do might as well poke themselves in the eyes. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.  It’s why he’s so dangerous.

Since I hearkened back to an earlier post, let’s close with the featured image I used for it. It still fits:

2015 Cartoon by Steve Bell of the Guardian.

Safe Zones

For all their blather about no-go zones because of Muslims in France, and feeling attacked at home because people look sideways at their bigotry, the modern GOP has profited handsomely by dividing this country and it’s worth remembering that in the wake of the SCOTUS decision upholding the Muslim Ban and the upcoming Masterpiece Cakeshop call, which I hope but do not expect to be unfavorable to the stupid bigots defending those cretins.

You want to talk about a no-go zone? Let’s talk about the country the GOP is creating in the name of their laughably euphemistic states’ rights and religious freedom.

There are states where the Obamacare hole between Medicaid and insurance is wider, because those Republican governors made it wider, and the people there are punished. If you’re poor and sick, those states are unsafe for you. If you need public education, if you need social services, if you need a job that pays a living wage, there are states that are unsafe for you.

If a company wants to poison your water, there are towns that are unsafe for you. If you want to get married to someone of the same sex there are courthouses where you’ll be turned away. If you need birth control you never know if your doctor or pharmacist can legally refuse you. You can be made to feel unsafe anywhere.

 

And not for nothing but literally no one has made it unsafe to be a Christian. There is a Christmas tree on my very secular desk right now blinking red and green, my very blue city in a very blue state looks like Santa threw up on it from 35,000 feet, and if you namecheck Jesus on occasion nobody says boo. I have never been kicked out of anything for the saint’s medal I wear around my neck.

I can’t say the same for the ladies who hold one another’s hands and still look over their shoulders, or the men who wouldn’t dare give a kiss on the cheek in a grocery store.

And the reason this country is one country and not 50 different small ones is that we are all of us safe or none of us are. Dividing us up makes it easier to violate that inalienable right.

A.

Trumpy’s Dowdy Dignity Wraith

History was made when Trump’s private shyster, John Dowd, claimed that he “composed” this tweet on behalf of his client:

Dowdy is a creepy shyster but only Trump is stupid enough to admit to obstructing justice. Speaking of dowdy liars, Kellyanne Conway is backing up Dowdy’s lie with another lie. That’s right, a senior White House aide is providing Trump’s mouthpiece with an alibi.  This is my favorite bit:

“I was with the President on Saturday all day, frankly, and I know that what Mr. Dowd says is correct. What he says is that he put it together and sent it to our director of social media,” Conway said on “Fox and Friends.”

She said that it’s common for Trump’s lawyers to craft his tweets.

 “The lawyers are the ones that understand how to put those tweets together,” she said.

You mean Trump doesn’t lie in bed and spew hateful nonsense on the tweeter tube? He has lawyers and social media people “craft” his tweets? This is a bald-faced lie even for the woman who coined the phrase “alternative facts.” Did Dowdy “craft” this tweet too?

Trump famously goes after “Crooked Hillary” when he’s pitching a “I’m in deep shit and sinking fast” tantrum. Did Dowdy think going after the FBI is a good idea? I have my doubts about that. He’s resorted to the ultimate LOSER defense:

 “(The) President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under (the Constitution’s Article II) and has every right to express his view of any case.”

How did this defense work out for Tricky Dick, Dowdy? There’s already precedent that you’re wrong, asswipe. One of the Nixon articles of impeachment dealt with obstruction of justice.  Presidents are not above the law since we live in a democracy despite Trump’s attempts to pervert our system of government. Dowdy and Conway are accomplices in Trumpy’s attempt to hijack the constitution. Thanks, Dowdy.

Team Mueller needs to put Dowdy and Conway under oath and see if they’ll repeat the same story. I have my doubts that they will, but if they do welcome to Indictment City, y’all.

Dowdy is putting his reputation and career at stake by lying for Trumpy. It’s pretty obvious who’s in charge of the Trump defense right now: the Insult Comedian.  In short, the inmate is running the asylum. If Dowdy doesn’t get control of his client, he could lose his law license and even his freedom. Nobody believes that Trump has others “craft” or “compose” his tweets. It’s just another whopper from the Liar-in-Chief’s lackeys.

John Dowd is the latest in a long of people who have destroyed their reputations by associating with this president*. Dowdy may think he’s special but, in the end, he’s just another dignity wraith.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Come Rain Or Come Shine

Amerind Landscape by Roy Lichtenstein.

I started this zany, madcap weekly feature in the spring of 2015. I have a lot of fun putting it together and riffing on the segments every week. It’s become a cult favorite among our readers. If you enjoy Saturday Odds & Sods, please donate to First Draft to help keep the doors to this virtual gin joint open. If you don’t like gin, pick your poison as long as it’s not vodka…

That concludes this brief commercial announcement. It’s time to return to our regularly scheduled programming.

It’s full-tilt fall in New Orleans after summer lingered far too long for my taste. We’ve had highs in the low to mid 70s for most of the last week. That means that many New Orleanians are OB’d: Over-bundled. People are so desperate to wear last year’s Christmas sweater that they’re overdressing for these mild days. So it goes.

The big news hyper-locally is that pesky, annoying twerp Seth Bloom has finally conceded in the District B city council race. The satirist in me will miss mocking him, but the citizen in me is relieved that his steady, experienced opponent, Jay Banks will represent me on the council. I will miss having Seth to kick around so I might as well re-post this:

Arrividerci, Sethy. You can go back to annoying people in your daily life. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass as you exit the local political stage. If you re-enter the arena, the feud will resume. Who among us doesn’t like a feud fight?

A brief return to the weather. It was the driest November in recorded history in New Orleans. How’s that for a lead-in to the theme song? Come Rain or Come Shine is the third Arlen-Mercer song I’ve used as the Odds & Sods theme song. I guess I like Harold and Johnny: the nice Jewish boy from Buffalo and the Southern scamp from Savannah. The song was written for the movie musical St. Louis Woman and first published in 1946.

We have three versions for your enjoyment. First, a swinging version arranged by Billy May for Ella Fitzgerald’s Harold Arlen Songbook, which is a seriously underrated entry in the songbook series. Next up, Lady Day with a mid-tempo version from her Music For Torching album. Finally, a 21st Century version from Eric Clapton and BB King.

Now that we’ve risen and shined or something like that, let’s jump to the break.

Continue reading

Branded 2017

Branded was a 1960’s teevee oater in which Chuck Connors played an army captain who was stripped of his rank for cowardice and other unmanly shit. (It had nothing to with the 67 games he played for the Dodgers and Cubs). In the case of Connors’ character Jason McCord, the “branding” was unjust.  I think the same thing should happen to Michael Flynn when he’s done ratting out his fellow Trumper rats. I’d pay to see this happen to Flynn:

Merry Flynnmas

Remember when Fridays during the holidays were slow news days? Not in 2017. The latest is a genuine blockbuster: former National Security advisor and disgraced general Michael Flynn has flipped. Talk about a guy who knows where the bodies are buried and knows the president* very well indeed. I expect Trump and Sarah Huckabee Sanders to describe him as a short-term acquaintance but they’ll be lying as usual.

Team Mueller has constructed their probe in a methodical fashion much like a Mafia prosecution. They’re going after the Capos right now and Flynn seems poised to lead them to the Don, er, the Donald. That makes Flynn either Tessio in The Godfather or Big Pussy in The Sopranos. I almost said Paulie Walnuts but he didn’t rat Tony out.

Self-quotation time:

The prospect of Flynn flipping day must have been one of the reasons for Trump’s manic lunacy this week. He went from his normal level of crazy to super deranged. The whole retweet spat with Prime Minister May typified the Insult Comedian’s week. Anglo-American relations are at their lowest point since the Suez crisis some 60 years ago. And that time it was Prime Minister Anthony Eden’s fault and the war of words occurred behind closed doors. We’re seeing the bizarre spectacle of a Republican president* publicly feuding with a Tory PM. Thanks, Donald.

It’s only going to get crazier. I expect a wave of crazy tweets from the president* early Sunday morning. It’s when he’s as nutty as a fruitcake and y’all know how I feel about fruitcake: I hate it *almost* as much as I hate the Insult Comedian.

My hunch is that Flynn flipped because of his son’s involvement in the Turkish dissident kidnapping conspiracy. That was some serious shit that could have led to hard time for both Flynns. It *almost* makes the obstruction of justice charges look like a walk in the park. Almost. I bet Trump is sorry that he intervened with Comey on Flynn’s behalf now. Oh, I forgot. He never makes mistakes. Whatever, dude.

Merry Flynnmas.

INSTANT UPDATE: Mustachioed Trump mouthpiece Ty Cobb has described Flynn as ” a former National Security Advisor at the White House for 25 days during the Trump Administration, and a former Obama administration official.”

When in doubt, blame Barack.

Gaslighting Trumpy

This post title cuts both ways. Donald Trump’s entire political career has involved gaslighting the American people: he tells blatant lies with such vehemence that his most devoted and dumbest followers believe him. The latest whopper is that Doug Jones, best known for prosecuting domestic terrorists who murdered children, is “weak” on crime. Of course, the Insult Comedian knows something about crime given the fact that he’s a cartoon villain. All he needs is a Snidely Whiplash mustache to go with the dead nutria atop his head. Cartoon villains typically have bad hair or no hair like Lex Luthor.

There’s an odder form of gaslighting going on at the Trump White House and the culprit is a man with a Snidely stache.  It looks as if  the president* is being gaslit by his own lawyer, Ty Cobb, who maintains publicly and privately that the Mueller probe will wrap up by the end of 2017. I think that’s nuts given the complexity, sprawling nature, and importance of the investigation. These things take time, which is something that drives people with short attention spans crazy. Ain’t nobody with a shorter attention span than the crazy current occupant.

The question that looms over this discussion is whether Cobb believes what he’s saying or is gaslighting his boss to keep the Trumpy’s head from exploding. In addition to his Snidely stache and reputed kinship to the baseball great of the same moniker, Cobb is known for being an experienced Washington hand. While he *could* just be stupid-not all lawyers are wicked smart, after all-I think he’s trying to keep his idiot client from impulsively starting a constitutional crisis by firing Mueller. Cobb surely knows that major federal investigations have lives of their own and the probe will go on without Bobby Three Sticks. The Insult Comedian is an incurious ignoramus who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. He believes what he wants to believe, which makes him a perfect target for gaslighting; either that or Ty Cobb is just as stupid as Trump.

The post title is inspired by a Becker and Fagen song from the 2000 album Two Against Nature. Now that I think of it, that album title could describe the lawyer-client relationship discussed in this post. Anyway, it’s time to paraphrase the chorus of Gaslighting Abbie:

Flame is the game. The game we call gaslighting Trumpy.

The last word goes to Steely Dan:

I fibbed about the last word. If you like what we do at First Draft, please support our fall fundraising drive. No gaslighting involved, not even the Boyer-Bergman kind:

 

 

We have no good way to talk about this and we never have

We have no good way to talk about this and we never have.

As a good friend and feminist scholar told me when the Weinstein scandal broke, “This isn’t about sex. It’s about power. That’s why we can’t talk about it.”

And yet it is the sex that draws the attention as we discuss the imbalance of power, so the two remain inextricably linked, creating problems as we continue to have these revelations of misconduct come to light.

The latest name added to the list of groping, rubbing, jerking, fondling, grabbing and forcing is Sen. Al Franken. Leeann Tweeden came forth on Thursday with allegations of Franken groping and sexually abusing her during a USO stint. Photographic evidence and Franken’s own apology clearly supported those charges of misconduct, leading to some of the most awkward public arguments on a subject like this since Todd Akin introduced us all to the concept of “legitimate rape.”

To clarify and codify the general issue, we should consider two questions and their unequivocal answers:

Were all of the victims of Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Donald Trump, Roy Moore, Louis C.K., Al Franken and others diminished and violated by people of power?

Yes.

Have we, as a society and in many cases individuals, for too long engaged in victim blaming and illegitimate parsing of disgusting behavior like this?

Yes.

Taking these two answers as clear and definitive, we now lock this discussion into an awkward position for people who will have to answer for these actions and the people who support them.

The questions will come in droves:

“Is what Moore or Franken did rape or sexual assault or sexual misconduct or what?”

“Does the “law and order” morality of Moore make it somehow worse than what Weinstein or Franken did because, hey, they’re liberal hedonists anyway?”

“Is it worse what Spacey did to young boys or what Moore did to young girls?”

“Should Franken be forced out for one incident while Moore’s accusers are multiplying like tribbles?”

What so many people are awkwardly groping for is some sort of “sex crime conversion chart” in which one boob-grab equals two ass-pats or one photo equals three teen accusers and one signed yearbook or something. We have finally started coming to the necessary conclusion that shitty behavior is shitty behavior, but people with myriad agendas want to create a hierarchy out of these behaviors, as if hierarchy itself weren’t the reason these messes exist in the first place.

It doesn’t work that way because it’s not about sex. It’s about power.

The only demarcation reasonable people could draw is the one between adults and children. There’s a reason you can peruse 10,000 nude photos of people age 18 and older without a legal problem, but your ass will be in the joint if you own one such image of someone under that age. Society and law have dictated a bright line for most conduct involving children and to cross that line is to engage in the unforgivable.

To that end, and only that end, could a few of these acts be viewed as somehow worse than some of the others. Regardless, each and every case involved a man with power over someone he perceived as lesser and he used that to his advantage to demean and diminish that person.

Why can’t we see this? For two simple reasons:

  1. We are seeing a wide swath of accusations that range from things that “everybody” could agree are horrible and evil to well… what? If the Al Franken “grope” photo is as bad as Roy Moore trying to bone the “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret” demographic, how many men might have to look really hard at themselves? That time they got handsy at the company party? That time they catcalled a co-worker? That time they tried to “impress” the intern? How much of that happened and how does it feel to be lumped in with the Roy Moores, Anthony Weiners, Louis C.K.s and Harvey Weinsteins? The “I would never do something that despicable” becomes, “Actually you already did.”
  2. To see it, we have to talk about it and we have no good way to talk about this and we never have.