Attorney General Jeff Sessions is entertaining the idea of appointing a second special counsel to investigate a host of Republican concerns — including alleged wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation and the controversial sale of a uranium company to Russia — and has directed senior federal prosecutors to explore at least some of the matters and report back to him and his top deputy, according to a letter obtained by The Washington Post.
The revelation came in a response by the Justice Department to an inquiry from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who in July and again in September called for Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to investigate concerns he had related to the 2016 election and its aftermath.
The list of matters he wanted probed was wide ranging but included the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, various dealings of the Clinton Foundation and several matters connected to the purchase of the Canadian mining company Uranium One by Russia’s nuclear energy agency. Goodlatte took particular aim at former FBI director James B. Comey, asking for the second special counsel to evaluate the leaks he directed about his conversations with President Trump, among other things.
In response, Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd wrote that Sessions had “directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters,” and that those prosecutors would “report directly to the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel.”
I never thought I’d say this, but I’m sick and tired of the media’s coverage of “sexual assault.” I was already tired of hearing about it, but this whole thing with Al Franken is just plain ridiculous. How many days now has it been the top story on cable TV? It feels like a month. What he did was stupid and disgusting, but I’ve heard enough. Franken apologized and wrote a personal letter to the “victim.” She said she accepts his apology.
Should Franken resign? No fucking way! Should we spend interminable days relitigating the charges against Bill Clinton from 20 years ago? No thanks. What Clinton did was disgusting too, but he went through years of investigations and was impeached for Christ’s sake. Enough!
Until Donald Trump resigns, the media needs to lay off Franken. Unless a bunch more women come forward to accuse him, it doesn’t look like he’s predator on the scale of Moore or Trump. We know that numerous other men in the House and Senate are guilty of sexual harassment. How about doing some investigative reporting to find out the names of these men and publish them?
We live in a culture in which women are beaten, raped and murdered on a daily basis. Let the media focus on that for a week. But it won’t happen. They prefer to use the rampant violence against women in this country as entertainment. And this 24/7 coverage of sexual harassment is happening for the same reason–entertainment and ratings. After the past couple of weeks, I’m feeling like I want to resign from the human race.
Meanwhile, the abuser-in-chief is stealing money hand over fist from taxpayers and trying to “reform” the tax code to give himself billions more.
Did you watch Richard Engel’s special on Trump’s Panama tower? If not, I highly recommend you check it out. Some interesting reading on just one place where Trump is reaping the rewards of his massive corruption. Some recommended reading on the subject:
Global Witness: Narco-A-Lago: Money Laundering at the Trump Ocean Club Panama. An excerpt:
The warning signs were there from the outset. The Trump Ocean Club, one of Trump’s most lucrative licensing deals to date, was announced in 2006 and launched in 2011, a period when Panama was known as one of the best places in the world to launder money. Whole neighborhoods in Panama City were taken over by organized crime groups, and luxury developments were built with the purpose of serving as money laundering vehicles.
Moreover, investing in luxury properties is a tried and trusted way for criminals to move tainted cash into the legitimate financial system, where they can spend it freely. Once scrubbed clean in this way, vast profits from criminal activities like trafficking people and drugs, organized crime, and terrorism can find their way into the U.S. and elsewhere. In most countries, regulation is notoriously lax in the real estate sector. Cash payments are subject to hardly any scrutiny, giving opportunistic and unprincipled developers free rein to accept dirty money.
In the case of the Trump Ocean Club, accepting easy – and possibly dirty – money early on would have been in Trump’s interest; a certain volume of pre-construction sales was necessary to secure financing for the project, which stood to net him $75.4 million by the end of 2010. Trump received a percentage of the financing he helped secure, and a cut on the sale of every unit at the development.
He and his family have made millions of dollars more from management fees and likely continue to profit from the Trump Ocean Club. Eager for the project’s success, Trump and his children have participated directly in marketing, management, and even project design. According to broker Ventura Nogueira, Trump’s daughter Ivanka attended at least 10 meetings with him and project developer Roger Khafif.
A large number of those involved with the Trump Ocean Club in its early phase were Russian and Eastern European citizens or diaspora members. In an interview with NBC and Reuters, Ventura Nogueira said that 50 percent of his buyers were Russian, and that some had “questionable backgrounds.” He added that he found out later that some were part of the Russian Mafia.
Two more articles:
Lots of news has been breaking on the Russia investigation. For example, The AP is just out with a new scoop: Moscow meeting in June 2017 under scrutiny in Trump probe.
Earlier this year, a Russian-American lobbyist and another businessman discussed over coffee in Moscow an extraordinary meeting they had attended 12 months earlier: a gathering at Trump Tower with President Donald Trump’s son, his son-in-law and his then-campaign chairman.
The Moscow meeting in June, which has not been previously disclosed, is now under scrutiny by investigators who want to know why the two men met in the first place and whether there was some effort to get their stories straight about the Trump Tower meeting just weeks before it would become public, The Associated Press has learned.
Congressional investigators have questioned both men — lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin and Ike Kaveladze, a business associate of a Moscow-based developer and former Trump business partner — and obtained their text message communications, people familiar with the investigation told the AP.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team also has been investigating the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, which occurred weeks after Trump had clinched the Republican presidential nomination and which his son attended with the expectation of receiving damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton. A grand jury has already heard testimony about the meeting, which in addition to Donald Trump Jr., also included Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, and his then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
The focus of the congressional investigators was confirmed by three people familiar with their probe, including two who demanded anonymity to discuss the sensitive inquiry.
One of those people said Akhmetshin told congressional investigators that he asked for the Moscow meeting with Kaveladze to argue that they should go public with the details of the Trump Tower meeting before they were caught up in a media maelstrom. Akhmetshin also told the investigators that Kaveladze said people in Trump’s orbit were asking about Akhmetshin’s background, the person said.
How much more evidence do we need to know that Russia has basically taken over our goverment?We’re living in a dystopian nightmare, as Dakinikat wrote yesterday. The world is laughing at us because Trump is rapidly turning the U.S. into a tinpot dictatorship. I’d like to just curl up in my apartment and escape into books, and I may just do that this weekend.
One way to escape the present and perhaps put our situation in perspective is to read dystopian novels, which I love. Louise Erdrich has just published one, and Elle has an interview of her by Margaret Atwood: Inside the Dystopian Visions of Margaret Atwood and Louise Erdrich.
Louise Erdrich, member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, author of more than 20 novels, most of them revolving around an Ojibwe community in North Dakota, won the National Book Award for The Round House (2012), a crime thriller, and was a Pulitzer Finalist for The Plague of Doves (2009), a murder mystery. But when a galley of her new novel, Future Home of the Living God (HarperCollins, out now), came across ELLE’s desk, it seemed to us that Erdrich had gone where she’d never quite gone before.
She’s written a novel—a wonderful, creepy, dystopian novel—in which women become prized, and quickly enslaved, for their ability to produce healthy babies. The pregnant protagonist of the novel, Cedar, an Ojibwe adoptee, is on the run, evading the white male evangelical government that wants to sever her from life as she knows it and use her body to produce healthy babies….
Yes, it sounds familiar, doesn’t it—unless you’ve been living under a rock and missed
The Handmaid’s Tale cleaning up at the Emmys, or the fact that the book by the great Margaret Atwood has been on Amazon’s list of its top-20 most-read books for months.
So who better to interview Erdrich about her new novel than Atwood? Lo and behold: They agreed! Over the summer, the two writers—one in Toronto, one in Minnesota—amid jaunts to the Arctic and Winnipeg, engaged in a cross-border digital interview about the novel, their prophetic fears, politics, climate change, and why we idealize Canada.
Click on the link to read the interview. More dystopian fiction suggestions:
Literary Hub: 30 Dystopian Novels by and About Women.
ShortList: The 20 best dystopian novels.
Another way to escape is to read about earlier times. Here’s an interesting book review I came across yesterday at The New Republic: Little House, Small Government. How Laura Ingalls Wilder’s frontier vision of freedom and survival lives on in Trump’s America.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote the “Little House on the Prairie” books, lived a good two decades of her 90 years in a covered wagon going west. Only in late middle age did she become the author of the most successful series for children ever written about the settling of the American frontier. In the stories these books tell, the Ingalls family embodies that extraordinary hunger for pioneering that, through the second half of the nineteenth century, sent a few million men, women, and children out into the prairies and mountains of the mid- and far West to farm, raise cattle, mine for silver, pan for gold. One and all, they went in search of a life free from the restraints of the socialized world, to a place where survival depended on the exercise of one’s own wit and strength and backbreaking labor.
Ultimately, that same drive to be alone with the wilderness got converted to a founding myth of individualism, out of which emerged an ideology that visualized freedom from government as an equivalent of freedom itself. The descendants of that myth are among us still. If Laura Ingalls Wilder were alive today she would be a member of the Tea Party. She would almost certainly have voted for Donald Trump, many of whose followers yet believe that he will restore to them the dubious glory of the frontier America that Wilder so passionately celebrated in her books.
Caroline Fraser’s Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder is an impressive piece of social history that uses the events of Wilder’s life to track, socially and politically, the development of the American continent and its people. The frontier, by definition, has always been a place just beyond the point where land meets sky. In America that longing to move beyond the horizon, which is common to all cultures, became not only synonymous with an idea of the national character, but a vital ingredient in the American brand of democracy. The historian Frederick Jackson Turner ardently believed, in fact, that “that restless, nervous energy, that dominant individualism” attributed to the frontier was the major influence on American democracy’s development.
What the people in the covered wagons did not grasp was that to a large extent they were pawns in the hands of political and business interests—especially those of the railroads—that needed to see ground broken across the entire continent. The pioneers never understood the hucksterism behind the “go west, young man” rhetoric that urged them to go where none had gone before, with no hard knowledge of what actually lay before them. All the pioneers knew—in their fantasies, that is—was that just over the horizon lay adventure, opportunity, possible wealth, and certain freedom.
As a kid, I read every one of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s series that began with Little House in the Big Woods and ended with These Happy Golden Years. Oh how I’d love to go back that innocent time in my life for one day. But then, maybe it wasn’t as great as I remember it. The reviewer includes another book about the American frontier that isn’t as joyful as Wilder’s nostalgic tales:
Agnes Smedley’s autobiographical novel Daughter of Earth, published in 1929, gave its readers an altogether different look at the same set of experiences. “I write of the joys and sorrows of the lowly,” she begins, “of those who die … exhausted by poverty, victims of wealth and power…. For we are of the earth and our struggle is the struggle of earth.” Smedley’s masterful work of realism concentrates on everything that Laura Ingalls Wilder either ignores, leaves out, or flatly denies. In this book, capitalism makes a mockery of the illusion of freedom-just-ahead—the promise that sent millions traveling west during those same years when the Ingallses were loading and unloading their covered wagon and then loading it once again.
Smedley was born in 1892 in Missouri into a family of farmers who labored long days in the field and never seemed to get ahead. The father, like Charles Ingalls, was handsome and restless. A lover of music and tall tales, he was possessed of “the soul and imagination of a vagabond,” Smedley wrote. The open road called to him. The mother, unlike Caroline Ingalls, desperately did not want to leave the farm but the father wore her down and at last they packed up and headed out. “And from that moment,” Smedley writes, “our roots were torn from the soil and we began a life of wandering, searching for success and happiness and riches that always lay just beyond—where we were not. Only since then have I heard the old saying ‘Where I am not, there is happiness.’”
The father did not want to homestead; rather, he thought to join the army of miners, loggers, and teamsters who were rushing west right alongside the settlers. Missouri, Colorado—on the Smedleys moved, from one mining camp to another, always working like dogs, always being cheated of their wages, always just barely surviving. “Existence meant only working, sleeping, eating … and breeding…. A book was a curiosity … a newspaper was a rarity; to read was a recreation of the rich.”
The family joined the exploited underclass that got the country built. Men like Smedley’s father, with all his brute strength and hunger of spirit, never realized that they were forever up against the exploitation of the owners of the mines and the railroads, who had the government in their pockets. Smedley himself proved an ignorant and frightened man, helpless before a world he could not fathom, much less define himself against. In time he loses his taste for the songs and the stories that sustained him; he becomes a bully, starts to drink, and beats his wife. Of her mother, old at 30, Smedley writes, “her tears … they embittered my life!” It is above all the hardness of the narrator’s voice that makes Daughter of Earth so unlike anything Wilder could have imagined. For Smedley, the ideology of American individualism proved a bitter punishment, for Wilder the fulfillment of what she took to be a God-given promise.
My grandparents and great grandparents helped settle the Dakota territory. I’d love to read those books. I already have a stack of things I want to read though. There’s never enough time.
I know this is a weird post. I think Trump is slowly driving me insane. What stories are you following today? Any book recommendations?
Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!!
I’m not sure what manner of factors has created the circumstances of this year but I’m really over it. Kinsey is putting on weight and eating nicely. Dinah’s fur is returning. Miles has had a terrible few days. Something triggered a drop in his blood sugar and he’s got so many things wrong suddenly that it’s hard to separate what’s wrong from what’s causing it. I feel under siege. Turning on the TV and reading the newspaper or any myriad of things I usually do to help is not really helping because the chaotic Kremlin Caligula has my stomach in tight knots already. He’s ready to make all the creatures of the earth go extinct. Every thing he does destroys life.
Those three words up there are how the Buddha describes our existence. Now that we live in the nightmare realm of a person with an extremely awful personality disorder we can add destructive chaos to that list.
I was going to try to stick to other things today because frankly it’s one moment at a time for me at the moment. I am certainly not alone. Here’s a nice read via one of my cousins: “Annie Proulx Gave One of the Best National Book Award Speeches in Recent Memory.”
We don’t live in the best of all possible worlds. This is a Kafkaesque time. The television sparkles with images of despicable political louts and sexual harassment reports. We cannot look away from the pictures of furious elements, hurricanes and fires, from the repetitive crowd murders by gunmen burning with rage. We are made more anxious by flickering threats of nuclear war. We observe social media’s manipulation of a credulous population, a population dividing into bitter tribal cultures. We are living through a massive shift from representative democracy to something called viral direct democracy, now cascading over us in a garbage-laden tsunami of raw data. Everything is situational, seesawing between gut-response “likes” or vicious confrontations. For some this is a heady time of brilliant technological innovation that is bringing us into an exciting new world. For others it is the opening of a savagely difficult book without a happy ending.
To me the most distressing circumstance of the new order is the accelerating destruction of the natural world and the dreadful belief that only the human species has the inalienable right to life and God-given permission to take anything it wants from nature, whether mountaintops, wetlands or oil. The ferocious business of stripping the earth of its flora and fauna, of drowning the land in pesticides again may have brought us to a place where no technology can save us. I personally have found an amelioration in becoming involved in citizen science projects. This is something everyone can do. Every state has marvelous projects of all kinds, from working with fish, with plants, with landscapes, with shore erosions, with water situations.
Yet somehow the old discredited values and longings persist. We still have tender feelings for such outmoded notions as truth, respect for others, personal honor, justice, equitable sharing. We still hope for a happy ending. We still believe that we can save ourselves and our damaged earth—an indescribably difficult task as we discover that the web of life is far more mysteriously complex than we thought and subtly entangled with factors that we cannot even recognize. But we keep on trying, because there’s nothing else to do.
It’s difficult being realistic these days. I fully admit that I’d like to be able to live in a world of my invention. For example, I’d like people to stop killing animals unnecessarily. How can you call killing anything that’s sentient and beautiful a “sport”? What kind of freak gets enjoyment out of that? You eat out of necessity. Anything beyond that puts you in the ‘disturbed’ category in my ethos.
And why, still, at 62 do I have to avoid dark streets and places? Warn my daughters about things put in drinks? Worry about being at event that isn’t mostly filled with gay men and women of any stripe? When can I just go some place and relax without checking for the nearby predators? Why am I supposed to laugh off incredibly disturbing behavior involving my biology or some other aspect of my existence as a woman? How do I get the media to understand the difference between a tasteless cad and a perpetrator of sexual assault? #EveryWomanTOO
I am a Democrat because I am a feminist who lives under a two-party system, where one party consistently votes against the interests of women while the other sometimes does not. I am not a true believer in the party itself nor in any politician. I am a realist who recognizes that we get two viable choices, and Democrats are members of the only party positioned to pump the brakes on Republicans’ gleeful race toward Atwoodian dystopia. Meanwhile, I recognize that men’s harassment of and violence against women is a systemic issue, not a Democrat or Republican problem, a Hollywood problem, a sports problem, or a media problem. Its roots lie in a patriarchal culture that trains men to believe they are entitled to control women’s bodies —for sex, for sport, for childbearing, for comedy.
When you combine these things — an awareness that the Democratic Party is no more or less than best of two, and an understanding that men in power frequently exploit women — it becomes difficult to believe that Franken is the only sitting Democrat with a history of harassment, abuse or assault. The recent #metoo campaign demonstrated how normalized unwanted kissing and groping are in our culture. Donald Trump was caught on tape crudely admitting to both of those transgressions, and we made him our president. According to the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 1 in 3 women experiences some sort of contact sexual violence in her life. Sexual harassment and assault are simply too widespread for Democrats to respond to Franken’s offense with only Franken in mind: We need to respond in a way that helps us develop a protocol for meaningful change.
I really didn’t want to go on and on about this but wtf is this? “Congress paid out $17 million in settlements. Here’s why we know so little about that money.” This equals 260 settlement over the last 20 years. This reminds me of Newt Gingrich going after Bill Clinton while cheating on his current wife with the Calista. This is happening in their offices and while they’re in office.
On Thursday, the Office of Compliance released additional information indicating that it has paid victims more than $17 million since its creation in the 1990s. That includes all settlements, not just related to sexual harassment, but also discrimination and other cases.
An OOC spokeswoman said the office was releasing the extra data “due to the interest in the awards and settlement figures.” The OOC has come under fire in recent days for what lawmakers and Hill aides alike say are its antiquated policies that do not adequately protect victims who file complaints.
CNN has also learned that during the current Congress, no settlement payment approval requests have been made to the congressional committee charged with approving them.
Go read up on how little the public knows about this huge sum of money going out to the victims of sexual predators in Congress. Now, think about how things change when there are a critical number of women that get to make decisions. Take difference in costume choice for Wonder Woman with a woman director choosing a woman costume designer vs. the alternative. How many of us think that that Uncle Clarence Thomas would not be on the Supreme Court if it was Senator Hillary Clinton instead of Senator Joe Biden in charge of things?
Wonder Woman was great for many reasons (Diana Prince for president, etc.), but one of the most lauded moments was the representation of the Amazons, a team of female fighters who spend their lives on an island devoid of men. This group of women were brought to life by director Patty Jenkins and costumed by designer Lindy Hemming, and their outfits were essentially armor. Flash forward to Justice League, and fans have noticed that the Amazons’ attire—designed by Michael Wilkinson with direction by Zack Snyder—are slightly…smaller.
The graphic stories told by woman on Capitol Hill–Boston Boomer wrote more on this yesterday–were probably similar to the ones that would’ve come out at of the Clarence Thomas Hearing or any hearing on Teddy Kennedy or Strom Thurmond.
Others said they had been harassed by two sitting members of Congress. Speier (D-Hillsborough) declined to identify those members, saying only that one is a Republican and one is a Democrat.
“The culture in this country has been awakened to the fact that we have a serious epidemic in the workplace in all professions, in all walks of life, and it’s incumbent upon those who are in authority to address it and address it swiftly,” Speier told reporters Tuesday after testifying in front of the House committee that is considering changes in how harassment in Congress is investigated. She said she couldn’t provide more details on the incidents because the victims had signed nondisclosure agreements as part of settlements.
The rich and powerful man always manages to get those disclosure agreements even when it’s his work or our taxpayers that pay to silence the stories of women. Back again to that CNN article at the top:
It is unclear how much of the $17 million is money paid to sexual harassment cases because of the Office of Compliance’s complex reporting process. However, even knowing that dollar figure doesn’t quantify the problem: a source within the Office of Compliance tells CNN that between 40 and 50% of harassment claims settle after mediation — an early stage in the multi-tiered reporting process.
And the number of settlements reached may not be indicative of how widespread sexual harassment is, as many victims chose not to proceed with OOC’s process for handling complaints. Tracy Manzer, a spokeswoman for Speier, told CNN last week 80% of people who have come to their office with stories of sexual misconduct in the last few weeks have chosen not to report the incidents to the OOC.
The most evident and clear thing to me is that we can’t even get a good hearing on the topic unless there are enough women in places of influence in institutions to find ways to make it all come out. Then, make it stop. We’re probably going to have to rely on complicit men–however, not full blow predators–that have enabled rape culture with their frat boy humor and antics. I don’t see any reason for them to be kicked out of anything unless they have a pervasive problem. I expect, however, the enablers, like those guilty of the tasteless humor and actions shown by Franken to repent. I also expect those that quietly enable or jokingly enable predators–like freaking Billy Bush–to do some acts of repentance. In our law, we have varying degrees of sexual assault and sexual battery. The law and our society agrees that the worse form of predation is of the grown up on child. This should be punished–as it is–with the full force of the legal system. There is no equivocation of first degree rape with lesser counts of sexual assault or battery or harassment.
Specific laws vary by state, but sexual assault generally refers to any crime in which the offender subjects the victim to sexual touching that is unwanted and offensive. These crimes can range from sexual groping or assault/battery, to attempted rape. All states prohibit sexual assault, but the exact definitions of the crimes that fall within the category of sexual assault differ from state to state. The laws share some basic elements, but the structures, wording and scope of sexual assault offenses vary considerably, so always check your local statutes for specific questions.
Discussion on topics like sexual assault and racism are always full of nuances and backlash, denial and witness, and tribal amnesia and defiance. Media is our current platform to work through all of these. It should not be a good thing under any circumstance for a person of power just to force themselves or to do something violent to a helpless child, animal, or person sitting in their car while being black, or an intern. What kind of person gets a thrill be taking away some one else’s humanity and moral authority? What kind of person thinks an endangered animal in a wildlife park is some form of manhood trophy? My short answer: a morally bankrupt and abhorrent one.
Meanwhile, Americans living in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are dying from lack of basic necessities. One head has rolled, but it’s not the one that ultimately deserves it.
Talk amongst yourselves!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
I’m really glad JJ posted something late yesterday, because I’m feeling overwhelmed this morning. There is just too much happening for anyone to process all of it.
The Republicans have found a distraction from the Roy Moore scandal. A woman has accused Al Franken of sexual harassment/abuse. It happened on a USO tour in 2006. You can read the whole story at KABC Los Angeles: Senator Al Franken Kissed and Groped Me Without My Consent, And There’s Nothing Funny About It.
Here’s a briefer summary from New York Magazine: Radio Host Leeann Tweeden Accuses Senator Al Franken of Kissing and Groping Her.
Senator Al Franken was accused Thursday of kissing and groping a TV and radio host without her consent. Leeann Tweeden, who has previously worked for NBC and Fox Sports and currently works on “McIntyre in the Morning” on KABC/790 AM, wrote on the radio station’s website about her encounter with Franken.
It took place in 2006 when the two of them were a part of a USO trip to the Middle East, she writes. Franken had written a sketch that had the two of them kissing and, before they performed, he insisted they rehearse it despite Tweeden’s refusal.
He continued to insist, and I was beginning to get uncomfortable.
He repeated that actors really need to rehearse everything and that we must practice the kiss. I said ‘OK’ so he would stop badgering me. We did the line leading up to the kiss and then he came at me, put his hand on the back of my head, mashed his lips against mine and aggressively stuck his tongue in my mouth.
Later on a plane, Tweeden fell asleep and and Franken posed for a “joke” picture with her.
I couldn’t believe it.He groped me, without my consent, while I was asleep.
I felt violated all over again. Embarrassed. Belittled. Humiliated.
How dare anyone grab my breasts like this and think it’s funny?
It doesn’t look like Franken is really touching her breasts, but it was still a disgusting thing to do.
Mitch McConnell has called for an ethics investigation and Franken say he’ll be happy to cooperate. Here’s what Joy Reed had to say.
Now the accuser is saying she has heard from another woman with a similar experience with Franken.
Franken has released an apology. From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“The first thing I want to do is apologize: to Leeann, to everyone else who was part of that tour, to everyone who has worked for me, to everyone I represent, and to everyone who counts on me to be an ally and supporter and champion of women. There’s more I want to say, but the first and most important thing—and if it’s the only thing you care to hear, that’s fine—is: I’m sorry.
“I respect women. I don’t respect men who don’t. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.
“But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.
“For instance, that picture. I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter. There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what’s more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.
“Coming from the world of comedy, I’ve told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren’t the point at all. It’s the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to come to terms with that.
“While I don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women’s experiences.
“I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.
“And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them.”
Can you imagine Trump giving an apology like that? Someone needs to ask McConnell why there isn’t an investigation of Trump’s treatment of women.
So that’s pretty depressing. Meanwhile more women have come forward to tell their stories about creepy Roy Moore. Here’s a new one today from ABC News: Roy Moore accuser: I got him banned from the mall.
An Alabama woman who has accused Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexually harassing her in the late 1970s said he was banned from the mall where she worked after she complained about his repeated, unwanted advances toward her.
“I went to my manager and talked to him about it and asked him, basically, what could be done,” Becky Gray told ABC News late Wednesday night. “Later on, he…came back through my department and told me that [Moore] had been banned from the mall.”
Gray said she has grown increasingly frustrated with critics who continue to question the veracity of numerous women’s claims of being sexually harassed four decades ago by the embattled former Alabama chief justice.
“It also upsets me where I read where a person says, ‘Well, why didn’t they come forward 40 years ago?'” Gray said.
She went on, “These women have no reason to lie about their sexual encounters… so I just don’t understand people that don’t believe that it’s true. There’s a lot of shame to this, and for those women who did have sexual encounters with Moore, I commend them for coming out – I really do. It’s about time.”
Meanwhile, Moore and his supporters are not behaving like Al Franken. The Washington Post: In Roy Moore’s Senate race, anonymous threats, deceptive texts, alternative facts.
A minister in south Alabama gets a phone call from a man who says he is a Washington Post reporter offering cash for dirt about Senate candidate Roy Moore. A man who told an Alabama newspaper about Moore’s alleged approaches to teenage girls when he was in his 30s receives texts falsely telling him he is being sued for defamation.
On Twitter and Facebook, in texts and in phone calls, Alabamians say they are on the receiving end of a muddy river of threats, dirty tricks and angry attacks, all aimed at undermining allegations that Moore, the Republican candidate in next month’s special election to fill a U.S. Senate seat, made sexual advances to teenagers decades ago.
After Blake Usry told AL.com, an Alabama news site, that he knew girls Moore tried to flirt with, Usry received threatening phone calls and Facebook messages, as well as texts informing him that he had been sued for defamation.
One text falsely claimed that northern Alabama’s U.S. attorney, Jay Town, “has verified defamation cases” against Usry and others who were quoted in news articles.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
NBC’s First Read on how Trump is ignoring the Moore accusations: Trump’s silence on Roy Moore speaks volumes.
…the silence from Trump — as the president of the United States, as the leader of the Republican Party and as someone who is never afraid to tweet what’s on his mind — speaks volumes. Does he agree with daughter Ivanka Trump, who told the AP that there’s “a special place in hell for people who prey on children. I’ve yet to see a valid explanation and I have no reason to doubt the victims’ accounts”? (But she didn’t call for him to exit the race.) Does he agree with the Alabama Republican Party, which maintains its support for Moore, per NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard? Or does he agree with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, who ended his broadcast last night saying the issue was up to Alabama voters?
In fairness to Trump, there are no good solutions here. The ballot is already set; Moore doesn’t look like he’s leaving the race; a write-in campaign would be incredibly hard to mount; and Trump already tried once to defeat Moore (yet his candidate lost the runoff). But does anyone think if the shoe were on the other foot — if a Democratic candidate in a high-profile race faced similar allegations — would the president be staying silent right now?
We all know Trump is a coward. He doesn’t want to answer questions about his own predatory behavior with women.
I can’t possibly get to all of the news, but here are three stories I think are worth reading.
Sandwiched between onlookers who’d waited in line outside in the cold to be ushered into the dimmed Christie’s gallery to gaze and gawk at what the auction house trumpets as “the greatest and most unexpected artistic rediscovery of the 21st century” — that is, a brand-new Leonardo da Vinci lost in the 1600s, scheduled to be auctioned off this week — a well-known expert in the field leaned over and asked me a question. “Why is a Leonardo in a Modern and Contemporary auction?” Before I could say, “Yeah! Why?” he answered, “Because 90 percent of it was painted in the last 50 years.” He’s right. Not only does it look like a dreamed-up version of a missing da Vinci, various X-ray techniques show scratches and gouges in the work, paint missing, a warping board, a beard here and gone, and other parts of the painting obviously brushed up and corrected to make this probable copy look more like an original.
The painting is titled Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World) and is a portrait of a smoky floating man in a blue robe looking at us, raising his right hand in blessing, holding a crystal orb in his left hand, pictured against a black background. It’s said to have been painted around 1500, when the real Leonardo would have been 48 years old and already the most famous artist alive. On Wednesday night, this small picture is being auctioned off by Christie’s with massive jubilation. The opening bid is set at $100 million. (Which might even seem cheap when you remember that Damien Hirst’s 2007 For the Love of God, a diamond-and-platinum-encrusted human skull, was priced the same.) This explains why one Christie’s official rapturously primed the collector pump by wondering aloud if someone might bid “$2 billion.” In a world this out of whack, that could happen. Promoting the sale is a glossy 162-page book with quotes from Dostoyevsky, Freud, and Leonardo, and several platitudinal Christie’s videos of enraptured gazers gawking in wonder at “the new masterpiece.” Don’t miss the extended clip of three male company bigwigs pitching it to Hong Kong clients as “the holy grail of our business, a male Mona Lisa, the last da Vinci, our baby, something with blockbuster appeal, akin to the discovery of a new planet, and more valuable than a petro chemical plant.”
I’m no art historian or any kind of expert in old masters. But I’ve Realooked at art for almost 50 years and one look at this painting tells me it’s no Leonardo. The painting is absolutely dead. Its surface is inert, varnished, lurid, scrubbed over, and repainted so many times that it looks simultaneously new and old. This explains why Christie’s pitches it with vague terms like “mysterious,” filled with “aura,” and something that “could go viral.” Go viral? As a poster, maybe. A two-dimensional ersatz dashboard Jesus.
Read much more at the Vulture link.
The Washington Post on Nov. 13: This is how a superpower commits suicide.
This is partially the structural byproduct of the rapid rise of China, which has openly called for a 21st century new regional order of “Asia for Asians.” Since 2013, the Asian powerhouse has rolled out an alluring package of development initiatives, which could potentially redraw the economic landscape of the region and beyond. With China emerging as the world’s economic engine, it is proactively reclaiming its historical place in the sun.
But it is also the byproduct of the tempestuous Trump presidency’s devastating impact on American standing in Asia. Both allies and rivals in the region have been perturbed by Trump’s “America first,” neo-isolationist foreign policy. His midnight tirades on Twitter, constant attacks on the liberal international order and push to dismantle the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement have collectively left America isolated even from some of its closest allies.
As an official from one of America’s key partners in the region put it to me earlier this year: “Is this how superpowers commit suicide?” It appears the answer is yes.
I highly recommend reading the whole thing.
The Guardian: How Trump walked into Putin’s web. Subhead: The inside story of how a former British spy was hired to investigate Russia’s influence on Trump – and uncovered explosive evidence that Moscow had been cultivating Trump for years, by Luke Harding. It’s a long read, so I’m not going to try to post excerpts.
Harding has a new book out titled Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win, and the article is based on the book. Last night Ari Melber announced that Harding will be on MSNBC’s The Last Word tonight.
So . . . what stories are you following today?
Every time I tried to write today’s post, something kept me from starting it…whether it was lack of internet service…having to cook dinner, or just to take a nap. So as you can see, I’ve added an “evening” to the title. That should make everything OK…
And now some cartoons:
Beeler is a Right leaning…cough…cartoonist.
This is an open thread…
Once again, there is so much news breaking that it’s difficult to decide what to focus on. So I’ll begin with what’s happening right now, and take it from there.
Right now Attorney General Jeff Sessions is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. Guess what? He doesn’t remember the meeting where he is pictured with George Papadopoulos and at which Papadopoulos discussed setting up a meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. That’s really strange, because just a short time ago, he claimed to remember objecting to the proposal.
Vanity Fair on Nov. 2: Sessions Suddenly Remembers Russia Conversation He Said Didn’t Happen.
Back in June, there was some cause for concern that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was having memory problems. When questioned from multiple angles during multiple appearances before Congressional investigators about the Trump campaign‘s relationship to Russia, Sessions‘s consistent refrain was: “I don’t recall.”
He gave an equally evasive response when Minnesota Senator Al Franken specifically asked whether surrogates from the Trump campaign had communicated with Russians during the 2016 election in October. “I did not, and I’m not aware of anyone else that did, and I don’t believe it happened,” Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee under oath. (He made similar statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee.)
Now, however, Sessions has reportedly changed his tune. Citing a source familiar with Sessions’s thinking, NBC News reported on Thursday that the attorney general—who served as a top Trump surrogate and headed the then-presidential hopeful’s national security team—does in fact recall rejecting George Papadopoulos’s offer to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin, after the Republican candidate stopped short of ruling out the idea.
“The March 31 comments by this Papadopoulos person did not leave a lasting impression,” the source told NBC News. “As far as Sessions seemed to be concerned, when he shut down this idea of Papadopoulos engaging with Russia, that was the end of it and he moved the meeting along to other issues.” The source added that Papadopoulos was viewed by those in attendance “as someone who didn’t have a lot of credibility.”
The Washington Post, among other news outlets is reporting that Jeff Sessions is thinking about appointing a second special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton.
In today’s hearing, Sessions said he can’t confirm or deny any investigation involving the DOJ. It’s important to note that during his confirmation hearing, Sessions pledged to recuse himself from any matters involving Hillary Clinton.
The New York Times has published some direct quotes from Sessions’ testimony this morning: Jeff Sessions Displays Unsteady Recall on Trump-Russia Matters.
Mr. Sessions denied that he lied in October when he testified that he knew of nobody in the Trump campaign who had contacts with Russians during the presidential campaign. “And I don’t believe it happened,” he said.
Court records later revealed that Mr. Sessions led a March 2016 meeting in which George Papadopoulos, a campaign aide, discussed his Russian ties and suggested setting up a meeting between Mr. Trump. and Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president.
“I had no recollection of this meeting until I saw these news reports,” Mr. Sessions said.
Mr. Sessions testified Tuesday that was still hazy on the details about what Mr. Papadopoulos had proposed.
But on one matter, he said his memory is clear: he said he shot down Mr. Papadopoulos’ idea of a Trump-Putin meet-up. And he said he told Mr. Papadopoulos that he was not authorized to represent the campaign in such discussions.
To sum up: Mr. Sessions said he could not remember much about Russian influence on the Trump campaign, except when he could block such influence.
In other news, Don Jr. is in more trouble. You’ve probably read the article by Julia Ioffe in The Atlantic: The Secret Correspondence Between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks.
Just before the stroke of midnight on September 20, 2016, at the height of last year’s presidential election, the WikiLeaks Twitter account sent a private direct message to Donald Trump Jr., the Republican nominee’s oldest son and campaign surrogate. “A PAC run anti-Trump site putintrump.org is about to launch,” WikiLeaks wrote. “The PAC is a recycled pro-Iraq war PAC. We have guessed the password. It is ‘putintrump.’ See ‘About’ for who is behind it. Any comments?” (The site, which has since become a joint project with Mother Jones, was founded by Rob Glaser, a tech entrepreneur, and was funded by Progress for USA Political Action Committee.)
The next morning, about 12 hours later, Trump Jr. responded to WikiLeaks. “Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around,” he wrote on September 21, 2016. “Thanks.”
The messages, obtained by The Atlantic, were also turned over by Trump Jr.’s lawyers to congressional investigators. They are part of a long—and largely one-sided—correspondence between WikiLeaks and the president’s son that continued until at least July 2017.
Read the rest at the link if you haven’t already. Julian Assange, who controls the Wikileaks Twitter account has responded by claiming he was just “Trying to ‘Beguile’ Donald Trump Jr. Into Leaking.”
There’s another hearing going on simultaneously with the Sessions hearing on Trump’s ability to use nuclear weapons. Quartz: Watch live: Should Trump have control of US nuclear weapons?
Today (Nov. 14), expert witnesses will testify before senators on US national “authority and process” over its nuclear arsenal. The hearing follows a tense few months, in which North Korea has continued nuclear testing, and Donald Trump has responded with belligerent improvisational statements, threatening “fire and fury” and warning that a military response was “locked and loaded.”
Could the US president start a nuclear war with North Korea? That’s what the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing aims to figure out. The hearing will be broadcast on public-service network C-SPAN at 10am US Eastern Time. You can watch it online here.
There’s also the ongoing Roy Moore scandal. Some links to check out if you haven’t already:
CBS News: New accuser steps forward in Roy Moore case.
AL.com also posted an editorial yesterday: Our view: Roy Moore grossly unfit for office.
Roy Moore simply cannot be a U.S. Senator. Even if his party and many of its adherents still think it possible, it is unthinkable — for his state, and his country.
Last week, four women described Moore’s unseemly taste for dating high school girls when he was a single man in his 30s. Another described what can only be seen as a sexual assault on her when she was 14. In a radio interview last week, Moore himself suggested that he may have dated teenage women during his 30s, though he vehemently denied the claims made by these women.
Today, even as those women face disgusting attacks on their motives and credibility, a fifth brave Alabama woman stepped forward and described how when she was 16, Moore violently sexually assaulted her in his car. She said she felt it to be an attempted rape, and that it ended with her bruised from either falling from or being pushed from the car, with Moore warning her he was a powerful man and that no one would believe her if she told anyone.
The seriousness of these incidents cannot be overstated. They should not be parsed with talk of statutes of limitations or whether proof exists. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is a consideration for the courtroom, not the ballot box. When choosing our representative before the rest of the world, character matters….
We believe these women.
As a news organization, we have independently investigated as many of these claims as possible and have found no reason to doubt the accounts outlined in the Washington Post. If anything, the stories we’ve heard in Etowah County have only further corroborated them.
In our view, Moore has already revealed himself as grossly unfit to be a U.S. Senator before these revelations.
At The New York Times, Michelle Goldberg suggests that past accusations against Bill Clinton should be reevaluated in the light of recent revelations about powerful men harassing and assaulting women: I Believe Juanita. The title is explosive, but Goldberg’s only reason for believing Juanita Broaddrick’s accusations is that they are similar to recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein.
Of the Clinton accusers, the one who haunts me is Broaddrick. The story she tells about Clinton recalls those we’ve heard about Weinstein. She claimed they had plans to meet in a hotel coffee shop, but at the last minute he asked to come up to her hotel room instead, where he raped her. Five witnesses said she confided in them about the assault right after it happened. It’s true that she denied the rape in an affidavit to Paula Jones’s lawyers, before changing her story when talking to federal investigators. But her explanation, that she didn’t want to go public but couldn’t lie to the F.B.I., makes sense. Put simply, I believe her.
What to do with that belief? Contemplating this history is excruciating in part because of the way it has been weaponized against Hillary Clinton. Broaddrick sees her as complicit, interpreting something Hillary once said to her at a political event — “I want you to know that we appreciate everything you do for Bill” — as a veiled threat instead of a rote greeting. This seems wildly unlikely; Broaddrick was decades away from going public, and most reporting about the Clinton marriage shows Bill going to great lengths to hide his betrayals. Nevertheless, one of the sick ironies of the 2016 campaign was that it was Hillary who had to pay the political price for Bill’s misdeeds, as they were trotted out to deflect attention from Trump’s well-documented transgressions.
And now they’re being trotted out again. It’s fair to conclude that because of Broaddrick’s allegations, Bill Clinton no longer has a place in decent society. But we should remember that it’s not simply partisan tribalism that led liberals to doubt her. Discerning what might be true in a blizzard of lies isn’t easy, and the people who spread those lies don’t get to claim the moral high ground. We should err on the side of believing women, but sometimes, that belief will be used against us.
To say that Bill Clinton “no longer has a place in decent society” is a bit much at this point, IMHO. I don’t know much about Broaddrick’s claims; but apparently these old accusations are going to be recycled. Will Jeff Sessions appoint another special prosecutor?
So much news happening–what will today bring? What stories are you following?
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
I have lived in the deep south for nearly 25 years and I still cannot figure out the strange mix of white grievance and supremacism, neoconfederate ideology and anti-theological christianity, and the overt racism and sexism that characterizes much of the exurbs and hinterlands here.
It was recently ignited by the election of a Black President whose character and attainment is beyond what most of these folks could achieve because they’d never even dream that big. It’s been stoked by the insistence we recognize members of the GLBT community as citizens with full rights. It’s been threatened by the diversity of others’ philosophies and religions and the idea that we quit glorifying the traitors of the past. It’s a movement that’s reactionary, angry, and resentful of shared progress. It seeks to hold tight to the idea that only certain people are deserving of upward mobility and any one else must’ve stolen it from the deserving folks. The more I see and read of it, the more I wonder if it will die off and when. I further wonder what we can do to rid public life of it.
I began rethinking this when I read a series of articles last night discussing why many White Evangelicals seem to have no compunction about voting for absolute moral reprobates. But, I’m going to start by providing this link to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Much of what I’ve been reading has to do with polling the people that the media wants to portray as some how simple white working Joes with economic woes. These polls show something much more perverse. Here’s the headline: “Poll: In the old Confederacy the racial gap shows no sign of closing”.
Black Southerners and white Southerners are so profoundly split on central questions of equality and opportunity that the only thing they seem to share is geography, a new poll of the South suggests.
The Winthrop University poll of the 11 states of the Old Confederacy, released last week, finds some common ground between the races on certain issues. But 61 percent of white people in the survey believe that all Americans have an equal chance to succeed if they work equally hard. Only 33 percent of black people surveyed feel that way.
Likewise, 60 percent of black Southerners believe strongly that the legacy of slavery and discrimination continues to hold black people back. But only 19 percent of white Southerners share that strong conviction.
“I came from a modest background and built something because I stuck with it and took some risks,” says Lyza Sandgren, a white business owner in Suwanee. “That is available to everyone in this country. Does everyone have the same ability to succeed on the same level? Of course not. The only avenues that any of us have are education, hard work and the willingness to take a few risks. Nobody’s going to do it for us. On that level, I say that everyone in the United States has an equal chance to succeed.”
Sandgren said she finds the poll results unpersuasive.
“To anyone who in these polls says, whites think this, blacks think that: I don’t care. I listen to the person, not the race,” she said.
Courtney Spencer, an African-American resident of Paulding County, argues that the deck has been stacked against black people since the earliest days of colonial America.
“During slavery you have the slave owners, who actually created wealth off of the ones that they put into slavery,” said Spencer, who works in the pest control business in Hiram. “So, basically that wealth trickled down from generation to generation. But when black people finally got their freedom, they were already hundreds and hundreds of years behind. They’re having to play catch up, and it’s hard to play catch up because there are people who don’t want them to.”
The key to racial understanding? “I really think progress can only come from uncomfortable conversations,” Spencer said. “There are a lot of people, regardless of race, who don’t want to talk about race. They’d rather be silent about it and hope it will go away. But it never does.”
Fifty percent of White Southerners in the poll feel “under attack”. I do not understand how a group of people feel under attack just because the majority of us do not choose to live as they do and would like their worldview to be kept out of public institutions.
Nearly half of white Americans living in the South feel like they’re under attack, a new Winthrop University poll found.
Forty-six percent of white Southerners said they agree or strongly agree that white people are under attack in the U.S. More than three-fourths of black respondents said they believe racial minorities are under attack.
And 30 percent of all respondents in the poll agreed when asked if America needs to protect and preserve its white European heritage. More than half of respondents disagreed with the statement.
Forty percent of respondents said they believed that Confederate statues should remain as is, while nearly a quarter said a plaque should be added to contextualize the statue.
Twenty-seven percent of respondents said the statues should be moved to a museum. Nearly half of black respondents said the statues should be in museums, and a quarter said they should be completely removed.
Southerners overall said that racism is the most important issue facing the U.S., and black respondents were twice as likely to say it is the most important issue.
They’re so aggrieved that a huge swath of white Evangelicals–which is really a Southern fixture–would rather vote for corrupt reprobates as long as they get lip service to their brand of religion. They trust the untrustworthy over institutions that will not let them run amok over the rest of us.
Quick: do you think politicians can still do their jobs if they’ve screwed up in their personal lives?
Many Americans answer this question differently now than they would have five years ago. And for white evangelical Protestants, it’s especially likely their opinion has changed.
That’s what a new PRRI/Brookings poll says. In 2011, 30 percent of white evangelicals said that “an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life.” Now, 72 percent say so — a far bigger swing than other religious groups the poll studied.
It’s just one poll, but it does suggest a sizable shift in how Americans of several religious stripes think about the connection between morality and politics. White evangelicals also are less likely than they used to be to say that “strong religious beliefs” are “very important” in a presidential candidate. That share fell from 64 percent in 2011 to 49 percent this year.
White mainline Protestants and Catholics also grew more accepting of a candidate who has committed “immoral acts,” while religiously unaffiliated people barely changed. Those “unaffiliated” people in 2011 had been much more willing than the broader population to believe candidates who had committed “immoral acts” could do their jobs. Now, they are in line with Americans as a whole. (The published results did not include data on other groups.)
There is no way to know what caused these shifts. That said, it’s difficult to see this outside of the context of the 2016 election, and in particular what role Donald Trump — fending off allegations of sexual misconduct — plays in it.
Some white evangelical leaders (and other Christians) have decided to stand behind the Republican nominee even as other Christians strongly condemn him.
Evangelicals have always been an odd lot. You may recall the history of the likes of Aimee Semple McPherson. There have been movies like “Elmer Gantry” based on the 1926 novel by Sinclair Lewis. Try this plot description on for size and then think about all the icky pastors that continue to bring in the money and the converts. Gantry was played by Burt Lancaster who was simply brilliant in the role.
Elmer Gantry is a satirical novel written by Sinclair Lewis in 1926 that presents aspects of the religious activity of America in fundamentalist and evangelistic circles and the attitudes of the 1920s public toward it. The novel’s protagonist, the Reverend Dr. Elmer Gantry, is initially attracted by booze and easy money (though he eventually renounces tobacco and alcohol) and chasing women. After various forays into evangelism, he becomes a successful Methodist minister despite his hypocrisy and serial sexual indiscretions.
Here’s a list of “fallen pastors”. Ted Haggard is at the top. He’s probably got the honors because he turned out to be Gay which is far more unforgivable than preying on young girls or married women. Which leads to the question of the original article that I read yesterday. “Has Evangelical Christianity Become Sociopathic?” This has led me and many others to believe the word “more” should be inserted before the “Sociopathic”.
Evangelical speaker, author, and university professor, Tony Campolo, said Christianity was redefined in the mid-70s by positions of “pro-life” and opposing gay marriage. “Suddenly theology fell to the background,” he said. And somewhere in the middle of all the change, Evangelical Christianity crossed the line of faith and belief to hatred and abuse. Those who cruelly implement the actions of their faith are oblivious to the destruction they cause to their religion, or the people their beliefs impact. Is it fair to call it sociopathic?
Psychology Today listed sixteen characteristics of sociopathic behaviors, which include: Untruthfulness and insincerity, superficial charm and good intelligence, lack of remorse or shame, poor judgment and failure to learn by experience, pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love, unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations, specific loss of insight, and general poverty in major affective reactions (in other words, appropriate emotional responses).
We see examples of these kinds of behaviors in church leaders and followers. Franklin Graham, for example, stated that immigration was “not a Bible issue.” His stand fits well with his conservative politics and vocal support of Donald Trump, but his callousness toward immigrants and those seeking asylum in the United States goes against everything he says he believes (Lev. 19:33-34, Mark 12:30-31). Yet, Graham doesn’t see one bit of irony between his political stance and his religious belief. Nor does he seem to notice the horrific casualties in war-torn countries these immigrants are desperately trying to flee.
I never recognize the actual teachings and actions of the Jesus of the New Testament in any of these folks. Their pastors seem quite obsessed with power and wealth. They’re a natural fit with the Republican Party. David Atkins of Washington Monthly has some great analysis.
Yesterday I wrote that Roy Moore’s behavior was in keeping with hardcore conservative evangelical culture of sanctioned patriarchal sexual abuse. I have also stated that the release of the Access Hollywood tape almost certainly actually helped Trump with some evangelicals because, despite being a philandering adulterer, Trump established a more fundamental cultural rapport with their moral value system. I have similarly pointed that that the abuses of the Harvey Weinsteins of the world, far from being the product of liberal sexual revolution, are the product of patriarchy and capitalism, and that conservative religious orthodoxy tends to amplify rather than curtail the abuse.
These are admittedly controversial positions. But they’re also hard to refute after today’s polling shows that 37% of Alabama evangelicals are actually more likely to vote for Roy Moore after hearing the allegations against him, and 34 percent said it would make no difference:
Nearly 40 percent of Alabama evangelicals said in a new poll that they are more likely to vote for GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore following allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
A JMC analytics poll found that 37 percent of evangelicals surveyed said the allegations make them more likely to vote for the GOP Senate candidate in the upcoming election.
Just 28 percent said the allegations made them less likely to vote for Moore and 34 percent said the allegations made no difference in their decision.
These numbers cannot be attributed to pure political tribalism. It is quite simply a culture of abuse.
Moore is and has always been one of their own. His offenses against the law, his bigotries, his lack basic compassion are their own. And yes, his (alleged) active predation on teenage girls is part of it, too. It’s culturally expected. And if it went just a little too far, well, Moore is a man of God who has almost certainly been forgiven by the Lord, so all is well in the land of the Duggars and Duck Dynasty.
And it’s time that all of us started calling it exactly what it is: a culture of explicitly sanctioned sexual abuse.
We are looking at Tribalism and it’s very much a throwback from the Confederacy, the Jim Crow years, and the post-reconstruction rewrite of American’s sin of Slavery. This entire situation smacks of a deal with devils. Mitch McConnell may say he believes Moore’s accusers but then tax cuts for the Donor Class and appeasement of this angry base always goes straight to the top of the priority list. Of course, the Pussy Grabber thinks Moore as falsely accused. It would take a huge amount of self reflection for a confessed and unrepentant serial sexual assaulter to come to any other conclusion. We know Kremlin Caligula has no ability to do that.
Top White House officials have now made President Trump’s position on Roy Moore absolutely clear: Trump does not believe that the allegations that Moore initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old — and pursued three other teenagers — should disqualify him from becoming a U.S. senator.
This is not how they presented their position, of course. On the Sunday shows, legislative director Marc Short and senior adviser Kellyanne Conway both expressed great shock and horror over the charges. But then each of them carefully carved out a position that appears designed to allow Moore to continue with his run for Senate largely unobstructed and, ultimately, to accept Moore as a senator if he wins, while letting the allegations fade away in a fog of he-said-she-said uncertainty.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Short claimed “there’s a special place in hell” for such sexual predators and said that “no Senate seat” is “more important than the notion of child pedophilia.” But then Short said the White House would object to seating him as a senator only “if more evidence comes out that can prove that he did this,” while adding that this is “a huge if,” because “more facts” could still “come out.” Said Short: “We have to afford him the chance to defend himself.”
This is exactly the kind of leadership we expect now from Republicans. Take a look at this from our Authoritarian Curious Usurper: “Trump Bonds With Duterte Over Their Dislike of Obama, Avoids Human Rights”.
U.S. President Donald Trump bonded with Rodrigo Duterte over a common dislike for Barack Obama, whose criticism of the Philippine leader’s deadly war on drugs last year spurred a rift between the allies.
“The relationship appears to be very warm and very friendly,” Duterte spokesman Harry Roque told reporters after they met in Manila on Monday. “They’ve been very candid in their dealings, and it’s very apparent that both of them have a person who they consider as not their best friend. They have similar feelings toward former U.S. President Barack Obama.”
This is truly disturbing.
There’s a lot to be read and written about why Evangelicals support sexual predators like Judge Roy and the Pussy Grabber-in-Chief. None of them are easy to read or stomach. Issac J Bailey has this to say at Vice.
No one should be surprised if, after everything, Roy Moore still becomes the next US senator from Alabama.
In a Thursday Washington Post article, Moore, the Republican senatorial candidate in a December special election, was accused by a woman of initiating sexual contact with her when she was 14 and he was 32. This puts the Southern evangelical Christians who have supported Moore—who is so far to the right on social issues that he said in 2005 that “homosexual conduct” should be illegal—in a position to make a choice. This is a chance to draw the line and begin declaring, again, that their faith, their principles, matter more than blind partisanship.
I’m not so sure they will.
From what I’ve seen up close, these voters embarked on this path long before Donald Trump arrived on the scene. They have allowed politics to supersede what they’ve been telling themselves every Sunday. That’s why too many of them hated a Christian like Barack Obama, even though he had lived the kind of adult life evangelicals say all men should and whose policies helped push the abortion rate to its lowest level since Roe v. Wade. They then embraced Trump, who bragged about his adulterous ways, said he never asked God for forgiveness, then was caught on video bragging about casually sexually assaulting women.
I’ve lost friends for pointing this out—friends who are white evangelical Christians I spent nearly two decades praying with in the same church pews. They despise me for daring to bring up this inconsistency between how they talk about their faith and how they live it in the political sphere. That’s why I’m not convinced that even the accusation that Moore molested a 14-year-old is necessarily enough to turn them off of him. Opioids and heroin are killing the bodies of too many people in my region, but the drug of political partisanship has killed off the principles of many more.
In trying to puzzle out how abusive men gain power and hang on to it, it’s tempting to focus on intimidation tactics: macho posturing, aggression. But reflecting on how I ignore the misogynies of men I like, I realise that kindness, affection and loyalty are stronger glue than fear. Wouldn’t dismantling patriarchy be so much easier if abusers were two-dimensional villains? But it’s their charm, their humanity and – yes – their virtues that draw people to them. In turn, the strength of those relationships gives them permission to behave in hurtful ways.
What do we do with our loyalty when men we care about are accused, when we are, after a fashion, accused ourselves of seeing and doing nothing? Is it our feminist duty to betray the genuine bonds that tangle us up in systems of oppression? Or, to put it more viscerally: are we really going to look at a man who gave us a hand up and kick him when he’s down?
We’ve all got our own moral compass (some in better working order than others, clearly). I don’t think there can be a simple imperative in these situations. But maybe there is a duty to remember that power isn’t all threats and tantrums; it’s also friendship and poetry.
When victims speak out, they’re not just confronting an abuser. Often they’re facing an entire community of people who have affection for that man – many of them women. That must be petrifying. And knowing that, you’ve got to have crazy respect for those who dare to tear through layers of love and loyalty, through palimpsests of doubt and shame, to reveal the poison at the very heart of the thing.
So, here’s also something from New Orleans: “Statue of woman appears where Jefferson Davis monument once stood”.
A music video director on Sunday morning (Nov. 12) temporarily placed a twice-life size statue of an African-American woman on the slab where the statue of Jefferson Davis once stood. The controversial monument to the President of the Confederacy was removed on May 11.
New Orleans filmmaker Zac Manuel explained that the installation will set the scene for a video accompanying a new song titled “If All I Was Was Black” by renowned folk singer and civil rights activist, Mavis Staples, who was not present Sunday.
You can check out more from Doug McCash at the NOLA.com link above.
So, let’s watch the wave and the blowback and hope the wave wins in the end. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Well, when I was 14 years old, I had to wear a back brace. The corset kind, that came down over my hips and half way through around my ass. It was quite a surprise for all those teenage boys who felt the “urge” to carry out their “need” to slap ass…they got a hand full of hard plastic and most of the time a little pain with the shock that what they expected to feel…it wasn’t there.
The same thing happened when my science teacher in ninth grade went to slap my ass…
He was taking aback by the hard plastic, my ass wasn’t as soft as the few other girls in the class. The other ones who also had his affectionate pats of encouragement. One girl in particular, who was a repeat victim of his assaults…felt she could not go to her mom because her her mother was in the process of getting a teaching job at the school. She thought it would jeopardize the mother’s chances of getting an offer to teach, if her mom had to deal with a current teacher’s sexual harassment.
I spoke out. I told my dad. He called the school and talked to the science teacher himself. My dad got the confirmation straight from the asshole himself. Yes, he was grabbing his young female student’s inappropriately. He agreed, if he did it one more time, to anyone, my father would notify the authorities. If he started to single me out or treat me in any way different because of their “discussion” …my father would notify the authorities.
It worked. He stopped. At least as far as I knew…at least in our class. For the remainder of the year. My friend..her mother did get the teacher job at that jr. high school. Even at that age, the connection between employment and speaking out on sexual harassment was ingrained into a fourteen year old girl.
This whole turn of events, I’d forgotten them…
It all came back to me yesterday while my mom and I where eating dinner and we were talking about so many things making headlines this past week. I even had to call my dad to see if he remembered talking to that asshole teacher… and he did. My dad laughed about it. I think back now and wonder if maybe we all should have spoken out about what was going on in that classroom.
Me at 14. Me at 15. It never stops. The continued assault and harassment is never ending. Me at 47. Still.
Here are some links via twitter. I’m still doing this post from my phone. It sucks.
Go to Twitter and look up the #MeAt14 hashtag.
This is an open thread.