Thursday Reads: Donald Trump, the Worst Person in the World, and Other News

Good Afternoon!!

Every day I wake up to find that Trump has topped himself in terms of cruelty, ignorance, and selfishness. I guess if Hitler were alive, he’d be a worse person than Trump, but Trump is just beginning his attack on human decency from his powerful position.

The Washington Post: Trump threatens to abandon Puerto Rico recovery effort.

President Trump served notice Thursday that he may pull back federal relief workers from Puerto Rico, effectively threatening to abandon the U.S. territory amid a staggering humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Declaring the U.S. territory’s electrical grid and infrastructure to have been a “disaster before hurricanes,” Trump wrote Thursday that it will be up to Congress how much federal money to appropriate to the island for its recovery efforts and that relief workers will not stay “forever.”

Three weeks after Maria made landfall, much of Puerto Rico, an island of 3.4 million people, remains without power. Residents struggle to find clean water, hospitals are running short on medicine, and commerce is slow, with many businesses closed.

Trump on Thursday sought to shame the territory for its own plight. He tweeted, “Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes.” And he quoted Sharyl Attkisson, a television journalist, as saying, “Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.”

He also wrote: “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!”

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz comforts a hurricane survivor.

It has been three weeks, and the Federal Government response has been pathetic and incompetent. People in Puerto Rico have been for help, and Trump has interpreted their pleas as criticism of him personally. This is a very sick man, and he must be removed from power before he destroys our country.

Vox: Everything that’s been reported about deaths in Puerto Rico is at odds with the official count.

Death tolls are the primary way we understand the impact of a disaster. And for nearly two weeks after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, as a humanitarian crisis was intensifying, the death toll was frozen at 16.

“Sixteen people certified,” Trump said on October 3 during his visit to the island, repeating a figure confirmed by the territory’s governor. “Everybody watching can really be very proud of what’s taken place in Puerto Rico.” ….

The death toll from the hurricane is now up to 45, according to Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. But 90 percent of the 3.4 million American citizens on the island still don’t have power, and 35 percent still don’t have water to drink or bathe in. And given how deadly power outages can be, 45 deaths seems low, according to disaster experts.

At Vox, we decided to compare what the government has been saying with other reports of deaths from the ground. We searched Google News for reports of deaths in English and Spanish media from Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria. We found reports of a total of 81 deaths linked directly or indirectly to the hurricane. Of those, 45 were the deaths certified by the government. The remaining 36 deaths were confirmed by local public officials or funeral directors, according to the reports. We also found another 450 reported deaths, most of causes still unknown, and reports of at least 69 people still missing.

Please go read the rest if you can.

Donald Trump Jr. and Donald Trump during 1988 U.S. Open in 1988 (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

In case you imagined Trump ever had any human decency, here’s a little about what he did to his eldest son Donald Jr.

At The New York Times: Gail Collins discusses some revelations from Ivana Trump’s new book: The Trumps, the Poodle, the Sex Scandal.

The book is supposed to be about good parenting. But the most important thing you learn is that we can never say another mean thing about Donald Jr. again. Really, it sounds like the worst childhood ever. His story begins with Dad resisting the idea of naming the baby after him, in case his first born turned out to be “a loser.”

As a toddler, Don Jr. broke his leg due to a negligent babysitter. Then one day when Ivana was out of town, he and Eric called hysterically to report they had found their nanny unconscious in the basement. (She died.)

Wait, there’s more: During their infamous divorce, Dad sent a bodyguard from his office to get Junior, announcing: “You’re not getting him back. I’m going to bring him up myself.”

Ivana says she responded: “O.K., keep him. I have two other kids to raise.” Silence and 10 minutes later the bodyguard returned her son.

It was, Trump’s ex-wife concluded, “a tactic to upset me.” However for some reason, at around this time Don Jr. stopped speaking to his father and wound up getting shipped to boarding school.

After several more years of being the namesake of a man who was then famous for starring in the most sensational tabloid stories of the era, Don Jr. graduated from college, moved to Colorado and got a job bartending. Ivana said she made her disapproval clear by “cutting him off” until he gave up, returned to New York and joined the Trump Organization.

People Magazine recounts the stories told by a college classmate–I wrote about this when it first came out.

Vanity Fair reported that Scott Melker, a Penn classmate, wrote on Facebook, “Donald Jr. was a drunk in college. Every memory I have of him is of him stumbling around on campus falling over or passing out in public, with his arm in a sling from injuring himself while drinking. He absolutely despised his father, and hated the attention that his last name afforded him.”

Melker also described an alleged incident in which Trump showed up to his son’s dorm room to take him to a Yankees game. Trump Jr. was dressed in a Yankees jersey and when he opened the door to his father, “without saying a word, his father slapped him across the face, knocking him to the floor in front of all of his classmates. He simply said, ‘Put on a suit and meet me outside,’ and closed the door.” A spokesperson for the Trump family told Vanity Fair this story is “completely false.”

The man in the White House is pure evil. There is so much horrifying news about him that it’s impossible to pay attention to all of it. Here’s more proof that Trump is not only evil, but he is a moron, just as Rex Tillerson said last summer.

CNBC: Trump just claimed stock market gains actually offset national debt.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that, “in a sense,” gains made by private financial markets reduce the national debt. The claim is incorrect on its face, but it does point to how the president views the economic interplay between the federal government and Wall Street.

“The country — we took it over and owed over $20 trillion,” Trump said in an interview on Fox News, referring to the total national debt, which has hovered near $20 trillion since early 2016.

“As you know, the last eight years, [the federal government] borrowed more than it did in the whole history of our country,” Trump said. “So they borrowed more than $10 trillion, right? And yet we picked up $5.2 trillion just in the stock market. Possibly picked up the whole thing in terms of the first nine months, in terms of value.”

“So you could say, in one sense, we’re really increasing values. And maybe in a sense we’re reducing debt. But we’re very honored by it,” Trump said.

WTF?!

For evidence that the two metrics have little to no bearing on one another, look no further than the eight years of the Obama presidency: Between 2009 and 2017, the S&P 500 returned 235 percent while the national debt soared.

And while Trump likes to talk about “reducing debt,” the economic policy proposals he’s unveiled so far, especially his tax reform plan, could easily add another trillion dollars to the debt, according to economists.

The Harvey Weinstein scandal continues as more women come forward every day. Oh, and have you heard that the whole thing is Hillary Clinton’s fault? I wonder was it also her fault when Trump said he liked to “grab them by the pussy?”

Sady Doyle at Elle: Harvey Weinstein and the Crisis of Complicity.

When giants fall, they fall fast. We haven’t even been living with the revelation of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment history for a week, yet the news has gotten worse every day. From the New York Times’ initial report — which specified the now-familiar details of hotel meetings, ulterior motives, and “massages” that were less than optional — the accusations have escalated to include masturbating in front of an actress, forced oral sex, and vaginal rape. (Weinstein’s spokesperson, Sallie Hofmeister, says ““Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein. Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances.”) Weinstein’s accusers now include Gwyneth Paltrow, Asia Argento, Patricia Arquette, and Angelina Jolie. Meanwhile, a former New York Times reporter has now alleged that a story she was working on in 2004 related to Weinstein’s behavior was “gutted” after she received phone calls from Russell Crowe and Matt Damon vouching for a former Weinstein colleague. (Damon vigorously denies he knew anything about Weinstein’s behavior). Weinstein himself has been forced out of the Weinstein Company.

As always, with such a disturbing story, people are looking to assign blame. Whose fault is Harvey Weinstein?

Harvey Weinstein, apparently, is Hillary Clinton’s fault.

Click on the link to read the rest.

Actress Rose McGowan was suspended from Twitter after she accused actor Ben Affleck of having “prior knowledge of Harvey Weinstein’s misconduct, including toward her”.

From the New York Times:

Rose McGowan

In a sign that the controversy over the producer Harvey Weinstein could engulf other people in the film industry, the actress Rose McGowan accused Ben Affleck of lying on Tuesday about his knowledge of Mr. Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment and assaults of women.

Ms. McGowan, in a tweet and a subsequent email exchange with The New York Times on Tuesday night, said she had told Mr. Affleck that Mr. Weinstein had behaved inappropriately with her.

Mr. Affleck, who rose to stardom with help from Mr. Weinstein on the 1997 film “Good Will Hunting,” had said earlier Tuesday that he was “angry” over Mr. Weinstein’s alleged abuse of women, but he gave no indication of whether he knew about it. “I find myself asking what I can do to make sure this doesn’t happen to others,” Mr. Affleck said in a statement.

From Shakesville: This is Rape Culture.

Two things I’ve seen this morning are perfect, terrible illustrations of how the rape culture works.

First, there was the news that Twitter has suspended Rose McGowan for publicly stating that Ben Affleck had lied about what he knew regarding Harvey Weinstein.

Yesterday, Ben Affleck has to apologize for actually sexually assaulting someone, which trended on Twitter all day, but he isn’t suspended. Who is suspended is Rose McGowan, who merely contradicted Affleck’s claim not to have known about Weinstein’s sexual abuse, which she knows because she’s the one who told him. 

This, as I shouldn’t have to point out, couldn’t be a clearer case of the way institutions work to protect abusers and their abettors, while silencing survivors.

The second thing Melissa wrote about is this excerpt from a piece by Doree Shafrir at Buzzfeed: What To Do With “Shitty Media Men”?

I’ve never been assaulted or harassed by someone I worked with, and it’s only been lately that I’ve realized how messed up it is that I feel fortunate that’s the case. There have been a few uncomfortable incidents for me personally, like the editor who Gchatted me late at night, seemingly drunk, and propositioned me, or the art director who was way too interested in my intern experience and put his hand on my thigh at a party. But people whispered about the guys who were really bad, the ones who coerced young women into sex, the ones who were physically abusive. The ones to stay away from.

Back to Melissa’s piece:

Shafrir begins by saying she’s “never been assaulted or harassed,” only to then describe two instances of harassment. To be clear, I’m not auditing the way she feels about or identifies those experiences, but simply noting they meet the definition of workplace harassment.

The instinct to mitigate manifests in different ways: Here, Shafrir straightforwardly discounts her own experiences as harassment. My go-to strategy as a younger woman was always to turn incidents of sexual harassment and/or assault into “humorous” anecdotes, which allowed me to talk about what happened without really talking about what happened.

I hope you’ll go to Shakesville to read the rest.

I have so many more links saved up, but I’m out of time and space. Please post your thoughts and recommended links in the comment thread below.

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Lazy Saturday Reads: A Shocking Day In Politics

 matisse-woman-reading-with-tea1Good Afternoon!!

Yesterday was the worst day in politics that I can recall seeing in my many years of following politics closely. The closest thing I can remember is the “Saturday Night Massacre” in October 1973, when Nixon fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox along with Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy William D. Ruckelshaus. That was a shocking day.

Yesterday was a shocking day, and not just because of the video of Donald Trump degrading women and bragging about sexually assaulting them. Anyone who has paid any attention to Trump’s behavior over the past year and to his career before running for POTUS should have understood this is the kind of man he is. Just this year Trump has repeated defended Roger Ailes for sexually harassing and abusing women at Fox News.

And does anyone actually believe that there isn’t plenty more video demonstrating Trump’s abusive behavior?

Trump’s treatment of women has been well known over the years. In May, the New York Times published a lengthy article with example after example of Trump’s sexist and abusive behavior toward women. It sunk like a stone as the Times and the rest of the media focused on Hillary Clinton’s emails and then the Clinton Foundation.

But the shocking video released yesterday was not the only shocking revelation that came out. Trump also stated that he still believes the Central Park Five–African American and Hispanic teenagers who were wrongly convicted and served full sentences for raping a jogger in Central Park in 1989–are guilty, even though they were exhonerated by DNA evidence and the confession of the real perpetrator. NBC News New York:

Félix Vallotton, The Reader

Félix Vallotton, The Reader

Donald Trump stepped back into one of the most racially charged controversies in New York City history this week, saying he still believed the “Central Park Five” were guilty.

Two years after a judge approved a $41 million settlement with the five men, Trump told CNN they should not have been exonerated, after one of the men said he was hoping for an apology from the Republican presidential nominee.

“They admitted they were guilty,” Trump told CNN in a statement. “The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty.” ….

Following their arrest, Trump took out full-page ads in the city’s newspapers calling for New York to bring back the death penalty, though he did not explicitly say those five defendants should be executed.

And yet, many Republicans–including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan have not withdrawn their support from this man who has and will continue to shame their party and our country. Some Republicans are coming out to say they will no longer vote for Trump, it’s far too little and far too late. These people know who and what Trump was all along. Anyone who hadn’t already denounced him before yesterday are stuck with him.

Georges d'Espangnat

Georges d’Espangnat

There is no way the GOP can dump Trump from the ticket, and this morning he told Robert Costa of The Washington Post that he will never quit. 

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said in an interview Saturday that he would not drop out of the race under any circumstances, following calls from several in his party to do so.

“I’d never withdraw. I’ve never withdrawn in my life,” Trump told the Washington Post in a phone call from his home in Trump Tower in New York. “No, I’m not quitting this race. I have tremendous support.”

“People are calling and saying, ‘Don’t even think about doing anything else but running,” Trump said when asked about GOP defections. “You have to see what’s going on. The real story is that people have no idea the support. I don’t know how that’s going to boil down but people have no idea the support.

“Running against her,” Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, makes keeping the party behind him easier, Trump added.

“It’s because she’s so bad. She’s so flawed as a candidate. Running against her, I can’t say it’d be the same if I ran against someone else, but running against her makes it a lot easier, that’s for sure.”

jean-edouard-vuillard

jean-edouard-vuillard

Late last night in his so-called apology, Trump tried to excuse his behavior by claiming that Hillary and Bill Clinton have done far worse to women. If you haven’t seen it, here’s one place to watch it. Rolling Stone: 

Trump’s video apology came hours after the Republican nominee dismissed the footage as “locker room talk” and apologized only if “anyone was offended” by the comments.

However, rather than simply apologize, Trump used his video to further blast Bill and Hillary Clinton for alleged previous improprieties. Here’s the full transcript:

I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me, know these words don’t reflect who I am.

I said it, it was wrong, and I apologize.

I’ve travelled the country talking about change for America. But my travels have also changed me. I’ve spent time with grieving mothers who’ve lost their children, laid off workers whose jobs have gone to other countries, and people from all walks of life who just want a better future. I have gotten to know the great people of our country, and I’ve been humbled by the faith they’ve placed in me. I pledge to be a better man tomorrow, and will never, ever let you down.

Let’s be honest. We’re living in the real world. This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we are facing today. We are losing our jobs, we are less safe than we were 8 years ago and Washington is broken.

Hillary Clinton, and her kind, have run our country into the ground.

I’ve said some foolish things, but there is a big difference between words and actions. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days.

See you at the debate on Sunday.

So bragging about sexually abusing and assaulting women–actions that Trump admitted in the video–are “nothing more than a distraction.” That’s not an apology. And Trump went on to threaten more horrible behavior to come on Sunday night.

jacques emile blanche

jacques emile blanche

There undoubtedly will be more fallout today, but many Republicans are still saying this isn’t a “game-changer.”

Politico: GOP insiders: It’s not a knockout punch.

Leaked audio of Donald Trump making crude, sexually aggressive comments about women has dealt a serious blow to the GOP nominee’s presidential campaign, but swing-state Republican insiders aren’t convinced it will effectively end Trump’s chances in November.

A slim majority of Republican members of The POLITICO Caucus — a panel of activists, strategists and operatives in 11 battleground states — said they don’t think news reports of the Trump tape are a “knockout blow” for the GOP ticket. But while 54 percent of Republicans say Trump can overcome these comments, 46 percent say the New York real-estate magnate’s chances are doomed.

“Trump’s obscene comments might be the straw that broke the camel’s back for evangelical voters, Republican women and any remaining undecided voters,” said a Colorado Republican — who like all insiders, completed the survey anonymously in the hours after the tape of Trump describing trying to sleep with a married woman and boasting that he could kiss and grope women because of his celebrity.

“Our politics is tribal and polarized. So it’s not like this swings the thing 10 points,” a Virginia Republican added. “What it does though, and it has the same impact, is it further devastates Trump amongst women and white college-educated voters, two groups he had to make up big time ground with to even stand a chance of winning. Those windows have now permanently closed.”

We’ll see. Honestly it was hard for me to even write this post, and I’m sure it will be painful to read. It disgusts me that Hillary and here supporters have to deal with this racist, bigoted asshole when we should be celebrating the election of the first woman President of the United States. But I have no doubt that Hillary will maintain her dignity and make us proud again on Sunday night.

In a way it actually seems fitting that this woman who has been attacked for decades in the most disgusting and sexist ways will be the one to save our country from the danger and shame of a President Donald Trump.

I’ll have more links in the comment thread. Please feel free to post your thoughts and links on any topic. 


Thursday Reads: A Victory for Workers, Women Overcoming Misogyny, and Other News

Market Basket employee Tony Khater (left) celebrates with store director Al Jussaume (right) after learning of the sales agreement.

Market Basket employee Tony Khater (left) celebrates with store director Al Jussaume (right) after learning of the sales agreement

Good Morning!!

Score one for the workers! The Market Basket war is over and the the good guys won for a change. Late last night Arthur T. Demoulas signed an agreement to buy out his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas’ share of the business for $1.5 billion.

From The Boston Globe:

The epic battle over Market Basket that sparked an extraordinary worker revolt and captivated the public through the summer ended Wednesday when Arthur T. Demoulas reached a deal to buy the company from rival relatives for more than $1.5 billion.

Market Basket’s shareholders announced the deal at 11:15 p.m. after several days of suspenseful negotiations. Arthur T. Demoulas and his sisters will buy the shares of their cousin Arthur S. Demoulas and other relatives on his side of the family, who collectively own 50.5 percent of the company.

In a statement stripped bare of the emotion of recent days, the company and its shareholders asked managers, employees, and customers to return to stores to help get Market Basket running again. It also announced the reinstatement of Arthur T., who had been fired as president in June.

Market basket2

“Effective immediately, Arthur T. Demoulas is returning to Market Basket with day-to-day operational authority of the company,” the statement said. “All associates are welcome back to work with the former management team to restore the company back to normal operations.”

The sale agreement, which will take months to formally close, ends a fight so bitter it took the intervention of the governors of Massachusetts and New Hampshire to help the Demoulas family resolve it after nearly a quarter-century.

The agreement authorizes Arthur T. to manage the business and stabilize operations at its 71 stores, where employee walkouts and customer boycotts had brought business to a virtual standstill for six weeks. He will also be able to rehire several managers who were fired along with him. However, until the deal closes, he will continue to work with the chief executives hired to replace him, Felicia Thornton and James Gooch.

Forbes: Warring Billionaires Finally Settle Family Score With Market Basket Deal.

Market Basket’s 25,000 employees will be heading back to work following a summer of discontent. The New England supermarket chain has been rocked by protests and customer boycotts since Arthur T Demoulas was ousted as President and CEO June 24th. He and his team, many of whom were also fired during the crisis, will be reinstated as management while the deal wraps up. They’ll work alongside co-CEOs Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch, who were brought in by the board after Arthur T and his management team were removed.

“Effective immediately, Arthur T. Demoulas is returning to Market Basket with day-to-day operational authority of the company,” reads a statement from Arthur T. “All associates are welcome back to work with the former management team to restore the company back to normal operations.”

“Tonight we raise a glass to Artie T and each other as we have achieved the most improbable of upsets,” writes the anonymous blogger behind website wearemarketbasket.com. The website as well as social media have been key sources of information for employees refusing to work following Arthur T’s dismissal. “Tomorrow we go to work and never, in the history of people going to work, will so many people be so happy to punch the clock.”

Arthur T2

Arthur T. will address workers this morning, according to the Boston Herald; but in the meantime, the job of restocking Market Basket shelves in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine has begun. From AP (via ABC News), Deliveries Roll Following Deal in Supermarket Feud.

Tractor-trailers bearing the Market Basket logo and laden with the tons of food it will take to restock the chain’s 71 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, as well as vendor vehicles, pulled up to loading docks before business Thursday, just hours after the announcement late Wednesday that Arthur T. Demoulas paid $1.5 billion for shares of the company owned by the rival family faction, led by cousin Arthur S. Demoulas….

“All associates are welcome back to work with the former management team to restore the company back to normal operations,” Arthur T. Demoulas said in a statement

“I feel like I won the lottery,” Market Basket truck driver Buddy Wemmers told The Boston Globe.

“I’m thrilled, this is epic,” said Tom Trainor, a district supervisor, told the Boston Herald.

Gary Sessa, a front end manager at the chain’s Tewksbury store, told WFXT-TV that company bakers came in at midnight after hearing the news and started baking cakes that say “Welcome back Artie T: Market Basket Strong.”

It does my heart good to see the workers win this battle. I hope this will encourage others to stand up against efforts to make businesses less worker-friendly and more profitable for stockholders. Perhaps it will even convince a few CEOs that treating their employees with respect can pay off in the long run.

Will Misogyny Never Die?

Kirsten Gillibrand with her preferred candidate for President

Kirsten Gillibrand with her preferred candidate for President

Senator Kirstin Gillibrand has a book coming out, and yesterday People Magazine released some tidbits from their interview with her. It seems that the mostly elderly men in Congress who are making decisions about women’s health and working conditions feel entitled to make judgmental remarks about their female co-workers’ bodies. The Washington Post reports: “I like my girls chubby,” a male Senator told Kirsten Gillibrand. Yes, really, by Jaime Fuller.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) has a new book coming out, “Off the Sidelines,” and has been making the media rounds to promote it. The New York Post highlighted parts of the book today, in an article titled, “Gillibrand: Male colleagues called me ‘porky’ after baby.”

As awful as that headline is, things get worse in the book, according to the story. One quote in particular stands out. Gillibrand reveals that one male Senator, after she lost about 50 pounds, came up behind her and gave her waist a squeeze. “Don’t lose too much weight now,” he told her. “I like my girls chubby.” She says that he was one of her favorite senators(!).

As Gillibrand’s title infers, the book goes into detail about the things that women in politics still have to deal with that their male counterparts, well, don’t….

Gillibrand surely isn’t alone in having to deal with such comments with her male colleagues at the Capitol, although some of her encounters are jaw-droppingly bad/offensive. When she was still in the House, a Southern representative told her, “You know, Kirsten, you’re even pretty when you’re fat.”

I only wish Gillibrand had named names.

Fuller includes a link to this 2013 article by Olivia Messer at the Texas Observer, The Texas Legislature’s Sexist Little Secret in which she writes about what she experienced and observed as woman reporter covering the Texas legislature. The stories are probably representative of legislative bodies (pun intended) around the country.

It didn’t take me long to realize that as a woman, and especially a young woman, I’d be treated differently than my male colleagues. Within weeks, I’d already heard a few horrifying stories. Like the time a former Observerstaffer, on her first day in the Capitol, was invited by a state senator back to his office for personal “tutoring.” Or, last session, when Rep. Mike “Tuffy” Hamilton interrupted Marisa Marquez during a House floor debate to ask if her breasts were real or fake.

Thankfully I never experienced anything so sexually explicit. Instead, I encountered a string of subtle but demeaning comments. One of the first interviews I conducted for the Observer, in February, was with a male senator about an anti-abortion bill. I was asking questions about whether the bill would reduce access to abortion. At the end of the interview, as soon as I turned off my recorder, he said, “How old are you, sweetheart? You look so young.”

Another day, near the end of the regular session, I was at the Capitol (doing interviews for this story, coincidentally) when a House page stopped me on my way out of the chamber. “I’ve never seen you in here before,” he said. “Who do you work for?” I answered the question, assuming that he wanted to see my press badge. “Well, uh, this may seem forward,” he stammered, “but I’m not sure if I’ll ever see you again—could I maybe take you out to lunch or dinner some time?” He looked about 16, red-faced and innocent. I politely declined. When I walked over to the Senate chamber, a staffer stopped me. “Wow,” he said. “You look really beautiful today.” My face turned red. I thanked him and walked to a seat at the press table. It was the third time that day the staffer had mentioned my appearance, and I was beginning to feel that what I looked like mattered more than my work—at least to the men in the building. At a certain point, after enough of these run-ins—which included male staffers from both chambers, some of whom I knew to be married, hitting on me, making comments about my physical appearance, touching my arm—it finally occurred to me that, when I was at work, I was often fending off advances like I was in a bar.

What surprised me was how many women who work in the Capitol—legislators, staffers, lobbyists, other reporters—felt the same way. Everyone, it seemed, had a story or anecdote about being objectified or patronized.

Messer’s article is long, but it’s fascinating reading. At one point she writes about the night Wendy Davis and her female colleagues “took over the capital” and filibustered an anti-abortion bill.

Here’s another great commentary on the Gillibrand story by Olivia Nuzzi at The Daily Beast, Senate Pigs Called Kirsten Gillibrand ‘Porky’.

Clueless Politico reporter John Bresnahan

Clueless Politico reporter John Bresnahan

Naturally, these stories about sexism among male politicians were all over Twitter yesterday. One male Politico writer named John Bresnahan doubted whether Gillibrand was really telling the truth. He got shot down pretty thoroughly and later apologized and stopped tweeting for the night. Even plenty of young men like Bresnahan just don’t get it.

Politics isn’t the only field where men treat women like pieces of meat. Women in the tech field usually have plenty of horror stories about things their male colleagues. Here are just a few random links to stories about it from the past couple of years.

The New York Times, Technology’s Man Problem.

The Washington Post, Snapchat, sexism and the reason women don’t stay in tech.

The Washington Post, Google statistics show Silicon Valley has a diversity problem.

Alternet, High-Tech Industry Focused on Babes and Boobs Needs Killer Sexism App.

Business Insider, 9 Stomach-Churning Posts From Secret That Show Awful Sexist Behavior In The Tech Industry.

Women who write critically about video games–or even play games on-line–are targets for hatred and violent threats. This isn’t the first story like this I’ve seen: Feminist video game critic forced to leave her home after online rape and death threats. Raw Story reports:

Anita Sarkeesian, creator of an online video series analyzing problematic representations of women in video games, was forced to leave her home on Tuesday after death threats made online against herself and her family, Polygon reported.

“Some very scary threats have just been made against me and my family,” Sarkeesian posted on Tuesday. “Contacting authorities now.”

After confirming she had found a safe place to stay, Sarkeesian posted a screengrab of the threats, posted by a Twitter account calling itself “Kevin Dobson,” which identified her address and her parents, as well as several vulgar threats, including one to “ram a hot tire iron up [her] c*nt” (read the messages at Raw Story)

Sarkeesian reported the threats a day after she released a new episode of her series, Feminist Frequency, dealing with games that feature sexualized female victims or female characters introduced solely to highlight either a villain’s aggression or provide motivation for players to complete their missions.

The effect of introducing these “mature themes,” she argues in the episode, is the trivialization of painful experiences that are all too common….

“When games casually use sexualized violence as a ham-fisted form of character development for the bad guys, it reinforces a popular misconception about gendered violence by framing it as something abnormal, as a cruelty committed only by the most transparently evil strangers,” she says in the video. “In reality, however, violence against women — and sexual violence, in particular — is a common everyday occurence, often perpetrated by ‘normal men,’ known and trusted by those targeted.”

A few more links to interesting stories:

stonehenge

CNN, U.S. official says 1,000 Russian troops enter Ukraine.

Christian Science Monitor, UN: Ebola cases in W. Africa could top 20,000.

Wall Street Journal, Rebels in Syria Capture Border Crossing With Israel.

Reuters, U.S. air strikes on Syria would face formidable obstacles.

New York Times Video, Michael Brown’s Body (an amazing collection of interviews with residents of Michael Brown’s neighborhood).

Christian Science Monitor, What Republican wave? (Writer Doug Mataconis doesn’ think a Republican takeover of the Senate is inevitable).

E on Line, Discovery Channel’s Sons of Guns Canceled After Star Will Hayden Is Charged With Raping His 12-Year-Old Daughter.

Washington Post, Report reveals the horrors of 1,400 sexually abused children in a British town and the system that failed them.

WBUR Boston, Growing Number Of War Correspondents Work For Themselves.

Nature World News, Mystery of Sailing Stones Unveiled in Death Valley.

Discovery News, 2,700-Year-Old Phoenician Shipwreck Discovered.

Huffington Post, Archaeologists Discover 15 Previously Unknown Monuments Buried Around Stonehenge.

News.Com.AU, The truth about Stonehenge: New survey reveals more secrets

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a terrific Thursday!


How Appropriate: Herman Cain Endorses Newt Gingrich


What could be more fitting? Serial sexual harasser Herman Cain has endorsed serial adulterer Newt Gingrich for the Republican nomination. You just can’t make this stuff up folks! From CBS News:

Atlanta businessman and former presidential candidate Herman Cain endorsed Newt Gingrich Saturday night at a West Palm Beach Country Republican gathering after two months of wavering on whether he would offer his support to a fellow candidate.

The endorsement comes just three days before the crucial Florida primary, by far the largest state to vote so far in the GOP sweepstakes, and could help Gingrich energize tea party support. Gingrich campaign has flagged since his upstart, double-digit victory over front-runner Mitt Romney in the South Carolina primary a week ago.

“I had it in my heart and mind a long time ago” to endorse Gingrich, Cain said in a surprise appearance at the dinner.

According to CNN,

Cain cited the former House speaker’s “bold ideas” as the basis for his choice, saying Gingrich wasn’t afraid to propose big ideas that would benefit the nation, even if they invited the ridicule of his rivals.

“There are many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is that I know that Speaker Gingrich is a patriot,” Cain said. “Speaker Gingrich is not afraid of bold ideas and I also know that Speaker Gingrich is running for president and going through this sausage grinder. I know what this sausage grinder is all about. I know that he is going through this sausage grinder because he cares about the future of the United States of America.”

[….]

Cain and Gingrich walked onto stage together to a huge round of applause from the audience, whose excitement continued throughout the former candidate’s brief remarks. As Gingrich took the stage after him, he joked that when he accepted the invitation to speak at the West Palm Beach County GOP Lincoln Dinner, he “had no idea it would be this interesting.”

After the dinner, Cain told the Palm Beach Post

that he plans to be both active and vocal in Gingrich’s campaign.

“Newt embraces 9-9-9, we talked about it,” Cain said. “He doesn’t have to be out there carrying the flag, that’s my job. The fact is that I’m going to be a key player on his economic growth and job advisory panel.”

Despite polls showing Romney leapfrogging Gingrich in Florida, Cain said he thinks Gingrich “has that spark back.”

“I think that where people think he lost his spark was temporary, and you can’t let that one moment represent all of the other wonderful things he’s said, all of the wonderful things he’s done,” Cain said. “If people listen to his ideas and not listen to his distractions, they’ll see that spark.”

One looney tune endorses another looney tune. This could have been a skit on SNL. Like I said, you just can’t make this stuff up.

This is an open thread.


Gloria Cain Says Her Husband “Totally Respects Women.”

Gloria and Herman Cain

Fox News has released a couple of teaser quotes from Gloria Cain’s interview with Greta van Susteren, scheduled to air tomorrow night. The couple both participated, unfortunately. I was hoping the appearance would be sans Herman. Asked about the accusations of sexual harassment against her husband, Mrs. Cain said the following:

“…you hear the graphic allegations and we know that would have been something that’s totally disrespectful of her as a woman. And I know the type of person he is. He totally respects women.”

Right. I guess that’s why he joked about Anita Hill and called Nancy Pelosi “Princess Nancy.” And his respect for women is probably why Cain allowed a group of his supporters to refer to one of his accusers as an “ugly bitch.”

At another point she added, “I’m thinking he would have to have a split personality to do the things that were said.”

Hmmmm…maybe he has dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities). That would explain why he didn’t remember any of the incidents of harassment or the fact that two women were compensated with $35,000 and $45,000 respectively.

A former spokesperson for Cain, Ellen Carmichael,

said on Twitter that the interview marks “the first time I’ve heard Gloria Cain, even after working for Herman for more than a year.”

The WaPo has a little more.

Cain’s wife, who is said by friends to be a quiet woman, and who is a registered Democrat according to her husband, has steered clear of the spotlight and has not assumed the traditional role of candidate’s wife. Cain has said that his wife has been outraged by the claims against her husband. When Gloria Cain watched accuser Sharon Bialek’s news conference last Monday, she told her husband that the man that Bialek described sounded nothing like the man she’s known for 45 years.

“The things that that woman described, she said, that doesn’t even sound like you, and I’ve known you for 45 years,” Cain recalled his wife saying to him after she watched the press conference from Atlanta. “My own wife said that I wouldn’t do anything as silly as what that lady was talking about.”

That lady? It’s hard to believe that Cain is a baby boomer. He missed out on the consciousness raising part of the ’60s and’70s, that’s for sure.


Let’s Just Tell It Like It Is…

Sharon Bialek

Herman Cain is a sexual predator. Here, from Politico is a portion of Sharon Bialek’s description of what she says Herman Cain did to her. Bialek is the fourth woman to accuse Cain of “inappropriate” behavior and the first to come forward publicly and talk about what he did to her.

“I met Mr. Cain in the lobby of the bar at the Capitol Hilton at around 6:30 p.m. We had drinks at the hotel, and he asked how I liked my room, which is kind of normal, and I said I was very surprised. I said, I can’t believe it, I’ve got this great suite, it’s gorgeous. Mr. Cain kind of smirked, and then said, ‘I upgraded you.’

“He then took me to an Italian restaurant where we had dinner. During dinner, Mr. Cain looked at me and said, ‘Why are you here?’ I said, ‘Actually, Herman, my boyfriend, whom you met, suggested that I meet with you ‘cause he thought you could help me because I really need a job. I was wondering if there’s anything available at the state association level or perhaps if you could speak to someone at the foundation to try to get my job back, perhaps even in a different department.’ He said, ‘I’ll look into that.’

“While we were driving back to the hotel, he said that he would show me where the National Restaurant Association offices were. He parked the car down the block. I thought that we were going to go into the offices so he that could show me around. At that time I had on a black pleated skirt, a suit jacket and a blouse. He had on a suit with his shirt open. But instead of going into the offices, he suddenly reached over and he put his hand on my leg under my skirt and reached for my genitals. He also grabbed my head and brought it toward his crotch. I was very, very surprised and very shocked.

“I said: ‘What are you doing? You know I have a boyfriend. This isn’t what I came here for.’ Mr. Cain said, ‘You want a job, right?’

“I asked him to stop and he did. I asked him to take me back to my hotel which he did, right away.

Is this rape? No, but it certainly fits the definition of sexual assault:

Sexual assault takes many forms including attacks such as rape or attempted rape, as well as any unwanted sexual contact or threats. Usually a sexual assault occurs when someone touches any part of another person’s body in a sexual way, even through clothes, without that person’s consent.

It may also fit the EEOC’s definition of sexual harassment:

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

Bialek had been working for the organization that Cain headed and was seeking his help in getting a new job with the organization. Therefore, Cain was in a position of power over Bialek.

Quite a few writers seem to be unclear on these concepts. At the NYT Caucus blog Cain’s actions are called “lewd behavior.” CBS calls it “sexually inappropriate behavior.” The AP calls it a “bold sexual advance.” Let’s start calling it what it is: sexual assault. No one has the right to touch another person in a sexual manner without permission, period.

I found this bizarre rationalization for and misrepresentation of Cain’s behavior at a right wing blog called Legal Insurrection, operated by William A. Jacobson of Cornell Law School.

Summary of press conference: Woman alleges that in 1997 after her employment terminated with a National Restaurant Association affiliate, Cain made a single sexual advance at her which she rebuffed and which he stopped after she said no. So the allegation is not one of workplace “sexual harassment” but of an alleged attempt at infidelity.

A variety of people on Twitter are characterizing this as a “serious sexual assualt,” but that is farfetched. Assuming what she says is true, he stopped when she said to stop and she did not allege any actual sexual touching, only an attempt. She says she mentioned to two people at the time that Cain was sexually inappropriate, but did not mention to details to them.

Wrong. Bialek says that Cain “suddenly reached over and he put his hand on my leg under my skirt and reached for my genitals. He also grabbed my head and brought it toward his crotch.” Despite what Jacobson thinks he heard, Bialek clearly said that Cain touched her in a sexual way. The fact that he stopped when she told him to doesn’t change that.

Bialek is a Republican and a Tea Party supporter, not a liberal who wants to destroy Cain’s campaign. This should be really bad for him, but so far he isn’t backing down; and many Republicans like Jacobson are still making excuses for him.

At The Grio, Zerlina Maxwell argues that the fact the Bialek is white will finally destroy Cain, but at the NYT, T.R. Frank says not so fast.

…if you think the end of the Cain campaign is at hand, remember this: The end of the Cain campaign has been at hand for months. And yet the end doesn’t arrive. In fact, inspired by Cain’s example of thrusting face exuberantly into fan, I’ll offer my own face: the end isn’t about to arrive now either. I believe that Cain will weather this latest storm. He will suffer embarrassment. People will cringe at what emerges. And he will continue to poll far better than reason should allow.

And check this out:

is it any wonder that Herman Cain has shed a lot of high-level campaign staff members, both within his national organization and in crucial early states like Iowa and New Hampshire? Most of these former staff members have signed nondisclosure agreements, and others would speak to me only off the record. None of them recall their former boss as a sexual harasser. But they do speak of a man so egotistical that careful self-policing would never really enter into the realm of consideration.

They also speak — bitterly — of a candidate with zero interest in policy. They speak of events canceled at the last minute to accommodate any available television interview. They speak of unrelenting self-absorption, even by the standards of a politician.

But they don’t speak of someone who can’t win.

Personally, I think Cain should be gone already. But maybe Frank is right. The latest Gallup poll has Cain still tied with Romney for the lead in the race for the Republican nomination. And we know how much Republicans don’t want Romney.


Evening News Reads for 110711: The Devil is in the Details

Good Evening!

A quick post for you today.  Tomorrow Mississippi voters head to the polls to vote on an amendment to the states constitution, that in effect makes a fertilized egg a person…with more rights than a woman or any of Mississippi’s former fetuses.

This post from American Prospect reviews the ridiculous right wing legislative bullets aimed at women and labor unions and voter rights.

State Referendums to Watch Tomorrow

Although eyes have already turned toward the presidential election in 12 months, several important referendums with potentially drastic consequences are on the ballot this November. Many of them revolve around issues that are already making the rounds on the edge of the national consciousness; whether these ballot initiatives pass or not is sure to determine whether these issues dominate the conversation leading up to the election between the incumbent president and whatever Republican candidate manages to survive the increasingly Real World-esque primary season. Here are the most important referendums and issues to know for tomorrow.

This next story was particularly interesting for me, and I think many of you will too.  Widespread Sexual Harassment in Grades 7 to 12 Found in Study – NYTimes.com

Nearly half of 7th to 12th graders experienced sexual harassment in the last school year, according to a study scheduled for release on Monday, with 87 percent of those who have been harassed reporting negative effects such as absenteeism, poor sleep and stomachaches.

On its survey of a nationally representative group of 1,965 students, the American Association of University Women, a nonprofit research organization, defined harassment as “unwelcome sexual behavior that takes place in person or electronically.” Over all, girls reported being harassed more than boys — 56 percent compared with 40 percent — though it was evenly divided during middle school. Boys were more likely to be the harassers, according to the study, and children from lower-income families reported more severe effects.

We see in the news lately that Sexual Harassment is treated with distain on the part of the victims.  Cain’s campaign has raise over 2 million in the last few days, money from idiots and assholes who’s misogynist attitudes and anti-female beliefs are making life a living hell for women in the US.

“I was called a whore because I have many friends that are boys,” one ninth-grade girl was quoted as saying. An eighth-grade boy, meanwhile, reported, “They spread rumors I was gay because I played on the basketball team.”

The study asked students to reflect on the 2010-11 school year in an attempt to capture the prevalence of sexual harassment, the effects it has on the harassed and the reasons the harassers engage in the behavior. It also questioned students about preventive measures. Coming amid increased attention to bullying and cyber-bullying, the report aimed to highlight the damaging effects of inappropriate sexual comments, online rumors or lurid Facebook posts.

“Bullying is getting a lot of attention,” said Holly Kearl, an author of the report and program manager of the university association’s Advocacy Fund. “We don’t want schools to forget about sexual harassment” and not talk about it, she said. Ms. Kearl said some schools that talk to students about sexual harassment and how to respond to it have been successful in reducing it. “We want to encourage schools to know what Title IX is,” she said, referring to the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender in schools, “to have a coordinator and to publicize it.”

Give the post a read, girls who develop early seem to be more of a target for sexual harassment. My daughter has already had her share of harassment, albeit in a subtle form. When she found out that her little “boyfriend” was only interested in her boobs, she told him to fuck off…I am so proud of her.

This past week I wrote about a girl who was literally punished to death by her parents. Here is an article on the Pearls, whose book on biblical punishment is unmistakably an excuse used for the cruelty some parents feel justified giving  to their children.

Deaths Put Focus on Pastor’s Advocacy of Spanking – NYTimes.com

The pastoral mood in the hills of Tennessee offered a stark contrast to the storm raging around the country over the Pearls’ teachings on child discipline, which advocate systematic use of “the rod” to teach toddlers to submit to authority. The methods, seen as common sense by some grateful parents and as horrific by others, are modeled, Mr. Pearl is fond of saying, on “the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules.”

Debate over the Pearls’ teachings, first seen on Christian Web sites, gained new intensity after the death of a third child, all allegedly at the hands of parents who kept the Pearls’ book, “To Train Up a Child,” in their homes. On Sept. 29, the parents were charged with homicide by abuse.

More than 670,000 copies of the Pearls’ self-published book are in circulation, and it is especially popular among Christian home-schoolers, who praise it in their magazines and on their Web sites. The Pearls provide instructions on using a switch from as early as six months to discourage misbehavior and describe how to make use of implements for hitting on the arms, legs or back, including a quarter-inch flexible plumbing line that, Mr. Pearl notes, “can be rolled up and carried in your pocket.”

This next link discusses the quality of honey sold today…it looks as if most grocery and big retail stores sell a “Corinthian leather” version of real honey. That Honey in Your Bear Might Not Be Honey | Mother Jones

If you’ve been feeding your kids spoonfuls of honey for their coughs this fall, you might want to think again about where that honey comes from. Food Safety News, a site set up by food safety lawyer Bill Marler, reports today that lab tests show that most honey sold on supermarket and drug store shelves today isn’t really honey, according to safety requirements set by the Food and Drug Administration.

That’s because it’s been so ultra-filtered that it’s largely pollen-free. Pollen is a key ingredient in real honey, and thought by some people to have medicinal and allergy-fighting properties.

But according to Food Safety News, you won’t find much pollen it in American store-bought honey. Their tests found that:

• 76 percent of samples bought at groceries had all the pollen removed, These were stores like TOP Food, Safeway, Giant Eagle, QFC, Kroger, Metro Market, Harris Teeter, A&P, Stop & Shop and King Soopers.

• 100 percent of the honey sampled from drugstores like Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS Pharmacy had no pollen.

• 77 percent of the honey sampled from big box stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Target and H-E-B had the pollen filtered out.

• 100 percent of the honey packaged in the small individual service portions from Smucker, McDonald’s and KFC had the pollen removed.

Finally, this new discovery in the art world is fascinating. Devil found in detail of Giotto’s fresco Photos | Devil found in detail of Giotto’s fresco Pictures – Yahoo! News

That is all I have today…What are you finding interesting this Monday Evening?