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On Franken’s Resignation

2017 December 7
by Ian Welsh

Al Franken

So, he’s gone, under rather a lot of pressure. He appears to have done bad things he should not have done, though as such accusations go they do not rise to the level of Moore or Trump or Conyers, let alone Weinstein.

I suppose this is a good thing. He did wrong, he is gone.

I’ll never entirely understand my fellow humans’ ethical and moral priorities though. This is apparently a terrible crime that requires him to bugger off immediately, but voting for the Iraq war or the Patriot Act or many other things that are far worse isn’t.

Yeah, he didn’t sexually molest as part of his job, I guess, and Senators who voted for Iraq voted for far more deaths and rapes in the pursuit of their duties or something.

I just don’t know. Franken did some bad stuff.

I just wish we had more red lines, and they included finding supporting aggressive war like Iraq (or Libya) completely unacceptable.

Perhaps we’ll get from “You shouldn’t kiss women who don’t want to be kissed” to “You shouldn’t vote for aggressive wars that will get far more women raped and killed.”

Perhaps.


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70 Responses leave one →
  1. Rich permalink
    December 7, 2017

    Agreed.
    Witch hunts work in both directions.
    The common theme is denial of due process and that theme predominates where government fails its duty.

  2. Mr. Unpopular permalink
    December 7, 2017

    nah, people are pack animals and go for the easy kill. Makes us feel righteous. But all the stuff that takes thinking and empathy are the province of mystics and folks who prefer tin hats to the camaraderie found in the carnival of mediocrity.

  3. Salty permalink
    December 7, 2017

    But… did he actually do anything bad? I’m not 100% up to date here. Did he admit to having touched people inappropriately, or did he resign because of accusations that have no evidence behind them?

    Because if it’s the latter, then it’s far more likely that he resigned because someone hated him politically and wanted him out. I mean, if we put that as the standard most of the senate would have to go. I wouldn’t have a problem with that, by the way, just saying.

  4. December 7, 2017

    “Witch hunts” lol.
    This is a hunting of witch-finders, in fact.

    Also, this lopsided reckoning has come about because people decided sexual harassment and assault are tacky. We didn’t have these style preferences in the 90s, for example, which is why Bill Clinton, another probable rapist, was impeached for lying — even though it’s likely that just as many 90s-era Americans would answer YES to the question “Is rape wrong?” as modern Americans would. These are all style questions. Most Americans are trying hard to pretend that the war in Iraq never happened, so recharacterizing its many sins as offenses against normalcy is off the table. This is why the Bush administration forbade the publication of casualty lists and photos of soldiers’ coffins, let alone frank documentation of the carnage wrought upon the people of Iraq themselves. Even the dumbest American might’ve been motivated to act under those circumstances. There is no way to characterize violence against civilians as honorable, no matter how hard the government tries; this was, I gather, one of the reasons the VietNam War finally ended.

    It’s obvious that most men — and many women — don’t respect the sanctity of consent. If there are reductions in harassment and assault after this crisis of misplaced faith in authority, it will be because predators are afraid to act, not because anybody has suddenly discovered that the people they consider to be expendable sexual resources are actually autonomous human beings.

    I personally despise being hit on or touched by strangers, so I’m willing to take what I can get.

  5. Herman permalink
    December 7, 2017

    Americans love to get worked up over sex and it is even better when it involves the rich and powerful so that the masses can gawk and feel better about their own behavior. As I wrote in another post, this is a mixed bag. Yes it is good that bad behavior is become less tolerated especially among powerful men. But just as greater awareness and concern over the legitimate issue of child abuse led to the Satanic abuse panic of the 1980s and 1990s I think we will see the legitimate issue of sexual harassment turned into a moral panic and media circus with an added dose of politicization as both parties will now actively look for accusers no matter now flimsy their stories.

    As for the comparative lack of moral outrage over issues such as war, it is similar to the lack of moral outrage over the sexual harassment of low-wage workers. Maids and waitresses don’t make for photogenic Time Magazine covers and hip social media campaigns quite like Hollywood actresses and journalists. Nobody wants to see a frumpy maid on the cover of Time. Sorry to be so cynical about this but the selective outrage is too glaring. It is coming from the same media that is trying to pass off George W. Bush as better than Trump because apparently deporting people is worse than actually killing them.

  6. Peter permalink
    December 7, 2017

    Creepy Al Franken won’t be missed now that people know him better but the Clintonites have lost an up-and-comer who was being groomed for much bigger and creepier things.

    The liberal response to this power-perv’s exposure has displayed their usual tendencies to use whataboutism, apologies and victimhood ending with ‘Al Don’t Go’ as one post I saw.

    It’s been a bad year for the snowflakes almost a Greek tragedy and the probable election of Roy Moore will be salt in their many wounds.

  7. realitychecker permalink
    December 7, 2017

    It’s good to see all the abusive men go down, latest being Harold Ford Jr, fired from Morgan Stanley for inappropriate conduct. My joy would be complete if anybody anywhere seemed to give a damn about what to do when the accusations are false, though. (Must be the damned lawyer in me.)

    Which leads me to ask, what could possibly be more important to talk about than the recently revealed total corruption in our federal law enforcement agencies? These people set out to undo a legal election. People act like it’s no big deal. Are we smarter for real, as some have argued here recently?

    Misplaced priorities on steroids, seems to me. (Again, it must be the damned lawyer in me.)

  8. December 7, 2017

    Until Clarence Thomas resigns this is naught but cutting off your noses to spite your face. If this is all it takes to force a resignation then we are well within precedence to demand Drumpf uck’s, and deny a seat to the baby-raper from Alabama.

  9. Herman permalink
    December 7, 2017

    @realitychecker,

    That is why I keep bringing up things like the Satanic sex abuse panic. I know it is not entirely the same as the current Me Too campaign but there are some similarities, particularly trial by media. Other cases include the Duke lacrosse case and the Tawana Brawley case.

    People try to pretend like false accusations never happen and that if you bring the issue up you must be a misogynist but that is far from the truth. Most of the falsely accused people in the McMartin Preschool case were women, just to use one example.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/10/us/the-trial-that-unleashed-hysteria-over-child-abuse.html

    I wish we could have a rational discussion about balancing the interests of accusers and the accused but that is getting lost in the swirl of outrage culture and political point-scoring by both Republicans and Democrats.

  10. December 8, 2017

    “I just wish we had more red lines, and they included finding supporting aggressive war like Iraq (or Libya) completely unacceptable.”

    I’ve been thinking that about the media, Ian. Looks like the MSM is willing to take a moral stand, but only on issues that interest it. Having watched it campaign against sexual harrassment over the last couple months, I find myself wishing it would show the same zeal against endless war, torture, and poverty.

    If someone proposed an article claiming sexual harrassment is okay, the MSM would rightly find that ludicrous. Yet the MSM already published articles claiming torture is okay.

  11. Peter permalink
    December 8, 2017

    @Herman

    This is a poor comparison between petty assault in Franken’s and Conyer’s cases and satanism, rape and murder in the others. These are adults making the claims not prompted children. Even in Moore’s case there is no charge of rape or even actual sex just inappropriate behavior. Those who make the false accusations usually expose themselves when their claim is examined.

    Franken is admitting his guilt by resigning and giving up the power he used to get away with this groping and that’s where it will end unlesss someone brings a civil suit against him.

    The McMartin preschool and the other satanist hysteria cases involved professionals and politicians along with the media so I wonder if there wasn’t someone else or some group that helped to feed the hysteria.

  12. F.S. permalink
    December 8, 2017

    I thought Masha Gessen was absolutely on point here regarding Franken’s resignation:

    https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/al-franken-resignation-and-the-selective-force-of-metoo

    “While this half (roughly) of American society is morally superior and also just bigger than the other half (roughly), it is not the half that holds power in either of the houses of Congress or in the majority of the state houses, and not the half that is handing out lifetime appointments to federal courts at record-setting speed. And while the two halves of this divided country may disagree on the limits of acceptable sexual behavior, they increasingly agree on the underlying premise that sexual behavior must be policed.”

    Reading her latest book The Future Is History has also helped me understand some of the context behind her past columns on this issue since Russian politicians are persecuting LGBT people under the pretext of cracking down on pedophilia.

    Anyways, yeah, a Senator gets dropped for inappropriate sexual behavior but others slide on by for enabling far more destructive acts against humanity. This is something on the order of the “misplaced scale,” as Gessen notes.

  13. Willy permalink
    December 8, 2017

    Garrison Keillor gets whacked for a hand placement mistake. But Donald Trump gets nothing for many more accusations and admissions, about where he’s put his hands.

    Maybe the lesson is about expectations? “Nice guys” need to know their place lest we drop the boom on them. But assholes are given a pass, because, you know, they’re just assholes.

    Is there something primal-primate going on here?

  14. December 8, 2017

    Nope. Kissing women who don’t want to be kissed will always be punishable in the court of public opinion. Killing women and children under color of law not so much. We love killing, preferably by blowing them up with Hellfire missiles. It is our national sport.

  15. Herman permalink
    December 8, 2017

    @Peter,

    I wrote that the Satanic sex abuse case was not entirely similar, my main point was that the rush to judgment and the trial by media aspect was similar. That is why I also mentioned false accusations by adults in the Duke lacrosse case and the Tawana Brawley case.

    I am not saying that all of these accusations are false. Most of them are likely true, in my opinion, but to pretend that false accusations never happen is absurd. I have known ordinary citizens who have had their lives ruined by false accusations of sexual misconduct even after their accuser confessed to lying and charges were dropped. But by that point his reputation in the community was ruined, he lost his job and his wife left him. The point here is that accusations of sexual misconduct are serious and should be treated seriously so that justice can be done to both sides as best as possible.

    It is clear that many people are treating the issue as a political football now which is exactly what I expect from Americans in this day and age. Principle no longer matters anymore. The most important issue is points scoring and making sure the other side can be trolled into oblivion on social media.

  16. bob mcmanus permalink
    December 8, 2017

    The most important issue is points scoring and making sure the other side can be trolled into oblivion on social media.

    This is also, although not only, another field of battle between the Clinton wing and the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party, as indicated by the fact that most of the accusers are older women talking about long past events. This is also a shifting of the blame for the Clinton loss to the older men of the party and nation, and sexism as a primary cause of her loss.

    It will end when the younger women of the Party, the Sanders women, millenial women, gain predominance, and that will probably take another catastrophic loss or two.

  17. Barry Fay permalink
    December 8, 2017

    @Herman – you are completely right in your comparison.

    Another point that seems to be lost is that the whole brouhaha about “sexual misconduct” such as hand-placement and groping makes women out to be totally innocent and defenseless victims – like children. This is truly a case of women having their cake and eating it too: victims when it suits their agenda of attacking men and equals when they aspire to the power and success of men.

    And then there is the whole idea of “collegiality” in the workplace. Forget that! The battle of the sexes (wonder where that ancient notion came from?) knows no boundaries.

  18. Duncan Idaho permalink
    December 8, 2017

    I suspect that in a few month, we are going to discover that Al Franken as been acorned…

    The first accuser is a Trump News contributor, need we say anything more?

  19. someofparts permalink
    December 8, 2017

    The men of the party did not cause her loss of support among women. She and her cohort have been mauling women in the hourly wage section of the economy for decades. They have done this to themselves.

  20. realitychecker permalink
    December 8, 2017

    @ Herman

    I wish we had more thoughtful people like you–unfortunately, we don’t. (sigh)

    @ Barry Fay

    I agree there is a severe disconnect between the concept of powerful women, and their claimed helplessness when men touch them.

    @ Duncan Idaho

    Too simplistic, sir. Way too simplistic.

    I entertained myself this morning reading the comments to the New York Times article on the Franken resignation (which, I note, he can rescind any time in the next few weeks). Hilarious to see all the nonsensical mental gymnastics people are going through over this lol.

  21. December 8, 2017

    I thought the Zombie Apocalypse was only a product of popular fiction.
    Apparently it’s not only a reality, but currently ongoing in the form of all this omnipresent “‘Sexual Harassment’ obsessive syndrome”—with hundreds of millions of individuals all chanting the same mantras and sharing identical belief systems and personalities.

    The spirit of both The Inquisition and 1692 Salem Massachusetts still live on, with heresy against the accepted narratives being “the most serious offense one could ever commit against humanity”.
    Not to mention an ideal red herring to distract the attention of the general populace away from all the actual conspiracies those in charge are committing against us and the rest of the world in general.

  22. zotter permalink
    December 8, 2017

    @Salty – Bascially, Fraken admitted to a lot of it but said some was not true. Having 6 accusors (so far) definitely has formed the image of a pretty “handsy” Senator.

    I’m sorry to see him go but I like that he had the fortitude to step aside. Too bad he can’t submit to a vote of confidence amongst MN voters to see if they still want him after this hullabaloo, but our system is what it is. I think it is a good thing for Dems to move aside the awful Conyers and Franken; it allows them to provide a fairly clear distinction from the Republicans on sex scandals. If they go after Trump (and Moore if he wins) carrying Conyers and Franken along, the “both sides do it” BS so popular in the media would kill the Ds. Now they can claim a bona fide moral high ground from which to demand investigations (and/or resignations.)

    Also, I think we’re experiencing an unbottling for women’s redress to sex predation that is LONG overdue. If it didn’t get out of control and sweep up a few “not-as-bad” men I would be shocked. The pendulum swing and the momentum knocks everyone out of the way, guilty or not. Compared to the staggering indignation women have put up with up until now, it’s a small price to pay if it helps reset the scales more in their favor.

  23. Sid_finster permalink
    December 8, 2017

    Is it not obvious that the reason Franken was told he had to go was that Team D wants clear shots at Moore and Trump without having to endure Team R whatabouttery?

    Is it not obvious that the reason that the United States populace so studiously avoids a hard examination of the real costs and destruction of our wars because most of us supported those wars at the time?

    N.b. “Good Germans®”

  24. NoPolitician permalink
    December 8, 2017

    When I think “handsy”, I think of someone who pats or grabs women on the butt as they’re walking by, or a person who comes up behind women to give them a “back rub”.

    But putting your arm around someone’s waist while taking a photo and “squeezing. twice”? How is that a credible accusation of sexual misconduct? Each of Franken’s accusations was borderline and was not objectively offensive. With the exception of the kiss rehearsal (and to be clear, the kiss was consensual, the unknown part was “where was his tongue”), all these incidents took place in public, in clear view of others, and often on film. Either Franken is the most risky creeper out there, or this is a case of someone physically interacting with thousands of people per year and some of the interactions were awkward, at best.

  25. Peter permalink
    December 8, 2017

    @FS

    I mention whataboutism and you roll our a Russian to show how it is done. The Clintonites are losing again and reverting to political finger-pointing and cries of victimhood.

    This is how they roll but it is interesting that it was the party democrats who brought the torches to run off Frankenstein.

  26. jawbone permalink
    December 8, 2017

    1 Al Franken was one of the more effective questioners of Trump’s nominees for important administration jobs. Given his history of being more leftist, is that another reason to get him out of the way? Leaves clearer paths for the Corporatist Dems.

    Bernie, announce you candidacy for the 2020 nomination NOW, please??? We’ll need all the time possible to offset the Koch-type donors for the Corporatist candidates of both parties.

    2) Glad to see others see the similarities to all the accusations of child abuse in the decade of the Satanic rituals and whatever. Crazy times.

  27. Willy permalink
    December 8, 2017

    I blame the lawyers. Leave it to them to push basic common decency into the excesses of political correctness.

  28. realitychecker permalink
    December 8, 2017

    @ zotter

    “Now they can claim a bona fide moral high ground from which to demand investigations (and/or resignations.)”

    A bona fide moral high ground/?????? Are you kidding?

    Maybe you have never actually seen a bona fide moral high ground.

    How about a bona fide AMORAL high ground?

    Come talk to me about bona fide moral high grounds when they stop relying on the financial support of Hollywood, where sex abuse is ubiquitous. (Or the media, as it appears to be almost as abusive there.)

    Let’s see them call out Hollywood, and then you can make your argument for the ‘moral high ground’ without appearing totally ridiculous and/or totally Dem-slaved.

    That is, if you truly believe that sexual harassment is the most important defining issue of our time. A dubious proposition, IMO.

  29. realitychecker permalink
    December 8, 2017

    I am also reminded that just last week Dems were refusing to say they would get rid of Menendez if he was convicted of EIGHT FELONIES, just because his replacement from NJ would not be a Dem.

    But Conyers and Franken were guaranteed to be replaced by a Dem (MI, MN)

    Bona fide moral high ground? LMAO

  30. bruce wilder permalink
    December 8, 2017

    Cannibalism is not going to attract many to the Democrat tribe. Throwing Franken under the bus is not a substitute for reasoned fairness.

    I do not like Roy Moore’s politics, but he is not being treated at all fairly either. The number of accusers in Moore’s case are regularly exaggerated. One accuser was very young at the time (14), and her age is what makes the accusation serious, but his pursuit of other young adult women, who speak highly of him, is used to slander him. He ended up marrying a 24 y.o. and has remained married to her for 32 years. If you are sympathetic to Moore, you can take note of the exaggeration and the unfairness and find reasons to be skeptical about the relevance of events from 1979 that may not be narrated scrupulously.

    Somebody wanted Franken out of the Senate and I doubt it had anything to do with his penchant for vulgar grabass. I expect Moore to win in Alabama. So, if you are keeping score, who wins?

    Moore winning will be used as evidence that a majority of Alabama voters are deplorable, as if large numbers of Clinton voters are not deplorable.

    Maybe, we do need more red lines. Or, some pink lines, that mark out matters of degree where personal behavior is concerned.

    I visited with an elderly friend yesterday and consequently watched several hours of MSNBC and CNN.

    WOW!

    The mainstream Media has simply ceased to exist as a vehicle for professional journalism. Most of the presentation in both cases was ungrounded speculation about the Mueller investigation, interspersed with the sexual harassment accusations and consequent resignations or firings.

    The speculating pundits universally have a weak grasp on the facts of any case, which hardly matters because most of the talk is counterfactual speculation, and they have very little concern for any distinctions of magnitude or degree, let alone consequences or precedent.

    Who are these pundits working for? Who directs the writing of their scripts? Make no mistake about there being scripts — that is obvious.

    But, why? To whose purpose? I have been told that the hysteria is good for ratings. Even better than “white woman lost in Aruba” back in the day. But, that is not very satisfying.

    I connect what I saw to Ian’s post on the marginalizing of left news and opinion reporting on the internet by Google and Facebook.

    Ian correctly wonders when will we ostracize a politician for, say, the war crime of invading Iraq?

    But, I do not wonder. As long as our discourse is dominated by millionaire pundits who do not care about anything sincerely.

  31. Hugh permalink
    December 8, 2017

    I think that the Franken resignation marks the current movement toward accountability jumping the shark. There is a whole spectrum of human conduct from the clearly illegal to the abusive to the inappropriate to part of the normal give and take between the sexes. In the current climate, all these are being lumped together and treated the same. This is a mistake and setting up a backlash behind which a lot of people who should be held accountable won’t be. We can probably all agree that Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby are sexual predators, and that a lot of what they did was illegal as well. Then we have the group like Bill Clinton, Matt Lauer, Donald Trump, etc. who were players, womanizers, whatever you want to call it. They used and abused their positions of power for sex, but it is not clear they actually did anything illegal. Then you have somebody like Franken (I should state here that politically I am not that big a fan of Franken) who did nothing illegal, some things which were inappropriate, and a lot of things which fall into the category of the normal give and take between the sexes. Your mileage may vary on this give and take, but there isn’t an adult on the planet who has not engaged in it.

    As for Roy Moore, he is something of a special case. His interest in teenage girls above the age of consent may be creepy but not illegal. He seems to have used his position as an adult rather than his position as a prosecutor to pursue these teens. And his interaction with a girl below the age of consent was illegal.

    What the current discussion mostly misses is the fact that women in general are treated in a markedly inferior fashion in our society, not just with regard to sex. I would prefer more of a focus on workplace discrimination and inappropriate conduct that affects ordinary American women and not this concentration on largely celebrity breaches.

    The female component of this conduct, of women using sex to advance is also largely lost. It may be less common but it certainly is there.

    Then there is the hypocrisy component, such as women politicians, who defended Bill Clinton in the 90s for more serious and persistent conduct and who in the teens demanded Al Franken’s scalp for activity which was much less so. And as Ian points out, there is the greater hypocrisy of our murderous, looting ruling class, both male and female, deciding that this and not their other much more serious crimes is worthy of notice.

    Finally, the process is being undermined. The number, detail, and let’s face it celebrity of the women involved made for strong cases against the likes of Weinstein and Cosby in the court of public opinion. There was a kind of process albeit not a legal due process one. But by the time we get to Franken, the clarity is a lot hazier and the evidence a lot skimpier. Yet the sentence is the same. It is rather like receiving death whether you blew up the bank or merely sprayed graffiti on it. In this inability to distinguish is a recipe for a backlash.

  32. realitychecker permalink
    December 8, 2017

    @ bruce wilder

    Thanks for that very thoughtful, accurate, and insightful comment. Too rare, IMO. 🙂

    “Let’s you and him fight” has always been the main business model of the media. People like to watch a confrontation (dogs will do the same, any mammals, really.) And ratings are the Prime Directive for corporate media, with the secondary function of making sure the messages are corporate-friendly as to their fellow/parent corporations. After that, any shiny object will do to sustain the daily flow of distractions that are necessary to keep us from focusing on our own horrible problems. Problems that trace back to corporate behavior, mostly.

    We’re never going to get out of this mess unless more people show a willingness to do careful analysis like you do.

  33. Peter permalink
    December 8, 2017

    @Bruce

    You need to identify this mysterious someone who wanted Franken gone from the senate before these accusations surfaced and why. The reports I read said he was getting along well and learning the ropes without rocking the boat.

    Franken threw himself off the bus to avoid a public senate investigation and the push from other party members may have been because they knew of other possibly more serious problems.

    Our modern media is a form of entertainment but there is good reason to think that there is an agenda involved, Confusion, fear and hysteria can serve the goals of certain NWO forces who need the breakdown to occur before they can bring their version of peace to the world.

  34. Willy permalink
    December 8, 2017

    Is there a way to make a renewed Fairness Doctrine, fun?

  35. Ché Pasa permalink
    December 8, 2017

    Cui bono?

    For the Dem establishment to defenestrate ranking members of their own tribe like that (It wasn’t just Franken; don’t forget Conyers. And what of that pup from Nevada?) means something is up, and it isn’t what it appears to be.

    If it is a prelude to bringing down Trump or unseating Moore (if he wins), it’s half-assed at best. The accusations against them have “already been litigated” after all, so there’s little likelihood they can be revived by Dems once they have cleansed their own side of (some) taint. Politics doesn’t work that way.

    I suspect it’s an effort to further weaken the Dems so that what little objection they’ve made against further depredations by the Rs will simply vanish into the ether.

    We’ll see.

  36. S Brennan permalink
    December 8, 2017

    Was Al actually against the Iraq invasion, or…was he critical of the size of the invasion?

    “A year after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Franken criticized the Bush administration because they “failed to send enough troops to do the job right.””

    https://consortiumnews.com/2017/12/07/frankens-opportunism-on-the-iraq-war/

  37. P Hicks permalink
    December 8, 2017

    Wow. All I can say is just wow. It’s not news to me that a lot of the men who comment on Ian’s blog are deeply sexist. I’ve picked up on that in responses to other articles, but it’s really on full display today. Clearly being enlightened in some areas doesn’t make one enlightened in all areas.

    It’s possible to care about war, torture, and other injustices without dismissing or downplaying the degrading behavior that many many women have had to put up with. I, for one, couldn’t be happier that at least a few of them are finally having to face some consequences for a change. For every man who is finally “outed” there are so many more who never will face any consequences. Its obvious that most of you don’t have a clue what its like to be female.

    I know a lot of the commenters here are older men and I can only hope that once the dinosaurs die off more enlightened and compassionate views will prevail.

  38. Bill Hicks permalink
    December 8, 2017

    Franken’s carpetbagging prevented the election of a progressive Minnesotan who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry and favored bringing more science into government, in other words exactly the kind of person we desperately need more of in the Senate (we currently have zero):

    https://jonathanturley.org/2017/12/07/the-franken-resignation-time-for-minnesota-to-correct-an-earlier-mistake-with-peter-agre/

  39. Joseph permalink
    December 9, 2017

    It is a godamn shame that Senator Al Franken was forced to resign.

  40. Tom W Harris permalink
    December 9, 2017

    Yes, it’s a damn shame. Here’s a vid of his main accuser, Leeann Tweeden, performing at the FOR the troops at a 2006 USOC event:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=15&v=RU2u__yBP4M

  41. Ché Pasa permalink
    December 9, 2017

    I’ve never been comfortable with show business personalities in public office.

  42. realitychecker permalink
    December 9, 2017

    @ P Hicks

    “I know a lot of the commenters here are older men and I can only hope that once the dinosaurs die off more enlightened and compassionate views will prevail.”

    Charming, thanks for that from the ‘softer’ side. I guess ‘equality’ means that we could just as reasonably wish for the death of all the old guard feminists, amirite?

    Maybe the older men have been around to see all the self-serving bs that was pumped out by the feminist political movement over the decades. (“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”–remember that? It’s OK, neither do all the millions of kids who grew up without fathers. Just one obvious example.)

    Maybe the older men, having been around long enough to have seen Fonzie jump the shark, are simply just recognizing a moment when feminism appears to have jumped the shark.

    (Self-centered identity politics, in general, seems to have jumped the shark.)

    Remember when the left was supposedly about community? You know, the community men fought to make possible and safe, so you ‘feminists’ could even be ALIVE to become so self-centered and ungrateful. And yet, to this day, you still expect men to lay down their lives to protect you. And you will never acknowledge the debt you owe for that. When muscles meant survival, which was until quite recently, men meant survival for women.

    Inconvenient truth, I know.

  43. December 9, 2017

    EYaw, P, it’s a cesspool. A regular on stop shop for nazi propaganda. Reminds of something I once read about pacifists: there are none, only opportunists waiting for a chance to run up the jolly roger.

    Or something a myth is purported to have said: don’t be like the hypocrites who love to stand on the street corners and in the synagogues and be seen. They have their reward.

  44. someofparts permalink
    December 9, 2017

    I am glad that prosperous women with advantages the majority of women will never enjoy will now also have more protections against sexist depredation. Maybe some of that improved quality of life will trickle down. Hope it trickles better than the money has.

  45. zotter permalink
    December 9, 2017

    @realitychecker – Well, when you find a pure and perfect group without the slightest hint of corruption, you let us know. In this world, this is as much of a moral high ground as they can achieve (on this issue.) What else would you have them do about Franken, Conyers, and these allegations?

    Should Dems give up all corporate funding and go full Progressive? Sure. Will they? No way. But I applaud them for this one response on this one issue, even if I condemn other areas of action. My mind can handle that split in reasoning, I would hope your could as well. I believe they are complex human beings running a very complex social organization. IMHO demanding perfection here truly is the enemy of the good.

    Dems and women won this battle but the war elsewhere continues.

  46. zotter permalink
    December 9, 2017

    Also, the central tenet of feminism is “women should be treated as equal to men.” That’s it.

    You are saying this doctrine has outlived its usefulness and has “jumped the shark?” What new doctrine shall we push in its place oh wise and experienced elder?

  47. someofparts permalink
    December 9, 2017

    “Remember when the left was supposedly about community? You know, the community men fought to make possible and safe, so you ‘feminists’ could even be ALIVE to become so self-centered and ungrateful. And yet, to this day, you still expect men to lay down their lives to protect you. And you will never acknowledge the debt you owe for that. When muscles meant survival, which was until quite recently, men meant survival for women.

    Inconvenient truth, I know.”

    Kiddo, that’s a whole Straw Village you’ve got there.

    It is always guys who are insecure or low-ranking in their status with other men that pull this kind of sad nonsense.

  48. nihil obstet permalink
    December 9, 2017

    Like those who have viewed African-American low-wealth and high participation in the U.S. incarceration system with equanimity until “Black Lives Matter” convinced them that blacks are the real racists (don’t all lives matter?), many men are convinced by evidence of sexual harassment that feminists are the real sexists. After all, whites and men and particularly white men are all individuals and the particular white man speaking is firmly committed to equality (it’s not his fault that he makes more than a similarly situated black woman — in fact, she probably got all the breaks that he didn’t get so he’s appropriately aggrieved), but all blacks and women are alike defined by their group.

    However, as a distressingly few commenters have noted, the reporting is shot through with inaccuracy, and there are wide differences between criminality, bullying, and changing customs of interaction. There are all sorts of things the Congress ought to be doing, from legislating better job protections for all workers to insisting on prosecution of war criminals.

  49. December 9, 2017

    The next time someone tells me we need to fight economic oppression before we fight any of the other oppressions, I’m going to take out this thread. Seriously. No one who reads this thread will take seriously the implied “we’ll get to it later”.

  50. highrpm permalink
    December 9, 2017

    @mandos
    fight oppressions? whose kidding whom? the warlord banksters get what they want. amurka’s been fighting various opressions & wars seems like all my life. stat’s say it all. black & white flyovers are wrecks compared to lbj’s time. the #1 game is $$$. and $20T national debt shows whose winning: the international bankster racketeers and whoever else likes that game well enuf to pull up a chair at the gaming tables. while ian’ers make interesting discussion.

  51. Steeleweed permalink
    December 9, 2017

    Women have been saying they face sexist behavior on a regular basis, and I don’t doubt them – we’ve all witnessed men being assholes toward women. (And there are asshole women, too). The fuss only seems to get traction if the bad behavior is on the part of someone with some form of power over the victims. Women gets cat-calls and lewd suggestions walking past a group of guys on a street, but even when it’s documented – as it often is these days, via cellphone video – nobody seems to be screaming for them to lose their jobs. It’s a toxic part of the culture and that’s not going to change by one-at-a-time takedowns. And if you think forcing the resignation of an occasional politician, the firing of a few Talking Heads, etc is going to send a message to sexist men of the world, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you.

  52. Willy permalink
    December 9, 2017

    It’d be easier if assholes and assholism were the primary targets. If you consistently, intentionally, do things that benefit you or the few, while also ruining it for another or the many, then you’re an asshole. Selfishness limits.

    Otherwise it’s too much muddiness for our little cave clan brains to handle.

  53. F.S. permalink
    December 9, 2017

    Another piece of commentary that’s more or less on point regarding Franken’s ejection from the Senate:

    “By contrast, not one Democrat called for the resignation of Senator Robert Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat who faced prosecution this fall over charges of receiving millions in bribes from a long-time crony, a multimillionaire doctor-businessman for whom Menendez repeatedly interceded with the Department of Health and Human Services under the Obama administration.

    Every Senate Democrat said that Menendez deserved the presumption of innocence until a jury returned a verdict. But no such consideration is to be afforded to the reported behavior of Senator Franken, which never rose to the level even of a misdemeanor.

    To say nothing of the record of the Senate Democrats as a whole, who have wholeheartedly supported mass murder committed by American military forces in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, and drone warfare—widely promoted by the Obama administration—in dozens of countries. All these wars, of course, have been accompanied by horrific violence against civilians, including widespread sexual violence perpetrated by forces backed by American imperialism.”

    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/12/08/fran-d08.html

  54. bob mcmanus permalink
    December 9, 2017

    Clinton Weinstein

    An interesting picture, Clinton has both palms full on flat against Weinstein’s chest. Surely Clinton had some inklings of Harvey’s reputation if not full knowledge, I don’t believe her denials. What can we say about what is going on here?

    1) Obviously Weinstein could not get away with putting both hands on Clinton’s chest, especially in public on camera, no matter how friendly they were. This asymmetry is sort of the point.

    2) Clinton’s touching is unlikely overtly sexual, although it might contain elements of subtle sexual teasing. It is almost entirely a demonstration of power and privilege “I can touch you, you can’t touch me. And I will show this power for all to see.”

    3) The Democratic feminists, most but not all Democratic women, are the aristocrats, the powerful by right of birth, who have been denied their rightful due in 2016. They are enraged, and out for blood and revenge.

    4) And they will win. The menfolk can choose enslavement and service, or they can withdraw. They cannot get equality. I withdraw.

  55. bruce wilder permalink
    December 9, 2017

    Peter: You need to identify this mysterious someone who wanted Franken gone from the senate before these accusations surfaced and why.

    I do not feel the need. There is a too frequently used gambit in conversation about politics, where perfectly plausible albeit speculative inferences are neutered by deliberately hearing them as “conspiracy theories”. I was not positing a conspiracy theory. I was suggesting that people act from mixed motives and opportunistically. #MeToo has been a series of opportunities to get rid of people, taken with motivations that no doubt often have little to do with the ostensible outrage being expressed. I am not saying the accusers are wrong in their complaints or should not be believed. But, it is not the accusers, who are acting to remove the accused from positions of authority. It is the people with executive authority within their respective institutions, who are rendering judgments and who are acting and their motivations and even identities in many cases, are not exposed to scrutiny. I am saying these “judges” being human are likely acting from mixed motives and opportunistically.

    Our political economy is organized by hierarchy and politically holding the boss accountable and limiting the scope of his authority to dominate is an unsolved problem. The left, though wishing for enlightened conduct, is very weak in its analysis and search for remedies.

    I do not have much hope that, when this episode is over, we will be better off, that new norms will be in place that will protect young women or anyone.

    Mandos: No one who reads this thread will take seriously the implied “we’ll get to it later”.

    Because Kirsten Gillibrand and her merry band will get back to corporate income taxes and the U.S. wars in the Middle East and net neutrality and the consequences of the Obama recovery real soon now and then we will see how vitally important it was to win this one battle, during the calm in the Russiagate storm.

  56. Mongo permalink
    December 9, 2017

    Women aspire to equality in the workplace for a reason. They claim to have been objectivized and victimized for a reason.

    Not objectivizing, harassing or manipulating women in the workplace, or anywhere, is a radical change. You could say it’s revolutionary — and no revolution is clean.

    So, Al Franken: He behaved as he did, no matter how long ago, because men have permission to do so. Reading a book about France during the occupation recently, I came across a description of later-President Francois Mitterand — that he had been, provably, an active member of the Resistance; but before that had been a functionary in the Vichy regime, even decorated by it.

    Like Franken, he had done good for others — but before that, engaged in questionable conduct. It was a cloud which never completely disappeared during his career.

    Relations between the sexes isn’t simple, but the arc of #MeToo so far is about changing basic assumptions of how being male gives men a ‘right’ to act towards women. It’s these assumptions that are being challenged. It won’t alter everything overnight, but it’s an unexpected, massive step forward — and it won’t be entirely clean.

    Questions of using this climate of change to issue false charges for revenge or personal gain will be raised and will have to be considered — but using that as an argument to cast doubt on any woman’s claim misses the reasons behind those claims being made in the first place — these things happen and continue to happen because women are treated that way.

  57. bob mcmanus permalink
    December 9, 2017

    Back to the Clinton-Weinstein picture, which is only an example, representative. I know the usuals will come around calling me MRA Red Pill or whatever. I expect, I don’t care, that they do it is part of the point. I have withdrawn, precisely because in any familiar situations, women think they can lay hands on me. Not in stranger or service circumstances, like waiters or checkout clerks, but in offices and parties among friends the power asymmetry (and not only physical) was oppressive.

    Don’t get it? Imagine a white Southerner in a suit and a black farmhand in Mississippi in the 1950s. Imagine an officer or noncom and a private, especially in the Imperial Japanese Army, where corporal punishments and beatings were part of training, precisely in the asymmetry. Imagine a French noble and peasant in pre-revolutionary France.

    Who can lay hands on whom is critical.

    Besides the power and privilege, what else does it mean? Well, it is usually accompanied by a presumption of innocence, good intentions, the use of power and privilege for benevolent ends. “I meant no harm.”

    Notice Weinstein’s arms hanging straight down. Not only are you not allowed to grab the women’s wrists or otherwise physically attempt to restrain her, if you try to wrench yourself away or verbally protest you will be considered crazy and maybe evil. She meant no harm. It was her right as a good person. You’re nuts to find anything wrong or uncomfortable with it.

    This is a massive institutionalized unquestionable privilege.

  58. realitychecker permalink
    December 9, 2017

    @ zotter

    If you think ‘higher moral ground’ can be claimed for such a dubious distinction, you really don’t have any idea what morality is. Very sorry for you. I can’t help you, except to tell you your sights are set WAAAAAAAAY too low.

  59. realitychecker permalink
    December 9, 2017

    @ someofparts

    I get it, we must all agree that female shit doesn’t stink.

    Sorry, but I have a working nose. 🙂

  60. December 9, 2017

    Ethical got you off being moral of the left – not anymore.

  61. bob mcmanus permalink
    December 9, 2017

    As far as what is going on with Franken, besides what I said way above, the removal of a Senator in disgrace is very very unusual, like once a decade. One time it happened, interestingly perhaps, is Bob Packwood in 1995. From Wiki:

    “Two years before Roe v. Wade he introduced the Senate’s first abortion legalization bill, but he was unable to attract a cosponsor for either.[16] His pro-choice stance earned him the loyalty of many feminist groups[17] and numerous awards including those from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (January 10, 1983) and the National Women’s Political Caucus (October 23, 1985). In 1987, Packwood crossed party lines to vote against the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, and he was one of only two Republicans to vote against the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the court.[3] Both votes were based on the nominee’s opposition to abortion rights”

    This occurred, coincidentally?, after another huge electoral catastrophe, the loss of the House in 1994. At such times of failure , is it common to practice harsh internal discipline of shaken allies in order to prevent insurgencies and rebellions?

  62. Jessica permalink
    December 10, 2017

    1) The mainstream media are a force pushing the discussion toward trivialities and crude judgment. The MSM is rewarded based on clicks, so they try to turn everything into click bait.
    People and the amount of pent-up frustration with harassment are a force pushing for deeper, more intelligent and nuanced discussion.
    2) Although some (not all) of those alleging that they were harassed have power and position now, most of them did not when the harassment occurred.
    3) One possible explanation for the fact that many of the allegations are about behavior in the distant past is that it is still not safe for women to come forward if they are at the point in their careers where a harasser can make or break their career.
    4) There is a Gloria Steinem Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University that was funded with donations from, among others, Harvey Weinstein. This is not from the Onion. https://news.rutgers.edu/news-release/rutgers-fulfills-endowment-gloria-steinem-chair-media-culture-and-feminist-studies/20170613#.Wi0SYtdzJ0w

  63. Ché Pasa permalink
    December 10, 2017

    Show business is not a business most people would consider to be particularly ethical or observant of sexual mores. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    Yet Americans have a penchant for electing show business personalities to office and then expressing shock, shock! that they aren’t necessarily paragons of virtue, purer than Caesar’s wife, and monk like in probity.

    Al is a comedian, low comedy for the most part, more than a little of it risqué, and if someone was offended, I wonder what they expected. What would they make of Groucho, ffs?

    I think it was Jackie Speier who said that DC was like “Hollywood for ugly people.” Well, yah. I think she was expressing her exasperation at the sexual harassment and worse that goes on in Washington all the time, but she made the unintended point that whether appropriate or not, Hollywood and DC often mirror one another in more ways than just the naughty bits.

    I’ve never been comfortable with show business personalities in office, from Reagan to Trump and yes, Franken. To me, they do much better to comment on and mock public officials from outside the government than within it.

    As for the current Puritan fervor, both Hollywood and Washington have been through this before. It’s hard to say that anything better comes of it, but we’ll see.

  64. December 10, 2017

    Mandos: No one who reads this thread will take seriously the implied “we’ll get to it later”.

    BW: Because Kirsten Gillibrand and her merry band will get back to corporate income taxes and the U.S. wars in the Middle East and net neutrality and the consequences of the Obama recovery real soon now and then we will see how vitally important it was to win this one battle, during the calm in the Russiagate storm.

    I don’t see where that “because” comes from. That’s exactly the point: conditioning progress gender and racial issues on proof of progress on “guns-and-butter” issues allows exactly this argument, that we cease to place any emphasis on the former because some blacks under equality will become war-mongers, capitalists, etc., ie, will sort themselves out according to majority categories, which is, you know, achieving equality.

  65. realitychecker permalink
    December 10, 2017

    The sex abuse issues absolutely deserve discussion, but it should be an intelligent and nuanced one, as Jessica correctly points out above.

    It should take into account all the relevant factors, not just the one or two that play best to a particular political faction. It should acknowledge that individuals make key choices along any pathway, and they must own them when we do our various accountings.

    False accusations, lack of accountability for false accusers, the availability of the criminal justice system as ‘Punisher’ being greater for female claims about sexual misbehavior than any male could ever imagine having, these are ALL complicating but relevant factors, and if I seem overly adamant about this, it is because all I have seen from the feminist fringe since the 80’s is deliberate, determined ignorance that these even are relevant factors. (Indeed, mentioning ANY ONE OF THEM at a place like Firedoglake at any time during it’s glory days would have elicited deadly-wishing attacks from all the Old Guard feminist types that dominated there. And that would be the most moderate response from any progressive site.)

    So, let’s not continue that studied ignorance, please. It’s an insult to the intelligence.

  66. zotter permalink
    December 10, 2017

    @reality

    You ducked the central question I posed in order to bash me. That’s fine, but what is your answer?

    The central tenet of feminism is “women are equal to men and deserve equal treatment.” You said this had jumped the shark, so with what would you replace this tenet? In other words, do you disagree with this axiom and if so, what should it be instead?

  67. realitychecker permalink
    December 10, 2017

    @ zotter

    No, I was saying that the entire feminist wave, which includes all questionable parts, has jumped the shark.

    Nobody with a brain or a soul would be against equality and equal treatment, but in the real world it is never possible to do that for everybody to the same degree, so it becomes important to learn how to do pro’s and con’s, costs and benefits, risks and rewards, when discussing all these complex issues. The refusal of too many to even acknowledge the factors that complicate the arguments of one’s own side is what I am continually wailing about on these threads, for the most part. I want better conversations, but they must be built on firmer foundations, i.e., foundations not dependent upon falsities, or they will never happen in a way that will be worth anything.

    But I would also respond to your specific query by noting that it seems to me that it sometimes happens that any ‘victim-oriented’ political group, including women, may sometimes be seen to gladly accept unequal treatment that benefits them in various areas without complaint, concern, or explanation. It seems to me that that does undercut the meme that equality is the Prime Directive, but rather it may be acquiring more ‘power’ by any means.

    I don’t think it is bigoted to note such things, to analyze them when they arise, and to promptly moderate one’s moral tones, arguments, and certainties appropriately.

    Btw, I have no animus toward you. I spent my life on the progressive left because I think the nicest people are there, but I have an even higher devotion to good logic and accuracy. I shouldn’t have to choose one or the other, should I?

  68. Willy permalink
    December 10, 2017

    While discussions can be as nuanced and complex as they want to be, I’d think the end result of any discussion should be the clearest possible rules regarding the limiting of powers’ ability to abuse the powerless.

    (This only related in power/powerless terms), the Daniel Shaver killing (and trial) illustrates what confused incompetence in power is all about. Besides the tragic death of a family breadwinner, and a major loss of faith in those paid to “protect and serve”, the local taxpayers now have expensive civil suits they’ll have to deal with. All because all of the powers involved were confused/incompetent, to the point of insanity.

  69. realitychecker permalink
    December 10, 2017

    Clear rules are good. But only if they align well with reasoned consideration. And that’s the hard part, getting both into one space.

    It’s easy to yell for absolute, black/white clarity, which is what every political adherent seems to want to do, but that is rarely going to be where justice or even efficiency is going to be found.

    There has to be some kind of balance point btw the absolutes, and the overly detailed solutions. I always say, try drafting a statute on anything of moment. It’s a thought experiment frequently used in law schools. Very humbling to all lol.

    The difficulty of finding that proper balance is why we need much better, more nuanced, conversations.

  70. realitychecker permalink
    December 10, 2017

    How can we get anywhere when we can’t or won’t assume good faith from anybody?

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