Because it's better than not banging at Hillary's headquarters.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Daisy Jane

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

It's hard for me to accuse any women reporting sexual misconduct of exaggerating. I'm a man, and I have no clue what it's like to experience the things women go through every day. However I think I've had my tail stepped on way too many times by Republicans and I have to reluctantly say that I'm not sure I believe all of Leeann Tweeden's story. Frankly, it's almost scary to me to say that.

Earlier today, I tweeted:

Within five minutes, I found my tweet had been included in a Twitter moment entitled "Misogynists on the left attack Tweeden."

If you go through that Moment, curated by @SchenkNethery, who seems to be a totally decent person (and also hails from my former home, Brooklyn!), there really are a number of tweets in there that "slut-shame" Tweeden. But that's not what I was trying to do. Leeann has the right to pose in any magazine, or appear on any show, or express any political opinion that she wants to.

The problem is, that the Republicans just have too much of a record of figuring out ways to turn Democrat against Democrat -- that happened throughout the 2016 election and is still going on today.

There is no doubt that Al Franken, at the very least, did something inappropriate and juvenile that is barely appropriate for a comedian and certainly not appropriate for someone with political ambitions or anyone outside that realm.

He very well may have touched Tweeden there, but he clearly was not touching her in the picture. Presuming she was asleep, it's a pretty dirtbag move. There's talk that they were just rehearsing a skit and that was part of it, but still would be undignified and deserving of an apology from a grown man.

But this is all we have, other than Tweeden's word. And this is her word:

"You knew exactly what you were doing," Tweeden wrote. "You forcibly kissed me without my consent, grabbed my breasts while I was sleeping and had someone take a photo of you doing it, knowing I would see it later, and be ashamed."

If he did, in fact, forcibly kiss her without her consent and actually grab her breasts, then I believe he should resign. I'm just not sure that's the case.

Franken apologized to Tweeden, as he should have:

"I respect women. I don't respect men who don't. And the fact that my own actions have given people a good reason to doubt that makes me feel ashamed.
"But I want to say something else, too. Over the last few months, all of us—including and especially men who respect women—have been forced to take a good, hard look at our own actions and think (perhaps, shamefully, for the first time) about how those actions have affected women.
"For instance, that picture. I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter. There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate. It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture. And, what's more, I can see how millions of other women would feel violated by it—women who have had similar experiences in their own lives, women who fear having those experiences, women who look up to me, women who have counted on me.
"Coming from the world of comedy, I've told and written a lot of jokes that I once thought were funny but later came to realize were just plain offensive. But the intentions behind my actions aren't the point at all. It's the impact these jokes had on others that matters. And I'm sorry it's taken me so long to come to terms with that.
"While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women's experiences.
"I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.
"And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them."

A few points here. One, that's the way to apologize.

Two, he's right. Many jokes that used to be funny are just plain offensive. I thought Modern Family was so progressive a decade ago, and now it makes me cringe.

Three, he never said he did anything but take the picture.

Four, he called for an ethics investigation against himself! At a time where the Republicans control the Senate. Either he doesn't believe they'll do it, or he doesn't think they'll find that he did what Tweeden said.

There are also a few ways in which this is suspicious:

First, the easy one. Roger Stone knew ahead of time that this announcement was coming. We all know what happened last time he displayed his magical clairvoyance. Roger Stone is one of the pioneers of "ratfucking" (political sabotage that often involves trying to make someone look guilty, and commonly to cause infighting) and has never stopped engaging in such behavior since the Nixon administration.

Second, as I mentioned above, is that the picture does not exactly display what Franken is being accused of doing.

The third is the sequence of events since Franken's apology. Tweeden accepted it right away. In a vacuum, that seems slightly weird, but OK, maybe she's a forgiving person. But then consider the context (outside of #MeToo, which is a very welcome development). Roy Moore is looking to stay in the Alabama Senate race despite the fact that he can barely even deny that he's a pedophile. He's been let go by the Senate fundraising arm of the GOP. The Alabama GOP is still sticking with him, and look at their argument:

On Wednesday evening, the Alabama Republican Party Steering Committee, comprised of 21 members, met to discuss the events and circumstances regarding the December 12 U.S. Senate race.
The ALGOP Steering Committee supports Judge Roy Moore as our nominee and trusts the voters as they make the ultimate decision in this crucial race.

Let the voters decide.

After "accepting" Franken's apology, Tweeden said:

When asked if Franken should step down, Tweeden says: "That's not my call. I didn't do this to have him step down ... I think that's for the people of Minnesota to decide."
The two statements were within 18 hours of each other. Can't be a coincidence. Franken isn't up for reelection until 2020, so the voters of Minnesota can't decide for quite a while. But Moore is up in less than a month. And the Republicans REALLY need to hold that seat. This seems like "whataboutism" at its finest, and the GOP is probably trying to muddy the waters.

This is why Steve M. believes Franken should resign -- so the Republicans can't use him for false equivalence. It's hard to disagree with him, but I think Franken should hang in there.

Keep in mind, the Republicans have a history of using women in this way:

Should we give into that?

Friday, November 10, 2017

Late Night Track -- Silvergun Superman

The Pee Pee Tape Is Real

As you've probably read, Keith Schiller, Trump's former personal bodyguard, testified that a Russian did, in fact, offer Trump five Russian women at the hotel that the dossier indicated, on the day that the dossier said the "pee pee tape" was recorded, but that Trump turned him down and went to bed, and Schiller went to bed too and didn't see anything.

What are the odds of such a wholly unlikely story having one of its deniers confirm that 95 percent of it is true and then not have the end be true? This sort of trail doesn't stop at the water's (or urine's) edge. I went from 80 percent believing in the pee pee tape to sure today.

Simple logic, kids.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Earworm of the Afternoon -- Can't Stop the Sun

Orwell Rolls Over in His Grave

TPM highlights two examples of Republican punch-me-face smugness today.

Paul Ryan on the San Antonio shooting:

When asked about the backlash on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” show, Ryan said the criticism was “disappointing” and said “people who do not have faith don’t understand faith,” and claiming the “secular left” is responsible for some of the “disunity” in the U.S.
“It is the right thing to do in moments like this because, you know what? Prayer works,” he said. “And I know you believe that and I believe that and when you hear the secular left doing this think, no wonder you have so much polarization and disunity in this country when people think like that.”

No, FUCK YOU. You don't get to tell us prayer stops shootings when you're talking about 25+ people killed IN A FUCKING CHURCH! Were the victims members of the "secular left?" Did they get shot because they were praying incorrectly? It should be criminal to be that much of an asshole.

On to someone I haven't heard of before -- Seema Verma, Trump's Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. And of course, being selected by Trump, she's a dickbag. She unveiled a plan to "overhaul" Medicaid, which will result in fewer people getting covered, and makes it sound like a good thing:

In a statement distributed to reporters Tuesday morning, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma called the goal of covering more people a “hollow victory of numbers,”
"A hollow victory of numbers?" I am just at a loss for words over this one. All I have is a burning sensation in my face.

and instead called for changes that “reduce federal regulatory burdens, increase efficiency, and promote transparency and accountability.”

None of those terms are ever good coming from the mouth of a Republican, and of course it's all horseshit:

The announcement also promises to fast-track approval of states’ proposed Medicaid changes (which HHS grants in the form of waivers from existing Medicaid requirements) and to scrap some of the requirements that states report back to the federal government whether the changes improve health outcomes for recipients.

As usual, "reducing federal regulatory burdens" leads to LESS transparency and accountability -- this EXPLICITY reduces transparency and accountability.

One of the biggest changes Verma signaled Tuesday was a rule change allowing states to impose work requirements on their Medicaid recipients and kick people out of the program who cannot find gainful employment.
“Every American deserves the dignity and respect of high expectations and as public officials we should deliver programs that instill hope and say to each beneficiary that we believe in their potential,” Verma said. “CMS believes that meaningful work is essential to beneficiaries’ economic self-sufficiency, self-esteem, well-being, and health of Americans.” 

So taking people's healthcare from them because they can't find a job, often because they're too sick to work is giving them "the dignity and respect of high expectations." That's based off of a Michael Gerson original, and it's a doozy.

A 2017 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only 27 percent of Medicaid recipients are adults without disabilities, and 60 percent of that group are already working. Most of those not employed are either caring for a family member full-time, have a criminal record, live in an area without job opportunities, or face other “major impediments” to employment. 

Yup. So 73 percent of the people they're fucking over are people who can't possibly work.
“I’m not sure how denying coverage for people based on their inability to find work really meets the objective of providing health insurance to low-income individuals,” said Jessica Schubel, a senior advisor for CMS during the Obama administration.

Liberals, always having low expectations for people...

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Late Night Track -- Chile

It's hard to tell the right from the wrong
When the right is protecting the wrong...

The Last Thing I'll Ever Ask For...

Can Mueller make Trump shut the fuck up?

Not only is Trump acting unethically, his behavior could result in action from special counsel Robert Mueller.
Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman warned that the president had defamed a potential government witness — his former campaign official George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about communications between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“This could be grounds for Mueller to obtain a gag order on Trump,” Akerman said. “It would be unprecedented, but he is interfering with the government’s right to a fair trial.”
A gag order would prohibit Trump from speaking publically about parts of, or possibly the entirety of, Mueller’s investigations, depending on the scope of the order.



Open Thread -- Welcome

We've had more traffic in the last three days than any entire week in the last year. So, if you're new, feel free to say hi in the comments.

Also, I'm traveling all day, so let me know if I'm missing any big news...

Weekend Long Read -- The Paradise Papers

The Guardian's Jon Swaine and Luke Harding report on MORE Russian-Kushner ties, along with Russian investments in Facebook and Twitter:

Two Russian state institutions with close ties to Vladimir Putin funded substantial investments in Twitter and Facebook through a business associate of Jared Kushner, leaked documents reveal.

The investments were made through a Russian technology magnate, Yuri Milner, who also holds a stake in a company co-owned by Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser.

The discovery is likely to stir concerns over Russian influence in US politics and the role played by social media in last year’s presidential election. It may also raise new questions for the social media companies and for Kushner.

Read the whole thing. Also make sure you read the backgrounder on the whole trove of Paradise Papers. Wilbur Ross is implicated in them too:

Donald Trump’s commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, is doing business with Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law through a shipping venture in Russia.

Leaked documents and public filings show that Ross holds a stake in a shipping company, Navigator, through a chain of offshore investments. Navigator operates a lucrative partnership with Sibur, a Russian gas company part-owned by Kirill Shamalov, the husband of Putin’s daughter Katerina Tikhonova.

Ross, a billionaire and close friend of Trump, retained holdings in Navigator even after taking office this year. The relationship means that he stands to benefit from the operations of a Russian company run by Putin’s family and close allies, some of whom are under US sanctions.

Make an afternoon of it. It's worth it.