November 22, 2017

At the Buttoned-Up Café...

P1150509

... you don't have to relax.

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"Not only did people look the other way, but they went after the women who came forward and accused him."

"And so it doubled down on not only bad behavior but abusive behavior. And then people attacked the victims."

Says Kathleen Sebelius, the former secretary of Health and Human Services and Kansas governor, talking with David Axelrod on his show "The Axe Files."
Sebelius extended her criticism to Hillary Clinton, and the Clinton White House for what she called a strategy of dismissing and besmirching the women who stepped forward—a pattern she said is being repeated today by alleged perpetrators of sexual assault—saying that the criticism of the former first lady and Secretary of State was "absolutely" fair. Sebelius noted that the Clinton Administration's response was being imitated, adding that "you can watch that same pattern repeat, It needs to end. It needs to be over."
It's still too little, too late. Too easy to say this now when it's convenient. Nevertheless, good to hear.

"An international survey has revealed that spirits are often associated with feelings of energy, confidence and sexiness..."

"... but on the flip-side anger and tearfulness – while red wine is the drink most commonly linked to relaxation, but also tiredness."

"Mature women"?

Apparently not!
U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, released a statement on Wednesday apologizing for a graphic nude photo of him that circulated on social media earlier this week.

"While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women," he said. "Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down."

It is still unclear how the photo got onto social media, who put it there, or whether its posting would constitute revenge porn, which is illegal under Texas law.

"The department head... said there might have been alternative explanations for the professor’s behavior including 'maybe he just needs his eyeglasses adjusted'..."

"... (to explain the breast staring), 'he might be on the autism spectrum,' 'he might just be socially awkward like Albert Einstein was' and 'do you think maybe you’re more sensitive than other people?'"

From "UW-Madison dean acknowledges school's failure to address sexual harassment" at the Wisconsin State Journal.

For reference, here's Larry David getting out of a social gaffe (racial, not sexual) by lying about having Asperger's syndrome:



But it should be noted that some people with Asperger's Syndrome have been speculating for years that Larry David is on the spectrum and that Jerry Seinfeld has diagnosed himself as "on the spectrum":



Maybe all that great "observational" comedy has to do with the autistic tendency to focus on exactly what isn't the focus for the nonautistic.

In that clip, Jerry talks about comedians being the only people that he feels "completely relaxed" around. Maybe that suggests some insight into what's wrong with Louis C.K....



Meanwhile, on the tech front: "'I see things differently': James Damore on his autism and the Google memo/ He was fired from Google for arguing that men may be more suited to working in tech than women. Now James Damore opens up about his regrets – and how autism may have shaped his experience of the world."

Where are you on the spectrum from "This excuse is bullshit" to "We must empathize with and accommodate the differently abled"?

"Brolliology" — the book about umbrellas.

Reviewed here, in The Washington Post:
A typical chapter skims the metaphysical and the dialectical, with the umbrella described variously as creating a “portable room,” as a “private sky” and “a hat with a handle.” Its combination of replaceability and contingency even “reads like a textbook symptom of late capitalism.” An early-19th-century article by J.S. Duncan classified umbrella wielders into familiar types such as the Sky-Striker and the Shield-Bearer, both of which species remain alas all too common to this day. And Rankine does not neglect such memorably sinister instances as the mysterious Umbrella Man present at Kennedy’s assassination and the 1978 murder of Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov by way of a poisoned ferrule.
Here, you can buy it at Amazon. It would make a nice Christmas present especially alongside a stylish umbrella.

I'm making an "umbrella" tag now (and adding it retrospectively). It's a tag I've considered making before, so I'm reaching a tipping point. Absurdly, every time I've checked to see if I have an "umbrella" tag, I see that I have a tag "Obama's umbrella." (Weirdly, that tag has 5 posts. 6 now.)

Now, I'm tempted to by "Brolliology" just to see if the author discussed Obama's umbrella. No, I don't need to. There's a search-inside-the-book function at Amazon, and Obama does not make an appearance in "Brolliology," but that doesn't mean it's not a good book. Quite the contrary! I'm browsing around in it and like it a lot. Plenty of amusing illustrations. And it has what I love: miscellaneousness.

There. I bought it.

"The forces of chaos and public disorder disrupted another democratic institution Monday night in Madison..."

"... our elected Dane County Board of Supervisors, under the banner of “Derail the Jail.” Yes, these nut cases want NO JAIL at all! (We’ve written extensively about them.) Who do they represent? Maybe the sociology department at UW-Madison and the John Nichols chapter of the Socialist Workers Party. No one else. Because even Madison alders voted for more police just last week. No, even the smaller and more humane jail proposed for Dane County — really, a mental health hospital with bars — is too much for the anarchists."

Writes David Blaska, passing along this video of the disruption (which includes chants familiar from the 2011 Wisconsin protests, such as "This is what democracy looks like" (apparently, what democracy looks like is chaos)):

I am trying so hard to resist clicking on any click bait articles like "This Is What It's Like to Be the Only Trump Fan at Thanksgiving Dinner."

How about you?

Are you reading the politics-at-Thanksgiving articles?
 
pollcode.com free polls

Phrases from the past: "Crotchgate" and "pro-sex feminism."

After writing that post about Gayle King adjusting her position relative to Charlie Rose, I created a 2 new tags: "Era of That's Not Funny" and "Trump's Access Hollywood remarks." Both tags can be applied retrospectively to the archive, but the second one is going to take a long time, and I'll get to that eventually. The first one is a more recent concept, and I'm only applying it retrospectively to posts where I've used that exact phrase, and that task is done. But in searching for the phrase, which I failed to put in quote marks, I turned up a few random things, including, from December 2006, "Camille Paglia on... it's not my word.... 'crotchgate.'"

What was "crotchgate"?! I see that there's something right now that's got a #crotchgate and Donald Trump has even weighed in:


Oh, I see. A college football player grabbed his own crotch (in a taunting gesture):

But what was "Crotchgate" in 2006? It was something I only blogged about because Camille Paglia took it on: Some female targets of paparazzi — Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan — were flashing their pantsless crotches. Paglia said:
"These girls are lowering themselves to the level of backstreet floozies. It angers me because I fought a bitter fight to get feminism back on track and be pro-sex at the same time. This is degrading the entire pro-sex wing of feminism.... [T]hey are cheapening their own image and obliterating all sexual mystery and glamour, which are the heart of the star system... These are women who are clearly out of control because the old studio era is over. The studio system... guided and shaped the careers of the young women who it signed up. It maximized their sexual allure by dealing it out in small doses and making sure you don’t have -- what has become here -- a situation of anarchy."
So the women are bringing the anarchy of too much uncontrolled sex?! That's not how it looks today, after the Weinstein revelations. But, of course, Weinstein and the men like him were active back in 2006, exercising control, trying to wrest "small doses" of "sexual allure" out the actresses for their own gratification. But, as Paglia put it then, the "girls" were "lowering themselves." And Paglia expressed anger, because it interfered with her "wing" of feminism: "pro-sex feminism."

Is anyone talking about "pro-sex feminism" — or "sex-positive feminism" — these days? Searching for both terms in the news of the last month, I find only a reference to Taylor Swift song lyrics and a description of a 1986 movie character (who's being brought back for a new TV show).

No one seems to be jumping at the opportunity to reconcile "pro-sex feminism"/"sex-positive feminism" with the new, staunch, zero-tolerance approach to sexual abuse. I'm sure many of those who write about feminism today are too young to remember the feminism of the 1980s, so they're unlikely to see that the things that are happening now resemble what sex-positive feminism fought against. And won. For a while.

But nobody wants to talk about sex-positive feminism now, and no female pop stars are seeking attention by giving paparazzi an unobstructed view of naked crotch.

ADDED: By today's standards, the flashing of naked crotch is considered sexual abuse. If a man were to do it, he'd be professionally and socially dead. 

AND: I've done the retrospective adding of the tag "Trump's 'Access Hollywood' remarks." 49 posts so far, including this one. I might do a project of analyzing my personal reactions over time. I'm told I really changed over time, and obviously the context has changed.

"CBS This Morning" may have fired Charlie Rose, but it used to revel in his sexual creepiness.

It's been a running joke on John Oliver's show for years:





Charlie Rose's "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King just happened to be a guest on Stephen Colbert's show last night. We're told she was already scheduled and, when the Rose story broke, she considered canceling, but Colbert's show is on CBS, and I assume I'm looking at CBS trying to extricate itself from the Charlie Rose story. And Gayle King isn't just committed to CBS, she's got her own reputation to keep clean. Watch the mind-numbing performance of Gayle King who plays dumb and cloyingly emotional:



1. In Colbert's introduction of King, he says she "delivers the hard news as co-anchor of 'CBS This Morning' and delivers the good news as the editor-at-large of O, the Oprah Magazine." Was "hard news" an intentional reference to Charlie Rose, whose penis is in the news? If innuendo was not intended, I believe it would have been noticed after it was written and edited out, so I say it was intended. Deniable, of course. Everything's deniable, like King's I-knew-nothing! routine.

2. Less than half-way through this clip, I was pausing and researching signs of lying. King is looking down and to her right (as if she had notes down there she needed to read) and scratching her cheek (at 2:02 (I've seen myself on video many times touching my cheek when I know I'm saying something that's has an element of deceit)). And look at her fist at 2:55.

3. "This is very difficult for me" — King's tactic is to make this a story of her emotional journey. Colbert plays a supporting role, with softball questions like: "Are you angry?" To which King answers: "I am a variety of emotions. There's certain some anger. There's some sadness. There's compassion. There's concern." It's so complex! "You can hold a variety of emotions around one particular incident."

4. At 3:52, she repositions and goes back to "what these women are going through." But what I want to know is what she knew and might have done to help "these women" before the news story broke and had an impact on her career. We have to start listening to women. King has been a professional in woman-oriented media for a long time. She didn't just recently get a clue about these issues. But the Colbert audience gives her a massive cheer (as she interlaces her fingers and works her hands back and forth).

5. Women will continue to speak up, King tells us in an impassioned tone, because "they're now being believed." She has to say "they," though she's a woman, because if she said "we," it would seem as though she had a story to tell.

6. King says that men need to "join the conversation." How? Men have to condemn sexual harassment and not make fine distinctions. They have to say that "it's all bad." So... not really a conversation. "All of it is really unacceptable." There's nothing to debate. Oh, but then she says, "By the same token, I want to be able to joke and laugh with friends without thinking I'm going to be called into human resources. But we all know the difference. What that is. We do." We do? Is it that talking is different and you can joke? But look at the most famous joke on the subject: "And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything, grab them by the pussy, you can do anything." That has plainly been dumped into the all-of-it-is-really-unacceptable category. (No wonder Siri is telling me, "Ann, I don't really know any good jokes. None, in fact." It is the Era of That's Not Funny.") [AND: As Ignorance is Bliss asks in the comments: "So who put a pubic hair on my Coke?"]

And here's Gayle King talking about the Rose story with Norah O'Donnell on their show, "CBS This Morning" yesterday:



That's very stiff and stilted. The 2 women are scripted to say what's been decided as the correct way to save their show. It goes on and on, and I'm saying that after stopping the clip at 2:12. There's no way, no matter how much longer they talk — the clip goes on for another minute — they are not going to get to the topic I want to hear discussed: What did you know? If you didn't know, why didn't you know? What good are you in your women-helping-women role on morning TV if you didn't recognize the monster who sat next to you for 5 years?

November 21, 2017

At the No-Jokes Café...



... you'll have to think of your own jokes.

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"Things got shaken up a little bit and there is a lot of light being thrown into places where there were shadows and that is kind of healthy."

"It’s painful, but I think pain is a precursor to change."

Mel Gibson weighs in.

"All of us, including me, are coming to a newer and deeper recognition of the pain caused by conduct in the past, and have come to a profound new respect for women and their lives."

First-class bullshit from Charlie Rose.

Seeking the "purity" of "younger women."

Talking Points Memo quotes what Pastor Flip Benham said on the radio last night:
"Judge Roy Moore graduated from West Point and then went on into the service, served in Vietnam and then came back and was in law school. All of the ladies, or many of the ladies that he possibly could have married were not available then, they were already married, maybe, somewhere. So he looked in a different direction and always with the [permission of the] parents of younger ladies. By the way, the lady he’s married to now, Ms. Kayla, is a younger woman. He did that because there is something about a purity of a young woman, there is something that is good, that’s true, that’s straight and he looked for that.”
Audio at the link. The discussion continues, with Benham, under questioning from the show hosts, saying that it is acceptable for a man to "court" a 14-year-old girl if he has her parent's permission.

I'm interested in the appeal to the value of "purity," because I've been reading Jonathan Haidt's "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion," which posits 5 foundations of moral reasoning, one of which is sanctity/degradation. Haidt has studied how conservatives and liberals do moral reasoning, and liberals stick to only 2 of the 5 foundations — care/harm and fairness/cheating — which is why they have a terrible time understanding (and appealing to) conservatives, who use all 5. (The other 2 are loyalty/betrayal and authority/subversion.)
The Sanctity/degradation foundation evolved initially in response to the adaptive challenge of the omnivore’s dilemma, and then to the broader challenge of living in a world of pathogens and parasites. It includes the behavioral immune system, which can make us wary of a diverse array of symbolic objects and threats. It makes it possible for people to invest objects with irrational and extreme values—both positive and negative—which are important for binding groups together.
Of course, to the liberal mind, the idea that there's "something about a purity of a young woman, there is something that is good, that’s true, that’s straight" just sounds horribly sexist. And I find it hard to believe that liberals don't think about purity too. They just aim their thoughts at the impurity of the older man — the creep — who's going after young girls. His interest in their purity is impure. 

Trump carries out the annual nonsense, pardoning turkeys.


I love when Trump asks if he can touch the bird and then, petting it, says "I feel so good about myself doing this." That almost gets a smile from Barron.

"Some have argued that there would be no #MeToo moment if Donald Trump had not been elected, even after being accused of various forms of misconduct, from groping to rape."

"But in recent weeks several of Trump’s accusers have said that while they’re happy sexual harassment is being discussed more openly, they’re still dismayed that their own stories seem to have had little impact. Some have continued speaking out, hoping that away from the chaos of the election, people might be more ready to listen to their accounts. A defamation suit filed by Summer Zervos, one of the accusers, has also opened up the possibility that they’ll get their day in court. But for now, Trump seems entirely unfazed by the allegations hanging over him. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed last month that it is the White House’s official position that every single one of the women is lying, and Trump has not shied away from condemning alleged sexual harassers (if they’re Democrats)."

From "What Happened to the 16 Women Who Accused Trump of Sexual Misconduct," by Margaret Hartmann in New York Magazine. Hartman lists the 16 women, their allegations, and what's happened since the allegations were made, but does not examine why — as so many others take massive hits and lose their jobs — Trump remains relatively unscathed. So let's talk about that. Let me get the conversation started with a few ideas. I'm not endorsing any of these theories, just putting them on a list of things you might want to consider:

1. The election worked as absolution. We factored in the allegations — giving them whatever weight we thought right — and they haven't really changed since the election, so the election is like a final judgment in a court case. As a political matter, we move on and get on with our life.

2. Since Trump is the President, we need him to carry out his duties. We especially want to put these accusations in the past, because we see the dangers of complicating his life. He's been chosen to shoulder the difficult tasks of the presidency, so leave him alone. Let him move forward.

3. Those who want to complicate his life probably didn't vote for him and would be happy to take him down now. Every time there's another Harvey Weinstein or Charlie Rose, they want to talk about Trump the sexual harasser again, but to those who've supported Trump or who want to respect the results of the election and not add to the difficulty of Trump's presidential tasks, they seem to be relitigating the election.

4. Many of the new targets of allegations are people who had seemed to be male allies of the women's movement, and it's the lying and the hypocrisy that bothers us the most. The accusations against Trump seem only to reinforce what we already saw on the surface of Trump: brash exuberance, wanting plenty of good things for himself, excitement over beautiful women, impoliteness. The new allegations don't take us back to the Trump allegations because Trump wasn't accepted as an ally of feminism. He seems to represent the old school, male chauvinism. That's a different category and not what we're paying attention to right now.

Mugabe gone at last.

"Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, resigned as president on Tuesday shortly after lawmakers began impeachment proceedings against him, according to the speaker of Parliament," the NYT reports.

"Only morons pay the estate tax" is a reason (if it's true) to get rid of the estate tax.

It may sound rude, but it's memorable, and it makes a point. Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic adviser, said it and also resaid it more politely: The estate tax is only paid by “rich people with really bad tax planning.”

The NYT has an editorial about it, in which it uses the word "loopholes" to refer to the provisions of the tax code that allow for the avoidance of the estate tax, and "windfall" for what Cohn's "morons" would get if the estate tax were repealed.

I'm tempted to ask Why doesn't the NYT care about morons? Shouldn't the law protect those who lack the intelligence to take steps to protect themselves? But I guess the NYT would say that the rich who are doing intelligent tax planning are bad people, and the rich who are exposing themselves to the estate tax are good people. No need to give a "windfall" to the good rich people who decline to use the tax avoidance provisions (the "loopholes"). Let's just give them a pat on the head and move on to denouncing the bad rich, the ones who aren't paying their fair share.

On the other side of the argument are Republicans who call the estate tax the "death tax" and stress that it hurts small businesses and farmers — including businesses owned by women and minorities.

The NYT says this characterization of who pays is wrong. It says (and see if you find this as hard to follow as I did):
So who actually does pay estate tax?... A few dozen farmers, and even fewer minority business owners. About 80 family farmers or small-business people would be subject to the estate tax this year, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center — a far cry from the “millions” Mr. Trump wrongly claims. The biggest winners in an estate tax repeal wouldn’t be struggling ranchers, minority contractors or mom-and-pop grocers. They’d be people like Mr. Trump’s kids, unless they’re …

Morons. “Only morons pay the estate tax,” Gary Cohn, Mr. Trump’s chief economic adviser, told Senate Democrats, meaning, it was later explained, “rich people with really bad tax planning.” Many of the very wealthy use loopholes, like trusts, to avoid paying inheritance tax. We don’t know where Mr. Trump’s kids would stand because Mr. Trump has never fulfilled his promise to publicly release his tax information.
First, how would "people like Mr. Trump's kids" be the "biggest winners in an estate tax repeal... unless they're morons"? Shouldn't it be the biggest winners will be people like Mr. Trump's kids only if they're morons? If they're not morons, they're already using the "loopholes." They have good tax planning. They don't need the repeal. The repeal is only needed by those who are too moronic to get tax planning. (Actually, it's not the heirs who do the tax planning. The question isn't whether Trump's kids are morons, but whether Trump is a moron.)

I guess that's just an editing screwup, where it seemed cute to connect those 2 paragraphs. The idea is: Don't think of anybody sympathetic. Exclude all the farmers and mom-and-pop people. Visualize those Trump kids. That's who you should think of the repeal as helping. Now, let's think about morons. The Trump kids, like a lot of rich kids, are probably protected by tax planning, but some of them are morons (or, really, have parents who are morons). Do you care? Trump-kid types sometimes get less money because of a moronic failure to do tax planning: Who wants to help them?! We're currently raking in revenue from these unsympathetic nitwits. Why is that a problem to be fixed? That's the argument that, I think, was intended.

Finally, let's look at the radical discrepancy between Trump's "millions" and the number 80 that the NYT used. The Times is referring (I'll assume correctly) to the number who become subject to the estate tax in a given year. Trump said he wanted "[t]o protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer." His set of persons is everyone who might ever be subject to the tax, dying over a period of many years, and including people who might not, in the end, have enough to be subject to the tax but just have to worry and make decisions under the influence of the tax and those who are under pressure to use the services of tax professionals because they've heard that to fail to do so is to be a moron. 

"Michigan Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not 'succumb to [his] sexual advances.'"

Buzzfeed reports on what looks like an egregious case of sexual harassment and on the way Congress hides its sexual harassment problems (and thereby facilitates them going forward).

Buzzfeed has acquired what it says are the documents showing the settlement and the ludicrously biased procedure: "a grinding, closely held process that left the alleged victim feeling, she told BuzzFeed News, that she had no option other than to stay quiet and accept a settlement offered to her."
“I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go,” she said in a phone interview. BuzzFeed News is withholding the woman’s name at her request because she said she fears retribution....

Congress has no human resources department. Instead, congressional employees have 180 days to report a sexual harassment incident to the Office of Compliance, which then leads to a lengthy process that involves counseling and mediation, and requires the signing of a confidentiality agreement before a complaint can go forward.
The procedure also requires the complainant to continue working during 90 days of this counseling and mediation, so not only are you forbidden to talk to anyone about your troubles, but you have to keep working under the conditions you're saying are abusive.

This woman ended up with a settlement of just a little over $27,000, and she also lost her job and had to keep silence. I guess the power differential and the fear were so great that $27,000 was a good amount of money to her. I mean, look what she says he did:
On one occasion, she alleges that Conyers asked her to work out of his room for the evening, but when she arrived the congressman started talking about his sexual desires. She alleged he then told her she needed to “touch it,” in reference to his penis, or find him a woman who would meet his sexual demands. She alleged Conyers made her work nights, evenings, and holidays to keep him company.

In another incident, the former employee alleged the congressman insisted she stay in his room while they traveled together for a fundraising event. When she told him that she would not stay with him, she alleged he told her to “just cuddle up with me and caress me before you go.”

“Rep. Conyers strongly postulated that the performing of personal service or favors would be looked upon favorably and lead to salary increases or promotions,” the former employee said in the documents.
There was also evidence of a pattern of behavior, with affidavits from 3 other staff members. One can only wonder what other evidence was not seen because of past settlements with obligations to keep silent — not seen by the complainant. Conyers knows what's in his own history, and that's another element of the power differential. He knows how much he's got to hide. She's just a young person who needs to get a footing in her career and probably worries that her word against his won't be believed, which is probably part of why she was selected for the special workplace treatment that is sexual harassment.
One affidavit from a former female employee states that she was tasked with flying in women for the congressman. “One of my duties while working for Rep. Conyers was to keep a list of women that I assumed he was having affairs with and call them at his request and, if necessary, have them flown in using Congressional resources,” said her affidavit. (A second staffer alleged in an interview that Conyers used taxpayer resources to fly women to him.)

"Welcome to the club. This is our pervy handshake."


AND:

IN THE COMMENTS: Bob Boyd said "The handshake was awkward because Louis CK doesn't like it when another man touches his woman."