Thursday, November 16, 2017

When Swamp Rats Are Dirty Rats

The revelation of sexual misconduct by Hollywood's Harvey Weinstein has transitioned to the District of Calamity.  Accusations of sexual impropriety threatens to swing two Senate seats and effect the balance of power on Capitol Hill.

Much has been made about  allegations of skivvy conduct by Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore (R-AL).  These accusations stem from conduct nearly four decades ago that were unreported to authorities, but came to light in the closing days of a special election to fill the seat vacated by now Trump Administration Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  The alluvia of allegations sound bad, but are past the statute of limitations, based she-said-he-said allegations with little to no corroborating evidence and relies upon the court of public opinion. 



From a political standpoint, Democrats are anxious to make Roy Moore a poster child for Republicans in 2018 and use the hermaneutic that Republicans condone sexual harassment as a cudgel to impeach President Donald Trump if Democrats regain the House of Representatives.  In the near term, the muck about Moore put the White House in a box.  On the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, establishment Republicans did not like a loose cannon like Judge Moore to be in the Senate chambers, when it endangers the clubby atmosphere of the Upper Chamber and he could help shake up the leadership.  So many GOP party loyalists were quick to condemn Moore for the alleged but unproven misconduct.

There are concerns that Republicans might lose this previously considered "safe" seat, as Moore is polling with a double digit deficit after these allegations have been publicized.  Since candidate Moore refuses to step aside due to this scandal, the DC GOP suggested writing in another Republican. Apparently, this did not test well and was dropped.  After a careful reading of the Alabama state statutes, centrist Republican Hugh Hewitt claims that the problem could go away if   Senator Luke Strange (R-AL) resigned, creating a new vacancy which would cancel the shaky December 12th election, and Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) could appoint another caretaker Senator until the next general election (in November 2018).  Considering the shaky ground Jeff Sessions is in at the Department of Justice, it is possible that Sessions be appointed back to his own seat.


[L] Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) attending [R] Senator Luther Strange (R-AL) swearing in

Recently, after a pleasant Sunday brunch, we chatted about the troubling news about Roy Moore. As the topic expanded to include sexual harassment by elected officials, two ardent feminists insisted that Congress needed to do something about it and make offenders on Capitol Hill as accountable as the rest of us.  I asked who were their bosses.  The obvious answer was the people.  I maintained that voters get to fire their elected officials periodically and they should decide rather than an insider committee.  That viewpoint was not well received.

Well, it seems that when Congress pushed to make the same rules apply to them as their constituents, there were a few quirks.  Regarding charges of sexual harassment with members of staffers, there is 30 day waiting period before pressing charges.  In addition, the victim making the accusation must undergo mandatory counseling.  That sounds munificent, except the counseling comes from the employer whom someone is accusing.  It would seem that it could be made clear to accusers that going public would not be in anyone's best interests.   If I recall correctly, John Batchelor's news-maker interview indicated that this system has paid out $15 million since its advent in the 105th Congress with nary a word making the press.

Congressional Sexual Misconduct payout ledger 


What took party hacks off their sexual harassment game plan was the revelation by a Los Angeles radio personality of Al Franken's inappropriate conduct during a USO mission to the Middle East in 2006, before he was elected as Senator from Minnesota.  The woman reported that she was supposed to do a skit written by Franken that involved a kiss and wanted to rehearse-- she demurred but eventually consented.  During the practice, she alleged that Franken put his tongue halfway down her throat and grabbed her head.  She immediately insisted "Don't do that again!", and she deflected his approach during the skit.

The problem with sexual conduct and Al Franken is about the contemporaneous  photographic evidence. The woman in question wanted to grab some rack time during the 36 hour military flight.  When she was asleep, Franken was seen with a coprophagic grin cupping at her breasts.  No doubt, Franken thought this was funny at the time (and probably a great way to get back at her).  Franken has been known to take outrageous photos for laughs (but the infamous Franken diaper photo was a fake).


Citizen Al Franken takes a picture with a sleeping beauty during a 2016 USO tour.


But this Al Franken moment  was captured on camera. Oops. And the accuser is Leeane Tweeden, a KABC-AM radio personality. Tweeden initially posted #MeToo, but she decided to come forth after hearing Congresswoman Speier's (D-CA 14th)  allegations that members on both side of the aisle have thrust sexual advances while in Congress.

Now this puts a kink into progressive partisans' plans. One of their prominent members stands accused. The public has been primed to always accept the word of victims.  In addition, there is photographic proof. This takes away from the rip the GOP as blanket sexual predator smear.  Rush Limbaugh points out that in this environment, Democrats will have to proverbially throw Senator Franken (D-MN) under the bus to not to seem hypocritical and prospectively use it against their ideological opponents. 

Franken publicly apologized to his victim, claiming that he thought that it was funny.  In addition, Franken submitted himself to scrutiny from his peers.  Maybe this gets it out of the headlines and it gets buried by the press.  If push comes to shove, Minnesota has a Democrat Governor Mark Dayton (D-MN), so Franken would undoubtedly be replaced by another Democrat. 

While justice is a noble pursuit, in this charged environment, the court of public opinion may well condemn non-guilty people just based on innuendo or unproven accusations which are promptly swept under the rug out of convenience.   The reform from the 105th Congress seems to allow members to slide, in a process intended to apply the peoples' law to Congress.  Although there are Ethics Committees to punish members egregious actions, I suspect that the ballot box is still the most efficacious way to punish when swamp rats act like dirty rats. 




Patrick Leahy on Bacon and Judges

Senator Patrick Leahy on Bacon and Judges


Friday, November 10, 2017

Bob Hope on Sacrifice

Bob Hope on Sacrifice

Hollywood comedic actor Bob Hope was renowned for making 57 tours to entertain military troops for the USO  over 60 years, including 79 shows in the Southwest Pacific in 1944.  Writer John Steinbeck, who then served as a war correspondent, wrote of Hope:

When the time for recognition of service to the nation in wartime comes to be considered, Bob Hope should be high on the list. This man drives himself and is driven. It is impossible to see how he can do so much, can cover so much ground, can work so hard, and can be so effective. He works month after month at a pace that would kill most people.




By an act of Congress, Hope was named an honorary veteran in 1997. Hope's humble response to this honor was: "I've been given many awards in my lifetime — but to be numbered among the men and women I admire most — is the greatest honor I have ever received."

Thanks for the memories and entertaining those who serve to preserve our freedom.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Orson Welles on Happy Endings

Orson Welles on Happy Endings


Katy Tur on Trump Coverage

NBC News "Journalist" Katy Tur on Trump Coverage

Katy Tur's crude commentary on Recode on the one year anniversary of the election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States sounds less like a reporter and more like an agenda driven Jo-Whore-nalist.  

But consider the source.   Tur's news organization is devoting four hours of the Today Show to feature a new book by Joe Biden.  To echo Joe Biden and Katy Tur, "That's a big F-ing deal.".  Is it a reboot of Lunchbucket Joe into the political ring or just the news that people need to know? 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Show After the Show for Ferguson the Play's Final Closing Curtain

Playwrigh Phelim Mc Aleer on unscripted closing for Ferguson the Play


Conservative entertainment activist Phelim Mc Aleer held the World Premiere of his  2015 play "Ferguson the Play" in New York City . The drama depicts the shooting of Michael Brown by a greater St. Louis police officer  in 2014 which sparked several days of rioting. This ugly incident which galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement under the ersatz slogan "Hands up, don't shoot."  Mc Aleer wrote the play because he believed that the truth that it was a defensive shooting was not getting out because of media bias buying into a progressive activist agenda.




What made Ferguson the play notable is that playwright McAleer constructed the verbatum theater completely using the released transcript of the Ferguson Grand Jury.  McAleer and director Jerry Dixon worked with a multi-racial cast to put on the controversial courtroom drama  for a short run at the 30th Street Playhouse in Manhattan.

On the closing night, Cedric Benjamin commadeered the stage at the close to voice his displeasure as he thought that the play was unbalanced and biased.





Director Jerry Dixon shut down the rogue actor's rant, but the histrionic polemic spilled out into the street, with actor Benjamin accusing playwright Mc Aleer  of "white arrogance".  




Mc Aleer later praised the director for shutting down the unscripted lecture by a cast member.

It seems ironic that the actor invoked arrogance against the playwright, who raised over  $51,000 in a crowdfunding campaign to mount the production, when the actor could not just say his lines. Mc Aleer deliberately brought Ferguson the play to New York after the cast of Hamilton accosted attendee then Vice President Elect Mike Pence to defy the conceit that conservatives are not welcomed in the New York theater community.

On the first production, which was a stage reading in 2015, nine members of the Los Angeles cast walked off, with one actor claiming that he did not trust Mc Aleer's motives.  At least those thespians were professional enough to disassociate themselves with a theatrical vehicle with which they could not agree.



Ironically, Cedric Benjamin's grand gesture might prove to be counterproductive.  It has drawn more attention to a small production, thrusting it into the news.  Phelim Mc Aleer continues to fund raise over the controversy with an expressed purpose of continuing to perform Ferguson the Play in New York.   Mc Aleer took great consolation that one BLM attendee who attended the play and left shocked and mystified that "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" was a lie.

Pollster George Barna recently sought to understand why evangelical Christians supported Donald Trump, who seemed to contradict many of their mores.  A large part of the answer is that SAGE-cons (Spiritually Aware Governmentally Engaged) conservatives have great distrust in the mainstream (a.ka. lamestream) media because of biased reporting against Trump that they now use alternate media sources to avoid "fake news".  By banding together on core issues like rule of law,  Barna contends that this 11% sliver of of the American electorate voting for Donald Trump was "The Day Christians Change America" (2017).

The strength of SAGE-cons influencing America was shown more than for Election 2016.  The informal boycotts by football fans of the NFL as they tolerate players who Take A Knee during the National Anthem has severely cut into attendance along with television ratings and is influencing advertisers like Papa John's Pizza to pull back.  Such a motivated minority of SAGE-cons may well see Ferguson the Play as a chance to actuate their ideas and counter the "fake news" phenomenon in entertainment as well as cultural conceits.