I’m a feminist. I don’t want Al Franken to resign. Yet.

Kudos to Kate Harding for her Op-Ed in the Washington Post today.  Having been the senior woman at a large law firm for 15 years (thankfully, there were one or two more senior during my first 5 there), I got stuck on the firm’s original Sexual Harassment Committee. That service was not pretty. And, of course, #MeToo. But, I’m also outraged and afraid about other things in these troubled times.

Harding’s article pretty much captures my take on how we should move forward. I recommend you read the entire article, but I’m excerpting the parts that felt most salient to me. The parentheticals to the author’s text are what I would have said were I writing it:

“If you understand what it means to be a Democrat today — that is, why it makes sense to vote blue over red in this highly polarized political environment — you can understand why it might not make the most sense to demand Franken’s resignation, effective immediately.

“I am a Democrat [in part] because I am a feminist who lives under a two-party system, where one party consistently votes against the interests of women while the other sometimes does not…. I am a realist who recognizes that we get two viable choices, and Democrats are members of the only party positioned to pump the brakes on Republicans’ gleeful race toward Atwoodian dystopia. [And, of course, oligarchy, white supremacy, and the Christian version of an Islamic State.] Meanwhile, I recognize that men’s harassment of and violence against women is a systemic issue, not a Democrat or Republican problem….Its roots lie in a patriarchal culture that trains men to believe they are entitled to control women’s bodies —for sex, for sport, for childbearing, for comedy.

“When you combine these things — an awareness that the Democratic Party is no more or less than best of two, and an understanding that men in power frequently exploit women — it becomes difficult to believe that Franken is the only sitting Democrat with a history of harassment, abuse or assault.

“Sexual harassment and assault are simply too widespread for Democrats to respond to Franken’s offense with only Franken [or some other predator Democrats from the past] in mind: We need to respond in a way that helps us develop a protocol for meaningful change.

“It would feel good, momentarily, to see Franken resign and the Democratic governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, appoint a senator who has not (as far as we know) harmed women. If I believed for one second that Franken is the only Democrat in the Senate who has done something like this, I would see that as the best and most appropriate option. But in the world we actually live in, I’m betting that there will be more. And more after that. And they won’t all come from states with Democratic governors and a deep bench of progressive replacements. Some will, if ousted, have their successors chosen by Republicans.

“In other words, if we set this precedent in the interest of demonstrating our party’s solidarity with harassed and abused women, we’re only going to drain the swamp of people who, however flawed, still regularly vote to protect women’s rights and freedoms. The legislative branch will remain chockablock with old, white Republican men who regard women chiefly as sex objects and unpaid housekeepers, and we’ll show them how staunchly Democrats oppose their misogynistic attitudes by handing them more power.

“‘Isn’t that hypocritical?’ I hear you asking, ‘Because Republicans won’t do the right thing, we shouldn’t, either?’ But if the short-term ‘right thing’ leads to long-term political catastrophe for American women, I think we need to reconsider our definition of the ‘right thing.’ I am in no way suggesting that we decline to hold Franken accountable for his offenses — only that we think in terms of consequences that might actually improve women’s lives going forward.

“But in a sharply divided political climate where toxic masculinity knows no party, yet is only ever acknowledged by one, we must think about how to minimize harm to women. One more empty apology and resignation, one more head on a pike, will not make American women safer or better off. Powerful men lifting up women’s concerns and supporting progressive women candidates, however, could be a real step toward changing the culture that makes victims of so many of us.”

Harding goes on to lay out a plan — a sort of plea to Senator Franken. I hope he takes her up on it.

Source: Perspective | I’m a feminist. I study rape culture. And I don’t want Al Franken to resign.

Oct 30 revelations

Earlier this month, Mueller filed a charge against George Papadopoulos, foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos pled guilty. Read it here:

Papadopoulos statement_of_the_offense.filed_

Today, the indictment against Manafort and his associate Gates was unveiled. Read it here:

manafort-gates_indictment_filed_and_redacted


So, here’s what’s happening. (I think.)
 
Papadopoulos was arrested in July and pled guilty to the charge of lying to the FBI in early October. Based on the allegations in the Charge, he could have been hit with charges of much bigger crimes. So, he must have cut a deal to testify against others. LIke the three Trump campaign officials named in the Charge, one of whom is probably Manafort.
 
The Indictment of Manafort is all about tax fraud and lobbying disclosure violations – predating his role in the campaign. These are big crimes that could get him years in prison and Mueller hoped that threatening him with these charges would get him to testify against others in the campaign. So far, Manafort may be keeping his mouth shut hoping for a pardon. But I’m sure the prosecutors are dangling a jail time reduction in front of him in exchange for testimony. Eventually, he’ll be part of a bigger indictment based on the stuff revealed in the Papadopoulos Charge.
 
So, when Trump tweets “no collusion” and says this stuff happened years ago, he’s ignoring the Papadopoulos Charge and focusing only on the Manafort indictment (which does continue into 2017, incidentally, so he’s mischaracterizing it as well).
 
And Flynn is still in the background — cooperating or not?
 
This stuff is complicated. Stay tuned.

Words from Eleanor Roosevelt

“There can be no real democracy unless there are three basic things: 1. Economic security sufficient to give at least some minimum to make living worthwhile. 2. Sufficient education to understand the problems before the country and to help solve them. 3. The sources of information must be free — press, radio, movies.”

To remain free, “we have to watch other factors…such as bankers, subscribers (by which she meant donors), and advertisers. They have to be watched by the people as carefully as government is watched.”

As reported in the 3d volume of Blanche Wiesen Cook’s Eleanor Roosevelt biography.

The End?

There was a brief, shining moment:

In the beginning, the President (a Republican) sought to preserve public lands and break up monopolies which were oppressing the people. During this time, citizens, acting through their townships and states, established and spread free public education for all American children.

Another President (a Democrat) sought to secure the basic welfare of the people with Social Security.

Another President and Congress welcomed our GIs home from a war that saved the world from fascism by giving them help to attend college, buy homes, and healthcare for life.

Another President (a Republican) enforced desegregation of our schools and connected our country with a great interstate highway system.

Another President (a Democrat) guaranteed healthcare for the elderly and extended health care to the poor while also enforcing voting rights and nondiscrimination in the commercial sphere.

Another President (a Republican) signed laws to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Another President (Republican) signed a law to bring the disabled into fuller participation in our society.

All of that took place over about 90 years.

More recently, for a briefer moment (not 17 years, but 8), another President (a Democrat) extended health care to millions, starting with children and then even more recently to adults.

But to some of our citizens, all of these are simply “costs” not moral imperatives. The power of this minority of citizens has grown while the indifference of the majority has swelled. It’s not clear to me that the majority can be rallied to continue the greatness of 20th Century America. The crass minority has been very good at providing circuses while getting slowly more miserly with the bread they provide. The majority needs to rally or one day they will wake up to find barely enough to live, and many of them will find death.

America is at a crossroads, do we go back to paying for public goods because this is the moral thing to do. Or, do we follow a false slogan? #MAGA is a lie.

Inspired by: The End of the American Experiment

Review of 1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History by Jay Winik

1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History by Jay Winik

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m really a 4.5 not a 4-star on this book. It’s not as good as his April 1865. But it is very good. The title somewhat misleads in that the book covers a lot of history before 1944; however, it’s point is the consequences of the decisions made, or avoided, in 1944. A bit repetitive at times: The beginning tries to capture the reader by previewing all to come — not a good technique in my opinion.

I’ve read a lot about FDR and WWII and this covered some new territory for me. If I hadn’t covered the previous territory with authors such as Rick Atkinson and Doris Goodwin, I might have been lost. So, maybe the 4 is just right.

View all my reviews

Non-Violent Extremism

I am reading a fine book called This Is An Uprising: How Non-violent Revolt is Shaping the 21st Century, by Mark Engler and Paul Engler. Mark Engler will speak in Flagstaff next week. Reading the book reminded me of a Facebook Note that I had written on Martin Luther King Day in 2011 — before I was using this blog. Here’s what I said then:

“When one lives through history, perhaps you tend to be less curious about it. Or I least I have been. Also, there really isn’t historical perspective for at least some decades after events. At least in the first 20 years or so, I’d class whatever we say about current events as political commentary.We’ve now reached the point where there is some good historical perspective on Martin Luther King.

In recent years, there have probably been several good books about Martin Luther King’s life. The one that most grabbed me was: To the Mountaintop: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Sacred Mission to Save America 1955-1968. The book reveals that King’s inspiration for embracing the “extremism” label his critics had given him was a woman, Lillian Smith, who bemoaned moderation as “the slogan of our times,” and a dangerous myth that was no longer affordable in the conditions of fifty years ago. (Mountaintop, p. 183.)  I think that is true again, where the slogan of our times has become “civil discourse.” Civility by those who are right cannot prevent injustice and immorality by those who are wrong. Non-violent extremism must be embraced to save our country.”

At the time, in 2011, I was thinking primarily of the drive for equal marriage rights. That battle seems to have been won. Nonetheless, the thoughts apply today. This Is An Uprising quotes briefly from Dr. King’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail. This letter, one of his most inspiring pieces, was  written in 1963 in response to local ministers, so-called liberals who complained his appearance in their community was “unwise and untimely.” Here’s some of what King wrote:

“I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statements in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms….I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here I am here because I have organizational ties here. …But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here.

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

“You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes.

“You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling, for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to so dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, we must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise….

“Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

“But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”….. Then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

“I must make two honest confessions to you….First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

“…we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with an its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured….

“….We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this ‘hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.

“But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label….So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?”

You can read King’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail, written in 1963, in its entirety here: http://abacus.bates.edu/admin/offices/dos/mlk/letter.html

#JeffHangsUp #AnotherDramaticOverreaction #WheresMySafeSpace #GetYourColoringBook

Yes, it really is another “dramatic over-reaction.” 1) Thorpe’s staff tells his constituents that he doesn’t do town halls BECAUSE he does a lot of radio shows. 2) Constituents try to ask questions on the radio shows and get cut off. 3) Right-wing radio show host claims his show is bombarded by some national left-wing plot.

Here’s the question about Rep. Thorpe’s priorities that I wanted to ask and was cut off from asking: “Other Republicans around the country are meeting with their constituents in town halls, why is your priority to appear on right-wing talk radio instead of meeting openly with your constituents?”

#WheresBob #JeffHangsUp Talk about “snowflakes,” these guys are pretty darn sensitive.

JeffOravits.com

During and after Fridays Show with Representative Bob Thorpe, Twitter went wild with a response by some over my show after I refused to take a few calls and had to let one caller go after they told one thing to the screener and proceeded to ask an entirely different, and already asked question.

The hashtag “#JeffHangsUp” popped up real quick.  Yet #AnotherDramaticOverreaction from the crowd that’s making overreacting a regular occurrence.  I knew before the show that they were planning to bombard us with calls to ask “#Where’sBob”, part of national top down effort to swamp Republicans as they return to their district.  They are free to do so, but on my show we screen callers to make sure they stay on the topic we’re discussing, to make sure they’re not boring, to make sure they can make a concise point, to make sure (in this case) they’re not repeating…

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