Another Al Franken essay, post-resignation

He did not admit anything like that. He was very careful in his language not to dishonestly admit to things he doesn't believe. As he said in his statement, "Because all women deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously. I think that was the right thing to do. I also think it gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that in fact I haven't done."

Dozens of women who have known and worked for him, in some cases for decades, have certified that he treats all women with respect, creates a safe and supportive workplace and is a really good guy. I believe them.

Further, the allegations are seven random people out of thousands and thousands he has interacted with. The actions he is said to have taken are ones whose motivations can easily be misconstrued. (A kiss or a touch could be a rehearsal or an accident; masturbating in the office cannot.)

It is hard to imagine, if he's an abuser, why he only touched seven women out of many thousands at the MN State Fair.

We easily believe the women who accuse Trump and Roy Moore because they are well known scumbags. When Bill Cosby's accusers came out, everyone who had ever known him said, "No surprise. He was always a creep." Even Conyer, the people around him were unsurprised.

Al Franken? Everyone. Every single person felt like a punch in the gut. I don't know the name of an other Senator's wife but I've always known Franni.

Considering the testimony of the dozens of women who know him, the mildness and ambiguous nature of the acts of which he is accused, and the fact that these are women who barely intersected with his life, I do not believe for one second that Al Franken is guilty of being an abuser of women. I believe that the women who accuse him are either mistaken or badly motivated.

If there were a jury, I would never vote to convict him. I strongly believe that Al Franken is innocent and unjustly punished.

Al Franken

There are many men who have good accomplishments relative to women who are also immoral pigs. If so, then they cannot remain in a position to abuse women any longer. If they are leaders, then they cannot continue their example of piggishness. Or, their actions were so awful that, despite statutes of limitations, they must be punished.

When you say that Franken has to go, you add him to these categories. I disagree with that conclusion.

Over four dozen women who have known him for his whole career say he is righteous in his treatment and respect for women. This is not the 'open secret' of Matt Lauer being known for bad attitudes about women. This is the opposite.

The things Franken has been accused of are all minor infractions in any other time, even if they are true as expressed. More importantly, they are all one-off events of a sort that can easily be misconstrued.

Sure, Tweedon felt like his kiss during rehearsal was out of line but we have often seen kisses of an elaborate tongue-slurping sort on Saturday Night Live. Which was it? If Franken's fifty defenders are to believed, it was not him trying to get sexual pleasure from her, nor him trying to dominate her, nor him creating a demeaning environment. They all say that he never does that.

An easier, albeit less 'au courant', explanation is that he is actually a decent guy and she misconstrued the situation.

Franken interacts with zillions of people. What would cause him to decide to be a horny abuser for these few people out of those thousands. Was there something amazing about the two USO women that caused him to, after being fine with a zillion excellent looking women on his many USO tours decide that 'Today I will abuse!' The weight of the evidence is that he is decent with women, not the reverse.

I have friends whom I have known for many years. If someone came and told me one of them had raped someone, I'd take his side until someone showed me a movie of it happening and then I'd start investigating whether someone could have a stroke that caused violent behavior.

For Al Franken, his lifelong, frequently expressed reverence for his wife, his intense support for women's issues, his obvious decency, and THE TESTIMONY OF FIFTY WOMEN who know him as I do my friends, tells me that in any situation where there is doubt, he gets the benefit.

I'd be skeptical that Franken is a bad guy based on my life knowledge of him. However, we have had (as of today) fifty-six women way things about him. Six have told stories of brief interactions that could be interpreted in various ways. Fifty have talked about long-term experience that is unambiguous. The current zeitgeist (of which I approve) is that we have to believe what women say, then we have to eventually figure out what to believe when they say contradictory things.

Until the accusations are about things that cannot be so easily misconstrued, I will balance the testimony of fifty women against that of the six in his favor.

On Louis C.K. in the era of Weinstein

Dear Men,

 Asking a women with whom you do not have an intimate relationship to watch you masturbate is abusive. Posing the question without ever doing anything else, is abusive. Any woman who hears that question walks away from it horrified and sad and angry. Any person who would put a woman in that position is contemptible and deserves to be ashamed.

Abusive behavior does not have to be illegal to be shameful. Weinstein appears to have been a rapist and, perhaps broke the law. Louis C.K. did not break the law and his violations are every bit as deserving of condemnation. The violation isn't the act, it's the effect on women.

Louis C.K. made many women feel unsafe, disrespected, worried, angry, sad and abused. Without breaking the law or injuring the victim, perhaps a person who recoils at the realization of what he has done and never does it again can be forgiven. A person who does it repeatedly, should not.

Louis C.K.'s violation is made even worse by the fact that he knew it. That he apologized to some women for this behavior makes clear that he knew that he was harming them. Yet, he kept doing it.

This has to stop. I look forward to all sexual predators being exposed and penalized. I hope for the day when all men understand that women are not their toys and that they are always to be treated with a complete lack of sexual innuendo.

Just as there was no room in our culture for racism once it was discovered and we rightly see racism as intrinsically bad, it is now time for us to understand that viewing women as sex objects is always vile. Women have the right to live their lives without fear of being approached sexually by people without permission, just as black people have the right to live without fear that they will be treated as less human.

This is the next, great civil rights moment. It is time for our society to make the transition to one where it is considered shameful to engage women sexually in looks, thoughts or deeds without a pre-existing relationship that grants permission for that to happen.

Ukraine v Russia

There are few things more annoying that the permanent effort to litigate Hillary Clinton's campaign. Worse, as the only sense in which it arises is, "Hillary did it, too!" and "Why aren't you mad at her, you hypocrite?" Lots of things are characterized as the last refuge of scoundrels but this has to be the worst. It suggests the comparison of a person who is probably the best human ever to run for president to an uneducated tyrant who disgusts every decent human being in the country. It is truly grotesque.

It also demands a comparison between the two campaigns. One that was carefully and successfully executed in a way that should make any American proud. If you read the extensively prepared positions, look at the immense and carefully organized operational structure or listened to her speeches, you will see a sound candidate running an amazing and effective campaign. Look at Trump's campaign and you find a disorganized nightmare of ad hoc racism, hatred and appeal to the worst instincts of our fellow citizens. Also, grotesque.

But the suggestion that we compare the horrific collusion with Russia shown by Junior's emails with the gathering of evidence about Manafort's connections to Ukraine is the worst yet, only understandable as the last refuge of Clinton haters and Trump apologists. It is unfair, silly and ultimately, dangerous.

The biggest reason is that the Clinton campaign is no longer relevant. Turn it around. When the Republicans started their jihad about email servers, nobody cared, not one tiny whit, that they were completely uninterested in the exact same behavior by people on their side. There was the real, legitimate fact of the precedent but everyone, news organization and Congressional committees alike, treated Hillary's servers as de novo, asserting that it was important because she was an important person who was expected to wield national power some day. Trump's collusion with Russia is important because he is president. He wields national power this day.

Had Hillary sent Chelsea to meet with the government of Ukraine to encourage them to bring the power of their government to bear on defeating her opponent as quid pro quo on relieving sanctions, it would still be completely irrelevant. She lost. There is no possibility that she will put Ukranian interests above America's. There is no possibility that the Ukrainians will have leverage over the government to force foreign policy decisions that help them achieve their goals over ours because she is not president.

Of course, the Clinton campaign did nothing like that. What actually happened is that someone heard that Manafort had improper ties to the Ukrainian government and, before accusing him publicly, went to ask the Ukrainians if it was true. The people with whom she met did not subsequently release a ton of stolen emails in a careful pattern to damage the opposition  or hack into the computers of dozens of strategically chosen voting authorities around the country. The Ukrainians at the meetings, as far as anyone can tell, were not lawyers with a brief to work on sanctions or anything else that would represent a potential corrupt 'ask'. 

Even more, nobody from the campaign management was involved in any way. Only one person was involved and there is no evidence that she was acting at the behest of Hillary Clinton. Don Trump Jr is can't say the same about his dad. Nor Manafort, Sessions or the rest.

The demand for equal consideration of these things is the epitome of false equivalence, fabricated, fictitious and dangerous to the republic. That Trump is a bad person and dangerous is obvious to anyone that is not a dumb partisan. That he very well may be a Mancurian Candidate, secretly working in favor of foreign powers from within the White House is a real possibility. Even setting aside that  he explicitly called for them, it is now all but certain that he and his campaign encouraged illegal acts by the Russians to interfere with the election in his favor and probably in return for acting on his subsequent repeated interest in lessening sanctions. That the Trump people uniformly "forgot" to mention the meetings until they were found out by the media confirms the stench of corruption.

The Clinton family has been harassed for twenty five years, charged with fake crimes and abused with the misuse of government resources from Whitewater to Vince Foster to Benghazi to Email Servers and a thousand steps in between. Hillary, far from being corrupt, is probably the cleanest, least corrupt politician in history as demonstrated by the horrific abuse and endless investigation that has failed for decades to turn up any important dirt. Comparing her to the thug in the White House with his practice of ripping off vendors, blatant lies, and obvious, proven corruptions of character too numerous and disgusting to list, is egregious. 

Demanding equal time for a minor conversation by a peripheral Hillary staffer as we do for the proven truth that the Trump management team met with Russians and concealed the meetings is a ridiculous obfuscation. It is one thing to spend all these years abusing Hillary for sheer political gain. It is quite another to keep talking about her in a way that obscures discussion of the real corruption and real national danger represented by this corrupt president.

It is not the left that did this.

Trump and the Republicans have made it clear that they specifically do not represent anyone who didn't vote for them. At the highest levels, they explicitly, openly take pleasure in the doing things that distress those who don't support them. They refer to the institutions we revere, EPA, the fourth estate, safety net, etc, in extreme disparaging terms. 

Trump is not the only one who called for Second Amendment remedies. They all cheered the Malheur occupation and those who pointed guns at the Feds during the Bundy confrontation. They are building prisons as fast as they can, reinvigorating the war on drugs (aka, the war on black people) and abusing even the most innocent of immigrant young people.

The Congress treated Barack Obama brutally and were derisive when our side resisted Gorsuch. Trump led the charge to subvert the president that we elected with intentionally dishonest propaganda about his birth, religion and integrity.

This has been going on for years. Arguably it started with Reagan and welfare queens, certainly by '94 with Gingrich, worsening relentlessly since 9/11. It became clear during the Obama administration that, contrary to the promise of democracy, liberals will never be allowed to be represented or have influence in our governance. This is being done by the right. It leaves people powerless, desperate and angry.

Violence is never the answer but many are people are crazier, less mature or think that it is. This guy was unbalanced but he was not tipped over the edge by liberal ideology. He was provoked, brutally, repeatedly and intentionally.

Please can't we be reasonable?

Funny. We didn't have calls for civility when the guy shot up the pizzeria. No R's called for civility when crowds shouted "lock her up". It was pure civil rights to forcefully take over Malheur. Bundy was a property rights hero. But *now*, we need civility.

How about open hearings for AHCA in the Senate. How about Sessions answers some questions. How about a Democrat in the Cabinet? Trump's thugs have taken over the government completely and revel in doing things, even completely pointless things (lead bullets!) with the intention of offending liberals.

This is to be expected. This will happen more. It is the height of  cynical hypocrisy for R's to be suddenly saying we've gone too far. We haven't. They have. These people are mean-spirited oppressors who have made the government "of the people" only for their supporters. Violence is wrong but it is understandable and will happen again.

Amygdala, Part Oatmeal

Somewhere I wrote about my theory of the 2016 political race and how it was based on some people having fat, juicy, overactive amygdalas.

The guy who draws Oatmeal has some thoughts that are consistent with my views, ie,

Dig it here:

Book ratings: Five stars and then some

I read a lot. I enjoy writing and saying things about books. I use GoodReads, Kindle and I like to rate the books I read. I have always had a fairly rigorous idea of how I use the usual five-star rating but, was trying to decide if four stars was right and realized that it would be helpful if I could consult a standard to decide. Here is mine.

Five stars is reserved for books that are life-changing and superb. Five star books will be amazingly well-written and incredibly interesting. This is rarely given by me but, when I finish a book and truly wish I could stay in it forever or that my perspective on something has been substantially improved, this is where it goes. Five star books are transcendental, wonderful experiences. If you share anything with my views, I believe you will love this book.

Four stars indicates that I really like this book and that I think you should read it. It will be, in my opinion, very well written and interesting. There will be things about it that are unique and present new ideas. Characters, plot, and other mechanics of writing will be very good. These are books that I recommend enthusiastically and that I am sure I will bring up in conversation fairly often. Four star books will leave you feeling satisfied and wishing for the book to never end.

Three stars is for a good book that I think you will enjoy. I am an easy-going person and do not require an author or a book to be perfect. I am happy to overlook flaws in a book if it has some good ideas or is just a pleasant way to while away the hours. I believe that a three star book will please you and that you will feel that the time it took to read was well spent. In my world, Three stars is a positive rating.

Two stars is for decent books that I didn't like very much. My dislike might stem from feeling like the viewpoints are annoying or the mechanics of the book were too evident and distracting. If I'm bored by a book that has an interesting premise that I can imagine others would enjoy, it might get two stars from me. Two star books are ones that someone who shares my views will not be likely to enjoy.

One star is reserved for books that I hate. If I give a book a single star, I probably did not finish it (though I have a 'hundred page rule' so I am never capricious in abandoning a book) because it was so boring or stupid that I felt insulted. In my opinion, a book with one star is  a book that is worth neither the time or money it will consume. When I give a book One star, it's because I am fairly irritated that the author would foist this kind of crap on me.

Google is wrong. The right to be forgotten is a human right and should be universal.

Google has an article complaining that some places are passing laws that require that a citizen who wants to have Google forget his or her past be forgotten universally. They claim a right to free expression and that the originating country's laws should not prevent them from saying what they want. And that the other country's should be able to choose not to grant such a right to their citizens.

Hilarious corporate bullshit to my way of thinking. Their concern about free expression doesn't extend to supporting a claim that some country should be allowed to pass a law invalidating all copyright. In that case, they would support the 'right' of the copyright owner to withhold it's 'content' from said country.

But, if it's a person whose country gives him or her something tantamount to copyright control over their own history and its use in a corporate product (search results are a corporate product that you are buying from Google with your attention), well, not so much. Corps get to control access. People do not.

This isn't the only perversity. Throughout history, humans have been able to go to the other side of the world and start over. Mistakes they made in their youth were invisible as they started their new lives. Crimes committed, controversies engaged, all of the detritus of a life could be escaped. The idea that every single thing that happens is recorded permanently and made easily available to everyone is a completely novel (and bizarre) thing.

This ability to start over is, I argue, a natural human right. It is a cruelty of the first rank to insist that every person be judged at any age by every single thing they have ever done. It makes youthful experimentation dangerous. It makes personal reform worthless. "I was a criminal. No matter what, outside my country, I will always be considered a criminal. Why bother to change?"

This is real. I have thought it myself because my life infractions are too light to be worth the hassle of trying to get Google to forget me. But, I have thought it. I have thought that I would prefer that some things that I have written online were not discoverable.

Note that no one is saying that the person or institution who had a beef with another person has to censor itself just that Google would not be allowed to sell the service of making a person's sensational past available to all comers.

Google's position has the, no doubt intentional, effect of making it so that the right to be forgotten is completely non-existent. On my computer at this exact moment, I can access Google in just about any country in the world (vpn, baby!). If I really care, I can turn myself into a local citizen Singapore and Google every, single person they 'forgot' in Germany.

I can hear the conservatives whine, "How will we know if a person has committed crimes or said mean things about us before we hire them?" Hard to imagine how civilization worked for the 3000 years before Google but, somehow, people did business, made new friends, and made progress when people had to be judged by who they were as they stood in front of you.

Google is an enemy of human freedom. It's bad enough that they favor corporations over people in their intellectual property policies. It's awful that they only respect the right to be forgotten in country's that pass a law. Now they want to make it so that you can only really be forgotten if we get every country I the world to pass that law.

As a consequence, every person's ability to move on with their life after something happens that would interfere with that is impaired because they want you to remain accessible as raw material for their products.

read more: Reflecting on the Right to be Forgotten

Sat Dec 10 2016 11:31:18 GMT-0600 (CST)