The Democrats Continue to Eat Their Own

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The situation regarding sexual assault and misconduct has once again demonstrated that there are tremendous differences between the two political parties that supposedly lead this country. When faced with allegations of dalliances and even criminal conduct, the Republican Party stall, deny and castigate those who have made the allegations against their “sainted” representatives. The Democratic Party, however, devolves into a pack of hyenas that eat their own rather than accept the standards as they SHOULD be set.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look, shall we?

We won’t go all the way back to the Bill Clinton debacle from the mid-1990s – his relationship with Monica Lewinsky was consensual and other allegations were either adjudicated to a settlement or thrown out of court altogether. But we will go back to this summer, when noted Hollywood producer and magnate Harvey Weinstein’s heinous accusations first started to emerge. Actresses – ranging from bit players to accomplished women such as Oscar winner Lupita Nyoug’o, Game of Thrones actress Lena Headey and Lauren Holly (of Picket Fences fame) – and other movie personnel began to recount their experiences with Weinstein, which ranged from attempted forced kissing to out-and-out rape. In another era, this probably would have been swept under the rug (as the old Hollywood machine used to do). Today, however, it is a different story.

Whether it was simply because of the voluminous amounts of credible information regarding Weinstein (or perhaps it was the acts of another legend in Hollywood, comedian Bill Cosby, and his decades of sexual assault), this time these women’s intimate details regarding a very painful situation sparked something. Instead of using his power and stature to deflect these allegations, Weinstein was immediately cast from the production company that he founded, ejected from the Director’s Guild of America, and was stripped of all voting rights with the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences (the people behind the Academy Awards), among other things. About the only thing he had left at the end was money (nobody’s gone after that…yet) because his reputation and his place in the hierarchy of Tinseltown were thoroughly destroyed.

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Since that time, the sexual assault and misconduct rage has swept through society. Actor Kevin Spacey, who used the allegations against him as a rather crude way to admit to the world that he was gay, lost his role on the HBO series House of Cards and was completely REMOVED from a film that was already in the can. Ben Affleck, magician David Blaine, comedian Louis C. K., Richard Dreyfus and Dustin Hoffman have faced allegations across the board. The news media saw Today host Matt Lauer and MSNBC host Mark Halpern lost their jobs (and, in Lauer’s case, a divorce is expected) and let’s not forget about former Fox News honcho Roger Ailes or Bill O’Reilly.

To think that politics would be excluded was foolhardy. In 2016, Orange Foolius was accused by 16 women of different sexually explicit (and unwanted) encounters after the cretin vividly described what he did to women in the Access Hollywood tape. Instead of vilifying this asshole, the GOP – after weakly attempting to step away from him – warmly embraced the scumbag and pushed him to the Presidency rather than toss him out on his ass. It has all set up for what occurred on Thursday and, perhaps, what will occur next week.

In Alabama next week, the election to see who will take over the seat vacated by the Keebler Elf…errr, I mean, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III…will take place. In a state where the electorate is 65/35 Republican to Democrat, this should have been a slam dunk for the GOP. Then they went and nominated a child molester in Roy Moore…

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There’s a reason that there isn’t an “alleged” in front of “child molester.” Moore has all but said he trolled for teenage girls as a District Attorney in his early 30s. He has admitted that he “courted” his wife when she was but a teenager. He was banned from an Alabama mall because of his creepy pursuit of teenage girls. And he has all but said, “Fuck you, try and stop me,” to the world when the information from EIGHT WOMEN about his sexual assault and misconduct emerged. After initially trying to step away, Republican scum has now embraced him…why? Because they need his vote in a Senate that they desperately need to keep control of.

(And this isn’t even getting into his prior conduct of disavowing FEDERAL LAW, his two removals from the Alabama Supreme Court, or his commentary on blacks and gays. Let’s just say it…hey Republicans, real winner you picked there.)

The Democrats in power in Washington have also had their travails in deciding what to do with their representatives and their peccadillos. Earlier this week, when accused of sexual assault by staff members and others, Michigan’s John Conyers, the longest serving member of the House of Representatives, chose to not run for his seat in 2018 and immediately resigned. Of more significance, however, was the decision by Minnesota Senator Al Franken on Thursday.

Two weeks previous, former Hooters waitress/television “hostess” Leeann Tweeden announced she had been “sexually assaulted” by Franken, apparently while rehearsing a skit the two were to perform at a USO show overseas. As Tweeden alleges, Franken – like a nebbish joke writer – tried to see how far he could get around the bases with her. He allegedly “forced his tongue in her mouth” and groped her beyond the boundaries of the skit. (We’re not going to touch the photo of Franken allegedly groping Tweeden over her flak jacket because it isn’t clear if he is even touching her nor her pictures of smacking a guitarist on the ass during the same USO tour.)

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Franken, while partially admitting to the situation but also saying that “he remembered it differently,” volunteered to be a part of a Senate investigation into his conduct. Then another accusation emerged from a woman who said he touched her ass during a photo opportunity at the Minnesota State Fair; another woman said he “touched her back” inappropriately…the numbers began to grow, to the point they were rivaling Moore.

For some reason, the Democratic Party felt it was important to force out one of their strongest and most well-respected members on simply the grounds of an accusation. Rather than wait until a Senate committee had reached any decision on Franken’s conduct, a group of Democratic Senators – led significantly by Kristen Gillibrand of New York and Kamala Harris of California, among others – decided that he had to depart. Franken, after two weeks of browbeating on the subject, decided it was “appropriate” to do so.

So, Democrats, what has this “moral high ground” brought about? All the “moral high ground” gives you is a bit better sleep at night. The other side can still fuck over the country with their “low road” approach, seat a pedophile and allow a person who did the SAME GODDAMN THING that Franken was accused of stay in the WH. If you actually think that Moore won’t be seated and Orange Foolius will suddenly have an epiphany and resign because he mistreated women, then you’re living in Fantasyland.

And why will this happen? The GOP isn’t going to care one iota about what “the people” think regarding the issue. Should Moore win next week (and I think he will, despite what many are saying), he’ll be welcomed in by the scumbags of the GOP (because they need his vote) and by Orange Foolius at the top, who continues to sneer at his accusers. All the Democrats have done is shoot themselves in the foot by disposing of a flawed yet powerful voice in the Senate and all their indignation will be met with absolutely nothing from their opposition.

Let’s be honest here. It is high time that women have been heard from, especially on this issue. For far too long men in power have used that position to demean at the minimum and physically assault and mentally torture at the maximum females that are subordinate to them. But the rules must be the same and the punishments also must be equal. If you’re going to excoriate people like Conyers and Franken, then the GOP doesn’t get to play by different rules and have their pedophiles and serial abusers stay in their seats.

You can be guaranteed that this will come back to bite the Democratic Party. In ejecting both Conyers and Franken, they are trying to assume the “moral high ground” on the issue of sexual assault. But when the opposition has neither morals nor the care about being viewed in such a manner – which the Republican Party sacrificed when they put up a thrice-married, narcissistic, racist, xenophobic serial philanderer who lacks the basic couth to act like a human let alone as a world leader as the party’s standard bearer – you’re only hurting yourself and weakening your cause instead of improving it.

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Where Do We Draw the Line? All Things Are NOT the Same

The events of the last month or so – hell, if you want to be serious, it’s dating back to the 1990s – have opened the door of Pandora’s Box. Whether it is in the world of relations between men or women or even something as small as what constitutes a joke, it seems we want to eradicate the impropriety, even the ability to laugh at ourselves. If it delves into a needle of a person’s appearance, a stereotype, or a myriad of other situations, it seems as though it has become verboten. This has caused me to wonder a few things:  just where do we draw the line? And that led to my second thought:  all situations are not the same.

A couple of months ago, I saw one of my favorite films of all time. Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles was on AMC (and unedited at that!) and I laughed my ass off all the way through it. The performances were priceless in the film, from Cleavon Little’s streetwise (and black) Sheriff Bob to Gene Wilder’s drunken Waco Kid, there wasn’t a dull moment in the film about a black man assigned to be a sheriff for a racist town. There was also a litany of jokes about Mexicans, Indians, blacks, Jews, and a host of others that would be considered “inappropriate” today.

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Imagine my surprise when I heard Brooks discuss the issue in an interview soon after. In an interview with the BBC, Brooks commented that he could probably have done Young Frankenstein, but Blazing Saddles could never have been made. “Never ‘Blazing Saddles,’ because we have become stupidly politically correct, which is the death of comedy,” Brooks stated to the BBC. But Brooks’ groundbreaking and legendary comedy isn’t the only piece that might be “wrong” to watch today.

AMC was also the home of another cinematic classic I viewed recently. The original M*A*S*H, with Donald Sutherland as Hawkeye Pierce and Elliott Gould as Trapper John McIntyre, depicted the Korean War with all its warts. It is arguable that there were enough things to twist the panties of today’s sensitive souls, with just the name of one of the characters (‘Spearchucker’ Jones), the usage of drugs and treatment of women by…well, virtually everyone…to get outrage going.

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You think this was just something from the 70s? Another favorite film of mine is Doctor Detroit, a middling 80s comedy starring Dan Aykroyd as a nebbish college professor who, when plied with alcohol, drugs, and sex by a bevy of beauties (that included his future wife Donna Dixon), becomes a chiropractor/crime lord (and the women’s pimp) to not only save them but his college. In the 90s, it was Ace Ventura:  Pet Detective, the story of an inept detective chasing a transgendered (and very sexual, if you’re to believe one scene) former football player. The 21st century hasn’t changed this brand of comedy, or did you miss the Harold & Kumar series?

The movie industry in 2017 has been ravaged by the accusations of some of the most powerful men in Hollywood and the long-rumored “casting couch.” This trend caught one of the most powerful men in Tinseltown, Harvey Weinstein, who was alleged to have attempted to use his position as a “make or break” player in the movie business to have sexual relations (sometimes even forced) with women looking for their big break. Add in other alleged situations such as actor Kevin Spacey, director Brett Ratner and hip hop legend Russell Simmons, and now actor Jeffrey Tambor and it all is coming to a head.

This same year the same accusations have rocked the media and political professions, some proven, some “paid off.” Former Fox News president the late Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, now Charlie Rose…all have been alleged to have committed some form of harassment of women. In politics it dates back even further to the peccadillos of John Kennedy and Bill Clinton. For it to come around to today’s incidences, with both Al Franken and Roy Moore being castigated for their actions, isn’t surprising. And remember, more than a dozen women – and a rape allegation of a 13-year old – are awaiting the person who sits in the most powerful seat in the land (remember right after “grabbed them by the pussy” on the Access Hollywood bus?) To this day, he has never answered for those transgressions.

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I am reminded of when I was back in my radio days. At that time, the biggest name in the game was (and arguably still is) Howard Stern. Stern’s programs routinely featured (and still does) in-depth discussion of sexual actions, women’s anatomy, the derision of the handicapped, and basically set the format for “morning show” radio (the “morning crew” days). As someone who worked in those days, the different “morning show” crews were constantly trying to gain the edge over each other with who could put up the sleaziest, sexiest, most outrageous morning show, making the most fun of the most people that are in existence. And you know what? The audiences LAUGHED ALL THE GODDAMN WAY with them. (And if you want a look at what it was like for a woman in the music business, check out Lita Ford’s autobiography Living Like a Runaway for all the gory details.)

I do realize that this is a new age, a new era, but it is beginning to get a bit out of hand. Can anyone reading this tell me what they did 20 years ago? How about 30? Do you remember every interaction you’ve ever had with the opposite sex (or, in some cases, with the same sex)? Were they all innocent engagements with absolutely nothing memorable about them? Then ask yourself this:  is there a possibility that someone else you were with that they remember the situation completely different than you do?

There needs to be some lines set out. In a court of law, there are differing degrees of murder – first degree, second degree, manslaughter, all the way down to legally allowing a person to kill another human being (self-defense, or “Stand Your Ground”). Sexual assault and harassment can go in the same ways as there are differing standards that could be set.

To compare the pedophilic acts of Moore to Franken’s nobody comedy writer dream of getting to lock lips with a Hooters waitress who made it (and acting like a 15-year old virgin in the process of rehearsing it) is completely asinine. The actions of both men are a FORM of sexual assault. But to hold Franken up as “the same” as Moore – who allegedly fiddled with some 14-year-old child and cruised malls to score teenage girls as a 30-plus year-old man (and a District Attorney at that) – is outright lunacy.

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And just what should be the punishment for these actions? In the case of those in Hollywood, their careers have been destroyed, their reputations in tatters, while the women haven’t emerged any better for telling their stories. Franken may very well lose his seat in the U. S. Senate, while Moore should never be seated if elected next month. Is it worth destroying someone’s very existence for something that happened when they were at a completely different stage in their lives?

I don’t pretend to know the answers and, after reviewing everything, I myself am cloudier on the issue than when I started. But if we’re looking for saints in our politics, we’re going to have very empty chambers to decide the laws. If we’re looking for saints in business, comedy, entertainment, and the news, then there’s going to be a very bland life ahead for our progeny. Brooks said it best in that BBC interview when he said, “It’s okay not to hurt feelings of various tribes and groups. However, it’s not good for comedy. Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks. Comedy is the lecherous little elf whispering into the king’s ear, always telling the truth about human behavior.”

We still have to find how far those risks can go, in comedy and other arenas in life, and, if they were violated long ago, what the appropriate punishments should be.

Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You the Right to Break the Law

Two things we’ll establish from the start here. A long time ago (and I mean a LOOOONG time ago), I attended Butler University with the ambition of going to law school following completion of my undergraduate work. I enjoyed the pursuit of the truth, figuring out the “right” answer to an investigation (a court case) and, perhaps most of all, the debate that came along with the profession. Secondly, I’ve never had a particularly close relationship with religion; I’ve personally always believed that the separation of Church and State isn’t a flimsy one and, quite honestly, that religion doesn’t take science into its canon to be able to answer the myriad questions of life (“you have to have faith” isn’t an answer, unfortunately). Thus, the recent hubbub in the state of Kentucky has particularly intrigued me.

In June, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled on the constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry in the United States. After heartfelt and legally well-thought oral arguments from both sides, the Court decided by the slimmest of margins (5-4) that states could not deny those that sought to marry someone of the same sex that ability, basically asserting that marriage, under the “pursuit of Happiness” clause in the U. S. Constitution, was a right. As expected, the Court broke along philosophical lines, with the four conservative justices dissenting, the four liberal justices concurring and Chief Justice Anthony Kennedy, famous for being the “swing” vote in many decisions in front of the Court, joining the liberal justices and even writing the majority opinion in the decision.

This set about a shitstorm that only reached its apex last month. The state of Texas initially decried the ruling and, for a period, refused to issue licenses for same sex couples. The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore, decided that the ruling by a court superior to his own wouldn’t apply to his jurisdiction. Both of these states decided, after further review and a look at the costs of pursuing a lengthy legal battle, that the issue was settled and apparently have reluctantly begun to issue the licenses. Then, last month, an elected official decided to take the fight the ultimate distance.

In August, a woman elected to the Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk of Courts office began refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples, citing that it conflicted with her “religious beliefs” in “God’s authority” (as if issuing a piece of paper would sentence her to fiery pits of Hell). The woman, Kim Davis, did take the right approach in that she didn’t issue ANY marriage licenses in the county, even to those of the opposite sex, but that wasn’t going to hold up for long (in fact, when a lawsuit was brought against her by the American Civil Liberties Union, it was filed by two same-sex couples and two opposite-sex couples). Davis went to the U. S. District Court, which shot her arguments down and ruled she had to issue the licenses.

Give Davis her due, she does have a true commitment to her beliefs. She continued to appeal the decisions up the ladder to the Appellate Courts for the Sixth District and, eventually, to the desk of Chief Justice Elena Kagan, the overseer of the Sixth District and one of the nine Supreme Court Justices who made the ruling back in June. Kagan filed Davis’ request for a stay on Monday morning; the full Court declined to issue a stay without any comment early on Tuesday, with the previous decision by the District Court standing and ordering Davis to start issuing same-sex couples licenses or face ramifications.

The ramifications are potentially significant, especially for Davis. Should she continue to defy the “law of the land,” Davis could be forced from the position that the people of Rowan County elected her to hold at the minimum and, at the maximum, could be jailed for her refusal to issue a piece of paper. As it stands at this time, the offices of the Clerk of Court of Rowan County are darkened as Davis considers her next step.

There’s been quite a bit of discussion over “religious freedom,” the right to exercise your religious beliefs in society, and Davis’ fight is only the most recent example of the discussion. I personally have never thought this was a problem – Can you worship openly? Can you wear a religious medallion or trinket without having your head hacked off? Can you openly have holidays that are religiously based? If the answer to these questions are “Yes,” then you’re not being subjugated and you have “religious freedom.” – and it really isn’t a problem now except for the fact that the laws of the U. S. aren’t in relation with the beliefs of some of those religious factions. When it comes to operating the government – be it local, state or national – religious beliefs have to be left at the door.

Many like to state that the “Founding Fathers” brought the concept of democracy and the United States as a God-ordained and religiously ruled governmental philosophy. Truth be told, there couldn’t be anything further from the truth. You need some examples?

“Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.” George Washington, 1792

“In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”Thomas Jefferson, 1814

“The civil government functions with complete success by the total separation of the Church from the State.”James Madison, 1819

This is just scratching the surface. I could go on, but you get the point.

The oath that military members take upon enlistment says you will follow the orders of the Commander in Chief (the President of the United States) and defend the U. S. and the Constitution against all enemies “foreign and domestic” (maybe we’ll get into that one of these days). When you’re in the military, you don’t get to decide which orders you want to follow. You have to follow ALL orders (unless it can be proven that the order is an “illegal” one, a bar that is set very high and for good reason). Although Davis’ situation may not be as extreme as that of being in the military, as an elected official you also take an oath to uphold the laws of the United States and defend the Constitution.

Once an elected official takes that oath, they no longer have the right of refusing an action, order or law because of their religious beliefs because if you choose to serve in a public forum as an elected official, then you have to abide by the public law. . If the position is an appointed one, then there might be a different answer to the question, but that isn’t what has come up in any previous situation in Texas, Alabama or Davis’ situation in Kentucky. If we allowed for the “picking and choosing” of which laws people wanted to follow, the U. S. would descend into a chaos that would be unimaginable.

So what should be Davis’ potential punishment and the outcome of the case? I personally believe that jailing Davis would be the worst move possible in that it would only give certain groups a “martyr” to hang the hat of their cause on. A fine isn’t going to do any good either as those same groups would just head over to GoFundMe to start an ever-refilling account. There are only two actions that can be a just outcome for this case:  Davis can come out, state that she still holds her religious objections to same-sex marriage but will abide by the law and issue the licenses, or that Davis resigns her elected position in the Rowan County government immediately and a new person is elected.

There are some areas where the “religious freedom” argument can still be discussed. I am still personally debating the usage of the argument for individual businesses and, as of yet, have been unable to come up with a concrete answer for that situation. When it comes to Church and State, however, the concrete is quite firm in that never shall the twain meet. If we undermine that situation, then we move closer to a theocracy, something that U. S. citizens continually rail about with the government of Iran.