What Ailes The Republican Party?

To follow up on Betty’s post below…

I’ve been thinking about Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against that omphalos of evil, Roger Ailes, since it dropped.  You all know the essence:

In a suit filed Wednesday in superior court in Bergen County, N.J., Carlson alleges that Ailes “unlawfully retaliated” against her and “sabotaged her career after she refused his sexual advances and complained about severe and pervasive sexual harassment.”

“I think you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago and then you’d be good and better and I’d be good and better,” the complaint says Ailes told Carlson last September when she complained to him. He allegedly added, “Sometimes problems are easier to solve that way.”

Even in that first story, there was plenty of evidence that Ailes is a serial harasser, a man for whom the women in his employ are objects to be manipulated (in the root sense of that word) at his pleasure:

While an executive at NBC, Ailes was accused of making sexually suggestive comments to various female underlings, according to a 2014 biography of Ailes, “The Loudest Voice in the Room.” A young woman named Randi Harrison said Ailes offered to her increase her salary by $100 a week if she would have sex with him, according to the book. A producer named Shelly Ross said Ailes posed “romantically suggestive questions and made flirtatious comments about her appearance.” Ross said she told him, “This is making me uncomfortable.”

Over the next several days, many more women have come forward to add their accounts:

In recent days, more than a dozen women have contacted Carlson’s New Jersey–based attorney, Nancy Erika Smith, and made detailed allegations of sexual harassment by Ailes over a 25-year period, dating back to the 1960s, when he was a producer on The Mike Douglas Show. “These are women who have never told these stories until now,” Smith told me. “Some are in a lot of pain.” Taken together, these stories portray Ailes as a boss who spoke openly of expecting women to perform sexual favors in exchange for job opportunities…

Vouet,_Simon_-_Lucretia_And_Tarquin

Read the whole piece at that link for some heart breaking memories.

If Ailes is really gone, the nail in the coffin may have been hammered by the Fox News megastar,  Megyn Kelly:

According to two sources briefed on parent company 21st Century Fox’s outside probe of the Fox News executive, led by New York–based law firm Paul, Weiss, Kelly has told investigators that Ailes made unwanted sexual advances toward her about ten years ago when she was a young correspondent at Fox. Kelly, according to the sources, has described her harassment by Ailes in detail.

New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman has been doing seriously good work on this story, which makes this nugget from his Kelly post so interesting:

According to two sources, Monday afternoon lawyers for 21st Century Fox gave Ailes a deadline of August 1 to resign or face being fired for cause.

So, good.  It looks like a truly monstrous figure is on his way out.

I’m as thrilled as anyone at that likely outcome, for all that Ailes’ well-padded crash ($40,000,000 buys a lot of whisky to cry into) is coming decades late.  But there’s a larger story that isn’t getting enough attention.

That is:  Roger Ailes isn’t just a network boss who has managed to deliver ratings to his owner.  He has been perhaps the single most important figure in the forging of today’s Republican party.  His Fox News has set the agenda, constructed the alternate reality, shattered the norms, and altered much for the worse what it means to be a Republican leader or voter.

He’s the architect and engineer of the hate-based, race-focused, anti-science, know-nothing tendency in American politics.  His triumph, his conquest of so much of American government at every level, has reached its apotheosis in the home-video version of Triumph of the Will we’re all seeing in Cleveland this week.  And he is a person who has, throughout his entire working life it seems, defined women as toys to be played with or broken at his whim.

I do not suggest that the Republican party, even in its current desperately debased state, is filled with people who would do as Ailes is alleged to have done.  But Ailes’ signal success has been in shaping how the party thinks, how its members and leaders think the world works.  And that influence is shot through with a sense of whose views count and whose don’t.  In Ailes life, half the world doesn’t rise to the level of agent, of people whose existence demands respect.

The fish rots at the head.

Image:  Simon Vouet, The Rape of Lucretia, 17th century. (Not my favorite of this subject. Rubens’ is great, and I’m a sucker for Tintoretto’s pearls.  But I wanted to keep the post SFW, so Vouet will do.)



It is Important to Bear Witness: The Victim’s Statement in the Stanford Rape Case

The prosecution of former Stanford University student athlete Brock Turner was mentioned in the comments to several threads yesterday. Mention of it shouldn’t be buried in comments to other threads, it needs to be on every front page of every site that is willing to post it.

Turner received a bizarrely short sentence after being convicted for raping a young woman, referred to as Emily Doe throughout the trial, attending a party at Stanford with her sister, who is a student at Stanford. As rape, sexual assault, and/or sexual harassment cases go, this one was fairly straightforward. There was no he said/she said here between the accuser and the accused. Turner was caught in the act of committing the rape by two men who stopped what they were doing, then stopped him, and kept him on site until the police arrived. Both of those men testified for the prosecution. Turner has failed to admit doing anything wrong other than being intoxicated and blamed his actions on being drunk. He has also blamed the victim’s also being intoxicated for contributing to his rape of her. Since his sentencing both Turner’s father and on of his friends have released letters of support for him that are, frankly tone deaf and also seem to ignore both what Turner did and the severity of the crime for which he’s now been rightfully convicted.

While there is a lot more that can be said about America’s attitudes to women, sex, bodily autonomy, disparities of the application and direction of Law, and how all this contributes to rape and sexual assault, those are topics for another day. Instead it is important to bear witness to the victim’s (survivor’s?) own words in the statement she gave to the Santa Clara Court prior to sentencing and to make sure it is disseminated as widely and broadly as possible. A statement that was seemingly ignored by the judge who presided over this case. Below is the video of CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield reading the victim’s statement, which is even more powerful when read; especially by a woman. For those that can’t make it through the video, I’ve posted the full transcript of the statement below the video and after the page jump as it is 12 pages long. The downloaded pdf of the transcript made available by the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office can be accessed by clinking on the link just before the video for those that prefer to read it that way.

Victim Impact Statement; Turner Prosecution.

Read more



Getting in God’s Way

Catholic hospitals in Michigan are so afraid of miscarriage that they are risking women’s lives because a bunch of old, pedophile-shielding Bishops are calling the shots:

The report, by a former Muskegon County health official, Faith Groesbeck, accuses Mercy Health Partners of forcing five women between August 2009 and December 2010 to undergo dangerous miscarriages by giving them no other option.

All five women, the report says, had symptoms indicating that it would be safest for them to deliver immediately. But instead of informing the women of their options, the report says, or offering to transfer them to a different hospital, doctors – apparently out of deference to the Mercy Health Partners’ strict ban on abortion – unilaterally decided to subject the women to prolonged miscarriages.

As a result, the report claims, several of the women suffered infection or emotional trauma, or had to undergo unnecessary surgery. None of the women were pregnant beyond 24 weeks, when an infant can survive outside the womb.
[…]
The report squarely links these events to Mercy Health Partners’ Catholic sponsorship. In the US, hospitals that advertise themselves as Catholic must follow a set of medical directives written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. All doctors working at the hospital must follow church teachings, regardless of their personal beliefs, and the hospital is responsible for instructing its staff on the directives.

God is the world’s greatest abortionist, terminating almost 1/3 of all pregnancies spontaneously. Why are these Bishops so god-damned eager to get in His way?








A Grace Note To Ann Laurie’s Post Below

Reading Ann Laurie’s post reminded me of the obvious: being aware of the experience of others takes constant effort.  And, (as I wrote about one example here), the failure to do so amidst white male self-assumed universality leads to harm in just about any domain — more for those dismissed, but non-zero for the presumed pre-MOTUs as well.

With that as pre-amble, check out this from CNN Money:

All virtual assistants have to deal with inappropriate comments and questions. From seasoned vets like Siri and Google Now, to the rash of new specialists with names like Amy, Molly, Mia and Robin.

When Microsoft launched Cortana in 2014, a good chunk of early queries were about her sex life, according to Microsoft’s Deborah Harrison.

It turns out people feel very comfortable talking freely with text and voice assistants. Humanizing the bots with names, faked emotions, personalities and genders (mostly female) helps build trust with users.

Microsoft has its corporate head in the right place, at least on this one:

Cortana is clearly identified as a woman. She has a female avatar and is voiced by human woman Jen Taylor. But the writers are conscious about avoiding female-assistant stereotypes. Cortana isn’t self-deprecating and avoids saying sorry.

“We wanted to be very careful that she didn’t feel subservient in any way … or that we would set up a dynamic we didn’t want to perpetuate socially,” said Harrison.

But the ‘bros and any MRA/PUA trogs need not worry.  The market will make sure that their all too familiar sex/power fantasies will find their representation in our brave new era.

Not all assistants will take the same firm approach. Robin Labs, which makes a voice-assistant for drivers, thinks there might be a market customizing personalities. CEO Ilya Eckstein says there is a high demand for an assistant personality that’s “more intimate-slash-submissive with sexual undertones.”

Full title: The Arnolfini Portrait Artist: Jan van Eyck Date made: 1434 Source: http://www.nationalgalleryimages.co.uk/ Contact: picture.library@nationalgallery.co.uk Copyright © The National Gallery, London

All of which to say is that it’s easy to call out, say, Chris Christie, when he talks of beating Hilary Clinton’s rear end.  As all here know, it’s far harder to combat the influence of the jabs and gestures that pervade daily life, well below the level of explicit speech, up to and including the robot in your GPS.

How this post may be read in the context of Hilary Clinton’s candidacy and (some of) its discontents?  You make the call.

Image: Jan Van Eyck, The Arnolfini Wedding1434.



Wingnuttery Has Costs

Researchers studied reproductive health choices in Texas after the attacks on Planned Parenthood, and the outcomes are not good (unless forced birth is your kind of thang):

Defunding Planned Parenthood clinics leaves some poor women unable to access the most effective forms of birth control, according to a new study from Texas-based researchers.

Experts from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project, a multi-year research project that’s tracking reproductive health outcomes in the Lone Star State, examined data from women who rely on Medicaid after GOP legislators stripped funds from Planned Parenthood in 2013.

Among women in the public health program, there was a 35 percent decline in claims for IUDs and implants — and a dramatic 27 percent spike in births — after Planned Parenthood was kicked out of Texas’ family planning network. Those numbers suggest that disadvantaged women are struggling to get the contraceptive services they need and are instead going on to give birth.

“The U.S. continues to have higher rates of unintended pregnancies than most rich nations, and we know that U.S. and Texas women face barriers as they try to access preventative services,” Amanda Jean Stevenson, one of the lead authors of the study and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas of Austin, said in a statement accompanying the study results. “It’s a public health issue that Texas women struggle to achieve their reproductive goals.”

Previous research examining Planned Parenthood’s patient base has confirmed that pulling support for the national women’s health organization disproportionately harms low-income Americans who don’t have anywhere else to go for affordable contraceptive services. In a recent survey of Texas patients themselves, more than half of them said they’ve faced at least one barrier to getting the reproductive health services they need in the years since politicians made changes to the publicly funded family planning network.

Whether it is Clinton or Sanders, we simply can not lose on the national level and we have GOT to get our asses in gear on the local and state level.








Delightful News

A grand jury has indicted David Daleiden and another videographer:

A Harris County grand jury today decided not to take any action against Planned Parenthood in Houston. But two people who used undercover videos accusing the group of selling fetal tissue have been indicted.

The sting videos recorded last April alleged that Planned Parenthood illegally profited from donations of fetal tissue. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office investigated those allegations for more than two months, along with the Texas Rangers and the Houston Police Department.

In the end, a grand jury has cleared Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast of breaking the law.

“It affirms 100% what we have said from the very beginning, and that is that Planned Parenthood follows local, state and federals laws and extremely high medical standards, and our first priority is patient care,” said Rochelle Tafolla, with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. “These individuals broke the law and committed fraud in order to spread lies about Planned Parenthood and today they’re going to be held accountable for breaking those laws.”

Both David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt have been indicted for Tampering with a Governmental Record, which is a felony. Daleidan was also indicted for Prohibition of the Purchase and Sale of Human Organs, meaning he illegally offered to purchase human organs in the video recording. A violation of this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson. “As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us. All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case.”

In Texas, no less.