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.)



Open Thread: President HRClinton Promises Ponies All ‘Round

but no unicorn ponies! (Why does she hate progressives who love unicorns?!?)… Given the NYTimes‘ reflexive anti-Clinton (and anti-Obama) bias, this isn’t too bad a profile:

Should she win the presidency, Hillary Clinton would quickly try to find common ground with Republicans on an immigration overhaul and infrastructure spending, risking the wrath of liberals who would like nothing more than to twist the knife in a wounded opposition party.

In her first 100 days, she would also tap women to make up half of her cabinet in hopes of bringing a new tone and collaborative sensibility to Washington, while also looking past Wall Street to places like Silicon Valley for talent — perhaps wooing Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook, and maybe asking Tim Cook from Apple to become the first openly gay cabinet secretary…

Her opening might be a narrow one. She faces skepticism on the right about her willingness to compromise and her potential use of executive actions, and there is outright suspicion on the left that she might sell out progressive goals for the sake of bipartisan action with Republicans.

Still, Democrats close to her say she has a real touch with power brokers in both parties that could yield surprising results…

Her calculation is that she will be dealing with a Republican Party that is deeply fractured and demoralized after the defeat of Mr. Trump, whose leaders will be searching for ways to show they can govern and to court Hispanics if Mr. Trump loses badly with them. Mrs. Clinton also thinks a huge Democratic turnout this fall would put the Senate back in her party’s hands, while Speaker Paul D. Ryan and the Republicans would have a reduced majority in the House.

What Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Clinton do not know — but regularly explore in conversations, according to friends — is whether Republican leaders, even if their power is diminished, would be in a mood to cooperate…

Mrs. Clinton has assigned three top aides — Ann O’Leary, Ed Meier and Sara Latham — to oversee transition planning, reporting to Mr. Podesta. Clinton advisers say they do not expect Mr. Clinton to be constantly visible in the early months beyond whatever duties Mrs. Clinton gives him on economic policy and foreign affairs. The Clintons’ priority is that he does not do anything that distracts from her agenda or overshadows her as the country gets used to having a former president (and a man) in the role of first spouse…



Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Yes, It’s That Important

When SCOTUS struck down Texas’ HB2 regulations yesterday, Richard Mayhew predicted “A lot more from lawyers later.” Here’s a couple of respected legal analysts. Linda Greenhouse, in the NYTimes, “The Facts Win Out on Abortion“:

… There is no poetry in the 40-page opinion, which strikes down a Texas law that would have closed most abortion clinics in the state in the name of protecting women’s health. The dry, almost clinical tone could scarcely be more different from the meditative mood the Supreme Court struck the last time it stood up for abortion rights, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 24 years ago this week. “Liberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt” was Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s mysterious opening line in that opinion…

Although nearly one-third of American women will have an abortion in their lifetime, a goal of abortion opponents has been to carve out abortion practice from ordinary health care, to ghettoize and delegitimize it. Those days are now over, too. Singling out abortion for regulation that can’t be justified on medical grounds is unacceptable, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg emphasized in a concurring opinion.

When I first read Justice Breyer’s opinion, my sense of relief struggled against a feeling that something nonetheless was missing: not necessarily the aspirational rhetoric of the Casey decision but some explicit acknowledgment of what it means to women’s equality and dignity not to be trapped in an unwanted pregnancy.

Then I realized that while the court in Casey called upon “the contending sides of a national controversy to end their national division by accepting a common mandate rooted in the Constitution,” it didn’t really work out. Maybe, after all, this is not a moment for poetry, but for facts. There’s not much in Justice Breyer’s opinion that’s quotable. But there’s not much that’s debatable either, and that’s what matters.

Linda Hirshman, in the Washington Post, “How Ruth Bader Ginsburg just won the next abortion fight”:

She has written into law the factual finding that abortion is safe.
… The strategy of purporting to help women, which has, until today, been stunningly successful, started with the attack on so-called “partial birth abortion” in 1995. It reached its high water mark with Justice Anthony Kennedy’s hotly contested 5-to-4 decision upholding the restrictions on such procedures in Gonzales v. Carhart in 2007. Kennedy found medical disagreement about the safety advantages of the procedure. Importantly, he then deferred to the findings of the legislature that women would be safer and better off without partial birth abortion…

… When the news broke that RBG was concurring, the initial reaction was puzzlement. Why would Ginsburg need to write separately from a pro-choice opinion by her liberal colleague Breyer? Looking at her concurrence, however, the explanation is clear.
Read more



Elizabeth Warren & Hillary Clinton in Cincinnati

Let’s see if this CNN clip will work (looks fine on my screen, but who knos the ways of FYWP?). Just in case, here’s the link.

Separate videos (where I saw this first) available at Mother Jones:

Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren took a little trip to Ohio today to see the sights, do some antiquing, and eviscerate Donald Trump…

They have a pretty good buddy cop situation going on here. Maybe Clinton will make her VP after all?

Sigh. Why must y’all keep trying to steal my senior Senator? (Yes, I will most certainly reconcile myself if necessary, but I’d love to see Senator Warren leading the Senate under President Clinton.)

Local news outlet Cleveland.com:

Standing under large art deco murals of workers at Cincinnati’s Union Terminal, Clinton and Warren called for regulations on Wall Street, punishing companies that send jobs overseas, making college debt-free and raising taxes on the rich…

“We’ve got to go big and we’ve got to go bold,” Clinton said to a crowd of hundreds, their loud cheers amplified in the cavernous terminal lobby. “We need to take the frustration, the fear, the anxiety and yes, the anger. And after we have vented it, we’ve got to work together.”

Clinton pledged: “I will not raise taxes on the middle class. But we are going to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy.”
Read more



Texas flim flam loses

A 5-3 decision ruled that HB-2 in Texas is an unconstitutional burden on the ability of women to access legal pre-viability abortions in Texas.

A lot more from lawyers later.

The quick consensus is that complete and utter bullshit claims that restricting abortion access through running providers through the ringer are under serious threat. The Ginsburg concurrence hints that TRAAP laws (Targeted Regulation Against Abortion Providers) should be assumed to be unconstitutional. The longer term policy and advocacy goal should be to have a standard in place that anything that treats abortion providers differently than providers of other services of roughly similar risk (mole removal for instance) is an unconstitutional burden.



This Week in Defeating Rape Culture

Houston Press ran a fabulous essay that demolishes one of creepsters’ main defenses: that they’re awkward with women. After listing a bunch of first-person narratives by women who were groped, grossly propositioned, leered at, and otherwise abused, Jef Rouner writes:

This is not being “awkward.” Ross from Friends was awkward when he would flirt with girls by naming types of gas. This is being a creep and hoping that a combination of societal expectations and fear of escalation on the part of the person you’re creeping on will allow you to get away with it consequence-free.

It’s easy to hide this as the lasting repercussions of childhood bullying or frustrated romantic hang-ups from adolescence, but, sorry, that’s a cop-out. The “nerds are sexless losers who can’t get a date” was already an aging trope when I was growing up in the ’90s, and in a post-Matrix world where hackers are also ninjas and occasionally Jesus, this sort of idea doesn’t really fly. Geek went mainstream a long time ago. Calling yourself an otaku is not a get-out-of-all-social-responsibilities-free card.

Truth is this behavior is not a clumsy misunderstanding of how courtship and human interaction work. It’s the end by-product of years of ingesting rape culture telling you that touching women without their permission or assigning them as sex partners whether they’re interested or not is okay. You can choose to understand this, or you can choose to ignore it and pretend it isn’t there. However, do not be surprised if women avoid your company when you do the latter. It’s not because you’re awkward. It’s because you scare them….

And this:

Life is not a John Hughes flick, and there’s a reason why when most of us re-watch the “loser pursues the girl until she loves him” genre of film, we start to feel a little sick to our stomachs. Duckie Dale was a creep, Lloyd Dobler wasn’t much better, and if anyone acted like Randy from Valley Girl around my daughter, I would have that bastard under a restraining order.

Amen. Read the whole thing: it’s great.

Meanwhile, Laura Hilgers writes powerfully in the Times of the economic toll her daughter’s rape during her freshman year of college had on her family:

It would be impossible for me to describe in the space of a newspaper article the emotional toll this took on Willa and our family: the grief we felt that our child’s body (and soul) had been violated; the anger that we (and the college) could not protect her; the fear that our once spirited, ambitious daughter might never be more than a shell of herself. But I can offer, by way of illustration, a financial reckoning — collateral damage that demonstrates the devastation, and that rarely comes up in the national discussion on campus sexual assaults.

The financial burdens of an attack can be overwhelming. A 2014 White House report noted that the cost to survivors (of all types, not just college students) can range from $87,000 to $240,776 per rape. While the numbers are staggering, they seem abstract until your family is the one paying the bills. In our case, they were on the higher end of the range.

Then she breaks it down, the major categories being lost wages (parents and daughter, who is now 22 and starting her sophomore year—so about three years spent recovering), addiction treatment and rehab, lost tuition, therapy, and various unreimbursed medical expenses. She and her ex-husband–”writers not investment bankers,” she notes–paid by borrowing from family and their retirement funds; also using the proceeds of a house they sold.

She notes:

We’re fortunate to have top-tier health insurance, which helped defray many of the costs. But this is still an extraordinary amount of money, and I often wonder how survivors from less privileged backgrounds recover from these attacks. It’s not a hypothetical question.

No it isn’t—and I’m sure the answer is devastating.



Open Thread: Us Ladyfolk and Our Bean-Counting Grievances

There’s an old saying, “It’s only when the tide goes out that you can tell who’s been swimming naked.” And it’s only when a few brave, strong women fight their way into the conversation that you can tell which men have been using “Of course we’d hire more women, but… “ as a figleaf.

Just as President Obama’s campaign and presidency have been a (frequently embarrassing) revelation about how much racism was baked into “our” political system, the upcoming months and years are going to be enlightening for a lot of well-meaning ‘feminist’ men… not to mention the women in their lives.
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Speaking of why feminism matters…