Franken Sense (Open Thread)

So, Senator Al Franken is scheduled to make a statement on the floor of the US Senate at 11:45 ET (C-SPAN link). He’ll probably resign. And because he’s basically a good guy and a strong Democrat, he’ll likely do so in a way that reaffirms the party’s commitment to equality for women and underscores the Republicans’ hypocrisy on the issue.

If he resigns, I’ll be sorry to see Al go. I’ve always liked him — he’s funny, smart, almost always right on the issues and can draw a map of the United States freehand. I have two or three of his books on my shelves. My favorite Franken quote comes from Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. It’s about the difference in how liberals and conservatives love America:

“We love America just as much as they do. But in a different way. You see, they love America like a 4-year-old loves his mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups. To a 4-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad and helping your loved one grow.”

That’s true about patriotism, and it’s also true to some extent about political parties, which is why Republicans are fine with electing a man who has been credibly accused of child molestation and attempted rape (and that smirking creep from Texas who used taxpayer funds to pay off accusers) and Democrats are cleaning house — over-zealously, according to many.

Personally, I’m conflicted about Franken’s case for a whole bunch of reasons that I’ve expressed in other threads and therefore won’t bother rehashing in this post. But I do have a request, which, to paraphrase Ulysses McGill, is probably the “acme of foolishness” to make on this blog: Can we elevate the discussion a tad and try to keep it free of bad faith assumptions about fellow Democrats?

Can we entertain the possibility that people might have reasons other than rank stupidity or opportunism to believe Franken should resign? Can we stipulate that those who believe Franken should remain in the senate care deeply about addressing sexual harassment? At least until they say something that indicates otherwise? Because this issue is important. I’m willing to try if you are. Anyhoo, have at it.

More on Al

Might be a good idea to listen to your female colleagues, Senator Franken.

The Mordor Exit

I didn’t think this was real at first, but apparently it is:

Y’all be careful over there!

In other news, Time recognized “The Silence Breakers” as its “Person of the Year” today, honoring a movement comprising mostly women who’ve refused to stay silent about sexual harassment, which has sent shock waves through entertainment, media and political power circles.

So, #MeToo is having a moment, but one of the NYT’s most notorious Beltway hacks put her own spin on it via a tweet about an article in her paper on Harvey Weinstein:

That seems to miss the point rather badly, so I’ll spell it out: Hillary Clinton aspired to a powerful office in an environment that was and is shot through with misogyny. The remarkable thing about the #MeToo movement is that it is revealing the scope of the abuse across industries and organizational charts.

The lesson we should take away from that isn’t “Whoa, how ironic that Hillary was dealing with human garbage at every turn!” It’s that it’s way past time to take out the fucking trash.

Anyhoo. Open thread.

Johnny goes Buh Bye


and Contrast:

Friday Night “Comic” Relief Open Thread

That’s at least one Republican quite happy with the timing of the Flynn indictment…

Rep. Blake Farenthold used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim brought by his former spokesman — the only known sitting member of Congress to have used a little-known congressional account to pay an accuser, people familiar with the matter told POLITICO.

Lauren Greene, the Texas Republican’s former communications director, sued her boss in December 2014 over allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment…

…[I]n a joint statement both Greene and Farenthold prepared at the time of the settlement but never released — a copy of which was shared with POLITICO by Alderman on Friday — the two confirmed they reached a deal in part to save taxpayer dollars.

“[A]fter it became clear that further litigating this case would come at great expense to all involved — including the taxpayers — the parties engaged in mediation with a court-appointed mediator,” the statement read. “After extensive discussion and consideration, the parties jointly agreed to accept the solution proposed by the mediator.”

The statement added: “The parties believe that the mediator’s solution saves the parties, and the taxpayers, significant sums that would be expended in further discovery and/or trial.”…

Read more

Convert that Gravy Boat into a Battleship!

As is its wont, Fox News is ginning up outrage among the duct-taped naugahyde recliner set by highlighting godless liberals’ plans to persecute Trump supporters over turkey this year:

The suggestions for how to ruin Trump-supporting relatives’ holiday dinner in the linked GQ article are clearly tongue-in-cheek and purposely silly. But this part is kinda true, IMO:

This year, if you’re headed home to a household that still thinks a sex-offending game show host in rapid cognitive decline was the best choice for a president, it is your civic duty to filibuster Thanksgiving.

Trump has spent the entire year performing one long, clumsy touchdown dance atop the wreckage of America’s former norms and values… Any parents still riding the Trump Train at this point have thereby signaled that nothing is sacred. It is time to follow their example. They can’t stand idly by while President Deals tramples every other American tradition and yet somehow expect that Thanksgiving will be normal too. If every other moment of this year is going to be drastically out of whack, nobody should get to pretend that everything is normal for one meal just because that’s what the pilgrims would have done.

It’s not so much that Trump supporters don’t deserve a normal Thanksgiving (although they don’t); it’s that we who are related to or otherwise entangled with these assholes have a duty to try burst their bubble of complacency.

As it should be, this obligation is borne almost exclusively by my fellow white people — it was our demographic cohort that foisted this treasonous buffoon on the world, and it’s on us Saltine-Americans to try to fix it.

Trump voters should know we feel demeaned every goddamned day that dawns with a self-described sexual predator (and child molester apologist!) representing our country. We should make them aware that we’re appalled that literal Nazis and white nationalist trash are elevated and empowered by this administration.

Trump supporters should understand that we’re repulsed by the Bible-humping hypocrites who flock to support their degenerate president, and that we’re revolted by the arrogant, preening, phony morality of anti-gay creeps like Mike Pence.

We should point out that the huckster-in-chief invited a gaggle of plutocrats to loot the U.S. Treasury while he and his pack of grifting-hyena relatives convert the presidency into a personal branding engine and profit center. That “drain the swamp” thing was 100% bullshit, and if they’re still lapping it up, Trump supporters are a con man’s willing dupes.

And Trump supporters should know we’re repelled by people who wrap themselves in the flag and invoke “the troops” as an excuse to cram their jingoism down our throats while at the same time expressing enthusiasm about a foreign autocrat undermining our democracy or turning a blind eye to it.

I could go on, but the point is, this shit is not normal, and if we’re ever going to get within hailing distance of normal again, we must not only call out Trump and his official minions, we must confront the people who put him where he is. Even if they are our dads, aunties, cousins, etc.

The techniques to confront MAGAts vary. I favor sarcasm. Valued commenter Mnemosyne has described a gambit that I’ve found particularly effective in exposing the stupidity at the core of Trumpian conspiracy theories: Feign ignorance when wingnuts repeat some chain-email lie, politely ask them to elaborate and ask pointed questions until the full lunacy of the premise is exposed, sometimes even to the speaker, who eventually trails off in embarrassment or changes the subject.

Anyhoo, arm yourselves with the rhetorical weapons that suit you best, including sweet reason and loving kindness, if that’s your thing. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m off the hook on Thanksgiving Day since no Trump-supporting relatives will be in attendance. But I will be seeing them over the coming weeks, and I will give no quarter. They don’t deserve it, and these days, silence equals complicity with a white supremacy agenda. Fuck that!

Excellent Read: “A Q&A For the Post-Weinstein Era”

Perhaps what worries the fretting men is that this is about more than ending workplace harassment. It is the fear that society is being refashioned away from codes set by men. If women can refashion workplaces this way, who knows what other unwelcome changes may follow? Far better, then, to grab the warm blanket of victimhood and scream “witch-hunt”.

As so often in recent social furores, those with the greatest advantages in life claim a victim status they would not want to earn, portraying the erosion of a smidgen of their ascendancy as a monstrous purge instead of accepting that it may just be necessary to surrender a few of the spoils of the longest winning streak in history. — Robert Shrimsley, Financial Times


Some of you are already fans of John Scalzi, but nobody should miss this little gem:

Hey there! As most of you know, I’m a dude. And like most dudes, I’ve been watching this whole post-Weinstein era we’re in with some interest. And because I am reasonably well-known on the internet for talking about things, I’ve had people, mostly dudes, contact me via social media and email with various questions about what’s going on and my opinions on these topics. So, let me go ahead and address several of them at once, with the help of my fictional interlocutor…

I’m worried that someone might call me out for having been a harassing piece of shit at some point in my past.

Well, let me ask you: Were you, in the past, in fact, a harassing piece of shit?


I’m gonna take that as a “yes.”

I wish you wouldn’t.

Too late! And here’s the thing: If in fact at some point in the past you were a harassing piece of shit to someone, probably to a woman but really, to anyone, then you deserve to be called out on your actions…

Yes, but now there’s consequences!

Well, yes, there are. There’s no statute of limitations on consequences, which apparently comes as an unhappy surprise to a lot of dudes. A lot of the mewling about this is, “well, it was so long ago.” It might be! But your actions almost certainly had consequences for the person you harassed (or assaulted, or raped) and may have altered the course of their life — caused them to change their career or quit a job to avoid you, or given them psychological or physical damage.

There were always consequences to your actions. It’s just that now you might have to share in them…

But why should I change the way I do things? If they have a problem with how I say or do things, it’s their problem, not mine.

Fine, don’t.

Wait, what?

Dude, I’m not the boss of you. If you want to continue to make people uncomfortable with your presence and actions, then follow your bliss. Just don’t expect to have a whole lot of friends who aren’t complete assholes. Also, be aware that if you keep that shit up, there’s an excellent chance that sooner or later five or six people are going to speak out about you and your asshole actions, all at the same time, and then you’ll be in the same boat as the “actual” harassers, i.e., being an actual harasser, because you didn’t think you had to learn.

Which is fine! Really, it’s fine. Go ahead, do that, it’s fine. Totally fine…