The fallibility of feelings

by Emrys Westacott

A recent article by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker, “The Case of Al Franken,”[1]should disturb anyone who places a high value on fairness and rationality. Franken, who first became famous as a comedian, was elected to the US senate from Minnesota in 2008 and soon became a leading and effective advocate of liberal causes. But he resigned from the senate in January, 2018 after being accused of sexual misconduct during his time as a comic actor and writer.

Franken was effectively forced to resign by his fellow Democrats in the senate. At the time, the Me Too movement had recently surged, and feminists everywhere had vociferously criticized Donald Trump’s blatant sexism as well as the revealed sexual misconduct of well-known men like Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, and Louis C.K.. Franken’s colleagues, several of whom expressed profound regret over his resignation afterwards, appear to have believed that if they even acceded to his immediate request for a hearing before a Senate Ethics Committee, they would be open to charges of inconsistency and hypocrisy.

As Mayer’s article makes clear, Franken was largely stitched up by some of his enemies in the right-wing media. A proper hearing would have revealed, for instance, that:

  • His main accuser, Leeann Tweeden, was a close friend of the extreme right-wing talk show host Sean Hannity.
  • Many of her claims were demonstrably false (e.g. that he wrote a kissing scene especially so that he could kiss her; and that after he had kissed her once in that skit, she never let him near her again)
  • The release of Tweeden’s accusation was carefully plotted, with no attempt to fact check any of her claims or discuss them with Franken.
  • Alleged accusations by other women were either not corroborated or were extraordinarily thin (e.g. one woman said she once thought that Franken was planning to kiss her, and that made her feel “uneasy.”

The rush to judgement, the denial of any sort of due process, and the willingness to place perceived short-term political concerns ahead of principles of justice are all deeply disappointing in this case. But to my mind, the most disturbing item in Mayer’s article is a statement made by New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a friend of Franken who, nevertheless, called for his resignation. Referring to Franken’s accusers, Gillibrand said, “the women who came forward felt it was sexual harassment. So it was.” Read more »

How To Beat The GOP With Better Slogans

by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash

Screw usAl Franken once complained that Democratic policies cannot be summed up in short bumper stickers, like the Republicans can sum up their entire philosophy in “cut taxes, shrink government.”

Well, here are a few bumper stickers with which to attack Republicans and beat them senseless.

But first, a word about Karl Rove, who is some kind of campaign genius. After all, he took George W. Bush, a mediocre 1% guy with a 99% demeanor, and first had him beat Ann Richards to become governor of Texas, then beat Al Gore to become president. And then he got a second term for Bush, the worst president in modern history, if not in all of history.

One of the genius insights of Karl Rove as a campaign guru was to attack your opponent's strengths instead of his weaknesses.

So what are the GOP's perceived strengths? What do they like to trumpet about themselves?

1. Republicans are very patriotic. America first, always and everywhere. Republicans are the real Americans.

2. Republicans are very religious. Republicans are good Christians.

3. Republicans are fiscally responsible (certainly not an actual strength, but a perceived one).

4. Republicans stand for a strong military defense.

5. Republicans stand for personal freedom.

6. Republicans are against big government.

7. Republicans like to cut taxes.

8. Republicans are very macho. Republicans are real men.

How can these strengths be attacked?

Read more »

A Few Closing Questions Regarding the New York “Mosque”

Burlington coat factory Let's get this one out of the way first: Why is Sarah Palin upset about anything that happens in New York City? She’s already made it clear that she doesn’t consider New York part of the “real America.” So why does she care what happens there?

Sensitivity question #1

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was not a religious believer. He was assassinated by a fanatical follower of Orthodox Judaism. Yet the Orthodox Religious Council and Rabbinate is located less than two blocks from the site of his assassination. Should it be moved – out of sensitivity for his widow’s feelings, and those of his supporters?

Read more »