Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Last Call For Shaving The World, One Guy At A Time

Gillette, the grooming company we all grew up with and their tagline, "The Best A Man Can Get", reexamined what that phrase really means in the Trump Era with this commercial.

Needless to say, the #NotAllMen folks went absolutely insane with rage over it this week.

Today, the battle for men’s souls reached an extraordinary new frontier: men’s shaving brands. On Tuesday, Gillette released an ad that takes stock of a handful of cultural issues that have always lingered just beneath the surface but became full-blown talking points over the past year: sexual harassment, bullying, and a blanket excusal of this behavior because “boys will be boys.”

Most shaving ads feature gravelly voiced men booming out phrases like Mach 3 or titanium razors, while the camera zooms in on blades gliding over lathered faces. Gillette’s new ad asks viewers to think a little bit harder about its tagline A Best a Man Can Get. Really, what it asks for isn’t much: basic human decency. The ad states explicitly, “We believe in the best in men.” There are clips of Terry Crews, a sexual assault survivor, testifying in front of Congress that men need to hold other men accountable. The commercial shows men doing just that: holding off a pack of bullies, and stopping another guy from harassing a woman.

But it's 2019, so here’s an incredibly exhausting sentence to write: the commercial sparked a wave of anger among conservatives and men’s rights activists that crested with a tweet from British TV personality and professional blowhard Piers Morgan that reads, “Let's be clear: @gillette now wants every man to take one of their razors & cut off his testicles.” (Gillette: need a new tagline?)

Morgan is the most public face of a widespread backlash. On Youtube, the commerical’s already been downvoted almost 330,000 times, versus a relatively meager 74,000 upvotes. A Voice for Men, a "male supremacy" organization that’s classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, urged its supporters to boycott the grooming brand. Another shaving product purveyor attempted to step into the void by declaring it “understand[s] how men work and don’t try to change them into women.” Again, not exactly an accurate reading of the commercial.

“We expected debate,” Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette’s North America brand director, told CNN, although, we’re not sure that boycotts from hate groups is exactly what Bhalla had in mind. Bhalla specifically says that “the ad is not about toxic masculinity. It is about men taking more action every day to set the best example for the next generation."

Frankly, men need to do better, so that the boys of today will be better men tomorrow.  What a horrific concept, right?  And yet the other side's argument is that "Men will continue to be terrible until women give them the respect and deference they deserve just for being men" and that can no longer fly in 2019, guys.

It never could.  "We need to celebrate masculine values like strength, honor, duty, and self-reliance but let's only practice that when it's convenient."

It's sad.  Be the best a man can get, eh?

It's Mueller Time, Con't

Special Counsel Robert Mueller certainly didn't take the holidays off, he's been hard at work and new court filings this week show that former Trump Campaign chair Paul Manafort and his Russian NRA contact Konstatin Kilimnik are definitely the keys to the kingdom.

Prosecutors working for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III have intensively scrutinized Paul Manafort’s activities after President Trump’s election — including after Manafort was criminally charged — and indicated they have extensive details not yet made public about Manafort’s interactions with former Russian aide Konstantin Kilimnik and others, a Tuesday court filing showed.

Although heavily redacted, the documents state that Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, claimed he was trying to get people appointed in the new presidential administration. The filing also states that in another Justice Department investigation, Manafort provided information that appears related to an event while he was with the campaign in August 2016.

Prosecutors also showed keen interest in a $125,000 payment made in June 2017 that Manafort characterized in three ways that were contradicted, the filing says, by his tax filings and exchanges with his tax preparer.

Prosecutors filed a 31-page affidavit from an FBI agent, plus another 406 nearly fully blacked-out exhibits, after a federal judge last week ordered them to lay out the “factual and evidentiary basis” for their claims that Manafort lied repeatedly after his plea deal and has breached his cooperation agreement.

The filing in federal court in Washington asserts that Manafort shifted answers to questions posed by the FBI and Mueller probe investigators, prompting his lawyers to pull him aside on several occasions to review statements.

In one interview with investigators and prosecutors in October 2018, the filing states, Manafort’s attorneys requested a break to speak with Manafort after he contradicted his prior statement — even after his lawyers had shown him a typewritten summary of it.

The statement came in a separate criminal investigation by a U.S. attorney outside the District and described events around an incident that Manafort said occurred before he left the Trump campaign on Aug. 19, 2016, according to information in the new filing.

Manafort’s attorneys have previously said that any misstatements on his part after his plea agreement were unintentional.

Manafort, 69, pleaded guilty in September in federal court in Washington to charges that he conspired to cheat the Internal Revenue Service, violate foreign-lobbying laws and tamper with witnesses. Separately, a jury in federal court in Virginia convicted Manafort in August of bank and tax fraud.

To recap, Mueller knows everything.  Manafort lied and continued to lie about most of it, and Mueller knew he was lying to the point where the plea deal fell apart and Manafort most likely will never breathe air as a free man again.

Meanwhile Manafort's relationship with Russian fixer Kilimnik, who was working with convicted spy Maria Butina on using the NRA as a Russian slush fund to fund the GOP, has been painstakingly detailed by Mueller and the evidence presented to a grand jury and a federal judge.

The signals are unmistakable at this point.  The Trump campaign colluded with Russian agents during and after the 2016 campaign.  Mueller knows it all.  And when it drops, America will never be the same.

A Hat Lands In The Ring, Con't

This time it's Democratic New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who announced her candidacy last night on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, an outspoken advocate for women’s causes and electing more women to office, is herself entering the 2020 race for the White House, becoming the latest candidate to join what is expected to be a crowded Democratic primary to take on President Trump.

In an appearance Tuesday on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” Ms. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, said she was forming an exploratory committee to raise money and travel the country for her run. She is scheduled to start campaigning within days, with plans to spend the weekend in Iowa.

“I’m going to run for president of the United States because as a young mom I am going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own,’’ she said.

Ms. Gillibrand, 52, has emerged as one of the most forceful critics of the Trump administration in the last two years. She has voted against nearly every significant nominee Mr. Trump has put forward, and rallied opposition to his congressional agenda. In the last two months, as she publicly considered a campaign, she has spoken repeatedly about the need to restore the “moral compass” of the nation.

But Ms. Gillibrand, a former corporate lawyer, has been criticized by opponents as a politician without a firm ideological bearing of her own, having transformed from a pro-gun, conservative upstate congresswoman with deep ties to Wall Street financiers to a crusading liberal who rails against guns and refuses corporate political action committee money.

Ms. Gillibrand’s 2020 announcement was widely expected after weeks of presidential buildup, in which she secured office space for a headquarters in Troy, N.Y., and expanded her political staff.

Gillibrand is already being tarred with the same exact brush Clinton was in 2016: a New York senator who was "too close" to Wall Street.  It'll be very interesting to see if New Jersey's Cory Booker gets that same treatment, or if that's only reserved for Empire State women.

We've seen Gillibrand's platform change as well, from an upstate NY Blue Dog with a solid rating from the NRA to where she is now on firearms, a complete 180, once she became Senator.  She's going to have to explain that constantly and people are going to attack her for it.

Again, any Democrat who wins the primaries I will vote for to depose Trump.  I am moderately okay with Gillibrand in the mix, we'll see what she has to bring.


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