Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Last Call For Another #MeToo Moment, If Anyone Noticed

I talked about the accusations of author E. Jean Carroll against Donald Trump over the weekend.  Carroll has accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in a bathroom of the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in 1996.  As I said, only the Washington Post even bothered to put the accusation on the front page.  As a result, half of America was unaware the story even happened, because it wasn't reported.

In an excerpt of her memoir published Friday, Carroll wrote that Trump assaulted her in a department store dressing room in the mid-’90s. Trump denied the accusation, saying in one statement that he had never met Carroll (a photograph included in the story showed otherwise) and in a later interview claimed she was “not my type.”

The accusation generated significant coverage. But in a news cycle already saturated with other stories, including tensions with Iran, it got relatively short shrift in newspapers like The New York Times and on Sunday morning talk shows.

“The day that [Carroll’s allegation] dropped it felt like it was very much a part of the conversation on Twitter,” Shani Hilton, deputy managing editor for news at the Los Angeles Times, told CNN on Sunday. “It was really blowing up ― I mean all day long … Two days later, it kind of feels like it’s faded away.”

In a HuffPost/YouGov survey conducted Friday night and Saturday, just 11% of Americans said they’d heard a lot about Carroll’s allegations. About half those polled, 53%, hadn’t heard anything at all. (Because survey respondents tend to be more politically engaged, these numbers are, if anything, probably a little high.)

For the sake of comparison, polling this year found that respondents had heard more about the renewed debate over the Hyde Amendment, the mass shooting in Virginia Beach, the new Alabama abortion law, the release of the Mueller report, the blackface controversy involving Virginia’s governor and the end of the government shutdown.

“In the case of Trump, the sheer number of sexual misconduct allegations seems to have had a desensitizing effect,” Vox’s Anna North wrote, “with the press and the public beginning to treat an account of sexual assault by the US commander-in-chief as simply business as usual.”

That ― along with the general stability of Trump’s ratings ― may help to explain why views have changed so little since Trump’s time on the campaign trail.

Trump sexually assaulting women is now the new normal.  It's no longer news.  And America no longer cares.  More people heard about Joe Biden's Hyde Amendment flip.  More people heard about the Virginia Beach shooting (another news item category we've become 100% desensitized towards).

Trump simply normalizes his evil, and our broken media shrugs and plays along.

The Hunter And The Hunted, Con't

A couple of weeks ago I noted that California GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter was already facing indictment on campaign fraud and embezzlement.  He won re-election in 2018 because he was able to paint his Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, as a Muslim terrorist and ended up winning by 9,000 votes.

Earlier this month Hunter's wife plead guilty to conspiracy with her husband to misuse campaign funds in order to cooperate with the feds.  And now the other shoe has dropped: Hunter allegedly spent those campaign funds on multiple affairs with mistresses...among other things.

Embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter used campaign funds to pay for extramarital affairs with lobbyists and congressional staffers, prosecutors in California alleged in a court filing Monday. 
The salacious revelation joins a host of other charges levied against the California Republican, who pleaded not guilty last year on counts of wire fraud, falsifying records and campaign finance violations. 
Hunter's wife Margaret, who also faced federal charges, pleaded guilty earlier this month and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Rep. Hunter has denied the previous allegations against him. 
The filing, submitted as part of a series of motions by California prosecutors on evidence they hope to use in a trial scheduled to begin in September, provides detailed accounts of five different affairs, including one with a woman who worked in Hunter's congressional office
According to the filing, Hunter and the unnamed staffer "occasionally spent nights together at his office" and went on dates funded by campaign cash. One night, at a Washington, DC, bar known for indoor mini golf, Hunter spent $202 in campaign funds for drinks and snacks, the filing says. 
Prosecutors describe another affair, with a lobbyist, that included a rendezvous at a ski resort near Lake Tahoe, paid for in large part by campaign funds. 
Hunter also went on a "'double date' road trip" with the lobbyist and another couple, which included another congressman. He spent $905 in campaign funds on a hotel bar tab and the room he shared with the woman, the filing says.

Oh, but it gets worse.

Another mystery in the case remains unresolved. At the end of the filing, prosecutors mentioned a mysterious “clearly non-work related activity during (Duncan Hunter’s) get-togethers with his close personal friends.” 
The document didn’t disclose what exactly that “potentially sensitive evidence” is because prosecutors said doing so “runs the risk of improperly tainting the jury pool before the trial begins.”

Duncan's been a naughty boy with taxpayer money.

Stay tuned.

Our Little Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

It looks like Oregon Republicans and their white supremacist terrorist allies have won, as terrified Oregon Democrats are apparently now folding on the climate change cap and trade bill that set off this mess in the first place.

Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney said on Tuesday morning that the climate change bill at the center of Republicans’ walkout lacks the votes necessary to pass, because not enough Democrats support it.

"House Bill 2020 does not have the votes on the Senate floor,” Courtney, D-Salem, said after Democrats assembled on the floor Tuesday. “That will not change.”
He then ticked off a lengthy list of pending policy and budget bills that he said have bipartisan support.

Senate Republicans fled the state last week to block a vote on the carbon capping plan. Courtney appeared to be laying groundwork for Republicans to return, but it was not immediately clear that Republicans would agree to return to vote on other bills. Oregon lawmakers face a June 30 deadline to wrap up work under the state Constitution.

Sen. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, said as of around 10 a.m., he had not yet heard of Courtney’s announcement. However, he said there would be a lot of concern about a possible head fake by Democrats, and a variety of procedural issues that would have to be addressed before Republicans would likely agree to come back to the Capitol.

Democrats also took time to react to Courtney’s statement Tuesday. Two hours after Courtney’s statement, Gov. Kate Brown issued a statement in which she appeared to acknowledge the bill was dead.

“Senate Republicans have blocked a bill that provides a better future for our state and for our children, and the tactics they employed to do so are not just unacceptable, but dangerous,” Brown said, adding that Republicans were “moving us dangerously close to the self-serving stalemate in Washington, DC.”

“It’s now up to Republicans to prove me wrong," Brown said. "Are they against climate change legislation or are they against democracy? If they are not back by Wednesday afternoon, we will know the answer.”

Brown declared on Monday that she would not negotiate with Republicans until they returned to Oregon.

House Speaker Tina Kotek, of Portland, weighed in on Twitter just before noon Tuesday, saying of Courtney’s statement that the climate bill was dead, “I believe him.” 
“This has been a dark week for the integrity of the Legislature,” Kotek wrote. “Senate Rs have been threatening our democratic institution and subverting the will of Oregon voters who know we need to act now. Their walkout has come at immense cost to our institution and potentially the planet.”

It's entirely possible that this is a fakeout to trick Republicans into showing back up and then getting steamrolled.  If so, it's both ballsy and stupid, but it might just work.

But if it's not a fakeout, then Republicans just proved political terrorism and threatening violence against Democrats works. Expect Republicans in other blue states to start reacting to Democratic legislation in the same way.

If Republicans realize that they can use the open threat of violence and the repressive power of government to keep Democrats from ever passing any legislation at all, even in states where Democrats have a supermajority plus the Governor's office as with Oregon, then we've lost our small-d democracy, representative or otherwise, permanently.

There's plenty of evidence that the problem here is personal and not systemic, and that Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney has completely lost control of the chamber and that Oregon Senate Republicans are taking full advantage.

But why should Oregon Republicans not pull this stunt every time the Democrats want to pass a bill?  They're already playing the victim card here, saying that being linked to domestic terrorists like the Three Percenters and Oath Keepers in the state is an insult so grave that it means they'll never return, and never allow another vote.

So what happens if one party is willing to break a functioning government beyond repair?  What is the other party prepared to do in order to restore that government?

We've asked this question before in the past, and the answer has never been without a great cost to the country.


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