Revolted Colonies

U.S. Politics and Culture

Page 2 of 17

House of Thugs

Kail

     “Lock Them Up,” the chant rises up. The tall dark-suited, white-shirted men, with monochrome neckties and spray-top haircuts will exit in the same kind of black SUV which had brought them to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and with the force as if they’ve been belched from a furnace, which, in a way, they have.
An estimated 130 White House staffers all in need of security clearances for their work, have been rolling along, their superiors and themselves oblivious to the risk they pose. This dereliction by senior personnel is on a par with giving the Lamborghini to your kid with the newly-issued learner’s permit. “Have fun in Vegas, Junior.” What could possibly go wrong?

     It’s not that serial wife-beater Bo Porter was planning to sell the daily intelligence briefing to the highest bidder.  It’s that he could be forced to cough up classified information to anyone possessing photos of his black-eyed ex-wife.  People with shameful secrets are vulnerable people, ripe for exploitation.
Son-in-law Jared Kushner, senior adviser and roving envoy to Russia and the Middle East, does not have and never will get security clearance. Nor will Princess Ivanka.  Kushner is being denied clearance for denying his meetings with Russians, exactly the kind of behavior an unclassified White,House Official should never do undertake. Like trying to establish a back channel to the Kremlin, kept secret from American intelligence. This intention to commit crimes is well beyond the obvious Trump amateur hour.

     And there are still 128 to go. The White House filled up its ranks with people having criminal histories. Ruling this pandemonium, floating above it all, is Gen. John Kelly, the chief of staff, brought in as the new sheriff hired to restore peace to this wild-west town. But the opposite has occurred. Kelly has been fully aware that a sizable part of the administration staff was a ticking bomb. He has been compromised and will be leaving soon. Even Sara Sanders won’t shill for him. She’s dodging Kelly Questions at her daily briefings, forcing him out into the open. Kelly has been spinning stories about his ignorance  of Porter’s violent history.

     “Thug” is derived from India. The Thugs were a gang of men , of criminal and violent disposition, engaging in assassination and other mayhem in devotion to Kali, the Hindu goddess of death and destruction, but also regarded as the mother of the universe.  This brings a nice irony to Kali’s followers, as well as the lawless mob now inhabiting the highest precincts of the American government.
It was thought that incompetence would be the worst part of a Trump presidency. In his thuggishness, he is far worse than incompetent. Trump’s lawlessness, his hostility to the rule of law and to those who honor and enforce it, make him a Thug, in its original and contemporary meanings. This White House is a place of evil, violence and lawlessness.

Command and Control at the Polling Station

 

Last October lawyers of the Supreme Court battled over the composition of the House of Representatives for the foreseeable future. Two cases address the extent to which a party in power is permitted to reshape its state’s districts to maximize that party’s partisan advantage. Yesterday a federal district court held that a North Carolina Redistricting plan violated the Constitution. The case joins cases from Wisconsin and Maryland which call into question whether the rule of law governing partisan gerrymandering needs to be revised.

Courts have previously decided that gerrymandering along racial lines is unconstitutional, and they have stated in principle that doing so along partisan lines is as well. Improved use of computer modeling provides legislators with more sophisticated ways to shape congressional districts. These models use the traditional rules to generate the optimum configuration within a state for the benefit of the party in power. The term, “efficiency gap,” has been employed to describe the inversion of representation in proportion to the voting population. We can expect to hear that term more in the coming years.

While partisan gerrymandering is banned in principle, courts have struggled to create a test that bars it effectively. This being Llaw, the wording of the test is decisive. The language of the rule affects the outcome of later cases, as lawyers and judges tinker with possible interpretations. Eventually the Supreme Court’s words will be read back to it, and the nine Justices, not necessarily the same nine, will have to interpret its interpretation.

Karl Llewellyn, a noted 20th century legal scholar, stated that the law is the way people resolve disputes. The statement itself is subject to interpretation. It is at once both self-explanatory and impenetrable. Indeed, in a given case, a dispute is adjudicated. But Law is a judicial tool used to set parameters for personal freedoms, culture, business and suffrage. The Law is more than a means of calling balls and strikes. Its a means of defining the strike zone.

 

Wedgie at High Noon


What a day for headlines. Orrin Hatch will be displaced by Mitt Romney; Paul Manafort, accused, sues Mueller, his prosecutor; the FEP dissolves his Voter Fraud Commission after laying the groundwork for Voter Suppression in 2018 and 2020; and Iran continues widespread protests without a peep from the governing Theocracy. 

My choice for today’s most interesting twist is the return by North and South Korea to bilateral talks. Technically, the talks are limited to the safe transport of athletes of the Hermit Kingdom to and from this summer’s Olympics. Sigmund Freud supposedly said that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. However, Monica Lewinsky proved that sometimes it’s not.

The talks may be Olympian but the meaning is commonplace. The Gemini State is exhausted by existential threats and is ready to thaw out from the long, cold war. After all, the nuclear arms of the North are only effective as a threat.

If it is so, history may well record reunification to be the master stroke  of the American President. His negotiating strategy is taken from the classic playbook. There’s nothing more disarming than bargaining with someone who is crazy— or seems to be. You don’t want to give credence to crazy threats. On the other hand, you can’t ignore them. Trump out-crazied Kim Jong-Un, leader of the most batshit regime on Earth. Give him credit; he gives good nuts.

Trump countered Kim’s rockets with taunts. One time he announced that the Seventh Fleet was steaming to the South China Sea. Actually, it was turning figure-eights in the Indian Ocean. Today, he said his nuclear button was bigger and badder than Kim’s. As we speak, his National Security Advisers are adapting Yo Mama jokes for a Korean audience.

Dubya said, “Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” Well, we know what he meant. You can’t play crazy twice. If your opponent sees you’re bluffing in matters of war—that the knucklehead isn’t crazy enough to incinerate the planet — his lunatic act loses its effectiveness. You realize that he’s just striking poses. It isn’t brinkmanship exactly but it works. Once.

 

Amazon’s Right on Target

In his effort to become the only merchant left in the world, Jeff Bezos is now planning to acquire Target. What a surprise.  Bezos not so quietly has assembled pieces that enlarge Amazon’s sales and distribution system.  Assembling is not the right word, though.  More like the Anaconda indigenous to the namesake river – I say, River – Amazon is swallowing companies whole.  If you think it’s an accident that in 1994 he named his startup after the world’s longest river, think again.  Bezos has created the biggest stream of commerce ever assembled, and he is not done. It will make the Silk Road look like a two-lane blacktop.

Investors might have been surprised when Amazon picked off Whole Foods in June. Afterwards, the acquisition made sense.  Whole Foods had assembled a blue-ribbon inventory of store locations; for which it was paying top rents and charging the top prices needed to pay said rent.  Amazon is perhaps the only company whose supply deals, distribution and marketing could create the efficiencies and volumes to make good on Whole Foods’ costs.

Just the other day, some friends were sounding the death knell for Target.  The Minnesota-based retail giant had effectively pulled down premium department stores on clothes and grocery chains with competitive food prices. But Target is in trouble now; has been for a couple of years. Target’s first big problem was that it outgrew its supply chain, hampering sales growth.  The shelves, once expelling goods at customers like projectiles , were merely groaning and bursting at the seams. 

After Target got back on its feet, it felt Amazon’s breath on its neck and Wal-Mart squeezing in from the side.  Target began to falter. Its e-commerce division, rebounding from the 2013 credit card breach, was being dwarfed by Amazon. Wal-Mart, a head to head competitor, is viewed as a cheaper alternative to Target, even if that is not the case across all product categories.  However, Wal-Mart pulled ahead decisively in its online business. In fact, Wal-Mart supposedly was clogging up Amazon’s rear view mirror.  

Once the limping Target became separated from the herd, it was time for Amazon to pounce.  In October Target was a rival; in November it was prey.  Target will be Amazon’s brick-and-mortar general retail arm to go with the Whole Foods grocery appendage.  Home Depot, anyone?  You can almost feel the stock accelerating and pulling away from Wal-Mart till they are out of sight.

So. Another Johnny Rocco moment. More, Bezos?  You want more? Will you ever have enough?  No, I don’t suppose he will.  However, this market consolidation doesn’t create jobs.  At best it’s job-neutral. At worst, there will be redundancies in the management system.  Prices?  Consolidation doesn’t help prices; efficiencies should. But if Amazon pulls down Wal-Mart too, it will have no effective competition.  Once there is no competition, there is no pressure on prices.

The net net of this deal is that jobs don’t increase on higher sales volume and the consumer dollar, shrinking through inflation predicted in several core sectors for 2018, won’t stretch as far with the new behemoth.  In the current environment, only media companies are vulnerable to antitrust claims by the government.  Amazon’s acquisition might not even pass muster as anti-competitive for purposes of the the antitrust law.  It sure feels like Amazon will be the General Store on Main Street in Everyplace, USA.

Learning to Spell Papadopoulos

“We’ve met the enemy,”  Walt Kelly’s Pogo once said, ” and it is us.”  Actually that epigram came from a poster exhibited at the first Earth Day celebration in 1970.  It meant that we are killing our planet and therefore ourselves.   It’s recalled best through the Pogo comic panel and has become a touchstone of American self-destructiveness.

The George Papadopoulos drunken confession must be added now to Richard Nixon’s tape system and Bill Clinton’s leaky faucet as examples of political self-destruction.  It turns out that Papadopoulos was the one who squealed to the FBI on the Trump-Russia connection. Only he didn’t know it.

 Papadopoulos first was seen clawing his way out of the primordial ooze to become  senior foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign.  He was largely overlooked then, rating only a passing reference as one of a handful of geniuses working for the radioactive candidate.

The next sighting of Papadopoulos occurred in October 2017.  Special Prosecutor Mueller announced the Manafort and Rick Gates indictments in connection with the Russia probe, but the wily former FBI Chief buried the lede. His team also filed a one-count guilty plea by Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI. It was largely obscured by the feeding frenzy over Manafort’s indictment.  The White House immediately disavowed any knowledge.  Sarah Huckabee Sanders diminished Papadopoulos’ significance, calling him an unpaid volunteer and describing his activities as “unofficial.” 

The indictment elaborated that Papadopoulos was working through a professor in London to make contact with a “Russian national” who had dirt on Clinton.   Papadopoulos concealed these facts when questioned by the FBI, earning him the false statement conviction.   Papadopoulos’ new-found celebrity caused the press to re-examine campaign materials. They found the photo above, showing Papadopoulos as one point of a triangle formed with Russia Recuse-nik Jeff Sessions and Trump as the other two.  The unpaid volunteer possessed of the Russian dirt was hanging with the campaign heavies.  There is no audio to go with the picture but it’s safe to assume that they were not discussing Micronesian trade policy.

Today, the significance of Papadopoulos’ London jaunt became clear.  During his March sojourn an ebullient Papadopoulos also met with an Australian diplomat. Over the course of an evening of inebriation, he actually was a volunteer, coughing up that the Russians had the goods on Hillary.   The man from Oz filed away this information until July, when he heard about the Russian dump of Clinton and DNC email.  He reported his conversation to Australian intelligence. They in turn reported it to their American counterparts.  Ironically, the Australian Prime Minister was one of the first Heads of State to be bashed by Trump after the election.

Upon receiving the news the FBI launched its investigation into Russian involvement,  one that so far has brought down Manafort, Gates and General Michael Flynn, along with Papadopoulos.  Trump has continuously called the Russia investigation a hoax. Every picture tells a story, though, and this one has Lyin’ Don and the little volunteer making serious face time.

Today’s bombshell puts the guilty plea into perspective. Papadopoulos was the first domino to fall because he is the taproot of the investigation.  The Trump campaign itself spilled the beans.  Not only was the Russia issue for real, but the FBI got it from the horse’s mouth. For work this good, Papadopoulos deserved to be on someone’s payroll.  

I expected another indictment before the New Year but instead we got this leak about the Australian connection  The information connects the dots between the London meeting and the one two months later that took place in Trump Tower. The pieces are beginning to fall into place, and a complete story is beginning to emerge. The future ex-President predicted that the Russia investigation would be over by the end of the year. This is probably not what he meant.

 

It’s Midnight in Mobile

Dateline – South of South Carolina     

     Alabama will decide tomorrow whether Roy Moore or Doug Jones will be its next U.S. Senator. Forecasters say the election is too close to call. That’s because the forecasters are using polling data. You know how unreliable polls can be. 

     If anybody knows who the winner will be, she’s in Alabama right now and has been there all her life.  She talks to lots of people in her line of work,  hundreds of people every day, and she knows her people.  She’s right there, standing on the street or sitting in a car or behind a store counter.  She knows but nobody’s asked her.

     Roy Moore was a legend long before this election. He first surfaced nationally when he  defied a court order directing him to remove a Ten Commandants display from his courthouse. He was booted off the Supreme Court of Alabama.  He got reelected a few years later but he got removed again.  This time he ordered Alabama judges not to recognize same-sex marriages after the US Supreme Court said that was unconstitutional. 

      Moore ran for Governor twice, both times losing in the primaries. He ruled on a few sexual assault cases.  Jones put out an ad saying that Moore ruled in favor of the sex offenders. That isn’t quite true;  his votes would have affected a re-trial of the cases.

      His opponent and the media have taken a lively interest in Moore’s misadventures since a woman in her thirties accused Moore of assaulting her when she was 14 years old. In Alabama, that was and is against the law.  And Moore must have known, because he was a district attorney at the time, one of those fellows whose job is to put away people who break the law.    

     Other women have told similar stories.  Moore admits to dating some teenagers when he was in his thirties but says the girls were all of legal age.  Ah, but did he check their learner’s permits?  The age of the girls is not the point.  The point is that they saw Moore as a powerful man, and that’s the reason that a lot of girls  wouldn’t stop him or didn’t tell their stories.

       At any other time, Moore would have been run out of town on a rail. But this is not just any time. It’s tax bill time.  First, the Republican National Committee pulled back and cut off funds to the campaign. Realizing that they would need Moore’s vote to pass their tax plan, the Republicans have closed ranks. Even the future ex-President flip-flopped for Moore.   At least Trump was candid: anyone but a liberal democrat.

     You don’t hear much about Doug Jones.  He started as a staff attorney for the U.S, Senate Judiciary Committee.  After that, he went home to Dixie to serve as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.  After a few years he went into private practice but returned to government work when Bill Clinton appointed him U.S. Attorney.  After that, he’s bounced in and out of government appointments.  His appointments have been political.  There’s no record that Jones had to be relieved of  his post.   Jones considers himself a middle of the road kind of guy.  He wants to reduce corporate taxes but would vote against the tax bill.

     Democrats have been pouring money and a ground-game into the Jones campaign, especially in the last few days. If there is a big turnout, particularly among African-Americans, Jones could pull off an upset. The Republicans are all-in too. They are throwing all their resources at this election, because a Moore victory makes passage of the tax bill feasible, and a Jones victory makes it dead on arrival.

      In all the hullabaloo about the political impact of the election,  some people have taken their eyes off the sparrow.  Not Richard Shelby, Alabama’s senior senator and a Republican.  Shelby said he believed the accuser and added that Jeff Sessions said he had no reason to doubt her story.  Shelby said, “”I didn’t vote for Roy Moore. I wouldn’t vote for Roy Moore. I think the Republican Party can do better.”  Shelby made his statement on CNN, which guarantees it would be aired three times per hour,  not at a Birmingham Botanical Garden fund-raiser.  

     The odds are good that even if Moore wins, he won’t be in Washington long; maybe long enough to cast one vote.

Update: what-the-hell-is-happening-with-these-alabama-polls?

Al Franken’s Final Bow

When Scott Fitzgerald said that there are no second acts in American lives, he could have been talking about Al Franken. The curtain is about to ring down on his second – and likely final – act as junior Senator for the State of Minnesota. Many of his Democratic colleagues and lots of his Republican adversaries have demanded his resignation over a growing number of sexual misconduct incidents. After all,   Conyers is gone.  Roy Moore may be walking into a shooting gallery. Franken will resign. The culture demands it because the Groper-in-Chief is the elephant in the room.   All of the fallen misogynists are placeholders for the future ex-president. Their careers are dying for his sins as well as their own.

If Franken’s follies were limited to his first act, comedian and humorist, he might have survived. Not that shoving his tongue down Leann Tweeden’s throat passes for stagecraft or that the prank photo of Franken seeming to grab her breasts would get him on the short list for the Mark Twain Award. But USO shows have never been high-brow affairs. Bob Hope ran on fumes for decades by parading Ms. Va-Va-Va-Voom in front of our weary troops. Different times, different mores perhaps, but Bob probably kept both hands on his own putter. 

As a Senator, Franken supported legislation that called for equal pay for women and freedom in their reproductive rights choices.  He sponsored a bill from which he has removed his name.  After the USO scandal broke he stood defiant, calling  for the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate him.  No Senator had been unseated for acts undertaken before taking office. He thought he could withstand the scrutiny.  Not any more.

The funny man got the hook when more victims stepped forward, complaining that Senator Al groped them during photo ops at the Minnesota State Fair. Franken said he didn’t remember; between the fried mooseburgers on a stick and the Four-H shows, one could lose their mind and forget locking their mitts like a vice grips on a voter’s buttocks.   Five was too much, though, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the list continues to grow.  In fact, he’s lucky that the sheep and cows have maintained their vow of silence.

Franken has been a hard-working Senator, and he has taken his state’s interests seriously and knowledgeably. He’s a smart and articulate guy. He’s done his homework and has gone after Jeff Sessions and Betsy Devos in their confirmation hearings, nailing them with their own words.  Being an honorary Minnesotan, I’ve observed his supporter’s silent disapproval. His constituents were not calling for his ouster but they were ashamed of his behavior. Liberals wanted to give him a pass, but he should not get special treatment. It doesn’t matter if his heart is in the right place if his hands are not.

 

A Half-Week in Review

It’s only Thursday night so it’s cocky  to think of this as a whole week in review. Maybe a half-week. Things could look different Saturday night. Not so different, though, to make this snapshot obsolete.

The tax bill is taxiing on the runway but it’s anybody’s guess if that mountain of guano has enough ground speed to take off. Late arriving analysis makes the deal a stinker on taxes. Not to mention all the social policy it tries to shove down everybody’s gullet. As it stands, a lot of members of Congress who vote for it will fall on their swords if the bill becomes law. Donors love the bill. Voters don’t.   As for me, everything besides the tax bill is only noise. The bill is radical. It’s not just a tax bill.

For the still-curious, there’s a new wrinkle in the Russia probe. The future ex-President was strong-arming Senators to shut it down last summer. That’s not necessarily a crime. It sure makes Comey’s firing more about Putin than Clinton. The Troll in Chief says this will be over in a month. Thanks, but I’ll take the points.

Staggering Rex Tillerson. Don’t call the boss a moron, especially if he is. The insiders say Rex is out. Pompeo goes from CIA to State and Tommy Cotton of Arkansas leaves the Senate to be the Spook in Chief. Arkansas holds on to its GOP Senate seat. Whispers are that this positions the CIA to stonewall investigators. None of this eyewash has amything to do with diplomacy or espionage. It’s doubtful that this subtlety originated in the Oval Office. So, who is calling the shots?

Did any sexual predator get outed today? The heat is turned up on Franken and Lauper. Keillor is benefitting from a backlash and a weak case. The Reign of Terror is not over. The accusations are looked at more closely. Why does Santa have all those kids on his lap? Is it really St. Nick filling up his list?

The stock market crashed 24k today. A lot of Americans can’t buy in. It’s no Party for them.They will get hosed on taxes without any payoff. Meet the new Serf, same as the Old Serf.

The details may change in the next few days. The big picture is the so-called tax bill, and it won’t change. Besides the trillion dollar payback to the plutocrats, it changes health care and education policy. The rich get rich, and the poor get children. The big payback won’t go into new domestic jobs. The U.S. will be a friendlier tax haven for the Global Parasites. 

The Times Still are A-Changin’

 

Our law school put on a show every year, spoofing the faculty. Ham that I am, I participated  in all three shows. I want to tell you about one of them. 

It was 1977, and I was in my second year. Two classmates and I wrote the script, and two others penned lyrics for our song parodies. Except for two that I had written. One was a parody of Ray Charles’ “What I’d Say.”  It was called “Res Ipsa Loquitur,” which means “the thing speaks for itself,” riffing on accident lawyers. The lyrics were funny enough, and we had a tort professor named Robert Waters, who many students called Muddy. The other song was an original entitled, “Be My Chicken.”  It was a pastiche of blues songs with risqué double-entendres. It had nothing to do with law.  

I rehearsed both songs for the cast and crew. They decided that the Chicken song was too dirty. It included the word “cock,” as in rooster. But I didn’t  mean rooster, Besides, rooster didn’t scan. The Chicken song was cut, but the ambulance chaser song remained, and it got lots of laughs.  Did I mention that Professor Waters was African-American, and I performed in black-face? In today’s America, the reactions would be the opposite.  I still do the Chicken song at parties, while the other received a suitable burial. I am embarrassed by my lack of judgment and empathy, but it was Florida in the Seventies. Red Ipsa Loquitur, y’all.

“My Fair Lady” is a 1956  musical about an uneducated Cockney girl who becomes  an elegant, middle-class woman under the tutelage of a self-proclaimed misogynist and elitist.  They fall in love – sort of—and she comes back to live under his aristocratic roof, the curtain falling as she retrieves his slippers.  She makes this choice despite the declared affections of an idle-rich young man, who haunts the woman’s neighborhood, winsomely singing,”Let the time go by, I don’t care if I can be here on the street where you live.” In other words, a Stalker.

In the 1978 film, “Animal House,” all types of debauchery and mayhem are exploited for laughs, including a college freshman’s attempt to intoxicate and have sex with an under-age girl. Statutory Rape.  Now that scene would end up on the cutting room floor.

Also in 1978, Rodney Dangerfield joked,” I have three children —one of each.” His joke about homosexuality was a harbinger for the politics of gender identity and its bathroom conundrum.

These are cultural touchstones marking the changes in sensitivity on issues of race and sexuality in American culture in the last sixty years.  We can look at the past as unenlightened, but except for myself perhaps, the talents behind these celebrated works were not cave dwellers. The current outpouring of accounts of sexual assault helps us as a culture move from the theoretical to the actual.  Millennials may know intuitively what we boomers had to learn. 

Victims of sexual assault have broken free of repressed and suppressed recollections, many involving cultural icons.  The accounts offer a look into sexual roles  going back thirty or more years to the present. Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein have been accused of rape. Bill O’Reilly has paid off cases of sexual assault.  Kevin Spacey and Roy Moore allegedly forced themselves upon minors.  Louis C.K. has admitted to exposing himself and jerking off in front of  several female comics,  a rumor that had circulated for years.  Those women have issued reports now.   At first, they did not speak up, in deference to his power in show business and that he’d been generous helping them build their careers. 

The case of Al Franken raises different  issues.  Franken, then a comic on a 2006 USO tour, admits  to aggressively kissing another entertainer in a scene calling for a “stage kiss.” This scenario was a recurring gag in 1982’s “Tootsie,” in which Dustin Hoffman’s cross-dressing character is repeatedly over-kissed by her soap opera co-star with a reputation for such hi-jinks. By the way, Dustin Hoffman himself stands accused of misconduct. The USO tours were enormously popular during earlier wars, when Bob Hope paraded a number of voluptuous women, immodestly dressed, in front of an audience of drooling GIs.   With Franken, the kiss, which was immediately repulsed by the victim, was embellished by a photo taken of Franken fondling or appearing to fondle the victim’s breasts while she was asleep on a transport plane.  The photo was included in a commemorative album distributed after the tour,  to the victim’s horror. 

Franken’s behavior creates a different kind of problem for the people who traditionally side with the victim.  Franken is now a U.S. Senator for the State of Minnesota, and he unfailingly takes the victim’s side in these situations. His allies and constituents are forced to reconcile Franken’s private lechery with his admirable public work.  Michelle Goldberg, a New York Times columnist, has called for his resignation or at least an ethics hearing. He is receiving a pass from many of his supporters.

The politics and the less invasive nature of the offense support Franken, but so do the outdated  mores of earlier times.  Franken grew up in the sixties and seventies.  Our “take” on sexual matters was different. A male was expected to be the initiator, and the female was the boundary setter. “No” was the word when uttered in combination with a physical withdrawal. The line was thus drawn. One might say that “No”  should have been sufficient.  But there was countervailing  part of the ritual that called for a certain amount of female protest, as if to say, “I don’t l, do this but, well, because it’s you…” Face was saved, parental encomiums heard but not always followed.

Franken and his fellow player were performers in a show. This isn’t meant to suggest that Franken was justified: it was “Tootsie” for real.  As a performer, he knew better. The photo was at the least in bad taste and at worst evidence of a battery, touching without consent while the woman slept.  Franken crossed the line.  Yet, I can’t equate it with the other scandals because it is by degrees closer to the aggressiveness that once was condoned.  However, if later we find out that Stuart Smalley really wasn’t good enough, his show will be canceled too. 

 

Louis Louis, Oh Baby, You Gotta Go

Louis CK

Louis CK, comedian, writer, produce and mentor to  young  male and female comedians, has also been a big jerk-off for a long time. This past week, accusers from past and near-present, told similar stories about Louis asking to masturbate in front of them. Louis rose to stardom as a stand-upcomecdian, from which he gained the power to help or hurt another performer’s career. Thus, several people, fearful of  reprisals, stood silently for this treatment until this week, when’s Loius’ situation erupted.

Louis’s M.O. was common knowledge in the entertainment industry. There were intimations published in the last few years. Tig Notaro, a Louis protegé,  beseeched him to come clean long before the story became news.  Louis ignored the advce but often made reference to his issues in his stand-up sets.  Writers are told to write what they know, and Louis heeded that.   The story has been  in his material for all to hear. Talking about masturbation to a full house is not the same as putting on show and tell for an audience of one. 

Media and advertising businesses buy Louis’ services. After the Weinstein and Spacey scandals of the past couple of weeks, the industries had an Action Plan in place. Louis’ new film has been shelved, and  his Netflix contract has been canceled.  Don’t for a moment believe that the industry response was caused by sudden knowledge or lucidity. Show biz, like baseball, is morally relativistic.  Louis CK was a moneymaker.  Alas, he’s been felled by a single stroke. 

CK also has a game plan compiled by avoiding the pratfalls of  his  predecessors.  

  • Bill Cosby, a pioneer in the field, and still the poster boy for miscreant behavior.  Just because he wasn’t convicted (yet), doesn’t mean he’s innocent.  Even worse, generations of kids saw him as a model parent.  
  • Harvey Weinsrein could not intimidate or buy his way out of trouble again. He’s accused of rape in addition to multiple incidents of assault. .He’ll never work in show business again, unless he gets to produce prison plays. Max Bialystock, move aside!
  • Kevin Spacey denied having come on to  a 14 year-old  — but if it even happened he was drunk. Spacey  by the way, acknowledged he was gay. Even my Dachshund knew that.  Too like, too late.  He got the Trotsky treatment, being  airbrushed out of the J. Paul Getty biopic.  House of Cards was shut down. Bryan Cranston says that Spacey’s career is over. Cranston’s on a PR feeding frenzy lately. Maybe Bryan wants to play President again and sees his chance to be the new Frank Underwood.. Power’s gone to his head.
  • Anthony Weiner and  Matthew Weiner,  both accused of misconduct, might consider a name change.  The optics, you know.

The big mistake these and other losers have made is that they claim innocence, then additional or new charges surface.  Judge Roy Moore, categorically denies assaulting a fourteen yeas-old when he was an assistant district attorney in Elowah County, Alabama.  Moore has been under invitation of ethical misconduct in the past. Moore was sanctioned for refusing to pull down a Ten Commandment monument he’d commissioned for his courthouse.  Besides he will  rely on the argument that the Mosaic Tablets says it’s a mortal sing to covet your neighbor’s  wife and his ass   It doesn’t comment on the neighbor’s daughter.  The Alabama hound won’t hunt. Right now, he’s running for U.S. Senate, and he probably figures that he has nothing more to lose.

CK may end up OK,  He went against the conventional wisdom by admitting his wrongdoing and the pain he’s inflicted .  Keeping with his confessional style, he also discussed the ill effect of power on his behavior.  He has taken a temporary vow of silence.  He’s a talented writer and producer. He ha a reputation for being supportive of young talent. His rising tide has lifted many of their boats.     CK is finished as a performer, but he may still find writing and producing work once he’s paid his dues.

 

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