The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    tmccarthy0's picture

    The Anger They Carried

    It was and is a daily burden made worse with the onslaught of daily acknowledgment by a large variety of men who have committed acts of aggression and harassment against women and children. I hear the cries of both sides screaming, "our side is not as bad as the other side" but I just don't know if that's true. Sure there are degrees of bad and evil, Roy Moore is one evil human being so used to gaslighting his victims he continues to use those methods to gaslight all of Alabama. He preys on children, and there is no doubt that he is the most toxic of males who uses his position in society to prey on those who cannot protect themselves.

    I was extremely disappointed when the information about Al Franken came to light and how many folks on our side just brush it off simply because he has been an ally via policy beliefs and voting record. But I wonder why it is only men who have perpetuated this type of loutish behavior should continue to be trusted to smash the patriarchy and bring progressive legislation to fruition? Is it true that only Al Franken can save us? Is he what stands between democracy or its death? What a world this is, that only this one person is the magical factor to keep us together, what a world because it is only ever those people of the male persuasion to be seen in such a way, as a savior, as the one. Hmm, I just don't know that this should be regarded as the truth any longer. It is the reason patriarchy has hung on for so long.

    Some conservatives had decided this was the perfect time to talk about Bill Clinton and his issues with women, and honestly, I dismissed at first. I was more than troubled with Sen. Gillibrand saying that WJC should have resigned over the Lewinsky scandal, it made me question her reasons for saying that. I thought to myself, "Oh she's running in 2020". I dismissed her out of hand. But as time has gone on, as I've reflected on my own life and on just being alive during that time period I've begun to wonder if maybe she isn't correct. I've begun to wonder if this degradation in what is morally acceptable in our government and in our world was made worse by WJC not resigning. I've dismissed this argument often, but I am here to say I think I was wrong. Al Gore would have been a fine President and could have carried out Clinton's remaining term. If Clinton had been an upstanding human being, simply for the good of the nation, maybe he would have been inclined to make a personal sacrifice. Other than his intellectual capacity, how different is WJC from Donald Trump? I don't know that he is different when it comes to how he treated women.

    I'm seeing Al Franken in that light because after four accusers I think his diminished stature among the American people is enough for him to simply do the right thing and step down. Wouldn't this would allow the Governor of Minnesota (D) to appoint a popular local politician for the remainder of the term. It wouldn't matter who this person is because it isn't as if Al Franken is the only person to be able to perform the duties of a senator. I do not believe in the Great Man theory of history, I never will. I am also becoming more than tired of playing the,"our guy is not as bad as their guy" game! Ultimately this attitude has brought us to Trump, a deeply disturbed orange tinted spoiled rich man who is morally, ethically and possibly owned by a foreign government, a man so deeply compromised he is bent on destroying democratic institutions for that foreign power and is well on his way to doing so!

    The #MeToo movement is the result of the anger they carried because that anger was and is caused by those instances in our daily lives that made us realize ultimately that others had more control over our lives than we have and they can do whatever they want with no consequences. Over time that anger builds and it can overtake an entire nation. This is a time in history when we must do our best to make sure that we do not continue to support those who victimized people, even if that person is supposedly on our side. Sometimes we should expect that person on our side who walked over the edge of the line, just because he could, to do the right thing even when it's hard.


    Sure Bill should have resigned, because the right would have backed off knowing Gore was respectfully almost-divorced but living with a new girlfriend. The Heartland will of course adapt. Yes, in a new alternate universe, it really was all about those blowjobs (and God knows it's hard to defend that right to privacy without opening our closets and bedrooms just in case - it's a matter of principle).

    As for Franken, the initial claims by Leeann "Fox News guest" Tweeden were belied by her own flirty *videotaped* behavior, so that by the time it got to those questions about whether the 2nd round of accusers were put up by Roger Stone or not, I'd largely lost interest. Sorry, but after 2 years of the Trump-Putin-Mercer triumvirate, that's a different battle not to conflate with Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Roman Polanski, Phil Spector, Kevin Spacey, and all those like-minded soulless souls in their shadows.

    Just like by the time I'd gotten past the $30 million invested in the lying of Paula Jones ("distinguished mark" on a dick that Ken Starr couldn't somehow find?) and Kathleen Willy (who Ken Starr couldn't even bring to the stand) and Gennifer Flowers (who dreamt up a 10 year affair out of perhaps 1 or 2 nights, but at least we're not talking harrassment?) I for some reason couldn't be energized by Juanita Broaddrick. Because after all, if you want to say other women should be believed, you probably should be saying Susan McDougal should be believed (since after all McDougal went to jail for *2 years* for contempt refusing to back down on her claim that Ken Starr and others were just vindictive bastards out to get Clinton, plus *won* her case of embezzlement against the Mehtas and got paid out countersuing them for malicious prosecution. Talk about principle, no?

    So how about we stick to the easy stuff, since we've botched the crappy cases so many times trying to pull our purity ooh-no-sex-anywhere-around-a-proper-representative stuff that the GOP is so good at exploiting?

    And let's give up this "both sides do it" implication - it's not like Franken said, "wooh, yeah, I grabbed her goodies" or "shoot, she's a liar and a slut". He said "I'm sorry she felt that way and let's investigate to get behind it". It's not like people rushed to defend Weiner for his outrageous sexting (which would *still* be largely a matter for him and his wife if it hadn't involved an underage girl, much like Al and Tipper's marriage with a 3rd person involved is *none* of my actual business).

    Be very aware that if we end up with the self-imposed Pence rule, where a man can't be alone with a woman under nearly any circumstances, it will hurt women's opportunities and access to power, however much we think or hope this latest shift might lead to positive more ethical behavior.

    If we have to re-litigate Bill Clinton, let’s have a Ken Starr investigation of Donald Trump and Roy Moore.

    Franken and Conyers will face Congressional investigations. 

    How about an investigation of Ken Starr's very witch-hunty investigation?

    How about a year in a padded cell watching Gilligan's Island re-runs?


    I couldn't disagree more.  No one is saying that Al Franken is the only one who can save the nation, and that hyperbole is insulting to those who have thought through this situation and have reached a conclusion different from yours.

    So Progressives now have to believe everything that any woman says against someone we have come to admire and respect for his good works?  No matter how fishy their stories sound?  Al Franken immediately called for an ethics investigation, where (hopefully) the photographer, whom Franken obviously posed for should come and testify.  The same for other witnesses.  Al is entitled to give his take on this as well.  I believe he gave his deferential statements about the USO thing so as not to actually accuse her of lying.

    Why should I give her the benefit of the doubt when I know that she has already lied about President Obama:

    Yes, she got on Fox and spread the birther rumor that she had NO EVIDENCE OF.  So excuse me if I would prefer to let the investigation enlighten us all.

    As to the woman who claimed that he grabbbed her butt...

    1.  She also claimed that she didn't remember who she voted for when Franken was elected and re-elected (sound honest to you?, especially since the first election was highly contested, with re-counts, etc)

    2.  She did admit that she voted for trump

    ... while her husband shot a pic (and she then proceeded to tell her husband, friends, and Facebook the story as well); it reminded me of a co-worker who claimed that three of the handsomest men at an office party had all either grabbed her butt, touched her boobs, or tried to steal a kiss.  She was simply hoping that we would all think that they were all attracted to her.  We all knew it was a lie, but if she decided to bring that all up again now, she would know that she told enough people that she could claim contemporaneous vindication. Trouble is, in her case, we would be certain to tell the whole truth.  

    Do you underestimate the lengths the right-wing will go to get rid of a man like Al Franken?  Why should we just accept accusations that sound like they were read from a cue card when we would not for an actual crime?

    Why would you, or any other Progressive wish to let all these accusations go without any validation?  He wisely called for an investigation, and I will be sure to watch whatever part of it I can.  I hope he doesn't listen to the drum-beat for him to resign.  I hope he is smart enough not to do it.

    And I also hope that when this pile-on is over, and not just for Franken -- there will likely be more, we can all take a breath, and realize that not every accusation should be believed just because a woman makes it.  Sometimes people accuse others because they have an axe to grind.  Sometimes, as in the case of Anita Hill, her very credible accusations are dismissed because the all-male "jury" just didn't want to believe what she had to say.

    Again, what's the rush?  If an ethics investigation is scheduled, why make a negative assumption instead?

    Edited for clarity

    And since it seemed hard to find (unlike her other USO butt bumping, leg humping vids), here's the video of the kissing skit she was complaining about. A skit doing pretty much exactly in public as performers what she complained about him doing in private under the auspices of "practicing". I obviously can't tell how much tongue he used, but I suppose a Congressional investigation or maybe a court case or medical exam will be able to ascertain what happened 12 years ago? Maybe can look for Obama's birth certificate & Hillary's emails while at it.

    Yes, as soon as the rising scandals started, it was obvious there was going to be a bevy of girls coming forward with a "take our word for it" focused on taking out Democrats. The difficult thing is to keep cool and actually look for any ones to take seriously, rather than take it all at face value. (or should we take Gennifer Flowers' word that Bill & Hillary have a long trail of dead bodies? if so, she'd obviously have been high up in the top 10 - how come she's still alive? paradoxes never cease)

    We're also into Monty Python territory here, with this "if they defend themselves too strongly, they must be guilty" vibe. (in the original, a witch will float & need to be burned, a non-witch will sink and thus be innocent though slightly dead). Franken seemed to play the tenor just right, not attacking but not falling on his sword. *If* he's grabbing women's butts, then surely that's wrong (more wrong than a kiss with a fellow performer or an obvious jokey photo about grabbing but not actually grabbing her breasts). How wrong, I don't know. Certainly not rape, statutory rape, child abuse or employee harassment/discrimination, cornering them in a room and masturbating in front of them...  but a kind of harassment to take seriously. But let's also consider if I walked up to a woman I didn't know and gave her a big hug, it'd be harassment, I'd be slapped/slugged or worse. But politicians are doing these happy warm mugshots with strangers every day, some kind of fake intimacy for photo-ops. I don't mean to excuse it by that, but I want to point out it's in an entirely different context than meeting a stranger or a boss coming up to an underling and initiating contact, and *CONTEXT STILL MATTERS*, as I noted with Leeann Tweeden.

    Cville, most of what you said here mirrors my own thinking with one exception: I don't know who's lying and who isn't but when Franken called for an investigation, when he apologized unconditionally, when he admitted his embarrassment and shame, I believed him. Even with the addition of a couple more butt grabs , I believe him.  (I heard a Trumpster say today that Al is an actor so of course he could apologize well enough to make us believe him. I submit that he's not that good at acting. I believe him.)

    I have no reason to doubt he'll make up for it by working to understand women's issues more thoroughly and thoughtfully. I despise butt-grabbers and hate it when men distress and demean women in order to seem sexy or clever or funny.  It could be because I really like Al Franken, but his actions right from the get-go told me he was sincerely sorry. That puts him in a different category entirely.  That, and the fact that his actions, stupid as they were, were not power plays or predatory.  They were just dumb.

    I'm getting rather tired of having to defend him when I would rather just smack him silly and send him to his room, but I can't ignore the level or degree of his actions, compared to what so many others have done that were so extreme and harmful.  Anyway, thanks for your thoughts here. Much appreciated.


    Actually, I didn’t mean to imply that these women are all lying.  My point was that I had experience with a woman who lied the same way, and I don’t think we should automatically believe accusations just because women made them as opposed to giving a hearing to all sides.  I found the stories a little fishy, as I said, and I also find the offenses, as I see that, to be relatively trivial.  

    I also like Franken, and am more inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.  I have also been in situations that shocked me because I honestly perceived a specific event fundamentally differently someone else whom I also think was being honest.  I admit to being prejudiced toward Al.  I also admit to being prejudiced against trump, moore, newt Gingrich and others.  It is their general behavior that makes me think I can’t trust their words. In fact, Moore and trump’s complete idiocy are more disqualifying than any of the potential charges that they seemed to have skirted over time.

    I see Trump and Moore as real predators. They both have long histories of improprieties, if not outright abuse. If there is any justice in the world, they'll pay and pay big.

    I don't dismiss Franken's inappropriate behavior because he's a democrat. I simply think it's relatively minor. I think it's important to look at degrees of inappropriate behavior when determining punishment.

    So far there are only two credible accusations that Franken patted a woman on her butt while taking a photo. I don't accept Tweeden as credible but even if we accept it it's still minor.  This type of inappropriate behavior with a few women is imo relatively minor. What should the punishment be?

    GHW Bush is accused of the same butt patting behavior by 8 women and one 16 year old girl. Worse than Franken, especially the teen, but still in my opinion minor. I don't think he should be punished more than Franken because he's a republican. For me public shaming is enough for Bush and Franken.

    Let's say we accept Paula Jones at her word though there're reasons not to as PP pointed out. Jones claimed Bill dropped his pants and asked her to "kiss it." She said no and by her own account Bill said "I don't want to make you do anything you don't want to do." Then she left the hotel room. Worse than a butt pat but Bill didn't masturbate, grab her, didn't try to put her hand on his penis, she didn't have to fight him off. What should the punishment be for that?

    Kathleen Wiley claimed Bill groped her. She also claimed he had her husband murdered while  he was groping her. He actually committed suicide while she was with Bill. He owed the IRS 400 thousand dollars and was accused of embezzling 275 thousand. He left a suicide note apologizing to her for embezzling. Wiley also claimed Bill had her cat killed and left the skull on her doorstep as a warning. There're more of these crazy accusations but I'm trying to be brief. I don't find her credible.

    The worse of the accusations was the rape claim. Two of the collaborating witnesses hated Clinton for pardoning the man who murdered their father. Her husband said she never told him, perhaps understandable, but also he didn't see the obvious bloody lip where Clinton bit her. Ken Starr thoroughly investigated this and didn't find the accusation credible. Starr was highly partisan and biased and was on a witch hunt for anything to bring the Clinton's down. At first I tended to believe the rape claim but when Starr couldn't hang it on Bill when he was going for anything even marginally credible I had to accept the results of his investigation.

    Lewinsky had a consensual affair with Clinton when she was 22 and 23 that was only some petting and a blow job, no intercourse. By Lewinsky's own account she pursued him. She wanted to have sex with a famous president. I'm not slut shaming, though she often was. I don't know how to define slut. I don't think "sluttish" behavior is wrong. Bill didn't use his power to coerce her, he didn't even seek her out and seduce her. The facts by her own account are Lewinsky wanted to have sex with Bill and pursued him. Having sex is no big deal imo. Bill was married at the time. Not good but adultery is really very common. How should Clinton have been punished for adultery? Remember more than half of all married men and almost half of married women have committed adultery. Face it, homo sapiens aren't very good at keeping their promise of monogamy.

    Trump didn't just pat women on the butt. At least 16 women claimed he grabbed them in their breasts and vagina, while he tried to kiss them. He didn't stop as they said no and stop over and over.  They had to fight him off. The struggle went on for a while until they were finally able to fight their way free.

    Moore is accused of  child molestation of a 14 year old girl and attempted rape of a 16 year old girl . Weinstein is accused of rape, attempted rape and other forms of coercion of female subordinates. Alies of fox is accused of the same.

    This is a bit longer than I planned but I thought it important that we begin to talk about the nature and degree of the accusations of inappropriate behavior before we begin to discuss possible punishments.

    I'm waiting for Uma Thurman to speak so we can get back to addressing the most outrageous behavior and *that* type of epidemic in movieland and everywhere else. I'm pretty sure she has a bombshell coming that likely even ups the ante from Rose McGowan's rape.

    I think a pretty  safe rule is that if Ken Starr didn't use it ,it didn't happen.

    In the waiting room at Brigham's and Women's Hospital. Two others. A local woman, puts down her Globe and says "  I can't believe it. That Mr. Starr want's to have Chelsea testify."

    The other woman.

    "I am an  attorney and we had Ken Starr at the annual meeting of the Oklahoma bar. I'm a Republican. Have never voted for a Democrat in my life and I expect I never will. But as he spoke I became more and more upset.

    He said

    Bill Clinton's an evil man and I am going to drive him from office if that's the last thing I do.

    And I thought how is that an appropriate statement for a prosecutor , one working for the Government itself? And delivered to the meeting of a Bar Association.

    And he charged  us $20,000."




    Starr made a complete turn-around in May, 2016, calling Clinton "the most gifted politician of the Baby Boomer generation". He wrote: "His genuine empathy for human beings is absolutely clear. It is powerful, it is palpable, and the folks of Arkansas really understood that about him--that he genuinely cared.  The 'I feel your pain' is absolutely genuine."

    Go figure.

    I'm already on the record on the other side of this issues re: both Bill Clinton and Franken. But rather than argue with you, I'll point to what I think is interesting in your argument -- who gets to be indispensable in politics? John Edwards had a consensual affair, ugly because of his wife's medical condition, but consensual. He was out. Newt Gingrich survived much the same thing.

    All depends on who your team is, I guess and where you sit in the pecking order. All very circumstantial.

    Tmac, I've had some of those same disappointments and doubts, but when it comes to Franken I still go back to degree. I don't have doubts that he should remain in the Senate, where he can now be a greater advocate for women. This has chastened him--I'm convinced.

    But I've been thinking about what you said about Bill Clinton. Until Sen. Gillibrand brought it up, I never once thought Clinton should have resigned. As sleazy as that affair was, and as visible as the sleaze became, I never veered from the idea that it was, in fact, a vast Right Wing conspiracy threatening to bring the White House down. He brought much of it on himself, I'll agree, but I believe if he had resigned the power of the Right Wing would have grown to heights we couldn't even imagine. Al Gore didn't have the chops to stem that tide.

    I don't believe Clinton's actions brought us Donald Trump. The Clinton scandal was ugly and exhausting and the thought of going through that again anywhere, anytime didn't even factor in. With Trump, we could see it coming a mile away.

    The "Me,Too" movement is late in coming but Trump is the catalyst, not Clinton. The revelations in the past few weeks are not surprising, given the decades-long open secrets, but now we need to keep it going in order to ensure safety and solace for new generations. I think what bothers me most about lumping Franken in with all the rest is that we're in danger of forgetting about degree. If the punishment should fit the crime, where is the crime? What Weinstein has done, what Trump has done, what Roy Moore has done, what Kevin Spacey has done, what Charlie Rose has done--they are crimes. I see Franken's offenses as sexual idiocy that borders on violation but doesn't quite go there.

    I do like him and I would hate to see him lose his job, but I can say without hesitation that if he had lied about it, made light of it, refused to accept blame, I would be calling for his head. It makes all the difference in the world to me that he immediately took responsibility, didn't hesitate about apologizing, and treated each victim as a human being he and he alone was responsible for hurting. Big difference, at least for me. 

    But the fundamental question still remains, do leaders have a personal responsibility to sacrifice for the greater good? That is basically all I am asking up there, that's it, so do they or don't they?

    That's pretty tough - what is the greater good, how much responsibility is reasonable to expect?

    And like all things, that "personal responsibility" can become a politicized anchor weight with which to bludgeon an opponent with.

    Right now we'll see conflicting but necessary responsibilities to fight rampant embedded sexism & sexual abuse/heavy harassment while fighting kneejerk witch hunts chasing piccadillos while purportedly weeding out sexism. This is not surprising - conflating issues is often one of the ways to disarm and muddy the waters. "If you can't beat 'em, dazzle 'em with bullshit". In this case there's a specific Republican / Democrat jockeying going on.

    Here's sexual predator Roy Moore's course on why women aren't morally suited for office or basically any job, and I'm going to get bent out of shape on whether Al Franken touched someone's butt *AFTER* an obvious hatchet job by a Fox News announcer? Sorry, this discussion seems *exactly* how the fucking right wing wants to distract us. We have a responsibility all not to get sidetracked and spun out of shape on stupid shit.

    It's not that simple. I don't care if Franken resigns because his replacement will be another democrat. But it sets a precedent that other democrats will be expected to follow. The next man expected to resign might be from a state with a republican governor. The offense was so minor imo. The goal is to stop the behavior and public shaming will do that. What happens if voters elect Moore? Republicans don't resign even in the face of credible allegations of child molestation while democrats resign over a couple of pats on the butt. Vitter gets reelected after seeing a prostitute and Spitzer resigns. That double standard puts democrats at a severe disadvantage.

    My point in discussing the Lewinsky affair is that we shouldn't set standards that a majority of people can not meet. What ever your ethical beliefs face the fact that homo sapiens have trouble being monogamous, both men and women. I think we must take account of normal human frailty when we set these standards

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