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Democracy’s Messy

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It’s a popular refrain that you will hear echoed by either side of a political issue or argument, but what does it mean?  Let’s start by recognizing that the American electorate is an imperfect body of largely misinformed, emotionally motivated voters, bridging a chasm of religious beliefs with a limited understanding of the basic rights provided by the Constitution.  Follow that with apathy and cynicism that results in low voter turnout and you have a recipe for specious, skewed results in any election.

An election is deemed to be the will of the people but with such a large number of potential voters declining to participate in the process and the balance so influenced by the will of the media they choose to follow, or a rigid belief system they have succumbed to, can we truly say that election outcomes are the will of the people, all or just enough of the people, or is it more like the will of the marketing media dollars spent, and loud-mouthed media advocates embracing their own form of truth, an alternate reality?  Or… for the true believers, is it God’s will? Thy will be done, and so it is.  Yes, democracy is messy, but it would be foolhardy to believe that it never results in mistakes.

Lacking an argument against impeachment based on the facts of the case and having retreated to the losing complaint that the process is flawed, the Republican strategy is to appeal to the will of the people once more to decide the outcome of Trump’s presidency, as if the people, by exercising their rights, produce flawless outcomes, outcomes that are fair and just, wise and proper. 

But what if the electorate makes a mistake?  Cannot they do so?  How can a mistake be remedied? 

Constitutionally, the remedy provided by the founders of our great nation is impeachment.  Now that Donald Trump has finally been impeached, we are waking to the realization that impeachment without removal from office is just a toothless slur and a footnote in the pages of history of a President forever disgraced. Unlike Bill Clinton, who bent his ego to the pragmatic choice he faced, Donald Trump’s raging narcissism will not allow him any peace and thus, may inflict the only punishment that he will ever face.

Personally, I would have preferred that Bill Clinton had been removed from office.  Al Gore would have become President and climate change remedies would have begun in earnest.  Gore would probably have been re-elected and the course of our nation would have been put back on track with a man of integrity and vision.

But alas, that is all in the past and we are in the age of Trump, who dangles in the balance waiting to be acquitted by the GOP senators he manipulates through a fear of re-election in defiance of his will and without his support. 

Anyone who has regularly watched Bill Marer on HBO’s “Realtime” has heard him rail against the Democrats as being “pussies.”  He knows that the Republicans will always play hardball and do whatever is necessary to win their objective.  Mitch McConnell is the prime example of this strategy, denying Obama a hearing on his Supreme Court nomination.  Ethically unfair but legal, he and his Republican comrades know the rules and use them to their advantage.  Follow that with the shoe-horned fitting of Brett Kavanaugh into the High Court and, well you understand how this all works.  It’s a winning numbers game if you control the numbers.

So I have to think that Nancy Pelosi has taken Bill Marer’s advice to heart. She’s using the rules to her advantage and there is nothing that Mitch can do about it.  Trump can complain tirelessly, but that only betrays his weakness.  His ego is his vulnerability. 

Let’s take a reality check on the situation.  Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham have already stated that they will take direction from Trump and his lawyers, when acting as jurors, who in defiance of the oath they will necessarily take, have already committed to a ruling in favor of the defendant without so much as a hearing that would include witnesses or evidence.  They can do this with impunity because there are no rules to the contrary.

So, it pleases me no end to hear them whine and complain about Pelosi’s decision to hold the articles of impeachment, there being no rule to the contrary. She knows that she will never get a fair trial.  Perhaps she just wants the American people to hear the witnesses who defied the house subpoenas.  Nevertheless, the fix is in, witnesses or not, so my hope is that she never delivers the articles of impeachment and Donald Trump will never be acquitted. 

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Uncapped

Andrew Cuomo: The Roadmap from Free Love to Me Too.

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Whether Governor Andrew Cuomo is guilty of predatory sexual behavior has become the new media sensation of this last week. During that time, a single complaint against the governor has multiplied with the speed of a newly discovered Covid variation into six assertions of his past inappropriate behavior.  If the first person to come forward is to be believed as representative of all six, then it must be concluded that the complaints of harassment are all entirely credible.  After the New York Times broke her story, Charlotte Bennett, the first complainant, sat for a televised interview with Norah O’Donnell outlining the details of her allegations.

For his part, Cuomo met the charges head on with a firm denial of any wrongdoing.

It is however, most interesting to note that the Governor did not deny the validity of the details of the specific events outlined by Ms. Bennett.  What appears to be cut and dry is in fact probably too nuanced to make a criminal determination.  Without a doubt Ms. Bennett is telling the truth.  Might it also be possible that Governor Cuomo is also telling the truth and if so, how can that be?  I don’t think his intent was misinterpreted by Ms. Bennett, and I think he was fully conscious of his approach towards her. Nevertheless, wrong as he was,  it is quite possible that he did not comprehend the ethical problem he had created but felt safe within his understanding of the current social context.  Allow me to explain.

Was Ms. Bennett wrong in thinking, “The governor’s trying to sleep with me?”   I think not. Consider the following, “Without explicitly saying it, he implied to me that I was old enough for him and he was lonely.”  Further, Cuomo inquired about her romantic life and asked if a past trauma had affected her romantic relationships. “He asked if I had trouble enjoying being with someone because of my trauma,” adding that he also asked if I was “sensitive to intimacy, and if it was hard to really be with someone physically.”  He pushed for the close, going so far as to ask her if she had ever been intimate with an older man and offering that personally he was comfortable dating younger women saying, “He was fine with anyone over 22.  I’m 25.”  Can his intentions be any clearer?  He was searching for a way in.

Without doubt this is inappropriate and very creepy behavior, but the road to a determination of illegality is fraught with problems.  Such a conversation may not be criminal but it does require a course adjustment.  In a corporate environment Cuomo would be let go.  In politics, resignation is the remedy. But in spite of the unilateral support for Ms. Bennett by every New York State Democratic leader, and calls for his resignation, Cuomo refuses to resign. Why?

In the age of “Me Too” it is instructive to understand what has become of our cultural norms.  The journey to “Me Too” as a cultural norm begins with “The Pill,” a method of oral contraception for women that was introduced in 1960 and rapidly adopted by overburdened mothers, free-wheeling singles and promiscuous teens.  By 1965, it was common that many high-school and junior-high young girls bragged of carrying a packet of the Pill in their purse, hidden from Mom, proof of having achieved adulthood.

Meanwhile, pouring gas on this fire, young pubescent boys were scouring the magazine racks of the local grocery store in search of brown-paper wrapped copies of the latest “Playboy” magazine to fulfill their hormonal urges to practice that ancient ritual readying them fit for the hunt.  At this point, both sides were all-in and poised for action… but how to initiate?

Making the first move can undoubtedly be awkward for a novitiate.  Culturally, that has long been relegated to the male, but very soon the Pill would change all that.  But for the time being, in 1965 young boys had only the movies to guide them regarding how the approach is made.  Books, a technology of a previous generation, were dry and useless in this nuanced art and television was so sanitized as to be entirely bereft of any help.  No, it fell to movies to complete the circuit connecting the genders and to music in the form of contemporary song to stimulate the passions needed to break the logjam (no pun intended.) As flowed music, so followed the culture and by 1967 a new term had re-entered the lexicon, “Free Love.”

In 1967, during the “Summer of Love,” a social phenomenon erupted in San Francisco when over 100,000 young people under the spell of “flower power” converged on Haight-Ashbury in free-flowing, colorful “hippie” attire, melding music, hallucinogenic drugs, anti-war sentiment and the concept of free-love. These “flower children,” most often referred to as “hippies” were by nature united in their suspicion of the government and opposed to the Viet Nam war.  They rejected consumerism and were more often concerned with art and a generalized spiritual self-awareness often realized through the practice of meditation, all of which equated with “Peace.” Simultaneously, as this movement spread throughout California, hippie communes developed.  These communes were the perfect breeding ground as a foothold for free love to become a cultural norm.

At its core, free love demands freedom from state regulation and church-defined personal relationships, a perfect fit with the ideologies found in communes of the day.  Whether emotional or sexual, legitimate relations between consenting adults are off limits to regulatory oversight and commune residents often interacted freely with many short-term partners.

In free love both men and women have the right to enjoy sexual pleasure without social or legal consequences.  For women, this could not have been made possible without the pill.  In essence, the pill severed the connection between love, romance and sex and opened the door to a more transactional practice of engagement that dispensed with the niceties of dinner and flowers, long walks holding hands and that first moment when a young boy tenuously slips his arm around a young girl on the family couch.  Now it was OK for that young girl on her first kiss to reach down and rub his crotch.  No big deal.  They called it petting back then.  Young girls instinctively knew that Free Love was inextricably linked to the same anti-authoritarian ideals pervading the communes out west and popularized in song, and so, grasping their equality (forgive me) by the balls, they exercised their rights in a most overt way.  While this may have been confusing to some young men, it was most certainly welcome.

But the long term consequence of Free Love was the displacement of the nuanced approach to a romantic relationship with a more direct, transactional approach of a sexual one.  Romance. Requires time and energy and is uncertain, fraught with insecurities, sleepless nights and possible rejection.  It’s never quite fully resolved, and requires constant maintenance, always open to future competition.  Sex on the other hand is short and decisive, over in minutes and quite conclusive.  The approach to sex can be as simple as a question.  The answer determines the possibility.  It can be as crude as, “Hey, you wan’na fuck?” or implied, “have you ever been intimate with an older man?  I’m personally comfortable dating younger women.”

If you understand that the fundamental principle in a proper “Me-Too” relationship is consent, then simply asking the question or indirectly implying it might be considered as a hands-off approach by a lonely, clumsy and rather oafish old man whose only social contacts are made through his work.  Without doubt, it’s a move of desperation.  All the good ones were taken long ago, and many of the ones who got out are embittered and angry and far too wise to be managed or controlled.  After years in office the transactional approach might seem innocent to Andrew Cuomo, after all he was only asking questions, seeking consent. Lacking a proper channel for his physical and emotional urges, he went for the “easy marks” the ones at hand, the pretty ones who he engaged his fantasy of a replenished youth.  His mistake was an abuse of power.  He was their boss.  He should have known that he was making them uncomfortable to engage in such a conversation as he had with each of them.  But this oafish old man failed to understand that asking for a kiss from someone who works for you is as much a violation of “Me-Too” codes as taking the kiss without asking.

 

 

 

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Uncapped

A Lesson From Prince

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Far be it from me to offer help to the Republican party, but when it comes to Donald Trump we’re all in this together, like it or not.  Trump is the equal opportunity abuser.  His latest…  Trump has sent cease and desist letters to the three campaign-fund raising committees of the party, the RNC, the NRSC and the NRCC, seeking to stop the use of his image and his name in fund raising for the GOP.

Not that Republican leaders have ever demonstrated an astute cognizance of the lessons of history, especially in areas beyond the ideas of Nicolai Machiavelli, and hardly funk music, but let’s just say that when this very problem presented itself to Prince, the young artist outwitted one of the biggest corporate giants in the entertainment industry.

You see, when Warner Brothers and Prince had a parting of the ways over the direction of Prince’s next album, Prince was under an ironclad contract that stated that if he left the label he “could not record under his name or any other name.”  Brutal, huh?  That’s when his true genius rose to the occasion and he invented the much renowned symbol that identified him with his music. For DJs all across the country, he was referred to as the artist formerly known as Prince.

So you see, the simple workaround is to never use the Trump name,  but to refer to him as “Former President,”  “Our beloved 45th President” (theirs not mine), or “Your Commander-in-Chief.” Meanwhile, it has not occurred to the vengeful halfwit that his image and name will be used in Democratic campaigns to rally against everything ugly he represents in the Republican party and he’s powerless to do anything about it.  Freedom of speech still exists, even after his scorched earth attempt to silence the GOP.

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Uncapped

The Will Of The People

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“With charity for none and malice for all.”

Those would have to be the words Abraham Lincoln would use, revising his timeless 2nd inaugural speech to describe what has become of the Republican party he helped to establish.

The will of the people, that’s what the VOTE is.  The more people that vote, the more participation exists in a democracy and as a result, the outcome more accurately reflects the will of the people.  It’s elementary and there’s ample evidence that Republican politicians understand that fully.

The one true utterance to flow from the foul mouth of Donald Trump is this: “Republicans would never be elected if it was easier to vote.” Oops, as they say… “from the mouth of babes.”

In fact, as far back as 1980 Paul Weyrich, an influential conservative Republican, observed, “I don’t want everybody to vote. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” Justin Clark, a top Trump election adviser knew this, quoted admitting  to influential Republicans in Wisconsin that the party has “traditionally” relied on voter suppression to compete in battleground states.  ‘Nuff said.

Intent is actually so easy to establish. Democratic legislation, such as Hr1 protects voting rights and makes it easier to vote.  Just read it.  Republicans on the other hand are obsessed with “election security” a thinly veiled “1984-speak” describing their numerous offerings, over 200 newly-proposed laws by Republican controlled state legislatures restricting voting rights in their home states.  Here’s a riddle for you.  What does bottled water have to do with election security?  The obvious answer is nothing, but to Republican politicians in Georgia, it is everything.   They have proposed to make it illegal to hand bottled water to voters waiting in long lines at the polls to vote.  Now you have to ask, “just what kind of monster would deny voting American citizens water?”  Georgia Republicans, obviously.

What’s so amazing about the time we live in is that even in our wildest imagination could any of us have guessed that it would get any worse, expecting that we had seen it all and there were no dark surprises remaining. But alas, not to be.  After January 6th it seemed we had bottomed out, but let’s not be fooled.  It’s just the set-up for chapter two.

If Republicans support free and fair elections, then why is it that in Oklahoma and Arizona pending GOP legislation would allow the state to cut voters out of the process entirely and allow their state legislature to appoint the electors? Is this the Republican version of a Democracy with ultimate election security?  “Leave it to us to tell you what you want.”

I think Republican politicians have watched too many reruns of “Father Knows Best,” which we may never see again given its patriarchal bent, but I am quite sure exists in a secret Republican underground cave used to store such national treasures, that they might gain ancient knowledge from the “wise ones” regarding the family values they lost sight of so very long ago.

So I’ll leave you with what might be the very last intelligent words of a certified Republican. I doubt that any of these fools have read it recently, lest a wave of shame overcome them.

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1865

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