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Al Franken: So Far, He's Resolving This The Right Way...So Far

Category: Society
Posted: 11/17/17 15:30

by Dave Mindeman

When the news about Al Franken and his sexual harassment charges broke, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Surely, not Al. OMG, he has been a leader on women's issues ever since he came to the Senate - both on women's rights and reproductive rights.

Leeann Tweeden's open letter was compelling and kind of gut wrenching. And then, the awful photo came and I thought - No, Al, that's not OK and not funny. What the hell were you thinking?

Then all the reactions came. They came fast and swift. Democrats and Republicans. A number of people immediately called for resignation.

And even though I have been a hard core supporter of Al Franken from the beginning, I could not say that those resignation calls were wrong. His voice would now be questioned. His actions even more so.

My first reaction was to put what I could find out, out there. And then watch the reactions from the people in the political sphere. Of course, the Republicans put forward the hypocrisy of it all (and it was hard to disagree); and the liberal Democratic response was much the same (which in these cases was actually a good thing). As we move forward on the explosion of sexual harassment charges, it has to be taken out of the partisan bubble and, as many have said, we need to listen to the women.

Yeah, gentleman, we do not get any final say on this. We are all, all of us, guilty as charged. The societal norms regarding men is not right. It is completely and totally wrong and we need to fix that. Yes, there is a lot about this problem that we are brought up with - it is what we are taught. But it is NOT in our DNA. We can do better. Each generation needs to fix what it can. But the first thing to do is listen to how women are affected.

Unlike many of the current charges in regards to other people, Al responded a little different. He, as many would, hedged on the facts...just a little at first. But he came to the proper conclusion - if Leeann Tweeden was offended then he was wrong.

And Leeann, for her part, was willing to listen. She felt that Al's apology was real and she didn't feel that Al Franken should resign - but for her own emotional well being, she had to say something. She has been very fair to Franken - more than most would be willing to do.

But she gets the final say on this. We should take our cues from her. And to her credit, she seems willing to forgive.

In addition, Franken is doing his part. He started slow but thought it through and issued a personal apology directly to Leeann, which she graciously read on the view.

"Dear Leeann, I want to apologize to you personally," Tweeden read aloud for the audience. "I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, but that doesn't matter. There's no excuse and I understand why you could feel violated by that photo. I remember that rehearsal differently, but what's important is that [sic] the impact it had on you and you felt violated by my actions, and for that I apologize. I have tremendous respect for your work for the USO and I am ashamed that my actions ruined that experience for you. I am so sorry. Sincerely, Al Franken."

Now this may be OK for this incident....but we all know that when something like this is made public, there are often other problems ready to surface. So we will have to reserve judgment on the final conclusion for a later time.

For now, it seems to me that Al Franken resolved this the right way.
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Bill Clinton Is Not An Example Nor An Excuse

Category: Society
Posted: 11/15/17 05:59, Edited: 11/15/17 06:01

by Dave Mindeman

The most used defense by Republican apologists for Roy Moore, Donald Trump, etc....is that Bill Clinton was a sexual predator that liberals defended and that he (Clinton) may have been worse than those accused now.

This is the only tactic left in any kind of defense of sexual harassment and abuse that Republicans have perpetrated and which they seem compelled to defend.

So, let's look at the case of Bill Clinton. Yes, Bill Clinton made some horrible mistakes. And there is no defense for his actions. None.

But Republicans, in their zeal to make political hay, focused on the politics rather than what he did wrong. And, as usual, when the GOP does that, they overplayed their hand.

When the Bill Clinton scandal happened, the Republicans couldn't just focus on Bill himself. No they couldn't help but add the women involved into their methods of destruction.

Monica Lewinsky was ostracized, humiliated, and victimized. Even though the sexual encounter was consensual, Bill Clinton abused the relationship with his position of power. That should have been more of the story, but Republicans had to turn it into a moral issue only - maybe they have forgotten, but all three of the Republican House speakers that shared the same tenure as Clinton had to step down for adultery accusations - Newt Gingrich, Bob Livingston, and Dennis Hastert. In the case of Hastert, there was a monster lurking there that only years later could be revealed.

So the "morality" of it all soon began to loom as a hypocritical political stunt because of that.

And let's not forget Hillary Clinton. The Republicans could not resist taking her pain and humiliation and turning that into blaming her as complicit. That ridiculous notion was made to follow her for the rest of her career. The flaw that was Bill's alone became one for the whole family. Hillary was vilified for the difficult decision to stay in the marriage and Chelsea's pain was simply ignored.

Many Democrats joined the condemnation of what Bill did (including me), but when the politics became the focal point, it became a referendum on the policy and not the man. Republicans can't seem to resist that - a sex scandal is meaningless to them unless you can gain political advantage with it. Evidence of that is right here in the Minnesota Capitol. The Democrat Schoen was condemned in a bipartisan manner, while Cornish has never been officially condemned by the State GOP.

Comparing Roy Moore to Bill Clinton is hard to allow as well. Moore has a pattern of preying on underage girls, while Bill Clinton was just stupid. Clinton and Trump have a somewhat similar pattern of sexual casualness towards women - but Clinton's legacy became tarnished and it has taken years to become as popular as he is now....despite all of it. Trump's tendency is to relegate his misogyny as unimportant and acceptable for his view of society.

And as we see in all of these cases, the women who are the real victims have to endure ridiculous scrutiny and have to defend themselves in regards to every detail.

This is a bipartisan problem, but Republicans are in denial about the sexual problem itself. The POLITICS of the moment is all they wish to deal with.
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The Tax Cut Stimulus Mantra Is Just Wrong

Category: Society
Posted: 06/28/17 23:24, Edited: 07/04/17 01:34

by Dave Mindeman

There is this pervasive argument that conservatives absolutely depend on for their approach to public policy.

An opinion piece at CNN is the ultimate example. Here we go:

Standard economics says that high marginal tax rates reduce economic activity by reducing the incentive to save and work. And the ACA taxes on investment savings and high incomes are exactly backwards from this perspective; they raise the tax burden on savings and working for high income taxpayers, the ones most likely to alter their behavior in response to such taxes, thereby slowing economic growth which affects everyone.

Is that really standard economics? I think the theory behind that has a little more to it than tax cuts for the wealthy stimulates the economy.

The ACA does tax investment savings and high incomes. And the Republicans want to roll all of that back, but the economic stimulus is just another unicorn theory without much basis in fact.

He says that the rich "alter their behavior" when given tax cuts...in a way that stimulates economic growth. This person sites an economic study from 2007 (10 years ago) and it only dealt with the idea of tax cuts in a government environment where spending would not increase - the study even goes so far as to say that tax cuts without spending increases has never actually occurred. Mainly because the tax cuts destroy revenue streams.

But let's get back to this "altered behavior". When a wealthy person gets a tax cut, where is the evidence that they would change their behavior to increase economic activity? They don't need the extra money. They more than likely would not need to spend it -so it would go back into a tax shelter of some kind - probably offshore and out of the economy entirely.

That doesn't sound like stimulus to me. As Democrats constantly argue, a tax cut to middle and lower class wage earners is a guarantee of economic activity - they need to keep up with regular expenses and maybe would use any extra money to make a purchase they wouldn't otherwise make. That is the ACTUAL definition of altered behavior.

The Republican philosophy continues to hold on to this archaic idea that tax cuts to the wealthy will free up the most money. It is an archaic idea because it is wrong. Giving tax cuts to lower income families affects more people with more incentive to action.

This continuous adherence to the old Reagan "trickle down" economic theory is devoid of rational thought and has prevented the Republican Party from any new ideas on economics for decades.

The high taxes that fund health care for many of the poor doesn't look to cause individual benefit. It is a societal benefit. And when people have health care and do not go bankrupt from health events, then everyone benefits - including the wealthy because everyone can participate in that economic activity.

The Republican broken record mantra on this needs to end.
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