Tag Archives: sexual harassment

Virginia: It’s for political discomfort

They say that “Virginia is for lovers,” which is a slogan the state uses to market itself to the rest of the world.

These days, though, the state is taking on a whole new definition. It’s now a place where the highest echelon of the state’s government is squirming in extreme discomfort.

Gov. Ralph Northam is facing an enormous amount of pressure to resign after a picture surfaced on his medical school yearbook page showing two men, one of them in black face, the other in a Ku Klux Klan outfit. Northam’s name is on the page. He at first apologized for the photo, then said he wasn’t either of the men depicted in it and has resisted demands that he quit the governor’s office.

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, the next in line for the top job in Richmond, has accused of sexual assault by a woman who said he raped her in a hotel room in 2004. Fairfax said the encounter was “consensual,” and has denied doing anything wrong. He’s also issued a type of apology for an act he said he didn’t commit. Go figure.

Attorney General Mark Herring, the next in line for the governor’s office after Fairfax, now reportedly appeared in black face in the 1980s, igniting yet another firestorm in the Virginia statehouse. Herring admitted to wearing black makeup to look like a rapper.

All three of these fellows are facing pressure to quit. They’re all Democrats. The next individual in line to take the top job, if all of them quit — as they likely should do — is the speaker of the Virginia House of Representatives. He’s a Republican.

It goes without saying that the balance of power in a significant “swing state” that has become vital to presidential candidates is teetering on the brink of a major shift.

Does all of this matter to a national audience? You bet it does! We’re talking about race relations and in the age of the #MeToo movement, any reference to sexual assault or harassment lifts it onto the national stage.

Oh . . . brother!

To think that Texas politics has been called a “contact sport.” In Virginia, it has become a “collision sport.” 

Trump’s amorality on full display

Donald J. Trump has earned the title of Most Amoral President in U.S. History.

It is with that dubious distinction that I find it amazing, astonishing and altogether outrageous that this president can speak to any issue involving sex, sexual assault or sexual harassment.

It’s all on the front burner these days as the U.S. Senate considers whether to confirm a Trump nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Brett Kavanaugh is under some intense scrutiny these days as he seeks confirmation to the highest court after at least three women have accused him of assaulting them sexually.

I am left to wonder: What has become of our moral compass?

An admitted sexual assailant was elected president in 2016; he once bragged about grabbing women by their “pu***” because his “celebrity status” allowed him to get away with it. He acknowledged walking in on half-dressed women during his days as proprietor of a beauty pageant.

Now he has nominated someone to the high court who stands accused of attacking a woman when they were both teenagers. Judge Kavanaugh has denied the accusation in the most fervent manner possible. The FBI is now looking into the pending accusations before the Senate will consider voting on whether to confirm him.

I keep circling back to the president. He has attacked the credibility of one of Kavanaugh’s accusers, much as he has done with the many women who have accused him of groping them. He stands foursquare with men who have faced credible charges by women who accuse them of sexual misbehavior; he is doing so yet again with Judge Kavanaugh.

And then we have the likes of the Rev. Franklin Graham, one of Trump’s more ardent evangelical supporters, saying something truly astonishing, that what Kavanaugh allegedly did to Christine Blasey Ford doesn’t really matter because they were teenagers at the time.

What in the name of sexual assault is Rev. Graham talking about?

I’ve long thought of the Republican Party as an organization that stood tall and firm on the side of moral rectitude. Yet, Republican No. 1, the president of the United States, assumed office after blazing a career-long trail of sexual misconduct.

Dear reader, we have entered a strange new world. Man, oh man. I need to find a way out of here.

Sex abuse ain’t a joking matter

Put yourself in the mind for a moment of someone who is recovering from sexual abuse or sexual harassment.

You’re hurting, right? You’re in pain. You cannot sleep at night because of the trauma you’ve endured. Maybe there’s a trial pending involving the individual who did so much damage to you.

Then you’re traveling in your motor vehicle and you hear a couple of fools on the radio making jokes about um, sexual abuse and harassment. Is it funny to you? Do you slap your knee while guffawing at the idiocy coming out of your vehicle radio? Of course not!

This morning, my wife and I were tooling north along U.S. 385 heading toward Dalhart on our way for a two-night stop in our fifth wheel in suburban Denver. We dialed our truck radio to those two redneck morning drive-time yokels; John Boy and Billy, isn’t that their name? I believe their radio show is syndicated out of the Carolinas … North or South. I don’t know, nor do I care.

These idiots were cracking wise about a list of questions you might get have to answer regarding sexual abuse or harassment. They seemed to be talking about their relationships with each other.

“I hope they get lots of complaints,” my wife blurted out to me when she heard those morons yukking it up over their idiotic quips.

“That is not funny,” she said. No kidding. It isn’t.

Those morons just affirmed to me in spades why I hate listening to them.

The lesson — which I am certain is lost on those blathering blowhards — is that there are some issues that aren’t funny. Sex abuse and harassment are two of them.

POTUS ridicules ‘Me Too’? No kidding?

Donald John Trump Sr. no doubt would boast about the “stones” he packs around.

I’ll refer to them in the proverbial sense, given that he stood before that rally crowd in Great Falls, Mont., this week and actually poked fun of the “Me Too” movement, which grew out of revelations of sexual harassment/assault/misbehavior among powerful men in politics and entertainment.

He did precisely that even though the president himself has been accused by women of groping them, of committing sexual assault. He has actually acknowledged that his “star” status has enabled him to grab women by their genitals.

And so for Trump to ridicule the Me Too movement in the manner that he did demonstrates clearly and without equivocation that he doesn’t give a rat’s rear end about the country beyond his blindly faithful base of voters.

They cheer, laugh, hoot and holler when he denigrates others.

Donald Trump relishes it.


Connecting some dots inside the White House

I feel like connecting a few dots. So … here goes.

The 2016 Republican Party presidential nominee was revealed in a decade-old recording boasting about how he could grab women by their “pu***” because his status as a “star” gave him license.

The nominee, Donald John Trump, was elected president.

He declares war on media outlets that he finds disagreeable. He calls them “fake news” and then submits to interviews almost exclusively with Fox News, which was run by the late Roger Ailes.

Ailes, meanwhile, gets hit with complaints of sexual harassment by a number of high-profile female journalists; Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson are two of them.

Ailes gets the boot. But his No. 2 man, Bill Shine, stands with him and allegedly covers up for the boss.

Then, just this week, Shine — who left Fox News — has been named deputy White House chief of staff in charge of communications.

So, we have the president — who has a history of sexual harassment complaints leveled against him by many women — hires a guy with a sexual harassment history of his own. The White House underling is now director of communications for the administration.

It’s fair to wonder about Trump’s values. He never rails against accusations of sexual harassment. He defends those against whom these complaints are leveled; he called former Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly — who also faced such accusations — a “good man.”

Trump reportedly takes a dim view of the “Me Too” and “Time’s Up” movements, believing that the women who make accusations against powerful men are off base.

Oh, and then his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money to keep quiet about a tryst that Trump says never happened.

What do you suppose is the common denominator here? Let’s see. I think it’s boorish behavior toward women, which appears to have Donald Trump’s fingerprints all over it.

MTV no longer is ‘MTV’

This item just recently came across my grid. I won’t comment at all on the subject of it, but it does bring to mind a question I’ve been pondering for years.

Someone named “Nev” Schulman has been accused of making sexual remarks to women on his show “Catfish,” an MTV series.

OK. I’m done with that.

Here’s the question: Why did MTV do away with its original mission, which was to televise “music videos”? Doesn’t MTV stand for “Music Video Television”? Yes, I believe it does.

I haven’t watched anything that MTV shows since it abandoned its signature premise. I used to watch it all the time. I don’t know “Catfish” from “Blowfish.”

I understand MTV went to a “reality television” format, which is laughable on its face, given that no “reality” situation on TV bears any resemblance to actual reality.

MTV won’t return to showing music videos. I guess the network has hit a home run with the audience it has sought. I’m too old to get into the young’ns’ “reality TV” fetish.

It’s just that MTV had a good thing when it debuted in August 1981. Then it tossed it aside.

They had me … then they lost me.

Farenthold chooses to stiff his former constituents

So much for doing the right thing … yes, Blake Farenthold?

The former Corpus Christi congressman had a chance to pay back his constituents for the disgraceful way he exited public office, but has chosen to ignore the request from a fellow Republican politician, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Abbott had demanded that Farenthold pay for the cost of a special election to replace him. You see, Farenthold quit Congress amid allegations of sexual harassment. He made matters even worse by dipping into a taxpayer-funded pool of money totaling $84,000 to pay off settlements leveled against him by former staffers.

Abbott said he is disappointed in Farenthold’s decision. He ought to feel worse than that. Let’s try “outraged,” or “insulted,” “mad as hell.”

Abbott’s letter to Farenthold noted that his disgraceful conduct was the sole reason for having the special election in the first place and that the former congressman owed it to his former constituents to pay for the election in full.

The Texas Tribune reported: A spokeswoman for Abbott called the decision “disappointing,” but said “it’s not surprising that his last act would be to stick taxpayers with the bill at the worst possible time.”

“While Mr. Farenthold may consider this resolved, we’re not closing the case on this issue,” said Ciara Matthews, Abbott’s deputy communications director.

Farenthold said he planned to repay the fund, but hasn’t yet done so. Any bets on whether he’ll deliver on that pledge? Don’t hold your breath.


Sexual misconduct charges: deal breaker for sure

One of those online “polls” showed up on MSN.com that asked the following: “Do sexual misconduct charges against celebrities affect your entertainment choices.”

Umm. Yep. By all means!

The roster of entertainment casualties keeps growing. What’s interesting, though, about the “poll” question is that the allegations — even those that aren’t yet proven — have doomed many celebrities’ careers.

Kevin Spacey is a goner. Bill Cosby is now a convicted felon. Harvey Weinstein isn’t likely to produce another film ever again. Dustin Hoffman is toast. The list is a lengthy one.

Check it out here.

Indeed, if I know that an actor is involved with a sexual harassment/abuse/assault allegation I am most likely never to spend a dime to watch his work ever again.

The same is true for assorted other controversies. Tom Cruise has made a spectacle of himself over the Scientology controversy that erupted around him years ago. I haven’t paid to see a Cruise film ever since.

Do politics factor in my entertainment decisions? Not in the least. One of my favorite actors is Clint Eastwood, a serious Republican. I do love the man’s art. Same for the late John Wayne, whose films I always enjoyed watching, even though I didn’t care for his political leanings.

But in this era of “Me Too” and “Time’s Up,” I find myself making entertainment choices based on whether the star of the show is caught up in allegations of sexual misconduct.

I also will presume that millions of others are making the same decisions based on the same criteria. That, I will suggest, will hit these low-lifes where it hurts the most.

Pushing back against the pushback

Allow me this chance to push back against some of the soreheads who have dismissed a demand that has come from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

The governor has written a letter to former U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, a fellow Republican politician, demanding that he pay the full cost of the special election that will occur on June 30 to determine who should replace Farenthold in Congress.

Farenthold quit because of sexual harassment charges leveled against him. Then it was revealed that he took $84,000 in public money to cover the cost of lawsuit settlements involving the complaints of sexual harassment. Farenthold reportedly is seeking a second mortgage on his Corpus Christi home to raise the money to pay back the congressional fund.

Abbott said in his letter that Farenthold’s behavior is cause for the election and that he should pay for it — in its entirety.

The pushback came from those who reminded me that Abbott is campaigning for re-election. His demand, they suggest, is nothing than a sop to voters, a publicity stunt from a pol seeking some positive publicity.

To which I say: Baloney!

So what if it’s an election year? So what if Abbott is up for re-election? He is a strong favorite to win a second term, no matter who wins the upcoming Democratic Party primary runoff between Lupe Valdez and Andrew White. He doesn’t need the good PR.

Hey, I am in no way an Abbott apologist. I just want to recognize when a politician does the right thing even when it’s juxtaposed with the political context in which he does it.

Gov. Abbott has made a poignant political demand of a disgraced — and disgraceful — fellow Republican politician. My praise of the governor still stands.

There. Now I have pushed back.

Abbott makes bold demand of disgraced lawmaker

If I were wearing a hat at this moment, I would doff it toward Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

The Republican governor has put a fellow Republican former member of Congress on notice that he should pay the cost of a special election that is occurring because of the lawmaker’s disgraceful behavior.

Corpus Christi-area voters are going to the polls to elect someone to replace former Rep. Blake Farenthold, who resigned after being charged with several counts of sexual harassment.

Oh, but there’s more to this tale.

Farenthold took $84,000 in taxpayer funds to settle lawsuits brought against him. He has pledged to pay the money back, but hasn’t done so, although he reportedly has applied for a second mortgage on his home to cover the cost of the planned reimbursement

So, Abbott is seeking him to pay it back in another fashion.

The governor has written Farenthold a letter demanding he pay for the election that will occur on June 30 to replace him in Congress.

According to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times: “On behalf of voters in the 27th Congressional District and as Governor of the State of Texas, I am writing to demand that you cover all costs for the called special election to fill the seat now vacated following your resignation,” Abbott said in his letter. “While you have publicly offered to reimburse the $84,000 in taxpayer funds you wrongly used to settle a sexual harassment claim, there is no legal recourse requiring you to give that money back to Congress.”

There likely is no legal requirement for Farenthold to pay for the election. However, Gov. Abbott has rightfully put the heat squarely under Farenthold backside, seeking to shame him into doing the right thing by the congressional constituents he disgraced first by committing acts of sexual harassment and then dipping into the public fund to settle those lawsuits.

I’m not holding my breath waiting for Farenthold to act responsibly. Still, the governor’s letter and the demand it is making are spot on.