Cuomo, Franken, Jordan, Trump, And What To Do?

[Author’s note: I write this not because I want to “mansplain” anything. I write it to clarify my own thoughts about all of this. There are so many pieces to these issues. I share it for people’s thoughts and feedback.]

My wife and I were talking the other day about Gov. Cuomo’s predicament and the issues swirling around on Twitter. A lot of folks on Twitter saw it Cuomo being “Frankened” that is, dealing with a host of allegations designed to remove a strong and intelligent leader on the Democratic side, while Republicans never step down, no matter what.

My wife reminded me that “actions have consequences”, no matter which”side” you’re on. “We’re talking about women being harassed and sexually assaulted”. Of course, she’s right…. except when she’s not. So am I, because we’re talking about at least two separate issues in this context. All issues should be talked about here. I say this because once Cuomo was accused, someone on Twitter said, “What about Tara Reid (who accused Biden during the election)?” After President Biden has given us the most progressive bill in decades, and defeated the former guy, preventing the spread of fascism here in America, I’m not willing to throw him under the bus for anything without a whole lot of proof.

So, with all of that said, let’s make clear the basics of morality, in the political sphere and everywhere else.

1) Sexually abusing, harassing, and/or raping anyone is wrong. Statistically, and sociologically, of course, it’s more likely to be a man abusing or harassing a woman. Still, men and women can get harassed or abused by any gender, any person, any preference, any anything… There are feminist theories about why these things happen, and they need to be taken seriously, but I’m not the right person to make those cases because, well, I’m not a woman. I’m also trying to be clear about proactive steps we can make.

2) Anyone who has abused, harassed, raped another person should be held accountable and face serious consequences for this because people who have this happen to them suffer for long periods after it does. It’s a big deal, and it requires big consequences in order to have justice.

3) There must be a way to fairly figure out what happened. Generally, that would be the court system, but it doesn’t have to be.

4) What justice looks like in these cases must include the victim’s idea of what it is for them.

Now, where it gets tricky…

There seems to be a conflict between politicians and the legal system. Politicians don’t seem to believe — for whatever reasons, some codified into law or regulations — that their work is too important to be interrupted by accusations, court days, etc. In short, because their work impacts a lot of people, the questions that any one person might have raised can’t be dealt with now. Good, bad, or otherwise, this seems to be the calculus for the public, the press, the politicians, and the legal system.

Also, of course, is the spectrum of charges that go under the category or “sexual [whatever]” from harassment to touching to sex with or without consent, to full-on abuse or rape or child abuse and pornography, using prostitutes and sex trafficking. All of these go under the heading of “Sexual…” Once that word is used, reaction gets heightened. Curiosity gets piqued. The press gets involved and chaos ensues.

Here, we add in what we want to believe. In this category, I will never believe that Al Franken did anything worthy of his losing his seat or giving it up. Kristen Gildebrand has stated multiple times that there’s a lot more to the credible allegations against Franken than is known, that she, too, likes Franken and misses his presence in the Senate. I don’t care what she says. Until I know differently, I will always see this as a political decision. In order to keep Sheriff Roy Moore from getting elected, Democrats required the perception of purity when challenging him, and Franken “had to go”. This is a political tragedy that did not have to happen. [Just to be clear my biases are: Franken is ok. Cuomo, I don’t want to be true, but may be. Jim Jordan and his knowledge of athletes being molested in college by their coach? Hell, yes, I think he’s guilty — but very little press coverage has been given to this. Why? I don’t know. Finally, Trump has admitted such on the famous “Access Hollywood” tapes, and — with 20 plus women accusing him of deeply disturbing behavior, some of it violent — I absolutely believe that Donald Trump should be held accountable for what he’s done. Getting into the weeds further, I believe Christine Blassey Ford that Brett Kavanaugh is guilty. I also believe that Roy Moore is a pedophile, that Al Gore hurt some woman, Bill Clinton had an affair (multiple affairs?), and that the guy that was going to be Gore’s running mate was a sick man who hurt a lot of people with his affairs and coercion].

Whether Cuomo is being “Frankened” is yet to be determined in three ways — 1) What is the motivation of the accusers at this time and place in history? Are they paid political shills or are they actually accusers? As much as I would like to believe that all accusers are actually accusers, the way politics has been played for the past 40 years, I am not sure that political operatives aren’t involved. More on this later… 2) Whether Cuomo is guilty of the same level of things that Franken was, and 3) Whether Franken was “Frankened” or if there’s more that we don’t know. As yet, we don’t know if any of those things are true. That’s a problem.

Here are my conclusions:

  1. There shouldn’t be a difference between politicians and elected officials. For justice to be served, there should be The Law, and it should be applied to all cases. If somethings warrants an investigation, it warrants an investigation. If it warrants a trial, it warrants a trial. If it warrants jail, it warrants jail. If you can arrest Joe the Janitor while he’s at work, you can arrest Jim the Senator while he’s at work. It’s as simple as that.
  2. Politics and importance to the wider community do need to be considered in case of a sexual scandal when dealing with the political side of things. It should not regarding the law.
  3. Accusations, investigations, etc. should not be done in the press only. If a lawyer wants to say that their client is making accusations, the first stop shouldn’t be a press conference. It should be to the law. In political circles, there may also be ethics committees and such, but each allegation should be taken seriously and the law should make a determination as to whether there’s enough to file charges. The legal system should explain why or why not. If there’s not enough “there” there, that should be explained. If the accused is innocent, that needs to be acknowledged to and by the press. If the accused is found guilty, that needs to be acknowledged by the Press. The public deserves closure on these stories. Sexuality, Violence, Politics, and the Law are all different things. They should be seen as different combinations in different systems. Each should have it’s own lane.
  4. Public pressure absolutely needs to be applied for removal of a politician if they actually did something wrong. If they didn’t, then more people like Al Franken — good people, to my knowledge — will be lost in the political sphere. We need real justice, not just shame, for authorities who commit crimes.

So, did Governor Cuomo hurt women sexually? I don’t know. Should the accusers be believed? Yes. But if the truth is that the person is innocent, believing a lie isn’t justice. Politicians of both parties should be dealt with the same way, and anybody who hurts people should face consequences for those, at least somewhat determined by the victim.

That’s all I can come up with for now.

Resisting in Peace,

John

Back To Basics, Politically and Economically

Nothing has changed, in my 60 years of life, on the basic questions of politics and economics. We used to ask “What if the military had to have a bake sale to buy weapons and teachers had what they needed?”. The same question applies now, but we haven’t asked it in years. We used to talk about the “military/industrial complex” and believe that it took food from our children’s mouths. It’s still a thing, but now it is just an assumption, figured into budget plans. We used to talk about corporations as being inhuman and our “being just a number” as being a bad thing. Now corporate profits are at all time highs, and we are all Facebook algorythms. The questions still need to be asked and thrashed out before we make policy decisions. Is war more important than education, food, and housing? Are human beings valid, in and of themselves, or are they only cogs to make the machinery of the economy work? What is freedom? Who is human? Who matters in a democracy?

These questions need to be asked again, so that we can get our bearings as a society.

I was listening to Morning Joe this morning and they had an economist from the New York Times on, talking about the $1.9 Trillion bill being passed by the House and inflation and its effect on the national debt. The complaint was that it was trafficking in play money and fantasy and we would get to inflating both the debt and prices, and the Democrats weren’t worried enough about these things. Joe Scarborough went on to talk about how the deficit had gone up under each successive President: Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama… He used numbers from the end of each President’s term, I believe. If, in fact, those were real numbers (and I assume they were. I like Scarborough.) They told a story, but didn’t tell the whole story, or even most of it.

Under Bush the First, we had a war which put us into debt, as wars will do. Under Clinton, the deficit started high and became a surplus. Under Bush the Second, we went back to war, spending all of the surplus and putting us back into huge debt and leaving us with a horrible economy. Obama spent a lot of money to bring back the economy, and save the auto industry, etc. Under Trump, the “promise” of free-market capitalism was simply let loose. The Republicans reduced taxes again and the income/outcome of government was again thrown off balance, but the deficit and the debt were not issues, according to the sitting President and the Congress of Paul Ryan. The deficit went through the roof!

In all of the above, at no time did teachers, or education budgets or the average person in general get mentioned. The only operators were the government, corporations, the military, the debt, and the deficit. There’s no farm worker. There’s no factory worker. There’s no teacher, or hunger policy. After 40 years of “those people” making all the decisions about their lives and what’s best for them, and what it means, teachers started striking, students started marching against guns in our streets, but not in the military. Black people had to start marching just to say they mattered. Implied in all of the above were that Whites could be in the military, could run the economy, could determine what patriotism was, and so on. Until Obama, the discussion in the halls of power wasn’t even about Black people. In fact, the one powerful Black man in the halls of power — Colin Powell — was told to lie to the UN. He sacrificed his reputation, so that we could go to a war with no justification.

The problem is not debt, or deficit. It’s about human will, and political will. It’s about what we’re willing to go into debt about. When there was a surplus, the money went to the rich. When there was debt, it was caused by the rich and benefited the rich. The rich, and the military/industrial complex (Not soldiers, by the way, either. The money went to arms manufacturers who invested in the stock market). In short, the question to ask is: “Who owns democracy?” Who does the government work for? Asking these questions means there is a question to ask, and that there is a choice to be made.

The time has come, after all these years, to say that if the government is going to spend money, then we want it to spent on people, and not just one set of people. If we’re going to go into debt, let’s do so for people who don’t have what they need, rather than for those who have more than enough. If we’re going to go to war, let us do so because we have to, because it’s the last option we can think of, and let’s take care of the soldiers more than Haliburton or Blackwater or Wall Street. If we want schools, let’s give them what they need. If we want firefighters, let’s give them what they need. If we want roads, let’s use our money for that. If people want jobs that don’t require education but do pay enough for them to live on, let them get to work on infrastructure, building roads and bridges and other things that need to be done.

I don’t care if we talk about abortion, but I want to talk about the living first. I don’t mind talking about being liberal or conservative, if we can first talk about whether people eat. I don’t care if we talk about capitalism vs communism, after people have housing. Politics right now, and for at least the last 6 years, is about … just politics — talking and arguing. It’s not about people who aren’t in D.C. And yet, 99% of the people don’t live in D.C.! Let those people’s lives matter. Let them vote. Let their votes count. Then, if we go into debt, at least it’s about things we have chosen to go into debt for, and people we have gone into debt for. Our budget reflects our priorities as a nation. Let’s actually reflect the nation, rather than 1% of the people. Maybe after we get what we need, we’ll stop spending so much, and get the budget back to where it should be. Until people get their basic needs met, there will always be arguing, and impulse buying, and raising debt and chaos.

In the words of Larry The Cable Guy, “Let’s get ‘er done”. (Oh, and by the way, even I can’t believe I’m quoting Larry The Cable Guy, but that’s how far back we have gotten).

Resisting With Peace,

John