Friday, October 06, 2017

Cruising the Web

Hypocrisy Alert! The bank that put up the Fearless Girl statue on Wall Street has had its own problems withhow it treated women.
State Street Corp., the $2.6 trillion asset manager that installed the Fearless Girl statue on Wall Street, agreed to settle U.S. allegations that it discriminated against hundreds of female executives by paying them less than male colleagues.

The custody bank will pay $5 million to more than 300 women, following a U.S. Department of Labor audit that uncovered the alleged discrepancies, according to a settlement agreement disclosed Wednesday.

The Labor Department alleged that women in senior leadership positions at Boston-based State Street received lower base salaries, bonus pay and total compensation since at least December 2010. The company said it has cooperated fully with the agency and that it disagreed with the findings of the audit, which was done in 2012.
All their pretend support for feminism was for others, not them.
State Street typically calls on other companies to add more women to their boards, especially those that have none. This year, the bank said it has voted against the re-election of the chair or most senior member of a board’s nominating and governance committee at 400 firms with men-only boards. State Street also recently launched its SPDR Gender Diversity exchange-traded fund, which focuses on firms that have greater gender diversity in senior leadership.

And now HOllywood producer Harvey Weinstein is being exposed to be no better than Roger Ailes or Bill O'Reilly. The New York Times has an in-depth look at the settlements that he's made with women who accused him of gross sexual advances and harassment.
An investigation by The New York Times found previously undisclosed allegations against Mr. Weinstein stretching over nearly three decades, documented through interviews with current and former employees and film industry workers, as well as legal records, emails and internal documents from the businesses he has run, Miramax and the Weinstein Company.

During that time, after being confronted with allegations including sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact, Mr. Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women, according to two company officials speaking on the condition of anonymity. Among the recipients, The Times found, were a young assistant in New York in 1990, an actress in 1997, an assistant in London in 1998, an Italian model in 2015 and Ms. O’Connor shortly after, according to records and those familiar with the agreements.

In a statement to The Times on Thursday afternoon, Mr. Weinstein said: “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”

He added that he was working with therapists and planning to take a leave of absence to “deal with this issue head on.”
He's denying most of the allegations according to his lawyer so it's not clear what he's apologizing for.

Apparently, lots of people knew about his behavior, but were too frightened of professional retaliation to say anything.
Mr. Weinstein enforced a code of silence; employees of the Weinstein Company have contracts saying they will not criticize it or its leaders in a way that could harm its “business reputation” or “any employee’s personal reputation,” a recent document shows. And most of the women accepting payouts agreed to confidentiality clauses prohibiting them from speaking about the deals or the events that led to them.
The women who got payouts from Weinstein got a lot less money than those who got settlements from Ailes and O'Reilly.

People on the board and other executives knew about the allegations, but did nothing. He behaved this way to women for decades. He's threatening to sue the Times. I think he would have a lot of trouble winning such a case. There are a lot of people in the story who are on record talking about what happened. As my Ap Government students hopefully know since we covered it this week and their test is Monday, the Supreme Court has made it very difficult for public officials and celebrities to win libel cases.
As a public figure, Weinstein will need to show actual malice to prevail in a defamation lawsuit against the Times. By discussing how the paper ignored eyewitness statements, his attorney appears to be priming the coming argument that the Times' reporters recklessly disregarded truth. Actual malice is a tough standard for plaintiffs as Sarah Palin recently learned in an unsuccessful defamation suit against the paper. In fact, the Times helped establish the precedent in a famous 1964 case.
I'm sure the newspaper's lawyers went over the story with a fine-tooth comb before it was published. Can you imagine the trial for such a suit? The Times will be able to conduct discovery into his relations with women and the women mentioned in the story will be called to testify.

Jim Geraghty writes that this story weakens the pretense at moral superiority that Hollywood likes to put forth.
This is one of the reasons many people recoil when Hollywood gets too preachy or self-congratulatory about its own virtue. The entertainment industry brings together enormous amounts of money, concentrates enormous amounts of power, places exceptional value on attractiveness and appearances, oftentimes turns a blind eye to drug abuse and other self-destructive behavior, oftentimes cultivates a lack of accountability for antisocial behavior, and keeps almost all of its members in gated communities, gated and walled workplaces, far from the reality of daily life for the rest of the country. It touts itself as fantasy-land, and one of Hollywood’s favorite subjects is how corrupt, sleazy, and ruthless Hollywood is behind the glamorous image: Sunset Boulevard, The Player, Mulholland Drive, L.A. Confidential, Swimming With Sharks, Get Shorty, Tropic Thunder, Barton Fink, and many more.

If the place is such a hypocritical, corrupt, sleazy cesspool… why should anyone turn to Hollywood for moral instruction?
Harvey Weinstein responds to the story by blaming different mores from the 1960s and 1970s.
I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.

I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office - or out of it. To anyone.

I realized some time ago that I needed to be a better person and my interactions with the people I work with have changed.

I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it.

Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go. That is my commitment. My journey now will be to learn about myself and conquer my demons. Over the last year I've asked Lisa Bloom to tutor me and she's put together a team of people. I've brought on therapists and I plan to take a leave of absence from my company and to deal with this issue head on. I so respect all women and regret what happened. I hope that my actions will speak louder than words and that one day we will all be able to earn their trust and sit down together with Lisa to learn more. Jay Z wrote in 4:44 "I'm not the man I thought I was and I better be that man for my children." The same is true for
me. I want a second chance in the community but I know I've got work to do to earn it. I have goals that are now priorities. Trust me, this isn't an overnight process. I've been trying to do this for 10 years and this is a wake-up call. I cannot be more remorseful
about the people I hurt and I plan to do right by all of them.

I am going to need a place to channel that anger so I've decided that I'm going to give the NRA my full attention. I hope Wayne LaPierre will enjoy his retirement party. I'm going to do it at the same place I had my Bar Mitzvah. I'm making a movie about our President, perhaps we can make it a joint retirement party. One year ago, I began organizing a $5 million foundation to give scholarships to women directors at USC. While this might seem coincidental, it has been in the works for a year. It will be named after my mom and I won't disappoint her.
If the story is not true, what is he apologizing for and why is he in therapy? Did he just learn that pressing women for sex or body massages and threatening their careers just recently? For a man who says "I so respect women," he certainly hasn't behaved that way.

And that dig at the NRA and dig at Trump seems to be just a signal to his Hollywood compatriots that, despite his behavior, he's still a good liberal. I get that there is really is nothing he can say to resuscitate his reputation after this story, but that statement is a masterpiece of ridiculousness.

Nate Jones at Vulture
does a hilarious line-by-line satire of "that bonkers Harvey Weinstein statement."
I came of age in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.
“This is my excuse.”

I have since learned it’s not an excuse – in the office or out of it. To anyone.
“But it’s not an excuse, even though I opened with it.”

I realized some time ago that I needed to be a better person and my interactions with the people I work with have changed.
“Don’t worry, I’ve known about the problem for a while, so there’s really nothing to worry about.”

....Over the last year I’ve asked Lisa Bloom to tutor me and she’s put together a team of people.
“My lawyer, whose book I am adapting, will lead me on this journey.”

I’ve brought on therapists and I plan to take a leave of absence from my company and to deal with this issue head on.
“I care so much about changing my behavior that I am taking a leave of absence now that it’s out in public – and not a second before.”
Read the rest; it's really very funny and well done.

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John Sexton points out how Weinstein has long been touting his support of progressive causes including women's rights.
The bottom line here is that Weinstein won’t be crossed off Hollywood’s progressive power list over decades of (alleged) sexual harassment. The people who are still rooting for Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Joss Whedon and of course, Bill Clinton are not about to have a problem with this. Frankly, the bar is already so low for progressives in Hollywood that Weinstein will be back in action before you know it. If credible accounts of rape aren’t enough to take the sheen off someone’s character in tinsel town, a naked mogul pressing young women (who depend on him for employment) for “massages” sure isn’t going to do it. We’ve known for a long time now that Hollywood has two standards, the one it uses to attack conservative hypocrites and the one it uses to ignore the progressive ones.

Rolling Stone exposes the hypocrisy of "the most transparent administration in history."
For years now, the federal government has been quietly fighting to keep a lid on an 11,000-document cache of government communications relating to financial policy. The sheer breadth of the effort to keep this material secret may not have a precedent in modern presidential times.

"It's the mother of all privilege logs," explains one lawyer connected with the case.

The Obama administration invoked executive privilege, attorney-client and deliberative process over these documents and insisted that their release would negatively impact global financial markets. But in finally unsealing some of these materials last week, a federal judge named Margaret Sweeney said the government's sole motivation was avoiding embarrassment.

"Instead of harm to the Nation resulting from disclosure, the only 'harm' presented is the potential for criticism," Sweeney wrote. "The court will not condone the misuse of a protective order as a shield to insulate public officials from criticism in the way they execute their public duties."*

So what's so embarrassing? Mainly, it's a sordid history of the government's seizure of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, also known as the government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs.
What do you bet that this cache of documents will expose what a sleazy operation Fannie and Freddie have been for years?

A New York Democrat pulled a Cam Newton. Gee, it seems like a lot of stories about liberal hypocrisy today.
A New York Democrat running for Congress to unseat Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y) said he "deserved" to be called a sexist during a candidate forum event on Wednesday while discussing his previous criticism of the incumbent.

"I have been accused of being a sexist for calling Elise a little girl, and I probably deserved to be called a sexist," Steve Krieg said. "I think most of us, if we admit it, have some sexist in us, some of the racist in us. It's something if we are decent people, we recognize in ourselves and we struggle with it all of our lives."

Krieg, a member of the Plattsburgh City School Board, then turned to Stefanik, describing her as "a child" who cannot think for herself.

"But Elise, I recognize her—I'm not going to say a little girl. I recognize her as a child, and it has nothing to do with her age," Krieg said. "I see her as a child because she's a child. She thinks like a child. She has people set things up for her. She has people put their words in her mouth and she happily repeats them. And I think recognizing her, I would go after her in that way. And I apologize if that's mean, but that's how I would do it."

Stefanik is 33 years old and is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress; she was elected in 2014 at age 30.
Gosh, you remember the criticism George H.W. Bush got for this supposedly patronizing response to Geraldine Ferraro in their 1984 debate
The big moment came after Bush launched into a foreign-policy spiel with, “Let me help you with the difference, Ms. Ferraro, between Iran and the embassy in Lebanon.” Once he’d wound down, Ferraro parried: “Let me just say, first of all, that I almost resent Vice President Bush for his patronizing attitude that he has to teach me about foreign policy.”
That seems like such a nothing in the annals of patronization compared to this New York guy.

Rolling Stone exposes the hypocrisy of "the most transparent administration in history."
For years now, the federal government has been quietly fighting to keep a lid on an 11,000-document cache of government communications relating to financial policy. The sheer breadth of the effort to keep this material secret may not have a precedent in modern presidential times.

"It's the mother of all privilege logs," explains one lawyer connected with the case.

The Obama administration invoked executive privilege, attorney-client and deliberative process over these documents and insisted that their release would negatively impact global financial markets. But in finally unsealing some of these materials last week, a federal judge named Margaret Sweeney said the government's sole motivation was avoiding embarrassment.

"Instead of harm to the Nation resulting from disclosure, the only 'harm' presented is the potential for criticism," Sweeney wrote. "The court will not condone the misuse of a protective order as a shield to insulate public officials from criticism in the way they execute their public duties."*

So what's so embarrassing? Mainly, it's a sordid history of the government's seizure of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, also known as the government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs.
What do you bet that this cache of documents will expose what a sleazy operation Fannie and Freddie have been for years? What is the Obama administration so eager to hide?

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Jonah Goldberg has a perceptive essay
about the shortcomings of running against "the establishment." As he points out, once an outsider wins, that politician then, by definition, is now part of the much-vilified "establishment."
The Constitution requires politicians to work through the system if they’re going to get anything done.

Look at all the senators who rode the tea-party wave into power: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson, Pat Toomey, Mike Lee. To one extent or another, they are now seen as swamp things, not swamp drainers, by the pitchfork populists....

Cruz’s case is also instructive. Over the last decade, no politician more deftly hitched his political wagon to populist passions. He wore the animosity of his colleagues, including the GOP leadership, like a badge of honor. He was the leader of the insurrectionists. He had only one problem: He talked like a creature of the establishment — largely because the Princeton- and Harvard-trained former Supreme Court clerk and career politician was one. He knew the lyrics to every populist fight song, but he couldn’t carry the tune.
We'll see if Donald Trump can still portray himself as an outsider after being president for four years. He won by appealing to people as the quintessential outsider who blasted the media and never sounded like a politician. How appealing is that going to be to his supporters after he's been living in the White House. The anti-establishment vote helped Roy Moore defeat Luther Strange in Alabama. Moore was able to portray himself as the anti-McConnell candidate.
What’s both funny and sad is that there is remarkably little intellectual or ideological substance to the current populist fever. Strange was more conservative than Moore but less bombastic. Moore opposed Obamacare repeal and, until recently, couldn’t say what DACA was. In other words, MAGA populism is less of an agenda and more of a mood. Meanwhile, the “Make America Great Again” crowd’s initial preferred candidate in Alabama was Representative Mo Brooks — endorsed by radio hosts Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and others. He got crushed.

A lot of people are simply mad as hell and don’t want to take it anymore. Republican politicians can’t ignore the anger. Ideally they’d channel it toward productive ends, as they did in the past. But further stoking the anger for political gain is not just ill-advised, it’s pointless, because eventually politicians have to govern.

This is a perfect example of politicians voting something that sounds good and makes a great talking point, but actually does very little. A Senate committee has unanimously approved a bill to reduce the salary for former presidents. Obama had vetoed a similar bill in 2015. So I read that and thought that it was worthwhile. Former presidents get a lot of benefits and security protections. They make millions from publishing their memoirs and giving speeches. But for all the posturing, they're not really cutting much.
“Our national debt now exceeds $20 trillion; this bipartisan effort is another important step toward reigning in Washington’s out-of-control spending,” Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, sponsor of the Senate legislation, said in a statement.

“It is ridiculous to continue asking taxpayers to help foot the bill for former presidents’ perks at a time when they already rake in millions of dollars from book deals, speaking engagements, and more.”
So you'd think they were really slashing the salaries of former presidents, right?
Former presidents receive a salary set at the highest level of federal pay that cabinet-level officials make during their service, currently about $207,000 annually. Ernst’s proposal would cap stipends at $200,000 per year, adjusted each year for cost of living increases.

The bill clearly states that it would not change the security a former president is entitled to.
So they're patting themselves on the back for reducing the national debt by cutting $7,000 a year per former president. That's not impressive. This provision is better.
Another provision of the bill would push former presidents who find an additional stream of income slowly off the taxpayer’s support. For every dollar a former president makes above $400,000 from speaking engagements or other post-presidential work, the annuity would be reduced by $1 in the Senate proposal. Obama made around $400,000 in one speech to a Wall Street private equity firm earlier this year, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
I think we could all endorse that. Why should taxpayers pay for former presidents if they're earning big payoffs based on their celebrityhood? But even if the entire $200,000 was cancelled, we're talking about a mere speck of the national budget.

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This example of government over-regulation is just so ridiculous.
Among the myriad problems the FDA listed after inspecting Nashoba Brook Bakery’s manufacturing facility: Love in the granola.

Deep in a Sept. 22 warning letter by Food and Drug Administration to the Concord, Massachusetts, manufacturer is this admonishment:

“Your Nashoba Granola label lists ingredient ‘Love.’ Ingredients required to be declared on the label or labeling of food must be listed by their common or usual name [21 CFR 101.4(a)(1). ‘Love’ is not a common or usual name of an ingredient, and is considered to be intervening material because it is not part of the common or usual name of the ingredient.”

Nashoba Chief Executive Officer John Gates told Bloomberg that particular part of the FDA’s letter “just felt so George Orwell.”

“I really like that we list ‘love’ in the granola,” Gates told Bloomberg on Tuesday.

“People ask us what makes it so good. It’s kind of nice that this artisan bakery can say there’s love in it and it puts a smile on people’s face. Situations like that where the government is telling you you can’t list ‘love’ as an ingredient, because it might be deceptive, just feels so silly.”