Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cruising the Web

Wow, the news moves fast these days. Soon there will be enough fired media figures that they'll be able to start their own network of guys who were sexual harassers. They can call it PBC for Perv Broadcasting Company. Variety has the story on Matt Lauer that they've, apparently, been working on for weeks. Some of the details go way beyond creepy.
His office was in a secluded space, and he had a button under his desk that allowed him to lock his door from the inside without getting up. This afforded him the assurance of privacy. It allowed him to welcome female employees and initiate inappropriate contact while knowing nobody could walk in on him, according to two women who were sexually harassed by Lauer.
It sounds a bit %0 Shades of Grey. My question at first was who put that button in for him? But now it seems that a lot of NBC officials had such a remote lock for supposed security measures, not, as has been alleged, for locking a woman in and then having sex with her. More seem to have known about his predatory behavior.
Several women told Variety they complained to executives at the network about Lauer’s behavior, which fell on deaf ears given the lucrative advertising surrounding “Today.” NBC declined to comment. For most of Lauer’s tenure at “Today,” the morning news show was No. 1 in the ratings, and executives were eager to keep him happy....

Lauer’s conduct was not a secret among other employees at “Today,” numerous sources say. At least one of the anchors would gossip about stories she had heard, spreading them among the staff. “Management sucks there,” says a former reporter, who asked not to be identified, speaking about executives who previously worked at the show. “They protected the s— out of Matt Lauer.”

Some producers told Variety they were conflicted about what to do around Lauer. They worried that their careers would be sidelined if they didn’t return his advances. “There is such shame with Matt Lauer not liking you,” the former employee added.
We heard the same story about John Conyers and some of the others, including Bill O'Reilly. And NBC can't be trusted because their first memo on his firing said that this was "the first complaint about his behavior." If Variety's sources are right, that is not true. What a nasty environment when credible complaints are made and no one did anything about them. No one should be considered that valuable.

This tweet sums up the response of many as almost every day we hear of someone else being fired in the media who, it turns out, had a history of harassing women who worked for them.

John Conyers sounds totally unrepentant. But there is already another former staffer telling of how Conyers behaved to her.
A former staffer of U.S. Rep. John Conyers said the veteran lawmaker made unwanted sexual advances toward her, including inappropriate touching, adding to allegations by other unnamed former employees that have prompted a congressional investigation.

Deanna Maher, who worked for him from 1997 to 2005, told The Detroit News that the Detroit Democrat made unwanted advances toward her three times.

Maher is the second former Conyers staffer to go public with accusations about the veteran lawmaker. Conyers on Sunday stepped aside as the the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee amid a congressional ethics probe of sexual harassment allegations involving former staffers.

The first instance of harassment happened, Maher said, shortly after the congressman hired her in September 1997 during an event with the Congressional Black Caucus.

“I didn’t have a room, and he had me put in his hotel suite,” said Maher, 77, adding that she rejected his offer to share his room at the Grand Hyatt in Washington and have sex.

The other incidents with the now 88-year-old Conyers involved unwanted touching in a car in 1998 and another unwanted touching of her legs under her dress in 1999, she said.
His lawyer accused her of making it up because she stayed working for him.
Maher said her need for employment explains why she stayed on the job.

“I needed to earn a living, and I was 57. How many people are going to hire you at that age?” she said....

“I didn’t report the harassment because it was clear nobody wanted to take it seriously,” she said. “John Conyers is a powerful man in Washington, and nobody wanted to cross him.”

Former Detroit Free Press reporter Joel Thurtell said Monday that Maher told him about the alleged abuse at the time, but she didn’t want to go on the record.

“She told me about the sexual harassment claims, but at the time she didn’t feel confident she wouldn’t be hung out to dry and retaliated against,” said Thurtell, who left the Free Press in 2007 and runs a blog, “Joel on the Road.”
It seems credible to me that someone would stay silent in order to keep her job when she's 57 years old. Are the Democrats on the Hill going to support Conyers as he adopts an attack-the-woman strategy? Are younger House Democrats going to support continued support for Conyers?
Two Democratic congresswomen, New York Rep. Kathleen Rice and Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, have already called on Conyers to resign. Rice has criticized the ethics committee investigation as “not real” in regard to accountability. Their sharp response contrasted with Pelosi’s initial stance, which was to defend Conyers as “an icon.”

Democratic Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan demanded on Wednesday that the ethics committee finish the investigation this week, and said that Conyers should resign if true. Ryan said that he believes Conyers’ accusers....

Rep. Rice stormed out of a meeting with House Democrats early because she didn’t believe they weren’t serious about trying to address sexual harassment. “I don’t have time for meetings that aren’t real,” she told reporters.
Pelosi is really on the horns of a dilemma as she tries to decide how long she can keep supporting Conyers and hiding behind a hollow Ethics Committee investigation while some in her caucus criticize her for not doing enough and others want to delay any resolution of the matter.
Other Democratic leaders, meanwhile, want the party to pump the brakes on calls for Conyers to resign and are increasing pressure on Pelosi to slow the process down.

“I don’t know all the facts, I don’t know the specific allegations,” Sanchez told reporters on Wednesday, saying that she “can’t sit and judge a member and call for their resignation unless I’ve been party to hearing all of the evidence and hearing the defense of the evidence.”

Democratic New York Rep. Joseph Crowley echoed Sanchez’s position and, like Sanchez, declined to call on Conyers to resign.

“Calling for the resignation of someone doesn’t actually create the resignation,” Crowley said, adding that he would wait for the ethics committee’s investigation.
And then there is this defense from South Carolina's Jim Clyburn.
When asked about sexual harassment allegations against colleague Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Clyburn seemed to suggest elected officials should be held to a different standard than other public figures.

In a video posted on Twitter, the 77-year-old Clyburn is walking to an elevator with Congressional Black Caucus chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.), when asked “Other men in other industries have faced similar accusations … and gotten out of the way, resign, stepped down, far faster than he has, right … Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer?”

Clyburn’s response, “Who elected them?”
Lovely. But he's also right. The media and Hollywood figures who have been accused have had employers or boards who could step in and fire them. With politicians, all we have are calls for them to resign. Otherwise, we have to wait and see if voters care.

Here's another bizarre comment from Clyburn.
A writer for The New York Times Magazine and National Geographic tweeted that Clyburn invoked the name of Susan Smith, South Carolina’s infamous child murderer, in his defense of Conyers.

“James Clyburn compared Conyers’ accusers to the child murderer Susan Smith, who initially claimed a black man had abducted her kids. Clyburn said, these are all white women who’ve made these charges against Conyers,” Robert Draper tweeted.

When asked if that comment was true, Draper said he verified it through two sources, adding “Clyburn has used the Susan Smith parallel more than once, to members & staffers.”
The Clyburn aides are denying that that was a comment about Conyers, but Draper is sticking to his reporting.

The irony is so rich that Nancy Pelosi asking for everyone to wait for due process instead of living up to her public position of supporting lack of due process for college students accused of sexual abuse.

Just imagine if a college had the same sort of slimy policy protecting those accused of sexual misbehavior as the Congress does.

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Allahpundit predicts how Republicans will use Clyburn's words if Roy Moore wins his race.
I wish I could huff and puff about that being an example of the liberal big-government mindset at work, in which the administrative ruling class exults in getting to play by special rules, but all he’s doing here is previewing the argument you’ll hear from 99 percent of conservative media next month if Roy Moore wins. “The people have spoken.” If the voters of a given jurisdiction are comfortable being represented by someone who’s been credibly accused of preying on women and/or girls, who is Nancy Pelosi or Mitch McConnell to tell them they’re not allowed to be? We just elected a president based on that logic, in fact. I’d be surprised if there’s any member of Congress, left or right, who holds a safe seat that doesn’t embrace Clyburn’s reasoning privately.

And the slimy Geraldo Rivera tweeted out this sympathy for his pal Matt Lauer.

I don't really call having a button to lock women in his office "flirty" behavior. Makes one wonder about Geraldo's behavior with women. Hmmm. Does Geraldo remember what has just recently come out about sexual behavior at Fox News? Allahpundit lists other weird hot takes that Geraldo has had on allegations of sexual misconduct.

David French has a great article
reminding us or informing those who didn't know what a fraud Elizabeth Warren has been for most of her professional life.
Warren is a bit of an academic grifter. She’s willing to fake her way to the top. When she came to Harvard Law School, she was — believe it or not — considered by some to be a “minority hire.” She listed herself as a minority on a legal directory reviewed by deans and hiring committees. The University of Pennsylvania “listed her as a minority faculty member,” and she was touted after her hire at Harvard Law School as, yes, the school’s “first woman of color.”

This was no small thing. At the time, elite universities were under immense pressure to diversify their faculties (as they still are). “More women” was one command. “More women of color” was the ideal. At Harvard the pressure was so intense that students occupied the administration building, and the open spaces of the school were often filled with screaming, chanting students. One of the law school’s leading black academics, a professor named Derek Bell, left the school to protest the lack of diversity on campus.
Of course, no one has been able to document that anyone on her family tree was a Native American. But her dishonesty doesn't stop there.
These facts would be bad enough, but the great Warren con doesn’t end there. Let’s take, for example, her signature work of academic scholarship. She made a name for herself in the pre-Obamacare years with a pair of studies claiming that medical bills were responsible for an extraordinary share of American bankruptcies. This research presented the Left with an ideal talking point. The American medical system wasn’t just broken, it was oppressing the little guy.

No doubt medical bills do drive some bankruptcies, but you wouldn’t know how many from Warren’s scholarship. As Megan McArdle points out in a detailed take-down in The Atlantic, Warren and her co-authors not only classified a “medical bankruptcy” as any bankruptcy that included at least $1,000 in medical debt (in her 2001 paper) or $5,000 (in her 2007 paper), their methodology was “quite explicitly designed to capture every case where medical bills, or medical loss of income, coexist with some other causal factor — but the medical issues are then always designated as causal in their discussion.”

Warren’s work even obscured the fact that medical bankruptcies fell dramatically between 2001 and 2007. McArdle noted, “This is, to put it mildly, sort of a problem for the thesis that exploding medical bills are shoving people into bankruptcy.”

McArdle’s conclusion was devastating:
Does this persistent tendency to choose odd metrics that inflate the case for some left wing cause matter? If Warren worked at a think tank, you’d say, “Ah, well, that’s the genre.” On the other hand, you’d also tend to regard her stuff with a rather beady eye. It’s unlikely to have been splashed across the headline of every newspaper in the United States. Her work gets so much attention because it comes from a Harvard professor. And this isn’t Harvard caliber material — not even Harvard undergraduate.

It’s a neat trick Warren’s accomplished. She’s likely leveraged her fictional Native American heritage into a plum spot at Harvard Law School. She leveraged her Harvard job to foist garbage scholarship on a gullible media. And now she has leveraged all of that into a plum Senate seat, from which a multimillionaire Ivy League professor has recast herself as progressive populist heroine.
Yes, it was despicable for Trump to call her Pocahontas in front of a ceremony to honor World War II Navaho code-talkers, but that is because it detracted and distracted from their heroism, not because it was an ethnic slur. Trump is too clueless to know that the insult about Warren is to call her "Fauxcahontas," but it isn't an ethnic slur to call a white woman who tried to manipulate her own professional advancement by calling herself a Native American. As Mollie Hemingway reminds us,
Warren claimed to be Native American despite there being no evidence of that claim being true. This false information was something she didn’t claim as a student, but began putting in her professional bios for a few years when law school faculties were hungry for minority faculty. Harvard University proudly proclaimed her as a minority female on the basis of information she provided. Her evidence is limited to claims other family members dispute of “folklore” and her paw-paw having “high cheekbones.” No, I’m not joking, she cited high cheekbones...

There is zero evidence that Warren is Cherokee, as she claimed for years. Cherokee genealogists say it’s not true. That’s why Trump calls her Pocahontas.

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Veronique de Rugy explains why the idea being put forth for the Senate tax bill of atax-hike trigger to go into effect if the predicted revenue from their bill doesn't work out is a terrible, stupid idea.
First, our debt problem is not a revenue problem: It’s a spending problem. To some important extent, it is also a growth problem. Tax increases and the uncertainty introduced by this trigger won’t address these problems. In fact, the trigger will hurt economic growth, and it will fail to address the explosive growth of spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Raising taxes, if it successfully raises revenue, will only scratch the surface of what is needed to fill the gap between spending and revenue in the next two decades. Raising taxes would also be counter-productive if the reason for the below-projection revenues is that the country is in a recession. Oh and by the way, the prospect of a potential automatic tax hikes in the future could hinder business investments and excitement today and accelerate the move toward a slowdown.
She points to these other criticisms from the WSJ.
The trigger is a bad idea on the policy merits. No one knows when there might be another recession, during which tax receipts invariably fall. A trigger could then be a tax hike on Americans at a tough economic time. In that event, Congress would certainly override the trigger-tax increase as a political matter.

The extent of the potential trigger damage will depend on the fine print, and the priority ought to be preserving the business cuts that produce the most economic growth. Corporations won’t relocate to America at a 20% tax rate with a threat of a much higher rate in a couple years. In particular Republicans shouldn’t reverse course after making tough political choices to make the 20% rate and other business tax cuts permanent. They don’t want fear of a trigger to crimp the investment and growth that produces more revenue—and lower deficits—for Treasury.
And the WSJ has an interesting counter-proposal of a trigger.
The pony in this pile is that the budget forecasts rely on a lame 1.9% growth on average for the next decade. The GOP’s bill could restore growth to a 3% historical norm and gin up more than enough money to avoid the trigger. Perhaps the GOP should add a reverse trigger? If revenue exceeds projections, plow the cash into lowering the top marginal rate on individuals to 35%.
De Rugy has her own idea of another trigger.
Another excellent trigger would be to cut spending, all spending, across the board, if revenue projections fall short. That’s what true fiscal responsibility looks like. We could call it “The Spending Cut Trigger Toward Prosperity Act of 2017.” I like it!

David Harsanyi reports
on the actual grassroots lobbying that the New York Times has taken on to defeat the GOP tax bill.
Today, The New York Times editorial board took over the paper’s opinion Twitter account, which has around 650,000 followers, “to urge the Senate to reject a tax bill that hurts the middle class & the nation’s fiscal health.” By urging the Senate, it meant sending out the phone number of moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins and imploring followers to call her. So, in others words, the board was indistinguishable from any of the well-funded partisan groups it whines about in editorials all the time.

Perhaps I’m forgetting instances of similar politicking, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a major newspaper engage in the kind of partisan activism The New York Times is involved in right now—not even on an editorial page. The Times’ editorial board isn’t saying, “Boy, that Republican bill is going to kill children,” it’s imploring people on social media — most of whom don’t even subscribe to their paper or live in Maine — to inundate a senator with calls to sink a tax reform they dislike. (It worth pointing out that its hyperbolic contentions regarding the bill are generally untrue or misleading, but that’s another story.)

The average news consumer doesn’t care about the infrastructure of a news organization. When they see a media giant engaged in naked partisan campaigning, it confirms all their well-worn suspicions. You can grouse all day long about readers’ inability to comprehend the internal divide, but how could a Republican trust The New York Times’ coverage of a tax bill after watching the same paper not merely editorialize against it, but run an ad that could have come from any of the proxies of the Democratic Party?

Maybe this is just a more honest way to do business. The fact is, it’s highly unlikely that The New York Times cares about enticing conservatives anymore. Like many others, the Times’ board likely feels a moral obligation to act because they see everything Republicans engage in as an apocalyptic event. So, like political norms, journalistic ones fall every day on both sides.

What makes this kind of activism (which is likely to be ineffective, anyway) particularly hypocritical and distasteful, though, is that the Times has long argued in favor of empowering the government to shut down corporations — just like them — that engage in campaigning by overturning the First Amendment via Citizens United. This is worth remembering as the board turns into the equivalent of a super PAC.

John HInderaker adds
I’m not sure I have ever seen a newspaper engage in grass roots lobbying. Everyone has long known that the Times is a Democratic Party paper, but this is ridiculous. The Times has abandoned any pretense of doing journalism, and has nakedly joined the political fray on behalf of its party. Grass roots lobbying is regulated by the federal government and by most states; it would be interesting to know what the Times has done by way of legal compliance.

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