Wednesday, January 10, 2018

I bet most of the critics can't read French.

I woke up to some interesting news this morning: the French Actress, Catherine Deneuve, and 99 other women, wrote a piece condemning the blanket #metoo. Catherine Deneuve is probably one of the few of these women most Anglophones are familiar with as an international film star. On the other hand, there are another 99 other women who signed this piece who come from varying points of view.

They also aren't as well known outside France.

First off, the article makes it clear that there is a difference between rape and sexual harassment with maladroit flirtation and gallantry. Maybe non-Gallic women don't like having the door held for them, but French women tend to expect it.

Secondly, most of the English language coverage I have seen of this tends to focus on the most well known signer of this letter, but 99 other women also signed this critique of the #metoo phenomenon.

The most important part is that the writers try to distinguish between sexual violence and men being awkward. The difference between a grope and an accident. The gist of the argument here seems to be:
 In the same way, we defend a freedom to annoy, indispensable to the sexual freedom. We are now sufficiently warned to declare that the sexual drive is by nature offensive and savage, but we are also sufficiently clairvoyant not to confuse clumsy flirtation with sexual assault.
I'm not sure this can be seen as "mansplaining" as much as it is translation and cultural interpretation.  Especially since I see most of the critics probably haven't read the letter in its original French, or they don't understand the cultural under currents of this letter. Catherine Deneuve, star of Belle de Jour which is about sexual fantasy, as the face of this argument.

But there is much more to this letter than the Anglophone media lets on which needs to be addressed in this debate without resorting to an ad hominem toward one of the signers. People need to get the whole story before they comment since this letter addresses an important part of the debate.

The actual letter is here:

I'm not sure if the commenters will bother reading it since that seems to be the case with most of the people I hear discussing the letter.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Fire and Fury or Smoke and Mirrors

Part of the reason I don't pay too much attention to the US media is that there aren't too many viewpoints truly represented.  That's because the media in in the hands of the few. Even "public media" tends to  be under the control of the corporations (i.e., Underwriting or commercials by any other name).

Whatever "Russian" interference in the US political system is negligible compared to the internal problems of the system. Most of the things they were saying about Hillary weren't anything that wasn't already out there.

We can start with the Class Action lawsuit against the Democratic Party for its failing to follow its own by laws, which is sort of another post. On the other hand, it gets us to one of the failings of the primary system: they are pretty much for show.

The report,Autopsy: the Democratic Party in Crisis, gets into the failings of the machine system. You can read that for how the Democratic party basically screwed itself.  I have problems with saying that Clinton lost the election since she won the popular vote, but that doesn't determine the real outcome of the election. The real result comes from the electoral college, which really doesn't do what it is supposed to do.

That is something I've gone into depth on, but read this post for the "executive summary" of why the Electoral College needs to go.

But the blame doesn't just go to the Democratic Party since the duopoly really screwed the American public in 2016.  There is another report that show the duopoly is failing the public, "Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America" by Katherine M. Gehl and Michael E. Porter. I don't totally agree with their premise since real competition in the form of viable "third parties" might help get rid of the stagnation in the US political system.

The problem is that the US political system is rigged for the two parties and it's hard for alternative parties to run on the state and federal level. The truly conservative need to step up to the plate and follow their talk about competition since consolidation IS NOT competition: it is monopoly. And monopolies are as anti-competitive as you can get.

Friday, January 5, 2018

More "Fire and Fury"

From Ted Rall:
If Wolff and Bannon are to be believed — and so far, there is no reason not to — Trump didn’t want the job. His team wanted him to lose. “Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary,” Wolff writes. “His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning.”
            Wanting to lose explains Trump’s refusal to contribute to his own run. It explains his barebones campaign, with its weird lack of field offices, his sleepy national HQ and his cheapskate approach to TV ads. The dude ran for president yet refused to spend the night in a hotel room.

I have been wondering if the game plan was that Clinton would lose the popular vote, yet win in the electoral college.  That would have led to an uproar from the right.

Unfortunately, people are talking about everything except for what really went wrong in the last election.

The real issue here is that the US needs to take a time out to seriously examine its political climate.

Another thing from Ted:
The second takeaway here is that Hillary was an even worse candidate than her biggest detractors (cough cough) believed. Ruminate on this: she lost to a man who tried to lose...So think on that a while. Hillary Clinton was so sucky that she lost to the suckiest, stupidest, losingest candidate anyone ever dreamed of.
That's bad if someone who intended to lose actually won against someone who thought she had the game sewn up to win.

Lost in the "Fire and Fury"

Michael Wolff's explosive book, "Fire and Fury" has about 1000 damning and alarming revelations.  To some on the left, it's more "Yep, that's exactly how it appeared, funny to see it confirmed," but most, including me are in utter disbelief that Trump is in fact even MORE impotent, petulant, and mean than his outward, odious persona gives off.

But I noted one point Bannon made, one which many seemed to have overlooked.  Bannon said that if Kushner, Mannafort and Trump Jr. were going to "treasonously (Bannon's word)" meet with Russians, they should have been smart enough to do so at a Motel 6 in New Hampshire or some other innocuous place because then they could have denied it more easily.

Think about that for a moment.  Bannon is saying "you guys are so stupid, why didn't you at least be smart enough to give yourself a way to cover it up?"  Now, to be fair to Bannon, he said HE would have called the FBI, he didn't say he wouldn't have taken the meeting, he just would have taken it in some out of the way place.  Bannon called the meeting treasonous and dumb as s***, but he also gave us an insight into how the Republican "Alt-Right" and for that matter, leadership, thinks.  Go get dirt if you can, but find a way to cover it up.  He SAYS he'd have gone to the FBI, sure he would have... does anyone really believe Bannon didn't hear about this afterward?  Why didn't Bannon go to the FBI?  He gave himself and the Republican party's attitude away.  Using a foreign adversary to stick a dagger in a Democrat is perfectly fine, doesn't matter if it's illegal, after all THEY would do it to you (no evidence of that of course), but make sure you can lie about it.

Bannon is more like Trump than he thinks and Trump is a child full of angry fire and petty fury.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Trump a mistake

Seriously,  I have to wonder about whether this picture accurately describes the game plan for the 2016 election.

The reason for my saying this is that Trump's campaign has been described as a clown car in quite a few places (e.g. the Economist).

Now, there is a book out that pretty much cements all the rumours about the Trump campaign. Michael Wolff's, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, claims that Trump was horribly unprepared for the challenge he took on. It seems to me that Trump wasn't supposed to be the winner in the election.

According to this book:
"Shortly after 8pm on Election Night, when the unexpected trend - Trump might actually win - seemed confirmed, Don Jr told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears - and not of joy. There was, in the space of little more than an hour, in Steve Bannon's not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump. But still to come was the final transformation: Suddenly, Donald Trump became a man who believed that he deserved to be, and was wholly capable of being, the president of the United States."

On the other hand, Tony Blair commented  about the claims made about him in the book that “This story is a complete fabrication, literally from beginning to end. I’ve never had such conversation in the White House, outside of the White House, with Jared Kushner, with anybody else.”

I have to admit that if Trump's election was a monumental fuck up in that Clinton was supposed to have won, that his election makes serious scrutiny of the Electoral College a must: far more than silly allegations of Russian Interference in the election. 

Any screw ups in the US electoral system are purely home grown: they don't need anyone else to make the system worse.

After all, the Election was framed as a choice between two of the worst possible candidates imaginable.