More Women in Congress?

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Senator Kamala Harris (D., Calif.)

We’ll see if we get more female politicians today. A minimum of 20 percent women, an old law-school study said, is necessary in any institution to change the agenda. In the outgoing Congress, the House has 19 percent and the Senate has 23 percent. While more women than ever have run for office, the amount of violence (i.e. death threats, harassment) is enough to turn anyone away from reading the news. I’m beginning to hear women from Hollywood to Washington start to roar.

Playing Her Cards Wright

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Brilliant. Well done. Talk about lemons and lemonade. House of Cards did it. They turned Kevin Spacey’s sexual-harassment death (i.e. Netflix had the strength to fire him) into a great piece about women and the humiliation of intimate-partner violence, misogyny, and sexism. Robin Wright and Diane Lane gave powerful performances as women who like being extremely powerful and even in charge — the oligarch and the president. They are bitter rivals and — spoiler alert — both of them are going to survive, and the strongest will kill the embodiment of the system of misogyny, sexism, and intimate-partner violence.

To be sure, Michael Dobbs wrote a three-part play out of real life in Maggie Thatcher’s court and Netflix turned it into 70-odd episodes; still, it was quite masterful in that it went from being your typical inside-the-court White House drama to one that tries to slay misogyny. I could not help but wonder about the chicken and the egg when it came to the choice of Robin Wright and Diane Lane, who themselves had to fight for their own dignity in real life as they both were married to men who were accused of intimate-partner violence.

This was obviously timed to try to influence the election. New seasons used to be released in the spring, but now it’s the fall, for all those people who dive into fiction rather than watching CNN or Fox News or daring to read a newspaper that contains all the evidence that we live in a rape culture, i.e. the Trump presidency.

A Public Square Author Won a Million

150506426 Congratulations, Martha!  Here is the University of Chicago’s story about their faculty member and Public Square author Professor Martha Nussbaum. As editor of the Public Square series, which has won over 17 prizes for only 9 books published over 14 years, I do not find this surprising.  After all, Professor Nussbaum’s Public Square book, Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanitieswas a great success in more ways than one.  Not only does her work help democracy by helping to save the humanities, but the book sold exceedingly well.  As Rob Tempio, the in-house Princeton University Press senior editor of Philosophy, Classics, and Political Theory, explained it to me: Many philanthropic boards and universities bought copies of Not for Profit for their whole board to make the point that is in the title — Why Democracy Needs the Humanities. It’s a vital message, and I’m glad The Public Square was able to help Professor Nussbaum spread the word.

Rock Bottom

unknown Let the Games begin!  As a nation, the United States (yes, all the states) of America (the continent we share with Canada and Central America), we have hit rock bottom — or very close to it. Here are the Headlines: Kavanaugh (a.k.a. “the Trigger”); Democrats take Midterms; and 2020 goes to . . . the Democratic nominee, of course. Social movements against Trump are NOW thriving.  Two cheers for that. P.S. I was sorry I missed my U.S. Capitol Page High School Reunion.  I’m not going to share the graduation date, haha.

Santorum Says

The brave woman who appeared before the Senate, Senator Rick Santorum, Mr. “Man on Dog,” was “authentic.”  Before he could utter the “but,” I turned CNN off.  Well, this says it all.  We don’t have to hear any more. Or Brett shouldn’t have to hear any more; he needs to withdraw.

Ruth O’Brien, editor, Telling Stories Out of Court: Narratives about Women and Workplace Discrimination
I, for one (among the many who are now demonstrating in the #MeToo social movement), have experienced too much harassment and assault.  Having gone to the local police and family courts for protection from a harasser — where if I sat in the chair I always received relief — was hard.

My last memory in the Domestic Violence Hearing Officers room less than five years ago was hearing the chains rattle on the men incarcerated in the basement below.  I asked the hearing officer what that noise was and she explained: The men below were chained so that everyone in the room above could hear them.

For me, this only heightened my fear of reprisal from this man, a former husband, a father, and a respected scholar.  Then I had to sign something saying that I knew I would increase my chances of being killed violently and having my sons killed if I proceeded to ask the State of New Jersey for help.  Again, it was hard.

All we know now is that even Senator Susan Collins is having reservations.  She can see, too, that no public servant like him should be confirmed.

Chuck (Grassley) called my mom……

Representative (now Senator) Chuck Grassley called my mother when I was 18 years old.  Why?  I had just graduated from the Capitol Page School, with the nation’s highest-paid teachers in terms of money per student, with a 99.999999% graduation rate not just from high school but from some of the best universities in our nation.  I ratted the school out for the inferior instruction it offered.*  Congressman Grassley said my mother should be proud of me for being a whistleblower — and I guess he knew what I had weathered.  I don’t know. A good friend of mine says he is evil.  She is a litigator and understands how Grassley is gaslighting Professor Christine Blasey Ford.  I agree — what could I say other than “he called my mother”?  But to be honest, when he called my mother, she was not impressed, as I remember.  Only impressed enough to relay the quick call.  I didn’t think a thing about it until I spoke with my litigator friend (why would I?) — he became a Senator, and while he supports whistleblowers, they are largely the ones who whistle the Republican tune.  Look what he’s doing to Ford now! When it came time for college, most of my relatives faced a choice — the farm (Stanford) versus the city (Berkeley).  For me, the choice was not the farm versus the city.  My mom wanted me to go to a small women’s liberal-arts school, preferably the one she had attended, not one of those Seven Sisters schools.  Not only the Sister schools were excluded; my mom was also down on the Ivies, even though my ancestor helped start one — a proFESSor of religion, no less, helped found Brown University by proFESSing religion at the Hopewell Academy, which later moved to Rhode Island (Anabaptist country). No one was going to the East Coast Establishment. Meanwhile, Stanford — where they ruined women, I was told — and anything east of Los Angeles were out.  So I came home, back West to California, as was appropriate.  My mother managed to get me/allow me (she had no control, since I was writing my own applications far from home) to go to an all-male college that was turning co-ed.  Now that was no fun -— or was it fun?  Actually, I enjoyed it.  It had been Claremont Men’s College, and after coeducation they found a donor whose name began with M, and it became Claremont McKenna College, preserving the CMC acronym. But first they had to deal with the GCO Club — Get Cunts Out — of diehard misogynists.  Seems kinda like the club that Brett Kavanagh would join — or was that only in high school? Why won’t he allow the FBI to do a full investigation, anyhow?  Why does he want to enter the Supreme Court with a rapist cloud over his head?  After all, Clarence Thomas didn’t even speak in court for over a decade, knowing how little credibility he had/has.  Who made the last phone call to Anita — his wife, no less?  Wasn’t that bizarre?  My only guess would be she got hammered one night and is still mad about how Clarence cheated on her — or didn’t tell her the full story that she knows/suspects, and that’s about his predilection for pornography. —————– * I ratted them out despite being threatened in front of the whole school for maligning a 150-year-old institution, since I was the rat “going” over there — the Doorkeeper’s Door — and complaining that we weren’t getting enough education.  All the House of Representatives pages followed the few Senate pages’ problem — that pages could no longer go to school from 6:00 to 9:00, but instead from 6:00 to 6:30 or 7:00, including the breakfast break.  Then they reduced our classes to five, but we still only got as far as roll call before leaving.  I was in school, yet I was learning absolutely nothing, and the principal’s and vice principal’s defense was — anyway, full circle.  I ratted them out.  I was not the first or the last, and it was under Speaker of the House John Boehner that they got rid of House pages in 2011.

Harasser vs. Harassed and Assaulted Cash Outs

download-2How is $120 million different from Roger Ailes’s $45 million?  Zero tolerance for media means that the harassers get rich or richer, whereas the victims of their harassment and violent sexual assault (i.e. rape) are lucky not to get blackballed from their profession or remain powerless.  Even if you’re a journalist, like Ronan Farrow, they can drive you out or into a different medium.  (The New Yorker being the out, and lucky for The New Yorker.)

What does this mean for the American government?  Brett will not cash out, will he?  Certainly the good citizen Professor Ford will be destroyed.  But here’s what we can take away this morning.

The religious right is happy to practice toleration when it comes to Trump.  Unlike the Catholic Church — which does give its victims real cash outs — the religious right uses its harassers to exert pressure — to get politically what they want.  This story is as old as the religious right’s entry into politics (see Garry Wills’ book on Nixon).

Meanwhile, Brett has been buttering up the feds — Senators, House, etc. — for months, while they call the citizen doing the right thing having “terms.” What a contradiction in terms (i.e. hypocrisy) this is, no?

No wonder Congress got rid of House pages or jail bait before they gave in and adopted anti-harassment rules.  Republican speaker John Boehner got rid of them in 2011 so the House would not have to pay the parents of these largely legacy kids (not me, though) huge settlements for harassing their own children.  If that’s the situation, why would Paul let his kids be pages any more than Ted would let his?