Happy Thanksgiving

A few years ago, I made the decision not to write anything new for Thanksgiving, but, instead, to recycle something that I’d written the year before. And, ever since then, I’ve been posting the same damn thing. Well, here it is again. I was tempted to remove some of the old references, and replace them with new ones, but it occurred to me that altering this post, which is fast becoming a family classic, would be like changing It’s A Wonderful Life so that Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed dance Gangnam Style instead of the Charleston in that scene that takes place over the high school pool. So, with that in mind, here it is, untouched… Enjoy….


This Thanksgiving morning I’m tempted to get political and say that I’m thankful above all else for the fact that a majority of Americans still feel as though Sarah Palin is unfit to serve as President, and that former U.S. House majority leader Tom DeLay was found guilty yesterday of money laundering. But, I’m trying to think less about politics today, and the swirling gyre of weaponized stupidity that is the Tea Party, and focus instead on friends and family. I probably don’t say it here as often as I should, but I’m incredibly thankful for both. Without my family, I wouldn’t be here. And, without my friends, I wouldn’t be the person that am today… Sure, I might be a better, more successful and more productive version of myself without them, but I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. So, before I get started with this post, I’d just like to note that I’m incredibly thankful for everyone that I’m related to, from my grandmother in Kentucky, to my daughter, who is now in the other room, looking at our enormous turkey through the little glass porthole in the oven. There have been some bad times, and we’ve lost some people over the years, but, all in all, I’d say that we’ve been really fortunate as a family. As far as I know, all of us that are alive at the moment are healthy, happy, employed and have roofs over our heads, which is quite an accomplishment in today’s world. As for friends, the same, for the most part, goes for them. A few are temporarily without partners or between jobs, but, as far as I know, the people in my friendship network (“tribe” sounded too new age) are doing pretty well, and I’m thankful for that. But, what I want to write about today are a few of the less obvious things that I’m thankful for – things that I don’t think I’ve ever shared with you before.

I’m thankful that my friends Dan and Matt, when they’d graduated from college, moved to Ann Arbor to live with me. If they hadn’t, I might never have had the misdirected encouragement I needed to start a band. And, if the three of us hadn’t formed a band, I probably wouldn’t have ever ventured into Ypsilanti, where I met my wife, Linette. There are others that played a role as well, like Ward Tomich, who booked us to play at Cross Street Station that fateful night. Without all of these folks, I’d likely be living in the forest today, sucking nutrients from moss-covered rocks.

I’m thankful for the car crash that my dad had in the late 60’s, which almost tore his arm from his body. If it hadn’t happened, my dad surely would shipped off to fight in Vietnam, with the other men that he’d been training with. Of the dozen or so men in his group, only two returned alive. I cannot imagine growing up without my father.

I’m thankful that my mother encouraged my father to apply for job at AT&T after he was released from the Navy. (He worked at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital after recovering from his accident.) He’d been working highway construction jobs when she talked him into applying for a position at a remote audio relay station of some kind near Monticello, Kentucky. He got that job, flipping switches and listening in on people’s private phone calls, and the rest is history. He steadily climbed up through the ranks, ending his career at the company headquarters in New Jersey – probably one of the few people without a college degree to do so. If this hadn’t happened, I would likely still be in the same small town in Kentucky today, instead of in the worldly, sophisticated metropolis of Ypsilanti, Michigan.

While my parents never graduated from college, they did both attend classes as they could, which wasn’t easy with full-time jobs and two kids to raise. I remember pretty clearly my mom studying Spanish late at night at the kitchen table. And I remember them proof-reading class assignments for one another. It made an impression on me, and I’m forever thankful for it. It’ll probably make my mom cry to hear it, but I’m also thankful that they stopped taking me to church at a young age.

I’m thankful that my parents valued education enough to settle our family in a decent school district, instead of closer to where my father was going to be working. My dad, most days, left for work at 5:00 AM to catch the bus, and didn’t return until 7:00 PM or so at night. He did that for over a dozen years straight, and, because of that, I got to attend a great public school, where I met people like Dan and Matt – the guys I mentioned above who moved to Ann Arbor to make noise, drink $1 pitchers of beer, and publish zines with me.

Speaking of sacrifice, I’m also thankful that my distant relatives made the decision to come to America when they did. They did so without knowing if they’d ever see their homelands again. They left everything they knew in England, Sweden, Scotland, and Poland, in order to make a better life for their families. And, it’s because of their sacrifices that I’m here today, not having to work in the fields from sun up to sun down as they did.

Oh, and I’m thankful that, of all the mental illnesses in the world, I got OCD, which kind of has its up-side.

OK, there’a whole lot more I’d like to say, but that’ll have to be it for now, as the buzzer on the oven is ringing.

Happy holidays.

[note: The image at the top of the post, if I remember correctly, is from the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. If I had to guess, I’d say that the balloon was supposed to depict a kind of turkey-mosquito hybrid that plagued the United States at the time.]

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Holding Bill Kristol’s hand as he leaves the swamp, coughs the mucus from his lungs, and takes his first step on dry land

As shitty as things are these days, there are still a few things that give me pleasure. And one of those things is watching old school conservatives, like Bill Kristol and George Will, slowly come to the realization that, in Donald Trump, they’ve created a monster that’s not only going to destroy their beloved Republican Party, but, quite possibly, life on earth as we know it. It doesn’t exactly make up for all the bad stuff, but, every time I see one of them inch a little father into the light, it puts a smile on my face. And I had a huge smile on my face earlier today, when I happened across Kristol on Twitter earlier today, wondering out-loud about this mysterious transformation that he was going through… So, like the father of a child going through puberty, I tried, as best I could, to explain these strange, new feelings he was having.

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What the John Conyers case tells us about how sexual predators are treated in Congress

Late last week the Washington Post added a little more fuel to the “Jesus Christ, Men Really Suck” bonfire when they reported that Congress’s Office of Compliance has paid out approximately $17 million over the past 20 years in unreported settlements to 264 federal employees, many of whom, you can be sure, collected those settlements after having brought sexual harassment charges against members of the House and Senate. Then, last night, we learned that this might really just be the tip of the iceberg, as some of our elected officials, like Michigan’s very own John Conyers, have paid such settlements directly from their taxpayer-funded office budgets, instead of doing so through Congress’s Office of Compliance.

That’s right, Representative John Conyers, the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, and the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, according to a report posted last night by BuzzFeed, settled a wrongful dismissal complaint for $27,000 in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she had been fired because she would not “succumb to [the Congressman’s] sexual advances”. The following is from BuzzFeed.

…In her complaint, the former employee said Conyers repeatedly asked her for sexual favors and often asked her to join him in a hotel room. On one occasion, she alleges that Conyers asked her to work out of his room for the evening, but when she arrived the congressman started talking about his sexual desires. She alleged he then told her she needed to “touch it,” in reference to his penis, or find him a woman who would meet his sexual demands.

She alleged Conyers made her work nights, evenings, and holidays to keep him company.

In another incident, the former employee alleged the congressman insisted she stay in his room while they traveled together for a fundraising event. When she told him that she would not stay with him, she alleged he told her to “just cuddle up with me and caress me before you go.”

“Rep. Conyers strongly postulated that the performing of personal service or favors would be looked upon favorably and lead to salary increases or promotions,” the former employee said in the documents.

Three other staff members provided affidavits submitted to the Office Of Compliance that outlined a pattern of behavior from Conyers that included touching the woman in a sexual manner and growing angry when she brought her husband around.

One affidavit from a former female employee states that she was tasked with flying in women for the Congressman. “One of my duties while working for Rep. Conyers was to keep a list of women that I assumed he was having affairs with and call them at his request and, if necessary, have them flown in using Congressional resources,” said her affidavit. (A second staffer alleged in an interview that Conyers used taxpayer resources to fly women to him.)…

For what it’s worth, details about this particular settlement between Conyers and his former employee, were brought to the attention of BuzzFeed by far right propagandist Mike Cernovich, the man credited the popularization of the so-called “Pizzagate” conspiracy, which posited that Hillary Clinton and John Podesta operated a pedophiliac sex cult from inside an underground fortress hidden beneath a popular D.C. area pizza restaurant. According to Cernovich, he decided to release these documents concerning the Conyers settlement through the online news site because he felt that, if he’d released the information himself, Democrats would “try to discredit the story by attacking the messenger.” [Some, you probably won’t be surprised to hear, are wondering why it was that the leaker chose to share these documents with Cernovich of all people, when they could have taken them to a more legitimate news entity. I suspect it could be that someone with knowledge of the settlement just happened to be a fan of Cernovich’s “men’s rights” work. Just as likely, however, is the scenario where the documents were stolen by way of yet another an illegal hacking campaign, which I suspect may well be the case.]

As much as I might dislike Mike “date rape does not exist” Cernovich, and feel as though the release of this news, like that about Al Franken, was timed to help both Roy Moore and Donald Trump, who are presently facing allegations of their own, I have no reason to think these allegations against Conyers are false. In fact, based on what I’ve read today, I’d say that now would probably be a good time for the 88 year old Congressman to step down. [For what it’s worth, I’m still not ready to say the same about Franken, whose guilt seems considerably less clear.]

So, just to recap, one of Conyers’ female staff members filed a complaint with the Congressional Office of Compliance in 2014, stating that, she’d been fired after refusing the Congressman’s sexual advances. This, it should be noted, is how such complaints are generally made, as Congress does not have a human resources department. In instances of perceived sexual harassment, Congressional staff members have 180 days in which to file a report with the Office of Compliance, at which time, according to BuzzFeed, “a lengthy process (begins) that involves counseling and mediation, and requires the signing of a confidentiality agreement before a complaint can go forward.” And, at least in this instance, when that settlement was reached, it was decided that the former staff member who brought the charges would be paid directly from the Congressman’s office budget over a period of three months. No muss. No fuss. Problem solved.

And that’s apparently how things like this have been handled for years, with the emphasis being on the protection of elected officials, and not justice for the victims… Here, with more, is an excerpt from an article just published by Think Progress titled, “This is the elaborate system Congress created to protect sexual predators on Capitol Hill“.

…Congress has created an elaborate system that protects sexual predators on Capitol Hill, including members of Congress and their staff. In the private sector and elsewhere in the government, victims of sexual harassment have the option of immediately filing a lawsuit and getting their grievances heard in court. But Congress has created a much different set of rules for victims who work on Capitol Hill…

And let’s not, in our anger over this story about how a woman had to be paid-off for the way Conyers apparently treated her, overlook that little tidbit about how the Congressman aledgedly used Congressional resources to keep himself supplied with female companions, when members of his staff were unwilling… In one of the affidavits accompanying the complaint against Conyers that was sent to Cernovich, a former employee of the Congressman says it was their job, “to keep a list of women that I assumed he was having affairs with and call them at his request and, if necessary, have them flown in using Congressional resources”… So, not only was Conyers’ accuser apparently paid-off under the table with our tax dollars, but it would seem that we’ve also been paying for the Congressman’s conjugal visits.

It’s probably worth noting that I met Conyers once. He’d come to Ypsilanti with Howard Dean, not long after Dean had announced his 2004 presidential bid. As I recall, I was impressed by the Congressman, and the vision for the future that he articulated. And, over the years since then, I’ve often written of him here, especially in his role as the ranking Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee, where, generally speaking, he’s been an outspoken progressive voice. With that said, though, I never really had a sense of him as an effective legislator who could harness the power that comes with seniority and experience to push through good legislation. Still, though, I liked him, appreciated his role as a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, and respected the fact that he’d been able to hold his seat since 1964, when, as I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, America wasn’t too keen on the idea of black folks serving in Congress. But… and this is a big but… I’ve always felt as though, sooner or later, a story would come out that would cause people to reevaluate his legacy. And, I suspect, to a large degree, I felt that way because, for a few decades, he was married to Monica Conyers, who, as a member of the Detroit City Council, was found guilty of accepting bribes, and sentenced to serve time in prison. No matter what he might have said about health care, civil rights, or anything else, I’ve always wondered, in the back of my mind, “How in the hell could he have been married to a woman who solicits bribes and gets into bar fights?” I, of course, hoped that I was wrong, and that Conyers would leave the House a hero, but it looks like that’s not going to be the case.

For what it’s worth, I suspect, in the coming days and weeks, we’ll see a number of incumbent politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, announcing that they’ve chosen to leave office rather than run for reelection. They’ll say it’s for family reasons, but, in truth, it’ll be because they don’t want to meet the same fate as Conyers, having to publicly address every instance of sexual harassment in their past, before being swept out to sea by the Righteous Pink Wave of Reckoning.

update: It’s now being reported that Conyers “vehemently” denies these claims, saying that the settlement was just to avoid litigation.

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The Republican tax plan puts graduate students, scientific research and the future of America in peril

As we’ve discussed, House Republicans have passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut that, if signed into law, would, among other things, take health care coverage from 13 million Americans and raise taxes on the middle class. You would think those two things alone would be enough to motivate people to call their elected officials and raise holy hell. As that doesn’t seem to be happening, though, at least not like it did the last time the Republican tried to kill the America Cares Act, I thought that I’d try something different. Instead of posting yet again about how this Republican tax bill will fuck working Americans and raise our insurance premiums, I thought that I’d appeal directly to those of you who either benefit in some way from university research, or know of someone in higher education… Given that we live in the shadow of one of the largest and most well-respected research institutions in the world, I suspect that’s quite a few of us, right?

Well, it would appear that killing the America Cares Act, and raising taxes on the American middle class, doesn’t free up enough money to offset Republican plans to eliminate the estate tax and give billions of dollars in permanent tax cuts to America’s most wealthy, which, as everyone knows, is what this so-called “middle class tax cut” has always been about. [Trump, Ryan and McConnell pitched it as a tax cut for the middle class, but it’s not. Middle class tax cuts are small and temporary, while tax cuts for the rich are large and permanent.] So, the Republicans in Congress had to find other sources of revenue… and one of the places they decided to focus, because they are as stupid as they are evil, was higher education.

The tax plan passed by House Republicans, if signed into law in its current form, would eliminate several tax credits for higher education expenses. Among other things, this would make both free tuition and stipends taxable. This, as others have noted, could raise taxes on graduate students by nearly 300%, subsequently shrinking university research programs, and seriously constricting America’s research and development efforts… It is, to put it bluntly, the stupidest fucking thing the Republicans could have ever fucking done, and it very well might become law of the land.

The Republicans, by backing this legislation, are literally sacrificing our future, and our nation’s competitiveness, in order to repeal the estate tax, essentially allowing for the creation of an American aristocracy… And that, by the way, isn’t hyperbole. That’s the actual trade-off here. They’re actually sacrificing a generation of people studying things cancer therapies and green energy technologies so that a small handful of their billionaire donors can avoid paying taxes when moving money into the accounts of their darling little Ivankas, Erics, and Donnie Jr.s. [“I’m sure you really could have used that cancer therapeutic, but, unfortunately, Ivanka really wanted another yacht, America.”]

And, as you can imagine, the smart people of the United States aren’t exactly happy… The following comes from a letter sent to Congress a few days ago by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which, by the way, was co-signed by every major scientific organization in the United States. [“Make no mistake,” the letter says, “this plan will undermine research and eventually the economy of the USA.”]

…(The) Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) will increase the financial burden for graduate students by repealing existing provisions in tax law. While the goal of the House tax reform plan is to help grow the U.S. economy, the language to repeal the student loan interest deduction, graduate student tuition waivers, the Hope Scholarship Credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit and educational assistance programs ultimately will have the opposite effect. By making advanced education less affordable, it is likely to drive some students away from seeking higher education. Because a majority of graduate students are in the key areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), these provisions will have an outsized impact in the sciences. U.S. scientific and technological ingenuity has helped to make our nation one of the most innovative in the world and generated tremendous economic benefit to our country. This inventive spirit starts with people and ideas – and it is our higher-education system that has fostered the development of inventors, entrepreneurs, Nobel Laureates, and business leaders. Repealing the very provisions that allow graduate students to continue to study in critical STEM fields means that we will be shutting the door on new opportunities for discovery, exploration and innovation…

And, here, to give you a sense of how this legislation, if signed into law, could actually impact America’s young scientific researchers, is a clip from an article written for the New York Times by Erin Rousseau, a graduate student at M.I.T. who studies the neurological basis of mental health disorders.

…My peers and I work between 40 and 80 hours a week as classroom teachers and laboratory researchers, and in return, our universities provide us with a tuition waiver for school. For M.I.T. students, this waiver keeps us from having to pay a tuition bill of about $50,000 every year — a staggering amount, but one that is similar to the fees at many other colleges and universities. No money from the tuition waivers actually ends up in our pockets, so under Section 117(d)(5), it isn’t counted as taxable income.

But under the House’s tax bill, our waivers will be taxed. This means that M.I.T. graduate students would be responsible for paying taxes on an $80,000 annual salary, when we actually earn $33,000 a year. That’s an increase of our tax burden by at least $10,000 annually.

It would make meeting living expenses nearly impossible, barring all but the wealthiest students from pursuing a Ph.D. The students who will be hit hardest — many of whom will almost certainly have to leave academia entirely — are those from communities that are already underrepresented in higher education.

The law would also decimate American competitiveness.

Some universities might be able to cover tuition for some students, but in so doing, they would be forced to decrease the total number of graduate students they accept. American applicants to graduate school will leave the United States in favor of less expensive international institutions, and United States institutions will be unable to attract international candidates. At M.I.T., 43 percent of graduate students are foreign nationals, many of whom receive international funding. These students conduct transformative research, and bring so much diversity of culture, experience and expertise to our schools. Do we really want to shut out the next generation of innovators from our universities?

…The House bill would also end the student loan interest deduction, which allows individuals who make up to $80,000 and are repaying student loans to decrease their debt. It also eliminates the Lifetime Learning Credit, which is instrumental for many nontraditional students…

So, have you got all that?

To put it simply… At this moment in history, when we’re confronting antibiotic resistant super-bugs, global warming, and any number of other incredibly terrifying things, our Republicans in Congress are passing legislation that would disincentivize talented young people with scientific aptitude from entering graduate programs. Furthermore, at a time when the middle class is contracting, and wealth inequality is growing more and more pronounced, this legislation would make it more difficult for the non-wealthy to obtain advanced degrees… And for what? So that wealthy campaign donors can get even larger tax breaks.

Oh, and not only would free tuition be taxed under this Republican bill, but, individuals with student debt would no longer be able to write-off the interest paid on that debt. So, as I just read in the New York Times, “If students take out more loans to pay their new taxes, they would face another surprise: Under the House bill, interest paid on student loans — a deduction that more than 12 million people used in 2015 — would no longer be tax deductible.”

But this is what the Republicans in the House, when trying to find a way to pay for their $1.5 trillion in tax cuts came up with. They figured out a way to make this completely shortsighted and irresponsible legislation work by, in the words of the Washington Post, “(raising) the cost of college for millions of Americans.” Is that really what we want? Should we prioritize tax cuts for the wealthy over science and education?

One last thing… I’d like to share this video of Republican Senator Orrin Hatch defending the Republican plan to cut taxes, saying that, as someone who “(came from) the lower middle class,” he’s “sick and tired” of hearing Democrats claiming that this Republican legislation really just helps the rich… I bring it up because Hatch, according to his official biography, received a full scholarship to law school… And I can’t help but wonder how his life might have been different, as a member of the lower middle class, had he been taxed on that tuition… If you’d like to ask him, he can be reached at @OrrinHatch.

So, if you haven’t already, find the phone numbers for your Congressperson and Senators and call them… while it’s true that the Senate version of the legislation may not be as anti-education and anti-science as the House version, there’s a chance that these items could find their way into the reconciled bill that Trump will sign into law, and we cannot afford to take that chance. We need to kill this legislation right now in the Senate, so it never makes it to Trump’s desk in any form. This isn’t just the biggest wealth grab in modern American history. It isn’t just incredibly cruel. It’s bad policy. And it needs to be stopped.

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Facing sexual assault allegations, Al Franken forces Democrats to confront the fact that sexual abuse isn’t a partisan issue

A lot of my male heroes have been assholes. Dr. Seuss, they say, was a philandering bigot. John Lennon, by all accounts, was abusive. J. D. Salinger and Charlie Chaplin preyed on young women. And, as we know, Thomas Jefferson actually bought and sold human beings, at least one of whom he had sexual relations with. And, somehow, like many of us, I suspect, I’ve developed ways to navigate the cognitive dissonance, telling myself that the stories might not be true, excusing the behavior as simply being reflective of the time, and shutting out evidence to the contrary. Because, really, once you accept that one of the men you most admire made a conscious decision to enslave human beings, even though he knew it to be a “moral depravity,” where does that leave you? How do you reconcile the fact that the men you most admire were assholes, and the country you love was built on a foundation of exploitation, subjugation and violence? Do you simple start over, erasing the past, or do you accept the past, learn as much as you can from it, and move on? It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, as we’ve discussed the tearing down on monuments, and as these once hugely important foundational pieces of American popular culture, like the Cosby Show, have essentially been erased.

And it’s not just a matter of the distant past. These things are happening in real time. Every day, it seems, there’s another powerful man being exposed as a predatory sex offender. Thankfully, I learned my lesson some time ago thanks to John Edwards, so, as a rule, I no longer look up to anyone who’s still alive. Sure, it would break my heart if I read that Elizabeth Warren, Bill Moyers or Barack Obama had mistreated anyone, but, aside from that, I can’t really say that I’d be too surprised. So, with that said, I wasn’t completely shocked when the following photo of Democratic Senator Al Franken crossed my desk this afternoon… Looking at it, I just wondered, “Does every man who attains any level of fame or power in this country just become an asshole, or is it that everyone who strives for fame and power already has it within him?”

As for specifics in the Franken case, it would seem, according to his accuser, a woman by the name of Leeann Tweeden, that Franken, during a 2006 USO tour to entertain the troops in the Middle East, not only posed for the above photo with her, as she slept aboard an airplane, but also “forcibly kissed” her while rehearsing a bit that they’d be doing for their show.

I’m not going to debate what Franken may or may not have done, or get into how much worse Roy Moore’s crimes may have been. I’m not going to defend Franken by saying, as others have, that he might not have actually been touching her in the photo, but hovering just centimeters above her, in the so-called “friend zone”. As far as I’m concerned, what he did is wrong regardless, and there should be an investigation. And, thankfully, it would appear that Franken agrees. In a letter released today, the Senator, after apologizing to Tweeden, and saying that the photo was “intended to be funny,” added, “I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.” Franken then went on to say, “The truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed… I have let them down and I am committed to making it up to them.” Here’s the letter in full.

People have asked me why I haven’t written more about this wave of women coming forward to tell their stories of sexual assault, and, the truth is, I’m just not sure that I have anything valuable to say on the subject. But maybe, I’m coming to realize, that’s not the point. Maybe, right now, it’s enough for everyone to just restate the obvious, which is that it’s never appropriate as men to engage in this kind of behavior toward women.

The idea isn’t fully formed in my mind yet, but I do have one observation to share… which is that this wave of women we’re now seeing come forward to share their stories of sexual harassment, parallels to a great extent the flood of cell phone videos shared by black Americans over the past few years, offering a glimpse into the way they experience American law enforcement. In both instances, others are being invited in, perhaps for the first time in their lives, to experience a very specific kind of ugliness that dominant culture has successfully kept below the surface of polite society for centuries. But it’s all being laid bare right now. And I think that’s a good thing. Or at least it has the potential to be a good thing, assuming we act on it.

It may take a while, as I have no doubt that the forces of Trumpism will push back, but, like Theodore Parker said, the arc of the moral universe “bends towards justice,” and I think, culturally speaking, we’re mid-stride in a huge evolutionary step. America is changing, and this is all part of that change. The Women’s March of Washington wasn’t a fluke. America, like it or not, is getting more diverse, and women are coming to the fore. Just look at the election results from last week, where women and people of color won in unprecedented numbers against old, white, male incumbents. So, no, I’m not at all surprised that we’re hearing these stories from women now, just as I wasn’t surprised by the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. These are conversations that have to happen before we can move on as a country, and we’re clearly ready to move on.

One last thing about Franken before we move on, though. And I hope, when I say this, I don’t sound as completely out of my mind as Roy Moore did the other night, when he told Sean Hannity to look at the way the “7”s were written in Beverly Young-Nelson’s yearbook comment attributed to him, as though that would somehow prove that he couldn’t have choked her and thrown her from his car when she was 16… Does anyone find it interesting that Roger Stone appears to have known that this story about Franken was coming out before anyone else? Could it be that Stone, a master of political dirty tricks, somehow found out about this photo’s existence and helped orchestrate this to take some of the attention away from Roy Moore, Donald Trump, the Russia investigation, and the Republican tax plan? I wouldn’t discount the idea. Franken’s accuser is, after all, a media personality with ties to Fox and Hannity… which isn’t, of course, to say that Franken isn’t still culpable for his actions. Even if the “forced kiss” is being exaggerated, Franken still took the photo, and it’s still wrong. And, just like Donald Trump, Roy Moore, and every other politician accused of sexual harassment, and worse, Franken needs to be fully investigated. This is a test for us Democrats, an opportunity for us to prove that sexual harassment is a nonpartisan issue, and we need to treat cases exactly the same, regardless of whether the accused perpetrator votes with us or against us.

So, as we wait for these investigations to get underway, I’ve got a question for you. Are you able to put aside what you know about Michael Jackson, Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, and enjoy Thriller, Zelig, and Chinatown? And, if so, do you feel horribly bad about it?

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