Smear campaign?

I went to NPR to read their article: by Danielle Kurtzleben, “1 More Woman Accuses Trump Of Inappropriate Sexual conduct.  Here’s the Full List.”  (http://www.npr.org/2016/10/13/497799354/a-list-of-donald-trumps-accusers-of-inappropriate-sexual-conduct) to make an inquiry of my own and check it over for distortions or patterns.  Thank you to NPR for publishing the information.

There are 14 present-day accusers who have never pressed charges in court for sexual assault against Donald Trump.  I discovered that one woman, Jill Harth filed a suit for sexual harassment but she withdrew it.  And her sexual harassment lawsuit happened two years after her husband Mr. Houraney had also filed a lawsuit for breach of contract against Donald Trump.  They were pageant promoters.  And the suit settled for only law fees and it demonstrates a time lag.  (The prior lawsuit for breach of contract begs the question as to whether it was the real motivator for the sexual harassment charge.)  Similarly, Ivana Trump’s accusations were part of a divorce proceeding and she later retracted them.

Allegations that are surfacing now include time lags.  If I counted right, most of the allegations that involved unwanted sexual attention go back more than fifteen years.  Newer stories from Pageant contestants that claim that Trump entered their group’s dressing room when he should not have done so are more recent but only one or two contestants have claimed that Trump sexually harassed them.  Trump admitted that he entered the dressing rooms during the pageants on the Howard Stern radio show.

When I looked for conflicting accounts to some of these stories, I found several of them.  Anthony Gillerthorpe, a passenger who was present with Jessica Leeds and Trump in the early 1980’s airline flight claims that she was flirting with him more than he was flirting with her and that nothing inappropriate happened that he witnessed.  A family member said that Rachel Crooks, an accuser who now says that Trump kissed her inappropriately, failed to get help from Trump for her modeling career but that she had praised him in the past when speaking to her relatives because she expected that he would help her.

There have been eleven neutral statements from contestants or statements saying there was no harm done regarding Trump’s visiting the dressing-room behavior.  Carrie Prejean, the former Miss California, was quoted on truth&satire.com as having refused to be interviewed by the New York Times and she said that they mischaracterized what little she told them.  Rowanne Brewer, a former Trump girlfriend, also said that the New York Times lied about what she said.  Both of these women aren’t listed by NPR.  Kristin Anderson, according to heavy.com, was contacted by the Washington Post and she said that she doesn’t clearly recall the incident that was described by the Post.  In fact she doesn’t recall who she was with at the time the events happened, though she was out with friends.  And the Post reporter had to supply the name of the restaurant in order to jog her memory.

Mindy McGillivray changed her mind from describing a nudge to describing a grope–and she admitted that she didn’t see who touched her, saying that Trump was behind her but not looking at her.  Trump’s former butler on gotnews.com, denies that Trump made a pass at Natasha Stoynoff even though she says that he, the butler, had to pull her away from Trump’s sexual advances.  And according to him, she and Trump were in a glass room and he would have seen anything that happened in there.  Summer Zervos who has come out recently as a Trump accuser sent him an e-mail inviting him to her restaurant earlier this year, in March.  So I doubt that she was harmed by him in the past.

None of these fourteen women have accused Trump of sexual assault.  According to the Department of Justice, the definition of sexual assault is: “Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities such as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”  One accusation is that of sexual harassment in the context of the workplace during pageants.  But because there were so many contradicting testimonies, it may be the case that some women were offended by Trump’s behavior and others weren’t.

Unfortunately, there are just so many categories of sexual behaviors including: unwanted sexual attention, inappropriate sexual attention, sexual harassment and sexual assault.  Different states categorize sexual behaviors differently depending upon issues such as whether a person is able to give consent because of their age and their sobriety and also what kind of sexual activity took place.  Sexual violence is considered a criminal act and no one should be victimized.  Adults can say “no” to unwanted sexual attention. I’m listing resources below to help in clarifying these issues.

To conclude, I have to admit that I possess little certainty about what I read online.  Reporters in the past followed-up their stories with multiple sources that might support more than one viewpoint.  But not now.  I will say that I think these accusations are motivated by politics.   I think that because of the way that the locker-room talk which was recorded in 2005, was held back until the moment when Hillary Clinton was slipping in the election polling.  And because reporters solicited these women’s stories.  And because none of them accused Trump through the courts unless they had an additional coincident legal interest.  And because so much time has passed since many of the events that are being described.  We are watching and hearing a smear campaign.  We can see political utility in defaming Trump in order to give the victory to Hillary Clinton, who is Wall Street’s favorite candidate.  Many of the accusations have been disputed.  I’m sure some women were offended.  What should it mean for American politics?  Perhaps nothing.

A lot is at stake in this election.  Think of the dollars tied up in derivatives right now and how the stock market is being artificially inflated by the Federal Reserve.  Recall that corporations are heavily in debt as are cities, states and the federal government.  There’s both private debt and public debt.  And there isn’t enough money to pay all the debts.  Upsetting the status quo could lead to faster financial ruin for some powerful interests.  But financial ruin has been consuming people’s homes and fortunes on Main Street for many years now.  And many businesses have also failed.  If we continue along our present course, many more Main Street interests will be destroyed.  Money has motivated some underhanded tactics as we have learned through Wikileaks when Bernie Sanders’ campaign was undermined by the DNC. Apparently, the DNC also hired people to disrupt Republican primaries.  And there may have been some election fraud in counting votes during the Democratic primaries.

Here are some resources to help you to sort through it all:

Danielle Kurtzleben, NPR, “1 More Woman Accuses Trump Of Inappropriate Sexual Conduct.  Here’s The Full List.  www.npr.org/10/13/497799354/a-list-of-donald-trumps-accusers-of-inappropriate-sexual-conduct, accessed 20 Oct 2016.

The Definition of Sexual Assault, http://www.justice.gov/ovw/sexualassault.

Factsheets: Sexual Harassment Information for Teens., (what to do and how to get help), http://www.sufreenyc.org/survivors_factsheet_60.html

Marty Klein Ph.D, “Sexual Harassment–Or Unwanted Sexual Attention? Adulthood Requires That We Know When Unexpected Sexual Attention Is Harmless,” http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sexualintelligence/ 201206/sexual-harassment-or-unwanted-sexual-attention.

Jim Hoft, HERE IT IS Detailed List of Findings In Wikileaks DNC Document Dump, http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2016/07/detailed-list-findings-wikileaks-dnc-document-dump/, accessed 20 Oct 2016.

If you would like to understand how we got to the American politics of today, read Political Catsup with Economy Fries, available on Amazon.com.

 

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“Kayfabe” describes election press coverage.

I have been a fan of Joan Didion’s writings for a while now.  I have a collection of some of them including her observations about politics.  She has written about our press’ focus on candidate’s personality instead of on political policies.  During her coverage of election politics, personality characterizations were positive fantasies about candidates, for example their idyllic family history or their business success.  But in Political Fictions, she noticed the emptiness of press coverage (see reference below).  She saw that political press coverage had moved into a space that lacked rationality or any discussion about choices.  Election coverage failed to offer thoughtful analysis of political polices either at home or abroad.  No one then (2001) could imagine what consequences our nation would face because of unintelligent considerations about politics.  Political confabulations about personality and non-issues have now led us to the absurd news coverage we face whenever elections roll around.  The only surprise is how political characterizations by the press have become negative in contrast to the idyllic past.

Today I stumbled upon the perfect word to describe our present-day political coverage.  I found this word at Ann Barnhard’t’s website,  www.barnhardt.biz/2016/10/08/post-american-politics-is-kayfabe-the-word-is-kayfabe/  And the word is “kayfabe.”  The author of this site used wikipedia as a resource and explained kayfabe as follows:

“This comes from the world of… professional wrestling. Here is the definition from wiki…

KAYFABE: kayfabe /ˈkeɪfeɪb/ is the portrayal of staged events within the industry as “real” or “true,” specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or pre-determined nature of any kind. Kayfabe has also evolved to become a code word of sorts for maintaining this “reality” within the direct or indirect presence of the general public.”

And that’s what I see in political coverage today.  And maybe even worse than the make-believe world of kayfabe coverage which is phony, is that it’s a kind of pejorative information that makes us all feel bad.  When we watch it we feel bad about the U.S. and about ourselves.  It’s information that is more likely to discourage people than to inform them.  It does this by showing them a kind of politics that is completely irredeemable by any potential to change anything for the better.  The idea being put out there is that bad policies can’t change.

Let’s ignore this ugliness.  Let’s recognize the disrespect this kind of coverage means for the potential of politics to do better in the United States.   The U.S. can adopt better policies that aren’t corrupt and that don’t permit fraud.  We can reform.  And even though kayfabe coverage means something bad for all of us in America and for our American politics generally, its broadcast doesn’t mean that we can’t turn over a new leaf.

We can identify and abandon policies that are bad and we can adopt a better kind of politics that puts all of us and everything on a better footing to improve still more.  Let’s try to see beyond the negative kayfabe coverage as we try to re-center ourselves on the political issues that concern us most and in the hope that our politics can improve as we move forward.  Politics can offer a rebirth of opportunity.  I’ll be voting in the hope that our mistakes can inform us and help us to choose more wisely as we move forward.

If you’d like to obtain quality information about how we got to our current political landscape, if you’d like to see the big landmarks that will help you to understand our American politics, buy a copy of Political Catsup with Economy Fries at Amazon.com.

Source: In addition to the above reference to Ann Barnhardt’s blog and to wikipedia’s “kayfabe” entry, see:

Joan Didion, We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live: Collected Non-Fiction, Political Fictions, Everyman’s Library, (Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 2001).