Harvey Weinstein and the problem of collaborators

Dworkin helped to popularize the speak-out as a way of combating sexual violence by breaking the silence that surrounded it. Since the 1970s, speech has been a traditional feminist weapon against sexual violence: It was women telling their stories, and other women agreeing to believe those stories, that first brought rape, incest and other forms of violence against women out in the open and on to the policy table.

.. Dworkin developed her theory that men “collaborated” with each other to maintain gender supremacy through violence against women.

Dworkin employed a sweeping definition of what men did to deliver women into the hands of their abusers, acts that were both active and passive

.. This loss had consequences for Dworkin’s reputation. Her activism left her, and other feminists, stigmatized as anti-pleasure and anti-sex. MacKinnon, to this day a distinguished law professor with numerous achievements, survived the smears, but Dworkin did not. A woman whose first books had been supported by major presses in the 1970s scrambled to find anyone willing to publish her in the 1990s.

.. But were Dworkin with us today, her sharpest criticism might be reserved not for Weinstein himself, but for his collaborators.

.. There were those who actively collaborated, and those who, for their own calculated reasons, colluded through their silence.

  • There were the people who claim not to know that the “casting couch” is alive and well in Hollywood.
  • There were the assistants who delivered young actresses to suites where Weinstein waited for a “massage” in a bathrobe.
  • There were the agents who accepted these assaults as just another rite of passage for their female clients.
  • There were the husbands and boyfriends who shut up, even after confronting the producer.
  • There was his brother and business partner, Bob Weinstein, who claims to have been completely in the dark about his brother’s “depraved” assaults on women.
  • There were the politicians who accepted campaign contributions.
  • There were the lawyers who negotiated the hush money.
  • And there were the editors who killed stories that they knew were true.

The Boys of Brexit: Tony Blair and Nigel Farage

The veteran pols on either
side of the vituperative,
vertiginous Brexit debate spar.

Nigel Farage, the Brexit ringleader, has blamed Blair, in part, for throwing open the borders to “rub our noses in diversity.”

.. Did Blair ever think he would see a time when the royal family would keep calm and carry on as the queen’s grandson moved toward marrying an American TV actress who is divorced and half black?

.. Blair has plunged back into the fray as a leading advocate for overturning Brexit.

..  “The idea that the handful of right-wing media proprietors here are some ordinary Joes from the street, I mean, it’s ridiculous. There are elites on both sides.”

.. I’ve always thought Blair was one of a handful of people who could have stopped the Iraq war, and I was fierce in my criticisms of him.

.. Even though he stiffened, I asked why he helped W. switch 9/11 villains from Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussein.

“What I would say is that our anxiety, particularly straight after 9/11, was that you would end up in a situation where these unstable dictatorships, you know, which combined with terrorism to cause mass destruction,” he said. “One of the things I’ve learned about this issue is that there’s no point in me trying to relitigate it with people.”

.. Blair knows Jared Kushner — he has not met Trump — so I asked what he thought of the son-in-law’s epic task of making Middle East peace.

“The fact that someone’s not got a long institutional experience of these issues isn’t necessarily a disadvantage,” Blair said.

.. But Blair said he has struggled to understand the forces that led to Brexit and Donald Trump: “Making sense of it is very hard. I feel like a student of politics again.” Odd, he added, since “I spent most of my political life in a state of reasonable certainty.”

.. The central question, he said, is whether politicians can change the status quo enough to steer people through this period when they feel they’ve lost control.

“I don’t think you can adopt a politics that essentially says that those grievances are unjustified or irrelevant,” he explained, “or say, ‘I’m just going to focus on something else because that’s really more important than your grievance.’”

He could have been describing What Happened with Hillary’s campaign, when she and President Barack Obama sniffed at the rise of Trump and Bernie Sanders

The anger that buoyed Trump, he said, “is not unjustified. You can’t sit there and essentially blame the people.”

That approach can lead to the rise of strongmen, or what he called “the Putinist model.” “The strongman form of government says, ‘I’m just going to bust through the systems not delivering for you and I’m going to deliver,’” he said. “It’s got an appeal.” He concluded: “I think the threat to what I would call traditional democracy is bigger than we think.”

.. He now believes that Brexit can never be undone “unless we have an immigration policy that makes sense of the fact that people do worry about pressure on services and wages that can come from large accumulations of migrant labor and frankly, anxieties people have about whether there’s a cultural divide from migrants, particularly if they come from a majority of Muslim countries.

.. The Daily Express lead editorial, headlined “Tony Blair Is the Reason That We Are Leaving the EU,”

.. But even those who like Trump, he said, wonder “why he’s picking a battle on so many fronts simultaneously” — especially with his own party. You know you’re in trouble when Nigel Farage thinks you’re picking too many battles.

.. “The hard left has made my life a complete misery over the last four or five years,” Farage said. “I’ve had to live with 24/7 security. I’ve had threats, physical assaults against me, my family. And this is all from people who are in organizations that profess themselves to be about love and hope and optimism, all right?”

Trump: The Presidency in Peril

If Donald Trump leaves office before four years are up, history will likely show the middle weeks of May 2017 as the turning point.

.. If Trump has nothing to hide, he is certainly jumpy whenever the subject comes up and his evident worry about it has caused him to make some big mistakes.

.. Though younger and more composed, Kushner is a lot more like Trump than is generally understood.

  • Both of them moved their father’s businesses from the New York periphery to Manhattan.
  • Like his father-in-law, Kushner came to Washington knowing a lot about real estate deals but almost nothing about government.
  • Both entered the campaign and the White House unfamiliar with the rules and laws and evidently disinclined to check them before acting.

.. Thus, Kushner has reinforced some of Trump’s critical weaknesses.

.. Kushner, who has a high self-regard, has taken on a preposterous list of assignments.

.. He was able somehow (likely through his own leaks) to gain a reputation—along with his wife, Ivanka Trump—as someone who could keep the president calm and prevent him from acting impulsively or unwisely.

.. Richard Nixon, who was a lot smarter than Trump is, similarly misread the way the public would react when he arranged for the firing of his special prosecutor, Archibald Cox

.. Mueller’s investigation is limited to considering criminal acts.

.. His purview doesn’t include determining whether Trump should be held to account for serious noncriminal misdeeds he or his associates may have committed with regard to his election

.. of the three articles of impeachment adopted by the Judiciary Committee against Richard Nixon in 1974, the most important was for “abuse of power.”

.. Unless a single act is itself sufficiently grave to warrant impeachment—for example, treason—a pattern of behavior needs to be found. That could involve, for example, emoluments or obstruction of justice.

 .. Many of what seemed disparate acts—well beyond the famous break-in in the Watergate complex and the cover-up—were carried out in order to assure Nixon’s reelection in 1972, and they amounted to the party in power interfering with the nominating process of the opposition party. That way lay fascism.
.. By definition, impeachable offenses would appear to concern conduct only during a presidency. But a number of constitutional law scholars, including the Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, who was dubious at first, believe that if a president or his associates working on his behalf acted corruptly and secretly to rig the election, then the preinaugural period should be included.
.. Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation only on February 13, after stories about Yates’s warning appeared in the press—and then, two days after he fired him, the president called Flynn “a wonderful man.”
.. weirdly, recently told aides that he’d like to have Flynn back in the White House.
.. Flynn, in conversations with outgoing national security adviser Susan Rice during the transition, asked that the Obama administration hold off on its plan to arm Kurdish forces to help the effort to retake Raqqa, the ISIS capital in Syria. Since Flynn was a paid lobbyist for the Turkish government, which strongly opposed the plan, this action could possibly lead to a charge of treason.
.. Flynn was leading the Russians to believe that they’d receive much better treatment under a President Trump and the Russians went along.
.. A big question is whether Flynn discussed such important policy matters with the Russians without the knowledge of the president-elect.
.. Trump tweeted: “Great move on delay (by V. Putin)—I always knew he was very smart!”
.. Brennan testified he was worried that the Russians may even have recruited some Americans to cooperate with their effort to tilt the election.
.. Intelligence analysts picked up conversations by Russians in which they bragged that they’d cultivated Flynn and Manafort and believed they would be useful for influencing Trump. (This doesn’t prove guilt on the part of either man.)
.. Laurence Tribe is gathering what he believes are impeachable offenses committed by Trump.2
.. Tribe sees Trump flouting the constitutional ban on accepting “emoluments”—
.. Trump’s firing of Comey for, as he ultimately admitted, “this Russia thing.”
.. Trump’s saying to Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and to Ambassador Kislyak, of firing Comey: “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
.. There were also Trump’s efforts very early in the administration to get Comey to pledge “loyalty” to him
.. In another form of pressure, Trump asked Comey when the FBI would announce that he wasn’t under investigation. Comey didn’t respond.
.. Before it was revealed that Comey had taken notes of their conversations, Trump made a not-very-veiled threat that Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations.”
.. Where are all the leaks coming from? Many Republicans want to make this the issue rather than what the leaks reveal, but the fact that they keep coming is a sign of the state of near collapse of the White House staff.
.. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Trump has the most unhappy staff ever, with some feeling a higher duty to warn the public about what they see as a danger to the country.
.. Trump is a nearly impossible person to work for:
  • he screams at his staff when they tell him something he doesn’t want to hear;
  • he screams at them as he watches television news for hours on end and sees stories about himself that he doesn’t like, which is most of them.

.. Leaks are also being made by the intelligence community, many of whom see Trump as a national menace.

.. McMaster has yet to recover his reputation from having emphatically refuted things the Post story didn’t say.

.. Trump’s reckless act is believed to have endangered the life of an Israeli intelligence asset who had been planted among ISIS forces, something extremely hard to pull off.

.. Rosenstein found himself in a meeting with Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (who had supposedly recused himself from any dealings on the campaign and the Russia matter) and under pressure to write a memo expressing his own strong negative views of how Comey had handled Hillary Clinton’s e-mail case. The choices before Rosenstein were to write the report, knowing that Comey was going to be fired anyway, or refuse to and resign or be fired. Then what use could he be?

.. he spoke melodramatically of his anguish in having to decide between two choices: to “speak” or to “conceal.” But many observers believed that he had a third choice: quietly to get a warrant and check out some of the e-mails that had traveled from Clinton’s laptop to her close aide Huma Abedin’s to that of Abedin’s then-husband Anthony Weiner before reopening an investigation, much less announcing one and perhaps affect the outcome of the election.

.. Comey’s testimony also angered Democrats by wildly exaggerating the number of Clinton’s e-mails that had landed on Weiner’s laptop—“hundreds and thousands,” he said, when actually there had been just a handful.

.. Comey’s comment that the thought that his actions may have affected the election made him “mildly nauseous” enraged Trump.

.. Everyone who hewed to the White House line that the firing had been based on Rosenstein’s memo, including Pence, was now embarrassed and lost credibility with the press and the public.

.. the respected Cook Report anticipates substantial Republican losses in the House. Republicans are starting to panic.

..Their challenge is how to overcome the twin blights of

  1. Trump’s chaotic governing and
  2. his lack of achievements on Capitol Hill

.. unlike Nixon, he can also make use of social media, Fox News, and friendly talk shows to keep them loyal.

.. Trump is, for all his deep flaws, in some ways a cannier politician than Nixon; he knows how to lie to his people to keep them behind him.

.. The critical question is: When, or will, Trump’s voters realize that he isn’t delivering on his promises,

  • that his health care and tax proposals will help the wealthy at their expense,
  • that he isn’t producing the jobs he claims?
  • His proposed budget would slash numerous domestic programs, such as food stamps, that his supporters have relied on heavily. (One wonders if he’s aware of this part of his constituency.)