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Breakfast With Dads a Huge Success as 600 “Dads” Show Up In Dallas

Wow!

A school sought 50 men to stand in for absent fathers at ‘Breakfast with Dads’ — nearly 600 showed up

Something somewhat extraordinary happened last month at Billy Earl Dade Middle School in Dallas.

The school — with a student population of nearly 900, about 90 percent from low-income families — planned to host its first “Breakfast with Dads,” according to the Dallas Morning News. About 150 male students, ages 11 to 13, signed up. But event organizers were concerned that some would attend without a male figure at their side, so they put out a call for volunteers who could serve as mentors.

“When a young person sees someone other than their teacher take interest in them, it inspires them. That’s what we want to see happen,” the Rev. Donald Parish Jr., pastor of True Lee Missionary Baptist Church and the event organizer, told the Morning News.

A call for volunteers by children’s advocate Kristina Chäadé Dove‏ — who has served on what is called a site-based decision-making team for the middle school — was published on social media in early December

When the day came for the event, nearly 600 men showed up to help and mentor the boys, some of them volunteering for the first time.

Stephanie Drenka, a Dallas photographer and blogger who works with Dove at Big Thought, a nonprofit organization that works with partners across the city to provide creative learning programs for young people, chronicled the event here in words and photos. She wrote:

Back in December, the team ran into some difficulty when planning their annual “Breakfast with Dads” event. Dade’s community liaison Ellyn Favors mentioned that student participation was low due to young men not having a father/father-figure available to attend the event. Kristina decided to post a call for volunteers on Facebook in the hope of finding 50 male mentors to accompany the middle schoolers…

The unexpected influx of interest led the team to move the event from the cafeteria into the gymnasium so they could house more guests. Kristina engaged the community again in getting volunteers to help with setup and check-in. Team members from Big Thought, the Office of Cultural Affairs, and even Kristina’s personal friends showed up alongside the male mentors to make the event possible…

I will never forget witnessing the young students surrounded by supportive community members. There were so many volunteers, that at times I saw young men huddled in the center of 4-5 mentors. The look of awe- even disbelief- in students’ eyes as they made their way through the crowd of “Dads” was astonishing.

Jamil “The Tie Man” Tucker led the auditorium in a hands-on icebreaker activity. He spoke of learning how to tie a tie as a rite of passage some young men never experience. Mentors handed out ties to the eager students and helped them perfect their half-Windsor knot.

The sight of a necktie may forever bring a tear to my eye.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2018 in BlackLivesMatter, General, Men, The Post-Racial Life

 

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Getting a Handle on What Sexual Misconduct Actually Means

I think everyone except white-wing evangelicals agrees that a forcible sex act is rape.

But what about a coworker looking at another and saying “Damn, she’s fine”?

Stealing a kiss in what you think is a romantic moment to find out she/he isn’t that in to you? I mean, in the old movies, that always seemed infamously to lead to slap a la Cary Grant and Doris Day.

Trying to force a coworker into a sexual encounter? No question this is wrong.

Can a woman be accused of sexual misconduct in attempting to coerce an unwilling male?

So where exactly are the lines?

And what can we do as a society to make sure everyone is on the same page? What is and is not acceptable is rapidly changing. As well as out view of “who” is believable. Misconduct isn’t going to be swept under the rug (unless you are a Republican).

 

What Does ‘Sexual Misconduct’ Actually Mean?

The almost infinite shades of creepy misbehavior on display are challenging the legal and cultural categories used to describe them.

“Enough is enough,” proclaimed Senator Kirsten Gillibrand at a December 6 press conference. Whatever the details of her colleague Al Franken’s sexual misbehavior, said Gillibrand, who has been aggressively pushing for Congress to tackle its harassment problem, he needed to step down. “I think when we start having to talk about the differences between sexual assault and sexual harassment and unwanted groping, you are having the wrong conversation. You need to draw a line in the sand and say: None of it is OK. None of it is acceptable.”

It most definitely is not. But as the public outrage over sexual misconduct gains force, it is swallowing up an increasingly diverse range of allegations, from the relatively petty (such as those lodged against Franken) to the truly monstrous (such as the claims regarding Harvey Weinstein and Roger Ailes). In between those poles exist almost infinite shades of creepy—which, sadly, will necessitate a great many discussions about how to deal with, and even talk about, the different types of offenses and offenders.

This is, in some ways, uncharted territory. In the past, questions of culpability were largely left to the legal realm: As long as a man didn’t get arrested or lose a lawsuit—and sometimes even if he did—he could get away with an awful lot while suffering little more than a bad-boy reputation. But the current reckoning is different, a rising tide of public shaming driven in part by shifting attitudes and expectations among younger women. Going forward, it’s hard to tell how the new lines will be drawn, much less where.

Women should be respected. Period. But not all offenders are created equal. The pattern of coercive harassment of employees allegedly perpetrated by chat show host Charlie Rose or former Representative John Conyers is not the same as the fumbling, drunken stupidity of which The New York Times’ Glenn Thrush stands accused. Thrush may or may not deserve to lose his current job for having made booze-fueled passes at, and subsequently talked smack about, female colleagues at his previous job. But his alleged offenses pale when compared to, say, ex-ABC pundit Mark Halperin’s alleged practice of groping, rubbing his erections against, and even masturbating in front of junior staffers—and then threatening to kill the careers of those who rebuffed him. (Like many of the men caught in this whirlwind, Halperin disputes at least some of the allegations against him.)

Some of the misbehavior being detailed is flat-out bizarre. Comedian Louis C.K. admitted to being a nonviolent but nevertheless intrusive exhibitionist-masturbator. It remains a public mystery precisely what Garrison Keillor did to get his radio show killed. (Something about touching a woman’s bare back when her shirt fluttered open?) Representative Joe Barton had every right to text naked pics of himself to one of his girlfriends, but threatening to use the Capitol Police to keep her quiet about their relationship was a no-no. As for former Representative Trent Franks, who felt it appropriate to pressure multiple young aides to serve as surrogate mothers for him and his wife: Someone needs to explain that The Handmaid’s Tale is dystopian fiction, not a how-to guide.

Then, of course, there are the many and varied accusations circling President Donald Trump, not to mention his own boasts in this area—none of which he has addressed in a remotely coherent, much less persuasive fashion. (The Access Hollywood tape is empty locker room talk! No, wait, it’s a fake! He has never met these women! Not even the ones he’s been photographed with! Or the one who was on his show!) But that, alas, is a special topic to be saved for another day.

It is precisely because this movement is so powerful that it’s important to avoid (through frustration or disgust, exhaustion or confusion) sweeping every bad act and actor into the same mushy heap. That kind of sloppiness breeds excess and backlash. Right now, even our language is inadequate to the moment. Shoving Weinstein and Ailes under the same umbrella of sexual “misconduct” or “misbehavior” as Franken or Thrush renders such terms all but meaningless. Weinstein terrorized scores of women—psychologically, professionally, and physically—for multiple decades and is currently under investigation for rape. That’s not “misconduct” or “harassment.” It’s an atrocity, possibly wrapped in multiple felonies. Both genders need to find a way to address some of these qualitative distinctions without sounding like anyone is being let off the hook.

This may sound obvious, until, for instance, you wander into an angry Twitter mob of John Conyers supporters demanding to know why the ex-congressman’s sins are seen by many to be worse than Franken’s. Well, for starters, Franken didn’t use tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to secretly settle an aide’s harassment claim. As for the underlying misconduct, if one believes the accusations, Conyers’s transgressions—committed repeatedly against his own employees in direct abuse of his power over them—were empirically more egregious and revolting. (Asking an aide to touch his junk or else find him another woman who would? Come on.) This isn’t to say that Franken didn’t behave like an entitled pig. But, until the drip, drip, drip of low-level grope-and-slobber stories accumulated, the case for his being pushed from office was not nearly as clear as the one against Conyers….More...

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2017 in and the Single Life, Men, The New Jim Crow, Women

 

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Tavis Smiley Fights Back

Appears that Tavis isn’t having any of it.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2017 in Men, Women

 

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Since We are Cleaning House – Uncle Tommie Clarence Needs to Go as Well

The confirmation hearings on Clarence Thomas’ ascension to the Supreme Court featured what was probably the first nationwide coverage of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Uncle Tommie got a walk.

With the number of folks now losing their jobs and positions for acts like those of Thomas…Perhaps the ultimate test of whether the current flurry of sexual harassment punishments is a “fad” or something we will take seriously going forward is whether Thomas receives the same treatment. Whether he is punished or not has some rather serious implications relative to the Supreme Court’s already badly battered credibility.

Image result for clarence thomas anita hill

Clarence Thomas must resign

Utah Republican Orrin Hatch called “bullcrap” on Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown last week. The Senate Finance Committee lion tore into Brown for “spewing” that the Republican tax plan to transfer a trillion dollars to the rich was in reality a Republican tax plan to transfer a trillion dollars to the rich.

I got my first dose of Hatch during the wall-to-wall coverage of the confirmation of Clarence Thomas, George H.W. Bush’s Supreme Court nominee. Hatch was the Republicans’ designated questioner of Anita Hill. She was called to testify because she’d told the FBI that Thomas had sexually harassed her 10 years earlier, when he was her boss at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Education.

Sitting behind her were her mother, Erma (“who is going to be celebrating her 80th birthday”); her father, Albert; her sisters, Elreathea, Jo Ann, Coleen and Joyce; and her brother, Ray. No way she was going to lie to the committee, or to us, in front of them.

Hill testified that Thomas had repeatedly asked her out, and that she repeatedly refused. So he demeaned her. He told her someone had once “put a pubic hair” on his Coke can. He said porn star Long Dong Silver had nothing on him in the endowment department.

Hatch called her charges “contrived” and “sick.” He claimed she’d stolen them. The pubic hair, she’d taken from page 70 of “The Exorcist.” Long Dong Silver, she’d lifted from a Kansas sexual harassment case.

Hill agreed to a polygraph test, and passed. Thomas refused. He called the hearings a “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks.”

It was painful to watch Hatch slime Hill. Women who’d also been sexually harassed found in the hearings no reason to be less fearful of telling their stories. Nor, later, could they take comfort in how Bill Clinton’s accusers were reviled. Or Bill O’Reilly’s. Or Roger Ailes’s.

But something changed. The tipping point may have been Donald Trump bragging to Billy Bush about assaulting women. Sixteen of his victims had the courage to say he’d harassed or groped them.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump’s escape from accountability for that predation contributed to the decisions by Harvey Weinstein’s victims to talk on the record to Jodi Kantor and her New York Times colleagues and to Ronan Farrow at the New Yorker. Before long, more than 80 women attested to Weinstein’s assaults as far back as 1990.

Then nine women gave the Washington Post detailed accounts of Alabama Republican senatorial candidate Roy Moore’s history of pedophilia and abuse. They knew the blowback would be brutal. They did it anyway.

Still, Moore won’t quit. Why would he? Kay Ivey, Alabama’s Republican governor, says she’ll vote for him even though she believes his accusers. Better to elect a pedophile than a Democrat who’d vote against a Supreme Court nominee who’d overturn Roe v Wade.

Now Senator Al Franken is in the crosshairs. The Minnesota Democrat offered an apology to Leann Tweeden for “completely inappropriate” behavior in 2006, which she accepted, and he asked for an ethics investigation of the incident. Calls for his resignation illustrate the fallacy of false equivalence; they’re the witch-hunt Trump claimed had victimized him.

Hill was a thoroughly credible witness. Thomas has no stronger case for his innocence than do Trump, Moore or Weinstein. Pressed to defend Trump’s sexual improprieties, his press secretary said the American people “spoke very loud and clear when they elected this president.” No to put too fine a point on it, but she’s spewing bullcrap. Elections don’t decide culpability.

In the wake of the Hill/Thomas hearings, a record-breaking 117 women made it onto the federal ticket in the 1992 election. The 24 women elected to the House that year was the largest number in any single House election, and the three elected to the Senate tripled the number of women senators.

That sharp uptick didn’t persist. If you think that today’s 80% male Congress isn’t good enough, check out Project 100, which is working to elect 100 progressive women to Congress by 2020, the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. Full disclosure: my daughter is a co-founder. As her dad, and as the onetime speechwriter for the first presidential candidate to pick a woman as his running mate, you can imagine how proud of her I am. And how hopeful she and her young teammates make me feel.

 

 

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The Chumph’s Rape Victims

A list of the 13 women the Chumph molested and tried to rape…And counting.

Trump and accusations of sexual misconduct: The complete list

Sexual misconduct by powerful men has all but taken over the news, with Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and senatorial hopeful Roy Moore (R-Ala.) among the politicians on this growing list.

Trump vociferously has taken aim at accused Democrats, while apparently giving a pass to Republicans. Moreover, it was only a year ago that similar accusations against Trump dominated the headlines, with more than a dozen women accusing Trump of improper conduct or sexual assault. Many of the accusations surfaced after the release of a 2005 tape of Trump speaking graphically about kissing and groping women uninvited.

During the second presidential debate, Anderson Cooper asked then-candidate Trump point blank whether he had “actually kiss[ed] women without consent or grope[d] women without consent?” Trump asserted that “nobody has more respect for women” and Cooper pushed him, asking, “Have you ever done those things?” Trump denied that he had, responding: “No, I have not.”

The president has held this line, telling the New York Times, when asked the same question: “I don’t do it. I don’t do it.”

But it’s not as simple as that. Many of the women have produced witnesses who say they heard about these incidents when they happened — long before Trump’s political aspirations were known. Three have produced at least two witnesses.

Such contemporaneous accounts are essential to establishing the credibility of the allegation because they reduce the chance that a person is making up a story for political purposes. In the case of sexual allegations, such accounts can help bolster the credibility of the “she said” side of the equation. Often, a sexual assault will occur behind closed doors. The contemporary corroborators can explain what they heard at the time and whether the story being told now is consistent with how the story was told years earlier. This does not necessarily mean an allegation is true, but it does give journalistic organizations more confidence to report on the allegation.

The Fact Checker first detailed some of the accusations against Trump during the 2016 campaign. That fact check also detailed the witnesses who backed up claims of sexual accusations against former president Bill Clinton — who, like Trump, insisted the women accusing him were not telling the truth.

Here’s a list of 13 women who have publicly come forward with claims that Trump had physically touched them inappropriately in some way, and the witnesses they provided. We did not include claims that were made only through Facebook posts or other social media, or in lawsuits that subsequently were withdrawn.

We also did not include the accounts of former beauty contestants who say Trump walked in on them when they were half nude because there were no allegations of touching. Trump had bragged on the Howard Stern show of his “inspections” during the pageants: “You know they’re standing there with no clothes. Is everybody OK? And you see these incredible looking women. And so I sort of get away with things like that.”

Two or more contemporary corroborators

Natasha Stoynoff
Allegation: While she was interviewing Trump in 2005 for an article for People magazine about the first anniversary of his third marriage, Trump lured her into a room at Mar-a-Lago, forced her against a wall and abruptly kissed her, forcing his tongue into her mouth. He then said they were going to have an affair.

Corroborators: 
Marina Grasic, who has known Stoynoff for more than 25 years. She said she got a call from her friend the day after the alleged attack, detailing exactly how Trump pushed Stoynoff against a wall.
Liz McNeil, at the time a reporter for People (she is now an editor). She said that she heard about the incident the day after Stoynoff returned from her assignment. “She was very upset and told me how he shoved her against a wall,” she said.
Mary Green, another People reporter (now editor) who had just returned to New York. “In an early conversation we had in her office, she told me about what happened with Donald Trump,” Green said. “She was shaky, sitting at her desk, relaying that, ‘He took me to this other room, and when we stepped inside, he pushed me against a wall and stuck his tongue down my throat. Melania was upstairs and could have walked in at any time.’ ”
Liza Hamm, part of a “tight-knit’ group of friends. “Natasha has always been a vivacious person who wants to believe in the best of people, and this experience definitely messed with that outlook,” she said.
Paul McLaughlin, Stoynoff’s former journalism professor. He said Stoynoff called him at the time of the alleged incident seeking advice on how to handle it: “She didn’t know what to do, she was very conflicted, she was angry, she was really confused about how to deal with this.” After a discussion, he said, Stoynoff decided it would be best if she kept the incident to herself.

Response: Anthony Senecal, Trump’s former butler, denied the incident: “No, that never happened. Come on, that’s just bull crap.” Trump said: “Why didn’t she do this 12 years ago? She’s a liar. … It never happened. It’s a lie.”

 

Rachel Crooks
Allegation: Trump in 2005 kissed her directly on the lips after she introduced herself and said she was a receptionist who worked for a company that did business with Trump.

Corroborators: 
Brianne Webb, her sister. She said Crooks called her about the incident as soon as she returned to her desk. “Being from a town of 1,600 people, being naive, I was like, ‘Are you sure he didn’t just miss trying to kiss you on the cheek?’ She said, ‘No, he kissed me on the mouth.’ I was like, ‘That is not normal.’ ”
Clint Hackenburg, her boyfriend at the time. After he asked her that evening how her day had gone, “she paused for a second, and then started hysterically crying.”

Response: Shouting at the New York Times reporter who called for comment, Trump said, “None of this ever took place.” He then told the reporter, “You are a disgusting human being.”

 

Cathy Heller
Allegation: While having Mother’s Day brunch at Mar-a-Lago in 1997 or 1998, her mother-in-law introduced her to Trump. She extended her hand to greet him and he grabbed her and kissed her on the mouth. She did turn her head slightly and so he wasn’t able to “get my whole mouth.”

Corroborators:
Lloyd Heller, her husband. He said that she immediately told him. He said he told her that “you should have punched him” and he remembers being “puzzled” by why Trump would do something like that in a public space.
A relative who was there, but wanted to stay unnamed. This person said Heller was immediately shocked and asked whether he or she had seen what happened. The two then talked about the incident asking, “Who does he think he is?”

Response: Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller told People Magazine: “There is no way that something like this would have happened in a public place on Mother’s Day at Mr. Trump’s resort.” …More

And then there is the list of children he had sexual relations with and paid millions to silence…

 

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John Conyers and How Congress Covers Up Sexual Exploitation

If you saw my conversation with my board curmudgeon,  you would have seen I worked in the Halls of Congress for some years as part of my work for a computer manufacturer in my early career. So I am aware of the extent to which Congress excludes themselves from compliance with certain laws (like EEO) and covers up malfeasance.

If they are digging up Conyer’s dirt…

There is going to be hell on the Hill shortly – Because beside some of these guys, Conyers is a relative saint.

And Conyers ain’t no saint.

She Said A Powerful Congressman Harassed Her. Here’s Why You Didn’t Hear Her Story.

“When you make private settlements, it doesn’t warn the next woman or the next person going into that situation.”

Michigan Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not “succumb to [his] sexual advances.”

Documents from the complaint obtained by BuzzFeed News include four signed affidavits, three of which are notarized, from former staff members who allege that Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sex acts, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public. Four people involved with the case verified the documents are authentic.

Conyers confirmed he made the settlement in a statement Tuesday afternoon, hours after this story was published, but said that he “vehemently denied” the claims of sexual harassment at the time and continues to do so.

And the documents also reveal the secret mechanism by which Congress has kept an unknown number of sexual harassment allegations secret: a grinding, closely held process that left the alleged victim feeling, she told BuzzFeed News, that she had no option other than to stay quiet and accept a settlement offered to her.

“I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go,” she said in a phone interview. BuzzFeed News is withholding the woman’s name at her request because she said she fears retribution.

Last week the Washington Post reported that Congress’s Office of Compliance paid out $17 million for 264 settlements with federal employees over 20 years for various violations, including sexual harassment. The Conyers documents, however, give a glimpse into the inner workings of the office, which has for decades concealed episodes of sexual abuse by powerful political figures.

The woman who settled with Conyers launched the complaint with the Office of Compliance in 2014, alleging she was fired for refusing his sexual advances, and ended up facing a daunting process that ended with a confidentiality agreement in exchange for a settlement of more than $27,000. Her settlement, however, came from Conyers’ office budget rather than the designated fund for settlements.

Congress has no human resources department. Instead, congressional employees have 180 days to report a sexual harassment incident to the Office of Compliance, which then leads to a lengthy process that involves counseling and mediation, and requires the signing of a confidentiality agreement before a complaint can go forward.

After this an employee can choose to take the matter to federal district court, but another avenue is available: an administrative hearing, after which a negotiation and settlement may follow.

Some members of Congress have raised major concerns with the current system over the years, but the calls for an overhaul have grown louder in the post-Weinstein era. Members have argued that 90 days is too long to make a person continue working in the same environment with their harasser; that interns and fellows should be eligible to pursue complaints through this process; and that it is unfair for a victim to have to pay for legal representation while the office of the harasser is represented for free by the House’s counsel.

In this case, one of Conyers’ former employees was offered a settlement, in exchange for her silence, that would be paid out of Conyers’ taxpayer-funded office budget. His office would “rehire” the woman as a “temporary employee” despite her being directed not to come into the office or do any actual work, according to the document. The complainant would receive a total payment of $27,111.75 over the three months, after which point she would be removed from the payroll, according to the document.

The draft agreement viewed by BuzzFeed News was unsigned, but congressional employment records match the timing and amounts outlined in the document. The woman left the office and never went public with her story.

The process was “disgusting,” said Matthew Peterson, who worked as a law clerk representing the complainant, and who listed as a signatory to some of the documents.

“It is a designed cover-up,” said Peterson, who declined to discuss details of the case but agreed to characterize it in general terms. “You feel like they were betrayed by their government just for coming forward. It’s like being abused twice.”

Other lawyers named as representing the accuser could not be reached for comment. The Office of Compliance did not confirm or deny that it had dealt with the case.

“Pursuant to the Congressional Accountability Act, the OOC cannot comment on whether matters have or have not been filed with the office,” Laura Cech, publications and outreach manager of the Office of Compliance, told BuzzFeed News in an email when asked to comment on this case.

Two staffers alleged in their signed affidavits that Conyers used congressional resources to fly in women they believed he was having affairs with. Another said she was tasked with driving women to and from Conyers’ apartment and hotel rooms.

Rep. Conyers did not admit fault as part of the settlement. His office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Monday, but released a public statement on the matter Tuesday afternoon.

The documents were first provided to BuzzFeed News by Mike Cernovich, the men’s rights figure turned pro-Trump media activist who propagated a number of false conspiracy theories including the “Pizzagate” conspiracy. Cernovich said he gave the documents to BuzzFeed News for vetting and further reporting, and because he said if he published them himself, Democrats and congressional leaders would “try to discredit the story by attacking the messenger.” He provided them without conditions. BuzzFeed News independently confirmed the authenticity of the documents with four people directly involved with the case, including the accuser.

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.)

The employee said in her affidavit that Conyers also made sexual advances toward her: “I was driving the Congressman in my personal car and was resting my hand on the stick shift. Rep. Conyers reached over and began to caress my hand in a sexual manner.”

The woman said she told Conyers she was married and not interested in pursuing a sexual relationship, according to the affidavit. She said she was told many times by constituents that it was well-known that Conyers had sexual relationships with his staff, and said she and other female staffers felt this undermined their credibility.

“I am personally aware of several women who have experienced the same or similar sexual advances made towards them by Rep[.] John Conyers,” she said in her affidavit.

A male employee wrote that he witnessed Rep. Conyers rub the legs and other body parts of the complainant “in what appeared to be a sexual manner” and saw the congressman rub and touch other women “in an inappropriate manner.” The employee said he confronted Conyers about this behavior.

“Rep. Conyers said he needed to be ‘more careful’ because bad publicity would not be helpful as he runs for re-election. He ended the conversation with me by saying he would ‘work on’ his behavior,” the male staffer said in his affidavit.

The male employee said that in 2011 Conyers complained a female staffer was “too old” and said he wanted to let her go. The employee said he set up a meeting in December 2011 to discuss “mistreatment of staff and his misuse of federal resources.” The affidavit says that Conyers “agreed that he would work on making improvements as long as I worked directly with him and stopped writing memos and emails about concerns.”

Another female employee also attested that she witnessed Conyer’s advances, and said she was asked to transport women to him. “I was asked on multiple occasions to pick up women and bring them to Mr. Conyers[‘] apartment, hotel rooms, etc.”

BuzzFeed News reached out to several former Conyers staffers, all of whom did not want to speak on the record. One former staffer, who did not want to be named, said she was frustrated by the secretive complaint process.

“I don’t think any allegations should be buried…and that’s for anyone, not just for this particular office, because it doesn’t really allow other people to see who these individuals are,” said the former staffer. “When you make private settlements, it doesn’t warn the next woman or the next person going into that situation.”

Another staffer said Conyers’ reputation made people fearful to speak out against him. Aside from being the longest-serving House member and the ranking member of a powerful committee, Conyers is a civil rights icon. He was lauded by Martin Luther King Jr. and is a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“Your story won’t do shit to him,” said the staffer. “He’s untouchable.”

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said she was not aware of the settlement.

“The current process includes the signing of non-disclosure agreements by the parties involved. Congresswoman Jackie Speier has introduced legislation that will provide much-needed transparency on these agreements and make other critical reforms,” Pelosi said in the statement. “I strongly support her efforts.”…

 

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Go After Al Franken? How About Clarence Thomas?

Al Franken is a far better Senator than he ever was a comedian. The guy’s humor was always a bit on the juvenile side, and really just not that funny.

Do I believe that Franken could have done what he is accused of? Yeah, I think the majority of men are capable of being over-aggressive short of violence. I think the majority of men have made an unwanted advance. The difference between the majority and guys like Moore and the Chumph is simply this – they suffer that guilt thing or shame and change their behavior accordingly. Doing something stupid is bad…But it takes a bad person to repeat that behavior over and over.

Now, I am suspicious about the accusation against Franken for two reasons. The accusers association with Hannity on Faux News, and that unlike many of the guys accused of doing this – there aren’t multiple accusers coming out of the woodwork demonstrating a pattern of bad behavior.

Some differences between Franken and the current prdophile/sexial molesters –

Al Franken has been accused by one woman. Roy Moore has been accused by 8,  Donald Trump by 16 (not counting the underage women). The others are serial molesters.

There is the appearance of a political association with a morally bankrupt and racist outfit, which itself has seen almost it’s entire to leadership resign or be fired for sexual predation. Hard to believe the accuser, an attractive woman – never got hit on walking down the hallways of Fox News, when it seems every other woman working in their studios did.

As far as accusations go so far, Mr Franken is accused of molesting an adult woman. Roy Moore molested children, a quite different and serious crime. Trump has been accused by a growing legion of women, similar to Bill Cosby – and was sued by at least one underage woman.

Should Al go down? Well that is a question for his fellow Senators, the Republican portion of which have political reasons to make that happen. Franken’s destruction of Jefferson Davis Sessions has been a thing of beauty.

And if we pursue the path of taking down a Franken, what happens?

Well..There is the case of Clarence Thomas, which needs to be re-examined.

Image result for clarence thomas anita hill

As We Rethink Old Harassers, Let’s Talk About Clarence Thomas

The old men of the Senate lectured Anita Hill from the dais, scowling as she recounted in humiliating detail how Thomas taunted her with graphic tales of pubic hair and Coke cans.

Long suppressed talk about the sexual predation of men, in Hollywood, politics, business, the news industry, professional sports and life in general has swept across the country, exposing decades of dirty laundry and putting an entire nation of men on notice and on edge.

“The discussion” in which the nation is engaged almost daily at this point, has exposed the rank hypocrisy of a right-wing “Christianity” that would sooner see a child molester stalking the well of the United States Senate than free its captive base to support a Democrat, and which still stands foursquare behind braggadocious predator-in-chief Donald Trump.

It has put on display the Republican Party’s radical lack of moral conviction as its leaders rush to condemn the gross, decade-old antics of now Sen. Al Franken, who has at least apologized for his past misbehavior, while they smirk from behind the cameras at Fox News where they are surrounded by anchor women in the required uniform of tight sweaters, mini-skirts, and four-inch heels. Among the Republicans ripping Franken for kissing a woman without her consent and snapping a juvenile “groping” picture in 2006: the great hypocrite Trump himself, of the “I just kiss beautiful women and grab ’em by the pussy” un-humble brag of 2005.

The national moment of self-reflection on the culture that produces such entitled men has compelled the left to indulge in its favorite ritual: curling into the fetal position as it self-flagellates over the eternal sins of the Clintons. It’s as if they’ve forgotten that the former president who left office 17 years ago indeed paid a price, including years of forensic investigation culminating in impeachment for his illicit affair with a 24-year-old White House intern.

Well if we are getting about the business of re-examining the past indecency of powerful men, we’d be remiss not to include the moment in 1991 when a woman was not believed and her alleged abuser was elevated to the highest court in the land, where he remains 26 years later.

The late Andrew Breitbart, who took down Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner by having his minions troll Weiner’s Twitter account in search of his vices, and having found them, waved the lurid visual evidence before the world, once said he was inspired to become a conservative because of Clarence Thomas, whom he viewed as a persecuted man. Breitbart cloaked his savage politics in alleged concern for a beleaguered black man, saying of Thomas’ critics: “[t]hese white, privileged men knew that by taking this conservative, religious man and asking him if he rented pornography, the mere exposure of that would hurt… I was so pissed off. You guys are just trying to ruin him. You don’t have anything.”

Not anything, that is, except the word of Anita Hill, an African-American woman who risked national humiliation and ruin to publicly tell her story of repeated sexual harassment at the hands of Thomas, her onetime boss at the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

It’s hard to see Thomas, who wrote off his Yale degree as worthless because of affirmative action yet retreated to the language of “lynching” to disparage his accuser and her supporters, as much of a victim. Particularly when most Americans, and most African Americans, took his side against Anita Hill and against prominent civil rights and women’s rights organizations who were unanimous in their opposition to his elevation to the seat once occupied by the great Thurgood Marshall. Democrats including then-Sen. Joe Biden, took Thomas’ side against Hill, too—even refusing to allow witnesses who could corroborate her account to testify at Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

Instead, we were treated to a bipartisan spectacle of the old men of the United States Senate lecturing Professor Hill from the dais; scowling at her as she was forced to recount in mortifying detail how Thomas pushed her to date him and taunted her with disgusting jokes and insinuations at work that included graphic tales of pubic hair and Coke cans.

Again, most Americans chose not to believe Hill, who was castigated as a liar, a temptress, and a race-traitor trying to keep a black man off the Supreme Court. Never mind that the American Bar Association had delivered a mixed verdict on whether he was even qualified for a lifetime appointment of such grandeur. I can personally recall knock-down, drag out arguments with black colleagues and relatives who were defending Thomas, and demanding a West Indian gypsy cab driver in the Bronx pull over and let me out of his car after he called Hill a whore.

Having been placed on the court anyway, Thomas became the silent justice; voting in lockstep with the late Antonin Scalia and authoring precious little worth remembering for posterity save for his serial attacks on labor rights, women’s rights and the voting rights of fellow African Americans. Needless to say, many black men and women who sided with Thomas against Anita Hill soon came to bitterly regret it.

When Weiner’s political career went up in flames, he was in the midst of exposing Justice Thomas with regular rants on the House floor for his ostentatious habit of consorting with major Republican donors who might have business before his court, often with Scalia at his side.

Thomas’ chummy ways with the rich and well-heeled, and his wife’s clear conflicts of interest as a paid crusader against Obamacare despite it coming imminently before the court, presaged the age of corruption we find ourselves in today, with Donald Trump and his extended family of kakistocrats blundering their way around Washington and the world’s capitols in search of grubby gain. In many ways, the banality with which Americans dismissed Thomas’ alleged sexual misconduct, his disparagement of his victim, and his ethical flexibility were a portent of the Trump era to come.

And like Trump, and unlike Bill Clinton, Thomas sits in power still; with the authority to make life and death decisions over the fate of those facing capital punishment, those needing health care, and most ironically, over the rights and liberties of women.

As happened with Trump, Thomas’ elevation despite the shocking allegations against him ignited women to action. In 1992, a record number of women ran for federal office, increasing the number of female United States senators from just two to six, prompting the media to declare it “the year of the woman.” Among those newly elected senators was Barbara Boxer, who as a House member had helped lead a march with six of her female colleagues to the Senate to demand that Hill’s allegations against Thomas be taken seriously and that his confirmation be delayed.

Ironically, the wave of elected women, including the first black woman senator, Carole Mosely Braun, in 1992 helped carry Bill Clinton, himself accused of sexual indiscretions and misconduct as governor of Arkansas, into the White House. When Bill Bennett and the self-righteous, self-appointed “moral majority” in the conservative movement announced the “death of outrage” after Clinton failed to be taken down by his affair with Monica Lewinsky, they perhaps forgot that outrage died first with the shaming and dismissal of Anita Hill.

Or maybe they didn’t forget because they never really cared. Who, after all, was Anita Hill to them but some black woman trying to keep a “good, conservative Christian” off the high court. It’s an echo of today’s advent of rank hypocrisy, when Roy Moore’s accusers are accused of trying to keep a “good, conservative Christian” out of the Senate. Or when the right wing furrows its collective brow at the predatory men of Hollywood—discarded by Democrats without a second thought—while they vow to die on the desiccated moral hill of Donald J. Trump.

Indeed, we need to continue to talk about predacious men. That needs to include the sexual raptors armed with immense power right now—beginning with the president of the United States and the high court’s scandalized associate justice, Clarence Thomas.

 

 

 

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