Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/7/17: Al Franken’s Day That Will Live In Infamy [UPDATED]

Battleship USS West Virginia sunk and burning at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. In background is the battleship USS Tennessee.

Good Morning, Bad Memories…

1 The duty to remember…The most amazing thing about Pearl Harbor was perhaps how lucky the United States was that the sneak attack by Japan, as devastating as it was, didn’t permanently cripple our ability to defend ourselves. Two links lead to explanations why. Here is a letter written by Admiral Nimitz, then in his eightieth year. to Admiral David L. McDonald, the present Chief of Naval Operations. The National Review provides the tale of how a forgotten Georgia Congressman, Democrat Carl Vinson saved the country and probably the world.  An excerpt:

For nearly a decade before Pearl Harbor, Vinson had schemed and politicked in brilliant fashion to ensure that America was building a two-ocean navy larger than all the major navies of the world combined. Vinson had assumed in the mid-1930s that fascist Japan and Germany posed existential threats to the United States. For America to survive, he saw that America would need mastery of the seas to transport its armies across the Pacific and Atlantic.

This is Thank You Carl Day. Read it all.

2. ‘I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t smart enough, and doggone it, nobody likes me!’ This appears to be the end for Senator Al Franken. If it’s not, the end is near and inevitable. His seventh new accuser was the tipping point, for some reason, though her story Franken denies—especially the part where the anonymous woman claims that after she ducked his attempt at a spontaneous kiss in 2006, he  protested, “It’s my right as an entertainer! ” The soon-to-be-former Senator told Politico,

“This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous. I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation.”

That “It’s my right” comment sounds to me like a desperate attempt to save face by making a joke out of an awkward situation, not a serious claim. If I’m right, then Franken’s statement is deceit: he’s saying that he would never claim such a right, but he isn’t saying that those words never came out of his mouth. Al’s slippery, mealy-mouthed, not-quite apologies are a large part of why he’s in this mess, as I wrote here. 

Still, no one should be presumed guilty or face negative consequences for a public accusation by an accuser who refuses to go on the record. This is basic fairness and due process. Never mind: the Democratic women in the U.S. Senate are less interested in due process and fairness than grandstanding and standing for the proposition that women must be believed in cases of sexual assault, unless they were assaulted by Bill Clinton. I think that’s the rule, right?

They led a coordinated attack on Franken yesterday by 16 U.S. Senators, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York—you know, the one who championed “Mattress Girl”?–who  wrote in a 650-word statement,”While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve.”

That’s right, Senator, it’s better to send the message that due process is just a sham to make doing what you want to do look fair.

For example, how do you like this (from Politico):

Two former colleagues of the woman independently corroborated her version of events, including Franken telling her he had the right to try to kiss her because he was “an entertainer.” The first former colleague interviewed by POLITICO said she was told of the incident in 2006, shortly after it happened. The second former co-worker said she was made aware of the encounter sometime in 2009 or 2010.

What? Those women didn’t corroborate the the accuser’s “version of events”! How can any journalist write such junk? How could an editor let it pass? All they can do is corroborate that the woman said this happened, not that her account is accurate or true.

But again, never mind. This is The Terror. Al’s a man, Democrats have been caught in the web of hypocrisy they started spinning when Clinton was President, and his metaphorical blood must cleanse them.

That said, I don’t see how Franken’s position is tenable, and he shares much of the blame. The allegations involving his conduct before he was a Senator should have and probably could have been survivable if they had been all there was, because Franken’s leering, naughty boy persona was part of his comedy shtick and not hidden from voters in any way. Minnesota citizens ratified that Al Franken when they elected him to the Senate on his implicit promise to get serious., just as voters ratified Trump’s gross Access Hollywood performance. Congressman Alcee Hastings, a Democrat from Florida, was elected after he was was impeached by the House as a Federal judge for bribery and perjury by a vote of 413–3. He is the Democratic Party’s Roy Moore. Still, it would be absurd to demand Hastings’ resignation today because of his criminal conduct as a judge.

Franken played it straight for years, avoiding any hint of Al the Funny Jerk, until he got cocky and sniffed a possible Presidential run.  Then he tried to be funny again, giving jocular interviews and writing this book…

Not smart, Al. He couldn’t make a credible “I’m not that guy anymore” mea culpa when he clearly still is that guy, and worse, acting like him.

Then came the only allegations of sexual misconduct that occurred while Franken was a Senator, three claims that he was handsy, a la ancient George H.W. Bush, in some photo shoots. I’d like to hear a Democratic Senator like Gillibrand answer this question: Is a single allegation by a woman that a male Senator cupped her butt in a photo shoot should require that Senator’s resignation. No? How about two? One allegation that the Senator admits and apologizes for, and one that he disputes? Is three the magic number?

There was a time, boys and girls, and not that long ago, when a man doing this was considered by many of both genders to be friendly, giving a compliment even, manly.

Not me, baby! I HATE photos where I have to put my arm around aunts, nieces, and sisters, not to mention gorgeous actresses and dancers. It’s way too intimate for this Boston boy. I don’t like having my arm around a woman’s waist, which seems quasi-sexual. If it’s lower, I’m in President Bush I’s “David Cop-A-Feel” territory. How should my hand be? Flat? Cupped? A fist? If I leave my hand hanging by my side, I risk touching the woman’s thigh, and 30 years later she might tell a newspaper that I harassed her.

Of course, THIS is right out…

But I digress. Al botched his response to these unwelcome touching complaints by not just saying that he never intentionally took advantage of these photo ops—assuming that is true–and that the women involved were misinterpreting his actions and intent. Instead, he made the stuttering excuse that his hand may have been accidentally pushed against a comely derriere or three by jostling crowds. He also could have said, “Yes, I did that, and I’m very sorry. I will never do it again.” That would have been refreshing.

Even the Grover Cleveland approach (“Why yes, that  woman’s kid could well be mine!”), however, wouldn’t have saved Al. Once the desperate defenders of John Conyers, a genuine, textbook, serial sexual harasser, played the race card on Franken, he was doomed. The case against Conyers is completely different, but one characteristic of this witch hunt is that all offenses, real, alleged, or imagined, are considered the same by the mob. Pants or no pants, masturbation, rape, threats, kisses, attempted kisses, close contact, jokes, it’s all one big war on women, who now have the power to destroy a career and a reputation with the sudden realization, perhaps decades after an encounter. that they were victims, whether they felt that way at the time or not, whether there is evidence or not, without due process.

All of the allegations against Conyers involved his conduct as a Congressman. Unlike Franken, some of the incidents involved the absence of pants, and the women in question were Congressional staff.  The claims by Congressional Black Caucus members that a racial double standard was being used to benefit a white Senator were cynical and factually untenable, but also predictable and typical. That’s what Democrats do; they mastered the tactic during the Obama years: when in trouble, cry racism….and white Democrats are expected to be supportive when black Democrats use that Get Out of Trouble Free panacea.  Thus even though the offenses of Conyers and Franken were not equivalent, similarly serious. or equally justifying resignation, Franken had to go once Conyers gave up, as he did this week.

[Note: Conyers endorsed his son for the job. His son was arrested for domestic abuse in February of 2017.]

Right now I’m watching Fox News gloat about Franken’s demise. Idiots. Yes, this is condign justice for the Democrats’ Clinton hypocrisy. Nonetheless, fairness, due process, proportion and reason are being jettisoned, and the carnage is just beginning.

This day may live in infamy for more than one reason.

UPDATE: Yup. Franken is resigning.

49 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/7/17: Al Franken’s Day That Will Live In Infamy [UPDATED]

      • It wasn’t a gotcha. You say you don’t watch fox and then you said you were watching fox. It’s fair to wonder if something changed.

        • I think I’ve made it clear that I have to monitor all of the networks and news sources. What I “watch” means “what I voluntarily watch when I have a choice.” I also don’t watch reality shows, but if I’m tipped off to an issue, I’ll check one out.

  1. Unfortunately for the battleships at Pearl Harbor, the USS Enterprise had been ordered by Admiral Kimmel to deliver 12 Wildcat fighters to Wake Island (where the squadron gave a good account of itself) and the Enterprise wasn’t in the vicinity of Pearl Harbor when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Whether this made any difference in launching a counter attack against the Japanese carriers is questionable.

    • Maybe, maybe not. The Wildcat wasn’t that great vis-à-vis the Zero (as opposed to the Hellcat) and one carrier’s fighters might or might not have mattered…UNLESS they could blunt the attacks on Hickham and Wheeler Fields long enough for them to get their planes, or some portion of them, aloft. The Japanese might have not been able to launch the second attack had that happened. Unfortunately I don’t think there would have been enough planes to both defend the airfields AND stop the torpedo bombers from going for Ford Island and Battleship Row. Then again, maybe there would have been enough warning for the battleships at least to have a full head of steam and be able to fight back.

      As for Al, I’d like to write his new unauthorized bio: Scummy Behavior and the Scummy Scumbags who Commit it.

      • The Wildcat fighters actually had a better record against the Zeros than the Army P-40s except in China where there no Wildcats. Still, advanced warning might have made a big diffence at Pearl Harbor and perhaps the Philippines could have held out longer with more fighters available.

        • Unfortunately, advance warning didn’t help the air force in the Philippines. I don’t recall offhand how much of a time difference there was between the attack on Pearl Harbor and the first attacks in the Philippines, but it was sufficient that they should have been on alert. There was no excuse, IMHO, for MacArthur’s planes to have been destroyed on the ground as they were.

          Regardless, I suspect it would’ve been pure luck for the carriers to have made much difference had they been in Pearl on December 7th, as the Japanese had hoped and planned for. I assume that the planes would have been dispersed to airfields on Hawaii (you can launch planes from a stationary carrier) — we all know what happened to the planes on the ground. As I recall, when the Navy was in Pearl, they assumed the Army was protecting the ships and the Army assumed that the Navy could protect themselves.

          “Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.” (Friedrich Schiller) Basically no one on our side really believed that the Japanese would dare to attack us, or were even capable of such a thing. One reason why there are so many conspiracy theories about Pearl Harbor.

          • Diego Garcia wrote, “Unfortunately, advance warning didn’t help the air force in the Philippines. I don’t recall offhand how much of a time difference there was between the attack on Pearl Harbor and the first attacks in the Philippines, but it was sufficient that they should have been on alert. There was no excuse, IMHO, for MacArthur’s planes to have been destroyed on the ground as they were.”

            I think you just might be judging what happened in 1941 based on modern day communication standards and hind-sight. Please correct me if I’ve misunderstood you.

            • This from the Wikipedia article on the Philippines campaign:

              The Philippines got word at 3am December 8th (local time) that Pearl Harbor had been attacked by the Japanese. Fighter squadrons took off around 8am but landed a couple hours later to refuel the planes and pilots.

              The Japanese attack was detected on radar 130 miles and 75 minutes out from Clark field. Three fighter squadrons were launched but the attack still achieved tactical surprise. The interceptors were ineffective and many U.S. planes were destroyed on the ground or attempting to take off.

              Half of the Far East Air Force was destroyed during these initial attacks, much of it on the ground, and all but a handful were lost during the ensuing two weeks. As far as I know, no one faced disciplinary action.

              While it is understandable that there would be confusion immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack, there was almost 10 hours between then and the initial attacks on Clark Field. These were professional military who knew that the Philippines would be a primary target when war came.

              I do think that by 1941 standards this should have been adequate time to ensure that we had an effective reception for the Japanese attacks.

    • I read a letter online this morning that Admiral Nimitz wrote after he retired. He said we were lucky our aircraft carriers weren’t anywhere near Pearl Harbor because they surely would have been sunk. Unfortunately, I can’t remember which blog I found the link on.

    • I believe in hindsight that the Japanese did the USA a favor, even though it did not feel like it at the time. Arousing the sleeping giant, making the Navy use her Carriers as defensive and offensive units (not support for the dreadnaughts) and sinking old, less effective battleships before they were lost failing to protect territory from an invading army supported by a top notch invading navy. I believe the destruction of the Japanese carriers at Midway was desperation mixed with extraordinary good luck (you cannot say it was our superior planning, after all!) with our desperation setting up the luck. Midway should have fallen, given the order of battle of the two sides. We also lost the Corral Sea battle tactically, although the massive damage to both sides caused the Japanese to pause the invasion of Australia.

      This is all armchair quarterbacking, of course, but our losses could have been far greater had those Pearl Harbor BBs been toe to toe with the far more capable Imperial Navy, when many more support ships (cruisers, destroyers, colliers, etc) would have also been lost, as well as whatever territory they were protecting. We might have faced the real prospect of a blockade on the west coast, or an invasion of Alaska in that case.

      • Hard to say. Japan still spent a lot of money on batttleships like the monstrous Yamato hoping to destroy the Pacific Fleet at sea so the had not abandoned their battleship doctrine. Admiral Yamamoto was a realist who believed given the enormous industrial capability of the U.S., the best that Japan could hope for was to secure the colonies they planned to capture and hold them for 2 years and somehow work out a negiotated peace. Unlikely that they’d invade the West Coast.

      • Agree with most of what you’re saying, except that the Japanese never had any visions of blockading the west coast (they did seize several islands in Alaska, though).

        One thing to remember is that had those battleships been sunk in deep water there would have been zero chance of recovering and repairing any of them, as was done, and I suspect casualties might have been substantially higher.

        The Japanese basically forced us to leap forward to using the carrier as the primary naval weapons platform. The primary use for the battleships since then has been as floating artillery to support amphibious landings — and they proved quite useful in that role.

  2. Franken kind of reminds me of “Blutto” in “Animal House” who went on to be a Senator. Somehow, I think “Blutto” would have covered his tracks better for naughty behavior than Franken. Goodbye “Giant Of The Senate!”

  3. #1 & #2
    Today is always a day that I personally reflect on the actual human cost of defending the Constitution, our freedoms, our sovereignty, and our physical safety – the cores of our way of life. History has shown us that the human cost is astounding high to preserve the United States but it’s worth every drop of blood and every penny spent to protect. If you are one of the ones that doesn’t believe that our Constitution and our way of life are worth the human and financial cost, leave the United States, I’m sure Syria, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Venezuela, etc will all welcome you with open arms. Consider the old saying “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone”.

    I have very serious concerns about the future of the United States because of the willingness for people to twist and bastardize the Constitution. These concerns have been around for a while; however, these concerns have been growing exponentially in the last 20 years. There are way too many people in the United States that are trying to justify anti-Constitutional attitudes and use their individual rights as a collective vigilante tool to crush the rights of others and destroy lives without any due process whatsoever. In my opinion, the media is not only actively participating in this, they are actively encouraging it.

    This new wave of social justice warriors swinging their newly found hammer of vigilante “hang them in the streets” justice is terribly concerning, it’s beginning to appear that their power is completely unchecked and “unstoppable” using conventional reasoning.

    • Zoltar
      Thanks for this. I have been thinking the same thing and you quite eloquently stated what I wanted to write
      I am no fan of Franken or any of the others currently alleged to have committed inappropriate and/or unlawful acts against another. However, Each and every one of them should have a right to be presumed innocent, be able to face their accuser, and be able to cross examine them.

      Every member of Congress took an oath to preserve and defend the Constitution which includes the requirement for due process. I don’t care how many “credible” witnesses come forth with allegations of wrongdoing. We cannot establish credibility by virtue of gender any more than we can establish credibility by race.

  4. I always thought a smarmy guy like Al Franken being a U.S. Senator was a really, really, preposterously bad idea.

    Also, for some reason, I think it’s funny he’s only 5’6″ tall. Must have a bad short guy complex. May explain why he’s such a verbal bully and wiseguy.

    • Given his short stature and unattractive appearance, I am surprised he didn’t get the stuffing kicked out of him early in life to put him in his place.

      • Performers as a group are shorter than average, just as they are considerably gayer than the general population. It makes sense if you think about it. The big, strapping, handsome guys don’t need to join drama club to get girls, and the biggest ones are usually playing sports. Watch the Godfather: James Caan looks like he’s tall. He’s just 5’9″. In “El Dorado,” he looks like a pipsqueak next to John Wayne.

        • It also helps if you don’t need to stand the female lead on a soapbox to get them both in the frame. Though I’ve been surprised at the size of a few of the actors I’ve encountered. I’m 5’10 and Michael O’Hare (was) and Robert Duncan McNeill is so much bigger than me.

          • Yes, the ways directors fool the eye is fun to track. In Shane, Alan Ladd is the same height as Jean Arthur and Van Heflin when he’s in a scene with either, but Van is about seven inches taller than Jean in their scenes.together. You also notice actresses going barefoot with some actors and wearing high heels a second later.

          • McNeill is listed 6’1″, and Michael O’Hare was the same height in life, which isn’t THAT much taller. On the other hand Gary Sinise and Robert Downey Jr. are only 5′ 9″, so Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts would TOWER over Downey as Tony Stark in heels.

            • Paul Newman and Robert Redford are evidently shorter, and I’d always understood that smaller guys’ faces are more compact and photogenic (or cinemagenic).

              I guess I’ve never thought of Franken as an actor or primarily talent. I’ve always considered him just a writer behind the scenes.

              • Both those guys (together with Steve McQueen) clock in at 5’10”. I always considered Franken a mouthy jerk, again, one of those mouthy guys in school who was either too fast for the rest of the class to catch or too well-known of a tattletale for the rest of the class to bother with, so his classmates didn’t tie him up and leave him dangling from a tree or beat him up and leave him lying black and blue and bleeding in a ditch to reflect on his mouthy, troublemaking ways and how he might want to change them, lest next time, or later in life, he annoy the wrong person and end up dead.

  5. Oh, come on! We all know this season of outrage and consequences for people in high places because of sex is just more posturing, more phony “fixing” of what is conveniently, in its time, deemed a problem by certain of the current crop of political power-players.

    Does anybody seriously believe that the society is going to permanently become any more per capita fastidious about its sexual behaviors, including in the workplace? Put out some gluten-free cookies for Santa!

    I’ll bet a Dutch treat lunch at Taco Bell that as soon as this latest season of political capitalization on revelations of sexual misconduct is sufficiently played-out by the current ends-justifies-the-means power-players, the whole fucking mess of humanity will revert to its pre-2017 ways and resume en masse, and even more flagrantly than before, every form of sexual (“mis-“)conduct that was “openly secreted” and covered up for ages prior.

  6. That was an ugly little resignation speech there, too. Nasty digs at the president, lots of “how great a guy i am” and “what a great job i’ve done” talk. He’s NOT happy about going.

      • It’s always been an odd stance for someone who won his seat by 200 someodd votes, after recounts and rulebending, allegations of felons getting to vote… and then he stepped into office with an air of “well, of COURSE I’m supposed to be here.” It always rubbed me the wrong way.

  7. I have looked and looked: as of now, I can’t find a text transcript of Al’s speech. If someone see one, please send me the link. I am dying to do an ethics analysis. The clips I’ve seen are terrible.

  8. 1. Satellite radio’s nostalgia radio channel re-played the first NBC report about the Pearl Harbor attack this morning. It’s sadder than I would have expected, even. At first report, only a first flight of planes had gone over. It was thought to be about 50 planes from one smallish carrier that had slipped across the ocean to send a message, and that they had more or less been repulsed.

  9. I should mention again, I cannot watch the movies “Tora, Tora, Tora” or “Pearl Harbor” (the lame romance one) without becoming irrationally angry on a visceral level towards modern Japanese people. Since modern Japanese people don’t deserve THAT scorn, I cannot watch either movie.

    But I don’t forget what it means to be the most Peace Loving people on the planet who are simultaneously the most eager to win via bloody and ruthless battlefield victories when finally roused to do so, who generously want all other people’s to enjoy the benefits of a benevolent Republic that protects individuals within a free market, to be attacked, at dawn, on a day of rest.

    Screw you dickholes.

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