So far, 13 women say that they have been sexually assaulted at his hands. The rest of us may never know for certain. But we do know some things.
– We know that Cosby reached a settlement in 2006 in a civil lawsuit filed by Andrea Constand in which 13 women were slated to testify that he had sexually assaulted them.
– We know that Barbara Bowman, who says she was one of the 13 who would have testified in that trial, has come forward in a Washington Post op-ed and a Huffington Post video interview with detailed accusations of Cosby having serially drugged and raped her when she was a teenaged actress under his mentorship.
– We know that rape is dramatically under-reported by its victims because of societal stigma, hostility toward victims by police, and the hellish ordeal faced by victims in the judicial process. In that light, 13 women being willing to testify in a sexual assault lawsuit against one man makes a statement of its own. And if even with those numbers you're wondering about sue-a-celebrity motives, you’d do well to ask a woman who has filed rape charges what the legal experience was like for her.
– We know that only after a man, comedian Hannibal Buress, has publicly called Cosby a rapist, have women’s decade-long public accusations against Cosby gained the seeming social legitimacy to go viral. That makes a statement as well.
– We know that, as of this writing, Cosby himself has nothing to say. In an NPR interview yesterday, Cosby responded with three consecutive silences when Scott Simon repeatedly asked him if he cared to give his side of the story.
To date, no criminal charges have been brought against Cosby. So far the greatest consequence for him has been the public contempt and humiliation of his bungled Twitter publicity stunt last week, in which tweeters he invited to post funny memes of him responded with brutally satirical representations of him as an alleged rapist.
psychologist Pamela Brewer, host of the MyNDTALK radio podcast, on Friday November 14 and on demand thereafter. We will talk about race, money, fear, Ebola, ISIS, and the aftermath of the American midterm elections. She is an incisive interviewer. Give a listen if you care to.
Interesting piece in The Guardian about the unintended ripples of the viral podcast Serial, a This American Life spin-off in response to which thousands of inquisitive listeners are in effect publicly re-investigating a real murder online. The sheer magnitude, and technological reach, of the frenzy raises questions about invasion of privacy and even potentially endangering people who were connected with the case. In this excerpt from The Guardian story, Serial co-producer Julie Snyder is quoted as having written a cautionary message to the moderator of the popular subreddit site where many Serial sleuths gather:
“We are very cognisant of the fact that the people involved in this case are real people with families, jobs, etc, and for the people who have asked to not have their full names included in the story, we are respecting those wishes. Particularly in forums like these, where people are publicly speculating about what they think is the truth, it’s important to us that people don’t get harassed or defamed. I know you all share this concern, too. We really are still reporting out this story so we just want to caution against jumping to conclusions and certainly publicly accusing people of heinous actions. I love the discussions on the site and think it’s really incredible listeners are engaging with this story but, yeah, I have to admit I feel a pit in my stomach at the thought of anyone ‘outing’ real people or contacting them or anything like that.”
The shocker victory of Republican governor-elect Larry Hogan here in deep blue Maryland is a vivid example of how the Democratic Party is paying the price for having sold its base down the river. Here is WaPo on the physics of Tuesday's gubernatorial Democratic unraveling here in the Free State:
With more than 90 percent of precincts reporting, [expected winner Democratic Lieutenant Governor Anthony] Brown was winning handily in [heterogenous] Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and he was well ahead in the city of Baltimore. But turnout appeared fairly low in those populous jurisdictions. And Hogan led everywhere else, including in the Baltimore suburbs.
That is the gist of how Brown, the anointed successor to two-term Democratic governor and presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley, became the latest poster child for his party’s haplessness in the face of an auspiciously divisive Republican Party. Hogan will be only the third Republican Maryland governor since Spiro Agnew. The secret of the Dems’ undoing in this election? Inspire your base to stay at home while the Repubs fire up angry voters to stride into the voting booth and whack away at false enemies.
In Maryland, Republican winner-to-be businessman Hogan’s chosen False Enemy Number One was taxes. In an appealingly homey bootstrapping style, he preached, in effect, to pissed-off voters across Maryland: You’re being taxed to death. Out-of-touch spendthrift Democrats raise your taxes again and again while life gets tougher and tougher for you. They raise corporate taxes that scare away the jobs you need. They’re killing you. Me, I’ll cut taxes. I’ll cut you the break you deserve. I’ll bring in the jobs you need. I’ll make the bureaucrats squirm and I’ll leave you freer to succeed.
It’s virtually all horse shit, of course. Ordinary people are in crisis not because their taxes are high, but because their incomes have been flat for decades while expenses have risen and the incomes of the wealthy have soared. And jobs flee states not because states make outlandish demands but because corporations do: they play states against one another in a divide-and-conquer greed game. Each state trembles at companies’ threats that “if you don’t give me (tax break/subsidy/stadium), I’ll pick up and leave for (another state or country).”
But the anti-tax rhetoric plays on a kernel of truth: for people who are suffering financially and who get no relief from employers and unaffordable health care and a ruthless job marketplace, taxes, like any expense, matter. Giving up money hurts. And while you cannot publicly denounce your employer or vote out the health care industry, you can safely publicly rail against taxes and vote against the people who represent them.
The brilliance of the anti-tax gambit, during hard times in a strong-government state like Maryland, is that it enables rightfully angry people to vent their economic rage at a passive bystander (a state government that won’t bad-mouth corporations) while sympathizing with the defiant perp (the corporate sector and its righteously indignant preachers, such as governor-elect Hogan).
Democrats such as the defeated Anthony Brown — who strolled around Maryland making vague but pretty declarations about everyone’s right to health care and good schools — fall directly into the clutches of Republican fake populists. Such faint-hearted Democrats personify the accusation that government cannot be trusted. And by zipping their mouths shut on the vital question of who in fact is screwing most Americans, Dems squander their trump card in a nation where any given citizen will tell you bluntly that the rich are the boss.
I’ll wager it didn’t help, either, among many white suburban and rural constituencies here in Maryland, that Anthony Brown is black. His carefully toothless approach to the hidden tensions of race in American electoral politics, like that of President Barack Obama, could not defang this venerable beast.
In effect, the Dems are the paralyzed arm of the corporate party. They are paralyzed by the very body of moneyed contributors they serve. And the Republicans are the arm of the corporate party that remains free to swat, to finger-point, to threaten, to deceptively beckon.
You really couldn’t design a one-party system much better.
Here is a snippet of Ian Welsh's recent blog post about the rage that we live with in a regime of ruin. But you really need to read the entire thing here. It is good medicine for what ails us and what can sustain us.
For those who think ahead; for those who are empathic; for those who work for justice or kindness, the world can be a horrible place.
We look around and we see the decline of nations. We see people dying, being tortured, being raped who need not die or suffer. We look to the environment and we see that species are being killed so fast we’re in the middle of a great die-off; or we look to the biosphere and the oxygen cycle and we worry that we could see a collapse of both.
We know that much of the suffering the world is needless: that there is more than enough food to feed everyone; that many wars are wars of choice which hurt many to enrich a very few; and we know that many who brutalize others are receiving no security or even money in return. We look at how prisoners are treated in jail; and we know that the primitive lust for vengeance is creating monsters for we understand the cycle of abuse: that those who are abused, become abusers.
We see the rise of a surveillance state that may eventually cause the Stasi to look like amateurs and which is already more sophisticated than anything Orwell imagined. We see that the masses of the people in the developed world are being impoverished; generation after generation. And worse, we see our own efforts at stopping all of this fail. We worry that our efforts are not even slowing the worst of it.
And for many of us it hits home closer. We or our loved ones are those suffering: losing their lives, homes, livelihoods or living lives of despair.
For years I lived in a state of rage. Not even anger, but rage. Rage at those like Bush and Blair who were mass murders. Rage at those who did not stop him who could have. Rage at those who believed all the lies: whether about economics or war or crime.
I see many who come to my blog, a place where scenarios are explored which are both bleak, and often, very likely, giving into despair or rage themselves. The world is big, the powers that are leading it to ruin are overwhelming, and we look out on a future which seems to get worse and worse the further ahead of us it is. Even countries now on the rise, like China, will suffer massively in the decades to come.
It is perfectly natural to be angry. It is even useful to be angry. Anger or rage are adrenaline shots to the system. They push you to do what must be done; to tell the truth; to push ahead, to tackle the big enemies.
But they are toxic in the long run. Like adrenaline they are useful for shots of energy, but if you are angry all the time at anything, it will hurt your body and eventually your mind. You will burn out, and if you aren’t lucky you may burn out permanently or you may die.
As The Agonist, which posted this yesterday, points out, the most obvious truths today go unspoken in respectable company. So relish these excerpts from Sen. Bernie Sanders' appearance on Bill Moyers regarding money and politics:
BERNIE SANDERS: The idea that you have these working-class people who are voting for candidates who refuse to raise the minimum wage, who refuse to provide health care for their kids, who want to send their jobs to China, who want to give tax breaks to corporations, it blows my mind. And that is the issue that we have to figure out. … BERNIE SANDERS: You have to bring people together who may not agree on every issue, but who understand that the middle class is collapsing and we are moving toward an oligarchic form of society, where the billionaires will control the economy and the political life of this country. So, that means reaching out to people from different walks of life and say, you got to overcome this difference and that difference. So, I think what we have to do, Bill, is lay out an agenda which says we are going to take on the billionaire class. You know what? We’re going to overturn Citizens United. We’re going to move to public funding of elections so these guys don’t buy elections. … BERNIE SANDERS: Right now, we’re engaged in a huge fight. It is the economic struggle against the billionaire class who wants it all. They want to kill Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the whole thing. Can we beat them? We can. … BERNIE SANDERS: Yes. The only point, there is a difference between social issues and the economic issues. And I will not deny for one moment that taking on the ruling class of this country and the billionaire class, it’s tough stuff. It is tough stuff. So I don’t have any magical solutions. But what I do know is that if we do not create an economy that works for ordinary people, if we do not end the fact that 95 percent of all new income now goes to the top one percent. We’ve got to end it, and the only way I know to do that is to rally ordinary people around the progressive agenda. So our job is to create a 50 state, grassroots movement around a progressive agenda. … BILL MOYERS: What’s wrong, what’s gone wrong with the Democratic Party? BERNIE SANDERS: In one answer I’d say money. Time after time we see a hesitancy on the part of the Democratic Party to stand up to the billionaire class because you can’t do that when you’re out hustling campaign contributions. So whether the issues are disastrous trade policy, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, all of these special interests have enormous power and influence to the Democratic Party. Instead of having public meetings with people, you have Democratic candidates running all over the place, trying to raise money to keep up with the Koch brothers. So I would say, you know, money is corrupting, certainly has taken over the Republican Party, has significantly impacted the Democrats.
It is time for more people to call it out. Right now in the United States, what whimpers just beneath the surface in everyday sidewalk throngs and crowded bars and restaurants is, "Are they here yet?"
You know: Them. The Africans carrying the Ebola virus. The ISIS operatives ready to transmit beheading videos from American hotel rooms in which they have taken ordinary folks hostage. You know what I'm talking about. You know people are thinking it. You know the volume is building toward a wider shrieking sound.
Days before the stories broke about people presumed African reportedly being shunned in retail establishments and neighborhoods in Dallas amid that city's Ebola panic, I and I know many others, particularly people of color experienced in being profiled, were already muttering to ourselves that it would only be a matter of time before the African profiling started. I considered blogging about it in advance but, again no doubt like many, I didn't want to be among those planting the suggestion to folks who are already too suggestible. That was a silly reservation on my part: it's not as if anything I do on this little blog could alter the motion of American public impulses that are so deeply ingrained and so continually remanufactured. That machinery is built to last, baby.
The same goes for our view of the ISIS conflict. While we Americans worry about being snatched in an alley by an ISIS sleeper cell, the actual cataclysm has now embroiled Turkey as well as Syria and Iraq in real and bloody war and internal insurrection -- including, as I write, violent tumult in Turkey over whether to join the battle for Kobani, a city on the Syrian/Turkish border. If the ISIS juggernaut continues to gamble successfully on the cynicism and patience of Western corporate powers for whom continually decimated nations of color and a fearful American public are just part of the dirty job of managing global capital, then we can expect more howling and jostling here in the Homeland beneath the threatened encroachment of the Black Flag. And we can brace for a lunge into frothing hysteria if any local acts of ISIS-sympathist terror actually take place here.
Meanwhile, we quietly accept that more Americans will die by gunfire per capita than in any other industrialized country, that this month alone 50,000 of us will die of heart disease and another 50,000 of cancer, and that the corn- and cattle- and chemical-fueled enterprises that underpin our deadly diet continue to enjoy the subsidied, panic-free favors of the state.
Call it Brown Fever. Watch for it in your neighborhood.
Mere air power against ISIS is doomed to fail, as most of us have thought from the start and as Kurdish fighters have now said out loud. You cannot fight a war without fighting a war. Air power alone, unless you are willing to reduce an entire region to dust with nuclear weapons, is not a war and it will not win.
A U.S.-led ground war is not an option. Neither the U.S. nor any other major power has the resolve or the capacity to take the kinds of awful casualties that ground combat with ISIS would mean. Nor would a ground war change the dynamics that led ISIS to gain recruiting appeal and structural power.
And changing the actual situation that fostered the growth of ISIS -- that situation being a global corporate sucking machine that leaves huge portions of the world's population unpaid for their regions' riches and throttled in their desire for dignity -- is also off the table in the West. There is simply too much money to be made from corrupt extractive economies in the Middle East, Africa and South America.
So there is basically nothing that President Barack Obama, his corporate backers, and his cooperative "allies" are willing to do that will actually beat back ISIS. Nothing. Despite ongoing beheadings, the now tortuously familiar appeals by Western families for their hostage loved ones to be spared, and ground gains by ISIS in areas conquered through force of armed ruthlessness and abdicated governance.
Obama will speak with righteous fury and will act with hog-tied resignation. He has no good options and he knows it. He and his sponsors will wait, watch, and take what losses they feel they must. The winner, as before, will be whatever satisfactorily profitable arrangement Western capital can manage with this latest convolution in a portion of the brown-skinned world.
find they are actors in a single narrow script of how goods and services are defined, here is a verbatim blurb from an actual company that is trying to attract new employees:
"[Name of company] serves the U.S. by accelerating the transformation of Federal healthcare through the application of new strategies, technology and processes. Our case management solutions offer a high benefit, low risk implementation of case adjudication and processing. We provide transformational functional subject matter expertise and health IT services to multiple civilian…"
and so on. It's a real problem, especially with big business. By its nature, late capitalism creates an incestuous upper layer of interchangeable merchants who offer basically the same shared pool of workers and the same commodities to the same gang of high-level corporate and government clients: business lions turned politicians turned business lions. Money buys membership into the revolving swap meet. The problem with trying to advertise to these cloistered buyers is that at this late date in the alleged "marketplace" there's very little left to say about most products and services that is distinctive.
Or I guess it's more accurate to say that there's very little left that's permissible to say about most products that is distinctive. The goods are all generally the same stuff, made with the same labor and the same materials, sold to the same captive customers, but branded with different names and contrived stories. And the rules of advertisement, agreed upon by the moneyed gang, forbid blantantly truthful pitches such as, for instance, "Ours is just as dangerous/fraudulent/generic as theirs, but our stockholders want you to buy ours." So, in the absence of Adam-Smith-style market meritocracy, most of today's monopoly capitalist sales messages are forced to devolve into bald-faced meaninglessness. Banal corporate slogans blend into an obscuring mist. We can't tell one from another, and we rightly believe none of them. It's not that the world has ever been a very credulous place. It's that the Western capitalist world, in particular, has stirred itself into a near-homogenous blend of vanilla dishonesty.
This is why most corporate advertising agency creatives -- of whom I was one for years -- now rely on a shared vocabulary of gibberish for general awareness campaigns, and why their clients -- corporate marketing directors, for the most part -- delude themselves into thinking that their own ad agency's latest confection captures the compelling personality of their brand. The truth -- that there is little or no material to work with -- is unacceptable to the enterprise. So the folks at the table have two choices: they can believe their own hooey, or they can pretend to.
Actually, there is a third path as well: they can be among the few ad creators who actually weave meaningful or memorable messages about what is sold. There are not many of those. But there are some, and their ads --whether truth or lies -- are the ones that make us laugh out loud, or feel understood or respected, or at least remember what they tell us, which is a feat in itself. You probably have some favorites. I do.
The majority, though, are expensive goo. For every brilliantly intuitive ad messenger who divines the day's magic words for the public mind -- and I know a couple of them -- there are 99 barkers who hack their way into public speech with semi-methodologies of messaging (known as "creative strategies") that yield noises and images that are just good enough to get paid. I was one of those people. Most in the ad business are.
That is why it is now universal sport to mock adspeak, and why an especially apt act of ad satire, like Kendra Eash's "This is a Generic Brand Video," goes viral with contempt and hilarity. What our society has done to human work, and to speech about human work, deserves all the snarky ridicule we can muster.