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November 04, 2017

Comments

One or two highly partisan Republican commentators, whose views I would normally abhor, actually seem to get it:
http://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/11/10/commentary-maybe-its-time-to-start-believing-women

That is perhaps grounds for some sort of optimism ?

TP--

We'll just have to agree to disagree on the relative levels of bad between sanctimony and hypocrisy on the one hand and sexual harassment on the other. GftNC's post just above this one states my thoughts on Clinton's affair. This isn't about peccadilloes or just a BJ, it's about power disparity. I can't give him a pass or treat what happened as an "office romance".

Related to this, when I talk about how Dems would "do the same thing" w/r/t trying to get their agenda through under a president they find objectionable, if a Pub had done what Bill Clinton did to ML, torches and pitchforks would have come out on the left. If you find sanctimony and hypocrisy so bad, I suggest you peek in the mirror on that score because Dems did not cover themselves in glory when they looked the other way both with the power disparity and the way ML was vilified afterwards.

Both sides do it. One just seems to be better at it.

if a Pub had done what Bill Clinton did to ML, torches and pitchforks would have come out on the left.

no need to be hypothetical, there is no shortage of examples, on both sides of the aisle, of people holding national elected office getting caught out in sexual bad behavior.

sometimes pitchforks come out, sometimes they don't. sometimes they come out from the same side of the aisle.

whether any of that happens seems driven more by the political advantage to be gotten, in the particular situation, than anything else.

Carolyn Lee Parsons

there is, amazingly enough, a wikipedia page on sex scandals among federal officeholders. no link, i'm on my tablet and can't figure out how to capture the url. google it up, you'll find it.

lots of bad behavior on both sides of the aisle. what struck me was the number of folks who were hoist by their own petard after calling for clinton to resign.

regarding lewinsky, yes, she was treated like crap. become a liability to a powerful person and you will be treated like crap. lewinsky was a kid, clinton was the potus. he was in the wrong.

IMO it's appropriate to require people holding positions of responsibility to not take advantage of their office to get laid. we expect it of lots of other folks, they should be no different.

Jeff Flake wonders: Is this what the Republican Party has become?

Flake is on the committee that voted in favor of the 36-yr old, no experience judge.

hypocrite

IMO it's appropriate to require people holding positions of responsibility to not take advantage of their office to get laid. we expect it of lots of other folks, they should be no different.

In order to be on the moral high ground, it's best to have one partner (preferably in a marriage), or no partner. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who have trouble with that. I would prefer a world where we would make fewer judgments about the private behavior of other adults. Since privacy is a thing of the past, that's not the world we have.

it's about power disparity. I can't give him a pass or treat what happened as an "office romance".

As to power differentials, every relationship on earth has power imbalances, including happy marriages, where the imbalances are managed well. It's the abuse of power that needs to be identified as wrong. It's an obvious problem where sexual favors are expected in exchange for promotions, etc., or where people are made to feel uncomfortable at work. But if women can't be deemed to have truly consented in a relationship where there's simply an imbalance of power, then historically most women have lived in a perpetual state of abuse.

if a Pub had done what Bill Clinton did to ML, torches and pitchforks would have come out on the left.

Politicians are on notice that they might pay a price for infidelity, as John Edwards and others have discovered. I'm okay with that as long as it's applied to everyone. The fact that Dennis Hastert and Newt Gingrich, among so many others, were in the front row of stone throwers at Bill Clinton, and that our current president was elected even though his abuse of women was and is public, isn't a great sign.

It was comforting to have someone like Barack Obama in office, who seems to have been morally scrupulous in every way. The creepiness factor wasn't there at all. Obviously, that's the best case scenario.

if a Pub had done what Bill Clinton did to ML, torches and pitchforks would have come out on the left.

Really? In 2006 they had every opportunity to impeach George Bush for war crimes, and they pretty much let Wall Street off the hook in 2008. Unlike Republicans, Dems tend to be a bit feckless in this regard. If Bush had conducted an affair with an intern there would have been a lot of mockery on the left, and maybe a few pitchforks would have been waved, but a special prosecutor, a grand jury and impeachment? I truly doubt it.

As for Clinton and his defenders trashing Monica, yes, that was pretty bad. But again, context matters. It was a consensual affair, that was turned into a near constitutional crisis as the GOP attempted to remove Clinton from office for a blowjob....giving new meaning to the term "high crimes and misdemeanors".

"It's the abuse of power that needs to be identified as wrong. It's an obvious problem where sexual favors are expected in exchange for promotions, etc., or where people are made to feel uncomfortable at work."

I think this leaves out taking advantage of a star struck underling who is clearly enamored for your own sexual satisfaction.

Abusing power is not just requiring someone to provide sex, it's also taking advantage of their emotional state for your pleasure.

The fact that ML was a full willing participant doesn't change the fact that Clinton was abusing his power.

If you were to convince me that he returned her deep emotional attachment I would be somewhat more understanding. I an unconvinced.

I think this leaves out taking advantage of a star struck underling who is clearly enamored for your own sexual satisfaction.

Kind of condescending.

If you were to convince me that he returned her deep emotional attachment I would be somewhat more understanding. I an unconvinced.

It's nice to imagine that all relationships have the same degree of emotional attachments. When we become adults (even when women do) we should be presumed to have agency.

I believe agency includes not taking advantage of someone who clearly is more emotionally attached than you are.

Agency works both ways. It is not her decision but his, that is being criticized.

If you don't believe in the concept of using people, including men, then I see your point.

If you don't believe in the concept of using people, including men, then I see your point.

I don't think I'm in a position to determine that. If the relationship had been kept private, as both parties apparently wanted, I wouldn't be in a position to judge at all.

When people conform to society's expectations about how they're supposed to conduct their lives, the rest of us feel better.

The fact that ML was a full willing participant doesn't change the fact that Clinton was abusing his power.

Abuse of power? Undoubtedly. An impeachable offense? Opinions differ.

we know it was impeachable because he was impeached. that's the standard.

I would prefer a world where we would make fewer judgments about the private behavior of other adults

i think maybe i'm not being clear enough about my concern here.

i agree that private relationships between consenting adults are and ought to be the sole business of the parties involved.

what i think is not appropriate are relationships between people where one is in a position of authority or oversight over another.

so, staff member, employee in an industry that someone has oversight over. etc.

it's not about the sexual relationship, it's about maintaining the reality and credible appearance of the responsible exercise of power of office.

POTUS, member of Congress, federal judge, I would even say civil service employee. not only don't sleep with people who are in your scope of authority, don't have any kind of relationship with them or engage in transactional behaviors with them that can be seen as an abuse of office.

that is a quite common requirement for most positions of authority in the private sector, it does not seem to be unreasonable requirement for national office.

bobbyp-

I think the impeachment was silly.

I brought up the ML scandal in the context of both sides being willing to overlook bad behavior for political expediency.

As I said, it's difficult to disagree with russell's rubric, now re-stated at 12.02 above. It's clear that adhering to these rules eliminates any suggestion of undue influence, exploitation etc. In the case of people falling in love, one party (admittedly often the subordinate party, often the woman) is free (albeit often with inconvenience and difficulty) to resign and find employment elsewhere. Life is not perfect, and often not fair. Alas.

that is a quite common requirement for most positions of authority in the private sector, it does not seem to be unreasonable requirement for national office.

It is and it should be.

While the Clinton-Lewinsky matter may have some complexity to it, I lean much more toward marty's view than sapient's.

Fundamentally, Clinton was wrong for a number of reasons, not least that, IIRC, he was married.

One can only imagine how the GOP would have reacted if it had been Hilary, rather than Bill, who had been carrying on with others outside marriage. Taking hysteria to a whole different level!

IIRC, he was married.

So, on this ground specifically, wrong how? Morally wrong? Politically wrong? If he had had an affair with a woman he was not in a work relationship with (and after all, he had many), how would his affair be different from any common-or-garden adulterer (although obviously given the likelihood of exposure, more unwise)? And do you regard adulterers as unfit for political office? Surely in the case of adultery, the wrong done is to the spouse and possibly the children, not to anybody else? It seems to me, byomtov, that this is a very slippery slope to start going down, that we demand our politicians be snow white in their personal lives when nobody else is required to be so when doing their job.

IIRC, he was married.

So, on this ground specifically, wrong how? Morally wrong? Politically wrong? If he had had an affair with a woman he was not in a work relationship with (and after all, he had many), how would his affair be different from any common-or-garden adulterer (although obviously given the likelihood of exposure, more unwise)? And do you regard adulterers as unfit for political office? Surely in the case of adultery, the wrong done is to the spouse and possibly the children, not to anybody else? It seems to me, byomtov, that this is a very slippery slope to start going down, that we demand our politicians be snow white in their personal lives when nobody else is required to be so when doing their job.

IIRC, he was married.

So, on this ground specifically, wrong how? Morally wrong? Politically wrong? If he had had an affair with a woman he was not in a work relationship with (and after all, he had many), how would his affair be different from any common-or-garden adulterer (although obviously given the likelihood of exposure, more unwise)? And do you regard adulterers as unfit for political office? Surely in the case of adultery, the wrong done is to the spouse and possibly the children, not to anybody else? It seems to me, byomtov, that this is a very slippery slope to start going down, that we demand our politicians be snow white in their personal lives when nobody else is required to be so when doing their job.

Not so good I said it twice! Sorry, I don't know how that happened.

I agree with GftNC at 12:21. I don't mind a requirement that people stay away from sexual relationships with each other when they work in a hierarchical relationship.

As to Presidents of the United States, Bill Clinton was far from the first person who engaged in that kind of conduct, so now that he's been used as an example, one would think people would be more cautious going forward. Donald Trump is maybe done with philandering, and has taken up golf, but he's certainly abusive in other ways, which raises another point: sex is apparently really fun for people to read about and think about, but there are a whole lot of ways in which people abuse their power, and Donald Trump is a walking, talking example of many of them. There are also infinite ways of being cruel and unfair to one's spouse. In the scheme of things, if I had learned about Bill Clinton's sin and been privy to that secret, I would have looked the other way as being none of my business.

I brought up the ML scandal in the context of both sides being willing to overlook bad behavior for political expediency.

Well, sure. But it appeared as if you were invoking an equivalency, not a similarity. For example, you won't see me going to the barricades for Robert Menendez...but the jury is still out I hear.

Similarly, Cheney and Bush should be brought up on war crime charges at the Hague...and Obama? Well, don't let me drone on.

Regards,

Gfntc,

Morally wrong.

If we barred adulterers from public office we would likely have a much diminished slate to choose from.

It is not clear to me what "politically wrong" would mean. Does it mean something that we should consider bars the individual from public office? Opinions differ as to what that might be.

"I brought up the ML scandal in the context of both sides being willing to overlook bad behavior for political expediency."

Yeah, it's just TERRIBLE how dems got Anthony Weiner elected two times to the Senate, after all his misdeeds; as opposed to the GOPs shining example of driving Dave Vitter out of politics.

If we barred adulterers from public office we would likely have a much diminished slate to choose from.

I agree, which is why I asked the question. You seemed to be including it as a "wrong" in a discussion about abuse of power, which can be protected against by observing the rules russell has listed, so I wondered whether you had anything else in mind specifically as it related to the matter in question.

You're right, politically wrong was pretty ambiguous, but I think I did mean something that would bar one from public office. Badly put, and badly thought through since I can't immediately give examples which aren't also illegal. Maybe it's because it's late...

he's certainly abusive in other ways

Donald Trump abuses his position every single day that he holds office.
Clinton's affair with Lewinsky is almost laughably small potatoes in comparison.

Clinton was remarkably immature for someone of his age and position. Irresponsible, recklessly so, in his personal life.

Trump is a crook.

Meanwhile, McConnell 'mis-speaks'.

Watch your wallets, America.

If the goal was to cut taxes for the middle class, they needed only to increase the standard deduction and/or increase the personal exemption (rather than eliminating it, certainly). Done. Mission accomplished. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Even if they wanted to lower corporate taxes at the same time, they still could have done that.

Whatever...

"You can’t guarantee that absolutely no one sees a tax increase, but what we are doing is targeting levels of income and looking at the average in those levels and the average will be tax relief for the average taxpayer in each of those segments.”


Wow, that sounds like literally every tax policy ever proposed. It really sucks when politicians tell the truth.

It really sucks when politicians tell the truth.

The point is that it's not what he said publicly for some time. He's not being criticized for the subsequent correction. He's being criticized for the initial "mis-speaking."

Besides that, if they did what I described, no one would see a tax increase because of changes to the code.

Maybe that would be a bad idea, but they're going to increase deficits anyway with the plan they're putting forth. It's just a question of who gets to keep the money.

once more on accusing the GOP base of being pedophiles: while i certainly never did that, i can't speak for the LA Times:

We need to talk about the segment of American culture that probably doesn’t think the allegations against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore are particularly damning, the segment that will blanch at only two accusations in the Washington Post expose: He pursued a 14-year-old-girl without first getting her parents’ permission, and he initiated sexual contact outside of marriage. That segment is evangelicalism. In that world, which Moore travels in and I grew up in, 14-year-old girls courting adult men isn’t uncommon.

I use the phrase “14-year-old girls courting adult men,” rather than “adult men courting 14-year-old girls,” for a reason: Evangelicals routinely frame these relationships in those terms. That’s how I was introduced to these relationships as a home-schooled teenager in the 1990s, and it’s the language that my friends and I would use to discuss girls we knew who were in parent-sanctioned relationships with older men.

It really sucks when politicians tell the truth.

obviously, some folks will come out on top in whatever tax regime pops out of congress when all is said and done, and some won't.

the whole "mis-spoke" thing just cracked me up.

These questions don't seem that hard:

- Bill Clinton was wrong to dally with ML, because of the unequal power relationship
- Democrats should be willing to say so
- Impeaching Clinton for it was a ridiculous abuse of process
- Many Republicans are grossly hypocritical about sexual morality
- Abusive relationships aside, I think the sexual morality of politicians is none of my business. But other voters are entitled to their own views
- What Roy Moore is alleged to have done ought to disqualify him from office
- Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld ought to be jail for war crimes. But I can see why Obama didn't want to go there

I agree with you, Pro Bono, except for this:

- Bill Clinton was wrong to dally with ML, because of the unequal power relationship

That means that women can't decide to have relationships with men who have power. That's ridiculous. If Bill Clinton's relationship was wrong, it's because [whatever marital personal morality, etc., and] he caused unnecessary discomfort and embarrassment in his workplace, and to his Democratic allies. [The people who caused embarrassment to the country were Republicans, including faithless friend, Linda Tripp, whose story in this is horrifying.]

ALMOST ALL WOMEN HAVE LESS POWER THAN ALMOST ALL MEN.

That's changing, and thank goodness! But does that mean all people should remain celibate until full equality is attained? I think that many people would be disappointed if that were to occur.

So just to rephrase:

We, the people, are freaked out by illicit sexual relationships (adultery) in our midst, especially in the workplace. It's creepy, icky, and we don't want to deal with it. As to unequal power relationships, we can't sort that out, so don't have consensual sex that we know about. Don't ever do that.

P.S. Also, don't abuse people.

adultery and sleeping with people who are in your sphere of authority often overlap, but are not the same thing.

adultery and sleeping with people who are in your sphere of authority often overlap, but are not the same thing..

Maybe. But if Bill Clinton had been "fooling around" with a woman who worked at the Dubliner, there still would have been hell to pay.

I don't really think that that whole thing was about sphere of authority.

Let's say that Hillary and Bill agreed to have an open relationship (bear with me for a minute here). What would people think here about what he did? I realize that the counterfactual is a bit farfetched, but should people having multiple partners disqualify them from holding public office? If so, why?

To put my cards on the table, I recognize that this is a fact of life (at least currently), and no one is going to get elected if they proclaim that they are in an open relationship, but that's me accepting that this is how people vote. I cannot offer an answer to why it is 'wrong', just can say that this is the way things are.

Brennan Lee Stewart

I don't really think that that whole thing was about sphere of authority.

we agree

What would people think here about what he did?

it's your thing, do what you wanna do.

don't do it with people who are among your reports, or over whom you have some responsibility for oversight.

to me, this is very very basic professional ethics. don't rob the till, don't sleep with staff.

to me, this is very very basic professional ethics. don't rob the till, don't sleep with staff.

This seems right. I think that the logic behind this is more about the appearance of inappropriate favoritism, and a general atmosphere of professionalism in the office.

I start getting less on board when we say it's because of "unequal power relationships". When it's phrased that way, it seems that we miss a whole host of unequal power relationships, and that we're also insisting that people not step out of their social class in matters of romance.

Let's say that Hillary and Bill agreed to have an open relationship (bear with me for a minute here). What would people think here about what he did? I realize that the counterfactual is a bit farfetched, but should people having multiple partners disqualify them from holding public office? If so, why?

Well personally, I don't think it should disqualify them, but as you remark in your second paragraph, in realpolitik it would. Again, personally, I don't think adultery should disqualify people, just as being gay shouldn't (not saying homosexuality is any kind of moral wrong, unlike adultery - and even adultery is complicated depending on personal circumstances), unless the paractitioner has built a career and a following condemning adultery, or homosexuality.

I am a child of the time in which I came of age, I do not think any sexual practice is wrong where there is no victim, and in the case of adultery, although betrayal and lying are usually involved, and frequent harm inflicted on spouses and children, I do not think it a disqualification for political office. As the son of the adult carpenter previously referenced said (and he said several interesting and tolerant things, despite the appalling intolerance of some of his modern followers) "He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone".

I think that the logic behind this is more about the appearance of inappropriate favoritism, and a general atmosphere of professionalism in the office.

Yes, exactly. Thank you for boiling it down better than I seem to be able to do.

Let's say that Hillary and Bill agreed to have an open relationship (bear with me for a minute here). What would people think here about what he did?

I'm old fashioned enough that I take a dim view of "open marriages."** If you don't want to make a commitment, don't get married. It's not like there's much remaining social stigma attached to shacking up with someone.

That said, I don't think it's disqualifying for political office. A scummy politician who is competent at doing his job and trying to do what I regard as the right thing is far better, IMHO, than someone whose personal morality is aligned with mine but who is incompetent and/or trying to do what I regard as the wrong thing.

** Note that this is a separate question from someone who is involved in a ménage à trois. An arrangement which I can't imagine being in myself, but which I have seen work enough times to be relatively comfortable with in others. (Groups of 4 or more, on the other hand, never seem to work for long.)

HSH,

If the goal was to cut taxes for the middle class, they needed only to increase the standard deduction and/or increase the personal exemption (rather than eliminating it, certainly). Done. Mission accomplished. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Yes. Or reduced the rate on the lower brackets a point or two. Nothing to it.

It got all tricky because the prime objectives were:

1. Reduce the corporate tax
2. Reduce the rate paid by high income individuals (which was done by raising the threshold for the top rate)
3. Eliminate the estate tax.

The rest is for show, and to poke blue states in the eye.

The rest is for show, and to poke blue states in the eye.

Not that those are actually different....

The rest is for show...

and to massage the $s so that they can get it into the reconciliation process.

I continue to disagree with sapient about Clinton and Lewinsky.

I don't say that the POTUS is disqualified from any sexual relationship because he's the most powerful man in the world. I say that a workplace manager is disqualified from a sexual relationship with any employee who reports to him, directly or indirectly. Because he has a duty of care to his staff, which he will be unable to fulfil if the relationship goes wrong, as relationships often do.

In this case, Lewinsky was undoubtedly damaged by the affair - she says so. Yes, the immediate cause was the disgusting behaviour of Republican inquisitors, but that was predictable, and Clinton was perfectly placed to predict it. He should have known better, and it's not close.

Pro Bono, given sapient's response to russell posted on November 13, 2017 at 09:50 AM, it seems to me you largely agree. What am I missing?

(Also, too, why are you being critical of Clinton? If you continue to defy the directives, I'm going to have your membership revoked.)

I disagree that avoiding the appearance of favouritism in the main consideration.

which Senate seat is Bill Clinton running for?

I say that a workplace manager is disqualified from a sexual relationship with any employee who reports to him, directly or indirectly. Because he has a duty of care to his staff, which he will be unable to fulfil if the relationship goes wrong, as relationships often do.

I agree that what you've stated is "best practices." I think focusing on consensual relationships when there's so much going on that isn't consensual is the wrong focus. Kind of like marijuana versus heroin. It also muddies the waters about what abuse is.

In this case, Lewinsky was undoubtedly damaged by the affair - she says so.

Lots of love affairs are ill advised. Hers was particularly painful because it was made public. Part of being human is doing things that are ill-advised. There is plenty of encouragement in our culture for being reckless in "love", and a lot of people take that seriously.

He should have known better

I agree. He probably did know better. I think we all agree that it was inappropriate. The inappropriate affairs that have been had by attractive and charismatic people are legion. However, consensual affairs are not the same as abuse. We all know now that nothing is private. Clinton had less reason to believe that than, say, John Edwards.

There is too much to be truly outraged about than worrying about two people wanting to touch each other. But, again, Obama's apparent domestic contentment is way more attractive to me than Clinton's proclivities.

I have to admit to being particularly taken by this cartoon:
https://www.cagle.com/bob-englehart/2017/11/roy-moore-2

Roll tide!

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