The Mystery of the Rand Paul Ruckus

When Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R) was randomly assaulted by his neighbor of 17 years, anesthesiologist Rene Boucher, over the weekend, his communications director downplayed the incident, insisting that Senator Paul was “fine.” Initial reports indicated that the two neighbors had an ongoing conflict over “landscaping” issues. As it turns out, though, the tussle may have been less about landscaping than about politics. Not only that, Paul’s injuries are much more serious than originally reported.

In a sucker move, Boucher attacked Paul on Saturday, November 4 from behind as Paul dismounted from his riding lawnmower while still wearing earplugs.  The assault broke six of Paul’s ribs and resulted in a “pleural effusion,” or a fluid build-up in his chest. The senator may not be able to return to Congress for several weeks.

Boucher has been charged with a misdemeanor, but his charge could–and probably should–be upgraded to a felony, considering the extent of Paul’s injuries and the fact that he attacked a U.S. senator. Moreover, the assault may have been politically motivated, according to the Washington Examiner. Boucher made his hatred toward Trump and the GOP quite plain on his Facebook page, where he expressed the hope that Robert Mueller “fry Trump’s gonads,” among other such sentiments.

A number of Paul’s neighbors–seven, to be exact–have further undermined the “landscaping” claim by issuing public statements in defense of Paul to the Washington Examiner’s “Washington Secrets” column. In those statements, they praise Paul and his family as excellent neighbors who keep their lawn immaculately, and they express bafflement at the motive behind the attack.

At this writing, the good doctor Boucher has pled “not guilty” to the fourth-degree assault charge he’s facing. His lawyer maintains that the dispute was over a “trivial” matter. Speculation continues to grow, however, and the FBI is said to be looking into whether any federal laws were violated. With patience, the truth will likely out.

 

 

In Alec Baldwin’s Twitter Meltdown, a Grain of Truth

Yesterday, Alec Baldwin had yet another public meltdown on Twitter and ended up shutting down his account–again. He’ll be back, of course, for another go. In the meantime, it’s worth noting that, in the comments that started it all, he made a valid point.

Let me start by saying that I’m not among the many conservatives and Republicans (those two groups are often different these days) who hate Alec Baldwin. For me, his comedic genius far outweighs his contemptible politics and questionable character. Just try, for example, watching his turn on Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” without laughing.

So maybe I’m biased. But I’m also a female, and as such was supposed to be offended by Baldwin’s comments in an interview on PBS Newshour about the (legitimate) furor over Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse of women. When asked about the mounting allegations against Weinstein, Baldwin responded, “You heard the rumor that [Weinstein] raped [actress] Rose McGowan. You heard that over and over, and nothing was done. We’ve heard that for decades and nothing was done.” The interviewer replied that “nobody said anything,” to which Baldwin responded, “Well, but what happened was Rose McGowan took a payment of $100,000 and settled her case with him. It was for Rose McGowan to prosecute that case.”

Predictably, McGowan, actress Asia Argento, chef Anthony Bourdain (Argento’s husband), and others responded to Baldwin’s remarks in a series of outraged tweets. Some rightly pointed out Baldwin’s morally objectionable friendship with director/child rapist Roman Polanski. Baldwin at first was defensive, sending out a barrage of insulting (and sometimes funny) retorts, and then ended up–again predictably–apologizing, promising to “do better in all things related to gender equality,” and “suspending” his interaction with Twitter.

Certainly much of this righteous anger at Baldwin was well-placed. But his original point was a compelling one. As he said himself, Baldwin “simply posited that the settlement of such cases certainly delayed justice.” In other words, by taking hush money in exchange for their silence on Weinstein’s crimes, McGowan and others allowed those crimes to go on. If they had made a more selfless, less greedy choice, they might have protected countless other women from Weinstein’s abuse.

I sympathize with these women’s sense of intimidating, their fear of having their reputation and career ruined by the powerful. But even so, those who took settlements cannot deny that they colluded in Hollywood’s conspiracy of silence on Weinstein and others.

We women can do better. We owe it to our fellow females, and to society at large.

Powell Expected to Be President’s Pick for the Fed

President Trump is expected to announce his pick for a new chair of the Federal Reserve today, and the choice may pique Janet Yellen fans but please financial markets.

As usual, Mr. Trump has eschewed traditional protocol in both the selection process and in the very act of choosing a new chair rather than maintaining the sitting chair, as most previous presidents have done. Rather than taking place behind closed doors, the selection process has been a markedly public one, in which Mr. Trump even openly solicited input from a group of Republican senators.

Though he could surprise us–President Trump is nothing if not unpredictable–Jerome Powell is expected to be the president’s pick. Powell is a lawyer, a highly successful investment manager, and a member of the Fed’s board. He is likely to maintain Yellen’s cautious approach to rates but may be more amenable to easing some of the tight financial regulations that were imposed after the 2008 financial crisis. This is good news for Wall Street, which has been chafing against what many believe to be overly burdensome–and costly–compliance requirements.

Mr. Trump has praised Ms. Yellen’s tenure at the Fed, but choosing a new Fed chair will continue his effort to make a clean, clear break from the Obama administration and its policies. Some may see the replacement of Yellen–the Fed’s first female chair–as a slap in the face to women, which won’t help the president’s reputation for sexism. But if Powell can help bolster the U.S. economy’s upward trend, perhaps it’s worth the price.

Hey, Hollywood: If You Won’t Tell on a Pedophile, Who WILL You Tell on?

So apparently just as “everybody knew” about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse of women, they also “knew” about Kevin Spacey’s penchant for teen boys–according to a tweet by Rosie O’Donnell, anyway. Further evidence of this open secret is an oblique reference in Seth McFarlane’s “Family Guy” series, in which Baby Stewie claims to have just escaped from Kevin Spacey’s basement. (McFarlane is apparently quite the insider; he also made an innuendo-laden joke about Weinstein at the 2013 Oscars.) Former TV anchor Heather Unruh has also claimed that Spacey “assaulted a loved one.”

If Spacey’s perverted proclivities were such an open secret, why didn’t anyone say anything? Granted, it’s wrong to publicly defame someone based on mere rumors, but shouldn’t someone at least have tipped off police? If pedophilia isn’t heinous enough to report in Hollywood, then what is? What else is this sick culture hiding?

This conspiracy of silence is certainly harming children; now we can hope it harms careers, too, as light shines into darkness. The sanctimonious celebrities who love to lecture us are now being exposed as enablers of the worst kind of crimes. They have turned a blind eye to a culture that ruins child actors’ lives–just look at how many former child actors become drug addicts or mental patients–all in the name of greed. Better that they should hang a millstone around their necks and throw themselves into the sea. (Mark 9:42).

Maybe now, instead of shaking their fingers at us, they’ll look in the mirror instead.

Boehner and the Disappearing Art of the Deal

It was easy to miss in yesterday’s flurry of news about indictments and Kevin Spacey, but Politico has published a long and fascinating piece based on 18 hours of interviews with former House Speaker and longtime congressman John Boehner. After 25 years of hard-driving Washington deal-making, Boehner retired from Congress in near-ignominy in 2014, having been driven out in part by ultra-conservative firebrands who didn’t care for some of Boehner’s deals.

The article is full of juicy tidbits about Washington personalities and the machinations that make our government run. But it also sparks a little nostalgia for the old-school Washington politics that are quickly dying out.

Boehner embodied those politics–he knew the art of the deal and understood that, to accomplish anything in Washington, he needed to cultivate relationships with his “enemies” across the aisle. Contrast that with today’s stubborn ideologues who seem to be taking over Congress: to appease their base, they refuse to make even the slightest concession to the other side. To compromise, they think, is to cave in to “evil”–and so the divide between Republicans and Democrats, between liberals and conservatives, keeps widening and deepening.

These ideologues seem to forget that America is a republic, which means that all voices–no matter how extreme or distasteful–have representation in government. It means that someone whose beliefs are repugnant to you still has a say, and a lot of folks in this entitled generation don’t like that. They want what they want, and they won’t take anything less.

There is plenty to dislike about Boehner and his style of legislating. He’s a mixed bag–just like those old-school Washington politics were, with their cronyism and backroom dealing. But if our “principled” representatives won’t compromise, it ultimately renders the Everyman powerless. Only the powerful who know how to work the system will get a voice, and that power will keep consolidating. And then America won’t look much like America anymore.