The New Hippies

There are still fifteen or twenty outstanding civil complaints against Donald Trump for sexual harassment from long ago. The presidency protected him from those for four years – one does not distract a sitting president who these sorts of things, with civil actions that are not really criminal changes. No one goes to jail for such things. And these allegations hardly matter now. The one rape accusation is a bit different. That turned into a defamation suit when Trump said the woman was a lying skank or some such thing. She sued him for that. She wasn’t a casual liar about everything and she certainly wasn’t lying about this. He had defamed her and caused her both reputational and actual financial damage. He said the Department of Justice had to defend him, because what he had said about her, he had said as part of his official duties as president, defending the office, not himself. This is still pending. The Biden administration has now sided with Trump. He was allowed to say that about her, to defend the office. That seems absurd, but presidents say lots of things. Much of that will seem defamatory to someone or other. The lawsuits could be endless. The Biden administration moved to protect all presidents. This was just an unsavory way to do that. But it had to be done.

That’s playing by the rules. Democrats do that. They forced Al Franken to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct that were rather tame – but rules are rules and the Democrats were willing to give up that Senate seat. Respect women. That’s what really matters.

They aren’t Republicans, who made their peace with Trump after the Access Hollywood “grab them but the pussies” tape and all that business with Stormy Daniels, the porn star he had paid off to keep quiet, and who wouldn’t keep quiet – and Trump was generally crude and rude and seemly proud to be a sneering sexist pig. He went out of his way to insult women. And his base loved all of it. Boys will be boys. Hey, he was a real man! Who doesn’t like to sneer at women? And women love that!

The rest of the Republican Party saw what was happening. Trump’s base was the party now. Fine. Trump can break all the rules. Trump doesn’t have to follow the rules. And maybe none of them have to follow the rules now. Rules are for the weak, like masks and vaccines in the middle of a pandemic. Rules are for Democrats.

They are? Democrats just proved that again:

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sexually harassed current and former state employees, creating a hostile work environment for women in violation of state and federal law, state Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday.

Yes, she’s a Democrat. So is Cuomo, and so were all those who piled on:

Hours after the release of a 165-page report that detailed numerous allegations against Cuomo, President Biden said he believed the Democratic governor should resign, echoing a chorus of similar calls by other party officials. Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie (D) also said Cuomo could no longer remain in office, adding that state lawmakers will move forward “expeditiously” with an ongoing impeachment investigation.

It took the Democrats three weeks to get rid of Al Franken. This may take three days. There’s no ambiguity here:

Investigators laid out a devastating portrait of Cuomo’s behavior and extensive examples of unwanted touching, including an incident last November in which Cuomo allegedly embraced an executive assistant and reached under her blouse to grab her breast. Witnesses also described an environment in the governor’s office that was abusive and vindictive, with one of the women who came forward targeted for retaliation through the release of her personnel file, investigators said.

In all, the independent probe found that Cuomo harassed 11 women, including a state trooper whom the governor arranged to be put on his detail.

“This investigation has revealed conduct that corrodes the very fabric and character of our state government,” James said at a news conference.

Defend the institution! Defend tradition! Defend moral behavior and self-control! Republicans used to say such things. Now they defend Trump on every little thing while Democrats dump their star:

The findings mark a new low for a once-celebrated Democratic star, who won an Emmy in 2020 for his nationally televised briefings during the pandemic, appeared on track for reelection to a fourth term in 2022 and was frequently discussed as a presidential contender. He is now isolated from his own party’s leadership, the result of a months-long investigation that was based on interviews with 179 people, including women who accused the governor of misconduct, Cuomo himself and a coterie of his top advisers.

He’s toast. He just doesn’t know it yet:

In a video address Tuesday afternoon, Cuomo maintained a defiant posture. He said he would continue serving as governor and defended himself as a champion of women and victims of sexual harassment. “The facts are much different than what has been portrayed,” he said.

“That’s not who I am,” the governor said of the depiction in the attorney general’s report.

Cuomo denied the claim that he groped an executive assistant’s breast. “That never happened,” he said. He said other complainants sought to “unfairly characterize and weaponize everyday interactions,” noting his tendency to greet women and men warmly.

This is almost exactly what Trump said after the Access Hollywood tape surfaced, and this is pure Trump:

After months of asking New Yorkers to withhold judgment until the attorney general’s report was released, his office released an extensive rebuttal document, calling the probe “an utterly biased investigation” that “willfully ignored evidence.”

Maybe this was like the Mueller report. The Deep State was out to get him! But he didn’t go there. He just said that everyone was out to get him.

That sort of thing would rally the Trump troops every time, but Democrats aren’t like that:

When asked about the report Tuesday afternoon, Biden told reporters, “I think he should resign.”

“Look, I’m not going to flyspeck this,” the president added. “I’m sure there are some embraces that were totally innocent. But apparently the attorney general decided there were things that weren’t.”

Pelosi and three House Democrats from New York also called on the governor to step down, joining about a dozen from the state delegation who had previously done so.

“We commend the brave women who came forward and spoke truth to power,” Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Thomas Suozzi and Gregory W. Meeks said in a statement. “The time has come for Governor Andrew Cuomo to do the right thing for the people of New York State and resign.”

The state’s two Democratic senators, Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, also reiterated their calls for his resignation.

“No elected official is above the law,” they said in a statement. “The people of New York deserve better leadership in the governor’s office.”

And, in a rare move, the Democratic governors of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Rhode Island put out a joint statement saying they were “appalled” by the report’s findings and that Cuomo must step down.

That covers just about everyone, and few have any regrets:

The governor also remains under investigation by federal and state authorities on a number of other issues, including his administration’s handling of nursing home deaths during the pandemic, the preferred access that Cuomo family members were given to coronavirus testing, and work that state employees did on a memoir about his leadership during the pandemic that secured him a $5 million advance.

Yes, there are those other issues, and then it all seemed a bit pathetic:

Even before it was released, Cuomo and his team tried to undermine the report, claiming that James has been using the probe to burnish her standing for a possible gubernatorial run. They also have accused the attorney general’s office of disclosing information to the news media, without providing evidence of such leaks.

Cuomo had been expected to seek a fourth term next year and has retained an approval rating in New York around 50 percent despite the slew of allegations, though some of his advisers saw it as his toughest race yet.

But he’s not Trump. He’s not coming back from this. Democrats play by the rules and do things by the book. Trump stays. Cuomo is gone.

Max Boot, the lifelong Republican and foreign policy expert, who had advised Republican candidates on foreign policy for decades, and who has walked away from all that, finds all of this quite odd:

The most benign spin you can put on the Trumpified Republican Party is that the American right has entered its “hippie phase,” as Kevin D. Williamson suggests in National Review. In the 1960s, he points out, the liberal counterculture attacked the establishment, while the GOP stood for order and authority. Today the roles are reversed: Liberals are the ones who respect the authority of institutions such as the federal government, the scientific community, universities and schools, the media, big business, the military and the FBI, while the right subjects them all to “ridicule and scorn.”

A less kind but more accurate characterization is to argue, as Edward Luce did in the Financial Times, that “Republicans have become the party of nihilism.” Like the Joker, a lot of Republicans just like “to watch the world burn” – quite literally, in the case of their climate denialism.

Yes, these are the radical bomb-throwers of the late sixties:

Republican anarchism was on full display with regard to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and the covid-19 pandemic.

On July 27, four police officers delivered harrowing testimony before a House select committee about how they had been assaulted by insurrectionists. In the past, these heroes might have been championed by the party of “law and order.” But it turns out that Republicans only “back the blue” when officers are accused of employing excessive force against minorities. When officers try to stop a Trumpist lynch mob, Republicans bash the blue.

Newsmax’s most popular host, Greg Kelly (son of a former New York City police commissioner), accused one of the officers of being “wrapped too tight.” Fox’s top host, Tucker Carlson, said they were “lying” and literally snickered at their testimony. Also giggling was professional provocateur Dinesh D’Souza. Fox host Laura Ingraham sneered that the officers deserved acting awards for their “third-rate theatrics.”

The only thing missing was to have these right-wingers call the officers “pigs,” as 1960s radicals did.

But of course they did just that:

Carlson earlier employed that very epithet to describe Gen. Mark A. Milley after the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff dared to defend the teaching of critical race theory at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Of course, that’s almost mild compared with the vituperation then-President Donald Trump directed at the FBI for investigating his ties to Russia – he called FBI agents sleazebags, traitors and a “disgrace to our country.”

Yeah, tear it all down, even this:

The right these days bashes not only the military and law enforcement but also every other institution that it accuses of having been taken over by “the left” – which means almost every national institution except the Supreme Court and, heaven help us, Fox “News” Channel.

Corporations earned the right’s ire for condemning Georgia’s voter suppression law and for deleting right-wing social media accounts that incite violence. Schools and universities have become objects of rightist wrath for teaching about America’s history of slavery, segregation and continuing racism – which conservatives denounce as “critical race theory.” The media establishment has long been an object of hatred but all the more now for exposing Trump’s lies – the “enemy of the people,” Trump called us. Scientists have faced threats and harassment for showing that global warming is real and needs to be addressed.

Those of us who were in college in the late sixties have heard this sort of thing before. Question authority! Never trust The Man!

That was tiresome then. Now it’s dangerous:

Most sinister of all, the medical establishment has become a target for attempting to fight a pandemic that has killed more than 613,000 Americans. The night after Tucker Carlson mocked the officers who defended the Capitol, he accused Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, of having “helped to create covid in the first place.” It’s a lunatic charge, but one that has become popular on the right. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) called Fauci an “enemy to our nation” and said he “deserves to go to jail.”

Why demonize Fauci? In part to absolve Trump of responsibility for mishandling the pandemic. But this is also part of a wider attempt to delegitimize the medical community’s guidance on how to fight the outbreak. In the name of “medical freedom,” Republicans are protecting the freedom to spread the plague.

Hippies did that too, even if it was mostly mild forms of venereal disease, but this is more serious than that:

In Florida, which on Friday broke its one-day record for new covid-19 cases and on Sunday broke its record for hospitalizations, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) just issued an executive order to stop school districts from mandating masks. This comes after he signed legislation banning “vaccine passports” – and started selling anti-Fauci merchandise.

Of course, a mask mandate wouldn’t be necessary if more people were vaccinated. A large part of the reason they’re not is the right’s bizarre anti-vaccine animus. Religious-right commentator Eric Metaxas sounded very much like a 1960s radical when he explained why people shouldn’t get vaccinated: “If the government or everybody is telling you that you have to do something, if only to be a rebel, you need to say, ‘I’m not going to do this.’”

Yes, the sixties are back:

There are many ways to describe this attitude – childish, irresponsible, destructive, nihilistic – but “conservative” isn’t one of them. Republicans, who once upheld authority, are now tearing it down. They give no indication of caring about the fate of American democracy, or about the fate of individual Americans.

Their slogan might as well be “Burn, baby, burn.”

Isn’t that the new Fox News slogan?

So now the roles are completely reversed:

President Biden on Tuesday denounced Republican officials who have blocked efforts to mandate vaccines, as he encouraged cities and states to require that individuals show proof of vaccination to visit restaurants and other public spaces.

In a notable toughening of his message, the president called out Republican governors who have banned businesses and universities from requiring vaccines or defied masking guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I say to these governors: Please help. But if you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way,” Biden said. “The people are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.”

When asked specifically about Republican Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, Biden said that “their decisions are not good for their constituents.” DeSantis signed an executive order last week that prohibits schools from requiring masks, and Abbott signed an order that bans local governments and state agencies from mandating vaccines.

They’re now the hippies questioning authority, and now Biden is Jack Webb as Sergeant Joe Friday in some 1968 episode of Dragnet, telling the damned hippies to knock it off:

Until now, Biden has largely sought to avoid statements that could exacerbate the partisan cast of the vaccine debate and has gone out of his way to praise Republicans who are promoting vaccinations. But the White House has grown increasingly frustrated with leaders who are actively seeking to block efforts to encourage or require vaccinations.

Yeah, knock it off kid! But no one can tell these two what to do:

Before Biden spoke Tuesday, DeSantis blamed media “hysteria” for making conditions in Florida seem worse than they are.

Renae Eze, a spokeswoman for Abbott, said in a statement: “Governor Abbott has been clear that we must rely on personal responsibility, not government mandates. Every Texan has a right to choose for themselves and their children whether they will wear masks, open their businesses, or get vaccinated.”

No rules! Peace! Love! Dope! Well, maybe not those three hippiethings, but question authority. No rules! And meanwhile:

On Monday, New York City announced that it would require proof of at least one dose of vaccine for a range of activities, including dining indoors, attending the theater and working out at a gym. The announcement followed similar mandates in countries such as France and Italy, where leaders have found success in boosting vaccination rates by requiring people to show proof to enter public spaces.

“If you want to participate in our society fully, you’ve got to get vaccinated,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday. “It’s time.”

But what if you don’t want to participate in our society fully, or even at all? You know, Tune in. Turn on. Drop out. Timothy Leary advised that in 1966 and America’s Republicans have finally caught up to Timothy Leary. Will they be dropping LSD tabs next?

And of course now the Democrats are the old farts still playing by the rules and keeping the nation running. Someone has to do that. They used to be the hippies, but now they know someone has to keep everything running, and to keep people who need not die from dying.

They grew up. Republicans grew backwards. And who needs hippies now?

About Alan

The editor is a former systems manager for a large California-based HMO, and a former senior systems manager for Northrop, Hughes-Raytheon, Computer Sciences Corporation, Perot Systems and other such organizations. One position was managing the financial and payroll systems for a large hospital chain. And somewhere in there was a two-year stint in Canada running the systems shop at a General Motors locomotive factory - in London, Ontario. That explains Canadian matters scattered through these pages. Otherwise, think large-scale HR, payroll, financial and manufacturing systems. A résumé is available if you wish. The editor has a graduate degree in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Duke University where he was a National Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and taught English and music in upstate New York in the seventies, and then in the early eighties moved to California and left teaching. The editor currently resides in Hollywood California, a block north of the Sunset Strip.
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1 Response to The New Hippies

  1. Pingback: Just go read it … | Homeless on the High Desert

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