Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The 1998 Op-Ed Neither The Uber-Feminist Or the New York Times
Wants You To Read

What you see to your left  (click to enlarge) is a 17-year-old screencap of what was -- until now -- the only place on the World Wide Web where you could see for yourself a crass op-ed piece that legendary '70s feminist leader Gloria Steinem wrote for the New York Times on March 22, 1998. It is, as I type, still up on the Edequity On Line (sic) newsgroup (this was before the age of the modern blog).

In the wake of still-fresh allegations against then-President Bill Clinton by former secretary Paula Jones and former Clinton campaign volunteer Kathleen Willey, Steinem stated her (supposedly) sincere belief that women in the workplace should have to endure one "sexual pass" from a male superior before they can call it "sexual harassment."

In so stating, she drew the line of demarcation for male bosses at grabbing, kissing, and groping a grieving widow seeking an opportunity to do more work to pay off her late husband's debts, and inviting a secretary to sit beside him, stroke her leg, and drop his pants to reveal an erection that he invited her to kiss. Here's a preview of Steinem's reasoning:

"...[E]ven if the allegations are true, the President is not guilty of sexual harassment. He is accused of having made a gross, dumb and reckless pass at a supporter during a low point in her life. She pushed him away, she said, and it never happened again. In other words, President Clinton took "no" for an answer...

That's right, ladies -- according to no less an authority than Gloria Steinem, your boss -- be he your office manager in his tiny start-up or, say, The President of the United States of America -- he has the legal right to do all of that before you can legally and credibly say you're being sexually harassed -- as long as he takes "No" for an answer the first time.  And Steinem said so out loud, in public, and in the pages of the most respected daily newspaper in the country.

However, either the Times or Steinem herself (or both) don't want you to remember that Steinem wrote it, because in its online archives -- which are searchable going back to the 19th century -- it cannot be found.

What can be found in the archives is a letter to the Times' editors in response to Steinem's piece, penned by William S. Frago of Lake Forest, Ill. (click to enlarge):

Here is the editorial, complete and unedited.

The New York Times

March 22, 1998, Sunday, Late Edition - Final

HEADLINE: Feminists and the Clinton Question

BYLINE: By Gloria Steinem; Gloria Steinem is a founder of the National Women's Political Caucus and Ms. magazine.

If all the sexual allegations now swirling around the White House turn out to be true, President Clinton may be a candidate for sex addiction therapy. But feminists will still have been right to resist pressure by the right wing and the media to call for his resignation or impeachment. The pressure came from another case of the double standard.

For one thing, if the President had behaved with comparable insensitivity toward environmentalists, and at the same time remained their most crucial champion and bulwark against an anti-environmental Congress, would they be expected to desert him? I don't think so. If President Clinton were as vital to preserving freedom of speech as he is to preserving reproductive freedom, would journalists be condemned as "inconsistent" for refusing to suggest he resign? Forget it.

For another, there was and is a difference between the accusations against Mr. Clinton and those against Bob Packwood and Clarence Thomas, between the experiences reported by Kathleen Willey and Anita Hill. Commentators might stop puzzling over the President's favorable poll ratings, especially among women, if they understood the common-sense guideline to sexual behavior that came out of the women's movement 30 years ago: no means no; yes means yes.

It's the basis of sexual harassment law. It also explains why the media's obsession with sex qua sex is offensive to some, titillating to many and beside the point to almost everybody. Like most feminists, most Americans become concerned about sexual behavior when someone's will has been violated; that is, when "no" hasn't been accepted as an answer.

Let's look at what seem to be the most damaging allegations, those made by Kathleen Willey. Not only was she Mr. Clinton's political supporter, but she is also old enough to be Monica Lewinsky's mother, a better media spokeswoman for herself than Paula Jones, and a survivor of family tragedy, struggling to pay her dead husband's debts.

If any of the other women had tried to sell their stories to a celebrity tell-all book publisher, as Ms. Willey did, you might be even more skeptical about their motives. But with her, you think, "Well, she needs the money." For the sake of argument here, I'm also believing all the women, at least until we know more. I noticed that CNN polls taken right after Ms. Willey's interview on "60 Minutes" showed that more Americans believed her than President Clinton.

Nonetheless, the President's approval ratings have remained high. Why? The truth is that even if the allegations are true, the President is not guilty of sexual harassment. He is accused of having made a gross, dumb and reckless pass at a supporter during a low point in her life. She pushed him away, she said, and it never happened again. In other words, President Clinton took "no" for an answer.

In her original story, Paula Jones essentially said the same thing. She went to then-Governor Clinton's hotel room, where she said he asked her to perform oral sex and even dropped his trousers. She refused, and even she claims that he said something like, "Well, I don't want to make you do anything you don't want to do."

Her lawyers now allege that as a result of the incident Ms. Jones described, she was slighted in her job as a state clerical employee and even suffered long-lasting psychological damage. But there appears to be little evidence to support those accusations. As with the allegations in Ms. Willey's case, Mr. Clinton seems to have made a clumsy sexual pass, then accepted rejection.

This is very different from the cases of Clarence Thomas and Bob Packwood. According to Anita Hill and a number of Mr. Packwood's former employees, the offensive behavior was repeated for years, despite constant "no's." It also occurred in the regular workplace of these women, where it could not be avoided.

The women who worked for Mr. Packwood described a man who groped and lunged at them. Ms. Hill accused Clarence Thomas of regularly and graphically describing sexual practices and pornography. In both cases, the women said they had to go to work every day, never knowing what sexual humiliation would await them -- just the kind of "hostile environment" that sexual harassment law was intended to reduce.

As reported, Monica Lewinsky's case illustrates the rest of the equation: "Yes means yes." Whatever it was, her relationship with President Clinton has never been called unwelcome, coerced or other than something she sought. The power imbalance between them increased the index of suspicion, but there is no evidence to suggest that Ms. Lewinsky's will was violated; quite the contrary.

In fact, her subpoena in the Paula Jones case should have been quashed. Welcome sexual behavior is about as relevant to sexual harassment as borrowing a car is to stealing one.

The real violators of Ms. Lewinsky's will were Linda Tripp, who taped their talks, the F.B.I. agents who questioned her without a lawyer and Kenneth Starr, the independent prosecutor who seems intent on tailoring the former intern's testimony.

What if President Clinton lied under oath about some or all of the above? According to polls, many Americans assume he did. There seems to be sympathy for keeping private sexual behavior private. Perhaps we have a responsibility to make it O.K. for politicians to tell the truth -- providing they are respectful of "no means no; yes means yes" -- and still be able to enter high office, including the Presidency.

Until then, we will disqualify energy and talent the country needs -- as we are doing right now.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


A.F. Branco cartoon courtesy LegalInsurrection.com
The following is my reaction to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's ruling that the Washington Redskins' long-established logos and trademarks should not have federal registration that helps them legally protect counterfeiting of their merchandise, as posted at Patterico.com [and amended or corrected with brackets]:
 From the Washed-up Post article:
Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that “may disparage” individuals or groups or “bring them into contempt or disrepute.” The ruling pertains to six different trademarks associated with the team, each containing the word “Redskin.”
Who said that the name "Redskins" "bring[s Native Americans] into contempt or disrepute? I contend that in the cases of all but a handful of team names, the purpose is NOT to adopt a name or a mascot that has as its goal making the team seem weak or silly, but one that inspires determination, strength, even fear. In the case of the Washington Redskins, the intent was certainly not to demean natives, but to honor them in the same way as did the owners of the first patch of grass the team played upon: The Boston Braves, later known as the Milwaukee Braves, and now known as the Atlanta Braves.
In the early days of the NFL -- back when baseball really was "America's pastime" -- pro football teams were the stepchildren of the Major League Baseball teams that hosted their games.
From the New York Giants history webpage (italics mine):
[Original Giants'] Owner Tim Mara “borrowed” the Giants’ name from the city’s Major League Baseball team of the same name. This was not unusual among early day pro football franchises. At one time or another there were NFL franchises named the New York Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, and Detroit Tigers.
Such was the case with the then-Boston Braves football team, who played at the National
League Boston Braves' Field in Boston. So where did "Redskins" come from? When the football Braves moved out of the baseball Braves' stadium to the stadium built by the Boston Red Sox of the rival American League -- Fenway Park. They couldn't use the Braves' name while playing in the Red Sox's park, so they changed the name of the team from "Boston Braves" to "Boston Redskins" [which also could have been inspired by the phonetic similarities of "Red Sox" and "Redskins."] The team retained the nickname when they moved to D.C.
It's that simple. No "contempt." Zero "disrepute." There was no purpose in the switch from "Braves" to "Redskins" of reminiscing about the days when there were bounties put on the severed scalps of natives, or any other story that the detractors are using to ply their arguments.
Speaking of which: In answer to the earlier question of who said "Redskins" brings anyone into contempt or disrepute, the answer is five activist Native Americans who filed the complaint with the Patent and Trademark Office. But they are representative of the majority of the people they claim to represent, aren't they? In 2004, the Annenberg Public Policy Center (yes, from Walter Annenberg, the guy behind FactCheck.org and who was responsible for putting Barack Obama and Bill Ayers in charge of a Chicago education reform project) published their election-year survey of Native Americans asking this question (verbatim):
“The professional football team in Washington calls itself the Washington Redskins. As a Native American, do you find that name offensive or doesn’t it bother you?”
As it turned out, the answer from the Native Americans was crystal-clear. A whopping 91% said that "Redskins" was offensive.
WHOOPS! Check that -- 91% said that the "Redskins" was NOT offensive.
Let me repeat that for emphasis: NINETY-ONE PERCENT OF NATIVE AMERICANS SURVEYED SAID THAT "WASHINGTON REDSKINS" WAS NOT, NOT, NOT OFFENSIVE TO THEM! With a margin of error of 2%, only 9 percent of the respondents were bothered by it.
Oh, but it must have been some white conservative guy who was in charge of that survey, right? Well, you've got the white part right. See if this name rings a bell: Adam Clymer, listed in the press release as the "political director" of the survey. If you used to frequent Free Republic as I did in the late nineties, you know who he is: He's the former New York Times reporter that then-candidate Governor George W. Bush referenced in an unfortunate "open-mic" moment.

Maybe one of the reasons why Bush was so moved to that description is because he (or his father) was the victim of Clymer's "Major League" hackery, which in later years produced this aromatic nugget about Ted Kennedy:
[His] achievements as a Senator have towered over his time, changing the lives of far more Americans than remember the name Mary Jo Kopechne..."
Even though he presided over the survey, Clymer has recently been dismissing it as irrelevant. Here he is quoted in a March 10, 2013 column by Washed-up Post sports scribe Mike Wise:
"Look, let’s suppose my numbers were 100 percent right, that 90 percent of American Indians were okay with it and that the people on the other end of the phone were actually what they said they were,” he said. “Given that, what if you had a dinner party and you invited 10 people. And by the end of the night it’s pretty clear that nine of them have had a tremendous time and really enjoyed the food and company. But one of them you managed to completely insult and demean, to the point where people around them noticed and it was uncomfortable. So, ask yourself: Were you a social success that night?”
That is a lame, silly simile, since this is not a matter of whether everybody had a great time at a dinner party. It ultimately is about whether or not an extreme minority opinion about a trademark is sufficient to make it a priority of the President of the United States to create a First Amendment crisis out of whole cloth.
This raises another question for Clymer: If it doesn't matter what the results of the survey were, why the hell did you bother conducting it in the first place? Seems to me that you invested eleven months (October 2003 - September 2004) in the hopes that your pre-conceived notions of tribal outrage would be confirmed, perhaps making it suitable for a divisive campaign issue.When it wasn't, you pretended it was meaningless that your point-of-view came up the loser.
Lucky for you, Clymer, you have a fellow "major-leaguer" in the White House, who doesn't care what the facts are. Screw the First Amendment. He's got a pen, and he's got a phone, and he's going to what he wants on his own. And from your remarks about Kennedy, we know you don't mind if a few rules are broken on the way to policy changes you desire.

Friday, April 04, 2014


From Fox and Friends, April 4, 2014:

Here is my contribution to Fox and Friends' Facebook post on the topic:
Mozilla is run by duplicitous, hypocritical cowards.
This is from the blog post announcing Brendan Eich's resignation, written by Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker: 
"Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all...
We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a higher standard."
Sounds good, right? Well, it's a crock. To paraphrase George Orwell in Animal Farm, Mozilla supports equality for all, but some Mozillians are more equal than others.
Mozilla was co-founded by Eich, and he was apparently able to function just fine working for a decade and a half with people who were ready to stab him in the back. Even Baker, in an interview with tech blogger Kara Swisher, said [this was her reaction upon learning] that Eich supported Prop 8 [...]: 
“That was shocking to me, because I never saw any kind of behavior or attitude from him that was not in line with Mozilla’s values of inclusiveness...” 
So, then, what the hell was the problem? He had already proven he WASN'T a Bible-thumping zealot who would tell his workmates they would burn in hell for tolerating homosexuals getting married. He respected others at Mozilla in line with its "culture of diversity." But when it came time for others to respect his diverse viewpoint, they couldn't take it. Their heads exploded.
Baker, in the interview, went on to babble some non sequiturs about how the world is "heading into a period of global mass surveillance and the role of those fighting against will be more important than ever.” Oooh, heady stuff. And they can't fight against it with a guy who doesn't believe in same-sex marriage? What kind of nonsense is that? For someone in the high-tech business, Ms. Baker says a lot of things that do not compute.
Eich was a threat to nobody. Mozilla's culture was untouched by his personal stance on the definition of marriage, and there not only was no indication that he was going to change it, he said he would not. It didn't matter -- they didn't want to be in the presence of someone whom they knew thought so differently than them. The facts can bring us to absolutely no other conclusion.
Mozilla's mascot is a dinosaur. I'm hoping it will become extinct.
I have stopped using Firefox, because I can't stand to look at it any longer. It's a shame because it IS the best browser around. But if Mozilla feels like it can just dump the man who brought it so far over having a belief that I share, it's almost my obligation to dump their product.

More coming on this subject. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 31, 2014


Today is Monday, March 31, 2014.  In 2013, March 31 was also Easter Sunday, arguably the holiest day of the year for most practicing Christians.  So when people fitting that description visited Google that day, they were surprised and pleased to see that contrary to the web behemoth's reputation of being anti-everything religiously Christian, a serene, Christlike figure was gracing its home page.  After all, the only previous note Google took of Easter Sunday was in 2000, when it presented its iconic logo with two decorated eggs for the "oo."

Upon a second glance, however, it was clear the saintly, white-clad person Google featured on the day designated to celebrate Christ's rising was not Christ. It was Mexican-American labor activist Cesar Chavez (d. 1993), honored on the 86th anniversary of his birth on March 31, 1927.
On the official Google Doodles page, this is how the portrait (as opposed to animated, more playful past doodles) was described (bold mine):

At times the simplest answer is the best answer. Early, more complicated compositions struggling to encapsulate the magnitude of Chavez’s contributions fell away to a simple portrait, hoping to provide a serene tribute to one of the great progressive figures of our time.

Google chose not to mention the fact that it was also Easter Sunday.  To many people, it seemed as if it was a conscious decision by Google to choose Chavez over Christ, since Chavez's birthdate and Easter Sunday would not intersect again until 2024. If the Doodle people at the Googleplex wanted to avoid controversy it had to know was coming (Google didn't get to be what it is because stupid people are running it), it could have waited until today, Monday, March 31, 2014, with Easter three Sundays into April. What was the rush? It is not as if Chavez was going to be more deceased this year than he was last year.

Here in California, I wanted to visit a state building today and was surprised to find it locked and nobody inside. Chavez's birthday is a state holiday. Government agencies are closed. It had totally slipped my mind that this was passed in California's Democrat-dominated legislature and signed by Governor Moonbeam.  But if some people have their way, none of us will forget Chavez's birthday.

Judi Gerber, who describes herself as "a University of California Master Gardener with a certificate in Horticultural Therapy," wrote a piece that popped up in my news links today called "Why Cesar Chavez Deserves a National Holiday." It read, in part (bold mine):

President Barack Obama has signed a proclamation declaring March 31st as Cesar Chavez Day in the United States to “observe this day with appropriate service, community, and educational programs to honor Cesar Chavez’s enduring legacy.” I would argue that we need to go even further and, once and for all, declare it a federal holiday. For that to happen, Congress has to pass the resolution recognizing it as a national holiday.
The proclamation explains the important role Cesar Chavez played in helping farm workers: “They were exposed to dangerous pesticides and denied the most basic protections, including minimum wages, health care, and access to drinking water. Cesar Chavez devoted his life to correcting these injustices, to reminding us that every job has dignity, every life has value, and everyone — no matter who you are, what you look like, or where you come from — should have the chance to get ahead.”
Further, his cause, the rights of immigrant laborers is still relevant today, even more so in many states. The declaration of Cesar Chavez Day, along with the release of the feature film from actor and filmmaker Diego Luna about his life, simply titled Cesar Chavez, which is now playing, will hopefully do a lot to make his work and legacy as recognizable as that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
His family is also calling on President Obama to make Cesar Chavez’s March 31 birthday a National Day of Service. It seems only fitting to take action, because as Chavez once responded: “If you want to remember me, organize!”
My comment, posted minutes ago, was as follows:
Until the elevation of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday to federal holiday status in 1983 (signed into law by President Ronald Reagan), there were only two persons whose birthdays were recognized as deserving of such observation: George Washington, the first President of the United States, and a guy named Jesus Christ. I personally don't believe a King holiday was appropriate for national status because I don't believe that King was more deserving than Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday NEVER was a national holiday. (At this point, let me interject that I am a black man - twice as black as Barack Obama.)
But, now that for all intents and purposes, Rev. King's existence has been elevated to the status of perhaps the third most important person in the centuries since the pilgrims first arrived at Plymouth Rock, every multi-culti "social justice" type is whipping up a campaign to force everyone to acknowledge her or his own secular patron saint. Chavez, commonly spoken of as the Latino-American version of King, is the next logical activist up at bat; then, we'll likely have some drive to create a holiday in honor of a great American woman, maybe Susan B. Anthony. Then, get ready for the campaign to give everyone in government a day off to reflect on the greatness of gay rights martyr Harvey Milk (don't laugh, that nonsense is already underway in California). Of the four figures whose faces are carved on Mount Rushmore, only Washington has his own holiday. Move over, Abe, Tommy, and Teddy, here comes Harv.
Am I implying that Cesar Chavez was some sort of villain? Of course not. The bottom line is this: There are only as many as 366 days in a calendar year; we can't honor the lives of every significant American unless we want to close D.C. down forever (and NO, that wouldn't be a good idea). Billions of Americans have existed since 1776, and [only] the greatest of the great ones are [more than] brief mentions or mere footnotes in contemporary history books; many great ones are anonymous and have been lost to future generations altogether. It's short-sighted -- and frankly ridiculous -- to suggest that anyone whose activities were not integral to the formation and/or survival of the United States of America ought to be honored in the same manner as those whose lives match that description beyond any shadow of doubt.
To any rational person, Chavez falls well short of that standard.