KingMidget's Ramblings

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A Song For Today

Thanks to a new friend on Twitter, I discovered Elbow today…

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A Most Unqualified Candidate

Roy Moore has become famous for many things. A lot of them should disqualify him from being dogcatcher, let alone a United States Senator. The allegations regarding his conduct when he was in his 30s and seemed to like teenage girls are troubling and I don’t want to discount them, but what is more troubling to me are the many statements he has made about his various views on policies and politics.

In an interview on a radio show in 2011, a host said that he would like to see all amendments after the 10th be repealed. Moore’s response:  “”That would eliminate many problems. You know people don’t understand how some of these amendments have completely tried to wreck the form of government that our forefathers intended.

To be clear then Moore believes that the 11th through 27th amendments are problematic and interfere with the dreams of the founding fathers. Let’s take a look at this.

The 12th amendment modified the rules for the electoral college. It is possible if the old rules had been followed, we might have a different President today.

The 13th amendment prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude in all areas within the jurisdiction of the United States.

The 14th amendment provided for equal protection of the law and due process to all individuals within the jurisdiction of the United States. This is commonly understood as a response to inequal treatment of former slaves after the Civil War.

The 15th amendment confirms the right of all citizens to vote and prohibits disenfranchisement based on race.

The 16th amendment allows for the levying and collection of income taxes.

The 17th amendment allows for the election of Senators by the people, rather than by State Legislatures. This is a big bugaboo of some on the right. It’s interesting though. Given the controversy surrounding Moore these days, I’d be surprised if the Alabama legislature would have voted for him if it was up to him.

The 18th amendment enshrined prohibition before the 21st repealed it.

The 19th amendment ensures that women have the right to vote.

The 20th amendment establishes various rules regarding terms and succession related to Congress and the Presidency.

The 22nd amendment establishes the two term limit for Presidents.

The 23rd amendment allows for the District of Columbia to be represented in the electoral college.

The 24th amendment prohibits poll taxes in all federal elections.

The 25th amendment establishes that the Vice President shall serve as President when the President is unable to do so and establishes some procedures related thereto.

The 26th amendment established the voting age at 18.

The 27th amendment prohibits any change in compensation for members of Congress until after the next election.

There you go … the people of Alabama are likely about to elect a United States Senator who apparently believes that those amendments are problematic because they are inconsistent with the vision of the founding fathers. (Never mind that it was the founding fathers who recognized that circumstances would change and the Constitution would need to be amended over time — by establishing and enshrining the amendment process in the Constitution.)

But to be clear, Moore believes that equal protection and due process are a problem. He believes protecting the rights of minorities and women to vote is a problem.  He believes the income tax is a problem. He apparently believes a poll tax is a good thing.  He believes we didn’t need to enshrine a prohibition of slavery within our constitution.  What is clear is that he believes in a country of good ol’ boys back when was life was good and everybody but landowning white men were the only ones who had any rights.

That is what is offensive about this man and why he should never be elected to any public office.

Seeing A Movie

I’ve spent 52 of my 53+ years in Sacramento. For much of the last 20 years I’ve wished I had found an opportunity to leave. Not that Sacramento is a bad place to live. It’s not. It’s just that I’ve been here long enough and I want to live in a smaller town for a time and live in a place that is close to the ocean or a lake or just closer to nature. And get away from the 2 million or so people who live in the metropolitan area.

A few weeks ago Lady Bird  came out. It is the autobiographical tale of Greta Gerwig, the movie’s director who grew up in Sacramento. The movie traces her senior year at a Catholic high school in Sacramento as she tries desperately to leave Sacramento behind because “Sacramento is the Midwest of California.” It’s boring, there is nothing hip and cool about the place. As many people say, including many Sacramento residents, the best thing about Sacramento is that it is between the Bay Area and Lake Tahoe. But in the end, Lady Bird … well, I’ll let that part go in case you haven’t seen the movie and have plans to do so.

The movie is about coming of age and mother-daughter relationships and boredom and dreams and a whole lot of things.  I’d have to say there isn’t a thing wrong with the movie. It doesn’t strike a wrong note anywhere along the way, although it feels a bit rushed to me. The movie is 93 minutes long. I wonder would have happened with it if Gerwig had stretched it out to 120 minutes.

As a Sacramento resident, it was good to see the city featured in a movie as the actual city it is. There have been a number of movies and television shows that have filmed here over the years. But rarely do they do so with a story-line based on Sacramento. Instead, the scenes that show up reflect some other town somewhere else in America.

In the opening scene, there is a reference to the high school I went to — Sacramento High School. There are scenes and quick flashes of a number of businesses and landmarks located in Sacramento. The movie theater I saw the movie in has one of those quick flashes. There’s a lot here that plays on the memories and lives of those of us who have lived in Sacramento for any major chunk of time.

I said that there wasn’t a wrong note in the movie.  Well … almost. There’s a thing that I just can’t shake. The kids in the movie are students at a couple of Catholic schools in Sacramento. A boys school and a girls school. For purposes of the movie, the names of the schools have been changed, apparently to protect the … somebody. I don’t know. But that opening scene that references Sac High makes a reference to somebody being stabbed in front of the school. So, now the national movie-viewing audience while not knowing that St. Francis is where Catholic girls went to high school and made fun of the nuns and lost their virginity and Jesuit and Christian Brothers is where Catholic boys went to high school and did drugs and lost their virginity, they do know that Sac High is a school where crime occurred.

Why?

This is a small detail that likely matters to pretty much nobody else. The movie is excellent. I cried towards the end as I related the mother-daughter relationship in the movie to my own relationship with my older son and wondered how we might break out of it. There is a lot of truth and meaning in the movie and it is well done.

 

Let’s Take a Step Back

When I was a young lad of 22 I graduated from college with what I refer to as a useless college degree. I had not done the work during college that would lay the groundwork for a job in the field in which I got my degree. But I had a marketable skill. I was a brilliant typist, typing at a speed people rarely saw. (I blame genetics, to be honest — I got the skill and my good looks from my mother.) In addition, I had several years of office experience via an on-campus student assistant job.

After graduation, I looked around for a job that required my special skills and landed in the Faculty Office at a law school. I was a front desk receptionist and word processor. I actually enjoyed the job. I got to interact with all of the professors and law students who filtered through. And it was a relatively low stress job.

My years working in college and then in this job put me into environments that were almost entirely female. Yes, there were plenty of male professors that I worked with, but the actual office staff itself in both offices were all female. Back in the 1980s, it was pretty unusual to have a male receptionist or secretary. I was a revolutionary. And a one man show.

Probably about six months after I started at the Faculty Office, my immediate manager, a really nice woman named Pete (her real name was Petra, but she went by Pete) left to move with her family to Houston. She was replaced by Michelle. I’m not sure anymore exactly what age she was, but I’m going to guess she was in her 40s.

Somewhere along the way, she started to engage in sexual harassment. Of me. What became a somewhat regular occurrence was a conversation in which she would make “joking” statements about what might happen if we were to get together. If you know what I mean. It wasn’t graphic or outrageous. She didn’t accompany these statements with any kind of physical aspect — like touching me or hugging me or anything like that. When it first started, I think I played along with it a bit, but eventually it just got tiresome. And oppressive. I couldn’t do anything to get her to stop. I don’t know why I didn’t talk to her supervisor, who was the office manager, about the situation, but I don’t think I did.

Instead, I moved to a different job on campus. It was a promotion and one that the law school’s dean supported me for. I became the executive assistant for one of the school’s assistant deans. I took the new job for the promotion, the increased salary, and because it got me away from Michelle.

That’s my tale. I acknowledge that what I experienced doesn’t come close to some of the horror stories we are hearing about in the news today. One of the stories being told in my city is of an assemblyman who forced his way into a bathroom with a female lobbyist and then masturbated in front of her. We have Roy Moore and his attempts at “dating” teenage girls when he was in his early 30’s. A President who thinks nothing of forcing himself on women because he can. Michelle never tried to force her tongue down my throat or pull me into the ladies restroom. Although she probably “joked” to me about doing it.

But I tell this tale to explain that I understand how this can happen and how the victim of it can feel. Why the victim might not say anything and instead try to get away from it or ignore it or just … let it go. I get all of that, but here’s my problem.

What is righteous outrage about there being a lot of sexual harassment and poor treatment of men by women is turning into a witch hunt, where any allegation is believed. Because it must, every woman must be believed. And men are being drummed out of jobs and positions and careers based, in many instances, on nothing more than allegations.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe many of these allegations. I believe that many of these men are worse than scum and should be driven away from those careers and the opportunity to take advantage of women (or in some cases, men). Absolutely believe that, but I also believe that there are good men who are innocent who are being swept into this dragnet.

An element that rarely gets discussed is that for something to be actionable as sexual harassment is that the conduct has to be unwelcome. One can look at some of these charges and understand that the accused may not have realized that what they were doing was unwelcome. In my situation, I never told Michelle that the things she was saying made me uncomfortable. If I didn’t do that than how could she know that those comments were unwelcome and that I was feeling harassed.

As I said, I understand why women aren’t necessarily going to say something. It has to do with the power dynamic, go along to get along, don’t make waves, maybe it will just stop if I ignore it, he’ll quit, I’ll get a different job. It will just go away, but if I say something it will only get worse.

I get that.

But if the man (or in my case, the woman) has no idea what they are doing is unwelcome, that it is not mutual and consensual, is that really sexual harassment? Yes, there are some stories coming out that it is hard to imagine any reasonable man would believe were consensual even without any communication from the woman. But not in all.

The other problem I have is that men are being forced to resign without being found guilty either civilly or criminally. And in many situations without any investigation of the merits or truth of the claims even being conducted. This is where I feel like we have turned this into a witch hunt, to a modern day version of Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist activities of the 1950s.

There are certain principles we are supposed to hold dear in this country. Innocent until proven guilty is one of them. We are losing sight of that principle and accepting as true just about any allegation somebody makes now. As long as it’s about sexual harassment or assault, the truth of the allegation is accepted without investigation and the accused is sent away without due process.

I have a serious problem with this. I want the men who engage in sexual harassment and assault to be disciplined, punished, and held responsible appropriately given the nature of their conduct. But I want it to be done after appropriate investigations and findings are made. To do so based solely on allegations is wrong. Just wrong. In this country, even the guilty have a right to certain protections. We have lost sight of that concept.

(Side note: Read One Night in Bridgeport for a fictional presentation of why.)

 

Windows Update

My laptop has been telling me every morning and night for a couple of weeks now that Windows has some updates. I kept snoozing it. This afternoon, I decided to accept the updates. Here’s what I did while Windows was updated:

  1. Sliced and sauteed a leek.
  2. Made pizza dough.
  3. Started a load of laundry.
  4. Moved a load of laundry to the dryer.
  5. Folded said load when it came out of the dryer.
  6. Ironed six shirts.
  7. Started the pizza sauce.
  8. Went to the bathroom once or twice.
  9. Did the dishes in the sink.
  10. Ate some hummus.

And I’m sure now that my Windows experience will be vastly improved.

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