Thursday, October 27, 2016

Butt Grabbing. The Trump Chronicles, Episode Twelve.

This would be the twelfth woman who has accused Trump of inappropriate sexual advances:

Miss Finland of 2006, Ninni Laaksonen, stated in an interview with Iltasanomat, a Finnish tabloid newspaper, that Donald Trump squeezed her butt, hard, while photos were taken* before an appearance at the Late Show with David Letterman:

Picture:  Eddie Mejia/Splash News

Here's the interesting thing:  Ms Laaksonen did not come forward with the allegation.  It was Iltasanomat which contacted all the Miss Finlands** who had had contact with Trump, and her statement was in response to the questions the newspaper posed.

Beauty pageants are pretty problematic from a feminist angle, especially when there are no equivalent pageants for handsome young men.

But they become even more problematic if the participants are viewed as almost the property of the guy who runs the pageants, if the assumption is that he has some sort of extra access to the contestants, or if he can, for example, bring in a pack of his older male friends to watch the rehearsals and to holler at the contestants, as happened according to another Miss Finland, Bea Toivonen (2014).


* This picture is not intended to show butt squeezing.  But it was taken at the same occasion that Ms. Laaksonen mentioned the butt squeeze.

*Misses Finland?  How does one do the plural?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Something To Read, For Your Brain, 10/25/2016

A couple of long-form pieces, both well worth the time they take to read:

First, this piece on Trump's populist support may be somewhat disjointed, but it makes several important and thought-provoking arguments.   

Second, this article on the use of anti-trust laws in the United States is also worthwhile, even though it may fall in the category of brain-bran (good ultimately for your mental digestive processes, not that tasty to consume). 

The Federal Trade Commission no longer seems that interested in enforcing the pro-competitive laws that still exist.  The most recent AT&T case should be compared in that respect with the forced dissolution of Mama Bell.  Someone de-fanged the anti-trust laws, and nobody is offering it any dentures.  Ultimately both consumers and workers will suffer from that.

Now, whether focusing on actual (as opposed to imaginary) competition-increasing solutions would rejuvenate the Republican Party* is a very different question.  But I believe that much stronger pro-worker and pro-consumer economic platforms are needed.


*  Because you can't be both for the one percent and for the kind of economic policies that the working classes and the ordinary consumers of this country need.  On the other hand, the stupid campaign financing laws mean that both parties end up living in the wallets of their richest donors.  Sadly, the incumbents have little incentive to work at changing those, even though the current situation has come close to the case where every dollar has an equal vote, and because many dollars live in just a few wallets, those wallets have a lot of votes.

The Awful Alternatives

Contents:  Racism (lots!), misogyny

The Awful Alternative in the US and Europe would be the Alt Right movement.  You can read all about it here, here, here and here.  As you can see from those sources, the movement is essentially a white supremacist one or at least a white nationalist one.  This depiction seems roughly correct to me:

Bannon’s Breitbart also realized that there was a large online community that naturally gravitated to Trump, a mix of people who saw themselves as far too radical to be accepted by polite society. Among them, conservative suspicions of diversity, inclusion, feminism, and political correctness had metastasized into something much darker.
This was the alt-right, a collection of racists, pick-up artists, men’s rights activists, and other noxious trolls of the internet. There’s no real dogma or central text to the alt-right, and no Buckley figure, though plenty are interested in taking the mantle. It’s a loose grouping with a few unifying figures, such as Trump and the Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos.
It was the openly-gay Yiannopoulos who became the first real alt-right celebrity, and he parlayed his internet fame into a series of speaking gigs that he called the “Dangerous Faggot” tour. His catchphrase is “feminism is cancer” and he first rose to prominence as part of the GamerGate movement, a thing you’re free to Google. He’s also Breitbart’s tech editor and most prominent columnist.*

So I put my waders on and went to the Alt Right sites.  My impression is that the movement is extremely racist, and very openly so, though it also has odd anti-democratic tendencies.

Some of what I read reminded me of my research into the way the theologians of ISIS think,  given that ISIS (and other similar terrorist organizations) can be seen as another awful alternative for Iraq and Syria and even elsewhere:

Democracy is Bad.  Some other source (in the case of ISIS an assumed divine power, as interpreted by the ISIS theologians, in the case of Alt Right the white man writing the stuff) knows better how a society should be governed than the ignorant hordes.

Outsiders are Evil.  ISIS views all who are not extreme Sunni Muslims as infidels, Alt Right views all others except white men as outsiders.  The former can lead to views about the infidels as people who can be killed or enslaved.  The latter leads to views about outsiders which can mean the cleansing of "white homelands" of those who are not white.

The concept of a tribe is central to both ideologies:  For ISIS the tribe consists of only those men who share a certain extremist interpretation of Islam, for Alt Right the tribe consists of only white men who are not Muslims.

The place of women in those tribes is ambiguous:  In some contexts they are part of the tribe (as in the European right-wing arguments about protecting "their" women against rapes by migrants or refugees or in the ISIS arguments about avenging the rape of Sunni Muslim women**), but in most contexts women are viewed as a resource, as something that must be made to do the right thing (which is to obey, to provide sex, but only to the man in charge of a woman, to stay at home, and to have as many children as the overlord deems necessary).***

Belief in Group Inequality.  That women are viewed as inferior in both ideologies goes without saying, and it is also the reason why feminism is so hated by both groups.

But neither are all men regarded as worthy of equal treatment.  ISIS decides the internal ranking of men on the basis of their religious affiliation (though stories I've read suggest that racism also exists in the ISIS-land), whereas Alt Right decides that ranking on the basis of the man's race first and then on the basis of his religion.  It views different races as inherently unequal.****

Rage At The Society, which has failed to  provide what the members of these groups view as their utopia:  a society where they would be the top dogs and where everyone else would meekly obey.  That rage may have different sources, with the ISIS believers finding their justification from religion, say, but both are angry at egalitarianism and human rights.


Those comparisons shouldn't be taken too far.  The extreme and sadistic violence of ISIS belongs to a very different category from the net harassment that some members of Alt Right engage in, and despite that skepticism concerning democracy, the Alt Right is not advocating for a violent overthrow of governments or violence, in general, but for a political movement.

It's also likely that the real numbers of the two groups are very different, though it's hard to get firm numbers of the nebulous group which constitutes the Alt Right.


* More on Yiannopoulos can be found here and here.  He is currently touring American college campuses.

**  Even this might just be about one's property being soiled, rather than about truly seeing the women as members of the tribe, or as an insult to the men in the group.

***  The Alt Right theologians might give women more rights than the ISIS theologians do.  For instance, I read a proposal on one site to make (white) women's right to vote dependent on them already having produced more than 2.1 children.  That's a backwards-pedaling of only a hundred years or so, to the era when women had to be over thirty to vote in some places, whereas the ISIS would take us back 1500 years.

But it's not clear what rights women might be allowed to keep in that Alt Right dystopia.  The same site also had a piece about the perfidy and sluttiness/prudishness of all women:  Women have wanton sex, only not with the right man (the writer). 

Born manipulators, we women are, what with Evolution having made us so.  A flavor of the pickup artists, there:  The false generalizations of the worst examples to all women, the feeling of entitlement to plentiful sex and the rage when it is not forthcoming, as well as the complete disappearance of women as anything but sources of sexual satisfaction and children.

As an aside, note also that most of these right-wing and religious extremist groups really really need to have all women stay at home, away from any public influence and the prying eyes of other men.  That a single wage-earner in each family tends to doom many of those families into poverty, at least in the market economies, seems to be utterly ignored.  But then I didn't see much economic theory on the Alt Right sites I visited.  The movement, if it can be called one, is not about economics at all, not even the small-government Republican economics.

****  Note that this is not the same thing as admitting that different individuals have varying skills, tendencies and intelligence, because the argument focuses on group differences.  All people inside a group are painted with the same wide brush.  Because of this belief in group inequality, equal opportunities for all and other similar concepts are meaningless for the Alt Right men.   Rather, the laws which provide for them are seen as favoritism towards groups which deserve to be treated as inferiors, because they are inferior.