A Curious Thing Happened Right After Al Franken Announced He’s Resigning: The Tone Of Our Friends’ Tweets And Facebook Postings Completely Changed

What last week was “no mercy/no double standards” suddenly became “why don’t Democrats have a backbone?” Is this just a momentary expression of compassion and condolence for a disgraced hero, and a lament for what might have been? Or a sea-change in the way recent sexual harassment allegations and reactions are perceived and assessed?

In his speech on the Senate floor Franken, perhaps the Democratic party’s fieriest and most captivating communicator since Anthony Weiner, was both apologetic and combative. Watch that here:


These are some actual comments from our friends on Facebook and Twitter after Franken’s speech (all but one written by women BTW):

  • “This is part of why I get angry at the Dems….Idealistic when it is time to get in the trenches”.
  • “The Democrats have it so wrong — why make AL FRANKEN, the only Senator who can take down the Republicans, resign?”
  • “It’s a classic shoot yourself in the foot….The Dems are proving themselves once again to be incapable of being a fighting force.”
  • “Franken is no sleazeball….Big loss for the good cause.”
  • “Do we really think the Republicans will be shamed…because the Dems have taken the high road and sacrificed Franken? Frankly, I don’t think they give a damn.”
  • “I’ll admit, I was calling for Franken’s resignation yesterday….HOWEVER, we can change our minds…”


The question we keep hearing from the media in the wake of Franken’s resignation is “Does the Democratic Party now have the moral high ground“? We don’t even know why that’s a question. The answer is clearly “yes”. But does that make any difference“? We think the answer to that, equally clearly, is “no”. For one simple reason: politics has never been about decency.

And does “having a backbone” mean embracing a doctrine of total annihilation? Or does “having a backbone” mean being willing to abandon your political heroes if they’ve done something reprehensible?

We don’t have an answer to that one. But we do think the eventual answer lies in forgiveness. But when? And how? And how fully should they ever be forgiven? We cannot claim to understand anything about the depth of the pain and lasting trauma inflicted by all these men on their victims.

We just see the people who are admitting their bad behavior and showing remorse being sent into exile. While the people who deny everything, who accuse their accusers of lying, are unscathed. And we don’t only mean Trump and Roy Moore. Woody Allen’s latest movie just came out. Louis CK’s did not.

Franken did not set a specific date for his resignation. Although he’s not up for reelection until 2020, his departure would mean a special election in 2018. Politico is now reporting Minnesota’s Democratic  Lieutenant Governor, Tina Smith would fill his seat in the meantime. It’s a puzzling choice however, since Smith apparently has no interest in participating in the special election, so it would be wide open, with Democrats not enjoying the normal advantage of running an incumbent. And Minnesota’s no slam dunk for Democrats. Franken won his first election to the Senate there by just 312 votes.



Also Resigning…

Arizona Republican Representative Trent Franks, after the House Ethics Committee said it’s investigating him for “sexual harassment and/or retaliation for opposing sexual harassment”. The ultra-Conservative member of the Freedom Caucus said in a statement what they mean by that is he asked two women who worked for him if they’d have a child for him as a surrogate.


Rep. Trent Franks (R) Arizona


The House Ethics Committee also launching a separate investigation into Texas Republican Blake Farenthold. He used $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment suit brought by a former staffer, but he denies her allegations. Several Members of Congress have used the argument that it was just easier to settle, (especially since it wasn’t coming out of their pockets)…


Rep. Blake Farenthold (R) Texas



Good News/Bad News On Obamacare

The good news is enrollments are running way ahead of where they were this time last year, up 22% according to Vox. The bad news is, because the Trump Administration cut the enrollment period in half, it’s almost over: ending December 15th. That’s also likely to force some people into deciding whether it’s more important to buy Christmas presents or health care, whereas they’d be clear of that pressure if the period extended into January as it has previously. But of course, that’s part of why it isn’t.



Is The FBI “In Tatters”?

No, says Christopher Wray, the FBI director whom Trump appointed after he fired James Comey. Speaking before the House Judiciary Committee, Wray was asked to comment on Trump’s Tweet from earlier this week saying the FBI’s “reputation is in Tatters — worst in History!

Here’s what Wray had to say about that:


This is one of the biggest things we don’t get about Trump. He demands loyalty, but then trashes the people he needs it from the most. Yes there are masochists out there. But generally, loyalty isn’t won by calling the people who work for you–in this case, people who are literally putting their lives on the line for you–pieces of crap.

The White House later said Trump didn’t mean to condemn the whole FBI, just Comey and a few “political” agents.

The rest of Wray’s testimony was pretty much split down the middle, Republicans asking about Hillary Clinton’s emails, Democrats asking about Trump and obstruction of justice, the FBI Director working very hard to say as little as possible about either.



Wildfires Continue To Threaten Southern California

Hundreds of thousands more people were evacuated, as the still uncontained fires in some areas were exacerbated and spread by high winds and low humidity: “almost as low as is physically possible” a UCLA scientist told the L.A. Times. While this has been the worst year for wildfires in California’s history, it may become the norm, not the exception, according to the New York Times.

In many areas, air quality is becoming a major issue as well.

Meanwhile, it’s snowing in Texas. An extremely rare accumulation of up to 3″ is expected all the way down to the Rio Grande.




“Mr. Pence You Are Not Welcome”

The BBC reports Palestinian officials are threatening to refuse to hold talks with Vice President Mike Pence when he visits the region toward the end of the month.


Graffiti in Bethlehem


That’s after President Trump announced this week he intends to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. More protests are expected in Palestinian areas today, with Israel deploying hundreds of extra troops.

Meanwhile, Trump turned up at the White House Hanukkah party, where he recounted the story of the Jewish holiday. You can watch that here:



Quiet Diplomacy In North Korea

A former American State Department official (who for a time was in charge of the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem) is currently in North Korea as a representative of the United Nations. North Korea’s official news agency confirmed a meeting between Jeffrey Feltman, the UN’s undersecretary general for political affairs and Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho. Meanwhile, according to the Guardian, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that North Korea is ready to sit down and talk. The Trump Administration says the North Koreans have to express willingness to give up their nuclear weapons in order for that to happen, (which will never happen). Still, conditions sometimes change when there’s an unexpected opportunity at hand.



The Federal Government Won’t Shut Down Today

Congress pushed the deadline for a budget deal back to December 22nd. Trump who has threatened a shutdown from time-to-time is expected to sign.

And Democratic Leadership (or “Chuck and Nancy” as Trump likes to call them) did show up for a meeting with the President, after boycotting the last one.

Remember we questioned the validity of the seating arrangements the time they didn’t show up?

Well, based on where everybody was seated this time around, looks like we were right.



Perhaps The Oddest Story Of The Day: The Secret Buyer Of That $450-million Da Vinci Painting Turns Out To Be…

…None other than the highly controversial heir to the Saudi royal throne, Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He recently made headlines by detaining numerous members of the Saudi royal family and keeping them under house arrest in what was seen as an attempt to consolidate power.

The painting:

The Prince:

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman