Friday, March 26, 2021

President Joe Biden, Saving America, Fulfilling His Destiny

Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail.
Sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people will sometimes step back from war,
elect an honest man, decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for...
                                                       From "Sometimes" by Sheenagh Pugh

President Joe Biden held his first press conference yesterday, responding to questions with his unique brand of passion, compassion, honesty and dry humour. Against so many predictions, and in the face of tremendous hope but little faith, he is succeeding in starting to impact on the damage done to the US – and the world – by the last administration and too many years of Republican abuse of power.

This despite that Democrats don’t have an easy majority in either the Senate or the House. The one thing that stands out for me is that he’s so unafraid. Combined with his profound integrity it makes him a powerful man.

Professor Paul Krugman recently wrote a piece in the New York Times about reasons for the GOP’s sudden ineffectiveness in blocking progress. “Republicans may simply have lost the ability to take policy seriously,” he wrote, agreeing with Jonathan Cohn’s argument (with regard to the GOP’s inability to destroy Obamacare) that Democrats do the work but Republicans, who don't, “no longer know how to think through hard choices, make the compromises necessary to build alliances and get things done.”

My take on it is this. Since 2008 I've never thought that there were any brilliant minds or hard workers in the Republican Party or that any of their strategies had an ounce of common sense, apart from gerrymandering and voter suppression which, together with a mind-bending right wing media exploiting racist fear, is all they've needed to hold onto so much power.

When you use corrupt methods to acquire it and you can abuse it with impunity you get lazy, believe you’re infallible, and don't notice when your hold on it is becoming tenuous and when opposition is building momentum. It’s the oldest story in the history books.

There’s also the possibility that Republicans weren’t/aren’t smart enough to discern intelligence in their opposition. Remember when they touted Paul Ryan as the party genius? 

Truth is that Democrats have had all the brains for a long time but as a voting group they’ve been an undisciplined bunch, squandering opportunity when it was there for the taking because compromise of any sort was anathema. But this crisis, of what they lost and what Trump and the GOP were doing to the country, forced them to band together.

That’s the "bipartisanship” that has needed to happen since 2010, and Biden was/is experienced, wise and smart enough to recognize it. This president, with a universe of compassion in his heart and wisdom of the ages, who has had the strength and courage to allow repeated trauma to fashion him into a man of great stature, fears nobody, not least of all Republicans. He gave them a chance to work with him and since they won't he has shrugged and moved on, undaunted. 

At his conference yesterday, when asked about his promise during the campaign to work with the GOP President Biden came back smartly with, "I may not have united Congress but I'm uniting the country." 

At this of monumental crisis, he's risen to meet the challenges and become the progressive I suspect he always wanted to be. Humanity, supreme competence, expertise and experience reign supreme. African Americans, minorities and progressives are represented in government and have clout. They’re energised! It's all coming together for them now and falling apart for the GOP, who’ve finally reached that tipping point of being too weakened by their own corruption to be effective. 

When asked about 2024 and who he thought he’d be running against, he quipped, "I have no idea whether there’ll be Republican party. Do you?"

Joe Biden. Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

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Monday, January 11, 2021

House Democrats Introduce Article of Impeachment

House Democrats have introduced an Article of Impeachment against Donald Trump for high crimes and misdemeanours, charging the president with “inciting violence against the government of the United States” and including a reference to the 14th Amendment, which prohibits anybody who has engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the US from holding future office. The measure has 218 co-sponsors to date, enough to guarantee passage, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) has said that if the Vice President doesn’t invoke the 25th by Wednesday, the House will move forward with the impeachment.

Watching/reading coverage of the thuggery and criminality on Capitol Hill, driven by white supremacists, it's reassuring to see how US politicians with normal integrity - mostly Democrats - can't swallow the behaviour of Republican congressmen and women who enabled Trump for four years then were either silent in the face of all the lies and bogus attempts to overturn a democratically successful election, or joined in and supported that travesty.

Who even now are mute and in hiding – apart from those who have the gall to accuse Democrats of fostering disunity with their insistence on holding Trump to account and going ahead with impeachment.

How about Vice President Mike Pence? The mob was chanting "hang Pence, hang Pence". Neither he nor any other Republican believes that Trump didn't cause the violence on Capitol Hill that led to the deaths of five people, or that he has any sanity left at all.

They are fully aware that Trump could start a nuclear war today, within five minutes – and that internationally the US has been shamed horrendously, its reputation for being a bastion of Western democracy shredded. The damage done by this president has rippled out across the globe. The planet.

But Pence and members of Trump's cabinet who haven't resigned don’t want to invoke the 25th. Are none of them worried that they could have more blood on their hands? Do they think they'll get a warning before Trump does something worse? You’d have to be brain dead to believe they’re not thinking about it, or to think they don’t know full well the risk they’re taking, on behalf of those whose lives they have been elected to protect.

No wonder Democrats are wild with righteous anger. Which of us can accept behaviour like that of this band of Republican politicians? It's counter-intuitive to decent people. Humans aren't supposed to be like this. Intellectually we can understand the rank betrayal of normal values and point to all the examples of it in history – past, recent, and still going on - but our heart sand souls still react violently. We’re not built to believe that humans can be evil, cynical, consumed with greed and lust for power.

So, thank you Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and all the Democrats and a couple of Republicans who have always spoken out against Trump and are calling for him to be thrown out and banned from ever running again. Who show their faces on TV and speak openly of their disgust, outrage, disdain and horror despite the very real and present danger that doing so exposes them to.

The world owes them a debt of gratitude for their clear headedness, strength of purpose and huge courage.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Boris Johnson Beware! The Knives are out for Dominic Cummings

It's pretty much universal: Boris Johnson's support of Dominic Cummings is a suicide move. A petition calling for a public vote of no confidence in the PM has 107,000 signatures so far and cross-party calls for Cummings to go are burgeoning out of control. Nineteen Conservative MPs have gone on record.  International press is scathing of Johnson. So is the Church of England. Thirteen bishops have publicly expressed their outrage.

Johnson is trying to brazen it out, unwilling to accept that what worked for him over Brexit and in the GE has turned into a minefield. Even going back to post election, he has cynically tapped into the heroism of the second world war and the spirit of unity, playing at Churchill, to get voters to like him, forgive him his incompetence and faults, and do what he wants. He was successful enough to win a giant majority and then to get most to accept lockdown when Covid-19 hit us between the eyes. But he made the rookie mistake of thinking the loyalty is to him and his government.

It isn't. It's to the principle of honour. Not difficult to rouse in a country that prides itself on exceptionalism – even though it faded away long ago – and where nationalism has been heavily exploited for political purposes for four years.

Honour is a fierce animal, though and once roused, it's not easily hoodwinked. So the government's constant lies, incompetence, cover-ups, and the suffering and lives lost as a consequence, have registered; slowly at first but with increasing rapidity. Especially since Keir Starmer took over as leader of the opposition, because he is a man of honour and easily recognizable as such, even to Conservatives.

The UK is often compared to the US. Now, in backing Dominic Cummings' inexcusable lockdown flout, flying in the face of significant rebellion in his own party and even the right wing press, and following close on the heels of the latest opinion poll that showed Starmer surging ahead in popularity and respect, Johnson is playing Trump's game. It's an unwise move. This isn't America, where Republicans have allowed Trump to reduce them to a pack of zombies. Some Conservatives do have independence of mind, or at least enough to make them see the dangers of siding with Johnson, and they're more open to facing the reality that the power they gained with the last election is disintegrating at the speed of light.
No matter how much power you think you have, you can't survive in politics without friends. Dominic Cummings has made a lot of enemies in the Cabinet, MPs nursing their grudges secretively, craving an opportune moment. That moment is now.
And a petition calling for Cummings to be sacked has 419,000 signatures and counting fast. That damn hubris. It will take you down every time.

It's impossible yet to know why Boris Johnson is clinging onto his aide. Speculation is rife on social media that Cummings has something on him. Darker secrets and conspiracy theories aside, Cummings is a vindictive bully. It could be that Johnson doesn't want to get on the wrong side of him or that he's become so dependent he can't bear the idea of life without him. Hopefully his hand will be forced. To date nineteen Conservative MPs have gone on record calling for Cummings to be fired.
Meanwhile, Keir Starmer is being the leader the whole country is yearning for, so the longer Boris Johnson lets the wounds inflicted by Cummings fester, the better it is for Labour.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

UK Government Admits To No Tracking and Tracing as Lockdown Eases

“The UK decision to abandon tracing on 12 March 2020 is widely viewed as one of the most serious mistakes of this crisis.” – Jonathan Ashworth, MP, Labour Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary
It's well known that if you don't learn by your mistakes or those of others you will repeat them and every time you do the consequences will be increasingly disastrous. It's been the modus operandi for the UK government since Covid-19 made its first appearance.

The government, led by Boris Johnson the Incompetent– or not, since he was nowhere to be seen - arrogantly sat back and watched as infection went viral in Europe. In the blink of an eye the UK was on track to repeat Italy and Spain's experience, and then we overtook them both to become the worst hit because the government stopped testing, tracking and tracing in March. At first they said they stopped in accordance with advice from "the science", pretending there was no difference between their "science" and that of the WHO.

Then recently they admitted without shame that they told a barefaced lie and the real reason they stopped testing was a lack of capacity. No attempt back then to get up to speed as quickly as possible. No hint of lockdown. Let's play a game of herd mentality shall we?

How surprising that disaster struck. The government has made empty promises and inaccurate assertions on a daily basis and showed no remorse for the incompetence, lies and cover-ups, or the blood on their hands. They kept comparing the UK to the rest of Europe until the day UK deaths were highest in Europe, 2nd highest in the world. Then overnight it was a useless comparison.
Now, in defiance of all good sense and without consulting Scotland and Wales the government has eased lockdown. There's debate over what the R figure actually is and even if consensus were reached that it's below 1, it isn't low enough to be safe; it's an average, meaning that in some areas it's still dangerously high and now people can drive around the country, carrying infection with them. Good planning, Boris Johnson. Or is that Dominic Cummings?

Schools have been ordered to open on June 1. Teachers and unions are refusing, for good reason. Scotland and Wales are refusing to end lockdown. For good reason.

Already in England vast numbers of people have ignored social distancing and swamped parks and beaches. As if that weren't bad enough, the government plans to ease lockdown further in one week without - you guessed it - adequate testing, tracking and tracing securely in place.

What could possibly go wrong.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Keir Starmer Approval Ratings Overtake Boris Johnson's

In the 2019 general election Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party had its most crushing defeat since 1935, handing Boris Johnson the gift of a lifetime – absolute control in Parliament. Corbyn resigned and the shattered Labour party held a leadership election. On 2 April Keir Starmer won by a landslide. Hope flickered that the next election could be a win for Labour. Then Covid-19 hit us between the eyes.

Despite the shambling incompetence and criminal negligence of Boris Johnson and his government that has landed us in the unenviable position of being the worst hit in Europe, opinion polls consistently showed the British public supporting the government. But Boris Johnson and his unskilled, bungling cabinet have been living on borrowed time. When Parliament opened again Keir Starmer took the government to task in PMQs with forensic clarity, persistence – and dignity – and he hasn't let up.

He's the leader that we long for, while Boris Johnson has only made a fool of himself, unable to back up his own assertions, or to answer Starmer coherently.

Not surprisingly, Starmer's net approval ratings have overtaken Johnson’s. In the latest Opinium poll 35% back Labour's opposition to the government, 20% disapprove, and 33% are neutral. Government approval ratings have plummeted from 65% when lockdown was announced to 39%. Disapproval rose by six points to 42%.

Calls for an inquiry into the government's failures are increasing in volume. Thought you could do anything you wanted, Boris Johnson. That breaching of the red wall in the election, your control of Parliament? Squandered. There's a revolt in the north, with many cities refusing to end lockdown. Now it looks like the blue wall is going to come crashing down as Keir Starmer proves that integrity in British politics is alive and kicking. That's leadership for you.

Being in opposition to a government with a large majority doesn't mean you don't have power. Truth is hugely powerful. Some people don't recognise how much they long for it until they hear it. They may not realise how much lies and cover-ups have left them feeling assaulted until they witness integrity.

Meanwhile, in the US, Barack Obama is weighing in again and Joe Biden is doing a brilliant job of uniting Democrats. All of this gives me hope that good will triumph over evil, that the upsurge of the far right, with Donald Trump and Boris Johnson and their respective parties, has been more of a death rattle than the start of anything sustainable.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

GOP Candidate Justin Amash Speaking Truth to Power

Embed from Getty Images

It takes courage to speak to truth to power when you're the lone voice in an entire political party but Rep Justin Amash is undaunted. The only Republican to call for Donald Trump's impeachment, he held a town hall in Grand Rapids Michigan on May 28 and drew standing ovations from a crowd of about 900.

Afterwards, he tweeted a long thread highlighting how Attorney General Barr distorted the truth of the Mueller Report to protect the president from impeachment.

It may have worked in the interim, primarily because Democrats are holding back on making a commitment that could cost them in the 2020 elections, but eventually this corrupt house of cards will collapse and all who have enabled the wannabe demagogue in the White House will go down with him.

Whatever Justin Amash's fate as a Republican politician, he will be the only one who can sleep with a clear conscience. The man deserves a medal, and a wealth of gratitude, not just from Americans, but from people around the world, as Trump's policies—and the lust for power that keeps GOP politicians slavishly enabling his neuroses and his attacks on equality, human rights and the health of the planet—increasingly threaten world peace and economic stability and open the door to the far right.

Amash's tweet and the content of the full thread are below.
The text of the full thread is below:

Embed from Getty Images

Monday, April 22, 2019

Trump Impeachment Threat Gets Real

Two narratives have emerged since the release of the redacted version of the Mueller report. One is fiction, that Trump was fully exonerated by it. AG William Barr did what he could to support the distortion, saying there's no there there, releasing a 4 page summary of the 448 page report, then, when pressured, putting out a redacted version of it.

Democrats were on him like a hive of angry super-bees. But in the first few days there was a lot of focus on this exoneration narrative, even by liberal media, with many saying there was no countering it and that Democrats would shoot themselves in the foot to pursue it. There were reports that some Democrats are afraid it will make a martyr of Trump and give him such a boost that he wins in 2020. They suggested it would be better to focus on the election to get rid of Trump.

He, of course, has marched around waving at crowds, shooting his mouth off. Seemingly triumphant. Hysteria patently visible just below the surface.

The other narrative, supported by facts, is that the Mueller report, far from exonerating the president, provides a launch for impeachment proceedings and possible criminal indictment because, while collusion doesn't have a legal definition and isn't a federal crime, obstruction of justice does and is. Among many others, NYT, The Guardian, Vox have covered this and exposed Trump's real vulnerability.

Now Democrat Representative Jerry Nadler (NY), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has issued a subpoena for the unredacted report and its accompanying evidence to be submitted by 1 May, with a pledge to hold "major hearings".

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indeed been wary of jumping the gun unless there's bi-partisan support for impeachment in the House and Senate. But, she isn't saying it won't happen. She's just being very measured in her response, making sure that all bases are covered. She's a great strategist and has never taken her foot off the pressure pedal. Her Communications Director and Senior Adviser Ashley Etienne said "as the Speaker has said repeatedly, one step at a time." House Committee Oversight Chairman Democratic Rep Elijah Cummings echoed that (see tweet above).

However, Senator Elizabeth Warren has publicly called for impeachment. "To ignore a President’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways. "

Charles Blow argues for impeachment in his NYT column, writing, "An impeachment vote in the House has, to this point, been the strongest rebuke America is willing to give a president. I can think of no president who has earned this rebuke more than the current one. And, once a president is impeached, he is forever marked. It is a chastisement unto itself. It is the People’s House making a stand for its people."

It is a fundamental moral issue, but ultimately, impeachment by the House could also be good strategy. It might give Trump a boost, but it will put a nuclear rocket under and unite Democratic voters who are phenomenally frustrated and have been crying out for action against this corrupt president ever since he was elected.

Also, it will put the Senate in the same position the House is in now. If they refuse to indict, Democratic voters will be incandescent. Either way, Trump loses.

Walking on eggshells around a bully never works. It gives them power. You can't back down from a fight for what's right out of fear that justice won't be found. It's a mistake to think that Nancy Pelosi and those like her are doing that or that they're cowards. They're not. They're girding their loins. It doesn't hurt Democrats overall that they're not united; in fact the two positions reinforce each other. And for all his insistence that he's been cleared, Trump is terrified, ranting and scapegoating on Twitter, truth be damned as always.

He's on the run. Democrats are keeping it that way. They're circling him. Closing in on him. From every direction.

Senator Elizabeth Warren Calls for Trump's Impeachment

'The Mueller report lays out facts showing that a hostile foreign government attacked our 2016 election to help Donald Trump and Donald Trump welcomed that help. Once elected, Donald Trump obstructed the investigation into that attack.

Mueller put the next step in the hands of Congress: “Congress has authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice.” The correct process for exercising that authority is impeachment.

To ignore a President’s repeated efforts to obstruct an investigation into his own disloyal behavior would inflict great and lasting damage on this country, and it would suggest that both the current and future Presidents would be free to abuse their power in similar ways.

The severity of this misconduct demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States.'

Friday, April 19, 2019

Defining Classy; a Short, Sloppy but not Wholly Inaccurate History of its Evolution

Phoenix by Jennifer Stewart

In the West, there was a time when Classy was synonymous with class distinction. It was all about lineage, sophisticated social skills, the kind of wealth that stayed in the family, and a gene pool that proved not infrequently to be, over the long run, the fundamental cause of a characteristic commonly referred to as weak in the head.

Royalty. Landed gentry. Upper crust society. Beautiful manners, gorgeous clothes, glorious homes, power, mobility. The stuff of fairy tales. Now that was class.

Outsiders—the poor, the struggling, the serfs and slaves, the farm workers, soldiers, sailors, tinkers and tailors—all either accepted their place or felt, and were, powerless to change it. Oh, and let's not forget independent-minded women and anybody who wasn't white, with the exception of those few notables who heroically managed to penetrate a ceiling made from the building materials fortresses were constructed with.

But something happened in the collective psyche of the outsiders. A lust for a bigger experience, a bigger slice of the pie.

Might have had something to do with the fact that it had a sturdier gene pool, a broader mix. Something about that seems to open neurological pathways to creative thinking. 

Boom. The Industrial Revolution. Suddenly yobs with no manners, no refinement, and neither land nor lineage could amass fortunes and buy the trappings of class. Not independent spirited women, people of color or different lifestyle choices or foreign alien religions, though. Let's never forget that.

Nouveau Riche. Spurned, of course by the Original Class of Classies, and using outsiders in exactly the same way they'd been used by their masters. Gradually these upstarts developed manners and accoutrements of Class and in many cases married into lineage, because its weak gene pool had left it with land and snobbery but no bucks.

And a populace of poor people living—or barely living—off the land, giving everything of value of themselves to the Classies, became a populace of poor people still barely living, but doing it in the cities. 

Still giving everything of themselves, but now to the New Classies as slaves, servants, wives, factory workers. Also, for a while, collectively accepting that they had no option. It wasn't a pretty picture and the environment began to take a real beating too.

Again, though, something happened in the collective psyche of those damn outsiders, the slaves to and enablers of others' pleasure and good fortune. Maybe it's really about the spirit of the human never being satisfied with being stuck in the dark ages. Perhaps it's about the human capacity for good needing to prevail over its capacity for evil.

The outsiders became more aware that moving up was a possibility even for them. Boom. Unions. Higher wages, access to more ideas, demanding education, finding it, getting it.

Well, what a damn mess. From then on it was one boom after another, the cataclysmic collapse of the old order happening from decade to decade. The original Classies' gene pool completely buggered up. The concept of "What About Me, What About Them!" spreading like wildfire. 

Youth, women, people of color, diverse religions and lifestyle choices making their voices heard, fighting for their rights and those of others, not waiting for permission but insisting that they were equal, caring about accountability and the environment. Never giving up in the face of dreadful persecution in every imaginable application, covert and overt. Desire for decency to prevail became a conflagration impossible to control. 

As the lust for a better experience seared at hearts, souls and minds; as compassion for the exploited, and protest at the exploiters grew; as wealth and access to information became more accessible to so many more; something else happened. Classy began to be synonymous with decency, inner strength, dignity, compassion and respect for others and self, good sense, concern for the environment. 

Nowhere else for it to go, really. Boom. The Phoenix of the human spirit emerging from the ashes.

That's where we are today. Class is not about what you wear, what you earn, what you own, your status, the color of your skin, your gender, your religion or your lifestyle choice. It's about who you are.

Just as the outsiders always thought they were as classy as those they were desperate to be accepted by when the barriers to entry were superficial, today the ethically challenged who have amassed vast fortunes and or power swagger around with great braggadocio, loudly trumpeting how classy they are. Utterly oblivious to how obvious it is to the rest of us that whatever they've got, it ain't class. 

These days, no matter what else you have, without class of the soul, the kind that actually counts for something humane, you've got nothing. And it shows.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Attempts to Discredit Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

When Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's anonymous accusations of sexual abuse by Brett Kavanaugh in the 1980s were first revealed, Republicans, so sure of their power, were slow to realize the danger their candidate for the Supreme Court was in. Denials, support for Kavanaugh, dismissals of Ford, flooded the media. Republicans insisted that the Committee vote would happen as scheduled.

It seemed that their strategy to ram this nominee into the Supreme Court would work. But in a time when news cycles spin at the speed of light, this story was no different. Within days Dr. Ford had gone public. The majority of Republicans stood by their man, but a couple realized the danger they were in come re-election time and backed down enough to call for a delay to the vote.  Given the GOP's slim majority in the Senate, it was enough. Both parties were invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but only under very restrictive terms. No FBI or Senate investigation into the allegations, and no corroborating or character witnesses.

Mr. Kavanaugh was fine with that, but Dr. Ford wasn't. She said she would testify if the FBI reopened their investigation into Kavanaugh's background, specifically to investigate her allegations. They could, but not without White House approval, which was withheld, under the pretext "the FBI doesn't do that". Which isn't true. They do. It's their job. And they have done it, in exactly the same circumstances, when Anita Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.

Fully aware of the falsity of the president's assertion, nonetheless Republicans vetoed the investigation, saying they were willing to give Dr. Ford a chance to speak, but that if she didn't want it, the Committee vote would go ahead. As if she were some kind of sulky schoolgirl who had been offered cake but didn't want it.

Her loss, then. In a feeble attempt to justify their lack of interest in getting to the truth, and to placate those of their constituents who find Dr. Ford's allegations credible, mutterings were made about "mistaken identity". It was so long ago, Dr. Ford could easily have forgotten who really abused her. That theory was debunked instantly by a number of credible sources. NYT columnist Charles Blow addressed the issue when he spoke frankly on CNN about his experience with abuse.

Enter Ed Whelan, friend and slavish fan of Judge Kavanaugh, and, ironically given his behavior in the last few days, president of the conservative think tank the Ethics and Public Policy Center.  Assisted by a prominent Virginia PR firm, CRC Public Relations, Whelan produced "evidence" that Dr. Ford's abuser was a high school classmate of Kavanaugh's, namely a photograph showing how allegedly similar the two friends looked (they don't), and floor plans of the house Whelan identified as the location of the abuse. He included the name of the new suspect.

Dr. Ford rejected the claim immediately and it was exposed as pure fabrication. Tail between his legs, Wheelan retracted his allegations, and apologized  obsequiously. Too little too late for the innocent man.

Republicans, originally excited by Whelan's story, now distanced themselves from him as fast as they could. Then news broke that Garrett Ventry, who was on a leave of absence from CRC to work help lead the Senate Judiciary's response to Dr. Ford's allegations against Mr. Kavanaugh, was himself fired from a previous job in part because of an allegation of sexual misconduct.

Take a moment to think about that. Both Whelan and Ventry have been hustled off stage.