What’s a Little Harassment Between Friends

David Greenberg has a useful take on the Herman Cain business. He talks about the changing of sexual mores in politicis over the last fifty years — how extramarital affairs went from unspoken private behavior to very public and ruinous scandals; how divorce went from politically ruinous to acceptable; how homosexual behavior could once have destroyed a politician but is a smaller problem now. The relevance to Cain:

It may be hard today to imagine that sexual harassment could be considered anything but proof of a serious moral deficiency. The crime has appropriately moved from a widely tolerated practice to one whose gravity is dinned into the heads of every employee in every workplace. But the behaviors that fall under the rubric vary widely, and some may result not from malice but from the inability of men accustomed to one set of rules to adjust to new realities. Certain kinds of flirtation deemed unacceptable today could perhaps one day be regarded as relatively harmless. At the least, in this case, as in the others, we should halt the rush to judgmentalism. We shouldn’t assume that our own culture’s newly developed notions of sexual right and wrong are timeless and absolute.

Bill James once noted that social progress often comes in the guise of its opposite. In the early 90’s we had an explosion of sexual harassment scandals — Clinton, Clarence Thomas, tailhook, you name it. But what had changed was not men’s behavior. What had changed was that women stopped putting up with it. For whatever social or economic reason, the early 90’s was when millions of women said, “You know, I really don’t like it when you rub my shoulders like that at work.”

For many men, especially of Cain’s age, this was a radical shift in the landscape. Rush Limbaugh wrote a whole chapter about behavior in radio studios that would now be considered harassment. He wondered why women suddenly didn’t like it. What he missed was that women had never liked it; they had tolerated it.

We don’t know the details, of course, but the timing of the complaints makes me wonder if the same thing happened to Herman Cain. It is likely that the way he had acted around women didn’t change, but what was acceptable and unacceptable did. It’s also possible, as he claims, that his behavior wasn’t harassing but got swept up when the pendulum swung too far. As numerous people have pointed out, the settlement amounts are “nuisance suit” level.

What’s really critical is whether Cain changed his behavior or whether this behavior has continued. I’m willing to cut politicians some slack on past behavior or beliefs. But not if it is reflective of who they are today.

Comments are closed.

  1. Seattle Outcast

    In the last thirty years I have never seen an actual case of sexual harassment – not a single one. I have, however, seen dozens of women offer sex for promotions, raises, and other workplace perks. I once had a boss with a serious case of yellow fever – he had TWO asian women in the office (neither one of them competent) fucking him in his office during lunch on an alternating schedule. One of them went on to fuck her way to two further promotions.

    Which is why I consider all of it to be utter bullshit.

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  2. Mississippi Yankee

    Toby Harnden US editor of the Daily Telegraph has a very good article about Cain.

    Sexual allegations against a black man are rightly treated with great suspicion by many Americans because they play on the kind of fears and taboos examined in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird.

    A funny thing happened on the way to the lynching

    The very same people that scuttled Jack Ryan’s US senate race in Illonois against state rep.Obama(they illegally unsealed his divorce records) and first put Obama on the national stage are just up to more their old tricks.

    With very little hyperbole I suspect a charge of ‘satanism’ to be forthcoming. Or father rapin’ (ORA)

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  3. CM

    What’s really critical is whether Cain changed his behavior or whether this behavior has continued.

    And from what we’re hearing, these two women weren’t alone. Which suggests he didn’t change his behaviour. At least during that period anyway.

    As numerous people have pointed out, the settlement amounts are “nuisance suit” level.

    Is that what has been concluded? I hadn’t heard that. I’d heard the amounts were a year’s salary for each women, which was considered far above ‘nuisance suit’ value.

    Conservatives seem more willing to dismiss (or make light of) sexual harrassment, however I would have thought they’d need to be stricter on this issue because a fundamental part of the philosophy is that the playing field is inherently level (colour-blind, gender-blind, sexual-oreintation-blind, age-blind) and nobody needs any help. Otherwise we’re picking winners and losers If everyone is already equal and has equal opportunity, then surely it’s vitally important to be aware of issues like these are treated seriously and addressed, not made light of. If women have as much chance as men to become winners, surely there needs to be absolutely no discrimination or harrassment of them based on something as unimportant as gender?

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  4. ilovecress

    The very same people that scuttled Jack Ryan’s US senate race in Illonois against state rep.Obama(they illegally unsealed his divorce records) and first put Obama on the national stage are just up to more their old tricks.

    I thought that this came out of the Perry camp to begin with?

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  5. CM

    …scuttled Jack Ryan’s US senate race in Illonois against state rep.Obama(they illegally unsealed his divorce records)

    Clearly this Wikipedia entry needs updating then….

    Ryan married actress Jeri Ryan in 1991; together they have a son, Alex Ryan. They divorced in 1999 in California, and the records of the divorce were sealed at their mutual request. Five years later, when Ryan’s Senate campaign began, the Chicago Tribune newspaper and WLS-TV, the local ABC affiliate, sought to have the records released. On March 3, 2004, several of Ryan’s GOP primary opponents urged release of the records.[5] Both Ryan and his wife agreed to make their divorce records public, but not make the custody records public, claiming that the custody records could be harmful to their son if released. On March 16, 2004, Ryan won the GOP primary with 36 percent to 23 percent against Jim Oberweis who came in second.[6] Obama won the Democratic primary, with 53 percent to 23 percent against Dan Hynes, who came in second.

    On March 29, 2004, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Schnider ruled that several of the Ryans’ divorce records should be opened to the public, and ruled that a court-appointed referee would later decide which custody files should remain sealed to protect the interests of Ryan’s young child.[7] The following week, on April 2, 2004, Barack Obama formally established his position about the Ryans’ soon-to-be-released divorce records, and called on Democrats not to inject them into the campaign.[8] The Ryan campaign characterized Obama’s stance as hypocritical, because Obama’s alleged backers had been emailing reports about the divorce records prior to Judge Schnider’s decision.[8]

    In May 2004, two polls were conducted statewide where the Chicago Tribune poll found Ryan trailing Obama 52% to 30% [9] while the Sun Times reported that he was trailing Obama 48 percent to 40 percent in the U.S. Senate race, according to a new Daily Southtown poll of 500 likely Illinois voters [10] [11] On June 22, 2004, after receiving a report from the referee, Judge Schnider released the files that were deemed consistent with the interests of Ryan’s young child. In those files, Jeri Ryan alleged that Jack Ryan had asked her to perform sexual acts with him in public in sex clubs in New York, New Orleans, and Paris. Jeri Ryan described one as “a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling.”[12][1]

    The decision to release these files generated much controversy because it went against both parents’ direct request, and because it reversed the earlier decision to seal the papers in the best interest of the child. Jim Oberweis, Ryan’s defeated GOP opponent, commented that “these are allegations made in a divorce hearing, and we all know people tend to say things that aren’t necessarily true in divorce proceedings when there is money involved and custody of children involved.”[1]

    Prior to release of the documents, Ryan claimed he had told leading Republicans that the divorce file could cause problems for his campaign.[13] After the documents were released, GOP Chair Judy Baar Topinka said of Ryan’s comment “It may have been somewhat misleading.”[14] Topinka said after the June 25 withdrawal that Ryan’s “decision was a personal one” and that the state GOP had not pressured Ryan to drop out.[15][16] Ryan’s campaign ended less than a week after the custody records were opened, and Ryan officially filed the documentation to withdraw on July 29, 2004. The same party leaders who called for Ryan’s resignation chose Alan Keyes as Ryan’s replacement in the race; Keyes lost to Obama, 27% to 70%.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Ryan_(politician)#Campaign_demise

    What facts need to be changed to reflect the truth?

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  6. Section8

    And from what we’re hearing, these two women weren’t alone. Which suggests he didn’t change his behaviour. At least during that period anyway.

    And you’re hearing this from where?

    Conservatives seem more willing to dismiss (or make light of) sexual harrassment, however I would have thought they’d need to be stricter on this issue because a fundamental part of the philosophy is that the playing field is inherently level (colour-blind, gender-blind, sexual-oreintation-blind, age-blind) and nobody needs any help.

    So what harassment happened exactly? Please do tell. The confidentiality agreement was lifted, we were supposed to get details of their side of the story according to earlier media reports, please do tell what you know.

    Oh, which conservatives are more willing to dismiss such harassment? All of them? Really? Do you have any proof? It would seem strange to me to lump the entire conservative population like you’re doing and have done in other posts, although you’ll take none of that when such generalizations are made about the left. I’ll be intellectually honest, however, and assume your intent is for argument’s sake as it would be impossible to list every conservative, and what they think or don’t think, Too bad you can never reciprocate, but that’s because you’re a narrow minded ideologue who likes to label anything outside your narrow view as either extreme or silly.

    Anyhow, Cain may very well be guilty, now provide some evidence other than a payout. I’ve seen people get paid to leave my company who accused half the staff of harassment, and some of those accused sat in their office all day and hardly said a word to anyone, much less chasing the woman. At the end of the day it was easier apparently for the company just to say take some money and go away. Lots of companies do that by the way for all sorts of things. Is it the right thing to do? No. Does it happen because paying off may be cheaper for the company whether the accusation is true or false? Yes it happens quite a bit. For me, I’ll wait for more evidence, but since you’re all knowing you have it all down.

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  7. Seattle Outcast

    I’d heard the amounts were a year’s salary for each women, which was considered far above ‘nuisance suit’ value.

    And that’s how we know that the cases had no merit – the payoffs were piddling small. Seriously, the lawyers got 1/3+ of the payoff, figure the women got a mediocre car out of the deal. Chump change when a real case would have netted everyone 7 figures or more.

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  8. CM

    And you’re hearing this from where?

    All over the internets. I guess the others could all just be invented by the first-hand witnesses. But that’s why I qualified what I said by using “we’re hearing” and “suggests”, as well as “during this period”.

    So what harassment happened exactly? Please do tell. The confidentiality agreement was lifted, we were supposed to get details of their side of the story according to earlier media reports, please do tell what you know.

    That’s a non-sequitor to what you’re responding to. Where did I mention that I had all the details?

    Oh, which conservatives are more willing to dismiss such harassment? All of them? Really?

    No, not all of them, that would be as ridiculous as the blanket statements that get thrown around about liberals. I didn’t say all of them, so I’ve no idea why you think you’re going to get anywhere with that.

    I’ll be intellectually honest

    That would be nice, considering how dishonest you’ve been so far. Does make it difficult to hold any sort of discussion.

    Too bad you can never reciprocate, but that’s because you’re a narrow minded ideologue who likes to label anything outside your narrow view as either extreme or silly.

    As I hold all ideology to be equally silly, you’re not doing well with this new period of intellectual honesty.

    Anyhow, Cain may very well be guilty, now provide some evidence other than a payout.

    Why?

    I’ve seen people get paid to leave my company who accused half the staff of harassment, and some of those accused sat in their office all day and hardly said a word to anyone, much less chasing the woman.

    It’s amazing how many of these anecdotes are flying around now. You guys certainly have some amazingly bad workplaces over there.

    At the end of the day it was easier apparently for the company just to say take some money and go away. Lots of companies do that by the way for all sorts of things. Is it the right thing to do? No. Does it happen because paying off may be cheaper for the company whether the accusation is true or false? Yes it happens quite a bit.

    Yep that’s pretty much exactly what I said in the other thread.

    Hey, don’t forget to have a go at Hal for daring to write a post on the presumption that Cain is guilty. Or anyone else writing about sexual harrassment in general. Apparently the way Hal has qualifed what he has said, like I did, doesn’t matter at all. It’s all binary.

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  9. CM

    Ok, well I have no idea so I’ll accept what you say. It’s considerably more than “Maybe three months’ salary. I don’t remember. It might have been two months” though.

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  10. Mississippi Yankee

    ilovecress, I thought I linked an article last week that suggested Rahm Emmanuel’s office may have leaked the sexual harassment allegations as people in his office formally worked at NRA at the time.

    But what I am sure of is everyone is still at the finger pointing stage.

    CM, glad to see you back, kids fine? Wife’s endeavor work out this week-end?

    You know me I just love a good conspiracy theory. Don’t you?

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  11. Mississippi Yankee

    Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Schnider ruled that several of the Ryans’ divorce records should be opened to the public, and ruled that a court-appointed referee would later decide which custody files should remain sealed

    after receiving a report from the referee, Judge Schnider released the files that were deemed consistent with the interests of Ryan’s young child. In those files, Jeri Ryan alleged that Jack Ryan had asked her to perform sexual acts with him in public in sex clubs in New York, New Orleans, and Paris. Jeri Ryan described one as “a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling.

    Perhaps illegal was too strong of a word, might we try ideologically motivated? Wikipedia? N(word) Please!

    This subject is almost as much fun as a “Globile Worming” discussion. And with pretty much the same players too.

    Soldier on.

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  12. Mississippi Yankee

    Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Schnider ruled that several of the Ryans’ divorce records should be opened to the public, and ruled that a court-appointed referee would later decide which custody files should remain sealed

    after receiving a report from the referee, Judge Schnider released the files that were deemed consistent with the interests of Ryan’s young child. In those files, Jeri Ryan alleged that Jack Ryan had asked her to perform sexual acts with him in public in sex clubs in New York, New Orleans, and Paris. Jeri Ryan described one as “a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling.

    This is exactly what every young child needs to know about his parents ‘alledged’ sex life.

    Perhaps illegal was too strong of a word, might we try ideologically motivated? Maybe to the nth degree?
    N(word) Please!

    This subject is almost as much fun as a “Glo-bile Worming” discussion. And with pretty much the same players too.

    Soldier on.

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  13. balthazar

    It was supposedly around 30-40k per, that is the standard payoff to just avoid litigation as litigation will cost them substantially more. The confidentiality agreement was lifted, now neither women want to come out and talk, that tells me tons.

    They were all gun-ho when their identities were protected, now they STFU. Convenient that…

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  14. AlexInCT

    After the lynching the left gave Clarence Thomas while giving a pass to Jesse Jackson for similar stuff, I learned never to trust any leftist’s accusation of sexual harassment. History after that bore out my assessment of how rife with bullshit anything dealing with sexual harassment was. After Clinton, it became obvious that only conservatives could be accused of this crime. Like all those crimes the left attaches the worst possible stigma to but makes exuces for when one of their own does it.

    And I am with SO on this. I know of 2 sexual harassment cases. The first one was by a guy at the highest level (VP) of the HR department of the company I was working for that put a voice activated camera in th bedroom one of his colleagues and got caught. The company gave here a few millions and a promotion – and from what I heard that was not her first one of that kind – and him a golden parachute. And she was butt ugly IMO. The other harassment case I know of was by a gay guy against a straight guy, and it took like 15 complaints and a lawyer to finally get action for that. They paid him cash and promoted the gay guy. Go figure.

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  15. AlexInCT

    Conservatives seem more willing to dismiss (or make light of) sexual harrassment,

    Actually CM, and I am being dead serious, I tend to take accusations by leftists of this sort, be it about sexual harassment, racism, homophobia, rape, or anything of that ilk as a de facto attempt to silence or destroy someone conservative, until I get incontrovertible proof to the contrary. The left has successfully abused the system, throwing out these accusations, not once or twice, but so often that it boggles the mind, to simply destroy opposition and silence anyone saying something they don’t want said, then turned a blind eye when one of their own actually did engage in sexual harassment, homophobia, rape, racist behavior, and combinations of all of those, to the point that they have numbed logical people.

    The double standard and the fact that leftists seem to do far more of all of this, and get away with it too, kind of desensitized me to the accusation(s). In fact, they immediately set me on the defensive if they accuse a conservative of it. You might not like that, but that’s what it has come down to. Cry wolf too often, and nobody believes you anymore.

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  16. Seattle Outcast

    Jack Ryan should have been removed from office for being certifiably insane – he’s married to Jeri Ryan, and he’s trying to pimp that out so he can watch?

    Sorry, but only a lunatic wouldn’t want to keep that POA all to himself.

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  17. Seattle Outcast

    If you wanted proof that it’s all a smear-job with no basis in reality, it’s here: Gloria Allred is the lawyer representing the “victims”.

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  18. Section8

    That’s a non-sequitor to what you’re responding to. Where did I mention that I had all the details?

    \

    You made a claim that conservatives (not some, not a few, not just here) but conservatives do the following.

    Conservatives seem more willing to dismiss (or make light of) sexual harrassment,

    Hence my response of two points:

    1) All conservatives? How do you know it’s all conservatives, since we get that response from you quite often when the term “left” is used.

    2) If conservative seem to dismiss the sexual harassment, show me where the harassment occurred. You must of had proof or why make the claim? Obviously you can’t dismiss what isn’t there to begin with, so where was the proof? See how putting 2 and 2 together works?


    As I hold all ideology to be equally silly, you’re not doing well with this new period of intellectual honesty

    Best line of bullishit ever! Seriously, do you really expect anyone to believe that? hahhaha seriously. Anyone buy this?

    It’s amazing how many of these anecdotes are flying around now. You guys certainly have some amazingly bad workplaces over there.

    Actually trial lawyers set the stage for all kinds of frivolous suits. It’s the left who pushed that, which of course cheapens the credibility of legitimate complaints. I’m not sure what some nutcase accusing everyone within eyesight at the company I worked for has to do with making the company bad, but whatever.

    Hey, don’t forget to have a go at Hal for daring to write a post on the presumption that Cain is guilty.

    I’ve gone after Hal a few times. So much so that he probably doesn’t read my posts anymore. Whoever, who I go after in any given thread is my choice.

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  19. CM

    What does it tell you? Why could it not mean that they don’t want to be dragged through the mud? If it happened to me, I’d sure want to avoid that. Why are you ruling that out?

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  20. CM

    I tend to take accusations by leftists of this sort….

    How on earth do you know the women are “leftists”?

    …to the point that they have numbed logical people

    Oh I see, you operate by logic anymore. Oh well, that sure does explain a lot.

    You might not like that, but that’s what it has come down to. Cry wolf too often, and nobody believes you anymore.

    How often have these specific women “cried wolf”?
    It just seems to me that if you’re going to have a political philosophy that includes a level playing field with no discrimination, there’s an inherent responsibility to be even more vigilant when it comes to potential examples where people are held back from being ‘winners’.

    This another example of how pointless it is to try and have reasonable and rational discussions with you. You reduce everything down to left or right. Black or white. 1 or 0.

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  21. CM

    ilovecress, I thought I linked an article last week that suggested Rahm Emmanuel’s office may have leaked the sexual harassment allegations as people in his office formally worked at NRA at the time.

    Doesn’t mean the leak did come from there. Just an accusation of sexual harrassment means anything actually happened (although if the same guy gets multiple complaints then it’s either a coindicence, or he’s real unlucky, or…….).

    CM, glad to see you back, kids fine? Wife’s endeavor work out this week-end?

    Thanks, nice of you to ask. Yes, had a great weekend thanks. It was Guy Fawkes, which is always fun. And we had lovely weather, so I did plenty of outside stuff. Oh, and spending ‘quality time’ with the kids.

    You know me I just love a good conspiracy theory. Don’t you?

    I used to. These days I’ve gone off them as too many seem to want to believe nonsense, even when the facts don’t support it. So I think I’m an anti-conspiracy theorist now. Or is it a conspiracy anti-theorist?

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  22. CM

    \

    That’s your response to your non-sequitor?
    Weird.

    1) All conservatives? How do you know it’s all conservatives, since we get that response from you quite often when the term “left” is used.

    Ok, to clarify, I said “seem more willing” to convey this in a general sense. After all, it’s a matter of degree. If I lined up 100 conservatives and 100 liberals and asked them questions about sexual harrassment, I would suggest that I’d find more cynicism about it from conservatives. I’d probably get more comments making light about it. Likewise, I’d probably get more eye-rolling PC comments and more unquestioning (“I would always believe the complainant”) responses from the liberals. So no, I’m not saying all conservatives. It’s a tendency thing, and it’s based solely on my experience, based on comments (for example the ones on this forum, where there is a large amount of skepticism over whether Cain ever did anything to anyone). I am relying on no research or data or other emperical evidence. It’s a personal opinion.

    2) If conservative seem to dismiss the sexual harassment, show me where the harassment occurred. You must of had proof or why make the claim? Obviously you can’t dismiss what isn’t there to begin with, so where was the proof? See how putting 2 and 2 together works?

    I’m talking about sexual harrassment generally. And conservatives generally. The whole paragraph is a general opinion.

    Anyway, Section8, do you have any thoughts on the actual substance of what I’m talking about? About how if you’re going to assume everything is equal, you’ve got even more of a responsibility to ensure that that is actually the case?

    Best line of bullishit ever! Seriously, do you really expect anyone to believe that? hahhaha seriously. Anyone buy this?

    When I say ‘ideology’ I mean strict ideology, It doesn’t reflect reality. Whether it’s left or right. People end up twisting reality to try and prop up their ideology.

    I’m not sure what some nutcase accusing everyone within eyesight at the company I worked for has to do with making the company bad, but whatever.

    Your workplaces seem to feature a lot of nutters.

    Whoever, who I go after in any given thread is my choice.

    LOL.

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  23. balthazar

    did you actually read what the settlements were for? The gag order is lifted, they are out there how about reading them and educating yourself. Wait nm that would totally destroy any argument you may have had. Keep your head in the sand Ostrich-boy.

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  24. CM

    Dude, you were the one trying to claim that just because they don’t want to talk, that tells us what we need to know. I say bullshit, staying silent doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Do you have evidence that they ever wanted any of this to surface at all?

    Meanwhile Sharon Bialek is explaining what she says happened to her. Does that mean it’s true? You know, because she’s gone public? Nah, I’m sure you’ve got a reasonable non-partisan explanation to tell you ‘tons’.

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  25. balthazar

    And where are the 2 women subject to the now non-existant gag order? Oh thats right they decided they didnt want to say anything.

    Since they didnt pan out mysteriously another woman comes out. REALLY. Convenient that.

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  26. CM

    And where are the 2 women subject to the now non-existant gag order? Oh thats right they decided they didnt want to say anything.

    So fucking what? How the fuck does that tell you what happened? At all? Why the fuck would they come forward and run the risk of being labeled sluts and/or liars in front of the whole country? Why the hell would anyone in their right mind do that? Come on, answer that.

    Since they didnt pan out mysteriously another woman comes out. REALLY. Convenient that.

    So what’s your theory? That there is some puppet-master pulling all these strings? Who, and how exactly would that work? Considering how difficult it it is to keep anything under wraps. Some of the people involved are conservatives. Why would they be doing the bidding of a Grand Liberal Puppet-Master?

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