‘Horseface’: Does it matter that Trump ridicules women?
By LAURIE KELLMAN
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, October 17
WASHINGTON (AP) — Suffice it to say that “Horseface” and porn actress Stormy Daniels aren’t what Republicans want to talk about three weeks from the midterm elections — or ever. A record number of women are running, most of them Democrats, in the first balloting of the #MeToo era.
No matter. President Donald Trump this week added “Horseface” to a long list of unflattering references to women, including: Fat, ugly, disgusting, “that dog,” ”a 10,” ”no longer a 10,” a slob, “Miss Piggy,” ”Miss Housekeeping,” wacky and crazy.
A look at how Trump’s approach is playing out as Republicans defend their House and Senate majorities:
Trump’s tweet about Daniels came after a federal judge dismissed the adult film actress’ defamation lawsuit against the president.
Trump tweeted: “Great, now I can go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer.” He added, “She knows nothing about me, a total con!”
That appeared to be a reference to Daniels’ detailed and unflattering description of Trump, with whom she says she engaged in an affair in 2006, from her recent book. (He’s denied that.)
“Game on, Tiny,” Daniels tweeted back Tuesday.
WHEN ASKED, REPUBLICANS SAY WORDS
Being asked to “respond” to Trump’s words is one of the least-favorite pastimes of members of his party. Asked about “horseface,” they tried to stay as bland as possible.
“There’s no place for that kind of language,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan on CBS “This Morning,” a little over two months away from leaving Congress at the end of the year. “He should not have said that.”
“I wish the president hadn’t done it,” said Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said on CNN. “I’ve made my feelings known, to the president, that tweeting a little less wouldn’t cause brain damage. I mean you don’t have to express every one of your thoughts.”
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., on CBS called the president’s “horseface” tweet “unacceptable.”
“I disagree with the president’s rhetoric numerous times with regard to how he addresses women,” she said.
By now, Trump’s infamous talk about women is embedded in American political lore.
But through the campaign and his presidency, there’s been little evidence that Trump’s habit has done damage among his most passionate supporters. One question in the 2018 midterms is whether Democratic voters will be particularly likely to cast ballots this year.
In Gallup’s latest tracking poll, 34 percent of women say they approve of Trump, which is about where it’s been throughout his presidency. Republican women are still overwhelmingly likely to support him.
Women are typically far more likely than men to support Democratic candidates, and this year is no exception. In a recent poll by the Washington Post and ABC News, 59 percent of women said they would be voting for Democratic House candidates, while just 46 percent of men said the same.
On the turnout question, the Post/ABC poll found that women under 40 were significantly more likely than they were in 2014 to say they were certain to vote.
WHAT TRUMP SAYS
In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press a few hours after the “horseface” tweet, Trump was asked whether it is appropriate to insult a woman’s appearance.
“You can take it any way you want,” he replied.
The president, who has a packed schedule of rallies lately for Republican candidates, did refuse to take any blame if Republicans lose control of Congress.
“No, I think I’m helping people,” he said in the AP interview.
WHAT WOMEN CLOSE TO TRUMP SAY
As the controversy over Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation raged, Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway bristled at the backlash she gets for working for Trump, who is accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women — all liars, he says.
Conway told CNN that she, too, is a victim of sexual assault.
“I work for President Trump because he’s so good to the women who work for him,” Conway said.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Here’s a far-from-complete selection of Trump’s descriptions of women who bother him:
—Trump unloaded on former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, praising White House Chief of Staff John Kelly “for quickly firing that dog!”
—Trump mocked GOP rival Carly Fiorina’s appearance. “Look at that face,” he said of Fiorina, according to Rolling Stone in 2015. “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”
—Trump said 1996 Miss Universe Alicia Machado had gained a “massive amount of weight and it was a real problem.” Trump did not deny Machado’s charge that Trump called her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping.”
Associated Press Polling Editor Emily Swanson contributed to this report.
Follow Kellman on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/APLaurieKellman
New accusation of police wrongdoing in Weinstein case
By MICHAEL R. SISAK and TOM HAYS
Thursday, October 18
NEW YORK (AP) — The sexual assault case against Harvey Weinstein was roiled Wednesday for the second time in a week by what New York City prosecutors said was a police detective’s improper conduct.
Det. Nicholas DiGaudio, whose alleged witness coaching prompted the dismissal of part of the case last week, is now accused of urging one of Weinstein’s accusers to delete material from her cellphones before she handed them over to prosecutors.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office detailed the alleged misconduct in a letter to Weinstein’s lawyer that was made public Wednesday. The new allegations involve the detective’s interactions with an unidentified woman who says Weinstein raped her in his Manhattan hotel room in 2013.
Weinstein’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, pounced on the revelation, saying it “even further undermines the integrity of this already deeply flawed indictment of Mr. Weinstein.”
In her letter, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said that during the investigation, prosecutors asked the woman to hand in any mobile phones she might have used during the time when she interacted with Weinstein.
The woman was willing to do so, Illuzzi-Orbon wrote, but was worried that the phones contained, “in addition to communications with the defendant, data of a personal nature that she regarded as private.”
She asked DiGaudio what to do. He advised her to delete anything she didn’t want anyone else to see before handing over the phone, the prosecutors said.
“We just won’t tell Joan,” DiGaudio allegedly said.
Illuzzi-Orbon said the woman didn’t delete any information and instead asked a lawyer for advice. The phones were turned over “without any deletions” Illuzzi-Orbon wrote.
The lawyer hired by the woman contacted the district attorney’s office about the detective’s conduct on Oct. 10.
Weinstein was initially charged in New York with attacking three women. The part of the case involving one of those alleged victims, Lucia Evans, was dismissed last week after prosecutors said that DiGaudio had advised a witness to keep quiet about doubts whether Evans’ alleged sexual encounter with Weinstein was consensual.
DiGaudio’s union defended his conduct.
“A woman should not have to surrender confidential intimate information that’s immaterial to the case to defend herself against a sexual predator. That’s being victimized twice. Detective DeGaudio was sensitive to that,” Detectives’ Endowment Association President Michael Palladino said in a statement. “This appears to be just another smear campaign against Detective DeGaudio to cover up the Manhattan DA’s own incompetence.”
Three of the five remaining criminal charges against Weinstein stem from the alleged rape. Two other charges allege he performed a forcible sex act on a different woman in 2006.
Weinstein denies all allegations of nonconsensual sex.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner Phil Walzak said: “The evidence against Mr. Weinstein is compelling and strong. The NYPD will continue its work with the prosecution to deliver justice for the courageous survivors who have bravely come forward.”
DiGaudio was one of two investigators who escorted Weinstein out of a police station and into court after his May arrest. Before that, he and other police officials poured on the pressure for prosecutors to bring charges, saying publicly that they believed they had gathered ample evidence to make an arrest.
Brafman is seeking a dismissal of all charges against Weinstein.
He has argued that the 2013 rape allegation is contradicted by warm emails the accuser sent Weinstein after the date of the alleged attack. The lawyer says they show an intimate, consensual relationship.
Follow Sisak at https://twitter.com/mikesisak and Hays at https://twitter.com/APtomhays
Analysis: Female, Republican and Native American — They Are Out to Change the Face of the GOP
By Erin Mundahl
For years, Native Americans have been seen as a solidly Democratic voting block. This year, three women are trying to change that stereotype, running for state level offices as Republicans. They push back on the idea that reservation voters need to lean Democratic or that tribal concerns are primarily tied to environmental issues and have instead found ways to make an appeal to voters both on and off the reservation.
“What we found is that, in the younger generation of Republicans, because there are so many of us who are multi-racial, we are finding that there can be a lot of similarities,” says Kirsten Johnson, who is running for District 50A in the Minnesota House of Representatives. “Just explaining things like why I am a Republican to other Native Americans, they go, ‘Huh, that makes sense.’”
“And on the flip side, when you go to Republicans and say, ‘Here are the issues that are important to Natives that haven’t been looked at,’ they (also agree). … It’s not all handouts and we hate the right, it’s that they have never really listened to each other,” she said.
Donna Bergstrom, who is running for lieutenant governor in Minnesota, agrees, stressing that many Native American values, including holding life as sacred from childhood to old age, fit well within the Republican platform. Despite what can seem like a natural fit, so far, native voices haven’t been formally organized.
“It would be really great if there was a Native platform,” says Andria Tupola, the Republican candidate for governor of Hawaii, “because then we could just say it. Native women who were running for office could just say that these are the things that Republicans believe for Native people.”
Instead, the candidates have been finding ways to share the elements of the Republican platform that they think will resonate, focusing on issues like regulation, housing, jobs and returning authority to the local level.
“I think that people view Republicans as the colonizers, as people who were the land-taker-awayers and … you can’t change that history. What happened in the past happened, but what principles of the Republican platform do resonate with Natives? Well, I would say less government, free markets … supporting local initiatives and businesses,” Tupola said.
Bergstrom agrees, speaking strongly about the need to protect the American constitutional republic in order to help protect tribal authority.
“We are inextricably linked together, the tribes and the Constitution,” she says, explaining that tribal governments are one of the three forms of government explicitly mentioned in the Constitution.
“What we have now is a power inequality. We can have power equality in a representative republic, whereas we can’t have that in a socialist structure,” she said. “We need a strong state to defend Native voices.”
One of the themes that returns when talking to the three women is the sense of mixed heritage. While maintaining their tribal identity, many Native Americans are proud U.S. citizens as well. Bergstrom noted that Native Americans are over-represented in American military service. In fact, both she and Johnson are military veterans. Tupola was the first women of Samoan background to be elected to the Hawaiian legislature.
They also share a sense of obligation, stressing that they ran because they were asked to, and a focus on local issues. For both Bergstrom and Tupola, cost-of-living issues in their home communities are a major concern. Meanwhile, Johnson says that she decided to run for the state House after learning that the Native caucus at the state legislature was at risk of falling apart while women and veterans also were underrepresented.
At the same time, the women acknowledge that their reception has been mixed, in part because the national party has never made a push for Native votes a major focus.
“I think if we were able to say it (people would be responsive,) but it’s just like anything else, you have to work really hard at getting your message out,” Tupola said. “People can twist it, people can change it, if you don’t drop enough money in it then people don’t get it. It is a messaging that I dream one day that we could have, but it would really take some (energy), not just on the part of Natives, but on the part of the party to say this is what we’re about.”
In other cases, the tribes themselves have become hostile toward the party. Bergstrom described how she found it difficult to get invited to speak before some tribal groups.
“There is a bit of a gatekeeper mentality within the tribes,” Bergstrom said. “If they welcomed everyone, we would have better luck (getting opportunities to speak before tribal groups.)”
Even so, she says that she has been welcomed by the Red Lake reservation and has spoken to other Native groups around the state. Johnson, whose district does not include any reservation land, describes a similar experience, finding a warm reception from local groups in her district.
The candidates themselves may share values and positions, but in the end, each race is unique and focuses on relatively specific local issues. Tupola is concerned about an acute housing shortage in Hawaii and an increasing cost of living.
Bergstrom worries that Minnesota is slipping toward socialism, and Johnson says she wants to help make working-class housing more available in her district.
All three Republican candidates are in uphill races, made even more difficult by the anti-GOP mood of the midterm electorate. But by pushing their party to focus on Native American issues, they are already having an impact on American politics.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Erin Mundahl is a reporter with InsideSources.com.
Court rules Newtown shooter’s belongings are public records
By DAVE COLLINS
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Connecticut Supreme Court says state police must release disturbing writings and other belongings of the Newtown school shooter to the public because they are not exempt from state open record laws.
The court ruled 5-0 Tuesday in favor of The Hartford Courant and state Freedom of Information Commission, whose order to police to release shooter Adam Lanza’s belongings was overturned by a lower court judge. It wasn’t immediately clear when the items will be released.
The 20-year-old Lanza fatally shot 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 and killed himself as police arrived.
State police had seized Lanza’s belongings from his Newtown home and rejected the Courant’s request to view the items, which included a spreadsheet ranking mass murders and violent stories he wrote.
Opinion: Your Neighbors Probably Aren’t Supervillains
By Travis Smith
The biannual hysteria of election season is in full swing. One side has declared a full-fledged resistance against an antagonist who seems to savor his role as antihero. The other side rallies behind its champion as he campaigns against a supposed conspiracy of subversive agents, mendacious media outlets, and proto-tyrannical tech companies. Meanwhile, the siren song of socialism beckons from the ash heap of history, with new strategies for splintering communities in diverse ways.
With the stakes so high and the atmosphere so tense, life feels like an epic blockbuster of cataclysmic proportions. People aren’t satisfied with merely being on the side of the heroes; they wish to count themselves among the heroes. Those with whom they disagree are not opponents but enemies—outright villains who do not need to be persuaded as much as vanquished. The very people who call for greater empathy are the most unremitting in their condemnations, denouncing and dehumanizing those who hold heterodox perspectives. Stone-throwing is back in fashion, and the slightest slip up or calumny can ruin any alleged offender.
A previous president was blasted for saying that if you weren’t on his side you were with the terrorists, but now unless you participate in assailing the target du jour — even if only by joining an online posse of hashtaggers and retweeters — then you’re accused of complicity with unmitigated evil. That’s a doctrine of war even when society’s presumptive moral and spiritual leaders advance it.
I’m not saying there aren’t crooks and scoundrels in public life who warrant opposition by every means proper to a civilized nation. But when everybody effectively lines up against each other like characters on a comic book cover, primed to clash — heroes on one side and villains on the other (or just as often, two groups of self-proclaimed heroes) — something has gone awry and there’s bound to be casualties.
If Thor sees the Destroyer rampaging through Manhattan, or Daredevil senses Stilt-Man breaking into a high-rise, they’re right to stop them. But even Spider-Man — whose guilty conscience compels him to interrupt whatever wrongdoing he witnesses — does not leave people dangling from lampposts just because he disagrees with them. Yet how often lately is Hulk-like behavior observed among those who cannot bear any criticism, smashing anybody who doesn’t applaud them?
Like Wolverine defending mutantdom against existential threats, people hack and slash at anyone perceived as slighting their group, however slightly. Ordinary people are casually labeled fascists to fabricate a basis for silencing them — as if Captain America ought to punch half of the country for exercising their fundamental freedoms in order to shield the rest.
And who needs anything as elaborate as Iron Man’s armor when cell phones suffice to humiliate one’s foes? Batman himself would commend the surreptitious surveillance of anyone suspected of hypothetical potential for wrongdoing.
Social media is the preferred venue for a lot of virtual heroics, by people with what Roger Waters once called “the bravery of being out of range.” People can indulge their hero syndrome without risk or sacrifice. Expressing the correct sentiments through screens from afar suffices to establish righteousness nowadays, without the need to actually exhibit good character or perform actions beneficial to one’s community. It has never been easier for sanctimony to sanctify. Who needs moderation, generosity, integrity, decency or wit when envy, indignation, resentment, bitterness and belligerence do the trick? Who needs evidence or arguments when uncharitable insinuations, deliberate misconstructions and ad hominem attacks are so effective?
Let’s restore civility even in the midst of our disagreements. Let’s refuse to be manipulated by those who have power to gain or profit to make off of our readiness to enlist as their minions or henchmen or cannon-fodder. Support the candidates you prefer and get personally involved in the causes that motivate you. But turn down the 24-hour chatter channel. Stop refreshing headline aggregators. Don’t drown yourself in comments sections. Avoid social media feeds filled with pride and fury masquerading as compassion and concern.
Heroism begins at home and in our neighborhoods. Do some actual good commensurate with your real abilities, rebuilding community from the ground up. Remember that what you share as participants in and beneficiaries of a society committed to liberty and equality outweighs whatever separates you. Treat the people you encounter in a dignified manner, defusing hostility rather than enflaming it. Remind others that you’re not the cartoon villains that cable news and message boards say you are. Only those itching for a fight insist otherwise.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Travis Smith is associate professor of political science at Concordia University and author of “Superhero Ethics” from Templeton Press. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.