Sexual Harassment, or The New McCarthyism


Sexual harassment has been weaponized. There can be no doubt about it, no discussion required. Anyone, at anytime, can be accused, and the accusers’ testimony must be believed, even if it is questionable. Just ask Al Franken. Statutes of limitation are irrelevant. Evidence isn’t required. All that’s required is a man (or woman) in a position of power who can be taken down with nothing more than the words of a sympathetic accuser.

Although she may have been wrong in the specific instance she was referencing, Nancy Pelosi was right (God, that hurt to type that) when she said that we are strengthened by due process. But alleged harassers aren’t given that due process. They are tried and convicted in the media, and anybody who dares to question the legitimacy of the claims (remember Duke?) is labeled as tone-deaf, at best, and a co-conspirator in systemic sexual oppression, at worst.

And while the sheer number of claims against powerful figures in the entertainment and private sectors are staggering, it’s in the political arena where sexual harassment claims can absolutely shake the foundation of our nation.

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Will Gogo Internet Kill The Magazine Business For Good?

I’ve often said (and occasionally tweeted) that Gogo internet, the only inflight wifi option on most major American carriers, is either the best thing ever or the worst thing ever, depending on how I’m feeling about the mercurial service is behaving at that very moment. I signed up for Gogo a long time ago, almost at the very beginning of the company’s existence, so I pay a little less per month than some latecomers, but it’s a fee I very begrudgingly pay every single month. It’s a necessary evil—during the five hours of time time that I’m taking a flight from Atlanta to Seattle, my entire industry might change (and often does). I literally cannot afford to be disconnected from email or text that long.

More often than not, however, over the years that I’ve forked over my loot, the service has left me feeling more frustrated than satisfied. Slow connection speeds, spotty service, entire flights with no service whatsoever, flight attendants who have no idea how to reset a router…it’s enough to drive a man to drink. (Luckily, I’m normally in First so the drinks are free.) But since Gogo is the only option for inflight wifi, they can charge whatever the hell they want, and I’ll still pay it. There are times, however, when the service is so poor, that I’m very glad that I’ve packed my last issue of Road & Track to help me pass the time. Plus, I can’t connect until the plane goes over 10,000 feet, and I lose service when the plane goes under 10K, so there’s at least 20-30 minutes of flying time where I have no service, so it’s nice to catch up on my reading during those times, as well.

And I’m not the only one. In fact, the number one sales revenue channel for magazines in 2017 is not subscriptions, but airports. Magazines give away subscriptions. But at the airport, a glossy mag still runs anywhere from six to ten bucks, and people line up to buy them at the newsstands.

However, that may change soon.

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My God, If I Have To Go To One More Nutcracker

The year is 2017. I have attended my daughter’s dance studio’s version of “The Nutcracker” every year since 2013, some years more than once. It’s pretty miserable for 80 of the 90 minutes that I’m there. Not only that, it’s an effing ripoff.

I pay hundreds of dollars a month for dance classes, only to then have to pay another hundred bucks or so for a Nutcracker costume (which costs nothing like $100 for the owner of the studio). I then have to pay $12-15 for a ticket for each member of the family to come watch the performance. I then also have to pay for the DVD of the performance, which we will absolutely NEVER watch, and also pay for “professional” photos of the performance because video and still cameras are not permitted at any time.

In fact, the whole concept of the local dance studio is complete crap. If my daughter were attending the New York City Ballet’s school or even the Louisville Ballet School, maybe I could justify the expense. But since we live too far away from any professional ballet training schools, what I’m actually paying for is extremely subpar teaching from a bunch of never-weres.

But, wait, there’s more!

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In Order For The Democratic Party To Live, Al Franken Has To Die


By the time I’m done writing this, it will likely be official—Al Franken is stepping down from his Senate seat due to several allegations of sexual harassment and/or misconduct. This is after his earlier apology to LeeAnn Tweeden, and after Democrats everywhere suggested that Ms. Tweeden’s accusation was a fantasy, jointly created by Roger Stone and Fox News. They pointed out that Mr. Franken has been a “champion of women’s rights,” an “ally,” and basically everything else that they say when somebody they like is accused of something that they normally accuse Republicans of doing. A couple of weeks went by, and all sorts of news threatened to bury the Franken accusations.

But, you see, there was a problem. Other women came forward. And kept coming forward. And what seemed like a fabrication could no longer be ignored, not even by leaders within his own party, as the total approached double digits. Al had to go.

What you must realize, of course, is that nobody in the Democratic party gives a damn if Al Franken groped a woman or two at a photo op. What they care about is the appearance of caring. Because there’s a sneaky, inconvenient truth that Democrats are coming to grips with, and it’s this:

Donald Trump isn’t nearly as unpopular with the American voter as the media wants you to think he is.

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Weekly Roundup: Upgraded To “Immigrant” Edition

Over the course of fifteen years, the man whom the court called “Garcia Zarate” in what appears to be a tossed-dart pick of his twenty-plus unverifiable aliases — he entered the United States at least five times for the purpose of heroin transport, distribution, and sale. He was caught with the stuff all up and down the West Coast in quantities from minor to outrageous. He was caught and released over and over again like an old trout with an African tribe’s worth of scarring from hooks. They could jail him, but they couldn’t keep him out of the country. Twice he was arrested within sixty days of his last deportation.

A few years ago, “Zarate” was dicking around with a pistol on a crowded pier. He said that he was shooting at the harbor seals until his defense attorney told him it was a bad excuse. So then he changed his story and said that he picked up a brand-new, government-issued Sig-Sauer and it just went off. Only a fool could believe that story — but San Francisco has never had a shortage of fools. Or maybe they played Anubis and weighed the hearts of Zarate and his victim, Kate Steinle, finding the latter wanting.

In the near future, Zarate will be released and deported again. He’ll be back. Count on it.

As you’d expect, the media found the phrase “illegal immigrant” be far more offensive than the random murder of an unimportant young woman from Flyoverland, so Zarate was upgraded to “undocumented immigrant” in headlines from New York to San Diego. It’s worth noting that this is in no way correct. Zarate was convicted of felony immigration violations. Even if you accept the neologism “undocumented immigrant” for someone who enters the United States illegally, Zarate was more than that. He was convicted of illegal immigration. He was an illegal immigrant, plain and simple.

The Los Angeles Times, however, could not even stomach the word “undocumented” when applied to this beautiful soul, this dreamer, this true American. He became simply an “immigrant”. USA Today took it further, being careful both to call Zarate a plain-Jane immigrant and to reassure the readers that his previous felonies were “nonviolent”. Maybe he removed mattress tags? Committed securities fraud? Surely it wasn’t dealing heroin, because anybody with access to a television or a rap album knows that the heroin business is a violent one.

So here’s to you, Garcia Zarate, soon to be free as a bird and back in the United States to prey on a system that explicitly values your God-given right to deal heroin over the lives of innocent American citizens. And here’s to you, San Francisco, and to your self-righteous “sanctuary city” status that directly resulted in the death of Kate Steinle. And here’s to you, USA Today, the paper that never failed to put “Pharma Bro” in front of a Shkreli story but made sure not to hurt the sensibilities of Zarate’s Stateside fans and supporters by referring to him as anything other than an “immigrant”.

The Trump supporters on Reddit like to say “Two scoops! Two genders! And Two Terms!” Regardless of how you feel about Mr. Trump, if you don’t understand that this verdict brought the last item on that list much closer to a certainty then you’re not paying attention. And to that list, I suppose you can add “two Americas”: the people who mourned Kate Steinle’s death, and the people who cheered yet another victory for their vision of an America that looks exactly like San Francisco, right down to the convenient death of all unpersons.

God bless Miss Steinle. May she find peace in heaven.

Alright, here’s this week’s roundup.

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No Longer Made In The USA: Cone Mills, Thanks To The Human Garbage At “Platinum Equity”

Heritage America, meet Modern America. One year ago, the International Textile Group was purchased by Platinum Equity Partners. If you’re not familiar with what “private equity” firms do, it’s this: They buy companies that are perceived as undervalued, then they go through and ruthlessly force every aspect of that company through a race-to-the-bottom process. The newly-efficient parts of the company are then stripped and sold. It is a process by which the rich become richer and the poor become unemployed, and it represents late-stage capitalism at its bloodthirsty, inhumane worst.

The flagship plant of International Textile Group is the Cone Mills denim production facility in North Carolina. Few people expected that it would survive the private-equity process. Sure enough, ITG announced that it is terminating production and closing the plant after 117 years of operation. Think of that! This plant survived the world wars, the Great Depression, the energy crisis, the Carter Depression, and the 2008 recession. But it couldn’t survive a year of private-equity management.

The employees are sad, but proud to have made the world’s finest denim. From now on, the high-end denim market will be entirely owned by the Japanese, who treasure the concept of “American jeans” and who have created modern machines to faithfully reproduce the irregularities of Cone Mills’ century-old production line. There will still be denim fabric made in America, courtesy of “Denim North America” in Georgia. You will still be able to get USA-made denim jeans from Dearborn and a few other suppliers. But the real high-end fabric, the stuff that makes my Flint&Tinder jeans so perfect, the fabric that served as the basis for the USA-made Lucky 363 Vintage jeans — that’s gone with the wind. So a bunch of billionaire jerkoffs can increase their rate of return by a fraction of a percent.

If you want to try the Cone Mills products before it’s too late, I’ve rounded up some options for you, based on some personal experience.

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This is 40

Warning: Stream of Consciousness typing ahead.

I turned 40 two weeks ago. My kids made a big deal of it, with black balloons, and funny signs around the house that said things like “Lordy, Lordy, Dad is 40.” It was cute. I spent about half of my Age 39 Season telling people that I was 40, anyway, so when the actual day came, it didn’t seem like a big deal. I’ve made a million jokes about being “halfway to the eternal dirt nap,” and although death doesn’t exactly excite me, I no longer fear it like I once did.

I think what messes with most people when they hit a milestone birthday is what I like to call the “Should Haves.” Everybody has a list of things that they think that they should have accomplished/attained/obtained by their 40th (or 30th or 50th, etc.) birthday. I’ve heard countless friends and family say things like “I should have a million dollars in my retirement account my the time I’m 40,” or “I should be the Vice President of Sales for my company,” or “I should have my house paid off.”

Frankly, I don’t worry about that sort of thing very much. I know it’s very much in vogue to set goals and achieve them, blah blah. Listen, I’ve been in ridiculously good shape (two years ago) and I’ve been twenty lbs overweight (um, probably now). I’ve had six figures in my checking account and I’ve had a red number in my checking account. I’ve managed a group of 80 people and I’ve been an individual contributor. I’ve had Hyundais and I’ve had Porsches. And what I’ve learned from all of my material and frankly solipsistic obsessions over the years is this:

None of it matters very much unless you are happy and healthy. But I’m starting to think about health and happiness in a different way now.

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What Was Your First Automotive Mishap?

My first mishap with a car was with my first car, a 1991 Volvo 940 SE, black over tan, with sunroof. I was eighteen, had only been driving a few months due to health issues, but LOVED driving. So much so, on occasion I would get up really early, like before sunrise, to take the car for a ride before school. I remember several instances where I’d sneak the car out about 5:30 (so as not to wake anyone up and ask me why I was doing a damfool thing like going for a drive at 5 AM), go for a ride around town listening to the oldies station, and then head back, get my school crap and head off to Alleman High School.

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Counterpoint—Soccer Isn’t Easy (And Neither are Basketball, Football, Hockey, Baseball, Track, etc.)

It will shock much of the autowriting and autowritingreading worlds (I made that second one up but I like it) to know that my brother and I are not terribly similar people. For example, our writing voices can be similar, at times, but I tend to use simpler language and fewer words to communicate my points. Politically, I’m very much a traditional conservative, whereas I think he might have voted for Bernie, if the DNC had given him the chance.

This difference manifests itself in many other ways, as well, but as we are no longer spring chickens and have both transferred much of our attention to our kids, the most obvious is in the way we parent our children.

I had a much more traditional sort of suburban youth than Jack did—I was the same age as my classmates, and I was merely smart enough to be in the LEAP-style programs. I was social in the ways that most kids are, and much of my social interaction came from team sports. I was on my school’s football, basketball, and track and field teams, I played summer league baseball, and I traveled around the midwest doing AAU-style and 3-on-3 basketball tournaments as well. I also played recreational youth soccer from age 6 to age 12. I did the BMX thing, too, but by the time I was 14 I had pretty much left it behind in favor of more traditional team sports.

I can say without any sort of bragging (because who brags about things they did 20+ years ago) that I won multiple championships in every sport I every played—some just of the travel team tournament variety (soccer, baseball), some of the more intramural variety (Ohio State 3-on-3 basketball and flag football) or informal type (Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basketball), some sanctioned state titles (football, track and field), and even an international competition or two. I was never a star player (with the exception of baseball), not by any means, but I was a always a more-than-competent cog of some exceptional team efforts.

Therefore, I am more than slightly irked when my brother says to his son, as he did in his post today, “The sports at your school, soccer and basketball — they’re easy.”

No. They’re not. Not even close.

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This Is Why Writing For Free Is Bad For Everybody (And Creates Headlines Like This)


Back in the day, right around 1997 or so, I was a struggling musician.

This is, of course, a lie. I was driving a brand-new Infiniti G20, going to school on a full scholarship, and dating a girl whom my brother liked to call a “better looking Julia Roberts.” But, I was struggling with finding ways to advance my musical career. I was playing a lot of blues with a young Sean Carney, a prodigiously talented guitarist who would go on to win the Albert King award some years later (you can hear what we sounded at that point by clicking the above Spotify link), but it was tough to find jazz gigs. Columbus, Ohio had a limited number of jazz clubs—Dick’s Den, The Dell—and they only had music Friday and Saturday nights. Those slots were occupied by the jazz royalty of the town, mostly music faculty members at Ohio State and Capital University.

So, in a bit of desperation, I did something that I thought was a pretty smart move. I went to the proprietor of The Dell and proposed that I would play for free once a month. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “I’m going to pretend like you never came here. And, for your sake, you had better hope that none of your teachers who play here find out that you were here, either.” Turns out that was called “undercutting,” and it was a definite no-no in the professional music world. In fact, that sort of practice is what led to the formation of musicians’ unions in the bigger cities and symphony orchestras of America.

Fast forward twenty years, and I’m no longer peddling free music. Instead, I send pitches to the editors of automotive publications. However, now I’m one of the guys who’ve earned the right to be paid for their craft, like my teachers were before me. The difference is that when the young bucks try to undercut me or my esteemed journalist colleagues, there are no shortage of editors who are willing to let them do it, for as little as $25 a post—or, in many cases, for no money at all.

This is bad for everybody.

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