Last night, I did a deep dive into the Access Hollywood tape transcripts that scandalized Trump’s prospects just before the 2016 election. I heard of it at the time, I just didn’t give a shit. It was scandalizing, no doubt, but so were Hillary’s pants suits and velociraptor mannerisms. My main reaction, if any, was: “good lord”. I didn’t particularly care about his election prospects then, I didn’t expect to care about his re-election prospects four years later, and I certainly didn’t see myself as being likely to donate to his campaign (I donated $45, yesterday). The tape was a conversation between Trump and TV host Billy Bush, miked on their way to an event in 2005. Both men knew they were miked, oddly, given that Bush lost his damn job over it and Trump very nearly lost the election.
Here is the transcript:
Trump, referencing Nancy O’Dell, Bush’s co-host at the time:
I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and fuck her. She was married. And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, “I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.” I took her out furniture — I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.
And later, in regards to actress Arianne Zucker, who they were on their way to meet:
I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ‘em by the pussy. You can do anything.
For what it’s worth, Trump had married Melania in January of that year, 2005, with the disturbing Access Hollywood tape recorded later, in September. The tape remained inconsequential for eleven years, and then there are two stories about its emergence: one is that news network officials were unaware of its existence until October of 2016 and released it immediately; the other is that they became aware much earlier but chose to sit on it until October, for maximum TKO effect.
The fallout was enormous — endorsements were withdrawn, sexual assault allegations advanced, and an appalled populace of conservatives and liberals alike reacted in amazed disgust. I looked into the sexual assault allegations against Trump several months ago, by the way, in the process of my slowly starting to care about politics, and while it’s unclear to me that he raped anyone, it is clear to me that he was accustomed to throwing his weight around with women in a manner consistent with his tone in the Access Hollywood tape.
Trump’s reactions to the release of the tape were categorically chickenshit. His first public reaction, a Tweet I think, was actually Biden-level chickenshit — an “I’m sorry if you got offended” type thing, as I recall; and his second, more organized impulse was to generalize the tone as “locker room talk”, and to make much of Bill Clinton’s preposterous missteps in this department in order to draw fire away from himself. In fact Trump organized some theatrics to that effect for the next debate, but was ultimately prevented from doing so by people who understood that that’s crazy. So, plan A was chickenshit, plan B was chickenshit plus theatrics, and plan C was FUCK IT, I’M GOING IN ANYWAY; TRUMP TRAIN 2016. And then he won! It’s kind of incomprehensible, really.
So, that’s all pretty gross. And yet, as I initially stated, I’ve not only worked it out (or at least around) in my own mind; I even donated $45 of my hard earned money to his re-election campaign, and I’ve never donated to a campaign in my life. I’m not here to justify my evolving reactions, as a woman and as an American person, but to simply be transparent about them, because herein lie some important challenges, hand-in-hand with some important choices.
I will discuss, in my rambling fashion, and as usual I’m not even sure what’s about to happen here, but please understand: I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind, and I’m not particularly flexible to anyone changing my mind, but as usual I’m open to both visible and invisible truth seeking. Moral conundrums such as this one represent opportunities to explicate for ourselves what we think and why, and at the end of the day we’ll never agree, possibly not even with ourselves.
So, first off: I have firm boundaries, but squishy responses, regarding acceptable versus unacceptable behavior because, as a lifelong veg, that squishiness has been forced upon me. There isn’t a single argument you can make about animals as moral subjects that can’t be applied equally to babies and developmentally disabled populations at the very least. And yet we institutionalize the large scale torture, slaughter, and medical experimentation of the former, while fiercely guarding the legal rights and general wellbeing of the latter (pedovorism and late term abortion notwithstanding). Point-blank, some of the best, most upstanding people I know are, by my definition and any philosophically defensible definition, mass murderers.
How do I reconcile that, walking around in the world? I’ve had several pleasant exchanges with animal mass murderers just today, in fact, as I do every day, as I have for the last 39 years since I woke up to the truth about animals at age five. It’s tough to reconcile, no doubt, but here’s something I do know: we can be magnificent in some aspects and enormously stunted in others, often as a function of our culture. If there’s a high degree of overlap between the way a person is stunted and the way their ambient culture is stunted, then we tend to give them a pass, or in fact not recognize their stunted aspects at all. This doesn’t mean they’re not stunted, though. The vice versa also applies: we can be magnificent in aspects not recognized or valued by our ambient culture, and perhaps ostracized as a result, whereas we’d have been celebrated in another time and place. It’s a roll of the temporal/geographical dice, to which we largely attempt conformity.
My feelings and habits, intended to mitigate violence against animals in my little corner of the world, haven’t changed much since I was five, but my ambient culture’s perception of them has improved. That’s great, but I haven’t had, and still don’t have, the luxury of a big reaction to people based on only their most stunted aspect, which is inarguably this one. I would be reacting til the cows come home and finally just, idk, go live in a cave. The force is strong in this one, though, so plan B is: acknowledged boundaries but squishy reactions. A conscious attention to people’s magnificence even as I’m unfortunately aware of their stunted aspects.
From this admittedly weary place, I suppose I admire people’s ability to freak out about someone’s worst, most stunted aspect. (Not to imply I haven’t got my goat got too, time to time, which I’ll discuss.) I don’t mean to be tedious but it’s like: you know you’re literally eating someone’s mom right now, don’t you? A tragedy so epic as to be unimaginable, if it were ever pictured to scale, which is why we have all these psychological safeguards and baffles and firewalls in place, so that we never truly imagine it?
If I had it my way, I would make this documentary: it would be about a pig — it could as easily be a cow or chicken, but let’s say a pig — and there would be no narration, no voiceover, no music. Just video, and whatever the environmental noises were during the filming. It would start with the pig’s birth, and continue through the pig’s development, all the way up to and including slaughter. There would be no attempt to humanize the pig; there would be no attempt to dehumanize the pig. We would simply see the pig, coping with its world as best it can, down to every detail — finding a more comfortable position for sleep, eating the food provided, experiencing interactions with other pigs and with humans, responding to whatever it can experience of changing light conditions, the noises it hears and makes, the minute particularities of its existence. The minute particularities of its slaughter, and the way this pig, that we’ve now become somewhat familiar with, reacts to the process leading up to the end.
Then there would be credits, still no music, still no attempt to manipulate the viewer’s mood. The simple fact of life, and death, is either enough, or it’s not.
So yes, we all have preferences for how others behave, but we don’t all have the luxury of big reactions. Sometimes very good people say, and even do, terrible things, outside the scope of their own moral development, myself included obviously. To put a finer point on it, some people are worth the conundrum and some aren’t. That’s an individual decision but since we are 100% assured of finding something wrong with everyone, but not 100% assured of also finding something right, we can look for net gain: okay, you suck at that, but are you magnificent at something else? Our magnificence never excuses our stuntedness, but I’d hope for all our sakes that stuntedness can’t entirely negate our magnificence, if such is present.
Now, one influence in my thinking: the problem of the haphazardly-applied metric. I trade and store some of my money in cryptocurrency, primarily Bitcoin. Lots of people reject cryptos due to their volatility, inherent risk, and the difficulty in assessing or even conceptualizing their actual value. I would never attempt to talk someone out of this, but I would say: um…howabout that dollar? There isn’t a fiat currency in history that hasn’t failed at some point, or a government. Even our dollar has failed in times past, leaving millionaires destitute in a matter of months. We just met a cool old guy yesterday whose grandfather, a wealthy rancher in Montana, shipped all his cattle by train in late 1929 to pay off his remaining land debts. By the time the cattle arrived on the east coast, they were virtually worthless, and he was upside down. He and all his brothers spent the Montana winter in a tent by the river, vowing to never put all their eggs in one basket again, and the recovered family has kept gold and silver ever since.
Our dollar is in much worse shape today than it was then, and a financial reset or at least catastrophe is not an if, but a when. So yeah, scrutinize the heck out of Bitcoin, I’m right there with you, but don’t assume the dollar is unsinkable because it’s not.
This brings us to misogyny generally, and Trump specifically. I *really* did not like reading the transcripts of this Access Hollywood tape. I felt less negatively about it in 2016 than now, ironically, because I’ve experienced a related trauma in the interim, which maybe I’ll talk about, maybe I won’t. It’s impossible not to connote everything with that, emotionally, and to suspect that men literally perform their compartmentalization, dismissal, and intensely degrading sexualization of women for one another, as a sport and pastime. The “female pain body” that Ekhart Tolle describes is totally real — a collective psychic bank of pain that we access more easily, the bigger it gets; and of course it’s pretty large, history being what it is. As a woman, at this point in my life (versus perhaps a lower level of gender relations pessimism in 2016) my baseline emotional response to this is despair, more so than “outrage” per se.
I’ve satisfied myself that Trump is not the racist and/or “nazi” he’s painted to be by the media, through scrutiny of video interviews, comments, and his business initiatives and investments over time. Due to Trump being in the public eye for decades, now, subject to hundreds if not thousands of instances of coverage, it’s easy to research where his head’s been at over the years, for anyone who cares to look. The fact that they only have this one thing on him is, in itself, pretty amazing. Mar a Lago was one of the first if not first country club to invite blacks, jews, and openly gay couples to membership. His 10 year investment in historically black universities, set in stone regardless of his re-election status, and his history of personally lending, and forgiving loans based on success, to black owned start-ups, his justice system reform, and his presidential executive orders benefitting minorities in non-infantilizing ways, make it easy to see the MSM smear tactics for what they are. His campaign, administration, and appointments are an example of someone surrounding himself with the best people, of whatever demographic — a true meritocracy. Some absolute ninja women, obviously.
In the face of the cold hard facts about the Access Hollywood tape, and his really underwhelming response, it would be easy to take it on faith that all the other smears are true, but they seem not to be. The primary left-leaning criticisms of Trump — kids in cages at the border, bungled COVID response, “divisive” speech and tactics, and then just Orange Man Bad — that’s usually what it devolves to — can be examined and dismantled or contextualized fairly easily, even by me, and I’m no political animal. I wouldn’t say I’ve entered into any of this as a Trump apologist, but when one single narrative is pushed so hard, by so many networks and news outlets, and infused with so much negative emotionality as a stand-in for real scrutiny, such that an actually new syndrome is created, it feels imperative to take a step back and re-assess. I have a nose for someone manipulating me, and I’ll dig in my heels as soon as I feel it.
But back to the tape. As a woman, it’s upsetting, and I want better from men, period; not only what they say out loud but how they think. Can you just not be that stunted? Thanks. So the level of female dismay I definitely resonate with. The level of male dismay, idk. I use my brother and dad for my baseline male outlook reference, often, because I consider them to be highly reliable protagonists, and neither of them would be having this type of thing. But sometimes I feel I’m, and we’re, an island in a sea of…I don’t even know what. “Locker room talk”, I suppose, that takes it for granted males bond over the disparagement and crude sexualized reduction of women. Misogyny and its potential is like the ribbon of chocolate in a marble cake — running through the batter unevenly, baking in, frosted over, and you don’t find out how much or where til you cut your slice.
I don’t know if the following is a bad thing or a good thing, but I don’t regard this scandal as being that unusual in its essence. I wasn’t under the impression that the gender relations had come so far, and now here’s Trump with a regressive left hook. I’m a lot more pessimistic than that — I think he said the quiet part out loud, and had the wealth and personal hutzpah (and irresponsibility, back in 2005 with a presidential bid not in the forefront of his mind) to brandish these sorts of attitudes with impunity.
I mean, the black rapper community has idolized Trump for decades — references to him show up in dozens of songs, always in a ‘high roller’ connotation. Rap represents a catastrophe of sensibilities, from a feminist perspective, which has slowed it down not one bit. A lot of rap has been pretty cool, I can’t write it off, but it’s also contributed to the literal de/moral/ization of our culture as much as any single other thing, imo. We’re so demoralized now that Cardi B looks like female empowerment. I can’t even scroll my Instagram feed without seeing some new DIY twerk routine inspired by the true story of WAP. Usually fart sounds are added to these videos, in the pages I follow at least, but I’m assailed by them nonetheless. There’s nothing quite like being fucked over by the people on your own team. There’s nothing quite like attempting to hold a line and carve out a space that demonizes neither men nor women, nor men’s sexuality nor women’s sexuality, and then to be interrupted at every turn by girls twerking to WAP and posting it online. A part of me wants to say, Ok fuck it. Have at it. Chattel is as chattel does.
Women-as-chattel seems to be a mindset we can’t entirely outgrow, culturally, and frankly it would be nice to have the luxury (again, that word) to reject its manifestation wherever it arises. Obama never said shit like that. Nope. He only ordered $65k worth of “pizza and hot dogs” from Chicago, to the White House, in the middle of the night, using tax payer money, and his emails to that effect solicited excited responses from invitees, including the disgusting “as long as it’s the same ‘waitresses’ as last time!” line.
We may or may not have a crisis of misogyny in government, likely so, but it’s since become clear to me we do have a crisis of actual pedophilia if not full blown pedovorism. I mean, it’s one thing to go home with a nice woman from the bar who seems unusually forward and to at some point suspect she’s a working girl; it’s another thing to have legal minors trafficked to you, in pre-arranged fashion, who cannot possibly have chosen their fate, and arranged through your cronies. A cyber investigation of child porn found content on more than 500 DoD computers at the Pentagon. The list of politicians, legislators, legal and law enforcement personnel in high and medium-high places, and related collaborators who have been actually busted for actual rape of children and/or consumption plus distribution of child pornography is virtually endless. And they’re all covering for each other and escaping with various wrist slaps, to prey again, and again.
I wish I lived in a world where the applicable question was, do we have an alternative to Trump who’s effective in the same ways but less prone to misogyny? But I don’t. I live in a world where the applicable question is, how many of these jaggoffs are participating in the rape of children, at one level or another, and why is Trump apparently the only bulwark to stand against it? And reports vary, but it sounds to me like he’s kicking some major ass in that department. An annual average of 60,000 sealed indictments since around 2017, with the previous average being around 1k? I mean, thank god Hillary lost, thank god that Access Hollywood tape didn’t tank Trump’s election, as it was intended to, because she’s eyeballs deep in it herself (and I could make a horrible frazzledrip pun here but I’m not gonna).
So Trump’s like crypto: volatile, hard to wrap your head around, worth something but difficult to assess in traditional terms. A real foreign concept. Wild west.
But the political establishment around him is like the dollar: respectable. Trusted. Familiar. Decayed, and shored up with secrets and debt. Passed around, filthy, and concerningly emblazoned with the all seeing eye on top of that pyramid.
On the surface, anyone interested in reasonably free-market capitalism, the idea of American exceptionalism, reduction of government and government overreach, strong national borders, hardball international negotiations, and a hell no to Marxism and identity politics can, and should, and occasionally is, supportive of Trump’s re-election, as I am. In reality, because the MSM has created a climate wherein hating Trump is simply the dominant form of weather, although hardly anyone can articulate why without finally resorting to “Orange Man Bad”, the admission price of literally any conversation is to punch Trump in the balls. “Trump’s a racist” is, like, the password to get into the tree house.
I detest chickenshit it all its forms, so that’s not my password and, I guess, not my tree house. Realistically, though, the thing that violently snaps people out of ambient Trump-aversion is exposure to conspiracy theory 101, especially relating to the Cabal of pedovores. That’s what happened to me. If you don’t know about it, and you are happy hating Trump and begrudging Biden your vote and wearing your mask and preserving the esteem of your colleagues and peers in the tree house, I recommend you just stay put. As dreary as Neo’s New York City was, in the Matrix, it was still better than his awakening in the slime pod, where his true body lay, a human battery. I have friends and family and acquaintances who are happily sitting in the burning house: this is fine. We’re not all built for this, let’s just say.
It shouldn’t take a wild conspiracy theory, or a blind eye to outright misogyny, to excuse a sitting President’s behavior, but this is a time like no other. We’re victims of a gaslighting like no other. The manufacture of narrative and the suppression of truth is on a scale like no other. The level of distraction and orchestrated crisis is chronic, and remember how I said, earlier, I dig in my heels when I feel that psychic shove of manipulation? I’ll rely on my gut 10 times out of 10, and this is one of those times. I’m enough of a woman to intensely resent Trump’s misogyny; I’m enough of a recovering Lefty to decry the successful democratic election of, arguably, a sexual predator; I’m enough of an emerging conservative to realize I want the meanest, smartest pit bull, and *not* a nice guy per se, representing me and my national interests, domestically and on the world stage; I’m enough of a conspiracy kook (ie recognizer of patterns) to admit that, when the debunking makes far less sense than the theory, we’ve got a problem; I’m enough of a veteran to promote the value of law, order, and the chain of command inherently; I’m enough of a gut-level, out-group person to simply feel that, when the entire formidable weight of the MSM and liberal establishment is dedicated to manipulating my emotions in one direction, that’s one direction I ain’t gonna go.
So, there you have it. My critique of the Access Hollywood tape scandal.
Some thoughts I decided not to include, earlier in the blog, but which occur to me as still relevant in a peripheral way: this marble cake of misogyny. I can be variously considered a feminist, an anti-feminist, a prototypical rather than typical female, or probably some other words they’ve come up with that I don’t even know about yet, and since they can’t agree on their deal, and never have, I feel no pressure to define myself accordingly. Anyway, from my regressive or progressive or whatever type of outlook, the defining feature of healthy masculinity is the effective shouldering of responsibility. I regard this responsibility as naturally including the care and protection of women and children. I don’t think that should be remotely controversial.
Critics of that perspective assume we’re out of the woods on matters primordial, where I notably don’t. Critics of that perspective assume we all just go to work and push buttons, and that mobs with torches and weapons don’t come to our houses, so we can dispense with all this caveman shit. Guess what? We don’t, and they do, and we can’t. In a push-button world, I resent the man who views me as his conquest and objectifies me in private conversations as a boys’ club pastime. In a torch-bearing mob world, I don’t resent the man who views me as his conquest, if he’s gonna get his ass out there and defend me and the bugaboos from harm. This is where the conundrum of the meanest pit bull gets real. I don’t want men to be that, but I don’t want them not to be that either. Even in the utopian fantasy of a push-button world, there will always be danger to women, because: men. We can’t afford to diffuse the bomb of men, even if we could — and we can’t — because the only thing standing in the way of men is other men. And I mean this energetically, even, not only on the physical plane. So there’s our marble cake, with its baked-in ribbon.
I’d like to talk about the way men can roll over women, but not men, even energetically, and also the interesting way women can roll over men, but not other women, energetically, but I’d also like to eat breakfast so I’ll just call it here.