Disgusting Behavior at the President’s Club Charitable Trust

president's clubThere’s a pretty interesting story making the headlines in London and throughout England in regards to the President’s Club Charitable Trust where many members of a group of wealthy business men behaved crassly toward the young women who acted as hostesses for the event. What I find fascinating about the proceedings that transpired is problems could have easily been solved by some simple communication.

First, let’s review what occurred at the event for those not familiar with the story. The charitable gathering was attended by only men. The female hostesses were groped, propositioned, pulled onto laps, and otherwise harassed during the occasion. Before the dinner began the women were told their job was to serve drinks and put up with annoying men.

The woman who exposed the activities, Madison Marriage, was working undercover as a hostess and in her article, admits that some of the hostesses, most likely those who knew what to expect and came as a group, had fun and enjoyed themselves during the event but many others were horrified and tried to hide in the restrooms to avoid the situation. These women were escorted out and forced to rejoin the party. This dichotomy of experiences tells us virtually everything we need to know.

The President’s Club planners needed to communicate with the hostesses exactly what sort of behavior they could expect and the men attending needed to understand what sort of activities would be tolerated. I’ll give you an example. Marriage indicates a man in his seventies asked a nineteen-year-old woman if she was a prostitute. Many people find that horrific. I have no problem with it. He asked, she told him no, and he continued on his way; presumably without bothering her further. That is the way the entire event should have unfolded.

The President’s Club should have been explained to the men attending they should keep their hands to themselves unless a hostess acquiesced to whatever he had in mind; maybe just holding hands, or sitting on his lap, or perhaps even performing sexual services for an agreed upon financial return. That any man who violated these rules would be warned and ejected if they persisted.

Meanwhile, the hostesses should have been told men would be propositioning them, hoping to hold hands, sit on their laps, perhaps asked to gyrate in only their underwear but they were under no obligation to do so. It’s clear to me from the story that some of the hostesses knew exactly what to expect, turned down propositions they didn’t like, and acquiesced to those requests they welcomed. They earned money for attending the event and possibly got side payments for particular behavior.

Communication was the key element missing from this entire sordid affair. The women and men were all adults of legal age and competent minds. They just needed to know what was expected and what would be tolerated. If that had been done I think everyone would have had an enjoyable experience.

Sure, the men are pigs. I get that. I’m a fifty+ year old man. A like looking at a pretty young woman. I enjoy it when the attractive waitress puts her hand on my shoulder or touches my elbow. I don’t grab her ass or try to shove my hand up her skirt but I might touch her shoulder and say thank you. Perhaps she wants a larger tip or maybe she finds me attractive and hopes I’ll ask for her phone number; maybe she wants both! That’s her prerogative and I think it’s wrong to tell any young woman she shouldn’t attend an event of this nature; provided she knows what she is getting into and the men are punished for behavior that goes over the line.

The idea older men should not be interested in slap-and-tickle with younger women is a hopeless concept. Some men will always be interested. And the general assumption the women were all harassed, abused, and needed protection is also nonsense. Some women enjoy this sort of event and should be allowed to attend without shame.

Adults should be trusted to make these sorts of decisions on their own. The women don’t need to be protected and the men don’t need to be punished; provided everyone knew what was expected and reasonable limits were kept. That is the fault of the hosts.

The most egregious thing that happened at the event was the President’s Club forcing clearly uncomfortable women back to the party. That is despicable; the rest of it could have been easily avoided.

Tom Liberman

President Trump and the Friendship with Kim Jong-un

jong-unPresident Trump and the Wall Street Journal are disputing whether he used the word “I’d” or the word “I” in reference to his relationship with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un. As a writer I find the use of words to be interesting and important. At their base, words are nothing more than sounds. However, these sounds are used to convey meaning and thus using the right words in particular circumstances can make a huge difference.

The disputed quote is as follows: I (I’d) probably have a good relationship with Jong-un. The quote using the singular “I” is the one touted by the Wall Street Journal while the one using “I’d” is that the White House and Trump claim is accurate. Let’s examine the different between the two.

If the Wall Street Journal is correct, Trump thinks he currently, most likely, has a good relationship with Jong-un. This statement is optimistic considering the two have engaged in a war of words from even before Trump came into office. Trump has called Jong-un by various derogatory names and the Supreme Leader of North Korea has returned the favor. Their relationship appears to be antagonistic.

On the other hand, if Trump’s version of the sentence is correct it means that under different circumstances he imagines he and Jong-un would have a good relationship. The exact nature of this other world is not explicitly stated but I’d guess it involves a situation where North Korea is not attempting to build Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles capable of dropping nuclear warheads on the United States.

What I find absolutely fascinating about this story is the vehemence coming from both sides considering the irrelevance of the difference. Whichever words are accurate they amount to exactly the same, horrific, thing. Jong-un is the leader of the most repressive, violent, and least free nation in the world. He has ordered the murder of his uncle, half-brother, and many others. His people live in abject poverty and worship him as a living god. He lives lavishly with many luxuries while many of the people in his country are starving to death. Trump believes he either does or could have a good relationship with this person.

I can state unequivocally I could not, under any circumstances, have a good relationship with Jong-un. He is the perpetrator of literal crimes against humanity. Were I President of the United States I would deal with him as the leader of another nation. I would attempt to negotiate a better way for his people, but I would not, I could not, have a good relationship with him. Anyone who imagines they have such a relationship, or actually has one, with Jong-un clearly does not understand the nature of this man. Someone who thinks they have a good relationship with Jong-un is sick. Their mind is diseased.

The thought of the suffering in North Korea directly and indirectly attributable to Jong-un makes me physically ill. The thought of those millions of people suffering unnecessarily induces rage. The idea of him enjoying conspicuous luxuries and total freedom while denying even basic amenities to the people is nauseating to me. He is a vile person, possibly the worst excuse for a human currently alive.

It matters not if Trump is deluded enough to think he does have a good relationship with Jong-un or whether he only imagines he might have one; it shows a disturbing detachment from reality. No decent human could possibly imagine they have a good relationship with such a monster. To do so is to ignore the suffering engendered by Jong-un, to pretend the world is other than it is.

I ask you, could you have a good relationship with Jong-un? Would it be possible with an understanding of what he has done, who he is?

I hope the answer is no.

Tom Liberman

Early Morning Exercise Bad for You Misleading Headline

Exercise UnhealthyHow Waking Up Early in the morning could be Counterproductive blares the misleading headline from PopSugar. Yeah, well, what they mean is not getting enough sleep is unhealthy. Duh. Exercise has nothing to do with the problem.

The idea is that people get up early to exercise and this cuts into their regular sleep schedule. Exercise is almost always good for you barring extreme overworking.

So there you go. Get your sleep and exercise. You heard it here first.

Oh, and SugarPop, you win my not so weekly Misleading Headline of the Week award.

Tom Liberman

Natalie Portman and the Snide Comment

natalie portmanDuring the recent Golden Globes award ceremony Natalie Portman and Ron Howard presented the award for Best Director of a feature film. Portman announced, “And here are the all-male nominees.” I think she was being unfair and incomplete.

If she had mentioned what she thought was a worthy film directed by a woman, there are certainly several choices this year, and which male directed film she would have left off I would say that at least her speech was complete if still unfair. The dig was unfair to all the nominated men because they had nothing to do with their selection. The statement certainly implies that some, if not all, of them didn’t deserve the nomination. The winner, Guillermo del Toro, might have responded during his acceptance speech but instead he took the high ground and gave an emotional speech about how much of his heart he poured into the move; The Shape of Water. He was the better person than Portman, in this case.

I certainly think there is a point to be made that some of the films this year directed by women were equally deserving of nomination, I just don’t think that Portman chose a good time for her nasty comment. It was nasty, true or not, you cannot deny her statement devaluing the award one of the directors was about to receive was anything else. You might well support Portman for making the statement and that’s fine, but it was rude, nasty, and unfair.

It was, to some small degree, exactly what she was complaining about. She essentially attacked a group of men for the single failing of being a man. It was sexism. Certainly, it was not an egregious attack. She didn’t threaten their livelihood or physically assault them. They will go on about their lives pretty much as before. I don’t think a crime has been committed. I don’t think Portman should be blacklisted from Hollywood for her actions. I don’t think she should be denied a chance to participate in the making of future movies. I just think it was nasty and rude. I think she owes the five directors an apology. I don’t expect she’ll be making one.

She is largely being lauded for her bold statement. Most of the articles I’ve read on the subject seem to think she did the right thing in calling out the fact that all five of the nominated films were directed by men. I disagree.

The statement she should have made, in my worthless opinion, is to refuse to give out the award. If she feels strongly there was a miscarriage of justice then she should simply have refused to participate in the ceremony. That I would have respected. But the reality is she wanted to be up on that stage giving the award, she wanted to have her cake and eat it too. And she is apparently getting that wish, at least from everyone except me.

Tom Liberman

Hell Hath No Fury Like Lindy Lou Layman Scorned

Lindy Lou LaymanThere’s a trendy story about a woman, Lindy Lou Layman, who damaged some expensive pieces of art after being intoxicated at the home of a prominent Houston Attorney, Tony Buzbee. It’s not completely her fault. She’s nuts, I get that, but bear with me for a moment. I’m going to have to do a lot of speculation but I think it’s important to consider our actions and Buzbee needs to think about that as well as Layman.

It is claimed Layman and Buzbee were on a first date and I’m already suspicious of the official story. Why didn’t Layman have her own car? Did they meet at the restaurant or wherever and then decide to drive back to his place in his car? I suspect they simply met while out on the town. Layman is an attractive young woman and Buzbee a wealthy man. Eye contact was made, drinks were purchased, things progressed, and she agreed to return home with him.

She got drunk and Buzbee decided he’d call her an Uber rather than continue the date. Again, suspicions raised. Why wouldn’t she leave when he called her a ride, then hide in the house, and finally begin to destroy property. It seems fairly apparent Buzbee made certain verbal contractual statements. You can stay until morning and we’ll go get brunch. I’m having a great time and would like to see you in the future. In exchange for these verbal commitments some sort of oral or other services were provided. After the completion of services Buzbee decided he’d had enough and wasn’t going to fulfill his verbal, and non-binding, contractual statements. He called an Uber and went up to bed. Thanks for the memories.

Somewhat or completely intoxicated and feeling both rejected and used, Layman began to take out her feelings on the artwork in the house. Hearing the commotion at some point Buzbee realized the girl he treated like crap was maybe a little pissed about it and wanted vengeance, go figure. Police summoned.

What’s the lesson here? I’m not sure. Buzbee might well not have gotten the services he desired if he’d been honest with Layman about his intentions to send her home immediately after completion. He almost certainly lied to Layman in order to get what he wanted. Buzbee shouldn’t be such a douche. She has legitimate grievances with him. Of course, there are few legal remedies to such breech of contract situations. What damages has Layman suffered? A little humiliation most certainly but anything financial? Hardly. In addition, Layman should blame herself for performing services so quickly and readily before understanding the nature of the relationship. Destroying expensive art is a good way to end up in prison and she chose to do so.

Actions have consequences. If you treat another person like garbage that other person might consider doing harm to you or your material possessions.

The question becomes if it was worth it. If I were to ask both Buzbee and Layman, I think they’d both say no. Something for us all to think about when dealing with other human monkeys.

You never know, maybe they’ll end up married. They just might deserve each other.

Tom Liberman

Aleppo vs Binomo

binomoSome comedians pranked United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley and it’s not all fun and games. The comedians asked Haley about a fictional country named Binomo. Haley indicated she knew about Binomo and was looking into Russian activity into their recent elections. There is no Binomo. What’s not funny about this is how Gary Johnson was treated when asked about the Syrian city of Aleppo. Let me compare the two incidents.

Johnson was the Libertarian candidate for the United States Presidency and was engaged in an interview when asked a question about Aleppo. The topic of conversation was not the Middle East and the insertion of Aleppo was largely without context. Haley was engaged in congratulating who she thought was the Prime Minister of Poland when asked if she was aware of the situation in Binomo. Like the Aleppo question, it came largely without context. In both cases the person hearing the word did not know exactly what was being discussed. That’s all fine and good. I mishear people all the time, particularly when a new topic comes up without warning.

It’s the reaction to the incident that tells us everything, not necessarily about Haley and Johnson although it speaks intrinsically to the values they hold as humans, but the response of regular people. Haley pretended she knew what was being talked about. She gave vague, politician friendly answers. We’re watching that very closely. I’ll report back to you when I find out more. She lied. Johnson simply asked for clarification, What’s Aleppo? The fact he used the word ‘what’ instead of ‘where’ clearly shows he was confused as to the reference. When it was made clear what was being discussed was a city in Syria, he went on to answer the question fully and cogently.

The fallout from the Johnson incident largely eliminated him from serious contention for the presidency although I suspect he had only small chances even without the event. Haley will suffer not at all. Those who support her will laugh it off as nothing and those who don’t will call for her to be fired. Nothing will happen and all will be as it was. That’s a shame.

If the people of the United States actually had the values they claim to have, Johnson would have been lauded for admitting, with a simple question, he didn’t know what he was being asked and needed clarification. Haley would be shown as a liar who is happy to pretend knowledge when she has none. This is testament to morality and ethics far more than proclaiming belief in one deity over another.

I’m quite certain if we presented these two cases as a hypothetical to a large audience there would be an almost unified conclusion. The person who doesn’t understand a question but pretends they do is clearly unethical. The person who readily admits they didn’t understand something and seeks clarification would be considered the better human. It’s unquestionable which answer was ethically and morally correct.

If Haley is too egotistical to even ask for clarification on the question presented by the comedians, what does it say about her character? What won’t she lie about? The answer is clear, lying is second nature to her. She does it without thought and great skill. This is who we apparently want leading us. We don’t want someone who honestly tries to find solutions but prefer a liar who glibly and with charm pretends to know things she or he does not.

Character is actually important but it means nothing when it comes to securing elections. I shouldn’t go that far, having a strong moral character does mean something, it means you’re going to have a very difficult time getting elected. And then we wonder what’s wrong with this country.

There is an enormous gap in perception in this country. The gap between admiring what we know to be ethical traits and our willingness to vote for those who don’t display them.

Aleppo vs Binomo is just but a single, stark example.

Tom Liberman

How Regulations Destroy Small and Medium Businesses

regulationsPeople generally assume regulations are a burden on all businesses in general but the reality is that large and enterprise companies are far less affected because of their greater resources. Thus, small and medium sized businesses are the only ones hurt. As if the small competitor didn’t have enough trouble already. It’s my opinion a great number of regulations are working exactly as planned, to benefit political allies.

You have to remember who pays the bills. Enterprise businesses bribe, I mean to say contribute, to politicians on a much larger scale than is possible for smaller businesses. When new regulations come down the pipeline they force all companies to perform a great deal of documentation to prove they are doing things correctly. Bigger companies can handle these costs much more readily and thus small producers are forced to sell their business. It’s an accelerating trend that has created carnage in the once influential small business world. I won’t get too deeply into statistics but since the 1980s small businesses have contributed less and less to the total economy of the United States.

An article I recently read about the 5,000 plus regulations that apply to apple farmers is case in point. There are regulations on scanning the entire orchard for mouse dropping before the start of the work day. Shoe to ladder to hand. While the Trump administration has reduced some regulations, they’ve also vastly increased regulations in regards to foreign workers so help does not appear to be on the horizon.

The reality of regulations is they drive out small players and aid enterprise business. Even if you support many of the regulations it is impossible to deny the evidence of their affect.

Another quite interesting factor in all of this is the standards applied by wholesalers often outstrip those applied by the government. If you want to have Whole Foods sell your produce, they require a lot of assurances about quality and safety. This means a double burden in which not only must government regulations be followed and thoroughly documented, but a second set of rules must be adhered to in order to make it to market. This, again, is to the advantage of larger operations.

I question the necessity of many government regulations at all. Let’s take the mouse droppings rule as an example. It’s certainly possible mouse droppings might make their way from the ground to a ladder to the hand of a worker and hence to an apple. The regulation requires workers walk the entire orchard each day before harvest looking for mouse droppings. This is obviously unreasonable, even for large operations. This regulation is doing nothing to prevent mouse droppings from migrating to your apple simply because it is an impossible rule to follow.

I’m not entirely against various regulations, I think there needs to be far fewer of them and they need be better written. The bottom line in the case of apples is to ensure those going to market aren’t going to make people sick. The simplest way to do this is test a random apple or two from various batches for salmonella or whatever else might cause disease. I admit this is not a perfect solution as the stray disease-causing apple will slip through the net, but that is no different than with current regulations. Citizens of the United States are sickened by food on a fairly regular basis.

Nor am I arguing against the executives of enterprise business, they have every right to conduct their companies as they choose. The problem is the majority of regulations, well-intentioned or not, basically work against smaller operations.

We want a business to succeed because they do something well, not because they are aided by the government against competition. Fewer, smarter, and better regulations is a winning recipe for the smart business owner and the consumer.

Tom Liberman