Finneran's Wake - Ep. #9
ITEM #1: CUOMO CONFRONTS ANOTHER ACCUSER – AGAIN
Governor Andrew Cuomo, the same man upon whom, in hindsight, the creepy nickname, “Love Gov” was perhaps prematurely bestowed, the same symbol of Jovian virility and gubernatorial strength by whom the craze of “Cuomo-sexualism” was, by the amorous encouragement of the daytime television host, Ellen DeGeneres, first aroused and then spread, has been credibly accused, for the third time and by a third woman, of sexual harassment.
As it currently stands, there’s a full triumvirate, a dauntless band of three women by whom the beleaguered, sullied, though not yet discernibly repentant Governor of New York has been charged. In order of their appearance—in time, though doubtless not in beauty—they are Lindsey Boylan, Charlotte Bennett, and Anna Ruch.
The first, Boylan, was a deputy secretary for economic development in Cuomo’s administration from 2015 till 2018. She divulged her experience with the governor on the literary site, Medium. The second, Bennett, was an entry-level assistant to Cuomo during the year 2019. Themes similar to those found in the earlier Medium post persisted. The third and the youngest, Ruch, worked as a photographer in the Obama White House during the erstwhile president’s second term.
Given the rapidity of the shocking revelations with which, in the brief course of two weeks, these three women have come forward, one wouldn’t be surprised if more were to follow. Time, as we know, will cast a light on the dark suspicions that more women still “wait in the wings”, so to speak, and are anxious to acquaint us with their stories, their “lived experiences”, and their terribly difficult “truths”. We’ll see, though, for now, if the combined weight of Boylan’s, Bennett’s, and Ruch’s feminine power, along with the Left’s waning allegiance to the forgotten cause of #MeToo, will prove sufficiently strong in the effort to remove from office so lecherous and disreputable a man.
Admittedly, Cuomo’s dethronement, at this point, shows little promise of success. Though his favorability rating has taken a hit in the past two months, its descent is by no means fatal. Mind you, for well-neigh an entire year, Governor Cuomo was celebrated by every influential voice as the paragon of competence and the exemplar of tact. He was, as we were told, day after day, and by the most reliable of sources, the one of our fifty governors from whom the other forty-nine should take their example. He was said to be the sole, clear-eyed statesman in a land of conservative Cyclopes and benighted brutes, the candid yet empathic politician to whom we all should turn when in need of truth, information, succor, and strength.
The media, buoyed by his ascent, hung on his every utterance. They applauded his every move and hitched their destiny to his purported ability. They grasped onto the heels of this soaring Icarus, and felt not the wax-melting heat of the sun. They stopped at nothing to extol his virtues, especially when contrasted to the vices of their insufferable bête noire, President Trump.
It’s no wonder, then, that there lingers in the imagination of the people in this country a certain image of the governor of which they can’t be readily disabused. He was, after all, elevated to the stature of something near a deity in the public mind, a higher being to whom every celebrity (from Robert De Niro, to Billy Crystal, to Ben Stiller and Spike Lee) toasted his congratulations and heartfelt thanks. New Yorkers, it would seem, retain—despite every nursing home death and sexual perversion—a strange and roseate image of their beloved rapscallion. There is, so far as I can tell, no swelling tide by his constituents pushing him toward a recall (as is happening to Governor Newsom in California), nor a whisper from within the bowels of the governor’s mansion quietly suggesting that he resign.
In a statement untouched by the gentler tones of contrition, Cuomo asserted that he “never touched anyone inappropriately”, despite the accompanying image of him grasping Miss Ruch’s petrified and retreating face. He continued to say that he “never knew at the time that he was making anyone feel uncomfortable”, perhaps a confession of his obliviousness to the facial contortions of being nonplussed in his grasp. That he might ever act in such a way as to make someone feel uncomfortable would be nothing short of “unintentional”, but have we not been conditioned to reply that intentions matter not?
It appears, by these changing standards, we’re no longer expected to be #MeToo absolutists. We can forgo, it seems, our prior commitment to what was, frankly, an unsustainable rule. As the governor made clear, “all women” aren’t, in fact, universally to be believed—only some, and only so long as their stories are neither too deleterious nor inopportune to a governor relishing the summit of his career. Thus, “believe all women” has somewhat sheepishly devolved into “hear all women”, which has in turn become “selectively, partially listen to some women, so long as the occasion permits”.
Despite the fact that most rational people’s taste for Cuomo has soured, he appears equipped to endure the mounting scandals beneath which a lesser man would be buried. Frankly, if true, they’re the less disquieting of his misdeeds. If he can’t be castigated for having sealed the collective fate of thousands of nursing home residents, and if he can’t be punished for having obfuscated the actual number of their deaths, and if he can’t be recalled for having obstructed a federal investigation into the enormity of his misbehavior, should we expect his downfall to come at the hands of three women, a trio off of whom he couldn’t help but keep his hands?
ITEM #2: BIDEN BOMBS SYRIA
On the 25th of February, hardly a month removed from his historic inauguration, that grand ceremony in that freedom-breathing city around which, not only at this very moment, but for the unpromising future ahead, barbed-wire tautly stretches and national guardsmen erectly stand, President Joe Biden ordered the bombing of a facility in Syria.
He, like the last three Commanders-in-Chief by whom he was preceded—and from whom, as is becoming apparent by the loftiness of his plans and the ambition of his efforts, he’s working devilishly hard to be distinguished—decided early to dip his toes into the turbid waters of Middle Eastern politics. It’s a pool, sadly, from which none exits completely clean. Inevitably, whether he be Democrat or Republican, hawkish or dove-like, domestically-minded or internationally-enthused, each leader is sullied in the process of taking this unhygienic leap.
So far as we’ve been informed, a nondescript Syrian outpost, in which, importantly, Iranian-backed militia groups were sheltered, was struck by Biden’s inaugural salvo. The damage to which this distant facility and its unsuspecting residents were subject is, at this time, still undisclosed. Whispers attest to the fact that the bombing claimed nearly two dozen lives but this, the fatality count, isn’t something about which the media are particularly inquisitive. Their chief concern, rather, and that by which our own concerns might be roused, is that Biden consented to this attack in the first place.
By what affront, we ask, was so unexpected a response provoked? Was President Biden’s first demonstration of strength, in its nature, retaliatory or—god forbid—incendiary? Was it proactive, as though to preempt future outbreaks of terror in the region or at home, or reactive, if only to give just deserts in the style of a lawful “tit for tat”? Was it a proportionate answer to an intolerable offense, or the mere flexing of a newfound military muscle?
Even those who flatter themselves by being more than “casual” observers of international affairs found these questions difficult to address. Reflexively, many thought the attack an unnecessary display of Executive strength, a gratuitous strike to which an elderly and ostensibly peaceful president ought not to have agreed. No sooner had the smoke cleared than the epithets of “war hawk”, “militarist”, and “neo-liberal” began clouding the immaculate reputation that Joe Biden has sought to cultivate by his many Christian actions.
We must ask ourselves, now in the sobriety of our better knowledge, whether or not he’s fully deserving of so unsavory a set of names? We might also ask whether or not the ageless “Authorization for use of Military Force” (AUMF) might be, under this presidency, reconsidered?
As it turns out, Biden’s salvo was little more than a response to an attack carried out by, yet again, none other than Iranian-backed militants. This time, their attack targeted an Iraqi airport (to which a US military base was perhaps too conspicuously attached) in the northern city of Erbil. For reference, Erbil is a relatively docile place located just east of the famously sanguinary town of Mosul—the city over which, for far too long a while, ISIS forces barbarously reigned. Using rockets, the militants struck the US base in which our soldiers and allies were housed. At the scene, one US contractor was pronounced dead, and one US soldier injured.
With truly astonishing perspicacity, and a level of mental discernment to which feebler brains, such as that occupying this speaker’s head, could only aspire, you might be asking yourself why, if our troops were attacked in the nation of Iraq, did Biden order a response in the sovereign, neighboring state of Syria? Are the two Middle Eastern states, though similarly dilapidated and poorly-run, verging on a point of being indistinguishable? It’s an excellent question you pose, to which a mind sharper than mine might offer an answer.
If I were to advance one, however, with all timidity and expectation of being corrected, I would say that we did only that which would not significantly provoke Iran’s ire. Great care, it seems, is being taken not to enflame the passions of those hell-raising Persians, those wrathful mullahs with whom we yearn to strike a renascent nuclear deal. As for the AUMF, it’s very unlikely to be rescinded, an unfortunate fact for which we might blame an emasculated Congress.
ITEM # 3: “EQUALITY ACT” PASSES CONGRESS
The delightfully-named “Equality Act”, a harmlessly-sounding bill to which, having not read it, none possessed of a good heart and warm spirit would rightly object, passed by the slimmest of margins in the House of Representatives. It did so by a vote of 211-195. Now, against all odds, it marches onward, posthaste, to the floor of the Senate, that august theater in which it’ll be further scrutinized and debated, rejected or embraced.
What, you might ask, are the contents of a bill with so unexceptionable a name? In its own words, its noble intention is to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation” in the realm of public life. Its declared purpose is to incorporate under the protection of the anti-discrimination laws of Civil Rights Act of 1964 such categories as “gender identity” and “sexual orientation”, two terms by which our once dry, quotidian discourse has become overwhelmed and saturated.
Sensing the inadequacy of our understanding of the word “discrimination”, the bill’s authors go to great lengths to explain to us that “Discrimination can occur on the basis of the sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition of an individual, as well as because of sex-based stereotypes”. Each, they proclaim, is an example of sex discrimination from which every American deserves protection, to which this bill will valiantly respond, as we enter the second decade of a second millennium from which all things not progressive must be purged.
The authors then adopt a slightly more critical view as they turn to that last, somewhat nebulous phrase, “sex-based stereotypes”. Discrimination, they say, “against a married same-sex couple could be based on the sex stereotype that marriage should only be between heterosexual couples”. I think their use of the word “stereotype” is perhaps mischievously employed. When something is said to be “stereotypical”, in most cases, it’s meant to suggest its superficiality and crudeness, not its veracity and essence. A stereotype is seldom thought of as a compliment; more often, it’s a caricature. Indeed, that which is merely stereotypical fails to reach the desired depth to which higher thinker promoting it always seems prepared to descend.
That a conjugal union between man and wife has become, suddenly, stereotypical and, as such, apt to be ridiculed and dismissed, would come as a surprise to anyone reared in a religious faith, or born before the year, say, 2000. Those holding a more traditional view of marriage might view it as rather teleological than stereotypical, as a quite useful and necessary means to ensure the propagation of our species and, by some pious extension, to promote the greater glory of God. It would be important to note, without casting a moral judgement, that “married same-sex couples”, despite their best efforts, will forever lack that teleological sine qua non (that is, the fertile harmony of contrasting generative organs by which, having met and exchanged their seminal features, another human is naturally conceived).
The authors proceed to enumerate the difficulties faced by LGBTQ community in accessing public accommodations. Important to note, that in using that cherished initialism, those five hallowed letters by which endless rainbow flags have been emblazoned in recent years, a persistent category error is committed: L, G, B, and Q are all, so far as I’m aware, sexual orientations. T, the uneasy outlier of this curious, amorous bunch, is but a gender identity. Especially as it pertains to federal legislation, by which it’s desired that everyone in this country will be effected, I fear this isn’t a trivial distinction without a difference unworthy of our note. It might be an issue over which we might, if only for a contemplative hour, linger.
The following part of the text is, at least in the minds of those inhabiting conservative circles, the cause célèbre. The authors of the bill assert that, “Discrimination by state and local governments on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations, and in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States”.
At the utterance of the words, “public accommodations”, one’s mind immediately leaps to the issue of bathrooms. With the peremptory language of this bill, it seems as though we’re to take it that this particular controversy has been, at long last, settled.
Has it, though?
Is a biological male, one tickled by the ephemeral notion of his inner femininity, to be granted access to a women’s restroom on the strength of his whim and preference alone? What if, one day, he exuberantly proclaims the newfound identity of which he’s just now become conscious, only to rescind his dizzying announcement on the following day? Will his strange, new admittance to the women’s bathroom be revoked, or will the precious rights according to his declared, though in no way obvious gynecoid nature obtain?
We then turn to “programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance”. This is a broad category, indeed, as there are few such programs and activities untouched by the munificence of the government’s coin. If we were to condense this ungainly and legal sentence, it would read more succinctly to say that girls’ and women’s sports, so long as they’re supported by public funds, must permit biological males to compete as equals on their fields.
Thus, as conservatives caution, goes the very essence of women’s sports. No longer can they call themselves by that name. Girls’ athletic achievements, along with the noble feminism by whose efforts they arrived, finally dissolve in the acidic solvent of transgender rights. At the risk of wandering down a biological excursus, and provoking the wrath of a group with whom I seek no feud, there are certain unsubtle advantageous, a list, in fact, of quite distinct physiological and hormonal features, of which the man—by the unsolicited advantage and good fortune of his birth—will be availed.
This bill would make his already impressive athletic dominance complete and set biological females, yet again, back further in the race.