Why I Think Al Franken is Being Set Up

Why I Think Al Franken is Being Set Up

I never write about specific incidents in politics, because it’s such a snakepit of a topic, but today I need to make an exception. I believe that something evil is afoot.

Senator Al Franken (D) New Jersey has recently been accused of groping cast member Leeann Tweeden during a USO tour in 2006. There are so many things wrong with this accusation, and a lot of reasons why I think this whole thing stinks to high heaven.

  1. She was rehearsing for a USO skit, for a script she read in advance (a script Al Franken could not have written so as to take advantage of Tweeden, because he wrote it in 2003), so she knew what was going to happen before it happened. She was on that USO tour because at the time she was a famous soft-core porn pinup girl. It was literally her job to titillate the enlisted men. This does not diminish the potential validity of her claim of abuse, but it does demonstrate that she should have been aware that her personal space was likely to be violated during the trip, and repeatedly, while the show was on tour, as part of or related to the entertainment being presented.
  2. The photo shows Franken pretending to touch her, but if you look at the shadows under the fingers, he never actually touches her, and the photo was quite obviously staged. This is theatrical limerence, not sexual aggression. Feel free to disagree with me, but this is what I think. You’ll also note that she’s wearing a flack jacket. He’s pretending to grope her through a flack jacket. Let that sink in a moment.

    This photograph was taken on a USO airplane. Tweeden was asleep. You can clearly see the shadows of Franken’s fingers on Tweeden’s flak jacket, so it’s very clear that he was not actually touching her flak jacket.

  3. Franken was under military guard the entire time he was there. Even in the men’s room. They followed him into the men’s room. It was that guard’s duty to stop any untoward or forbidden behavior Franken might attempt should he do so, and he wasn’t left alone for a moment. Literally. Tweeden’s claim that Franken lip-locked her once he got her alone couldn’t have happened the way she claimed. They were never alone, ever.
  4. The accuser is a Fox News employee and Trump spokesmodel, so she’s part of an organization that has a great interest in taking potshots at Democrats, especially Senators who might have something to say about who gets approved on judicial nominations. Fox News is a strong ally of the GOP and parrots the GOP spin machine virtually unedited most of the time.
  5. Somehow Roger Stone knew what was going to happen 24 hours before the news was released, and tweeted about it. If this was a legitimate accusation and not a political plot against Franken, how did he know, and why is he involved?
  6. Franken’s female staff is united in their support of Franken, and they say that over years he has never treated any of them with anything but the utmost respect. The female cast members of Saturday Night Live came forward and said the exact same thing. Instead of over a dozen women accusers, Franken has over a dozen women defenders. Where’s the pattern of bad behavior? It’s missing here, and somebody with a problem like this is going to have it through his entire career. Everybody else with a problem like this has, why not Franken? This information does not fit the pattern.
  7. Franken has called upon Congress to launch an investigation into his own behavior. This is not typically something something you do when you are guilty. Tweeden hastily responded to this by saying,”Oh, no, that won’t be necessary.” She’s already come out with this accusation, and we’ve all seen the staged photograph, so that’s established. What would an investigation uncover? If Franken is volunteering, you can bet the answer is “little to nothing”, or why do it? If Tweeden wasn’t serious about the accusation, why make one? If she was, why back away from Franken being investigated? What’s she hiding?  She’s an entertainer, and used to being paid to say and do all sorts of things that might not be in her nature. Where’s the real Leeann Tweeden in all this? How much is fiction? How much is real?
  8. She’s already been offered a book deal by Sinclair Publishing. This is a branch of Sinclair Communications, well known for pushing right wing agenda as though it were news on TV and radio stations across the country. THAT was fast. How did they know to set this deal up this fast? Interesting. Usually you wait to see if a person’s story isn’t going to fall apart under scrutiny first. Like, a day or two at least.
  9. She allegedly showed the picture to her husband shortly after it happened in 2006, and neither she nor her husband felt it important enough to do anything about. It wasn’t until Franken became a political powerhouse that it was suddenly relevant – not because of what Franken did, but because of what Franken became long after the fact.
  10. Lastly (and this one is big), it appears that the photograph in question carries metadata, which shows the actual time, date, and equipment used to take the photograph. It says that the photo was taken on December 21, 2006 and not on December 24 as Tweeden claims. Her allegation is false in some major aspects. It gets worse. The metadata also shows the picture was altered the SAME DAY Coleman conceded to Franken, meaning someone was planning on using this against him from the second he became senator. This data is called EXIF data, and it shows not only when the photo was shot, but the last time it was altered. In this case it shows that the photo was altered on July 1, 2009, so it’s been through Photoshop. This doesn’t mean it’s been doctored, necessarily, but it does mean that somebody cropped it and made a copy of it for later use, on a very significant date.

This absolutely reeks of a setup – and the GOP is trying anything to fix their Roy Moore problem. It looks like he may not win his Senate seat, and they need him to vote the way he’s told in the Senate. They’re possibly looking at taking Franken out as a way to counterbalance losing a seat to Doug Jones, Roy Moore’s democratic competitor.

And then there’s this. This video shows Tweeden grabbing the ass of a lead guitarist on stage, and doing a sort of lap dance thing against his leg. Does this mean her own accusations are invalid, or make them somehow less true just because of this? Does this make her a “loose woman”?

Of course not.

She is a performer, an actor. She was being paid to do this, just as Franken was.

However, it also shows that she knew full well that she was part of a theatrical production, and knew in advance what was in the show and what was going on. She shouldn’t have been taken by surprise by any of this; the point here is that she knew in advance that things like this were likely to happen, because she was doing them herself.

This whole thing is evil twice – once simply because it appears that the charges are largely concocted to try to take out a political adversary of the GOP, and once because it poisons the well for the #metoo movement of women (and a few men) coming forward to talk about the sexual aggression to which they were subjected.

My conclusion? It’s all fabricated. The most evil thing Franken might be guilty of is a joke in poor taste.

-30-

The Patreon Quandry

The Patreon Quandry

Obi-Shawn’s t-shirt design for his morning show on Krypton Radio, “Good Morning, Tatooine!”

We use Patreon to keep our sci-fi radio station, Krypton Radio, fueled up and on the air, and it’s been working for years. However, it’s also a struggle, and we’re not doing anywhere near as well as we should be given the size of the market. Getting the word out is an enormous problem when what you do is a service, not putting 100% of your energy into a single one-shot incendiary mortar shell of a geeky project.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

Patreon is Hard

The main issue with Patreon is that you have to live there to make it work. You can’t run your stuff out of your web site and visit only occasionally, you pretty much have to move into Patreon and run your entire operation from there.
For most creators, that’s a real problem, because they’ve spent years developing a following on the web and in social media, and it’s very hard to get your fans to follow you over to Patreon, and it’s hard to keep their attention once you do. Patreon is not social media, and it lacks all the things that make people hang around for extended periods. Once your patron is done reading your page, there’s nothing else to keep them there.
Very very recently Patreon has released a plugin for WordPress that makes it possible to post Patrons-only content on your own web site, so that lets you bring the Patreon to the fans instead of having to do it the other way around, and we’re about to start experimenting with members-only content that way. We have no idea how much or how little that will help yet, it’s totally uncharted territory for us.
One important factor with Patreon is that you have to be very very active in it or people will think you’re out of business. A post a week isn’t bad. Two a week is probably optimal.
Another important factor is that you’re going to have to plan your productivity to include creating assets specifically for Patreon that aren’t directly part of whatever creative thing it is that you do. You’ll need videos, graphics, short articles, sound bytes, all sorts of things specifically shaped to the needs of running a continuous crowdfunding campaign. It’s like running a Kickstarter, but you never get a break and it never stops.

But Does It Work?

Well – I can honestly say that we wouldn’t have a radio station if it didn’t work.
Advertising certainly doesn’t work. Nobody clicks on anything, and web browsers are built to filter them out by default. Kickstarters are a pain, and very stressful and make you crazy. Subscriberships are the only way to go if you want to be paid every month for what you do.

What About the Perks?

That’s one of the things we’re struggling with.
We produce audio, so there’s no finite physical product that we can send people. We have to come up with content specifically geared to being output in little parcels that our fans would want, so we’re exploring publishing fiction exclusively for our subscribers.
We’re also developing a sci-fi radio drama, and when that comes out we’ll have props and costumes, and challenge coins, and patches, but it’s a massive push to get it done, and it’s taking years longer than we planned to do this.
We also feature a line of sci-fi / geek t-shirts that we’ve designed ourselves that nobody else carries, and you’d think that would be an attractant, but to be completely honest, apparently nobody gives a @#$#@ about t-shirts. Like, at all. We’ve given away maybe two of them as perks in the last two years when people ask for them, despite the fact that half our patrons are eligible for them.

White Elephant? Why, Yes. Yes We Are.

Part of our problem stems from what we are. We’re a full time sci-fi fandom format radio station, and that makes us unique on the planet (one or two other stations lay claim to this, but they also do things like fill up 60% of their air time with metal or hiphop).  We don’t fit categories. In anything.
Most radio station listing services don’t even have a listing category for us, so we get stuck in “Other”, or “Eclectic”. Nobody searches for “other” when they’re looking for a radio station, and people don’t think to search for sci-fi radio because all they get is podcasts when they try it – so we’re hard to categorize, hard to find, and searched for much less than we’d like because people don’t even realize that full time sci-fi radio (as contrasted to a podcast) is a thing.
Our response for that is to hit as many distribution platforms as we can. We get another dozen patrons, and we will be able to get listed on iHeartRadio. Suddenly we’ll be exposed to 70 million iHeartRadio subscribers, and available in people’s cars, which is where most people listen to the radio in the first place. We’re hoping our fortunes will improve after that.

What’s Next?

Our biggest problem is that since nobody knows we’re here, relatively speaking, we have to maximize our exposure. We have to position ourselves so that the maximum number of people have a chance to find us by serendipitous search.  I can’t tip my hand just yet, but there’s another distribution network we’re looking at in addition to iHeartRadio, and between the two of them we’ll have exposure to a new potential audience of 190 million people that we didn’t have access to before. We’ve never made a jump this big before, and surprisingly, the two services we’re going after will make us big fish in a small pond despite the huge subscriber numbers for each service.
The reason is, once again, that Krypton Radio is unique. Literally nobody else in the world does what we do the way we do it. It’s not like regular radio stations. How many hip-hop stations are there across the country? About 250. Rock? About 360. Oldies? Oh my god, 500 plus of those. Metal?   You get the idea.
But full time sci-fi geek culture genre format stations?  There’s one. When people look for that, they find us, and that’s it. I’m hoping to improve our odds by expanding our “broadcast range” so to speak.
Nine tenths of success is not giving up. We’re already heard in 135 countries and we reach between 65,000 and 100,000 listeners a month depending on the season.
So far, so good.

-30-