For months, comedian Bill Cosby has come under relentless attack amid allegations that he raped dozens of women over the years after slipping them drugs. As the controversy grew, some on Capitol Hill questioned whether something should be done to strip the long-celebrated actor of a Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded him in 2002 during the Bush administration.
Today at a White House news conference, President Obama abruptly veered from an extensive defense of the Iran nuclear deal to a thinly veiled denunciation of Cosby as a serial rapist. In response to a reporter’s question of whether he would consider rescinding the medal, Obama said, “There’s no precedent for revoking a medal,” and that “we don’t have the mechanism.”
Then, after noting that he rarely publicly discusses pending civil law suits that might result in criminal charges, he made this startling pronouncement: “I’ll say this: If you give a woman -- or a man for that matter -- without his or her knowledge a drug and then have sex with that person without consent, that’s rape.”
It was a dramatic moment as the first African American president in U.S. history denounced from the White House pulpit the conduct of one of the most prominent and (once) beloved black actors and comedians of modern times.
Cosby and his lawyers for months have dismissed as fantasy claims by more than two dozen women that they had been sexually assaulted by the actor over the past several decades – frequently after having been given knock-out drugs to make them groggy or put them to sleep.
But this ‘he said-she said’ controversy came to an end earlier this month after Cosby had admitted in a deposition giving Quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with.
The documents, dating back to 2005, stem from a civil lawsuit filed by Andrea Constand -- one of the dozens of women who have publicly accused the comedian of sexual assault. The records were made public after The Associated Press went to court to compel their release.
Following that report, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said it was an outrage that Cosby continued to hold the highest civilian honor in America. In a statement to Politico, a spokeswoman for Gillibrand said Cosby's medal must be revoked "because we need to set a clear example that sexual assault will not be tolerated in this country."
Obama apparently agrees with the senators, but just doesn’t know what he could do to take the medal back.
President Trump signed a short-term continuing resolution today to fund the federal government through Friday, December 22.
Bloomberg called the maneuver “a monumental piece of can kicking,” which is no doubt the case, but at least you’ll be able to visit your favorite national park over the weekend.
Here's to small victories!
The Republican tax cuts won’t do much for economic growth, former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan told CNBC Wednesday, but they will damage the country’s fiscal situation while creating the threat of stagflation. "This is a terrible fiscal situation we've got ourselves into," Greenspan said. "The administration is doing tax cuts and a spending decrease, but he's doing them in the wrong order. What we need right now is to focus totally on reducing the debt."
“The U.S. economy is running at its full potential for the first time in a decade, a new milestone for an expansion now in its ninth year,” The Wall Street Journal reports. But the milestone was reached, in part, because the Congressional Budget Office has, over the last 10 years, downgraded its estimate of the economy’s potential output. “Some economists think more slack remains in the job market than October’s 4.1% unemployment rate would suggest. Also, economic output is still well below its potential level based on estimates produced a decade ago by the CBO.”
The New York Times editorial board took to Twitter Wednesday “to urge the Senate to reject a tax bill that hurts the middle class & the nation's fiscal health.”
Using the hashtag #thetaxbillshurts, the NYT Opinion account posted phone numbers for Sens. Susan Collins, Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, James Lankford, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Jerry Moran. It urged readers to call the senators and encourage them to oppose the bill.
In an editorial published Tuesday night, the Times wrote that “Republican senators have a choice. They can follow the will of their donors and vote to take money from the middle class and give it to the wealthiest people in the world. Or they can vote no, to protect the public and the financial health of the government.”