Another Big Name Accused of Sexual Misconduct: Steve Wynn Is the Latest Alleged Letch

Casino mogul Steve Wynn is the latest well-known figure to be accused of sexual harassment. According to the Wall Street Journal, Wynn paid a hefty sum to settle claims by a former resort manicurist for pressuring her to have sex with him.

LAS VEGAS—Not long after the billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn opened his flagship Wynn Las Vegas in 2005, a manicurist who worked there arrived at the on-site salon visibly distressed following an appointment in Mr. Wynn’s office.

Sobbing, she told a colleague Mr. Wynn had forced her to have sex, and she repeated that to others later.

After she gave Mr. Wynn a manicure, she said, he pressured her to take her clothes off and told her to lie on the massage table he kept in his office suite, according to people she gave the account to. The manicurist said she told Mr. Wynn she didn’t want to have sex and was married, but he persisted in his demands that she do so, and ultimately she did disrobe and they had sex, the people remember her saying.

Per the Journal story, Wynn later paid $7.5 million to settle the woman’s claims.

After the news broke, Wynn, who also serves as the Finance Chair for the Republican National Committee denied the allegations, though there are multiple allegations outlining a pattern of such abuse:

Beyond this incident, dozens of people The Wall Street Journal interviewed who have worked at Mr. Wynn’s casinos told of behavior that cumulatively would amount to a decadeslong pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Wynn. Some described him pressuring employees to perform sex acts.

Following the story, shares in Wynn Resorts, Ltd. dropped by 9%.

Wynn Resorts were down 9% at $182.57 shortly before 11 a.m. Pacific time. It was the stock’s biggest drop since July 2017.

In response to the allegations, the company pointed to Wynn’s ex-wife, Elaine Wynn, accusing her of running a smear campaign.

“Mr. Wynn’s ex-wife has sought to use a negative public relations campaign to achieve what she has been unable to do in the courtroom: tarnish the reputation of Mr. Wynn in an attempt to pressure a revised divorce settlement from him,” it said in a statement.

The legal settlement detailed by the Journal in Friday’s report has become a major focus of a lawsuit between Steve Wynn and Elaine Wynn, who is seeking to gain control of her 9% stake in the casino giant. Steve Wynn has long sought to maintain his hold over the company because he lost his previous business, Mirage Resorts, to an unsolicited bid from mogul Kirk Kerkorian.

Smear campaign or no, this revelation has undoubtedly cost Wynn a pretty penny.

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Double Take: This Missouri Senate Candidate’s Take on Women’s Rights Raises Eyebrows

I must confess, I’ve not paid a great deal of attention to Missouri Senate candidate Courtland Sykes since he brashly announced his entry into the GOP fray last fall. Fair or no, my initial read on his candidacy was that it was a publicity stunt of some sort. I’ve never heard of the guy before and what little I did hear upon his announcement persuaded me that he’ll not be getting my vote come the primary in August, though I eagerly look forward to Claire McCaskill getting a run for her money in the general.

Turns out there’s a reason I’d never heard of him before. He’s not from Missouri, having only just moved here last fall. And his political experience appears to consist of working as a staffer for a U.S. Representative from Arkansas, Bruce Westerman — another name unfamiliar to me.

In fairness, the fault could lie squarely with me for being woefully uninformed. Be that as it may, I’ve paid little mind to Sykes up until today. Which may actually go a long way toward explaining this:

Hold the phone, there, fella. I may not be inclined to sport a vagina hat, and I happen to adore men, but this doesn’t sit well with this female Missouri voter. I suspect that’s the point, though. Sykes’ “statement” strikes me as rhetoric purposefully designed to ruffle feathers and get folks talking about him. (Hey, look – it worked!) It’s certainly not designed to endear him to moderate or independent women. And I’m not all that certain it will appeal much to even those who lean harder right. Particularly not when there are other more palatable — and viable — candidates from whom to choose.

I don’t get the impression that matters all that much to Sykes. Coverage from the time of his announcement sheds a bit more light on what’s going on here:

Sykes described himself as an admirer of former White House Strategist Steve Bannon, whom he met at an Eagle Forum event in St. Louis this past weekend. Bannon, who runs the website Breitbart, has made similar attacks on globalism.

….

Sykes’ candidacy announcement coincided with hardline conservative Judge Roy Moore’s victory in the Alabama Republican primary for Senate on Tuesday and comes at a time when Missouri’s GOP frontrunner for Senate, Attorney General Josh Hawley, has faced questions about whether he supports Trump’s agenda.

An admirer of who?  Coincided with who? Given the recent trajectories of his purported kindred spirits, it appears that Sykes’ candidacy might need a bit of a shot in the arm. And this statement appears designed to assist in that regard.

I doubt he’ll be interested in my advice but on the off chance he is, I’ll start by suggesting he retain a copy editor.  “Hell-bent feminist she devils who shriek from the tops of a thousand tall buildings they are [sic] think they could have leaped over in a single bound — had men not [sic] “suppressing them…” needs a little work.

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Move Over, “Sloppy Steve,” There’s a New Nickname in Town

Trumpskeptic™ or no, I have to hand it to the President — he does know branding. During the campaign (which seems like a decade ago now), we were treated to “Low Energy Jeb,” “Little Marco” and “Lyin’ Ted.”  And, of course, “Crooked Hillary.”

He’s continued this practice as President, referring to North Korea’s Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man,” Chuck Schumer as “Cryin’ Chuck,” Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas,” (utterly stomping all over the actual humor behind “Fauxcahontas”), and more recently — much to the delight of even some who are not big Trump fans — “Sloppy Steve” Bannon.

Look, it’s utterly juvenile. But, in a weird way, it works.  Or works for him, anyway. Trump is unique. (One can hope.)

Anyway, he’s got a new one for someone who’s been a regular thorn in his side:

That’s right — CNN’s Acosta has now earned himself a nickname.  “Crazy Jim” shouldn’t feel bad, though. He is in good company.  Other previously pronounced “Crazy” folk include Megyn Kelly and Bernie Sanders.

Dilly dilly, Donald.

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On Shoes

A reboot (pardon the pun) from one year ago:

Shoes. They’re a favorite topic of conversation — even a favorite pastime — for many.  They’re not just apparel or accessory; they’re a statement, an expression, a source of bonding.

Funny aside from long ago: My daughter was turning 3, and I took her to the Sears Portrait Studio to have some pictures taken because that was when I was still a good mom and did those sorts of things. While we waited in line, another little girl, who appeared even younger, came in holding her mother’s hand.  She and my daughter eyed one another up and down, as girls so often do, and then she cooed to my daughter, “I like your shoes!” It was such a quintessentially girl thing to do, I couldn’t help but laugh. Even by early toddlerhood, we’ve learned to relate to one another over…shoes!

Though I’ve never been all that big on shopping (unless we’re talking hardware or office supplies — or Target!), shoe shopping with my sisters or friends has most always been a fun occasion.  And what mom doesn’t smile (and maybe feel a slight bittersweet twinge) the first time her daughter borrows a pair of her shoes because they fit — both size and looks-wise?

It isn’t just women who love their shoes — men get in on the act, too.  I’ve certainly spent some time in the Cole Haan store in Chicago with my beau while he’s ogled their stylish selection.  (Note to self: Leave some time for Cole Haan while in Chicago next month!)

And when we wish to encourage empathy, we remind one another to “walk a mile in so-and-so’s shoes.” It sounds a bit trite, but really, there’s both wisdom and compassion packed into just those few words.

It occurred to me yesterday, as I watched my diverse group of friends express an exceedingly polarized array of opinions on social media, that we seem to have forgotten how to do that anymore.  Instead, we all too often seem primed and poised to hurl our Franco Sarto’s at one another rather than stopping to consider what a stroll in that guy or gal’s loafers might be like.

And when this troubling development is raised, the instinctive response is to point a finger at someone else as the primary cause.  “They started it!” “It’s his fault!” “Welcome to fill-in-the-blank’s America!” I think there’s plenty of blame to go around, including a heaping spoonful compliments of our 24/7 news cycle and social media, which have formed a somewhat sick-and-twisted co-dependent feedback loop in an increasingly frenzied effort to garner the most clicks, likes or views.  Viral, indeed.

Mostly, though, I blame us. That’s right — you and me.  Because ultimately, we are the ones who decide to click that mouse or flip that channel.  We are the ones who choose to hastily type and post that snarky response designed to verbally slap the smile off other’s faces while eliciting backpats from our like-minded posse.  We are the ones who, like Eddie Murphy’s mother in Delirious (WARNING: Language), whip our pumps boomerang-like through our monitors (and occasionally face-to-face) at one another — only it’s neither funny nor effective — unless your aim is discord.  And if, as you’re reading this, you’re thinking of a certain newly-inaugurated and questionably coiffed Twitter hound, stop and ask yourself this: Are you guilty of doing the very thing you condemn him for doing?  (Note: If your answer to this is, “He’s way worse,” your reflector might not be functioning properly. Poor form isn’t subject to the theory of relativity.)

That’s just it, though — we don’t stop, think, reflect anymore.  We react.  Faster and faster with each technological “advancement”.  And we sure as hell don’t contemplate 5,280 feet in someone else’s footwear.  (That’s feet, as in distance, not appendages, by the way.)  Shoot, at this point, we’re loathe to acknowledge others’ right to march to their own drummer. If they’re not in sync with us, then they’re enemies, evil, worthy of our scorn, not our friendship, our compassion, or even common courtesy.

So, for instance, today, I have many friends who are marching in D.C. and other cities across the country — including my own.  Their stated reasons vary, but politically align primarily on the leftward side of the spectrum.  And I have other friends clucking at this, sneering, expressing their disgust with these marchers because of their beliefs.  Next Friday, I’ll have many friends marching in D.C. and other cities across the country — including my own.  Their reasons will vary a bit less, as it’s a singularly focused event, but politically align primarily on the rightward side of the spectrum.  And I’ll have some of the very friends who are marching today, clucking, sneering and expressing disgust at these “others.”

These are women (and some men, but primarily women) who, in recent times, might have happily gotten together for a night of wine Bunco; who’d have shared over the phone their concerns about their significant others, their parents, their children; who’d have kvetched about their jobs; who’d have gladly spent an afternoon traipsing through DSW, Macy’s and Dillard’s trying on shoes; who’d have stood in line or at a party and broken the ice by exclaiming, “Ooh, I love those shoes!”  But now?  No.  She’s either on board with your point of view, or she’s dead to you. We may have laced up our tennies to march with purpose and pride, but we’ve apparently lost our way.

And, no, I don’t believe it’s always been like this.  While my immediate family was on the same page politically as I was growing up, my parents’ best friends (and my godparents) were in different books. My beloved Grandmother was a staunch Republican, while my parents were diehard Democrats, and there was never so much as a thrown fork or slammed door.  One of my best friends in law school was as conservative as the day is long and we fought all the time over politics and such — but in friendly fashion. It was the Euchre matches among our group that got truly heated — but even those didn’t touch what now passes for “discourse”.  And most importantly, my views have evolved over the years from quite liberal to moderately conservative/libertarianish while the same people appear to have liked and loved me just the same.  Recently, though, I’ve felt increasingly as if some of those relationships were on rather thin ice — like the wrong comment or shared article on social media might suffice to sever a years-long bond.

Ironically, it was the words of our previous President  — someone with whom I’ve rarely agreed — which were then called to mind:

If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Okay – so that referenced skin, not shoes, but the point is the same.  We’re so afraid to do that anymore — or worse, it doesn’t even occur to us, like it’s beneath us to extend that sort of consideration to one another.  As someone who’s spent much of my life being “wrongheaded” in the eyes of many people I know, respect and love, I call hogwash.  Your ears aren’t going to fall off and you’re not going to melt like the Wicked Witch of the West if you hear or read a viewpoint that doesn’t match your own.  You may not ever agree with it.  You may even find it uncomfortable or even repugnant. But you will live. And maybe, just maybe, gain a smidge of understanding as to where that other person is coming from.  Which isn’t a horrible thing. In fact, when you realize that, viewpoints aside, they lace their shoes up just like you, the world starts to look a little less angry and bleak.

I took a moment yesterday afternoon to remark on Facebook on the fact that the presence in my timeline of vastly different takes on the transition from Obama to Trump assured me that I have a diverse group of friends. I love them all, and wouldn’t have it any other way. And I’d gladly walk a mile in their shoes — or, at least, with them in their shoes.  Or better yet, go shoe shopping.

shoes

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Missouri Man Faces Terrorism Charges for Attempted Train Hijacking

I don’t know if it’s old age or simply the fact that our present-day news cycle is so chock-full of dramatic developments that our brains overwrite much that, in days gone by, would have qualified as sufficiently disturbing to leave a lasting imprint, but I seriously do not recall this story being reported when it happened back in October.

Apparently, 26-year-old Taylor Michael Wilson, who hails from St. Charles, Missouri, not far up the road from me, stopped an Amtrak train on its way from Sacramento to St. Louis. The incident occurred near Oxford, Nebraska, on a train with 175 people on board. Wilson was armed at the time and broke into a secured area and pulled the emergency brake.

Fortunately, he was subdued by Amtrak personnel until he was taken into custody by the Furnas County Sheriff’s Office, as it seems he had plans to wreak much more serious havoc. Per the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

Wilson, who has a Missouri concealed carry permit, had a fully loaded .38 caliber handgun in his waistband and a speed loader full of bullets in his front left pocket, according to the affidavit. A backpack that passengers identified as belonging to Wilson had ammunition, a hammer, a fixed blade knife and a respirator-style mask similar to ones used in construction trades.

Wilson has been charged with violating 18 USC 1992(a)(1) & (b)(1), as set forth in this affidavit.  The title of that code section is “Terrorist Attacks and Other Violence Against Railroad Carriers and Against Mass Transportation Systems on Land, on Water, or Through the Air,” and carries with it the punishment of fines and imprisonment for 20 years under sub-section “a” and life under sub-section “b.”

Dude is in some serious trouble. As well he should be.  Per the Post article:

Wilson had connections to “alt-right Neo Nazi” groups and phone documents that had racist messages or contained instruction manuals that investigators say “are often possessed and utilized by individuals and groups attempting or planning to commit criminal acts or acts of terrorism or violence.”

Investigators found multiple weapons, ammunition and other tactical instruments in Wilson’s home in St. Charles, including a fully automatic assault rifle and a gun that had been converted into a short-barrel rifle, both potentially violating federal gun laws.

He sounds nice….

That he was captured without doing more serious harm is something for which we can be thankful.

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President Trump’s Call With ROK President Moon Jae-In Is Optimistic on the Olympic Front

Recently, rising tensions with North Korea have led to speculation that the United States might find itself having to boycott the upcoming Winter Olympics, set to begin in Pyeongchang next month.  As RedState reported earlier this week, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted that if North Korea attended the games, the US would not.

However, President Trump’s recent call with South Korean President Moon Jae-In included a note of optimism that all would be well on the Korean Peninsula for the upcoming games:

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 4, 2018

Readout of President Donald J. Trump’s Call with President Moon Jae-In of the Republic of Korea

President Donald J. Trump spoke today with President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea to discuss recent developments on the Korean Peninsula.  The two leaders agreed to continue the campaign of maximum pressure against North Korea and to not repeat mistakes of the past.  The United States and the Republic of Korea are committed to a safe and successful 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.  President Trump told President Moon that the United States will send a high-level delegation to the Olympics.  The two leaders agreed to de-conflict the Olympics and our military exercises so that United States and Republic of Korea forces can focus on ensuring the security of the Games.

While the call didn’t clearly spell it out, apparently the commitment to “de-conflict the Olympics and our military exercises” translates into postponing joint military exercise “Foal Eagle” until after the Games.

Per the Washington Post:

The military exercise, Foal Eagle, often involves more than 30,000 American and 200,000 South Korean troops, as well as air, ground and naval operations.

….

Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the decision was made “in the spirit of the Olympic Games.” He did not disclose the specific start date of the exercise, saying only that it will be after the Olympics are over.

Obviously, security concerns remain but hopefully, this decision will help de-escalate the tensions enough to allow for the desired “safe and successful 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.”

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Could the United States Be Looking at Another Olympics Boycott?

The 2018 Winter Olympics are right around the corner — they’re set to begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on February 9th.

There has already been serious speculation about the impact heightened tensions surrounding North Korea’s nuclear program could have on the games.  In September, France announced its athletes would not be attending the Olympics unless security could be guaranteed.  Austria and Germany followed suit a few days later.

Last month, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley characterized the United States’ participation in the games as an “open question.” Then White House spox Sarah Huckabee Sanders seemed to echo Haley’s ambivalence, but later clarified:

Yesterday, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham raised the question anew, following remarks from Kim Jong Un about North Korea’s interest in attending the games.

On Monday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made comments about the Winter Olympics in a New Year’s Day speech, indicating that the nation was ready to attend the games.

“North Korea’s participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to show unity of the people, and we wish the games will be a success,” Kim said, according to NBC News.

Graham’s response?

I don’t disagree with his sentiments, but it stinks for our athletes to be left in limbo like this.

 

Follow SmoosieQ on Twitter: @smoosieq.

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Rand Paul Weighs In on President Trump’s Hard Line Pakistan Tweet

As John Tabin reported earlier, 2018 was only a few hours old when President Trump returned to Twitter packing a powerful punch aimed at Pakistan:

Which, naturally, has driven the news cycle for much of the day. (Thankfully, it’s been a relatively “slow news day”  — appropriate given that many are still recuperating from their New Year’s Eve celebrating and/or battling the flu and/or relaxing and recharging a bit before heading back to work tomorrow.)

Of course, those who recoil from anything and everything Trump says or does have been critical. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, on the other hand, has weighed in with his support of Trump’s tweet:

What prompted Trump’s Pakistan commentary? The Hill reports:

Trump’s tweet followed a New York Times report late last week that said the administration is considering withholding $225 million in aid to Pakistan over frustration with its handling of terror networks — a long-standing source of tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan.

Paul’s support for Trump’s statement is consistent with his long-standing contention that the US should spend less on foreign aid and redirect those funds towards domestic needs, thereby putting “America First.”

One of the things I and many other Americans liked about candidate Donald Trump was his America First policy. He talked often about building here instead of in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We send tens of billions overseas every year in aid, and we have spent trillions fighting and nation-building in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Instead of continuing that, let’s take a portion of that money and spend it here to help the victims of this great disaster.

One sure thing is that President Trump appears intent on continuing his “Twitter diplomacy” in 2018.

 

 

Follow SmoosieQ on Twitter: @smoosieq.

 

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Hard Work Pays Off: A Happy Christmas Surprise for One Ferguson Family

Unfortunately, most news out of Ferguson, Missouri, in recent years hasn’t been of the positive variety.  This year, though, 17-year-old Barrington Lincoln had a happy Christmas surprise for his family and has shared it with the world.

Lincoln, a senior at Lutheran North, was accepted into his dream school: Morehouse College. To share his happy news with his mother and aunt — both of whom he credits with his success — Lincoln had special t-shirts made up. He filmed the announcement and shared it on Twitter:

Lincoln explained:

“They’re the two most important ladies in my life, and they’ve just done so much for me in my lifetime,” Barrington said in an interview. “I just wanted to, not really reward them, but show them that everything they’ve done has paid off.”

Getting into Morehouse was no easy feat. Lincoln, who is his class president, spent long hours studying for the ACT.  He’s been an active participant in leadership activities and community service. He aspired to Morehouse because, as he put it:
“I view Morehouse as a paradise for a young black man seeking success,” he said. “They produce individuals equipped to change the world.”
I’d say he’s already well on his way.

 

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Fall on Your Knees

There are several traditional Christmas carols or hymns which pack an emotional punch for me. None more so than “O’ Holy Night.” To me, the combination of the vaguely melancholic melody and passionate lyrics are extraordinarily powerful and rarely fail to bring me to tears.

The opening lines set the tone beautifully.

O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth

We’re reminded not only why we need a Saviour but how this wondrous gift reveals just how much we are loved.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth

We share our joy and gratitude for His arrival and His grace.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks
A new and glorious morn

And we are stunned at the enormity of it all.

Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born

As we sang this song in church this morning, I felt the familiar tugging in my heart and the tears welling up. I suddenly recalled the times in my life when I’ve fallen to my knees: As a young adult, when poor decisions and bad habits left me feeling ashamed and desperate for a change; as a young wife, newly pregnant, when I watched planes and towers brought down and thousands of my fellow citizens perish; as the mother of a very sick newborn, when I learned her lung had collapsed and she’d likely be transferred to a children’s hospital; as a single mom, feeling lost and uncertain, when I felt my recently deceased grandmother place her hand on my shoulder and whisper reassuringly that everything was going to be alright; as a heartbroken fool, when I realized life was never going to be a fairy tale. Each of these moments found me literally brought-to-my-knees low, whether it be in fear, shame, or awe.

Yet, in each of those moments, somehow I also knew — felt it to my core — that God was with me. That, no matter how low I felt right then, I was forgiven, I was not alone, and I was loved.

During this morning’s service, our pastor told the Christmas story, focusing on the peace for which we all long, and which Christ’s arrival promises.  His words struck home — particularly when he reminded us:

You are loved by the God of the universe. And it’s all yours – if you’ll have it.

When I hear the music build, and the voices — of an artist, of my fellow churchgoers, of angels — call on me to fall on my knees, I am humbled and overwhelmed. I am at once brought low and lifted up. And I am moved, beyond words, at the amazing gift we have been given.

Fall on your knees
O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine
O night divine

 

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