Notes and Comment Blog


An event by a known TERF

Oct 13th, 2019 4:39 pm | By

Another rage-attack because Meghan Murphy is going to say things in a room rented from the Toronto Public Library:

Hey @torontolibrary, given that you’re a place deeply invested in education and learning, why are you hosting an event by a known TERF? Twitter banned Meghan Murphy for being transphobic. Why give her a platform?

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Yes how dare a feminist woman ask questions about what “gender identity” means for women. It’s not as if women have any stake in the subject after all.

But never mind all that, just tell lies.

I would also like to know why my hometown library system is allowing someone who thinks someone like me doesn’t deserve to participate in society to use their facility. Megan Murphy is hateful and the furthest thing from a feminist you’ll ever find.

Meghan Murphy thinks no such thing. She thinks men are men; that does not remotely equal thinking men who claim to be women “don’t deserve to participate in society.”

The fact that “activists” like “Tracey” here have to resort to grotesque lies to back up their demands that everyone shun Meghan Murphy and make it impossible for her to speak in public is a massive hint that they don’t have anything else. Meghan Murphy thinks men are men; wow, what a shocker.



History written by?

Oct 13th, 2019 11:49 am | By

Elizabeth Warren tweets:

For most of America’s history, when our companies did better, our workers did better – and America built a thriving middle class. The Accountable Capitalism Act will help realign our skewed market incentives so companies & workers can once again do well together.

Erm, no. Not for “most” of America’s history at all. For a couple of decades after World War 2, and even then of course black people were almost entirely shut out. What was different about those two decades? Strong unions and high taxes on extreme wealth.

There are a lot of replies saying that.

When unions did better workers did better. This rhetoric can only come from a capitalist.

That was unions Liz.

For “most” of Americas history? Are you joking? This was true only for a few decades post WW2 because of labor power.This is trickle-down economics in a nutshell. I’d expect nothing less from a Reagan Republican. 😒

NOTHING has trickled down for 40 fuqqing years Liz.

Two centuries of labor struggle would like a word, Senator.

Can’t we all just get along? No.



The murder of Hervin Khalaf

Oct 13th, 2019 11:06 am | By

Via Reuters:

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces accused Turkey-backed fighters of killing a Kurdish politician in an ambush on a road in northern Syria on Saturday, drawing a denial from a Turkey-backed rebel force which said it had not advanced that far.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based organization which reports on the war, said Turkey-backed groups had killed a total of nine civilians on the road, including Hervin Khalaf, secretary general of the Future Syria Party.

Khalaf had been returning from a meeting in Hasaka at the time of the attack in which her driver and an aide were also killed, said Hussein Omar, the Future Syria Party’s coordinator in Europe. Party officials including Khalaf have had contacts with U.S. officials since it was founded in 2018, he said.

The SDF, in a statement, said Khalaf’s killing on the highway between Aleppo and Hasaka showed “the Turkish invasion does not differentiate between a soldier, a civilian or a politician”. The SDF statement identified her as party co-chair.

Mimi Rocah tweets:

What’s that you were saying @IvankaTrump, about you and your dad lifting up women around the world? This is beyond tragic and on you all.

She was retweeting Kurdistan News 24:

#BREAKING: Kurdish Human right activist & The secretary-general of the Future Syria Party, Ms #Hervin_Khalaf ,has been raped & then stoned to death by #Turkey backed Jihadists near #Hasakah during Turkey’s ethnic cleansing operation against #Kurds in Syria.

The tweet includes a video clip of the murdered Khalaf. It’s as horrible as it sounds. I hope someone is forcing both Trumps to watch it.

Reuters again:

Led by an Arab from Manbij, Khalaf’s party was launched in a ceremony in Raqqa, the city captured by the SDF from Islamic State in 2017. Omar said it has been involved in the autonomous administration for northern Syria.

Omar said party officials including Khalaf, a civil engineer, had met U.S. officials on visits to the region. “The Americans have been in constant contact with this party up until now,” he told Reuters by phone.

Up until the moment Trump told Erdoğan to go right ahead and slaughter them.

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As Jews were protested for trying to talk about anti-Semitism

Oct 13th, 2019 10:46 am | By

Disagreement, dissent, protest – how do we do it, how do we do it fairly and reasonably, can we avoid doing it unfairly and unreasonably? Batya Ungar-Sargon writes about being protested at Bard College for being a Jew:

When I was asked to speak at last week’s conference on racism and anti-Semitism at Bard College’s Hannah Arendt Center, I think my heart actually skipped a beat.

Arendt, the German-born political philosopher who fled the Nazis in the 1930s and eventually settled in New York, is the thinker who has most deeply influenced me, and racism and anti-Semitism are two topics I think about constantly, the most pressing issues of our time. It was the perfect combination of topic and venue, and the list of confirmed speakers included luminaries whose work I had read, whose writing and thinking I deeply admired.

I was invited to host a breakout session of my choosing, and I proposed a workshop on navigating other people’s opinions in the age of Trump – a topic of deep importance to my work as Opinion Editor of The Forward, where we insist on representing the full gamut of legitimate opinion. Ten days before the conference started on Thursday, I found out I would also be one of three people on a panel called “Racism and Zionism: Black-Jewish relations,” and moderator of another session, with Ruth Wisse, a Harvard professor of Yiddish literature and scholar of Jewish history and culture, and Shany Mor, an Israeli thinker who is affiliated with the Hannah Arendt Center.

She read up, she formulated questions, she made big plans. It was mostly wasted effort.

When the conference began Thursday morning, I was warned that protesters from the Bard chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine planned to interrupt my panel with Wisse and Mor. I was surprised they were not targeting the one on Zionism, but the one on anti-Semitism, the only panel of about 20 over the course of the two-day program where three Jews would be discussing the topic.

“But we’re not even talking about Israel,” I said to the conference organizers. “How does that make sense?”

It makes sense only if it makes sense to think all Jews, Jews as such, are implicated in what Israel does. That seems to make about as much sense as thinking all black people are implicated in what Robert Mugabe did, which is to say, zero sense.

“The conversation about anti-Semitism is already inherently about Israel,” one of the students archly explained, repeating a deeply anti-Semitic trope that has been voiced across the spectrum from David Duke to Louis Farrakhan to Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters. Right-wing anti-Semites see any accusation of anti-Semitism as a Jewish conspiracy to take away the rights of whites, while left-wing anti-Semites sees the same accusation as an attempt to silence Palestinians.

It’s Trump-level “thinking.”

When the protesters proceeded to interrupt Wisse, they were applauded by several of our fellow conference speakers in the audience. These vaunted intellectuals, flown in from across the country to discuss racism, were commending a display of racism against Jews.

This was much more horrifying than the students’ chanting and leafletting, which failed to stop the indomitable Wisse from having her say, defining anti-Semitism as any political organizing against Jews (I have been told since that two students were removed, something I didn’t see from the stage, but the rest stayed). Not one of our fellow conference speakers got up and exercised their free speech rights to call the protest what it was. Not one came over to us after to express shock and horror that three Jews would be denounced for Israel’s actions while attempting to discuss anti-Semitism in America.

She threw out her preparations for the next day and made new ones.

So when I was introduced the next morning, I pulled out a new set of remarks. I directly addressed these academics and writers and intellectuals who were brought to Bard to speak about how to fight racism and anti-Semitism. I told them I was appalled that not one of them had called out this blatantly racist act, the way they surely would have if it had been three Muslims on the dais, or three black speakers — or at least, the way I would have in that scenario.

“I’m horrified by your cowardice. By your self-justifications,” I read from the new set of remarks I had written the night before. “You, who I called luminaries! Whose books I’ve read! There’s nothing more I want to say to you or hear from you.

“The next time someone says, ‘What have you done to help Jews as anti-Semitism has spiked across the nation, as Jews have been murdered at their place of worship and Orthodox Jews get beaten to a pulp day after day in Brooklyn,’ you can say, ‘I sat idly by as Jews were protested for trying to talk about anti-Semitism. I allowed a Jewish woman to be held accountable — because of her ethnicity — for the actions of a country halfway around the world where she can’t even vote. I egged the protest on, in fact. And then I went to a party.’”

There is no debate possible when people think that your very humanity is up for debate, something my fellow conference goers no doubt accept as obviously true when it comes to anti-Black racism or anti-Muslim racism. And yet somehow, when it comes to anti-Jewish racism — holding one Jew accountable for the actions of another simply because they are Jewish — no one bats an eye.

It occurs to me that Jews have a special status in lefty thinking that’s quite similar to that of women. Both of us turn out to be dispensable, problematic, “privileged,” spoiled, not really all that oppressed after all. Both of us turn out to be the ones who can be tossed overboard when the water rises. Both of us turn out to be implicated in whatever any of us do “wrong” when that doesn’t apply to the truly oppressed. Both of us turn out to be just pretending to be an oppressed group who were actually the oppressors all along.

How did we get here?



More dangerous than people suspected

Oct 12th, 2019 5:42 pm | By

If mental health professionals can’t tell us that Trump is mentally unfit to serve, then who can? It’s not as if we don’t need to know. One mental health professional explains:

I am not a political person but a medical professional. Yet because of my field of expertise, I unexpectedly became an academic whistleblower. I have been compelled to blow two whistles: first, by publishing a book to alert the public that Donald Trump was more dangerous than perhaps any president in history, for psychological reasons; and second, on the American Psychiatric Association’s actions that have effectively silenced those of us trying to fulfill our professional responsibility to society as outlined in its own code of ethics.

Politics never interested me previously. In fact, throughout my career when I was consulted on policy issues relating to my area of violence prevention, I strictly refrained from commenting on or getting involved in political matters.

But the dangers of the current U.S. president changed everything. I had to ask myself: If I devoted my career to studying and preventing violence, do I turn away from confronting the greatest potential violence we could ever face? What called me was a medical need, not politics.

This point is related to the point I keep making, which is that much of what we object to in Trump isn’t political but moral and characterological, to coin a word. Even if he had good policies, he would still be a horrifyingly bad human being. (In reality he couldn’t have good policies given his character – he favors policies that harm people with no power. He couldn’t flip that and remain the monster he is. Taking food stamps away from poor people and free school lunches away from poor children is who he is, so he couldn’t do the reverse of that without first turning into a slightly better person. But we can separate the two for the sake of argument.)

Soon after the inauguration, I organized a conference around the ethics of speaking up about a public figure, and from it came a public-service book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President,” a collection of essays from some of the most prominent psychiatrists and psychologists.

Our message was simple: The president was more dangerous than people suspected, would grow more dangerous with time, and could ultimately become uncontainable. Much of what we predicted in the book has come to pass: Trump’s rhetoric has clearly incited violence, cruel policies against children that could lay the groundwork for future violence, enhancing a culture of violence both domestically and abroad, and the weakening of institutions that might have contained him.

But the American Psychiatric Association still defends the increasingly absurd “Goldwater rule.”

[D]uring the Trump administration, the APA expanded the Goldwater Rule and used this guideline to openly denounce professionals who would speak up as “unethical” and engaging in “armchair psychiatry.” A former APA president even released a video message warning that speaking out might be “political partisanship disguised as patriotism.

Many in the news media have even adopted the APA’s line.

It might be a reasonable rule in the case of a more or less non-warped president, but when it’s a floridly mind-broken one? There’s nothing reasonable about it.



No wall, no rich-people-only rule

Oct 12th, 2019 10:40 am | By

CNN stitches together all the bad things that happened to Trump yesterday.

Within moments of each other, a career diplomat began painting a damning portrait of the President’s foreign policy to lawmakers just as Trump lost his appeal in a federal appeals court to stop a House subpoena of his tax documents, which he’s guarded fiercely since refusing to make them public as a candidate.

Then, in rapid succession, judges in New York, Texas, Washington state and California sided against Trump administration initiatives meant to limit immigrants from entering the country — both through a physical barrier and by raising the requirements on migrants seeking legal status.

They will all be appealed, but still, it’s steps. Yovanovitch’s turning up to testify is a big sign board to others that they can do likewise.

While the administration has worked to bar officials from appearing before lawmakers, they do not seem able to prevent those officials from complying with subpoenas compelling them to appear.

Already a number of administration officials have signaled they are willing to break with Trump’s dictate to not cooperate in the investigation. After his voluntary appearance was derailed by the State Department this week, US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland plans to appear next Thursday after being subpoenaed by congressional investigators.

And then the immigration rulings:

A federal judge in Texas ruled the President’s national emergency declaration to build a border wall unlawful and appeared poised to block the use of those funds. At issue is $3.6 billion in military construction funds that has been diverted to build the wall, which remains one of Trump’s chief campaign promises.

Meanwhile, judges in New York, California and Washington state blocked implementation of a Trump administration rule that would make it more difficult for immigrants who rely on public assistance to obtain legal status, just days before the regulation was set to take effect.

All in all a bad day for the Sadist in Chief.



Barr squawks about the death of The Traditional Moral Order

Oct 12th, 2019 9:28 am | By

The deeply in Trump’s pocket US Attorney General gave a talk at deeply Catholic Notre Dame University yesterday, blaming secularists for everything bad and defending…morality. This lying sleazing hack who does his level best to shield Trump from any kind of oversight and law enforcement sets himself up as a source of wisdom on morality. You couldn’t make it up.

Because of the decreasing influence of Judeo-Christian traditions, Barr insisted, “along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence and a deadly drug epidemic.”

(Violent crime has decreased significantly over the past quarter century, according to statistics collected by the federal government.)

He added: “I won’t dwell on the bitter results of the new secular age. Suffice it to say that the campaign to destroy the traditional moral order has … brought with it immense suffering and misery.”

Ah yes the traditional moral order. Wouldn’t that be the one in which men don’t strut around bragging about grabbing women by the pussy? The one where men who do strut around bragging about grabbing women by the pussy don’t get elected president of the US? Wouldn’t that be the one in which people aren’t supposed to lie, or cheat, or steal, or take bribes, or pay bribes, or extort, or blackmail? Wouldn’t that be the one in which people don’t deliberately incite hatred and violence? One in which people are decent to each other? One in which people have some compassion and sense of public duty? One in which people respect and obey the laws? One in which people don’t try to get away with crimes by bullying and threatening witnesses? One in which the president of the US doesn’t spend most of his time mocking and insulting individual citizens in a highly visible public forum? Wouldn’t it???

In other words who the fuck does Barr think he is? Does he think he stands for and speaks for any kind of traditional moral order? Does he not understand that he threw all that away and set fire to it the minute he consented to be Trump’s AG? Does he not realize that Trump is an evil, filthy, wicked, hideous human being who displays almost every kind of immoral behavior one can think of? Does he not grasp that Trump is above all cruel and selfish and belligerent, and thus incapable of being even minimally ok, let alone good? How dare he think he can lecture anyone on morality when he does the bidding of and protects that lying hatemongering sack of shit?

Barr called Judeo-Christian moral standards the “ultimate utilitarian rules for human conduct … They are like God’s instruction manual for the best running of man and the best operation for human society,” he added.

One, no they’re not, and two, see above.



Is that the one with the red nose?

Oct 11th, 2019 5:34 pm | By

It’s Rudy’s turn.

President Donald Trump sought Friday to distance himself from attorney Rudy Giuliani, even casting doubts about whether the former New York mayor is still his lawyer.

Asked whether Giuliani remained his personal attorney, Trump said: “I don’t know.”

“I haven’t spoken to Rudy,” Trump told reporters as he was leaving the White House for a political rally in Louisiana. “I spoke to him yesterday, briefly. He’s a very good attorney and he has been my attorney, yeah sure.”

By the end of the day it will be “Rudy who?”

Trump’s remarks followed the arrest late Wednesday of two of Giuliani’s associates, Ukranian-born business partners Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, at Dulles International Airport. The two were arrested by FBI agents and charged with in connection with alleged schemes to funnel foreign money to U.S. political campaigns.

Prosecutors say Parnas and  Fruman helped Giuliani meet a Ukrainian prosecutor in the effort to gather dirt on Biden and his son Hunter, who once had business interests in Ukraine. Federal officials said Parnas and Fruman were arrested as they prepared to board an international flight with one-way tickets.

Trump said he doesn’t know them, doesn’t know them at all.

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Must be the Wheaties

Oct 11th, 2019 5:01 pm | By

Oh good, another one. TV sports director tweets:

Today June Eastwood won the Griz home cross country meet and HBO Sports had a crew there filming

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How about that. June is the great big one in the middle then?

Of course.

On Saturday, August 31, Juniper Eastwood will become the first transgender athlete to compete in DI cross country when she runs for the University of Montana in the women’s division at the Clash of the Inland Northwest meet.

Assigned male at birth, Eastwood, now a 22-year-old senior, says she has identified as female since middle school and made the decision to transition during her third year competing on the men’s track team at Montana.

Because that way guess what, he’ll win everything. Of course that means no woman will win anything, but oh well, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.

It will be her first race for the Grizzlies since following the NCAA’s policy on transgender student-athlete participation, which requires transgender athletes who are transitioning from male to female to be treated with testosterone suppression medication for one year before competing on a women’s team.

Totally fair. The long legs remain, the greater lung capacity remains, the bigger muscles remain, but never you mind, it’s all totally fair.

Eastwood’s last race was 15 months ago when she placed seventh in the men’s 1500-meter final at the 2018 Big Sky Conference Championships.

This article is dated August 31. It’s a miracle! In the 41 days between then and now Eastwood has improved so much that he flat-out won!



He wants to make it dangerous to oppose him

Oct 11th, 2019 4:29 pm | By

Jack Holmes at Esquire on Trump’s new level of horror last night:

Donald Trump, American president took the stage and, among a great many other things, did this. The crowd laughed and cheered.

He may once have told you, in his way, not to believe your eyes and ears. But you can. The President of the United States did indeed just act out some sort of sexual fantasy, in front of thousands and on C-SPAN, between two characters from his extended Deep State Conspiracy Universe…

…This is the president deliberately debasing his office, going lower than ever before and bringing his supporters with him, because he knows they have ventured into the deep and dark together now and they can’t see any path back. They will follow him until he is stopped, and the farther they follow, the more they are his. There is nothing that cannot be excused away with half-baked crap about Fake News or What About Hillary. Nihilism is at the heart of things now. There are no standards or ethics to be observed, only enemies to lash out at from the darkness.

The rest of last night’s national disgrace was predictable by now. The president cooked up egregious lies about Democratic leaders in Congress. He recited the names of his greatest allies on State TV and talked about how great their ratings are. He proudly said, “There was no blackmail,” on his call with the leader of Ukraine. Mr. President: Thank you. He accused his enemies of that which he is guilty. He joked about serving more than his constitutionally mandated two terms. He exhibited clear signs of cognitive decline. He said Joe Biden, the former Vice President of the United States, only got the job “because he understood how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.” And what exactly was Proper Evangelical Good Boy Mike Pence doing while the president simulated orgasms on-stage last night? After all, he and Mother were standing there in the arena.

And then he incited racist hatred of Ilhan Omar and of Somalians. The US president did, out in the open, in a large public arena.

The president knows what he’s doing. He wants to make it not just unpleasant but physically dangerous to oppose him. He wants his enemies to be afraid to participate in our politics. It is the language of force. He also wanted to make clear that Omar’s Otherness was a proxy for the community she represents.

He’s ruining the country, and climate change will finish it off long before the damage he’s doing can be undone. We’re on a steepening slope to nightmare.



Disquieting omens

Oct 11th, 2019 11:04 am | By

Aaron Rupar live-tweeted Trump’s rally in Minneapolis last night and wrote it up for Vox:

It wasn’t surprising that Trump attacked one of his most regular targets of abuse, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) while rallying in the heart of her district in downtown Minneapolis. But what was jarring was not only how extreme his attacks were, but also the fact that he went out of his way to demonize the Somali community more broadly in a city that has one of the country’s largest Somali populations.

Citing articles from a fringe right-wing Minnesota-based blog, Trump called Omar “a disgrace to our country” and pushed unfounded conspiracy theories about her marital history. He also attacked the community of Somali refugees in Minneapolis of which Omar is a part.

“For many years, leaders in Washington brought large numbers of refugees to your state from Somalia without considering the impact on schools and communities and taxpayers,” Trump said, as his mostly white crowd broke out in boos — in effect jeering their neighbors.

Trump’s attacks on Omar and Somalis illustrated how, with an impeachment inquiry underway in the House and the legal net tightening around his associates, the president is doubling down on the sort of barely varnished bigotry that got him there in the first place.

Unsurprising and completely disgusting.

Trump’s rally in Minneapolis was also remarkable for just how incoherent it was. The president, who has spent the past couple weeks pretending to be deeply concerned about corruption abroad, at one point made a full-throated defense of his own corruption at home by dismissing the conflicts of interest that result from foreign governments spending money at hotels he still owns and profits from.

“If somebody stays, from let’s say a Middle East country, in one of my hotels, and we charge him $392.53 for staying, and I’ve never heard of the guy and I don’t want to hear about him, they say, ‘Trump is getting rich from our nation,’” Trump said. “If somebody rents a room someplace and they pay me two months in rent or hotel fees — I never heard of the people, I never know who they are — they say, ‘emoluments!’ Nobody ever heard of the word ‘emoluments’ before. ‘Emoluments!’ It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.”

That’s that other minds problem again. He’d never heard the word ‘emoluments’ before, so he assumes no one had.

As the walls close in on the president, he’s lashing out and framing the impeachment process that’s enshrined in the Constitution as something akin to an “overthrow.” These are disquieting omens for those holding out hope that the next transition of power in America, whether it happens after an election or Trump’s impeachment and removal from office, will be an orderly one.

Bumpy road ahead.



That will eventually result

Oct 11th, 2019 10:29 am | By

A subhead at the Telegraph:

Author David Thomas still lives as a man, but has begun the male-to-female gender transition that will eventually result in becoming a woman. Each week he chronicles his progress. This week, he talks about his attempts to lose weight

Have we all regressed to childhood?

There’s no such thing as doing or beginning or practicing the X “that will eventually result in becoming a woman” if you’re a man. A man beginning a “gender transition” can do all sorts of things to imitate women, perform being a woman, act the part of a woman, and the like, but there is no becoming a woman, not even eventually.



Private influence and personal gain have usurped diplomats’ judgment

Oct 11th, 2019 9:48 am | By

There is reporting on Yovanovitch’s testimony even though the deposition is behind closed doors.

Marie Yovanovitch told the House committees investigating impeachment that Trump had pushed for her removal as ambassador to Ukraine based on “false claims”, according to the New York Times.

The Times reports:

Marie L. Yovanovitch, who was recalled as the American ambassador to Ukraine, testified to impeachment investigators on Friday that a top State Department official told her that President Trump had pushed for her removal for months even though the department believed she had ‘done nothing wrong.’

In a closed-door deposition that could further fuel calls for Mr. Trump’s impeachment, Ms. Yovanovitch delivered a scathing indictment of his administration’s conduct of foreign policy, warning that private influence and personal gain have usurped diplomats’ judgment, threatening to undermine the nation’s interests and drive talented professionals out of public service.

According to a copy of her opening statement obtained by The New York Times, the longtime diplomat said she was ‘incredulous’ that she was removed as ambassador ‘based, as far as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.’

Also:

According to her opening statement published by the Washington Post, Marie Yovanovitch said she had few interactions with Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer.

But she noted that, based on news reports, some of Giuliani’s associates may have believed they would suffer financial losses due to the ambassador’s anti-corruption efforts.

Yovanovitch told the House committees: “With respect to Mayor Giuliani, I have had only minimal contacts with him—a total of three that I recall. None related to the events at issue. I do not know Mr. Giuliani’s motives for attacking me.

“But individuals who have been named in the press as contacts of Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.”

Could ambassadors from decent sane countries please come to the US to promote an anti-corruption policy here? As a matter of urgency? Please?

In her opening statement to the House committees, Yovanovitch sought to dispel some of the smears thrown at her by far-right pundits.

The former ambassador to Ukraine said: “I want to categorically state that I have never myself or through others, directly or indirectly, ever directed, suggested, or in any other way asked for any government or government official in Ukraine (or elsewhere) to refrain from investigating or prosecuting actual corruption.

“Equally fictitious is the notion that I am disloyal to President Trump. I have heard the allegation in the media that I supposedly told the Embassy team to ignore the President’s orders ‘since he was going to be impeached.’ That allegation is false. I have never said such a thing, to my Embassy colleagues or to anyone else.”

Yovanovitch added that she never discussed Hunter Biden or his Ukrainian company with Joe Biden or any other Obama official, although she has met the former vice president on several occasions.

Are we going to believe Yovanovitch, or Trump?

The question answers itself.



Whether the President has been accurate in his financial reporting

Oct 11th, 2019 9:16 am | By

Also in Trump loses:

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that President Donald Trump’s accounting firm must turn over financial records requested by a House committee, a legal blow to the administration’s efforts to block congressional investigations of his finances.

It’s almost as if we have more need to see the financial records of a corrupt lying crook rather than less.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee sent a subpoena to Mazars USA, in April asking for documents related to Trump’s accounts going back to January 2009. His lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that Congress had no legitimate legislative purpose for getting the materials.

But Congress also has an oversight role. Legislation is not their only job.

House Democrats said they needed the documents to investigate whether the president accurately filled out the required financial disclosure forms. A former top Trump aide, Michael Cohen, told Congress that Trump “inflated his assets when it served his purposes” and deflated his assets in others.

Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said Cohen’s testimony and other documents “raise grave questions about whether the President has been accurate in his financial reporting.”

Not that anyone anywhere actually thinks he has been accurate in his financial reporting.



She persisted

Oct 11th, 2019 8:22 am | By

The Guardian’s Julian Borger has background on Marie Yovanovitch:

Since leaving Kyiv, Yovanovitch has been on sabbatical at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, but is still a serving foreign service officer.

Her reported decision to appear seems to be in defiance of a block imposed by the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, ordering state department officials not to give depositions to the congressional impeachment hearings. It is unclear whether the Trump administration will take further measures to try to stop her, in which case the Democrats running the House committees leading the impeachment investigation have signaled they are ready to issue friendly subpoenas.

First Pompeo yanks her out of Ukraine at Trump’s behest, then he orders state department officials to refuse to answer Congress’s questions. They think they have already completed the coup.

Pompeo’s claim that the House committees were seeking to “intimidate, bully and treat improperly” state department officials has drawn accusations of hypocrisy, particularly in light of his treatment of Yovanovitch.

He appears to have bowed to pressure from the White House by pulling her out of Kyiv two months before her posting was due to end, and failed to speak out in her defence when she was smeared by rightwing pundits and talkshow hosts.

Pompeo likes to claim he has brought “swagger” to the state department, but the treatment of Yovanovitch and the state department’s embroilment in the impeachment scandal has badly hit morale at the organisation.

Fuck swagger. Swagger is a Trump thing, an aggressive guy thing, a bully thing; at the extreme an authoritarian and/or fascist thing. Pompeo is a Tea Party hack and a very bad man.

In picking on Yovanovitch, the detractors have chosen a tough target. She has had a stellar career, serving as ambassador under three presidents to three countries (a rare distinction), Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Ukraine, as well as senior adviser to the under secretary of state for political affairs.

She is one of the state department’s foremost experts on Russia, Ukraine and the surrounding region. She was born in Canada to Soviet emigrants and grew up speaking Russian, and is known to friends and colleagues as Masha. Her parents moved to the US when she was young and she became a naturalised US citizen in her teens, studying history and Russian studies at Princeton, and doing her postgraduate studies at the Pushkin Institute and the National War College.

Former colleagues all describe her as meticulous, calm under pressure, supremely qualified and steeped in the nonpartisan culture of professional diplomacy, all which set her apart from the campaign donors who are given an increasing share of ambassadorial posts.

In other words all of which set her apart from the people who buy an increasing share of ambassadorial posts.

After Trump’s election, according to former officials, Yovanovitch lost a good deal of her clout because the Ukrainians to whom she was talking began to suspect she was not speaking for the White House, which had its own agenda. Lutsenko and others looked instead for other channels, like Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

That split widened when Yovanovitch would not help Giuliani look for compromising material about Hunter Biden, the son of the Democratic frontrunner for next year’s presidential election.

“She refused to allow her embassy to be dragged into some sort of effort to concoct dirt for political purposes,” a former official said, adding that she was also not prepared to bend the rules by using personal devices for off-the-books conversations, a mistake made by the former special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker. Volker’s messages, reflecting enthusiastic cooperation with Giuliani, made him look complicit. He has resigned from that part-time envoy job and also lost his academic post.

What Trump said about Yovanovitch on that phone call:

Months after the US Ambassador to Ukraine was unexpectedly recalled from her post, President Donald Trump disparaged the career diplomat in a call with his Ukrainian counterpart, a White House transcript released on Wednesday revealed.

Trump’s comments about Marie Yovanovitch — a member of his own country’s diplomatic corps — are a stunning breach of norms, former officials say, and lend credence to the claim that her early departure from the post was politically motivated.

“The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that,” Donald Trump told Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 call, according to a White House transcript released Wednesday.

Zelensky, who was elected in April 2019, echoed the US President’s sentiment, saying “I agree with you 100%.”

“She’s going to go through some things,” Trump added.

Tables turned, except this time it’s not a criminal in a secretive phone conversation the transcript of which will be hidden in a Top Secret file where it doesn’t belong. This time it’s “the woman” talking to Congress in a closed but far from secret session of the impeachment inquiry. Donnie the rat is going to go through some things.



Good morning Ms Yovanovitch

Oct 11th, 2019 7:45 am | By

Oh hey – Marie Yovanovitch has arrived to testify. They failed to stop her.

Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch just walked into the Capitol for her deposition in the House’s impeachment investigation.

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No doubt most or all of her testimony will be kept secret at least for now, but their failure to stop her is itself of note.



The charming, reasonable response

Oct 11th, 2019 7:28 am | By

Kathleen Stock tells us:

So last night at the Philosophy Dept of @unimelb this talk happened https://philevents.org/event/show/74566; and this was the charming, reasonable response from protestors…

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“TERF GRAVES ARE GENDER NEUTRAL BATHROOMS” – aka we piss on your graves, bitches.



Guest post: Just a feeling and not something you can see

Oct 10th, 2019 5:56 pm | By

Originally a comment by Artymorty on Decrease is a symptom of the thing decreased.

Did you see today’s article in the New Yorker by Masha Gessen about trans rights and the Supreme Court?

I greatly admire her writing about Russian politics and gay rights, but I think she’s very wrong about bathrooms and trans rights.

I became a journalist at a time when one was not supposed to cover issues that concerned one personally. The (very few) black reporters working in the mainstream media were not assigned to write about the civil-rights movement. Women were not assigned to stories on feminism. The handful of openly gay reporters were not allowed to write about gay-and-lesbian rights or the aids epidemic. The underlying logic of this approach was that reasonable people could disagree on issues that people with a stake in the outcome would be unable to cover in a fair and balanced manner.

And yet she’s doing exactly that — not covering this issue in a fair and balanced manner.

She identifies as non-binary (like so many butch lesbians do these days), so she sees the whole debate in terms of her ability to feel comfortable using a men’s washroom despite her having been “assigned” (ugh) female at birth.

For all her defense of trans people’s right to use the washroom of their choice, she didn’t even try to define who exactly counts as a genuine trans person, how gender non-conforming a man has to be in order to be permitted to use a women’s washroom, or what mechanism we could use in practice and in law to distinguish men from transwomen, since trans is not the same as gender-non-conforming: trans is just a feeling and not something you can see, and many men who claim the label aren’t all that gender non-conforming at all.

Masha Gessen may look and dress in a way that’s perceived as more male than female, and Laverne Cox may look for all intents and purposes like a biological female, but following right behind her through the door to the women’s loo are six hulking middle-aged men with an erotic fetish for penetrating into women’s private spaces.



When Bill met Roopy

Oct 10th, 2019 4:49 pm | By

“Attorney General” Bill Barr met with Rupert Murdoch last night; nobody knows what they talked about.

I’m sure it’s all very innocent. I’m sure Barr in no way tried to pressure Murdoch to make Fox even more slavishly adoring of Trump. I’m sure it’s entirely normal for an Attorney General to visit the boss of a notoriously political tv network, just to lift a few beers and shoot the shit.

Also, the Guardian tells us:

At least four national security officials raised concerns over the Trump administrations’ efforts to pressure Ukraine with a White House lawyer, the Washington Post reports:

The nature and timing of the previously undisclosed discussions with National Security Council legal adviser John Eisenberg indicate that officials were delivering warnings through official White House channels earlier than previously understood — including before the call that precipitated a whistleblower complaint and the impeachment inquiry of the president.

At the time, the officials were unnerved by the removal in May of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine; subsequent efforts by Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to promote Ukraine-related conspiracies; as well as signals in meetings at the White House that Trump wanted the new government in Kiev to deliver material that might be politically damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Well when you put it all together like that it does sound unnerving, but…but…no, I got nothin’.



Tens of thousands of people have fled

Oct 10th, 2019 4:23 pm | By

So, this is what Trump wanted? He’s happy? All going according to plan?

Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in northern Syria, as Turkish forces step up their cross-border offensive on Kurdish-held areas.

Turkish troops have encircled the border towns of Ras al-Ain and Tal Abyad and aid agencies fear the exodus could reach hundreds of thousands.

International clamour has increased for Turkey to halt the attack.

Turkey has defended its bid to create a “safe zone” free of Kurdish militias which could also house Syrian refugees.

Aw yeah, everybody has a right to create a “safe zone” in other people’s towns. Canada can create a “safe zone” by attacking Detroit and Buffalo because they are just plain too damn close to Canada for comfort. Trump would be fine with that, right?

The International Rescue Committee aid organisation said that 64,000 people had already reportedly fled their homes. The UK-based monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, gave a similar figure.

The IRC’s Misty Buswell said: “If the offensive continues it’s possible a total of 300,000 people could be displaced to already overstretched camps and towns still recovering from the fight against IS.”

Another group of 14 humanitarian organisations, including the Mercy Corps, warned the figure could be 450,000.

But Trump told Erdoğan to go ahead, and who are we to argue?