Notes and Comment Blog

The smearing of Martina Navratilova by the Guardian and the BBC

Feb 18th, 2019 5:25 pm | By

Helen Saxby wrote an excellent piece on the grotesque reaction to Martina Navratilova’s Sunday Times article:

On Twitter there was a massive response to this article, the vast majority of which was positive, in agreement with Martina, and supportive of her speaking out. Many people were grateful that such a high profile sportswoman should come out in support of women’s rights and women’s sports. It was a bit of a love fest all day.

So it was surprising to see the subsequent headline in the Guardian: ‘Martina Navratilova criticised over ‘cheating’ trans women comments’. The article stated that ‘Her comments attracted criticism across social media’. Well, no they didn’t. The Guardian backed up their claim by quoting one trans lobby group and one trans cyclist who had had a previous spat with Martina over the issue. There was no mention of the hundreds, if not thousands, of messages of support and agreement and gratitude, and no counter evidence was allowed to sully the story.

Kind of a stitch-up, isn’t it.

A similar story began to become apparent over at the BBC. A discussion on BBC Radio 5 Live was due to feature Nicola Williams of campaign group Fair Play for Women, but the invitation was rescinded on the say-so of the aforementioned trans cyclist, Rachel McKinnon, who refused to debate with Fair Play, and smeared it as a hate group for good measure. A balanced programme was then impossible but it went ahead anyway. There was nobody to counter the broadcaster’s introduction of the subject, which described Martina’s comments as ‘upsetting, disturbing and deeply transphobic’, and there was nobody to defend Martina or women’s sports in general. Martina’s alleged ‘transphobia’ was the story, rather than the issue of fairness for female athletes.

The issue of what?

Image result for hannah mouncey

The issue of fairness for female athletes. Apparently that doesn’t matter at all when placed next to Rachel McKinnon’s accusations of “transphobia.”

The smearing of Martina Navratilova by two of the UK’s largest national media outlets will surely send a message to other female sportspeople watching on…

Oh, yes, to them, but also to other female people in general. It sends the message that we just don’t fucking matter, and that’s the end of it.

Accumulated areas of knowledge in many walks of life are currently being dismissed in favour of trans ideology. In schools, prisons and women’s services for example, the rule book is being thrown out when trans people’s needs are on the table, as if all other knowledge save that of trans people themselves ceases to be relevant. Experiential knowledge of what it means to be trans is not so much being added to existing expertise, but is in many cases replacing it.

In many cases trans trumps everything. Why is that? Why are so many people collapsing so instantly? I really don’t get it.

The McKinnon veto

Feb 18th, 2019 11:49 am | By

Yesterday this happened:

That’s so McKinnon, isn’t it. “Talk to ME and not to anyone who fails to agree with ME and endorse what I say.”

But it’s sad to say it’s also so BBC…but it is. For years they talked to the Muslim Council of Britain but not anyone who disagreed with them. For years they talked as if the MCB represented all Muslims including secular liberal ones. For years they took one highly coercive illiberal side and stuck to it like grim death.

But in defiance of their own explicit written policy, McKinnon was allowed to veto Fair Play for Women and be the only person interviewed. What a joke.

It’s almost as if women are a despised and subordinated caste.

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette

Feb 18th, 2019 11:20 am | By

Oh, America. You’re so confused.

A Florida student is facing misdemeanor charges after a confrontation with his teacher that began with his refusal to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and escalated into what officials described as disruptive behavior.

The student, a sixth-grader at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, Fla., east of Tampa, refused to stand for the pledge in the Feb. 4 incident, telling the teacher that he thinks the flag and the national anthem are “racist” against black people, according to an affidavit. The teacher then had what appeared to be a contentious exchange with the boy.

Ok stop right there. The teacher had no business having any kind of exchange with the boy, because forced loyalty oaths are a fascist thing, not a liberal democracy thing.

People recite an oath when they become new citizens. That’s ok, that makes sense. They recite it once. They can go on reciting it as much as they like, of course, but it’s required only the once. People swear to things in court; that too makes sense, and has reasonable limits. Ordering children to swear a loyalty oath in school every single day is grotesque and intrusive and disgusting. It shouldn’t happen at all, but if it does happen (as it unfortunately does here) then children should have every right to abstain, period end of story. On paper they do have that right, because of a court ruling – so this teacher should have left the boy alone.

If living in the United States is “so bad,” why not go to another place to live? substitute teacher Ana Alvarez asked the student, according to a handwritten statement from her.

“They brought me here,” the boy replied.

Alvarez responded by saying, “Well you can always go back, because I came here from Cuba, and the day I feel I’m not welcome here anymore, I would find another place to live.” She then called the school office, as she did not want to keep dealing with the student, according to the statement.

That’s her experience, and that’s fine, but it’s not part of her job to force it on the students.

Officials said the situation escalated. The student yelled at the administrative dean and a school resource officer with the Lakeland Police Department after they came to the classroom, accusing them of being racist and repeatedly refusing to leave the room.

“Suspend me! I don’t care. This school is racist,” the student, who is black, told the dean as he walked out of the classroom with his backpack, according to the affidavit.

I can’t help feeling a lot of sympathy for that kid – he shouldn’t be forced to recite a very substantive loyalty oath that he doesn’t believe in, and he shouldn’t be punished or hassled for refusing to recite it. Why wouldn’t he yell at them when he wasn’t doing anything wrong?

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida issued a rebuke in the wake of the controversy. “This is outrageous. Students do not lose their First Amendment rights when they enter the schoolhouse gates,” the group said on Twitter. “This is a prime example of the over-policing of Black students in school.”

The 11-year-old boy’s mother, Dhakira Talbot, was not immediately available for comment Sunday. But she told Bay News 9 that the teacher was wrong and that the school overstepped its authority by punishing her son, who was taken to a juvenile detention center and suspended for three days after the incident.

The school and the police say it’s not because of the pledge, it’s because of how he reacted to being thrown out of class over the pledge. Yeeeeeah that’s a distinction without a difference, folks.

In a statement Monday, Polk County Public Schools said the resource officer, not school officials, made the decision to arrest the student.

The school district said that students are not required to participate in reciting the pledge. In fact, the Supreme Court ruled in 1943 in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette that schools cannot require students to salute the flag or recite the pledge, citing First Amendment rights.

But the substitute teacher was not aware that students are not required to recite the pledge, the school district said, adding that officials will look at improving training for substitute teachers and that Alvarez no longer works in the district.

Oh ffs – really? Schools make kids say that shit every single day but they don’t manage to tell teachers that the kids have a legal right to refuse?

What a pathetic mess.

Yankee go home

Feb 17th, 2019 2:48 pm | By

It’s all over between us and Europe. They’re just not into us.

European leaders have long been alarmed that President Trump’s words and Twitter messages could undo a trans-Atlantic alliance that had grown stronger over seven decades. They had clung to the hope that those ties would bear up under the strain.

But in the last few days of a prestigious annual security conference in Munich, the rift between Europe and the Trump administration became open, angry and concrete, diplomats and analysts say.

Russia and China are happy about this though.

Even the normally gloomy Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, happily noted the strains, remarking that the Euro-Atlantic relationship had become increasingly “tense.”

And all because of a greedy punk from Queens.

The most visible pushback against Washington came from Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany — who delivered an unusually passionate speech — and from her defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen. They spoke about the dangers of unilateral actions by major partners without discussing the consequences with allies.

They cited Mr. Trump’s recent announcements that American troops would leave northern Syria and Afghanistan, as well as the administration’s decision to suspend one of the last remaining arms-control agreements: the ban on land-based intermediate range missiles.

Vice President Mike Pence, who spoke after Ms. Merkel in Munich, met stony silence when he tried to pressure allies to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, a sign of the continuing anger at Washington’s decision to scrap the deal unilaterally. European allies regard the pact as vital to European security and to the preservation of nuclear nonproliferation.

Even more, the Europeans are angry that renewed American sanctions hurt European companies far more than any American ones.

Hey, Make America Great Again. Isn’t that everyone’s goal? Europe included? Doesn’t everyone want to put our interests first?

Her comments attracted criticism across social media

Feb 17th, 2019 11:39 am | By

Well the Guardian knows which side it is on.

The former Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova has been criticised for “disturbing, upsetting, and deeply transphobic” comments after she argued that allowing transgender women to compete in women’s sporting tournaments was “insane and cheating”.

Dur dur dur; you can say that about anything, especially in The Twitter Age. The Guardian has been criticized for [insert your chosen loaded language here] too; that by itself tells us nothing, so it’s a stupid lede.

The tennis player and gay rights campaigner first drew criticism from equalities activists and trans athletes when she tweeted in December: “You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women. There must be some standards, and having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard.”

Or to put it another way “some particularly venomous trans activists jumped all over the tennis player and gay rights campaigner when she quite reasonably said that men shouldn’t compete against women.”

Frances Perraudin, the author of the hit piece, quotes a few paragraphs from Navratilova’s article and then resumes the “she violently caused all these nice people to criticize her” nonsense.

Her comments attracted criticism across social media. “We’re pretty devastated to discover that Martina Navratilova is transphobic,” tweeted the rights group Trans Actual. “If trans women had an advantage in sport, why aren’t trans women winning gold medals left, right and centre?”

Her comments also attracted praise and agreement across social media, but the Guardian isn’t so interested in that. It’s just boring old dreary women, after all, and who cares about them.

Following her comments in December, Navratilova was criticised by Rachel McKinnon, a Canadian academic and cyclist, who in October became the first transgender woman to win a track world title.

She wasn’t just criticized by McKinnon, she was relentlessly bullied by McKinnon.

“McKinnon has vigorously defended her right to compete, pointing out that, when tested, her levels of testosterone, the male hormone, were well within the limits set by world cycling’s governing body,” wrote Navratilova on Sunday. “Nevertheless, at 6ft tall and weighing more than 14 stone, she appeared to have a substantial advantage in muscle mass over her rivals.”

The tennis star said she had been “pretty put out” by McKinnon’s accusation that she was transphobic and said she deplored “what seems to be a growing tendency among transgender activists to denounce anyone who argues against them”.

She pointed to her friendship with Renée Richards, the transgender tennis player who campaigned to be able to compete in the women’s US Open, and her support for Caster Semenya, who is fighting a legal battle to be able to compete without taking testosterone-suppressing medication.

In a statement to the Guardian, McKinnon described Navratilova’s article as “disturbing, upsetting, and deeply transphobic”. “She trades on age-old stereotypes and stigma against trans women, treating us as men just pretending to be real women. She seeks to deny trans women equal rights to compete under the rules,” she said.

The Guardian quotes a statement to the Guardian by McKinnon but says nothing about a statement from Navratilova. Why quote a statement from McKinnon but not from Navratilova?

Silly question; because the Guardian has chosen a side, that’s why, and it’s not next to women, that’s why.

Final para:

A spokesperson for the LGBT rights charity Stonewall said: “Sport should be welcoming to everyone, including trans people. We need clubs and governing bodies, as the experts, to consider how their sports’ individual policies can work to be as inclusive as possible, and what advice and guidance they’re giving to ensure all people, including trans people, can take part in sport.”

That’s not the issue. Nobody is saying trans people shouldn’t take part in sport; nobody. The issue is whether people with male bodies should demand to compete against women and be so accommodated. The issue is whether or not women get to continue to take part in sport with a real hope of winning as opposed to being swamped by competitors who have male bodies. The Guardian’s contemptuous indifference to the concerns of women is obvious.

Arm? Leg? Eye?

Feb 17th, 2019 7:58 am | By

Not one of the best but still worth seeing because it pissed off Trump.

Interesting that he’s now demanding retribution.

Not above insults

Feb 17th, 2019 7:09 am | By

Martina Navratilova in the Sunday Times:

Shortly before Christmas I inadvertently stumbled into the mother and father of a spat about gender and fair play in sport. It began with an instinctive reaction and a tweet that I wrote on a serious forum dealing with the subject. “You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women,” I tweeted. “There must be some standards, and having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard.”

Perhaps I could have phrased it more delicately and less dogmatically, but I was not prepared for the onslaught that followed, chiefly from a Canadian academic and transgender cyclist named Rachel McKinnon.

She notes the controversy around McKinnon’s win at the Masters Track cycling world championship in Los Angeles last October, including the fact that the woman who came in third said it wasn’t fair. She notes McKinnon’s “vigorous” defense but says

Nevertheless, at 6ft tall and weighing more than 14 stone, she appeared to have a substantial advantage in muscle mass over her rivals.

Indeed, one that is uncomfortably visible in photos of the three winners together.

My tweet brought an angry response from McKinnon, whom I had not named (I had no idea who she was at the time). She accused me of being “transphobic” and demanded I delete my tweet and apologise. Since I have spent much of my life fighting injustice, on my own behalf and for others, I was pretty put out, especially when the bullying tweets from McKinnon continued, like incoming fire.

McKinnon is like that, as I’ve mentioned more than once. It remains interesting to me that McKinnon seems to have no inhibitions about bullying women this way, when you’d think it would mess up the whole presentation aspect of being a trans woman.

Ever the peacemaker, I promised to keep quiet on the subject until I had properly researched it.

Well, I’ve now done that and, if anything, my views have strengthened. To put the argument at its most basic: a man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organisation is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires. It’s insane and it’s cheating. I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair.

She explains about bone density and muscle mass, along with oxygen-carrying red blood cells.

Hundreds of athletes who have changed gender by declaration and limited hormone treatment have already achieved honours as women that were beyond their capabilities as men, especially in sports in which power rather than skill is paramount. McKinnon is just one example. That may uphold the International Olympic Committee’s charter, which holds that “the practice of sport is a human right”, but it is surely unfair on women who have to compete against people who, biologically, are still men.

Anyway even the International Olympic Committee’s charter doesn’t say “the practice of sport is a human right and therefore trans women get to compete against women.” The two issues are separate.

She talks about Renée Richards and Castor Semenya, and wraps up by returning to McKinnon.

McKinnon, who says she received more than 100,000 hate messages on Twitter after winning the world championship, has presented herself and other transgender athletes as victims of prejudice. Certainly, there can be no excuse for such ignorance and nastiness.

But I also deplore what seems to be a growing tendency among transgender activists to denounce anyone who argues against them and to label them all as “transphobes”. That’s just another form of tyranny. I’m relatively tough and was able to stand up for myself in my Twitter exchange with McKinnon, but I worry that others may be cowed into silence or submission.

Here’s how I concluded my Twitter spat: “Rachel, you may be an expert on all things trans, but you are one nasty human being. Attack, attack, attack. I will not take it from you. You did not engage; you bullied. Not blocking you [though I later did, because who wants all that negativity], but enough already. All I want is fairness.”

Dawn Ennis at Outsports wrote a piece today which concluded with this elegant riposte:

Athena Del Rosario, an NCAA hockey goalie who came out in Outsports in 2017tweeted her disappointment to us, upon seeing Navratilova’s op-ed:

“Oh geeze she thinks I’m a cheater without even knowing shit about me. What a loser. As an athlete being called a cheater is just about the worst thing. Martina, you re trash. I’m not above insults. You’ve got a more manlier body than me you bag.”

Outsports reached out to Navratilova for comment, but as of press time has not received a response; a U.K.-based anti-trans group that she follows, “Fair Play For Women,” instead offered a thread of tweets supporting her claims.

“Tweeted her disappointment to us” by calling Navratilova a loser, trash, and you bag.

Please, keep telling us trans women are women and there is no trace of misogyny or sexism in trans activism at all whatsoever.

Proper procedure

Feb 16th, 2019 4:40 pm | By

The “object!” guy is at it again.

The MP who infuriated campaigners by objecting to a ban on upskirting has been heavily criticised after blocking another private members’ bill.

Sir Christopher Chope shouted “object” in a debate on laws protecting children girls from female genital mutilation.

His Conservative colleague, Zac Goldsmith, said his actions were “appalling” – Lib Dem Tom Brake said the MP had “reached a new low”.

Sir Christopher has argued his aim is to stop badly thought-out legislation.

He said he had not been objecting to the substance of the issue, but wanted to see all legislation properly debated.

Unfriendly observers point out that he doesn’t shout “object” at every opportunity; he chooses his targets carefully.

Last year he sparked fury when he objected to another bill to make “upskirting” a criminal offence in England and Wales – that became law last month, after the bill got government backing.

But his fellow Conservative Mr Goldsmith, who co-sponsored the bill, tweeted“please note that once again he did not object to those put forward by his friends”.

Among others criticising his actions on Twitter, were the Labour MP David Lammy, who suggested Mr Chope “embodies a brand of thoughtless, regressive conservatism which can ruin lives” while anti-FGM campaigner Nimco Ali said she had “nothing but disgust” for Mr Chope.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said on Twitter he was “very disappointed” that the bill had been blocked adding: “FGM is child abuse. I am determined to stamp out this despicable and medieval practice. We will do all we can to protect girls at risk.”

If Mr Chope will allow it.

Fluffy v Tuffy

Feb 16th, 2019 2:56 pm | By

Oooh, fun, and hardly insulting at all.

For their protection

Feb 16th, 2019 11:40 am | By

Guatemala is no country for women:

As fire swept through the classroom, the pleas from the 56 girls locked inside began to fade.

Most were unconscious or worse by then, as an eerie silence replaced their panic-stricken shouts.

The police officers guarding the door — who had refused to unlock it despite the screams — waited nine minutes before stepping inside. They got water to cool down the scorching knob.

Inside, dozens of girls placed in the care of the Guatemalan state lay sprawled on the blackened floor. Forty-one of them died.

It was one of the deadliest tragedies in Guatemala since the end of its civil war decades ago, and it happened inside a group home for at-risk youth who had been put there by the government, supposedly for their own protection.

Much like the way the Irish government handed generations of children over to the Catholic church “supposedly for their own protection” but in fact for their deprivation and brutalization.

Now, nearly two years later, the trials against public officials accused of failing to prevent the deaths have all begun.

But a review of more than two dozen case files of victims and survivors — along with interviews of family members, group home employees and public officials — reveals a pattern of physical, psychological and sexual abuse allegations at the facility stretching back for years.

Six children died there between 2012 and 2015. There were 25 cases of reported abuse. Relatives of some girls report they were forced into sex with adult men – they were government-raped, in short.

The deaths are a reflection of the cruel passage to adulthood for many young girls in Guatemala, a journey often marked by poverty, violence and desperation. The nation has one of the highest child pregnancy rates, and the homicide rate for women is among the worst in the world.

The girls, who had broken no laws and posed no threat to society, were victims even before the fire. As survivors of sexual abuse, violence or abandonment — often at the hands of their own families — the government had assigned them to the institution for their own safety. In theory, the world outside posed the greatest threat to them.

“These are girls who had been abused, sometimes raped, by members of their own family,” said Norma Cruz, the director of Survivors, a group representing the families of nearly two dozen victims. “These girls were placed there for their protection.”

Read on.

“It’s all a lie,” Trump says

Feb 16th, 2019 11:29 am | By

The Guardian does a Trump-tease.

The nopes come in

Feb 16th, 2019 10:54 am | By

Was Trump really telling a whopper when he said Obama told him he (Obama) was on the edge of war with North Korea? Peter Baker at the Times has collected some “Nope”s from people who worked in Obama’s administration.

President Trump has been telling audiences lately that his predecessor was on the precipice of an all-out confrontation with the nuclear-armed maverick state. The way Mr. Trump tells the story, the jets were practically scrambling in the hangars.

“I believe he would have gone to war with North Korea,” Mr. Trump said in the White House Rose Garden on Friday. “I think he was ready to go to war. In fact, he told me he was so close to starting a big war with North Korea.”

Well I was there and I say he didn’t. In fact I heard him not say it.

The notion that Mr. Obama, who famously equivocated about a single missile strike against non-nuclear Syria to punish it for using chemical weapons against its own civilians, would have started a full-fledged war with North Korea seems hard to imagine, to say the least. But this presumption has become part of Mr. Trump’s narrative in patting himself on the back for reaching out to North Korea to make peace.

For reaching out to North Korea to make peace or for calling Kim Little Rocket Man on Twitter or something like that.

Trump has been claiming that we would be in a war with North Korea right now if it weren’t for his miraculous election.

“And I can tell you, the previous administration would have been in war right now if that was extended. You would, right now, be in a nice, big, fat war in Asia with North Korea if I wasn’t elected president.”

It is impossible to prove a negative, of course, but nobody who worked for Mr. Obama has publicly endorsed this assessment, nor have any of the memoirs that have emerged from his administration disclosed any serious discussion of military action against North Korea. Several veterans of the Obama era made a point of publicly disputing Mr. Trump’s characterization on Friday.

“We were not on the brink of war with North Korea in 2016,” Benjamin J. Rhodes, Mr. Obama’s deputy national security adviser, wrote on Twitter.

John Brennan, Mr. Obama’s C.I.A. director, told NBC News, “President Obama was never on the verge of starting any war with North Korea, large or small.”

Ok but who you gonna believe, some losers who worked for Obama or Jeenyus Don who saved us all by calling Kim names on Twitter?

Mr. Trump bases his argument on the single extended conversation he has ever had with Mr. Obama. In November 2016, Mr. Obama invited the man elected to succeed him to the White House for a 90-minute discussion of the issues awaiting him.

Mr. Trump’s account of that conversation has evolved over time. At first, he said that Mr. Obama told him that North Korea would be the new administration’s toughest foreign policy challenge, which seems plausible enough. Only later did Mr. Trump add the supposed war discussion.

After he made it up.

In an email on Friday, Mr. Rhodes said Mr. Obama did warn Mr. Trump about North Korea in their meeting, but hardly suggested that he was ready to use force. “He talked about the threat from North Korea’s program — where it stood, what our concerns were,” Mr. Rhodes said. “That’s very different from saying you’re about to go to war!”

Well, yes, to an adult mind it is, but Obama was talking to Trump, who doesn’t have an adult mind.

Jen Psaki, who was Mr. Obama’s White House communications director, likewise dismissed the notion that the departing president told his successor he had been ready to send in the bombers. “There is no scenario where I could see him saying that given he isn’t an alarmist and that is exactly what everyone has been trying to avoid forever,” she said.

Plus, he was talking to Trump.

They describe for us the lineaments of justice

Feb 16th, 2019 9:50 am | By

Jack Goldsmith at Lawfare explains why much about Trump’s Fake Emergency is not abnormal or weird or even alarming, and then why much about it is one or all of those.

First, in stating that he “didn’t need to do this,” Trump acknowledged what so much of the run-up to his proclamation makes clear: there is no necessity in his action, and thus no “emergency” in the ordinary language sense of the term. As noted above, this is typically true of emergency declarations. But presidents don’t admit it, much less celebrate it. They tend to make emergency declarations in ways that do not highlight that the entire modern law of emergency power rests on the fiction that emergency powers can be invoked in the absence of what we normally think of as an emergency.

Second, in clumsily denying that the emergency declaration is about politics and the 2020 election, Trump confirmed what many people think: It is about politics and the 2020 election. That acknowledgment heightens and for many will confirm suspicions about mixed motives, pretext, and the like.

Trump is not by a mile the first president to invoke executive power aggressively for political purposes. But he might be the first plausibly to be seen to exercise emergency powers openly for political purposes. In this regard, as in many regards, Trump is undisciplined in his lack of hypocrisy. As I explained a few years ago:

A corollary to Trump’s shamelessness is that he often doesn’t seek to hide or even spin his norm-breaking. Put another way, he is far less hypocritical than past presidents—and that is a bad thing. Hypocrisy is an underappreciated political virtue. It can palliate self-interested and politically divisive government action through mollifying rhetoric and a call to shared values. Trump is bad at it because he can’t “recognize the difference between what one professes in public and what one does in private, much less the utility of exploiting that difference,” Henry Farrell and Martha Finnemore have noted in Foreign Affairs. He is incapable of keeping his crass thoughts to himself, or of cloaking his speech in other-regarding principle.

That’s an interesting point, and I suppose I have to agree it’s true. A major reason I hate Trump so intensely is his complete failure / refusal to acknowledge, much less heed, any norms about words and acts in prominent government figures. I suppose I have to agree that that means I think he should make an effort to pretend, and that means I think he should be more of a hypocrite. I do think he should keep his crass thoughts to himself, because his refusal to do so is an inspiration to millions of people who long to shout about their hatred for various appointed underlings. I do think he should palliate his loathsome actions with mollifying rhetoric and a call to shared values, when the alternative is his pissing all over the best of our shared values.

This is a counterintuitive idea. Many people see Trump as hypocritical since he often says one thing and does another (including things that he criticized his predecessor for). But he is profoundly not hypocritical in this sense: As in his border wall announcement, he is often guileless in asserting power, and doesn’t try to hide the tension between his political aims and his asserted constitutional justifications. This is one of Trump’s most remarkable and persistent norm violations. “The clearest evidence of the stability of our values over time is the unchanging character of the lies … statesmen tell,” Michael Walzer famously noted. “They lie in order to justify themselves, and so they describe for us the lineaments of justice. Wherever we find hypocrisy we find moral justice.” Walzer might have added that when we see in our statesmen an absence of hypocrisy in a contested context where principle normally matters, an absence of moral justice creeps in.

We are there.


Feb 15th, 2019 5:29 pm | By

There’s a reason he’s so fixated on Wall – the fact that he’s a racist shithead, yes, but an additional reason. Eric Lach at the New Yorker:

So why did he do [the emergency]? When a reporter pressed him on whether he would concede that he didn’t get the deal he wanted from Congress, Trump, of course, refused to concede. And, in doing so, he undercut what little concrete rationale his emergency had to begin with. “I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster,” he said. “And I don’t have to do it for the election. I’ve already done a lot of wall for the election. 2020. And the only reason we’re up here talking about this is because of the election—because they want to try to win an election, which it looks like they’re not going to be able to do.” So there it is, as straight as you can get it from this President: he didn’t need to do this, and it’s not about the election, but the only reason he’s talking about it is because of the election.

It’s a good day to remember that, according to Joshua Green’s “Devil’s Bargain,” Trump’s aides came up with the idea of the wall in 2014, not for policy reasons but for memory reasons. “Inside Trump’s circle, the power of illegal immigration to manipulate popular sentiment was readily apparent, and his advisers brainstormed methods for keeping their attention-addled boss on message,” Green wrote. “They needed a trick, a mnemonic device. In the summer of 2014, they found one that clicked.” Not with the public, or even with the Republican Party—but with Trump himself.

Wall. He can remember it. It’s just four letters, it’s a familiar word, we’ve all seen walls, some of us have them in our houses or apartments or cells. Wall. You don’t even need an article, you can just call it Wall as you might call it Don or Dan or Dun. Wall.

Image result for wall


Feb 15th, 2019 4:39 pm | By

The BBC has an ick when it comes to abortion.

A group of healthcare bodies have today published a letter to BBC Action Line asking that they reverse their current stance on providing links to information about abortion. The letter is co-signed by British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas), Brook, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, Family Planning Association (FPA), Marie Stopes UK, the Royal College of Midwives, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The issue emerged following last week’s episode of Call the Midwife in which one of the characters died as a result of complications from an illegal “backstreet” abortion.  At the end of the programme, the BBC Action Line website was advertised for viewers who wished to seek information and support for issues covered in the programme. A number of women who visited the website contacted the charity the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, bpas, to highlight that there were no sources of advice relating to abortion.

In response to bpas, who raised their concerns about the omission of abortion support, BBC Action Line stated that they had chosen to not include abortion because it is “contentious” and including this information could be seen as “supporting one side”:

“It isn’t possible for the BBC Action Line to offer support for abortion and similarly contentious issues without referring people either to campaigning organisations which take a particular stance on an issue or to organisations which provide it.

Doing so could imply the BBC supported one side or another in any contentious issue which it does not do in its coverage. However, as the current storyline in Call the Midwife also raises issues of miscarriage, pregnancy related depression and bereavement, it was felt that support should be offered for viewers who might be affected.”

Who decides that abortion is “contentious” and what are the criteria? Does the BBC also consider contraception “contentious”? Does it worry the BBC at all that being secretive about abortion is punitive toward women and women only?

Today, healthcare bodies have written to the BBC expressing their “disappointment” and asking that they amend this position:

“Abortion has been legal, in certain circumstances, in Great Britain for over 50 years, and 98% of terminations are funded by the NHS. Abortion is the most common gynaecological procedure in the UK, and one in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime. Polling demonstrates that the vast majority of the public support a woman’s right to choose, including those with a religious belief. Abortion is not a “contentious issue”– it is a routine part of NHS-funded healthcare, provided by doctors, nurses, and midwives every day in hospitals and clinics across the country.

“The BBC Action Line response states that including links to information about abortion could imply the BBC “supported one side or another.” However, in barring information the BBC is in effect “supporting one side” by treating abortion as different to all the other medical procedures and conditions the BBC choses to include. This is highly stigmatising for the healthcare professionals we represent and the women we care for.”

The healthcare bodies have provided links to evidence-based, impartial information for the BBC to consider, and stressed that their complaint lies solely with BBC Action Line and is in no way related to the programme Call the Midwife, which they state has repeatedly handled this issue “extremely sensitively and courageously.”

Do better, BBC.

Another plumb

Feb 15th, 2019 2:04 pm | By

In that deranged press conference Trump said Obama told him “he was so close to starting a big war with North Korea.” He worked himself up to saying that, in stages. It’s a useful little paradigm of how he maneuvers himself into lies. Stage one, he asked Obama what the biggest threat was and Obama said “By far, North Korea.” Stage two, “And, I donwanna speak fer him…but…I believe he wouldv gone to war with North Korea.” Stage three, “I think he was ready to go to war.” Stage four, “in fact he told me he was so close to [nervous pause] starting a big war with North Korea.” He inches himself into the lie like someone inching into a too-hot bath. “He said it was a big threat; I think he would have gone to war; I think he was ready to go to war in fact wait a second he actually TOLD me he was.” You can see it happen as stage three seamlessly becomes stage four. “I think he was ready to go to war in fact he told me he was so close” – portrait of an inadequate man translating his opinion into a (false) memory of being told. He doesn’t have that mental thing, that doohickey, that reasonably adult thoughtful people have where we check what we think we know or remember in case we don’t.

He does it all the time; we see him do it in cabinet meetings and shouting at the press on his way to the helicopter. His talking is like a little train line that pulls new bullshit out of him as it trundles along the track of his melting brain. It’s weird and creepy because normal people don’t do that. It’s terrifying because of his job.

He needs to be 25d.

Anyway…the actual point of the Post story is that he’s claiming Shinzo Abe nominated him for the Nobel peace prize. In the process of making that claim he expressed his usual envy of Obama.

Responding to a question about the upcoming summit with North Korea on Friday, President Trump said that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Prime Minister Abe of Japan gave me the most beautiful copy of a letter that he sent to the people who give out a thing called the Nobel Prize,” Trump said. “I have nominated you, respectfully on behalf of Japan, I am asking them to give you the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Trump said he then thanked Abe but added that he did not expect to win the prize.

And that Obama got it, and didn’t know why, and he Trump probably wouldn’t get it, wahwahwah.

What is IN there?

Feb 15th, 2019 11:18 am | By

What happens when he tries to string sentences together.

Turns out it’s the Democrats’ fault

Feb 15th, 2019 10:42 am | By

Aren’t Republicans supposed to love the military? The Post reports:

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said that Trump’s plan to divert military construction funding to border barriers was “utterly disrespectful” to members of the military.

“This appalling decision by the Trump administration is an egregious example of the President putting his political agenda ahead of the interest of the United States,” Smith said in a statement.

Trump intends to tap $3.6 billion in military construction funds by declaring a national emergency.

What is his political agenda here exactly?

It seems to be to defend and consolidate and underline his image, his “identity,” as a ferocious racist xenophobe. It appears to be to leave no stone unturned in his effort to display his credentials as a hate-mongering white supremacist shit.

Which is sort of funny, in a sour way, because hey, dude, we believe you, you don’t need to do all this to convince us.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Trump’s hand was forced on declaring a national emergency by congressional Democrats.

“President Trump’s decision to announce emergency action is the predictable and understandable consequence of Democrats’ decision to put partisan obstruction ahead of the national interest,” McConnell said in a statement.

Senator would you please go stick your head in a bucket of fresh cement? At once?

Burning times

Feb 15th, 2019 9:42 am | By


Not a brilliant angle but reads “trans kids burn terfs.”

Incitement to violence?

Well let’s see what happens when we change “TERFs” to something else.

“White kids burn niggers”

“Straight men burn faggots”

“Men burn bitches”

Yes that doesn’t sound what you’d call benign, does it.

But, a voice from the back of the room calls out, trans kids are oppressed, so they’re not comparable to white kids or straight men or men in those examples. Ok, so does it sound more benign if we make the first term a subaltern?

“Gay kids burn niggers”

Better? No, I don’t think so. The coupling of the emphatic “burn” and the hate-label is enough. It’s not a literal threat in the sense of “We will burn you,” but it’s a menace. It’s not friendly.

This guy is a Labour councillor.

That they should be burned; oh well that’s all right then.

It’s weird how happy people are to let their hatred of women just hang out there for everyone to see.

An optional emergency

Feb 15th, 2019 8:42 am | By

So here we go. Trump, sounding both drunk and brain-dead, says he’s declaring a national emergency, then promptly says he didn’t have to do that, which means it’s not an emergency, so all the lawyers are saying that won’t do him a lot of good in court.

Can’t anybody stop this runaway train?