All entries by this author

Meeting the minor royals

Mar 28th, 2019 8:56 am | By

Alex Miller at Rolling Stone talked to Cecile Richards, former head of Planned Parenthood. One subject was the Princess and Prince.

I want to talk about your meeting with Ivanka and Jared, because that was an extraordinary episode [in your book].Can you talk a little bit about that meeting? They invited you to a Trump golf course?

You must have had some hope that the meeting could go well, or you wouldn’t have taken it.
Well, let’s be honest: We didn’t have a lot of options. And that was actually kind of what Jared Kushner said. He said, “Look, we control everything. We control Congress, we control the White House. So I’m kind of your only avenue.”

Read the rest

A much-debated topic in Menlo Park

Mar 28th, 2019 7:44 am | By

Vanity Fair has a big long piece about how Facebook attempts to deal with abuse.

To my surprise, the person in charge of it isn’t some socially clueless techy fool, she’s a former prosecutor from the Obama administration.

But when it comes to figuring out how Facebook actually works—how it decides what content is allowed, and what isn’t—the most important person in the company isn’t Mark Zuckerberg. It’s Monika Bickert, a former federal prosecutor and Harvard Law School graduate. At 42, Bickert is currently one of only a handful of people, along with her counterparts at Google, with real power to dictate free-speech norms for the entire world. In Oh, Semantics*, she sits at the head of a long

Read the rest

Pennsylvania theocracy

Mar 27th, 2019 4:15 pm | By

This is a horror to watch.

This is a government room in a government building for government business. It is not a church.

Read the rest

An unacceptable encroachment

Mar 27th, 2019 3:49 pm | By

Meanwhile, the NRA is opposing the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act.

Wouldn’t it be great if women could “identify” our way out of violence?

The National Rifle Association is preparing to punish lawmakers for voting to protect women from their stalkers and domestic abusers. The gun lobby announced this week that it will dock its grades for politicians who vote to renew the Violence Against Women Act. The legislation, first passed in 1994, is up for reauthorization this session — augmented by a provision that could give law enforcement officials the power to confiscate guns from men who hurt or menace women.

NRA spokesperson Jennifer Baker told the National Journal that this “red-flag” provision — intended

Read the rest

He questioned the existence of an identity

Mar 27th, 2019 3:31 pm | By

A press release from West Coast LEAF:

Today, the BC Human Rights Tribunal (“BCHRT”) released its decision on a complaint arising under the BC Human Rights Code’s (“the Code”) prohibition against discriminatory publications. The case, Oger v Whatcott, was heard in December 2018.

The BCHRT found in favour of the complainant that Mr. Whatcott violated s. 7 of the Code and engaged in hate speech.

In 2017, Morgane Oger ran for political office as an MLA for the Vancouver-False Creek riding. She was the first trans-identified candidate to run for election in the provincial legislature. Bill Whatcott produced and published pamphlets and made comments online attacking Ms. Oger on the basis of her gender identity. Among other

Read the rest

A Humberside Police spokeswoman said

Mar 27th, 2019 9:36 am | By

Editing to add today the next day:

Hull Daily Mail has the full statement from the Humberside police about their Friendly Conversation with Harry:

A Humberside Police spokeswoman said: “A phone call was made to the complainant by Inspector Wilson to update him on his complaint to the Force, which is standard procedure.”

So far so good. “Phoning to update you on your … Read the rest

Saddle up the velociraptor

Mar 27th, 2019 9:13 am | By

In the UK cops joke about not telling people they can’t do something but just asking why they would want to, and in the US Republicans in Congress joke about climate change because mass migrations and crop failures and wildfires are so hilarious.

Clad in a sharp, dark-colored suit, former president Ronald Reagan cuts a striking figure. But his attire isn’t what makes him formidable. He’s riding a velociraptor, which has a tattered American flag clutched in its talons. With a rocket launcher strapped to his back, Reagan fires a machine gun at an unseen foe.

The fantastical depiction of the 40th president of the United States may sound like a hallucination, only it’s not. On Tuesday, thanks to Sen.

Read the rest

All we did was ask

Mar 27th, 2019 8:48 am | By

This would be hilarious if it weren’t so sinister.

There was never any suggestion he shouldn’t do what he was doing, he was just asked BY US, THE POLICE, why he would want to. Certainly when WE, THE POLICE, ask you why you would want to do something, there is NEVER ANYTHING the slightest bit menacing or intimidating about that, it’s purely an interesting conversation between two parties who are on a level playing field with no … Read the rest

What happened to that counterintelligence probe?

Mar 26th, 2019 4:57 pm | By

Natasha Bertrand says the summary is not the whole story.

[N]ational-security and intelligence experts tell me that Mueller’s decision not to charge Trump or his campaign team with a conspiracy is far from dispositive, and that the underlying evidence the special counsel amassed over two years could prove as useful as a conspiracy charge to understanding the full scope of Russia’s election interference in 2016.

The way Barr described the report it was very focused on criminal-law standards and processes, but that could be just his description. A counterintelligence investigation would have what they call “a wider aperture.”

A counterintelligence probe, he added, would ask more than whether the evidence collected is sufficient to obtain a criminal conviction—it could

Read the rest


Mar 26th, 2019 4:05 pm | By

Arguing about this again n again n again

Sally Hines, remember, is an academic.

First – what’s this “for me” shit? It’s not a “for me” thing. A “for me” thing would be, say, the best novel or the worst brand of toothpaste or the ideal career. Other examples of not “for me” questions:

What is a

  • bird
  • car
  • cactus
  • library
  • star
  • map
  • orange

Definitions will vary depending on the asker and the answerer; they will be less or more technical, less or more basic, less or more precise – but they won’t start with “It depends on who you … Read the rest

Bring in the dead horse again

Mar 26th, 2019 11:52 am | By

But her emails.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Monday that he will use his authority as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee to potentially “look into the other side” of the story now that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is complete.

Mueller’s report into the Kremlin’s interference in the 2016 presidential election did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia, according to a letter to Congress from Attorney General William Barr.

It did not find evidence that etcetera. We tend to hear and read “did not find that” as “found that not” when the two are quite different. News organizations need to be careful to use precise language on … Read the rest

A Chicago story

Mar 26th, 2019 11:12 am | By

The BBC notes that Michelle Obama’s memoir is knocking down all the records.

Becoming, first published just five months ago, has already sold more than 10 million copies, Bertelsmann said.

“We believe that these memoirs could well become the most successful memoir ever,” said Thomas Rabe, chief executive of the German firm.

She has one hell of a story to tell, and she knows how to write.

Michelle Obama’s book, which explores her experience from childhood, her work, motherhood and her time in The White House, has been praised for its universal appeal across genders and ages.

And races, it would seem.

I don’t see that happening with any memoir by Melania Trump, or any other Trump. They wouldn’t … Read the rest

Speaking of humility…

Mar 26th, 2019 10:25 am | By

I keep forgetting – how did David Brooks become a thing, again? Is it because he’s so mediocre and conventional and uninteresting?

Today he’s telling us we owe Donnie Two-scoops an apology.

“You have a president who, in my opinion, beyond a shadow of a doubt, sought to, however ham-handedly, collude with the Russian government, a foreign power, to undermine and influence our elections.” — Beto O’Rourke, presidential candidate

“I think there’s plenty of evidence of collusion and conspiracy in plain sight.” — Adam Schiff, chairman of House Intelligence Committee

“I called [Trump’s] behavior treasonous, which is to betray one’s trust and aid and abet the enemy, and I stand very much by that claim.” — John Brennan, former

Read the rest

But why would you tweet your views when it upsets the community?

Mar 26th, 2019 9:27 am | By

Well, that’s putting it right out there. “Just don’t talk about political issues and you’ll be fine. Except issues around women, of course; that’s always permitted.”

Wait a second. Why the trans “community”? Why is UK officialdom so quick to use that word whenever they want to shut up dissenters and impose conformity? The BBC used to babble about … Read the rest

A list of guests it suggested should no longer be booked

Mar 25th, 2019 6:17 pm | By


Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey in The Post:

President Trump and his allies signaled Monday that they intend to use the broad conclusions of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation — which found no criminal conspiracy with Russia to influence the 2016 election — to forcefully attack perceived opponents they say unfairly accused the president of wrongdoing.

The targets are diffuse, ranging from specific Democratic lawmakers to the media more generally. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway called on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) to resign immediately, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) urged Schiff to relinquish his committee chairmanship. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said he planned to investigate what he dubbed

Read the rest

Fundamental expectations of presidential conduct

Mar 25th, 2019 5:51 pm | By

There are laws, and there are norms.

A special counsel’s investigation of a president is first and foremost a mechanism for addressing strictly legal questions. But it is necessarily always more, and the investigative process and the ultimate legal and factual findings reflect, help shape and often reinforce the state of key norms — fundamental expectations of presidential conduct.

The process norms, Bob Bauer writes, have come out of this pretty well.

But the Mueller report marked a low point for more substantive norms of presidential conduct. It shows that a demagogic president like Donald Trump can devalue or even depart radically from key norms, just short of committing chargeable crimes, so long as he operates mostly and brazenly

Read the rest

They can always play in the street

Mar 25th, 2019 5:19 pm | By

Keeping the rabble out:

At least one multimillion-pound housing development in London is segregating the children of less well-off tenants from those of wealthier homebuyers by blocking them from some communal play areas.

Guardian Cities has discovered that developer Henley Homes has blocked social housing residents from using shared play spaces at its Baylis Old School complex on Lollard Street, south London. The development was required to include a mix of “affordable” and social rental units in order to gain planning permission.

Henley marketed the award-winning 149-home development, which was built in 2016 on the site of a former secondary school, as inclusive and family-friendly. It said the “common areas are there for the use of all the residents”.

Read the rest

The weasel words and what they’re hiding

Mar 25th, 2019 12:00 pm | By

William Saletan does a close reading of Barr’s letter:

The letter says the Justice Department won’t prosecute Trump, but it reaches that conclusion by tailoring legal standards to protect the president. Here’s a list of Barr’s weasel words and what they’re hiding.

“The Russian government.” The letter quotes a sentence from Mueller’s report. In that sentence, Mueller says his investigation didn’t prove that members of the Trump campaign “conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” The sentence specifies Russia’s government. It says nothing about coordination with other Russians.

Like for instance Kilimnik and Veselnitskaya.

“In its election interference activities.” This phrase is included in the same excerpt.
It reflects the structure of the

Read the rest

Very, very evil things, very bad things

Mar 25th, 2019 10:53 am | By

Trump is making threats now. Of course he is.

President Donald Trump says his enemies who did “evil” and “treasonous things” will be under scrutiny after he was absolved of colluding with Russia.

Speaking in the Oval Office, he said no other president should have to be investigated over “a false narrative”.

Mr Trump was hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House on Monday when a reporter asked him about the outcome of the Mueller report.

“There’s a lot of people out there that have done some very, very evil things, very bad things,” Mr Trump said, “I would say treasonous things, against our country.”

“And hopefully people that have done such harm to our

Read the rest

While not determinative

Mar 25th, 2019 10:36 am | By

Aaron Blake at the Post asks, in guarded language, if the fix is in.

A big question hanging over William P. Barr’s nomination to be attorney general this year was whether, once he got the job, he would do President Trump’s bidding. Barr had made statements critical of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation, and he even wrote a long memo rejecting the need for the obstruction of justice portion of Mueller’s inquiry. Trump also repeatedly made clear his desire for a loyalist to oversee the investigation.

On Sunday, Barr made a big decision in Trump’s favor. And he did so in a way legal experts say is very questionable.

In his summary, Barr wrote that Mueller … Read the rest