Notes and Comment Blog

A history of oppressing a marginalized group

Apr 21st, 2019 5:23 pm | By

Oh dear, I thought that we “cis” people were not at fault for being “cis”; I thought it was just a fact about us, not a condemnation. How many times have I seen “Cis just means identifying with your assigned sex, that’s all it means”? Many. Many many. I’ve seen it a lot because I’ve seen a lot of conversations about the way “cis” is used as a pejorative, like “racist” or “misogynist”; orthodoxy-policers always rush to say no no no no it’s not a pejorative at all, it just means “not trans.”

Maybe there was a memo? Apparently that’s not the orthodoxy any more.

So now people who are not trans have a history of oppressing trans people? How? How do we oppress trans people? By not being trans? But we can’t help that, after all. There are probably lots of people in the world – “cis” people – who’ve never so much as heard of trans people, so how do they oppress them?

Needless to say, Amanda Jette Knox doesn’t explain.

Yeah, not explanatory. I am none the wiser as to how I, for instance, oppress Morgane Oger, for instance, simply by being cis.

Maybe further enlightenment will be forthcoming.

Reveal his moral loathsomeness

Apr 21st, 2019 3:59 pm | By

Robert Reich asks how can we make sure Trump doesn’t get re-elected.

Most Americans hold a low opinion of Trump. He’s the only president in Gallup polling history never to have earned the support of majority for single day of his term.

Yet Mueller’s report probably won’t move any of the 40% who have held tight to Trump regardless.

So how to reach the 11% or 12% who may decide the outcome?

Reveal his moral loathsomeness.

Democrats and progressives tend to shy away from morality, given how rightwing evangelicals have used it against abortion, contraceptives and equal marriage rights.

I don’t. Abortion, contraceptives and equal marriage rights have nothing to do with real morality – they’re targets of fake, religious morality, which is all too often profoundly immoral. I don’t shy away from talking about morality, and I’ve harped on the pervasive immorality of Trump to the point of nausea.

Trump is revealed as a chronic liar. He claimed he never asked for loyalty from FBI director James Comey. Mueller finds he did. Trump claimed he never asked Comey to let the “Michael Flynn matter go”. Mueller finds he did. Trump claimed he never pushed the White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller. Mueller finds he did. Trump even lied about inviting Comey to dinner, claiming falsely, in public, that Comey requested it. Trump enlists others to lie. He lies to his staff.

Trump treats his subordinates horribly. He hides things from them. He yells at them. He orders them to carry out illegal acts.

He acts like a thug. He regrets his lawyers are not as good at protecting him as was his early mentor Roy Cohn – a mob lawyer. When reports surface about the now infamous Trump Tower meeting of June 2016, Trump directs the cover-up.

Trump is unprincipled. The few people in the White House and the cabinet who stand up to him, according to Mueller – threatening to resign rather than carry out his illegal orders – are now gone. They resigned or were fired.

This is a portrait of a morally bankrupt man.

And there’s so much more. He’s cruel. He’s mean. He’s a bully. He enriched himself by cheating thousands of people, from workers and contractors to tenants in his father’s and his apartment buildings. He insults people in public. He mocks people in public. He punched his kid to the floor in front of the kid’s friends. He grabs women by the crotch.

The issue of Trump and morality came up in a back and forth between Giuliani and Jake Tapper.

Giuliani said there’s nothing wrong with taking information from the Russians, and Tapper pressed him on it. At 2:00 Tapper says “But you say there’s nothing wrong with doing that – ” and Giulian interjects “There’s no crime!” Tapper says “I’m not talking about crime, I’m talking about ethics, morality” while Giuliani talks over him “You’re talking about morality?!” There’s a tiny pause and then Tapper says “Yeah.” As in, “Yeah, of course.” It’s a nice moment. There’s an unspoken “Yeah, of course, and why aren’t you?”

I’ve said it before and I’ll no doubt have occasion to say it again: Trump is morbidly interesting in the thoroughness of his bad. It’s interesting in a sick way that there is nothing redeeming about him. I’ve never known anyone like that in real life (and I don’t have any ambitions to, either). He’s not amusing, he’s not a good talker, he’s not charming, he’s not clever, he’s not informative…nothing. There’s nothing but rot from top to bottom.


Apr 21st, 2019 12:23 pm | By

The donations are rolling in.

The devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris led to an immediate outpouring of donations and an ambitious pledge by the French president to rebuild within five years. But a continent away, the blaze also spurred more than $1.8 million in donations to rebuild three historically black churches burned in suspected hate crimes in Louisiana.

The fires at the three churches in St. Landry Parish occurred over 10 days beginning at the end of March. Authorities said they were deliberately set and have arrested a suspect.

As of [last] Sunday, a GoFundMe campaign seeking donations for the churches had raised only about $50,000. By Thursday morning, donations had soared to more than $1.8 million. The money is to be distributed equally among the three churches, which were all a century old.

The churches are small and not ornate, so $600 k each should be a real help.

In the wake of pledges to rebuild Notre Dame, the GoFundMe campaign was shared widely on social media by prominent figures like Hillary Clinton, journalists such as CNN’s Jake Tapper and Yashar Ali, and various celebrities who pledged to match donations.

The first of the fires was reported on March 26 at St. Mary Baptist Church, the next on April 2 at Greater Union Baptist Church and the third on April 4 at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. There were no reported injuries at any of the fires.

Police later arrested Holden Matthews, 21, the son of a deputy sheriff, and he faces hate crime and arson charges.

“Redemption” is not over yet.

Updating to add: the sum now is $2,155,640.

Ignore the man behind the curtain

Apr 21st, 2019 11:59 am | By

Morgane Oger continues to assert that it’s feminist women’s fault that Jessica (formerly Jonathan) Yaniv predated on young girls.

Never happier

Apr 21st, 2019 11:19 am | By

Trump today.

Never happier or more content? Really? Then why all the tantruming?

Friday it was one tantrum after another.

President Donald Trump lashed out Friday at current and former aides who cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, insisting the deeply unflattering picture they painted of him and the White House was “total bullshit.”

In a series of angry tweets from rainy Palm Beach, Florida, Trump laced into those who, under oath, had shared with Mueller their accounts of how Trump tried numerous times to squash or influence the investigation and portrayed the White House as infected by a culture of lies, deceit and deception.

The attacks were a dramatic departure from the upbeat public face the White House had put on it just 24 hours earlier, when Trump celebrated the report’s findings as full exoneration and his counselor Kellyanne Conway called it “the best day” for Trump’s team since his election. While the president, according to people close to him, did feel vindicated by the report, he also felt betrayed by those who had painted him in an unflattering light — even though they were speaking under oath and had been directed by the White House to cooperate fully with Mueller’s team.

Yes but by “cooperate” they didn’t mean tell the truth. Jesus. Do they have to spell out everything? So it’s a felony to lie to federal investigators, tough shit, that’s part of the job.

While Mueller found no criminal evidence that Trump or his campaign aides colluded in Russian election meddling and did not recommend obstruction charges against the president, the 448-page report released Thursday nonetheless paints a damaging picture of the president, describing numerous cases where he discouraged witnesses from cooperating with prosecutors and prodded aides to mislead the public on his behalf to hamper the Russia probe he feared would cripple his presidency.

But he’s never been happier or more content. I guess one could read that in a very literal way, to mean that this miserable is his normal state.

Always deflect

Apr 20th, 2019 4:56 pm | By

I remain fascinated by Sarah Sanders’s intransigence. There is something morbidly fascinating, at least to me, in that kind of determination to continue being evil and never relent.

After admitting to investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, that she delivered a false statement from the White House podium, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, defended herself in Trumpian fashion on Friday morning. She counterattacked.

It’s like Morgane Oger, blaming Meghan Murphy and other feminists for the predatory acts of Jonathan Yaniv. “I’m not the shameless liar, you’re the shameless liar!”

Asked on “Good Morning America” if the report had damaged her credibility, Ms. Sanders responded that she had made the statement in the heat of the moment, and that it was not “a scripted talking point.”

But then she added, “I’m sorry that I wasn’t a robot like the Democrat Party that went out for two and a half years and repeated time and time again that there was definitely Russian collusion between the president and his campaign.”

“The Democrat Party” – as nobody calls it except the rudest Republicans.

It has been a hallmark of the Trump White House never to admit a mistake, never to apologize and never to cede a point.

There are few things more intolerable in human relations than that. It’s so domineering, and so progress-killing.

More often, Ms. Sanders speaks for the president on friendly programs like “Fox & Friends.” She has also come to view her role as a person who defends her colleagues and the president, rather than someone who delivers a message to the press about the work that is underway at the White House.

In other words she doesn’t do her job, she does a different job that isn’t her job and shouldn’t be an executive branch job at all. If presidents want public relations operatives they can pay for them themselves.

Some of Mr. Trump’s aides and allies acknowledged on Friday that it was problematic for the president’s chief spokeswoman to spend airtime defending her own credibility.

Ya think?


Apr 20th, 2019 4:19 pm | By

Seattle on a bright spring afternoon.

Oger drops a dime on Yaniv

Apr 20th, 2019 10:45 am | By

Just a month ago, when the Vancouver City Council voted to withdraw future funding from Vancouver Rape Relief, Morgane Oger was one of those leading the charge.

The defunding is the latest flashpoint in an ongoing struggle between transgender activists and feminist organizations who maintain that female-born and male-born women should remain distinct groups.

One of the figures leading the defunding charge against Vancouver Rape Relief was Morgane Oger, a longstanding transgender advocate and vice president of the B.C. NDP.

In comments before a March 13 city committee meeting, Oger called Vancouver Rape Relief “noncompliant with Canadian law” and guilty of “systematic, consistent misbehaviour.” She also said that it is the last B.C. women’s shelter to continue denying services to the trans community.

That’s Morgane Oger accusing VRR of “pushing prejudice” because they think men who identify as women are not women in the same sense that women are.

“I can open any organization I want and discriminate against the people I don’t like … but when I start to bring taxpayer funding into this it makes this entire room responsible for my actions,” she said.

That was Oger a month ago, rejoicing at getting educational funding taken away from a women’s anti-rape organization.

Today Oger is talking about something else.

People in marginalized communities are extremely sensitive to the misbehaviour of their own, especially when it reinforces prejudice. The instinct to band together and be unyielding is strong, and I reject the prejudice that surrounds this story. Sometimes we resist exposing difficult conversations to the outside. Jessica Yaniv is forcing such an awful conversation.

None of the allegations I write about today have been proven or ruled on by a court. This article is based entirely on eyewitness accounts, which are always highly subjective.

I wish it wasn’t a transgender person or someone saying they are part of the LGBTQ+ community who has been doing what Jessica Yaniv has reportedly been doing for years – as far back as 2013.

We then get a couple of paragraphs explaining, or insisting, that what one person does must not be seen as saying anything about an identity that one person shares with others. Once we’ve underlined that a few times…

But the things that people have told me Jessica Yaniv has done to them are awful and can’t be swept out of our consciousness. Awful things have been reported and need to be taken seriously.

What things? Oger never says. Maybe that’s for legal reasons; maybe it’s fair enough to issue a warning without going into specifics. On the other hand there are public sources for some of what Yaniv has done, so surely Oger could cite those? There’s not a word about “wax” in the whole piece, when one of Yaniv’s conspicuous little games was calling up women who ran small businesses yanking women’s hairs out so that he could sue them when they politely declined to wax him. Maybe Oger thinks that’s a perfectly fine thing to do.

Some time after that first conversation I learned more about the specifics of Yaniv’s actions and her history and actions. In the only other conversation with her when she called me at my Trans Alliance Society number in early 2019 I advised her that she did not seem to me to be the appropriatd person to fight for trans women’s rights to services for women – on the basis of her documented past history.

With the help of other women who pointed the way in recent months, I tracked down and heard witnesses with first-person accounts of Jessica’s online behaviour spanning 2013 to 2018.

Their stories included reports and evidence of outrageously inappropriate acts, some towards children who are tweens and teens. Some of the material has survived as screenshots, and what I saw shows what strikes me as a pattern of predatory behaviour. I am not in law enforcement or a lawyer but as the mom of kids under 14 I was horrified by what the women told me happened and I believe them.

That’s it. That’s all the information we get. What predatory behavior?

We know what predatory behavior, that is we know some of it. Wanting to show young girls how to insert tampons was one item. No doubt Oger, with inside sources, knows more, but Oger isn’t telling.

I spoke to four women. Three of whom had awful experiences with Jessica Yaniv. All were young women and girls at the time.

They are all adults now. I urged each woman to make a complaint with police on the basis of the things they said happened. I hope this has an effect and with enough police reports there may be a case.

There’s always Vancouver Rape Relief…

That’s about halfway through; almost all of the rest is about saying don’t you dare think of Yaniv as saying anything about other men who identify as women. The concern is all for the trans “community” rather than women and girls.

It was impossible for me to speak about allegations so steeped in transphobia because every transgender person is familiar with the transgender-woman-as-predator model used by hate groups advocating to marginalize us. Without real evidence, this horrible story is simply indistinguishable from the copious hate propaganda that clogs my social media.

People who claim that allegations against Yaniv were public knowledge for years before this post must be deeply frustrated that people who could have helped act were unaware or not listening. I have a simple message for them:

There are ways to bring valid concerns to the attention of the affected community leaders and xenophobic hatred is not the appropriate way to get results. Nobody reached out to anyone I know to express concerns about this person beyond throwing insults and accusations over social media. Next time, instead of passively demonizing people please pick up the phone and call somebody with power or influence.

It’s unlikely public figures are the monsters your social media silo tells you they are. There is no cover under the trans umbrella for predators.

In the future, please consider what these allegations sound like from my community’s side of the fence in the context of our experiences. Perhaps center your fury on the people who prey on transgender women with their alarmist fairy tales that made this incident undetectable from dominantly hateful narrative.

When there is a predator among us, we can’t hear you if you bury your words in hatred and if you don’t reach out.

DARVO much?

Updating to add: now Oger is just plain saying it’s Feminist Current’s fault.

A fraction of the wit and insight

Apr 20th, 2019 9:30 am | By

When Jordan met Slavoj:

The event was billed as “the debate of the century”, “The Rumble in the Realm of the Mind”, and it did have the feel of a heavyweight boxing match: Jordan Peterson, local boy, against the slapdash Slovenian Slavoj Žižek, considering “Happiness: Capitalism vs Marxism” in Toronto.

In other words the event was hyped, so as to bring in more gullible punters and thus more cash. Woopeedoo.

The great surprise of this debate turned out to be how much in common the old-school Marxist and the Canadian identity politics refusenik had.

One hated communism. The other hated communism but thought that capitalism possessed inherent contradictions. The first one agreed that capitalism possessed inherent contradictions. And that was basically it. They both wanted the same thing: capitalism with regulation, which is what every sane person wants. The Peterson-Žižek encounter was the ultra-rare case of a debate in 2019 that was perhaps too civil.

Imagine bothering to pay a lot of money for tickets to listen to that.

And they both agreed, could not have agreed more, that it was all the fault of the “academic left”. They seemed to believe that the “academic left”, whoever that might be, was some all-powerful cultural force rather than the impotent shrinking collection of irrelevances it is. If the academic left is all-powerful, they get to indulge in their victimization.

And that was the great irony of the debate: what it comes down to is that they believe they are the victims of a culture of victimization. They play the victim as much as their enemies. It’s all anyone can do at this point.

No bang, much whimper.


Apr 20th, 2019 9:04 am | By

“She lied about her lie to people who knew she was lying. That, truly, is pathological lying.”


Among you taking notes

Apr 19th, 2019 5:06 pm | By

Trump is tantruming because people took notes and the notes make him look bad and it’s all just so unfair.

But the fact that some of those notes became primary source material for Mueller to paint a vivid portrait of Trump’s efforts to derail the investigation angered the president, who was stewing over the media coverage as he decamped to Florida for the holiday weekend, according to people familiar with his thinking.

“Statements are made about me by certain people in the Crazy Mueller Report, in itself written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters, which are fabricated & totally untrue,” the president tweeted Friday morning from his Mar-a-Lago Club. “Watch out for people that take so-called ‘notes,’ when the notes never existed until needed.”

Yeah! What right do people have to take notes!

Meanwhile Trump is an outright criminal, but that’s perfectly all right, because shut up.

Despite Trump’s angry tweets Friday morning about the Mueller report, the president was in a good mood as he dined on the Mar-a-Lago patio after landing in Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday night. On Friday, he played golf with conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, who defended the president on the air Thursday.

“My friends, I’m telling you, this report is made to order for the Democrat Party to ignore what is the only important thing about this: No collusion, no obstruction, period,” Limbaugh told his listeners.

Why is that the only important thing? There are many important things. Trump is a bad bad man, and the bad things he does are important, because he is dragging us down into the muck with him, and because he is doing harm to large numbers of people.

As long as pimps, priests, and politicians know what a female body is

Apr 19th, 2019 4:25 pm | By

Jonah Mix has an absolute stemwinder of a piece on the hot fashion of guys lolling around on Twitter explaining how complicated biology is. I stashed a couple of sentences to remember and then I gave up because it was all that good.

It’s so easy to get sucked into this debate, to get that hot indignation in your stomach that comes when a foolish claim is so proudly asserted. And I don’t even have skin in the game — binary or not, my sex will still land me squarely in the “paid more, raped less” category.

That’s the first one I stashed, that second sentence.

The point is, debating “what is a woman, really?” is a luxury, given the facts.

Isn’t it odd that sex was never so complicated before? There was nothing ethereal about biology when it came to allocating the right to vote, or own property, or walk down the street at night without fear. We knew perfectly well what made someone female when that female-ness guaranteed a life of subservience and pain. Only when women began to say no did their bodies become a concept.

That’s the second bit I stashed, and it’s where I stopped stashing because it’s all like that to the end.

So many feminists have made this point, over and over again. I see them say it. I know you read it. Did you listen? If not, why? And why do you always respond when I say it? It seems you do know who has a female body, when it comes to deciding which perspective gets ignored.

Don’t they though.

Sex is such a mystery to you when women want shelters for themselves, meetings for themselves, words for themselves. Pardon me for asking, but is it equally mysterious when you log off Twitter and move over to Pornhub? The true nature of a female body is so complex when you lecture. Does it become simple again when you masturbate? Who does the laundry in your house? Were you somehow able to navigate an inchoate soup of X’s and Y’s to saddle your girlfriend with the dishes?

As a friend said on Twitter, scorching.

As long as pimps, priests, and politicians know what a female body is, I do too. The moment they’re confused — the moment they hesitate, the moment they qualify, the moment they adopt the restraint and caution you demand from the targets of their abuse— then I’ll happily open myself up to ambiguity. Until then, I beg you. Reserve your philosopher’s curiosity, your scientific rigor, for the ten thousand other questions that don’t make a thought experiment out of an atrocity.


Fire Sarah Sanders is trending

Apr 19th, 2019 12:23 pm | By

Good grief. She’s still at it. She announces in this that Comey is “a dirty cop.” I despise the way Comey handled the emails issue, but needless to say that’s not what Sanders is talking about.

I suppose I shouldn’t bother being surprised. Stephanopoulos explained it this morning: she was under oath when she admitted lying to Mueller’s people (admitted to Mueller’s people that she lied); she’s not under oath on tv news shows. Lying to reporters and to us won’t get her a felony conviction.


Apr 19th, 2019 9:08 am | By

Now that takes gall.

Ain’t no mountain high enough

Apr 19th, 2019 7:49 am | By

What do we mean by “above the law”?

I’m reading an Atlantic piece on the Mueller report as impeachment referral, and I stop at this paragraph:

But there is another, simpler way to understand Mueller’s report. A footnote spells out that a criminal investigation could ultimately result in charges being brought either after a president has been removed from office by the process of impeachment or after he has left office. Mueller explicitly rejected the argument of Trump’s lawyers that a president could not be guilty of obstruction of justice for the conduct in question: “The protection of the criminal justice system from corrupt acts by any person—including the President—accords with the fundamental principle of our government that ‘[n]o [person] in this country is so high that he is above the law.’”

It’s a weird idea, that (figurative) height could place someone “above” the law. (The statement is that it doesn’t, but that requires the concept to exist first.) Lots of people think it is or should be the case, of course, but it’s still a weird idea. It’s the other way around, really: the more power and status and clout you have, the more constrained by the law you should be, because you have more power to do massive harm.

A lot of great lawyers

Apr 19th, 2019 7:33 am | By

Informational interlude: tell us more about Trump’s favorite lawyer, Roy Cohn:

List of symptoms

Apr 19th, 2019 6:56 am | By

A slide from a talk at a recent European Professional Association for Transgender Health conference in Rome:


Notice anything?

It’s…everything. It’s a long list of feelings and behaviors that most people experience or perform at least occasionally (diagnosed conditions apart). Feeling lonely, feeling guilty, feeling of not fitting in – all could be gender dysphoria! Or, could be normal ups and downs of life. It’s like saying having two feet could be a sign of gender dysphoria.

This is not about helping people who feel acute discomfort with their gender or their sex, it’s about recruiting more people into a Movement. It’s about promoting and encouraging and bigging up a fashion. It’s a branch of advertising – got bad breath? Try our new Breffoclean. Got bad moods? Try our new GenderDysphoriaParty.

Note in particular the last item. Gender dysphoria may present as feelings of uncertainty/decreased gender dysphoria. Decreased gender dysphoria.

Whatever; get in there with the hormones, the sooner the better.

H/t Lady Mondegreen

Infused by a culture of dishonesty

Apr 19th, 2019 6:18 am | By

The report paints an ugly picture.

The White House that emerges from more than 400 pages of Mr. Mueller’s report is a hotbed of conflict infused by a culture of dishonesty — defined by a president who lies to the public and his own staff, then tries to get his aides to lie for him. Mr. Trump repeatedly threatened to fire lieutenants who did not carry out his wishes while they repeatedly threatened to resign rather than cross lines of propriety or law.

At one juncture after another, Mr. Trump made his troubles worse, giving in to anger and grievance and lashing out in ways that turned advisers into witnesses against him. He was saved from an accusation of obstruction of justice, the report makes clear, in part because aides saw danger and stopped him from following his own instincts. Based on contemporaneous notes, emails, texts and F.B.I. interviews, the report draws out scene after scene of a White House on the edge.

At one point, Reince Priebus, then the White House chief of staff, said the president’s attacks on his own attorney general meant that he had “D.O.J. by the throat.” At another, the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, complained to Mr. Priebus that the president was trying to get him to “do crazy shit.” Mr. Trump was equally unhappy with Mr. McGahn, calling him a “lying bastard.”

Project much?

He pitched a screaming fit at McGahn after Sessions recused himself.

The president asked Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, if he could do anything to rebut news stories on the Russia matter. The admiral’s deputy, Richard Ledgett, who was present for the call, considered it the most unusual experience of his 40 years in government and prepared a memo describing the call that he and Admiral Rogers signed and put in a safe.

Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, Comey was writing his memos about interactions with Trump.

Trump says it’s total bullshit

Apr 19th, 2019 5:36 am | By

Trump right now.

That second one was 23 minutes ago, and the … still hasn’t been completed. Hard work, writing a tweet.

Sanders should resign immediately

Apr 18th, 2019 3:30 pm | By

Sarah Sanders has not come out of this looking good.

In other words the press secretary lied. We knew that, but now we know she had to admit it to Mueller’s team.

She lied to the press and to us “in the heat of the moment.” Well guess what, Sarah Sanders, heated moments happen a lot when you’re a press secretary, times a thousand when you’re press secretary to a corrupt criminal racist bullying blister like your boss. If you lie every time the moment is heated, that’s a lot of lying…which will come as a surprise to no one.

That’s a good one: a Times reporter presses her on the “countless” claim, with an incredulous “Really?”, and she firmly insists yes, really.