Notes and Comment Blog


She said people should be embraced for who they are authentically

Mar 29th, 2017 6:07 pm | By

The New York Times talked to Rachel Dolezal earlier this month.

In a New York Times report chronicling reactions to the discovery of Ms. Dolezal’s deception, blacks and liberals accused her of an offensive impersonation, part of a long history in which whites appropriated black heritage when it suited them.

Almost 1,500 Times readers responded in comments on that article:

So, if a white person claims to be black to get into Harvard (just like the 1980s movie Soul Man), h/she should be left alone and allowed to continue enjoying the fruits of the deception? — Lanier Y. Chapman, New York

Portraying oneself as black when they’re not is not a crime. However, if one isn’t truthful about one’s ethnicity, what other things may they not be truthful about? — Kurt Pickard, Murfreesboro, Tenn.

In an opinion column, Charles M. Blow of The Times wrote that Ms. Dolezal’s deception was “a spectacular exercise in hubris, narcissism and deflection.”

In an essay on the Op-Ed page, Tamara Winfrey Harris wrote: “Racial identity cannot be fluid as long as the definition of whiteness is fixed. And historically, the path to whiteness has been extremely narrow.”

So race-fluid isn’t and can’t be a thing, it seems.

The Seattle Times reports on a Facebook live she did yesterday:

“Nothing about whiteness describes me,” she said during the half-hour interview.

As she answered questions posed by viewers, her message remained focused and unapologetic.

Race, as understood in Western cultures, is a largely social construct, she said. Yet from the time she was a child, she felt more aligned with black people.

She said people should be embraced for “who they are authentically, and ultimately the quest for self-definition and self-determination is really part of the pursuit of happiness and freedom for us all.”

Nevertheless, the reaction from readers in the newspaper’s online-comments section was fierce and unforgiving.

Because race-fluid is not a thing.

“If black men start identifying as white then they will stop getting shot by police right? No, so transracial is something only white people can do…” with 1,502 likes.

That seems like a fair point.



Boys are the norm, girls the variation

Mar 29th, 2017 3:55 pm | By

Barry Duke at the Freethinker tells us that Haredi Jews in Bnei Brak in Israel have been spared the horror of seeing a female cartoon character on billboards.

Here’s the safe, innocent, not-smutty billboard:

Ultra-Orthodox Jews are spared the sight of a female Smurf

Here’s the filthy lascivious lewd one:

Aaaaaaaaaaaaah! Yellow hair, eyelashes, googly eyes, a small nose! A female! FILTH!!!

According to this report, the original poster for Smurfs: The Lost Village, shows four of the tiny blue humanoids – but one one, a blonde Smurfette, was cropped from the ads in the district by the PR company Mirka’im – Hutzot Zahav.

The company distributing the movie, Forum Film, said that the PR company decided not to hang the original posters in Bnei Brak in order not to harm residents’ sensibilities, adding that it is not accepted practice for images of women to appear on the city’s billboards.

Well…if you say so, but…*cough*…that’s not an image of a woman.

Katha Pollitt in 1991:

Take a look at the kids’ section of your local video store. You’ll find that features starring boys, and usually aimed at them, account for 9 out of 10 offerings. Clicking the television dial one recent week — admittedly not an encyclopedic study — I came across not a single network cartoon or puppet show starring a female. (Nickelodeon, the children’s cable channel, has one of each.) Except for the crudity of the animation and the general air of witlessness and hype, I might as well have been back in my own 1950’s childhood, nibbling Frosted Flakes in front of Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and the rest of the all-male Warner Brothers lineup.

Contemporary shows are either essentially all-male, like “Garfield,” or are organized on what I call the Smurfette principle: a group of male buddies will be accented by a lone female, stereotypically defined. In the worst cartoons — the ones that blend seamlessly into the animated cereal commercials — the female is usually a little-sister type, a bunny in a pink dress and hair ribbons who tags along with the adventurous bears and badgers. But the Smurfette principle rules the more carefully made shows, too. Thus, Kanga, the only female in “Winnie-the-Pooh,” is a mother. Piggy, of “Muppet Babies,” is a pint-size version of Miss Piggy, the camp glamour queen of the Muppet movies. April, of the wildly popular “Teen-Age Mutant Ninja Turtles,” functions as a girl Friday to a quartet of male superheroes. The message is clear. Boys are the norm, girls the variation; boys are central, girls peripheral; boys are individuals, girls types. Boys define the group, its story and its code of values. Girls exist only in relation to boys.

1991. Very little has changed.



Thanks for typing

Mar 29th, 2017 12:03 pm | By

Ah the typing wife. I remember those.

Bruce Holsinger is a novelist and English professor at the University of Virginia.

Holsinger and some colleagues were recently discussing how often the wives of male academics do significant work for which they are rarely given proper credit.

This reminded Holsinger of all the times he has read male authors thanking their wives for typing up manuscripts in the acknowledgments of their books. Curious to see how widespread the practice was, Holsinger did a quick search on Google Books and found dozens of “eye-opening” examples that he started sharing on Twitter with the hashtag #ThanksForTyping.

“The response was immediate and overwhelming,” Holsinger said. “It’s turned into a lively and mind-bending exchange.”

The article includes many examples.

Holsinger said many people have engaged in the hashtag to discuss “the politics of academic labor, the crucial role of women as collaborators and unacknowledged co-authors of academic work.”

Holsinger noted that many people have studied and written about this phenomenon already, but the hashtag kicked off a big public conversation.

I remember the jolt of fury I felt on reading one example of this years ago, in a collection of essays on I’m not sure what – the decline of reading, the invasion of technology, some such thing. The essay, “Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer,” was by Wendell Berry. It gets right to the point.

Like almost everybody else, I am hooked to the energy corporations, which I do not admire. I hope to become less hooked to them. In my work, I try to be as little hooked to them as possible. As a farmer, I do almost all of my work with horses. As a writer, I work with a pencil or a pen and a piece of paper.

My wife types my work on a Royal standard typewriter bought new in 1956 and as good now as it was then. As she types, she sees things that are wrong and marks them with small checks in the margins. She is my best critic because she is the one most familiar with my habitual errors and weaknesses. She also understands, sometimes better than I do, what ought to be said. We have, I think, a literary cottage industry that works well and pleasantly. I do not see anything wrong with it.

I still remember my feeling of disbelief. It was long before blogging was a thing, let alone Facebook, so I had no way to tell an eager world about my disbelief. But now I do! With apparently total lack of self-consciousness, the guy congratulates himself on writing with a pen, and then says his wife soils herself with the beast technology in order to put his writing into a medium acceptable to editors.

What would a computer cost me? More money, for one thing, than I can afford, and more than I wish to pay to people whom I do not admire. But the cost would not be just monetary. It is well understood that technological innovation always requires the discarding of the “old model”—the “old model” in this case being not just our old Royal standard. but my wife, my critic, closest reader, my fellow worker. Thus (and I think this is typical of present-day technological innovation). what would be superseded would be not only something, but somebody. In order to be technologically up-to-date as a writer, I would have to sacrifice an association that I am dependent upon and that I treasure.

Did his wife get credit as his co-author? Of course not. Does he even bother to name her? Of course not. Did he really treat her as his “fellow worker” as opposed to his secretary? Of course not.

Fortunately this happened:

After the foregoing essay, first published in the New England Review and Bread Loaf Quarterly, was reprinted in Harper’s, the Harper’s editors published the following letters in response and permitted me a reply. W.B.

I wasn’t the only one who saw it.

Wendell Berry provides writers enslaved by the computer with a handy alternative: Wife—a low-tech energy-saving device. Drop a pile of handwritten notes on Wife and you get back a finished manuscript, edited while it was typed. What computer can do that? Wife meets all of Berry’s uncompromising standards for technological innovation: she’s cheap, repairable near home, and good for the family structure.
Best of all, Wife is politically correct because she breaks a writer’s “direct dependence on strip-mined coal.”
History teaches us that Wife can also be used to beat rugs and wash clothes by hand, thus eliminating the need for the vacuum cleaner and washing machine, two more nasty machines that threaten the act of writing.

Gordon Inkeles Miranda, Calif.

The value of a computer to a writer is that it is a tool not for generating ideas but for typing and editing words. It is cheaper than a secretary (or a wife!) and arguably more fuel-efficient. And it enables spouses who are not inclined to provide free labor more time to concentrate on their own work.
We should support alternatives both to coal-generated electricity and to IBM-style technocracy. But I am reluctant to entertain alternatives that presuppose the traditional subservience of one class to another. Let the PCs come and the wives and servants go seek more meaningful work.

Toby Koosman Knoxville, Tenn.

Berry was indignant.

I am also surprised by the meanness with which two of these writers refer to my wife. In order to imply that I am a tyrant, they suggest by both direct statement and innuendo that she is subservient, characterless, and stupid—a mere “device” easily forced to provide meaningless “free labor.” I understand that it is impossible to make an adequate public defense of one’s private life, and so l will only point out that there are a number of kinder possibilities that my critics have disdained to imagine: that my wife may do this work because she wants to and likes to; that she may find some use and some meaning in it; that she may not work for nothing. These gentlemen obviously think themselves feminists of the most correct and principled sort, and yet they do not hesitate to stereotype and insult, on the basis of one fact, a woman they do not know. They are audacious and irresponsible gossips .

Zoooom – the point goes rocketing by. They weren’t saying any of that about his wife, they were saying it about the way Berry wrote about her – the clueless, entitled, smug way he wrote about her.



Guest post: People like being angry at things

Mar 29th, 2017 11:39 am | By

Originally a comment by Claire on They’ve done it.

As an expat Brit, I was in two minds whether to vote in the referendum. After all, it seemed a bit cheeky to insist on a voice on it when I’d no intention of returning to the UK. But the rhetoric changed my mind. I quickly became very concerned that the Brexit campaign were willing to lie brazenly and hand-wave any demands for details on how any number of important structural changes would be managed. So I got registered and voted, for my nephews and nieces too young to vote, for my other family members who’s lives and job prospects depended on us remaining in the EU. It was not enough, but I was glad in the end that I had voted, because I would have felt so much worse if I had not.

As it is, I’m angry and scared about what’s happening to my home country. A portion of the population has always been given to Little Englandism and rosy-colored visions of a Britain that was not nearly as good as they make out (unless you were a well-off white man) and a nostalgia for a bygone Empire that is as grotesque as it is anachronistic. But I’d never before realized how widespread the attitude was.

I’m not starry-eyed about the EU, in fact I’ve been sharply critical of how they’ve dealt with problems such as the financial difficulties in Greece or the generally poor transparency of many of its institutions. But fixing those problems was achievable if Britain had only been willing to try and effect change. We weren’t the only country to want to see reform and could have sought partners to modernize the EU in a way that reflected the 21st century world.

The EU was built in part in the feverish hangover of WWII. We’d been through two unimaginably large and utterly preventable human catastrophes before we’d even made it halfway through the century. The EU came out of that desire not to descend into the madness a third time. But it brought all kinds of benefits none of us could have anticipated. The Remain campaign did not communicate these very effectively, and I think people like being angry at things more than they like respecting dull plodding things like diplomacy and technocratic progress. But working conditions for workers, especially at the low end of the income scale, were much improved by European laws and directives. All those people who voted for Brexit overwhelmingly came from those most likely to be hurt by the disappearance of those regulations.

The EU will survive our exit, I’m sure. We will be the poorer for it, and I don’t think it’s egotistical to say I think that we did make important contributions to the European project that will be missed in the future. But ultimately, leaving will hurt us way more.



Donnie is watching

Mar 29th, 2017 10:31 am | By

Spicey is shocked, shocked, that people think there was anything wrong with the way he talked to April Ryan yesterday. Or, more likely, he’s pretending to be shocked. They want to normalize asshole behavior so that Trump won’t look so glaringly abnormal and psychopathic.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer responded to accusations of sexism and racism after he repeatedly told senior journalist April Ryan to stop shaking her head during Tuesday’s press briefing.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized Spicer’s actions Tuesday, labeling the incident an example of the kind of sexism that women encounter every day. But Spicer said that Ryan was a tough reporter and he was “astonished” at the accusation. He insisted that he treats the White House correspondent no different than male colleagues in the briefing room.

But of course the way he talks to reporters is, again, not normal. He does it because Trump tells him to, and Trump watches the press briefings. That itself is not normal. Andrew Marantz in the March 20 New Yorker:

In past Administrations, the President has usually been too busy with matters of state to hang on his press secretary’s every word. This is one of the main reasons that press briefings exist. In the nineteenth century, most Presidents briefed reporters themselves, on an infrequent, ad-hoc basis. By the nineteen-twenties, doling out information had become a full-time job, and Herbert Hoover became the first President to hire a secretary whose responsibilities were solely press-related.

President Trump, by most accounts, is rarely too busy to watch TV, especially when he is the topic. “Look at his daily schedule, and you’ll notice how few events are held between 1 and 2 p.m.,” the radio correspondent told me. This is the hour during which Spicer almost always conducts his briefings. The correspondent continued, “I sometimes feel like I’m too busy to go to the briefings, and going to them is my job. The thought that the President of the United States might take the time to sit through an entire briefing, much less all of them, is, frankly, mind-boggling.” Another correspondent pointed out how often press aides deliver notes to Spicer while he’s at the lectern, and how obediently Spicer seems to respond to the notes’ directives, cutting a response short or abruptly ending a briefing. The reigning theory is that the notes are transcribed messages from the President, watching live from elsewhere in the building.

None of this is normal.



They’ve done it

Mar 29th, 2017 7:01 am | By

They’ve delivered the letter.

Theresa May has signed the letter that will formally begin the UK’s departure from the European Union.

Giving official notice under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, it will be delivered to European Council president Donald Tusk later.

In a statement in the Commons, the prime minister will then tell MPs this marks “the moment for the country to come together”.

And pretend it wasn’t a huge mistake.



Stop shaking your head

Mar 28th, 2017 11:43 am | By

Trump administration PR:

White House press secretary Sean Spicer got into a heated exchange with American Urban Radio Networks White House correspondent April Ryan during Tuesday’s press briefing, telling the reporter to “stop shaking your head” and to “report the facts.”

Well hey! At least he didn’t ask her to set up a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus for him.

She asked him what the admin was doing to repair its image, and he had a meltdown.

“If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that’s a Russian connection,” he continued.

“I appreciate your agenda here,” he added. “Hold on. At some point, report the facts!”

Spicer said Republicans and Democrats alike have claimed there is not evidence that points to the Trump team’s collusion with Russia in election meddling.

“I’m sorry that that disgusts you,” Spicer said to Ryan. “You’re shaking your head.”

“Understand this, at some point, the facts are what they are,” he said. “And every single person who’s been briefed on this situation have all come to the same conclusion. At some point, April, you’re going to have to take ‘no’ for an answer with respect to whether or not there was collusion.”

Ryan went back to her original question, which was how does the administration hope to change the perception of the White House. Spicer said it would keep “doing everything we are doing” with regards to carrying out the Trump agenda.

The reporter then followed up with a question about the president meeting with former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, whom she pointed out Trump called a “b[itch]” in 2006 and did not support Trump in the run up to the general election.

Spicer, dismayed, went back to lambasting Ryan.

“April, hold on, it seems like you’re hell bent on trying to make sure that whatever image you want to tell about this White House stays,” he said, later adding, “Stop shaking your head.”

Well hey! At least he didn’t call her a bitch.



Something that just happens

Mar 28th, 2017 11:23 am | By

Apparently groping schoolgirls is a big thing on Tokyo subway trains.

Tamaka Ogawa was about 10 years old when she was sexually assaulted for the first time. It was a public holiday and she was on the subway. A man standing behind her pulled down the band of her culottes and underwear, touched her bare bottom, then pressed himself against her. She recalls feeling shocked and physically sickened. When she reached home, she repeatedly washed the spot where he had pressed himself against her, although she was conscious of not spending too long in the toilet, in case her family noticed that something was wrong.

Apparently she didn’t feel able to tell her family it had happened, which is sad.

A few years later it became a regular thing.

the groping and sexual assaults – men would often stick their hands inside her underwear – became a regular occurrence as she made her way to or from school in her uniform. Each time, she would run away, unsure of what to do.

“I thought of myself as a child,” she reflects. “I could not understand that adults were excited by touching me.”

It would be improper to express anger towards an adult, she thought, and she worried about attracting attention. Besides, her parents had never spoken to her about such things and how she ought to handle them.

She recalls one incident particularly clearly. She was about 15 and on her way to school. A man began to touch her, putting his hand inside her underwear. He was aggressive and it hurt, she remembers. When the train stopped, she got off. But he grabbed her hand and told her: “Follow me.” Ogawa ran away. She believes that people saw what was going on, but nobody helped.

How do people – men – manage to give themselves permission to do things like that? Shoving your hand into the underwear of a child on the subway? The very thought of it makes me flinch.

[E]xperts say Japanese society remains willfully oblivious or unaware of how widespread this problem is and how often girls are assaulted.

Hiroko Goto, a feminist, professor of criminal law at Chiba University and vice president of Japan-headquartered NGO Human Rights Now, believes many people do not consider groping to be a crime. “[For] society at large, it’s not a big problem; that’s the kind of double standard [between] the victims’ viewpoint and the social viewpoint.”

In Ogawa’s opinion, society normalises groping as something that just happens.

That’s interesting, given the strong emphasis on politeness and formality in Japanese culture. There are elaborate rules on how to address people, but grown men assaulting girls on the subway is just ho hum, everybody does it.

According to Ogawa, groping-related violations are too often downplayed by society as a “nuisance”. It was only when she started writing about these crimes, she says, that she discovered that what she had experienced was sexual assault. “What was shocking me the most is that I didn’t realise that I was experiencing indecent assault,” Ogawa says.

Japanese society focuses on telling women to be careful, how to dress and to travel in women-only carriages – which are mainly available during peak hours on weekday mornings – Ogawa says. “They are telling women to protect themselves, to be careful, but no one tells the men not to do it,” she says.

Even the rail authorities’ anti-groping posters are too cute and miss the point, Ogawa argues.

Yeah cuteness isn’t the right response.



Client confidences

Mar 28th, 2017 9:40 am | By

The Trump gang tried to stop Sally Yates testifying.

According to letters The Post reviewed, the Justice Department notified Yates earlier this month that the administration considers a great deal of her possible testimony to be barred from discussion in a congressional hearing because the topics are covered by the presidential communication privilege.

Yates and other former intelligence officials had been asked to testify before the House Intelligence Committee this week, a hearing that was abruptly canceled by the panel’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).

Who worked on Trump’s transition team. That Devin Nunes.

Yates and another witness at the planned hearing, former CIA director John Brennan, had made clear to government officials by Thursday that their testimony to the committee probably would contradict some statements that White House officials had made, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The following day, when Yates’s lawyer sent a letter to the White House indicating that she still wanted to testify, the hearing was canceled.

Sleazy enough yet?

In a March 23 letter to Acting Assistant Attorney General Samuel Ramer, Yates’s attorney David O’Neil described the government’s position. O’Neil, who declined to comment, noted in the letter that Yates is willing to testify, and that she will avoid discussing classified information and details that could compromise investigations. The correspondence was later shared with the Intelligence Committee.

“The Department of Justice has advised that it believes there are further constraints on the testimony Ms. Yates may provide at the [Intelligence Committee] hearing. Generally, we understand that the department takes the position that all information Ms. Yates received or actions she took in her capacity as Deputy Attorney General and acting Attorney General are client confidences that she may not disclose absent written consent of the department,’’ the lawyer wrote.

Client confidences. So they’re arguing that the Deputy Attorney General was Trump’s personal lawyer and Trump and his administration were her clients? Is that normal? Is that an accepted principle, that US AGs are presidents’ lawyers and presidents are the clients of AGs? It sounds bizarre as hell to me.

“We believe that the department’s position in this regard is overbroad, incorrect, and inconsistent with the department’s historical approach to the congressional testimony of current and former officials,’’ the letter continues. “In particular, we believe that Ms. Yates should not be obligated to refuse to provide non-classified facts about the department’s notification to the White House of concerns about the conduct of a senior official. Requiring Ms. Yates to refuse to provide such information is particularly untenable given that multiple senior administration officials have publicly described the same events.’’

So is the Secretary of Defense Trump’s personal bodyguard?



Not a gaffe

Mar 27th, 2017 5:12 pm | By

Photos like this?

They’re not “gaffes.” They’re “suck it up, buttercup.”

Jill Filipovic comments:

For liberals, the photo seemed like an inadvertent insight into the current Republican psyche: Powerful men plotting to leave vulnerable women up a creek, so ensconced in their misogynistic world they don’t even notice the bad optics (not to mention the irony of the “pro-life” party making it harder for women to afford to have babies). Political analysts treated the photo as a gaffe, the kind of rookie mistake we’re used to seeing from the Trump White House.

Ah no. They’re just restoring the world to the way it’s supposed to be.

This isn’t the first celebratory photo the White House has released of men cutting health care for women. When Mr. Trump signed the global “gag rule,” which pulls United States funding from organizations abroad that so much as mention the word “abortion” (even organizations that don’t provide abortions), he did it flanked by a half-dozen white men in suits. The rule is an order that primarily affects women in developing countries, who will see their access to contraception and even basic services like malaria treatment constrained by funding cuts that politicize global health. That image was similar to one of President George W. Bush surrounded entirely by grinning men as he signed a ban on a rare abortion procedure.

I bet I blogged about that at the time too. I’ve been doing this since 1835.

Filipovic says maybe it’s not a gaffe but a message to their right-wing buddies. Well of course it is; that’s who they are. Not necessarily in the sense that they go out of their way to make sure there are no women in the frame, but in the sense that if you reminded them they were telling women what to do with their bodies without consulting any women at all, they would tell you to stop being so PC.

President Trump ran a campaign of aggrieved masculinity, appealing to men who felt their rightful place in society has been taken from them by a stream of immigrants stealing their jobs, women who don’t need husbands to support them, and members of minority groups who don’t work as hard but still get special treatment.

Also appealing to men who think women are sluts and bitches. That’s a very large constituency.

Mr. Trump oozes male entitlement, from his brash insistence that he’s the best at everything despite knowing very little about anything to his history of crass sexism…

Mr. Trump promised he would make America great again, a slogan that included the implicit pledge to return white men to their place of historic supremacy. And that is precisely what these photos show. The same kind of men who have been in charge of the United States since its founding, so very proud of themselves for trying to ax the rights that make it possible for women to chart their own futures — and to compete with men.

The more women forced to remain pregnant when they don’t want to, the less competition for men.



Nonstop meetings

Mar 27th, 2017 4:00 pm | By

But at least he’s working hard!

Or is he.

The alert from Fox News went out at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

“PRESIDENT TRUMP SPENDING WEEKEND WORKING AT THE WHITE HOUSE,” the chyron announced, under an image of the White House presumably captured just minutes before.

The timing of the tweet alert was curious: After all, the weekend was nearly over.

Also…how is that news? Presidents are expected to put in a lot of hours.

But also also, of course, it’s not even true. How he really spent the weekend: furtively playing golf and watching golf on tv while his minions told the press he was in “meetings.” Yeah meetings with a golf ball.

According to pool reports, the president spent Saturday visiting the Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Va., just outside Washington.

Trump arrived at the golf club at 11:01 a.m. Saturday, wearing a suit, a white shirt with no tie and a red hat with “USA” emblazoned on the front, a pool reporter noted. Though the traveling press pool asked multiple times about the president’s activities, Trump’s team did not provide answers, the report stated.

The press pool was told that Trump had “meetings” at the golf club. The presidential motorcade returned to the White House shortly after 4 p.m. Saturday, the pool report said.

By then, pictures had emerged on social media of Trump riding a golf cart and dressed in golf attire, still wearing a red hat, at Trump National Golf Club.

They were golf cart meetings. Everybody holds meetings in a golf cart! It’s totally normal procedure. There’s ample room for two people in a golf cart, along with their beverages of choice.

On Sunday morning, Trump once again returned to the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia, arriving at 11:04 a.m. A half-hour later, reporters were informed that the president was “wrapping up last of three meetings shortly,” a pool report stated. The motorcade arrived back at the White House at 12:36 p.m. Sunday.

An Instagram post from another user showed Trump appearing to watch the Golf Channel with two unidentified people on Sunday.

Hi trump

A post shared by @fwesdock_56 on


That is totally a meeting! Look, three people: even more of a meeting than the Saturday meetings in golf carts. Serious, busy, governmenty work going on here. Nose to the grindstone. Worky McWorkface.

This weekend marked Trump’s 13th and 14th visits to a golf course since becoming president, according to The Washington Post’s Philip Bump.

Well hey it’s only been um eight weeks so…um…that’s only more than one per week so…um…it’s not that much. It’s not every single day.

In addition, Bump broke down Trump’s schedule since the inauguration, showing that for nearly 1 out of every 3 days Trump has been president, he has visited a Trump-branded property.

It’s product placement. You can’t expect him to stop promoting his businesses just because he’s president can you?!



Unnecessary, job-killing rules against wage theft and hazardous conditions

Mar 27th, 2017 3:45 pm | By

Of course he did.

President Donald Trump on Monday signed new legislation repealing a regulation protecting workers from wage theft. The new law undercuts the Obama-era policy that encouraged businesses to follow workplace safety guidelines and pay their workers fairly by terminating federal contracts with companies that accrued too many violations. The new Trump-era legislation, however, undoes those employee protections, as Republicans in Congress said the Obama rules were restrictive and job-killing. Trump referenced the bill in a Monday tweet: “Today I’m signing 4 bills under the Congressional Review Act that cancels regulations & eliminates unnecessary, job-killing rules,” he wrote. “#MAGA”

Yeah, because what worker doesn’t want a dangerous job working for a boss who steals her wages?



Another pocket of infection

Mar 27th, 2017 12:04 pm | By

Hmm.

Senate investigators plan to question Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and a close adviser, as part of their broad inquiry into ties between Trump associates and Russian officials or others linked to the Kremlin, according to administration and congressional officials.

The White House Counsel’s Office was informed this month that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, wanted to question Mr. Kushner about meetings he arranged with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, according to the government officials. The meetings, which took place during the transition, included a previously unreported sit-down with the head of Russia’s state-owned development bank.

Ah. Previously unreported, eh. The head of Russia’s state-owned development bank, eh.

Until now, the White House had acknowledged only an early December meeting between Mr. Kislyak and Mr. Kushner, which occurred at Trump Tower and was also attended by Michael T. Flynn, who would briefly serve as the national security adviser.

Later that month, though, Mr. Kislyak requested a second meeting, which Mr. Kushner asked a deputy to attend in his stead, officials said. At Mr. Kislyak’s request, Mr. Kushner later met with Sergey N. Gorkov, the chief of Vnesheconombank, which the United States placed on its sanctions list after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia annexed Crimea and began meddling in Ukraine.

Hm.

Mr. Kislyak’s contacts with Trump administration officials have proved problematic: Mr. Flynn was fired for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of the conversations he had with the Russian envoy, claiming he had not discussed the sanctions against Russia when communications intercepts showed he had.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced to recuse himself from any Russian inquiries led by the Justice Department after he failed to disclose at his Senate confirmation hearing that he had met with Mr. Kislyak during the campaign.

I’m sensing a pattern here.

Mr. Gorkov is a graduate of the academy of Federal Security Service of Russia, a training ground for Russian intelligence and security forces. And as the head of Vnesheconombank, Mr. Gorkov presides over a bank whose supervisory board is controlled by members of Mr. Putin’s government, including Prime Minister Dimitri A. Medvedev. It has been used to bail out oligarchs favored by Mr. Putin, as well as to help fund pet projects like the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Hm.

Mr. Kushner had not yet stepped aside as chief executive of Kushner Companies, his family’s real estate empire, which was trying to attract investment for the company’s crown jewel, an overleveraged Manhattan office tower on Fifth Avenue. The company was in the midst of negotiations to redevelop the building with Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese company with ties to the Beijing government.

Senate investigators plan to ask Mr. Kushner if he discussed ways to secure additional financing for the building during his meeting with the Russian banker, a government official said.

Hm.

The extent of Mr. Kushner’s interactions with Mr. Kislyak caught some senior members of Mr. Trump’s White House team off guard, in part because he did not mention them last month during a debate then consuming the White House: how to handle the disclosures about Mr. Flynn’s interactions with the Russian ambassador.

Oh, he didn’t mention them then either. Intersting.

Ms. Hicks said that Mr. Trump had authorized Mr. Kushner to have meetings with foreign officials that he felt made sense, and to report back to him if those meetings produced anything of note. She said that because in Mr. Kushner’s view the meetings were inconsequential, it did not occur to him to mention them to senior staff members earlier.

Sure, that’s the right way to do things – casual as fuck. Just tell your son-in-law to go chat with foreign officials at his own discretion, and report back if there’s anything interesting. That’s how all of this works. Sure it is.



Guest post: Topics in Everyday Bullshit

Mar 27th, 2017 11:51 am | By

Guest post by Natasha Chart.

“How liberal feminism became all about the D, and therefore not any kind of feminism.”

“Why narcissists aren’t oppressed, and why you should dislike them harder if you have any sense.”

“The left never stopped hating women, they’re just trying to get into your votes.”

“Perverts and abusers feel no shame: learn to spot and reject their open-air mendacity.”

“Women are male, biology is fiction, and other stupid things I got told on social media.”

“How the sex industry bought mainstream feminism while liberal men cheered.”

“Rich men buy poor men by giving them women: you shouldn’t stand for it.”

“The Lexus and the Knowledge Tree: How feminism got replaced by pastiche and no one noticed.”

“Is ‘this’ feminist? No. Go take over your city government.”

“I identify as a Sequoia: A beginner’s guide to securing Forest Service protection.”



The midnight ride of Devin Nunes

Mar 27th, 2017 10:51 am | By

More skulduggery:

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee was on his way to an event in Washington late Tuesday when the evening’s plans abruptly changed. After taking a brief phone call, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) swapped cars and slipped away from his staff, congressional officials said. He appears to have used that unaccounted-for stretch of time to review classified intelligence files brought to his attention by sources he has said he will not name.

The next morning, Nunes stepped up to a set of microphones in the Capitol complex to declare that he had learned that U.S. spy agencies had “incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.”

Trump promptly burst into tweets about how right he was when he said Obama wiretapped him.

Last year, Nunes repeatedly skirmished with intelligence leaders over assessments that Russia sought to help Trump win. He has sought to help the White House knock down news stories alleging close ties between Trump associates and the Kremlin. And Nunes has pushed his panel to focus on lines of inquiry — including hunting the sources of damaging news leaks — that seem more favorable to Trump.

Nunes’s latest move came Friday, when he made a flurry of announcements that on the surface signaled promising new investigative paths, including an agreement to hear testimony from Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. But to Democrats, Nunes’s actions again seemed to show the hidden agenda of the White House.

Most immediately, Nunes canceled an open hearing that had been scheduled for Tuesday with former senior officials who have battled Trump. Among them is former acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates, who was fired by Trump; former director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., who publicly disputed Trump’s wiretapping claim; and former CIA director John Brennan, who has said that Trump should “be ashamed of himself” over his behavior toward U.S. spy agencies.

He didn’t postpone it, he canceled it – on his own, without consulting the committee. He’s an ally of Trump’s. You do the math.

Schiff also implied he suspects a White House hand in what he called Nunes’s “dead-of-night excursion” to view classified documents. Several congressional officials said they were told about the phone call and swapped cars by members of Nunes’s staff.

Jack Langer, a spokesman for Nunes, disputed the depiction. “That account is inaccurate,” Langer said. He declined to elaborate.

To review classified files without breaking the law, Nunes would have needed to do so at a secure facility. Congressional officials said that the director of National Intelligence, the FBI and National Security Agency had all indicated that they got no late-night visit from Nunes, a trip that probably would have been entered in security logs.

Nunes has repeatedly refused to say where he went or whether the documents were provided by the White House, including when confronted by committee members during a closed-door meeting on Thursday, officials said.

Is that sleazy and compromised enough yet?



Trump is an international embarrassment

Mar 27th, 2017 10:29 am | By

Robert Reich on Trump’s “billing” of Germany:

It turns out Trump’s meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last weekend was even worse than we thought. According to London’s Sunday Times, Trump handed Merkel a bill for more than $300 billion that Germany supposedly owed NATO — supposedly calculated by adding the amounts by which Germany has fallen short on annual payments to NATO since 2002, and adding interest.

That’s absurd. The United States has a huge stake in a strong NATO, and has no authority “collect” what’s “owed” by other nations.

Besides, German spending on global defense isn’t limited to NATO. “There is no account where debts are registered with NATO,” German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement. “Defense spending also goes into U.N. peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against ISIS terrorism.”

Trump is an international embarrassment. I want to assure our allies around the world that he doesn’t represent the views of most Americans, and we’re doing everything we can.

He does however represent the views of far too many of us. His brand of shit is a popular brand here: that nasty combination of anti-intellectualism and brutality and hatred is a wide streak in our coat. That’s the real embarrassment.



Did he really?

Mar 27th, 2017 9:59 am | By

Seriously? He really did that?

Donald Trump reportedly gave German Chancellor Angela Merkel a bill for £300bn when the pair met recently to cover contributions he believes are owed to Nato.

The US president made the demand during private talks when the pair met in Washington DC, the Sunday Times reported.

Surely he didn’t. Surely even he can’t be that crude and stupid and inappropriate.

Nato countries pledged in 2014 to spend two per cent of their GDP on defence, something only a handful of nations – including the UK, Greece, Poland and Estonia – currently do.

The sum being demanded by the US has been backdated to 2002, the year Mrs Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schröder, pledged to spend more on defence, according to the report.

Backdated, eh. On what pretext does he get to backdate such a thing? And how does he justify turning pledges by countries into sums owed, and owed to him in person at that?

Mr Trump reportedly instructed aides to calculate how much German spending fell below two per cent over the past 12 years, then added interest.

He’s shaming us all.

[The] White House press secretary has denied reports that Mr Trump gave Ms Merkel a bill during their meeting, telling Business Insider: “No, this is not true.”

And Spicey never lies.

German defence minister Ursula Von der Leyen has rejected the notion the European nation owed the US or Nato.

She issued a statement following Mr Trump’s tweets saying: “There is no debt account at Nato.

“Defence spending also goes into UN peacekeeping missions, into our European missions and into our contribution to the fight against [Isis] terrorism.”

Her comments were backed by Ivo Daalder, permanent representative to Nato from 2009 to 2013 under the Obama administration, who queried the President’s understanding of the organisation.

He tweeted: “Sorry Mr President, that’s not how Nato works. The US decides for itself how much it contributes to defending Nato.

“This is not a financial transaction, where Nato countries pay the US to defend them. It is part of our treaty commitment.”

Sorry, that’s too complicated for Donnie from Queens. He thinks he’s the universal landlord, and everyone owes him rent.

More on the denials:

White House press secretary Sean Spicer attempted to pour cold water on the rumour when questioned on Sunday.

“No, this is not true,” he said. Michael Short, a White House spokesperson, also said the report was “false”.

While solid proof of the bill has yet to emerge, the allegation appears to fit with Mr Trump’s long-standing criticism of countries he says are not paying their fair share of the military alliance’s budget.

It fits with his criticism, but the question is whether it fits with his level of crude trashy inappropriate behavior. Would even he do a thing like that?

I don’t know.



I believe Democrats & fake news

Mar 26th, 2017 4:19 pm | By

The Trump people decided to take the nation’s pulse. They sent out an email Thursday with the subject line “Vindicated.”

It went like this:

Since even before Inauguration Day, Democrats, the media, and the entire opposition have tried to take down President Trump by resorting to nasty attacks and spreading fake news.

But President Trump has fought back and been vindicated time and time again – and he will KEEP FIGHTING to deliver on the promises he made to you, the American people.

Then it asked a super-serious important question:

What happens if you click on the second option, the one for bad stupid people?

They send you here:

Heads they win, tails we lose. We can give them money, or we can give them money. Very scientific poll! Or actually not a poll but just a “give us money” email.

You’d think the inflated profits on the Old Post Office hotel and Taco del Mar would be enough.



Walk along Tverskaya

Mar 26th, 2017 3:36 pm | By

Navalny has been arrested:

Russia’s main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has been arrested at an anti-corruption protest he organised in the capital, Moscow.

Thousands of people joined rallies nationwide, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev over corruption allegations.

At least 500 other protesters were detained in the capital and across the country.

Most of the marches were illegal, organised without official permission.

It’s lose-lose, isn’t it. If they ask for permission, the answer is no. If they don’t, they get locked up.

Alexei Navalny was detained as he arrived to join the rally in central Moscow. Protesters then tried to prevent a police van from taking him away.

In a tweet after his detention, he urged fellow protesters to continue with the demonstration.

“Guys, I’m fine. No need to fight to get me out. Walk along Tverskaya [Moscow main street]. Our topic of the day is the fight against corruption,” he said (in Russian).

I hope so. I hope we don’t hear tomorrow that he very suddenly and unexpectedly fell off a high place.



Hello, failing New York Times? Donnie here.

Mar 26th, 2017 10:25 am | By

Hmm. So Trump uses “failing” as his standard epithet for the New York Times, the way a poet might talk of Brave Achilles and Wily Odysseus – and yet when his health care repeal goes belly-up, he phones the Times for a chat.

Just moments after the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act was declared dead, President Trump sought to paint the defeat of his first legislative effort as an early-term blip.

The House speaker, Paul D. Ryan, was preparing to tell the public that the health care bill was being withdrawn — a byproduct, Mr. Trump said, of Democratic partisanship. The president predicted that Democrats would return to him to make a deal in roughly a year.

“Look, we got no Democratic votes. We got none, zero,” Mr. Trump said in a telephone interview he initiated with The New York Times.

He initiated it. He calls them the failing New York Times almost daily on Twitter, yet he calls them up to talk about his latest failure. He’s a funny guy.

Mr. Trump said that “when they come to make a deal,” he would be open and receptive. He singled out the Tuesday Group moderates for praise, calling them “terrific,” an implicit jab at the House Freedom Caucus, which his aides had expressed frustration with during negotiations.

Even so, he tried to minimize the deep divisions within his own party that prevented Mr. Ryan from securing passage of the bill, and maintained that they were six to 12 votes away from getting it across the finish line.

As Mr. Trump spoke, his voice was flatly calm and slightly hoarse, his manner subdued. He talked on a speaker phone from his desk in the Oval Office, with a coterie of aides drifting by. At one point, he welcomed his daughter Ivanka back from a ski trip.

He was missing those happy minutes spent in The Big Truck the day before. Those were the good times.

Mr. Trump described his first major legislative experience as not terribly different than what his previous negotiations as a real-estate developer had been like.

He emphatically did not fault Mr. Ryan.

“I don’t blame him for a thing, I really don’t,” Mr. Trump said. He added: “Even during the midst of negotiations I said the best thing that could happen was just to back off. I said, I’ll do it now because I’m a team player.” He said that Mr. Ryan did not apologize to him, adding: “Look, he tried. He tried very hard.”

“I’m not disappointed,” he insisted. “If I were, I wouldn’t be calling you.”

Wut?

God what a weirdo.