Notes and Comment Blog

A crackdown on intellectuals

Feb 20th, 2019 3:40 pm | By

Meanwhile in India Modi is locking up his critics.

Last year, the police in Maharashtra, one of India’s largest states, said they had uncovered a vast conspiracy to topple the Indian government that involved Mr. Teltumbde and other well-known writers, academics and lawyers.

Officers raided more than a dozen of their homes, confiscating hard drives and documents. Citing a broad antiterrorism law, the police have put nine of them in jail, accusing them of helping Maoist insurgents, trying to procure grenade launchers, inciting a riot and plotting to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

One is Anand Teltumbde, “a prominent scholar and writer on Indian social issues.”

Human rights activists say the allegations are part of a crackdown on intellectuals who criticize Mr. Modi’s record, especially his government’s treatment of religious minorities and lower castes.

Mr. Teltumbde was an obvious target, activists say. He is a well-known champion of Dalits (the group formerly known as untouchables), a prolific writer with a wide audience, and an unrelenting critic of Mr. Modi.

At a literary festival in 2017, Mr. Teltumbde called the prime minister a “narcissist par excellence” who could prove to be more dangerous than Hitler. He said Mr. Modi’s politics, which are rooted in Hindu nationalism, amounted to “fascism plus something.”

He also mentioned Modi’s role in the Gujarat riots in 2002.

The case against Mr. Teltumbde has alarmed scholars across the world. Hundreds of academics, including Noam Chomsky and Cornel West, have signed petitions calling for the United Nations to interveneand for the police’s “fabricated charges” to be withdrawn.

“I enthusiastically signed this,’’ Mr. West said in an interview last week. “Anand is my brother and comrade, and I wanted to show my support for him as well as the Dalit freedom struggle.’’

Sangeeta Kamat, a public policy professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who also signed a petition supporting Mr. Teltumbde, called him the best-known of the Indian academics under official scrutiny. She said he had made a “compelling case for how and why the present regime is anti-democratic, anti-Dalit and anti-poor.”

The struggle never ends.

Almost reenacting slavery

Feb 20th, 2019 12:17 pm | By

BIG Supreme Court ruling, for once in a good way.

The Supreme Court struck an extraordinary blow for criminal justice reform on Wednesday, placing real limitations on policing for profitacross the country. Its unanimous decision for the first time prohibits all 50 states from imposing excessive fines, including the seizure of property, on people accused or convicted of a crime. Rarely does the court hand down a ruling of such constitutional magnitude—and seldom do all nine justices agree to restrict the power that police and prosecutors exert over individuals. The landmark decision represents a broad agreement on the Supreme Court that law enforcement’s legalized theft has gone too far.

Wednesday’s ruling in Timbs v. Indiana, authored by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is sharp and concise. It revolves around a single question of extraordinary importance. The Eighth Amendment guarantees that no “excessive fines” may be “imposed,” an ancient right enshrined in the Magna Carta and enthusiastically adopted by the Framers. But the Bill of Rights originally applied only to the federal government, not the states. After the Civil War, the 14thAmendment was ratified to apply these rights to the states, which had engaged in grotesque civil rights violations to perpetuate slavery. The Supreme Court, however, slowly applied (or “incorporated”) these rights against the states one by one, not all at once. And before Timbs, it had never incorporated the Excessive Fines Clause—allowing states to exploit their residents for huge sums of cash and property.

They did so through civil asset forfeiture, a process that we would call theft in any other context. Here’s how it works: Prosecutors accuse an individual of a crime, then seize assets that have some tenuous connection to the alleged offense. The individual need not be convicted or even charged with an actual crime, and her assets are seized through a civil proceeding, which lacks the due process safeguards of a criminal trial. Law enforcement can seize money or property, including one’s home, business, or vehicle. It gets to keep the profits, creating a perverse incentive that encourages police abuses. Because the standards are so loose, people with little to no involvement in criminal activity often get caught up in civil asset forfeiture. For instance, South Carolina police tried to seize an elderly woman’s home because drug deals occurred on the property—even though she had no connection to the crimes and tried to stop them.

Now, that’s out.

In her majority opinion, Ginsburg traced the right back to the Magna Carta through the English Bill of Rights and the Virginia Declaration of Rights, all of which heavily influenced the U.S. Constitution. By the time the 14th Amendment was ratified, 35 of the 37 states explicitly barred excessive fines. And during debate over ratification, congressmen noted that Southern states were using punitive fines to subjugate newly freed blacks. The framers of the 14th Amendment plainly intended to incorporate the Excessive Fines Clause to rein in these “harsh inflictions … almost reenacting slavery.”

“In short,” Ginsburg wrote, surveying this evidence, “the historical and logical case for concluding that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Excessive Fines Clause is overwhelming.” She also swatted down Indiana’s fallback argument that the clause does not apply to proceedings over an individual’s property, holding that these forfeitures still qualify as “fines” that trigger constitutional scrutiny.


That’s what he said

Feb 20th, 2019 11:39 am | By

“I don’t care, I believe Putin.”

A summary

Feb 20th, 2019 11:24 am | By

Mueller investigation wrapping up, or being wrapped up by new AG, who knows.

Attorney General Bill Barr is preparing to announce as early as next week the completion of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, with plans for Barr to submit to Congress soon after a summary of Mueller’s confidential report, according to people familiar with the plans.

A summary. Fantastic. How will anyone know what was left out? No one will. Wonderful.

Barr has said that he wants to be as “transparent” as possible with Congress and the public, “consistent with the rules and the law.”

Under the special counsel regulations, Mueller must submit a “confidential” report to the attorney general at the conclusion of his work, but the rules don’t require it to be shared with Congress, or by extension, the public. And, as Barr has made clear, the Justice Department generally guards against publicizing “derogatory” information about uncharged individuals.

And it’s DOJ policy that sitting presidents can’t be charged yadda yadda YADDA so the reeking criminal gets to sit there like a toad for two more years and use all the power at his disposal to rig another election and sit there for four more years if he doesn’t explode in a fireball of BigMacs and ice cream first. Fabulous. We’ve got this criminal evil monstrosity in there and we cannot get rid of him no matter what we do, no matter what crimes and cheats and thefts Miller has uncovered. It’s all been pointless. Fucking brilliant.

Increasingly disenchanted

Feb 20th, 2019 10:31 am | By

Trump is staging another Wounded Vanity Pageant by way of alerting Dan Coats that he should start packing.

President Trump has grown increasingly disenchanted with Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, who has served as the nation’s top intelligence official for nearly two years, leading some administration officials to worry he will soon be dismissed, according to people familiar with the matter.

The president has never seen Coats as a close or trusted adviser, the people said, but he has become more frustrated with him in recent weeks over public statements that Trump sees as undercutting his policy goals, particularly with respect to reaching a disarmament agreement with North Korea.

Wellllll not really “undercutting his policy goals,” since he can’t really be said to have such things. “Not echoing his most recent opinion to the letter” is more accurate.

Trump is still “enraged” about Coats’s congressional testimony on national security threats last month, believing that the director undercut the president’s authority when he shared intelligence assessments about Iran, North Korea and the Islamic State that are at odds with many of Trump’s public statements, said one adviser who spoke with the president over the weekend.

Wellllll undercut his authority and also his vanity, his ego, his conceit, his preening performance, his narcissistic supply, his self-admiration…

Trump had seemed to put the episode behind him and claimed shortly after the hearing that Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel told him they’d been “misquoted” in their comments at the televised hearing.

Which everybody laughed at because no they hadn’t and we all knew they hadn’t and they were just saying it to make Mr Bighead turn his rage in some other direction.

But privately, the president has continued to fume, and this weekend he told the adviser that Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana, is “not loyal” and “he’s not on the team.”

Not loyal to TRUMPTRUMPTRUMP and not on the team of TRUMP and all the people who adore TRUMP.

When Coats attends Trump’s daily intelligence briefings, he has sometimes been unable to secure the president’s attention and to keep him from veering off on tangents, the former official said.

Nobody can. That’s well known.


Feb 20th, 2019 9:48 am | By

Well, what are we supposed to do then? If the top people in law enforcement can’t do anything then how do we deal with the dangerous enraged maniac who has a death grip on the throttle? Are we supposed to just sit there with our hands folded while he drives the plane into the ground?

The Post is frowning with concern at Andrew McCabe:

In addition to facing possible criminal exposure, McCabe has said he plans to sue the department over his termination, which he believes was retaliation for having opened an investigation into Trump. Barr’s commenting could affect both the criminal probe into McCabe and the litigation over his expected suit.

Some Justice Department officials were uneasy at the time about how quickly McCabe opened an investigation into Trump, people familiar with the matter have said. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) vowed to investigate the matter, using subpoenas if necessary.

“How quickly” – when it was after Trump fired Comey, and promptly told Lester Holt and all the rest of us that he’d done it because of “this Russha thing,” and equally promptly told Lavrov and Kislyak alone in the Oval Office that he’d done it to take the pressure off himself. It was a genuine national emergency, not the fake kind at the border. Why wouldn’t the new acting head of the FBI open an investigation into the crazed racketeer sitting in the president’s chair?

If there was impropriety — by Rosenstein, McCabe or anyone else — it would be up to Barr to determine whether they should face discipline or whether department policies need to change.

“Obviously, those are matters that raise really serious concerns and questions about what was going on inside the FBI at the time,” Terwilliger said.

But what about what was going on inside the White House at the time? It’s true that we definitely don’t want the FBI running amok and trying to run the government itself, nor do we want it investigating everything to the left of centrist Democrats, but we also don’t want a reckless self-willed criminal at the top of government.


Feb 20th, 2019 8:32 am | By

Attempted syllogism gone awry.

Some “ally”

Feb 19th, 2019 5:19 pm | By

That’s disgusting.

The full statement:

Athlete Ally unequivocally stands on the side of trans athletes and their right to access and compete in sport free from discrimination. Martina Navratilova’s recent comments on trans athletes are transphobic, based on a false understanding of science and data, and perpetuate dangerous myths that lead to the ongoing targeting of trans people through discriminatory laws, hateful stereotypes and disproportionate violence. As an organization dedicated to addressing root causes of homophobia and transphobia in and through sport, we will only affiliate with those committed to the same goal, and not those who further misinformation or discrimination in any way. Given this, Navratilova has been removed from our Advisory Board and as an Athlete Ally Ambassador, effective immediately.

Within her op-ed in the Sunday Times, Navratilova referred to trans women as men who “decide to be female,” and that to allow them to compete with women is “cheating and unfair.” First of all, trans women are women, period. They did not decide their gender identity any more than someone decides to be gay, or to have blue eyes. There is no evidence at all that the average trans woman is any bigger, stronger, or faster than the average cisgender woman, but there is evidence that often when athletes lower testosterone through hormone replacement therapy, performance goes down.

Italics mine. Seriously?

Trans women athletes aren’t looking to take over women’s sport. They are women, and want to compete in the sport they love, just as any other athlete would. In fact, they’re largely underrepresented. Trans athletes have been allowed to openly compete in the Olympics since 2003, and yet no transgender athlete has ever gone to the Olympics. Professional trans women athletes are extremely rare.

Public figures like Martina Navratilova have an incredible platform provided to them, and when they speak, the world listens. When we launched our Ambassador program in 2011 and invited Martina to join us, we saw her as a trailblazer for LGBTQ people in sports—someone who, like us, believed in the power of sport to advance equality, dismantle stereotypes, and build a more inclusive society.

Martina’s latest statements stand in stark contrast to that vision, and to our core beliefs and values as an organization. We live in a world where 1 in 4 trans people are assaulted simply for being trans, and bills across the United States are seeking to dehumanize trans people and prevent them from accessing the rights they deserve. The trans community is under attack, and we firmly stand opposed to any and all people who perpetuate attacks against them—regardless of who they are or their accolades. To spread misinformation is to create a ripple effect of bias and discrimination that restricts trans people from living their lives fully, and endangers their health, safety and livelihood.

Navratilova isn’t “perpetuating attacks” against trans people. Not accepting people’s counter-factual claims about themselves is not attacking them.

This is not the first time we have approached Martina on this topic. In late December, she made deeply troubling comments across her social media channels about the ability for trans athletes to compete in sport. We reached out directly offering to be a resource as she sought further education, and we never heard back.

Italics mine. No, not about the ability of trans athletes to compete in sport, the fairness of trans women to compete against women in sport.

We believe that growth is possible, and we extend once again to Martina the invitation to learn from this experience, to study the data on trans athletes in sport, and to examine how statements like hers further stigma and discrimination.

The LGBTQ community is not a monolith. We must always leave space to learn from one another, and to grow. If we fail to do so, we are not only failing our goal to advance LGBTQ equality as a whole, but failing to live up to the core of our potential as human beings who believe all of us deserve a place in sports and in this world.

Italics mine. The LGBTQ community is not a monolith but everyone in it has to believe and repeat exactly what we tell them to, on pain of instant removal and public defamation. That kind of not a monolith.

Sorry, doesn’t count

Feb 19th, 2019 4:15 pm | By

Huh. Word is, Shinzo Abe did indeed nominate Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Because the US asked him to.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominated U.S. President Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize last autumn after receiving a request from the U.S. government to do so, the Asahi newspaper reported on Sunday.

The report follows Trump’s claim on Friday that Abe had nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize for opening talks and easing tensions with North Korea.

Trump didn’t say anything about asking him to. He just said Abe nominated him – he said it smugly, as if it were an exciting unsolicited honor, as opposed to a favor done on request from a heavily-armed acquaintance. An extorted “favor” isn’t really a favor and an extorted honor doesn’t count as an honor. Rather the reverse, actually.

The Japanese leader had given him “the most beautiful copy” of a five-page nomination letter, Trump said at a White House news conference.

The U.S. government had sounded Abe out over the Noble Peace Prize nomination after Trump’s summit in June last year with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un…

But then there’s all the “Little Rocket Man” and “my button actually works” aggro, so I wouldn’t place any large bets on his chances.

They’re not Americans, they’re socialist-communists

Feb 19th, 2019 3:52 pm | By

Free speech?

The editor and publisher of a local paper in Alabama is under fire for penning an editorial calling for mass lynchings by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).

The opinion piece ran in his print-only newspaper, the Democrat-Reporter, last Thursday, Goodloe Sutton confirmed on Tuesday.

He said Democrats were going to raise taxes and that the KKK should hang them and raid Washington DC.

Murder for raising taxes seems a little strong.

“Time for the Ku Klux Klan to night ride again,” the article said, referencing the KKK’s terrorising raids through black communities.

“Democrats in the Republican Party and Democrats are plotting to raise taxes in Alabama… This socialist-communist ideology sounds good to the ignorant, the uneducated, and the simple-minded people.”

Sutton later confirmed to the Montgomery Advertiser that he had written the article.

“If we could get the Klan to go up there and clean out DC we’d all been better off,” he said. “We’ll get the hemp ropes out, loop them over a tall limb and hang all of them.”

“It’s not calling for the lynchings of Americans. These are socialist-communists we’re talking about.”

And yet we’re going to DC to lynch them? DC is in the US, last I heard.

Democratic Representative Terri Sewell, who is black, said Sutton’s language was not a joke, but a threat.

So I’m following Representative Sewell on Twitter now.

Filled with leftist sentiment

Feb 19th, 2019 12:21 pm | By

The Wall Street Journal on trans women competing with women in sports:

Ms. Navratilova’s argument comes at a moment when institutions from high schools to state legislatures are wrestling with the real-world implications of equal access for transgender people. When the issue first arose, the most heated arguments were over single-sex locker rooms, rest rooms and college dorms. But the front lines have now shifted to sports—and girls’ sports in particular.

This is no coincidence. As Abigail Shrier notes in City Journal, “few biological boys are likely to lose top spots in sports competition or the college scholarships that follow because of transgender boys who outperform them.” But in girls’ sports, American moms and dads are increasingly watching their daughters in high school and college competing against biological boys.

And, more to the point, those daughters are experiencing what their parents are watching. Biological boys are shoving girls aside in some sports.

In June, two transgender high-schoolers in Connecticut made national headlines when they dominated the girls’ state track competition for the second year in a row. Such victories underscore Ms. Navratilova’s argument that if biological men are allowed to compete in women’s sports, girls will not be the winners.

Is it evil and transphobic to say that’s not fair? I don’t see it, myself.

This in turn has led to a curious development: Some of the most pointed criticism of allowing transgender women to compete in women’s sports isn’t coming from the culture warriors on the right, much as they might be in sympathy. A good part is coming from those like Ms. Navratilova, a longtime champion of gay rights who came out in 1981 and whose Twitter feed is filled with leftist sentiment on everything from Donald Trump and climate change to guns.

raises hand Over here! Mind you, it’s beyond me why it’s “leftist” to think it would be better not to alter the earth to the point that most animals including humans can’t live on it any more, ditto to think it would be better not to sit back and watch as people shoot up schools and concerts and shopping malls, but whatever. My Twitter feed is filled with leftist sentiment on many subjects, one of which is feminism.

Ms. Navratilova’s op-ed is already generating headlines, mostly of the “Martina Navratilova criticized for comments” variety. Of course, she anticipated the furor and name-calling, writing of the “tyranny” of transgender activists who rather than engage in argument simply denounce as “transphobes” anyone who dares disagree. Though she promises it won’t deter her, she worries that “others may be cowed into silence or submission.”

In the end, if the sports world can’t distinguish between girls and boys, the whole reason for women’s sports disappears. Bully for Ms. Navratilova for her willingness to insist on the distinction.

Weirdo anomalous lefties unite and fight, I guess.

Can ya fix it?

Feb 19th, 2019 11:34 am | By

The Times (the other one, the New York one) has another one of those big articles, this one on Trump’s moves to obstruct justice. It starts with a bang.

As federal prosecutors in Manhattan gathered evidence late last year about President Trump’s role in silencing women with hush payments during the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump called Matthew G. Whitaker, his newly installed attorney general, with a question. He asked whether Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York and a Trump ally, could be put in charge of the widening investigation, according to several American officials with direct knowledge of the call.

Ho yus, perfectly normal, a president asking an attorney general if they can put a friend in charge of an investigation into the president. What could possibly go corrupt?

We’re all familiar with the public obstruction, such as all those tweets; there is also a secret branch.

An examination by The New York Times reveals the extent of an even more sustained, more secretive assault by Mr. Trump on the machinery of federal law enforcement. Interviews with dozens of current and former government officials and others close to Mr. Trump, as well as a review of confidential White House documents, reveal numerous unreported episodes in a two-year drama.

The sewage rises, and rises, and rises.

Whitaker told Congress under oath that Trump had never pressured him over the investigations; Dems are now considering a perjury investigation.


$150 per 50 absentee ballots

Feb 19th, 2019 10:48 am | By

Well, wow. Systematic voter fraud in North Carolina…on behalf of oh you’ll never guess, not in a million years.

A North Carolina woman testified Monday that she illegally picked up and falsified absentee ballots in a 2018 congressional election under the direction of a political operative who was working on behalf of the race’s Republican candidate.

In the first day of the North Carolina State Board of Elections hearing into election irregularities in the 9th District race, Lisa Britt detailed how the operation worked. The race is the last undecided contest from the 2018 midterm election and the North Carolina seat remains open amid allegations of fraud.

The state board of elections voted not to certify the results in which Republican Mark Harris, a Baptist minister, led Democrat Dan McCready, a businessman and retired Marine, by 905 votes. The decision to not certify stemmed from the board’s investigation into bizarre results involving absentee ballots.

Lisa Britt said Harris was not aware of the fraud.

Britt stated she was paid at least $150 per 50 absentee ballots she collected. Collecting absentee ballots is illegal in North Carolina.

She also admitted that she signed absentee ballots as a witness when she did not witness the voter filling it out. Britt said she forged her mother’s signature on between seven and nine ballots to “not raise red flags” that the same people were signed as witnesses on too many absentee ballots.

Britt said she did all of this under the instruction and often supervision of Dowless.

Britt testified that, following the election, Dowless invited workers to his home and told them not to admit to collecting ballots.

Then last week he sent them a letter telling them how to testify – which was to say nobody did anything everybody is innocent plus taking the 5th. (I think you have to choose between those two.)

The trial continues.


Feb 19th, 2019 10:21 am | By

The Times (the real one, the one in London) on Rachel McKinnon’s unilateral control of a BBC discussion:

Nicola Williams, from Fair Play For Women, was booked to appear on Stephen Nolan’s show to discuss comments by Martina Navratilova about transgender women in sport.

Dr Williams agreed to take part in a discussion on Sunday night but says that she was subsequently contacted by a producer to say that the invitation to appear in that specific segment had been withdrawn.

The change of heart came after Rachel McKinnon, a transgender world cycling champion and activist who had also been asked to participate in the programme, made clear that she would not take part in a debate with Dr Williams. In a series of tweets before the show was broadcast, Dr McKinnon compared Fair Play for Women to the Ku Klux Klan and accused it of leading a “smear campaign against me and other trans women athletes”.

We saw yesterday that the BBC has an explicit written rule against that: against allowing invited subjects to veto other invited subjects. What I wonder is why it had to be McKinnon; why not say “Ok then, bye,” and find someone else?

I suppose it’s because McKinnon is one vivid example of a large, muscular trans woman who insists on competing against much smaller women, and is also a dedicated Twitter bully. I suppose people with those particular qualifications aren’t all that abundant, so the Beeb decided it was worth it…but it is probably also because the Beeb, like so many outlets and people, has swallowed the lie that women in this situation are the oppressor class. The Beeb, like so many outlets and people, seems to be unable to grasp that there are competing rights here, and that women’s rights are not automatically less important than trans people’s rights.

This is one reason the name thing and the pronouns thing is pushed so hard, you know – it’s because they condition us. They condition all of us. They condition us to think of trans women as literal women and thus as traditional targets of bullying and subordination. They condition us to forget that trans women started out (at least) as boys and (mostly) matured into men, and thus have both the physique and the mindset of male people. They condition us to forget that trans women grew up being conditioned to understand that they have the option of domineering over women, even if they don’t always choose to exercise it. They condition us, therefore, to find it plausible to think gender critical women are domineering over Rachel McKinnon, and that therefore it’s ok for the BBC to let her veto an invited subject even though it’s against the BBC’s explicit rules.

The smearing of Martina Navratilova by the Guardian and the BBC

Feb 18th, 2019 5:25 pm | By

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

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

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

Kind of a stitch-up, isn’t it.

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

The issue of what?

Image result for hannah mouncey

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

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

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

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

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

The McKinnon veto

Feb 18th, 2019 11:49 am | By

Yesterday this happened:

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

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

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

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

West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette

Feb 18th, 2019 11:20 am | By

Oh, America. You’re so confused.

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

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

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

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

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

“They brought me here,” the boy replied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a pathetic mess.

Yankee go home

Feb 17th, 2019 2:48 pm | By

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

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

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

Russia and China are happy about this though.

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

And all because of a greedy punk from Queens.

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

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

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

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

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

Her comments attracted criticism across social media

Feb 17th, 2019 11:39 am | By

Well the Guardian knows which side it is on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final para:

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

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

Arm? Leg? Eye?

Feb 17th, 2019 7:58 am | By

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

Interesting that he’s now demanding retribution.