Notes and Comment Blog

Religious expression in school assignments

Nov 14th, 2019 5:25 pm | By

And it’s not even Mississppi or Idaho, it’s Ohio. The Columbus Dispatch:

The Ohio House on Wednesday approved legislation that would protect student rights to religious expression in public schools, including prayer, school assignments, artwork and clothing.

Lawmakers passed House Bill 164 by a vote of 61-31 and sent it to the Senate for consideration.

Let’s hope the Senate says Nah.

The bill, dubbed the “Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act of 2019,” would require schools to:

‒ Give student religious groups the same access to school facilities for meetings and events as secular groups have.

‒ Lift bans limiting student expression of religion to lunch or non-instructional periods.

‒ Abolish any restrictions on students from engaging in religious expression in completion of homework, artwork or other assignments.

Meaning they could turn in biology homework full of “Goddidit”?

We’re doomed.

Goodbye 2nd Circuit

Nov 14th, 2019 1:42 pm | By

There is no limit. They will do anything to cling to power.

The Senate confirmed Steven Menashi to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday by a vote of 51–41. Every Republican present except Sen. Susan Collins supported Menashi; every Democrat present opposed him. With this confirmation, Donald Trump has flipped the 2nd Circuit to a majority of Republican appointees—a momentous shift in the balance of power that could help the president shield himself from criminal liability and congressional scrutiny in a jurisdiction, New York, which he previously called home.

Unless any of the other Republican judges have any limits. Menashi certainly doesn’t.

Menashi, a 40-year-old White House attorney, is one of Trump’s most controversial judicial nominees. His past writings include inflammatory and offensive remarks about women, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and racial minorities. Menashi worked with Stephen Miller, a white supremacist White House aide, to craft Trump’s nativist immigration policies. He also helped Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos roll back protections for vulnerable students. Moreover, according to a New York Times report, he also devised an illegal program “to use private Social Security data to deny debt relief to thousands of students cheated by their for-profit colleges.”

Not to mention that Menashi is, in the words of Laurence Tribe, “spectacularly unqualified.”

During his confirmation hearing, Menashi refused to answer questions from both Republican and Democratic senators about his work in the Trump administration. His evasive performance drew criticism from Louisiana GOP Sen. John Kennedy, who said he was “real doubtful” that he would vote for the nominee. A day after Kennedy appeared at Trump rally, however, he announced his support for Menashi. Other putatively independent-minded Republicans like Sen. Lisa Murkowski then jumped on board, clinching his confirmation.

Menashi will now take a seat once filled by civil rights icon Thurgood Marshall. The 2nd Circuit will have a 7–6 Republican majority, including five Trump appointees. Whenever the court hears cases en banc—that is, with every judge sitting—conservatives will have the upper hand.

We’re doomed.

Can we be clear on what that means?

Nov 14th, 2019 1:14 pm | By

The Express covers Nick Robinson’s conversation with Luciana Berger:

Host Nick Robinson said: “Turning to equalities which is the subject of your launch, one part of that is respecting the expression of gender identify. Can we be clear on what that means? Is it now the Liberal Democrats view that if I identified as a woman, you want the law to treat me as a woman?”

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Berger said: “Yes. There will be many people who will share with you their very personal experience of being born with one identity and actually experiencing as another.

“For anyone who has to go through that very difficult experience, they should be respected.”

But “respected” meaning what? And before we even get to respecting that very difficult experience, what exactly is it? What does it mean to be “born with one identity and actually experiencing as another”? What, especially, does it mean in such a clear and peremptory and undeniable way that we have to base law and policy on it, and in fact diminish other people’s rights for the sake of it? It’s a bit like saying “I find life more painful and stressful than others do so I get to have special new rights.” Nobody knows how “difficult” that “very difficult experience” actually is, because we can’t know how difficult anyone’s experience is. The subjective is the subjective.

Mr Robinson asked: “Yet there are plenty of people who will say to you that there is a conflict of rights here. The rights of trans people and the rights of woman, hard-fought over many decades. Rights for example that sex offenders can’t demand to be housed in a woman’s prison. Rights that there is a demand for privacy in places where woman undress. Why are the Liberal Democrats choosing to oppose women’s rights?”

Ms Berger responded: “I don’t think they are in competition. I think there are some challenges we have to work through. But in the same way we fought for equalities with sexuality, for people from ethnic minority backgrounds. There shouldn’t be a hierarchy of equalities, it’s a challenger but we’re working through it.”


Well, that’s a sadly lazy and non-responsive response. No, there shouldn’t be “a hierarchy of equalities,” but there also shouldn’t be wack new “equalities” that aren’t equalities at all but narcissistic demands for Special Status.

How it works

Nov 14th, 2019 10:13 am | By

Image result for you can't promote principled anti-corruption

The pizzazz deficit

Nov 14th, 2019 9:53 am | By

Can we not stop this?!

NBC News tweets:

Analysis: The first two witnesses called Wednesday testified to President Trump’s scheme, but lacked the pizzazz necessary to capture public attention.

Oh yes, very analysis, much thoughtful.

PIZZAZZ??? What are we, six? Were we expecting clowns and fireworks and a street dance? Can we not be adults for one day? Lust for “pizzazz” is what got us in this fucking mess.

I’m not the only one who reacted that way.

James Fallows:

FWIW, my “analysis”: What we don’t need: a journalist’s guess about “how this played.” What we do need: reportage of who said what, how it was backed up, what was new, how it matches the records and the law.

Jennifer Rubin replying to Fallows:

And what we really don’t need is journalists commenting on whether they thought it was exciting enough. If you are bored watching an historic impeachment hearing, guys get a new job.

Mimi Rocah:


She works for NBC, by the way, which makes it all the more eloquent.

Jennifer Taub:

What’s wrong with them? Were they expecting a wardrobe malfunction?

A wag who goes by Full Tilt Booty:

I call the next witness!




What forces?

Nov 14th, 2019 8:51 am | By

Another odd argument from Jolyon Maugham, which started with a gripe about the state of the BBC:

John Humphries may be gone but his attitude to equalities lives on at the BBC. If you’d like to know more about self-ID this Q&A – from leading feminist charity @fawcettsociety
– is well worth a read.

What naughty Nick Robinson had said:

Should the law treat me as a woman if I chose to identify as one? Yes @lucianaberger
of the @LibDems told me on @BBCr4today despite criticism by some women that their rights are being ignored

Maugham argues in response:

The purpose of societal norms isn’t to guard against the worst amongst us – that’s the job of the criminal law. It is to express the values we share, conditioned by a desire to respect difference and protect the vulnerable.

But who in this dispute has the relevant “difference”? Who is “vulnerable”?

At a later point he explains:

My tweet was a response to those saying “if you let those with xy chromosomes into women’s toilets they might molest women.” I was making the point that if they do the criminal law can deal with them. And also that there are other forces that stop those are not women…

… (such as Nick Robinson) from using women’s toilets but allow those who are women (including transwomen) to use them. And those “other forces” are an important part of how a functioning society self-regulates. Hope that helps.

It doesn’t help, because what “other forces” are those? How do they work, where do we find them, how do we invoke them? What other forces are there that distinguish – instantly, on the spot – between those that are not women, like Nick Robinson, and those that are, including trans women? What forces are there that distinguish – instantly, on the spot – between men pretending to claim to be women, as a joke or to make a point, and real genuine authentic actual vulnerable women of the subset trans? What forces are those?

I doubt that he has the faintest idea what those forces are or what they could be, and I think he is able to be so blithe about it because it doesn’t affect him.

I’m so tired of being lectured by clueless men on the need to be more accommodating of the vulnerability of men who say they are women.

Facebook is here to protect free speech

Nov 13th, 2019 4:43 pm | By

Andrew Marantz, a New Yorker writer who’s written about for instance Mike Cernovitch, talked about Zuckerberg and Facebook and Free Speech on Fresh Air yesterday.

GROSS: There’s a lot of pressure now on social media to prevent smears, hate speech, threats, disinformation, propaganda. And, you know, Facebook is a good example of a company that appears to be trying to deal with it. So what has Facebook done recently to try to cut down on propaganda, disinformation, smears, threats?

MARANTZ: So in one sense, Facebook is doing a lot of stuff. In another sense, they’re kind of running away from their responsibility. Often, something really awful will happen on Facebook. Like, they will add fuel to the fire of Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, or in Sri Lanka, they had to just shut down – essentially, shut down the Internet for a few days because people were inciting so much violence. Now, we can’t lay all of that at the feet of Mark Zuckerberg. Obviously, violence and ethnic strife and all those things existed before the semiconductor did.

But for a long time, the reason I was so obsessed with this ideology of laissez faire – the reason that techno-utopianism is in the subtitle of my book is that when you just believe to your core that everything will be sorted out by the marketplace of ideas in the long run, you’re much more reluctant to do anything in the present to impede people saying anything they want to say. And I think we’ve reached a point now where we really recognize how irresponsible that is. What worries me about Facebook right now is that they do keep kind of falling back on that rhetoric.

I mean, Mark Zuckerberg gave a speech recently at Georgetown University. It was a 40-minute written speech from a lectern with teleprompters. I mean, for someone who doesn’t like being thought of as a politician-like political figure, he really made himself seem sort of analogous to a politician in that setting. And his entire speech was just about freedom of expression. You know, we love freedom of expression. Facebook is here to protect free speech. And it’s the kind of airy abstraction that sounds nice. But in practice, what it’s being used for is to avoid the responsibility that Facebook has to be a responsible gatekeeper, to be a curator of information. It’s essentially being used as a cop-out.

Yep. We saw it just today – they won’t let Kate Smurthwaite run her paid-for promo of her show because the title is “BITCH” but they will let men call her a bitch on Facebook all day long.

GROSS: Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook will continue to take political ads, and it won’t fact-check or reject those ads. He doesn’t see it as their job to do that. And then there was a letter from about 250 Facebook employees offering suggestions to improve the policy on political ads without eliminating them altogether. What was said in that letter?

MARANTZ: It was really specific. You know, these are Facebook employees who know how to speak a language that Facebook executives can understand, so they didn’t lead with a lot of broad, sweeping political statements. They said, here are six things we can do to improve our policies. And, you know, we can reduce the amount of microtargeting that is used by political advertisers. So, yes, maybe they can put up false information, but maybe we shouldn’t give them the tools to be able to target that false information to single moms in Dayton, Ohio, who drink Bulleit Bourbon and go to church on Wednesdays, you know? Again, this is the kind of thing where the executives and Zuckerberg himself really, really seem determined to stay at the level of abstraction and keep the debate focused on, well, do you like free speech or don’t you? And this set of anonymous engineers within the company was willing to say, no, no, no. Let’s drill down on what we’re actually talking about. This isn’t about – I mean, first of all, it’s not about the First Amendment, right? – because Facebook is not the government. But it’s also it’s not about…

GROSS: Because the First Amendment is about government intrusion on speech. It’s not about…


GROSS: …Private enterprise.

MARANTZ: Yeah. The First Amendment says Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech. Now, there are people who say that Facebook should be governed more like a public utility, and I think that’s a worthwhile conversation to have. But as of now, Facebook is not a part of the government, and it’s not treated as such. And so rather than retreating to these sort of mottos that could be carved on marble statues, you know, these engineers and sort of activists outside the company are sort of saying, well, let’s talk about what we actually mean and how you’re actually making money by doing these things, rather than, you know, are you for free speech or are you against it? That doesn’t actually describe what’s happening.

No, it doesn’t.

A sham and shouldn’t be allowed

Nov 13th, 2019 4:06 pm | By

Trump claims to be totally bored by the whole thing.

The White House and its allies sought to dismiss the hearing as dull and irrelevant. Press secretary Stephanie Grisham and Trump’s son, Eric, both dismissed it as “boring”, with Eric adding “#Snoozefest” in a tweet.

The president himself seemed to have found the historic day soporific, judging by his low energy, croaky voiced performance at a joint press conference with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan which started an hour late.

“Are you talking about the witch hunt?” Trump asked a reporter in the White House east room who sought his first impression. “Is that what you mean? Is that what you’re talking about? I hear it’s a joke. I haven’t watched, I haven’t watched for one minute because I’ve been with the president, which is much more important as far as I’m concerned.”

He added: “This is a sham and shouldn’t be allowed. It was a situation that was caused by people that shouldn’t have allowed it to happen. I want to find out who was the whistleblower because the whistleblower gave a lot of very incorrect information including my call with the president of Ukraine, which was a perfect call and highly appropriate.”

Image result for angry toddler


How about if I just carry the ball to the net?

Nov 13th, 2019 3:07 pm | By

Another chickenshit club:

Rape prosecutors in England and Wales were given a conviction rate target which was never made public.

BBC Newsnight has had access to a Law Society Gazette investigation, which found that from 2016 prosecutors were judged against a 60% target of cases ending in conviction.

So what do you do if you want to hit the target? You don’t prosecute the tough cases. This is what James Comey reminded the SDNY prosecutors when he was their boss: if they made it their goal to have zero losses, then they were in the chickenshit club, because they would prosecute only the sure things.

Rape convictions in England and Wales are at their lowest level since 2008, despite record levels of allegations.

According to guidance set down in the Code for Crown Prosecutors, decisions should be based on two things: whether it’s in the public interest, and if the case has more than a 50% chance of a conviction.

But from 2016, rape prosecutors were also asked to consider a conviction rate target called a “level of ambition” of 60%.

One way to achieve improved conviction rates is by prosecuting only the strongest cases.

And those women who have the bad judgment to be raped in a difficult to prosecute way, well, they should just go away and do better next time.

The 60% rape conviction rate target was never made public by the CPS, but was discovered by the Law Society Gazette after a trawl through CPS inspection reports.

In one such report, inspectors criticised the Cheshire-Merseyside regional CPS for missing the target in 2017. Their conviction rate was 57.3%, down from 65.4% the previous year, but their actual number of rape convictions had gone up from 100 to 138 in the same period.

The following year, the same team introduced a “more stringent triage process for police files” on rape.

Their number of convictions dropped to 81 – the lowest for years – but by prosecuting fewer cases they actually exceeded the CPS target. Their conviction rate was 68%.

So it’s not the victims who count, it’s the stats of the prosecutors. Cool.

A coalition of women’s organisations, represented by the Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ), has launched a legal case against the service for what it says is an unlawful change in approach by the CPS.

Lawyer Harriet Wistrich, founder of the CWJ, told Newsnight: “What a change in the conviction rate would suggest is if they’re being targeted to improve their convictions, the easiest way to do that is to take weaker cases out of the system.

“If those that rape are not being held to account, they will feel they can continue doing so with impunity.”

And they’ll be right.

Facebook hates women

Nov 13th, 2019 11:07 am | By

Kate Smurthwaite writes:

Ok I’m seriously at my wit’s end. I’ve sold out shows in York the last couple of years with a fair bit of ease so although I wasn’t planning a larger-scale tour this year I figured when the opportunity came up I’d accept a date there.

My new show is called “bitch” and, as ever, it’s about lots of things but one of the key reasons it’s called that is because I get called “bitch” so much online, including on Facebook, Twitter, Insta and YouTube. I’ve tried reporting these messages and over and over the social media sites, including Facebook, have told me that the word “bitch” doesn’t breach their community standards so they can’t do anything about it.

Of course, as ever, when I share the ticket link to my show Facebook shows it to only a tiny handful of people – we know they deliberately hide ticket sales links because they want to force you to buy advertising. I’ve tried just sharing it in groups and so on but finally this week I decided to give up and just spend some money making sure people who want to come to the show know that it’s on.

I wake up this morning and my advert still isn’t running – the show is Friday so I’m pretty annoyed about this. I chase them up for an answer and…


…apparently the word “bitch” breaches their fucking community standards. Now it does. When it’s my show title, when I’m trying to give them money, when I’m trying to discuss the abuse I get and reclaim the vile insults that get thrown at me.

So I’ve got less than half my tickets sold for Friday and I can’t even pay to let people know the show is coming to York.

If you know anyone in York please ask them to get a ticket for my show and come along and please like and share this post if you can cos I have a strong feeling I’m not going to do much touring for a bit after this.

The baseless conspiracy theory

Nov 13th, 2019 10:32 am | By

One of the potential bad side effects of Trump’s extortion of Ukraine was said to be undermining the bipartisan support for Ukraine v Putin.

So the Republicans are now making it happen.

Republicans on the House intelligence committee appear to be using their questioning time to add credibility to the baseless conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election. (The US intelligence community has thoroughly confirmed that Russia interfered in the election.)

Meanwhile Fox News is doing its thing.

Fox News has so far done its best to present Bill Taylor’s testimony as un-explosive.

As the rest of the media has marveled at Bill Taylor’s statement that Trump “cared more about investigations of Biden” than Ukraine policy, and that a Taylor staffer overheard a Trump phone call where the president asked about “the investigations”, much of Fox News’ coverage has adopted a “nothing to see here” approach.

Across television news coverage, CNN, ABC and MSNBC have repeatedly changed their chyrons to represent the latest revelations from Taylor and George Kent’s testimony, Fox News has kept its own on-screen text staunchly neutral: “TAYLOR AND KENT TESTIFY IN FIRST IMPEACHMENT HEARING.” It was also the only channel to cut to an adbreak as Adam Schiff began questioning the two officials.


Trump is too busy to watch it

Nov 13th, 2019 9:57 am | By

Oh, this is good. Erdoğan has arrived and Trump is presidenting him.

When asked by pool reporters about the public impeachment hearing, Trump said, “It’s a witch hunt, it’s a hoax. I’m too busy to watch it. I have not been briefed.” He added, “They’re using lawyers that are television lawyers.”

Television lawyers! Television lawyers!!! What does he think he is?! He’s the television president of all time!

His press secretary has tweeted to tell us that the hearings are boring.

This sham hearing is not only boring, it is a colossal waste of taxpayer time & money. Congress should be working on passing USMCA, funding our govt & military, working on reduced drug pricing & so much more. @realDonaldTrump is working right now-the dems should follow his lead!

The White House tweeted a little video clip (television president!!!) of Trump telling us the Democrats wanna take away ya gunz.

The Democrats wanna take away ya gunz, they wanna take away ya health care, they wanna take away ya vote, they wanna take away yer freedom, they wanna take away yer judgez, they wanna take away everything.

Puddle of piss not shown.

In a public box

Nov 13th, 2019 9:16 am | By

Day one of the impeachment hearings.

I’ve just realized, partly because of something Schiff said in his opening statement and partly because/while reading in the Guardian’s live coverage

Echoing his closed-door testimony, Bill Taylor said in his opening statement that he was told “everything” Ukraine sought, including a White House visit and the frozen military aid, was tied to a public announcement of investigations into Joe Biden and the 2016 election.

…that all this and more is going to come out and be nailed down and in the record, and if then nothing happens, we’ll be on the record as knowing all this and nailing it down and then saying no problem.

I know that’s obvious, we’ve all known that all along, but it became that bit clearer to me somehow. We’re going to document crime after crime after crime and be helpless to do anything, including even preventing new crimes. We’ll be nailing down the powerlessness to act along with the crimes. It has to be done, but…it’s sickening.

The acting US ambassador to Ukraine said of a conversation he had in early September, “Ambassador Sondland also told me that he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling Ukrainian officials that only a White House meeting with President Zelenskyy was dependent on a public announcement of investigations—in fact, Ambassador Sondland said, ‘everything’ was dependent on such an announcement, including security assistance.

“He said that President Trump wanted President Zelenskyy ‘in a public box’ by making a public statement about ordering such investigations.”

Could he sound any more like a hoodlum from a Warner Brothers movie from the 30s? Cagney and Robinson and Bogart all rolled into one?

New testimony is that a staffer overheard Trump on the phone asking about the “investigations” the day after the “perfect” phone call.

Here is Bill Taylor’s full account of his staffer overhearing Trump asking about “investigations” in Ukraine, which the longtime diplomat just shared with the House intelligence committee:

“Last Friday, a member of my staff told me of events that occurred on July 26. While Ambassador Volker and I visited the front, this member of my staff accompanied Ambassador Sondland. Ambassador Sondland met with [a senior adviser to the Ukrainian president, Mr. Yermak]. Following that meeting, in the presence of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kyiv.

“The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone, asking Ambassador Sondland about ‘the investigations.’ Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.

“Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for.”

I don’t know what the “front” is that Taylor and Volker were visiting, but the import of the phone call is clear enough.

Padding the CV

Nov 12th, 2019 5:42 pm | By

Somebody with a high-up job at the State Department got the job by telling a bunch of whoppers.

A senior Trump administration official has embellished her résumé with misleading claims about her professional background — even creating a fake Time magazine cover with her face on it — raising questions about her qualifications to hold a top position at the State Department.

An NBC News investigation found that Mina Chang, the deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stability Operations, has inflated her educational achievements and exaggerated the scope of her nonprofit’s work.

Chang, who assumed her post in April, also invented a role on a U.N. panel, claimed she had addressed both the Democratic and Republican national conventions, and implied she had testified before Congress.

She was being considered for an even bigger government job, one with a budget of more than $1 billion, until Congress started asking questions about her résumé.

In her State Department post, Chang, 35, from Dallas, helps oversee efforts to prevent conflicts from erupting in politically unstable countries. She earns a six-figure salary in a bureau with a $6 million budget. A deputy assistant secretary usually has a top secret security clearance. It’s not clear if Chang has such a clearance.

But it is clear that she’s never been on the cover of Time.

For Chang’s current job, her most relevant experience would appear to be her time as CEO of a nonprofit called Linking the World. Chang has touted her small nonprofit online and in speeches as operating in dozens of countries, building schools and “impacting” thousands of people. But tax filings for her organization offer no concrete information about overseas projects and show a budget of less than $300,000 with a handful of staff.

She sounds like Princess Ivanka. Princess Ivanka tells us she’s doing all this empowery stuff for women but really she’s just empowering herself. No doubt both of them “identify as” important thought leaders who are making things happen all over everywhere, but identifying as ain’t magic.

In a 2017 video posted on her nonprofit’s website, Chang can be heard describing her work while a Time magazine cover with her face on it scrolls past.

“Here you are on Time magazine, congratulations! Tell me about this cover and how it came to be?” asks the interviewer, who hosts a YouTube show.

“Well, we started using drone technology in disaster response and so that was when the whole talk of how is technology being used to save lives in disaster response scenarios, I suppose I brought some attention to that,” Chang said.

Behold the fake cover:

Image: A fake Time magazine cover with Mina Chang.


Chang’s biography says she was part of a panel on drones in humanitarian relief efforts convened by the U.N. But there’s no record backing up her claim and a source with knowledge of the matter said she was not part of the “panel,” which was a single public roundtable.

Chang says in her official biography that she is as an “alumna” of Harvard Business School. According to the university, Chang attended a seven-week course in 2016, and does not hold a degree from the institution.

But wait, there’s more!

Her biography on the State Department website says she is a “graduate” of a program at the Army War College. But the program she attended was a four-day seminar on national security, according to the college.

Chang does not cite any undergraduate degree in her biography, but her LinkedIn account mentions the University of the Nations, an unaccredited Christian school with volunteer teachers that says it has 600 locations “on all continents.”

She says she “addressed” both the Democratic and Republican national conventions in 2016, but videos and documents show she instead spoke at separate events held in Philadelphia and Cleveland during the same time periods.

Whatever. It’s only the State Department.

He’s disloyal!

Nov 12th, 2019 4:25 pm | By

Trump still thinks working in his administration=working for him.

President Trump has discussed dismissing the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, because Mr. Atkinson reported a whistle-blower’s complaint about Mr. Trump’s interactions with Ukraine to Congress after concluding it was credible, according to four people familiar with the discussions.

He’s been whining about the subject for weeks.

The president has said he does not understand why Mr. Atkinson shared the complaint, which outlined how Mr. Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals at the same time he was withholding military aid from the country. He has said he believes Mr. Atkinson, whom he appointed in 2017, has been disloyal, one of the people said.

In other words the president is mentally a child. It’s surely been explained to him a million times, but he can’t grasp that the people who work in his – and any – administration are supposed to be “loyal” to the country, the people, the Constitution, not to the crook who sits in the fancy chair. The more of a crook the crook is the more urgent that norm becomes. The IG isn’t supposed to be loyal to Trump despite Trump’s wildly abnormal and destructive and wrong actions, he’s supposed to do something about them.

Mr. Trump’s private complaints about Mr. Atkinson have come as he has publicly questioned his integrity and accused him of working with the Democrats to sabotage his presidency.

It is unclear how far Mr. Trump’s discussions about removing Mr. Atkinson have progressed. Two people familiar with what took place said they thought that Mr. Trump was just venting, and insisted that Mr. Atkinson’s dismissal was never under serious consideration.

But the mixture of public attacks and private discussions about a possible dismissal is a familiar way Mr. Trump has undermined investigators who have examined his conduct or that of people close to him. The president publicly criticized James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, and Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general, before he dismissed them for perceived disloyalty.

There is no “just venting” with Trump. He always means it, whether he gets around to acting on it or not.

Ask me my sign

Nov 12th, 2019 4:03 pm | By

T-Mobile has big news for us – not an object or plan we might to give them money for, but an employee relations story.

Another Way to #BeYou: T-Mobile Brings Gender Pronouns to Retail Stores

At T-Mobile, #BeYou has become an employee mantra — so much so that it’s displayed on magenta-painted walls in company hallways around the country.

Really? How awful. Seriously. How gorge-risingly eye-rollingly horrible. Work is work, it’s not a therapy session and it’s not a theater for narcissism. Be You on your own time; at work pay attention to Not-You.

But it’s more than just a catchphrase. It’s representative of the company’s longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion that is truly part of its DNA. With this in mind, senior leaders are always open to new ways to support employees who want to better express who they are. That’s why, starting November 6, T-Mobile is launching new optional name badges for all retail employees that can include employees’ personal pronouns. Employees at T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile retail stores can choose to add any of the following options:

  • He/him/his
  • She/her/hers
  • They/them/theirs
  • Ask me my pronouns

This is for all retail employees, they say – so I guess that means that people in their stores can wear them if they choose? Which means that customers will be confronted with people ordering them to “ask my pronouns”? In a situation in which the customer has zero, repeat, zero need to know the employee’s pronouns because they are talking directly to the employee and anything other than “you” will simply create confusion? Why? Why invite employees to tell customers to “Ask me my pronouns” when it makes no sense and will strike the customer as repellently narcissistic? 

Do people not get that narcissism and self-obsession are not good things?

A whole switch in ideology

Nov 12th, 2019 11:02 am | By

Another move – finally!! – to give men a little attention for a change.

For the first time in its four-decade history, Dunedin’s Rape Crisis centre will work with sexual abuse victims of all genders.

The shift is part of a major overhaul of the organisation, which also includes changing its name to the Otepoti Collective Against Sexual Abuse (OCASA).

The move has been met with cautious optimism by the head of a New Zealand male survivors group, who said the more support organisations could work together, the better.

OCASA development co-ordinator Angelo Libeau said the historically women-only organisation had changed its constitution to work with people of all genders.

Good, because why should everything be about women all the time? For centuries, millennia, everything has always been all about women. At last we are starting to redress the balance!

“We said `if we’re going to make these changes, can we still maintain our feminist philosophies’, and we talked about it for a really long time, and then we went `absolutely you can – it’s about how you manage the space to keep everybody safe’.”

He described the change as “quite huge”.

Yes, it is.

Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust chairman Phillip Chapman said Otago was leading the way in terms of communicating with the organisation.

But he acknowledged it would require some changes.

“If you’re only working with female victims, you don’t get the most pleasant view of men.

“So to start working with them, it’s a whole switch in ideology.”

Yes, it is.

Why Stephen Miller is trending

Nov 12th, 2019 10:54 am | By

In We already knew this but more so news, the SPLC has a new report on just how racist Stephen Miller is.

Senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller shaped the 2016 election coverage of the hard right-wing website Breitbart with material drawn from prominent white nationalists, Islamophobes, and far-right websites, according to a new investigative report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Miller also railed against those wishing to remove Confederate monuments and flags from public display in the wake of Dylann Roof’s murderous 2015 attack on a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, and praised America’s early 20th-century race-based, restrictionist immigration policies.

There’s this trove of emails, see.

The SPLC story is based largely on emails provided by a former Breitbart writer, Katie McHugh. McHugh was fired by Breitbart over a series of anti-Muslim tweets and has since renounced the far right, telling the SPLC that the movement is “evil”.

However, throughout 2015 and 2016, as the Trump campaign progressed and she became an increasingly influential voice at Breitbart, McHugh told the SPLC that Miller urged her in a steady drumbeat of emails and phone calls to promote arguments from sources popular with far-right and white nationalist movements.

It’s his field, his specialty, his leitmotif.

Peak stupid

Nov 12th, 2019 9:38 am | By

The University and College Union – UCU – in the UK has issued a position on trans inclusion [pdf].

It doesn’t start well.

UCU has a long history (from predecessor unions) of enabling members to self-identify whether that is being black, disabled, LGBT+ or women.

Oh really? I don’t believe that. UCU members can just “self-identify” as black or disabled even if they’re obviously…not? They can “self-identify” as lesbian or gay even if their sex lives and love lives are in fact entirely straight?

I don’t believe a word of that. And it’s the first sentence, so there you go.

UCU women’s conference passed an advisory motion in 2017.

Women’s conference reaffirms:

That our women’s structures within the union belong to all self-identifying women.

That our movement must be a safe space for all women.

That our strength is our collectively in fighting the structures that oppress women and that there is vital work to be done in building and channelling our collective strength.

The first item conflicts with the next two. If their “women’s structures” belong to men who “self-identify” as women as well as to actual women, then their movement can’t be a safe space for women and it can’t fight the structures that oppress women. If women are no longer allowed to organize and campaign as women then they no longer have any rights or strength or “empowerment.”

On page 2 –

UCU supports the right of all women (including trans women) to safe spaces and the continuation of monitoring that can help identify discrimination against women, men and those who identify as non-binary.

What is “discrimination” if it’s against women, men and those who identify as non-binary? That’s everyone, so what kind of “discrimination” is it? Sounds like a personal problem.

The UCU Women members’ conference 2018 agreed a motion reaffirming trans women are to be included in all UCU women’s organising agendas and actions.

All. Women can’t have anything that’s just for women.

UCU is committed to an intersectional approach within all its work. The concept of intersectionality has at its core an understanding that within marginalised groups there are a number of different identities, such as white women, Black women, disabled women, cis women, trans women.

Did a child write this?

One of the debates around gender identity is that there is a perceived conflict between trans rights and women’s rights. This is not new, for many years some feminist groups have been opposed to trans women being part of the organising agenda and activities. This has often been situated in a challenge that trans women are or at least have been men and therefore part of the oppressive machine against women. Trans women state that this position is core to the discrimination they face and prevents them being able to have the rights they need to live full lives. Saying or implying that trans women are really men denies trans women their right to be women.

But there is no such thing as a “right to be women.” That’s a made-up right, a pretend right, a fictional right. Men don’t have a “right to be women.” There is no such right, and men don’t have it, and it’s ludicrous to pretend that oppression or inequality works this way. Does Donald Trump have a “right” to be a war veteran? Does Sean Hannity have a “right” to be Randy Rainbow? Does Ivanka Trump have a “right” to be Rosa Parks?


Kathleen Stock has commentary.

Women’s sports are prospering so it’s time to give them to men

Nov 11th, 2019 4:47 pm | By

Outsports, self-described as “the leader in LGBTQ sports news & commentary for athletes, coaches & fans,” tweets:

For decades, women’s sports have existed to create opportunities for cis women and non-binary athletes. It’s finally time to include trans women in the growth and prosperity of women’s sports. Let’s have that conversation.

For decades, women’s sports have existed to create opportunities for women – but not all that many decades, and it took a fierce struggle, and the struggle for funding and coverage and fairness continues. Yes, women’s and girls’ sports exist to create opportunities for women and girls to play sports , and why shouldn’t they? That was the whole point, remember? Girls didn’t get that much opportunity, and neither did women, so quite a few women and girls thought it would be good to fix that problem. The situation has improved but certainly not as much as it could have. Why the hell should women’s sports now include men who claim to be women? Men already have sports, they don’t need to take over women’s too.

The sheer entitled gall of it is just disgusting.

Illustrating it with DOCTOR McKinnon doesn’t help, either.

Updating to add: there’s also an earlier tweet (with the same wording) that has 200+ replies. Hostile replies.