Notes and Comment Blog

Tragic role model deficit strikes boys

Jul 23rd, 2017 5:10 am | By

Well that takes the biscuit.

A former Doctor Who actor has hit out at the BBC’s decision to cast Jodie Whittaker in the role, saying that the decision meant there is “a loss of a role model for boys”.

Peter Davison said she is a “terrific actress” but  that he has doubts that she is right for the role.

He said before an appearance at  at Comic-Con in San Diego: “If I feel any doubts, it’s the loss of a role model for boys who I think Doctor Who is vitally important for.”

I see – so it’s only boys who should have role models. Girls should just be passive blobs, with no goals, no choices, no aspirations, nothing to do or achieve – they just wait to grow up and be taken over by whatever role-model-enhanced boy decides he needs his own passive blob to fuck.

Boys need role models because they’re real people, who have to grow up and do something in the world. Girls don’t, because they’re not real people, they’re just mindless lumps of flesh.

Also, it’s not enough that boys have had and still have thousands of role models already. No, it’s urgent that all role models should remain role models for boys and boys only forever, while girls do without, because after all, what hope is there for a girl?

It’s not enough that boys have had the Doctor as a role model since 1963, no, that’s not enough, they have to go on having him forever, while girls stand on the sidelines where they belong.

Stay in your lane, girls.

A serious question about the state of intersectional feminism

Jul 22nd, 2017 5:55 pm | By

Emily Shire at the Daily Beast notes that the celebrity hijab-wearer and activist Linda Sarsour called Jake Tapper of CNN part of the alt-right.

The woman widely considered the face of January’s Women’s March and the larger intersectional resistance movement against the Trump administration took aim at a journalist from the news network the President has all but declared war on because Tapper raised a serious question about the state of intersectional feminism.

Monday afternoon, he retweeted a message from the Women’s March celebrating the birthday of the “revolutionary” Assata Shakur. The warm illustration of Shakur against a pink-to-purple background didn’t mention her conviction for murdering state trooper Werner Foerster when he pulled over a car with Shakur and two other members of the Black Liberation Army. Shakur escaped prison and fled to Cuba, which granted her asylum. As The Daily Beast’s Michael Daly noted in a 2014 report,  “The FBI continued to consider her [Shakur] so dangerous that it offered the $1 million reward in 2005 and put her on the Most Wanted Terrorists List” in 2013.

So Tapper called out the Women’s March and specifically mentioned Sarsour and the Chicago Dyke March — the group that proudly expelled marchers for carrying flags with Stars of David in a gesture that many (including me) have criticized as blatantly anti-Semitic — for throwing their support behind Shakur: “Shakur is a cop-killer fugitive in Cuba. This, ugly sentiments from @lsarsour & @dykemarchchi …Any progressives out there condemning this?”

Sarsour tweeted back that Tapper “joins the ranks of the alt-right to target me online. Welcome to the party.”

That’s a bad and stupid thing for her to say. It’s not alt-right for progressives to take issue with, for instance, celebrating a convicted murderer. [Updating to add: But see Steamshovelmama @ 6 for reasons to think the conviction is unsafe.]

It’s always pissed me off that Sarsour was the face of the Women’s March…hijab and all. Hijab is not in any way progressive or a symbol of left-wing values.

This is the left’s version of Trump’s favorite bogeyman, “fake news.” Sarsour, like Trump, cheaply and falsely defames those who raise legitimate concerns or report non-favorable information about her.

There is a real alt-right, and people do share fake news,  sometimes with violent ramifications (the Comet Ping Pong pizza shooting is proof of that). This is something else.

Sarsour challenged Tapper to “please share my ‘ugly’ sentiments? Unapologetically Muslim? Unapologetically Palestinian? Pro-immigrant? Pro-justice? Shame.” Tapper responded by reminding the internet that Sarsour had attacked anti-female genital mutilation activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, saying she wished she could “take [her] vagina away” and that she didn’t “deserve to be [a] wom[a]n.”

Very social justice, much progressive.

We would be a dictatorship, not a democracy

Jul 22nd, 2017 5:14 pm | By

Harvard professor of constitutional law Noah Feldman says no, Trump can’t pardon himself, not because it would break a rule but because it would be the end of the US.

Here’s some unsolicited advice for President Donald Trump: Don’t listen to any lawyers who might tell you that you can pardon yourself, or even that it’s a close legal question. You can’t — and no court is going to rule otherwise.

There’s a decent historical argument about why, but it’s beside the point. The bottom line is that if the president could pardon himself, we would no longer have a republic — nor a government of laws rather than men. We would be a dictatorship, not a democracy.

You know that. Americans know it. The Supreme Court knows it. Now let’s move on.

Well I think “You know that” is too optimistic, but anyway.

[A]s early as 1311 (you read that right), Parliament forced the king to promise that he would only pardon “by process of law and the custom of the realm.” The idea was to rein in the pardon power, making it into an instrument of law, not of arbitrary royal prerogative.

Given that worry about the anti-legal nature of the pardon power was already more than 450 years old when the Founding Fathers drafted the U.S. Constitution during the hot summer of 1787, it’s a bit surprising that the pardon power even made it in.

In Philadelphia, the more rights-oriented republicans, like George Mason of Virginia, questioned the whole idea of the pardon power. The more pro-executive participants, like Alexander Hamilton and James Wilson, managed to get it in, albeit without much debate. The idea was that pardons served mercy and could be expedient.

Pardoning oneself obviously has nothing to do with mercy.

But frankly, the history isn’t the point. The basic problem with self-pardon is that it would make a mockery of the very idea that the U.S. operates under the rule of law. A president who could self-pardon could violate literally any federal law with impunity, knowing that the only risk was removal from office by impeachment.

We have a name for an elected leader who is outside the law: dictator. And dictatorship is fundamentally inconsistent with the republic established by the Constitution. In fact, it’s a little difficult to think of any single idea that would more grossly violate the rule of law than a president free to break any and every law and then wave a get-out-of-jail-free card.

Trump is being a dictator in every way he can get away with it.

I can predict with complete confidence that no court would uphold a presidential self-pardon. To do so would be to render the courts essentially useless as checks on the executive, to say nothing of Congress, which passes the laws in the first place.

This isn’t a normal legal problem for courts to resolve by weighing plausible, competing arguments. It’s the whole ball of wax: the survival of constitutional government. The courts will treat it as such.

Good. I hope he’s right. It seems likely that he is – justices are not likely to surrender to a dictator.

Guest post: A generation of Limbaugh Babies

Jul 22nd, 2017 4:10 pm | By

Originally a comment by Jeff Engel on Hannity no-awarded.

Movement conservatism has two faces (in several senses, yeah, but in this case)….

There’s the one facing the rubes, “the masses”, where you feed them raw meat and get them into the ballot boxes and screaming on talk radio. That one’s been anti-intellectual pretty much forever, certainly going back to the printing press, before it was “movement” conservatism at all. Now it’s Hannity; back in the day, it was pogroms then the KKK.

But there’s also the verbose, pretentious Buckley tradition, that draws in the college students who swallow conservatism but appreciate a well-formed sentence and being able to look down on people on the basis of money or education. They’ll be the ones fondly recalling Burke, Montesquieu, Chesterton, or at least Locke, Smith and Rand. (Whether or not they’ll be representing all or any of them well is another thing.)

Being able to look down on the Hannity sorts – or their audience, certainly – is a crucial part of being a Buckley-style conservative.

But there isn’t much room for the Buckley crowd to quietly run things and take the Hannity mob for granted as mere ballot box fodder nowadays. For one thing, there’s been a generation of superficial thinkers who have been drawing in the college students and leaving them with Steve Bannon, Christina Hoff Sommers and Milo Yiannopoulos as (kittens help them) intellectual icons, so the “thoughtful” conservative wing is penetrated by the mob. For another, whether that generation is even pretending to think, it’s of an age to be managing things, and it’s been raised as Limbaugh Babies.

A report that found the apology inappropriate

Jul 22nd, 2017 12:57 pm | By

The CHE has useful background information on the Hypatia matter.

Miriam Solomon, a professor and chair of the philosophy department at Temple University and president of the Board of Directors, said the journal’s publisher, John Wiley & Sons, had brought in the Committee on Publication Ethics, an outside group that consults with editors and publishers of academic journals, to review the situation. The main question: Was the apology issued by the associate editors appropriate?

Last week the committee, known as COPE, produced a report that found the apology inappropriate, Ms. Solomon said. Even after the report’s findings were presented to the journal’s editors, the associate editors did not acknowledge any mistake in issuing the apology, and the board had to “take other measures,” she said. As a result, the board temporarily suspended the authority of the 10-member Associate Editorial Board.

They sound kind of Trump-like. WE DID NOTHING WRONG SHUT UP.

The associate editors “felt that they didn’t see that the COPE report had identified anything wrong with how they conducted themselves, whereas we thought they were pretty clear that you just don’t run off making public statements in your capacity as associate editors,” Ms. Anderson said.

The associate editors should now come to terms with the consequences of undermining the board’s power, she said.

And of doing their level best to destroy a colleague for no good reason – let’s not omit that little detail.

Both board members acknowledged that Hypatia’governing structure is complex. Still, the board is ultimately in charge of delivering the journal to the publisher and maintaining its finances, Ms. Solomon said. After the May controversy, journal submissions went down, and reviewers said they did not want to review articles if the associate editors might issue statements as they did concerning the controversy over Ms. Tuvel’s article.

Yep. They were all thinking, “Jeez, what if I put a foot wrong, will they tear me to shreds the same way? Better not risk it.” And they were right, too.

The Associate Editors did not in any way speak for the journal

Jul 22nd, 2017 12:20 pm | By

The Board of Directors of Hypatia posted a statement on the Hypatia site:

It is with disappointment and regret that the Board of Directors of Hypatia has received the news that Sally Scholz and Shelley Wilcox [the on-line reviews editor] are resigning from their roles as editors of Hypatia. Throughout their tenure with the journal, they have stood by fundamental principles of publication ethics, which call upon all who are involved in the governance of a journal to respect the integrity of the peer-review process and to support authors published by the journal (with rare exceptions such as plagiarism and fraud). The Board is also committed to these principles and fully supports Scholz and Wilcox in their commitment to and execution of them.

Unfortunately, the Associate Editors’ public apology for the publication of an article failed to respect these principles. Their action, appearing to speak for the journal rather than as individuals, invited confusion over who speaks for Hypatia. It also damaged the reputations of both the journal and its Editors, Scholz and Wilcox, and has made it impossible for the Editors to maintain the public credibility and trust that peer reviewed academic journal editorship requires.

We wish to reiterate that neither Hypatia, nor the journal’s Editors, have apologized for or retracted the article in question. We also wish to reaffirm that the Associate Editors did not in any way speak for the journal, nor do they have authority to do so.

As the board ultimately responsible for the well-being of the journal, we find it necessary at this time to take emergency measures to restore the academic integrity of the journal and shepherd it through a transition period to a new editorial team. Thus, we have temporarily suspended the authority of the Associate Editorial Board. As detailed in the Editors’ statement, Sally Scholz has generously offered to continue to take Hypatia issues already in the works through production. Hypatia Reviews Online will be managed through January 1, 2018 by Joan Woolfrey and Simon Ruchti of West Chester University. We hope to announce an Interim Editor shortly. Villanova University is continuing its support of the journal office and Managing Editor until January 1, 2018. We do not forsee any interruption in the operation and publication of Hypatia.

Simultaneously, we are assembling a task force devoted to restructuring Hypatia’s governance in order to create a structure that is conducive to continued academic integrity and appropriate editorial autonomy, while maintaining resources for useful and diverse editorial advice. From this point forward, everyone involved in the governance of Hypatia will be required to commit to COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) principles (, which include respect for the autonomy of the Editors and the integrity of the peer review process. We are focused on the future of Hypatia, and we hope to work with many in the Hypatia community and the broader communities of feminist philosophy in making the changes necessary to ensure that this future is a bright and inclusive one.

We are very sorry to see Sally Scholz and Shelley Wilcox depart Hypatia, especially under these circumstances. In their four years as an Editorial team, they have produced journal issues of the highest quality and they have undertaken many creative initiatives to further the cause of feminist philosophy. These include the expansion of Hypatia Reviews Online (tripling the number of book reviews), a major conference on diversity in philosophy, the creation of podcasts and videos to make the work of authors more accessible, and social media initiatives on Facebook and Twitter. They substantially increased the number and diversity of peer-reviewers, the readership of Hypatia, and Hypatia’s citation record. We are proud of what they have accomplished and thank them wholeheartedly for their service. We wish them well in their future endeavors.

Brian Leiter comments:

Professor Scholz, unlike her Associate Editors, behaved professionally during this whole affair.

To my  knowledge, none of the miscreants, now suspended, or others ever apologized for their mistreatment and defamation of Professor Tuvel, not even the appalling Professor Heyes.

UPDATE:  I’m told by a reliable source that Professor Heyes did apologize privately to Professor Tuvel.  That is something, though it does not alter the basic fact about her appalling misconduct in this matter.

Daily Nous also reports.


Hannity no-awarded

Jul 22nd, 2017 12:11 pm | By

Even some conservatives don’t like Sean Hannity.

Fox News Channel star anchor Sean Hannity will no longer receive the conservative Media Research Center’s William F. Buckley Award for Media Excellence at its September 21 gala, sources familiar with the situation tell CNN.

Buckley, the founder of the National Review, who died in 2008, was hailed in his day as “arguably the most important public intellectual in the United States.” Giving an award in his name to Hannity — a pugnacious talk radio host who has shared conspiracy theories on his popular cable news show — had caused hand wringing among some conservatives.

It also caused distress among Buckley’s family — in particular his only child, best-selling author Christopher Buckley.

A source familiar with the situation tells CNN that Christopher Buckley “expressed great dismay” at the announcement that the award would go to Hannity, who has spent a great deal of time insulting conservative intellectuals on Twitter, particularly since he became a strong supporter of Donald Trump.

Left and right is only one tribe. Another is intellectuals and anti-intellectuals aka “populists.” The latter can often trump the former.

After the initial announcement by MRC that Hannity would receive the media award, many conservative writers and intellectuals expressed dismay. Perhaps most notably, conservative New York Times columnist Bret Stephens wrote an entire column about it, decrying the move as evidence of an overall trend towards anti-intellectualism among the conservative movement.

“If we have reached the point where rank-and-file conservatives see nothing amiss with giving Hannity an award named for Buckley, then surely there’s a Milton Friedman Prize awaiting Steve Bannon for his insights on free trade,” Stephens wrote. “The floor’s the limit. Or, in Hannity’s case, the crawl space beneath it.”

Good. I despise anti-intellectualism myself, so I approve this message.

Burning up the twitters

Jul 22nd, 2017 11:28 am | By

Trump was busy this morning.

A couple of days ago he was hanging Sessions out to dry; now he’s all indignant that a major newspaper dares to report his lies about contacts with Russia. He gets to shit on his people but no one else does, I guess.

The “failing” New York Times that he spilled his guts to a few days ago. Ok dude, whatever.

Having the power to do it isn’t the same thing as being able to get away with it.

“So many”=Donald Trump.

What about the fact that she’s a private citizen now?

Ooof, that’s big lie even for him. Little Don gave his emails to the media only after the Times told him they were about to release them. Plus Little Don has corrupt ties to the White House right now, which Hillary Clinton does not.

Taking away health insurance from millions is a WIN to this guy.

Repeat repeat repeat.

Aw Donnie’s playing sojer, how cute.

Stress test

Jul 22nd, 2017 10:59 am | By

As many people have been noticing, this situation exposes a certain flaw in the US Constitution – one that can be boiled down to: what happens if the president turns out to be a shameless crook?

CNN looks at how difficult it would or wouldn’t be for Trump to fire Mueller and then the constitutional issue.

Even if Trump cannot dispense with Mueller easily, the very idea that he might try exposes an inherent flaw in the US Constitution’s design, says Harvard Law School Professor Noah R. Feldman.

Feldman points out that the president is ultimately in charge of law enforcement as the head of the executive branch — a structural arrangement that works just fine until the president or those close to him come under investigation.

So if the President tries to fire Mueller or gets him fired, “it would expose a deep flaw in constitutional design” says Feldman, because it shows the ability of the president to successfully block an investigation — not a sign of a democratic society.

Indeed not, as we are learning with ever-deepening horror. Somehow a massively and visibly corrupt man got elected president after losing the popular vote by a wide margin, and now surprise surprise he’s acting the way a massively corrupt man would act, given nearly unfettered power.

Feldman says it’s a stress test. So far we’re failing it.

Speaking of Jeff Sessions…

Jul 21st, 2017 5:18 pm | By

Yet another boom-story. Sessions talked about policy issues with Kislyak during the campaign, even though he swore up and down that he hadn’t.

Russia’s ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials both in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

One U.S. official said that Sessions — who testified that he has no recollection of an April encounter — has provided “misleading” statements that are “contradicted by other evidence.”

And what’s another word for that, children? Can you think of the other word? That’s right – perjury. It looks as if Mr Sessions committed per-jur-y.

Sessions has said repeatedly that he never discussed campaign-related issues with Russian officials and that it was only in his capacity as a U.S. senator that he met with Kislyak.

“I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign,” Sessions said in March when he announced that he would recuse himself from matters relating to the FBI probe of Russian interference in the election and any connections to the Trump campaign.

Quite a collection of shoes we have now.

Caligula appointed his horse

Jul 21st, 2017 4:12 pm | By

Why not just put dogs and cats in science jobs in the Trump administration?

President Donald Trump plans to nominate his longtime campaign aide Sam Clovis to head science at the US Department of Agriculture, despite the fact that Clovis lacks a background in science and a congressional rule maintains that the role must be filled “from among distinguished scientists.”

It’s all part of draining the swamp. Putting scientists in science-based jobs is very swampy.

[T]here’s a stipulation in the Farm Bill that was first added in 2008 that mandates that all nominees to the chief scientist role at the USDA be a scientist — something Clovis is not.

“The Under Secretary shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, from among distinguished scientists with specialized training or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics,” the statute reads.

But he’s the president, so he can just ignore statutes.

Clovis is a climate change denier, of course.

Clovis’ nomination to the USDA was met with some outrage.

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said he was “extremely concerned” about the nomination.
“The person who serves as the USDA’s top scientist is required to actually be a scientist. This is not just my opinion, but also a statutory requirement,” Coons said in a statement.

The Union of Concerned Scientists responded to the nomination with outrage posting a statement online: “With no background in science, Clovis — who is also a vocal climate denier — is an unacceptable and illegal choice for this important role that affects farmers, rural communities, and the health and nutrition of all Americans.”

Clovis’ nomination will go through a hearing with the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry in order to be confirmed. A hearing date has not yet been set.

Maybe the Committee will block the confirmation hahahajustkidding.

Her own child

Jul 21st, 2017 1:18 pm | By

Alabama forced-pregnancy fanatics call a raped girl of 12 a murderer for having an abortion.

Two conservative lawyers in Alabama held a press conference this week to denounce a court’s ruling allowing an abortion for a 12-year-old who was raped, reported.

The attorneys — Win Johnson and Lorie Mullins — argued that the girl was not mature enough to make such a “life or death” decision.

She wasn’t mature enough to be raped, either, nor was she mature enough to carry a pregnancy to term, let alone to take care of a baby.

Johnson, a former legal director under controversial Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, said it was ridiculous that the court would rule that the tween “was mature enough — and I’m going to put this in its starkest terms — to decide to murder her own child in her womb.”

“Now, nobody has said that to her, I bet you, in any of her counseling,” Johnson added. “Nobody has explained that to her in its starkest, rawest form, like that. But what if it was, what if she really thought through it, even as a 12-year-old and said, ‘Gosh, I don’t want that on my conscience.’”

Here’s another starkest rawest way to put it: it was also the fetus – not the “child” – of her rapist. If she let the pregnancy continue she would eventually give birth to the infant of the guy who raped her. Maybe she didn’t want that on her conscience – or inside her body. Maybe she didn’t want to combine her DNA with that of her rapist and see what intriguing mix that would turn out to be. Maybe she didn’t want to carry a baby that was forced on her. Maybe she didn’t want to let an act of violence and hatred result in a person after 9 months inside her body. Maybe she didn’t want her not yet mature body ripped up by giving birth to a rapist’s baby.



Jul 21st, 2017 1:06 pm | By

Brian Beutler at the New Republic sums it all up chillingly: it’s an authoritarian crisis waiting to happen.

The scope of that crisis is much clearer now that the Washington Post is reporting that Trump is discussing the possibility of pardoning himself, his family, and his closest aides to short-circuit the sprawling investigation of his campaign’s complicity in Russia’s subversion of the 2016 election. Trump’s team is also, according to the Post and another Times story, digging up dirt on the special counsel investigators in an attempt to discredit them.

It’s not Sessions, he says, it’s Mueller, and Trump’s telling the Times he thinks Mueller’s investigating his financial doings crosses a line.

In a more rule-bound environment, Mueller’s interest in opening Trump’s books would probably be checkmate for the president. Quite apart from the question of whether his campaign conspired with Russian intelligence to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign, it is widely suspected that a peek under the hood of the Trump organization will reveal serious financial crimes. Assuming that informed speculation is correct, and assuming our system of checks hasn’t broken down, Mueller would uncover the wrongdoing and bring down a president, or Trump would fire Mueller and Congress would step in to edge Trump out.

But at the moment there are no reliable sources of accountability. None.

The sources of accountability are all contingent on political power. That’s no good.

Should Trump fire Mueller, with the tacit assent of Republicans in Congress and the DOJ leadership, there will be little recourse. It is feasible (though difficult) to imagine a GOP House and Senate passing an independent counsel statute to restore Mueller to his job; it is nearly impossible to imagine them doing so by veto-proof margins. And should Trump pardon himself and his inner circle, it is dispiritingly easy to imagine Republicans reprising their familiar refrain: The president’s power to pardon is beyond question.

So we could be living under a complete Trump takeover in a matter of weeks.

Even if it damages relations with Saudi Arabia

Jul 21st, 2017 12:21 pm | By

The UK government commissioned a report on Saudi funding of Islamist groups, but is keeping the contents secret.

It was commissioned by the Coalition government, after Liberal Democratic pressure, but must be held back on “national security” grounds, Amber Rudd said.

An exclusive poll for The Independent revealed that most people want to see the facts about foreign funding of Islamist extremism in Britain, even if it damages relations with Saudi Arabia.

It found that 64 per cent of the public wants the report to be made “publicly available in full”, with only 11 per cent backing its suppression.

The same survey found Britain must end arms sales to Saudi Arabia while the country is accused of the large-scale slaughter of civilians in Yemen’s civil war.

The results laid bare the public’s deep unease about Britain’s close relationship with an autocracy embroiled in a devastating war in neighbouring Yemen.

Not to mention a war on people in Saudi Arabia, especially women, dissenters, secularists, and foreign workers.

Homeopathy is so much cheaper

Jul 21st, 2017 12:05 pm | By

The NHS has finally decided to stop prescribing homeopathic “remedies.”

Announcing the plans, Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive, said homeopathy is “at best a placebo and a misuse of scarce NHS funds”.

Besides homeopathy, the plans highlight 17 other items that will no longer be available on prescription for reasons ranging from low clinical effectiveness to low cost-effectiveness. These include herbal medicines, Omega-3 fatty acid compounds, rubs and ointments used to relieve muscle pain known as rubefacients…

And offerings to Asklepios.

“Homeopathy is based on implausible assumptions and the most reliable evidence fails to show that it works beyond a placebo effect. It can cause severe harm when used as an alternative to effective treatments,” said Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter. “Therefore, it is high time that the NHS stops funding it and instead employs our scarce resources on treatments that are backed by sound science.”

The view was echoed by Michael Marshall, project director of the Good Thinking Society, an organisation that previously threatened the Department of Health with a judicial review if it failed to put complementary and alternative therapies on the blacklist for prescriptions.

“This is very welcome news,” said Marshall. “Every credible medical body certainly knows that homeopathic remedies are just not effective for any conditions at all and it is great to see this strong statement from NHS England officially acknowledging the fact.”

The response from the other side is classic.

 Cristal Sumner, chief executive of the British Homeopathic Association said the NHS plans were “bad for its already overstretched budget and for patients” and criticised the report used to draw up the new guidelines.

“This recommendation is not cost effective as patients will be prescribed more expensive conventional drugs in place of homeopathy, which defeats the object of the exercise,” she said.

Oh certainly, because cheaper nothing is much more cost effective than more expensive actual medicine that actually works.

After denouncing chaos in the West Wing

Jul 21st, 2017 11:18 am | By

Spicey has had enough.

 Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, resigned on Friday morning, after denouncing chaos in the West Wing and telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of the New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director

Mr. Trump offered Mr. Scaramucci the job at 10 a.m. The president requested that Mr. Spicer stay on, but Mr. Spicer told Mr. Trump that he believed the appointment was a major mistake, according to person with direct knowledge of the exchange.

Scaramucci is a finance person and a commentator on Fox News.

His resignation is a serious blow to the embattled White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, the former Republican Party chairman who brought Mr. Spicer into the West Wing despite skepticism from Mr. Trump, who initially questioned his loyalty.

He was not alone. Mr. son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has grown critical of both Mr. Spicer and Mr. Priebus, whom he regards as party establishment figures who operate out of self-interest.

I like the “Mr. son-in-law” – it sums him up. Why on earth does he have a job in the White House, given his complete lack of relevant education and experience? Because he’s Mr. son-in-law.

The appointment of Mr. Scaramucci, a favorite of Mr. Trump’s earliest campaign supporters, was backed by the president’s daughter Ivanka, his son-in-law and adviser Mr. Kushner and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the officials said.

I hope we can stop hearing about Ivanka as one of Trump’s more reasonable advisers now.


Jul 21st, 2017 10:14 am | By

The Times reports high anxiety in the White House.

The effort to investigate the investigators is another sign of a looming showdown between Mr. Trump and Mr. Mueller, who has assembled a team of high-powered prosecutors and agents to examine whether any of Mr. Trump’s advisers aided Russia’s campaign to disrupt last year’s presidential election.

Some of the investigators have vast experience prosecuting financial malfeasance, and the prospect that Mr. Mueller’s inquiry could evolve into an expansive examination of Mr. Trump’s financial history has stoked fears among the president’s aides. Both Mr. Trump and his aides have said publicly they are watching closely to ensure Mr. Mueller’s investigation remains narrowly focused on last year’s election.

Yes well see this is why it’s not such a great idea to elect a sleazy real estate marketer and scam artist to the presidency. Mr. Trump’s financial history is also Mr. Trump’s gigantic tangle of overlapping conflicts of interest.

CNN points out that it’s always hard to tell with Trump if he’s deliberately testing boundaries or just blissfully unaware that they exist.

The Washington Post and the Times ran stories Thursday night suggesting Trump’s lawyers are working on ways to undercut the probe by special counsel Robert Mueller into whether any of the President’s campaign aides colluded in Russian election meddling. The two papers reported that Trump’s legal team is examining potential conflicts of interest in Mueller’s outfit, in what appears to be evolving into an unavoidable showdown between the White House and the special counsel.

The quickly building drama is prompting discussion about the potential reach of presidential power and Trump’s willingness to test the boundaries of his authority, in possibly unprecedented ways.

It is often difficult to be sure whether the President is pursuing a deliberate strategy to stretch his powers or is simply unfamiliar with their limits.

In speculating on the parameters of the investigation by Mueller, and in rebuking Sessions, Trump appeared to be either confusing, or deliberately discounting, traditions that offer the Justice Department a high degree of insulation from politics and the White House itself.

The complaint about Sessions reveals at a minimum that he’s indifferent to the fact that Sessions recused himself on the grounds that not to do so would cause a conflict of interest since he was a key member of Trump’s campaign team.

The President’s comments caused consternation in Washington among Democrats who spoke out publicly and Republicans who expressed their concern in a more private fashion.

“It would be unprecedented in American history for a President to be successful in removing that special counsel and dictating the terms of an investigation into possibly him and his family and his associates,” said Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro on CNN.

Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons said that Trump’s attempt to brush back Mueller and his anger at Sessions were both inappropriate.

“I think the President is confusing what the role is of the Department of Justice,” Coons told CNN. “Officials who lead of the Department of Justice take an oath to uphold the Constitution — not a loyalty oath to the President.”

CNN makes the connection between these demands for loyalty and Trump’s mobster-like attempts to get Comey to swear loyalty to him.

The President’s expansive view of the deference he is owed is not confined to his dealings with the Justice Department and the FBI. It is ingrained in his approach to politics and the Republican Party on Capitol Hill as well.

When the Senate Republican majority first admitted defeat in the bid to repeal and replace Obamacare, Trump took it as a personal insult.

“Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard,” Trump tweeted, implying that those GOP senators who opposed the bill were disloyal.

On Wednesday Trump “jokingly” threatened a Republican senator with losing his seat if he didn’t Get Onside.

Trump also seems to view the presidency as a justification for loyalty that only goes in one direction — in a departure from the way most recent presidents have kept the confidence of those who often make great sacrifices to work for them.

His harsh criticism of Sessions in the New York Times interview further buckled morale in the West Wing, since Sessions, who gave up a safe Senate seat from Alabama to serve in the administration, showed early, and consistent, loyalty to Trump during the campaign.

CNN’s Jeff Zeleny reported that the episode has a “chilling” effect in the West Wing among officials who thought if Sessions could come under fire, they could face Trump’s wrath next.

White House deputy spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders denied that Trump was hurting his own Cabinet.

Of course she did; she’s one of the Loyal ones.

Spicey on the other hand just quit.

The President believes that law enforcement should be at his personal beck and call

Jul 20th, 2017 6:11 pm | By

Benjamin Wittes analyzes Trump’s horrifying interview with the Times.

He says Sessions should resign, because he shouldn’t stay in the office with Trump’s naked disdain for him on the record.

The president is evidently distraught at Sessions’s recusal from the Russia investigation “right after he gets the job.” (Sessions recused himself on March 2—three weeks after his swearing-in and fifteen weeks after his nomination.) The Attorney General gave the president “zero” heads up, Trump says. In Trump’s view: “Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.” He twice describes Sessions’s decision as “unfair to the president,” seemingly unaware that his recusal was almost surely compelled by Justice Department recusal rules. That is, the President is openly expressing bitterness toward his attorney general for following the rules—because the rules don’t favor Trump’s interests. He wants an attorney general who will actively supervise the Justice Department, and the Russia investigation, in a fashion congenial to his interests, and he has no compunction about saying so explicitly. He made perfectly clear that he regrets appointing Sessions. He made equally clear that Sessions’s job is, in his mind, a personal service contract to him and that if Sessions couldn’t deliver on service to Trump, he shouldn’t have taken the position.

Trump seems to think, literally, that the members of his cabinet work for him in the same sense that employees of his business work for him. He seems to have no idea that they work for the country, not for him.

Sessions has hardly shrouded himself in glory over the past few months, but it is wildly improper for the President to talk about the attorney general in this fashion. The attorney general serves at his pleasure. If he is dissatisfied with Sessions’s performance, Trump can remove him. Unlike the FBI director, Sessions does not have a ten-year term that creates some normative expectation of retention. It would be, of course, inappropriate to fire the attorney general for having the temerity to follow Justice Department recusal policies on the advice of career lawyers, but it’s also inappropriate to whine publicly about his conduct without removing him. For those who need a reminder, the proper thing for a President to say publicly about a recusal in a live investigative matter—one that involves him directly and personally—is nothing whatsoever.

But Trump thinks he’s there to defy any notion of what’s proper, and instead do whatever his id prompts him to do.

Trump also dissed Rosenstein, and then there is Mueller.

The president declares bluntly, “I have done nothing wrong. A special counsel should never have been appointed in this case.” And he regards Mueller as conflicted because he was briefly considered to replace Comey.

Trump describes his meeting with Mueller while interviewing him for the job of FBI Director as “wonderful” and says that “of course … he wanted the job.” And he seems to regard this as some kind of conflict of interest on Mueller’s part. Trump does not seem to understand or even be able to imagine that Mueller might have been talking to him out of a sense of public service, not personal interest, with respect to an agency he had led for a long time and treasures and which Trump had plunged into crisis.

That’s because he has a tiny, sordid, empty mind. There’s nothing in there. There’s only Self, which dwells more in the intestines than in the mind. A guy with a a tiny, sordid, empty mind thinks everyone is as sordid and empty as he is.

And to top it off, the President apparently feels no compunction either about commenting on the proper scope of Mueller’s investigation substantively. When asked whether a potential investigation of the Trump family finances “unrelated to Russia” would constitute a “red line” in the investigation, Trump stated, “I think that’s a violation.” And he didn’t say no when asked whether such conduct would lead him to fire Mueller; rather, he hedged, stating that “I can’t answer that question because I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

He thinks he can tell them all what to do at any moment – even when they’re investigating his potential corruptions and crimes.

If, on reading this, it sounds like the President believes that law enforcement should be at his personal beck and call, that’s because that is, in fact, exactly what he believes. We know this because he made this belief perfectly clear in the interview as well. At one point, he offered an extraordinary account of the history of the FBI and its relationship to the Justice Department. He indicated that around the time of the Nixon administration, “out of courtesy, the F.B.I. started reporting to the Department of Justice.” He continued: “But there was nothing official, there was nothing from Congress. There was nothing — anything. But the FBI person really reports directly to the president of the United States, which is interesting. You know, which is interesting.”


Trump’s logic isn’t easy to follow here, but his core claim is unmistakeable—and “interesting” is a generous word for it: the FBI director serves the president. As a matter of constitutional hierarchy, this is of course true. But in investigative matters, the FBI director does not, or should not, serve the president by reporting to him. He serves the president by leading law enforcement in an independent and apolitical fashion. And it is fundamentally corrupt for any president to be asking him to do otherwise.

Yes but as he likes to tell us, he’s the president and we’re not.

In a foundational 1978 speech that has shaped subsequent Department policy, Jimmy Carter’s attorney general, Griffin Bell, affirmed the independence of the Justice Department and its constituent entities, including the FBI. Bell declared, “it is improper for any Member of Congress, any member of the White House staff, or anyone else, to attempt to influence anyone in the Justice Department with respect to a particular litigation decision, except by legal argument or the provision of relevant facts.”

The astonishing implication of Trump’s view is that he believes the president may shut down an FBI investigation that displeases him. Indeed, Trump went so far as to say that too: when explaining why it would not be a problem even if he had told Comey to drop the Flynn investigation, he stated, “other people go a step further. I could have ended that whole thing just by saying—they say it can’t be obstruction because you can say: ‘It’s ended. It’s over. Period.’”

In an environment in which the President of the United States, in a single interview, expresses no-confidence in the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, the special counsel, the acting FBI director, and the special counsel’s staff, and in which he makes clear that the FBI should be his personal force and that all of law enforcement should be about serving him, the principle protection is having people with backbone who are willing to do their jobs and stand up for one another in the elevation of their oaths of office over political survival.

But Rosenstein is not acting as if he’s one of those people.

We are in a dangerous moment—one in which the President, with his infinite sense of grievance, feels entitled publicly to attack the entire federal law enforcement apparatus, and that apparatus, in turn, lacks a single person with the stature, the institutional position, and the fortitude to stand up to him. Sessions has not done so. While Rosenstein did the country an enormous service when he appointed Mueller, he acted as an enabler of the Comey firing in the first instance and did not do himself credit yesterday. Mueller certainly has the stature, but by the nature of his position he cannot say anything publicly; he is investigating the President and thus cannot also confront him. And McCabe, who has been both able and courageous in the aftermath of Comey’s firing, is in an acting capacity.

The man who had the stature, the institutional position, and the moral fiber to confront the President on such matters was Comey, who is no longer there and whom the President also slimed in his interview yesterday.

The result is an environment in which the President can say these things without obvious consequence, at least for now.

So we descend more steps down into the muck.

It’s a date

Jul 20th, 2017 1:59 pm | By

Trump told the Times that he simply went to say hi to Melania at that dinner, and then had a few words with Putin who just happened to be sitting there too oh gee Vlad I didn’t even know you were there.

Starting at 47 seconds you can watch Trump signaling to someone – witnesses say it was Putin – in schoolboy gesture language: You, me, we talktalk? You want to? Me, you? Ok?

The concern is not hypothetical

Jul 20th, 2017 1:16 pm | By

There’s also Deutsche Bank.

Most banks steer clear of Trump; Deutsche Bank is the big exception.

Regulators are reviewing hundreds of millions of dollars in loans made to Mr. Trump’s businesses through Deutsche Bank’s private wealth management unit, The New York Times reported, citing three people briefed on the review. The regulators are examining whether the loans might expose the banks to heightened risks.

New York regulators have paid particular attention to personal guarantees Mr. Trump made to obtain the loans.

There is no formal investigation of the bank, and personal guarantees are often required for big loans from wealth managers. The regulators are focused on whether these guarantees could create problems for Deutsche Bank should Mr. Trump fail to pay his debts, leaving it with a choice of suing him or risking being seen to have cut him a special deal. The concern is not hypothetical: Mr. Trump sued the bank to delay paying back an earlier loan.

You’d think that would make them want to terminate the relationship, wouldn’t you.

Separately, Deutsche Bank has been in contact with federal investigators, and it is likely eventually to have to provide information on the Trump accounts to the special counsel in the Russia inquiry, Robert S. Mueller III.

I’m sure he’ll find that everything is on the up and up.