Notes and Comment Blog

This intense focus on immediate needs

Jun 22nd, 2018 11:52 am | By

Returning to Jesse Singal’s Atlantic piece on children who say they are trans

The current era of gender-identity awareness has undoubtedly made life easier for many young people who feel constricted by the sometimes-oppressive nature of gender expectations. A rich new language has taken root, granting kids who might have felt alone or excluded the words they need to describe their experiences.

I’m not sure about that – I’m not sure the new language is genuinely rich. Is it rich or is it impoverished to decide that if you don’t like lipstick and high heels then you are a boy? Is it rich to substitute the trans vocabulary for the feminist vocabulary? Is it better to find your True Gender or to conclude that gender is bullshit?

Singal notes that professional science-based organizations advise caution and deliberation when it comes to physical alterations for children and teenagers.

The American Psychological Association’s guidelines sound a similar note, explaining the benefits of hormones but also noting that “adolescents can become intensely focused on their immediate desires.” It goes on: “This intense focus on immediate needs may create challenges in assuring that adolescents are cognitively and emotionally able to make life-altering decisions.”

The leading professional organizations offer this guidance. But some clinicians are moving toward a faster process. And other resources, including those produced by major LGBTQ organizations, place the emphasis on acceptance rather than inquiry.

Acceptance, affirmation, celebration, all very much instead of and in opposition to inquiry. That should have sent up warning flags long ago.

Ignoring the diversity of these experiences and focusing only on those who were effectively “born in the wrong body” could cause harm. That is the argument of a small but vocal group of men and women who have transitioned, only to return to their assigned sex. Many of these so-called detransitioners argue that their dysphoria was caused not by a deep-seated mismatch between their gender identity and their body but rather by mental-health problems, trauma, societal misogyny, or some combination of these and other factors. They say they were nudged toward the physical interventions of hormones or surgery by peer pressure or by clinicians who overlooked other potential explanations for their distress.

Singal of course has been piled on for saying that. No inquiry allowed.

Their phony stories of sadness and grief

Jun 22nd, 2018 11:20 am | By

This guy.


Jun 22nd, 2018 10:44 am | By

National Review:

Maajid Nawaz, the British Muslim reformer who recently recovered a large monetary settlement from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), is scheduled to meet with SPLC president Richard Cohen next week to demand an explanation for its decision to label him an “anti-Muslim extremist,” National Review learned Friday in an exclusive interview with Nawaz.

That is, to ask for an explanation. It sounds less pugnacious than that paragraph suggests.

Now, Nawaz wants answers. He reached out to Cohen following the settlement and Cohen replied Thursday night agreeing to the meeting.

“I’m going to fly out to New York in the coming week or so for the specific purpose of meeting with [Cohen] in private for however long it takes — a day, two days. And I have two objectives: I want to understand what the fuck happened. I really want to understand how on earth this could have happened,” Nawaz says. “I have my suspicions about whether the SPLC has been influenced by CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, and other Islamist-leaning organizations. In other words, was this a hit job? Did the SPLC go out and say, ‘Hey, Muslim community, we want to know who’s anti-Muslim,’ and instead of those organizations giving them genuine anti-Muslim individuals, they decided to use that as an opportunity to basically go after their opponents politically?”

That sounds very plausible. People here are naïve about CAIR: they think it’s a liberal anti-discrimination group and don’t realize how Islamist-leaning it is. CAIR of course is careful not to enlighten them.

Cohen and the SPLC were too quick to view the Muslim community as a “homogenous” group likely to understand all criticism as an affront, Nawaz says. During their meeting, the radio host and activist hopes to educate Cohen as to the explosive contest between fundamentalism and liberalism that is occurring within the Islamic community, citing political divisions within mainstream American society as a reference point.

I hope Cohen listens, I really do. The SPLC understands that there are reactionary theocratic Christian groups, certainly, so why can’t they understand that there are equivalent Islamic groups?

“I want to say to him, ‘You guys are getting it seriously wrong, which means you don’t understand the Muslim community. You need help and I’m prepared to help you understand the Muslim community but that will require a huge cognitive shift. It will require that you recognize that the debate that you have within the wider society about liberalism verses conservatism is a debate we’re having within our Muslim community, between liberalism and fundamentalism.’”

I hope Cohen listens.

A brag too many

Jun 22nd, 2018 10:11 am | By

Conduct unbecoming?

The U.S. Marine who marched with neo-Nazis in last summer’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been found guilty in a summary court-martial after he reportedly bragged online about participating in the violence that day.

Lance Cpl. Vasillios Pistolis was convicted Monday of failing to obey an order or regulation and making a false official statement under Articles 92 and 107 in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, according to the 2nd Marine Logistics Group.

Perhaps the regulation was something to do with beating up civilians.

The people behind you have a bus to catch

Jun 22nd, 2018 9:50 am | By

It still amazes me to see how people get lost in the maze of Jargon Absolutism – of treating certain sanctified verbal formulas as if they were reality itself. Say it and it becomes true no matter how nonsensical the content.

Blar blar identities are valid – the sacred formula is uttered and the molecules are changed. But what does it mean? What does it mean to say an “identity” is “valid”?

Identity can be a prosaic factual matter to do with some basic facts about who one is, as with an ID card to use a service one has paid for or registered for or both. It starts with name and can included date of birth, place of birth, sex, address, height and weight, eye color – neutral emotionless facts. That kind of identity is valid if the facts are correct and invalid if any of the facts have been falsified. That’s neither political nor interesting. But DOCTOR Adrian Harrop isn’t talking about that kind of identity, he’s talking about the new, holy, sacred kind of identity, that has no precise definition but is all the more mandatory for that. The less factual it is, the more the harrops need to shout about its validity on Twitter.

But Harrop wants this sacred kind of identity to be confirmed on the factual identity documents as well as in the throbbing hearts of devotees. That’s ludicrous. It’s like insisting that passports should include one’s favorite book or video game or city or bird. That’s not what passports are for. Passports aren’t little diary entries, and the officials who check them and stamp them don’t have time to learn about the glorious unique fascinating personality of the person presenting the passport. Yeah? When you show your passport you’re one of hundreds of people in a line of people and it’s not an occasion for showing off. Go ahead, be “nonbinary” if you’re dumb enough to think that means something, but passports don’t need that particular bit of your personality and it’s just boring tedious vanity to make a fuss about it.

And no their “existence” is not “denied” simply because their meaningless self-description is not included in their passports. My passport doesn’t say that I’m a nerd and yet I continue to exist.

She wore it at Andrews temp 81 Fahrenheit

Jun 21st, 2018 4:45 pm | By

A skeptical world responds.

I suppose tomorrow she’ll visit more captive children, wearing a jacket that says “Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.”

No it wasn’t an accidental wardrobe mishap

Jun 21st, 2018 4:26 pm | By

Tritler explains.

There was no hidden message

Jun 21st, 2018 1:09 pm | By

Aaaaaaaaaand this just in:

Well it’s certainly true there was no hidden message, it’s about as unhidden and overt and explicit as it could be.

I’m gobsmacked. What the hell was she thinking? What were the people around her thinking? What was anyone thinking?

Maybe they’re about to cut all our throats and that’s their mocking goodbye.

Scowl in place

Jun 21st, 2018 12:50 pm | By

Trump still being a shit one day after brief attempt to look less like a shit; world unsurprised.

A day after a rare retreat on the issue of separating immigrant children from their parents, President Trump lashed out angrily on Thursday at what he called “extremist, open-border Democrats” and again falsely blamed them for the political crisis that continues to roil his administration.

Mr. Trump, choosing hard-edged remarks at a cabinet meeting hours before the House was scheduled to vote on overhauling immigration laws, begged for Democratic support on the legislation even as he said Democratic lawmakers were causing “tremendous damage and destruction and lives.” And he repeated his false claim that Democrats forced family separations.

“They don’t care about the children. They don’t care about the injury. They don’t care about the problems,” Mr. Trump said, a scowl on his face and his arms crossed. “They don’t care about anything.”

The president’s stream-of-consciousness commentary also included an attack on Mexico for what he claimed was a failure to help stop illegal immigration into the United States. He said the trek through Mexico from Central America was like a walk through Central Park in New York City.

Yes, certainly, like a walk through Central Park, which is half a mile wide.

Meanwhile he sent the little woman off to Texas to pretend to care.

Melania Trump, the first lady, traveled on Thursday to a facility in McAllen, Tex., that is holding 55 children who have been separated from their parents. Mrs. Trump took a tour of the facility, called New Hope Children’s Shelter, and met with some of the children being held there.

In one classroom, she met with a group of children, some of whom spoke to her in English and others in Spanish, which was translated by their teacher.

Into Slovenian?

Officials at the facility say that the children held there are allowed to communicate with their families by phone twice a week.

Oh, my, how generous and kind.

The elleeet

Jun 21st, 2018 11:35 am | By

Trump wonders why “they” are called the elite when he is so much better in every single way. “I have a much better apartment than they do,” he said, smirking heavily.


Image result for trump apartment

Not his:

Image result for room with books

His is more expensive, for sure, but better?

20 days are enough for anyone surely

Jun 21st, 2018 11:01 am | By

There’s another kicker to Trump’s supposed rescinding of the policy to steal immigrants’ children: it’s good for only 20 days.

Though President Trump declared that the executive order he signed Wednesday would “solve” the problem of family separation while parents are prosecuted for illegal border crossing, the order is really only good for 20 days, CBS News’ Paula Reid reports, citing a source familiar with the drafting of the order. The order does not override the 1993 Flores v. Reno Supreme Court case, which says that detained migrant children cannot be held in government detention facilities for more than 20 days.

Essentially, this means that after the 20-day mark, children may still be separated from their parents.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) currently separates most families when they are apprehended for illegal border crossing, Reid notes. But now, with the executive order, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will take custody of the entire family. However, at the 20-day mark, under the Flores consent decree, the department will have to release the children from custody.

Mind you, other reporting I’ve seen says there are vague plans to try to tweak Flores in some way, but it also says it’s not clear that can be done, that it’s a can of worms, etc.

Oh (reading on) – this reporting too.

Nothing in the executive order stops the government from releasing the whole family, Reid says, but under Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ zero-tolerance policy, which states that the U.S. will prosecute all who cross the border illegally, releasing the family is unlikely.

Reid also reports that Sessions is expected to immediately ask a federal California judge to modify the Flores consent decree to permit the government to detain families together throughout the entire prosecution and deportation processes.

It is unclear how long this will take to litigate or whether the judges would be willing to permit indefinite detention of minors.

Of course the “zero-tolerance policy” is optional; they have chosen to treat unauthorized immigration as a crime.

Live that down, Donald

Jun 21st, 2018 10:41 am | By


He said with derision

Jun 21st, 2018 10:32 am | By

Yesterday Peter Baker and Katie Rogers at the Times wrote about Trump’s filthy dehumanizing language.

President Trump has railed against undocumented immigrants in recent days, branding many of them “murderers and thieves” who want to “infest our country.” Not long ago, he referred to them as “animals,” although he insisted he meant only those who join a violent gang.

The president’s unpresidential language has become the standard for some on his team. This week his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, made a mocking noise, “womp womp,” when a liberal strategist raised the case of a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome separated from her parents at the border.

Mr. Trump’s descriptions of those trying to enter the country illegally have been so sharp that critics say they dehumanize people and lump together millions of migrants with the small minority that are violent. This approach traces back to the day Mr. Trump first announced his campaign for president in 2015, when he labeled many Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” a portrayal that drew furious protests.

Mr. Trump recalled that controversy just this week and doubled down on it. “Remember I made that speech and I was badly criticized? ‘Oh, it’s so terrible, what he said,’ ” he said with derision during a speech to the National Federation of Independent Business on Tuesday. “Turned out I was 100 percent right. That’s why I got elected.”

And here we are, trapped in this hell.

He has made insults the core of his presidential messaging. He has called Canada’s prime minister “weak & dishonest.” He has called journalists, lawmakers and political opponents “wacky,” “crazy,” “goofy,” “mentally deranged,” “psycho,” “sleazy” and “corrupt.” He has called some of his own appointees and Republican allies “very bad,” “VERY weak,” “failed” and “lightweight.”

Because that’s who he is – abusive. He’s an abusive sadistic bully, who enjoys being an abusive sadistic bully, and is simply loving being it on the world stage.

“Only Trump can get away with being Trump,” said Jennifer Mercieca, an associate professor at Texas A&M University who has studied his language closely over the last three years.

“Any time that other people have tried to use ad hominem attacks or swear or whatever, it rings false,” she said. “And other politicians tend to have more shame, so when they’re criticized they fold. And as you know, Trump doesn’t do that. And so because he refuses to be shamed, he can get away with sort of saying anything.”

In other words only Trump has no conscience and no empathy – only Trump is a psychopath.

“We’re sending them the hell back”

Jun 21st, 2018 10:20 am | By

The evil demon held another fascist rally last night, this time in Duluth, Minnesota. He was more monstrous than ever.

The president was here in part to support Pete Stauber, a Republican candidate for a House seat. But, as he usually does on the campaign trail, Mr. Trump focused more on his agenda — and his enemies, at one point declaring that he had “a much better apartment” than his critics.

Turning to immigration, Mr. Trump castigated the Democrats.

“The Democrats want open borders: ‘Let everybody pour in, we don’t care,’” he said, as the crowd erupted into a chant of “Build the Wall,” and mocked a handful of people who tried to protest his policy. (“Go home to your mom,” the president told at least one demonstrator.)

I tell you what: there are two people we made a big mistake letting “pour in”: Trump’s father’s father and Trump’s mother. If they’d been turned away there would be no Donald Trump, and the world would be a significantly less awful place.

He said of other countries: “They’re not sending their finest. We’re sending them the hell back. That’s what we’re doing.”

He wouldn’t recognize “the finest” if it sat down in his lap and offered him a Big Mac. His criteria for what’s fine are entirely warped.

Trump thinks “Angela” is German for “bitch”

Jun 21st, 2018 6:00 am | By

There’s always worse to learn. Cast your mind back to the G7 and Trump sitting at the table scowling like a constipated goat at the adults trying to talk sense into him.

“It was at this point, towards the end of the summit, that Chancellor Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada got together with some of the allies and really wanted to press Trump directly to sign the communiqué, that talked about the commitment to a rules-based international order. Trump was sitting there with his arms crossed, clearly not liking the fact that they were ganging up on him. He eventually agreed and said OK he’ll sign it. And at that point, he stood up, put his hand in his pocket, his suit jacket pocket, and he took two Starburst candies out, threw them on the table and said to Merkel, ‘Here, Angela. Don’t say I never give you anything,’” Bremmer described to CBS.


I long for him to drop dead.

Today is World Refugee Day

Jun 20th, 2018 6:20 pm | By

I opened this story at the Huffington Post about Obama speaking up on Trump’s grab the children policy, and saw the subhead –

The former president calls out “the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms.”

I thought for a second about the phrase, which is a frequent trope in this story but also a literal statement – the children are much of the time literally ripped from their parents’ arms, and if they’re not it’s only because the parents are trying to minimize the trauma for the children so decide not to make it a physical struggle that they know they can’t win. The children are forcibly removed, and the parents would clutch them and resist if they had any hope it would work. I thought about that and then about the fact that of course Obama is a loving father so the expression is not a mere metaphor or emphatic rebuke to him. He can empathize with the parents very directly. Then I thought about Trump and before I could form the thought “why doesn’t it affect him the same way?” I remembered that it wouldn’t, because he was never involved with them when they were little. He has bragged about that – which is one of the reddest of red flags about his nature, that the idea of helping to raise his children is funny and disgusting to him. He was completely and determinedly hands-off, so that built-in knowledge is missing in him.

Maybe ultimately it doesn’t make any difference, because Republicans who did help raise their children still backed the hateful policy, and people who have no children are viscerally horrified by it, but…it’s one more thing. One more huge gaping hole in him where there should be something.

What Obama said was in a Facebook post today:

Today is World Refugee Day.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to have been born in America, imagine for a moment if circumstance had placed you somewhere else. Imagine if you’d been born in a country where you grew up fearing for your life, and eventually the lives of your children. A place where you finally found yourself so desperate to flee persecution, violence, and suffering that you’d be willing to travel thousands of miles under cover of darkness, enduring dangerous conditions, propelled forward by that very human impulse to create for our kids a better life.

That’s the reality for so many of the families whose plights we see and heart-rending cries we hear. And to watch those families broken apart in real time puts to us a very simple question: are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms, or are we a nation that values families, and works to keep them together? Do we look away, or do we choose to see something of ourselves and our children?

Our ability to imagine ourselves in the shoes of others, to say “there but for the grace of God go I,” is part of what makes us human. And to find a way to welcome the refugee and the immigrant – to be big enough and wise enough to uphold our laws and honor our values at the same time – is part of what makes us American. After all, almost all of us were strangers once, too. Whether our families crossed the Atlantic, the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we’re only here because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, how our last names sound, or the way we worship. To be an American is to have a shared commitment to an ideal – that all of us are created equal, and all of us deserve the chance to become something better.

That’s the legacy our parents and grandparents and generations before created for us, and it’s something we have to protect for the generations to come. But we have to do more than say “this isn’t who we are.” We have to prove it – through our policies, our laws, our actions, and our votes.

Yeah we do.

Diddums doesn’t want to look weak

Jun 20th, 2018 5:24 pm | By

The squalor of it.

A senior administration official, after Axios asked whether Trump thinks the family separation issue is a political winner because it makes him look “hardcore” on the border:

  • “Not at all. He’s doing it to press the case with Congress. He’s moved personally, but also doesn’t want to look weak. He feels boxed in, is frustrated and knows it’s bad politics — but also understands it’s not a fight he can back down from.”

Right because that’s definitely the important thing – whether or not a stupid petulant cruel toad of a man “looks weak” or not. That definitely outweighs the anguish of infants and toddlers and children yanked away from their parents, and the anguish of the parents they’re yanked away from.

Also it’s absolutely fine and ok for a lying abusive thieving rat of a man to make policy decisions based on what serves him rather than the welfare of the people affected or the good of the country as a whole. We’re certainly all just furniture in the life of Donald Trump, the only human who matters.

Also it’s assuredly not a matter of morality or principle or ordinary compassion but of a “fight” that he must not “back down from.”

A bible in every pot

Jun 20th, 2018 4:11 pm | By


Jesus and Mo on Patreon

Set the oceans free

Jun 20th, 2018 3:42 pm | By

Also Trump wants to wreck the oceans. It’s not as if we need them for anything.

President Trump on Wednesday ended an eight-year-old policy to protect oceans, which was created as hundreds of millions of gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico from a broken well, covering more than 65,000 square miles, killing untold numbers of wildlife and devastating fisheries in several Gulf Coast states.

President Barack Obama mentioned the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the largest and costliest oil spill in the nation’s history, in the second sentence of an executive order that detailed the first national ocean policy and called on federal agencies to work closely with states and local governments to manage the waters off their coasts.

“The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and resulting environmental crisis is a stark reminder of how vulnerable our marine environments are, and how much communities and the nation rely on healthy and resilient ocean and coastal ecosystems,” Obama’s July 2010 order said.

In contrast, Trump’s order does not mention the explosion that killed nearly a dozen workers and the spill of 210 million gallons of oil. The second sentence gives a nod to domestic energy production, the jobs it could provide and the financial rewards that can be reaped.

Beautiful clean coal.

In a statement, National Ocean Industries Association President Randall Luthi praised the new executive order as a “renewed broad vision” to foster energy security and create jobs. Luthi called the Obama policy “an uber-bureaucratic solution to a government self-imposed problem.”

“The offshore energy industry has successfully operated side by side with other ocean users, without major conflict, guided by the planning inherent in the five-year offshore national program and the leasing process mandated by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act,” Luthi said.

Except for the Deepwater Horizon thing that is, and Exxon Valdez before that, and all the other oil spills.

Image result for oil spill


You never thank the kidnapper

Jun 20th, 2018 3:21 pm | By