Notes and Comment Blog

Better and better every day

Dec 23rd, 2018 11:05 am | By

Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker tell us Trump is increasingly isolated and self-willed (as only a narcissist can be).

When President Trump grows frustrated with advisers during meetings, which is not an uncommon occurrence, he sits back in his chair, crosses his arms and scowls. Often he erupts.

He calls his aides “fucking idiots.”

For two years, Mr. Trump has waged war against his own government, convinced that people around him are fools. Angry that they resist his wishes, uninterested in the details of their briefings, he becomes especially agitated when they tell him he does not have the power to do what he wants, which makes him suspicious that they are secretly undermining him.

It’s weird that – assuming the wealth of reporting that says this is correct – he never pauses to think he might be the one who’s an idiot. Maybe he does and he just doesn’t betray the fact, but then that doesn’t sound like the Trump we see every day, does it – what crosses his mind falls out of his mouth. It appears that he does think everyone else is a fool and he alone is a genius…but how? I mean, when you and I see someone doing a difficult gymnastics move or designing an astonishing bridge, we don’t tell ourselves we could do it better, right? We pay some attention to the world around us and we understand that many people can do things we can’t do, and we thus realize that we’re not sitting alone on some pinnacle of excellence – in short we don’t automatically assume we’re the smartest person in the room. Trump is the opposite of that, yet he’s dumb as a stump. It’s very odd.

At the midpoint of his term, Mr. Trump has grown more sure of his own judgment and more cut off from anyone else’s than at any point since taking office.

While the disasters pile up. How is he growing more sure of his own judgment? What’s the mechanism?

You’re not quitting, I’m canning your disloyal ass

Dec 23rd, 2018 10:47 am | By

Trump – of course – is in a snit. Mattis didn’t resign, Trump retroactively fired him after he said he was resigning! So there and ha!

The Times reports:

Aides said that the president was furious that Mr. Mattis’s resignation letter — in which he rebuked the president’s rejection of international allies and his failure to check authoritarian governments — had led to days of negative news coverage. Mr. Mattis resigned in large part over Mr. Trump’s hasty decision to withdraw American forces from Syria.

When Mr. Trump first announced that Mr. Mattis was leaving, effective Feb. 28, he praised the defense secretary on Twitter, saying he was retiring “with distinction.” One aide said that although Mr. Trump had already seen the resignation letter when he praised Mr. Mattis, the president did not understand just how forceful a rejection of his strategy Mr. Mattis had issued.

Hahaha no, it takes reading comprehension to figure that out. Mattis didn’t say “You, sir, are a fat-headed dope and a menace,” so Trump didn’t get that it was implicit in what Mattis did say.

The president has grown increasingly angry as the days have passed, the aide said. On Saturday, Mr. Trump posted a tweet that took a jab at Mr. Mattis, saying that “when President Obama ingloriously fired Jim Mattis, I gave him a second chance. Some thought I shouldn’t, I thought I should.”

So neener-neener. Or something.

A clue as to the narcissistic element

Dec 23rd, 2018 10:32 am | By

Julie Bindel on the potential peak trans moment:

The latest target in the vicious and often violent war being raged by extreme trans activists is one of my all-time heroes – the world tennis champion and LGBT rights campaigner, Martina Navratilova.

Navratilova has been accused of being ‘transphobic’ as a result of a tweet responding to a question from a follower about transgender women in sport.

‘Clearly that can’t be right. You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women. There must be some standards, and having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard’, tweeted Martina.

‘For me it’s all about fairness. Which means taking every case individually… there is no cookie cutter way of doing things.’

Julie notes how reasonable that sounds, and how predictable it is that some fanatic would pick a fight over it.

Martina’s main accuser is Dr Rachel McKinnon, an academic philosopher, transgender activist and competitive cyclist who won a women’s event at the UCI Masters Track World Championship, earlier this year. McKinnon, who I will refer to as ‘he’ and ‘him’ as his behavior appears to me to be classic male machismo, demanded that Navratilova apologize and criticized the comments.

Precisely. That’s why I did, too. Demanding to be called “she” and “her” while brandishing all the weapons in the macho bully playbook in the faces of women is not social justice but a fucking insult.

If anything gives us a clue as to the narcissistic element of the trans activist campaign it is this tweet from McKinnon:

‘You…realize I’m a world champion trans woman athlete who happens to publish and speak worldwide on trans athlete rights … right?’

That is correct, dear readers. McKinnon did the, ‘Don’t you know who I am’, to MARTINA!

McKinnon is kind of turning out to be the Trump of trans activism.

Finally, the world is waking up to the fact that the extreme transgender activists are nothing but men’s rights vigilantes, that hate women, but that unfortunately had the majority of well-meaning liberals in the palm of their hands.  Never has any so-called social justice movement in the past commanded such authority and instilled such fear. Coming after Navratilova was one bad move too many.

Come on out, the air is fine.

Meadows would still receive his pay on time

Dec 22nd, 2018 12:26 pm | By

Freedom Caucus dude tells unpaid federal workers they chose this.

To the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who will work without pay or be furloughed over the holidays if there is a government shutdown, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) says it is just part of the risk of working in public service.

Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and a leading conservative voice urging President Trump not to accept a short-term spending bill absent funding for a border wall, was responding to reporters who asked about Transportation Security Administration and Border Patrol agents who would be required to continue working on Christmas without getting a paycheck.

Takes some gall, doesn’t it – requiring people to work without getting paid (which is otherwise known as “slavery”) and then telling them it’s what they get for doing a government job.

“It’s actually part of what you do when you sign up for any public service position,” Meadows said.

Oh? It’s not part of what he did when he signed up for his public service job. Then again Freedom Caucus people think public service is a left-wing conspiracy.

[I]f the government does shut down, Meadows, unlike more than 800,000 federal workers, would still receive his pay on time. In past years, lawmakers in the Senate and the House have introduced “No Budget, No Pay” legislation, which would withhold lawmakers’ salary if they didn’t get a budget resolution and all 12 appropriations bills finished on time.

It passed once in 2013 as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, but it only applied for one year and wasn’t brought for a vote in subsequent years.

Oh well, at least we can say “Merry Christmas” again.

Confused and bewildered

Dec 22nd, 2018 10:19 am | By

Another one Trump has driven out:

Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State, has accelerated his resignation, telling colleagues this weekend that he could not carry out President Trump’s newly declared policy of withdrawing from Syria.

A seasoned diplomat considered by many to be the glue holding together the sprawling, American-led coalition fighting the terrorist group, Mr. McGurk was supposed to retire in February.

According to an email he sent his staff, he decided to move forward his departure after Mr. Trump did not heed his own commanders and blindsided America’s allies in the region by abruptly ordering the withdrawal of the 2,000 troops stationed in Syria.

And for why? Because Erdoğan told him to.

“The recent decision by the president came as a shock and was a complete reversal of policy that was articulated to us,” Mr. McGurk said in the email to his colleagues. “It left our coalition partners confused and our fighting partners bewildered.”

“I worked this week to help manage some of the fallout but — as many of you heard in my meetings and phone calls — I ultimately concluded that I could not carry out these new instructions and maintain my integrity,” he said.

What was that about needing adults in the room again?

Adults in the room

Dec 22nd, 2018 10:07 am | By

Let’s read the Mattis letter.

Dear Mister Prez, privileged to serve, proud of the progress, troops continue to provide.

One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies…

Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model – gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions – to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies. That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.

My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues.

That last sentence is a stinger, a double stinger. One, Mattis is underlining the fact that Trump does not think we should treat allies with respect, and that he (Trump) puts his thought into practice by very conspicuously treating allies with disrespect and outright rudeness. He’s also underlining the fact that Trump does not think we should be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours, and, again, acts accordingly. Two, Mattis is underlining the fact that he has over four decades of experience and knowledge on these issues, which as we all know Trump emphatically does not.

We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.

Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.

Note how those two sentences interact. We need to follow a sane course, and you don’t agree with that view, so you need someone crazy enough to join you on that path to authoritarian doom. Byeeeeee!

Jim Acosta reports that Trump is in a tantrum about the letter.

CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta said Friday that a source has told him that President Donald Trump is furious about Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ resignation letter, tendered in the wake of the president’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria.

But Trump is even more incensed about news coverage indicating he needs adult supervision, Acosta told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

“He hates that letter,” Acosta said, citing a source close to the White House who “advises the president occasionally.” But he added that Trump is even more upset by the “conventional wisdom” that Mattis and some others in his administration “were sort of the adults in the room … to keep the president from going overboard, to be a check on his impulses.”

Trump is “irritated by this notion here in Washington that he is sometimes in need of adult daycare,” Acosta added.

Well, good, I guess; I want him to feel bad. But better would be if he didn’t need adults in the room.

Well kid, who was ya?

Dec 22nd, 2018 9:26 am | By

Rachel McKinnon may now be regretting his bullying of Martina Navratilova yesterday, since it’s getting some unfavorable attention.

Lucy Bannerman and Gabriella Swerling at the Times:

She won Wimbledon nine times and is widely regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, so most people would agree that Martina Navratilova has earned the right to discuss fairness in women’s sport.

Not everyone. Rachel McKinnon, a transgender cyclist from Canada, has been accused of bullying Navratilova on social media, demanding she retract and apologise for “transphobic” comments about transgender athletes competing in women’s sport.

They give the background on the new orthodoxy that “biological males should be allowed to compete against women if they identify as female,” and the dissent from the new orthodoxy that points out that men have physical advantages and can be a hazard to women. They quote Navratilova’s tweet saying you “can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women,” then they quote three of McKinnon’s, including the prize-narcissism entry:

She added: “You . . . realize I’m a world champion trans athlete who happens to publish and speak worldwide on trans rights . . . right?”

This obnoxious disordered narcissistic twerp tries to impress Martina Navratilova with how important he is, being a world champion cheater athlete who promulgates his Cheater Bullshit “worldwide” (i.e. on Twitter). Result: now more people know what a narcissistic cheating twerp he is. Bit of an own goal?

Trump pressed Whitaker

Dec 21st, 2018 5:57 pm | By

Well this is scandalous. CNN reports:

President Donald Trump has at least twice in the past few weeks vented to his acting attorney general, angered by federal prosecutors who referenced the President’s actions in crimes his former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Trump was frustrated, the sources said, that prosecutors Matt Whitaker oversees filed charges that made Trump look bad. None of the sources suggested that the President directed Whitaker to stop the investigation, but rather lashed out at what he felt was an unfair situation.

The first known instance took place when Trump made his displeasure clear to acting attorney general Matt Whitaker after Cohen pleaded guilty November 29 to lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow. Whitaker had only been on the job a few weeks following Trump’s firing of Jeff Sessions.

Three weeks in fact; very few.

Over a week later, Trump again voiced his anger at Whitaker after prosecutors in Manhattan officially implicated the President in a hush-money scheme to buy the silence of women around the 2016 campaign — something Trump fiercely maintains isn’t an illegal campaign contribution. Pointing to articles he said supported his position, Trump pressed Whitaker on why more wasn’t being done to control prosecutors in New York who brought the charges in the first place, suggesting they were going rogue.

Nixon got bounced out of there for doing less than that.

The Old Boy needs attention

Dec 21st, 2018 3:06 pm | By

Lili Loufbourow at Slate puts a pin in the category of the Old Boy.

The Old Boy needs attention as well as power, and with this presidency, the former has finally trumped the latter. The results are disconcerting. So is the troubling scope of the problem. From Trump to Brett Kavanaugh, from Les Moonves to Jeffrey Epstein: This year we saw with startling clarity that what many of the nation’s powerful men share is less talent and vision than arbitrary cruelty, pleasure in retribution, bullying, shouting, sneering, a sense that they’re above consequences, and an unusual dependence on golf—the traits of aging manchildren.

Trump’s mainstreaming of Old Boy behavior set the stage for the biggest Old Boy spectacle of the year. Having been accused of sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford while both were in high school—and laughing hysterically while his friend Mark Judge watched and she feared for her life—Kavanaugh, who had tried to maintain a choirboy veneer throughout his Supreme Court confirmation hearing, abruptly dropped the mask. He sputtered with rage in a paranoid and partisan diatribe that seemed to threaten dire consequences to the republic if he didn’t get his way. He wept. He turned bright red. He lied repeatedly under oath. If there was any doubt this man responded poorly to being told no, he dispelled it. Some onlookers felt sympathy for Kavanaugh during what appeared to be his final act as a judge, since no judge would conduct himself in such a way and expect to remain employed—I confess I was one of them. And then, in the end, he got what he wanted.

It’s not cheerful, but it’s accurate.


Dec 21st, 2018 10:59 am | By

So philosophy instructor and prize-winning cyclist Rachel McKinnon decided it was time to take on Martina Navratilova.

[Navratilova deleted that tweet in response to McKinnon’s bullying.]

Yes how dare she. In case we’ve forgotten who McKinnon is –

Image result for rachel mckinnon cycling

That’s McKinnon in the middle, taking first prize.

That’s complete nonsense. There are many physical differences, which are highly relevant to sports performance. Some are visible at a glance, as in that photo.

McKinnon’s complete indifference to that fact and to what it means for women like the two on either side of “her” ironically do more to highlight “her” real sex than any number of terfy remarks.

Mediocre dude athlete insulting Martina Navratilova; that’s a good look.

I tend to agree. A “fuck off” would have sufficed.

Updating to add the latest:

“Fighting back after I call you out for naked transphobia” – in other words objecting to name-calling by a bullying stranger. “never ages well for people” – in other words “I am a massive narcissistic bully so I can bully you forever and nothing you say can stop me.” “No one wins, but someone sure loses…and it’s never me” – in other words “I am a massive narcissistic bully.”

“Just thank us for correcting you, apologize, and do better.” In other words never mind whether what I call you is true or not, just thank me for it and apologize. Don’t argue, don’t reason, don’t have your own views, don’t point out that you know more about being a woman than I do, just shut up and obey ME  or else.

If McKinnon really wants to convince people he is a trans woman and therefore a woman, why does he enact every entitled male trope in the playbook? Against women? Why does it never cross his mind what a tell it is? Why does he never have the slightest whiff of empathy for women?

If nothing else

Dec 21st, 2018 9:40 am | By

At least Putin is happy.

First, President Trump blindsided his aides and the rest of the world by deciding to pull the full contingent of some 2,000 American troops out of Syria, helping the Kremlin to confirm Mr. Putin’s gamble that intervening in Syria would revive Russian influence in the Middle East.

Mr. Trump followed that up by declaring that the United States would pull half its forces out of Afghanistan; the combined withdrawals prompted the resignation of Jim Mattis, the respected general who leads the Pentagon.

All that followed Mr. Trump’s already substantial effort to undermine NATO and the European Union by weakening the American commitment to its traditional alliances.

By among other things energetically alienating all their heads of state.

True for thousands of years

Dec 21st, 2018 9:13 am | By

The talking points were very firm

Dec 21st, 2018 9:01 am | By

How Trump foreign policy decisions get made:

President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from Syria was made hastily, without consulting his national security team or allies, and over strong objections from virtually everyone involved in the fight against the Islamic State group, according to U.S. and Turkish officials.

Trump stunned his Cabinet, lawmakers and much of the world with the move by rejecting the advice of his top aides and agreeing to a withdrawal in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week, two officials briefed on the matter told The Associated Press.

Well who ya gonna trust, your own aides or that nice Mister Erdoğan? He’s so good at that authoritarian thing, you know, Trump can’t help but admire and love him.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arranged the Dec. 14 call a day after he had unsuccessfully sought clarity from Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu about Erdogan’s threats to launch a military operation against U.S.-backed Kurdish rebels in northeast Syria, where American forces are based.

Pompeo, Mattis and other members of the national security team prepared a list of talking points for Trump to tell Erdogan to back off, the officials said.

But the officials said Trump, who had previously accepted such advice and convinced the Turkish leader not to attack the Kurds and put U.S. troops at risk, ignored the script. Instead, the president sided with Erdogan.

Well now look. The talking points were before he talked to Erdoğan. The talking to Erdoğan was after that. You can’t expect Trump to remember talking points while he’s actually talking to the other guy, now can you. Talking to the other guy kind of blots out the talking points. It’s a very hard skill to learn, to keep the talking points in mind while you go to step two. It’s like figure skating while playing the violin.

In the following days, Trump remained unmoved by those scrambling to convince him to reverse or at least delay the decision to give the military and Kurdish forces time to prepare for an orderly withdrawal.

See that’s an easy skill; you just pay no attention. It’s especially easy if you’re very conceited and stupid, like Trump.

“The talking points were very firm,” said one of the officials, explaining that Trump was advised to clearly oppose a Turkish incursion into northern Syria and suggest the U.S. and Turkey work together to address security concerns. “Everybody said push back and try to offer (Turkey) something that’s a small win, possibly holding territory on the border, something like that.”

Erdogan, though, quickly put Trump on the defensive, reminding him that he had repeatedly said the only reason for U.S. troops to be in Syria was to defeat the Islamic State and that the group had been 99 percent defeated. “Why are you still there?” the second official said Erdogan asked Trump, telling him that the Turks could deal with the remaining IS militants.

With Erdogan on the line, Trump asked national security adviser John Bolton, who was listening in, why American troops remained in Syria if what the Turkish president was saying was true, according to the officials. Erdogan’s point, Bolton was forced to admit, had been backed up by Mattis, Pompeo, U.S. special envoy for Syria Jim Jeffrey andspecial envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition Brett McGurk, who have said that IS retains only 1 percent of its territory, the officials said.

Bolton stressed, however, that the entire national security team agreed that victory over IS had to be enduring, which means more than taking away its territory.

Trump was not dissuaded, according to the officials, who said the president quickly capitulated by pledging to withdraw, shocking both Bolton and Erdogan.

Caught off guard, Erdogan cautioned Trump against a hasty withdrawal, according to one official.

So, that went well.

He has no plans to step aside

Dec 20th, 2018 5:38 pm | By

Filthier and filthier:

A senior Justice Department ethics official concluded acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker should recuse from overseeing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe examining President Trump, but advisers to Whitaker recommended the opposite and he has no plans to step aside, people familiar with the matter said.

Earlier Thursday, a different official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said ethics officials had advised Whitaker need not step aside, only to retract that description of events hours later.

They know we can see them, right?

Within days of the president’s announcement in early November that he had put Whitaker in the role on a temporary basis, Whitaker tapped a veteran U.S. attorney to become part of a four-person team of advisers on his new job, according to a senior Justice Department official. Their guidance included the question of whether Whitaker should recuse himself from Mueller’s investigation because of his past statements regarding that probe and because of his friendship with one of its witnesses, the official said.

Whitaker never asked Justice Department ethics officials for a formal recommendation, nor did he receive one, this official said.

Well sure, that’s how you do that – you pick your own advisers so that they’ll tell you what you want to hear, and you ignore the actual ethics officials because they will tell you not to do the unethical thing you want to do.

All this is aid of keeping a criminal authoritarian monster in power and above the law.

However, after Whitaker met repeatedly with Justice Department ethics officials to discuss the facts and the issues under consideration, a senior ethics official told the group of advisers on Tuesday that it was a “close call” but that Whitaker should recuse himself to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, the official said. Whitaker was not present at that meeting, they said.

Those four advisers, however, disagreed with the ethics determination and recommended to Whitaker the next day not to recuse, saying there was no precedent for that, and doing so now could create a bad precedent for future attorneys general.

As opposed to the awesome precedent set by this move?

H/t Screechy Monkey

The “violence” of being misrecognized

Dec 20th, 2018 1:32 pm | By

Christopher Castiglia and Christopher Reed wrote an open letter in response to Grace Lavery’s “Grad School As Conversion Therapy” which in turn was a response to a thing Reed wrote. I wouldn’t bother you with that labyrinth except that the Reed-Castiglia one is a fine read.

The reciprocity and collectivity of language seems like a good place to start in a debate about speech and censorship. For, although trans-theorizing and trans-activism have the potential to open onto many interesting and important issues, far too often on today’s campuses they are reduced to exercises in language-policing in which attitudes of outraged victimhood are used to coerce certain forms of speech and to justify aggressive forms of censorship.

Emphasis mine, because I like it.

[W]hat we too often face today in the academy is something that looks less like activism or scholarship and more like adolescent acting-out. Now that scientists have decided that adolescence — itself a recently invented identity closely linked to advanced capitalism — persists into the third decade of human life, perhaps we should not be surprised to find behaviors associated with adolescents proliferating, tolerated and sometimes even encouraged within educational institutions. To be specific, we identify as adolescent the furious response to the discovery that others do not perceive you exactly the way you’d like to imagine to yourself. Those who justify aggression as a response to the “violence” of being misrecognized fail to notice that everyone shares this experience on various registers of gender, race, age, class, professional status, nationality, religion, disability, attractiveness — the list goes on.

This is one of the things I keep saying (and saying and saying). Nobody sees us the way we see ourselves, and by the same token, we ourselves share that universal failure to see all other humans the way they see themselves. Duh. That’s one of the things you learn as part of growing up…unless you’re a narcissist. Don’t be a narcissist; it’s a bad thing to be.

Look at Donnie Two-scoops for the most glaring example most of us have ever seen. Don’t be like Donnie Two-scoops. Accept the fact that the you in your head is not the person other people see; accept the fact that the interior is different from the exterior; grasp that that applies to everyone and is not some insult special to you. Move on.

[T]he broader point is that we are all constantly perceived as someone other than who we think we are. Like (or as) language, social roles are systems bigger than any of us, and what we experience as misrecognitions are registers of other people’s perspectives. To try to shut down, rather than understand, those perspectives; to refuse to engage others as people who also have opinions (not to mention feelings) that might not be all about you; to arrogantly dismiss the past and the perspectives of those who have lived through more of it than you; to summon authorities to impose your will rather than trying to work out conflicts in a mutually respectful way — these are adolescent behaviors.

And adults should not be engaging in adolescent behaviors.

Apparently it has come to this: furtive acts of solidarity and melancholy retreats from teaching by gay, lesbian, and feminist faculty in the face of a vocal constituency that, enthralled by the spectacle of its own outrage, has substituted a “call-out culture” of buzzwords around sex and gender for any semblance of dialogue. Announcing itself as coalitional, this cohort seems eager to alienate those of us informed by years of feminist and queer scholarship and activism. Claiming to speak for diversity, this cohort rushes to intimidate and silence anyone who does not toe its ideological line. Imagining itself as standing up to authority, this cohort falls eagerly into quasi-medical discourses of diagnosis and cure and rushes to invoke juridical structures of rules and punishment. Calling itself progressive, this cohort presents an uncanny mirror image of rightwing politics with its exaggerated outrage, divisive us-and-them rhetorics, and attacks staged as self-defense.

Doesn’t it though.

There’s a lot more. I may return to it later.

Dress your baby in placenta and bacteria

Dec 20th, 2018 1:10 pm | By

OB/GYN Dr. Amy Tuteur on a hot new trend in “the world of birth performance art.”

It used to be that women got pregnant with the intention of having a baby. In 2018, among a certain segment of privileged, white natural childbirth advocates, the performance is the point. For example, freebirth, childbirth without medical assistance of any kind, is a stunt. As such, the baby is merely a prop and an expendable prop at that. According to freebirther Desirea Miller:

A live baby is usually the goal. Not everybody has that same goal but if that’s your goal, there’s no shame in going [to the hospital] to get checked.

Lotus birth is another fringe stunt beloved of those who think bragging rights are more important than a healthy baby. It is the decision to leave the placenta attached to the baby for several days until it rots off. It’s an affectation with no medical benefit and considerable risk, particularly the risk of massive infection.

Also stink.

According to Lotus (“Serving your Inner Midwife”):

…[T]he placenta is placed in a special bowl or wrapped in a ceremonial cloth (it is helpful to rinse it first, and remove clots)… Sea salt is also applied generously on both sides to aid drying and minimize scent. This small pillow and its cord are easily kept with the baby, and some women even use the Lotus pillow as an elbow prop during nursing…

Why would anyone leave a dead chunk of meat attached to her baby?

The practice … [is] called “Lotus Birth”, connecting the esteem held in the east for the Lotus to the esteem held for the intact baby as a holy child … Ahimsa, (non-violence in action and thought within one’s self and towards others) … is from the writings and leadership by Gandhi … and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s civil rights inspired marches followed soon after.

So I guess the idea is that cutting the cord and getting rid of the placenta are “violent”? While leaving the placenta attached to the baby is non-violent? Ordinarily that would be laughed out of court, but if you call it “Ahimsa” and invoke Gandhi and King, that changes everything.

One bright spark couple gave their infant a heart infection and six weeks on antibiotics in the hospital by leaving him attached to the rotting placenta, which injected bacteria into his bloodstream. Clever.

As the authors of the paper note:

Ironically, families seeking a more natural birth option may end up getting a more invasive experience than a family choosing standard delivery and newborn care.

The ultimate irony is that there is nothing natural about lotus birth. There are no primates, nor human cultures in which the placenta is left attached to a newborn. Lotus birth is a thoroughly modern affectation, one with potentially deadly consequences.

But hey, bragging rights.


Dec 20th, 2018 11:33 am | By

Meanwhile the drones are taking over.

Tens of thousands of passengers have been disrupted by drones flying over one of the UK’s busiest airports.

Gatwick’s runway has been shut since Wednesday night, as devices have been repeatedly flying over the airfield.

Sussex Police said it was not terror-related but a “deliberate act” of disruption, using “industrial specification” drones.

About 110,000 passengers on 760 flights were due to fly on Thursday. Disruption could last “several days”.

There’s no end in sight.

More ice cream for him

Dec 20th, 2018 10:43 am | By

Meanwhile Trump is filling the last hours before he goes on his multi-week vacation doing his bit to take food stamps away from poor people.

The Trump administration is setting out to do what this year’s farm bill didn’t: tighten work requirements for millions of Americans who receive federal food assistance.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday is proposing a rule that would restrict the ability of states to exempt work-eligible adults from having to obtain steady employment to receive food stamps.

The move comes just weeks after lawmakers passed a $400 billion farm bill that reauthorized agriculture and conservation programs while leaving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which serves roughly 40 million Americans, virtually untouched.

Trump is pissed off that they didn’t gut SNAP more than they already had, so he’s doing it himself.

Currently, able-bodied adults ages 18-49 without children are required to work 20 hours a week to maintain their SNAP benefits. The House bill would have raised the age of recipients subject to work requirements from 49 to 59 and required parents with children older than 6 to work or participate in job training. The House measure also sought to limit circumstances under which families that qualify for other poverty programs can automatically be eligible for SNAP.

None of those measures made it into the final farm bill despite being endorsed by President Donald Trump. Now the administration is using regulatory rulemaking to try to scale back the SNAP program.

Because starving people magically causes jobs to pop into existence.

“The president has directed me to propose regulatory reforms to ensure those who are able to work do so in exchange for their benefits,” Perdue said during a media call Wednesday. “We would much rather have Congress enact these important reforms for the SNAP program. However, these regulatory changes by the USDA will save hardworking taxpayers $15 billion over 10 years and give President Trump comfort enough to support a farm bill he might otherwise have opposed.”

Image result for starve the poor


Pretend he’s a king

Dec 20th, 2018 10:11 am | By

Bad news 2:

William P. Barr, President Trump’s nominee to be attorney general, wrote an unsolicited memo to top Justice Department officials in June objecting to the notion that Mr. Trump may have committed the crime of obstruction of justice.

And by “memo” they don’t mean a short note scribbled on an office pad with “Memo” at the top.

In a 19-page memo, Mr. Barr sharply criticized an apparent aspect of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, that Mr. Trump may have committed a crime by trying to get the F.B.I. director at the time, James B. Comey, to quash the criminal investigation into his first national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, and later by firing Mr. Comey.

Mr. Barr argued that the Justice Department must not accept the notion that a president can violate a statute that criminalizes obstruction of justice by exercising his constitutional authority in an otherwise lawful way — such as by firing a subordinate, pardoning someone, or using his “complete authority to start or stop a law enforcement proceeding” — but with a corrupt motive.

In other words Barr told the Justice Department that a president – in this case the runaway maniac Trump – is above the law.

Mr. Barr’s views are likely to become a topic of intense scrutiny at his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. They raise the question of whether, if he is confirmed and takes over supervision of Mr. Mueller’s inquiry as attorney general, he would order Mr. Mueller to shut down the obstruction-of-justice component of his investigation.

Ya think? It’s hard to see how he wouldn’t do that.

Mr. Barr’s theory that obstruction-of-justice statutes cannot cover a president’s exercise of authorities echoed constitutional arguments put forward by other defenders of Mr. Trump over the past year, including Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard Law School professor. But the now open embrace of it by a nominee to take over the Justice Department — and supervision of Mr. Mueller — elevated the debate to new significance.

Several Democrats reacted with alarm. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called Mr. Barr’s memo “very troubling,” saying it concluded that “the president is above the law.”

I don’t think it’s “very troubling.” I think it’s fucking terrifying. We cannot be having a Trump who is above the law, a Trump the law cannot constrain.

Renato Mariotti on the memo:

This is the guy who will be Trump’s next Attorney General if he’s confirmed.

So much for ethics

Dec 20th, 2018 8:57 am | By

Uh oh. Bad news.

Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has consulted with ethics officials at the Justice Department and they have advised him he does not need to recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, a source familiar with the process told CNN Thursday.

Whitaker is expected to inform senators, many of whom have raised ethics concerns given his past criticism of Mueller’s investigation, about this development later Thursday, the source said.

Walter Shaub is disgusted.