Notes and Comment Blog

Lurching rightward

Nov 9th, 2016 12:04 pm | By

Jeff Sharlet:

I’m reminded of something the late Chuck Colson — a brutal Watergate felon who made himself over as the reigning intellectual of the Christian Right, with help from centrists — told me: “I love ‘compromise.’ I stay right where I am and they come to me.”

It’s worth noting Colson was talking about how he’d come to appreciate the Clintons as inadvertent partners in the rightward lurch of America. He was one of the engines, but let’s remember that too often the Clintons were the caboose of that train. They also did some decent things for everyday people. But they did them on the terms of knee-cappers like Colson. Clintonism ultimately worked out for the Right; it didn’t work for humanity. I voted HRC to stop Trump. It didn’t work. That time is over. It’s struggle time. In truth it always was.

Which makes me even more appreciative of something my friend Christian Haines wrote today: maybe the old labor saying “Don’t mourn, organize” isn’t quite right. Maybe we mourn by organizing.

There’s talk that we may be losing our democracy. But democracy isn’t something you can lose any more than it’s some magical thing you can just find. You don’t have democracy. You make it.

Let’s get started.

America has chosen, and it chose the pussy-grabber

Nov 9th, 2016 7:07 am | By

Sarah Ditum in the Independent:

America has chosen, and it chose the pussy-grabber. The guy who said his daughter was a “piece of ass”. The guy who has been accused – in multiple, mutually corroborating accounts – of sexual assault. The guy whose ex-wife accused him of rape in a divorce deposition. So tell me again how a rape accusation ruins a man’s life. Please, I am all ears for your sympathetic descriptions of the terrible injustice done to men when they’re named as the suspected perpetrator of a violent crime in exactly the same way that suspected perpetrators of violent crimes are always named.

We just elected a known (though not convicted) rapist president. We elected him even though we’ve heard him bragging that he sexually assaults women.

Tell me more about how misogyny is not a thing.

Why would it count as a crime, if the people it’s committed against don’t matter? If they’re not even fully people, but just women? During this campaign, so many women have made the extraordinarily brave decision to come out publicly with allegations against Trump. And they were not listened to. Their voices did not matter. The final word on sexual assault in this election is Trump, caught on tape, laughing about everything he could get away with as a powerful man. And now he’s the most powerful man in the world.

And we in the US have just put ourselves on a par with the Germany that elected Hitler.

Morning in the pariah state

Nov 9th, 2016 6:59 am | By

David Remnick in the New Yorker:

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.

Fear. “Anxiety” is too mild. I’m terrified. Everyone I know is terrified.

There are, inevitably, miseries to come: an increasingly reactionary Supreme Court; an emboldened right-wing Congress; a President whose disdain for women and minorities, civil liberties and scientific fact, to say nothing of simple decency, has been repeatedly demonstrated. Trump is vulgarity unbounded, a knowledge-free national leader who will not only set markets tumbling but will strike fear into the hearts of the vulnerable, the weak, and, above all, the many varieties of Other whom he has so deeply insulted. The African-American Other. The Hispanic Other. The female Other. The Jewish and Muslim Other.

I would have put the female Other first, because after all we’re a full half of the population. Trump has lacerating contempt for half the population, plus non-WASP men.

All along, Trump seemed like a twisted caricature of every rotten reflex of the radical right. That he has prevailed, that he has won this election, is a crushing blow to the spirit; it is an event that will likely cast the country into a period of economic, political, and social uncertainty that we cannot yet imagine. That the electorate has, in its plurality, decided to live in Trump’s world of vanity, hate, arrogance, untruth, and recklessness, his disdain for democratic norms, is a fact that will lead, inevitably, to all manner of national decline and suffering.

We’re going to be a pariah state. There’s no question about that. We’re going to rank with Mugabe’s Zimbabwe…but a Zimbabwe with nukes and a gigantic military.

Trump began his campaign declaring Mexican immigrants to be “rapists”; he closed it with an anti-Semitic ad evoking “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”; his own behavior made a mockery of the dignity of women and women’s bodies. And, when criticized for any of it, he batted it all away as “political correctness.” Surely such a cruel and retrograde figure could succeed among some voters, but how could he win? Surely, Breitbart News, a site of vile conspiracies, could not become for millions a source of news and mainstream opinion. And yet Trump, who may have set out on his campaign merely as a branding exercise, sooner or later recognized that he could embody and manipulate these dark forces.

An avowedly misogynist racist man who got rich by cheating and exploiting people and who spends his leisure hours spraying out insults on Twitter – that’s who is succeeding Barack Obama.

It could not be worse.

Morning in the new era

Nov 9th, 2016 6:33 am | By

About three hours of sleep.

President Grabthembythepussy.

We have a president who calls a US Senator “Pocahontas.”

Who calls women pigs.

Who has an upcoming rape trial on his schedule.

I have a few articles open, that I haven’t read yet –

Meghan Murphy: America really, really hates women.

David Remnick in the New Yorker: An American Tragedy.

Sarah Ditum in the Independent: Donald Trump is President of the United States – so tell me again how rape allegations ruin a man’s life.

We (Americans) will never live this down. Never.

Not just another Republican

Nov 8th, 2016 3:40 pm | By

Jeff Sharlet on Facebook:

I’m a journalist, so this, here, is why even as a white man I am personally afraid of Trumpism. I haven’t seen this t-shirt but as part of the crowd at two Trump rallies, in Ohio and Arizona, I turned with the mob as they screamed violent wishes at the press pen — a literal metal pen into which they’d allowed themselves to be corralled. Under a Trump presidency we’d see the power of the federal govt turned against journalists like me who have annoyed Trump, and we’d see vigilantes taking more extreme measures with nothing but show investigations by federal authorities and many of the PDs that have effectively endorsed Trump through their union.

Dear fellow lefties, fellow disdainers of Clintonite corporatism, this isn’t just another Republican. Put aside your high-mindedness, your games, and even your conscience if you must; let’s stop this asshole and send a message to the millions of mini-Trumps behind him.

Picture first tweeted — with obscene pleasure — by former Red Sox star Curt Schilling, who is now a Trump supporter, far right radio host, and, he says, a potential political candidate.

Bad times.

A platter of deepities

Nov 8th, 2016 2:13 pm | By

Here’s something to take our minds off the election for a few minutes – or maybe just my mind: an article by Ellen Granfield posted at Everyday Feminism that recycles some so 1990s ideas about science. Some bad so 1990s ideas about science.

It’s posted at Everyday Feminism, so Twitter trolls are screeching that this kills feminism dead. (Yo, Everyday Feminism isn’t even feminist, let alone representative of all feminism. Feminism has an anti-science irrationalist wing, but that’s far from all of feminism.) But it was reposted from The Establishment. The Establishment is that site where Aaron Kappel wrote that appalling piece bashing feminism because one woman asked him clumsy questions about his “identity as non-binary.” Publishing the piece discredits The Establishment and Everyday Feminism, but it doesn’t leave a mark on feminism in general.

So let’s see Ellen Granfield’s so last century thoughts on science:

Modern, mainstream science finds itself deeply embedded in a supposedly objective, quantifiable worldview – one that is at best faulty, and at worst, is a form of scientism which denies new findings.

There was the idea of continental drift, you see, which was ridiculed and then later accepted, which is

a stark reminder that the course of human history is not governed by objective truth of any kind, especially in the history of science; the truth is always shifting.

Emphasis hers.

Right. People are wrong about one thing for a short period of time, and it turns out they’re wrong – and that demonstrates that ALL IS RANDOM AND SHIFTING.

I kid. No it doesn’t.

Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince discuss this phenomenon vis a vis paranormal discoveries in their book The Forbidden Universe, which contends that “the view of the universe emerging from the latest scientific discoveries, particularly of quantum physics and cosmology, can be seen to vindicate the ancient Hermetic belief in an evolving, living, conscious universe.”

Seriously, it’s not 1993 any more.

One of the most obvious examples of scientism today is the theory of evolution, which is still upheld as the dominant explanation of how life generates itself. The problem is that biologists still can’t answer the most basic of questions involved, including the origin of life itself, sexual reproduction, or how species originate.


The political fight over curriculum between religious Fundamentalists and neo-Darwinists has pushed any meaningful discussion of this topic off the table, as mainstream science remains stubbornly fearful of giving up ground if they admit that there are serious controversies raging around the theory of evolution as the catch-all explanation for our current existence.

It leaves no room for the possibility of Intelligent Design Theory, which posits “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause.” IDT is often made synonymous with creationism – neo-Darwinists argue that it’s just Creationism in disguise – but there are many scientists and philosophers alike that believe IDT is just as compelling a theory as evolution for “the way things are.”

This doesn’t discredit all of feminism, because it’s not all of feminism what wrote it or published it, but it sure as hell does discredit Everyday Feminism and The Establishment – if they had any credit to dis, which in my book they didn’t. In short, boo on them for publishing that garbage.

There’s a lot more, and it’s even worse. There’s some ranting about science’s rude insistence that the heart is a pump and only the brain has intelligence, and the importance of intelligence in the cosmos as a whole, and similar profundities. (Nothing about brain cells in the gut, though. Is she gutphobic?) Very distracting stuff.

H/t Helen Dale

8 hours

Nov 8th, 2016 11:56 am | By

It’s going to be a long day.

What will Trump do if he loses? Nobody knows. My prediction? It will be some form of bad.

The son he punched to the floor in front of the son’s classmates when he was at university tells us that if the loss is big enough Puncher Trump won’t fight it. Big of him. Not yuge, but big.

For months, the Republican nominee encouraged his supporters to mistrust Tuesday night’s results, suggesting the election could be rigged, possibly as part of an intricate scheme involving African-American voters in Philadelphia, Latinos in Nevada, a cabal of international bankers, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, the cast of Saturday Night Live, the FBI, and a dozen women pretending to be victims of his sexual crimes — all working in tandem to execute Crooked Hillary’s plan to end U.S. sovereignty.

Then, at the final presidential debate, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace gave Trump an opportunity to save that red meat for the base and pose as a reasonable politician. But for once, the GOP nominee didn’t take the bait. Instead of assuring Wallace and America that he would concede the election if he lost, Trump promised to keep the nation “in suspense.”

So, on Tuesday morning, MSNBC’s Willie Geist gave Donald Trump Jr. an opportunity to repent for his father’s sin.

“Can you say here right now, if Hillary Clinton is a clear-cut winner tonight in the Electoral College, your father will concede the election in a speech tonight?” Geist asked.

“Of course,” Donald Trump Jr. insisted. “All we’ve wanted is a fair fight.”

Nonsense. They’ve wanted far more than that, and gotten it. They wanted to stir up rage and hatred at all the wrong people for all the wrong reasons, and they’ve got their wish.

But Trump Jr. proceeded to explain why his father might be justified in saying the 2016 election was an unfair fight. Specifically, Trump Jr. cited conservative provocateur James O’Keefe’s latest discredited videos, which purport to show Democrats scheming to bus voters across state lines (GOP voter-suppression efforts, inadequate measures to accommodate participation among the disabled, and the fact that we hold elections on a workday did not make his list).

“You know, we just want a fair system,” he said. “Some stuff is going on. I don’t know if it’s enough to move elections. But we’ve seen states, you know, a few thousand votes can make a difference.”

“If he loses, he will concede tonight?” Geist asked, again.

“If he loses and it’s legit and fair and there’s not obvious stuff out there,” Trump Jr. replied, “without question, yes.”

Trump worked hard to get his fans to intimidate voters. He’s not the one who gets to wonder if the election is legit and fair.

While the GOP standard-bearer has spoken a bit less about voter fraud recently, his closing argument centers on Clinton’s corruption and the rigged system that enables it. And it’s difficult to see how that argument leaves room for anything but the most perfunctory endorsement of the election’s legitimacy.

“The FBI, the director, was obviously under tremendous pressure,” Trump toldsupporters Monday. “She still deleted them after getting a subpoena from Congress. I mean, that’s a crime! What happened? That’s a crime! You don’t even need the new stuff. She shouldn’t be allowed to run.”

Says the liar, thief, cheat, pussy-grabber, bully, fraud.

Ultimately, should he lose, it may not matter what Trump says. The damage is done, regardless. For a year and half, he’s inundated his supporters with apocalyptic rhetoric about how his loss would both threaten every right they hold dear and show that those rights can no longer be secured through democratic means — because his defeat would prove that their “democracy” is a sham.

And more.


Guest post: Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes

Nov 8th, 2016 11:20 am | By

A Facebook friend posted some very useful information that needs to be widely known, and gave me permission to share it here. Guest post by EP.

Dear local friends – there was a letter sent home with the kids today about Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. Please, PLEASE do not participate. Although the info presented seems lovely, this is deliberate and cynical marketing ploy. The scheme is run by Samaritan’s Purse, one of the most criticised religious charities in the world. The founder, Franklin Graham is one of Donald Trump’s biggest supporters and donators. His Twitter feed just spews racism, homophobia, misogyny and plain old madness constantly. He is a vocal supporter of the idea of building a wall between Mexico and America and of the idea of not allowing Muslims into the USA. Other delightful things Samaritan’s Purse do or have done:

  • Was involved in the training of contra rebels in Nicaragua.
  • Was involved in the training of Israeli groups which invaded Lebanon.
  • Is one of the biggest opponents of gay marriage and LGBT rights in the USA and was (is) one of the biggest financial backers of the anti-gay marriage campaign.
  • Openly and continually describes Islam as an evil, satanic religion.
  • Describes Hindus as ‘bound by Satan’s power’ in its literature.
  • Claims that domestic violence is caused by women not submitting to the will of men.
  • Is indicated (although not yet proven) in the illegal removal of children in disaster zones to be trafficked to the States and elsewhere to be adopted by rich white Western Christians.
  • Spent every cent/penny they raised to help the crisis in Haiti on holding a huge evangelical event that locals were co-erced into attending on the false promise of aid. They also did the same with the Nicaraguan hurricane in 1999, and used money for prayer meeting in El Salvador that had been earmarked to build homes for desperately poor locals.
  • Many organisations, including Christian ones, will have nothing to do with them. This includes Save The Children and the major teaching unions of the U.K. (The NASUWT is particularly worried about the scheme being run in schools). DHL refuses to deliver any of their leaflets or shoeboxes.

And apart from all of that, it’s racist and deluded to think this scheme helps. It’s incredibly offensive to decide that people in other cultures need to change their religious beliefs to yours. In fact, converting someone to Christianity could put their life at risk in other countries. Most of the contents of the shoeboxes are culturally irrelevant or inappropriate: children do not need winter accessories in countries where there has never been snow. Little girls do not need hair accessories and cheap toy make-up sets in cultures where all children have very short hair or hair types where hair clips made for Caucasian hair won’t work, and where cosmetics are frowned upon. It also takes away work from local people who make or sell many of the items included, such as toothbrushes or school supplies. These sellers and makers are often widows, single mothers or older women, and the shoeboxes take away their chances of making what little money they can. And the idea of trying to bribe children to believe things they wouldn’t otherwise with conditional gift-giving is abusive in any language and any culture.


Nov 7th, 2016 5:56 pm | By

Pliny the In Between:

Inline image 1

One of these school bullies

Nov 7th, 2016 4:58 pm | By

Michael De Dora suggests a thought experiment: imagine the policy positions of the two candidates for president were flipped. Trump had all the Clinton policy positions and Clinton had all the Trump ones.

Yeah. I didn’t have to read on to know the answer. Never. Not in a million years.

I wouldn’t vote for Clinton either in that scenario, of course, but I sure as hell would not vote for the evil lying cheating pussy-grabbing bully.

In this world, I would not vote for Hillary Clinton. But, I would also not vote for Donald Trump.

To be clear, in this election I do support (the real) Clinton, and do not support (the real) Trump. Their policy positions are a significant reason. But what about factors beyond policy positions? Is this election really only about some differences of political opinions?

For me, the answer is clearly “no.”

For me too. It’s those other factors that have grabbed my attention and my horror. He’s the most unrelievedly horrible living person I know of. I don’t know of anyone who actually liked Hitler other than Goering and Unity Mitford, but the Führer is long gone. Among people who are around now, Trump takes the prize.

Up through middle and even early high school, I was bullied. Despite the fact that I was physically larger than some of my bullies, they had a psychological edge. They would engage in endless personal attacks. They would pick on every little characteristic you had, and make you feel horrible about yourself for being the way you are.They would demean and dehumanize you. They would often threaten and encourage physical violence, and sometimes even carry through on their promises.

In hindsight, I know what these bullies sought: power, and perhaps respect (or fear?) from other bullies. They wanted to be king for the sake of being king, for the privileges that came with having power. They were willing to do anything to feel that power, including harming anyone who stood in their way. And they wielded their power recklessly, without mercy.

They had no interest in anything other than themselves and their own standing in the world.

I think back now and imagine that one of these school bullies has decided to run for president of the school government. He presents his fellow students with a lengthy list of policy positions. I read it over and find that I agree on most of his positions, and disagree with most of the positions of his opponent.

Yet, how could I possibly support this person? I agree with his policy positions, sure, but what about him as a person? And I find that the reason I couldn’t support him is the same reason I couldn’t support even a liberal Trump — my respect for basic human decency.

It’s shaming that we have someone like that in the position he’s in. Shaming. Shame on us.

Women who are maligned by this label

Nov 7th, 2016 4:25 pm | By

Well this is like a cool drink of water in a wide desert – Samantha Rea rebuking Juno Dawson in the Independent.

There were furrowed brows last week, in response to a column by author Juno Dawson in Glamour magazine. Dawson identifies as a transgender woman. In a column entitled, “Call yourself a feminist?”, she refers to feminist academic Germaine Greer as a “TERF” explaining that the acronym means, “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.”

Dawson tells readers that TERFs are: “A subgroup of feminists who steadfastly believe me – and other trans women – are not women.” Explaining how this is an issue, Dawson says: “The key battle ground between TERFs and trans women is the issue of toilets. Yes, my right to do a little wee or poo is, apparently, major political battleground.”

Notice that she politely ignores the syntactical trainwreck of “who steadfastly believe me – and other trans women – are not women.” I didn’t ignore it. It chaps my hide that editors let that pass, and then called Dawson an excellent writer in Twitter discussions. Come on.

The term [TERF] is actually an exonym – a term used to describe a third party that the third party neither recognises, nor uses itself. It’s generally seen as a slur, and since the publication of Dawson’s column, women have objected to the label via social media, and in personal blogs. The controversy should be no surprise to Dawson or Glamour, as the term has been contentious since it was coined.

Yes, but the people who like to use it pretend that it’s already normalized, and contentious only to the evil.

The negative connotations mean that those with similar views and concerns to those labelled “TERF” will be reluctant to speak up, for fear of being similarly tarnished. Women who are maligned by this label are also then isolated by it.

Dawson’s description of TERFs as a “subgroup” of feminists compounds the idea that these are the views of a few hardline zealots, and therefore unrepresentative of women generally. In reality, many women are afraid of men following them into women’s toilets. There’s no way of knowing if the man identifies as a woman, and just needs a wee – or if he’s about to sexually assault them.

That’s because such assaults do in fact happen, and voyeurism is downright common.

But it’s not just about toilets. Expanding the entry criteria so those who identify as women can access women’s rape crisis centres, domestic abuse shelters, and other spaces where women may be vulnerable, means an increased risk of assault, because men – not just transgender women – will have easier access, being able to walk into these spaces unchallenged.

And it’s not only that. It’s also seeing those who identify as women explaining both feminism and womanhood to those who were simply born women and left to deal with it however they could.

Getting too aggressive with the term “TERF” can inhibit personal conversations between women about subjects such as periods, pregnancy, childbirth, the menopause, miscarriages and stillbirth. Already, women are finding themselves censored and corrected when recounting their own experiences. Breastfeeding becomes “chest feeding,” vaginas become “front holes,” and there are no pregnant women, but “pregnant people.” Instead of talking freely among themselves, women’s language can sometimes end up policed, even though the source of women’s oppression often has everything to do with their bodies and their reproductive systems.

“Can sometimes end up policed” is quite an understatement.

Suggesting that such concerns are exclusive to a subgroup of feminist fanatics is disingenuous and shuts down the potential for open conversation and understanding. Dawson’s assertion that women are simply upset about “my right to do a little wee or poo” deliberately undermines the validity of women’s concerns, mocking their genuine fears.

In writing this column, Dawson continues the age-old tradition of dismissing women’s fears as hysteria. The title even questions women’s credibility as feminists. “Call yourself a feminist?” it asks. I’d like to ask the same question of her.

I’d like to tell her to sit down and be quiet.

They trained to be mindless zombies who submit to their husbands

Nov 7th, 2016 2:55 pm | By

Ah the joys of religious state schools in the UK. The Daily Mail (sorry) reports that the government ordered four Islamic schools to shut down after bad Ofsted reports, but they appealed to the courts so pending the outcome they remain open. Oh well, it’s only students.

One allegedly taught girls that men can beat their wives. Another distributed leaflets saying music is an ‘act of the devil’.

They could continue operating for months, if not years, after launching legal appeals against closure. The four fee-paying independent establishments include a girls’ boarding school, Jamia al-Hudaa in Nottingham, that was ordered to close last month after Ofsted found books in the library by individuals banned from entering Britain.

Ministers told the 237-pupil school it must close its boarding facilities immediately and stop accepting new pupils.

But the school said “shan’t” and is fund-raising for a legal appeal. But this is a state school, not a private school. But religious schools can be state schools in the UK, and this is the dog’s breakfast that results.

One former student says she is disgusted that it can continue to operate, saying it was ‘like a prison’ where girls were isolated from the outside world. She says girls were taught they can be beaten and raped by their husbands, in order ‘to make Allah happy’ and that music is the voice of the devil.

Several Islamic schools were ordered to close by the Department for Education after a series of critical Ofsted reports. But the four appealed to the courts, which allows them to continue operating until a ruling is made.

At Darul Uloom in Birmingham, inspectors found a large number of leaflets ‘containing highly concerning and extremist views’. It remains open five years after concerns were first raised, when a preacher was filmed making racist remarks about Hindus and ranting that ‘disbelievers are the worst creatures’.

They provide a first-person account of life at one school:

A Former pupil at Jamia al-Hudaa school in Nottingham says she was taught that women can be raped and beaten by their husbands and that music is the voice of the devil.

Sara Adam – not her real name – says the girls’ boarding school was ‘like a prison’ where girls are ‘entirely isolated from the outside world’ and simply ‘trained to become subservient housewives’.

She said: ‘We were not taught geography, history or music and in art we just did knitting. We were banned from drawing anything with eyes.’

It might as well be a school for slaves.

‘There was no sex education and we were taught that evolution was a belief of devil worshippers and atheists. Most of our day was spent doing Islamic studies.’

Miss Adam, who does not want her face pictured for fear of retribution from within her community, left Jamia al-Hudaa more than a decade ago. But the school, which has 237 pupils, continues to operate under the same leadership, despite whistleblowers repeatedly raising concerns.

Last month Aliyah Saleem, now 27, told the Mail how she was expelled from the school for owning a disposable camera.

She said she was taught that Jews and Christians ‘make God angry’.

Miss Adam recalled how when she was a pupil, two girls aged 14 and 16 were put into solitary confinement for three weeks after teachers suspected they were lesbians.

Teachers would carry out regular spot-checks of the girls’ dormitories, and ‘lift up our mattresses and look underneath like they do in prisons’.

‘They found my personal diary,’ Miss Adam said. ‘I was told off by teachers because in the summer holidays before I joined the school, I wrote that I fancied a boy I saw on the Disney Channel.

‘The teacher said it was forbidden to like boys at my age – especially if they are “kuffars” [a derogatory term to describe non-Muslims].’

Her diary was eventually returned with a third of the pages torn out.

Miss Adam said: ‘We were basically trained to be mindless zombies who submit to their husbands. I was lucky because, after calling my parents every night in tears, they eventually pulled me out of the school.

‘It is disgusting that a school like this is still open – and my fear is there are many more.’

Well god’s army has to come from somewhere.


Nov 7th, 2016 11:19 am | By

A compilation of all the names for him. Two of the best:

crotch-fondling slab of rancid meatloaf

thrice-married foul-mouthed tit-judge

Now if somebody can’t handle a Twitter account

Nov 7th, 2016 10:14 am | By

Ben Guarino at the Washington Post looks back on Trump’s Twitter career.

Of all the loose cannons to roll across political Twitter’s decks, Donald Trump may have been the most volatile. The GOP nominee blasted his messages into the feeds of 13 million followers and accrued retweets by the thousands. For every hit scored against Jeb Bush (“low energy“), Ted Cruz (“Lyin’“) or Hillary Clinton (“Crooked“), though, there remained a risk Trump’s potshots would be self-destructive rather than tactical.

In the past, Trump’s worst tweets included the ludicrous, like his claim that climate change was a Chinese hoax, as well as the insulting and unsubtle. “While is an extremely unattractive woman,” Trump tweeted in 2012, “I refuse to say that because I always insist on being politically correct.” He remained an impulsive tweeter well into his presidential campaign. On Sept. 30, he unleashed a series of tweets in the dead of morning, exhorting supporters to “check out sex tape” of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado.

Because that’s what presidents do – publicly attack women with whatever disgusting lies pop into their heads.

An analysis by data scientist David Robinson may shed some light into the nature of Trump’s tweets. In August, Robinson quantified the difference in tweets sent from Trump’s account, depending on the source — whether they came from Twitter for Android or Twitter for iPhone. Robinson concluded that the Android tweets were “more hyperbolic and aggressive” whereas the iPhone tweets were closer to traditional campaign messages.

(A program like TweetDeck specifies the origin of tweets by operating system.)

Robinson hypothesized that Trump, who had been documented in the past checking Twitter using a Samsung Galaxy phone and expressing a distaste for Apple, issued the Android tweets. The iPhone tweets, lacking the emotional charge, were dictated to or written by staffers.

This all reminds me of something…I wonder what it could be…

President Obama, campaigning for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in Florida, did not pass up the chance to get in a few digs at Trump on Sunday.

Apparently his campaign has taken away his Twitter.

In the last two days, they had so little confidence in his self-control, that they said ‘We’re just going to take away your Twitter

…. Now if somebody can’t handle a Twitter account, they can’t handle the nuclear codes. If somebody starts tweeting at 3 in the morning because SNL made fun of you, then you can’t handle the nuclear codes.

Here he is saying it.

They took away his Twitter

Nov 7th, 2016 9:41 am | By

The New York Times reported yesterday that Trump’s handlers have taken away his Twitter.

In the final days of the presidential campaign, Mr. Trump’s candidacy is a jarring split screen: the choreographed show of calm and confidence orchestrated by his staff, and the neediness and vulnerability of a once-boastful candidate now uncertain of victory.

On the surface, there is the semblance of stability that is robbing Hillary Clinton of her most potent weapon: Mr. Trump’s self-sabotaging eruptions, which have repeatedly undermined his candidacy. Underneath that veneer, turbulence still reigns, making it difficult for him to overcome all of the obstacles blocking his path to the White House.

The contrasts pervade his campaign. Aides to Mr. Trump have finally wrested away the Twitter account that he used to colorfully — and often counterproductively — savage his rivals. But offline, Mr. Trump still privately muses about all the ways he will punish his enemies after Election Day, including a threat to fund a “super PAC” with vengeance as its core mission.

Of course he does. By the way, how do you go about “wresting away” a Twitter account? I guess by demanding the password and then changing it to a new one? “Tell me the password right now, Donald, or I won’t be your aide any more.”

His polished older daughter, Ivanka, sat for a commercial intended to appeal to suburban women who have recoiled from her father’s incendiary language. But she discouraged the campaign from promoting the ad in news releases, fearing that her high-profile association with the campaign would damage the businesses that bear her name.

Ha! She did the commercial but said please don’t promote it. And, yes, if I had any ties to any businesses of hers I would have cut them a long time ago.

Mr. Trump’s campaign is no longer making headlines with embarrassing staff shake-ups. But that has left him with a band of squabbling and unfireable advisers, with confusing roles and an inability to sign off on basic tasks. A plan to encourage early voting in Florida went unapproved for weeks.

The result is chaotic. Advisers cut loose from the campaign months ago, like Corey Lewandowski, still talk to the candidate frequently, offering advice that sometimes clashes with that of the current leadership team. Mr. Trump, who does not use a computer, rails against the campaign’s expenditure of tens of millions on digital ads, skeptical that spots he never sees could have any effect.

Ahahahahahahaha – yes and when he closes his eyes the world disappears. No Theory of Mind at all at all.

There are four reporters on this story and they talked to a bunch of people involved in Trump’s campaign, many of them anonymously (no surprise there, working for Mr Vindictive).

His aides outlined 15 bullet points for him to deliver during an Oct. 22 speech in Gettysburg, Pa., to focus voters on a new theme of cleaning up government, even as several women came forward to accuse him of groping them just as he had described in the recording.

But Mr. Trump grew frustrated with the instructions. By the time he was done revising the proposed speech, only about a half-dozen of the original suggestions remained. And over the firm objections of his top advisers, he insisted on using the occasion to issue a remarkable threat: that he would sue all of the women who had gone public with the accusations.

As the advisers begged him to reconsider — it would make him seem small, they warned, and undermine a pivotal speech — Mr. Trump was adamant. There had to be a severe penalty for those who dared to attack him, he said. He could not just sit back and let these women “come at me,” he told one of them.

Priorities, people. Revenge must always come first, even against people reporting the truth about bad things Trump did to them. Even? I mean especially.

Several advisers warned him that he risked becoming like a wild animal chasing its prey so zealously that it raced over a cliff — a reminder that he could pursue his grievances and his eagerness to fling insults, but that the cost would be a plunge into an electoral abyss.

Taking away Twitter turned out to be an essential move by his press team, which deprived him of a previously unfiltered channel for his aggressions.

As it does for so many lovely people!

On Thursday, as his plane idled on the tarmac in Miami, Mr. Trump spotted Air Force One outside his window. As he glowered at the larger plane, he told Ms. Hicks, his spokeswoman, to jot down a proposed tweet about President Obama, who was campaigning nearby for Mrs. Clinton.

“Why is he campaigning instead of creating jobs and fixing Obamacare?” Mr. Trump said. “Get back to work.” After some light editing — Ms. Hicks added “for the American people” at the end — she published it.

He is working. He’s working hard at saving us all from a Trump presidency.

Updating to add: a friend on Facebook pointed out something I wish I had: “They say he can’t handle twitter. But they are still working to get him elected.” Why yes, they are, aren’t they. Irresponsible much?

Horrified to hear there were Sharia courts in England

Nov 7th, 2016 8:52 am | By

Rahila Gupta at Open Democracy shares a story of how a Sharia court in the UK trashed one woman’s life.

On 7 November, there will be a public seminar on “Sharia Law, Legal Pluralism and Access to Justice” 7-9pm at Committee Room 12 at the Houses of Parliament. Below, we publish the story of a woman Shagufta (not her real name) who spoke to the campaign group, One Law for All, and described how a brush with the Sharia courts ruined her life forever.

After my husband died in 1987 I moved to London with my children.  My older daughter, Lubna (not her real name) moved to London in 1994 after the breakdown in her marriage. After the British courts granted her a civil divorce, I hoped that would be the end of our involvement with my ex-son-in-law. Sadly this was not to be the case. He visited our local mosque and denounced me to the gathering, saying that I was ‘a loose woman’ who was pimping her daughters. He asked the mosque elders to help him get his children and his wife back to save their morals. A delegation from the mosque visited my home to convince me that the best thing would be to make my daughter return to her husband. I told them she was divorced but they said the English divorce meant nothing and was not valid in Islam. I was so angry at the vile allegations of these men.

Another Imam, a close family friend of ours, told us that Lubna would have to seek a khula (divorce) from a Sharia court. I vehemently disagreed and cited the cases of several Muslim women I had known who had been divorced in the English courts without any need for a religious divorce. These women had since remarried too. The imam said the mosques had failed in their duty and that these women would go to hell as they were committing zina (adultery) and producing haram children. I reluctantly agreed to speak to Lubna.

We appeared before the Sharia court. The whole process in the Sharia court at Regents Park mosque was shocking. Lubna was dismissed every time she spoke; I was treated very disrespectfully every time I tried to intervene. They were not interested in anything we had to say, not even the real risks that my ex-son-in-law posed to his children let alone to my daughter. He had beaten my grandson a few years earlier and split his head open. He still has scars on his face.

None of the information from the civil proceedings (affidavit, non-molestation orders etc) was admissible in the Sharia Court. When Lubna’s ex-husband stated that he did not want to grant khula but wanted a reconciliation ‘for the sake of the children’, the Judges agreed. I was horrified. As my daughter and I were protesting so much, a further hearing date was set.  At the next hearing, Lubna was told to reconcile and that a khula would not be granted. We were also told that my ex-son-in-law had custodial rights over my grandchildren and that they would remain with Lubna as long as my ex-son-in-law agreed. I do not have words to convey my anger at what was being done in this supposed court. I left the Sharia Court determined to find a way to protect my daughter and her children.

Remember how Naz Shah interrupted Maryam to demand a yes or no answer to the question is a finding of a Sharia court legally binding in the UK? That’s not the issue. The issue is all that bullying dressed up as Religious Law. Legally, Shagufta and Lubna could just ignore the whole thing. Socially, not so much.

After the hearing, Lubna lived with a sustained campaign of harassment and abuse from my ex-son-in-law.  During this time he kidnapped my grandchildren and threatened to keep them if Lubna did not allow him to come and live with her. He threatened to kill me and my other children if she involved the police. It was only with the help of her father-in-law that the children were returned to her.

What happened next, I cannot even bring myself to say the words so I will quote from Lubna’s statement, ‘Several weeks after the children were returned to me, my ex-husband began calling at all hours of the day and night (he had my address and contact details from the Sharia Court papers). I refused to let him in. I contacted the police and applied for a new non-molestation order. However, the harassment did not stop. Very late one night my ex-husband broke in and violently raped me. I did not report this to the police as I was too scared. After the rape he wrote to my mother and the Imam and told them I had slept with him and that we were now together again. My mother came to my house as soon as she received the letter and was shocked to see the injuries resulting from the violence I suffered that night.’

From the point of view of that Sharia court at Regents Park mosque he didn’t rape her at all, he simply enjoyed his rights as her husband.

My family in Pakistan were horrified to hear that there were Sharia courts in England. My family sent written advice from several scholars in Pakistan and India which confirmed that there was absolutely no need for a khula as the civil divorce was recognised as a formal termination of the marriage; if Lubna were to remarry in Pakistan then a copy of the divorce from the English courts would be sufficient.

However, with regard to my grandchildren, the letters did confirm that Lubna only had guardianship of the children under Sharia principles but as she had custody of the children under English civil law, they advised that the ruling of the English courts should be accepted as they had based their decision on the best interests of the children.

I sent copies of the letters to my ex-son-in-law and his father. His father gave his word that this would be an end to the matter. He had never thought a Sharia divorce certificate was necessary.  I do not understand where these Sharia courts have come from. I come from the generation of immigrants to this country that was able to be part of British society and to be Muslim without the need for separate legal systems. After the Sharia court proceedings ended I supposed that my life would continue as it had done before. Nothing could have prepared me for what lay ahead.

What was that? Her whole social world shut her out. She lost her friends.

The ostracism began with people who had once been friends starting to avoid me. I asked my friend Guljabeen if she knew what was going on. Guljabeen told me that the incident at the mosque (where I was accused of pimping my daughters) had become common knowledge in the area where we lived. My children were no longer welcome in the homes of their Muslim friends. I used to sing the naatsand nasheeds at prayer gatherings and was well known for doing this. All invitations to do this ceased.

Three of my other daughters have married non-Muslims and left Islam. I have suffered almost total ostracism for supporting them in their choices. My closest friend from childhood, who lives in the area, has stopped visiting me.

This case study is one of many testimonies gathered by women’s rights organisations, namely British Muslims for Secular Democracy, Centre for Secular Space, Iranian Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation,  One Law for All and Southall Black Sisters.

That public seminar starts in a few hours. If I were in London I would go.

On slurs

Nov 6th, 2016 5:20 pm | By
On slurs

The sociolinguist Deborah Cameron has a fascinating essay on the question of whether or not “TERF” is a slur. You should read it.

Near the end she writes:

If a word is just a neutral description, you might expect it to be used mainly for the purpose of describing or making claims about states of affairs. If it’s a slur, you’d also expect it to be used for those purposes, but in addition you might expect to see it being used in speech acts expressing hatred and contempt, such as insults, threats and incitements to violence. (By ‘insults’ here, incidentally, I don’t mean statements which are insulting simply because they use the word in question, but statements which say something insulting about the group, e.g. ‘they’re all dirty thieves’.)  

There’s evidence that TERF does appear in insults, threats and incitements. You can read a selection of examples (mostly taken from Twitter, so these were public communications) on this website, which was set up to document the phenomenon. Here are a small number of items from the site to give you a sense of what this discourse looks like:

you vile dirty terf cunts must be fuming you have no power to mess with transfolk any more!

I smell a TERF and they fucking stink

if i ever find out you are a TERF i will fucking kill you every single TERF out there needs to die

why are terfs even allowed to exist round up every terf and all their friends for good measure and slit their throats one by one

if you encounter a terf in the wild deposit them in the nearest dumpster. Remember: Keeping our streets clean is everyone’s responsibility

Precisely because it was set up to document uses of TERF as a slur, this site does not offer a representative sample of all uses of the term, so it can’t tell us whether insulting/threatening/inciting are its dominant functions. It does, however, show that they are among its current functions.  It also points to another relevant question:

What other words does the word tend to co-occur with? 

It’s noticeable that on the website I’ve linked to, TERF quite often shows up in the same tweet as other words whose status as slurs is not disputed, like ‘bitch’ and ‘cunt’. Other words that occur more than once or twice in these tweets include ‘disgusting’, ‘ugly’, ‘scum’ and a cluster of words implying uncleanness (‘smell’, ‘stink’, ‘garbage’, ‘filth’)—which is also a well-worn theme in racist and anti-Semitic discourse.

I saw an example of that kind of thing before reading the essay.


holiday holomodor ‏@yodelatme

The meaning of TERF is “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist,” which is what you are. Stop pretending it’s an offensive slur.

“Wow, you called me what I am, a transphobic piece of garbage! I’m so offended! This is abuse!” Seriously, fuck off.

Perfect, isn’t it? First tweet: how dare you pretend TERF is an offensive slur. Second tweet: you are a transphobic piece of garbage.

If only feminists would let some other sex take over

Nov 6th, 2016 4:15 pm | By

Meghan Murphy is another not impressed by Juno Dawson’s lecturing feminists from the vantage point of a whole entire year living as a woman.

It was only last year that Dawson “came out” as a transwoman, but this hasn’t stopped the writer from dictating how women should be approaching their ongoing fight for liberation from male oppression. In fact, the entire column essentially describes the ways women are doing their own movement wrong, indeed rejecting basic feminist tenets and failing to recognize that maybe — just maybe — feminists who’ve been at this for many decades now have thought this through a little more than Dawson has.

Imagine some white guy (it has to be a guy) goes on that show Henry Louis Gates did where people learn new things about their family backgrounds – and this guy learns he had a black great-great-grandmother. Now imagine he writes a column for some lads mag explaining the anti-racism movement and how much nicer it is now that it’s not all militant and angry and unglamorous.

Have you imagined it? It would seem startlingly presumptuous and clueless, wouldn’t it. Yet Juno Dawson has no qualms about doing the equivalent to women. I guess women who had the misfortune not to start out male are just too stupid to do their own politics correctly.

Then there’s the “TERF” thing.

[Y]es, the feminist movement is indeed “exclusionary,” if you must describe a political movement towards the liberation of women in such a backwards way, but no more than any other movement. Political movements naturally work towards specific aims — if they did not, and instead attempted to broadly address every single issue on the planet, including every person and all of their ideas, that “movement” would surely be an unsuccessful one.

Also it wouldn’t be about anything, it would just be life. A political movement that addresses all issues addresses none, because it would cancel itself out.

Socialists “exclude” capitalists from their activism just as feminists exclude anti-feminists from theirs. We do not prioritize the issues or concerns of males in this movement because this movement is not for men — it is for women.

But that can’t be allowed, can it. Everyone else can have a movement that’s about their issue, but women can’t, because women…well frankly because women don’t matter. Everyone else does – the men, that is – but not women. Women aren’t really people. They’re simulacra.

“I feel perpetually on the back-foot, constantly grovelling, almost apologetic for my inclusion in womanhood,” Dawson complains, amazingly without realizing that women and girls are being forced into the very same position by trans activists who claim we should sit down, shut up, move aside, and quite literally deny our realities in order to accommodate people’s new “identities.”

Well you see it’s like this. Women who are just born women are (see above) not really people. It’s only men who decide to identify as women who can be women and still be people. Therefore Dawson’s plight is tragic while the same thing happening to women is just wallpaper.

Comey to everyone: Never mind

Nov 6th, 2016 12:49 pm | By

Oh hai, Comey says he was just kidding. The people who voted after his intervention and before his just kidding? Oh well!

The F.B.I. informed Congress on Sunday that it has not changed its conclusions about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, removing a dark cloud that has been hanging over her campaign two days before Election Day.

James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, said in a letter to members of Congress that “based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.”

In the immediate term, the letter removes a cloud that has hung over the Clinton campaign for a week since Mr. Comey announced his agents were reviewing new emails that might be related to an investigation into Mrs. Clinton that ended in July. But Mr. Comey’s move is sure to raise new questions from Democrats. Most importantly: Why did Mr. Comey raise the specter of wrongdoing before agents had even read the emails, especially since it only took days to determine they were not significant.

Why indeed.

Going along to keep up

Nov 6th, 2016 9:18 am | By

The Guardian reports on a study that found men don’t love stag parties but go along with them because of bullying. That doesn’t surprise me – the way men bully other men is horrifying.

…a study suggests that men do not enjoy the debauchery or the “extreme shaming, humiliation, and deviance” that are part and parcel of most modern stag dos.

According to the report, men succumb to peer pressure to celebrate one final night of “freedom” with the groom-to-be, despite the fact that the hedonistic experiences can leave them feeling scared and degraded.

So the experiences can’t be all that hedonistic, can they.

The researchers found instances of men being pressured into doing things they did not enjoy but nonetheless going along with to keep up with the other men in the group.

They record one groom-to-be who said he had no desire to see “half-naked dancing women, let alone pay them” in a lapdancing club that his best man insisted they go to. However, he went along with the group and spent a dismal evening “declining offers from various women for private dances, but did not reveal his desire to leave to the best man or the rest of the group”.

This is one way men have it far worse than women. Ironically that’s because it doesn’t really work to try to shame a woman by calling her a woman, whereas it works all too well to shame a man that way, so the worse is ultimately ours after all…But all the same, it’s a nasty form of bullying and shaming that we aren’t subject to.

At least, not from our friends. In the outside world of course there’s a lot of pressure on women to be not woman-like, and that sends a loud misogynist message. But we don’t have to choose between acting like an asshole and being taunted as a pussy or worse.

Or maybe I just mean I feel sad for men who have friends like that.

According to the research, “extreme shaming, humiliation, and deviance often plays in the stag party experience for all those involved, not just the stag”.

The authors report how they witnessed one man on a stag weekend with his friends being subjected to sustained ritual humiliation. His drinks were spiked with shots of spirits leaving him so incapacitated that he passed out in the bar, soiled himself and was tied up with cling film in their accommodation while still unconscious.

The study concluded that men on stag dos are “performing” a role rather than taking any real pleasure in their extreme antics. “We argue that these men are merely reproducing exaggerated forms of behaviour that are expected of them and that they expect of themselves in a pocket of available time to celebrate,” it said.

Poisoning someone with alcohol is not “antics.” Alcohol poisoning can be fatal.

You know what’s fun? I’m told? Dancing. Try that! Skip the naked women and the roofies, and just dance til you drop.