Notes and Comment Blog

“They’re starting to wear the trans uniform”

Jan 5th, 2016 10:12 am | By

Katie Glover writes in the Independent that men mustn’t be allowed to wear “women’s clothes” because that’s a “danger for trans women.”

She starts with the fact that 17-year-old Jaden Smith, son of American actor Will Smith, is going to be “the face of” Louis Vuitton clothes, specifically, women’s clothes.

Jaden seems to be up for this gender-neutral, equal clothing rights thing which allows men to wear women’s clothes without any fear of ridicule.  But there is another, more important issue afoot.

There’s a reason why men wear men’s clothes and women wear women’s clothes, and why they are generally so different.  OK, I know women have been wearing trousers for decades but they’re usually a femme version of the male equivalent – and I’m not talking about unisex clothes like jeans and t-shirts.

Not talking about them? Why not? Since they contradict that silly claim.


I’m talking about basic clothes norms that depict which gender is wearing them, even in the modern world.  Stereotypically, men wear trousers and women wear dresses and skirts.  That’s the ‘norm’ and it’s more than that – it’s a uniform.

Or, to put it another way, it’s an arbitrary custom, one that enforces a needless and oppressive gender binary, which is one reason to flout it.

But that’s not what Katie Glover is after. Quite the opposite.

When you get out of bed in the morning the most important thing you have to do all day is tell the world what your gender is, because from that, everything else flows.  You may think that your job is to be an office supervisor or a stockbroker or police officer but these are all human constructs.  Deep down your real job is to reproduce, and showing other humans your gender is the first step on that path.

Hoo-boy – evo psych in aid of enforcing the gender system yet again. No, my real job is whatever I decide it is, using my own brain and ideas and wants. Telling the world what my gender is is not even on my list of things to do, let alone at the top of it.

So, to help make it plain for anyone to see which gender you are, you put on a uniform.  Men put on trousers and have men’s haircuts, and women put on dresses and skirts, feminine tops and tights and women’s shoes to show their femininity and declare to the world that they are female.

They have women’s hair-dos and they put use cosmetics to make themselves look nicer and more presentable and to reinforce the female uniform a bit more.

So, when some people come along and want equal clothing rights, that upsets the apple cart a bit.

Male-to-female transgender people rely on props like clothes, shoes, make-up and hairstyles to create the gender identity they want to portray to the world because most of the time their bodies alone are unable to do that.  There are a few lucky ones who don’t have to do a thing to put across a female persona, but most trans women have to work hard at it.

Or not. They can just decide they don’t need to “put across a female persona” any more than they need to be visibly religious or political or of X nationality. We’re not walking advertising posters, we don’t need to be visibly anything in particular. That’s not a genuine need. It may be a desire, but it’s not a need.

The danger for trans women is that if wearing what are traditionally women’s clothes becomes the norm for men too, then trans women will no longer be able to rely on these props to help them display a female gender identity – and for many, that could be a serious problem.

Of course it will take time – a long, long time even – for things to change to the extent where men wearing skirts and girly stuff will be totally acceptable.

But trans people should be aware that well-known faces like Jaden Smith are starting to encroach on our territory.  They’re starting to wear the trans uniform without actually stating that they are transgender, and they’re claiming it for themselves under the guise of gender-neutral fashion. All of which begs the question: where does that leave us?

So there you have it. We have to continue to enforce the arbitrary customs of the gender binary because men wearing “skirts and girly stuff” is what Glover so stunningly calls “our territory.”

It could hardly be more reactionary.


Jan 4th, 2016 4:52 pm | By

Yes, people in other countries are startled to learn we have no federally mandated paid maternity leave. I just heard from a startled person on Twitter. Employers are free to provide it, but they’re also free not to.

NPR did a piece on the subject last July.

If you’ve been paying attention to the political news in the past couple of years, you know that the U.S. stands virtually alone in not mandating paid leave of any type for its workers.

It’s because we love freedom. We love the freedom of employers not to provide it, and we love the freedom of workers to be screwed over.

President Obama likewise brought new attention to paid leave this year as well, when he pointed out in his State of the Union address that the U.S. is the only advanced economy that doesn’t mandate paid sick or maternity leave for its workers.

He was right about that — it’s true that most American workers are covered by the Family Medical Leave Act, which allows workers up to 12 weeks of leave per year to care for family members. But that leave is unpaid.

I remember fuming about that during the Clinton administration (which is when the act was passed) – the media were making such a big deal of it but it was just unpaid leave. God we’re pathetic. We’re the only advanced economy that doesn’t. What a miserable distinction.

But of course our elections are sold to the highest bidder, so what do I expect?

The U.S.’s campaign finance system helps businesses keep these laws off the books, says one expert.

“Money plays a role in politics in many countries, but the extent to which the amount of dollars [is] spent on campaigns in the United States just dwarfs the amount spent in campaigns elsewhere,” says Jody Heymann, dean of the School of Public Health at UCLA. “The ability [to make] very large corporate contributions plays a much more substantial role in our elections than in other countries.”

Another miserable distinction.

An inspiration

Jan 4th, 2016 4:34 pm | By

Gulalai Ismail:

I had a wonderful start of the year, got to spend 1st of this year with amazing Hadiqa Bashir; a young activist from Swat who is fighting against child marriages in Swat, and she is just 14 years herself. She is very committed to the cause, and is an inspiration.

Where Dunning-Kruger reigns supreme

Jan 4th, 2016 4:09 pm | By

We in the US so easily lose sight of how awful we look to the rest of the world.

The UN gave three human rights experts from that rest of the world plane tickets to the US so that they could check out how women fare here. They were appalled.

A delegation of human rights experts from Poland, the United Kingdom and Costa Rica spent 10 days this month touring the United States so they can prepare a report on the nation’s overall treatment of women. The three women, who lead a United Nations working group on discrimination against women, visited Alabama, Texas and Oregon to evaluate a wide range of U.S. policies and attitudes, as well as school, health and prison systems.

The delegates were appalled by the lack of gender equality in America. They found the U.S. to be lagging far behind international human rights standards in a number of areas, including its 23 percent gender pay gap, maternity leave, affordable child care and the treatment of female migrants in detention centers.

Also domestic violence? Sexual harassment on the job? Sexual harassment everywhere else? Voice in government? Visibility in the culture?

The most telling moment of the trip, the women told reporters on Friday, was when they visited an abortion clinic in Alabama and experienced the hostile political climate around women’s reproductive rights.

“We were harassed. There were two vigilante men waiting to insult us,” said Frances Raday, the delegate from the U.K. The men repeatedly shouted, “You’re murdering children!” at them as soon as they neared the clinic, even though Raday said they are clearly past childbearing age.

“It’s a kind of terrorism,” added Eleonora Zielinska, the delegate from Poland. “To us, it was shocking.”

It is shocking.

Another main area of concern for the delegation is violence against women — particularly gun violence. Women are 11 times more likely to be killed by a gun in the United States than in other high-income countries, and most of those murdersare perpetrated by an intimate partner.

Well, it’s like this – we love guns, and we hate women.

While the delegates were shocked by many things they saw in the U.S., perhaps the biggest surprise of their trip, they said, was learning that women in the country don’t seem to know what they’re missing.

“So many people really believe that U.S. women are way better off with respect to rights than any woman in the world,” Raday said. “They would say, ‘Prove it! What do you mean other people have paid maternity leave?'”

Look at it this way: that illusion probably cheers them up.

It’s another “god said”

Jan 4th, 2016 3:18 pm | By

Ok so the Bundy men are Mormons. They think “God” is telling them to grab public land and threaten anyone who comes to evict them.

As roughly 20 militants continue to occupy a federal wildlife refuge in southeastern Oregon, observers are left scratching their heads. Why would an out-of-state rancher lead a self-styled militia in defending federal land far from home?

Because God told him to, Ammon Bundy said in a YouTube video posted Friday.

Oh yes? I wonder why God didn’t remind them to take plenty of food.

Bundy is a son of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher known for his stand-off with the federal government over cattle grazing.

That is, Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher known for threatening to shoot federal officials and getting away with it. Known for refusing to obey a perfectly legitimate order by duly constituted authority, using guns to back it up – and getting away with it without so much as a parking ticket.

In the video, Bundy, who is Mormon, said he believed God wanted him to defend Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, a father-and-son duo convicted of arson on federal land in Oregon.

“The Lord was not pleased with what was happening to the Hammonds,” Bundy said in the video. “If we allowed the Hammonds to continue to be punished, there would be accountability.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just grow up for a change? He might as well say Santa Claus wasn’t pleased; it would make just as much sense.

Bundy’s rhetoric, though consistent with scripture and early Mormon teaching, is now considered extreme, and [scholar Susanna] Morrill is skeptical about attributing his motives entirely to faith.

“While the Mormon stuff seems important, it also seems like these folks just have their own agenda and may be using Mormonism for that,” she said.

Church leaders issued a statement Monday condemning militants’ actions:

“Church leaders strongly condemn the armed seizure of the facility and are deeply troubled by the reports that those who have seized the facility suggest that they are doing so based on scriptural principles. This armed occupation can in no way be justified on a scriptural basis.”

But the Bundy gang can just say the church leaders have fallen into corruption. There’s no way to check this kind of bullshit.

Send snacks to Burns, Oregon

Jan 4th, 2016 2:35 pm | By

The scary (but peaceful! so so peaceful) give us all the federal land guys forgot to bring food with them.

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Imraan Siddiqi ‏@imraansiddiqi Jan 3
Do you think they would accept a falafel care package?

Isn’t the mail a federal thing?

Also…who do they think is going to deliver the snacks once they have arrived in Burns? How do they think anyone is going to deliver them? Also why didn’t they plan ahead?

Can someone please inform the protesters?

Jan 4th, 2016 12:02 pm | By

RH Reality Check on Facebook:

Can someone please inform the protesters outside Preterm Cleveland that they can protest the actual murder of an actual child all they want downtown today?

The year in forced pregnancy

Jan 4th, 2016 11:47 am | By

Last month the NY Times did an unsigned editorial on the nonstop erosion of reproductive rights over the past year.

How many laws making it harder to get an abortion will pass before the Supreme Court sees them for what they are — part of a tireless, coordinated nationwide assault on the right of women to control what happens with their own bodies without the interference of politicians?

One answer is, no fewer than 288. That’s how many abortion restrictions states have enacted since the beginning of 2011, when aggressively anti-choice lawmakers swept into statehouses around the country.

The trend accelerated in 2015, as state legislators passed 57 new constraints on a woman’s right to choose. Hundreds more were considered, most of which could come up again in 2016. Most of the time, lawmakers are clever enough to disguise their true intent by claiming that their interest is in protecting women’s physical or mental health. But now and then the facade falls away, as when the Mississippi governor, Phil Bryant, called a set of restrictions he signed into law in 2012 “the first step in a movement” that aims to “end abortion in Mississippi.”

This couldn’t be happening were it not for the fact that many people think women’s rights are trumped by their own pregnancies.

The Times urges the Supreme Court to keep this in mind when hearing the Texas lawsuit early this year.

Laws like this — known as TRAP laws, for targeted regulation of abortion providers — have sprouted up in dozens of states as abortion opponents test the limits of the Supreme Court’s vague standard on abortion rights, which asks whether a restriction poses an “undue burden” to a woman’s right to choose.

In many states, including Texas, these laws have resulted in the shuttering of all but a few clinics that perform abortions, forcing women to travel hundreds of miles for the procedure. Among other burdens, this increases the chance that a woman will try to end her pregnancy on her own. This is extremely risky, and in some states it is even grounds for a charge of attempted murder. One study, based on a recent survey, estimated that 100,000 to 240,000 Texas women ages 18 to 49 have attempted a self-induced abortion without medical assistance. These women, the study found, were significantly more likely than average to have less access to basic reproductive-health services like birth control.

And TRAP laws aren’t the only obstacle.

Five states enacted or extended waiting periods for abortions, joining the more than two dozen states that already had such laws. Some of these laws also require a woman to undergo in-person counseling, which means two separate trips to a clinic or hospital. Two states, Arizona and Arkansas, passed laws requiring doctors to give women misleading information about the possibility of “reversing” a medication-induced abortion. Arkansas also became the third state to ban the use of the modern, evidence-based drug protocol for medication abortion, which is cheaper and more effective than what the Food and Drug Administration approved in 2000.

And then there is the unrelenting, but politically unpopular, campaign by Republicans in Congress, in statehouses and on the presidential campaign trail to deny funding to Planned Parenthood. The organization, which is the only reproductive-health service provider for millions of poorer women, is already prohibited by law from using federal funds for almost all abortions.

doesn’t matter to anti-choice activists in places like Wisconsin and Indiana, where efforts by conservative lawmakers and governors have forced even those Planned Parenthood clinics that don’t perform any abortions to shut down. Aresult is that many lower-income women lose access to basic health care as well as contraceptive services that would make them less likely to have unintended pregnancies.

By any reasonable measure, Texas’ law places an undue burden on women seeking abortion services and should be struck down. Beyond doing that, the justices must send a clear and broad message affirming the constitutionally protected right of women to determine the course of their reproductive lives. Political opponents have shown how quickly they can regroup and find ways to restrict or obliterate programs and services women need.

Women are the subordinate sex, and don’t you forget it.

Call it what it is

Jan 4th, 2016 11:16 am | By

On CNN at least one person gets it about Bundy’s army, saying they’re domestic terrorists, duh.

(On the other hand CNN has a breaking news headline at the top of the page saying Ammon Bundy “holds briefing” – as if he were an official. He’s not holding a “briefing,” he’s a violent criminal saying things on camera.)

Let’s begin with what to call the Oregon anti-government protesters who have taken over a federal building. The men, heavily armed, urging others to come support their cause, and claiming somehow that, while peaceful, they will “defend” themselves whatever it takes, are — by any definition — domestic terrorists.

It does not matter that they insist they are peaceful or some sort of lawful militia; I can claim I’m 26 years old and a size 2 and that still doesn’t make it true. This group of men is wielding terror, and the threat of violence, as if it were their constitutional right.

Damn right. They’re using guns to break the law, to grab and hold public property, to draw attention to themselves, to resist arrest.

They are dangerous, they are unforgiving, they are flouting federal law, they have a political purpose and they clearly are willing to use violence to get their way. Simply because they are not Muslim jihadists does not mean they are authorized to threaten or use violence to support their political cause.

Could the news media possibly take that in and then retain it?

The situation

Jan 4th, 2016 10:31 am | By

Still the strangely placating, gentle, tactful note when law enforcement talks about the armed men occupying an isolated federal building in rural Oregon.

The FBI has taken charge of the law enforcement response to an armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, saying that it will work with local and state authorities to seek “a peaceful resolution to the situation.”

“The situation” – aka the violent takeover of a government building by armed men. I say “violent” because the men are armed, which is unmistakably a threat of violence.

The occupation of a remote federal wildlife refuge followed a peaceful march and rally held over the weekend to support two local ranchers convicted of arson.

It wasn’t peaceful. They should stop calling it peaceful. The marchers were armed. Can you imagine what would happen if lefty marchers started showing up armed? Nobody would call it peaceful and nobody would back off and wait politely for them to go home.

Bundy’s father, Cliven, is a Nevada rancher who has sparred with the government for years and who in 2014 had an armed standoff with federal agents trying to prevent him from illegally grazing his cattle on federal land.

So much tact! Cliven Bundy pulled a gun (or many guns) on federal agents who were attempting to enforce the law. He didn’t “have” an armed standoff, as one “has” a cold or an appointment. He violently resisted legitimate law enforcement – because he wanted to go on stealing grazing from federal land.


These armed groups are part of the “Patriot movement”

Jan 3rd, 2016 5:58 pm | By

This guy Spencer Sunshine researches white supremacist groups and he has some tips for understanding the fascist uprising in Oregon.

One, it’s a land grab.

Despite the talk about supporting the Hammond family in Burns, Oregon, the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters is actually part of a long-standing campaign by radical right-wingers to dismantle federal land ownership in the West. Some elected officials are working through mainstream channels to get lands transferred to state or county governments, or to allow them equal say over their use. But the Malheur takeover seems to be an attempt to spread a tactic of armed federal land takeovers. These armed groups are part of the “Patriot movement”—the successor to the 1990s militia movement—which has seen a rebirth since the election of Barack Obama in 2008.

Armed robbery, in other words.

They’re conspiracy nuts. Their roots are in white supremacist movements, even though most of them are not (he says) ideological white supremacists themselves.

Four, federal policies have allowed this to happen.

Although there is no written federal rule that is publicly known, those who study the radical right largely believe that the federal government has a policy not to directly confront armed right-wing groups. The disastrous handling of the Waco and Ruby Ridge sieges in the early 1990s apparently convinced the feds to take a softer approach. This seemed to have paid off when the Sovereign Citizens at the “Justus Township”surrendered peacefully in 1996. But after 9/11, even as the feds have cracked down hard on all kinds of radical political activity—for example, many eco-saboteurs who never killed or injured anyone were sentenced under terrorism laws—the radical right has received almost a complete pass.

Yeah, I’ve noticed.

The April 2014 standoff at Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch—when Patriot movement activists came to the aid of a radical right-wing rancher who refused to pay his fees for grazing on public land and trained rifles on federal agents—was taken as a green light for similar actions. The federal government has not prosecuted Cliven Bundy or his allies for anything that happened there. This has apparently convinced the Bundy family (three of whom reportedly are at Malheur) that the feds will acquiesce to armed takeovers.

Well EXFUCKINGACTLY. Could they please pull their heads out of their asses and stop doing that now? Could they please for instance prosecute Cliven Fucking Bundy? Do they not realize that we can see them? That we can see law enforcement come down like a ton of bricks on scary shit like a guy selling single cigarettes while black, and waving a cheerful bye-bye to Cliven Fucking Bundy?

Sorry, but this stuff gets up my nose. I think it’s wrong and evil.

Censored in Pakistan

Jan 3rd, 2016 3:33 pm | By

On Twitter:

Hari ‏@_har1_
NYT pieces on secular Bangladesh bloggers censored in Pakistan

Pic 1: Pak edition
Pic 2: original
via @salmanmasood

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The occupation of Colman School

Jan 3rd, 2016 3:20 pm | By

Another visit to the history files (via a remark by webmaster Josh Larios on Facebook) – the occupation of Colman School in Seattle.

The Pacific Northwest African American Museum, located in the old Colman School, at 2300 Massachusetts St. in Seattle, opened on March 8, 2008, with an estimated 3,000 visitors.  The surrounding neighborhood was swarming with cars and hundreds of people on foot converged from all directions.  Elected officials who took part in the opening included Governor Christine Gregoire, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, U. S. Representative Jim McDermott, Mayor Greg Nickels (b. 1955), King County Executive Ron Sims (b. 1948), and King County Councilman Larry Gossett (b. 1945).  It was a happy day for the African American community, which had dreamed of a museum for more than two decades.

It was an occupation that made it happen. The occupation lasted from 1985 to 1993.

In 1981, the Community Exchange, a multi-racial coalition, proposed an African American museum to  Mayor Charles Royer (b. 1939).  Three years later, a task force was formed to establish such a museum and included community members Omari Tahir Garrett, Mona Bailey, Esther Mumford, Ann Gerber, P. Razz Garrison, and Janice Cate.  In November 1985, disillusioned by the tardiness of the task force in finding a museum location, a group of African Americans moved into the vacant Colman School after it was closed when nearby Interstate 90 was expanded.

(Just weeks before, the Black Heritage Society had petitioned Walt Hundley (1929-2002), Superintendent of Parks and Recreation, for use of a room in the Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center for a small museum.  He instead offered the small shelter house built by the WPA on the Colman playfield. The society decided against accepting this.)

The core group of activists occupying the building, which included Earl Debman, Omari Tahir-Garrett, Michael Greenwood, and Charlie James, stayed for more than eight years. The Seattle School District, not wanting a confrontation, told them they were trespassing but made no effort to dislodge them.  This has been said to be the longest act of civil disobedience in the country.

During those years the group, known as the Citizens Support Committee for the African American Heritage Museum/Cultural Center, used several rooms in the building for displays of books, artifacts, and art work and sponsored community activities including a forum on Aids and Racism.  The individual members of the group sacrificed much to keep their dream of a museum and cultural center alive. The building was cold and it cost them $500 a month to keep the gas-fired generator running.  A bucket of water was used for bathing or they went to homes of friends for showers.  Neighbors brought in plates of food and a few dollars were collected from black churches.

Notice it wasn’t about demanding the right to exploit public lands for personal profit.

In 1993, the occupation ended when the City of Seattle agreed to fund the museum.  Then came much discussion and disagreement between two groups, the activists and the more traditional leaders, who purported to represent the museum effort.  Robert Flowers, Vice President of  Washington Mutual, and James Fearne, an official with the Seattle Office of the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, both chaired the museum board at different times between 1993 and 2000.  It was fostered under the guidance of Denice Hunt (1948-1997), liaison to Mayor Norm Rice (b. 1943).  By 2000, Fearne said, “It’s been a really difficult thing to work with.  There have been lawsuits, there have been fist fights.  There has been so much difficulty and controversy about a museum at this site.  Maybe it’s better to regroup and look someplace else than keep fighting these battles” ( Ervin).

In 2003, The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, under the leadership of James Kelly, the executive director, bought the building from the Seattle School District for $800,000 for a museum and 36 units of affordable rental housing to be known as the Urban League Village.

Nothing about giving public lands to ranchers for $0.00, for some reason.

The 19,000-square-foot ground floor houses the museum with three galleries, a genealogy research area, an artist’s work space, a workroom, office space, a gift shop, and a cafe operated by St. Cloud’s Restaurant. There is an acknowledgment, at the entrance, of the sacrifices made by the activists and credit given to their vision that made the museum a reality.

No mention of guns or shoot-out or armed standoffs.

Guest post: NRA and talk radio fueled bullies open carrying through parking lots

Jan 3rd, 2016 12:39 pm | By

Originally a comment by cazz on These are men with guns who have declared themselves outside the law.

This is the ‘new’ reality of the Rural West. Armed, well off, mostly white males looking for a fight. These are not the hunters and ‘varmint’ shooters of previous generations, but NRA and talk radio fueled bullies open carrying through parking lots and grocery stores looking for some reason to show off their faux manhood, any reason.

They have no reason for rebellion other than repeated refrains of “Government Comin’ for Your Guns” and palpable fears of the Pending Race War.

I’ve lived in the rural PNW for over 30 years, and I’ve watched this generation of “Patriots” with growing concern, and I have counted some of these guys as friends and co-workers. Some of these folks are even liberal in every way you can count, except for the fact that they “need to arm themselves for the upcoming “. They spend their weekends either on the shooting range or at any one of the local fair grounds sure to have a “gun show” where they can add to their collections.

Or, if they happen to own acreage, they’re out target practicing on it usually with semi-automatic weapons, making any given weekend afternoon sound like a war zone in my back yard.

I’ve even been a unwilling party to a near shooting incident in a state campground where one person decided to challenge another’s right to camp in a certain spot, ending in nearly all the males in the whole campground strapping on their holsters and parading around a campground where infants and children were present. After the Sheriff left, things quieted down, until after midnight and one brave soul decided to punctuate his displeasure by starting up drunken ‘target practice’ in the woods.

Personally, I blame the NRA. At one time, more that 30 years ago, the NRA stood for gun safety and responsible gun ownership. Sometime after that, they became what has to be the most successful marketing entity in the US, using fear of “Government Gun Grabs” and fictional race wars as effective as any jingle or slogan ever was.

The Feds are monitoring

Jan 3rd, 2016 12:09 pm | By

The New York Times on the fascist insurrection in Oregon:

Federal officials said on Sunday that they were monitoring the armed takeover of a remote federal wildlife refuge in the rural southeastern corner of Oregon.

Ok let me stop you right there.

Why are they monitoring it? Why are they allowing armed men to grab and hold a federal building, however small and remote? Would they be simply monitoring it if the armed men were black or foreign or Muslims?

The occupation, which began Saturday afternoon, appeared to be led by Ammon Bundy, a rancher whose family became a symbol of anti-government sentiment in 2014, when his father inspired a standoff between local militias and federal officials seeking to confiscate cattle grazing illegally on federal land.

What do they mean “anti-government sentiment”? It’s pro-theft sentiment is what it is. Federal land doesn’t belong to them personally to exploit for free for their personal profit. It belongs to all of us collectively, which means that we don’t get to exploit it for free for our personal profit. Bundy can’t put his cattle on his neighbor’s land, so why should he be able to put them on our land? Bundy wants to help himself to a public resource and threaten to shoot people who try to stop him. He’s an armed robber. Normally the law doesn’t “monitor” armed robbers on the job.

The Bundys have been organizing opposition to the government case against the Hammonds on social media in recent weeks, which they described as a tyrannical use of federal authority.

“We’re out here because the people have been abused long enough,” Ammon Bundy said in a separate video posted to Facebook on Saturday.

He called the prosecution of the Hammonds “a symptom of a very huge, egregious problem” that he described as a battle over land and resources between the federal government and “the American people.”

“The people cannot survive without their land and resources,” he said. “We cannot have the government restricting the use of that to the point that it puts us in poverty.”

Mr. Bundy described the federal building as “the people’s facility, owned by the people” and said his group was occupying it to take “a hard stand against this overreach, this taking of the people’s land and resources.”

He said the group would remain there indefinitely and told an interviewer that he hoped more supporters would join them. “We have a facility that we can house them in,” he said, referring to the occupied building.

“We pose no threat to anybody,” Mr. Bundy said. “There is no person that is physically harmed by what we are doing.” He added that if law enforcement officials “bring physical harm to us, they will be doing it only for a facility or a building.”

They’re armed. Of course they post a threat to anybody.

The government should extradite them to Ferguson.

These are men with guns who have declared themselves outside the law

Jan 3rd, 2016 11:02 am | By

Charles Pierce in Esquire on the fascist uprising in Oregon:

This is an act of armed sedition against lawful authority. That is all that it is, and that is quite enough. This is not “an expression of anti-government sentiment.” Flipping off the governor as he drives by is “an expression of anti-government sentiment.” What Alex Jones does every day is “an expression of anti-government sentiment,” and god bless them all for it. That’s what the Founders had in mind. This is not an “occupation” following “a peaceful protest.” That would be all those folks who got bludgeoned and pepper-sprayed out of Zuccotti Park a couple of years back. (And when exactly did ABC News decide it wasn’t a news organization anymore?) These are men with guns who have declared themselves outside the law. These are men with guns who have taken something that belongs to all of us.

Taken it in order to use it to make money for themselves. That’s not “rebellion” or “protest”; it’s just grabbing public property for yourself.

These are traitors and thieves who got away with this dangerous nonsense once, and have been encouraged to get away with it again, and they draw their inspiration not solely from the wilder fringes of our politics, either. Ammon Bundy and his brothers should have been thrown in jail after they gathered themselves in rebellion the first time.

As should Cliven. Why weren’t they?

This is another step down the road that leads to the broken shell of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. There are respectable people in our respectable politics who have been shamefully silent on the subject, and there are respectable people in our respectable media who seem terrified of calling this what it is. You want an example of the deadening effect of “political correctness” in our politics? Watch what the people running for president have to say about this episode. Look at how it is being framed already—or ignored entirely—by the elite political media. There is a constituency for armed rebellion in this country that is larger than any of our respectable political and social institutions want to admit. It is fueled by reckless, ambitious people who engage in reckless, ambitious rhetoric.

And that’s how fascism takes root and grows. It’s not some kind of mysterious magic; it’s a process of persuasion and incitement.

It does us no good to ignore what is going on in this obscure little corner of the Pacific Northwest. It does us no good to refuse to hold to account the politics that led to this, and the politicians who sought to profit from it. It does us no good to deny that there is a substantial constituency for armed sedition in this country, and to deny the necessity of delegitimizing that constituency in our politics, and the first step in that process is to face it and to call it what it is.

And, in related news, of course, Tamir Rice is still dead.

God bless America.

The continuing need to cringe and grovel

Jan 3rd, 2016 10:09 am | By

Robert Fisk in the Independent on the New Year’s explosion of executions in Saudi Arabia:

Saudi Arabia’s binge of head-choppings – 47 in all, including the learned Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, followed by a Koranic justification for the executions – was worthy of Isis. Perhaps that was the point. For this extraordinary bloodbath in the land of the Sunni Muslim al-Saud monarchy – clearly intended to infuriate the Iranians and the entire Shia world – re-sectarianised a religious conflict which Isis has itself done so much to promote.

All that was missing was the video of the decapitations – although the Kingdom’s 158 beheadings last year were perfectly in tune with the Wahabi teachings of the ‘Islamic State’.  Macbeth’s ‘blood will have blood’ certainly applies to the Saudis, whose ‘war on terror’, it seems, now justifies any amount of blood, both Sunni and Shia.

It’s like this: the Saudis are our bastards, while IS are not. Loyalty is a virtue, right?

It will also present the West with that most embarrassing of Middle Eastern problems: the continuing need to cringe and grovel to the rich and autocratic monarchs of the Gulf while gently expressing their unease at the grotesque butchery which the Saudi courts have just dished out to the Kingdom’s enemies. Had Isis chopped off the heads of Sunnis and Shias in Raqqa – especially that of a troublesome Shia priest like Sheikh Nimr – we can be sure that Dave Cameron would have been tweeting his disgust at so loathsome an act. But the man who lowered the British flag on the death of the last king of this preposterous Wahabi state will be using weasel words to address this bit of head-chopping.

Our bastards.

Fascist uprising in Oregon

Jan 3rd, 2016 9:33 am | By

Unbelievable. From the Washington Post:

An armed militia took over a building at a national wildlife refuge in Oregon late Saturday and vows to occupy the outpost for years to protest the federal government’s treatment of a pair of ranchers facing prison time.

The occupation of a portion of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge 30 miles southeast of Burns, Ore., followed a peaceful march for ranchers Dwight Hammond, 73, and Steven Hammond, 46, who are scheduled to report to federal prison in San Pedro, Calif., on Monday after being convicted of arson, according to the Oregonian.

A peaceful march? By an armed militia? There is no such thing.

Among the occupiers are several members of the Bundy family, whose patriarch — Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy — was involved in an armed standoff with government agents over grazing rights in 2014.

And as far as I can tell he’s never been prosecuted for that. Here’s a bit from the Wikipedia entry on the subject:

On May 8, Clark County sheriff’s officials said that they were interviewed by the FBI as part of an investigation into armed Bundy supporters who confronted federal officers during the standoff.[113] The investigation was confirmed by Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, who stated “I’ve said all along there has to be accountability for what took place on April 12.”[114]

Joe Lombardo, who was in charge of police officers at the scene and who was interviewed on May 1, said the FBI agents were primarily interested in who was pointing weapons at federal agents, and that he expected the FBI to be poring over videotapes and photos taken during the standoff in order to identify people making threats.[79]

There was an investigation; it may still be in progress; but Cliven Bundy is not in prison, let alone shot to death as Tamir Rice was.

Back to the Post:

Ryan Bundy told the Oregonian that the group isn’t holding hostages and doesn’t want to resort to violence but will not rule it out if authorities attempt to remove the occupiers from the property. He said many of the occupiers would be willing to fight — and die — to reclaim constitutionally protected rights for local land management, according to the Associated Press.

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was established on August 18, 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt “as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds,” according to the park’s website.

“The Refuge represents a crucial stop along the Pacific Flyway and offers resting, breeding, and nesting habitat for hundreds of migratory birds and other wildlife,” a statement on the site says. “Many of the species migrating through or breeding here are highlighted as priority species in national bird conservation plans.”

So humans can’t use that particular land to make money from ranching.

Late Saturday, the occupiers blocked the entrance of the federal headquarters with a pickup truck and placed an American flag over the welcome sign, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. An Oregon State Police car “idled by the side of the road just outside Burns,” the broadcaster reported, but there were no signs of a larger law enforcement presence in the area.

Well of course the “occupiers” are white. If they weren’t white I daresay there would have been more than a single cop car idling by the side of the road.

They will stop at nothing to make it harder for women to access abortion

Jan 2nd, 2016 5:39 pm | By

I’m glad to see that NARAL hasn’t bought into the bullshit.

We believe that women should have the option to choose abortion. Today they can, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. But even though access to abortion is legal, our right to it is far from safe. Anti-choice groups attack our right to choose at every opportunity.

The Problem

Anti-choice people want to outlaw abortion, regardless of the woman’s situation. They will stop at nothing to make it harder for women to access abortion. They even target the doctors who provide abortion care.

Anti-choice people use many of the following tactics to reach their goals:

At least NARAL still gets that the attack on abortion rights is a war on women.

Guest post: There was this thing called “femininity”

Jan 2nd, 2016 5:17 pm | By

Lady Mondegreen offered me a comment she made elsewhere as a guest post and I snapped it up.

If you insist that the meaning of woman can no longer be tied to biological sex (“a woman is an adult female human being,” where “female” means “body which produces egg rather than sperm cells,” or “body which most closely resembles those had by egg-producers,”) then how do you define it?

I’ve been told that a woman is “a person who identifies as a woman,” a circular definition that reduces “woman” to a self-chosen “identity.” It says nothing about why anyone would choose to be a woman. It also erases millions of women who never chose their identity as women, and certainly have no say in the social implications of being one–in other words, the class of people, worldwide, who are oppressed because they were born in bodies that produced ova rather than sperm (or were externally physically indistinguishable from them.)

When I was a kid, there was this thing called “femininity.” It consisted of the presumed attributes of a woman: passivity, gentleness, nurturing tendencies (including a deep desire to have and care for babies,) fondness for pastels, intuitiveness, and other qualities. Some of the qualities were negative: inferior intelligence (especially with regards to math and science,) relative lack of leadership qualities, indecisiveness, pettiness, a fascination with trivialities, a tendency to gossip. They were all normative.

I don’t think it’s enough to divorce the negative qualities from “femininity.” And I don’t think it’s enough to divorce “femininity” from “biologically female.” I think we need to divorce “femininity” (and its contemporary equivalent, woman-as-gender,) from “woman.”

But we do need to acknowledge the class of people who are despised and oppressed because they were born in bodies that produce ova rather than sperm. Furthermore, we need to acknowledge that they are oppressed, in large part, because of the bodies they were born into–however they identify (assuming they have the privilege to “identify” as anything, outside of what their society tells them they are.)

(And as long as saying the above triggers abuse [“TERF,” “bigot,” “cis scum,” “subhuman,”] the movement for equal rights for egg-bearers is going to have a problem.)