Samizdat Sullivan

Jul 14th, 2020 4:44 pm | By

To lose one centrist columnist, Mister Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose two looks like carelessness.

A pair of prominent writers announced they’re leaving their prominent publications Tuesday. The resignations appear to be related to recent debates within the wider media landscape about the alleged stifling of public discourse.

Bari Weiss, a former op-ed staff editor and writer for The New York Times, resigned from the newspaper today, while prominent New York writer Andrew Sullivan announced this would be his last week at the magazine.

So what’s the betting? Is a new and exciting Centrist Gazette about to burst onto the scene?

Not all that exciting…

Let’s sing the “Everyone With a Cervix” song

Jul 14th, 2020 4:05 pm | By

There’s a reason they call it Penis News…

Hogging the microphone

Jul 14th, 2020 3:24 pm | By

Trump is holding a kind of rally disguised as a press briefing at the moment. Apparently he’s sweating heavily and failing to charm his audience.

That really is all he says. It doesn’t answer her question, and it doesn’t connect to what she’s talking about, but it’s all he can think of to say. He really is that dense.

Actually, Mike, yeah, we do. That’s exactly what we want. They know more about it than we do. They sure as hell know more about it than you do.

The “press briefing” is actually a campaign speech attacking Biden.

Guest post: The ability to have nuanced discussions

Jul 14th, 2020 2:32 pm | By

Originally a comment by Bruce Gorton on A firm grasp.

first-time writers, centrists, conservatives and others who would not naturally think of The Times as their home

David Brooks, Bill Kristol,Thomas Friedman, Ross Douthat – just off the top of my head.

To a large extent the New York Times’ editorial page has long been a who’s who of “very serious people”, AKA the same centrist “very serious people” whose propagandising helped land America in Iraq. To say that centrist writers wouldn’t see the New York Times as their home, would imply that they’d never heard of it.

But the big thing that struck me here was this:

This is a galaxy in which, to choose just a few recent examples, the Soviet space program is lauded for its “diversity”; the doxxing of teenagers in the name of justice is condoned; and the worst caste systems in human history includes the United States alongside Nazi Germany.

This is one of those things that pisses me off with centrist pundits. In one breath they will proclaim that we should be able to deal with nuance. Defending somebody’s right to say something, for example, is not defending what they’re saying.

A big part of this is what the whole “Intellectual dark web” schtick is trying to claim its about: The ability to have nuanced discussions which are supposedly verboten under “cancel culture” because the people having the discussion aren’t allowed to broach uncomfortable territory.

Apart from the awful name, I could get behind that if it wasn’t a lie.

So look at Weiss’ first example – the Soviet space program is lauded for its diversity. The Soviet space program achieved a lot of firsts in the space race, America was first to the moon in part because on just about every other milestone the Soviets got there first.

Now I don’t know how diverse the Soviet program really was, but her issue isn’t one of fact, it is one of praising the Soviets for something.

When did it become a bad thing to recognise that bad governments are in fact capable of doing some things right? Isn’t that part of the same nuance that the centrists claim to stand for?

You know what else the Soviets did? Opposed Apartheid. Are we supposed to pretend that’s a bad thing because the Soviets did it? Long before America did?

Isn’t this the precise sort of uncomfortable territory that Weiss’ “Intellectual dark web” is supposed to be able to explore? Isn’t this the exact sort of thing she’s made a brand out of championing? Or at least, wants us to think she’s made a brand out of championing?

And then you look at the rest of it, and I can’t help but think the first example demonstrates the problem that gives rise to the others. If you cannot acknowledge the Soviets getting something right, then can you see the humanity in a pack of teenagers wearing MAGA hats?

If you can’t see the nuance in communist history, are you going to be able to see the nuance in American history?

And much as I would disagree that America’s caste system is up there with Nazi Germany’s, how does what she’s saying gel with an opposition to “cancel culture” and “safe spaces”?

Maybe I’m looking at this weird, but I can’t help but think there is something very snaky going on with a centrism that finds race realism more acceptable than discussing the successes of the Soviet space program.


Jul 14th, 2020 12:35 pm | By

I hadn’t, but now that you point it out…

They’re stuffy and claustrophobic

Jul 14th, 2020 11:56 am | By

Another fresh exciting novel idea from Brendan O’Neill – masks! Masks are authoritarian! Fight the power!

Here come the sneerers. Their target this time? Anyone who expresses even a tiny amount of scepticism about mandatory mask-wearing in shops. Within hours, mask sceptics have become the new climate-change deniers. They’re granny-killers. They’re sociopaths. They’re the kind of people who care more for their right to breath all over the fruit and veg at Lidl than they do for the continued existence of people over the age of 75. The speed with which mask scepticism has been turned into a foul blasphemy that only thick people who probably voted for Brexit would ever engage in rather confirms that this latest manifestation of the culture wars has very little to do with masks. It’s all about people. Those people. It always is.

He says, having started his piece with “Here come the sneerers.”

It is remarkable that it is always the people who spent the past year or so telling us that Boris and his crew are fascists who have unquestioningly embraced every Covid-related diktat issued by Boris’s government.

What? On the one hand it’s not about the masks it’s about the people, on the other hand it’s always the people who hate Boris who do what Boris says? That doesn’t add up. That contradicts itself not once but twice. Tell us exactly where we hurt you, Brendan; you’re all over the place.

The snobs even have a study now to confirm their prejudices against mask sceptics. The Daily Mail reports that researchers in the US have found that ‘people who refuse to wear a mask or comply with social distancing have lower cognitive ability’. ‘Real covidiots!’, as the Mail sums them up. We’re squarely back in Brexit / blue passport territory, with the chattering classes once against looking down their long noses at what they presume to be the mentally deficient, ‘low-information’ little people.

So it’s about snobbery? Or is it about chattering? Wait is it long noses? No it’s blue passports? I can’t keep up. He has such a rich vocabulary of inverse snobbery I can’t parse it all.

We have to talk about this. We cannot let mask-wearing become the ‘new normal’. Masks are horrible. They’re stuffy and claustrophobic. They make it hard to read people’s faces. They alienate us from each other even more, hiding smiles and discouraging chit-chat.

He should try being on a ventilator. That really hides smiles and discourages chit-chat…and then you die.

“She” likes child abuse images

Jul 14th, 2020 11:05 am | By

And then there’s this shit.

Blackpool woman accessed child abuse images in hospital bed

This “woman”:

Julie Marshall

Julie Marshall used public wifi to look at some of her 80,000 images as she recovered from a heart attack in August 2017, Preston Crown Court heard.

The 54-year-old, who had no previous convictions, admitted downloading images from the internet between June 2004 and April 2018 in February.

They included 677 images of the most serious nature, known as category A images.

She was also given a 10-year notification order to sign the sex offenders register and a six-year sexual harm prevention order.

“She” is also not a woman.

Statistics? What are they?

Strives to be an inclusive service

Jul 14th, 2020 10:51 am | By

Inclusive to all survivors…except women who want women-only spaces. Remove barriers to anyone who wants support…except women who want women-only spaces.

“We continue to provide women only space within our Centre to all who identify as women” – so a massive beardy bloke gets to be in the women only space at their Centre provided he says “I am a woman.” That’s fine then.

A firm grasp

Jul 14th, 2020 10:32 am | By

Bari Weiss has written a pompous self-admiring letter to the New York Times explaining why she is awesome and the Times is pathetic so she quits so there.

I joined the paper with gratitude and optimism three years ago. I was hired with the goal of bringing in voices that would not otherwise appear in your pages: first-time writers, centrists, conservatives and others who would not naturally think of The Times as their home.

Wait a second. Why would the Times want to bring in first-time writers? Why would it be a bad thing that first-time writers would not otherwise appear in the paper? Why isn’t it just obvious that first-time writers don’t just get to appear in the Times as a matter of right, or quotas, or filling a gap? The Times is top of the ladder, and beginners don’t usually get to the top of the ladder just by asking. You kind of have to climb it.

The reason for this effort was clear: The paper’s failure to anticipate the outcome of the 2016 election meant that it didn’t have a firm grasp of the country it covers.

Did it? Did it really mean that? Let’s not forget that Trump only just squeaked through, and that he lost the popular vote by 3 million, and that Comey had more to do with the squeaking through than anything about “the country” – i.e. the populist rage BW wants us to think of when she talks of “a firm grasp.”

The priority in Opinion was to help redress that critical shortcoming.

Listen, Thomas Friedman has been there for decades. What more do you want?

The paper of record is, more and more, the record of those living in a distant galaxy, one whose concerns are profoundly removed from the lives of most people. This is a galaxy in which, to choose just a few recent examples, the Soviet space program is lauded for its “diversity”; the doxxing of teenagers in the name of justice is condoned; and the worst caste systems in human history includes the United States alongside Nazi Germany.

On that one I genuinely don’t understand her point. She appears to be saying the US has not ever had or been one of “the worst caste systems in human history”…but why? The caste system we had was appalling. It didn’t include Auschwitz, that’s certainly true, but on the other hand it lasted a lot longer than 12 years.

So anyway, she’s left the Times, and bets are being placed on what her new gig is.

More pummeling of feminist women please

Jul 13th, 2020 4:45 pm | By

A Vanity Fair piece from last month by trans woman Grace Robertson says how wrongy-wrong JK Rowling is and muses aloud about why.

Rowling, a British feminist, is soaking up these anti-trans views—she’s transphobic because everyone she reads and listens to is. Why? That’s the real mystery. Some pin the blame on many British journalists’ close ties to 2000s “skeptic” movement, largely built around dismissing pseudosciences such as homeopathy and “anti-science” views. My view is that it’s about just how white and privileged journalism is in the U.K.

Wait wait wait. Back up a step. Don’t be in such a hurry to step over that. What about this skeptic movement which is built around “dismissing” – or rather saying what is wrong with – pseudosciences such as homeopathy and anti-science [without scare-quotes] views? What does that tell you? If there’s a connection to skepticism about bullshit and hostility to science, what does that tell you?

It tells you that the fact-claims of trans ideology are pseudo-scientific bullshit, and that that matters. It tells you there’s little or no reason to think the claims are true. It tells you that if you accept them all uncritically you are being had.

Robertson also wishes UK feminists could get beaten up as much as US ones have.

My view is that it’s about just how white and privileged journalism is in the U.K. One study estimated that 94% of British journalists are white, with another finding that over half come from private schools (an eternal indicator of Britain’s class system). This is not a unique issue, but privilege has gone less challenged than in the U.S. “Middle- and upper-class white feminists have not received the pummeling from black and indigenous feminists that their American counterparts have,” wrote Sophie Lewis in the New York Times last year

I get the feeling Robertson would be happy to volunteer.

Paris Lees, trans columnist for British Voguewrote on Twitter that feminists who criticize her are also hostile to black women who “put forward an anti-racist agenda.”

No doubt he did, but it’s a lie.

Thousands of names

Jul 13th, 2020 4:22 pm | By

A Russian historian says things they don’t want to hear.

He is accused of child pornography; the charges may be a way to shut him up.

While Dmitriev was held in pre-trial detention, a group of Kremlin-backed historians have worked to rewrite the history of one of the largest sites the historian uncovered, Sandarmokh, where 9,000 victims of Stalin’s Great Terror are buried. The new narrative casts the site as a World War II-era burial ground and dilutes Sandarmokh’s association with Stalin. “This is happening across the board,” Galkova said. “We see how convenient it is to switch over attention from the collective memory of the repressions to the Great Patriotic War [WWII].”

You too, huh? We’ve got that here. Shut up about slavery and treason, admire the nice statue of the man on a horse.

Head of a local branch of Memorial, an NGO focusing on political repressions, Dmitriev has uncovered and documented mass grave sites since the late 1980s, well ahead of other memorialization efforts. He is responsible for recording thousands of names of those killed during the Great Terror and his name appears in the pages of Anne Applebaum’s Pulitzer Prize winning history of the Gulag, in Masha Gessen and Misha Friedman’s 2018 book “Never Remember” and in scores of other books.

Applebaum, who met with Dmitriev while researching her book, called his arrest “appalling” and a “profound reversal” in attitudes towards Gulag history when I spoke with her earlier this year for Coda’s documentary series, Generation Gulag. “This is somebody who should be a local community hero,” she told me.

Ssshhhhh we don’t want to hear it.

Where to begin

Jul 13th, 2020 4:04 pm | By

Kids – don’t try this at home.

Guest post: The difference between “existential” and “epistemological”

Jul 13th, 2020 12:09 pm | By

Originally a comment by Papito on The thought-terminating lie.

I think the problem is that people don’t know the difference between “existential” and “epistemological.” I don’t believe that people such as JK Rowling pose an existential threat to transpeople so much as an epistemological threat.

Maybe “existential” sounds more fancy to TRAs, or more dramatic. They want desperately to be validated, but just like stolen library books, they won’t cease to exist because they’re not validated. Nobody is denying trans people (or stolen library books) exist, they’re just denying that trans people know what they think they know. That’s an epistemological quarrel.

The trans religion goes like this: in addition to the physical sex of people, people also have a quality called “gender.” The “gender” is unrelated to the sex of a person, but it is inborn, ever-present, intangible, unmeasurable, and vitally important. The “gender” is more important than sex. Whether a person is sexually male or female is almost irrelevant in trans religion; the important thing is their “gender,” which they are assigned at birth by foolish doctors who get it wrong a lot, and can then later decide to change.

The knowledge of which sex a person is can be gained through objective, scientific measures, such as whether a person has male genitalia or female genitalia, and whether a person has XX chromosomes or XY chromosomes. However, sex is irrelevant if you’re a transgenderist, and the knowledge of which “gender” a person is can only be determined by that person’s feelings and beliefs, not by any external or objective measure. According to the trans religion, “gender” is what makes a person a man or a woman: only bigoted people pay attention to sex, and claiming that sex is what makes a person a man or a woman is transphobic.

The principal dogma of the trans religion is that any person who feels they are a woman – whose sense of “gender identity” is that of a woman – is a woman. Being born of the female sex makes a person a woman no more than realizing at forty, after having two kids as a man, that one is really a woman. That is because knowledge of “gender” can only come from inside. The outside of the body is just an illusion, perhaps a temporary condition.

When TRAs bellow “TWAW,” they are insisting that the cardinal belief of their religion – that it’s “gender” that makes you a woman – must be unassailable. The denial of this dogma would mean that transwomen are not really women, but men dressed up as women. They don’t know they’re women, they just think they’re women. Denial of the result or the process makes their religion untenable. They characterize this denial as a threat to their existence; it threatens their self-concept even more than it would if you were to tell a Catholic that Mary wasn’t a virgin, or that Jesus was just a man.

Transgenderism is a relatively new religion. If it persists, it’s likely to change, as Catholicism has. Anybody remember Limbo? It’s where virtuous pagans used to go, along with unbaptized babies. When I was a little boy in Catholic school, we were encouraged repeatedly to pray for the souls of the poor little babies in Limbo. Limbo was a matter of panic for parents who bore sickly infants. No more, because it wasn’t really central to the Catholic faith. Catholicism dropped Limbo in 1992.

The Gender Identity is not that sort of peripheral belief in the transgender religion; it’s a fundamental tenet of the faith, like the Eternal Soul in Catholicism. Without it, the rest of the structure falls apart. Transgenderism could get rid of all the silly pronouns, or most of the 33 or 58 or however many genders claimed to exist these days. That wouldn’t be important to the faith. What transgenderism can’t get rid of is the idea that gender can only be determined internally, by feelings. Any attempt to assert that external sexual characteristics are important in determining who is a woman and who is a man is an attack on the epistemology of gender identity. When we say “you’re not really a woman, you’re just a man who thinks he’s a woman,” it tears apart their entire religion. It also deflates, for some, their sexual (auto-gynephilic) fantasy.

The degree of the claimed harm in “misgendering” strikes us as absurd. The manager of the building next door referred to me as “Ms…” in an email the other day. Was I irate? Deflated? Did I tweet angry things at his employer, or sob into my couch? No. It’s utterly unimportant to me, far more of an embarrassment to him than to me. Does it anger people that much to have their race mistaken? Based on my multi-racial family, no. It’s annoying if persistent, but more a cause for humor than anything.

That’s because it’s not our religion. I seriously pissed off a devout Catholic once – an educated grown up! – by saying I would have respected the Pope more if he was a go-go dancer when he was young, instead of just staying in the church and doing all that praying and stuff. I like the new Pope better, BTW. I’m not likely to be mad if someone makes fun of Mohammed to me, or the Pope, or Martin Luther, or transsubstantiation, or Ganesha, or the hilarious Book of Mormon. No more than my race is or my sex is, none of these things are my religion. Transpeople are different.

How every disaster movie starts

Jul 13th, 2020 11:52 am | By

The “let’s smear Fauci” plan doesn’t seem to be going all that well.

As though it’s dirt on a political rival

Jul 13th, 2020 11:38 am | By

Business Insider notes that not listening to Fauci is one thing (Trump listens to no one and wouldn’t understand if he did) and smearing him is another.

Sidelining Fauci is one thing. Actively defaming him is much worse, though entirely expected from this White House.  Trump and his lackeys are smearing Fauci, probably the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, as wrong “about everything” and even circulating a list of Fauci’s alleged mistakes to reporters, as though it’s dirt on a political rival. 

President Trump tolerates only one kind of relationship with his employees, toadying. Everyone who won’t boot lick ends up fired, libeled, under investigation by Bill Barr, or all of the above. Since Fauci is a civil servant he can’t be fired, and he hasn’t yet been investigated by Barr — but don’t count that out! — so instead he’s just being defamed.

This White House has proved time and time and time again during the pandemic that it doesn’t want truth. It wants good news, even when it’s false. Trump prefers happy lies to grim truths, and thanks in part to his negligence, the pandemic is proving to be a long roster of grim truths — testing catastrophes, spiking caseloads, surging deaths, a failed lockdown.   

Because there are some situations that lying just can’t change. You can draw new hurricane paths on the map with a Sharpie all you like, but it won’t change what the hurricane actually does. You can say the virus is going away all you like, but the virus pays no attention.

But then Trump doesn’t want to change the path of the hurricane or the infection rate of the virus, all Trump wants to change is how people think of [the National Weather Service/Fauci/everyone] in relation to how they think of him. Trump’s lies are all in aid of convincing everyone that he is Immortal Perfection and all others are scum.

Dispatch from the gutter

Jul 13th, 2020 11:22 am | By

Dan Scavino, the guy who helps Trump with his tweeting (he spells the hard words except when Trump forgets to ask him), posted on Facebook yesterday:

Sorry, Dr. Faucet! At least you know if I’m going to disagree with a colleague, such as yourself, it’s done publicly — and not cowardly, behind journalists with leaks. See you tomorrow!

No photo description available.

Schools and…oh my god…football!!!!!!!!!!!

Meanwhile no of course Trump is not trying to silence Fauci, why would you even think that?

Well if a game show host says so

Jul 13th, 2020 5:30 am | By

Now Trump is just saying the CDC is lying about the pandemic to damage him.

He needs to be taken away and locked up.

President Donald Trump retweeted a tweet Monday morning which accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of lying about the coronavirus in order to obstruct his reelection. 

The original tweet was written by Chuck Woolery, the original host of “Wheel of Fortune,” who is also a conservative. 

I don’t know what “Wheel of Fortune” is, beyond “some game show or other.” Fabulous that the president is sharing the views of a game show Personality in order to persuade us that the CDC is lying about a pandemic.

The tweet reads: “The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid 19. Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust. 

“I think it’s all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election. I’m sick of it.”

Ask the people on ventilators what they’re sick of. They won’t be able to answer, because they’re on ventilators, but ask them. Some will die while you’re asking them, but keep trying.

Your orders

Jul 13th, 2020 5:02 am | By


“Center the trans person.”


A significant part of the educational experience

Jul 13th, 2020 4:57 am | By

Now about this business of Trump and Pence and DeVos working to kill off teachers

As coronavirus case numbers soar across the country, continuing to reach record highs in many states, the nation has begun to confront the uncomfortable questions of if and how schools should open in the fall. While there is near universal agreement on the need for the education system across America to provide classes to students, the question is how?  Should schools open up physically, risking the spread of the highly communicable virus among students, teachers, and ultimately to those who they live with? Or should there be a greater emphasis on virtual and distance learning, which sacrifices a significant part of the educational experience, but has a better chance of keeping students, teachers and families safe?

To spell it out even further: is retaining the significant part of the educational experience that is being in a classroom with a teacher and fellow students worth killing a lot of people? Or are we faced with a situation in which we have to give up (temporarily, we hope) many significant goods in the effort to avoid killing a lot of people?

For their part, both President Trump and Vice President Pence have been adamant that schools plan on physically opening. Both men have been openly advocating for an in-person start to the school year and have been dismissive of the strict guidelines the Centers for Disease Control has issued to help school leaders make decisions. On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted that the CDC guidelines, intended to protect students and teachers from the deadly virus, are “very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools.” The President also threatened to cut off federal aid to schools that don’t reopen.

See this is where they go off the rails. Trump calls the guidelines “tough” – tough in a bad way, which is unusual for him. He loves bullies and bullying if they’re on his team, but not if they’re on anyone else’s. At any rate he calls the guidelines tough, when the point of them is not being tough but avoiding killing people. He’s confused. He’s too ignorant and too selfish to grasp that rules intended to get control of a pandemic are not attacks on him, and are not punitive or belligerent or violent.

During a White House coronavirus task force press briefing last week following the President’s tweet, Vice President Pence similarly addressed the CDC guidelines. “The president said today we just don’t want the guidance to be too tough,” Pence said. “That’s the reason why, next week, CDC is going to be issuing a new set of tools, five different documents that will be giving even more clarity on the guidance going forward.”

There again, that’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation. There’s no such thing as “too tough” in this situation; toughness is irrelevant. The virus doesn’t care how tough we are, nor does it care how weak we are. The urgent need is to avoid letting the pandemic get completely out of control, because the results of that would be much much worse than any “too tough” guidance on how to slow the spread. It’s just stupid to call the necessary measures “too tough.” That’s like saying it’s “too tough” to tell people they can’t try to have a picnic on the freeway.

Pollution, noise, crime, pandemic

Jul 12th, 2020 5:38 pm | By

Oh good, now we’ve done our best to spread the virus to Okinawa.

The governor of Okinawa island in Japan has demanded that a United States military commander take tougher prevention measures and have more transparency after officials were told more than 60 marines at two bases have been infected with the coronavirus over the past few days.

On Sunday Okinawan officials reported 61 cases, 38 of them at marine corps air station Futenma, which is at the center of a relocation dispute, and another 23 at Camp Hansen since 7 July.

Sorry, sorry. Our bad. These things happen. We’ve put the bases into lockdown now; are we good?

The disclosure of the exact figures came only after repeated requests.

Hey we’re busy. It’s just the sniffles; keep your hair on.

Okinawa is home to more than half of about 50,000 American troops in Japan under a bilateral security pact, and the residents are sensitive to US base-related problems. Many Okinawans have long complained about pollution, noise and crime.

And now on top of all that they get a lethal disease. Thanks, Murka!