Notes and Comment Blog

Do we even have to argue about the right to equal pay?

Jan 15th, 2018 11:47 am | By

Suzanne Moore has thoughts on BBC blokeyness. She doesn’t enjoy being a guest on the Today show so that she can have John Humphrys barking at her about abortion.

Surely no one was surprised by the audio that leaked last week, revealing Humphrys’ fossilised attitude to the concept of equal pay. The programme has long been an old boys’ club, absolutely Westminster- and London-centric, and it ventures into many areas – science, culture, the internet, the north and, er, women – with a supercilious attitude.

But it’s more than that, it’s also Both Sides bollocks.

Meanwhile, Humphrys continues to “banter” away in the studio. This is 2018. Do we even have to argue about the right to equal pay? Apparently so.

But, for a long time, the BBC has been hampered on gender issues in terms of content, too, thanks to its now-quaint notion of impartiality. Its editorial guidelines say: “Due impartiality is often more than a simple matter of ‘balance’ between opposing viewpoints. Equally, it does not require absolute neutrality on every issue or detachment from fundamental democratic principles.” Female licence-fee payers are part of these democratic principles. Yet, as the Weinstein and #MeToo issues broke, I was asked – as were many writers – to debate whether the sexual harassment being discussed had even happened, or whether the response was going “too far”. Obviously, I refused, because I did not want to be pitted against idiotic misogynists, be they male or the go-to female mercenaries adored by radio and TV bookers. Is this balance? Sexual abuse: for or against?

I wrote a column last week about exactly that question – whether or not we get to see rules against sexual harassment as just that, basic social rules like the ones we learn in kindergarten, or as “ideology.”

The BBC literally has to get with the programme. There cannot be neutrality around unequal pay and sexual harassment. These cannot be presented as subjects for an entitled and defensive establishment to debate. And no, I do not want to have a heated discussion about it when I can simply switch it off.

But Balance! Both sides! The best argument will win! Truth always prevails!

The other men who are earning too much

Jan 15th, 2018 10:51 am | By

John Humphrys, host of BBC Radio 4’s Today, apparently thinks Carrie Gracie has a hell of a nerve expecting to be paid as much as her male colleagues.

In a leaked conversation recorded before [last] Monday’s programme, Humphrys and the BBC’s North America editor Jon Sopel discuss Carrie Gracie’s comments on the gender pay gap following her resignation as the broadcaster’s China editor on Sunday.

Gracie announced she was resigning from the post in an open letter that was published on her website. She said she was quitting her post after learning that male colleagues, including Sopel, were earning significantly more than her for roles of the same seniority.

Sopel is the one who makes nearly twice as much as she does.

The two men had a phone conversation before an interview on the Today show which Humphrys was co-hosting with Gracie.

Humphrys says: “Slight change of subject, the first question will be how much of your salary you are prepared to hand over to Carrie Gracie to keep her, and then a few comments about your other colleagues, you know, like our Middle East editor [Jeremy Bowen] and the other men who are earning too much.”

Sopel replies: “I mean, obviously if we are talking about the scope for the greatest redistribution I’ll have to come back and say well yes Mr Humphrys, but …”

Meaning, I think, that Humphrys notoriously has the highest pay of all.

Humphrys says: “And I could save you the trouble as I could volunteer that I’ve handed over already more than you fucking earn but I’m still left with more than anybody else and that seems to me to be entirely just – something like that would do it?”

Seems to confirm my interpretation.

Sopel, who seems to be reluctant to have the conversation, says: “Don’t …”

Humphrys interjects: “Oh dear God. She’s actually suggested that you should lose money – you know that don’t you? You’ve read the thing properly have you?”

Sopel says he has, and Humphrys goes on: And the idea is that I’m not allowed to talk to her about it throughout the whole course of the programme. Not a word.”

Meanwhile journalists who tweeted support for Gracie were not allowed to talk about the pay dispute on the air.

Miriam O’Reilly, who won an age discrimination case against the BBC after being dropped from Countryfile in 2011, said on Twitter that she was “disappointed to be stood down” from speaking on equal pay on Friday’s Today programme.

O’Reilly was leaked a copy of the recording, but says she did not pass it on to journalists at the Sun or the Times but was “glad it’s being brought to public attention”.

She said the tone of the conversation was “smug and condescending”.

Just a tad.

Fourth grade

Jan 15th, 2018 9:28 am | By

Newsweek reported last week – confirming what we all know – that Trump has the worst language skills of any of the last 15 presidents.

The analysis assessed the first 30,000 words each president spoke in office, and ranked them on the Flesch-Kincaid grade level scale and more than two dozen other common tests analyzing English-language difficulty levels. Trump clocked in around mid-fourth grade, the worst since Harry Truman, who spoke at nearly a sixth-grade level.

At the top of the list were Hoover and Jimmy Carter, who were basically at an 11th-grade level, and President Barack Obama, in third place with a high ninth-grade level of communicating with the American people.

I think the ones at the higher end pull their punches in the language department, i.e. they try not to talk over the population’s heads. We know Obama is very good at code-switching. I’m guessing that Hoover the engineer was lousy at code-switching in much the same way he was lousy at adapting engineer-think to the conditions of the Depression. In other words I really doubt that Harvard Law Obama has worse language skills than Hoover. At the other end though the effort is all to sound higher up the scale; I don’t think Trump is faking or code switching. has collected interviews, speeches and press conferences from previous presidents, using material publicly available from presidential libraries, and including the University of California, Santa Barbara’s American Presidency Project, which contains presidential press conferences going back to Hoover in 1929.

The website excluded communiques issued by the last two presidents on social media and limited the study to unscripted words uttered at press conferences and other public appearances.

The words were run through a variety of lexicological analyses, besides the Flesch-Kincaid, and the results were the same. In every one, Trump came in dead last. Trump also uses the fewest “unique words” (2,605) of any president—Obama was the best at 4,869—and uses words with the fewest average syllables, with 1.33 per word, compared to positively multi-syllabic president Hoover at 1.57.

“By every metric and methodology tested, Donald Trump’s vocabulary and grammatical structure is significantly more simple, and less diverse, than any President since Herbert Hoover, when measuring “off-script” words, that is, words far less likely to have been written in advance for the speaker,” CEO Bill Frischling wrote. “The gap between Trump and the next closest president … is larger than any other gap using Flesch-Kincaid. Statistically speaking, there is a significant gap.”

Zero surprise there, but it’s nice to have it quantified.

Suddenly we come across as shrinking violets

Jan 14th, 2018 3:47 pm | By

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet in the Telegraph offers another Oh no sex will die piece. She’s one of the hundred women who signed the open letter in Le Monde.

She had found the exposure of Harvey Weinstein liberating at first.

I had applauded Ronan Farrow’s superb New Yorker magazine report on the 13 women whose lives and careers had been blighted by Weinstein. I was unsurprised when investigations revealed that other Hollywood moguls had updated the casting couch tradition. In his inimitable style, US President Donald “grab-them-by-the-p….” Trump had given voice to the crass fantasies of a thousand men in positions of power.

At the time of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest in New York, I was among the first Frenchwomen to write denouncing French politicians’ usual assumptions that any comely female journalist was for personal consumption.

But then came the hashtags and campaigns. The #MeToos and the #BalanceTonPorcs (“Rat on your pig”). In between black-dress selfies at the Golden Globes, naming and shaming became a social media indulgence. Forget investigative reporting: the People’s Tribunal of Twitter equated wolfwhistles with rape, pestering lads on the pull with serial abusers.

Wait. Did they? Did they really, or did it just seem that way because of numbers? I have my doubts, myself, because I’ve seen so many people saying over and over “we know there’s a difference.”

Decades after Simone de Beauvoir and Christiane Rochefort, after the 60s’ sexual revolution, many Frenchwomen find the picture of us emerging from this whole debacle deeply depressing. Suddenly we come across as shrinking violets, unable to shake off a bloke trying it on in a bar, traumatised for life the minute someone attempts frottage in a crowded Metro car. (I find that saying in a calm but VERY LOUD voice “Will you stop touching my a..!” makes enough commuters laugh that the culprit slinks off at the next stop.)

Do we? Do we really?

I don’t believe it. I think she’s making it up. I don’t think anyone claims to be traumatised for life by one grope or attempted frottage. That’s a false choice: it’s not “either bad enough to traumatize for life OR not worth mentioning at all.” We get to object to groping even though a single grope is not likely to traumatize us for life.

Also, the thing about attempted frottage in Paris is that it’s not just one, is it. It’s nice for her that she doesn’t mind it because she gets to make other passengers laugh when she objects, but that’s not a reason to argue that all women should react the way she does.

Suddenly, centuries of the unique French charm of men-women camaraderie and badinage are in danger of being erased, and replaced by puritanism.

Oh fuck off, as we puritans like to say. Of course they’re not! Camaraderie and badinage can flourish, even if sexual “badinage” is unwelcome in the workplace.

Human relationships are a complicated skein of trial and error. In America, they tend to live in a black-and-white world, a binary universe of ones and zeroes.

Ah yes, so we do; we’re a collection of stupid little peasants who haven’t managed to wipe the mud off yet.

H/t Rob

Guest post: Puritanism didn’t want to empower anybody

Jan 14th, 2018 3:21 pm | By

Originally a comment by iknklast on The amount of labor women do each day.

replaced by puritanism

I so hate this trope…In a puritan world, women were often regarded as belonging to men, and they didn’t have a lot of say in who, when, or where they married. They were not given the option of refusing their husband once married to the person their parents approved. They were not allowed the sexual freedom to make their own sexual choices – in short, they were not allowed to say “yes”.

This is the opposite – the extreme opposite – of what the #MeToo and other feminist anti-groping crusaders are wanting. What most of us want is the ability to say “no” when asked (and not have to push away hands that didn’t bother to ask), but also the right to say “yes” if we are eager to be intimate with that individual. I see very little that could be more sex-positive than that.

What we are fighting against is not sex-positive behavior, it’s sex negative behavior. It makes sex a negative experience for women, and in some cases, may make them hesitate to ever say “yes” because their experiences with sex have been unpleasant, painful, forced, and embarrassing. And made them feel like a piece of meat.

Giving men the freedom to do whatever they want, and expecting the women to just deal with it (and be called sluts if they report any of it, or don’t fight hard enough against it) is going backward in time to a day when women were property, when they were bought, sold, traded, or bartered without any say in it, and they were vilified if some man took what they wanted, because it was assumed they “led him on”.

Now, I’m not saying these women are suggesting we should be bought, sold, traded, or bartered. They are just suggesting we should leave men alone to do what they want, as long as it is just something someone else might see as a petty annoyance, and as long as it isn’t a crime (and I suspect some of what they claim is okay actually is a crime, since touching someone without their consent in an attempt to make them do something they don’t want to do borders on assault and battery).

In short, empowering females is not Puritanism; Puritanism didn’t want to empower anybody.

The wrong button

Jan 14th, 2018 11:41 am | By

Yesterday people in Hawaii were minding their own business when suddenly many of them were informed there was an incoming ballistic missile.

According to a timeline released by the state, the alert was triggered at 8:07 a.m. local time when, during an internal drill, an employee hit the wrong button. For 13 minutes it went uncorrected, until the emergency management agency sent an update on social media.

So that was an unpleasant 13 minutes for those people.

Many reported first hearing that the alert was a mistake from the Twitter account of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

Her tweet went out within about 15 minutes of the false alarm to her 174,000 followers. She was probably the first well-known authority figure to inform the public that there was no need to panic. News outlets picked up that clarification and spread it widely.

Trump, on the other hand…not so much. He was busy playing golf at the time. Three hours later he sent an urgent tweet about how the Fake Media are mean to him.

The White House did release a statement, well after the alert was revealed to be incorrect.

“The President has been briefed on the state of Hawaii’s emergency management exercise,” it read. “This was purely a state exercise.”

Well, they say he was briefed, but actually he was composing that Fake News tweet in his head instead of listening.

Consider his responses. First that statement, which has one obvious aim: To assure the American people that it wasn’t hisfault that the false alert went out — it was Hawaii’s. Then, that tweet, which shows what was preoccupying the president at the moment. Not that one of the 50 states had been briefly wracked with terror after a mistake was made by the people whose job it is to keep them safe. Instead, an insistence to the American people that the media is “fake news,” which was probably a response to the reports that trickled out bolstering a story from the Wall Street Journal that Trump had allegedly paid hush money to a porn star with whom he’d had an affair.

That was the thing that Trump urgently wanted to clear up: The media couldn’t be trusted when it reported on him.

Trump could have tweeted as soon as possible that the alert was a false alarm, sharing that information with millions of Americans immediately. He could have additionally shared information about what went wrong, and assured people that he would work to make sure that no such error happened again in the future. He could, at the very least, have sought to offer some emotional support to the people of Hawaii. He did none of these. He has, as of writing, done none of these.

Why not? Because he doesn’t care. He cares about himself, and that’s it.

Since the beginning of his presidency, Trump has rarely assumed that traditional leadership role of the presidency. He’s always taken a hostile attitude toward those who opposed his candidacy, certainly, but he’s also been apathetic about stepping up more broadly to inform, guide and assure the American public. The primary concerns Trump conveys to Americans are about Trump: About how he’s being treated, about how well he is doing, about the media and his opponents and how he just wants to make America great again. The White House releases statements and, as he did on Friday in recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Trump will read them or tweet about them. But it’s clearly not where his heart lies.

His heart lies with the wonder and glory that is Donald Trump, real estate peddler and liar extraordinaire.

The amount of labor women do each day

Jan 13th, 2018 5:06 pm | By

The thing about sexual harassment is that it makes a lot of extra work for women, and that’s

  • not fair
  • another obstacle that women face but men don’t

Sara Maurer at the Chronicle of Higher Education:

[T]he #MeToo movement has made visible the amount of labor women do each day when they show up at work and redirect the conversation away from their bra size, tactfully pull hands off their body, or repeatedly find new ways to avoid the male supervisor who wants to discuss his sexual problems. That’s work. We don’t get paid for it, we don’t get credit for it, and we don’t want to do it.

We also don’t want advancement at work to depend on labor not required of men. Did male comedians have to sit in a room and watch Louis C.K. jerk off in order to network? If they didn’t, why should female comedians have to do that work? Did any man working for or with the radio host John Hockenberryhave to deflect multiple obsessive email solicitations, unwanted physical contact, and declarations of love? Did male graduate students of David R. Marchant have to put up with barrages of sexual insults to do field work with him?

Why should women have to do that work to get the same results? Why should we have to pretend that we don’t mind? Why should we have to be the ones to get over it? Couldn’t men just as easily self-monitor? Why not make men responsible for that labor?

Spare us all the talk about women rising above things and being strong enough to survive things and not being fainting damsels about things, and just don’t dump extra chores on us.

H/t Vanina

Why did North Korea get left on Trump’s desk?

Jan 13th, 2018 3:57 pm | By

The Wall Street Journal did an interview with Trump on Thursday.

About that repetition thing…

He was asked how helpful China has been.

Mr. Trump: Not helpful enough, but they’ve been very helpful. Let’s put it this way, they’ve done more for me than they ever have for any American president. They still haven’t done enough. But they’ve done more for me than they have, by far, for any—I have a very good relationship with President Xi. I like him. He likes me. We have a great chemistry together. He’s—China has done far more for us than they ever have for any American president. With that being said, it’s not enough. They have to do more.

That’s three times, within seconds of each other.

He thinks Obama stuck him with North Korea kind of like sticking someone with all the dirty dishes after a party.

Mr. Trump: For instance, at the very beginning, you know Obama felt—President Obama felt it was his biggest problem is North Korea. He said that openly. He said that to me, but he said that openly. It is a big problem, and they should not have left me with that problem. That should have been a problem that was solved by Obama, or Bush, or Clinton or anybody, because the longer it went, the worse, the more difficult the problem got. This should not have been a problem left on my desk, but it is, and I get things solved. And one way or the other, that problem is going to be solved.

They should have fixed it before he got there, because it’s just rude to leave it for him. He’s a busy man, with much tv to watch, so they should not have dumped it in his lap that way.

WSJ: You think North Korea is trying to drive a wedge between the two countries, between you and President Moon?

Mr. Trump: I’ll let you know in—within the next 12 months, OK, Mike?

WSJ: Sure.

Mr. Trump: I will let you know. But if I were them I would try. But the difference is I’m president; other people aren’t. And I know more about wedges than any human being that’s ever lived, but I’ll let you know. But I’ll tell you, you know, when you talk about driving a wedge, we also have a thing called trade. And South Korea—brilliantly makes—we have a trade deficit with South Korea of $31 billion a year. That’s a pretty strong bargaining chip to me.

With that being said, President Xi has been extremely generous with what he’s said, I like him a lot. I have a great relationship with him, as you know I have a great relationship with Prime Minister Abe of Japan and I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea.

I have relationships with people, I think you people are surprised.

I bet the four WSJ reporters were very surprised by that point.

They ask him about an immigration deal.

The lottery system is a disaster, we have to get rid of the lottery system. The—as you know chain is—chain migration is a horrible situation. You’ve seen the ads, you’ve seen everything, you know all about chain.

This person on the west side that killed eight people and badly, you heard me say yesterday, badly, badly wounded about 12. I mean people losing arms and legs—nobody even talks about that. But they say killed eight and that’s it. I mean you have people—ones walking around without—missing two legs. And the person was running to stay in shape and now he’s missing two legs. Think of it.

How about that wall?

The wall’s never meant to be 2,100 miles long. We have mountains that are far better than a wall, we have violent rivers that nobody goes near, we have areas…

But, you don’t need a wall where you have a natural barrier that’s far greater than any wall you could build, OK? Because somebody said oh, he’s going to make the wall smaller. I’m not going to make it smaller. The wall was always going to be a wall where we needed it. And there are some areas that are far greater than any wall we could build. So, maybe someday somebody could make that clear, Sarah, will you make that clear please?

I saw on television, Donald Trump is going to make the wall smaller; no, the wall’s identical. The other thing about the wall is we’ve spent a great deal of time with the Border Patrol and with the ICE agents and they know this stuff better than anybody, they’re unbelievable.

They both endorsed me, the only time they’ve ever endorsed a presidential candidate, OK? And they endorsed us unanimously. I had meetings with them, they need see-through. So, we need a form of fence or window. I said why you need that—makes so much sense? They said because we have to see who’s on the other side.

If you have a wall this thick and it’s solid concrete from ground to 32 feet high which is a high wall, much higher than people planned. You go 32 feet up and you don’t know who’s over here. You’re here, you’ve got the wall and there’s some other people here.

WSJ: Yes.

Mr. Trump: If you don’t know who’s there, you’ve got a problem.

They stay on that theme for quite a long time, Trump explaining that you can’t see through concrete and the WSJ agreeing and Trump explaining it again. Then he explains that we need immigrants to do the jobs. Then he explains that Dreamers and DACA are not the same thing and he’s always telling people that. Very important; not the same thing. The WSJ says Yes.

Then something reminds him of the Wolff book, so he starts talking about libel laws. The WSJ asks why he gets so much fake news.

Mr. Trump: They dislike me, the liberal media dislikes me. I mean I watch people—I was always the best at what I did, I was the—I was, you know, I went to the—I went to the Wharton School of Finance, did well. I went out, I—I started in Brooklyn, in a Brooklyn office with my father, I became one of the most successful real-estate developers, one of the most successful business people. I created maybe the greatest brand.

I then go into, in addition to that, part-time, like five percent a week, I open up a television show. As you know, the Apprentice on many evenings was the number one show on all of television, a tremendous success. It went on for 12 years, a tremendous success. They wanted to sign me for another three years and I said, no, I can’t do that.

That’s one of the reasons NBC hates me so much. NBC hates me so much they wanted—they were desperate to sign me for—for three more years.

WSJ: Mr. President, you made reference to the book. Steve Bannon …

Mr. Trump: Just—and so—so I was successful, successful, successful. I was always the best athlete, people don’t know that. But I was successful at everything I ever did and then I run for president, first time—first time, not three times, not six times. I ran for president first time and lo and behold, I win. And then people say oh, is he a smart person? I’m smarter than all of them put together, but they can’t admit it. They had a bad year.

We all had a bad year.

Writers from shithole countries

Jan 13th, 2018 11:10 am | By

A beautiful riposte:

That time has come

Jan 13th, 2018 10:12 am | By

The US ambassador to Panama has resigned because he can’t work for Trump.

[John] Feeley’s departure had been communicated to State Department officials on Dec. 27 and was not a response to Trump’s alleged use of the word “shithole” to describe Haiti and African countries at a meeting on Thursday, U.S. officials said.

Trump denies using the term.

Feeley, one of the department’s Latin America specialists and among its senior most officers, made clear that he had come to a place where he no longer felt able to serve under Trump.

“As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the president and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies,” Feeley said, according to an excerpt of a resignation letter read to Reuters on Friday.

“My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come.”

A State spokes confirmed that Feeley has resigned but told the flagrant lie that it was for “personal reasons.” No, being unable to work for the current head of state is not personal.

Speaking to reporters, Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein said he was aware of Feeley’s planned departure on Thursday morning, before Trump’s alleged use of the vulgar term, and said the ambassador was leaving for “personal reasons.”

”Everyone has a line that they will not cross,“ ”Goldstein told reporters at the State Department. “If the ambassador feels that he can no longer serve … then he has made the right decision for himself and we respect that.”

But it’s still not “personal.” It’s substantive; it’s about policies and/or discourse; it’s not about illness in the family or wanting more time with the kids. That which is wrong with Trump is not “personal”; it’s all too public.

Which country is the real shithole?

Jan 13th, 2018 10:02 am | By

Robin Wright at the New Yorker on Trump’s “tough” words about African countries:

President Trump’s credibility as a world leader has been, to borrow his vulgarity, shot to shit. With one word—just the latest in a string of slurs about other nations and peoples—he has demolished his ability to be taken seriously on the global stage. “There is no other word one can use but ‘racist,’ ” the spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, Rupert Colville, said at a briefing in Geneva. “You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes,’ whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”

That’s what the US stands for at this moment – hateful racist contempt said aloud by our head of state, rebuked by the UN human rights body. The shame of it is scalding.

As I’ve found (to an embarrassing degree) over the past two years, many senior officials in foreign capitals and in embassies across Washington believe that he is simply articulating his intolerant and prejudiced world view. The White House signalled as much in its damage-control statement, on Thursday, explaining that the President wants to “make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.”

Some “damage control.” What the White House is saying there is that Trump’s “shithole countries” blurt is his way of saying that citizens of said “shithole countries” are – all, to a person – unable to contribute to our society and our economy. The explanation just makes the remark more insulting. “He didn’t mean anything insulting, he just meant we don’t want people from African countries immigrating here because they have nothing to contribute. That’s all.”

Trump is now preparing to attend the World Economic Forum, a gathering of global leaders in politics and business, held annually in Davos, Switzerland. Many American allies have long been wary of the President’s “America First” framework. After his remarks this week, the danger is that his counterparts will also view his agenda as “White First”—not a viable strategy in a world that places growing value on racial diversity.

I hope they make his life hell. I do. I hope he feels ostracized and shamed and humiliated. There’s clearly no hope of changing his mind, but maybe we can at least show him what it’s like.

Africa is home to 1.2 billion people and more than fifty countries. A whole continent can’t simply be stereotyped or dismissed. A cursory glance of Africa’s achievements includes Nobel Prizes in medicine, chemistry, physics, literature, and peace. (That’s one award Donald Trump will surely never win.) Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Nigeria has built a vibrant film industry. South Africa’s peaceful transition from apartheid is a model for nations worldwide. Egypt includes a quarter of the Arab world’s population. Rwanda, once ravaged by genocide, is today a model for gender equality in politics: the East African nation has the world’s highest percentage of female lawmakers—more than sixty per cent. (As of last month, the United States ranked ninety-ninth among a hundred and ninety-three countries, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.)

We’re a shithole country ourselves, if you notice. Our rankings on items like maternal mortality and inequality are terrible; we don’t have a national health service; we have more people in prison than any other country; we have a grotesque rate of gun deaths. Shithole much?

Finally, the President’s coarse language will make it harder to make gains in his diplomatic agenda worldwide. Pity American diplomats, especially in non-white countries. The top U.S. envoy in Botswana was summoned to clarify whether the southern African nation is considered a shithole country, the Washington Post reported.

That was yesterday; today the US ambassador to Panama has quit because Trump.

No apology forthcoming

Jan 13th, 2018 9:24 am | By

The African Union is displeased with Donald “shithole” Trump.

The organisation representing African countries has demanded that US President Donald Trump apologise after he reportedly called nations on the continent “shitholes”.

The African Union mission in Washington DC expressed its “shock, dismay and outrage” and said the Trump administration misunderstood Africans.

But, the Beeb continues, he denies it. Of course he does, the Beeb does not reply to itself, but he lies almost as often as he speaks, and he doesn’t hesitate to deny things we’ve all seen and heard. His denial is, epistemically speaking, pretty much worthless.

On Friday, Mr Trump on Friday tweeted that his language he used at the private meeting with lawmakers to discuss immigration legislation had been “tough”.

As if Africa were a naughty teenager who borrowed his car and put a dent in the fender. He loves to excuse his outrages with the label “tough,” as if he were the justifiably angry daddy of everyone on the planet.

[The African Union] said the “remarks dishonour the celebrated American creed and respect for diversity and human dignity”.

It added: “While expressing our shock, dismay and outrage, the African Union strongly believes that there is a huge misunderstanding of the African continent and its people by the current Administration.

“There is a serious need for dialogue between the US Administration and the African countries.”

It wouldn’t make any difference though. Part of his cognitive disability is the fact that he can’t learn. He’s stuck in a groove of repeating what he thinks he knows, and new knowledge can’t get a purchase.

Wrong wave

Jan 12th, 2018 4:57 pm | By

Jezebel posts a laughably wrong bad inaccurate headline:

The Backlash to #MeToo Is Second-Wave Feminism

You what? The hell it is. #MeToo is second wave feminism, and the backlash is third wave. Mind you I think all the waves are stupid because none of it is that simple – the resurgence of feminism starting in the late 60s was hardly monolithic. However if you’re going to talk about waves at all you should at least get them right, and second wave was a lot more radical than its predecessors; that was the whole point. Noticing and pushing back against sexual harassment was part of that. (Lately I’ve seen claims that no one had even heard of it until the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Nonsense. I went to a workplace training session on it in the early 80s.)

The Jezebel piece is about Harpers and Katie Roiphe and all that.

Though specifics of the story’s content remain unclear, it’s possible that Harper’s will publish an already familiar critique of this particular momentPerhaps I’m wrong, and Roiphe will offer a nuanced critique of the reckoning, free from the now stock phrases and lazy rhetoric of the contrarian essay (“hysteria” “sex panic” “victimhood” and “witch hunts”). Yet, given Roiphe’s long career as a self-styled feminist provocateur, her consistent rhetorical performance as the rare rational female voice is a sea of feminist hysteria, it seems unlikely. “I address the kind of Twitter hysteria that we are seeing here,” Roiphe told the Times.

Rophie’s record on this issue is abundantly clear and follows the narrative that women and other marginalized genders are uninjured by the fiction of harassment: “The majority of women in the workplace are not tender creatures and are largely adept at dealing with all varieties of uncomfortable or hostile situations,” Roiphe wrote in the New York Times in 2011. “Show me a smart, competent young professional woman who is utterly derailed by a verbal unwanted sexual advance or an inappropriate comment about her appearance, and I will show you a rare spotted owl.”

Very Spiked – Ella Whelan – Brendan O’Neill sort of bullshit, in short. It’s what she got famous for as an undergraduate in the 90s.

If Roiphe’s arguments, laid out in service to long-forgotten sexual harassment allegations leveled against the equally long-forgotten Herman Cain, sound familiar, it’s because they are. The New York Times published almost identical arguments last week in the form of a critique of the #MeToo movement, written by Daphne Merkin. Similar sentiments were expressed by 100 French women, including actress Catherine Deneuve and writer Catherine Millet, in an open letter in Le Monde, who said: “we do not recognise ourselves in this feminism” that holds male predators accountable for a spectrum of abuse.

The backlash to #MeToo is indeed here and it’s liberal second-wave feminism.

Nooooooo. Completely wrong. It’s third-wave feminism that is liberal-libertarian; second wave is more radical, not less. Katie Roiphe was part of the backlash against “second wave” feminism. To repeat: that’s what made her famous.

As the #MeToo conversations have escalated, prompting critical reconsideration of what constitutes a violation in the workplace and beyond, liberal second-wave feminists have been a prominent voice in bringing the reckoning to a premature conclusion, suffocating this deeply-needed cultural moment. Armed with a self-identified feminist conviction, they are often quick to deem the criminality of brutal physical attacks as the barometer for abuse—dismissing the precariousness of women rendered by institutional discrimination as self-imposed victimhood. Their use of feminist principals to justify their hesitancy in this space has become the new “I’m a feminist but…”—an empty gesture at best, a need to claim allegiance to old power structures while also asserting feminist credentials.

No, no, no, no, no. Stassa Edwards is making a fool of herself. She seems to be thinking “second wave: old: therefore conservative: therefore shutting down MeToo.” But no. It’s anti-feminists and conservatives who are trying to shut down MeToo: women like Christina Hoff Sommers. Sommers is not a second wave feminist. I don’t consider her a feminist at all, but the right adjective would be libertarian.

But one of the most powerful facets of #MeToo has been the beginning of a full-fledged dismantling of those exact power structures—be they work, institutions, legacy companies, prominent and highly-esteemed figures, and the biggest manifestation of power of all: every single time one of us looked away to protect one of the aforementioned reputations.

Fark. That’s why we’re part of it. It’s not our fault that it took the enormity of Harvey Weinstein to get people to pay attention at last.

What this moment exposes very cleanly about liberal second-wave feminists—and their shortcomings on the reckoning— is that they are still preoccupied with maintaining an established social order that—for both better and worse—has been profoundly ruptured by this moment. Donegan’s account was radical; anonymity insured by solidarity, and risk reduced. But the response, especially those that labored over form, imperfect method, and chastized recklessness of the list, smacked of this kind of limited liberal feminism, indebted as it is to the preservation of institutions and empowerment through them.

The ignorance of her.

The people at Jezebel should be embarrassed.


Jan 12th, 2018 11:19 am | By

Speaking of immigrants, speaking of immigrants from African countries, speaking of immigrants from what Donald Trump is pleased to call “shitholes” – news outlets today are talking about Emmanuel Mensah, who came to New York from Ghana.

The Times did a story on him on December 29th.

Emmanuel Mensah was a handsome, strongly built young man in his late 20s who immigrated to the Bronx from Ghana five years ago. He joined the Army National Guard but returned to his apartment on Prospect Avenue in December, after graduating from boot camp with the rank of private first class.

And on Thursday night, he lost his life trying to save people from his furiously burning apartment building, one of 12 people to die in the blaze.

“He brought four people out,” said his uncle, Twum Bredu, who lives next door. “When he went to bring a fifth person out, the fire caught up with him.”

He was living in the apartment of a couple with four children.

Private Mensah, a decorated soldier who had been awarded a medal for marksmanship and was planning to join the military police, got that family to safety, then pulled out four more people, his uncle said, before returning to the building.

He never emerged; the authorities said he died of smoke inhalation.

Do not try this at home

Jan 12th, 2018 11:06 am | By

Jen Gunter is warning against bad “health advice” from Gwyneth Paltrow again. What is it this time? Injecting coffee into your colon. Say what? Yes, that’s the advice.

t seems January is Gwyneth Paltrow’s go-to month for promoting potentially dangerous things that should not go in or near an orifice. January 2015 brought us vagina steaming, January 2017 was jade eggs, and here we are in the early days of January 2018 and is hawking coffee enemas and promoting colonic irrigation.

I suspect that GP and her pals at believe people are especially vulnerable to buying quasi-medical items in the New Year as they have just released their latest detox and wellness guide complete with a multitude of products to help get you nowhere.

To help get you nowhere or worse. is not selling a coffee machine, it is selling a coffee enema-making machine. That, my friends, is a messed-up way to make money. I know the people at Goop will either ignore the inquiries from reporters or release a statement saying the article is “a conversation” not a promotion and that they included the advice of a board-certified doctor, Dr Alejandro Junger, but any time you lend someone else your platform their ideas are now your ideas. That is why I never let anyone write guest posts for my blog. And let’s be real, if you are selling the hardware to shoot coffee up your ass then you are promoting it as a therapy – especially as Goop actually called the $135 coffee enema-making machine “Dr Junger’s pick”. I mean come on.

Why would anyone decide a coffee enema is a good idea? A good enough idea to promote to other people and accept money for? Why stop at coffee? Why not 50-year-old brandy, turpentine, grapefruit juice, piss, water from the bottom of a stagnant pond? If it’s liquid, up the bum it goes? Bound to be beneficial in some way?

How are they pretending to justify it? By making up something called “mucoid plaque” that is unknown to science, and saying coffee is needed to get rid of it. I wish I were kidding.

Apparently, the term “mucoid plaque” was coined by Richard Anderson, who is a naturopath, not a gastroenterologist, so not a doctor who actually looks inside the colon. I looked “mucoid plaques” up in PubMed. Guess what? Nothing colon-related. There is not one study or even case-report describing this phenomenon. Apparently only doctors who sell cleanses and colonics can see them. I am fairly confident that if some gastroenterologist (actual colon doctor) found some crazy mucus that looked like drool from the alien queen that she or he would have taken pictures and written about it or discussed it at a conference.

So here are the facts. No one needs a cleanse. Ever. There are no waste products “left behind” in the colon that need removing “just because” or after a cleanse. If a cleanse did leave gross, adherent hunks of weird mucus then that would be a sign that the cleanse was damaging the colon. You know what creates excess, weird mucous? Irritation and inflammation.

There are serious risks to colonics such as bowel perforation, damaging the intestinal bacteria, abdominal pain, vomiting, electrolyte abnormalities and renal failure. There are also reports of serious infections, air embolisms, colitis, and rectal perforation. If you go to a spa and the equipment is not sterilised, infections can be transmitted via the tubing.

You know, Paltrow could perfectly well just market Luxury Bath Salts and similar with a big markup because it has her Name on it, just as Ivanka Trump does. Nothing says she has to go and invent weirdo mucous and quack remedies for the non-existent mucous to make $$$. There’s no need for her to tell people to shoot coffee up their asses, and it’s seriously bad advice, yet she does it. It’s kind of Trump-level awful.

Vauxhall is a vibrant and important part of London

Jan 12th, 2018 9:39 am | By

So the Tories have made up their minds to stick to Trump no matter what.

Downing Street has accused Labour of risking relations with the US by saying Donald Trump is not welcome in Britain, after the president cancelled a visit planned for next month amid the threat of mass protests.

In a move that ties No 10 ever more closely to Trump, a Downing Street source supported a comment by Boris Johnson in which the foreign secretary condemned Jeremy Corbyn and the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, for opposing a presidential visit.

“The US is the biggest single investor in the UK – yet Khan & Corbyn seem determined to put this crucial relationship at risk,” the foreign secretary tweeted on Friday. “We will not allow US-UK relations to be endangered by some puffed up pompous popinjay in City Hall.”

While the tweet initially seemed to take No 10 by surprise, Johnson’s comments were later endorsed. The Downing Street source said: “Boris expresses himself in his own inimitable way – but we agree that any risk to the crucial US-UK relationship is not in our country’s best interests.”

So it’s the racist pussy-grabbing insult-monger at all costs, is it? Sounds a bit too like the Tories in 1938 for comfort, but whatever.

A Downing Street spokesman said no date had been confirmed for any visit by Trump to open the embassy. “As we’ve said a number of times, a state visit invitation has been extended and accepted, and we will confirm the details in due course,” he said.

“No date was confirmed for any visit. The one you’re referring to now, the opening of the US embassy, is a matter for the US. The US is one of our oldest and most valued allies, and our strong and deep partnership will endure.”

Asked about Trump’s reference to the new embassy being in “an off location”, the spokesman said: “Vauxhall is a vibrant and important part of London, and home to many businesses.”

Ah but it’s south of the river. Trump will see that as a bit like being Haiti, you can be sure.

Trump’s fake alibi shot down

Jan 12th, 2018 9:18 am | By

Trump also lied about the US embassy in London.

Donald Trump has cancelled a visit to Britain next month to open the new US embassy in London, amid fears of mass protests.

The president claimed on Twitter that the reason for calling off the trip was his displeasure at Barack Obama having sold the current embassy for “peanuts” and built a replacement for $1bn (£750m). “Bad deal,” he wrote.

But the embassy’s plan to move from Mayfair to Nine Elms in London was first reported in October 2008, when George W Bush was still president.

He lies about everything, he lies as casually as he eats all the ice cream.

Trump confirmed on Twitter late on Thursday night that the trip was off. “Reason I canceled my trip to London is that I am not a big fan of the Obama Administration having sold perhaps the best located and finest embassy in London for “peanuts,” only to build a new one in an off location for 1.2 billion dollars,” he wrote just before midnight local time. “Bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!”

Citing security and environmental reasons, the US state department agreed to sell the current embassy building in Grosvenor Square to the Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co, which plans to turn it into a luxury hotel.

Well we know Trump strongly disapproves of luxury hotels, especially in landmark locations in major cities.

The language used by him

Jan 12th, 2018 8:16 am | By

Trump of course is lying about it.

I suppose he’s too thick to realize that all his many lies have the result that informed people won’t believe this one.

Anyway, there are witnesses.

Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said on Friday that the president did use the term “shithole,” repeatedly, during the course of the meeting on immigration — which Mr. Durbin attended. The senator described Mr. Trump as saying “things which were hate-filled, vile and racist.”

In a Twitter post on Friday, just hours before the president was scheduled to sign a proclamation to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is Monday, Mr. Trump appeared to parse the language he spoke about immigrants from different regions of the world.

The president wrote that he never said of Haitians, “take them out.”

The president writes (i.e. tweets) a lot of things, and most of them are lies. There’s zero reason to think he’s not lying now.

The White House has not denied his use of racially charged rhetoric.

“I cannot believe that, in the history of the White House in that Oval Office, any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday,” Mr. Durbin said on Friday.

In an earlier tweet on Friday, Mr. Trump said, “The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used.” His tweet did not elaborate on what “tough” language he used and did not provide a specific account of the meeting.

The cake was not eaten by me. The window was not broken by me. The car was not crashed by me. The pussy was not grabbed by me. The innocence is all belong to me.

The Times explains how it came up:

Mr. Trump’s remarks, the latest example of his penchant for racially tinged remarks denigrating immigrants, left members of Congress from both parties attending the meeting in the Cabinet Room alarmed and mystified. He made them during a discussion of an emerging bipartisan deal to give legal status to immigrants illegally brought to the United States as children, those with knowledge of the conversation said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the meeting.

When Mr. Trump heard that Haitians were among those who would benefit from the proposed deal, he asked whether they could be left out of the plan, asking, “Why do we want people from Haiti here?”

The comments were reminiscent of ones the president made last year in an Oval Office meeting with cabinet officials and administration aides, during which he complained about admitting Haitians to the country, saying that they all had AIDS, as well as Nigerians, who he said would never go back to their “huts,” according to officials who heard the statements in person or were briefed on the remarks by people who had. The White House vehemently denied last month that Mr. Trump made those remarks.

The Trump White House, like Trump, tells a lot of lies. Its denials, however vehement, are worth nothing.

Representative Mia Love, a Republican of Utah who is of Haitian descent, demanded an apology from the president, saying his comments were “unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values.”

“This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation,” Ms. Love went on in an emotional statement that noted her heritage and that said her parents “never took a thing” from the government while achieving the American dream. “The president must apologize to both the American people and the nations he so wantonly maligned.”

“As an American, I am ashamed of the president,” said Representative Luis V. Gutiérrez, Democrat of Illinois. “His comments are disappointing, unbelievable, but not surprising.” He added, we can now “say with 100 percent confidence that the president is a racist who does not share the values enshrined in our Constitution or Declaration of Independence.”

The reactions were extraordinary bipartisan rebukes to a sitting president, but they only fanned what has been a long-simmering debate over Mr. Trump’s views and talk on race.

Or to put it another way, they underlined why he never should have been elected, and why his election was and is a national and global emergency.

Rat shan’t visit party

Jan 11th, 2018 5:35 pm | By

Well at least President Shithole has canceled his trip to the UK, knowing how much they hate him over there.

Donald Trump has shelved plans to open the new US embassy in London next month, according to reports.

Concerned about the welcome he would receive in the UK, the President is understood to be sending US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson instead.

Mr Trump had been due to come to London to open the new £750m embassy, but was said to have abandoned the idea as he feels unhappy about the scale of the visit and the arrangements made.

He is said to be unhappy about the lack of “bells and whistles” surrounding the event and the fact he would not be able to meet the Queen.

Good good good good. More of that. He needs to understand that everybody hates him and that it’s because he’s so poisonous and awful. Normally I don’t wish that on people, but he’s an outlier.

The language of apartheid and race war and annihilation

Jan 11th, 2018 5:14 pm | By

Gourevitch knows something about the language of apartheid and race war and annihilation – he wrote that book about the Rwandan genocide.

Trump would be a génocidaire in a heartbeat if conditions were right. He would have no qualms about it.