Set to make history

Feb 13th, 2020 6:06 pm | By

Yes, that’s right, frame it as “first for transgender athlete!!” as opposed to “man hopes to qualify for women’s Olympics.” Make it sound like an exciting innovation as opposed to a man cheating a woman out of a place at the Olympics.

On Dec. 8, 2019, 28-year-old Megan Youngren became one of 63 women at the California International Marathon to officially qualify for the 2020 U.S. Olympic marathon trials, the race that will determine the team for Tokyo. Her 40th-place finish in 2:43:52 came as both a relief and a reward, after four months of intense training. But it also marked another significant moment: With her qualification, Youngren is set to make history on Feb. 29 as the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the U.S. Olympic marathon trials.

In other words Youngren is a man.

In 2013, Youngren started running to lose weight and boost her health after transitioning, and now she primarily races on trails and runs up and down mountains for fun. Youngren says that running helped alleviate any lingering symptoms from a case of shingles. By 2014, she was running consistently, but with little structure to her training. An Alaska native, Youngren ran her first marathon at the 2017 Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks in 4:48, on a course with an unforgiving 3,285 feet of elevation gain and loss. Despite the difficulty and cramping, she credits that race as the one that got her hooked on the 26.2-mile distance. …

“I thought that if I worked incredibly hard and took some huge risks that I could run a 2:45,” Youngren says. “People will try to put it down by saying, ‘That’s too easy because you’re trans.’ But what about the 500 other women who will qualify? There’s probably someone with the exact same story. I trained hard. I got lucky. I dodged injuries. I raced a lot, and it worked out for me. That’s the story for a lot of other people, too.”

Not because he’s trans; because he’s male. And it’s not that it’s too easy, it’s that it’s an unfair advantage.

This time it’s not a phone call

Feb 13th, 2020 5:47 pm | By

Interesting. I saw the tweet, and found it exceedingly disgusting, but didn’t quite make the connection. Good thing other people did.

The indignant act

Feb 13th, 2020 5:32 pm | By

Barr has been putting on a show of indignation.

Attorney General Bill Barr told ABC News on Thursday that President Donald Trump “has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case” but should stop tweeting about the Justice Department because his tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job.”

I can all but hear them planning it. “Pretend you’re pissed off about my tweets.” “Hahahaha sir you’re a genius.”

Barr ignited a firestorm this week after top Justice Department officials intervened in the sentencing of Roger Stone, a longtime friend and former campaign adviser to the president who was convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

In a stunning reversal, the Justice Department overruled a recommendation by its own prosecution team that Stone spend seven to nine years in jail and told a judge that such a punishment – which was in line with sentencing guidelines – “would not be appropriate.”

The reality is that it’s Barr’s interference that was and is inappropriate. But hey, blame the tweets.

In the interview with ABC News, Barr fiercely defended his actions and said it had nothing to do with the president. He said he was supportive of Stone’s convictions but thought the sentencing recommendation of seven to nine years was excessive.

And yet

The filing notes that this recommendation is “consistent with the applicable advisory Guidelines.”

Maybe “excessive” in this case means “excessive for a friend of Donald Trump’s”?

Back to Barr:

Barr said Trump’s middle-of-the-night tweet put him in a bad position. He insists he had already discussed with staff that the sentencing recommendation was too long.

Barr insists a lot of things. Barr is not credible.

When asked directly if he had a problem with the president’s tweets, Barr responded, “Yes. Well, I have a problem with some of, some of the tweets. As I said at my confirmation hearing, I think the essential role of the attorney general is to keep law enforcement, the criminal process sacrosanct to make sure there is no political interference in it. And I have done that and I will continue to do that,” adding, “And I’m happy to say that, in fact the president has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case.”

He doesn’t need to, does he. And as for making sure there is no political interference with law enforcement – do not insult our intelligence that way.

Barr also told ABC News he was “a little surprised” that the prosecution team withdrew from the case and said he hadn’t spoken to the team. He said it was “preposterous” to suggest that he “intervened” in the case as much as he acted to resolve a dispute within the department on a sentencing recommendation.

By intervening. We know.

When asked if he expects the president to react to his criticism of the tweets, Barr said: “I hope he will react.”

“And respect it?” ABC’s Thomas asked.

“Yes,” Barr said.

So how did that work out?

About two hours after the interview aired, the White House issued a statement.

“The President wasn’t bothered by the comments at all and he has the right, just like any American citizen, to publicly offer his opinions. President Trump uses social media very effectively to fight for the American people against injustices in our country, including the fake news. The President has full faith and confidence in Attorney General Barr to do his job and uphold the law,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said.

So Barr must be “disappointed.”

Guest post: Yet we are told

Feb 13th, 2020 1:08 pm | By

Originally a comment by Your Name’s not Bruce? on Define “civil liberty.

It all comes down to the initial claim that trans people actually are the sex they feel they are. Yet too often rebuttals are dismissed with the insistence that these academic, intellectual debates ignore the suffering and needs of real, live people.

Yet we are told that we must prioritise the suffering and needs of some few, real live trans identified males over the suffering and needs of all real, live women and girls. We are told that there is no actual conflict since, because “transwomen are women”, they are all in fact the same group, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a bigot who desrves to be no-platformed or sacked. This is why the definition of “woman” is so vital. To what group of people are you referring when you use the word “woman?” How is that group defined, by feelings or biology? Being able to convince bystanders and others that this is a conflict within feminism rather than a conflict between “feminisms” (or more acurately, between feminism and something that identifies as feminism), allows TRAs to paint GC feminists as evil TERFs and avoids the much needed discussion of the very real conflicts they are so desperate to deny exist and at the same time paper over.

TRAs are currently in an advantageous tactical position given the rapid and widespread institutional capture in government and media they have been able to engineer or take advantage of, but the fact they have to fight material reality itself means that whatever tactical positions they hold now, they will always have to fight to keep them. Reality isn’t going to change, and it’s not going anywhere.

Surrender Dorothy

Feb 13th, 2020 12:55 pm | By

Well that’s a mess.

Criminal upholdment

Feb 13th, 2020 12:47 pm | By

Another day another letter.

I haven’t been able to find the letter in non-image form so I’ll just have to proceed with this one. The very first sentence is odd – colleagues at the University of Kent have recently been informed that the university “has chosen to uphold the invitation to Selina Todd” – as if there were something shady about inviting someone to speak and then not withdrawing the invitation. As if the university were supposed to withdraw invitations to external academics upon request. As if the university deserved rebuke for “choosing to uphold” such an invitation. Funny kind of academics these are.

Todd is a “self-proclaimed” [nonsense – that’s a loaded way of putting it] gc feminist “who has been widely criticised” [by people like us] “for her arguments against trans people’s – particularly trans women’s [i.e. men’s] right to self-identify.”

Yes, and? There is no such thing as a “right to self-identify.” Suppose you come to my door right now and “self-identify” as a friend of mine and invited to lunch. Do I have to “validate” your identity and give you lunch? I do not. Suppose I go to your children’s school and “self-identify” as a physics teacher; does the school have to let me teach classes? It does not. There is no such right.

Blah blah blah. Third paragraph – “The power dynamics” of letting Selina Todd (a historian of working class women) speak puts trans and non-binary people in the position “of having to defend their right to exist.” No it doesn’t. Why? Because no gender critical feminist is saying such people should not exist, or anything like it. Because no gender critical feminist is a threat to anyone’s existence. Because it’s not about existence. This constant framing of gender critical feminists as genocidal is both ludicrous and intensely insulting.

Then they quote Sara Ahmed saying “some at the table are, in effect or intent, arguing for the elimination of others at the table.”

The elimination – in other words the genocide. Again.

Todd’s views, they say, in a powerful surge of reasoning, “refuse to acknowledge that trans women ARE women, and that trans women’s rights ARE women’s rights.” Oh well ok then, if you put it in all caps there is nothing left to say.

Then they say it doesn’t matter that she wasn’t invited to talk about trans issues, she’s infected all the same. These are academics, remember.

Then they say there is precedent, because look, the University of East Anglia postponed a seminar with Kathleen Stock. Good argument: hit this person, because we hit that other person before. (Also, last I heard, the UEA didn’t postpone that seminar, nor did it cancel it or object when Kathleen refused to agree to a different format at their request.)

What a gang of craps these “academics” must be.

Do not call us “cis”

Feb 13th, 2020 11:19 am | By

The ACLU’s Staff Attorney on their National LGBT & HIV Project:

They’re not “cis” girls. Chase Strangio doesn’t get to other them from their own sex like that. They’re just girls. They didn’t choose it, they were born it, as we all were. That doesn’t make them a subcategory of their sex.

But even more dishonest is that “because their trans peers are able to participate fully in school life.” Strangio lies like that constantly, and it’s infuriating, especially coming from the ACLU. That is not why the girls are suing, and Strangio knows it. They are suing to prevent boys from competing on the girls’ team and thus depriving girls of medals and scholarships. Those boys don’t have to compete on the girls’ team to participate fully in school life. They could compete on the boys’ team (since they are boys). They wouldn’t come in first, but there is no “right” to come in first, especially by cheating.

How would those two boys – Yearwood and Miller – like it if all the boys in the school joined them on the girls’ team? Not much, because they would lose again.

It’s a sanctimonious and kind-of-racist lie to say this is about “urging the state to police young Black women.” Yearwood and Miller are not young Black women, because they are not women.

Chase Strangio is despicable.

Lesson learned

Feb 13th, 2020 10:32 am | By

Now that Trump has been impeached by the House but not removed by the Senate, he is hell-bent on revenge and dictatorship.

In the week since his acquittal on impeachment charges, a fully emboldened President Donald Trump is demonstrating his determination to assert an iron grip on government, pushing his Justice Department to ease up on a longtime friend while using the levers of presidential powers to exact payback on real and perceived foes.

And we are helpless to do anything about it and we could be completely and utterly screwed.

Trump has told confidants in recent days that he felt both vindicated and strengthened by his acquittal in the Senate, believing Republicans have rallied around him in unprecedented fashion while voters were turned off by the political process, according to four White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing…

In short he’s even more dangerous than he was before.

In recent days, the White House has yanked a senior Treasury Department nomination away from a former Justice Department official who supervised the prosecutions of several of Trump advisers. The administration also fired an EPA official who claims he was ousted because he was deemed too friendly with Democrats.

“We are witnessing a crisis in the rule of law in America — unlike one we have ever seen before,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday. Schumer called for the Justice Department’s independent inspector general to probe the department’s action in the Stone case. Later, House lawmakers announced Attorney General William Barr would come before them next month to answer questions.

Late next month. When the date comes he’ll probably say he has to do laundry that day.

Trump turned testy during an Oval Office appearance when reporters asked him about interfering in the Stone case and whether he learned anything from his impeachment ordeal.

He didn’t “turn testy.” He carried on like a bad-tempered bully as he so often does.

He slammed the four prosecutors who recommended the stiff sentence for Stone and asserted they “ought to apologize for a lot of the people whose lives they’ve ruined.”

He described the lesson he gleaned from being just the third president to endure an impeachment trial: “Democrats are crooked. … They’re vicious, they shouldn’t have brought impeachment and that my poll numbers are 10 points higher because of fake news.”

He learned the lesson a childish stupid narcissist would learn: he’s right and everyone else is wrong.

The clearest terms yet

Feb 13th, 2020 10:07 am | By

We’re supposed to be impressed-like that John Kelly has said a little more about what a dangerous lunatic Trump is. I’m not impressed.

Over a 75-minute speech and Q&A session, Kelly laid out, in the clearest terms yet, his misgivings about Trump’s words and actions regarding North Korea, illegal immigration, military discipline, Ukraine, and the news media.

But he provided cover for Trump when he was Chief of Staff.

Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, said that Vindman is blameless and was simply following the training he’d received as a soldier; migrants are “overwhelmingly good people” and “not all rapists”; and Trump’s decision to condition military aid to Ukraine on an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden upended long-standing U.S. policy.

Any apology for the lies about Representative Frederica Wilson?

When Vindman heard the president tell Zelensky he wanted to see the Biden family investigated, that was tantamount to hearing “an illegal order,” Kelly said. “We teach them, ‘Don’t follow an illegal order. And if you’re ever given one, you’ll raise it to whoever gives it to you that this is an illegal order, and then tell your boss.’”

Good, but way too late.

What is “self-identifying”?

Feb 13th, 2020 9:14 am | By

Why do this?

Why hedge it? Why say “self-identifying woman” instead of just “woman”?

Why can’t women just be women any more?

Define “civil liberty”

Feb 13th, 2020 8:38 am | By

God damn ACLU.

“Andraya,” who is a boy, “just wants to run” against girls, so that he will have a nice big unfair advantage.

Even if Andraya really does think of himself as a girl, and really does think that he “feels like a girl” on the inside (the meaning of which is impossible to pin down), he still should not, and should not be allowed to, compete against actual girls. It’s grossly unfair and it should not be allowed.

Ahhhhhhh that is such bullshit. What does “echo” mean? Nothing. This isn’t a poetry class. The arguments used to keep men who say they are women out of women’s sports are the opposite of those used to keep women out of sports. We argue that men should not be invading women’s sports because they have a sizable physical advantage; that is not why women were kept out of sports until the past few decades.

Men cheating women out of prizes in sport are not exercising their civil rights but trampling on those of women. The ACLU should change its name if it’s going to keep on with this garbage.

If they say

Feb 12th, 2020 3:25 pm | By

Here’s the exchange between Selina Todd and Lloyd Russell-Moyle: just the audio.

So, Russell-Moyle didn’t say: “If people don’t consider transwomen to be women then that is against the law and they should face disciplinary procedures.” He said, beginning at about 6:30:

Well if they say a trans woman is not a woman and I will never recognize that, that’s against the law, and actually they should either have to explain themselves in great detail, and if they were unable to do that, then yes they should look at disciplinary procedures

Similar but not the same, and especially he didn’t say “consider” but “say,” and that’s a very important difference.

That said – he still has a hell of a nerve announcing that we can’t say that trans women are not women without explaining ourselves in great detail or facing “disciplinary procedures.” Trans dogs are not dogs, trans houses are not houses, trans tulips are not tulips. Nobody should be disciplined for saying that.

Who sparked what?

Feb 12th, 2020 12:05 pm | By

There’s a French schoolgirl who had the audacity to film “an anti-religious diatribe on social media,” to use the Guardian’s terminology.

The Guardian also buried what inspired her to do so halfway down the page.

Mila, 16, from near Lyon, became a cause célèbre in January after she made a live broadcast on her Instagram account in which she spoke about her homosexuality. A Muslim commentator responded she was a “dirty lesbian” and a “dirty whore”. She responded by posting a video diatribe against Islam.

Her outburst sparked death threats and social media users posted her personal information online, including where she was attending school. The public prosecutor has opened an investigation for “death threats, threats to commit a crime and harassment” against her attackers and a separate inquiry into whether she had “provoked religious hatred”, which is punishable by the law.

Abdallah Zekri, general delegate of the French Council for the Muslim Faith (CFCM), told French radio: “This girl knows exactly what she has done … they who sow, reap.” Zekri added that the teenager’s comments were not covered by freedom of expression but were insulting and provocative. Afterwards, Mohammed Moussaoui, the new head of the CFCM, said criticism of Islam had to be accepted and no remarks justified death threats. “We have to accept all the debates and refuse all violence,” Moussaoui wrote.

“Insulting and provocative” does not mean “deserving of death threats.” Note, also, that the Guardian did what it so often does: said “Her outburst sparked death threats” rather than, say, “some people responded to her video with death threats.” Notice it didn’t say the guy who called her a dirty whore “sparked” her video.

The case has brought echos of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in 2015, which the perpetrators claimed was in retribution for the satirical newspaper publishing cartoons several years previously of the prophet Mohammed that were considered offensive by many Muslims. In a 2007 legal case against the paper, judges declared: “In France it is possible to insult a religion, its figures and its symbols … however, insulting those who follow a religion is outlawed.”

But many believers take the view that insulting the religion is insulting those who follow it.

That is against the law

Feb 12th, 2020 11:21 am | By

Politics Live on the BBC today:

I’ve seen a couple of clips but I’m not sure I’ll be able to see the whole thing. I haven’t seen the bit where he says that so I can’t confirm that he did say it, but if he did…oy. He’s an MP.

Doing his job

Feb 12th, 2020 10:35 am | By

From the Committee to Protect Journalists:

The New York City Police Department should drop all charges against photojournalist Amr Alfiky and provide a public explanation for his arrest, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Police arrested Alfiky, a photo editor at ABC news and a contributor to Reuters and The New York Times, at about 7 p.m. yesterday in New York’s Lower East Side neighborhood as he was filming the arrest on the street of another individual, according to the journalist’s friend, Mostafa Bassim, who captured Alfiky’s arrest on video and spoke with CPJ in a phone interview.

Police held Alfiky at Manhattan’s seventh precinct station for about 3.5 hours, where he was given access to a lawyer and was released after being charged with disorderly conduct, according to Bassim and a report by the New York Daily News, a local daily.

We know Trump considers journalism “disorderly conduct” but you’d hope New York cops would know better. (I know, probably a feeble hope.)

Officers confiscated Alfiky’s press credential, a card issued by the city’s police to grant journalists’ access to restricted spaces, during the arrest and have not returned it, Bassim said.

According to the New York Daily News, an NYPD spokesman said that Alfiky “refused to comply with repeated requests to step back” and did not identify himself as a journalist until after he was in custody. However, in Bassim’s video of the arrest, Alfiky can be heard repeatedly and loudly telling police officers that he is a journalist and offering to show his press credentials as the officers handcuffed him.

Sure enough – you can hear him saying it. Repeatedly.

Off with his head

Feb 12th, 2020 10:08 am | By

Trump continues to tell damaging lies (aka libel) about Vindman.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the military will likely look at disciplinary action against Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, just days after the National Security Council official was ousted from the White House after giving damaging testimony during the House impeachment hearings.

“That’s going to be up to the military, we’ll have to see, but if you look at what happened, they’re going to certainly, I would imagine, take a look at that,” Trump said in response to a follow-up question about what he meant when he said, “the military can handle him.”

I’m so sick of his idiotic stock phrases – “we’ll have to see,” “if you look at what happened” – empty meaningless filler because he has nothing of substance to say. Then there’s the genius juxtaposition of ” they’re going to certainly, I would imagine” – well which is it? Are you certain, or do you imagine?

Trump also said he wasn’t “happy” with Vindman and his twin brother Yevgeny, who served as a senior NSC lawyer and was also recalled on Friday despite not being a witness in the president’s impeachment hearings.

“Happy” – another meaningless filler word. He has zero reason to punish Yevgeny Vindman but doesn’t like to say so, so he’s just “not happy” with him. He might as well wear a neon sign saying his head is entirely empty.

Trump, without providing evidence or specific examples, said Alexander Vindman reported “very inaccurate things” about the “perfect” call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“It turned out that what he reported was very different,” Trump said. “And also when you look at the person he reports to, said horrible things, avoided the chain of command, leaked, did a lot of bad things. And so we sent him on his way to a much different location, and the military can handle him any way they want.”

Horrible things, bad things. Well ok then.

And falling

Feb 12th, 2020 9:26 am | By

President Scary.

You don’t though

Feb 11th, 2020 5:32 pm | By

He thinks he has “the absolute right” to interfere in criminal prosecutions. He thinks wrong. It would be nice if he knew the basics of this job he decided to pretend to do.

Also, “aberition.”

All four quit

Feb 11th, 2020 5:02 pm | By

So much for law and order, which used to be a Republican lodestar.

The entire team prosecuting Roger Stone abruptly resigned from the criminal case on Tuesday after the Justice Department said it planned to reduce the recommended sentence for Stone, a longtime Trump associate.

The Justice Department on Tuesday said it was pulling back on its request to sentence Stone to seven to nine years in prison after President Donald Trump blasted the sentencing proposal as “a miscarriage of justice.”

After reports that a softer sentencing recommendation was imminent, lead prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky withdrew as a prosecutor in the case. A footnote in his court filing noted that “the undersigned attorney has resigned effective immediately.”

Zelinsky, who was a part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian election interference, is not resigning from the Justice Department but is leaving the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office and returning to his old job with the U.S. attorney in Maryland.

Another prosecutor, Jonathan Kravis, also resigned — both from the case and as an assistant U.S. attorney. Kravis on Tuesday filed a notice with the judge saying he “no longer represents the government in this matter.” The other two prosecutors, Adam Jed and Michael Marando, also withdrew from the case.

Never mind, we’re still dealing out long prison sentences to black people and poor people.

Jumping aboard

Feb 11th, 2020 4:46 pm | By

Have YOU signed?

Labour leadership contender Rebecca Long-Bailey has signed up to a pledge to expel party members who have expressed “transphobic” views.


It is part of a 12-point plan by the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights.

The plan has also been backed by deputy leader hopeful Angela Rayner – but critics say it could lead to a “witch hunt” of party members.

It could and it will. You know it will.

The pledges include accepting that there is “no material conflict between trans rights and women’s rights” – and supporting the expulsion of Labour members who “express bigoted, transphobic views”.

The group states that “trans women are women, trans men are men”.

But they’re not and they’re not, which is why they’re called “trans.”

They also back the fight against what the group alleges are “transphobic organisations”, naming two in particular; Woman’s Place UK and the LGB Alliance.

Woman’s Place UK, which says it campaigns to defend women’s “hard-won rights”, said it “absolutely refutes” claims their organisation is transphobic, describing the allegations as “scurrilous” and “defamatory”.

Yes but they’re just women, so what do they know.

What about women? Do women matter at all?