Notes and Comment Blog


To be that tender glance in the world

Nov 15th, 2017 4:11 pm | By

There’s another good bit of that interview with the Los Angeles priest who works with kids in gangs that I overlooked yesterday. It’s another place where he offers a version of religion that is understandable even to secular types – understandable and worth doing.

You know how you were saying earlier that, like, when you were a child, your prayers were petitional? You know, God help me pass my math test. And now your prayers are more meditative. You have, you know, mantras that you say. Do you ever do petitional prayer anymore?

BOYLE: I don’t.

GROSS: Is there a place for that in your…

BOYLE: Well, I mean, it’s in the liturgy. You know, we’re people – you know, let’s pray for, you know, this guy who died, and let’s pray for unity in our country. And all those things are good because it’s – people are articulating kind of what’s on their mind, and it’s a way for people to stand with each other.

You know, I may not be able to carry what you’re carrying, but we can carry you. And that’s kind of what prayer in the petitionary sense means. But I never do it personally ’cause I don’t – you know, when people say, I believe in the power of prayer or, as speaker Ryan said the other day, prayer works, I go, well, now talk about that, you know? It helps me find God at the center of my life. So yes, it does work. But if – you know prayer, is not going to fix our health care system. Stop it, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

BOYLE: Don’t think that. You actually have to do something about guns. You can’t just pray, and you can’t just, again, extend thoughts and prayers. And so the power of prayer – I don’t think people got that – people haven’t graduated from the third grade. They’re stuck there. They’re still praying for the math test, you know, when there are things that are in our control and that we’re supposed to do and that God doesn’t protect us from Hurricane Maria but will sustain us as we lock arms with each other in its aftermath. I believe in that.

In a way I can believe in that too, or at least see what he’s getting at and not be repulsed by it. People locking arms with each other is a good thing, and if that’s what you mean by “God” then go for it.

GROSS: So if you’re not doing petitional prayer when you have someone who you deeply care about, who’s gone through Homeboy Industries, who’s trying to change their life and they’re sick or they’ve been hurt and they’re in the hospital and they’re hanging on maybe by a thread, when you pray for them, what are you doing? Like, are you asking for them to be healed? Is that too petitional for you to do? Do you know what I’m saying?

BOYLE: Yeah, you know, ’cause yesterday, you know, one of our homies who’s worked for us for a long time – and I buried his brother, and his father was dying. So I went over to the hospital. We all gathered around. You know, I’m a priest, so I do the anointing of the sick. I anoint his forehead, and I invite everybody in the room. There were probably 10 of us. And each one kind of, you know, anointed him very tenderly. And we all touched him, and I said a blessing. Clearly he, you know, had a major stroke, and clearly he was leaving us. And 10 minutes later, he did.

I was so glad I got there not because this was some magical, you know, thing but that it meant a lot to this homie who works for me. And it meant a lot to just sort of gather together. But you’re not praying for some outcome, you know? You’re trying to, you know, step into this – into the wideness of God, you know, this amazing, merciful, spacious and expanse of God. And then all of a sudden, because you’re praying, because you’re bringing this consciousness to the group, everybody is experiencing the tender glance of God in that moment. And then you feel animated to leave each other’s presence and to be that tender glance in the world. That’s how it works.

But the magical thinking of pray that – you know, that this person get healed – and it’s not even pray for God’s will because people die, and people get sick. And there’s nobody who’s not going to have that happen to them. But in the process, we can lock arms with each other, and the prayer is just a way of, you know, putting first things first.

If only more priests were like Greg Boyle.



Glug

Nov 15th, 2017 3:30 pm | By

So now Trump is in a snit because everyone isn’t running around squawking about what a brilliant job he did of making “Asia” our new best friend. He channeled his rage into giving a long speech to instruct us about how awesome he was and how deeply “Asia” now adores us thanks to his awesome amazing very very tremendous work.

This was Trump playing his own hype man. He felt like the Asia trip went well and he wasn’t getting enough credit for exactly how well it went. So, why not give a speech and force the “fake news” to cover it?

From his opening statement onward, it was clear that Trump’s lone goal with the speech was to pat himself on the back. Repeatedly.

Here’s how the speech started:

“Last night I returned from a historic 12-day trip to Asia. This journey took us to five nations to meet with dozens of foreign leaders, participate in three formal state visits and attend three key regional summits. It was the longest visit to the region by an American president in more than a quarter of a century. Everywhere we went our foreign hosts greeted the American delegation, myself included, with incredible warmth, hospitality, and most importantly, respect. And this great respect showed very well our country is further evidence that America’s renewed confidence and standing in the world has never been stronger than it is right now.”

God he’s dumb. He mistakes the normal diplomatic niceties for everyone having a crush on him.

Trump’s emphasis on not only solving America’s image problems but doing so very, very quickly was a theme throughout his Asia trip. In a press conference aboard Air Force One while flying in Vietnam over the weekend, here are few of the things Trump claimed credit for:

  • “Prime Minister Abe came up to me just at the end and he said that since you left South Korea and Japan that those two countries are now getting along much much better.”
  • “There’s been a real bonding between South Korea and Japan.”
  • “They say in the history of people coming to China, there’s been nothing like that and I believe it.” (This was about Trump dining with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Forbidden City — the first time a US president has dined there since the founding of modern China.)
  • “It’s the biggest state entrance and the biggest state dinner they’ve ever had. By far.” (Again, China.)

Trump is someone who needs his successes — real or imagined — acknowledged.

The Guardian is not all that impressed either.

Trump did not mention that during his tour, 11 US allies had decided to move ahead with the creation the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade zone without US involvement, following the president’s withdrawal in March.

Richard Haass, the president of Council on Foreign Relations, said in a tweet that Trump “claims to have established a new framework for trade in Asia when the reality is that the US has placed itself outside the best available framework for trade in the region.”

“The country will pay an enormous economic, strategic price as a result,” Haass said.

But at least he comported himself with dignity for once.

Lacking any real news, Trump’s speech prompted more headlines for an awkward pause in which the president reached for a sip of water. He twice stopped mid-speech to quench his thirst, drawing instant comparisons to the viral moment in 2013 when Florida senator Marco Rubio made headlines with a desperate lunge for an out-of-shot water bottle while delivering the formal Republican response to Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

Trump chided Rubio at the time, tweeting: “Next time Marco Rubio should drink his water from a glass as opposed to a bottle – would have much less negative impact.”

Trump takes an awkward sip of water during his speech.



Hey Trump cares, he really does

Nov 15th, 2017 11:53 am | By

Last night Trump tweeted his deep concern and fellow feeling toward the people of Tehama County, California Sutherland Springs, Texas over that terrible mass shooting thing they had there wherever it was.

On Tuesday night, Trump posted this message:

Oh gosh, Don, that was ten days ago.

At least he left off the part about monitoring from Japan.

He sent out a generic tweet. What more do you want him to do?



13th stepping

Nov 15th, 2017 11:37 am | By

Surprise surprise: there’s a lot of sexual predation in Alcoholics Anonymous. You don’t say! Who would ever think that a quasi-sacred secretive all-anonymous “program” to rescue alcoholics with a success rate of around 6% would foster predators?

“AA has absolutely saved my life,” says Amy Dresner, who has been in and out of AA for 20 years, and recently published a memoir about her addiction and recovery called My Fair Junkie. “I was never sexually harassed per se,” Dresner says. “What I did feel happened to me was that I was preyed upon when I was very vulnerable. When I came in and I was new, no girls pulled me aside and said ‘Hey, these are the guys who usually wait for the fresh meat to come in. These are the guys that fuck the newcomers.’ I was fucked multiple times by guys with who had double digit [years of] sobriety while I was still counting days. I was 13th stepped.”

“13th stepping” is a phrase all of the women I spoke to were familiar with. It is not an actual step in the program, but rather an expression commonly used within the fellowship to refer to the practice in which elder members with more years of sobriety sexually pursue newcomers because they’re in a vulnerable state and more open to manipulation. A 2003 study in the Journal of Addictions Nursing showed that 50 percent of the female AA members surveyed had experienced the 13th stepping phenomenon.

In spite of this, Dresner says it’s the responsibility of those entering the program to go in with their eyes open. “If you’re expecting it to be a room full of saints, you’re an idiot. It’s a place where sick people go to get better. It’s a looney bin. Wherever there’s a power hierarchy there’s going to be sexual abuse. AA is no different. There is a power hierarchy,” she tells me.

Hmmmm yes it’s a place where sick alcoholic people go to get better that fails around 94% of the time and is all anonymous. There’s going to be sexual abuse, you can’t do anything about the abuse because anonymous, and it won’t help you – but it’s awesome all the same.

Monica Richardson was a member of AA for 36 years before she walked away and embarked on a personal mission to expose abusive practices in the 12 step community. She produced a documentary about sexual and financial exploitation in 12 step groups called “The 13th Step,”and states that since starting her blog LeavingAA in 2010, she has received “thousands” of emails from current and former members who have experienced sexual harassment, assault and abuse from other members of “the fellowship.”

One of Richardson’s major points of contention with AA is their refusal to warn newcomers to the program that they may be sitting next to someone who has been court ordered to attend meetings as a condition of probation or parole. AA’s own 2014 membership survey states that 12 percent of members were referred to the organization by the criminal justice system.

They’re not there by choice, and they’re protected by anonymity, and for all you know they’re rapists. Cozy.

“AA needs to warn its members that there could be a sex offender or violent offender who’s been sent there, so be careful who you trust,” Richardson says. She also thinks that the group should tell the court system to stop requiring attendance for violent offenders, that the program should institute a hotline for members to call if they’ve been sexually assaulted by another program member, and that safety guidelines stating that sexual harassment, assault, and exploitation within the group are “not okay” should be read and posted at all meetings. Meeting leaders and sponsors are not required to go through any sort of training.

And there’s no question of evidence or comparing outcomes. It’s just a thing, and you go to it and take what you get. There are actually medical treatments for addiction, and AA is not that.

She also rejects AA’s assertion that the program is a “microcosm of society” where sexual harassment and assault are no more likely to happen than they would anywhere else. “It’s not a microcosm,” she says. “You’re pulling together a group of people who are malfunctioning. They’re addicted to drugs and alcohol. They may have issues with self-esteem and being assertive. And they’re all reading a book from the 1930s.”

It doesn’t work, and there are a lot of risks – yet AA is widely seen as an unquestionable good. It’s nuts.



Gouging

Nov 15th, 2017 11:00 am | By

The United States is a country founded on idealism. We have principles and values and sacred beliefs here, and the holiest of them all is that the rich must always be rewarded many times more generously than everyone else. If the worker makes $10 an hour then by god the CEO had better make at least $1000. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington died on the battlefield to defend that glorious truth.

Like plucky little Whitefish Energy Holdings, for instance.

The small energy outfit from Montana that won a $300 million contract to help rebuild Puerto Rico’s tattered power grid had few employees of its own, so it did what the Puerto Rican authorities could have done: It turned to Florida for workers.

For their trouble, the six electrical workers from Kissimmee are earning $42 an hour, plus overtime. The senior power linemen from Lakeland are earning $63 an hour working in Puerto Rico, the Florida utility said. Their 40 co-workers from Jacksonville, also linemen, are making up to $100 earning double time, public records show.

But the Montana company that hired the workers, Whitefish Energy Holdings, had a contract that allowed it to bill the Puerto Rican public power company, known as Prepa, $319 an hour for linemen, a rate that industry experts said was far above the norm even for emergency work — and almost 17 times the average salary of their counterparts in Puerto Rico.

Hey! They had to line their own pockets didn’t they?! They had to pay themselves first and most didn’t they?! This is AMERICA. Well ok it’s Puerto Rico which is obviously not AMERICA at all but hopelessly foreign, but Whitefish is AMERICA, so those rules apply.

Two weeks after Prepa abruptly withdrew the contract from Whitefish following strong criticism by federal and congressional officials of the company’s expected ability to perform the work needed, more questions are being raised about the deal, including how much it will actually cost. Whitefish will keep repairing power lines until Nov. 30.

Plenty of time for the bosses to make themselves a nice chunk of change.

At least four congressional committees are investigating. The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security has also begun a review of the Whitefish contract, as has the F.B.I., according to media reports.

Whitefish’s chief executive, Andy Techmanski, has called the investigations a “witch hunt.” The company said on Saturday that it had completed repair of more than 150 miles of transmission and distribution power lines.

Ah the old witch hunt ploy. It’s funny how corrupt greedy men keep grabbing that metaphor of the persecution of women.

Jeffrey Bartel, a former senior executive at Florida Power & Light, the third-largest utility in the United States, said markups were routine in subcontracted work, as was charging double time for emergency work.

But “even at double time, the labor cost figures are empirically questionable,” Mr. Bartel said after reviewing the contract at the request of The New York Times. “Possibly most egregious is that this all takes place with a dire and desperate circumstance where people’s lives are at immediate danger without power, and, therefore, there is unequal bargaining position by Puerto Rico, which allows for the possibility of price gouging.”

Price gouging in emergencies is another one of those beautiful American ideals.



Curious George goes to university

Nov 15th, 2017 9:25 am | By

Sometimes academic life is a little confusing:

Vancouver Island University is at the centre of a human rights complaint alleging that female staff were not protected from a student who brought a diaper-related sexual fetish to the B.C. school.

Who brought a WHAT?

A 105-page complaint filed by the Nanaimo school’s former director, Human Rights and Respectful Workplace, Katrin Roth, said the man’s behaviour was treated as a disability when it should have been dealt with as a potential threat to female staff.

CBC is not identifying the man who was involved in the complaint. He responded to a request for comment saying he was unable to speak about the matter for legal reasons.

“I will say I am special needs and 3, so I am not in my 40s,” he wrote to CBC. “Like the university I do not agree with Ms. Roth’s characterization of events.”

He’s 3…yet he is or was enrolled at a university, and he’s responding in writing to a request from the CBC. Why would a university accept a 3-year-old as a student?

The student in his 40s asked to be treated as an infant, demanding children’s books be read to him, speaking in a baby voice, wearing a soother, and even submitting a selfie of himself in a diaper to one instructor, said Roth. She believes that as soon as the university knew the student had what it terms an “atypical sexual drive that he may impose on non-consenting individuals” staff needed warning.

Ok, enough with the jokes. That is both ludicrous and disgusting. People don’t get to “demand” to be treated as infants or cars or ocelots or plates of toast. People don’t get to impose their fantasies on the rest of the world. Imagine whatever you like on your own time in your own space, but leave the rest of us out of it. Fantasies are not reality, and they are not human rights, either. A sizable body of people has decided they are, lately, but they’re wrong. There’s no such thing as a human right to have one’s fantasies humored. People can decide to humor adult fantasies if they feel like being generous about it, but that generosity can’t be ossified into an obligation.

Roth believes the student had presented himself to at least three other staff members demanding inappropriate treatment.

The former Alberta crown prosecutor is amending the original complaint that she said was deemed too broad — and has filed a second separate complaint after losing her job in 2017.

She said she became concerned after a man who said he needed to wear diapers due to a disability complained to her office. Over the years she said the student threatened to file Human Rights Complaints if his special needs were not considered, including his desire to be handled by female staff only.

In the document she said he presented himself to female staff at different campuses — in several cases asking them to change his soiled diapers. Eventually he came to Roth complaining of discrimination.

“He’s unfortunately obsessed with the fecal matter,” said Roth.

As she investigated his complaint she pushed for a sexual violence risk assessment — as the man who came to her claiming a disability seemed to have a sexual fetish he was subjecting others to, the document reveals.

Ya think?

English professor and chair of VIU’s women’s studies program Janis Ledwell-Hunt describes the man who was her student in spring of 2015 as somebody who left her fearful.

He was one of only a handful of in-person students in the small intensive course. But his “odd” and incessant emails disturbed her, the document says.

Then he handed in an essay with a selfie of himself in a diaper with a baby bottle and a soiled diaper. When she refused to accept it he became belligerent and she turned to VIU authorities for protection, says the complaint.

“He’d show up in a Curious George outfit with a soother around his neck,” said Ledwell-Hunt.

“He was involving me into his fantasy life. Into his fantasy play.”

What I’m saying. Have your fantasy life, knock yourself out, but don’t force it on other people.



A step up from Pat O’Brien

Nov 14th, 2017 5:30 pm | By

Now here’s a funny thing. The opening words of Fresh Air last night made my heart sink within me.

This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. My guest, Father Greg Boyle, has worked with former gang members in LA for over 30 years.

Oh no no no no, thought I. Not a Catholic priest; nope nope nope. But I gave it a minute anyway, just in case, and…was surprised. He seems

  • like a mensch and
  • not at all priesty

I’ll quote some of it but if you’re at all interested I recommend listening, to get the not-priesty quality of his voice and way of talking.

GROSS: With the help of cellphone videos and dashboard videos, Americans have seen with their own eyes how some police officers assault or kill black men. And is that something that gang members you’ve worked with – ex-offenders that you’ve worked with have complained about? And if so, have you worked with officers – with police officers and spoken to them about your concerns?

BOYLE: Well, for the first time in 30 years, you know, we’ve had police officers in training at the police academy. They’re brought over to Homeboy Industries to kind of spend the day. And it’s a softening of, who are these people? And it helps, you know, to have gang members stand up in front of a roomful of police officers who are in training and allow them in – you know, invite them to the difficulties of their own growing up and what they had to endure. And if you can lead them to a place of awe, which is a great leveler – and then pretty soon they stand in awe at what these folks have had to carry rather than in judgment at how they’ve carried it. So it’s softened the demonizing.

GROSS: You describe a meeting you had, like, years ago with a police officer. And you expressed your concerns. And he told you – the police officer told you that the police strategy is to make life as miserable as possible for the gang members. And your response was life is already miserable for them. So where did that leave you in your conversation with him? Do you remember?

BOYLE: Well, then it became let’s shoot the messenger. So then there was this really great outpouring of hostility towards me from the local Los Angeles Police Department. I was the fraternizer with the enemy. I was, you know – I co-signed on bad behavior – and then wild things, like, I held their guns and their drugs – crazy stuff.

But this was – this is ancient history. This was when they would take kids to the factories and beat them down for purposes of interrogation or intimidation. And I was naive because I grew up on the other side of town in LA. Because when the cops arrived, they – you were relieved. They got the cat out of a tree, you know? So here I would go to the captain – I’d say, I think you’d want to know that this is going on. And so then pretty soon, it turned. It was – I knew not to go to the cops and tell them this because it just exacerbated their hostility towards me.

GROSS: But you think things are different now?

BOYLE: But that’s – oh, way different now – just absolutely way different. Now, there isn’t a gang member in LA County who doesn’t have a bad story to tell, not one – and multiple ones at that about how, you know, they were mistreated or picked up and dropped off in enemy territory. They all can reach back and have those stories. But now, again, it’s part of the fabric of how policing happens, that they go out of their way not to do this stuff now, at least in LA. And that’s progress because it was quite bad 30 years ago.

Then they talked about his chronic leukemia and about death. He says it’s not high on his list of things he worries about and she asks why not.

BOYLE: Yeah, I think the only answer to that is I’m probably weird.

GROSS: (Laughter) OK.

BOYLE: But I think part of it, too, is that you have to put – a kid who I buried used to say right after his brother died in his arms – also gunned down. And he was gunned down two years after that. He said death is a punk. And I said, yeah, you know, you’re right. And so I think a lot of it has to do – people are kind of stunned that that none of us will get out of this alive. And that kind of startles me. I want to say, where you been, you know? And it’s kind of an indicator of, you know, the work that everybody has to do is no one gets out of this life. So once you know that then, all of a sudden, death as a punk.

You know, the Dalai Lama – somebody asked him about his own personal death. And he just laughed. And he said, change of clothing. And yeah, I’ll have what he’s having, you know, because I think that’s what it is. So the minute you’re freed from not just the notion of death but you’re freed from the fear of it – and I know that cancer and death is not the worst thing that could ever happen to somebody. And once you know that, then you can compile the lists – you know? – the list of fates worse than death and the things more powerful than death.

I find it interesting that he didn’t say a word about immortality. Maybe “change of clothing” is, but then again maybe it isn’t – it certainly isn’t the Vatican-approved variety.

Same with prayer.

GROSS: What was your understanding of prayer when you were in parochial school compared to what your understanding of prayer is now?

BOYLE: Well, you know, in those days, it was rote, and it was petitionary. And it was – I know I didn’t study for the math test, but please let me pass it, you know, craziness, which led people to go, yeah, he didn’t – I didn’t pass the math test – so much for prayer. So I mean, again, it was third grade. And – but I had experiences when I was in high school where it was profound and unitive and really feeling held and loved and worthy.

GROSS: Is prayer for you a quiet recitation, you know, of prewritten prayer or moments of reflection that have no text attached to it?

BOYLE: Yeah. I don’t have any text. I have mantras all the time. But I try to meditate twice a day and in the morning and then if I can do it during the afternoon or when I steal away some time for lunch. It’s…

GROSS: Yeah, mantra is a Buddhist concept and not (laughter) a Jesuit one…

BOYLE: Don’t tell anybody (laughter).

GROSS: Buddhism comes up a lot in your book. So you obviously see some connections between, you know, the Jesuit approach that you follow and Buddhism.

BOYLE: Yeah, definitely I do. You know, I think it’s very helpful to my own kind of centering prayer. And again, my mantra at the moment is, resting in you, resting in me. And I kind of breathe it in, and I breathe it out. Actually a homie taught me that one.

GROSS: Really?

BOYLE: Yeah. I have a homie named Sergio (ph) who is kind of – I call my spiritual director. And he goes to work at some ungodly hour, at 4. He’s been in recovery for, like, nine years. And he’s my hero. I call him my spiritual director. And every morning, sometimes in real time, but, you know – because I get up at 3:30 in the morning. I get up really early. And so he’ll email me. And he’ll kind of – this is what I’m thinking, and this is what happened to me in prayer. And then I tell him what happened to me. And it’s a profoundly rich thing.

But I look back at him, and you know, he was a meth addict and a drug dealer and a gang member. And now he’s like a spiritual guide to me. But anyway, so we were talking about this kind of breathing in and breathing out and resting in you, resting in me. And so that’s my current one thanks to him.

It’s less repellent than the usual kind, I think.



Guest post: People like it, so what are you complaining about?

Nov 14th, 2017 5:06 pm | By

Originally a comment by iknklast on If she can walk she can marry.

However, the inferior status of women is so “baked in” into what our society considers normal or “normal enough” to make allowances for, that it takes a great deal of effort to even spot specific instances

This has been my experience. In my playwriting collective, there are a number of women, and the members of the group mostly identify as liberal. They would be horrified that anyone would suggest otherwise, or should anyone suggest they see women in a patriarchal role.

Yet there is much in the plays they write, and in how they are produced, that simply accepts the “way women are” as presented so commonly throughout history. It is so difficult for them to see the situation that few noticed when my intelligent, strong, educated woman (and asexual, being a worker bee) was turned into an airheaded ditz during production. Not only that, she was portrayed as a sexually frustrated spinster who swooned over the first boorish male she encountered. While some people were uncomfortable with the sexual overtones that were added to the role by director and actor, even they did not realize the violence done to feminism in the portrayal, and the comfort such a portrayal no doubt leant to the patriarchal structure of our society. And most of them, when the discussion began, simply said, well, it was a success, people like it, so what are you complaining about? Damn.

And no one, absolutely no one else noticed what they did to another strong, educated, intelligent female character who actually managed to perpetuate a nice slap down of the male character when he was acting like a jerk to try to impress her. She came on into an office setting carrying the things to go on her desk – a wastebasket full of bric-a-brac, pictures, hand lotion (which was actually applied during the play), perfume, and other feminine niceties. The male character then stepped in to his desk carrying a telephone and a piece of paper – a lean, mean, working machine contrasted to the feminine, sort of trivial female who was demonstrating that she put family and nurturing first by the pictures on the desk. I know the author of the piece, and I doubt it bothered him. He would say, like they all would say, well, this is just how it is. Women are caring and nurturing, men are stripped down and hungry. Surely you don’t have a problem with that? After all, isn’t it nice that women are like that, so they can make the world a better place to live? Damn it, no. I’m sick of it. It is a subtle way of reminding us that women are more of an ornament and an assistant in the working place, while men are the efficient go-getters.

And as for marrying? I was constantly reminded, from the age of six, that my role was to marry. My mother started my hope chest when I was 8 by buying me a punch bowl for Christmas (have you ever known an 8 year old who would rather have a punch bowl than a Mr. Potato Head?). My older sister began dating at 14, and married the man 2 years later. I was a big disappointment, because I never did what a fundamentalist Christian woman is supposed to do. I guess I wasn’t very good at that stuff. God was more like Santa Claus to me, something you believe in when you’re young and discard when you get older. But I was still expected to toe the line and marry a good Christian man and have good Christian babies, die a good Christian death and get buried next to my husband/owner in a good Christian grave, visited regularly by my 97 good Christian children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. My family considers me hopeless; I have one child, and even though I am now 57 years old, I do not have (nor desire to have) any grandchildren. I am a scientist, a playwright, and a feminist/atheist/environmentalist – in short, the true black sheep of the family. I am the only one who ever finished what I started, and I know that I would have achieved little of that if I had married at 16 like my older sister. But I would have made my parents very happy.



Gunman…multiple…domestic…saddened…pray…

Nov 14th, 2017 4:37 pm | By

I guess it’s going to be every day now, and soon it will be several times a day. It will stop being reported, because it’s too commonplace and there’s too much of it.

At least four people were killed Tuesday morning in Northern California when a gunman shooting at random struck at multiple locations, targeting an elementary school and a woman driving her children to school, authorities said…Ten people were injured and taken to area hospitals, including at least two children…Police received “multiple 911 calls of multiple different shooting sites, including the elementary school” in Rancho Tehama Reserve…While details about what led up to the gunfire remained unclear, Johnston said authorities were told by neighbors that “there was a domestic violence incident” involving the suspected attacker…After the shooting, Johnston said police recovered a semiautomatic rifle and two handguns believed to be used by the shooter…Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said in a statement that he and his wife were “saddened to hear about today’s violence in Tehama County, which shockingly involved schoolchildren…” Vice President Pence posted in a message on Twitter that the White House would monitor the situation, provide federal support and “pray for comfort & healing for all impacted.”…After the gunfire, worried parents were trying to get to their children at the school…

One thing we do know for sure, though: it’s too soon to talk about gun control.



Guest post: Every cultural artifact subtly trains us

Nov 14th, 2017 4:02 pm | By

Originally a comment by Anna Y on If she can walk she can marry.

The reasoning behind your outrage at the lack of outrage on the part of some people seems somehow backwards…

The way I see it — grossly oversimplified, yes, but intentionally so, to get at the roots of this difference in opinion — is that one can only be outraged by an adult man courting an adolescent girl if one believes the feminist premise that women are people.

Marriage, in every culture I’m aware of (I’ll admit to lack of expertise, but this is a polemic, not a dissertation on the origin of the concept) is fundamentally an institution to legislate the conditions under which men are allowed to own and make use of female humans as livestock/chattel slaves. Some religions go as far as to set out an extensive framework of mutual rights and obligations, but as men are always granted the ultimate authority in the marriage (and other men are always the arbiters/enforcers), it is men’s rights and their wives obligations that are preferentially enforced by their society. This is really what “Patriarchy” means, regardless of the multitude of figleaves any given culture uses to disguise this fundamental structure of the marriage relationship.

Many Westerners (at least the ones sufficiently aware of history not to reject the idea outright) like to argue that the institution has evolved, and, to some extent it has, but even today, even in developed countries, the institution of marriage is only as evolved as that country’s attitude to women’s status as full and equal human beings. Slavery is a sufficiently unpalatable concept today, that, certainly, in the U.S., even the most fundamentalist of fundamentalists would strenuously protest the claim that a “wife” is just a nice word for livestock/property. However, the inferior status of women is so “baked in” into what our society considers normal or “normal enough” to make allowances for, that it takes a great deal of effort to even spot specific instances.

This is why, to many, many people (yes, including women — since women are people equally capable of absorbing their cultural milieu), a relationship between an adolescent girl and an adult man doesn’t seem like that big a deal. Even many people who consider 14 to be too young to date or marry a man in his 30s only see it as a matter of legality and/or infantilizing the 14-year-old as being too young to be exposed to sexuality (this being incompatible with the concept of childhood purity). These same people are more ok with a 16-year-old dating/marrying that same man (especially in states with a lower age of consent). Almost no one blinks at a 30-something man pursuing 18-19 year old girls in general.

And why should they? Every cultural artifact subtly trains us to accept some degree of men’s ownership or domination of women — it is literally inescapable. Even as Americans have come to see their pets as family members and to increasingly legislate for their humane treatment (and to pass harsh social judgement on people who treat their pets worse than the socially-accepted standard but not sufficiently badly to violate the law), we have come to expect the same sort of “nicety” in ownership of wives and children, but the inherent right to ownership is still softly implied, and the only points of disagreement, really, are local community standards. So yeah, in plenty of communities parents are perfectly fine with, and, indeed, welcoming of, their adolescent daughters being courted by older, established, high-status men. After all, if these daughters are meant to be owned, isn’t it better to hand them over to a stable, mature, kind and wealthy owner who can provide them with a good home, pamper them, and have more alternatives when it comes to extracting domestic labor from them? And just as it is easier to find a home for a puppy or a kitten, who, in addition to being extra adorable, also promise to be more trainable, and, due to their youth, free from the potential baggage of prior trauma (and therefore neurotic triggers needing to be accommodated) inflicted by abusive owners or bad habits fostered by neglectful ones, isn’t it easier to find a good future owner for your daughter while she is younger, firmer/tighter/bouncier, and more naive and unformed, making it easier for her to adjust to her future circumstances at the same time as it gives her new owner more power to mould her to his preferences?

The only reason you’d be outraged by an adult man repeatedly pursuing relationships with adolescent girls (and at least deeply suspicious if this happened on only one occasion) is if you believed that women’s inner lives were exactly as deep, interesting, and valuable as men’s, and that adolescent girls should, therefore, be given the opportunity to mature at their own pace, to both pursue their own educational and professional goals (as ends in themselves, not as a future financial asset to the families they will one day have) AND to explore their own developing sexualities and experiment without pressure (such as from a more socially competent adult seeking to mould them to satisfy his own, already formed desires). If that was the source of your objections, you’d see the age of consent laws as a very imperfect tool to try and protect minors from predation by adults (usually, specifically adult males), rather than a silly PC rule constraining right-thinking red-blooded men from playing ball when grass has very obviously been on the field for years. In fact, if that was the source of your objections, you’d be more willing to make exceptions and take context into consideration, reasoning that an adolescent may well be interested in and pursue an adult, and, again, while any right-thinking adult would rebuff such advances as a matter of course, in some rare sets of circumstances, it would, at least, not be unambiguously wrong for the adult in question to accept them (while everyone still agreeing that it IS unambiguously wrong for an adult to pursue an adolescent).

Much as some people love to insist that compromise is always possible, there’s really no middle ground between these two positions. Sure, you might have a perfectly reasonable conversation with someone where you agree that no one under 18 is old enough to get married, and that when women are educated they are healthier, happier, more satisfied with their lives, form more stable families, etc, and that male violence against women is unacceptable, and so on and so forth, but just because you agree on all of these “right on” socially acceptable virtue signalling “best practices” doesn’t mean you are actually seeing eye-to-eye. It is easy to overlook fundamental disagreements on first principles when everything is going well. It is only when norms are violated (but not always even then) that anyone even begins to question why those are the norms, how they became the norms, and whether everyone arrived at their agreement on what the norms are from the same starting point, and once you start debating those starting points, it really isn’t pretty: there’s no middle ground, you can’t agree to disagree, and there isn’t an agreed-upon arbiter to appeal to to settle the question once and for all.

So, sure, maybe everyone who frequents this blog will be outraged by Roy Moore kissing a 14-year-old when he was in his 30s (I’m not aware of her name or if it’s even been released) and inviting her to fondle him, and maybe everyone here will be equally outraged both by his asking (at 34) a 17-year-old Debbie Gibson to date him AND by her mother’s reaction. But I am far too familiar with just how quickly most Americans, even if they superficially agree that women are people and the equals of men, reveal an alarming lack of follow-through when it comes to their expectations of what being full and equal humans actually entails when it comes to women. Honestly, I often question if ignorance isn’t bliss, and if it isn’t really better (if one is lucky enough, of course) to find a nice owner at 17 (or 18, or even 14) and sail through life without ever being made fully and repeatedly aware that almost everyone you meet will see you as no more than a cow, or, if they are really nice and liberal, perhaps a cat.



We see what you’re doing, but we can’t stop you

Nov 14th, 2017 12:13 pm | By

Trump plus Brexit. Putin is breaking everything.

Theresa May has accused Russia of meddling in elections and planting fake stories in the media in an extraordinary attack on its attempts to “weaponise information” in order to sow discord in the west.

The prime minister spoke out against “the scale and nature” of Russia’s actions during an address at the lord mayor’s banquet, saying it was “threatening the international order on which we all depend”.

Listing Russia’s attempts to undermine western institutions in recent years, she said: “I have a very simple message for Russia. We know what you are doing. And you will not succeed. Because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies, and the commitment of western nations to the alliances that bind us.”

I would love to be able to think that’s true, but I’m not. Brexit and Trump have made it impossible for me (and many others) to think that’s true.

The prime minister’s strong criticism of Russia’s activities comes in contrast to comments this weekend by Donald Trump, who said on Saturday that he believed Vladimir Putin’s denials of having meddled in the American presidential elections.

If Brexit were a person Brexit would be saying the same thing.

May did not say on Monday whether she was concerned with Russian intervention in any UK democratic processes, but Ben Bradshaw, a leading Labour MP, is among those to have called for a judge-led inquiry into the possibility that Moscow tried to influence the result of the Brexit referendum.

Russia has been accused of running “troll factories” that disseminate fake news and divisive posts on social media. It emerged on Monday that a Russian bot account was one of those that shared a viral image that claimed a Muslim woman ignored victims of the Westminster terror attack as she walked across the bridge.

This is why we can’t have nice things.



A giant stride toward the cliff

Nov 14th, 2017 11:12 am | By

Nothing corrupt and sleazy about this, oh hell no.

The Justice Department said Monday that prosecutors were looking into whether a special counsel should be appointed to investigate political rivals President Trump has singled out for scrutiny, including Hillary Clinton.

The department, in a letter sent to the House Judiciary Committee, said the prosecutors would examine allegations that donations to the Clinton Foundation were tied to a 2010 decision by the Obama administration to allow a Russian nuclear agency to buy Uranium One, a company that owned access to uranium in the United States, and other issues.

The letter appeared to be a direct response to Mr. Trump’s statement on Nov. 3, when he said he was disappointed with his beleaguered attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and that longstanding unproven allegations about the Clintons and the Obama administration should be investigated.

Any such investigation would raise questions about the independence of federal investigations under Mr. Trump. Since Watergate, the Justice Department has largely operated independently of political influence on cases related to the president’s opponents.

But now there’s a lying raping thief squatting in the White House, so fancypants ideas like “the independence of federal investigations” are a dead letter.

Although Mr. Sessions has recused himself from all matters related to the election, he and the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, will oversee the prosecutors’ decision to appoint the special counsel, the letter said.

It’s what autocrats and dictators do. It’s what Putin and Erdoğan and Mugabe do. It’s filthy.

During his Senate confirmation hearing this year, Mr. Sessions said he would not name a special prosecutor to investigate Mrs. Clinton even if ordered to do so by the president.

“This country does not punish its political enemies,” he told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Emphasis added.

Mr. Trump, who closely monitors the conservative news media ecosystem for ideas on how to attack his opponents, has cited reports from those outlets to aides and friends as examples for why a special counsel should be appointed.

One commentator in particular, the Fox News host Jeanine Pirro — who is a friend of Mr. Trump’s and whose show he rarely misses — has aggressively denounced Mr. Sessions as weak for not investigating the uranium deal. In addition to making scathing critiques on her show, Ms. Pirro — who had interviewed to be the deputy attorney general, according to three transition officials — recently met with the president to excoriate the attorney general.

In an Oval Office meeting on Nov. 1, Ms. Pirro said that a special counsel needed to be appointed, according to two people briefed on the discussion. Through a Fox News spokeswoman, Ms. Pirro said, “Everything I said to President Trump is exactly what I’ve vocalized on my show, ‘Justice with Jeanine.’”

So Fox News and a lying thieving fraud are running the country. Awesome.

Peter Baker points out how aberrant all this is.

President Trump did not need to send a memo or telephone his attorney general to make his desires known. He broadcast them for all the world to see on Twitter. The instruction was clear: The Justice Department should investigate his defeated opponent from last year’s campaign.

However they were delivered, Mr. Trump’s demands have ricocheted through the halls of the Justice Department, where Attorney General Jeff Sessions has now ordered career prosecutors to evaluate various accusations against Hillary Clinton and report back on whether a special counsel should be appointed to investigate her.

Mr. Sessions has made no decision, and in soliciting the assessment of department lawyers, he may be seeking a way out of the bind his boss has put him in by effectively putting the matter in the hands of professionals who were not politically appointed. But if he or his deputy authorizes a new investigation of Mrs. Clinton, it would shatter norms established after Watergate that are intended to prevent presidents from using law enforcement agencies against political rivals.

Emphasis added, again.

The request alone was enough to trigger a political backlash, as critics of Mr. Trump quickly decried what they called “banana republic” politics of retribution, akin to autocratic backwater nations where election losers are jailed by winners.

My point exactly.

“You can be disappointed, but don’t be surprised,” said Karen Dunn, a former prosecutor and White House lawyer under President Barack Obama who advised Mrs. Clinton during her campaign against Mr. Trump. “This is exactly what he said he would do: use taxpayer resources to pursue political rivals.”

Democrats still vividly recall Mr. Trump on the campaign trail vowing to prosecute Mrs. Clinton if he won. “It was alarming enough to chant ‘lock her up’ at a campaign rally,” said Brian Fallon, who was Mrs. Clinton’s campaign spokesman. “It is another thing entirely to try to weaponize the Justice Department in order to actually carry it out.”

He is – in his thinking, his rhetoric, his character, his innermost essence – a dictator. He clearly thought being president actually meant being a dictator, and he’s thrashing wildly against all the restraints. He’s going to destroy the place.

While presidents typically are not supposed to intervene in investigations or prosecutions of specific individuals, Mr. Trump’s calls for an investigation of Mrs. Clinton over the last several months have been repeated, insistent and not even slightly subtle.

“So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?” he wrote on Twitter in July.

“There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out,” he wrote in October. “DO SOMETHING!”

“At some point the Justice Department, and the FBI, must do what is right and proper,” Mr. Trump wrote again in November. He added: “Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn’t looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary & the Dems.”

That’s a dictator raving.



In a purple Tuk Tuk

Nov 13th, 2017 3:33 pm | By

Aw, come on, don’t be silly. The Daily News:

Ja Du recently sat down with WTSP to discuss his racial identity, telling the outlet that although he was born a white man named Adam, he feels Filipino. He now identifies as transracial.

“Whenever I’m around the music, around the food, I feel like I’m in my own skin,” he said.

“I’d watch the history channel sometimes for hours you know whenever it came to that and you know nothing else intrigues me more but things about Filipino culture.”

You mean he sat down to discuss his very common experience of finding another culture fascinating and congenial. What’s that got to do with “racial identity”? Not a lot.

Although Ja Du can’t change the way he presents outwardly, he’s embraced all aspects of his identity as it relates to the way he lives his life.

He can often be found driving around his native Tampa, Fla., in a purple Tuk Tuk, a three-wheeled vehicle often used as public transportation in the Philippines.

The Daily News is probably being just a little sarcastic here. You can drive around Tampa or Tulsa or Tacoma in a purple Tuk Tuk all you like, it will never make you literally Filipino. I like marmalade; that doesn’t make me a citizen of the UK.

I think it’s a great thing when people are attracted to distant cultures, especially Americans, who are so at risk of thinking the US is the only country that matters. I also think it’s a great thing when people enrich their lives and expand their horizons by using their imaginations a lot, including to imagine different lives for themselves. I just don’t confuse that with actually being something you’re not. I also don’t think “identifying as” is a magic phrase that transforms people into whatever they claim to identify as.



Thieves welcome

Nov 13th, 2017 2:54 pm | By

Interesting. Julia Ioffe at the Atlantic reports that Don Trump Junior had a correspondence with Wikileaks.

The messages show WikiLeaks, a radical transparency organization that the American intelligence community believes was chosen by the Russian government to disseminate the information it had hacked, actively soliciting Trump Jr.’s cooperation. WikiLeaks made a series of increasingly bold requests, including asking for Trump’s tax returns, urging the Trump campaign on Election Day to reject the results of the election as rigged, and requesting that the president-elect tell Australia to appoint Julian Assange ambassador to the United States.

Much of the time Don Two ignored them, but not all the time.

According to a source familiar with the congressional investigations into Russian interference with the 2016 campaign, who requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, on the same day that Trump Jr. received the first message from WikiLeaks, he emailed other senior officials with the Trump campaign, including Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Brad Parscale, and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, telling them WikiLeaks had made contact. Kushner then forwarded the email to campaign communications staffer Hope Hicks. At no point during the 10-month correspondence does Trump Jr. rebuff WikiLeaks, which had published stolen documents and was already observed to be releasing information that benefited Russian interests.

on October 12, 2016, the account again messaged Trump Jr. “Hey Donald, great to see you and your dad talking about our publications,” WikiLeaks wrote. (At a rally on October 10, Donald Trump had proclaimed, “I love WikiLeaks!”)

“Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us,” WikiLeaks went on, pointing Trump Jr. to the link wlsearch.tk, which it said would help Trump’s followers dig through the trove of stolen documents and find stories. “There’s many great stories the press are missing and we’re sure some of your follows [sic] will find it,” WikiLeaks went on. “Btw we just released Podesta Emails Part 4.”

Trump Jr. did not respond to this message. But just 15 minutes after it was sent, as The Wall Street Journal’s Byron Tau pointed out, Donald Trump himself tweeted, “Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest! Rigged system!”

That telltale 15 minutes is being seen as a big deal.

In the winter and spring, WikiLeaks went largely silent, only occasionally sending Trump Jr. links. But on July 11, 2017, three days after The New York Timesbroke the story about Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with connections to Russia’s powerful prosecutor general, WikiLeaks got in touch again.

“Hi Don. Sorry to hear about your problems,” WikiLeaks wrote. “We have an idea that may help a little. We are VERY interested in confidentially obtaining and publishing a copy of the email(s) cited in the New York Times today,” citing a reference in the paper to emails Trump Jr had exchanged with Rob Goldstone, a publicist who had helped set up the meeting. “We think this is strongly in your interest,” WikiLeaks went on. It then reprised many of the same arguments it made in trying to convince Trump Jr. to turn over his father’s tax returns, including the argument that Trump’s enemies in the press were using the emails to spin an unfavorable narrative of the meeting. “Us publishing not only deprives them of this ability but is beautifully confounding.”

The message was sent at 9:29 am on July 11. Trump Jr. did not respond, but just hours later, he posted the emails himself, on his own Twitter feed.



If she can walk she can marry

Nov 13th, 2017 11:57 am | By

There’s a reason adult men are attracted to teenage girls, in addition to the whole tight young flesh thing.

When Roy Moore, then 34 years old, asked 17-year-old Debbie Wesson Gibson if she would date him, Gibson asked her mother what she would think.

According to The Washington Post’s investigation into Moore’s pursuit of teenage girls, which was published Thursday, Gibson’s mother replied, “I’d say you were the luckiest girl in the world.”

That attitude of encouraging teenage girls to date older men, rather than shielding girls from men’s advances, sounded familiar to some people who read the Post story that has shaken Moore’s bid for the U.S. Senate.

“It’s not so uncommon that people would necessarily look at it askance,” said Nicholas Syrett, a University of Kansas professor who recently published a book on child marriage in America. “The South has a much longer history of allowing minors to marry, and obviously there’s some courtship or dating — whatever you want to call it — leading up to that.”

The younger you imprison them, the more malleable they are.

That courtship of underage girls is especially common in conservative religious communities.

“We should probably talk about how there is a segment of evangelicalism and home-school culture where the only thing Roy Moore did wrong was initiating sexual contact outside of marriage. [Fourteen-year-old] girls courting adult men isn’t entirely uncommon,” Kathryn Brightbill, who works for the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, tweeted on Friday, prompting a flurry of responses from other people who also had watched teenagers date much older Christian men.

Does the word “patriarchy” ring a bell? Husbands are supposed to take over from fathers, and both are supposed to keep the flighty brainless hotblooded little thing in line.

Ashley Easter, who grew up in a fundamentalist Baptist church where courting was the norm for teenagers, said, “That was the first thing I thought of with Roy Moore.” In her church community in Lynchburg, Va., Easter said, fathers had complete control over whom their daughters were allowed to date, and she could see how a father might set his teen daughter up with a much older man.

“A woman’s role is to be a wife, a homemaker and someone who births children. The man’s role is generally to be established and someone who provides the full income,” said Easter, who runs the Courage Conference for survivors of church sexual abuse. “It may take longer for a man to reach stability. While a woman of 15 or 16, if she’s been trained for a long time looking after her younger siblings, in their eyes she might be ready for marriage.”

And that way she’s locked in early, so it will be harder for her to get out if she ever develops a mind of her own.

Easter said she experienced this courtship culture herself. As a woman in a fundamentalist Christian church who was expected to remain under her father’s roof until he handed her over to her husband, Easter became a “stay-at-home daughter” after high school. She said she understood the pressure a teenager might feel to marry an older man as a way to gain some measure of independence.

Easter left her fundamentalist community four years ago, at age 21, after breaking off a relationship with a man her father had selected for her. Now, she helps run the Courage Conference, a gathering of people who have left abusive religious communities, and listens to the struggles of the women who attend. “Their lives are very difficult now that they’ve gotten free. When you have never learned to make your own choices — you haven’t learned how to be in charge of your life. Working through that can be very scary,” she said.

But maybe not as scary as being married to Roy Moore.



Smash your own stuff, that’ll show them!

Nov 13th, 2017 11:37 am | By

This is pretty funny. Hannity defends Roy Moore, Media Matters urges Keurig (a maker of coffee machines) to stop advertising on Hannity’s show, Keurig obliges, Hannity fans…smash up their own Keurig coffee machines.

Keurig — along with four other advertisers, including Realtor.com and Nature’s Bounty — pulled their ads from the program. But Hannity’s defenders singled out Keurig’s decision, and #BoycottKeurig was born.

And perhaps because Keurig coffee machines are a rather infrequent purchase and so difficult to boycott, the movement turned into a series of Twitter videos of people smashing their coffee makers to pieces.

Damn, do any car makers advertise on Hannity? Because that would be even funnier.

Take that, vile coffeemaker machine!



Another tyrant BFF

Nov 13th, 2017 9:26 am | By

Trump does love human rights violators.

President Trump said on Monday that he had a “great relationship” with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, making little mention of human rights at his first face-to-face meeting with an authoritarian leader accused of carrying out a campaign of extrajudicial killings in his nation’s war on drugs.

In a stark break from past practice by American presidents, who have pressed foreign leaders publicly and privately about allegations of human rights abuses, Mr. Trump instead pursued his own transactional style of diplomacy, dwelling mostly on areas of common ground during his meeting with Mr. Duterte. On the sideline of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit meeting, Mr. Trump focused on combating the Islamic State and illegal drugs as well as on trade issues, the White House said.

Making “deals.” It’s what he knows.

“Human rights briefly came up in the context of the Philippines’ fight against illegal drugs,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.

But Mr. Duterte’s spokesman denied that the subject of rights was ever broached, even as the Philippine president spoke about the “drug menace” in his country.

Mr. Trump “appeared sympathetic and did not have any official position on the matter and was merely nodding his head, indicating that he understood the domestic problem that we faced on drugs,” said Harry Roque, Mr. Duterte’s spokesman. “The issue of human rights did not arise; it was not brought up.”

Could it be that Sarah Sanders lied? It wouldn’t be the first time.

Now here’s a jaw-dropper:

The meeting also highlighted the potential conflicts of interest inherent in Mr. Trump’s position as both a president and a global real estate developer. Among those at the private session was Jose E. B. Antonio, a developer who is Mr. Trump’s partner on a $150-million, 57-story luxury tower in Manila’s financial district and also serves as Mr. Duterte’s trade envoy to the United States.

What? How can that be allowed?

As journalists shouted questions about whether Mr. Trump would press Mr. Duterte on human rights, the Philippine president quickly silenced them.

“Whoa, whoa — this is not the press statement,” Mr. Duterte said. “We are in a bilateral meeting.”

“You are the spies,” he told the reporters, as Philippine security personnel jostled some of them roughly. The remarks elicited a hearty laugh from Mr. Trump before the journalists were led out of the room.

Meanwhile police were attacking protesters in the streets of Manila.

White House officials have said that Mr. Trump has a “warm rapport” with Mr. Duterte, with whom he has spoken and exchanged letters since taking office, and that he wants to mend the American-Philippine alliance after strains during the Obama administration.

“President Trump specifically said he has always been a friend of the Duterte administration, unlike the previous administrations of the United States,” Mr. Roque said on Monday. “He stressed that he can be counted upon as a friend of the Duterte administration.”

Of course he did. He loves tyrants and rights-abusers. He loves the Saudis, he loves Erdoğan, he loves Putin – naturally he loves Duterte.



Jesus plus 9mm Glock

Nov 12th, 2017 5:22 pm | By

Hmmno thanks. A Fox source in Phoenix:

A group that call themselves “God’s Army” is patrolling Valley streets, in the name of Jesus.

The group consist of former police officers and military members, and claims to have about 50 members.

They look like police officers, but their uniforms say “God’s Army” and “Jesus”. Richard Tamayo  used to be a New York City police officer. Now, he’s “walking the beat” in North Phoenix.

“We are prior military, law enforcement background and experience,” said Tamayo. “We go out in the street wearing this uniform, glorify Jesus, go in areas affected by crime.”

Just like the Taliban or the Saudi mutaween.

Tamayo says his goal is to call 911 with tips, so police can make arrests. He adds he’s not looking for trouble.

If it comes, however, Tamayo said he is ready.

“I have handcuffs, mace, magazine, 9 mm Glock,” said Tamayo.

Gosh, kids, it’s just like a Western in the moooovies!



Not qualified

Nov 12th, 2017 3:22 pm | By

Despite being an incompetent idiot, Trump is ruining everything.

Brett J. Talley, President Trump’s nominee to be a federal judge in Alabama, has never tried a case, was unanimously rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Assn.’s judicial rating committee, has practiced law for only three years and, as a blogger last year, displayed a degree of partisanship unusual for a judicial nominee, denouncing “Hillary Rotten Clinton” and pledging support for the National Rifle Ass[ociati]n.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee, on a party-line vote, approved him for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.

Civil rights groups and liberal advocates…denounced Thursday’s vote, calling it “laughable” that none of the committee Republicans objected to confirming a lawyer with as little experience as Talley to preside over federal trials.

“He’s practiced law for less than three years and never argued a motion, let alone brought a case. This is the least amount of experience I’ve seen in a judicial nominee,” said Kristine Lucius, executive vice president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

But it’s one of Trump’s core beliefs: that any damn fool who wanders by can be president or a federal judge…provided he [it has to be a he] is right-wing enough.



Boys’ night out

Nov 12th, 2017 11:38 am | By

Oh gee, mark your calendars. “Sargon of Akkad” aka Carl Benjamin is doing a star appearance at Conway Hall (of all places) next month.

Sargon of Akkad presents:

“This Week in Stupid Live” – An Evening with Sargon of Akkad

Friday 15th December @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

A snip at £10.

Carl “Sargon of Akkad” Benjamin is a popular independent Vlogger with over 700,000 subscribers on YouTube.

Carl critiques ideological arguments and his channel is dedicated to rational arguments backed by evidence.  Sometimes a polemicist, at other times soft spoken, Sargon of Akkad has created a considerable amount of content regarding skeptical thought. The evening will be spent discussing politics, philosophy and the endless idiocy of the extremes of each political wing.

That’s not his real claim to fame though, is it. His real claim to fame is bullying women on social media, especially Twitter.

In May 2016, in response to Labour Party politician Jess Phillips‘ statement that rape threats are commonplace for her, Benjamin said “I wouldn’t even rape you” in a YouTube video and repeated this on Twitter.[2][5][8][13] Benjamin declined to apologise for the comments.[13]

Twitter suspended him.

Image result for sargon of akkad jess phillips

Conway Hall isn’t just a building, it isn’t just a generic hall that hosts anything and everything.

The Conway Hall Ethical Society, formerly the South Place Ethical Society, based in London at Conway Hall, is thought to be the oldest surviving freethought organisation in the world, and is the only remaining ethical society in the United Kingdom. It now advocates secular humanism and is a member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

Secular humanism. Ethical society. Not a good fit for aggressively rude men who bully women.

Conway Hall must not have been paying attention.