Notes and Comment Blog


Don’t erase women

May 15th, 2019 3:23 pm | By

Amnesty’s brilliant decision to use Alabama’s murderous ban on abortion as an opportunity to ignore women by saying

Abortion bans like the one passed in Alabama are a violation of human rights. These bans will be deadly. They will endanger pregnant people’s lives.

is not going over well. Replies are uniformly furious.

  1. (Alan Henness []


Guest post: An attack on the idea of judgment

May 15th, 2019 2:48 pm | By

Guest post by Josh Slocum

The contemporary worship of the concept of being “inclusive” is in direct opposition to drawing boundaries. Personal boundaries, conceptual boundaries, physical boundaries.

It’s not merely a soft-hearted plea to be more helpful to others. It’s a disguised attack on the right of people to have any personal, emotional, or intellectual space. It’s an attack on the idea of judgment and discernment.

It’s an attack on the most basic foundations of being a healthy, confident person.

It’s also female socialization weaponized. Women are trained to deny themselves and their own needs. They’re encouraged to see virtue in the act of relaxing boundaries to give to others. This leads to many women believing that it’s immoral for others to draw boundaries.

In this way many women are not only participating in their own subjugation, they’re actively subjugating others. They chastise “non-inclusive” behavior in others as if it were an instance of violence or bigotry.

This is dangerous.



Terms that were insulting and offensive

May 15th, 2019 12:08 pm | By

I posted about Councillor Gregor Murray a couple of times last year, in reference to his habit of calling women “utter cunts” and “roasters” and similar. Now it’s gotten him suspended for two months.

Gregor Murray, who represents [Dundee’s] North East ward, was called before the Standards Commission for Scotland on Wednesday but did not appear in person.

The hearing panel found the councillor – who quit the SNP this week amid claims of “institutional transphobia” in the party – also broke ethical standards by using abusive and vile language to and directed at members of the public.

The councillor was alleged to have used “terms that were insulting and offensive during twitter exchanges with a member of the public, on gender related issues, in January and July last year and, as such, behaved in a disrespectful manner”.

In their judgement the panel said the councillor had abused the complainer by referring to her as a TERF (a pejorative term which stands for ‘trans-exclusionary radical feminist’).

Announcing the decision, panel chairwoman Ashleigh Dunn said Gregor Murray had broken the Councillors’ Code of Conduct in all complaints made.

Isn’t that interesting – they agree with us TERFs that “TERF” is a pejorative, and a harsh one at that. (If it were mild they probably wouldn’t have suspended him, I’m thinking.)

In a statement in response to the ruling, Gregor Murray pledged to take legal advice “as to what my next steps are, for when my health permits”.

The councillor said: “I am severely disappointed in the decision made today by the Standards Commission, which I believe to be a miscarriage of justice.

“I entirely accept that it is not appropriate for me to swear – I have apologised for this on numerous occasions, and have already accepted sanctions for doing so. I am also extremely worried by the precedent they have set that TERF is an offensive term.”

Oh yes? What about the precedent set by the innumerable tweets promising violence against “TERFs,” images of guns and knives and wire-wrapped baseball bats aimed at “TERFs,” banners and posters and T shirts threatening mayhem against “TERFs”? I guess he doesn’t worry about that at all? Useful to be male, isn’t it.

Updating to add:



Say our NAME

May 15th, 2019 11:25 am | By

God damn Amnesty.



Another back stabbed

May 15th, 2019 10:51 am | By

Another heretic shunned, this time by the group The Atheist Community of Austin.

Statement from the ACA Board of Directors

Recently, the ACA Board of Directors was made aware that guest co-host Stephen Woodford (YouTuber “Rationality Rules”) had made ignorant and transphobic videos and statements on his social media platforms in the weeks leading up to his appearances on ACA shows. We would like to make it clear that we do not share or condone his opinions or attitudes, and that we fully and actively support equal rights for the LGBTQIA+ community.

We acknowledge that the ACA did a poor job showing our support by allowing Mr. Woodford to make appearances on our shows without either addressing his controversial views on the air, or asking him to refrain from appearances until he released a clarifying statement on his channel. We also failed to communicate our feelings and intentions in a timely manner to our volunteers and fans.

We sincerely apologize for the pain and anguish our failings have caused our viewers, volunteers, and our ACA family all over the world. We love the trans community and are deeply distressed to have caused anyone harm. We have let you down, and we intend to do our best to earn back your trust.

The ACA is working quickly and diligently to ensure that this kind of mistake does not happen again. We will be coordinating with hosts, co-hosts, and staff to communicate any potential issues with a guest well in advance of when they are set to appear on any ACA production. The ACA will not knowingly allow any ACA production or publication to be used in a manner that’s inconsistent with our mission and position statements.

We would also love to hear from you, our ACA family. If you have any ideas or feedback on how we can do better, please email us at board@atheist-community.org

Sincerely,

Board of Directors
The Atheist Community of Austin

Woodford had made a video on the subject of transgender athletes; he now says he “made some mistakes” in that video, which I suspect means he violated some asserted orthodoxy or other as opposed to making a genuine (factual) mistake – but more to the point, he also says that making mistakes is not being “transphobic.”

There are currently 1.7 thousand comments on the Facebook post I linked to. I’ll sample a few.

  • I’d like to post a poll to simply aid the ACA leadership in understanding where those they represent stand. Just a simple yes or no, “Should ACA withdraw its statement and apologize to RR for characterizing him as transphobic?” However, they don’t seem to be letting any new threads like that which could be deemed critical of the ACA through moderation.
  • Very disappointed to see the way discussion is being squashed not just here but now with mass deleting of comments on the Talk Heathen show. Way to stay open to dialogue and discussion and criticism ACA.
  • Once again…thank you to the ACA for standing up for the trans community and not bending to the will of the endless cis dude parade.
    Feel free to reply, but I won’t be reading or responding.
  • I am looking forward to Stephen’s follow up video. Hopefully he can put the record straight.
    For the record I am 100% supportive of trans athletes competing as the gender they identify if fairness can be achieved for them and the athletes against whom they are competing.

I have to say something about that one. I would guess that everyone is 100% supportive of trans athletes competing as the gender they identify [as] if fairness can be achieved for them and the athletes against whom they are competing, but when it’s people with male bodies competing against women fairness can’t be achieved, which is the whole point.

  • Oh please. ‘XX women’ AKA cis non-intersex women do not get to police who identifies as a woman just because we happened to be born into a body that matches society’s ideals. Read about the term ‘TERFs’.
  • Inviting someone onto several of your shows, using them to gain increased audience figures, denouncing them as soon as they leave your sight, putting out hyperbolic statements without clarifying or supporting them and then censuring and limiting any debate on the topic is certainly something, but ‘brave’ might not be the word I use….

Some “community” huh?

H/t Aratina Cage



For every hateful message, there was one of gratitude

May 15th, 2019 9:39 am | By

Have you been wondering how the Red Hen restaurant has been doing since that day it asked Sarah Sanders to leave? Have you been wondering if the Trumpers have shut it down? They did try, but they failed.

Yet, as I kept opening the letters, I saw a pattern. For every hateful message, there was one of gratitude. For every angry accusation that our actions were driven by the inability to accept Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss, there was a note of thanks from someone lamenting Trump’s rollback of protections for marginalized people. What’s more, for every wish that our business die a painful death, there was a dollar bill or a generous check or an order for a gift certificate.

When we opened after a 10-day hiatus, our dining room was full. In the following weeks, people who had never been to the Shenandoah Valley traveled out of their way to eat with us. Hundreds of orders for our Red Hen spice blend poured in. And the love spread far beyond our door, as supporters sent thousands of dollars in donations in our honor to our local food pantry, our domestic violence shelter and first responders.

After nearly a year, I’m happy to say that business is still good. Better than good, actually. And besides the boost to our area charities, our town’s hospitality and sales revenue have gone up, too.

Live long and prosper, Red Hen.



War on women

May 15th, 2019 9:30 am | By

In Alabama women are officially not people, they are just incubators owned by men.

Alabama lawmakers voted Tuesday to ban virtually all abortions in the state — including for victims of rape and incest — sending the strictest law in the nation to the state’s Republican governor, who is expected to sign it.

The measure permits abortion only when necessary to save a mother’s life, an unyielding standard that runs afoul of federal court rulings. Those who backed the new law said they don’t expect it to take effect, instead intending its passage to be part of a broader strategy by antiabortion activists to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion nationwide.

And by the way to send a strong message to women that we are not people.

The Alabama bill, which passed 25-6, is even more restrictive than prior state-level abortion laws, and it includes a penalty of up to 99 years in prison for doctors who perform abortions. Six of the Senate’s Democrats voted against the bill — one abstained — and they staged a filibuster into Tuesday night after debating the bill for more than four hours, with senators discussing the role government should play in legislating what a woman can do with her body and the definition of life.

Republican Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth said in an interview before the vote that the debate was about the idea of “personhood” and whether a fetus has rights from the outset.

“Is it a life?” Ainsworth said. “I believe it is, and if it’s a life, you can’t have any exceptions.”

Is that so? I wonder what Ainsworth’s position on the death penalty is. I wonder what his view of war is. I wonder what approach he takes to police shootings.



Trump’s lapdog

May 14th, 2019 4:59 pm | By

Lindsey Graham is another very bad man.

Tens of thousands of social media users joined a call for Sen. Lindsey Graham’s resignation on Tuesday, after the South Carolina Republican publicly offered advice to Donald Trump Jr. about his recent congressional subpoena.

The president’s eldest son was subpoenaed in April to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about his contacts with Russia during the 2016 election, after twice backing out of planned testimony before the committee.

The subpoena prompted Graham—one of President Donald Trump’s closest allies—to tell Trump Jr. on Monday to refuse to answer the panel’s questions.

“You just show up and plead the Fifth and it’s over with,” Graham told reporters, according to The Washington Post.

Witness tampering anyone?

His project for today is trying to make it legal for Trump to imprison refugee children for five times longer than is legal now.



Out climbing the trees

May 14th, 2019 4:44 pm | By

Yesterday Fresh Air was an interview with Phoebe Waller-Bridge who created and wrote “Fleabag.” There was one especially interesting bit…

GROSS: So you went to a Catholic school for girls. How did the sex segregation work for you? And was this – like, how old were you when you were in Catholic school.

WALLER-BRIDGE: I went there when I was 11. My mum had felt it was very important from day dot that we had boys around (laughter), as well as our brother. And – ’cause my brother had his sisters around the whole time. And we had him. But it’s something about actually socializing. And so mum was really, really good about making sure that we had boys and girls around the house. So I had a lot of, like, guy friends growing up because of that. But then I also really love the camaraderie of being around girls. And I still do. You know, I think that – there’s something very special about that feeling. But looking back, it does feel odd. The exclusivity of it is – does feel odd.

GROSS: So right before you went to Catholic school when you were 6 until you were around 10 – and correct me if this is wrong because this is just something I read – that you dressed as a boy. You shaved your head and called yourself Alex. Now, looking back on those years, do you understand why you wanted to do that?

WALLER-BRIDGE: Yeah. And I still have the same impulse all the time. I mean, I feel like when I was – I remember growing up up until I was about – when I was about 11, 12 was when I started dropping Alex, and I was Phoebe again. But I just thought they just had more fun. I just wanted to be out climbing the trees and wearing comfortable clothes. And, you know, it didn’t feel like it was for me. And a lot of my friends were really into the dresses and the dolls and all that kind of stuff. It just wasn’t my bag. And the only – and it just seemed so – you kind of had to choose one or the other at that time. And I just definitely wanted to be climbing the trees and that kind of thing. So I had a friend called Maria (ph). And we both had really short and, yeah, shaved it at one point and wore boxer shorts and swimming trunks. And we were just boys. I remember going into Gap once when I was about 7 and the guy coming up to me when I was with my mum and said, so what does the young man want? And I was like, yeah – convinced.

GROSS: (Laughter). Do you think if that was happening today that your parents would wonder if you were trans?

WALLER-BRIDGE: I think my parents would’ve been exactly the same. You know, and they never had an issue with it. They never – they were just sort of like, sure. You’re Alex. Let’s take you to Gap, Alex (laughter). And I just remember it never being a problem. I mean, there’s, you know, the tomboy kind of thing. I mean, I wonder now if I had back then – if I had – because I was very, very fervent about it when I was younger, as well. It was like I just desperately wanted to a boy more than anything else. If it had been taken seriously maybe by my school or something and I’d spoken about those options – those options had been given to me – I probably would’ve jumped at it. But I don’t think my parents would’ve been any different. I think they’re just like, live and let live. And so I was very, very happy being a girl dressed as a boy as long as I was allowed to express myself that way and allowed to change my name and stuff. They were like, yeah, whatever makes you happy.

GROSS: So…

WALLER-BRIDGE: And then one day, I turn up, and I’m like, I’m Phoebe now. And they were like, welcome home (laughter).

And…is it fair to say that’s better? Is it fair to say it’s better to be relaxed about it that way and see what shakes out instead of going straight to the trans option at age 7 or 10 or 15? Is it fair to say it’s better, other things being equal, to reach adulthood without hormone treatments and/or surgery? To let your body do what it’s going to do?

GROSS: What made you change? When you went back to Phoebe, were you also changing the way you dressed? ‘Cause The nice thing about when you’re a girl or a woman – you can still wear a man’s clothes. And, you know, ’cause what are there? There are pants and jackets and shirts, you know, and T-shirts.

WALLER-BRIDGE: Yeah.

GROSS: They’re just kind of standard. When a man wears a dress, that’s making much more of a major statement than when a woman wears, like, jeans and a T-shirt, which both genders wear.

They do now, but fifty or sixty years ago a woman wearing jeans was still seen as a major statement, and twenty or thirty years before that even more so. It took a long time before that became unremarkable enough that girls could wear jeans to school and women could wear trousers at work.



For what is essentially a law-enforcement purpose

May 14th, 2019 3:29 pm | By

Trump’s lawyers are claiming that Congress can’t investigate Trump’s corruption.

Lawyers for President Donald Trump and the House clashed Tuesday in federal court over the extent of Congress’ power to investigate him in the first legal test of Trump’s effort to block sprawling probes of his finances and private business.

Trump wants a judge to prevent a congressional committee from obtaining financial records from his longtime accountant, Mazars USA.

He’s the president, dammit! He’s busy! He has a lot of Fox to watch, a lot of golf to play, a lot of ice cream to gobble, a lot of insult-tweets to tweet. He can’t be worrying about Congress finding out exactly how crooked he is.

Trump and his namesake businesses filed a lawsuit last month asking U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta to revoke a subpoena issued by the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Trump’s lawyers accused the Democratic-controlled committee of abusing their power and said there was no legislative purpose for the request.

Trump’s personal lawyer, William Consovoy, argued repeatedly that Congress was seeking the president’s financial information for what is essentially a law-enforcement purpose – which was outside its authority – rather than to work on legislation. The subpoena sought Trump’s financial records to look for inconsistencies in his financial disclosure forms, and whether he misstated his holdings for loans that could leave him beholden to foreigners.

If Consovoy’s theory is correct then we might as well admit that we’re a dictatorship right now.

At one point, Mehta asked whether Congress could investigate if the president was engaged in corrupt behavior in office.

“I don’t think that’s the proper subject of investigation as to the president,” Consovoy said, although executive agencies could be investigated.

Mehta sounded incredulous, asking whether Congress could have investigated Watergate, which led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation, and Whitewater, which led to President Bill Clinton’s impeachment.

That’s what they’re aiming for: total immunity from all investigations and checks of any kind. The rules of course will change if ever a Democrats manages to get elected despite all the gerrymandering and ballot-misplacing.



Perfectly

May 14th, 2019 12:21 pm | By

Now it’s Wray’s turn.

Donald Trump told reporters Tuesday he “didn’t understand” FBI Director Christopher Wray’s “ridiculous” answer that the FBI didn’t spy when looking into then-candidate Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 election.

“I didn’t understand [Wray’s] answer,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn. “I thought the attorney general answered it perfectly. So I certainly didn’t understand that answer. I thought it was a ridiculous answer.”

Trump has claimed the FBI “spied” on his campaign and that subsequent investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including by special counsel Robert Mueller, were part of an “attempted coup” against him. Attorney General Bill Barr has also pushed that narrative, telling lawmakers last month that “spying did occur.”

“Well, it’s not the term I would use. Lots of people have different colloquial phrases,” Wray said during testimony before a Senate appropriations subcommittee. “I believe that the FBI is engaged in investigative activity, and part of investigative activity includes surveillance.”

Barr is Wray’s boss, but on the other hand Barr is now thoroughly compromised. He can fire Wray but he can’t salvage his reputation. He must not care about the reputation.

Other former FBI officials have backed Wray’s stance. Former FBI Director James Comey told CBS This Morning earlier this month that the bureau “doesn’t spy” and that he “had no idea” why Barr used that language to describe agents’ investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign.

“I have no idea what [Barr’s] talking about. The FBI doesn’t spy. The FBI investigates,” Comey said.

No idea? None at all? I bet he does. Barr is talking about whatever it takes to shield Trump.



Gulf of Tonkin is it?

May 14th, 2019 11:39 am | By

Is Trump hoping to start a war with Iran?

Are they working on the pretext even now? There’s a hole in a Norwegian oil tanker anchored off the UAE.

The damage appeared relatively minor, and no one has been officially blamed.

And yet, there are growing fears that this mysterious, obscure incident could become a catalyst — accidental or otherwise — that inflames the already knife-edge tensions between the United States and Iran.

Or, rather, between Trump and those scary Mooooslim guys over there in the hot place.

Since his election in 2016, President Donald Trump and his team have consistently taken a more hawkish stance toward [Iran] than the Obama administration.

The president withdrew from a landmark deal designed to curb Iran’s nuclear program last year. Trump complained that, although Iran was complying, the agreement was too soft.

Then the U.S. deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf last week to counter alleged threats from Tehran.

And then settled down to wait. It didn’t take long.

What worries some experts in Europe is the bellicose rhetoric being exchanged between the U.S. and Iran.

Never mind who was behind Sunday’s attack, it is the mere uncertainty surrounding it, combined with the warlike words exchanged by both sides, that escalates the risk for some misunderstanding leading to war, so this theory goes.

“Regardless of whether these ships got hit by Iranians or not, the Americans and the Iranians have gotten themselves into this cycle where neither seems to be able to back down from making belligerent statements,” according to Michael Stephens, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank.

The tough talk employed by Trump, Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton carries significant and perhaps unintended and unforeseen risks, Stephens said.

Or perhaps intended and foreseen and hotly desired.

As the New Yorker magazine pointed out Monday, the U.S. does have “a long history of provoking, instigating, or launching wars based on dubious, flimsy, or manufactured threats.”

Perhaps the most famous of these were the disputed Gulf of Tonkin attacks in 1964 that led to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

Disputed? I think the correct word there is “wholly discredited.”

War with Iran would not be a good thing.



Influence? What influence?

May 14th, 2019 10:45 am | By

Rosenstein is dropping the mask.

Former deputy attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein on Monday defended his role in the firing of James B. Comey from the FBI and criticized the bureau’s former director as a “partisan pundit” — offering one of his most detailed public accounts of the hectic events that led to the appointment of Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel.

Partisan? Partisan in what sense? Comey was a lifelong Republican until Trump and the Republican enablers of Trump turned him off that party without turning him on to the other one. It can’t be called “partisan” for Republicans or conservatives to be disgusted by Trump and the party loyalty to Trump. Trump is a bad man, and that’s not a “partisan” issue. Harvey Weinstein supported Democrats; that doesn’t make me see Harvey Weinstein as not a bad man.

In prepared remarks, Rosenstein seemed to minimize the effect Comey’s firing could have had on the inquiry. He said that when a White House lawyer first told him Trump had decided to fire Comey, “Nobody said that the removal was intended to influence the course of my Russia investigation.”

Well they wouldn’t tell him that, would they. “Hi, Rod, the president has decided to fire Comey to fuck with your Russia investigation”; no, they wouldn’t have said that. Is that his alibi? It seems weak.

“I would never have allowed anyone to interfere with the investigation,” he asserted, though he conceded later that he “recognized that the unusual circumstances of the firing and the ensuing developments would give reasonable people cause to speculate about the credibility of the investigation.”

Ya think?

Rosenstein made clear, too, that he has been distressed by Comey’s recent commentary about him. He referred to a New York Times op-ed in which Comey suggested that Rosenstein and Attorney General William P. Barr had allowed their souls to be consumed by Trump.

“But now the former director is a partisan pundit, selling books and earning speaking fees while speculating about the strength of my character and the fate of my immortal soul,” Rosenstein said. “That is disappointing. Speculating about souls is not a job for police and prosecutors.”

Oh stop. Talk of selling the soul is a metaphor. and Comey’s disgust at Trump is not partisan. Talk about “disappointing”…



More filth

May 14th, 2019 10:16 am | By

Barr is doing what Trump hired him to do.

Attorney General William P. Barr has tapped John H. Durham, the U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut, to investigate the origins of the special counsel’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Barr picked Durham in recent weeks to work on the review, which is designed to ensure the U.S. government’s “intelligence collection activities” related to the Trump campaign were “lawful and appropriate,” a person familiar with the decision said.

That is, to search for some excuse to pretend that the U.S. government’s “intelligence collection activities” related to the Trump campaign were not “lawful and appropriate.”

In the weeks since the release of the report, Trump and his allies have launched a new rallying cry: “Investigate the investigators.”

Trump’s campaign is publicly calling for criminal investigations into former FBI officials and is making “spygate” fundraising pitches, seeking to turn the tables and transform the Russia investigation into a political asset instead of a liability.

And the new Attorney General is helping Trump and his allies and his campaign to do that. You wouldn’t think that would be the job of the US Attorney General, but in Trump world it is.



A willingness to question the project of democracy that Brown created

May 13th, 2019 4:58 pm | By

So now the Supreme Court might reverse Brown, too? Seriously?

Since April 2018, more than two dozen executive and judicial nominees have declined to endorse the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education. This week — one that marks the 65th anniversary of the landmark ruling that struck down legal apartheid in this country — the Senate is poised to confirm three of those judicial nominees to lifetime seats on the federal bench.

That is simply unacceptable.

I’ll say. It’s horrifying.

For nearly 65 years, the legal consensus around Brown was unequivocal. With its transformational opinion eviscerating segregation and codifying the modern contours of equal justice, Brown remained above partisanship, ideology and everything else.

Even the most conservative judges affirmed its centrality to our nation’s democratic character. At his 2005 confirmation hearing, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. repeatedly affirmed his agreement with Brown. That same year, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. explained that Brown “vindicated what the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment was supposed to mean, which was to guarantee equal rights to people of all races.” Just last year, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh described Brown as the “single greatest moment in Supreme Court history.”

But in April 2018, Trump judicial nominee Wendy Vitter bucked more than a half-century of unanimity by failing to offer support for the Brown decision. In response to Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s (D-Conn.) request for her position, Vitter said, “I don’t mean to be coy, but I think I get into a difficult area when I start commenting on Supreme Court decisions, which are correctly decided and which I may disagree with.” Judicial nominees such as Andrew OldhamNeomi Rao and Michael Park followed Vitter’s lead.

Why are they doing this?

The ugly truth is that declining to offer approval of Brown signals a willingness to question the project of democracy that Brown created — one in which African Americans and other marginalized groups compelled the federal courts to honor the spirit of equal justice embodied in the words of the 14th Amendment. And this isn’t just deeply troubling; it’s also downright dangerous.

Damn right.

The author of the piece, Sherrilyn Ifill, is president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.



Today’s “great honor”

May 13th, 2019 11:55 am | By

For today’s adventure in trending authoritarian we have Trump snuggling up to Orbán.

The Guardian adds:

So what’s so special about that Orbán meeting? Well for one thing it fits into a pattern of Trump cosying up to authoritarian leaders – see Vladimir Putin, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, to name but three.

Orbán, the far-right Hungarian prime minister, has been accused of attacks on the media, minorities and the courts. He was snubbed by both Barack Obama and George W Bush, while last year the European parliament voted to bring disciplinary proceedings against Hungary for putting the rule of law at risk.

As the New York Times put it: “[Orbán’s] welcome at the White House is seen by Mr Trump’s critics as emblematic of the president’s preference for strongman leaders who seek to undermine the liberal international order.”

Putin, Bolsonaro, MsB, also Xi, Kim, Netanyahu, Erdoğan, not to mention Joe Arpaio.



He’s already telegraphing it

May 13th, 2019 11:08 am | By

David Frum writes that if Trump had been smart – gosh these wild hypotheticals, huh? – he would have embraced the Mueller report, apologized for mistakes, promised to learn from them, condemned Russian interference, moved on.

But that is not the Trump way. The Trump way is to escalate, always.

Over the four weeks between the Barr letter and the release of the redacted Mueller report, Trump kept insisting that the Mueller report said more than it did. It said, in effect: We didn’t find sufficient evidence to charge your campaign with conspiracy, and our internal Department of Justice policies forbid us from charging you with obstruction. He wanted it to say: You did nothing wrong. He wanted it to say: Actually Donald, you were the real victim here—and Hillary Clinton the true criminal conspirator.”

Trump has tried to close that gap by lying about it—and by demanding that other people lie, too. When they don’t and won’t, Trump gets angry. And when Trump gets angry, he takes to Twitter.

Trump got extra angry Sunday night. Uncheered by Mother’s Day, the president launched into a sequence of rage tweets that included the line: “The FBI has no leadership.” Trump has fired one FBI director, James Comey, for looking into the Russia matter. He fired an acting director, Andrew McCabe, for the same apparent reason. Apparently, he is now gunning for the present director, Chris Wray.

Just keep firing and firing and firing until you get one who will obey. It’s slow work, but it’s got to be done.

What Trump means by leadership is compliance. He wants an FBI director who serves him personally the way Attorney General Barr has served him personally. So long as the FBI retains its integrity, Trump feels unsafe. He cannot close the case, because he keeps hearing scratching sounds from inside. He cannot move on, because he keeps looking back in fear. His next move? He’s already telegraphing it: another attack on the independence of law enforcement.

He doesn’t seem to realize that it makes a difference that we can see him doing it, because he keeps announcing that he’s doing it.



We are writing to inform you

May 13th, 2019 10:43 am | By

Pakistani authorities have a word with Twitter.

You know, the US, or Mississippi, or Little Rock could pass a law saying nobody is allowed to criticize the US. Such a law would not pass judicial review, but supposing for the sake of argument that it did – would that mean that people in Pakistan or Mexico or Somalia have to obey that law? Of course not. There’s such a thing as jurisdiction. The laws of one country don’t extend to the people of all other countries. In other words, who cares that some goons in Pakistan claim that that friendly panel of Jesus and Mo saying howdy “is in violation of Pakistan law”? Why does Twitter bother passing that on?

The heresy-sniffers are everywhere.



This is hell, nor are we out of it

May 12th, 2019 5:50 pm | By

This crap again.

The article is just a string of photos like that and the “reporter,” James Brinsford, saying why he doesn’t like each dress.

Note the ratio.

The replies are uniformly hostile.

People are so weird – sitting down in cold blood to put together a thing like this that is nothing but  bullying intended to make people feel bad – women, specifically. They go to an event, they dress up the way they have to, they pose obligingly for photos, wearing their biggest smiles – and along comes ratbag to say they all look like crap. Meanness for the sake of it.

We need to stop.



Rules and norms

May 12th, 2019 3:23 pm | By

Whoa, top class DARVO from the Trump gang!

The White House on Sunday decried Democratic-led congressional investigations, saying Democrats are refusing to abide by “rules and norms” that govern oversight authority as they issue subpoenas for documents the Trump administration refuses to hand over.

We’re not refusing to abide by “rules and norms,” you’re refusing to abide by “rules and norms.” So there!

“There are rules and norms governing congressional oversight of the executive branch, and the Democrats simply refuse to abide by them,” White House deputy press secretary Steve Groves said in a statement. “Democrats are demanding documents they know they have no legal right to see — including confidential communications between the President and foreign leaders and grand jury information that cannot be disclosed under the law.”

Last week, President Donald Trump invoked blanket executive privilege over special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report, preventing the House Judiciary Committee — which had previously subpoenaed the Justice Department for a full, underacted version of the report — from obtaining it.

Earlier Sunday, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff criticized the President’s move, saying on ABC’s “This Week” that there’s no basis for Trump using executive privilege to keep Democrats from obtaining the full report.

“But here, the Trump administration has decided to say a blanket no; no to any kind of oversight whatsoever, no witnesses, no documents, no nothing, claiming executive privilege over things that it knows there is no basis for,” he said.

No you did.