Mar 30th, 2020 4:35 pm | By

The latest scandal is much scandal, very shock, many outrage.

Elton John referred to the boring show biz “personality” Sam Smith as “him” and “he” and the world lurched out of orbit and crashed into the sun.

Sam Smith is the one with the beard.

How are people supposed to remember to call him “them” when he looks so exactly what we’ve all grown up calling “a man”?

He looks like a man, and he has always been a man until just recently when he decided he “identifies as” non-binary, which doesn’t mean anything. I could “identify as” four-legged, but that wouldn’t make it true. He looks like a man so Elton John referred to him as such. So what? Who cares? What does it matter? Especially now?


Don’t live in a Republican state

Mar 30th, 2020 3:33 pm | By

Jonathan Chait notes that it’s been difficult to get Trump to take the virus seriously. He’s not the only one; Republicans elsewhere are brushing it off as a mere case of the sniffles.

Republican governors in several states have downplayed the virus, either refusing to enforce social-distancing measures or even overruling local officials who attempt to do so. A new study finds that the single factor that best explains the speed of state-level reaction is its governor’s partisan identity. “States with Republican governors and Republican electorates delayed each social distancing measure by an average of 2.70 days,” the authors find, “a far larger effect than any other factor, including state income per capita, the percentage of neighboring states with mandates, or even confirmed cases in state.”

So medical science is a libbrul conspiracy?

Having a television-addled president with the memory and long-term planning capabilities of a fruit fly is deeply unhelpful. But there is more behind Trump’s intermittent disregard for the virus’s danger than simple Trumpiness. As is often the case when analyzing any of the horrors of the Trump era, Trump’s coronavirus response combines his idiosyncratic personality disorders with ingrained pathologies of the conservative movement.

Two weeks ago, Richard Epstein, one of the movement’s most prestigious intellectuals, wrote a contrarian analysis of the pandemic. Epstein argued that conventional models were dramatically overstating the pandemic risk, and predicted the coronavirus would ultimately claim a mere 500 American lives…

It was obvious almost immediately that Epstein horribly botched his projection. (The American death toll is already several times higher than he forecast, and the Trump administration’s current, most optimistic prediction forecasts some 400 times as many deaths.) In an interview with Isaac Chotiner, Epstein reveals himself as hopelessly out of his depth. He repeatedly claims the coronavirus is bound to weaken as it spreads, a claim he does not substantiate, and which is contradicted by all (real) experts. He confidently asserts that Bill Gates has endorsed his bottom-line conclusion, which is the opposite of the truth. Epstein’s model turns out to have been essentially made up out of thin air.

Maybe that’s what attracts Republicans – the freedom to just make shit up.

The skepticism has run up and down the food chain of right-wing discourse. The National Enquirer has hawked fake coronavirus cures. The Federalist published a column by a retired dermatologist urging readers to hold coronavirus parties to contract the disease intentionally, because it worked on chicken pox.

Now they’re arguing that the success of steps taken to contain the virus shows that there’s no need to contain the virus.

It is literally as if your mo[ther] warned you you’d get wet if you didn’t carry an umbrella, made you carry an umbrella, and then you claimed that the fact that you stayed dry under it disproved her prediction.

For anybody who has closely followed the world of conservative ideas for the last few decades, it would come as little surprise to see such simple errors undergirding the conclusions of even the most esteemed minds the movement has to offer. Conservatism has built an alternative-fact universe, in which pseudo-experts can confidently explain why tax cuts will increase revenue, Obamacare will fail to increase health-insurance coverage, greenhouse-gas emissions will not warm the planet, and on and on.

It’s libertarianism. Science is not the boss of me! Too bad the left is just as bad. “A woman is anyone who identifies as a woman!”

Dude, your hand

Mar 30th, 2020 11:30 am | By

Of course he did.

Guest post: Panopticon-based policing

Mar 30th, 2020 11:06 am | By

Originally a comment by latsot on Put out that light!

The one guy should have just visited his dad without posting about it on social media

Should? Why? He did nothing wrong.

While no harm was arguably done in this case, this kind of oppressive, bullying security theatre should concern us greatly. Panopticon-based policing is always open to abuses of the worst kind and to institutionalised inhumanity.

We tread a fine line with surveillance, particularly when it’s technologically-enabled. Having CCTV cameras everywhere is one thing when they are only used to forensically examine crime scenes (even when they radically expand the notion and boundaries of crime scenes) but CCTV linked to face-recognition software and used for pre-emptive police action is quite another. But the latter inevitably flows from the former unless we’re really, really careful and history shows that we’re not. Hell, that tweet shows that we’re not.

Surveillance inevitably becomes mass surveillance because it’s really useful to governments and because we can achieve it in small, easily defended steps. But it’s on a ratchet, of course, and once we’ve taken such a step, it’s almost impossible to step back again.

Just in case you don’t already think I’m being overly dramatic, here’s the obligatory Orwell reference:

There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live-did live, from habit that became instinct-in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.

The wrong cup of tea

Mar 30th, 2020 10:56 am | By

Boxing instruction:

World champion Billy Joe Saunders has had his boxing licence suspended by the British Boxing Board of Control after he released a video advising men how to hit their female partners.

In the video, Saunders uses a punch bag to explain how to react if “your old woman is giving you mouth” and showing how to “hit her on the chin”.

Woman talks, man beats her up. Fair?

He later apologised, saying he would “never condone domestic violence”.

Well that’s just silly. Telling men to hit women who talk is more than condoning domestic violence aka male violence against women, it’s giving men instructions in violence against women.

Speaking to Talksport on Monday, he said it was a “silly mistake” and he “obviously wasn’t thinking”.

Saunders added: “I didn’t mean for anyone to get upset about it. There are people dying all around the world with coronavirus and I was just trying to take the heat off that a little bit.

By telling men to beat up women who talk.

Maybe he thought he was being funny? But…you know…it’s a bit like white people “being funny” about lynching or enslaving black people. It’s a bit like German gentiles “being funny” about sending Jews to the showers.

“It clearly hasn’t done, my sense of humour is not everyone’s cup of tea.”

It’s not really about cups of tea though. Men beating up women isn’t really a rich source of humor, because it’s a thing that happens a lot and all the time. It’s not some weird thing men did back in the 13th century, it’s an evil thing way too many men do now.

They have an affinity

Mar 30th, 2020 10:18 am | By

This is the kind of labyrinth of circular reasoning people get themselves into when they decide reality is all in the mind.

Women are all totally different, there is no one thing that defines them, they can be anything, everything, nothing, they can be dandelion fluff or the scent of grilled mushrooms or a dream someone had but doesn’t remember – you can’t pin them down, you can’t say what they are, they are infinite – except for just this one magically exempt item: they all have an affinity with being members of the category woman.

A member of the audience asks: But if you can’t define woman, if they are all different, then what does “the category woman” mean?

Patiently, our sage replies – Women are all totally different, there is no one thing that defines them, they can be anything, everything, nothing, they can be dandelion fluff or the scent of grilled mushrooms or a dream someone had but doesn’t remember – you can’t pin them down, you can’t say what they are, they are infinite – except for just this one magically exempt item: they all have an affinity with being members of the category woman.

We may be here some time.

Monday night football

Mar 29th, 2020 11:50 am | By

He’s confirmed that the “press briefings” are not about the pandemic but about his “ratings” and the beautiful music he makes with that fiddle.

See you at 5 pm for more showboating and lying and display of ignorance and psychotic attacks on journalists! Ratings, baby! Woohoo!

The Nero from Queens

Mar 29th, 2020 11:36 am | By

There may be a cause and effect thing here. Early this morning Nancy Pelosi told Jake Tapper that Trump is fiddling while people are dying.

So naturally, being the disordered toxic narcissist he is, he decided to show us how fiddly he can be.

They say that Nero fiddled while Rome burned… | J. Morris Hicks ...

What he’s doing for us now

Mar 29th, 2020 11:20 am | By

Put out that light!

Mar 29th, 2020 10:26 am | By

Big cop is watching YOU.

But it was essential.

Wales Online has more details:

South Wales Police has told off Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock for celebrating his former Labour leader dad Neil Kinnock’s birthday as “non-essential” travel in the coronavirus crisis.

Remember Neil Kinnock? He wrote the speech that Joe Biden plagiarized that time.

Mr Kinnock posted a picture of himself with his parents two metres apart as they marked the occasion with his wife, former Prime Minister of Denmark Helen Thorning-Schmidt.

No doubt that’s why the cops scolded them. A former UK PM leader of the opposition, a former Danish PM, and an MP, all in one go – who could resist?!

Just say no

Mar 28th, 2020 4:23 pm | By

Seriously? Now?

“Boosting the immune system” into a cytokine storm maybe?

Heads up!

Mar 28th, 2020 2:24 pm | By

Spot the problem.

Another notch on the Twitter barrel

Mar 28th, 2020 11:43 am | By

Meanwhile fans of “the boss” succeed in getting a woman fired for being critical of Trump in public.

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center [in Buffalo] has terminated a top executive for Facebook posts that bashed President Trump’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Laura Krolczyk, Roswell Park’s vice president for external affairs, was initially placed on administrative leave from her position but was fired following the conclusion of an investigation into her remarks, spokeswoman Annie Deck-Miller confirmed Saturday.

I did a search on Facebook and found a slew of posts demanding her firing. I wonder how many of them are Russian influencers.

Laura Krolczyk, Roswell Park’s vice president for external affairs, was initially placed on administrative leave from her position but was fired following the conclusion of an investigation into her remarks, spokeswoman Annie Deck-Miller confirmed Saturday.

Hauptman Woodward Medical Research Institute has placed Lisa LaTrovato, its director of development, on leave for her comments in the Facebook exchange with Krolczyk, the institute told The Buffalo News.

Is flattery of Trump a condition of employment now?

The institutions acted after the exchange between the two drew criticism once Republican operative Michael Caputo shared it widely through his Twitter account on Friday.

Also Facebook. He has post after post stirring up the trumpists.

The exchange – according to screen grabs posted by Caputo – began when Krolczyk posted a link to an article by the Hill news site about the Trump administration’s reluctance to pay $1 billion to General Motors and Ventec for ventilator production.

In other words, about the fact that Trump is obstructing efforts to contain the virus and save those who have it.

Krolczyk replied: “Trump supporters need to pledge to give up their ventilators for someone else … and not go to the hospital.”

LaTrovato responded: “I think they should be the only ones in packed churches on Sunday.”

Krolczyk then said: “They should barricade themselves in there and ride this out.”

Caputo shared the exchanges and urged his 37,000 Twitter followers to raise their concerns directly with the two institutions.

“Is it your public health policy to assure Trump voters are infected with COVID?” Caputo asked of the two organizations.

It’s not clear to me that the posts were public or that Krolczyk’s employer was public – that is, that random people looking at her Facebook could either see those posts or tell that she worked for a health care facility. It’s therefore not clear if it’s anyone’s business what she says to friends on Facebook. But Caputo succeeded in getting her fired.

Roswell Park responded a short time later with a statement saying the remarks by Krolczyk, who was not named, were “inappropriate.”

“They do not reflect the opinions of Roswell Park or its senior leadership,” CEO Candace S. Johnson said in the statement, adding that the institution supports the Covid-19 response of Trump and his administration.

Well then the institution supports negligent mass homicide, so I wouldn’t want to go there for health care.

Mayor Pustule

Mar 28th, 2020 11:12 am | By

Jesus christ.


That’s not what a president is. Trump is not an extra-big cop. He’s not our boss. He doesn’t hire or fire us, he doesn’t give us tasks to perform, he doesn’t call us into his office. He’s not our boss.

He’s not the boss of governors, either. Yes he’s the executive of the whole country, but that doesn’t mean the governors work for him, and they don’t work for him. He’s not the boss.


This is a pandemic. People are dying like flies. This is a dire national emergency. Governors need what they need for the people of their states, and Trump should not be paying one single instant of attention to whether they are obsequious enough to him or not.

Third, Trump is the worst person on earth, and anyone who goes on tv to defend his extortion of governors during a national emergency for the better pampering of his own bulbous ego is the second worst person on earth.

The governor of Washington and the woman in Michigan

Mar 27th, 2020 3:58 pm | By

He’s doing the daily rally. It’s so awful I can’t not share some of the awful. (I’m not watching. I’m just getting the awful via reporters on Twitter. I can’t bear watching.)

There’s a pandemic, and he refuses to call governors who don’t suck up to him enough.

If the governor doesn’t suck his dick the people die.

I want him to die.

Updating to add: here he is saying it.

The stuff of nightmares

Mar 27th, 2020 3:37 pm | By

He really thinks he’s a god-emperor.

Also why is he bragging about doing something he should have done WEEKS ago?

How I wish he would just drop dead.

They’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan

Mar 27th, 2020 12:04 pm | By

Trump is withholding assistance from governors who don’t kiss his ass.

In case you missed it, El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago went on teevee with Sean Hannity on Thursday night and explained in rather precise detail how his pandemic shakedown is going to work. For example, he is not happy with Gretchen Whitmer, the Democratic governor of the state of Michigan, where Detroit has become a hot zone in which hospitals are overwhelmed and already preparing contingency plans to triage patients in order to ration things like ventilators. In several appearances addressing the crisis in her state, Whitmer has been critical of the federal response—or lack thereof—to the pandemic. The president* told Hannity:

“She is a new governor, and it’s not been pleasant … “We’ve had a big problem with the young — a woman governor. You know who I’m talking about — from Michigan. We don’t like to see the complaints…She doesn’t get it done, and we send her a lot. Now, she wants a declaration of emergency, and, you know, we’ll have to make a decision on that. But Michigan is a very important state. I love the people of Michigan.”

Whitmer, meanwhile, in an interview with WWJ Newsradio in Detroit, explained what being on the business end of the pandemic shakedown was like.

“What I’ve gotten back is that vendors with whom we’ve procured contracts — They’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan,” Whitmer said live on air. “It’s really concerning, I reached out to the White House last night and asked for a phone call with the president, ironically at the time this stuff was going on.”

So that’s fine. Trump is murdering people in Michigan for the sake of his own vanity, so that’s nothing to worry about.

On Wednesday, of course, talking to another Fox News meat puppet, Trump made the general outlines of the shakedown quite plain. From Business Insider:

“It’s a two-way street,” Trump said of his discussions with governors about providing their states with federal aid. “They have to treat us well also. They can’t say, ‘Oh gee, we should get this, we should get that.’ We’re doing a great job.” Trump used New York an example of how the federal government had put forward resources to support states. “We’re literally building hospitals and medical centers,” he said. “And then I hear that there’s a problem with ventilators — well, we sent them ventilators, and they could have had 15 or 16,000, all they had to do was order them two years ago. But they decided not to do it. They can’t blame us for that.”

They can’t say “we should get this”? Why not? They’re not saying it to Donald Trump the crooked hotel owner, they’re saying it to the federal government of a large rich country. Of course they can say “we should get [i.e. we need] this.” Presidents aren’t supposed to tell governors “we won’t give you what you need unless you kiss our ring.”

Define “local”

Mar 27th, 2020 9:16 am | By

I wasn’t the only one confused by the Derbyshire police rebuke of walking in an empty landscape. The government had to clarify.

The government has said people should “stay local” and not travel unnecessarily for exercise.

New advice clarifies that people must use “open spaces” near to home, where possible.

It follows confusion over whether people could drive places to go walking, running, or cycling.

Exercise is one of the few defined reasons that people in the UK are allowed to leave their home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Derbyshire Police sparked a heated debate on Twitter this week when it shared drone footage of people walking in the Peak District, with a warning that daily exercise should not involve long trips or journeys in the car.

I would like to point out here that it’s not clear that the Derbyshire police knew the people walking had taken a long trip to do it. Some people actually live in Derbyshire, I believe.

The prime minister, who has tested positive for coronavirus, said on Monday that people can take “one form of exercise a day” – either on their own or with people they live with. The government’s official guidelines list running, walking and cycling as examples.

But the initial guidelines did not advise if, or how far, people could travel in order to exercise.

While the new advice does go further, it does not explicitly define what counts as “local”, and whether or not people can use cars.

And for some people the Peak District is local.

The RAC said before the release of the latest goverment advice that people shouldn’t drive places to exercise, recommending instead that they use their gardens – where possible – or leave home “on foot or by bike”.

Superintendent Steve Pont, of Derbyshire Police, echoed this advice in an interview with the BBC’s Today programme.

“Every time you’re out in public, away from your home, there’s a possibility you might catch or pass on the virus,” he said.

But not much of one if you keep your distance from people, don’t touch stuff, and don’t touch your face. It still looks to me like a kind of reversion to the war, when travel was restricted, for the very compelling reason that fuel was in limited supply and crucial for not letting Hitler win. This isn’t that. Maybe there’s some point to saying let’s keep the risk of traffic accidents as low as possible while medical people are in emergency mode, but it seems a bit stretched to me. It’s not personal; I don’t have a car; I just think it’s a bit too much like the cops visiting people to accuse them of transphobia.

Submit or get out

Mar 27th, 2020 8:34 am | By

Pandemic or no pandemic, Labour is still busy getting rid of all these pesky women who don’t agree that men become women by saying some words.

Earlier this week, the Labour party – you remember, the party of fairness and kindness and compassion and equality – decided that it has no place for a woman who has worked tirelessly to protect women from abuse and to remind the world about murdered women who are so often ignored.

Let’s start with murdered women. There are quite a lot of them: 241 women were killed in England and Wales last year. Most of them are killed by men – men they know. Often this is taken as mundane, just one of those unremarkable facts of life (and death) that doesn’t make much news. Man kills woman is dog bites man, if you will.

Some people do think this is worth making noise about. You might know that every year, the Labour MP Jess Phillips reads out a roll-call of the dead, naming the women killed by men in the past year. Whether or not you share Phillips’ politics or think this issue is deserving of parliamentary time, you must concede that this simple act has both emotional power and political impact. It has helped push the often-neglected issue of domestic violence a little further up the agenda.

Which means it damn well is deserving of parliamentary time, if you ask me.

What you might not know is the name of the woman who collects those names. She is Karen Ingala-Smith and she runs the Counting Dead Women project, which does exactly that.

When Ingala-Smith isn’t counting and naming dead women, she runs a charity that provides refuge for women who have suffered physical and sexual abuse. In that capacity, she has given evidence to parliamentary inquiries, briefed politicians and worked with major corporate sponsors on issues around the murder of women. She’s won prizes from such sources as the National Diversity Awards and is doing a PhD in sociology in her spare time.

She was a Labour member for a long time but left the party in 2018 because of Jeremy Corbyn. Now that Corbyn has moved on she applied to rejoin.

And guess what the Labour party said to Karen Ingala-Smith? No. There is no place in the party for you.

Why? Why would Labour reject the membership of a woman who has devoted more than 25 years to protecting women from abuse and violence, and fighting for officials to focus on the abuse and murder of women?

We know why. It’s because men who say they are women are far more important than mere women who campaign to end violence against women.

In a letter dated March 24th, the Governance and Legal Unit at Labour HQ informed Ingala-Smith that she was not welcome in the party:

‘The information brought to our attention is that you have engaged in conduct online that may reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility based on gender identity.

Your application for membership of the Labour party has therefore been rejected.’

There you have it. It could hardly be any more stark. Men who claim to be women matter, and women who work to end violence against women do not matter. Pretend-women are everything and real women have to either bend the knee to them or be shunned.

It’s disgusting.

The qualities we most need

Mar 27th, 2020 8:08 am | By

It’s not just god who isn’t built for this, it’s also Trump.

The pain and hardship that the United States is only beginning to experience stem from a crisis that the president is utterly unsuited to deal with, either intellectually or temperamentally… The coronavirus pandemic has created the conditions that can catalyze a destructive set of responses from an individual with Trump’s characterological defects and disordered personality.

Yes but he pisses off the liberals, so it’s all worth it.

The qualities we most need in a president during this crisis are calmness, wisdom, and reassurance; a command of the facts and the ability to communicate them well; and the capacity to think about the medium and long term while carefully weighing competing options and conflicting needs. We need a leader who can persuade the public to act in ways that are difficult but necessary, who can focus like a laser beam on a problem for a sustained period of time, and who will listen to—and, when necessary, defer to—experts who know far more than he does. We need a president who can draw the nation together rather than drive it apart, who excels at the intricate work of governing, and who works well with elected officials at every level. We need a chief executive whose judgment is not just sound, but exceptional.

But that kind of chief executive wouldn’t piss off the liberals, so forget it. A pandemic is a small price to pay for the joy of pissing off the liberals.

The thing to understand about Donald Trump is that putting others before self is not something he can do, even temporarily. His attempts to convey facts that don’t serve his perceived self-interest or to express empathy are forced, scripted, and always short-lived, since such reactions are alien to him.

And that’s perpetually hard to grasp fully because it’s so alien to most people. Selfishness isn’t rare, but the complete inability to see past the self is.

This president does not have the capacity to listen to, synthesize, and internalize information that does not immediately serve his greatest needs: praise, fealty, adoration. “He finds it intolerable when those things are missing,” a clinical psychologist told me. “Praise, applause, and accolades seem to calm him and boost his confidence. There’s no room for that now, and so he’s growing irritable and needing to create some way to get some positive attention.”

I have a suggestion for that. He could resign.