Notes and Comment Blog

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 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.

Escape clause

Nov 12th, 2017 9:35 am | By

Here’s a stunning item I missed a few days ago: Bill O’Reilly’s contract with Fox

contained a helpful provision stating that he “could not be dismissed on the basis of an allegation unless that allegation was proved in court.” The revelation stems from a proceeding of Britain’s Competition & Markets Authority (CMA), which is reviewing a bid by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox to assert control of the portion of satellite TV outlet Sky that it doesn’t already own. As part of the review, Jacques Nasser, a director of 21st Century Fox, gave testimony on the company’s inner workings.

And what astonishing workings: As Nasser told the story, there was a quick reaction to the accusations against former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who was sued by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson in July 2016. After a review of Ailes’s conduct, he was quickly ousted.

But BillO? Not so much.

Such a lightning response, however, wasn’t possible in the case of O’Reilly, Nasser told CMA, because of O’Reilly’s contract. Requiring sexual-harassment allegations to be proved in a court of law before dismissing the accused party — that’s a steep requirement. Analyses have shown that well above 90 percent of all civil cases are settled or dismissed before they reach a trial. Not only that, but a wealthy man like O’Reilly can use his assets to ensure that he’d never face a proven claim of sexual harassment.

It seems it was only because there were so many, and because word got out, and because 21st Century Fox got involved, and because there was a new contract, that Fox News was finally able to fire him.

As the New York Times reported in April, there were at least five settlements involving O’Reilly’s treatment of women, and several of them were negotiated directly between O’Reilly and the accuser. Those revelations triggered calls for action against O’Reilly advertisers, and the pressure forced Fox News to fire O’Reilly. The story stood right there for months, until the New York Times revealed last month that O’Reilly had in January agreed to another, astounding settlement with legal analyst Lis Wiehl for the sum of $32 million. Though O’Reilly’s bosses were aware of the Wiehl accusation, they were kept in the dark about the settlement amount. They re-upped with the newsman anyhow, in a four-year deal that paid him $25 million per year.

In response to that story, 21st Century Fox issued a statement saying, in part, “His new contract, which was made at a time typical for renewals of multi-year talent contracts, added protections for the company specifically aimed at harassment, including that Mr. O’Reilly could be dismissed if the company was made aware of other allegations or if additional relevant information was obtained in a company investigation.” In his remarks to the CMA, Nasser confirmed that “a clause was inserted to state that he could be dismissed on the grounds of an allegation against him without it having to be proved in court,” according to the summary provided by the CMA. From the looks of things, the contract that contained the court-proof provision was negotiated between Team O’Reilly and Fox News; the 2017 version was negotiated with greater input from 21st Century Fox.

It’s interesting to try to imagine how that discussion went.

That O’Reilly ever had a prove-it-in-court provision says a great deal about: 1) His lawyers, who knew how to protect him; 2) Fox News, which should have seen the provision as fair warning and a potential legal liability: “Fox lawyers and executives knew that this was a big issue if they were signing a contract with him with this type of provision,” says Banks; 3) The ways in which the legal system accommodates rich people; as premier thinker Tom Scocca wrote, settlements are a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for accused sexual harassers such as O’Reilly. And to think: O’Reilly has bashed this very system for unduly empowering complainants to bring frivolous complaints against celebrities.

And 4) the malignant Fox News culture of ratings. With very few scoops and little in the way of journalistic integrity, Fox News has always fended off the attacks of critics by pointing to its preeminence in the ratings. As the Fox News sexual-harassment saga drags on, we learn more and more about how low its executives will stoop in order to preserve this distinction.

Item 2 is a killer. They knew. They accepted that clause, so they knew. “Ok, you’re a ratings magnet, so sure, we’ll let you creep on women and get away with it. Love ya, mean it.”

Why the ambiguity about this

Nov 12th, 2017 8:59 am | By

To the surprise of no one, Brennan and Clapper say Trump is being played by his BFF Puteekins.

“By not confronting the issue directly and not acknowledging to Putin that we know you’re responsible for this, I think he’s giving Putin a pass,” former CIA director John Brennan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I think it demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint.”

Not his insecurities, his narcissism. He doesn’t have any insecurities. What you see is what you get: what looks like immovable conceit and grandiosity is just that. Trump is too stupid to have insecurities.

“He seems very susceptible to rolling out the red carpet and honor guards and all the trappings and pomp and circumstance that come with the office, and I think that appeals to him, and I think it plays to his insecurities,” Clapper said.

Or, rather, his ravenous ego.

Trump told reporters traveling with him in Asia that Putin had assured him at a conference in Danang, Vietnam, on Saturday that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, and he indicated that he believed Putin was sincere.

Later, in a news conference Sunday in Hanoi with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, Trump appeared to be trying to parse his earlier remarks, saying, “What I said is that I believe [Putin] believes that.”

In his earlier remarks to reporters, Trump also referred to Brennan and Clapper as “political hacks.” Brennan said Sunday that he considers Trump’s characterization “a badge of honor.”

Well, yes; if Trump says nice things about you it’s time to worry. But from a national and global perspective, it’s not so great.

Both men were highly critical of Trump for not saying more definitively that Putin was behind the Russian interference in the U.S. election, a conclusion strongly endorsed by the U.S. intelligence community.

“I don’t know why the ambiguity about this,” Brennan said. “Putin is committed to undermining our system, our democracy and our whole process. And to try paint it in any other way is, I think, astounding, and, in fact, poses a peril to this country.”

Astounding and, to put it bluntly, treasonous. Trump is trying to defend Putin for his own warped reasons, when Putin is bent on damaging the US and democracy as surely as if he were throwing bombs at us.

President Lemurwig is agitated

Nov 11th, 2017 5:35 pm | By

Uh oh he’s found the Twitter again.

Yes, that’s the way to work out policy: call everyone names on Twitter.

He wants to talk about spelling? Really? When he just spelled “they’re” as “there”?

Also, the name calling. Fake News, Crooked Hillary, zero chemistry. This is our head of state.

But he saved the best for last.

No comment necessary.

Trump starts second grade on a high note

Nov 11th, 2017 10:44 am | By

He might as well be six years old.

Q You seem to have a fairly warm relationship with a number of —


Q — totalitarian or authoritarian leaders —


Q And others. So, Putin, Xi, leader of the Philippines. Do you think you — what do you think — do you think you understand them in a certain way or relate to them in a way that other Presidents haven’t?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I dont know. They had a story today in one of the papers about China. China likes me. China likes me. And I get along with them; I get along with others too.

I get along very well with Angela. You people don’t write that. I actually get along really well with Angela. You know, they had that handshaking event. I was with her for a long time before that. And somebody shouts out, “shake her hand, shake her hand.” And I didn’t hear them. So by not shaking her hand, they said — I have a great relationship with her. I have a great relationship with Theresa May. I have a great relationship with Justin Trudeau, who I just left.

I think I — I’ll be honest with you, I think I have a great relationship with every single one of them. Every person in that room today — you had what, 15, or so, or 18? Asia Pacific —

Q Well, 21 including you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Everyone in that room, I have a good relationship. They’re very different people, but everyone. And I do have a very good relationship with Xi, obviously. It’s the biggest state — it’s the biggest state entrance and the biggest state dinner they’ve ever had, by far, in China. He called it a state-plus. Like he said it — he actually said, state-plus-plus,which is very interesting.

But he’s — you know, look, again, he’s a strong person. He’s a very smart person. I like him a lot; he likes me. But, you know, we represent two very different countries. But we get along very well. And that’s a good thing that we along; that’s not a bad thing.

They like me! They like me! They all really really like me! They think I’m awesome! They ask me to sit with them at the popular table! They like me!

Don’t forget, all he said is he never did that

Nov 11th, 2017 9:50 am | By

The Times has a transcript via the White House of Trump’s treasonous lies about Putin.

As you know, we saw each other last night just for a picture, and that was the first time. And then today we had a round table with numerous countries. You have a list of the countries, obviously. Right? You have a list.

And we spoke intermittently during that round table. We seem to have a very good feeling for each other and a good relationship considering we don’t know each other well. I think it’s a very good relationship.

This is the guy who said Obama liked him after they had that get-together after the election – the guy who told a disgusting racist lie about Obama on widely-seen tv shows for years and thought Obama “liked” him. That’s how good his radar is; that’s how good he is at detecting a performance; that’s how good he is at seeing past the polite public mask to the reality beneath.

REPORTER: Did Russia’s attempts to meddle in U.S. elections come up in the conversation?

TRUMP: He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. But I just asked him again, and he said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they’re saying he did. And he said —

REPORTER: Do you believe him?

TRUMP: Well, look, I can’t stand there and argue with him. I’d rather have him get out of Syria, to be honest with you. I’d rather have him — you know, work with him on the Ukraine than standing and arguing about whether or not — because that whole thing was set up by the Democrats.

The art of the deal, people. The art of the deal.

I mean, they ought to look at Podesta. They ought to look at all of the things that they’ve done with the phony dossier. Those are the big events. Those are the big events.

But Putin said he did not do what they said he did. And, you know, there are those that say, if he did do it, he wouldn’t have gotten caught, all right? Which is a very interesting statement. But we have a — you know, we have a good feeling toward getting things done.

If we had a relationship with Russia, that would be a good thing. In fact, it would be a great thing, not a bad thing. Because he could really help us in North Korea. We have a big problem with North Korea. And China is helping us. And because of the lack of a relationship that we have with Russia because of this artificial thing that’s happening with this Democratic-inspired thing, we could really be helped a lot, tremendously, with Russia having to do with North Korea.

And, you know, you’re talking about millions and millions of lives. This isn’t baby stuff. This is the real deal. And if Russia helped us, in addition to China, that problem would go away a lot faster.

REPORTER: How did you bring up the issue of election meddling? Did you ask him a question?

TRUMP: He just — every time he sees me, he says, “I didn’t do that.” And I believe — I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. But he says, “I didn’t do that.” I think he’s very insulted by it, if you want to know the truth.

Don’t forget, all he said is he never did that, he didn’t do that. I think he’s very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country. Because again, if we had a relationship with Russia, North Korea — which is our single biggest problem right now — North Korea, it would be helped a lot. I think I’m doing very well with respect to China. They’ve cut off financing; they’ve cut off bank lines; they’ve cut off lots of oil and lots of other things, lots of trade. And it’s having a big impact. But Russia, on the other hand, may be making up the difference. And if they are, that’s not a good thing.

So having a relationship with Russia would be a great thing — not a good thing — it would be a great thing, especially as it relates to North Korea.

And I’ll say this, Hillary had her stupid reset button that she spelled the word wrong, but she doesn’t have what it takes to have that kind of a relationship where you could call or you could do something and they would pull back from North Korea, or they’d pull back from Syria, or maybe pull back from Ukraine. I mean, if we could solve the Ukraine problem —

But this is really an artificial barrier that’s put in front of us for solving problems with Russia, and he says that very strongly. He really seems to be insulted by it, and he says he didn’t do it. So —

REPORTER: (Inaudible) do you believe him —

TRUMP: Excuse me?

REPORTER: Even if he (inaudible) one-on-one, do you believe him?

TRUMP: I think that he is very, very strong in the fact that he didn’t do it. And then you look, and you look at what’s going on with Podesta, and you look at what’s going on with the server from the D.N.C. and why didn’t the F.B.I. take it, why did they leave it, why did a third party look at the server and not the FBI — if you look at all of this stuff, and you say, what’s going on here?

And then you hear it’s 17 agencies. Well, it’s three. And one is Brennan and one is whatever. I mean, give me a break. They’re political hacks.

So you look at it — I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper, and you have Comey. Comey is proven now to be a liar and he’s proven to be a leaker.

So you look at that, and you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with that. Now, you’re not going to get into an argument. You’re going to start talking about Syria and the Ukraine.

That’s the president of the United States.

Casual everyday treason

Nov 11th, 2017 9:08 am | By

Trump says who ya gonna believe, US intelligence people or the former head of the KGB?

Correct answer is the former head of the KGB, of course. Duh.

President Trump said on Saturday that he believed President Vladimir V. Putin was sincere in his denials of interference in the 2016 presidential elections, calling questions about Moscow’s meddling a politically motivated “hit job” that was hindering cooperation with Russia on life-or-death issues.

Speaking after meeting privately with Mr. Putin on the sideline of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Danang, Vietnam, Mr. Trump said that he had again asked whether Russia had meddled in the contest, but that the continued focus on the issue was insulting to Mr. Putin.

Well we can’t have that. We can’t insult dear Mr Putin, that nice nice man who grabbed the Crimea and invaded Ukraine and had all those pesky journalists killed.

“He said he didn’t meddle — I asked him again,” Mr. Trump told reporters traveling with him aboard Air Force One as he flew to Hanoi for more meetings. “You can only ask so many times. I just asked him again. He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did.”

This is the guy who put his name to a whole entire book about making “deals.” This is a guy whose only skill is “making deals” by lying and cheating and manipulating, yet he wants us to agree with him that when the famously crooked and corrupt Putin says he didn’t do a thing, we totally should believe him and move on. This is a guy who himself lies to us every hour yet he expects us to take him seriously when he insists Putin must be telling the truth now that he’s said it twice.

Mr. Trump did not answer a direct question about whether he believed Mr. Putin’s denials, but his account of the conversation indicated he was far more inclined to accept the Russian president’s assertions than those of his own intelligence agencies, which have concluded that Mr. Putin directed an elaborate effort to interfere in the vote.

It’s a matter of loyalty. Trump is loyal to dear Mr Putin, because why wouldn’t he be? Putin is his friend. They grew up together playing baseball on the meadows of Flushing.

“Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Putin. “I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country.”

Oh well then. If he means it, it must be true.

[Seriously? This is making my hair stand on end. Scrolling down my disbelief keeps expanding like a balloon.]

Mr. Trump heaped disdain on the former leaders of three American intelligence agencies — John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director; James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence; and James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director he fired this year — appearing to suggest that they were less trustworthy than Mr. Putin.

“I mean, give me a break — they’re political hacks,” Mr. Trump said. “You have Brennan, you have Clapper, and you have Comey. Comey’s proven now to be a liar, and he’s proven to be a leaker, so you look at that. And you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with that.”

Jesus god.


Nov 10th, 2017 2:43 pm | By

In May Vulture did a story on the favorite interviews of the producers of Fresh Air.

This week marks 30 years since WHYY first took Fresh Air With Terry Gross national in the form we know today: a daily, hour-long interview show featuring an array of artists and newsmakers. The show now reaches over 6 million people weekly via public radio stations across the country, and many more as a podcast. (Fresh Air is said to be NPR’s most downloaded podcast, and Apple has listed the show as the top-downloaded podcast on its platform for two years in a row.)

To commemorate the occasion, I asked Gross for a list of her personal favorite interviews. She responded:

When I started in radio, I envied one of my co-workers who had a whole box of tapes of her show. I thought, someday, if I’m lucky, I’ll have a whole box my own! Now Fresh Air has an archive of thousands and thousands of interviews covering 30 years … I’d be so damn smart if I was capable of remembering everything I’ve learned from them. Now, when I’m asked to choose my favorite interviews, I can’t, it’s just too overwhelming. I’m grateful to our producers for choosing some of theirs.

And so, here are the Fresh Air team’s favorite Terry Gross interviews, as selected by executive producer Danny Miller (who started as an intern in 1978); director Roberta Shorrock; producers Amy Salit, Phyllis Myers, Ann Marie Baldonado, Lauren Krenzel, and Sam Briger; engineer Audrey Bentham; and associate producers Therese Madden, Heidi Saman, Mooj Zadie; and associate web producer Molly Seavy-Nesper. I’ve rounded out their picks with some context about each episode.

You know what’s coming, because I’ve already talked about Terry Gross’s worship. Sixth on the list.

Louis C.K. (Originally broadcast in 2010.)

This interview gives us a snapshot of the comedian at what might be considered the early stages of his rise to his contemporary era of auteurship. Perhaps more memorably, it also happens to be the interview that got Fresh Air pulled from Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

Just last May, remember.

They must have known. It’s their job to be all over popular culture like a rash, so they must have read some of those stories. They must have known.

“Because people who look up to me didn’t want to hear it”

Nov 10th, 2017 11:39 am | By

Unlike the others, Louie CK has copped to it – which means that unlike the others he has at a stroke undermined any claims that the women are lying or exaggerating.

Louis C.K. broke his silence Friday after five women came forward to accuse the comedian of sexual misconduct, admitting in a lengthy statement: “These stories are true.”

The Times posted the whole statement:

I want to address the stories told to The New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not.

These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was O.K. because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly. I have been remorseful of my actions. And I’ve tried to learn from them. And run from them. Now I’m aware of the extent of the impact of my actions. I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position. I also took advantage of the fact that I was widely admired in my and their community, which disabled them from sharing their story and brought hardship to them when they tried because people who look up to me didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t think that I was doing any of that because my position allowed me not to think about it. There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am. Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with. I wish I had reacted to their admiration of me by being a good example to them as a man and given them some guidance as a comedian, including because I admired their work.

That is how these things should be done. It doesn’t make it ok that he did the creepy shit, but it is definitely the right way to do it: take a long hard look and then say what you did to the women, from their point of view. This is what all the others have refused to do.

He says more, about the harm he did to the people who helped him, but that analysis of what he did to the women is the core.

Far too much

Nov 10th, 2017 10:19 am | By

On the one hand:

On the other hand:

I attach “far too much significance” to it. One tweet, five words long – that’s “far too much significance.”

Mansplainers; honestly.

A far more damning light

Nov 10th, 2017 10:02 am | By

Louie CK now is losing gigs the way women who spoke up about his creepy nonconsensual behavior lost gigs.

The distributor of Louis C.K.’s coming film “I Love You, Daddy” said on Friday that it would not go ahead with its release of the movie. The announcement comes one day after The New York Times published a report in which multiple women shared their recollections of encounters in which Louis C.K., the Emmy Award-winning comedian, had engaged in sexual misconduct.

“I Love You, Daddy,” which is written and directed by Louis C.K., was acquired by the entertainment company the Orchard in a $5 million deal after the movie made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. The film stars Louis C.K. as a TV comedy writer and John Malkovich as a notorious filmmaker who strikes up an uncomfortable relationship with the protagonist’s daughter (Chloe Grace Moretz) who has not yet turned 18.

How edgy.

Following preview screenings of “I Love You, Daddy,” several critics had remarked on its troubling sexual politics and how certain scenes seemed to be commenting on Louis C.K.’s own reputation for misconduct.

In an interview with The Times at the Toronto festival, Louis C.K. said: “The uncomfortable truth is, you never really know. You don’t know anybody. To me, if there was one thing this movie is about, it’s that you don’t know anybody.”

He would say that, wouldn’t he. He had creepy nonconsensual secrets, and from that he concludes that everyone has creepy nonconsensual secrets. You have to be pretty narcissistic to trap people into watching you masturbate, so you’re narcissistic enough to think everyone else is as creepy as you are. Wrong. Lots of people are not as creepy as that.

That link under the critics remarking goes to a Fast Company piece by Joe Berkowitz that is yet another confirmation that people knew about LCK’s creepy ways. It’s dated October 20, nearly three weeks ago.

After attending a screening in New York this week, I can guarantee that I Love You, Daddy–whose plot we’ll get to in a moment–will be viewed in a far more damning light when it’s released next month.

The film‘smostly rapturous reception at TIFF was already tainted by another discomforting news story. While promoting her Amazon series, One Mississippi, comedian Tig Notaro called on estranged pal Louis CK to “handle” the sexual harassment allegations against him. For years, stories have swirled that CK has a habit of forcing women in comedy to watch him masturbate. (Louis CK’s response has been to at first ignore the allegations, and then to dismiss them.) Tig Notaro simply made the rumors harder to ignore–not that it was ever okay to pretend they didn’t exist. After the Weinstein scandal broke, it’s now impossible–especially considering the subject of CK’s new movie.

I’m curious about what if anything Terry Gross will say about it, because she’s done a lot to promote CK. She mentions him often and she thinks he’s very hot shit. She also did a memorable interview with Tig Notaro; I would never have heard of either of them if I didn’t listen to Fresh Air regularly. Her attitude to LCK is worshipful, so I kind of think she needs to give us an ooops…especially since the rumors were out there.

I Love You, Daddy is a neo-screwball comedy about whether it’s truly possible to separate art from the artist. In this case, the artist is essentially Woody Allen, whose Manhattan CK’s film recalls in both style and substance. Louis CK stars as Glen Topher, an extremely Louis CK-like TV writer who worships at the altar of Leslie Goodwin, a Woody surrogate played by John Malkovich. Topher is willing to dismiss the (vaguely described) accusations of child molestation against proud horndog Goodwin… right up until Goodwin takes up with Topher’s barely illegal daughter, China (Chloë Grace Moretz). Meanwhile, another moral dilemma arises when pregnant actress Grace Cullen (Rose Byrne) seems interested in sleeping with Topher if he helps her cross over into comedy. It’s a film generously larded with provocation, something its creator has never shied away from.

Manhattan is the movie that turned me right off Woody Allen. The fact that the Woody Allen character played by Woody Allen was shtupping a high school senior played by Mariel Hemingway was only part of it – I was also turned off by the relentless self-admiration, the anti-intellectualism, the hostility. That was long before he took up with his longterm partner’s underage daughter.

By making a movie about the struggle to reconcile accusations against Louis CK’s Blue Jasmine director, Woody Allen, CK has also made a movie about the audience’s struggle with himself. This is a film that’s aware of its creator’s reputation. Lest that layer be lost on viewers, one scene finds Charlie Day’s wily sidekick miming masturbation (to completion!) in front of Edie Falco. (Another scene has Topher apologizing to “Women,” as in the entire gender.) All of this may have been intended as a boiling hot gumbo of catharsis, reckoning, and trolling–a playful way to comment on the allegations against him without actually commenting–but it no longer feels that way. Now that sexual harassment and sexism have dominated the discourse for two weeks–spilling out into every facet of the entertainment industry–Louis CK’s intentions look more self-serving. The film now plays like an ambiguous moral inventory of and excuse for everything that allows sexual predators to thrive: open secrets, toxic masculinity, and powerful people getting the benefit of the doubt.

Powerful men. Powerful women don’t get that benefit of the doubt so much.

Setting aside the awkward timing of a male-written movie with a reversecasting couch subplot and a sidekick who is the human embodiment of locker room talk, the way the film regards open secrets is troubling. “That’s just a rumor,” Louis CK says about the allegations against John Malkovich’s esteemed auteur, echoing how he dismissed his own allegations in real life. “It’s a fucked-up, unproven story. He was never charged for that,” the character continues. Sure, it’s only a character saying so, and early in the film at that, but it’s also the opening salvo to a game of devil’s advocate the real Louis CK is in no position to play.

By the time his character says, “Never judge anybody on their private life,” accepts Les Goodwin’s creative notes right in the middle of a confrontation about maybe dating his teenage daughter, or takes comfort from another character declaring, “Everyone’s a pervert,” the audience has an idea of where he stands.

In making a case for not believing certain rumors, Louis CK is making a case for not believing women. Bill Cosby is a free man because people didn’t believe women. Donald Trump is the president because people didn’t believe women. Nobody might have believed the case against Harvey Weinstein if not for audio proof of him being disgusting to women. A policy of disregarding these kinds of rumors only protects the powerful men who stand accused. The real Woody Allen is surely aware of how dangerous it is for him if people start believing women. While prominent actors and directors publicly flagellate themselves for not speaking out about Weinstein sooner, even though they knew about his crimes, this man is worried that the avalanche of Weinstein accusers will lead to “a witch hunt.”

A worry we have seen before.

Is I Love You, Daddy even a good movie? I don’t know. Maybe if the 2017 audience knew absolutely nothing about the Weinstein scandal or Louis CK’s personal situation, they could evenly assess. It’s not Louis CK’s fault that the former is currently unfolding, but it seems intentional that it brings into sharp relief his own reputation. He sat through however many takes of Charlie Day pretending to masturbate in front of Edie Falco, knowing full well who it would remind people of: himself.

That takes quite a lot of nerve.

There’s no place like home

Nov 10th, 2017 8:58 am | By

Trump goes to ForrinLand and tells it how much better the US is than everyone else.

Promising to pursue “mutually beneficial commerce” through bilateral trade agreements, Mr. Trump roundly condemned the kind of multilateral accords his predecessors pursued, reprising a message he brought to China this week that blamed weak American leadership for trade imbalances that he said had stripped jobs, factories and entire industries from the United States.

“What we will no longer do is enter into large agreements that tie our hands, surrender our sovereignty, and make meaningful enforcement practically impossible,” Mr. Trump said.

It was a strikingly hostile message to an audience that included leaders who had tied their fortunes to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping 12-nation accord that was to be led by the United States, from which Mr. Trump withdrew immediately after taking office.

Hostile is what he does. He’s hopeless at the other thing, like all that sick-making flattery of Xi yesterday.

As in his speech to the United Nations in September, Mr. Trump emphasized the idea of sovereignty, a concept that is often seen as being at odds with global cooperation and that is sometimes used by countries to fend off interference by outside powers.

He closed the speech with an inward-looking paean to the virtues of home, declaring, “In all of the world, there is no place like home,” adding that nations should “protect your home, defend your home, and love your home today and for all time.”

He’s Dorothy in the Hollywood version of The Wizard of Oz.

Another one of those open secrets

Nov 9th, 2017 4:44 pm | By

Actually the word on Louis CK has been out for awhile, but I guess before Harvey Weinstein Day it didn’t get much traction…though I bet it got plenty among his colleagues. Vanity Fair reported some of it last August and cited Gawker and Vulture stories.

Vanity Fair started with Tig Notaro.

Tig Notaro is ready to sever ties with Louis C.K. Despite the fact that he’s credited as a producer on the comedian’s Amazon series One Mississippi, which will soon debut its second season, Notaro is telling viewers that this is nothing more than a vanity credit for C.K.—one she wishes would disappear completely.

“He’s never been involved” in the series, she said in a recent interview with Daily Beast, adding that C.K. truly has had “nothing to do with the show.” (The Daily Beast points out that Notaro neglects to call out C.K. by name, instead referring to the Emmy winner only as “he” and “him.”)

This declaration should not be wholly surprising to Notaro fans. In April, she not only accused C.K. of plagiarizing one of her skits when he was hosting Saturday Night Live, but she also revealed that the pair “have not communicated in any way for nearly a year and a half.” One Mississippi premiered in September of 2016.

The conversation then pivots to rumors of sexual misconduct that have followed C.K. for years. In 2012, Gawker ran a blind item about a famous comedian who had forced female comedians to watch him masturbate. Later, comedians like Jen Kirkman and Roseanne Barr publicly addressed the rumors. Kirkman alluded to a “known perv” she went on tour with who made her life very difficult, without calling out C.K. by name. In 2016, Barr was more explicit, saying she’s heard stories about C.K. “locking the door and masturbating in front of women comics and writers.”

“I can’t tell you,” she continued. “I’ve heard so many stories. Not just him, but a lot of them. And it’s just par for the course. It’s just shit women have to put up with.”

“We don’t talk since then. So as far as what he’s doing or what he’s done…” she continued, trailing off.

Some of it was out there; the Times crossed some Ts.

Aggressive misogyny has been a central ingredient to standup

Nov 9th, 2017 4:33 pm | By

Emily Nussbaum on Louis CK and the whole damn thing.

We are all going to be writing pieces about how these scandals change the way we look at art—at Louis C.K.’s comedy, but also at the movies that were produced by Harvey Weinstein, or that star Kevin Spacey, or are directed by James Toback, as well as the TV shows and albums created by Bill Cosby. That’s a critic’s issue; it’s an issue for fans and philosophers. It’s certainly a particularly pungent question when it comes to a show like “Louie”—an auteurist sitcom on FX in which the main character is explicitly based on its creator, or C.K.’s independent streaming project “Horace and Pete,” which had a whole episode devoted to a female character talking about exposing herself in front of a man whom she wasn’t certain was consenting. C.K.’s standup is not merely confessional, it’s also focussed on sex and ethics, as well as on questions of decency, fatherhood, masculinity, and, at times, feminism. That’s why, for many of C.K.’s fans, he’s been more than a creative figure. He’s been a role model, too, specifically because he tells the kinds of stories that are taboo and shameful—his brand was telling the stories you weren’t supposed to tell.

As it turns out, other people have those stories, too. As far as I’m concerned, before we talk about art, we should listen to them. And we should talk about something else, something bigger, that extends far beyond today’s news story: we should talk about the many ways in which comedy itself (in sitcoms, in standup, on the tour scene) is a deeply sexist world, and not only because some people within it act in predatory ways. Back to the age of Johnny Carson and the Borscht Belt, aggressive misogyny has been a central ingredient to standup, a phenomenon that was difficult to speak openly about because it would make any woman who tried to do so sound uncool, like a prig and a censor—like the comedy-killer, not the comic. Tell the wrong story and you might lose a rare opportunity to be one of the guys, as all of these stories make clear.

It’s a satisfying irony that as these stories begin to get told, some of that telling is happening in art. There’s another television episode that came out this year that also struck me as based on the rumors about Louis C.K.: an acute, nuanced episode of “Girls.” Although I tried to hint at that fact in my response (in which I wrote that the character “feels like a familiar figure”), I didn’t want this vague I.D. to swamp my bigger point, about how much the episode captured these deeper questions about storytelling. In “American Bitch,” a brilliant artist pulls out his penis in front of a younger woman. She’s been sedated by his praise, and by a complicated mind game, a manipulation in which she ends up feeling complicit, despite all her best attempts to stay above the fray. She knows that if she tries to tell anyone the details of what happened, it will expose her more than it would him. Maybe, these days, that story could end in a different way.

I thought the same thing about that episode of “Girls” when I read the Times story – that episode which is the only one I’ve seen (though I’ve seen a few fragments of others). I thought that and also thought I was probably wrong, because maybe all episodes of “Girls” are like that. But yes: Louis CK sounds like the manipulative shit in that episode, or the other way around.

Scott Pruitt don’t care

Nov 9th, 2017 3:35 pm | By

Scott Pruitt isn’t letting some damn scientific report change his mind about pouring lots more CO² into the atmosphere, because this is America, dammit, we like our air dirty and our warming global.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said a newly released government report that lays most of the blame for the rise of global temperatures to human activity won’t deter him from continuing to roll back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, a major rule aimed at combating climate change.

“We’re taking the very necessary step to evaluate our authority under the Clean Air Act and we’ll take steps that are required to issue a subsequent rule. That’s our focus,” Pruitt said in an interview with USA TODAY Tuesday. “Does this report have any bearing on that? No it doesn’t. It doesn’t impact the withdrawal and it doesn’t impact the replacement.”

Very wise. More warming is a good thing. It’s November – it’s getting cold around here – who wouldn’t like it to be warmer? Nobody!

President Trump has dismissed climate change as a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese to gain a competitive edge over the United States. A champion of the coal industry, Trump has followed through on his vow to undo the climate change agenda implemented under Obama by pulling out of the Paris Accord and withdrawing the Clean Power Plan.

Has Trump paused in his kissing of China’s bum to ask them about the hoax? Or is that all so last week now.

David Doniger, a climate change expert with the Natural Resources Defense Council, criticized the EPA administrator for abandoning the Obama-era rule, saying the Supreme Court has “unequivocally” recognized EPA’s authority to curb carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act.

“The National Climate Assessment has sounded a five-alarm fire bell, and Scott Pruitt pretends he can’t hear it,” he said. “The assessment shows unequivocally that carbon pollution is causing dangerous climate change and that our future depends on whether we cut that pollution.”

 Yes but you see the future is the future. Now is now. The future isn’t real, only now is real. You can’t expect people to act on something that doesn’t matter until the future (even if the future is as close as the next hurricane). People just don’t operate like that. Sure, their kids will curse them, but again, that’s in the future.