Blame the nearest woman

Jan 13th, 2020 11:02 am | By

Mary Beard takes a look at the whole “blame the woman” phenomenon in connection with the bizarre way the UK gutter press has “reported” on Meghan Markle. (Buzzfeed has a piece that places stories on The Other One next to stories on MM and the contrast is quite startling. I don’t know for sure of course whether the examples are representative, but it seems likely that they are since otherwise Buzzfeed would get swiftly eviscerated. The creepiest one I saw before I stopped reading was “aw how sweet the way Kate cradles her bump” compared to ” ew look at Meghan virtue-signaling with all this touching her bump.”)

I wrongly thought that the Harry and Meghan story would be a flash in the pan, quickly overshadowed by all the really important things in the world. But as it has turned into a full-grown bonfire and has become important for the issues that it raises, I think it is worth having a more serious look at what the Roman world might tell us here…

More than a couple of decades ago, I ran a final year course in Cambridge on the “Roman Emperor: construction and deconstruction of an image”. It was partly an attempt not to look beyond all those unreliable stories of Roman emperors (Domitian killing flies, Caligula getting his soldiers to collect pebbles on the beach), but to ask head-on what those stories told us about the way emperors in Rome were perceived, how they related to imperial power (or lack of it). It was also an attempt to look at the structures of how “palace cultures” are perceived and explained by contemporaries outside them…

One of the most obvious things to come out was the way women were repeatedly used as explanatory tools for otherwise unexplained events. Now in the case of Meghan Markle, you would have to be blind not to see a strong vein of “popular” racism in some of the treatment of her. But there is also what I call the “Livia Phenomenon” at work here.

If you’ve ever seen the BBC I, Claudius you’ll know where this is going.

It is not just Robert Graves and Sian Phillips who have given us the image of the emperor Augustus’ wife as a schemer and poisoner, stopping at nothing to get her own way behind the throne. That goes right back to the ancient world itself, and to the writing of Tacitus and Suetonius among others. The basic principle is this. Things happen behind palace walls that we don’t understand. People die, some appear to fall from favour, others come unexpectedly into prominence … or even onto the throne. In the early Roman empire, Livia was the economical explanation for all of that. If someone died, it wasn’t a mysterious or unlucky bug, it was Livia’s poison concoctions. If an unlikely princeling got lucky, it was thanks to her, etc etc. Now, we have no idea whether any, all or none of this is correct. But there is just as good a chance that Livia spent the forty-plus years of Augustus’ reign minding her own business, as that she spent it in the pharmaceutical cupboard.

It is, of course, predictable low-level misogyny, bolstered then as now by unreliable leaks from “palace sources”. It was used against Nancy Reagan, who became a convenient solution to the question of why Ron did odd things, and against Cherie Blair too. And now Meghan Markle is in the firing line.

It’s interesting that this doesn’t apply to Melania Trump. She got heat for that “I really don’t care” jacket, but that was a blip. There’s no need for a Melania in this case because Trump is so very open and public and ostentatious with his crimes and lies and abuse. Mystery is not the issue with him.

Anyway it’s interesting, how persistent and shameless misogyny still is, along with racism and snobbery and the rest of the poisonous brew. Who needs poison in the soup when it’s all over the media?

Irrefutable and inexorable

Jan 13th, 2020 10:10 am | By

Oops we seem to be boiling the oceans.

The heat in the world’s oceans reached a new record level in 2019, showing “irrefutable and accelerating” heating of the planet.

The world’s oceans are the clearest measure of the climate emergency because they absorb more than 90% of the heat trapped by the greenhouse gases emitted by fossil fuel burning, forest destruction and other human activities.

Boiling the oceans seems like something we don’t want to do, as well as a sign that we’re doing other things we don’t want to do (like frying the lands).

Hotter oceans lead to more severe storms and disrupt the water cycle, meaning more floods, droughts and wildfires, as well as an inexorable rise in sea level. Higher temperatures are also harming life in the seas, with the number of marine heatwaves increasing sharply.

Note that word “inexorable.” It’s too late to exor the warming, and we’re stuck with it, aka doomed.

“The oceans are really what tells you how fast the Earth is warming,” said Prof John Abraham at the University of St Thomas, in Minnesota, US, and one of the team behind the new analysis. “Using the oceans, we see a continued, uninterrupted and accelerating warming rate of planet Earth. This is dire news.”

“We found that 2019 was not only the warmest year on record, it displayed the largest single-year increase of the entire decade, a sobering reminder that human-caused heating of our planet continues unabated,” said Prof Michael Mann, at Penn State University, US, and another team member.

It’s as if we’re sledding down a steep hill toward a cliff and refusing to steer the sled sideways to safety. Too bad we’re taking most of the other life on the planet with us.

The analysis, published in the journal Advances In Atmospheric Sciences, uses ocean data from every available source. Most data is from the 3,800 free-drifting Argo floats dispersed across the oceans, but also from torpedo-like bathythermographs dropped from ships in the past.

The results show heat increasing at an accelerating rate as greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere. The rate from 1987 to 2019 is four and a half times faster than that from 1955 to 1986. The vast majority of oceans regions are showing an increase in thermal energy.


She was literally just a vessel

Jan 12th, 2020 3:40 pm | By

It’s just right below the surface. Sometimes a mere scratch will reveal it.

It takes my breath away.

A woman gestated twin babies for a gay couple, and Pink News calls the babies “their” (meaning the two men’s) daughters. A woman goes through all the exhaustion and discomfort of pregnancy and the pain of childbirth, and Pink News refers to her daughters as belonging to two men who have done no work so far apart from one ejaculation.

And then some bystander guy says “they aren’t her kids” and “she was literally just a vessel.”

A vessel is something like a pot or vase or urn, an inanimate object that can contain liquids. A vessel has no mind, no body, no feelings, no pain, no fatigue, no longing to be able to sleep comfortably. A pregnant woman? Not so much.

I never can get used to it, the contempt men have for women – the failure even to grasp that we have minds.

There is no “reproductive system” common to females

Jan 12th, 2020 12:25 pm | By

Good to know.

Each one is a mystery. Some are like coconuts, some are like locomotives, some are like Kansas City, some are like law school, some are like November…it’s all totally various and random and ??????

What are rights?

Jan 12th, 2020 11:46 am | By

Human Rights Watch tells us the Trumpers are messing with human rights.

The United States State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights risks calling for a dangerous downgrading of international human rights protections. On January 10, 2020, the Human Rights Watch executive director, Kenneth Rothtestified at the commission’s fourth open session.

While the fundamental rights set out in the human rights treaties are clear, the Trump administration has taken issue with the rights they uphold, such as reproductive freedom or the rights of LGBT people not to face discrimination. Human Rights Watch expressed concern that the commission’s exercise in identifying “unalienable” rights is the administration’s unilateral attempt to rewrite international law based on its own beliefs.

That certainly seems plausible.

“The US government’s voice is needed on human rights, but it should be a voice that upholds the principled defense of all rights, not a pick-and-choose approach,” Roth said. “Repressive governments frequently justify their human rights violations by claiming that some rights are more important than others. If the Trump administration adopts its own selective approach to human rights, it will only facilitate this classic excuse to evade the requirements of international human rights law.”

Well…I certainly don’t want Trumpers deciding what rights we can have, but on the other hand, it’s not wrong to say either that some rights are more important than others, or that some claimed “rights” aren’t rights at all. Trump, for instance, thinks he (and he alone) has all kinds of rights that in reality aren’t rights. Trump thinks he has a right to punish reporters who criticize him or even just tell the truth about what he’s doing.

Rights are in fact a human artifact, and they are contestable. You know the UDHR, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Fun fact: there’s a competing Islamic version, in which all the rights depend on consistency with the Koran.

ARTICLE 1:(a) All human beings form one family whose members are united by their subordination to Allah and descent from Adam.

So much for universality then.


(a) Everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Shari’ah.

1.. Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Shari’ah.

(c) Information is a vital necessity to society. It may not be exploited or misused in such a way as may violate sanctities and the dignity of Prophets, undermine moral and ethical Values or disintegrate, corrupt or harm society or weaken its faith.


Truth, lies, beliefs

Jan 12th, 2020 10:59 am | By

Why truth matters. People in charge of the guns and bombs and soldiers aren’t supposed to get inventive with the intel.

Esper said well no he didn’t actually see any evidence but…but…but…well he had a hunch.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said he “didn’t see” specific evidence that top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani was planning attacks on four U.S. embassies, but said he believed such attacks would have occurred.

Well that’s good enough for us!

“The president didn’t cite a specific piece of evidence. What he said was he believed,” Esper said Sunday on “Face the Nation.” “I didn’t see one, with regard to four embassies. What I’m saying is that I shared the president’s view that probably — my expectation was they were going to go after our embassies. The embassies are the most prominent display of American presence in a country.”

Plus you can find their addresses by Googling, so it all adds up.

The president and his top officials have said the strike that killed Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was justified because there was an “imminent” threat to American service members and diplomats. Members of Congress, however, have raised questions as to the nature of the threat following briefings on the strike that the administration conducted with all members of the House and Senate.

This is what Trump does – he commits some criminally reckless or destructive act and then when people notice he makes up “reasons” for it retroactively.

Mr. Trump told Fox News in an interview Friday that “it would’ve been four embassies” that were attacked, seemingly revealing more information about the nature of the threat.

Esper said he agreed that the embassies probably would have been targeted by Soleimani.

But that’s not agreeing, it’s changing. Trump stated a fact (which was a lie) and Esper changed it to a speculation. Esper lied to protect Trump’s lie. Whole lotta lying going on.

3k for a glint in the eye

Jan 11th, 2020 5:51 pm | By

Cis privilege strikes again.

Samira Ahmed has won her equal pay claim against the BBC in a landmark case that lawyers say could leave the broadcaster facing a bill running into the millions for similar claims by other female staff.

Ahmed, the presenter of viewer feedback programme Newswatch, claimed she was owed almost £700,000 in back pay because of the difference between her £440-an-episode rate and the £3,000 an episode Jeremy Vine received for hosting the similar Points of View programme.

Ooof, that’s quite a gap.

An employment tribunal unanimously concluded that the BBC had failed to provide convincing evidence that the pay gap was for reasons other than gender discrimination, although the BBC continues to dispute this.

No, see, it wasn’t gender discrimination, it was just that he is 7 times more thrilling and charismatic and attractive to viewers than she is.

But then…why did they have her presenting at all? If she’s that much less of a draw, why not just not have her and have someone else instead?

The National Union of Journalists’ general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, who backed Ahmed’s case, said there were about 20 other cases involving claims of unequal pay at the BBC heading to tribunal, while another 70 cases remained unresolved.

The 40-page tribunal judgment was damning of the broadcaster’s argument that Ahmed’s job as presenter of Newswatch was significantly different to Vine’s as a presenter of Points of View.

They dismissed the BBC’s argument that Points of View required a “cheeky” presenter such as Vine with a “glint in the eye”, concluding that there were only “minor differences” in the work the two presenters did presenting the two comparable programmes.

Not to mention the claim or implication that a glint in the eye is worth 7 times more than a glintless presenter.

In a withering assessment, they wrote: “Jeremy Vine read the script from the autocue. He read it in the tone in which it was written. If it told him to roll his eyes, he did. It did not require any particular skill or experience to do that.”

Let alone 7 times as much skill.

During the tribunal the BBC defended paying Vine substantially more than Ahmed, saying that while Newswatch required a news journalist, he was a light entertainment presenter who “would often dress up for small visual gags”. Ahmed’s legal team argued this was incorrect, as he was only known to have worn “one wig and one hat” and the jobs were in effect the same.

Again – one wig and one hat, not worth 7 times what Ahmed was paid.

High-profile presenters and campaigners hailed the decision and praised Ahmed, with the BBC host Carrie Gracie – who resigned over equal pay in 2018 – expressing her pride in Ahmed. “As for BBC bosses, time to stop digging,” she said.

The BBC Radio 4 presenter Jane Garvey also praised Ahmed, tweeting: “Just brilliant … it took real courage and she has it.”

Nah, it’s just cis courage, and that doesn’t count.

Your message seems to include a dogmatic refusal

Jan 11th, 2020 10:49 am | By

About those lavish and unusual apologies…

McLaughlin is the founder of MeTooSTEM.

More apologies. It’s a retort as opposed to a serious statement, but still. More apologies? After that stream of abject prostrate lachrymose apologies they’d already issued?

Flippant dismissal of the concerns of women, from the woman who founded MeTooSTEM. What did they do to her?

They get “folks” asking if a group that opposes sexual harassment of women in STEM can change the subject and be about trans people instead – and the founder of the group thinks this is a good thing.

People have lost their damn minds, I swear.

Just one

Jan 11th, 2020 9:54 am | By

The @MeTooSTEM grovel got even more grovelly.

When has anyone ever talked to actual women like that? When has anyone ever apologized to women for sexist insults or misogynist epithets like that? When has anyone ever repudiated something a volunteer retweeted in such abject and sympathy-oozing terms?

Never that I know of. I haven’t seen all the content that exists, of course, but I have paid a lot of attention to how people talk to and about women on social media and this kind of belly-crawling and sobbing with pity on behalf of women is starkly unfamiliar to me. “We are so sorry for the hurtful content” – nope, that’s not how that goes when it’s mere women at the receiving end. In fact, if you Google that phrase with the “” the only matches are this tweet. Nobody is “so sorry” when we’re the ones getting it in the neck (and by the way trans people weren’t getting it in the neck via the content in question). It’s only trans people – trans women especially – who are treated as so fragile and so righteous that no expiation is enough for saying something skeptical about transism.

And that’s just the tweet. The statement itself is the same but more of it. We are sorry, they yelp, cowering. “Our trans family” – what about “their female family”? Pff, who cares about them. “We unreservedly apologize to those that have hurt too long over too much hate.” Again – has anyone ever said anything like that to women? Does that sound like a normal part of the discourse around women and feminism and misogyny? Not to me it doesn’t.

“No transphobia will be tolerated.” “We affirm that trans women are women.” “We denounce transphobia that masquerades as feminism.” “We promise to learn from this experience and do better going forward.”

Who decides which feminism is “transphobia that masquerades as feminism”? Is there any appeal? Can just one tweet from one random troll brand a feminist discussion as transphobia in a mask?

It apparently took just one in this case.

Who’s he? Who’s Troy Roepke? Why does he get to decide which feminism is “transphobia” in a mask? Why does he get to make an entire organization ostensibly for sexually abused women fall prostrate and apologize as if they’d committed a slew of murders?

It was just one tweet. That’s all it took.

Surrender was swift and complete.

We’re sorry we’re sorry we’re sorry we’re sorry!

Are they ever.

Bring back the briefings

Jan 10th, 2020 4:29 pm | By

13 former White House press secretaries and foreign service/military officials call for the return of regular White House and other press briefings

All of us have experienced the challenges of a regular press briefing whether at the White House, the State Department or the Pentagon. We all had days where the last place we wanted to be was behind one of those podiums. But day after day, we persisted.

We believed that regular briefings were good for the American people, important for the administrations we served, and critical for the governing of our great country.

It’s not that great. It’s really not. It’s behind all other developed democracies on a whole list of items, like maternal mortality for instance. It has high inequality and rampant violence, and oh by the way it elected Donald Trump president. It’s not that great. I think we should stop automatically calling it that.

We’d like to share what we mean by that. In any great democracy, an informed public strengthens the nation. The public has a right to know what its government is doing, and the government has a duty to explain what it is doing.

For the president and the administration this is a matter of both self-interest and national interest. The presidents we served believed a better-informed public would be more supportive of the president’s policy and political objectives.

In times of military conflict and international crisis, these briefings take on even more importance. Americans want to know the latest developments and seek the truth. On social media, wild rumors can fly, and our adversaries can manipulate disinformation to their advantage. This is now well documented.

Credible men and women, standing in front of those iconic backgrounds at the White House, State Department and Pentagon, are essential to the work the United States must do in the world.

We respectfully urge the resumption of regular press briefings across our government, especially in the places where Americans want the truth, our allies in the world want information, and where all of us, hopefully, want to see American values reflected.

I’d rather see decent values than specifically American ones, but at any rate just despotically refusing to answer any questions is not good.

Can I ask you to genuflect more?

Jan 10th, 2020 12:46 pm | By

There’s a Twitter account called MeTooSTEM. I think of MeToo as a feminist movement, a movement for women who face sexual abuse on the job. I guess I turn out to be wrong about that.

Open and safe for all? So, including men who sexually abuse women on the job?

I have no idea what the RTs were, because of course they’re gone.

A later tweet is…not so welcoming.

How can they know that no trans woman is a threat to women? How can they know that there are no trans women who fake it in order to intrude on women?

They don’t say, of course. At any rate, any women who don’t believe the trans dogma and thought MeTooSTEM was for them now know otherwise. MeTooSTEM considers them “TERFs” and thus enemies.

Whoops there’s a volunteer disappearing under the wheels.

But even that wasn’t enough – there is now yet more groveling and apologizing. Please don’t hit us! Please! We’re sorry!

It’s never enough though. Grovel harder!

Updating to add: I found the Offending retweets after all.

Thank god we have vigilant women combing Twitter for evil women who think women get to have some spaces that are just for women.

Guest post: If you heard a two-year-old meow like a cat

Jan 10th, 2020 12:16 pm | By

Originally a comment by tigger_the_wing on Would she be able to think critically?

If you heard a two-year-old meow like a cat (they do that, and make other animal noises; it’s fun) and told her or him that the reason s/he liked particular toys, games and clothes was because s/he was really a cat, and that there are lovely doctors who can give her/him fur and a tail when s/he’s old enough, by the time s/he were four they’d be desperate to be turned into a cat. That is what ‘affirmation’ does.

The correct response to a small girl saying “I’m really a boy” is “Wow, really? Well, I’m really an elephant! Shall we go shopping for bananas?”

Of course, if you don’t keep telling little girls that only boys get to like, do, wear, and play with certain things, then you won’t get little girls thinking that you must be mistaken about their sex. If you don’t tell little boys that they aren’t allowed to play with dolls, or experiment with makeup, or get to prance around in their mum’s high heels with one of her skirts over their shoulders as a cape because only girls do that, you won’t have little boys thinking that they must really be girls.

There was no epidemic of ‘trans kids’ in the eighties. Have you seen adverts aimed at eighties’ kids? All the children, boys and girls, wore T-shirts, dungarees and trainers. All the children played with all the toys. My sons as well as my daughter had My Little Ponies (which actually looked like ponies back then, and not weird big-eyed, muzzle-less anime characters, and came in both sexes); my daughter, as well as my sons, had action figures, toy vehicles, train set elements (they each owned enough train set stuff that, when they combined their pieces, they could fill the ground floor. It was fun), bicycles, footballs, skipping ropes, jigsaw puzzles, books, etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum.

I never told any of them that they couldn’t do something because they weren’t members of the opposite sex, and no-one else was telling them that, either. And they’re raising their kids the same way.

This is also why I don’t believe in the labelling of generations. My parents (born early thirties) were comparatively progressive, so my generation was (born mid to late fifties) and so are my eighties children; but the ‘in-between’ generations? The parents who were about ten years older than mine (born in the early 1920s) were often very strict about gender roles, and so, in their turn, were their forties’ children (the ones about ten years older than me). Their children, about ten years older than mine, are the ones transing their teens for being gender non-conforming, and the parents in their twenties are the ones transing their toddlers.

Of course, there isn’t anything definitive about the above. But I sometimes think that the resentment against Baby Boomers is fed by the behaviour of those in the first half of my generation who spent their early childhood in austerity in the form of rationing (which ended in 1954) and surrounded by bomb sites (which had mostly been cleared and re-built with shiny new housing, shopping centres and offices by the time I was old enough to take notice), and with fathers who were either dead from the war, or traumatised (my grandparents were too old to be sent to fight). These early Baby Boomers often responded to the comparative misery of their childhoods by becoming greedy and selfish, in case it was all taken away again. My parents, who were old enough to live through the horrors of WWII but not old enough to fight, were relieved by the end of the war so the fact of continued rationing and the existence of devastated cities was nothing compared to hiding in bomb shelters and listening to the bombardment. They grew up with a sense of hope that things could always be better (because they had been so much worse) and that the best way to accomplish that was to fight for equality for all.

Ugly scenes

Jan 10th, 2020 9:02 am | By

Samples of Trump’s horrors:

Huh? What was that? What’s he talking about? What country did he “save”?

The BBC explains:

“I’m going to tell you about the Nobel Peace Prize, I’ll tell you about that. I made a deal, I saved a country, and I just heard that the head of that country is now getting the Nobel Peace Prize for saving the country. I said: ‘What, did I have something do with it?’ Yeah, but you know, that’s the way it is. As long as we know, that’s all that matters… I saved a big war, I’ve saved a couple of them.”

Although he did not name the Nobel Peace Prize winner or the country, it is clear that Mr Trump was referring to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Mr Abiy was honoured for his “decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea”.

The two countries fought a bitter border war from 1998-2000, which killed tens of thousands of people. Although a ceasefire was signed in 2000, the neighbours technically remained at war until July 2018, when Mr Abiy and Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki signed a peace deal. So for two decades, the long border was closed, dividing families and making trade impossible.

Did Trump have anything to do with that? Anything at all?


He shames us all.

The crowd roared

Jan 10th, 2020 8:38 am | By

Greg Sargent at The Post underlines the obvious: Trump is an abusive monstrosity bent on destruction.

At a rally in Ohio on Thursday night, President Trump drew deafening cheers by boasting about his order to assassinate Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, deriding Democrats with petty schoolyard taunts and mocking the very idea that Congress should act to constrain his warmaking powers.

At his rally, Trump belittled House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “not operating with a full deck.” He derided House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff as “you little pencil neck.” The crowd roared, demonstrating how heavily Trump’s petty abusiveness figures as a factor in his appeal.

But what Trump really displayed here is that his deranged attacks on the opposition aren’t mere insults. Taken along with Trump’s mockery of congressional demands for input into decisions of war, they demonstrate a profound contempt for the very notion that his most consequential decisions should be subject to oversight and accountability at all.

Did we need any more demonstration of that? He’s made it very clear all along.

Mockery of the opposition is, of course, a constant in politics. But this is different. Trump regularly crosses over into a form of harsh belittling and abuse that is designed to delegitimize the opposition, that is, to tell his voters that the opposition has no legitimate institutional role in our politics at all.

Well…I think that attributes too much thought and deliberation to the abuser. Sure, the abuse delegitimizes, but he would do it even if it didn’t. He does it because that’s who he is, and because he thinks it’s funny, and because he thinks he’s a brilliant and successful insult comic, like Don Rickles but sexy and gorgeous. He does it because he likes doing it. That’s who and what he is: a person who loves insulting people, who can’t get enough of insulting people, who lives to insult people. He’s that guy. He’s a howling wilderness of ego and contempt, and the insults are an inevitable output of that recipe.

It’s a guessing game

Jan 9th, 2020 5:30 pm | By
It’s a guessing game

A British Columbia doula asks some questions:

Where do you see yourself in the hierarchy of birth? Are you at the bottom? The smallest player with the smallest voice? Or are you at the top?

Basically the doctor isn’t the boss of you. But what’s intriguing to me is the graphic that illustrates the hierarchy-dismantling.


Isn’t it fascinating that whoever created this graphic sees nurses and midwives as women and doctors as men, but the pregnant woman as the “birthing person”?

You’d think it would at least be consistent – nurse person, doctor person, birthing person, but no, the medical personnel are divided on the strictest of (outdated) lines. Somehow it’s only the one pushing out the baby who is portrayed as Mystery Gender.

Image result for lego people

Pencils have their uses

Jan 9th, 2020 5:08 pm | By


Trump’s campaign has been selling Schiff T shirts since last spring. For real.

Trump’s presidential campaign has started selling $28 “Pencil-Neck Adam Schiff” T-shirts that feature a drawing of Rep. Adam Schiff with a pencil for a neck and a clown nose.

So adult, so what you want in a presiding officer.


Image result for trump neck

Yet oddly enough Adam Schiff doesn’t call him walrus neck or similar.

Intentional calculated fraud

Jan 9th, 2020 11:42 am | By

We knew they knew, but now there’s even more evidence that they knew.

Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump took part in a fraudulent scheme to sell units in a luxury New York condominium-hotel and “knew they were lying”, according to a new book that explores how the current US president built his business empire.

Questions have long surrounded a criminal investigation into the Trump family’s dealings around the Trump SoHo that was dropped in 2011. Public disclosure of email correspondence revealed that Don Jr and Ivanka knowingly used figures that exaggerated how well the condos were selling in a ploy to lure more buyers.

Also how would they not know, also it was their responsibility to know. If you’re going to tell buyers a thing that will make them want to buy what you’re selling, you have a responsibility to make sure the thing you’re telling them is not a lie. I think it’s a legal responsibility as well as a moral one, because there is such a thing as fraud, and there are known ways to ensure one is not committing it. Step one: don’t just make shit up to flog your wares.

The episode is re-examined with fresh reporting by the journalist Andrea Bernstein in her book American Oligarchs: The Kushners, The Trumps And The Marriage Of Money And Power, a copy of which was obtained by the Guardian.

The Trumps left a damaging email trail, first reported by the ProPublica website in 2017, that Bernstein writes “showed a coordinated, deliberate and knowing effort to deceive buyers. In one email, the Trumps discussed how to coordinate false information they had given to prospective buyers. Because the sales levels had been overstated at the beginning of the sales process, any statement showing a lower level could reveal the untruths.”

The author continues: “In another email, according to a person who read them, the Trumps worried that a reporter might be on to them. In yet another email chain that included Don Jr and Ivanka, the younger generation of Trumps issued the email equivalent of a knowing chuckle, saying that nobody would ever find them out, because only people on the email chain or in the Trump Organization knew about the deception.

Hur hur. I bet their lives have been full of knowing chuckles. Princess Barbie Doll is a knowing chuckling crook, and the weirdly smooth hair can’t hide that.

“There was ‘no doubt’ that the Trump children ‘approved, knew of, agreed to, and intentionally inflated the numbers to make more sales,’ one person who saw the emails said. ‘They knew it was wrong.’ ‘It couldn’t have been more clear they lied about the sales and knew they were lying,’” another person said.

“Yet another said, ‘I was shocked by the words Ivanka used.’ Was there any doubt the Trumps knew they were lying and that it was wrong? ‘Ten thousand percent no.’”

Now the Princess has a security clearance. Isn’t life interesting?


Jan 9th, 2020 11:02 am | By

Meanwhile, during breaks from trying to start a war with Iran, Trump is trashing more environmental regulations.

The Trump administration plans to rewrite decades-old regulations to make it easier to build major infrastructure such as pipelines, which would have the effect of relaxing government efforts to fight the climate crisis.

“Relaxing.” That’s a nice word – a nice, soothing, pleasant word. The truth would be less pleasant: which would have the effect of weakening government efforts to fight the climate crisis. Or harming, ending, negating, nullifying, destroying. Relaxation really has nothing to do with it.

Trump announced Thursday morning the changes to National Environmental Policy Act rules, which requires federal agencies to assess the environmental impact of projects such as the construction of mines, highways, water infrastructure and gas pipelines.

Trump and administration officials said the changes are necessary to speed up approval for needed infrastructure projects.

But what if we need to address climate change more than we need to speed up approval for needed infrastructure projects? What if we’re being selfish by putting our current wants ahead of the future survival of people younger than we are?

Agencies will no longer have to consider “cumulative” effects of new infrastructure under the new rule, which courts have interpreted as a mandate to study effects of emitting more greenhouse gas emissions, according to The New York Times and The Washington Post, which reported the proposals earlier Thursday. That includes the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels.

Sure, just pretend that doesn’t matter, because hey we’ll be dead by then so let those younger people deal with it. Sucks to be them.

Thursday, asked if global warming is a hoax, Trump said: “No, no. Not at all. Nothing’s a hoax. Nothing’s a hoax about that. It’s a very serious subject.”

Oh god. You know what’s coming next. It’s what always does come next.

“The environment is very important to me,” he said. “I’m a big believer in that word, the environment … I want clean air, I want clean water.”

He says that every damn time – apparently he’s so bereft of healthy brain cells that he cannot grasp the difference between local pollution and climate change.

So that’s one more nail.

Would she be able to think critically?

Jan 9th, 2020 10:04 am | By

A heart-rending and infuriating but perhaps ultimately hopeful thread:

Oh god. Four years old. It’s unconscionable.

I think we can feel Carol’s fury with her – I think the typos are a kind of fury thermometer. I’m pretty sure I start missing keys when I get wrathful.

Great, the therapist thinks telling a girl that girls can have short hair and wear jeans is confusing while telling her she’s a boy is not confusing. I think we need a new Theory of Confusion.

Thinking critically is a good thing, including for therapists. Affirmation and Validation are not always the best thing for people.


Jan 9th, 2020 9:04 am | By

Many sources are saying it looks as though Iran shot down that plane.