Notes and Comment Blog

Mr. President, you are not above the law

Oct 9th, 2019 10:19 am | By

Nancy Pelosi responds to the White House’s petulant “we won’t we won’t WE WON’T” letter yesterday:

“For a while, the President has tried to normalize lawlessness.  Now, he is trying to make lawlessness a virtue.  The American people have already heard the President’s own words – ‘do us a favor, though.’  The President’s actions threaten our national security, violate our Constitution and undermine the integrity of our elections.  The White House letter is only the latest attempt to cover up his betrayal of our democracy, and to insist that the President is above the law.

“This letter is manifestly wrong, and is simply another unlawful attempt to hide the facts of the Trump Administration’s brazen efforts to pressure foreign powers to intervene in the 2020 elections.  Despite the White House’s stonewalling, we see a growing body of evidence that shows that President Trump abused his office and violated his oath to ‘protect, preserve and defend the Constitution.’

“The White House should be warned that continued efforts to hide the truth of the President’s abuse of power from the American people will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction.

“Mr. President, you are not above the law.  You will be held accountable.”

I hope he is so held soon.

Confidence is high

Oct 9th, 2019 9:33 am | By

DOCTOR McKinnon is off to the races.

Final TT prep before worlds!! I head to Manchester tomorrow. I’m anticipating 500m and 200m TT PBs…and a new masters women 200m TT world record.

#rainbowfoxracing #rainbowfox #worldchampion #herthighness…

He’s anticipating a new world record. How can he be so confident? Could it be because he’s anticipating it in a women’s race?

That won’t help

Oct 9th, 2019 8:51 am | By

From the News from Siberia file:

Scientists in Siberia have discovered an area of sea that is “boiling” with methane, with bubbles that can be scooped from the water with buckets. Researchers on an expedition to the East Siberian Sea said the “methane fountain” was unlike anything they had seen before, with concentrations of the gas in the region to be six to seven times higher than the global average.

The team is doing research on the environmental consequences of permafrost thawing. You know the drill – permafrost melting, methane being released, permafrost melting faster, more methane being released, permafrost melting even faster, continue until everything dies.

And it’s not just the tundra, it’s also the ocean.

In 2017, scientists announced they had discovered hundreds of craters at the bottom of the Barents Sea, north of Norway and Russia. The craters had formed from methane building up then exploding suddenly when the pressure got too high.

And now they’ve found these methane fountains, around which the methane levels are nine times higher than average global concentrations.

Performatively outraged

Oct 8th, 2019 6:02 pm | By

We won’t we won’t we WON’T.

In a performatively outraged eight-page letter to the House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon, the White House announced that it would not cooperate with the body’s impeachment inquiry under the circumstances in which it’s being conducted. Or, well, ever.

The tone of the letter, attributable to White House counsel Pat Cipollone, is shouty, reading as a lightly lawyered digest of the president’s tweets. It accuses House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic chairmen of three investigating committees of violating “the Constitution, the rule of law, and every past precedent” in the way they’ve conducted the inquiry.

And compare Trump, who honors Constitution, the rule of law, and every past precedent in every way at all times. He’s like a miracle of rule of law-observation!

The White House’s plan is to mark the impeachment process as an illegitimate sham, and granting Republican ranking members subpoena power and high-end massage chairs in committee rooms would just lead to new complaints about the rigged nature of the processA letter like this is not sent as an opening offer in negotiations.

They are not a crook.

Except they are though.

Who is going to sign up with us?

Oct 8th, 2019 4:43 pm | By

Why Trump’s sudden Syria move was such a catastrophically bad idea:

As President Trump defends his decision to pull away some U.S. troops from Syria’s border with Turkey, the president’s former envoy for the fight against the so-called Islamic State is raising alarms about how potentially destabilizing the move can be for the region.

Brett McGurk, who resigned from Trump’s national security team in December and also served in the Obama and Bush administrations, tells NPR that Trump making such a drastic announcement shortly after speaking with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has turned a vital foreign policy decision into a potential crisis.

“Presidents do a lot of things, but the most consequential are decisions of war and peace like this, and you can’t make decisions on a haphazard basis after a single call with a foreign leader,” McGurk says on NPR’s Morning Edition on Tuesday. “This is almost unprecedented.”

On a haphazard basis and all by yourself. Normal presidents don’t do that; not ever.

Trump’s decision to give Turkey more room to operate at the border contradicts recommendations from top officials in the Pentagon and the State Department. It’s also raising concerns that a Turkish invasion into northern Syria could endanger U.S.-allied Kurdish forces, leave thousands of jihadist prisoners unguarded — and even lead to a new strengthening of the Islamic State.

See a normal president would care what top officials in the Pentagon and the State Department said because they know a lot about it. A normal president would want to pool the knowledge of a lot of people as opposed to just assuming he (definitely he, not she) knows more than they do. A normal president understands that knowledge isn’t a thing that you just magically have but something you accumulate over time by putting in the work, and that no one person can have more than all the experts in a field combined. Trump skips all that and just assumes he knows best.

Gen. Mazloum Kobani Abdi of the Syrian Democratic Forces has a dire assessment. He tells NPR on Tuesday that he worries the troop withdrawal would trigger an attack by Turkey that could lead to “ethnic cleansing.”

“The Turks are going to attack. And they’ve been preparing for a long time,” Kobani Abdi says, speaking through his own interpreter on NPR’s Morning Edition. “The Turks, doing their invasion, they’re going to penetrate the border, they’re going to invade, and they’re going to take apart Syria soil or Syrian territory. And in the border area, there is millions of people who are living there.”

“And the Turkish are going to target the Kurdish communities especially and they are going to do ethnic cleansing to them and they are going to change the demography,” Kobani Abdi says.

Does that seem wildly unlikely? No.

Trump says he will punish Turkey if it does anything “off limits.” And he says he’s preserving U.S. military options by calling for American troops to leave the Syrian border. In defending his decision, Trump tweeted that the U.S. “can always go back & BLAST!” if the Islamic State regroups.

“Actually, you can’t,” McGurk said in response to the president’s tweet. “Who is going to sign up with us? Who is going to fight with us?”

That would be nobody. Sign up to fight with a country that can run away at any moment with no consultation and no warning, but just on the orders of one broken monster of a man? No thank you sir.

“The Russians are listening to this. The Iranians are listening this. This Assad regime are listening to this,” McGurk says. “It increases the risk for personnel out there in the field, and it increases the risk for our country because it will be harder for us to work with allies. The value of an American handshake really depreciates when you make decisions like this.”

The value of an American handshake is probably right about zero at this point.

The scramble and fallout from the call

Oct 8th, 2019 11:35 am | By

Apparently there was much scrambling.

Aides to President Trump scrambled in the aftermath of his July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s leader — both to alert lawyers of their concerns and to contain the damage, new CNN reporting shows.

At least one National Security Council official alerted the White House’s national security lawyers about the concerns, three sources familiar with the matter said. Those same lawyers would later order the transcript of the call moved to a highly classified server typically reserved for code-word classified material.

Wait a second. What kind of “concerns” are we talking about? Concerns about the criminality and treachery of Trump’s attempt to extort campaign interference from the president of Ukraine? Or concern about the criminality and treachery of Trump’s attempt to extort campaign interference from the president of Ukraine’s being found out by the rest of the world?

Do they give a shit about the substance at all? Or is it completely, 100%, entirely about Trump and about their jobs and reputations and hides? Moving the transcript suggests it was the latter.

Those concerns were raised independently of the complaint brought forward by an intelligence community whistleblower. They reflect new evidence of the unease mounting within the administration at the President’s actions.

But was the unease about Trump’s actions? Or about the consequences to them?

White House lawyers, aware of the tumult, initially believed it could be contained within the walls of the White House. As more people became aware of the conversation — and began raising their internal concerns about it — a rough transcript of the call was stored away in a highly classified server that few could access. The order to move the transcript came from the White House’s national security lawyers to prevent more people from seeing it, according to people familiar with the situation.

Shouldn’t national security lawyers be focused on the national security part, not Trump’s ability to continue doing bad shit part?

The scramble and fallout from the call, described by six people familiar with it, parallels and expands upon details described in the whistleblower complaint. The anxiety and internal concern reflect a phone conversation that deeply troubled national security professionals, even as Trump now insists there was nothing wrong with how he conducted himself. And it shows an ultimately unsuccessful effort to contain the tumult by the administration’s lawyers.

I hope they all get disbarred. They shouldn’t have been trying to “contain the tumult”; they should have been sounding the alarm.

In the shoes of others

Oct 8th, 2019 11:03 am | By

While awaiting developments in the impeachment process, I stumble over (sigh) Tim Minchin being a jackass.

I’m excited that so many people are so interested in the @OldVicTheatre at the moment! I look forward to hearing more about what you think of their amazing shows, fantastic community outreach programs, training & scholarships, and the wonderful work they’ve done over the…

… last 2 years to fund-raise for & carry out a complex renovation to make this historic 200 yr old building accessible for those who don’t do stairs 😊❤️. The Old Vic is not tax-payer funded, but does amazing work, carried out by passionate people who think very carefully..

… about the art they generate, the environment they create, and their role in increasing diversity in theatre. You might well have a sensible view to express regarding the signage on their new loos, but I do hope you will also take the time to drop in and experience the…

… gorgeous new foyer, bars and – yes – lavatories, and say hi to some of the wonderful, hard-working, caring team there. Most importantly, I hope you purchase a ticket & watch a show! Theatre is to my mind the form of storytelling that most profoundly, most immediately…

… and most viscerally helps place me in the shoes of others. Some of y’all could do with a dose, I reckon. Righto. Long live the @oldvictheatre. I’ll go back to obsessively checking my privilege now. It’s probably fallen down the back of my massive fucking velvet sofa. xx

By “the shoes of others” he of course doesn’t mean the shoes of women who don’t want to walk past a row of men at urinals or use an all-genders set of cubicles.

Several people tried to set him straight, and he somehow got himself to this point:

They were mostly raising money for accessibility. They also said they’d increase the number of toilets for women. I am open to the criticism they failed. But this I‘m pretty sure of: neither you (nor Perez/Ditum et al) really give a fig about the theatre, its patrons, or its loos

I retorted to that one, but more to the point so did Caroline:

Excuse me? First off, it’s Criado Perez, try to get names right even if they’re foreign please. Second, on what basis are you making that assertion? The fact that I go to the theatre regularly? The fact that I’ve done a whole lot of research on women’s access to toilets?

Here’s my unevidenced assertion right back: you know absolutely nothing about the research on women’s access to toilets, but since you’re a man you still think your opinion is more important than those of people who know what they’re talking about.

There’s a lot of that about.

Do we have to continue listening to his lies?

Oct 8th, 2019 10:00 am | By

The Guardian updates:

Trump has reacted to the latest subpoena of one of his administration officials by attacking the Democratic chairman of the House intelligence committee.

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

Hasn’t Adam Schiff been fully discredited by now? Do we have to continue listening to his lies?

Gordon Sondland said in a statement earlier today that he was “profoundly disappointed” he could not appear before Congress, so it will likely be much harder for Trump to prevent him from testifying now that he has been subpoenaed.

On the one hand they can’t – legally speaking – just ignore a subpoena; on the other hand these are Trump and the trumpies, so they probably will. Then what?

“The days of playing nice are done”

Oct 8th, 2019 9:06 am | By

So, is this the day it all comes crashing down? Or is it the day Trump seizes absolute power, and troops fill the streets?

I don’t think the second is very likely, because I don’t think Trump has that much ability to make everyone jump when he says jump any more.

But I hope his opponents hurry up and do something about this defiance of a subpoena problem.

US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland has been told by the State Department to not appear this morning before the House.

His attorney Robert Luskin said Tuesday morning he has no choice but to comply. “He is a sitting Ambassador and employee of State and is required to follow their direction,” Luskin said.

Luskin said Sondland will not appear.

They stayed up late talking about it.

Administration officials were in discussions late last night about blocking Ambassador Gordon Sondland from sitting down for his scheduled deposition today, per an official familiar.

The talks centered around how much the White House should be cooperating with requests from House Democrats without a formal impeachment inquiry vote, which the White House has asserted they need for this to be a legitimate probe, though Democrats have said otherwise.

Yes that’s definitely the issue – whether or not there’s been a “formal impeachment inquiry vote.” It’s not at all that Trump thinks he can get away with everything by just saying NO over and over.

A source familiar with discussions inside President Trump’s impeachment team says Ambassador Gordon Sondland not appearing is “part of an overall strategy connected to what is viewed as irregularities in the House impeachment inquiry.”

Blah blah blah. It’s part of “an overall strategy” of acting like a dictator as long as he can get away with it, which means literally until someone forcibly drags him out of there.

“The days of playing nice are done,” the source said.

The what? The days of what? When has he ever “played nice”?

The contrast with how the White House dealt with Special Counsel Robert Mueller is notable. John Dowd, Trump’s former lawyer, once noted Mueller was part of the executive — but Congress is outside and the White House and Trump do not feel an obligation to be as cooperative.

In other words he thinks he’s a dictator. Literally.

Schiff states the obvious: this is obstruction.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff said both Congress and the American people are “being deprived” of US Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s testimony today.

Earlier today, Sondland’s lawyer said the Trump administration’s State Department ordered him not to appear before Congress.

Schiff said Sondland has “text messages or emails on a personal device” the committee would like to see.

“Although we have requested those from the ambassador, and the State Department is withholding those messages as well,” Schiff said. “Those messages are also deeply relevant to this investigation and the impeachment inquiry.”

“The failure to produce this witness, the failure to produce these documents we consider yet additional strong evidence of obstruction of the constitutional functions of Congress.”

So basically it’s an attempted coup. I hope they can put a stop to it without further delay.


Oct 7th, 2019 5:36 pm | By

We need some refreshment.

Because the president has no spine

Oct 7th, 2019 4:35 pm | By

It appears that the sequence of events was: Erdoğan said Turkey was about to invade Syria, and Trump said “Great! I’ll take our troops out!”

Donald Trump got “rolled” by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a National Security Council source with direct knowledge of the discussions told Newsweek.

In a scheduled phone call on Sunday afternoon between President Trump and President Erdogan, Trump said he would withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria. The phone call was scheduled after Turkey announced it was planning to invade Syria, and hours after Erdogan reinforced his army units at the Syrian-Turkish border and issued his strongest threat to launch a military incursion, according to the National Security Council official to whom Newsweek spoke on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. withdrawal plays into the hands of the Islamic State group, Damascus and Moscow, and the announcement left Trump’s own Defense Department “completely stunned,” said Pentagon officials.

I gather the Kurds aren’t feeling too overjoyed about it either.

“President Trump was definitely out-negotiated and only endorsed the troop withdraw to make it look like we are getting something—but we are not getting something,” the National Security Council source told Newsweek. “The U.S. national security has entered a state of increased danger for decades to come because the president has no spine and that’s the bottom line.”

No spine and no brain.

Recognising this is a divisive subject…

Oct 7th, 2019 11:24 am | By

Sarah Ditum:

Just spent twenty minutes on the phone angrily telling the features ed – who approached me, commissioned me, and to whom I made myself available for any rewrites all for a derisory 50 quid fee (important enough issue to take a hit on the rate, I thought) – that he’s a coward


Sarah wrote one of the articles.

She adds:

Unbelievable as it seems, the issue of whether women should have toilets is incendiary. I agreed to write for the Stage in good faith, believing they intended to give a platform to an important conversation. That was my mistake and god do I regret it.

You can read the column here, on my website, and decide for yourself whether @TheStage was right to pull it without even forewarning me

Btw I’ve donated my fee to @nia_endingVAWG, who do incredible work

So let’s read Sarah’s column:

This article appeared briefly on the Stage before reactions to it convinced them to unpublish both this, and the article it was responding to. The features editor originally approached me, and as well as writing the column I made myself available for any edits (which were not required), despite the £50 fee being well below my usual rate – I consider the issue of women’s access to public toilets important enough to take a hit on the fee. Unfortunately, the Stage did not consider it important enough to support the work it commissioned, nor did they consider it necessary to notify me before unpublishing. You can read it here and decide for yourself whether it is an obnoxious enough piece of writing to deserve that treatment. 

If you need to confirm that we live in a world built on men’s terms, take a look at the toilets in any public building. The chances are that, while men are freely swanning in and out of their facilities, women are left shuffling uncomfortably in line, waiting for a cubicle. That’s not because women are frivolously lingering in there. While men can unzip and go at the urinal, women have to partially undress and sit down inside a stall, which takes longer – and because of periods, pregnancy and higher incidence of UTIs, women have to use the toilet more often.

For men and women to have equal wait times for toilets, a good rule of thumb is that women should have access to twice as many toilets as men. But few public toilets put that principle into practice, and the disparity is rarely more infuriating for women than when trapped in the queue at the theatre with the bell summoning you to your seat. So when the Old Vic launched a fundraiser to double provision for women, a lot of female theatregoers were very keen to give it their support.

But – haha – fooled again! There are more toilets, but they’re all accessible to men, and 18 of them have urinals, which makes them not even slightly comfortable for women to use.

Though the Old Vic’s change to gender neutral toilets has been pitched as an act of consideration to trans and non-binary people, in reality it offers little help at a great cost to women, who are still stuck queueing, only now with their privacy compromised. Why this, rather than keeping men’s and women’s and adding a third option for those uncomfortable with choosing? The Old Vic has made an incomprehensible decision here, betraying the terms of the original fundraiser, and women are angry about it. A theatre with inadequate women’s toilets, or without women’s toilets at all, is a theatre that doesn’t care whether there are women in its audience.

Oh well, it’s only women.

Great and unmatched wisdom

Oct 7th, 2019 10:33 am | By

And speaking of the difference between Identifying As and actually beingTrump an hour ago:

As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over…….the captured ISIS fighters and families. The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. It is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory. THE USA IS GREAT!

Francis Wheen:

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:/Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” says the colossal wreck, boundless and bare.

Walter Shaub:

If the leader of a major corporation publicly explained that a controversial action was taken “in my great and unmatched wisdom,” the board would call an emergency meeting to reassure shareholders and discuss next steps. For elected officials to ignore this is Russian roulette.

“in my great and unmatched wisdom” is the rambling of a lunatic

Nigel Warburton:

The phrase ‘in my great and unmatched wisdom’ uttered without irony! Does Trump think he is God now?


A tangible change

Oct 7th, 2019 10:17 am | By

Wait hold the presses it turns out that identifying as is not enough. It all depends on…er…um…


making a tangible change?

Whether they transitioned or not depends on if they made a tangible change either medically or through documentation (social transition). Just asserting your identity is absolutely your right, but it doesn’t mean you transitioned.

It doesn’t? But we’ve been told and told and told it does. We’ve been told that just asserting your identity is absolutely all it takes, and that any skepticism is a phobic crime against humanity.

It seems it’s going to turn out that that rule holds for trans people (definitely including those who just assert their identity) and not for former trans people who decide to stop being trans.

Free to pretend to be you or me

Oct 7th, 2019 9:04 am | By

It’s wrong from the headline on.

I was harassed at an In-N-Out bathroom for being a black trans woman

No. Not for being either black or trans, and not exactly harassed either, although that bit is tricky.


Ahead of a crucial supreme court decision, LeahAnn Mitchell writes about her experience with discrimination

That is, a guy who calls himself LeahAnn writes about his experience of using a women’s toilet.

“Is there a man in the bathroom?”

I was seated on the toilet in the stall of a women’s restroom of an In-N-Out when I heard the manager yell.

I had stopped at the burger restaurant in the Bay Area for a late lunch last spring, and was alone in the bathroom when the manager entered. “Sir, sir – you’re not supposed to be in here,” she said.

“Ma’am, it’s just me in here,” I responded.

I thought she would leave and that would be it. But I’m a black transgender woman, and people don’t just let us live our lives.


But just living your life is one thing, and using the toilets / restrooms / bathrooms designated for the opposite sex is another.

On the other hand if it’s true that Mitchell was alone in there, the manager could have just waited for him to leave…But then again how could she be confident of what he was doing in there? How could she be confident he wasn’t lurking to take photos under the partition or to stand on the toilet and peer over it? It does seem intrusive to yell at him when there’s no one else in there, until you remember that other customers, including little girls, could join him at any time.

But Mitchell doesn’t pause for a single second to think about that. It’s not part of his story at all. His story is all about him and how persecuted he is…because not everyone is thrilled to see him use the women’s toilets.

The manager came up to the stall door, and started looking through the cracks. She appeared to be scanning my body up and down. I got very scared. I clenched my purse to cover myself. I felt she was trying to look at my genitals, attempting to determine my gender. I asked her to leave while she continued to ask whether I was a man.

If that really happened, it does sound creepy, but the claim that he got very scared is ludicrous, and insulting. He’s a man, and the manager is a woman. He didn’t get scared.

After that it’s endless blah blah blah about how traumatized he was.

I’m a musician and was preparing to be a headliner at a Utah pride festival, I had just been featured in Billboard. I was signing a deal to compose for a ballet. I wanted to focus on my career.

But what had happened exacerbated my anxiety, stress and paranoia. For a while, I wasn’t leaving the house – fearful of being harassed. I grew increasingly depressed, to the point that I was dropping the ball on my life. I started waiting to get home to use the bathroom, because I felt like it was the safest thing to do. I had regressed and had to rebuild my strength just to walk in and use a bathroom.


If you’re a woman, welcome to Tuesday.

Newsflash: women get harassed, a lot. Women have experiences forced on them that make them nervous about using public toilets, changing rooms, elevators, trains, buses, shops, the street…pretty much all public territory, and sometimes private as well. And LeahAnn Mitchell, whether he knows it or not, has a very good chance of being a source of some of that nervousness. We don’t know how big or muscular he is, but in any case encountering a man in an isolated place where only women are supposed to be is not automatically rendered unalarming by the fact that he’s wearing a dress. Quite the contrary in fact. I find Mitchell’s complete indifference to all that repellent. He never so much as mentions it.


Discriminating against a person simply because you don’t like who they are should be against the law. No one is asking for special accommodations.

Yes they are. Demanding to be allowed to use the toilets reserved for the opposite sex is indeed asking for special accommodations.

I know my rights. California’s laws are very clear: I can use the bathroom that matches my gender identity.

So a 6’6″ football player can use the women’s toilets if he says the magic words “my gender identity”? What if he has a string of convictions for sexual assault? Still ok?

So I filed a discrimination complaint against In-N-Out. I wanted changes in policies. I wanted the company to learn and understand. They will have other LGBT customers.

Lumping it all together as “LGBT” confuses the issue. LGB customers don’t have issues with which restroom door to push open (apart from the occasional confusion over very butch lesbians or very femme gay men). This “I demand to be allowed to use the opposite toilets” item is strictly a trans demand, which is in tension with existing rights. It’s really not obvious that the trans demand should override those existing rights.

In a recent mediation, In-N-Out’s lawyers made it clear that they do not feel the company did anything wrong. It felt as if they told me I was worth nothing. They offered me a settlement that I found offensive. I said no.

“Felt as if” doesn’t cut it. “Felt as if” is not a legal argument. “Felt as if” is how we got in this ridiculous mess. Saying “No we aren’t going to let men pee in the women’s toilets” is not saying “men who want to pee in the women’s toilets are worth nothing.” The two statements are quite different. Dressing this garbage up in the language of civil rights struggles is just a cheat…just one more cheat in a long line of them.

But I won’t be silent. When it comes to black and brown trans folks, it feels like we don’t matter. Why can’t we exist in peace and have the same rights other people have?

They aren’t the same rights other people have. That’s the whole point. They’re inversions of the rights other people have. Women have the right to safe, private places to pee, and men who identify as trans want to get rid of that right and replace it with their right to be in women’s safe, private places to pee.

Why should somebody else’s opinion of what I should be get to dictate what my existence is?

Well, let’s see…because that’s just how it is? For everyone? We are what we are, and not something else. We’re free to fantasize that we’re better than what other people see of us, but we’re not free to force other people to share our fantasies. But here’s the good part of that: it means that none of us can be forced to share other people’s fantasies about themselves – including LeahAnn Mitchell!

Their aims were profit

Oct 6th, 2019 5:44 pm | By

Oh and by the way also

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — As Rudy Giuliani was pushing Ukrainian officials last spring to investigate one of Donald Trump’s main political rivals, a group of individuals with ties to the president and his personal lawyer were also active in the former Soviet republic.

What were they doing? Relief work? Technical advice? Helping?

Their aims were profit, not politics. This circle of businessmen and Republican donors touted connections to Giuliani and Trump while trying to install new management at the top of Ukraine’s massive state gas company. Their plan was to then steer lucrative contracts to companies controlled by Trump allies, according to two people with knowledge of their plans.

They were in Ukraine to trick or strongarm Ukraine into letting them take control of Ukraine’s massive state gas company so that they could have more money. That’s what they were in Ukraine for. That’s what they were “active” in.

The wrong guy won the election so their plan fizzled.

But the effort to install a friendlier management team at the helm of the gas company, Naftogaz, would soon be taken up with Ukraine’s new president by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, whose slate of candidates included a fellow Texan who is one of Perry’s past political donors.

Rick Perry was there to help Trump’s friends and donors profiteer off Ukraine. Drain the swamp much?

The spear for a political vendetta

Oct 6th, 2019 4:59 pm | By

William Barr is dropping his heavy hand on the shoulder of various foreign countries, seeking their assistance on finding something to make Trumpkraine go away.

Attorney General William Barr has been tugging on the sleeve of various foreign intelligence officials. He has asked authorities in at least three countries — Australia, Italy and the United Kington — for help.

He reportedly wants their assistance in reviewing how the CIA and the FBI went about investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

Barr’s apparent role in all of this is alarming to some former law enforcement officials.

No kidding. He’s acting like Trump’s personal fixer, not the Attorney General of the [whole, entire] United States. He’s also apparently seeking to help Trump get away with breaking laws.

Barr’s apparent role in all of this is alarming to some former law enforcement officials. That includes David Laufman, a former CIA analyst who worked in counterintelligence for the Justice Department.

Laufman served Republican and Democratic administrations, and he was involved in the early stages of the Russia investigation. He spoke with The World’s host Marco Werman about why Barr’s request for foreign help is so unusual.

You served as a political appointee in Republican administrations. Do you think all of this is beyond partisanship?

This is beyond partisanship. This is beyond the consequences of elections. You know this isn’t a matter about changing, tweaking antitrust policy with respect to mergers and acquisitions, you know, the sorts of distinctions that we see when an administration from a different party comes to power. This is about acting as the tip of the spear for a political vendetta that this president is carrying out, and putting the Department of Justice at the head of that spear to accomplish that is stunning. It’s extremely disturbing and it is completely not in keeping with the mission and history of the Department of Justice.

And Barr doesn’t give a shit.

What Orwell did not predict

Oct 6th, 2019 11:27 am | By

Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, and Max Wilbert on Orwell and Big Brother and who saw Big Sister on the horizon?

You also showed us the way out of this insane “sanity”:

“Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”

But you also wrote, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.” You said a boot. You did not say a men’s size twelve Christian Louboutin Hot Chick Patent Leather Pump stamping on a human face — forever. You, who predicted Big Brother would force us to say two plus two equals five and to say war is peace and to say we have always been at war with Eastasia, did not quite predict that we would also have to say that Big Brother has always been Big Sister, that the penis can be a female organ (and has always, when the owner chooses, been a female organ), and that males can give birth. You did not predict that “Transwomen are women” would be the pledge of allegiance — the oath of loyalty — we would all have to swear, hands over our non-binary chests.

He didn’t, but he did give us a lot of useful metaphors for the situation.

The authors of this article have written a book called Bright Green Lies, which is not about queer or transgender issues at all, but about how wind and solar power will not stop the murder of the planet. Our previous publishers refused to look at it. We shopped the book, and another publisher offered us a contract. Less than a week later we received the email we knew was coming — the one demanding we explain our “transphobia.” The publisher didn’t even bother to wait for our response before sending the next email: the one voiding the contract.

Well. Be fair. Which is more important, the planet or trans ideology?

In The Politics of Experience, psychiatrist R.D. Laing describes how one person can control another’s perception of reality. If Jack succeeds in forgetting something, this is of little use if Jill continues to remind him of it. He must induce her not to do so. The safest way would be not just to make her keep quiet about it, but to induce her to forget it also. Laing writes:

“Jack may act upon Jill in many ways. He may make her feel guilty for keeping on ‘bringing it up.’ He may invalidate her experience. This can be done — more or less radically. He can indicate merely that it is unimportant or trivial, whereas it is important and significant to her. Going further, he can shift the modality of her experience from memory to imagination: ‘It’s all in your imagination.’ Further still, he can invalidate the content. ‘It never happened that way.’ Finally, he can invalidate not only the significance, modality and content, but her very capacity to remember at all, and make her feel guilty for doing so into the bargain.

This is not unusual. People are doing such things to each other all the time. In order for such transpersonal invalidation to work, however, it is advisable to overlay it with a thick patina of mystification. For instance, by denying that this is what one is doing, and further invalidating any perception that it is being done, by ascriptions such as ‘How can you think such a thing?’ ‘You must be paranoid.’ And so on.”

That is a fine and useful passage.

When the invalidation, the impingement, and the guilt don’t suffice to shut Jill up, Jack can also call her a bigot, de-platform her, get her fired, have her book contracts voided, have her kicked out of public spaces like bars and Pride Marches, and punch her. Big Sister can do his damnedest to destroy her career. Big Sister can threaten rape and murder. Big Sister can threaten and commit other acts of violence, like nailing a dead rat to the door of a rape crisis shelter. In Canada, the United Kingdom, and some other places, he can sic the police on her and haul her into court. He can even murder her, her lesbian partner, and their son.

So, they sum up, we need to speak up and fight back. They’re not wrong.

If they step out of line

Oct 6th, 2019 10:19 am | By

Trump’s rage-tweets about Mitt Romney may be intended as an Awful Warning for any other Republicans thinking of failing to back Trump no matter what he does or says.

The acrimonious exchange is the latest turn in the up-and-down relationship between the two men, who share a party but are miles apart on questions of style, propriety, and adherence to institutional norms.

The vehemence of Trump’s tweets also served as a signal to other GOP lawmakers that Trump is willing to direct his ire at them if they step out of line and offer a hint of support to Democrats’ impeachment efforts against him.

It’s not as if they don’t already know that though. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows that Trump will turn on anyone, no matter how loyal for how long.

It’s also possible (though not likely, given their crawling thus far) that the bully signal might backfire. A few of them might get sick of being threatened by this horrible talentless bag of wind, and decide to do what he’s trying to stop them doing.

Is multiple more than several?

Oct 6th, 2019 9:45 am | By

Multiple whistleblowers now.

The attorneys representing the whistleblower who filed a complaint about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine said they are representing “multiple whistleblowers” in connection to the case, including one with “first hand knowledge” of events.

“I can confirm that my firm and my team represent multiple whistleblowers in connection to the underlying August 12, 2019, disclosure to the Intelligence Community Inspector General,” attorney Andrew Bakaj tweeted Sunday. “No further comment at this time.”

Mark Zaid, another member of the first whistleblower’s legal team, also said the team is representing a second official with first-hand knowledge of events, as first reported by ABC News. The original whistleblower had not heard or seen a transcript of the phone call between Mr. Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the center of the August 12 complaint.

And so Republicans have been squawking “secondhand!” for days.

“I can confirm this report of a second #whistleblower being represented by our legal team,” Zaid tweeted. “They also made a protected disclosure under the law and cannot be retaliated against. This WBer has first hand knowledge.”

“Multiple” is more than two, I think, so there are two plus ???

Anyway, Trump’s skin is getting crisper by the minute.