Notes and Comment Blog


White House replies “Nah”

Jun 13th, 2019 11:02 am | By

Oh good, another official ruling for Trump to flout and mock and disparage:

Talking Points Memo summarizes:

report attached to the statement labels Conway a “repeat offender,” and says that her violations, “if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions.”

The Hatch Act bans federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity. The Office of Special Counsel is a federal watchdog agency that monitors federal employees.

The OSC report states that “If Ms. Conway were any other federal employee, her multiple violations of the law would almost certainly result in removal from her federal position by the Merit Systems Protection Board.”

“Her actions erode the principal foundation of our democratic system – the rule of law,” a letter prefacing the report reads.

So many actions of Trump and his administration do that. It should have been his campaign slogan – “WILL MASSACRE THE RULE OF LAW.”

Investigators cite a May 29, 2019 media appearance in which Conway appeared to downplay the law’s significance. “If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work,” Conway said. “Let me know when the jail sentence starts.”

“If you’re trying to silence me” – as if she were Solzhenitsyn or Politkovskaya rather than the publicity chief for a mob boss. She’s a hack doing a hack job for a corrupt head of state, not an embattled independent journalist trying to get the truth out.

A Trump nominee — Henry Kerner — is in charge of the OSC. “OSC respectfully requests that Ms. Conway be held to the same standards as all other federal employees, and, as such, you find removal from federal service to be appropriate disciplinary action,” Kerner wrote in the Thursday letter to Trump.

Kerner’s decision to call for Conway’s revealed a behind-the-scenes battle between the OSC and White House that appears to have been playing out over the past few weeks. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said in a June 11 letter to Kerner that a draft of the report was “based on multiple fundamental legal and factual errors, makes unfair and unsupported claims against a close adviser to the President, is the product of a blatantly unfair process that ignored statutory notice requirements, and has been influenced by various inappropriate considerations.”

In other words, how dare you try to hold Trump accountable, much less try to make him obey the rules.

How dare a reporter ask Kellyanne Conway a question? These peasants know no limits, do they.

The recommendation comes more than one year after a March 2018 finding by the same office that Conway violated the Hatch Act by advocating for Roy Moore during the 2017 Alabama special Senate election.

The March 2018 report concluded that Conway repeatedly violated the Hatch Act during multiple television appearances. That report cites her as saying that Trump “doesn’t want a liberal Democrat in the Senate. He wants a reliable vote for taxes, for life.” The OSC then states that after two 2017 television appearances, Conway “received Hatch Act guidance” from the White House Counsel.

But Conway continued to ignore that guidance, according to the report out Thursday.

They are our new mob monarchy. The rules don’t apply to them.

Much of Conway’s conduct cited in the report is related to the 2020 presidential election. While “promoting the President’s agenda” is consistent with her official duties, the OSC said, weighing in on the 2020 nominees is not.

The OSC castigates Conway for making comments “directed at persuading voters not to support the Democratic Party candidates in the 2020 presidential election and garnering support for the President’s candidacy.”

The report goes on to cite dozens of media appearances Conway made from February 2019 until the present. In one April 30 appearance, for example, a reporter told Conway: “You brought up Joe Biden several times unprompted. Do you guys see him–?” Conway cut the reporter off, saying “How was it unprompted? He’s the frontrunner!”

After another question, Conway called Democratic voters “sexist” and “racist” due to Biden’s popularity and that of Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT). The White House adviser went on to say that “two old white straight men career politicians” were ahead in polling because voters have “a problem with the rest of the field.”

The OSC also cites Conway’s use of Twitter, accusing her of “engag[ing] in a pattern of partisan attacks on several Democratic Party candidates shortly after they announced” their campaigns. Those attacked include Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Conway accused Warren of “lying” about her ethnicity in one interview, for example, and referred to the Democratic presidential field as “woodchips.”

The report also cites Conway’s tweets calling Biden “Creepy Uncle Joe.”

But none of that applies, because [see above].

Towards the end of the report, the OSC describes why “Conway’s conduct warrants her removal.”

Calling the Hatch Act violations “persistent, notorious, and deliberate,” the OSC says that her conduct has “created an unprecedented challenge to this office’s ability to enforce the Act.”

“She has willfully and openly disregarded the law in full public view,” the report reads.

Well it’s no fun if you do it in secret.



Beware the tracking number

Jun 13th, 2019 7:42 am | By

Business Insider reports that Saudi Arabia uses a tracking number on the packaging of phones to track down women who leave the country.

Women who flee Saudi Arabia expect to be chased.

They expect their friends to be interviewed, their social media to be scoured, their passports to be frozen.

They mostly do not expect Saudi government agents to hunt down the old box for their iPhone.

But why do they expect to be chased, though? I realize Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow women to travel without a male “guardian” but I don’t see why it feels the need to continue that beyond its own borders.

The fact that such techniques are being employed shows how seriously Saudi Arabia takes the mass escape of as many as 1,000 women each year, people it has said are as much of a national security threat as terrorists.

Because…?

They’re just women after all. Nobody is going to listen to them or look askance at Saudi Arabia for treating them like objects. I’m not seeing the security threat.

A third Saudi woman, who was captured by Saudi agents after fleeing, was also told her IMEI number played a part. INSIDER was told her story by Taleb al-Abdulmohsen, an activist based in Germany, who passed her messages on.

“Captured” after “fleeing” – what is this shit? Nations don’t get to “capture” people who leave it, and people who leave their home countries aren’t “fleeing” – nations aren’t supposed to be prisons, and people who emigrate aren’t considered fugitives. What business does Saudi Arabia have “capturing” women who travel to other countries? That’s not capture, it’s kidnapping.

The woman, apprehended in the ex-Soviet nation of Georgia in 2018, was informed by her Georgian state-funded attorney that Saudi intelligence found her IMEI number. Working with the Georgian police, the attorney said, Saudi officials used it to find her.

“Apprehended” – no, kidnapped.

“The Georgian police tracked you upon request from the Saudi government, using an IMEI that they obtained from the packaging box of your cellphone,” she said, paraphrasing what the lawyer told her.

The woman was taken back to Saudi Arabia, where she has remained since.

Where she has remained a prisoner, kidnapped by the Saudis with help from the Georgian police.

At any rate: if you’re a Saudi woman making plans to leave, be sure to destroy the packaging your phone came in.



“Everything!”

Jun 13th, 2019 7:02 am | By

What is he, six?

“You leave stuff on the floor too! You leave the chairs on the floor, and the table, and the rug – you should get all your stuff off the floor too! Waaaaaaaah!”

Yes, Don, we know you talk to foreign governments. (By the way the royals are not that. You can talk to all the Romanovs you like.) The issue wasn’t talking tout court, and we’re not so stupid that we’re going to believe you think it was. The issue was “oppo research” – your words, buddy – from foreign governments. You know this, we know this, everyone knows this. You make yourself look even stupider with this shit. You also make yourself look conscious of guilt, telling such absurd whoppers.

Updating to add a requested screen grab.



“It’s called oppo research”

Jun 12th, 2019 4:28 pm | By

Trump still doesn’t get it.

In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, the president admitted that he would accept information on a political opponent from a foreign government.

“It’s not an interference, they have information – I think I’d take it,” President Trump said. “If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI – if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, ‘oh let’s call the FBI.’ The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressman, they all do it, they always have, and that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.”

Knowing the nickname for it doesn’t make it legal.

Stephanopoulos asked about Donald Trump Jr. and the regretable role he played in the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016. He asked if Trump’s son should have brought the Russians’ offer for “dirt” on Hillary Clinton to the FBI.

“Somebody comes up and says, ‘hey, I have information on your opponent,’ do you call the FBI?” Trump responded.

“I’ll tell you what, I’ve seen a lot of things over my life. I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI. In my whole life. You don’t call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you do,” Trump continued. “Oh, give me a break – life doesn’t work that way.”

“The FBI director said that is what should happen,” Stephanopoulos replied. (During congressional testimony last month, FBI director Christopher Wray told lawmakers “the FBI would want to know about” any foreign election meddling).

“The FBI director is wrong, because frankly it doesn’t happen like that in life,” Trump said. “Now maybe it will start happening, maybe today you’d think differently.”

The fact that Trump thinks life doesn’t work that way doesn’t make it legal to accept campaign help from a foreign government.

This is the president, and he appears to have no understanding of the law, even though it’s been discussed endlessly for the past three years, even though it applies to him, even though he swore an oath to uphold the constitution.

Does he really think he can violate a law with impunity simply by saying what he thinks the law should be?

Watch Stupid being stupid.



Don’t make promises you can’t keep

Jun 12th, 2019 3:35 pm | By

Hmm.

He can’t “promise” that. It’s an absurd thing to say. He could promise to increase funding to cancer research, but he can’t promise that if he’s elected we’ll “cure” cancer. Cancer isn’t One Thing, so “it” can’t be cured, boom, game over. Survival rates can be improved but I don’t think anyone who knows anything about it talks about curing cancer full stop.

The doofus act was ok for a sidekick. It’s not ok for this. Promising to cure cancer is worthy of Trump, not a serious alternative to Trump.

Go home, Joe Biden.



Guest post: Anti-boundaries activism

Jun 12th, 2019 2:43 pm | By

Guest post by Josh Slocum

Guaranteed method to attract abusers:

1. Lower your boundaries—and make a big deal out of talking about lowering your boundaries.

2. Characterize lowering your boundaries as “being inclusive.” This signals to predators that you are already brainwashed. They now know that you believe discernment and boundaries are bad things, things that oppress other people.

They can see that you derive your sense of being a good person from your self sacrifice. They like this, because it means that you will work hard to give up things that rightly belong to you, and that you won’t reserve any space for yourself.

They realize they can make you work faster and harder at giving up your own boundaries because you “get off”, you get self-esteem, the more you abase yourself.

3. Make a social show of castigating other people for having boundaries. This shows predators that you can be conscripted by them to help them infiltrate other people’s space.

This is what “liberal feminism” is. It’s what “social justice” has become on the left.

This is not progressive, or justice oriented. It’s a perversion of those classic ideals.



Waves of criticism and accusations

Jun 12th, 2019 11:42 am | By

What was that we were saying yesterday about the ever-escalating demands to obey the ever-inflating rules, and how impossible it is to obey them all when they’re constantly in motion, and how that trap is indeed a trap and no we can never escape the new demands? The trap caught Chelsea Cain:

Mockingbird writer Chelsea Cain has deleted her Twitter account after facing mounting backlash and accusations of transphobia due to a creative choice present in the latest issue of her comic book series Man-Eaters.

Cain’s self-described “feminist” series Man-Eaters, published by Image Comics with art by Elise McCall, follows the exploits of a twelve-year old girl named Maude as she navigates a world wherein a mutation causes women’s menstrual cycles to change a woman into a ‘were-cat’ creature and the ensuing harsh, fear and paranoia motivated response from the government.

Cain has repeatedly faced waves of criticism and accusations of holding Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist (or TERF) beliefs due to the alleged trans-exclusionary nature of the series’ concept, as some believed associating the monstrous change in women with a biological menstrual cycle excluded persons who were not biologically female but identified as such.

There.

Seriously?

A woman writing a comic based on menstrual cycles is bad and politically criminal because doing so excludes men who “identify as” biological women?

If that’s the standard then women just can’t write or talk about anything related to women, because it will always be found to exclude men who “identify as” biological women. Is it now obvious enough that the woke are absolutely determined to push women all the way out of the public sphere with this shit?

In the latest issue of Man-Eaters, Cain took a swing at her critics by including two tweets critical of her work as propaganda posters in a “pantherism recovery clinic,” a re-education camp-like facility meant to keep women from transforming into the were-cats.

The Tweet featured in the first panel reads, “I appreciate any comic on menstruation and the literal violent eating of men-I super duper do-but #ManEaters further cements the toxicity of a gender binary in a heavy handed, sad way.” The second, “I want to like @ImageComics #ManEaters so bad, but it is SO HEAVILY founded in bio essentialism and TERFness that it’s impossible to not feel like it perpetuates the same misogyny/systemic violence that it’s attempting to tackle.” While Cain did not include the respective handles of the users who posted these Tweets, they remain easily found through a quick search of the tweets’ body text.

And? Tweets are public (unless the account is locked); everybody knows that; so what if the handles are easy to find? If you attack someone on Twitter, you’re making it possible for other people to see your tweets attacking someone; that’s how Twitter works.

But she got pounced on anyway, and she ended up deleting her account. Score?



Joe Biden 3

Jun 12th, 2019 9:52 am | By

Yes, that’s a good look, Joe Biden sticking his finger in a woman’s face and telling her what’s what.

If you play it you can see that he’s wagging his finger up and down, right in her face, while leaning over her. This is what I keep talking about – when men do that shit it’s intimidating, and they need to stop doing it.

Go away, Joe.



GOP lawmakers would see the error of their ways

Jun 12th, 2019 9:23 am | By

Biden’s red-hot New Idea is to run as The Guy Who Can Work With Republicans. People who know anything about Republicans think he’s doolally.

Joe Biden insists that congressional Republicans will work with him once he’s elected president but no one, let alone [especially] those who worked with Biden in the last administration, actually believes him.

The former vice president’s latest promise of a forthcoming wave of bipartisan cooperation came on Monday night, when he told a crowd of fundraisers in Washington D.C. that he believed that when Donald Trump left office, GOP lawmakers would see the error of their ways.  “[T]hese folks know better,” he explained. “They know this isn’t what they’re supposed to be doing.”

Uh huh, and Donald Trump is really a nice guy at heart.

The line echoed comments that Biden reflects a strategy he’s adopted to appeal to voters as a throwback to a less divisive era and is based on the belief that the rest of the political establishment will join him there.

But veterans of the Obama administration say that Biden is either being naive or is willfully selling voters on a political fairytale.

“Fuck no,” one senior Obama aide said when asked if Republicans would be willing to work with a hypothetical President Biden.

Yep, I’m with “Fuck no” here. Republicans may know this isn’t “what they’re supposed to be doing”, but they sure as hell don’t care. They don’t take any kind of ethical view of the matter; they take a “give us all the power forever” view of it.

“Right on,” Ben Labolt, Obama’s 2012 campaign press secretary, said sarcastically of Biden’s call to renew bipartisan cooperation. “Mitch McConnell and [Rep.] Mark Meadows will rush to form the Woke Caucus. And Nelson Rockefeller will be revived from his grave.”

The legislative collaborations that Biden is best known for are not particularly popular among Democratic activists. And the deals he hashed out with McConnell—first to extend the Bush era tax cuts in exchange for stimulative tax measures, the second to extend many of those tax cuts even further while paving the way for large spending cuts—are often regarded as progressive low points of the Obama era; so much so that, to this day, Senate Republicans revel in them.

“Vote for me,” says Joe, “I can work with the Republicans, so that they get to slash taxes on the rich and I get to…say I can work with them.”

“It’s either delusional or dishonest,” said Adam Jentleson, who served as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s deputy chief of staff during the last two years of the Obama administration. “Republicans reaped enormous gains from their obstruction, like securing the balance of the Supreme Court for a generation or more. They know obstruction works and they will eat Biden’s lunch while he reminisces about the good old days.”

Well, but at least little girls will learn that they’re fuck toys and nothing else.



Everything falls under Executive Privilege

Jun 12th, 2019 8:57 am | By

Trump and Gang are ratcheting up the “we have absolute power” move.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday moved to block Congress’ access to documents about how a citizenship question was added to the 2020 census.

Trump claimed executive privilege over subpoenaed documents at the urging of the Justice Department, as the House Oversight and Reform Committee was beginning proceedings Wednesday morning to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with the panel’s subpoenas, which the committee issued in April.

The committee launched an investigation earlier this year into the origins of the citizenship question, with Democrats claiming that it was added to the census in order to boost Republicans in future elections.

Democrats have accused Ross of lying about how the citizenship question was added to the census, in particular after new evidence emerged recently that highlighted the role of a now-deceased Republican gerrymandering expert who argued that adding such a question to the census would cause congressional districts to be redrawn in ways that help Republicans.

The Trump administration has said it made the decision in order to better enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Better enforce? Better nullify, is what they meant. They must have had a big laugh over that one.



Dude, go home

Jun 12th, 2019 8:41 am | By

I find this perhaps disproportionately enraging. Then again perhaps not disproportionately at all.

Why not just tell her to go home and that she’s a slut for being out in public? Why not tell her to wear a burqa? Why not ask her grandfather what the hell he’s thinking allowing his granddaughter – a GIRL, with an actual VAGINA, and possibly pubescent little BOOBIES – to be in a coffee shop with men and boys around? Why not tell her to her face that she’s a whore and has no business mingling with male people in this whorish manner?

Or why not just say to her: “Oh hi, you are a young female person, a person who is fuckable, that is all there is about you that is of interest to anyone. Female persons are for being fucked by real people, who are male. I am one such person, your brothers are more, your grandfather is another. Why are you here? Are you here so that we can fuck you? I am confused.”

Related image

Updating to add: the photo is an old one; it’s not a photo of yesterday’s creepery.



A beautiful letter here, a beautiful letter there

Jun 11th, 2019 5:41 pm | By

Oh I misunderstood what Trump said about Kim’s murder of his brother – it wasn’t that he would do the same thing in Kim’s position, it was that he wouldn’t let the CIA spy on North Korea.

Soooooo that’s horrifying. Here we are, wishing Trump had merely endorsed a murder.

David Graham at the Atlantic cleared it up for me.

Two accounts, a new book by the Washington Post reporter Anna Fifield and a Wall Street Journal story, report that Kim’s brother Kim Jong Nam was a CIA informant. Kim Jong Nam was killed in a shocking chemical-weapons attack in the Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017. Trump was asked about the revelation as he left the White House for a trip to Iowa, and his answer was jarring.

“I see that, and I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un,” Trump said. “I think the relationship is very well, but I appreciated the letter. I saw the information about the CIA with regard to his brother or half brother, and I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices. I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices. I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un.”

I thought he meant “if I had a brother who was spying on me I’d murder him in a New York minute.” Is he now going to tell the CIA to stop gathering intel on Kim?

American officials often avoid discussing sensitive stories like this with the press, and one reason for that caution became clear as Trump continued. The context of his remarks makes clear that what Trump “wouldn’t let … happen” is not Kim Jong Nam’s killing, but his cultivation as an American asset. Trump has said that former President Barack Obama described North Korea as the nation’s greatest foreign-policy challenge, and Trump has taken that cue, making it a major priority. By saying he wouldn’t allow American intelligence to cultivate an asset so close to Kim, he’s saying he wouldn’t use spying to better understand the country’s biggest overseas challenge.

Put another way, he’s ruling out having the best information possible headed into high-stakes negotiations. Tying one hand behind your back like this makes sense only if you have a messianic belief in your own negotiating prowess—which Trump does, despite the collapse of the most recent round of talks.

Or if you’re so engorged with gratified vanity that you think the North Korean dictator really does love you and deserves all your best favors.

The guiding principle of Trump’s interactions with Kim has been to try to flatter Kim’s ego and play the good cop, while allowing other members of his administration to take the hard line. Arguably, that paid off in getting Kim to negotiate, even though no deal has been struck. But it also risks letting Kim get away with heinous acts, because the risk of offending him is that negotiations will break off. Moreover, this incident shows it works both ways: Kim grasps the importance of flattering Trump, as with the “beautiful” letter he sent the president. A beautiful letter here, a beautiful letter there, and pretty soon the president of the United States is apologizing to you after a report that you killed an American informant.

Trump is a cheap date.



He just received a beautiful letter ♥ ♥ ♥

Jun 11th, 2019 5:00 pm | By

We can actually watch him say it. We can watch, and we can hear reporters erupt with questions when he says it, and we can see him make the “shutupImtalking” gesture at them. We can watch him say that he too would murder a brother who was talking to the CIA. We can watch him drivel about what a warm letter Kim sent him. We can watch him exclaim about how much better he’s made everything. We can watch his hair flap jump up and down in the wind.

 



Losing on climate in the courts

Jun 11th, 2019 12:01 pm | By

One bit of better news though – the Trump admin is failing to kneecap climate change-related regulations.

The Trump Administration is losing on climate in the courts. More than two and a half years into the Trump Administration, no climate change-related regulatory rollback brought before the courts has yet survived legal challenge. Nevertheless, climate change is one arena where the administration’s rollbacks have been both visible and real. In total, the Sabin Center’s U.S. Climate Deregulation Tracker identifies a total of 94 actions taken by the executive branch in 2017 and 2018 to undermine and reverse climate protections.

But despite the Trump Administration setting a high-water mark for climate change deregulation, a new Sabin Center working paper, U.S. Climate Litigation in the Age of Trump: Year Two, finds that due to vigilant litigation, the courts have largely constrained extralegal rollbacks and other attempts by the Trump Administration to undermine climate protections by overreaching executive authority, violating statutory requirements for environmental review, or flouting administrative law—at least thus far. (An executive summary of the paper is also available.)

Hanging on by our fingernails.



Trump and Kim have that in common

Jun 11th, 2019 11:44 am | By

Trump totally gets why Kim Jong Un had his brother murdered. He says he would have done the same.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he had received a very warm letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, calling the correspondence “beautiful.”

Trump spoke a day after the Wall Street Journal reported that Kim’s slain half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, was a source for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Kim Jong Nam was killed at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2017.

“I did receive a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un … I appreciated the letter. I saw the information about CIA with respect to his brother, or half-brother. And I will tell him that will not happen under my … I wouldn’t let that happen.”

Jeezus.



An analogy that doesn’t

Jun 11th, 2019 11:06 am | By

I saw a reference somewhere yesterday (I wish I could remember where) to an analogy between trans identity and adoptive parents. I kept thinking about it off and on all day, finding it less convincing the more I thought about it. So I searched for it and found a piece by a philosopher, one Sophie Grace Chappell. Is Chappell trans?, I wondered as I read. I had to look hard to find out, but I did look hard, because…that name? Sophie Grace? Remember the also self-named cartoonist Sophie Labelle? Self-flatter much?

Anyway I did find out: yes, Chappell is trans.

Sophie Grace Chappell is professor of philosophy at the Open University, Milton Keynes, England. Under her previous name Timothy Chappell she is the author of Ethics and Experience (Acumen 2011) and Knowing What to Do: Imagination, Virtue, and Platonism in Ethics (OUP 2014). Her most recent book is the edited collection Intuition, Theory, and Anti-Theory in Ethics (OUP 2015).

OUP: a name to conjure with.

So, this analogy:

Maybe we should think of it like this: Trans women/men are to women/men as adoptive parents are to parents. There are disanalogies of course, and the morality of adoption is a large issue in itself which I can’t do full justice to here. Still, the analogies are, I think, important and instructive. [1]

An adoptive parent is someone who desperately wants to be a parent but can’t be one in the normal biological sense. (At any rate usually–there are families with a mix of biological and adopted children. But here I’ll focus on the commoner and simpler case.) So society has found a way for her to live the role of a parent, and to be recognised socially and legally as a parent, which kind of gets round the biological obstacle.

Chappell then goes through a long list of the things people don’t think about adoptive parents but do think about trans people, but what I kept thinking about yesterday was whether the analogy is a real analogy in the first place. I get the basic idea: adoptive parents are not literal, physical parents, but they function as parents, they live as parents, they are accepted as parents, and so on. I get that but it’s not all there is to it. Adoptive parents are parents if and because they do something. You have to adopt a child or children to be an adoptive parent. You don’t have to do anything to be a trans woman. A closer analogy would be “identifying as” an adoptive parent without actually adopting any children.

The adoptive bit is not just a label, it’s an action – and quite a big action, with large consequences that last for years; an action that entails many actions every day for 18 years/the rest of your life. Being trans can include some actions taken on the body, but we are assured it doesn’t have to.

I asked myself at one point yesterday what actions I would take if I decided I was a trans man. The answer was: none. Nothing would change. Not one damn thing. I mean, sure, I could get busy telling everyone I know, but that doesn’t count as an action entailed by being a man instead of a woman. There would be no chores or duties or visible behaviors I would have to adopt to conform to my decision.

And then there’s the fact that being an adoptive parent is about the children at least as much as it’s about the parent. There are parents who adopt and children who are adopted; adoption means both parties; it can’t possibly be a solipsistic activity. Being trans is very much the opposite of that – it’s about “an authentic self”; it’s about “my identity”; it’s about “my woman’s soul”; it’s about an Inner Feeling. It’s about one person and one person only. In that way the two could hardly be more contrary to each other.

This makes all Chappell’s points about the things people don’t think about adoptive parents but do think about trans people pretty much irrelevant, as far as I can see. Of course people don’t question the category of adoptive parents the same way some of us question the category of trans people (at least as currently dogmatized): they are radically different.

Until people start “identifying as” adoptive parents while remaining childless I don’t think that will change.



Constructive, supportive dialogue

Jun 11th, 2019 10:06 am | By

How can we do more? More more more? The situation is desperate; we must do more.

The profession being discussed is philosophy (i.e. the university job).

After reading several accounts by transgender colleagues reporting very negative experiences in the profession–accounts that a number of other trans colleagues wrote on social media cohere with their own experiences–Helen and I commissioned the following guest post on ways to support our trans peers better. We hope the post will lead to constructive, supportive dialogue on this important issue – as we believe that our profession should be a welcoming and supportive place for all of its members, particularly those who have been marginalized and who experience the profession as less welcoming that it should be.

Which of course doesn’t mean women. Women are not and have never been marginalized, and they do not and never have experienced the profession as less welcoming than it should be.

Supporting Our Transgender Peers in Philosophy

By Isela González Vázquez, Jules Holroyd, and Rory Wilson

Department of Philosophy,  The University of Sheffield

Many of us will have been saddened to read the two pieces – here and here –  from trans students describing their experiences within academic philosophy. While we strongly disagree with the views of ‘gender critical’ philosophers, and are grateful to those who have engaged with their arguments, that’s not what we want to do in this post. We don’t want to add more fuel to the flames here. Instead, we want to ensure there is space to discuss the kinds of support we should be making available to trans staff and students. What we can do better? How can we, academic philosophers, cis and transgender, together support trans staff and students within our departments and within our discipline?

And how can we make sure to let gender critical feminists know we don’t support them right at the outset?

Jumping way ahead (it’s a long piece, as is only right for this Most Important Subject of All) –

In addition, there are some basic support measures that each of us, as individuals, could work towards on a daily basis:

    • Adopting the general practice of considering the specific needs of transgender individuals. Crucial here is respecting gender identity. Misgendering, or the act of referring to a person with gendered language that does not match their gender identity is frequently encountered by transgender individuals. Whether intentional or not the act can serve to make a trans person feel a host of negative emotions.
    • Often advice around misgendering is to ask people their pronouns outright. We believe this is not always the best approach as especially in the context of a classroom, asking such a question can be experienced as harmful in its own right. A person you are asking might be not out, so the asking of the question of pronouns makes them either come out not on their own terms or position them to misgender themselves. It also could put someone in a position of being unsafe if there are others who have intent to do harm to this person on finding out this information.
    • A better approach is one of respecting gender identity as a matter of privacy. Always use pronouns that a person voluntarily shares with you.

Never ever misgender anyone. Don’t ask people what gender they are. Look out!

Have a nice day.



Women are the threat

Jun 10th, 2019 5:49 pm | By

Liam Madigan informs us that Karen Ingala Smith is not a feminist, on the grounds that her list of murdered women is a list of murdered women. She “purposely” doesn’t include men on her list of murdered women, therefore she is not a feminist in the view of Liam Madigan, Labour Students National Women’s Officer.

Also Liam.

I don’t think Liam would recognize a fact if it bit him on the ass (as we vulgarly say over here – swap in “arse” if you prefer).



Bring plenty of stones

Jun 10th, 2019 5:13 pm | By

Oh goody, a town hall. A Two Spirit, Dyke, Queer & Trans Community Town Hall, Hosted by Coalition Against Trans Antagonism and Vancouver Dyke March.

Vancouver Dyke March is the one that doesn’t like lesbians. It has a video about trans inclusion.

I feel like the word “dyke” is so inclusive of so many different idenninies.

That’s at 22 seconds in and I’m not watching any more because that’s plenty stupid enough. The word “dyke” is inclusive of lesbian identities; why does it have to be inclusive of “so many” other ones? Why can’t it just name what it names? Why do words have to be inclusive at all? The more inclusive they are the less they tell us, and words are supposed to be tools for telling us things.

Back to the event page.

Coalition Against Trans Antagonism & the Vancouver Dyke March are teaming up to hold an important community discussion. Join us to debrief, reflect on, and strategize with regards to last year’s and this year’s Vancouver Dyke March and the TERF/SWERF fascist violence and oppression.

Yes that’s what dyke marches should be all about: demonizing other dykes and accusing them of fascist violence and oppression.

Image result for circular firing squad

Safer Space Information:
This event is a safer space event. We insist attendees conduct themselves within decolonial and intersectional frameworks. TERFs, SWERFs and any other forms of fascists and supremacists are not welcome. All attendees will be vetted at the door.

In other words feminists who think men are not women and feminists who think the sex trade exploits and abuses women are not welcome at this oh so intersectional meeting.



Starting point

Jun 10th, 2019 4:24 pm | By

Laurie Penny makes a reasonable suggestion.

Let’s start by acknowledging that women are not things. Before we talk, like we have to, about what the attacks on abortion access mean for this anxious, awful political era, let’s establish as a ground rule that women are not vessels, or incubators, or an undifferentiated natural resource. Women are human beings whose human rights matter.

And one item that looks a good deal like a human right is the power to decide what happens to your body, within the realm of possibility. You can’t decide you will never get ill, but you can decide to do something about getting ill. Medical technology being what it is, women now can decide they will never get pregnant, if they choose, but they should also have the right to undo a pregnancy that they don’t want. Pregnancy doesn’t happen off in some other room, with a baby placed in the hands 9 months later; it happens inside a woman’s body, and if she doesn’t want it to, it’s not for anyone else to force it on her.

But, Penny goes on, lots of people in the US think it is.

This has been coming for a long time. It’s all part of a strategic  frontal assault on women’s right to choose, a deliberate ploy to overturn  the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling upholding abortion access as a constitutional right in the United States. These laws are not about whether a fetus is a person. They are about enshrining maximalist control over the sexual autonomy of women as a foundational principle of conservative rule. They are about owning women. They are about women as things.

Women as things that are comfortable for men – things that never disagree, never object, never snap, never refuse. Whether it’s making dinner or spreading her legs or gestating an infant, she’s always compliant.