Notes and Comment Blog


If only the goat would relax

Sep 8th, 2019 12:48 pm | By

I’m not a big fan of Quillette, but there’s a section of this piece by Spencer Case on philosophy and pressure to shut up about trans issues that I want to share.

He asks whether or not there is any such pressure, and quotes people who say there is not.

A more even-tempered response, another open letter, appeared at the American Philosophical Association blog August 7, 2019. The 33 signatories deny that a climate of fear surrounds the topic of gender identity. They write:

As feminist philosophers who have, variously, argued for, researched, engaged with, and taught these views, we are well-positioned to claim that there is no established orthodoxy about gender in academic philosophy. There continues to be much lively disagreement on matters of gender without accusations of transphobia.

We might fairly ask if feminist philosophers are really in the best position to authoritatively declare that there are no orthodoxies about gender in philosophy. If orthodoxies about gender beset feminist philosophy in particular, then they might be the last to know. What the signatories say next, at the letter’s conclusion, qualifies their commitment to open inquiry almost to the point of nullifying it:

We do, however, think it is important, when exercising our academic freedom, that we consider how our views may impact others. Academic responsibility requires us to consider differences of power and vulnerability in speaking of and to others and the effects of our words in reinforcing structures of oppression. There are many diverse, contentious views about gender and gender identity that can be–and are–engaged with in ways that do not call into question the integrity and sincerity of trans people nor the validity of their own understanding of who they are.  We should conduct our research freely and responsibly, without treating other people’s lives as though they are abstract thought experiments. [emphasis added]

The italicized portion gives the game away. The signatories know that the acceptability of views contrary to the self-understandings of trans people is the sole issue that motivated the letter to which they are responding. It’s as if someone said, in response to concerns that Copernican views about the solar system were being suppressed, that there is no orthodoxy in astronomy—after all, you’re free to defend any view consistent with geocentric cosmology.

Any color you want as long as it’s black, as Henry Ford is reputed to have said.

(Case doesn’t address this part, and I think I probably did when the APA letter was published, but I’ll just mention it again: there is no broad rule that we have to accept “the validity of people’s own understanding of who they are.” There can’t be. These days we even have a one-word explanation for why. That word is: Trump. People’s own understandings of who they are can be wildly wrong.)

But this is the bit for which I wanted to share the post:

Mormon Sunday school teachers used to encourage obedience with a parable. Allegedly, a tethered goat will move as far away from the post as it can, so that the rope remains taut and never touches the ground. If only the goat would relax, the story goes, it could be content in the space it was given, which contains all the grass it needs. The moral is supposed to be that you can be happy within the church’s strictures, but the analogy backfires—who wants to be a goat on a rope in the first place?

Or a Mormon. Or a trans-centric feminist-philosopher.

These feminist philosophers are a good deal more like Mormon Sunday school teachers than they realize. They seem to be saying: “We’ve given you enough intellectual space in which to dwell, and plenty of grass to munch on (in the form of trans-inclusive feminist views to consider). Now be a good goat and don’t strain at the end of the rope.”

And we say fuck your rope, we’re off to the brook and the woods and the wild blue yonder.



The state of it

Sep 8th, 2019 11:26 am | By

Another fine skewering by Daniel Kaufman at The Electric Agora, saying that what Philosophy’s Woke Brigade have been up to now is beyond a joke.

What they are doing now seriously threatens the professional credibility and public standing of our discipline, and anyone and everyone who cares about academic philosophy needs to oppose them in the strongest possible terms.

It’s about that Institute of Arts and Ideas symposium on sex and gender.

It was a useful, interesting clash of perspectives, civil in tone and offering a good overview of some of the major points of contention in the ongoing debate.

Today, you can only read the original symposium as a download. (1) This is because after being published, Dembroff, Stryker, and Kukla demanded that their contributions be retracted, to which the IAI acceded.  If one goes to the website now, only the gender critical portions of the symposium remain – the pieces by Stock, Lawford-Smith, and Bindel – while the original offerings from Dembroff, Stryker, and Kukla have been replaced with a joint statement, appearing on a separate page, in which they attempt to explain themselves. (2)

Kaufman points out how absurd of Dembroff, Stryker, and Kukla it is to claim IAI should have asked their permission to include the heretics.

…there is no such standard in our discipline, according to which when asked to contribute to something, one’s consent to appear alongside all the other contributors must be solicited, which in some cases may actually be impossible (e.g. where the contributor list is still being put together when the invitation is made or where a contributor may have to be replaced, mid-project, because another has dropped out).

And then there’s the despicable part.

Beyond this appeal to a wholly imaginary professional standard, the rest of the statement is standard PWB fare; the usual, foul mixture of: (a) garden variety misrepresentations and lies, such as when Kukla and Co. accuse the three gender critical contributors of “questioning transgender people’s fundamental legitimacy as people” and presupposing that “transgender people are by definition mentally ill or delusional” (a quick inspection of the three essays demonstrates that they do no such thing); (b) vile slanders, such as when Kukla and Co. suggest that platforming gender critical philosophers is akin to giving a platform to Holocaust deniers and compare Stock, Lawford-Smith, and Bindel, all of whom are lesbians, to those advocating “corrective rape to cure lesbianism”; and (c) the by now routine, cynical, disingenuous, obvious-to-anyone-over-six-years-old abuse of the harm principle, as in when Kukla and Co. claim that being featured on the same page as gender critical feminists puts their “basic safety at risk.”  (Somewhat incongruously, Kukla elsewhere has professed to being a competitive weight lifter and boxer, with photos of her flexing her muscles and kicking ass to back it up. (3))

It’s coin of the realm though. It’s the “blood on their hands” ploy. That’s his point: these are established academic philosophers and they shouldn’t be carrying on this way.

In a healthy institution or discipline, contemptible behavior like this would quickly turn you into a pariah, but academic philosophy today is not a healthy institution or discipline. It’s not just the ideologically captured APA, whose President co-authored the recent “Just Ideas? The Status and Future of Publication Ethics in Philosophy: A White Paper,” a transparent, cringeworthy effort to institutionalize the despicable conduct of the PWB in professional journals. Or Justin Weinberg’s seemingly inexhaustible commitment to use his philosophy news website, the Daily Nous, to shill on behalf of the PWB and perform hits on gender critical philosophers, by way of a selective posting of articles and links. (One can only admire the providential timing of his latest linking to a hit piece on gender critical thinkers and activists, over at Vox. (4)) It’s Sally Haslanger, one of philosophy’s most notable, venerable scholars using her position and prestige to pressure the highly respected Notre Dame Philosophy Reviews to “revisit their standards,” because they published a review written by Kathleen Stock, on a book about feminist ethics. It’s a herd of scholars, writing and signing a petition to get Rebecca Tuvel’s paper on transgenderism and transracialism removed from the journal, Hypatia, after it already had passed peer review and been published. It’s the PWB piling on 3AM Magazine for having dared to publish Richard Marshall’s interview with Holly Lawford-Smith and thereby driving him from platform. (He’s had to re-open shop solo.) It’s Rachel McKinnon, of the College of Charleston, publicly celebrating the imminent death of a young, lesbian activist YouTuber from brain cancer and then doubling down when called on it. (5) And it’s the PWB’s next generation graduate students cyberstalking Kathleen Stock to compile a database of her tweets (for what purpose, one can only imagine) and being cheered on by one of the current PWB’s B-List members, Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa. (6)

It is indeed.



Your friendly reminder of whrflgrbbl

Sep 7th, 2019 4:30 pm | By
Your friendly reminder of whrflgrbbl

Deep.

Capture



Here to represent

Sep 7th, 2019 4:24 pm | By

Pliny the in between at Far Corner Cafe:

Zee Bileists.017.png



An escalation of Trump’s attacks on government science

Sep 7th, 2019 4:14 pm | By

Gretchen Goldman at the Union of Concerned Scientists blog has a blistering piece on Trump’s outrageous interference with NOAA.

The mission of the National Weather Service is to provide “weather, water, and climate data, forecasts and warnings for the protection of life and property and enhancement of the national economy.” And its hard-working employees work around the clock in offices around the country to ensure the weather is forecast, and lives are saved. Yet, today is a dark day: These dedicated public servants were thrown under the bus by their own leaders simply for implementing this very mission.

It’s not just one more Trump on Twitter drama.

The National Weather Service is responsible for saving countless lives. Its weather watches and warnings, along with ongoing communication with the public, keeps people out of harm’s way. People are able to avoid or prepare for tornadoes, hurricanes, heatwaves, and flood waters thanks to the dedicated experts in the National Weather Service who track severe weather into the night, sometimes even sleeping at the office to ensure they don’t miss a forecast.

I check in on the Seattle branch often, and they warn us to take cover whenever lightning is in the forecast.

National Weather Service employees are keeping people safe across the country every hour of every day. They are in constant communication with the public through social media, TV, radio, and even answering phone calls directly from members of the public. The Birmingham Alabama office was simply fulfilling this crucial mission last week when it tweeted out that (contrary to the President’s assertion) Alabama would not be in the path of Hurricane Dorian. Yet the administration—and now NOAA leadership itself—is acting as if this was a criminal act.

As if it were an attack on the president and as if that were all-important while people’s actual physical safety didn’t matter at all. The god-emperor’s amour-propre is all, the people are mere dust!

This move is an escalation of the president’s attacks on government science. It is no secret that President Trump hasn’t respected the science and scientists at federal agencies. In fact, our work has tracked more than a hundred examples of misuses of science under President Trump and our survey of scientists at 16 federal agencies found that many were being censored, ignored, and left out of crucial conversations. But this move takes the problem to new heights. The work of the National Weather Service has been historically apolitical. Weather forecasting, after all, is crucial to the whole country, all people, and all commercial activities. But here we see NOAA leadership trade scientific integrity for political appeasement.

In the service of Trump’s vanity, and nothing more significant than that.

It takes a lot for the National Weather Service to build up trust from the public and this work is crucial for saving lives and property. When people don’t believe the messenger, they won’t leave even when a threat is eminent. The National Weather Service has worked hard to build its reputation locally and nationally. The administration and NOAA leadership tore that down yesterday in one shameful memo.

Because Trump’s vanity matters more.

This is not the first time the Trump Administration has intimidated federal agencies for science-based social media posts. In 2017, the Trump Administration flew the Joshua Tree National Park social media manager all the way to DC so he could be publicly chastised for tweeting about climate change, a topic very relevant and important for an ecosystem like that of Joshua Tree National Park. We know from federal scientist surveys that scientists can do their job better when their leaders support scientific integrity. NOAA leaders just proved they aren’t up to that task.

But Trump’s vanity.



Hacks get smacks

Sep 7th, 2019 3:22 pm | By

Former heads of NOAA are blasting current NOAA brass for undermining the organization that people rely on during weather emergencies.

Former top officials with NOAA spent Saturday criticizing the agency after its statement defended Trump…

…and undermined the National Weather Service in Alabama.

Former officials at NOAA called the statement dangerous and an attempt to politicize weather forecasts.

Monica Medina, a former top official at NOAA who served in the administrations of former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clintons, said the statement “will make us less safe as a country.”

“As a former @NOAA leader I can say two things with certainty. No NOAA Administrator I worked for would have done this. And I would have quit if I had been directed to agree to let this BS go out,” she wrote on Twitter.

Bill Read, who became director of the National Hurricane Center director during the Republican George W. Bush administration, said on Facebook the NOAA statement showed either an embarrassing lack of understanding of forecasting or “a lack of courage on their part by not supporting the people in the field who are actually doing the work. Heartbreaking.”

Justin Kenney, who headed the agency’s communications in the Obama administration, said “by politicizing weather forecasts, the president … puts more people — including first responders — in harm’s way.”

James Franklin, Former Chief of the Hurricane Specialist Unit, National Hurricane Center, NOAA/NWS did a whole thread that’s worth sharing:

Concerning NOAA’s statement this afternoon throwing WFO Birmingham under the bus…I thought Birmingham’s statement Sunday morning that Alabama would see no impacts from Dorian was spot-on and an appropriate response to the President’s misleading tweet that morning.

NHC’s WSP product serves as guidance to forecasters, and it showed only a very small likelihood of tropical-storm-force winds in the state, and essentially zero chance of hurricane-force winds. The risk of significant impacts in Alabama by that time was virtually nil.

Based on my experience as an NHC forecaster, I saw no meteorological justification on Sunday for the President to add Alabama to the list of states that would “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated”.

Lastly, It’s the job of forecasters to interpret the numerical guidance available to them, not to echo it back out verbatim. I’m surprised and disappointed that NOAA’s statement today seems to not recognize the value its forecasters add to NWS products and services every day.

You all did the right thing. Take heart, @NWSBirmingham

Good. I was feeling very furious on behalf of NWSBirmingham yesterday. The point of their tweet contradicting Trump was to say there is NO reason to panic or run away. Trump has no business punishing them for that.

Meanwhile President Bozo tweeted an hour ago:

The Failing New York Times stated, in an article written by Obama flunky Peter Baker (who lovingly wrote Obama book),”Even after the President forecast the storm to include Alabama.” THIS IS NOT TRUE. I said, VERY EARLY ON, that it MAY EVEN hit Alabama. A BIG DIFFERENCE……..FAKE NEWS. I would like very much to stop referring to this ridiculous story, but the LameStream Media just won’t let it alone. They always have to have the last word, even though they know they are defrauding & deceiving the public. The public knows that the Media is corrupt!

The Republicans might as well just nominate a horse for president next time.



Make the women stay home

Sep 7th, 2019 2:26 pm | By

There was a Lesbian Strength March in Leeds today, and protesters showed up to do a counter-march. Theocratic homophobes, right?

No.

A Lesbian Strength March in Leeds today was met with a counter-protest by trans rights activists.

Police were called in to keep the groups separated on either side of City Square.

So trans rights activists are telling us they oppose lesbian strength? Women can’t have anything without trans approval?

On one side, the Lesbian Strength March gathered to fight for a ‘visible lesbian presence’ on the streets.

The women travelled to Leeds from across the country and said they were protesting as they no longer felt safe at Pride marches.

Organiser Julie Furlong said: “Pride doesn’t represent us for lots of different reasons.

“For just once this year, we want to be somewhere where we are appreciated, where we are valued and where we are with our sisters.”

Julie claims that the march has nothing to do with transgender people – but trans rights activists gathered opposite City Square to oppose the Lesbian Strength March.

The counter-protesters believe that the march is inciting hatred against trans people.

Do they? Or do they just believe that the march isn’t about them, and that that won’t do?



Wrapped up in gender systems

Sep 7th, 2019 2:16 pm | By

Trans woman Katelyn Burns tells us

It’s really incredible that a lot of cis people are so wrapped up in gender systems that they view a loved one’s transition as a literal death. It’s a sickness of the mind.

If your partner transitions, you are not a “widow” and claiming so is insulting to actual widows.

Wait…what? It’s “cis” people who are wrapped up in gender systems? But if that’s the case, why transition at all? What even is transition in that case? If gender systems are not something to be wrapped up in, what can possibly be the point of transitioning?

Surely Burns has it backward. Surely it’s the person who transitions, and wants (say) his wife to agree that he’s now a woman, who is wrapped up in a gender system. If he’s not wrapped up in a gender system why can’t he just wear a skirt and enjoy knitting (or whatever it may be) without all the fuss and bother and disruption of transitioning.

But I guess this is just one more of those “blame the women” things, which, ironically, just reminds us all that “Katelyn” is a man.



Basic norms of respectful speech

Sep 7th, 2019 11:56 am | By

From a conversation I saw somewhere:

…it is not non-trans people’s place to decide if misgendering is acceptable or not. You don’t get to decide if I should be okay with being misgendered or not.

Is that a real principle? Is it workable? Can it be generalized? Can it be applied more broadly, ad infinitum?

I don’t think so. I don’t think it can be a genuine rule that we all must use opposite pronouns for people who tell us to. I don’t think it can be because it amounts to ordering us to lie, to override our own perceptions, to pretend to believe someone else’s fantasy – none of which seems to fit into a genuine social rule.

We may want to, some of the time or all the time, to avoid awkwardness, to avoid cruelty, and so on, but we also may not, and it doesn’t seem reasonable to make it mandatory. I do think it is “non-trans people’s place to decide” what words we are going to use, within reason. I think calling male people “he” is within reason.

“… if someone doesn’t share the view that gender is identity and/or that a male person can be a woman, you can’t describe sex-correct pronouns as “misgendering”.”

Yes you absolutely can. Your position on ontology of gender has nothing to do with whether you should adhere to basic norms of respectful speech. I don’t use ‘gender’ synonymously with ‘gender identity’ either and I don’t believe a male person can be a woman, but I wouldn’t call a trans woman ‘he’ because I have respect for the humanity of trans people.

Wait. A position on the ontology of gender does have something to do with whether or not one is willing to call a man “she.” Whether or not it is “a basic norm of respectful speech” that people can mandate special pronouns for themselves is just what is at issue, so it can’t be assumed as part of the argument for yes. Having respect for people’s humanity doesn’t require calling them by special pronouns. That’s a newly-invented “rule” and it’s contentious and we do get to contend over it, trans or not.



And our dog, Pickle

Sep 7th, 2019 11:20 am | By

Getting them early.

Children are being put at risk by transgender books in primary schools that “misrepresent” medical knowledge on puberty blockers, an academic has claimed.

Books and lesson plans that are designed [to] educate pupils about transgender issues “fail child safeguarding and conflict with the law”, according to Dr Susan Matthews, an honorary senior research fellow in creative writing at Roehampton University.

After analysing a series of books that are circulated in British schools, Dr Matthews found that much of the information given about medical transition is “inaccurate”, adding that “potential harms are ignored, glossed over or falsified”.

Why do children in primary school need to be “educated” about transgender issues at all? Unless it’s to proselytize them, which surely shouldn’t be a goal.

She cited a book called Can I Tell You About Gender Diversity? which is aimed at children aged seven plus. The story’s protagonist is a 12-year-old character called Kit who is transitioning from female to male by using hormone blockers to stop the onset of puberty.

The opening passage reads: “My name is Kit and I’m 12 years old. I live in a house with my mum and dad, and our dog, Pickle. When I was born, the doctors told my mum and dad that they had a baby girl, and so for the first few years of my life that’s how my parents raised me. This is called being assigned female at birth. I wasn’t ever very happy that way.”

No, “this” is not “called” being assigned female at birth. It’s just being a girl. Being happy with it is a separate issue, but it’s not an assignment, it’s just a physical fact, like the fact that Pickle is a dog.

Young children believe what adults tell them, so adults should not be telling young children that their sex is an external imposition as opposed to a material fact.



No one else writes like that on a map with a black Sharpie

Sep 7th, 2019 10:00 am | By

Trump is the one who tried to fake the weather map, according to the Post.

President Donald Trump, a fan of Sharpies, used one to edit an official map of Hurricane Dorian’s projected path sometime before displaying it to the public on Wednesday at the White House, according to The Washington Post, which cited a White House official.

“No one else writes like that on a map with a black Sharpie,” the anonymous official told The Post.

If someone else did it it was at his direction, but it seems more likely that he did it himself when no one was watching. He has just barely enough brain cells to grasp that doing it covertly was essential to his goal of convincing everyone that he’d been right all along, but not nearly enough to grasp that no one would believe his Sharpied loop.

People on the internet seized on the incident and submitted their own memes of images doctored with a black marker. But editing a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map is something that could bear serious consequences, as some legal experts pointed out it could have violated federal guidelines.

According to 18 US Code § 2074, which is filed under “False Weather Reports,” “whoever knowingly issues or publishes any counterfeit weather forecast or warning of weather conditions falsely representing such forecast or warning to have been issued or published by the Weather Bureau, United States Signal Service, or other branch of the Government service, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ninety days, or both.”

I would love to see Trump locked up for 90 days, starting tomorrow.

On Thursday, US Coast Guard Rear Adm. Peter Brown, a homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, appeared to take some of the blame for the confusion from the map.

In a statement presented by the White House, Brown said Trump’s comments regarding Hurricane Dorian’s chances of hitting Alabama were based on a briefing.

“The president’s comments were based on that morning’s Hurricane Dorian briefing, which included the possibility of tropical-storm-force winds in southeastern Alabama,” Brown said.

A White House source familiar with the matter said Trump personally directed Brown to give the statement, according to CNN.

Of course he did.



And me

Sep 7th, 2019 9:42 am | By

Cringe

This morning Trump tries, sort of, to pay attention to the misery of the Bahamas, but he makes it about him all the same.

Thank you to Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Minnis for your very gracious and kind words in saying that without the help of the United States and me, their would have been many more casualties. I give all credit to FEMA, the U.S. Coast Guard, & the brave people of the Bahamas.

Oh lord. That fatal “and me.” What’s that even doing there?

Why does he make it about kind words at all? Why does he lead with thanking the PM for kind words instead of with the tragedy of what happened to the Bahamas? Why doesn’t he make it about our sympathy for them instead of their flattery of him? How can he be so stupid-egomaniacal that he can’t even focus on an island literally flattened by a hurricane instead of on compliments to Majestic Him?

I wish I could walk slowly and deliberately into the Oval Office and empty a bucket of puke over his head.



What’s in HIS wallet?

Sep 7th, 2019 8:38 am | By

Interesting. It seems Trump has been using the military to improve revenues at his golf resort in Scotland. What a coincidence: just the other day he used Pence’s drop-in on Dublin to improve revenues at his golf course on the far side of the country. Fun fact: he’s not allowed to do that. It’s corrupt, and he’s not allowed to do corrupt things. Sadly, though, we don’t enforce our own rules, so oh well.

In early Spring of this year, an Air National Guard crew made a routine trip from the U.S. to Kuwait to deliver supplies.

What wasn’t routine was where the crew stopped along the way: President Donald Trump’s Turnberry resort, about 50 miles outside Glasgow, Scotland.

Since April, the House Oversight Committee has been investigating why the crew on the C-17 military transport plane made the unusual stay — both en route to the Middle East and on the way back — at the luxury waterside resort, according to several people familiar with the incident. But they have yet to receive any answers from the Pentagon.

Any guesses as to why? Could it at all be because the Pentagon is part of the executive branch and the executive branch is currently enslaved by Trump?

The inquiry is part of a broader, previously unreported probe into U.S. military expenditures at and around the Trump property in Scotland. According to a letter the panel sent to the Pentagon in June, the military has spent $11 million on fuel at the Prestwick Airport — the closest airport to Trump Turnberry — since October 2017, fuel that would be cheaper if purchased at a U.S. military base. The letter also cites a Guardian report that the airport provided cut-rate rooms and free rounds of golf at Turnberry for U.S. military members.

Taken together, the incidents raise the possibility that the military has helped keep Trump’s Turnberry resort afloat — the property lost $4.5 million in 2017, but revenue went up $3 million in 2018.

The “possibility” – they’re so polite.

On previous trips to the Middle East, the C-17 had landed at U.S. air bases such as Ramstein Air Base in Germany or Naval Station Rota in Spain to refuel, according to one person familiar with the trips. Occasionally the plane stopped in the Azores and once in Sigonella, Italy, both of which have U.S. military sites, the person added.

More in the general direction of travel, you see. Glasgow is in another direction altogether.

But on this particular trip, the plane landed in Glasgow — a pitstop the five-man crew had never experienced in their dozens of trips to the Middle East. The location lacked a U.S. base and was dozens of miles away from the crew’s overnight lodging at the Turnberry resort.

The crew’s overnight lodging at the Turnberry resort. What a breathtaking sentence that is. The crew flew in the wrong direction so that Donald Trump could charge his own government for housing the crew overnight.

One crew member was so struck by the choice of hotel — markedly different [from] the Marriotts and Hiltons the 176th maintenance squadron is used to — that he texted someone close to him and told him about the stay, sending a photo and noting that the crew’s per diem allowance wasn’t enough to cover food and drinks at the ritzy resort.

That’s nice. They put money in Don’s pocket, and they went hungry doing it.

The revelation that an Air Force mission may have helped line the president’s pockets comes days after Vice President Mike Pence was pressed about his decision to stay at Trump’s property in Doonbeg, Ireland, despite its location hundreds of miles away from his meetings in Dublin.

Yes, it does, and both cases are absolutely grotesque.

Several weeks after being alerted to the curious overnight stop, the Oversight Committee wrote a letter to acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan asking for documents related to Defense Department expenditures at Trump Turnberry and the nearby Glasgow Prestwick Airport.

The letter, signed by signed by House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), notes that U.S. military expenditures at the airport “appear to have increased substantially since the election.”

Prestwick Airport has long been debt-ridden. The Scottish government bought it in 2013 for £1, but it has continued to lose money in the years since. In June, the government announced its intent to sell the airport, which the panel’s letter described as “integral” to the success of the Turnberry property, 30 miles away.

Because of that, the lawmakers argued that the spending at the airport — in addition to the spending at the Trump property — raises concerns about conflicts of interest and possible violations of the domestic emoluments clause of the Constitution…

Oh good grief. It’s a failing airport, and Trump made the mistake of buying a golf resort that depends on a failing airport…so he’s using his government job to try to keep the airport from folding as well as to stick money directly in his pocket. The sleaze doubles with each new fact.



Days of erratic behavior, wild outbursts, and bizarre fixations

Sep 6th, 2019 5:43 pm | By

Oh great.

Business Insider reports:

President Donald Trump’s aides and confidants are growing more and more concerned about his mental state after days of erratic behavior, wild outbursts, and bizarre fixations.

“No one knows what to expect from him anymore,” one former White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations about the president, told Insider. “His mood changes from one minute to the next based on some headline or tweet, and the next thing you know his entire schedule gets tossed out the window because he’s losing his shit.”

The president’s advisers are particularly worried about his stubborn refusal to acknowledge that a tweet he sent over the weekend claiming that Alabama was going to be hit by Hurricane Dorian was false. They believe that his frustration is compounded by stress about the 2020 election and the economy’s recent downturn.

It’s more than a refusal to acknowledge, it’s an insistence that he was right. He could have just shut up about it but noooooooo.

“People are used to the president saying things that aren’t true, but this Alabama stuff is another story,” the former official said. “This was the president sending out patently false information about a national-emergency situation as it was unfolding.”

Putting people in danger, in short, and then attacking anyone who said so.

Later Friday, the president posted a misleading video that included a CNN clip from Wednesday, August 28, in which a reporter discussed how the hurricane was threatening several US states, including Alabama. The video then played the reporter saying “Alabama” on loop, cut to a clip of Trump nodding, and then to a doctored clip of CNN’s logo superimposed onto a moving truck which careened off the road and caught fire.

Oh gawd. I missed that.

“He’s deteriorating in plain sight,” one Republican strategist who’s in frequent contact with the White House told Insider on Friday.

Asked why the president was obsessed with Alabama instead of the states that would actually be affected by the storm, the strategist said, “you should ask a psychiatrist about that; I’m not sure I’m qualified to comment.”

Ego. Ego ego ego. An ego that blots out the sun.

Trump often airs his grievances publicly, either on Twitter or while speaking with reporters, which means the world has an unprecedented window into the president’s stream of consciousness.

For instance, on Labor Day weekend, as Hurricane Dorian battered the Bahamas and made its way to the US’s mainland, Trump took breaks in between golfing to post more than 120 tweets.

In addition to updates on Hurricane Dorian and quote tweets of fawning praise of his presidency from Fox News, the subjects of Trump’s tweets included:

  • Former FBI Director James Comey.
  • Four freshman Democratic congresswomen of color known as “the squad.”
  • AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
  • “Failing New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.”
  • “Amazon Washington Post.”
  • The “LameStream Media.”
  • The liberal actress and activist Debra Messing.

This isn’t the first time questions have been raised about Trump’s mental state and his fitness for office. In fact, Trump’s mental stability is a regular topic of discussion in the White House.

This was confirmed by the anonymous author of a famous 2018 New York Times op-ed who said Trump’s aides routinely ignore or dismiss his orders for the good of the country. Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” and Bob Woodward’s “Fear: Trump in the White House” detailed similar instances.

Well of course. His stew of egotism and stupidity and recklessness have been on display all along.

One person who was close to Trump’s legal team during the Russia investigation told Insider his public statements were “nothing compared to what he’s like behind closed doors.”

“He’s like a bull seeing red,” this person added. “There’s just no getting through to him, and you can kiss your plans for the day goodbye because you’re basically stuck looking after a 4-year-old now.”

Whereas back in 2017 they were stuck looking after a 5-year-old.



It’s not just Sharpie-gate

Sep 6th, 2019 5:04 pm | By

NOAA’s weird, unattributed statement is not being well received.

The Post’s Greg Sargent:

It’s not just Sharpie-gate. This is part of a broader pattern. I count at least seven glaring examples in which government officials have wheeled into action in an effort to make Trump’s lies, errors and obsessions into truths.

He wrote it up at the Post:

Again and again, government officials have wheeled into action in an effort to make Trump’s lies, errors and obsessions into truths, in some cases issuing “official” information explicitly shaped or doctored to do so.

He counts at least seven times this has happened. It started on day one, with the Crowd Size issue. He made Sean Spicer tell brazen lies, and he told his Park Service chief to find pictures that would back him up.

There were the many lies about voter fraud.

When Trump declared before the midterm elections that “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in” with migrant caravans, multiple officials tried to bolster this claim by offering an official-seeming statistic about terrorism arrests that was entirely spurious and proved nothing of the kind.

When Trump vowed a surprise 10 percent middle class tax cut before the midterms, officials were caught off guard, but nonetheless sprang into action to try to create the impression this was a real promise by, for instance, discussing a nonbinding pledge. The tax cut never happened.

To justify suspending the credentials of CNN’s Jim Acosta after he annoyed Trump, then-White House press secretary Sarah Sanders shared a video that experts determined had been deceptively edited to make Acosta look physically abusive toward a press aide.

That’s like the faked weather chart – actually forging “evidence” to make his lies look true.

He told lies about violence against migrant women to whip up support for The Wall and an official tried to find evidence that would make them true.

To buttress Trump’s distortions of the migrant threat, the Department of Homeland Security produced a slick official presentation about the border that claimed nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists had been blocked from entering the United States. But this number had nothing whatsoever to do with efforts to cross the border, a distinction multiple officials also dishonestly fudged.

Some time ago, Dana Milbank noted that in multiple cases such as these, government officials are using “federal resources in vain attempts to turn the president’s lies into truth.”

Government officials are not supposed to use federal resources for that purpose.

One interesting question is why Trump doesn’t just concede he made a mistake — or, to get even more outlandish about this, try to learn from it.

After all, It’s not like this is one of the big, foundational lies Trump regularly tells to support the entire narrative of his presidency, such as the claims that he was totally exonerated by the special counsel probe, or that China is paying his tariffs, or that he inherited a horrible economy and converted it into the greatest economy in the history of this country.

By contrast, this was in all probability a mistake. Yet Trump has now kept this story going again, raging on Twitter that “certain models” did say Alabama might be hit.

Why? Because that’s how much of a jerk he is. A normal person realizes everyone makes mistakes and that it’s far better to admit them than to stick yourself with having to defend them forever. Trump is not a normal person: his ego is so precious to him that nothing is too contemptible or criminal when he wants to shield it. His vanity is more important to him than all the people alive today – he would see us all shoveled into a cosmic furnace rather than admit to a lie. Nothing on earth matters to him more than his own loathsome self.

Can you imagine a life lived that way? Everything there is in the world – oceans, birds, music, flowers, poetry, generosity, sunsets – as dust and ashes compared to him?

He’s the ultimate “sucks to be that guy.”



Blink twice for “they have a gun at my back”

Sep 6th, 2019 3:20 pm | By

NOAA has put out a statement covering Trump’s ass for him, dated today.

From Wednesday, August 28, through Monday, September 2, the information provided by NOAA and the National Hurricane Center to President Trump and the wider public demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama. This is clearly demonstrated in Hurricane Advisories #15 through #41, which can be viewed at the following link.

The Birmingham National Weather Service’s Sunday morning tweet spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.

The call is coming from inside the house.



Trump to refugees: go home

Sep 6th, 2019 11:40 am | By

Trump wants the US to admit no refugees.

In meetings over the past several weeks, one top administration official has proposed zeroing out the program altogether, while leaving the president with the ability to admit refugees in an emergency. Another option that top officials are weighing would cut refugee admissions by half or more, to 10,000 to 15,000 people, but reserve most of those spots for refugees from a few handpicked countries or groups with special status, such as Iraqis and Afghans who work alongside American troops, diplomats and intelligence operatives abroad.

Both options would all but end the United States’ status as one of the leading places accepting refugees from around the world.

The issue is expected to come to a head on Tuesday, when the White House plans to convene a high-level meeting in the Situation Room to discuss at what number Mr. Trump should set the annual, presidentially determined ceiling on refugee admissions for the coming year.

The Guardian comments:

Politico reported back in July that Trump was weighing an effective shutdown of the refugee program, at the urging of an official aligned with senior White House adviser Stephen Miller.

Miller has been the most ardent anti-immigration official in the president’s closest circle of advisers, and his influence is reportedly only rivaled by Jared Kushner’s.

In his two and a half years in the administration, Miller has championed a number of proposals aimed at limiting both legal and illegal immigration.

For example, he was a major proponent of the administration’s proposal, announced last month, to penalize green-card applicants who use public benefits.

Xenophobia rules ok.



Girlys, wot?

Sep 6th, 2019 11:27 am | By

Prepare to be astonished: Boris Johnson is a sexist boor.

Boris Johnson referred to David Cameron as a “girly swot” in a recent cabinet paper, an unredacted version of court documents has shown, prompting condemnation of the prime minister for sexist insults.

During his inaugural prime minister’s questions on Wednesday, Johnson seemed to call Jeremy Corbyn “You great big girl’s blouse” in relation to the Labour leader’s refusal to back an immediate general election.

The other reference dates back to 16 August, appearing in a handwritten note about the idea of suspending parliament for five weeks.

Well you know, girls – they’re weak, they’re dumb, they’re useless. Also they’re too good in school. (Swot is Molesworthish slang for nerd, one who studies too hard.)

The revelation of the latest insult prompted scorn from Labour MPs. The party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, tweeted: “It’s like this particular cohort of Bullingdon Club and Old Etonians hit their emotional plateau before graduation from Oxford. Johnson and Rees-Mogg in particular see politics as a game.”

Well said Tom Watson. (I like him. We have a mutual friend in the much-missed Maureen Brian.)



Properly said

Sep 6th, 2019 10:44 am | By

Finally Trump has stopped whining about Alabama.

 

Kidding! No he hasn’t!

The Fake News Media was fixated on the fact that I properly said, at the beginnings of Hurricane Dorian, that in addition to Florida & other states, Alabama may also be grazed or hit. They went Crazy, hoping against hope that I made a mistake (which I didn’t). Check out maps………This nonsense has never happened to another President. Four days of corrupt reporting, still without an apology. But there are many things that the Fake News Media has not apologized to me for, like the Witch Hunt, or SpyGate! The LameStream Media and their Democrat……..partner should start playing it straight. It would be so much better for our Country!

“Check out maps………” But that’s what everyone did, and the maps all showed him to be wrong. That was the point.



“Siri is not a feminist” shocker

Sep 6th, 2019 10:26 am | By

On the one hand, why would anyone ask Siri about feminism in the first place? On the other hand, people are people and will do whatever silly thing comes into their heads, so Siri should say “That’s not my department” and leave it at that. But “she” doesn’t.

An internal project to rewrite how Apple’s Siri voice assistant handles “sensitive topics” such as feminism and the #MeToo movement advised developers to respond in one of three ways: “don’t engage”, “deflect” and finally “inform”.

The project saw Siri’s responses explicitly rewritten to ensure that the service would say it was in favour of “equality”, but never say the word feminism – even when asked direct questions about the topic.

Herp derp. We can tell what’s coming – all lives matter, I don’t see color, all men are created equal.

“Are you a feminist?” once received generic responses such as “Sorry [user], I don’t really know”; now, the responses are specifically written for that query, but avoid a stance: “I believe that all voices are created equal and worth equal respect,” for instance, or “It seems to me that all humans should be treated equally.” The same responses are used for questions like “how do you feel about gender equality?”, “what’s your opinion about women’s rights?” and “why are you a feminist?”.

Bingo.

Bad move, Apple. Just have it say “not my brief.” Don’t have it give a stupid substantive answer.