Notes and Comment Blog

Send donations to Saint Donald

Feb 26th, 2018 7:09 am | By

CNN tells us:

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign used a photo of a survivor of the Parkland, Florida, shooting in an email Saturday that asks its recipients to donate money to the campaign.

The email contains a photo of 17-year-old Madeleine Wilford in a hospital bed surrounded by her family, Trump and the first lady. The President visited Wilford on February 16, two days after the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which left 17 dead.

Ah look, the magical healing Touch; iddn that sweet.

“The nation has turned its attention to the senseless school shooting in Parkland, Florida,” the email reads.

“Trump is taking steps toward banning gun bump stocks and strengthening background checks for gun purchasers,” it says. “The President has made his intent very clear: ‘making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority.'”

Near the end of the message, there’s a link to the campaign’s donations page.

So tasteful. So compassionate, so delicate, so selfless.

Experience not required

Feb 25th, 2018 4:50 pm | By

Batshit crazy.

Ivanka Trump is leading the US delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics closing ceremony, and the trip has thus far proved to be an exercise in diplomacy for the first daughter and senior adviser to the President.

Trump met privately with the South Korean President to brief him on economic sanctions against North Korea that the White House released Friday.

Remember – she has no diplomacy education or training or experience or expertise of any kind. She’s a former fashion model turned fashion marketer; that’s it; that’s her experience and expertise. She doesn’t have a security clearance.

Speaking Friday to reporters at the White House, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said [Ivanka] Trump has “been part of the team” as the White House puts pressure on North Korea.

“Ivanka Trump has been briefed on this. She has been part of the team. She had dinner with President Moon and had a private discussion in advance about this occurring and this has been an interagency process,” Mnuchin said.

Trump and husband Jared Kushner’s security clearance status and access to classified information has come under scrutiny in recent weeks.

Asked if she had the appropriate security clearance, Mnuchin said, “She has the appropriate access to brief the President.”

What does that mean?

Banana republic would be an upgrade. We’re more like a stale half-pretzel republic.

110 girls missing from Dapchi

Feb 25th, 2018 4:23 pm | By

Another one.

The troubling details of a kidnapping that unfolded last week in the rural community of Dapchi in northern Nigeria after Boko Haram attacked a school and apparently made off with teenage hostages horrified the nation. As many as 110 girls have been missing since Monday, when armed militants stormed the school.

Many Nigerians were all the more outraged that the attack and the events that followed mirrored a similar kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls in 2014 in the community of Chibok.

That episode grabbed the world’s attention and elicited promises from officials that it would never happen again. Nearly four years later, an estimated 112 of those students are still held hostage.

“Not even our 112 Chibok Girls would imagine ANY more Daughters of Nigeria would be FAILED AGAIN,” Oby Ezekwesili, a founder of the Bring Back Our Girls group that advocates the release of the Chibok students, said on Twitter.

There’s uncertainty about how many girls were kidnapped because some have been hiding and are slowly making their way back.

Officials have been careful to avoid acknowledging anyone was kidnapped in Dapchi. Instead, they say only that the girls are missing.

Witnesses, however, described seeing the girls in militants’ vehicles as part of what appeared to be a deliberate plan to steal them. And they said militants arrived at the town looking specifically for the building, which is a boarding place with about 900 students.

One resident who lives a mile outside Dapchi, who asked that his name not be used because he feared for his safety, said his neighbor was outside his home late in the day on Monday when militants pulled up, grabbed him and asked him to point them to the school. He told the fighters he didn’t know where it was and begged to be released. They threw him aside and headed toward the town.

Schools are soft targets.

Then, late Wednesday, the state’s governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, announced that the missing girls had been rescued. The next day, parents streamed into the school, expecting to hear news of their missing daughters.

But when Mr. Gaidam arrived, he apologized, saying he was mistaken and had relied on security officials whose information had turned out to be false. He told the crowd to view the events as part of God’s plan and to pray for the girls’ return, said Modu Goniri, a father whose two daughters are still missing.

As he spoke, some parents began wailing uncontrollably. A few fainted.

In nine months some of them will have grandchildren.

This brainless, sinister, clownish thing called Trumpism

Feb 25th, 2018 12:55 pm | By

Mona Charen, a conservative who writes for National Review, got boos at CPAC for saying conservatives shouldn’t be pro-sexual harassment. She doesn’t consider Trump a good representative of conservatism.

What happened to me at CPAC is the perfect illustration of the collective experience of a whole swath of conservatives since Donald Trump became the Republican nominee. We built and organized this party — but now we’re made to feel like interlopers.

I was surprised that I was even asked to speak at CPAC. My views on Trump, Roy Moore and Steve Bannon are no secret. I knew the crowd would be hostile, and so I was tempted to pass.

But too many of us have given up the fight. We’ve let disgust and dismay lead us to withdraw while bad actors take control of the direction of our movement. I know how encouraged I feel whenever someone simply states the truth, and so I decided to accept CPAC’s invitation.

It’s somewhat, or maybe entirely, like the way a lot of us feel about activist atheism. It’s mostly a hostile crowd now, so we stay away.

(Funny coincidence that both rifts have to do with attitudes to women.)

Like the Republican Party, CPAC has become heavily Trumpified. Last year, they invited alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos (and withdrew the invitation only after lewd tapes surfaced). This year, in addition to the president and vice president, CPAC invited Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, granddaughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen and niece of National Front leader Marine Le Pen.

Matt Schlapp, CPAC’s chairman, described her as a “classical liberal” on Twitter. This is utter nonsense. Ms. Maréchal-Le Pen is a member of the National Front party, and far from distancing herself from her Holocaust-denying, anti-Semitic and racist grandfather, she has offered him a more full-throated endorsement than her aunt has. “I am the political heir of Jean-Marie Le Pen,” Maréchal-Le Pen told the Washington Post last year. “He was a visionary. He was right about a lot of things.”

This isn’t conservatives a little too keen on the flat tax, she says, it’s blood and soil nationalism.

While there were reasonable, mainstream Republican speakers at CPAC, the lineup also featured demagogues like Sheriff David Clarke Jr. While he oversaw the Milwaukee County jail, one pregnant prisoner was repeatedly raped, and several prisoners died in the space of just six months. One was a mentally ill man who was denied water for seven days. No matter. The sheriff was cheered by the CPAC crowd.

Yayyyyyy sadism! Yayyyyyyy assaulting women! Yayyyyyyy overt racism!

That’s not conservatism, it’s just brutalism.

Her panel was about #MeToo. She was asked a question about “feminist hypocrisy.”

Ask me that at a cocktail party and I will talk your ear off about how the very people who had lectured us about the utter venality of workplace sexual harassment throughout the 1980s became suddenly quiescent when the malefactor was Bill Clinton.

But this time, and particularly in front of this crowd, it felt far more urgent to point out the hypocrisy of our side. How can conservative women hope to have any credibility on the subject of sexual harassment or relations between the sexes when they excuse the behavior of President Trump? And how can we participate in any conversation about sexual ethics when the Republican president and the Republican Party backed a man credibly accused of child molestation for the United States Senate?

I watched my fellow panelists’ eyes widen. And then the booing began.

I’d been dreading it for days, but when it came, I almost welcomed it. There is nothing more freeing than telling the truth. And it must be done, again and again, by those of us who refuse to be absorbed into this brainless, sinister, clownish thing called Trumpism, by those of us who refuse to overlook the fools, frauds and fascists attempting to glide along in his slipstream into respectability.

I’m not a fan of conservatism, but it’s not the same thing as Trumpism.

Guest post: The social world is every bit as real as a booster rocket

Feb 25th, 2018 12:31 pm | By

Originally a pair of comments by AJ Milne on Shade of pale.

Think it was David Brin also pointed out about Star Wars: the droids are pretty clearly sentient, intelligent beings… Yet they can be bought, sold, effectively enslaved with ‘restraining bolts’. And it’s not just villains who do so.

… I find it not at all surprising Sagan would raise the issues he did. It flows quite naturally, it seems to me, from other views on the possible diversity of life in the universe, how our own perspective is, as yet, probably quite limited, against all of what might be out there.

There seems to be this very poorly thought through attitude amongs the anti-social justice (or possibly just antisocial and antijustice) contingent that, somehow, there’s this bright line between some mythical, antiseptic domain of the ‘hard scientists’ and some terribly squishy, soft social domain thing. And this attiitude, again, I suspect, is rearing its head here.

And Sagan is, in fact, amusingly enough, a fairly clear exhibit that this is not at all a clean separation. Not that it should surprise anyone, really, that there isn’t, when the very categories, here, are reified pretty willy nilly…

There’s a legitimate case, maybe, that you can’t get from is to ought in any absolutely prescribed way. As in: nothing about the arrangement of the physical matter of the universe quite says we shouldn’t enslave people or just treat them like desert. On the slavery question, economists, I’m sure, could comment pretty brutally on when it does, kinda, work out, if all you’re looking at is a specific balance sheet. (I’d add, parenthetically: chattel slavery, though it absolutely can be a helluva deal for the plantation owner, isn’t necessarily guaranteed to be that great a deal for them; it may be one of the reasons it’s not around much anymore, or not anywhere where there’s any kind of modern economy going)…

But look at what the so-called ‘hard’ sciences are, and what ‘technology’ is. Nothing, at all, walls them off from the social world. And the social world, the rules we live by, are every bit as real as a booster rocket. And technology is really only important to us when it meets up with the human, and, generally, quickly after that, it will meet up with the social. A rocket booster isn’t interesting to us just because, out in space, away from perturbing bodies, it’s an unusually clean example of the third law in action…

It’s interesting because of where we can go with it, what we can send up with it, which may be, yes, a communications satellite (a thing with social interaction as its very reason for being, that), or a robot that will send back information on what we are curious about…

What’s behind this poorly considered idea of some mythical separation of these domains is, I think, mostly wishful thinking. People like to keep things simple, and some of them, especially, just don’t want some things to change. They’d like to say can’t we just talk about the canyons on Mars; those are cool; can’t we just talk about rockets; I like those…

But real life isn’t like that. Everything you learn has implications. And everything you invent has implications. And nothing you do, you truly do in a vacuum (even if you do it halfway to the asteroid belt). And while you’re looking through your microscope, probably someone’s making your lunch. And how they’re being paid cannot be entirely separated from you, either, or how you had time to look through that microscope…

Real life isn’t like that. Reality isn’t like that. And the sciences, after all, do try to concern themselves with studying reality…

… and actually good scientists, like Sagan, are of necessity curious and wide-ranging thinkers. Inevitably, they’re going to notice those things. They will notice the connections, even if you’d rather not think about them.

A testy call

Feb 25th, 2018 12:07 pm | By

No visit from Peña Nieto after all. Sad!

Tentative plans for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to make his first visit to the White House to meet with President Trump were scuttled this week after a testy call between the two leaders ended in an impasse over Trump’s promised border wall, according to U.S. and Mexican officials.

Peña Nieto was eyeing an official trip to Washington this month or in March, but both countries agreed to call off the plan after Trump would not agree to publicly affirm Mexico’s position that it would not fund construction of a border wall that the Mexican people widely consider offensive, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a confidential conversation.

Well you can see why Trump would be annoyed. He told everyone Mexico would pay for the wall! It’s terribly unkind and impudent of Peña Nieto to contradict him like that.

One Mexican official said Trump “lost his temper.” But U.S. officials described him instead as being frustrated and exasperated, saying Trump believed it was unreasonable for Peña Nieto to expect him to back off his crowd-pleasing campaign promise of forcing Mexico to pay for the wall.

Oh, frustrated and exasperated – yes that’s completely different from losing his temper.

And there’s Trump’s nagging Other Minds problem again – thinking it’s unreasonable for Other Person to refuse to do a thing that I, The Only Person In The World, promised OP would do. I promise that Queen Elizabeth II will give me Windsor Castle as a present; how unreasonable of her to expect me to back off such a promise!

A physically slight man, Peña Nieto has been loath to put himself in an environment in which the more imposing Trump could play the bully.

Could and inevitably would, because that’s who and what he is. Bullying is perhaps his most noticeable characteristic.

[I]n January 2017, just days into Trump’s presidency, Peña Nieto called off a planned trip to meet Trump in Washington amid an escalating war of words between the two leaders over Trump’s border wall proposal.

In a Jan. 28, 2017, phone call, a transcript of which was published last year by The Washington Post, Trump suggested to Peña Nieto that they both try to gloss over their respective wall positions by saying “we will work it out” whenever asked whether Mexico would pay for the wall.

“The fact is, we are both in a little bit of a political bind because I have to have Mexico pay for the wall,” Trump told Peña Nieto. “I have to. I have been talking about it for a two-year period. . . . If you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.”

Again – it’s so absurd of him to think that what he has been saying is somehow binding on Peña Nieto, and that his perceived necessity is also a necessity for Peña Nieto. I know I said all this a year ago but that’s how life is under Trump – we have to keep objecting to the same grotesque bullshit over and over.

“Build the wall!” was a signature slogan of Trump’s campaign and has continued to be one through his presidency, even though Congress has not yet fully funded its construction. At his rallies, Trump would cry out, “Who’s going to pay for the wall?” His crowds would shout their answer back: “Mexico!”

Speaking Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, Trump told his fans, “Don’t worry, you’re getting the wall,” adding that whenever he hears someone suggest that he does not really want to build a wall, “the wall gets 10 feet higher.”

Trump’s statements are considered offensive and outright racist by many Mexicans, who accuse the U.S. president of using their country as a punching bag to motivate his most fervent supporters.

Of course they’re racist, and deliberately offensive. All the “wall” talk frames them as like disease-bearing rats or similar. Of course they’re racist.

Wisdom from on high

Feb 25th, 2018 10:53 am | By

Sam issues a warning about The Frenzied Women.

Shade of pale

Feb 24th, 2018 5:49 pm | By

Uh oh uh oh, was Carl an SJW?

Loud boos for the demons of the left

Feb 24th, 2018 10:54 am | By

A Guardian reporter goes to CPAC.

“Do you remember I started running and people would say, ‘Are you sure he’s a conservative?’” an exultant US president asked the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday.

“I think now we’ve proved that I’m a conservative, right?”

Or perhaps more accurately, the conservatives gathered in the cavernous ballroom proved they are all Trumpians now. There were “Make America Great Again” caps, raucous chants of “Lock her up!” and “Build that wall!” and loud boos for the demons of the left. Old-school Republicans were thin on the ground, usurped by a crowd that included young and sometimes rowdy students.

Old-school Republicans are nothing to write home about either, but Trump is a fantastic tool for making them look better. Maybe that’s the secret, and not Russia at all – it’s a plot to make “screw the poor” look respectable.

The spotlight was dominated a succession of administration members answering toothless questions. Speakers included Eric Trump (“The media of this country does not understand the tone of this country”); rightwing populists Marion Maréchal-Le Pen (“I want America first for the American people, I want Britain first for the British people and I want France first for the French people”); and Nigel Farage (“I thought Trump’d be good but I’ve got to tell you, he’s exceeded all expectations”).

There was also the former White House adviser and conspiracy theorist Sebastian Gorka, who roamed the corridors basking in attention when not shoving a reporter.

On Thursday, Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association, sought to reject post-Parkland demands for gun control with a speech couched in Trumpian language that savaged elites, the media, anti-fascist protesters, Hollywood, George Soros and the FBI.

Nothing about The Jews? The Protocols of the Elders of Zion? The Illuminati? The Masons?


Feb 24th, 2018 10:41 am | By

The Times notes some of Trump’s lies at CPAC yesterday.

“We have passed massive, biggest in history, tax cuts and reforms … for 45 years nothing has been passed.”


The $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that Mr. Trump signed into law in December are not the largest in history. According a previous analysis in The New York Times, they amount to the 12th largest, as a share of the economy.

Also, Mr. Trump is not the first president in 45 years to enact tax cuts. Tax legislation was signed into law by Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Further, the cuts passed under Mr. Reagan and Mr. Obama were larger, as a share of the economy, than those recently signed by Mr. Trump.

The “for 45 years” is laughably Trumpesque – it translates to “as far back as I can remember off the top of my head.”

“We have massive energy reserves, we have coal, we have so much. And basically they say you can’t use it.”

This needs context.

Mr. Trump is referring to the Paris climate accord that his administration announced the United States was withdrawing from in June 2017.

Emissions reductions under the agreement are voluntary. So, contrary to Mr. Trump’s claim, coal consumption in the United States would not have necessarily been affected.

Ok ok ok but Paris is that place where nobody goes any more, except Trump, who saw this awesome parade there that he wants one just like it, but he don’t want no stinkin’ Paris ACCORD and don’t you forget it.

“Companies are pouring back into this country, pouring back. Not like — when did you hear about car companies coming back into Michigan and coming to Ohio and expanding? You never heard that.”


The Reshoring Initiative is an advocacy group that works with manufacturing companies to return jobs to the United States from overseas. Its website lists dozens of instances when car companies returned manufacturing jobs to the United States over the past decade. For example, Ford announced it would move production of pickup trucks from Mexico to Ohio in 2015, and General Motors said it would build a type of Cadillac in Tennessee instead of Mexico in 2014.

Again, so Trump, with the Zero Theory of Mind. If he doesn’t know a thing, the thing doesn’t exist. He’s not aware of the Reshoring Initative, therefore it doesn’t exist. It never seems to cross his mind that he might not know something. Phrases like “as far as I know” and “to the best of my knowledge” and “I haven’t seen any reporting on” might as well be in Urdu as far as he’s concerned.

“Wages are rising for the first time in many, many years.”


Wages have been rising for several years. In fact, wage growth in January 2018 was slower than what it was during the last few months of Mr. Obama’s term, according to data from the Federal Reserve.

Yes but he didn’t know that so it doesn’t exist.

Just a sample of their sample. He makes no apparent effort to get things right.

This new socialist wave

Feb 23rd, 2018 6:55 pm | By

Apparently Wayne LaPierre is Even More Bonkers now:

To see the National Rifle Association boss speak this week at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference was to see a man in urgent need of mental-health intervention. He turned a conventional speech about guns (specifically, the need for more of them in schools) into a paranoid fantasy about a socialist takeover of the United States.

He saw a “tidal wave” of “European-style socialists bearing down upon us,” creating a “captive society,” eliminating “resistance,” making a “list” in a cloud database of those who spank their children, expunging the “fundamental concept of moral behavior,” controlling speech through “safe zones.”

Yeah, boy, there’s no better index of moral behavior than a country packed with guns. Good people shoot first and ask questions later; bad people say let’s have less shooting ok?

With this “new socialist wave in America,” he said, “it’s just a short hop to the systematic destruction of our most basic freedoms.”

Had LaPierre fallen on his head and awakened in 1964? All that was missing was for him to quote General Jack D. Ripper in “Dr. Strangelove” on “the international communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.”

Sterling Hayden ruined that kind of crazy for all time.

Image result for general jack d ripper

LaPierre singled out three billionaire capitalists to blame for the socialist revolution: George Soros, Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer. But he saw conspirators everywhere in the government — Trump’s government: the FBI (with its “corruption” and “rogue leadership”) the Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the intelligence agencies. He also blamed the Democrats, media, Hollywood, universities, classrooms, Black Lives Matter, elites and Keith Ellison.

Even the CPAC audience seemed to be stunned by this unhinged time-traveler from the Cold War. “You know, I hear a lot of quiet in this room, and I sense your anxiety,” he said. “And you should be anxious, and you should be frightened.”

Right? You never know when the furious white guy with the AR-15 is going to lurch into view.

Everything is for sale

Feb 23rd, 2018 5:17 pm | By

The waters are rising fast around Manafort. Mueller filed new charges late today.

Prosecutors allege that Manafort, with the assistance of longtime business partner Rick Gates, “secretly retained a group of former senior European politicians to take positions favorable to Ukraine, including by lobbying in the United States.”

The new indictment came less than two hours after Gates pleaded guilty to two criminal charges in federal court and pledged to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia and the 2016 presidential election.

Prosecutors say Manafort orchestrated a group of former European politicians, called the “Hapsburg group,” to pose as independent voices. Yet they covertly pushed positions favorable to Ukraine as paid lobbyists. Manafort used offshore accounts to pay the former politicians 2 million euros.

It doesn’t get much sleazier than that.

Talking to his homies

Feb 23rd, 2018 3:55 pm | By

Trump was apparently breathtakingly awful at CPAC today. (Conservative Political Action Conference. By “conservative” they mean whatever jumble of racist malevolence and boastful rapey contempt for women and shameless greed comes close enough to describing Trump.)

Addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference, the president read “The Snake,” a parable about a tenderhearted woman who takes in an ailing snake and gives it milk, honey and a silk blanket, only to be killed by the revived creature’s poisonous bite.

Trump explained the metaphor: “You have to think of this in terms of immigration.”

On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump frequently told the tale of the snake. The crowds at his rallies loved it. Other Americans were appalled and found it racist.

Nooooooooooo, it’s not a bit racist to compare immigrants to snakes who kill their kind generous hosts.

Trump mocked Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a war hero and Republican elder statesman with a terminal form of brain cancer, for his health-care vote. He vowed to “fight” a current Democratic foe, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. And he revived his row with a previous one, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, by encouraging chants of “lock her up” and sounding off about her alleged “atrocities.”

“They’re crazed anyway, these people,” Trump said of Democrats. “They are really crazed.”

Truth in advertising

Feb 23rd, 2018 3:36 pm | By

Fun guy.

Image may contain: car and outdoor

It wasn’t malicious, it was aggressive

Feb 23rd, 2018 12:48 pm | By

The Post has an interesting piece on how Trump and Mueller have a lot in common and a lot not in common at all. Like…

Mueller was, from early on, a role model. As a group of boys gathered one day at The Tuck, a snack shop at St. Paul’s, a student made a derogatory comment about someone who wasn’t there. “Bob said he didn’t want to hear that,” King said. “I mean, we all said disparaging things about each other face to face. But saying something about someone who wasn’t there was something that Bob was uncomfortable with and he let it be known and just walked out.”


Donald Trump grew up in a 23-room manse in Queens, a faux Southern plantation house with a Cadillac limousine in the driveway. He attended private school from kindergarten on; his focus in school, Trump told The Washington Post in 2016, was “creating mischief, because, for some reason, I liked to stir things up and I liked to test people. . . . It wasn’t malicious so much as it was aggressive.”

In second grade, he said, he punched his music teacher in the face.


Those who wish to have their tickets refunded

Feb 23rd, 2018 12:32 pm | By
Those who wish to have their tickets refunded

There will be only two men to celebrate science and reason in Phoenix tonight instead of three. (Still zero women, of course. Women know nothing of reason and science.)


The Celebration of Science & Reason event in Phoenix tonight will move forward with Sam Harris & Matt Dillahunty in conversation. Those who wish to have their ticket refunded due to the absence of Lawrence M. Krauss, please call the the following numbers:
Venue sales: 1-800-745-3000
Presales: 604-785-3690

I suppose this is a built-in hazard of having these all-male Celebrations of All the Brain Things That Women Can’t Do Because They’re Stupid – one or more of the men will turn out to have a long string of sexual harassment and downright assault in his or their past or pasts.

Do they go together to some extent? This peacocking vanity of pretending to be movie stars Thought Leaders and this unfortunate tendency to trip and fall onto women?

Yes, I think so. If they get a little fame they get a lot of immunity and looking the other way along with it. “Oh Doctor Professor Man sells tickets, we can’t possibly not invite him when he’s so kindly willing to perform, we’re sorry about the gropes or the insults or both but THE MAN SELLS TICKETS thank you for understanding.”

This was a GOVERNOR?

Feb 23rd, 2018 11:52 am | By

This isn’t a country, it’s an insane asylum.

Watch that clip. Your jaw will dislocate, but watch it.

Performative hatred of a woman

Feb 23rd, 2018 11:26 am | By

They didn’t.

Did they?

They did.

No transparent public debate allowed

Feb 23rd, 2018 10:01 am | By

From Left Foot Forward:

The Women’s Equality Party have dismissed a feminist academic at the centre of a transgender row, after she challenged whether children should be labelled trans.

Dr Heather Brunskell-Evans – a research fellow at King’s College London – was until this morning a spokeswoman for the Women’s Equality Party. Now she has resigned her membership after being sacked from that role.

It follows her appearance on Radio 4’s Moral Maze in November last year, where she argued that while adults could define themselves ‘in whichever way they want’, society and parents should avoid encouraging children to see themselves as being ‘in the wrong body’ – particularly if it led to surgery or treatment which would could have long-term implications.

So a party that – laughably – calls itself the Women’s Equality Party kicked her out of her role as spokeswoman. What sense does that make? How is it a good idea to make it taboo to discuss what kind of drastic measures should be taken with children who “see themselves as being ‘in the wrong body’”? Surgery and drugs are drastic things, so reasons for prescribing them should be open to reasoned discussion and research.

She added that some trans advocates were ‘abusive’ and ‘reactionary’.

Some are, staggeringly so – so much so that since reading Mueller’s indictment I’ve started to think many of them could be Russian trolls. They advocate sadistic violence, especially sadistic sexual violence, against women they label “TERFs,” which seems more like something Russian trolls would do than like something genuine lefty activists would do. Some trans activists are indeed highly abusive and reactionary, so saying that is no reason to kick anyone out of a role in a women’s equality party.

At the time, Dr Brunskell-Evans responded to the claims by denying any prejudice:

“I refute that I have promoted prejudice against the trans community either on the programme or through my writing and social media.

“I have called for transparent public debate, without fear of reprisal, of the social, psychological and physical consequences of the narrative that children can be born in ‘the wrong body’.”

However, the WEP have now completed their investigation into Dr Brunskell-Evans – and have sacked her as a spokesperson after determining the academic ‘breached articles of the constitution and our volunteer agreement’.

This is not a healthy situation. It’s the kind of thing Putin likes, but it’s not the kind of thing reasonable people should like.

The empathy deficit

Feb 23rd, 2018 9:13 am | By

What does Trump’s List of Things to Say to Kids Whose School Was Just Shot Up tell us about Trump?

Mr. Trump’s use of notes, captured by news photographers who covered the extraordinary listening session with parents, students and teachers who lost loved ones in the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., was not unusual.

But the nature of Mr. Trump’s written prompts was atypical. Composed beneath a heading that read “The White House,” they seemed to suggest that the president needed to be reminded to show compassion and understanding to traumatized survivors, an impression that Mr. Trump has sometimes fed with public reactions to national tragedies that were criticized as callous.

The Times, being (according to the Times) the Paper of Record, hedges everything. “Seemed to suggest,” “an impression,” “sometimes,” “were criticized as.” The written prompts were both horrifying and laughable because they underlined what a callous brutal narcissist he is.

[C]onsoler in chief has been a role that the president has been slow and somewhat reluctant to embrace — especially in contrast to his predecessor. Images of Mr. Trump hurling rolls of paper towels at hurricane victims in Puerto Rico last year and grinning broadly for photographs with emergency medical workers from Parkland have illustrated the challenge.

To put it mildly.

Samantha Fuentes, who was shot in both legs during the Parkland assault, said she had felt no reassurance during a phone call from the president to her hospital room last week.

“He said he heard that I was a big fan of his, and then he said, ‘I’m a big fan of yours too.’ I’m pretty sure he made that up,” she said in an interview after being discharged from the hospital. “Talking to the president, I’ve never been so unimpressed by a person in my life. He didn’t make me feel better in the slightest.”

Ms. Fuentes, who was left with a piece of shrapnel lodged behind her right eye, said Mr. Trump had called the gunman a “sick puppy” and said “‘oh boy, oh boy, oh boy,’ like, seven times.”

The account of the call was reminiscent of the last time Mr. Trump drew public scrutiny for his reaction to a tragedy, with his private condolence call to Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, one of four American soldiers killed in an attack in Niger.

In that case, in October, Ms. Johnson said she had been deeply offended by Mr. Trump’s words and tone, saying that he had not referred to her husband by name, calling him only “your guy,” and had upset her by saying that Mr. Johnson “knew what he signed up for, but it hurts anyway.”

Mr. Trump quickly lashed out on Twitter, saying he had spoken respectfully to the widow.

I wonder if he’ll lash out at Samantha Fuentes today.

On the other hand the father of Meadow Pollack says he was great.

Mr. Pollack, who brought his wife, two sons and Meadow’s longtime boyfriend, said Mr. Trump signed his son’s white and gold “Make America Great Again” trucker hat and spoke at length with the family. The president insisted that he and his family, who had not planned to attend the listening session, accompany him through the iconic White House colonnade and into the event.

Fair’s fair. He doesn’t treat everyone like a representative of the peasantry.

But another participant in the White House session, Samuel Zeif, an 18-year-old student at Stoneman Douglas High School who survived the shooting and spoke tearfully at the White House on Wednesday of the experience, said Mr. Trump had done little to comfort or console him.

He said he had been particularly stung to see pictures of the notecard after it was over.

“Everything I said was directly from the heart, and he had to write down ‘I hear you,’” Mr. Zeif said in an interview. “Half the time during that meeting, his arms were crossed — I kept wanting to say, ‘Mr. President, uncross your arms.’ To me, that is the international sign for closemindedness; it’s really just a big ‘no.’”

At least when Trump does it it is. He does it in combination with that scowl, and it does indeed look like the international sign for “fuck off.”