Very precise indeed?

Nov 8th, 2020 11:15 am | By

Margaret Atwood interviewed in the Times:

The Handmaid’s Tale made her not only a famous writer, but also a public figure. The oppressed class of women in the book bore a clear feminist message. Opinions were expected of her. But she was, and remains, too meticulous to give easy answers.

“Look up kinds of feminism, and you’ll find 75 of them. So when people ask me about feminism, I ask them which type and they never know.”

Fair enough. It’s a good plan to be precise about what one thinks, what one endorses, what one signs up to.

On the subject of trans rights she is very precise indeed. After our conversation she emails me a video attacking JK Rowling’s view of the issue. Rowling defends the ultimate biological reality of sexual differences as a feminist cause: “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased.” Atwood also emails a Scientific American article stating the opposite case: “Why the new science of sex and gender matters for everyone.”

“The most bothersome thing about me,” she explains, “is that I’m a strict agnostic. By which I mean there’s a difference between belief and fact. And you should not confuse the two. You can believe all you like that trans people aren’t people, but it happens not to be a fact. It is not true that there are only two [gender] boxes. So the two questions to ask about anything are: is it true? And is it fair ? So if it’s not true that there are only two gender boxes and that gender is fixed and immutable, is it fair to treat trans people as if they’re not who they say they are?”

That’s precise? You’ve got to be kidding. It’s not precise to imply that dissenters from trans ideology “believe that trans people aren’t people” – in fact it’s a venomous calumny. People lose their minds on this subject, I swear, and I mean it literally – Atwood has a brilliant mind and that’s just a stupid thing to say. And she said it in an email, so it wasn’t just blurted out in conversation, it was typed out and then not reconsidered and withdrawn. Nobody thinks that trans people are anything other than people. What could make her temporarily dumb enough and malicious enough to say that? She’s never had that kind of full-on commitment or loyalty to feminism, so why is she suddenly a fanatic about transgenderism?

So, yeah, we know it “happens not to be a fact” that trans people are not people. Duh. Rabbits don’t talk about their gender identity or their women’s brains in men’s bodies.

Fine, it’s not true that there are only two [gender] boxes, but it is true that there are only two sex boxes, DSDs notwithstanding.

It is true to say that there are two sexes (with a small percentage of DSDs) and that sex is what it is, and yes it can be fair to treat any people of any kind as if they’re “not who they say they are” if they are lying or deluded or both. There is no moral law or imperative to treat people as if they “are who they say they are” in all situations no matter what. Trump says he is a stable genius; we do not have to treat him accordingly.


Nov 8th, 2020 10:23 am | By

There’s also this.

I had seen it but I hadn’t realized it was Ruby Bridges. I’m more familiar with this one, which gets me by the throat every time.

Biography for Kids: Ruby Bridges

The silhouette in the Kamala Harris one is from the Norman Rockwell painting.

ruby bridges painting | Norman rockwell art, Norman rockwell, Norman  rockwell paintings

Between a dildo store and a crematorium

Nov 8th, 2020 10:00 am | By

Comic interlude:

Donald Trump’s increasingly desperate bid to hang on to the White House crossed into abject farce on Saturday, after his campaign staged a purportedly major press conference at a Philadelphia landscaping business situated between a crematorium and sex shop.

All your needs catered for in one quick stop.

On Saturday morning, as Trump played golf and continued to baselessly accuse the Democrats of stealing the election for Joe Biden, the president announced, in a tweet that was subsequently deleted, a “big press conference” at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia.

That’s the downside to tweeting while driving a golf cart.

Trump quickly altered his statement, revealing that the press conference venue was not a Four Seasons hotel, but Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a suburban business between a crematorium and an adult book store on the outer edges of the city.

“Big press conference today in Philadelphia at Four Seasons Total Landscaping – 11.30am!” the president tweeted at 9.45am.

To be exact, in the parking lot of Four Seasons Total Landscaping. It doesn’t get much more glam than that.

The Trump campaign has not publicly said whether this was, as it would appear, a case of mistaken identity. Either way, the press conference, headlined by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, went ahead in the car park of the garden centre in what USA Today called an “industrial park”.

We’re sure this isn’t an outtake from the Borat movie? Did Rudy “adjust his shirt” some more?

“I could write jokes for 800 years and I’d never think of something funnier than Trump booking the Four Seasons for his big presser, and it turning out to be the Four Seasons Total Landscaping parking lot between a dildo store and a crematorium,” TV writer Zack Bornstein wrote on Twitter. Author Geraldine DeRuiter commented: “The real hero today is whoever answered the phone at Four Seasons Landscaping and offered no clarification whatsoever until it was too late. I salute you, my fellow patriot.” … Journalist Maggie Serota commented: “I will watch an 11-part Ken Burns documentary on the Four Seasons Landscaping story.”

Four Seasons Landscaping will become a new catchphrase.

All he’s got now is breaking stuff

Nov 8th, 2020 9:22 am | By

Mary Trump tells us what to expect from her evil uncle:

This is what Donald’s going to do: he’s not going to concede, although who cares. What’s worse is he’s not going to engage in the normal activities that guarantee a peaceful transition. All he’s got now is breaking stuff, and he’s going to do that with a vengeance…

He’ll be having meltdowns upon meltdowns right now. He has never been in a situation like this before. What’s interesting is that Donald has never won anything legitimately in his entire life, but because he has been so enabled by people along the way, he has never lost anything either. He’s the kind of person who thinks that even if you steal and cheat to win, you deserve to win.

But there is some poetic justice here because he has been cheating for months. Now his tactics are coming back to bite him. He told Republicans not to vote by mail and they didn’t, but the result is he has been experiencing this slow drip-drip of disaster over the past few days. Oh, you have these huge margins! Now your margins are shrinking. Oh, Joe Biden’s ahead. Now his margins are growing. It must have been like slow torture, but he set up this failure for himself.

Will he ever grasp that fact though? It seems unlikely. Grasping facts does not seem to be one of his skills.

From what I understand, the thing that really ruined his election night was Fox News – his safe zone – calling Arizona days earlier than everyone else

Good. I hope it burns.

After January, things look bleak for Donald. He has more than $400m of debt coming in the next four years. Why at this point would his lenders cut him any slack? He has never paid anyone back. His businesses are in the tank. He has destroyed his brand.

Maybe he can sell everything and move to Oklahoma to live a quiet life.

Biden on violence against women

Nov 8th, 2020 8:51 am | By


The full passage reads:

Establish a new Task Force on Online Harassment and Abuse to focus on the connection between mass shootings, online harassment, extremism, and violence against women. As highlighted above, Biden will convene a national Task Force with federal agencies, state leaders, advocates, law enforcement, and technology experts to study rampant online sexual harassment, stalking, and threats, including revenge porn and deepfakes — and the connection between this harassment, mass shootings, extremism and violence against women. The Task Force will be charged with developing cutting-edge strategies and recommendations for how federal and state governments, social media companies, schools, and other public and private entities can tackle this unique challenge. The Task Force will consider platform accountability, transparent reporting requirements for incidents of harassment and response, and best practices. 

Give us more time, and money

Nov 7th, 2020 5:44 pm | By

Trump intends to sulk as long as he can get away with it.

The president, who has spent months trying to undermine the election results with unproven allegations of fraud, pledged on Saturday to go forward with a legal strategy that he hopes will overturn state results that gave Biden the win in Tuesday’s vote.

Not gonna happen.

The president’s allies and advisers privately admitted that the former New York businessman’s chances of overturning the election results and staying in the White House were slim. While preparing for an eventual concession, they called for time to let the legal challenges run their course.

Republicans are trying to raise at least $60 million to fund legal challenges in several states, alleging foul play and seeking donations, sources told Reuters. More than half of the money raised would go to paying down the campaign’s debts, the fine print on email and text solicitations says.

Thieves and cheats to the last.

“He should make sure every vote is counted and demand transparency. That puts him on solid rhetorical grounds,” said another former White House official.

No it doesn’t. His behavior is not normal. This is not what losing candidates normally do.

Republicans outside the White House warned that Trump could tarnish his legacy if he does not eventually make a graceful exit, and erode his future political power. “It will be impossible for him to run again in 2024 if he’s seen as a sore loser,” a Congressional Republican source said.

Will it? Everybody knows he’s a sore loser; he throws tantrums every five minutes.

“President Trump is entitled to take the time he wants to absorb this. It was close and it’s not productive to demand an immediate concession,” said Ari Fleischer, who was a White House press secretary in the George W. Bush administration.

No he’s not. He’s not a toddler who broke his balloon, he’s an adult man with every advantage, unfair as well as fair, and he’s throwing a public tantrum because he lost. He’s “entitled” to jack shit.

“The best thing to keep this country together is to give the president a reasonable period of time to accept the results.”

What would that be? Ten years? Twenty? During which he refuses to leave?

The president gets a reasonable time to go back to Manhattan, and that’s it.

Mail bag

Nov 7th, 2020 4:39 pm | By

More congratulatings.

They won’t be throwing candies in her face.


4 year nightmare over.

Dancing in the street

Nov 7th, 2020 3:55 pm | By


Almost as soon as television networks called the presidential race Saturday morning for former vice president Joe Biden, his supporters began flocking to the streets. The celebrations that ensued — unbridled jubilation, dancing, singing and chanting — represented a release of emotions after an excruciating four-day wait for the election results, but also of a release of four years of pent-up frustration and anger at President Trump, some said.

“Some” as in many millions.

In New York, the show of support was especially reminiscent of the early days of the pandemic, when residents poured out of their apartments nightly to applaud hospital workers and first responders risking their lives to treat coronavirus patients. Shouting and music could be heard from rooftops across the city.

I’ve been thinking of that Italian opera singer in Florence who sang “Nessun Dorma” on his balcony early in the lockdown.

We done won.

In the afternoon, as Trump’s motorcade returned to the White House from his golf course in Sterling, Va., where he had spent the morning, crowds celebrating Biden and Harris’s win booed loudly.

No more motorcades for him.

Top notch political science

Nov 7th, 2020 12:30 pm | By


One, no, because Trump is evil, transparently evil, so no we’re not going to be extra special nice to the fans of an evil sadist 5 minutes after he lost the election. (Also ever.)

But two, no we do not feel the same. This isn’t just about losing and winning, this is about voting for an evil sadist and not doing that. The feelings on losing are not the same.

Hot spot

Nov 7th, 2020 12:00 pm | By

Meanwhile, back in Loserville

At least five people within President Donald Trump’s orbit have tested positive for coronavirus, including his chief of staff and a top campaign aide, becoming the latest administration officials to be infected with the virus after a string of outbreaks in the West Wing.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, top campaign aide Nick Trainer, who has been crunching the numbers when it comes to election data, and at least three other people in the White House, including a deputy for Meadows, have tested positive, multiple sources told CNN.

And have they been wearing masks and distancing, or better yet staying home? Of course not.

Trump campaign staffers told CNN they are furious because the leadership in the campaign never sent out an email informing staff of the positive cases or cautioning them to stay home for the time being. Meadows was in the office multiple times this week without a mask.

Meadows, 61, told people after Tuesday’s election that he had contracted Covid, but it wasn’t clear when he first tested positive, according to sources. In the past, he has appeared skeptical of coronavirus mitigation measures and has not often been seen wearing a mask.

He traveled with Trump aboard Air Force One during his final campaign swing on Sunday and Monday, accompanied the President on a visit to his campaign headquarters on Tuesday and attended a White House election night party where he came into close contact with members of the President’s family. He was not seen wearing a mask during any of those engagements.

I do hope they all get it.

White House officials are now alarmed, given Meadows has been around other staffers while potentially contagious, one aide tells CNN.

One White House official who was around Meadows several times this week said they were not notified that he had tested positive, though staffers are being told that “contact tracing was done.”

Meadows has been a leading skeptic inside the White House about the mitigation measures recommended by the coronavirus task force, viewing the panel as largely sidelined.

“Skeptic” isn’t the right word. “Dumbass” is more accurate.

Global whew

Nov 7th, 2020 11:34 am | By

Heads of state are breathing a HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF.

Remember when Trump tried to yank Trudeau’s arm off at the front door of the White House? And failed because Trudeau was expecting it and stiff-armed him with the other hand?


Fiji. I read the other day that getting back into the Paris Agreement is at the top of the list.



And the nation of Cher.

Dance to the music

Nov 7th, 2020 10:59 am | By

Aw yeah.

(Now disperse quickly – lots of aerosols with all that screaming.)

The classic transgression

Nov 7th, 2020 10:38 am | By

Sidney Blumenthal says Trump’s struggles will be NO USE.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe sent a team to view the American election, a routine exercise they have performed nine previous times. But this time they were shocked by what they observed. “Nobody – no politician, no elected official, nobody – should limit the people’s right to vote,” said Michael Georg Link, a member of the German parliament who led the group. “Baseless allegations of systematic deficiencies, notably by the incumbent president, including on election night, harm public trust in democratic institutions.”

This was his last chance to shame us.

Apart from the next few weeks, which is another bad holdover from the 18th century, but he’s going to face a lot less compliance now that his underlings hope to save some shreds of a future in DC.

Trump’s actions to stop or suspend the counting of votes and to certify the results is precisely the classic transgression for which the US has rebuked tinpot dictators, including in the state department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Trump’s call specifically flies in the face of Article 23 (b) of the American Convention on Human Rights, of the Organization of American States, to which the US is a signatory, which guarantees the right “to vote and to be elected in genuine periodic elections, which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and by secret ballot that guarantees the free expression of the will of the voters”.

“…except in the case of Donald Trump.” That’s in there somewhere, isn’t it?

One after another, the states’ ballots will be counted. The results will be known. They will be certified. And Biden will be declared the winner. Trump’s attempt to crown himself king will be his last failed reality show. Instead, he will be the first president since Benjamin Harrison to have lost the popular vote for president twice, the first time paradoxically as the winner but the second as the natural loser. Trump will soon be, as the poet Wallace Stevens wrote, “the Emperor of Ice Cream”.

Hope so!

These new liberals enshrined the meritocracy

Nov 7th, 2020 10:01 am | By

Tom Frank says yes hooray but let’s not forget that it’s the Democratic Party’s move away from the working class to centrist pro-biz policies that got us to Trump. Me, I doubt that it’s quite that simple or direct or cut and dried, but on the other hand the move is undeniable.

Biden’s instinct, naturally, will be to govern as he always legislated: as a man of the center who works with Republicans to craft small-bore, business-friendly measures. After all, Biden’s name is virtually synonymous with Washington consensus. His years in the US Senate overlap almost precisely with his party’s famous turn to the “third way” right, and Biden personally played a leading role in many of the signature initiatives of the era: Nafta-style trade agreements, lucrative favors for banks, tough-on-crime measures, proposed cuts to social security, even.

Of course the years of everyone in the Senate overlap in the same way, because we all inhabit the same block of time. Biden has been in the Senate longer than most, because he’s a geezer, but still he’s not unique in his dates.

What Biden must understand now, however, is that it was precisely this turn, this rightward shift in the 1980s and 90s, that set the stage for Trumpism.

Let us recall for a moment what that turn looked like. No longer were Democrats going to be the party of working people, they told us in those days. They were “new Democrats” now, preaching competence rather than ideology and reaching out to new constituencies: the enlightened suburbanites; the “wired workers”; the “learning class”; the winners in our new post-industrial society.

… In the place of the Democratic party’s old household god – the “middle class” – these new liberals enshrined the meritocracy, meaning not only the brilliant economists who designed their policies, but also the financiers and technologists that the new liberalism tried to serve, together with the highly educated professionals who were now its most prized constituents…

However, there are consequences when the left party in a two-party system chooses to understand itself in this way. As we have learned from the Democrats’ experiment, such a party will show little understanding for the grievances of blue-collar workers, people who – by definition – have not climbed the ladder of meritocracy. And just think of all the shocking data that has flickered across our attention-screens in the last dozen years – how our economy’s winnings are hogged by the 1%; how ordinary people can no longer afford new cars; how young people are taking on huge debt burdens right out of college; and a thousand other points of awful. All of these have been direct or indirect products of the political experiment I am describing.

In short, it’s been a period of sharply rising inequality, and that’s not something to celebrate.

Loser lost

Nov 7th, 2020 9:16 am | By

The fun part –

Trump LOST. He LOST. He’s a LOSER. He LOST.

He’s fired. We fired him. You’re FIRED, Dumb Donny. Get out. Leave the silver where it is. We’ll be checking your luggage.

Gonna lose all your “friends” Donny. They never did like you, they just wanted the crumbs from your table. Your crumbs have no more value because you LOST.

Losing loser is refusing to leave. Security will have to remove him.


Nov 7th, 2020 9:05 am | By

None of this is normal

Nov 6th, 2020 3:19 pm | By

Another detail of Bannon’s beheading fantasy:

Speaking on his podcast, the War Room, which was distributed in video form on a number of social media outlets, the far-right provocateur appeared to endorse violence against Wray and the US’s most senior infectious diseases expert.

“Second term kicks off with firing Wray, firing Fauci … no I actually want to go a step farther but the president is a kind-hearted man and a good man,” Bannon said.

Ahhhhhhhh no. No he’s not. That’s the very thing he isn’t. It’s the very worst thing about him – the all too obvious fact that there isn’t the tiniest trace of ordinary normal human sympathy and kindness in him. He could see a frightened lonely puppy crying and he would kick it out of his way. He could see a little girl wailing in anguish as she’s rescued from a man who abducted her on the street, and he would wish he could molest her himself. He is not kind-hearted, to anyone, ever. He’s both callous and cruel, and he’s utterly selfish. Kind-hearted is the thing he most is not.

That’s important. It matters.

Also: Newt Gingrich.

The increasingly heated language around the election has also included interventions from more mainstream figures, including the former Republican House speaker Newt Gingrich, who appeared to call for election workers in Pennsylvania to be arrested.

Speaking to Sean Hannity on Fox News, Gingrich amplified Trump’s false complaints of election rigging and mused about what he believed was the solution.

“My hope is that President Trump will lead the millions of Americans who understand exactly what’s going on,” Gingrich said. “The Philadelphia machine is corrupt. The Atlanta machine is corrupt. The machine in Detroit is corrupt. And they are trying to steal the presidency. And we should not allow them to do that.”

“First of all, under federal law, we should lock up the people who are breaking the law,” he continued. “You stop somebody from being an observer, you just broke federal law. Do you hide and put up papers so nobody can see what you’re doing? You just broke federal law. You bring in ballots that aren’t real? You just broke federal law.”

Except that he doesn’t know that anyone is doing that.

Former chief strategist

Nov 6th, 2020 2:34 pm | By

This brave new world

Twitter permanently suspended an account associated with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon after he suggested in a video posted online Thursday that Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray should be beheaded.

Bannon made the comments calling for medieval violence during a livestream of his talk show and podcast, War Room: Pandemic.

“I’d put the heads on pikes. Right. I’d put them at the two corners of the White House. As a warning to federal bureaucrats: Either get with the program or you’re gone,” he said in the now-deleted video previously posted on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. However, it has been recirculated through other accounts.

Totally normal, right? We know Fauci already has to have full-time security because of Trump’s bullying and lying.

CNN reported the video was viewed at least 200,000 times on Facebook before it was deleted.

Just great. Will Fauci now have to live in a safe house?

Bannon’s message comes as some members ofPresident Trump’s inner circle have amped up inflammatoryrhetoric while the election results remain unresolved. Donald Trump Jr. said this week the president should “go to total war” over the election.

Meaning Trump should stage a fascist coup and become an outright dictator.

Bannon’s lawyer has quit.

On Friday, a prominent lawyer who was defending Mr. Bannon against fraud charges in federal court in Manhattan abruptly moved to drop him as a client, one person familiar with the matter said.

“Mr. Bannon is in the process of retaining new counsel,” the lawyer, William A. Burck, said in a brief letter to the court, giving no explanation.

No explanation required.

Since August, Mr. Bannon has been fighting the criminal charges lodged against him by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, the case in which Mr. Burck has been his lawyer.

Mr. Bannon was arrested on charges of defrauding donors to a campaign to privately fund a wall on the United States’ border with Mexico, one of Mr. Trump’s signature political promises.

The prosecutors have charged that Mr. Bannon and three co-defendants, while pledging publicly not to take any of the money raised for themselves, siphoned off hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for travel, hotels, personal credit card debt and other expenses.

What a mensch, huh?

Stephen Gillers, a legal ethics expert at New York University School of Law, said speaking generally, “Lawyers will withdraw when a client’s behavior sabotages the lawyer’s work on the client’s behalf.”

Mr. Gillers said he did not know why Mr. Burck was seeking to withdraw from Mr. Bannon’s case, but he added: “Bannon’s public comments made Burck’s job more difficult. Burck was hired to fight the prosecutors and should not also have to do battle with his own client.”

Smart guy, Bannon.

H/t iknklast

Updating to add, because it’s scathing and apt and true:

So far

Nov 6th, 2020 12:20 pm | By

State of play:

Joe Biden appears to be on the cusp of the victory in the US presidential election, as the Democratic nominee grows his leads in Pennsylvania and Nevada.

“Grows his leads”? His leads grow, or increase, but he’s not “growing” them, like a tomato patch. Get a grip.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

Biden now leads Donald Trump by 13,220 votes in Pennsylvania, but the AP has not yet declared a winner in the state. Biden is clearly intending to declare victory, with plans to deliver a primetime address tonight.

Georgia will hold a recount to settle the virtual tie between Biden and Trump in the state. As of now, Biden leads Trump by just 1,558 votes in the state, where about 5 million ballots were cast in the presidential race.

Biden’s lead in Nevada grew to 20,137 votes, following an update from Clark county, where Las Vegas is located. But the AP has not yet called that state either, and a Clark county official said today that counting would continue through the weekend.

It’s been a long four days.

All illegal ballots should not be counted

Nov 6th, 2020 12:03 pm | By

Trump has issued another official whine.

“We believe the American people deserve to have full transparency into all vote counting and election certification, and that this is no longer about any single election. This is about the integrity of our entire election process,” Trump said.

Hahaha that’s funny. No it’s not. Nothing Trump does is ever about anything other than Trump.

“From the beginning we have said that all legal ballots must be counted and all illegal ballots should not be counted, yet we have met resistance to this basic principle by Democrats at every turn. We will pursue this process through every aspect of the law to guarantee that the American people have confidence in our government. I will never give up fighting for you and our nation.”

No they haven’t. He’s just lying, as always.

The Guardian comments:

Okay, so there are a few fact-checks we need to make here. It is not true that Trump has consistently called for all legal ballots to be counted. He sent a tweet yesterday that said, “Stop the count!” The tweet made no distinction between legal and illegal ballots; it simply called on election officials to stop counting votes.

And every ballot that is being counted right now represents a valid vote. There has been absolutely no evidence election officials are trying to count invalid ballots. In the lawsuits it has filed in several battleground states, the Trump campaign has failed to produce any evidence that invalid ballots are being counted.

“Evidence”? What’s that?