Notes and Comment Blog


Gunman…multiple…domestic…saddened…pray…

Nov 14th, 2017 4:37 pm | By

I guess it’s going to be every day now, and soon it will be several times a day. It will stop being reported, because it’s too commonplace and there’s too much of it.

At least four people were killed Tuesday morning in Northern California when a gunman shooting at random struck at multiple locations, targeting an elementary school and a woman driving her children to school, authorities said…Ten people were injured and taken to area hospitals, including at least two children…Police received “multiple 911 calls of multiple different shooting sites, including the elementary school” in Rancho Tehama Reserve…While details about what led up to the gunfire remained unclear, Johnston said authorities were told by neighbors that “there was a domestic violence incident” involving the suspected attacker…After the shooting, Johnston said police recovered a semiautomatic rifle and two handguns believed to be used by the shooter…Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said in a statement that he and his wife were “saddened to hear about today’s violence in Tehama County, which shockingly involved schoolchildren…” Vice President Pence posted in a message on Twitter that the White House would monitor the situation, provide federal support and “pray for comfort & healing for all impacted.”…After the gunfire, worried parents were trying to get to their children at the school…

One thing we do know for sure, though: it’s too soon to talk about gun control.



Guest post: Every cultural artifact subtly trains us

Nov 14th, 2017 4:02 pm | By

Originally a comment by Anna Y on If she can walk she can marry.

The reasoning behind your outrage at the lack of outrage on the part of some people seems somehow backwards…

The way I see it — grossly oversimplified, yes, but intentionally so, to get at the roots of this difference in opinion — is that one can only be outraged by an adult man courting an adolescent girl if one believes the feminist premise that women are people.

Marriage, in every culture I’m aware of (I’ll admit to lack of expertise, but this is a polemic, not a dissertation on the origin of the concept) is fundamentally an institution to legislate the conditions under which men are allowed to own and make use of female humans as livestock/chattel slaves. Some religions go as far as to set out an extensive framework of mutual rights and obligations, but as men are always granted the ultimate authority in the marriage (and other men are always the arbiters/enforcers), it is men’s rights and their wives obligations that are preferentially enforced by their society. This is really what “Patriarchy” means, regardless of the multitude of figleaves any given culture uses to disguise this fundamental structure of the marriage relationship.

Many Westerners (at least the ones sufficiently aware of history not to reject the idea outright) like to argue that the institution has evolved, and, to some extent it has, but even today, even in developed countries, the institution of marriage is only as evolved as that country’s attitude to women’s status as full and equal human beings. Slavery is a sufficiently unpalatable concept today, that, certainly, in the U.S., even the most fundamentalist of fundamentalists would strenuously protest the claim that a “wife” is just a nice word for livestock/property. However, the inferior status of women is so “baked in” into what our society considers normal or “normal enough” to make allowances for, that it takes a great deal of effort to even spot specific instances.

This is why, to many, many people (yes, including women — since women are people equally capable of absorbing their cultural milieu), a relationship between an adolescent girl and an adult man doesn’t seem like that big a deal. Even many people who consider 14 to be too young to date or marry a man in his 30s only see it as a matter of legality and/or infantilizing the 14-year-old as being too young to be exposed to sexuality (this being incompatible with the concept of childhood purity). These same people are more ok with a 16-year-old dating/marrying that same man (especially in states with a lower age of consent). Almost no one blinks at a 30-something man pursuing 18-19 year old girls in general.

And why should they? Every cultural artifact subtly trains us to accept some degree of men’s ownership or domination of women — it is literally inescapable. Even as Americans have come to see their pets as family members and to increasingly legislate for their humane treatment (and to pass harsh social judgement on people who treat their pets worse than the socially-accepted standard but not sufficiently badly to violate the law), we have come to expect the same sort of “nicety” in ownership of wives and children, but the inherent right to ownership is still softly implied, and the only points of disagreement, really, are local community standards. So yeah, in plenty of communities parents are perfectly fine with, and, indeed, welcoming of, their adolescent daughters being courted by older, established, high-status men. After all, if these daughters are meant to be owned, isn’t it better to hand them over to a stable, mature, kind and wealthy owner who can provide them with a good home, pamper them, and have more alternatives when it comes to extracting domestic labor from them? And just as it is easier to find a home for a puppy or a kitten, who, in addition to being extra adorable, also promise to be more trainable, and, due to their youth, free from the potential baggage of prior trauma (and therefore neurotic triggers needing to be accommodated) inflicted by abusive owners or bad habits fostered by neglectful ones, isn’t it easier to find a good future owner for your daughter while she is younger, firmer/tighter/bouncier, and more naive and unformed, making it easier for her to adjust to her future circumstances at the same time as it gives her new owner more power to mould her to his preferences?

The only reason you’d be outraged by an adult man repeatedly pursuing relationships with adolescent girls (and at least deeply suspicious if this happened on only one occasion) is if you believed that women’s inner lives were exactly as deep, interesting, and valuable as men’s, and that adolescent girls should, therefore, be given the opportunity to mature at their own pace, to both pursue their own educational and professional goals (as ends in themselves, not as a future financial asset to the families they will one day have) AND to explore their own developing sexualities and experiment without pressure (such as from a more socially competent adult seeking to mould them to satisfy his own, already formed desires). If that was the source of your objections, you’d see the age of consent laws as a very imperfect tool to try and protect minors from predation by adults (usually, specifically adult males), rather than a silly PC rule constraining right-thinking red-blooded men from playing ball when grass has very obviously been on the field for years. In fact, if that was the source of your objections, you’d be more willing to make exceptions and take context into consideration, reasoning that an adolescent may well be interested in and pursue an adult, and, again, while any right-thinking adult would rebuff such advances as a matter of course, in some rare sets of circumstances, it would, at least, not be unambiguously wrong for the adult in question to accept them (while everyone still agreeing that it IS unambiguously wrong for an adult to pursue an adolescent).

Much as some people love to insist that compromise is always possible, there’s really no middle ground between these two positions. Sure, you might have a perfectly reasonable conversation with someone where you agree that no one under 18 is old enough to get married, and that when women are educated they are healthier, happier, more satisfied with their lives, form more stable families, etc, and that male violence against women is unacceptable, and so on and so forth, but just because you agree on all of these “right on” socially acceptable virtue signalling “best practices” doesn’t mean you are actually seeing eye-to-eye. It is easy to overlook fundamental disagreements on first principles when everything is going well. It is only when norms are violated (but not always even then) that anyone even begins to question why those are the norms, how they became the norms, and whether everyone arrived at their agreement on what the norms are from the same starting point, and once you start debating those starting points, it really isn’t pretty: there’s no middle ground, you can’t agree to disagree, and there isn’t an agreed-upon arbiter to appeal to to settle the question once and for all.

So, sure, maybe everyone who frequents this blog will be outraged by Roy Moore kissing a 14-year-old when he was in his 30s (I’m not aware of her name or if it’s even been released) and inviting her to fondle him, and maybe everyone here will be equally outraged both by his asking (at 34) a 17-year-old Debbie Gibson to date him AND by her mother’s reaction. But I am far too familiar with just how quickly most Americans, even if they superficially agree that women are people and the equals of men, reveal an alarming lack of follow-through when it comes to their expectations of what being full and equal humans actually entails when it comes to women. Honestly, I often question if ignorance isn’t bliss, and if it isn’t really better (if one is lucky enough, of course) to find a nice owner at 17 (or 18, or even 14) and sail through life without ever being made fully and repeatedly aware that almost everyone you meet will see you as no more than a cow, or, if they are really nice and liberal, perhaps a cat.



We see what you’re doing, but we can’t stop you

Nov 14th, 2017 12:13 pm | By

Trump plus Brexit. Putin is breaking everything.

Theresa May has accused Russia of meddling in elections and planting fake stories in the media in an extraordinary attack on its attempts to “weaponise information” in order to sow discord in the west.

The prime minister spoke out against “the scale and nature” of Russia’s actions during an address at the lord mayor’s banquet, saying it was “threatening the international order on which we all depend”.

Listing Russia’s attempts to undermine western institutions in recent years, she said: “I have a very simple message for Russia. We know what you are doing. And you will not succeed. Because you underestimate the resilience of our democracies, the enduring attraction of free and open societies, and the commitment of western nations to the alliances that bind us.”

I would love to be able to think that’s true, but I’m not. Brexit and Trump have made it impossible for me (and many others) to think that’s true.

The prime minister’s strong criticism of Russia’s activities comes in contrast to comments this weekend by Donald Trump, who said on Saturday that he believed Vladimir Putin’s denials of having meddled in the American presidential elections.

If Brexit were a person Brexit would be saying the same thing.

May did not say on Monday whether she was concerned with Russian intervention in any UK democratic processes, but Ben Bradshaw, a leading Labour MP, is among those to have called for a judge-led inquiry into the possibility that Moscow tried to influence the result of the Brexit referendum.

Russia has been accused of running “troll factories” that disseminate fake news and divisive posts on social media. It emerged on Monday that a Russian bot account was one of those that shared a viral image that claimed a Muslim woman ignored victims of the Westminster terror attack as she walked across the bridge.

This is why we can’t have nice things.



A giant stride toward the cliff

Nov 14th, 2017 11:12 am | By

Nothing corrupt and sleazy about this, oh hell no.

The Justice Department said Monday that prosecutors were looking into whether a special counsel should be appointed to investigate political rivals President Trump has singled out for scrutiny, including Hillary Clinton.

The department, in a letter sent to the House Judiciary Committee, said the prosecutors would examine allegations that donations to the Clinton Foundation were tied to a 2010 decision by the Obama administration to allow a Russian nuclear agency to buy Uranium One, a company that owned access to uranium in the United States, and other issues.

The letter appeared to be a direct response to Mr. Trump’s statement on Nov. 3, when he said he was disappointed with his beleaguered attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and that longstanding unproven allegations about the Clintons and the Obama administration should be investigated.

Any such investigation would raise questions about the independence of federal investigations under Mr. Trump. Since Watergate, the Justice Department has largely operated independently of political influence on cases related to the president’s opponents.

But now there’s a lying raping thief squatting in the White House, so fancypants ideas like “the independence of federal investigations” are a dead letter.

Although Mr. Sessions has recused himself from all matters related to the election, he and the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, will oversee the prosecutors’ decision to appoint the special counsel, the letter said.

It’s what autocrats and dictators do. It’s what Putin and Erdoğan and Mugabe do. It’s filthy.

During his Senate confirmation hearing this year, Mr. Sessions said he would not name a special prosecutor to investigate Mrs. Clinton even if ordered to do so by the president.

“This country does not punish its political enemies,” he told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Emphasis added.

Mr. Trump, who closely monitors the conservative news media ecosystem for ideas on how to attack his opponents, has cited reports from those outlets to aides and friends as examples for why a special counsel should be appointed.

One commentator in particular, the Fox News host Jeanine Pirro — who is a friend of Mr. Trump’s and whose show he rarely misses — has aggressively denounced Mr. Sessions as weak for not investigating the uranium deal. In addition to making scathing critiques on her show, Ms. Pirro — who had interviewed to be the deputy attorney general, according to three transition officials — recently met with the president to excoriate the attorney general.

In an Oval Office meeting on Nov. 1, Ms. Pirro said that a special counsel needed to be appointed, according to two people briefed on the discussion. Through a Fox News spokeswoman, Ms. Pirro said, “Everything I said to President Trump is exactly what I’ve vocalized on my show, ‘Justice with Jeanine.’”

So Fox News and a lying thieving fraud are running the country. Awesome.

Peter Baker points out how aberrant all this is.

President Trump did not need to send a memo or telephone his attorney general to make his desires known. He broadcast them for all the world to see on Twitter. The instruction was clear: The Justice Department should investigate his defeated opponent from last year’s campaign.

However they were delivered, Mr. Trump’s demands have ricocheted through the halls of the Justice Department, where Attorney General Jeff Sessions has now ordered career prosecutors to evaluate various accusations against Hillary Clinton and report back on whether a special counsel should be appointed to investigate her.

Mr. Sessions has made no decision, and in soliciting the assessment of department lawyers, he may be seeking a way out of the bind his boss has put him in by effectively putting the matter in the hands of professionals who were not politically appointed. But if he or his deputy authorizes a new investigation of Mrs. Clinton, it would shatter norms established after Watergate that are intended to prevent presidents from using law enforcement agencies against political rivals.

Emphasis added, again.

The request alone was enough to trigger a political backlash, as critics of Mr. Trump quickly decried what they called “banana republic” politics of retribution, akin to autocratic backwater nations where election losers are jailed by winners.

My point exactly.

“You can be disappointed, but don’t be surprised,” said Karen Dunn, a former prosecutor and White House lawyer under President Barack Obama who advised Mrs. Clinton during her campaign against Mr. Trump. “This is exactly what he said he would do: use taxpayer resources to pursue political rivals.”

Democrats still vividly recall Mr. Trump on the campaign trail vowing to prosecute Mrs. Clinton if he won. “It was alarming enough to chant ‘lock her up’ at a campaign rally,” said Brian Fallon, who was Mrs. Clinton’s campaign spokesman. “It is another thing entirely to try to weaponize the Justice Department in order to actually carry it out.”

He is – in his thinking, his rhetoric, his character, his innermost essence – a dictator. He clearly thought being president actually meant being a dictator, and he’s thrashing wildly against all the restraints. He’s going to destroy the place.

While presidents typically are not supposed to intervene in investigations or prosecutions of specific individuals, Mr. Trump’s calls for an investigation of Mrs. Clinton over the last several months have been repeated, insistent and not even slightly subtle.

“So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?” he wrote on Twitter in July.

“There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out,” he wrote in October. “DO SOMETHING!”

“At some point the Justice Department, and the FBI, must do what is right and proper,” Mr. Trump wrote again in November. He added: “Everybody is asking why the Justice Department (and FBI) isn’t looking into all of the dishonesty going on with Crooked Hillary & the Dems.”

That’s a dictator raving.



In a purple Tuk Tuk

Nov 13th, 2017 3:33 pm | By

Aw, come on, don’t be silly. The Daily News:

Ja Du recently sat down with WTSP to discuss his racial identity, telling the outlet that although he was born a white man named Adam, he feels Filipino. He now identifies as transracial.

“Whenever I’m around the music, around the food, I feel like I’m in my own skin,” he said.

“I’d watch the history channel sometimes for hours you know whenever it came to that and you know nothing else intrigues me more but things about Filipino culture.”

You mean he sat down to discuss his very common experience of finding another culture fascinating and congenial. What’s that got to do with “racial identity”? Not a lot.

Although Ja Du can’t change the way he presents outwardly, he’s embraced all aspects of his identity as it relates to the way he lives his life.

He can often be found driving around his native Tampa, Fla., in a purple Tuk Tuk, a three-wheeled vehicle often used as public transportation in the Philippines.

The Daily News is probably being just a little sarcastic here. You can drive around Tampa or Tulsa or Tacoma in a purple Tuk Tuk all you like, it will never make you literally Filipino. I like marmalade; that doesn’t make me a citizen of the UK.

I think it’s a great thing when people are attracted to distant cultures, especially Americans, who are so at risk of thinking the US is the only country that matters. I also think it’s a great thing when people enrich their lives and expand their horizons by using their imaginations a lot, including to imagine different lives for themselves. I just don’t confuse that with actually being something you’re not. I also don’t think “identifying as” is a magic phrase that transforms people into whatever they claim to identify as.



Thieves welcome

Nov 13th, 2017 2:54 pm | By

Interesting. Julia Ioffe at the Atlantic reports that Don Trump Junior had a correspondence with Wikileaks.

The messages show WikiLeaks, a radical transparency organization that the American intelligence community believes was chosen by the Russian government to disseminate the information it had hacked, actively soliciting Trump Jr.’s cooperation. WikiLeaks made a series of increasingly bold requests, including asking for Trump’s tax returns, urging the Trump campaign on Election Day to reject the results of the election as rigged, and requesting that the president-elect tell Australia to appoint Julian Assange ambassador to the United States.

Much of the time Don Two ignored them, but not all the time.

According to a source familiar with the congressional investigations into Russian interference with the 2016 campaign, who requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, on the same day that Trump Jr. received the first message from WikiLeaks, he emailed other senior officials with the Trump campaign, including Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Brad Parscale, and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, telling them WikiLeaks had made contact. Kushner then forwarded the email to campaign communications staffer Hope Hicks. At no point during the 10-month correspondence does Trump Jr. rebuff WikiLeaks, which had published stolen documents and was already observed to be releasing information that benefited Russian interests.

on October 12, 2016, the account again messaged Trump Jr. “Hey Donald, great to see you and your dad talking about our publications,” WikiLeaks wrote. (At a rally on October 10, Donald Trump had proclaimed, “I love WikiLeaks!”)

“Strongly suggest your dad tweets this link if he mentions us,” WikiLeaks went on, pointing Trump Jr. to the link wlsearch.tk, which it said would help Trump’s followers dig through the trove of stolen documents and find stories. “There’s many great stories the press are missing and we’re sure some of your follows [sic] will find it,” WikiLeaks went on. “Btw we just released Podesta Emails Part 4.”

Trump Jr. did not respond to this message. But just 15 minutes after it was sent, as The Wall Street Journal’s Byron Tau pointed out, Donald Trump himself tweeted, “Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest! Rigged system!”

That telltale 15 minutes is being seen as a big deal.

In the winter and spring, WikiLeaks went largely silent, only occasionally sending Trump Jr. links. But on July 11, 2017, three days after The New York Timesbroke the story about Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with connections to Russia’s powerful prosecutor general, WikiLeaks got in touch again.

“Hi Don. Sorry to hear about your problems,” WikiLeaks wrote. “We have an idea that may help a little. We are VERY interested in confidentially obtaining and publishing a copy of the email(s) cited in the New York Times today,” citing a reference in the paper to emails Trump Jr had exchanged with Rob Goldstone, a publicist who had helped set up the meeting. “We think this is strongly in your interest,” WikiLeaks went on. It then reprised many of the same arguments it made in trying to convince Trump Jr. to turn over his father’s tax returns, including the argument that Trump’s enemies in the press were using the emails to spin an unfavorable narrative of the meeting. “Us publishing not only deprives them of this ability but is beautifully confounding.”

The message was sent at 9:29 am on July 11. Trump Jr. did not respond, but just hours later, he posted the emails himself, on his own Twitter feed.



If she can walk she can marry

Nov 13th, 2017 11:57 am | By

There’s a reason adult men are attracted to teenage girls, in addition to the whole tight young flesh thing.

When Roy Moore, then 34 years old, asked 17-year-old Debbie Wesson Gibson if she would date him, Gibson asked her mother what she would think.

According to The Washington Post’s investigation into Moore’s pursuit of teenage girls, which was published Thursday, Gibson’s mother replied, “I’d say you were the luckiest girl in the world.”

That attitude of encouraging teenage girls to date older men, rather than shielding girls from men’s advances, sounded familiar to some people who read the Post story that has shaken Moore’s bid for the U.S. Senate.

“It’s not so uncommon that people would necessarily look at it askance,” said Nicholas Syrett, a University of Kansas professor who recently published a book on child marriage in America. “The South has a much longer history of allowing minors to marry, and obviously there’s some courtship or dating — whatever you want to call it — leading up to that.”

The younger you imprison them, the more malleable they are.

That courtship of underage girls is especially common in conservative religious communities.

“We should probably talk about how there is a segment of evangelicalism and home-school culture where the only thing Roy Moore did wrong was initiating sexual contact outside of marriage. [Fourteen-year-old] girls courting adult men isn’t entirely uncommon,” Kathryn Brightbill, who works for the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, tweeted on Friday, prompting a flurry of responses from other people who also had watched teenagers date much older Christian men.

Does the word “patriarchy” ring a bell? Husbands are supposed to take over from fathers, and both are supposed to keep the flighty brainless hotblooded little thing in line.

Ashley Easter, who grew up in a fundamentalist Baptist church where courting was the norm for teenagers, said, “That was the first thing I thought of with Roy Moore.” In her church community in Lynchburg, Va., Easter said, fathers had complete control over whom their daughters were allowed to date, and she could see how a father might set his teen daughter up with a much older man.

“A woman’s role is to be a wife, a homemaker and someone who births children. The man’s role is generally to be established and someone who provides the full income,” said Easter, who runs the Courage Conference for survivors of church sexual abuse. “It may take longer for a man to reach stability. While a woman of 15 or 16, if she’s been trained for a long time looking after her younger siblings, in their eyes she might be ready for marriage.”

And that way she’s locked in early, so it will be harder for her to get out if she ever develops a mind of her own.

Easter said she experienced this courtship culture herself. As a woman in a fundamentalist Christian church who was expected to remain under her father’s roof until he handed her over to her husband, Easter became a “stay-at-home daughter” after high school. She said she understood the pressure a teenager might feel to marry an older man as a way to gain some measure of independence.

Easter left her fundamentalist community four years ago, at age 21, after breaking off a relationship with a man her father had selected for her. Now, she helps run the Courage Conference, a gathering of people who have left abusive religious communities, and listens to the struggles of the women who attend. “Their lives are very difficult now that they’ve gotten free. When you have never learned to make your own choices — you haven’t learned how to be in charge of your life. Working through that can be very scary,” she said.

But maybe not as scary as being married to Roy Moore.



Smash your own stuff, that’ll show them!

Nov 13th, 2017 11:37 am | By

This is pretty funny. Hannity defends Roy Moore, Media Matters urges Keurig (a maker of coffee machines) to stop advertising on Hannity’s show, Keurig obliges, Hannity fans…smash up their own Keurig coffee machines.

Keurig — along with four other advertisers, including Realtor.com and Nature’s Bounty — pulled their ads from the program. But Hannity’s defenders singled out Keurig’s decision, and #BoycottKeurig was born.

And perhaps because Keurig coffee machines are a rather infrequent purchase and so difficult to boycott, the movement turned into a series of Twitter videos of people smashing their coffee makers to pieces.

Damn, do any car makers advertise on Hannity? Because that would be even funnier.

Take that, vile coffeemaker machine!



Another tyrant BFF

Nov 13th, 2017 9:26 am | By

Trump does love human rights violators.

President Trump said on Monday that he had a “great relationship” with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, making little mention of human rights at his first face-to-face meeting with an authoritarian leader accused of carrying out a campaign of extrajudicial killings in his nation’s war on drugs.

In a stark break from past practice by American presidents, who have pressed foreign leaders publicly and privately about allegations of human rights abuses, Mr. Trump instead pursued his own transactional style of diplomacy, dwelling mostly on areas of common ground during his meeting with Mr. Duterte. On the sideline of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit meeting, Mr. Trump focused on combating the Islamic State and illegal drugs as well as on trade issues, the White House said.

Making “deals.” It’s what he knows.

“Human rights briefly came up in the context of the Philippines’ fight against illegal drugs,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.

But Mr. Duterte’s spokesman denied that the subject of rights was ever broached, even as the Philippine president spoke about the “drug menace” in his country.

Mr. Trump “appeared sympathetic and did not have any official position on the matter and was merely nodding his head, indicating that he understood the domestic problem that we faced on drugs,” said Harry Roque, Mr. Duterte’s spokesman. “The issue of human rights did not arise; it was not brought up.”

Could it be that Sarah Sanders lied? It wouldn’t be the first time.

Now here’s a jaw-dropper:

The meeting also highlighted the potential conflicts of interest inherent in Mr. Trump’s position as both a president and a global real estate developer. Among those at the private session was Jose E. B. Antonio, a developer who is Mr. Trump’s partner on a $150-million, 57-story luxury tower in Manila’s financial district and also serves as Mr. Duterte’s trade envoy to the United States.

What? How can that be allowed?

As journalists shouted questions about whether Mr. Trump would press Mr. Duterte on human rights, the Philippine president quickly silenced them.

“Whoa, whoa — this is not the press statement,” Mr. Duterte said. “We are in a bilateral meeting.”

“You are the spies,” he told the reporters, as Philippine security personnel jostled some of them roughly. The remarks elicited a hearty laugh from Mr. Trump before the journalists were led out of the room.

Meanwhile police were attacking protesters in the streets of Manila.

White House officials have said that Mr. Trump has a “warm rapport” with Mr. Duterte, with whom he has spoken and exchanged letters since taking office, and that he wants to mend the American-Philippine alliance after strains during the Obama administration.

“President Trump specifically said he has always been a friend of the Duterte administration, unlike the previous administrations of the United States,” Mr. Roque said on Monday. “He stressed that he can be counted upon as a friend of the Duterte administration.”

Of course he did. He loves tyrants and rights-abusers. He loves the Saudis, he loves Erdoğan, he loves Putin – naturally he loves Duterte.



Jesus plus 9mm Glock

Nov 12th, 2017 5:22 pm | By

Hmmno thanks. A Fox source in Phoenix:

A group that call themselves “God’s Army” is patrolling Valley streets, in the name of Jesus.

The group consist of former police officers and military members, and claims to have about 50 members.

They look like police officers, but their uniforms say “God’s Army” and “Jesus”. Richard Tamayo  used to be a New York City police officer. Now, he’s “walking the beat” in North Phoenix.

“We are prior military, law enforcement background and experience,” said Tamayo. “We go out in the street wearing this uniform, glorify Jesus, go in areas affected by crime.”

Just like the Taliban or the Saudi mutaween.

Tamayo says his goal is to call 911 with tips, so police can make arrests. He adds he’s not looking for trouble.

If it comes, however, Tamayo said he is ready.

“I have handcuffs, mace, magazine, 9 mm Glock,” said Tamayo.

Gosh, kids, it’s just like a Western in the moooovies!



Not qualified

Nov 12th, 2017 3:22 pm | By

Despite being an incompetent idiot, Trump is ruining everything.

Brett J. Talley, President Trump’s nominee to be a federal judge in Alabama, has never tried a case, was unanimously rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Assn.’s judicial rating committee, has practiced law for only three years and, as a blogger last year, displayed a degree of partisanship unusual for a judicial nominee, denouncing “Hillary Rotten Clinton” and pledging support for the National Rifle Ass[ociati]n.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee, on a party-line vote, approved him for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.

Civil rights groups and liberal advocates…denounced Thursday’s vote, calling it “laughable” that none of the committee Republicans objected to confirming a lawyer with as little experience as Talley to preside over federal trials.

“He’s practiced law for less than three years and never argued a motion, let alone brought a case. This is the least amount of experience I’ve seen in a judicial nominee,” said Kristine Lucius, executive vice president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

But it’s one of Trump’s core beliefs: that any damn fool who wanders by can be president or a federal judge…provided he [it has to be a he] is right-wing enough.



Boys’ night out

Nov 12th, 2017 11:38 am | By

Oh gee, mark your calendars. “Sargon of Akkad” aka Carl Benjamin is doing a star appearance at Conway Hall (of all places) next month.

Sargon of Akkad presents:

“This Week in Stupid Live” – An Evening with Sargon of Akkad

Friday 15th December @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

A snip at £10.

Carl “Sargon of Akkad” Benjamin is a popular independent Vlogger with over 700,000 subscribers on YouTube.

Carl critiques ideological arguments and his channel is dedicated to rational arguments backed by evidence.  Sometimes a polemicist, at other times soft spoken, Sargon of Akkad has created a considerable amount of content regarding skeptical thought. The evening will be spent discussing politics, philosophy and the endless idiocy of the extremes of each political wing.

That’s not his real claim to fame though, is it. His real claim to fame is bullying women on social media, especially Twitter.

In May 2016, in response to Labour Party politician Jess Phillips‘ statement that rape threats are commonplace for her, Benjamin said “I wouldn’t even rape you” in a YouTube video and repeated this on Twitter.[2][5][8][13] Benjamin declined to apologise for the comments.[13]

Twitter suspended him.

Image result for sargon of akkad jess phillips

Conway Hall isn’t just a building, it isn’t just a generic hall that hosts anything and everything.

The Conway Hall Ethical Society, formerly the South Place Ethical Society, based in London at Conway Hall, is thought to be the oldest surviving freethought organisation in the world, and is the only remaining ethical society in the United Kingdom. It now advocates secular humanism and is a member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

Secular humanism. Ethical society. Not a good fit for aggressively rude men who bully women.

Conway Hall must not have been paying attention.



Escape clause

Nov 12th, 2017 9:35 am | By

Here’s a stunning item I missed a few days ago: Bill O’Reilly’s contract with Fox

contained a helpful provision stating that he “could not be dismissed on the basis of an allegation unless that allegation was proved in court.” The revelation stems from a proceeding of Britain’s Competition & Markets Authority (CMA), which is reviewing a bid by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox to assert control of the portion of satellite TV outlet Sky that it doesn’t already own. As part of the review, Jacques Nasser, a director of 21st Century Fox, gave testimony on the company’s inner workings.

And what astonishing workings: As Nasser told the story, there was a quick reaction to the accusations against former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who was sued by former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson in July 2016. After a review of Ailes’s conduct, he was quickly ousted.

But BillO? Not so much.

Such a lightning response, however, wasn’t possible in the case of O’Reilly, Nasser told CMA, because of O’Reilly’s contract. Requiring sexual-harassment allegations to be proved in a court of law before dismissing the accused party — that’s a steep requirement. Analyses have shown that well above 90 percent of all civil cases are settled or dismissed before they reach a trial. Not only that, but a wealthy man like O’Reilly can use his assets to ensure that he’d never face a proven claim of sexual harassment.

It seems it was only because there were so many, and because word got out, and because 21st Century Fox got involved, and because there was a new contract, that Fox News was finally able to fire him.

As the New York Times reported in April, there were at least five settlements involving O’Reilly’s treatment of women, and several of them were negotiated directly between O’Reilly and the accuser. Those revelations triggered calls for action against O’Reilly advertisers, and the pressure forced Fox News to fire O’Reilly. The story stood right there for months, until the New York Times revealed last month that O’Reilly had in January agreed to another, astounding settlement with legal analyst Lis Wiehl for the sum of $32 million. Though O’Reilly’s bosses were aware of the Wiehl accusation, they were kept in the dark about the settlement amount. They re-upped with the newsman anyhow, in a four-year deal that paid him $25 million per year.

In response to that story, 21st Century Fox issued a statement saying, in part, “His new contract, which was made at a time typical for renewals of multi-year talent contracts, added protections for the company specifically aimed at harassment, including that Mr. O’Reilly could be dismissed if the company was made aware of other allegations or if additional relevant information was obtained in a company investigation.” In his remarks to the CMA, Nasser confirmed that “a clause was inserted to state that he could be dismissed on the grounds of an allegation against him without it having to be proved in court,” according to the summary provided by the CMA. From the looks of things, the contract that contained the court-proof provision was negotiated between Team O’Reilly and Fox News; the 2017 version was negotiated with greater input from 21st Century Fox.

It’s interesting to try to imagine how that discussion went.

That O’Reilly ever had a prove-it-in-court provision says a great deal about: 1) His lawyers, who knew how to protect him; 2) Fox News, which should have seen the provision as fair warning and a potential legal liability: “Fox lawyers and executives knew that this was a big issue if they were signing a contract with him with this type of provision,” says Banks; 3) The ways in which the legal system accommodates rich people; as premier thinker Tom Scocca wrote, settlements are a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for accused sexual harassers such as O’Reilly. And to think: O’Reilly has bashed this very system for unduly empowering complainants to bring frivolous complaints against celebrities.

And 4) the malignant Fox News culture of ratings. With very few scoops and little in the way of journalistic integrity, Fox News has always fended off the attacks of critics by pointing to its preeminence in the ratings. As the Fox News sexual-harassment saga drags on, we learn more and more about how low its executives will stoop in order to preserve this distinction.

Item 2 is a killer. They knew. They accepted that clause, so they knew. “Ok, you’re a ratings magnet, so sure, we’ll let you creep on women and get away with it. Love ya, mean it.”



Why the ambiguity about this

Nov 12th, 2017 8:59 am | By

To the surprise of no one, Brennan and Clapper say Trump is being played by his BFF Puteekins.

“By not confronting the issue directly and not acknowledging to Putin that we know you’re responsible for this, I think he’s giving Putin a pass,” former CIA director John Brennan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I think it demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint.”

Not his insecurities, his narcissism. He doesn’t have any insecurities. What you see is what you get: what looks like immovable conceit and grandiosity is just that. Trump is too stupid to have insecurities.

“He seems very susceptible to rolling out the red carpet and honor guards and all the trappings and pomp and circumstance that come with the office, and I think that appeals to him, and I think it plays to his insecurities,” Clapper said.

Or, rather, his ravenous ego.

Trump told reporters traveling with him in Asia that Putin had assured him at a conference in Danang, Vietnam, on Saturday that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, and he indicated that he believed Putin was sincere.

Later, in a news conference Sunday in Hanoi with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, Trump appeared to be trying to parse his earlier remarks, saying, “What I said is that I believe [Putin] believes that.”

In his earlier remarks to reporters, Trump also referred to Brennan and Clapper as “political hacks.” Brennan said Sunday that he considers Trump’s characterization “a badge of honor.”

Well, yes; if Trump says nice things about you it’s time to worry. But from a national and global perspective, it’s not so great.

Both men were highly critical of Trump for not saying more definitively that Putin was behind the Russian interference in the U.S. election, a conclusion strongly endorsed by the U.S. intelligence community.

“I don’t know why the ambiguity about this,” Brennan said. “Putin is committed to undermining our system, our democracy and our whole process. And to try paint it in any other way is, I think, astounding, and, in fact, poses a peril to this country.”

Astounding and, to put it bluntly, treasonous. Trump is trying to defend Putin for his own warped reasons, when Putin is bent on damaging the US and democracy as surely as if he were throwing bombs at us.



President Lemurwig is agitated

Nov 11th, 2017 5:35 pm | By

Uh oh he’s found the Twitter again.

Yes, that’s the way to work out policy: call everyone names on Twitter.

He wants to talk about spelling? Really? When he just spelled “they’re” as “there”?

Also, the name calling. Fake News, Crooked Hillary, zero chemistry. This is our head of state.

But he saved the best for last.

No comment necessary.



Trump starts second grade on a high note

Nov 11th, 2017 10:44 am | By

He might as well be six years old.

Q You seem to have a fairly warm relationship with a number of —

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I do.

Q — totalitarian or authoritarian leaders —

PRESIDENT TRUMP: And others.

Q And others. So, Putin, Xi, leader of the Philippines. Do you think you — what do you think — do you think you understand them in a certain way or relate to them in a way that other Presidents haven’t?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I dont know. They had a story today in one of the papers about China. China likes me. China likes me. And I get along with them; I get along with others too.

I get along very well with Angela. You people don’t write that. I actually get along really well with Angela. You know, they had that handshaking event. I was with her for a long time before that. And somebody shouts out, “shake her hand, shake her hand.” And I didn’t hear them. So by not shaking her hand, they said — I have a great relationship with her. I have a great relationship with Theresa May. I have a great relationship with Justin Trudeau, who I just left.

I think I — I’ll be honest with you, I think I have a great relationship with every single one of them. Every person in that room today — you had what, 15, or so, or 18? Asia Pacific —

Q Well, 21 including you.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Everyone in that room, I have a good relationship. They’re very different people, but everyone. And I do have a very good relationship with Xi, obviously. It’s the biggest state — it’s the biggest state entrance and the biggest state dinner they’ve ever had, by far, in China. He called it a state-plus. Like he said it — he actually said, state-plus-plus,which is very interesting.

But he’s — you know, look, again, he’s a strong person. He’s a very smart person. I like him a lot; he likes me. But, you know, we represent two very different countries. But we get along very well. And that’s a good thing that we along; that’s not a bad thing.

They like me! They like me! They all really really like me! They think I’m awesome! They ask me to sit with them at the popular table! They like me!



Don’t forget, all he said is he never did that

Nov 11th, 2017 9:50 am | By

The Times has a transcript via the White House of Trump’s treasonous lies about Putin.

As you know, we saw each other last night just for a picture, and that was the first time. And then today we had a round table with numerous countries. You have a list of the countries, obviously. Right? You have a list.

And we spoke intermittently during that round table. We seem to have a very good feeling for each other and a good relationship considering we don’t know each other well. I think it’s a very good relationship.

This is the guy who said Obama liked him after they had that get-together after the election – the guy who told a disgusting racist lie about Obama on widely-seen tv shows for years and thought Obama “liked” him. That’s how good his radar is; that’s how good he is at detecting a performance; that’s how good he is at seeing past the polite public mask to the reality beneath.

REPORTER: Did Russia’s attempts to meddle in U.S. elections come up in the conversation?

TRUMP: He said he didn’t meddle. He said he didn’t meddle. I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. But I just asked him again, and he said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they’re saying he did. And he said —

REPORTER: Do you believe him?

TRUMP: Well, look, I can’t stand there and argue with him. I’d rather have him get out of Syria, to be honest with you. I’d rather have him — you know, work with him on the Ukraine than standing and arguing about whether or not — because that whole thing was set up by the Democrats.

The art of the deal, people. The art of the deal.

I mean, they ought to look at Podesta. They ought to look at all of the things that they’ve done with the phony dossier. Those are the big events. Those are the big events.

But Putin said he did not do what they said he did. And, you know, there are those that say, if he did do it, he wouldn’t have gotten caught, all right? Which is a very interesting statement. But we have a — you know, we have a good feeling toward getting things done.

If we had a relationship with Russia, that would be a good thing. In fact, it would be a great thing, not a bad thing. Because he could really help us in North Korea. We have a big problem with North Korea. And China is helping us. And because of the lack of a relationship that we have with Russia because of this artificial thing that’s happening with this Democratic-inspired thing, we could really be helped a lot, tremendously, with Russia having to do with North Korea.

And, you know, you’re talking about millions and millions of lives. This isn’t baby stuff. This is the real deal. And if Russia helped us, in addition to China, that problem would go away a lot faster.

REPORTER: How did you bring up the issue of election meddling? Did you ask him a question?

TRUMP: He just — every time he sees me, he says, “I didn’t do that.” And I believe — I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. But he says, “I didn’t do that.” I think he’s very insulted by it, if you want to know the truth.

Don’t forget, all he said is he never did that, he didn’t do that. I think he’s very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country. Because again, if we had a relationship with Russia, North Korea — which is our single biggest problem right now — North Korea, it would be helped a lot. I think I’m doing very well with respect to China. They’ve cut off financing; they’ve cut off bank lines; they’ve cut off lots of oil and lots of other things, lots of trade. And it’s having a big impact. But Russia, on the other hand, may be making up the difference. And if they are, that’s not a good thing.

So having a relationship with Russia would be a great thing — not a good thing — it would be a great thing, especially as it relates to North Korea.

And I’ll say this, Hillary had her stupid reset button that she spelled the word wrong, but she doesn’t have what it takes to have that kind of a relationship where you could call or you could do something and they would pull back from North Korea, or they’d pull back from Syria, or maybe pull back from Ukraine. I mean, if we could solve the Ukraine problem —

But this is really an artificial barrier that’s put in front of us for solving problems with Russia, and he says that very strongly. He really seems to be insulted by it, and he says he didn’t do it. So —

REPORTER: (Inaudible) do you believe him —

TRUMP: Excuse me?

REPORTER: Even if he (inaudible) one-on-one, do you believe him?

TRUMP: I think that he is very, very strong in the fact that he didn’t do it. And then you look, and you look at what’s going on with Podesta, and you look at what’s going on with the server from the D.N.C. and why didn’t the F.B.I. take it, why did they leave it, why did a third party look at the server and not the FBI — if you look at all of this stuff, and you say, what’s going on here?

And then you hear it’s 17 agencies. Well, it’s three. And one is Brennan and one is whatever. I mean, give me a break. They’re political hacks.

So you look at it — I mean, you have Brennan, you have Clapper, and you have Comey. Comey is proven now to be a liar and he’s proven to be a leaker.

So you look at that, and you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with that. Now, you’re not going to get into an argument. You’re going to start talking about Syria and the Ukraine.

That’s the president of the United States.



Casual everyday treason

Nov 11th, 2017 9:08 am | By

Trump says who ya gonna believe, US intelligence people or the former head of the KGB?

Correct answer is the former head of the KGB, of course. Duh.

President Trump said on Saturday that he believed President Vladimir V. Putin was sincere in his denials of interference in the 2016 presidential elections, calling questions about Moscow’s meddling a politically motivated “hit job” that was hindering cooperation with Russia on life-or-death issues.

Speaking after meeting privately with Mr. Putin on the sideline of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Danang, Vietnam, Mr. Trump said that he had again asked whether Russia had meddled in the contest, but that the continued focus on the issue was insulting to Mr. Putin.

Well we can’t have that. We can’t insult dear Mr Putin, that nice nice man who grabbed the Crimea and invaded Ukraine and had all those pesky journalists killed.

“He said he didn’t meddle — I asked him again,” Mr. Trump told reporters traveling with him aboard Air Force One as he flew to Hanoi for more meetings. “You can only ask so many times. I just asked him again. He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did.”

This is the guy who put his name to a whole entire book about making “deals.” This is a guy whose only skill is “making deals” by lying and cheating and manipulating, yet he wants us to agree with him that when the famously crooked and corrupt Putin says he didn’t do a thing, we totally should believe him and move on. This is a guy who himself lies to us every hour yet he expects us to take him seriously when he insists Putin must be telling the truth now that he’s said it twice.

Mr. Trump did not answer a direct question about whether he believed Mr. Putin’s denials, but his account of the conversation indicated he was far more inclined to accept the Russian president’s assertions than those of his own intelligence agencies, which have concluded that Mr. Putin directed an elaborate effort to interfere in the vote.

It’s a matter of loyalty. Trump is loyal to dear Mr Putin, because why wouldn’t he be? Putin is his friend. They grew up together playing baseball on the meadows of Flushing.

“Every time he sees me he says, ‘I didn’t do that,’ and I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Putin. “I think he is very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country.”

Oh well then. If he means it, it must be true.

[Seriously? This is making my hair stand on end. Scrolling down my disbelief keeps expanding like a balloon.]

Mr. Trump heaped disdain on the former leaders of three American intelligence agencies — John O. Brennan, the former C.I.A. director; James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence; and James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director he fired this year — appearing to suggest that they were less trustworthy than Mr. Putin.

“I mean, give me a break — they’re political hacks,” Mr. Trump said. “You have Brennan, you have Clapper, and you have Comey. Comey’s proven now to be a liar, and he’s proven to be a leaker, so you look at that. And you have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with that.”

Jesus god.



Favorites

Nov 10th, 2017 2:43 pm | By

In May Vulture did a story on the favorite interviews of the producers of Fresh Air.

This week marks 30 years since WHYY first took Fresh Air With Terry Gross national in the form we know today: a daily, hour-long interview show featuring an array of artists and newsmakers. The show now reaches over 6 million people weekly via public radio stations across the country, and many more as a podcast. (Fresh Air is said to be NPR’s most downloaded podcast, and Apple has listed the show as the top-downloaded podcast on its platform for two years in a row.)

To commemorate the occasion, I asked Gross for a list of her personal favorite interviews. She responded:

When I started in radio, I envied one of my co-workers who had a whole box of tapes of her show. I thought, someday, if I’m lucky, I’ll have a whole box my own! Now Fresh Air has an archive of thousands and thousands of interviews covering 30 years … I’d be so damn smart if I was capable of remembering everything I’ve learned from them. Now, when I’m asked to choose my favorite interviews, I can’t, it’s just too overwhelming. I’m grateful to our producers for choosing some of theirs.

And so, here are the Fresh Air team’s favorite Terry Gross interviews, as selected by executive producer Danny Miller (who started as an intern in 1978); director Roberta Shorrock; producers Amy Salit, Phyllis Myers, Ann Marie Baldonado, Lauren Krenzel, and Sam Briger; engineer Audrey Bentham; and associate producers Therese Madden, Heidi Saman, Mooj Zadie; and associate web producer Molly Seavy-Nesper. I’ve rounded out their picks with some context about each episode.

You know what’s coming, because I’ve already talked about Terry Gross’s worship. Sixth on the list.

Louis C.K. (Originally broadcast in 2010.)

This interview gives us a snapshot of the comedian at what might be considered the early stages of his rise to his contemporary era of auteurship. Perhaps more memorably, it also happens to be the interview that got Fresh Air pulled from Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

Just last May, remember.

They must have known. It’s their job to be all over popular culture like a rash, so they must have read some of those stories. They must have known.



“Because people who look up to me didn’t want to hear it”

Nov 10th, 2017 11:39 am | By

Unlike the others, Louie CK has copped to it – which means that unlike the others he has at a stroke undermined any claims that the women are lying or exaggerating.

Louis C.K. broke his silence Friday after five women came forward to accuse the comedian of sexual misconduct, admitting in a lengthy statement: “These stories are true.”

The Times posted the whole statement:

I want to address the stories told to The New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not.

These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was O.K. because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly. I have been remorseful of my actions. And I’ve tried to learn from them. And run from them. Now I’m aware of the extent of the impact of my actions. I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position. I also took advantage of the fact that I was widely admired in my and their community, which disabled them from sharing their story and brought hardship to them when they tried because people who look up to me didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t think that I was doing any of that because my position allowed me not to think about it. There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am. Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with. I wish I had reacted to their admiration of me by being a good example to them as a man and given them some guidance as a comedian, including because I admired their work.

That is how these things should be done. It doesn’t make it ok that he did the creepy shit, but it is definitely the right way to do it: take a long hard look and then say what you did to the women, from their point of view. This is what all the others have refused to do.

He says more, about the harm he did to the people who helped him, but that analysis of what he did to the women is the core.