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Normalizing Malignancy

Everyone is right. It’s depraved to normalize evil. And that includes the horrible people who’ve decided to be its avatars. It’s wrong to muss their hair and discuss how to work with them, as if there was something well-meaning about them.

Not recognizing them for what they are and not rejecting the endless harm they do is to lose your immune system. Cancers kill because the immune system is fooled into not fighting them. Social cancers work the same way.

There are interesting articles turning up remembering normalization at work in the early Third Reich.

“The rough edges of the extreme anti-Semite and agitator of the masses were sanded away through the creation of a new, sophisticated persona that emerged in carefully crafted domestic surroundings. With silk curtains and porcelain vases, Hitler’s designers suggested an internal world that was both cultivated and peaceful.”

That kind of normalizing, which ignores the damage being done, is depraved.

But there’s another side to the issue.

Some of the anti-normalization outrage focuses on rejecting everything to do with people who do horrible things. You’re barely allowed to point out they had mothers once and were small and blew out the candles on their birthday cakes just like you and me. That’s also normalizing them.

It is, but it’s a very different sort of normalizing. It’s never all right to pretend the harm they do is okay. But it’s always necessary to recognize how widespread, how normal, the seeds of those horrors are in everyone. The seeds are just small. It’s easy not to see their potential. That’s why they can grow.

A writer with a pedophile father talks about this.

We don’t really just condemn the sexualization of children. Instead, we condemn the very existence of child abuse altogether. It’s as if the crime includes being victimized by it, or responsible for bringing it into the light. We take an ontological roach spray to the whole event, either denying its status in reality altogether, or competing with one another to proclaim the most exquisite forms of torture for the perpetrators. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen the most strident liberal break character to loudly call for the prison rape of perpetrators.

That this darkness is actually woven into and throughout the fabric of our society—that these abusers are among us—is simply too much to bear. So the darkness is ignored except for the most distilled, theatrical, and viscerally repellent cases. …

Most of us would sooner discard all parties who have been tainted by this event than we would look at how tenuous the sanctity of children really is, how commonplace abuse is, or see the capacity for the mostly good to do periodic evil. We live in the same universe as those who abuse kids. We walk among them. If we want to end the sexual abuse of children, it will begin with the recognition that we are simply not that different from them.

If you assumed cancer cells are evil extraterrestrials otherwise unknown on earth, you could never find a cure. It’s when you know they’re ordinary cells with some processes running amok that you have any chance of stopping it.

Wholesale monsters who kill millions and retail ones who destroy a few women or children or men are not some kind of incomprehensible Others. They’re ordinary people who started running amok with appalling horrifying lethal consequences.

Never underestimate or normalize the malignancy. Never assume that normal people can’t become malignant.

Then we could at least try to stop the transformation at the source, every day.

That’s less fun than performing virtue by stoning the devil, but more useful.

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Objet d’Art. Under Glass.

I find myself wanting to defend Melania, First Concubine. But why? She chose her path. She’s not suffering ordinary pain. I couldn’t put my finger on what makes her seem such a trapped figure.

Then along comes Laurie Penny, putting it all in words more clearly and beautifully than I could have done. As we say on the web, go read the whole thing.

When Melania speaks, more than any of Trump’s adoring female entourage, she looks like someone with a gun discreetly pointed at her back, with her necklines so high her clothes seem to be trying to strangle her and that rictus smile that never reaches her eyes.

Imagine being in her position. Imagine being married to that man, having to live with him, back him up, soothe his ego, deal with his tantrums. Her marriage will be under relentless scrutiny for the rest of her life, just as her body has been since she did her first catwalk at the age of five, but if anyone raises the alarm, we’ll be told it’s music and ordered to dance. Do we think that the ham-faced, race-baiting, woman-hating monster about to waltz into the White House respects his third wife as a person? This is a man who slut-shames and humiliates any woman who stands in his way

No, Mrs Trump is not the most unfortunate woman in America right now. She will be unaffected by many of the more venal policies of her husband’s cronies, and as the mother of an ex boyfriend once told me, if you must cry, it’s nice to be able to cry in the back of a Porsche. But there are all sorts of cages you can keep a woman in — ask the wife of any Saudi Prince — and this, now, is what American girls are being taught to aspire to. Costlier chains. Shinier bars.

It’s not that the third Mrs Trump never had any choices. Those who dismiss her as a trophy wife miss the point: of course she knew the deal she was making. She has worked harder than most men could ever understand to get to this position …. This is a woman who has played the Master’s game expertly, and who now has to live in the Master’s house, raising his child, doling out platitudes about abuse as her husband sets about gaslighting the entire world. You might see that as karma. I see it as tragedy. Treating Melania as a real human being, rather than an empty symbol, is one more way of opposing everything her husband stands for.

Melania Trump was kidnapped long ago. She is now the walking, very occasionally talking, embodiment of the Stockholm Syndrome suffered by a growing cadre of the American political class. It’s an ugly thing to watch.

It is galling to watch left-wing men, in particular, muster to fling mud at a woman who clearly has, in her own way, very few choices, and is very publicly starring in the reality-television adaptation of American Psycho.

Patriarchy is not a game any woman can win, and Melania is playing it on nightmare mode, in the version where you have to sleep with the end-level boss. The man she is married to has a thug’s understanding of consent and every intention of screwing the world, violently if necessary. How we treat his First Victim sets the tone for the fight to come.

small geisha doll on display

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I know how to fix the tampered election

I’m obviously missing something because I’ve seen several articles along these lines lately. Yochi Dreazen in Vox, Dec. 20th:

In a best-case scenario, Russian President Vladimir Putin has managed to persuade tens of millions of Americans to question the integrity of the US political system and the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s narrow win. In a worst-case scenario, the Kremlin just handed the White House to the most jarringly pro-Russian presidential candidate in American history. …

And yet there may be no response. Nor is it even obvious what the response should, or would, be.

Not even obvious what the response should be? ??!?



He points out the disproportionality of a military response and the futility of trying to rig Russian elections back at them when they’re already fully rigged.

All of which seems like barking up the wrong tree in the wrong forest.

The answer is self-evident. You deny them (whoever “Them” are) their ill-gotten gains.

You re-run all the elections that had a whiff of tampering.

This time under the eyes of observers from all concerned parties you hand count the all-paper ballots.

And you do it now. Rerun January 14th. Delay inauguration pending results. Problem solved and tampering rendered pointless.

What is so hard about that concept?


Update Dec 26th. It takes me way too long to face reading all the sad links stacked up in my bookmarks. Moscow on the Potomac (Dec 21) provides a detailed, very well sourced article on the appalling level of the Dumpster Fire’s entanglement with Putin.

I grew up in a Russian family in the US. The “better dead than Red” hysteria of the old days was beyond stupid. But this is different. Putin got his start rising to the top of the heap in the KGB. The KGB. Americans seem to have no concept what that means. And that’s the guy who’s messing with democracies all over the Western world.

That’s an existential threat on the order of climate change to democracy and the rule of law, to say nothing of the US way of life.

The only appropriate reaction is to charge at the danger with your hair on fire.

It’s an attack on — and apparently successful takeover of! — this country. Ordering a rerun of the election, now, is essential. Obama could appropriately declare martial law if that’s what it takes to redo the election. Because that’s what martial law is for: extraordinary measures in defense of the country when it’s been attacked.

Instead he’s on vacation and the Dems are trying to figure out how to “work with” that shambling disaster.



Update, 2017-01-24: This is what I was trying to say: @miragonz “it’s like democrats and republicans were playing a board game, then the republicans were like ‘fuck it’ and lit the house on fire, but dems are still just sitting in the burning house trying to win the board game.’

That’s what I was trying to say with ‘hair on fire!’ ‘martial law!’ ‘dooooo something!’ Calling out the fire department is an appropriate response; worrying whether repubs will, zomg!, think you’re partisan is not.

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The USA has chosen a coup over a civil war

A perceptive commenter over on the twittermachine has said, “Ah! I see #USA has chosen a coup over a civil war (for now).”

That’s probably the most charitable interpretation for Obama’s inaction.

I do know that my anger — it’s more than anger. Rage? Fury? — is based to some large extent on my own relative safety. Financially, I’m just this side of the line so I won’t be first to suffer the outrageous slings and arrows launched by the bullies in power. It is a bit of a luxury to be able to demand that people do the right thing.

That said, though, I can’t stop myself from feeling that demand.

Our closest parallel is Lincoln and the slave trade. The Civil War cost lives and money, but that doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to say, “Oh, bother. We’ll have to live with slavery for some people because otherwise I, personally, may have to pay a price.”

The Bully-in-Chief-not-Elect — installed by vote suppression, the clickbait chasers in the media and everywhere, the FBI, and Russia, in that order of blame — the BICnotElect wants to use everyone with less power to get richer, wants to make most of the country destitute enough to use that way — and we’re supposed to let him go right ahead because doing anything else would cost us.

When the alternative will take more than you can count, worrying about how much something costs is not rational.


(Norwegian cartoon, author unknown)

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Trump campaign coordination with Putin could be right in the server logs

The news of the day is all the info coming out about Putin’s personal involvement in the hacking of the US election (Obviously he was involved. The guy is the former head of the KGB. The KGB. Take it from someone who’s half Russian, that’s Bad News3.)

But Russian subversion of US democracy is worse if it was helped by the guy who plans on bossing it come January 21st. (Obviously, right?) Sarah Kendzior is one person who’s been tracking this:

From her tweet:

Trump campaign coordination with Russia was already discussed right after the election.

And Karen Collins responds:

Now just show the campaign personally coordinated with Russia and the game for them should be over.

The big words are “should be.” But aside from that, the evidence looks to be there, if the government (which Obama heads right now) would use its investigative powers to actually investigate. Foer in Slate, October 31st [note: before the election], reporting on a clandestine Trump server:

Earlier this month, the group of computer scientists passed the logs to Paul Vixie. In the world of DNS experts, there’s no higher authority. Vixie wrote central strands of the DNS code that makes the internet work. After studying the [server] logs, he concluded, “The parties were communicating in a secretive fashion. The operative word is secretive. This is more akin to what criminal syndicates do if they are putting together a project.” Put differently, the logs suggested that Trump and Alfa had configured something like a digital hotline connecting the two entities, shutting out the rest of the world, and designed to obscure its own existence. [emphasis added]

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About Ohio’s anti-choice heartbeat bill

You’ve all heard by now that Ohio passed the “detectable heartbeat” anti-choice bill. Women are not to control their own bodies or make their own choices, ever. Not even when they’re the victims of crimes arguably worse than murder. You get to live with the aftermath of torture using sex.

There’s another class of people who don’t get to control their own bodies. Slaves. It’s the definition of slavery. You don’t own yourself.

But, yes, we know all that. What I actually wanted to write about was the biological angle here.

Do you know one of the weird things about live heart cells in a petri dish? They beat.

(Which, speaking as one of those unpoetic scientists who take all the fun out of things, does not mean that heart cells in a petri dish can feel warm fuzzies or celebrate Valentine’s Day or know hope. The beat is a consequence of the chemical and electrical properties of that kind of cell. It’s not actually evidence of a soul. Note also that we’re talking about cells. A functional heart develops by about the 20th week.)

Heart cells in a human embryo are differentiated enough to start beating at about 18 or 19 days following fertilization.

By convention, doctors calculate the duration of pregnancy from the first day of the last menstrual period (not from actual fertilization). That means a heartbeat is detectable at 32 days or four and a half weeks. (The Ohio backers of the bill, at least one of whom doesn’t know why women get abortions, stipulated 6 weeks because that’s the limit of detection for equipment currently available in doctors’ offices.)

A woman doesn’t even know she’s pregnant at that point.

Fertilization happens in the middle of the ovulation cycle. The exact day varies a bit. Menstruation starts 14 days later. Periods are often 3-5 days later than expected because of common variations in the cycle. A missed period is the way a woman suspects she’s pregnant. She only knows she’s missed a period some 19 days after fertilization at the earliest.

At that point there’s already a heart beat.

graphic representation of timings discussed in the post

No, home pregnancy tests won’t help. They only start working about 14 days after fertilization, and they tend to give false negatives, i.e. unreliable results, up to about 20 days after. For those doing the math, that means they become reliable at about 5 weeks of pregnancy, calculated according to the medical convention.

No, advances in technology won’t change the test timing much. A woman is only pregnant once implantation occurs near the 3 week mark (ten plus or minus a few days after actual fertilization). About half of fertilized eggs implant, so earlier testing for fertilized eggs, once that is possible, would only mean a lot of false positives that never actually result in pregnancy.

So once research-grade heart beat detection is available everywhere, there will never, even theoretically, be so much as a day when a woman can control her own life.

That’s always been the point and goal of treating women as reproductive organs.

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When even the President doesn’t care about the country

If you look through old posts here, you know I have a low opinion of Obama. He’s never done anything to indicate a fundamental change from the dawn of his political career when he maneuvered disqualifications of voters so that he could take an election from a popular incumbent. And the list of sleaze after that has been of a piece through the years. Just search this blog, if you want the gory details. For me, it’s too depressing to scare up the links.

But his latest display of his complete lack of interest in doing what’s right has managed to surprise me. After all these years.

“Had basis in evidence.” Let that echo around in your head for a while. “Had basis in evidence.” “Had basis in evidence.” “Had basis in evidence.”

The smears of Hillary had no basis in evidence. None. Zip. Nada. Bupkis. Those were shouted from everywhere.

Meanwhile, Obama sat on evidence of Russian efforts to elect Trump that had basis in evidence.

Meanwhile, he’s helping a serial sexual assaulter — a proud serial sexual assaulter — get comfy in the White House and surround himself with wifebeaters and racists and ignorant toadies. That Cheeto-topped Dogpile is an existential threat to rule of law in this country. But for Obama, actually acting like the President and taking care of his country is …




Too much bother?

So, meanwhile, Obama sat on evidence of Russian efforts to elect Trump that had basis in evidence.

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The crowing of the kakistocracy

“We won. America belongs to white men.” – Richard Spencer

Plain speech out of the mouth of … what? Can’t really say infants. Infants have no moral code, which puts them well above nazis.

And, of course, never confuse plain and true. They lost the actual vote by millions. We’re in the process of finding out why actual democracy is a good idea. Be nice if we had it.

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#PotemkinElection but #DoNothing

More and more indicators are pointing to outcome-changing shenanigans in the 2016 US election.

The most massive issue: dumping hundreds of thousands of voters off the voter rolls. Suspiciously many of them are black, Hispanic, or poor. Greg Palast on the stealth war on voters. (Petition to release Crosscheck voter list, although petitions in our new autocracy feel like a dumbed down kabuki theater.)

Putin’s social media trolling, hacking, Wikileaking, snowjobbing of US voters. Even the NSA noticed.

Bizarre behavior by Comey, Director of the FBI, to help the snowjob effort. Data showing how Comey pushed some, enough, voters a week before the election.

None of those things will show up in the current go-through-the-motions recount in swing states. The damage was done before the election. Recounting the already fake results will just show us the same fake results.

Although there were Wisconsin counties with more votes cast than they have voters.[Update 2016-12-01. Christ take the wheel. You can’t make this shit up. Nineteen of those WI counties are refusing to provide the ballots for a recount. Which is illegal. Which obviously means zero to them. Anyway, so they have unreal numbers of voters…] 105% participation! Cool. And they say voter turnout is pathetically low in the US. Obviously they don’t get out to rural Real America™ enough. So, by all means, do a recount. Maybe it’ll uncover some further shenanigans on the day, which they really didn’t need by that point, but none of us knew that. We’re still learning this dictatorship stuff.

Because that, apparently, is what we’re trying to do. Otherwise, with all the evidence available, you’d think we’d be applying every tool at our disposal to get at the actual will of the voters. Which, I hear tell, is what democracies are about.

The Electoral College, invented exactly for the purpose of being a final bulwark against a failed election, would be showing that it was going to do its job.

The Department of Justice would be auditing the vote. Really auditing it. Including all the Jim Crow crap perpetrated by Crosscheck.

Obama would be ordering the release of relevant data from the FBI, so the people whom he serves could see just how much dirty work there had been.

But no, we’re not doing any of that. The very concept of examining the election for fakery is an unrealistic wild fringe idea. After all, if you looked squarely at our Potemkin Election, you’d first have to admit it might not be real.

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For the first time in my life I regret not being a lawyer. I don’t know who you sue to force an audit. Apparently, you can call the Dept. of Justice: 202-353-1555. Do it. Do it. Do it now. We must have an audit to see whether we need a full recount.

Update 2016-11-22: The DOJ number is reported to be busy by just about everyone, and the commenter below. I guess that’s good in a way, but it’s very frustrating. I’ve also found an email address: People are always saying calling is more effective, but I’m sure email is still better than a busy signal.

Because you know what? We have the same situation as happened only twice before: Bush-Gore in 2000 and Bush-Kerry in 2004. Look how many lives and trillions that cost us. And the junior Shrub was an elder statesman compared to the multiply bankrupt sexual assaulter who’s in line to be Head Bully now.

There is the same big, statistically unbelievable mismatch between exit polls and voting results in a few counties in a few swing states. Just enough to alter the election results.

If that kind of thing happens in, say, Kenya, the US makes stern noises about recounts.

(As it happens, Africans have kindly provided their expertise, best summarized perhaps, if you know anything about the two men involved, in this tweet: “The African Union has dispatched Olusegun Obasanjo & Thabo Mbeki to the US in effort to resolve the post-election crisis.”)

Rivest and Stark, professors at MIT and UCBerkeley respectively, have even made it easy for us by showing that a very small recount is enough to audit the results and tell us whether a full recount is needed.

Auditing surprisingly few ballots could give 95% confidence that the results are correct in every state: about 1.5 million ballots in all, a bit over 1% of the ballots cast.

We can do this.

Unless of course democracy in the US of A is not worth the tiny amount of money involved in handcounting 1,500,000 ballots.

#AuditTheVote #AuditTheVote #AuditTheVote

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In Case Anyone Wonders Why Communism Fell

[Update Nov. 9: I’ve been working on a post about free speech and its limits since forever. 2009? Anyway. There’s hardly any point now, since the limits we so desperately needed — not that I know how to implement them — we didn’t figure out in time. Freedom of lying has given us the actual Cheeto-topped Dogpile as Head Bully, so anything about free speech is even more theoretical than it was before. Oh well. I guess it’ll keep me busy and off the streets. For a while.

Where was I? Why communism fell.]

It’s called a lethal inability to question your own dogma.

One of the bracing side effects of a Chatbot running for Prez is that people are realizing infinite blather is bad for the health of democracy. Unfortunately, it’s paired with refusing to see any workable solutions.

In this otherwise good article about how bad, fake, and gossipy reporting is undermining democracy itself, there’s this gem:

The cure for fake journalism is an overwhelming dose of good journalism.

This is in the same article, by the same author, pointing out that the number of journalists is now about half what it was in 2000 and headed lower.

The fact that there is nowhere for the onslaught of good journalism to come from is ignored. The dogma that the solution to all problems with free speech is always more free speech may not be questioned. Hell, it can’t even be articulated.

There’s another massive unspoken problem. How long has gossip and bullshit been with us? Since the dawn of time? People love the stuff. Human have been following it in herds since our vocabulary consisted of inflected grunts. The field of logic and its offshoots, rules of evidence and the scientific method, are nothing but earnest attempts to hold off the furious pleasure of jumping to conclusions.

And the well-meaning gent at the New York Times thinks that merely showing people lots of sensible work will keep them from mainlining crap. That’s a bit like assuming sermons will keep teenagers from having sex. It’s never worked before, and it won’t start working now.

But free speech dogma must not be questioned, even though it drags the whole democracy down with it.

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Urgently Required: Large Dustbin

Found on the web. Posted by unknown genius.


Oh, and also? If you can vote in the US, GO DO IT if you haven’t already.

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About this here election

You’ll notice I haven’t said much because, really, what is there to say?

It was summed up perfectly by one Twitter wit. (I paraphrase. Can’t find the original tweet, of course.)

How you can tell the unimaginable depth of sexism: This election is between one of the most accomplished candidates in a century and an orange-topped dogpile. And it’s a contest.

A list from Slate as a souvenir.

Donald J. Trump (R)

1. Said he would force the military to commit war crimes

2. Said about women, “You have to treat ’em like shit”

3. Proposed to create a database system to track Muslims in the U.S.

4. Said a U.S.-born judge couldn’t be impartial because of his “Mexican heritage”

5. Advocated assassinating terrorists’ families

6. Advocated waterboarding as punishment even if it doesn’t help gain information, because “they deserve it anyway”

7. Said women should be punished for having abortions

8. Urged supporters to beat up protesters at his rallies

9. Made fun of a reporter’s physical disability

10. Promised to deport U.S. citizens whose parents immigrated illegally, in violation of the 14th Amendment

11. Advocated shutting down mosques

12. Called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.

13. Described global warming as a hoax perpetrated by “the Chinese” for competitive reasons

14. Suggested the U.S. should reduce its debts by partially defaulting on them

15. Responded to the murder of 49 people at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub with “Appreciate the congrats for being right on Islamic terrorism”

16. Fraternizes with avowed white supremacists on Twitter

17. Called Mexican immigrants rapists

18. Endorsed torture

19. Refuses to sell any of his more than 500 businesses if he’s elected, potentially creating unprecedented conflicts of interest

20. Disparaged Sen. John McCain’s military service because he was captured by the North Vietnamese

21. Defended FDR’s internment of Japanese Americans

22. Refused to release his tax returns during the campaign

23. Retweeted bogus crime statistics that wildly inflated the rate at which blacks kill whites

24. Suggested that supporters who attacked a homeless Hispanic man were “very passionate” and “love their country”

25. Blamed sexual assault in the military on “put[ting] men and women together”

26. Referred to Tiananmen Square demonstrations as a riot and said the Chinese government’s response “shows you the power of strength”

27. Repeatedly suggested that President Obama might be a Muslim

28. Claimed he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the 9/11 attacks

29. Doesn’t know how many articles are in the Constitution

30. Called an attorney who requested a break to pump breast milk “disgusting”

31. Doesn’t pay his bills

32. Proposed to change libel laws to make it easier to sue media organizations

33. Barred reporters from campaign events for unfavorable coverage

34. Praised North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un

35. Described Fox debate moderator Megyn Kelly as having “blood coming out of her wherever”

36. Questioned President Obama’s American citizenship, bringing the “birther” campaign into the mainstream

37. Said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose voters”

38. Named and threatened former students who criticized Trump University

39. Didn’t immediately disavow an endorsement from KKK leader David Duke

40. Bragged about the size of his penis during a primary debate

41. Claimed he’s donated $1 million to veterans’ groups, although none received any money until reporters began investigating

42. Didn’t know the meaning of the term “Brexit” less than a month before the U.K. referendum on leaving the EU

43. Posted a link to Facebook promoting the conspiracy theory that the Obama administration actively supported al-Qaida in Iraq

44. Called Elizabeth Warren “the Indian” and “Pocahontas”

45. Founded Trump University, which a salesman called “a fraudulent scheme [that] preyed upon the elderly and uneducated”

46. Advocated plundering oil from Iraq, Libya, and other oil-rich countries invaded by the U.S., in violation of the Geneva Conventions

47. Said, “It doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass”

48. Named himself as his primary consultant on foreign policy

49. Refused to take care of his children, saying that husbands who change diapers are “acting like the wife”

50. Refused to rule out using nuclear weapons against ISIS

51. Claimed he’s donated $102 million to charity, although journalists have been unable to find evidence of any substantial donations

52. Said of Carly Fiorina, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”

53. Approvingly repeated a tall tale about a U.S. commander ordering the execution of Muslim insurgents with bullets dipped in pig’s blood

54. Refused to condemn anti-Semitic attacks on journalists

55. Paid campaign money to family members and his own businesses

56. Advocated withholding free public education from insufficiently studious kids

57. Suggested that he might refuse to serve as president if elected

58. Told a female contestant on Celebrity Apprentice, “That must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees”

59. Proposed to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants

60. Speculated about his 1-year-old daughter’s future breasts

61. Said, “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her”

62. Has repeatedly done business with figures linked to organized crime

63. Hired a suspicious number of advisers who have done work on behalf of Vladimir Putin

64. Claimed that American Muslims knew about the Orlando nightclub shooter and San Bernardino terrorists before the attacks

65. Didn’t understand the phrase “nuclear triad” during a primary debate

66. Pointed out a black supporter and said, “Oh, look at my African American over here”

67. Kept a collection of Adolf Hitler’s collected speeches in a cabinet by his bed

68. Said that “maybe” his employees should feel they have to return quickly from maternity leave or risk being replaced

69. Suggested the U.S. won’t come to NATO allies’ military aid

70. Proposed to compel Mexico to pay for a border wall

71. Praised Saddam Hussein for being good at killing terrorists

72. Threatened Amazon as payback for negative coverage in the Washington Post

73. Called for the death penalty for the Central Park Five, five teenagers later exonerated of rape and assault

74. Praised the U.K.’s vote to leave the EU because a falling pound would be good for his Scottish golf course

75. Suggested that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy

76. Tweeted an image that originated on a white-supremacist account containing a star of David over a background of money

77. Read out Sen. Lindsey Graham’s personal phone number in a campaign speech

78. Subjected his then-wife Ivana to what she described in a deposition as rape, although she later said she didn’t mean the word literally

79. Quoted in a 1991 book as telling a colleague that “laziness is a trait in blacks”

80. Said that the U.S. military should withdraw from Japan and South Korea and allow those countries to defend themselves with nuclear weapons

81. Called for the construction of a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent immigration

82. Tweeted: “Our great African American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore!”

83. Has been a plaintiff in at least 1,900 lawsuits and a defendant in 1,450 more

84. Suggested that Bill and Hillary Clinton conspired to murder aide Vince Foster

85. Believes the world would be “100 percent” better if Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi were still in power

86. Directed a female employee not to take lunch orders when visitors came to Trump Tower because he found her insufficiently attractive

87. Reportedly asked national security advisers why the U.S. can’t use nuclear weapons

88. Told his security team to confiscate protesters’ coats and “throw them out into the cold”

89. Publicly shamed a Miss Universe winner for gaining weight

90. Repeatedly claimed, falsely, to have opposed the Iraq war

91. Included the head of the white nationalist American Freedom Party on a list of California delegates

92. Sold Trump University and Trump Institute courses that relied on plagiarized materials

93. Earned millions from failing casinos by shifting the debt burden to investors

94. Filed for corporate bankruptcy four times

95. Compared his “sacrifices” as a businessman with those of parents whose son was killed in war

96. Claimed there’s “no real assimilation” of “second- and third-generation” families from the Middle East

97. Tried to set up an investment partnership with Muammar Qaddafi

98. Argued that the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub could have been prevented if patrons had been armed

99. Claimed, falsely, that President Obama “issued a statement for Kwanzaa but failed to issue one for Christmas”

100. Wished for a housing-market crash

101. Took out advertisements alleging that the “Mohawk Indian record of criminal activity is well documented” to fight competition for his casino business

102. Has insulted 239 candidates, journalists, organizations, countries, sitting politicians, and celebrities on Twitter

103. Used contributions to the Trump Foundation to buy a helmet and jersey signed by Tim Tebow for $12,000 at a charity auction

104. Said, “Refugees are trying to take over our children” by telling them “how wonderful Islam is”

105. Called the decision to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill “pure political correctness”

106. Said that Black Lives Matter activists are “looking for trouble”

107. Called Rosie O’Donnell a “big, fat pig”

108. Proposed a 35 percent tax on Mexican-made cars and trucks, in violation of NAFTA

109. Greeted a Miss Universe contestant with a kiss on the lips, which she called “gross” and “inappropriate”

110. Proposed to abolish gun-free zones

111. Falsely claimed there have been calls for a moment of silence for Dallas shooter Micah Johnson

112. Defended then–campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after he physically grabbed a female reporter

113. Falsely claimed that Ferguson, Missouri, and Oakland, California, were “among the most dangerous [places] in the world”

114. Proposed to have China assassinate Kim Jong-un

115. Claimed that “the birther movement was started by Hillary Clinton in 2008”

116. Threatened to “spill the beans” about an unspecified scandal concerning Ted Cruz’s wife, Heidi

117. Attempted to court Jewish voters with anti-Semitic stereotypes about money, influence, and dealmaking

118. Pre-emptively questioned the legitimacy of the election

119. Attempted to seize and bulldoze the home of an Atlantic City, New Jersey, widow under eminent domain

120. Said that Hillary Clinton “got schlonged” by Obama in 2008

121. Tweeted “The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!”

122. Claimed a federal spending bill “funds ISIS”

123. Pretended to be his own publicist

124. Proposed to appoint himself U.S. trade representative

125. Accused Hillary Clinton of “playing the woman card”

126. Called Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine “so smart”

127. Believes that he would “get along very well” with Vladimir Putin

128. Included two anti-Sharia cranks on a list of five foreign-policy advisers

129. According to Chris Christie, he would seek to purge Obama-era civil service hires

130. Said, “If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS … the pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president”

131. Repeated a supporter who called Ted Cruz a pussy

132. Said, “I think Islam hates us”

133. Praised conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, telling him, “I will not let you down”

134. Tried to entice Ohio Gov. John Kasich to be his vice presidential candidate by saying he’d let him control domestic and foreign policy

135. Kept journalists in restrictive “press pens” on the campaign trail

136. Said he “can relate” to victims of racism because “even against me the system is rigged.”

137. Said he doesn’t “have the time” to read books

138. Proposed to charge American allies for military defense

139. Suggested that Gold Star mother and Muslim Ghazala Khan remained silent because she “wasn’t allowed to have anything to say”

140. Said Mitt Romney would have “dropped to his knees” for an endorsement

141. Referred to 9/11 as 7-Eleven

142. Joked about Second Amendment advocates shooting his opponent or her judicial appointees

143. Proposed a 45 percent tariff on Chinese exports

144. Praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s brutal response to an attempted coup, giving “great credit to him for turning it around”

145. Likened the killing of a 21-year-old woman by a drunk-driving undocumented immigrant to ritualistic child sacrifice

146. Falsely claimed he “100 percent” owns “the largest winery on the East Coast”

147. Claimed he saw nonexistent footage of money airlifted from the U.S. to Iran

148. Said Khizr Khan “has no right to claim I have never read the Constitution”

149. Claimed that the U.S. is being “ripped off” by its fellow members of NATO

150. Employed a butler who said President Obama should be “hung for treason”

151. Called sexual harassment allegations against Roger Ailes “totally unfounded”

152. Picked convention speakers who called for his general-election opponent to be imprisoned

153. Questioned Hillary Clinton’s religion

154. Launched at least 15 business ventures that went on to fail

155. Said Gold Star father Khizr Khan attacked him for being tough on terrorism

156. Falsely accused Clinton of rigging the general election debate schedule

157. Called Obama and Clinton the founders of ISIS

158. Said women who are sexually harassed at work should “find another career”

159. His wife, Melania, plagiarized her convention speech from Michelle Obama, then campaign operatives lied about it

160. Praised an adviser who called for Clinton to be executed

161. Questioned Ben Carson’s Seventh-day Adventism

162. Sued a former campaign aide for $10 million for breaching a confidentiality agreement

163. Characterized the theme of his administration as “America First”

164. Appeared not to know about Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea

165. Questioned Ted Cruz’s evangelical faith

166. Entrusted his health to a doctor who described his test results as “astonishingly excellent”

167. Proposed to deport his opponent, an American citizen

168. Asked advisers if he could get out of picking Mike Pence as his vice presidential candidate after he’d offered Pence the job

169. Proposed to try U.S. citizens in Guantanamo Bay military tribunals

170. Urged supporters to patrol polling places to combat “election fraud”

171. Hired the editor of white-nationalist website Breitbart as his campaign chief

172. Said he’s “starting to agree” that his opponent should be imprisoned

173. Responded to a murder with: “Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!”

174. Doesn’t allow contributors to cancel recurring donations on his website

175. Ejected a baby from a rally

176. Called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails

177. Told black voters, “You’re living in poverty; your schools are no good; you have no jobs”

178. Falsely claimed San Bernardino neighbors saw “bombs all over the floor” but failed to act due to political correctness

179. Falsely claimed Chicago police brass told him crime could be ended if they were allowed to be “much tougher”

180. Boasted of “employee childcare programs” that are really for hotel guests

181. Ran a modeling agency that hired models working illegally in the U.S.

182. Repeatedly called a deaf actress “retarded” and sexually harassed her on the set of The Apprentice

183. Said he wanted to hit Democratic National Convention speakers who criticized him

184. Suggested a reporter who accused him of sexual assault wasn’t attractive enough to assault

185. Would consider recognizing Crimea as Russian territory and lifting sanctions on Russia

186. Named the person who made up “death panels” to his economic team

187. Falsely claimed his opponent wants to admit 620,000 Syrian refugees

188. Told two 14-year-old girls, “Wow! Just think—in a couple of years, I’ll be dating you.”

189. Threatened to pull the U.S. out of the World Trade Organization

190. Falsely claimed his opponent’s plan would provide Social Security benefits to illegal immigrants

191. Posted a tweet urging voters to “check out [a critic’s] sex tape,” then denied it during a debate

192. Screwed over the USA Freedom Kids, a group of preteen girls who performed at Trump events

193. Falsely claimed his opponent was “seen laughing on two occasions” at a 12-year-old rape victim

194. Employed campaign operatives who scrubbed language supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression from the GOP platform

195. Called his opponent “unhinged” and “unbalanced”

196. Falsely claimed the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency endorsed him

197. Falsely claimed the U.S. economy is experiencing its slowest growth since 1929

198. Threatened to fund a super PAC campaign against his defeated GOP primary rivals if they run again

199. Hired a former Christie staffer implicated in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal

200. Confused Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, with Tom Kean, Republican governor of New Jersey in the 1980s

201. Falsely claimed he won “every poll” after the second presidential debate

202. Falsely claimed the Iran nuclear deal made Iran rich

203. Falsely claimed Bill Clinton “had to pay an $850,000 fine” to Paula Jones after she accused him of sexual assault

204. Said, “When you’re a star, [women] let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab them by the pussy.”

205. Said veterans who suffer from PTSD aren’t “strong” and “can’t handle it”

206. Said not paying income taxes “makes me smart”

207. Continuted to insist the Central Park Five are guilty of murder, despite DNA evidence exonerating them

208. Referred to a Hispanic Miss Universe as “Miss Housekeeping” and “Miss Piggy”

209. Said “we’re going to have to see” about whether he would accept a victory for his opponent as legitimate

210. Repeatedly sexually assaulted women

211. Promised to jail his opponent if elected

212. Illegally raised funds through his foundation without the proper license

213. Mocked his opponent stumbling leaving a 9/11 memorial event after she was diagnosed with pneumonia

214. Claimed government officials are letting illegal immigrants “pour into the country so they can go and vote”

215. Repeatedly walked in on pageant contestants, including teenagers, while they were changing

216. Accepted $150,000 in 9/11 recovery funds to “repair” a building that wasn’t damaged in the attacks

217. Spent $258,000 from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits related to his businesses

218. Illegally contributed $25,000 to the PAC of a prosecutor who was considering legal action against Trump University

219. Said of a 10-year-old girl, “I am going to be dating her in 10 years. Can you believe it?”

220. Spent $20,000 in contributions to the Trump Foundation on a 6-foot-tall painting of himself

221. Called poor people “morons”

222. Suggested his opponent cheated on her husband

223. Claimed the Commission on Presidential Debates “rigged” the debates

224. Vowed that Iranians who provoke U.S. sailors with “gestures” will be “shot out of the water”

225. Brought on alleged serial sexual harasser Roger Ailes as a campaign adviser

226. Said his opponent “could actually be crazy”

227. Took credit for giving away other people’s money

228. Claimed nearly $1 billion in business losses in a single year

229. Repeatedly cited false unemployment statistics

230. Claimed he “lost hundreds of friends” on 9/11

Hillary Clinton (D)

1. Poor email server management [quixote note: No. Not even that. State Dept. email policies were hopeless at the time, and she just followed the same system as Colin Powell so she could get her work done. Except she, at least, did not simply use a throwaway AOL account. She used her own secure server, which did not get hacked, unlike the State Dept. servers.]

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Treating Clinton and her opponent equally

Well, just in the last few days we have this:

long column of Trump criminality; Clinton didn't smile enough, coughed, called some Trump voters deplorable
Trump: over twenty instances of corruption and lies, many of them illegal, as in criminal, as in bribing attorneys general to drop fraud cases against him, but only getting a fine from the IRS for incorrect reporting. ……….. Meanwhile, on Clinton’s side of the ledger: she coughed. The media went nuts.
(Click here to see full size. Found on twitter but link lost. :redface: )

So how do you treat something like that “equally”?

The media don’t even try. It’s all Clinton, all the time.

Somebody on twitter said it’s like leading with a weather report during a national emergency.

Not really. There is some actual information in a weather report.

It’s more like leading with a story about eating chocolates after 8 PM while a con man loots the world.

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Ginsburg is right

Now the clickbait chasers, formerly known as news organizations, are hyperventilating over Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg daring to point out that The Donald is unfit to be President of these U. S. of A. Omigod should she have done such a thing? Omigod, separation of powers. Omigod, unethical to say anything. And so forth and so on ad nauseam.


(Official portrait, Wikipedia)

You’ll notice she’s never said a word before. As appalling as, for instance, the Shrub was on occasion, she said nothing. She’s never said a word about the shenanigans of Congresscritters, no matter how egregious.

But the Dumpsterfire is a new problem. Some people are a disaster waiting to happen. You do not bring the manners of a courtroom to a disaster. He is so unfit for office, he would be so bad for so many billions of people, that if you don’t point that out you are complicit in his vicious buffoonery.

Ginsburg is well-versed enough in right and wrong to know that. So she says it. As she must.

It’s really the job of the journalists themselves to be shining a light on these things, but they’re too busy inventing scandals for somebody, anybody, to click on.

So everybody else has to step in. Thank god and Ruth that she did. Everybody with a conscience should.

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Playing the man card is not about being a man

The need to prove manliness is now everywhere. It even has its own presidential campaign. Men have their own toothpaste which has “powerful” mint taste as opposed to — what? frilly? — mint taste. They have their own Bic pens to help them stay distinct from women. A proper “guy” car has “aggressive” tires. Just so you know, aggressive tires don’t actually reach out and bite people. They’re big, with big truck-type treads and designed to make a lot of road noise. I saw an ad a while back about how so long as you drank some kind of beer your man card was safe. (Miller Lite, I just looked it up. Irony is dead.)

So, what is all this? Are men honestly that confused about themselves that they fear the loss of important parts if they wear yoga pants? Are they worried they’ll get pregnant if their tires don’t make a lot of noise?

No. Not even the most ignorant politician on all the continents is worried about sprouting a womb.

The whole thing makes sense immediately, however, once you notice that none of it is about maleness.

It’s about status. It’s about a very specific kind of status, the kind you’re born into. I’m going to call that caste in this piece because we no longer really have a word in English for status-by-birth. It used to be class, but class is now something you can move out of. Status-by-birth is not supposed to exist. We’re all equal now. Theoretically. But, not theoretically, some are very much more equal than others.

A tangential point about status: it’s not just some superficial concern of shallow people. Everybody’s clear that status marks how accepted and important a person is in the group, but we tend to ignore what that means for social animals like human beings. We cannot survive without the support of our group. The rarity of exceptions just shows how universal the rule is. So feeling accepted by our group, even better, feeling important in it, hooks into a very deep part of our psyche going back to long before we were even human. The desire for status is so basic it overrides just about every other drive. Imminent death is almost the only thing that can make people no longer care about making themselves ridiculous or contemptible to their peers — which is what lower status feels like. The drive for status overrides sex by so much that sex is subsumed by it. Sexual relations become markers of status when, really, if they were about sex they’d be about attraction. They’d have nothing to do with the admiration of irrelevant third parties.

*Yes, I’m deliberately ignoring the whole non-binary argument. That body of work is so removed from the realities of sexual castes it is irrelevant. Show me one instance where a lower caste member, a biological female, is taken at her word when she says she’d really prefer to be believed and listened to and thought well of, and the response is, “Good heavens, yes. Of course. Our mistake.” followed by a complete change in attitude and actions. Then I’ll begin to believe we’ve started to reach a non-binary society. That isn’t to say theoretical work is not valuable, but theoretical work on gender is outside the scope of a discussion of the issues as they currently exist. Also, my point is about status, not sexuality.

So status is vitally important, and the two groups determined by sex are the only castes people still believe in. They’re the only ones where people really do assume that your birth says something about who you are, the only ones where one kind is automatically assumed to be better than the other. (If you’re thinking “binary!” please see side box*.) All the other castes have lost their legitimacy. The man card is about displaying the markers of your caste, the last one where you get to just be better without having to do anything for it, the last one where you get status for free.

And, of course, not displaying it means losing status, which is almost the worst thing that can happen to a social animal. Is it any wonder that men fall over themselves getting studly cars? Or that women cripple themselves to fit into the tiny spaces where they are admired?

It’s useful to remember some of the no longer recognized caste systems to see how similar they are to our last extant one.

Aristocrats were thought to be born better than peasants. That’s still reflected in the meaning of “noble” and “what a peasant!” The only difference is that we no longer believe in the existence of born “nobles.” It’s not accumulated evidence of centuries of goofy or sociopathic elites which accomplished that miracle. Those attitudes are impervious to evidence. It’s because those nobles, the hereditary titled aristocrats, lost power. The fact that they were certainly no better than anyone else became immediately obvious when they could no longer have “lesser” people tortured and jailed.

Our attitude to current wealthy elites is similar to what people used to feel toward aristocrats. If they do wrong, they usually aren’t punished. They’re above the law. If they say anything, even known drivel, it’s treated as newsworthy. If they push government to move money and power in their direction — “cut taxes” to use the modern terminology, with no discussion of who pays for the shortfall — that’s only to be expected. And so on, through the whole sorry and similar list of attitudes. We’re not free of class-based castes because we’re not free of the financial power underpinning them. So we think of them as “whatcha gonna do?” because such things are “inevitable.”

We’re in the process of moving away from caste-based thinking about race. Again, it’s the race that holds the economic and lethal power that gets the assumed superiority. The attitudes are still there in many people. What’s changed is that it’s no longer acceptable to say them out loud. Whites have to find other excuses for why they should hang on to higher status than simply “Well, obviously. We’re so much better.” Once they no longer have power over others’ lives, the absence of any real goodness in being white will become obvious to everyone, even whites.

India is also in that same process. Officially, it’s no longer respectable to assume someone’s birth tells you anything about how worthwhile they are. On the ground, it’s a very different story.

The important point to take on board is that attitudes to castes are automatic, unconscious, assumed, “natural,” “just the way things are.” It’s not something anyone does because they’re a stupid, bigoted person. Or because it gives them status and the benefits that accrue. A caste system, when it’s working, is assumed to be real.

Which brings us to the sex-based caste system. We’re still in the dark ages on that one. It’s still assumed to be real.

But it works the same way. Men control most economic resources. Only recently has it become less than 100%.

There is a school of thought that of course men control the resources. They’re bigger, faster, smarter, stronger, better. They’re just born that way. Caste-based thinking is nothing if not circular. But there are two obvious inconsistencies even within the tautological framework. If being smarter and stronger is the point, then why don’t the smartest and strongest men control everything? Why do weedy male aristocrats wind up perched permanently on top? And the second issue is if they controlled everything because they’re born better, their genetics haven’t changed in the last two hundred years. One is left standing there, as puzzled as a men’s rights activist, as to why they’re no longer at 100%.

The only thing that changed is the laws. The laws taking away women’s rights to own property were struck down in many countries, as well as some of the laws that enforced payment to male relatives for women’s work. Women still do a huge amount of unpaid work. To get a sense of the scale of the wealth transfer, consider that some 70% of the world’s work is done by women, but they get 44% of the wages. (Approximate calculation based on 2015 data in the World Economic Forum link.) Globally, women’s ownership of resources is near 1% (WSJ summary, full World Bank Development Report on Gender Equality 2012, latest year available). Marilyn Waring has done groundbreaking work on the topic. The expropriation of women’s resources is no longer complete, but it is ongoing. People always try to live in a just world, and the only way to make such obvious theft feel okay is to assume castes are real and thus justify it. So, as it used to be with other castes, people try quite hard to convince themselves they are real.

The other big reason is also the same as with previous types of castes. Control of brute force.

Here again, the automatic reaction is that’s natural because men are stronger. But the ruling classes are not noticeably bigger than other men. Men don’t fight each other one-on-one for dominance. Only for women are the rules of the game that they must deal with men alone and unaided, and when that doesn’t work it’s because of their personal weakness.

Any group of humans that wants power has to work together. Any group is stronger than any individual. Even a bunch of ten year-olds, if there are enough of them, can take down a full-grown man.

I know I’ve said this a couple of times already. We’re social animals. We understand the power of groups on a visceral level. So we also understand — without having to articulate it — that the first priority to retain power is to prevent others from acting together.

Sometimes this is formal and explicit. The power of the state rests on a monopoly of force. That is supposed to be for the good purpose of ensuring enough order to enable everyone to have a life, so we’re not ashamed to say it out loud.

Other attempts to monopolize force are more furtive, but sometimes more effective. It doesn’t take an explicit conscious agenda, only a gut level distaste for “them” visibly doing almost anything.

Of course, the most effective prevention of collective action happens when there’s no collective to begin with. The tactic is hard to apply against most groups because people gravitate to their own kind and before you know it some of them have realized they have a common cause. But it’s very effective against women because biology tends to mix the sexes together so the opportunities for finding commonality are more easily controlled once one group takes over.

And controlled they are. The first and most effective tool is by defining women as uncool, not admirable, not heroic, not interesting, definitely not the type of people to rally around and follow. Who would want to associate with low status not-quite-people like that? Presto, no group formation. Mission accomplished.

The Clinton campaign has given us hours of recent evidence of this dynamic at work. During the primary, the headlines were all about how unlikable she was, how unenthusiastic her voters are, how it’s like pulling teeth to acknowledge enthusiasm for Hillary. how her voters are all dowdy old women with nary a cool hip person to be seen for miles, how her followers weren’t visible on social media, and on and on and on and on. Of course women would rather not support some boring old grandmother. They’d much rather support a cool hip grandfather.

The only women who are widely admired are the ones who excel at attractiveness to men. Beyoncé is a household name. Sally Ride, Marie Curie, Shirin Ebadi, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Wangari Maathai, Zhou Qunfei, Aung San Suu Kyi, Rosalind Franklin, Ada Byron are not. (Not to take away from Beyoncé’s talent, but let’s face it, if she looked like Angela Merkel she could be just as talented and she would not be an icon.) Women are not admired for their ideas or their leadership. Women are generally admired for being admired by men. The reference point is men. Not women. Never women. Women are not cool enough for their activities to be important.

In Steve Biko’s famous words, “The first weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

Women are prevented from coordinating with each other at the most basic level. They’re told they don’t want to, and until they examine it, they believe it. We’re social animals. We believe our group above all.

There’s another recent phenomenon whose effect is to destroy collective action by women, although its stated intent is highminded. I’ve watched people take decades and still not understand that women are human enough to qualify for human rights (such as not being attacked by your relatives). So, to me, how fast the left, the progressives!, have accepted the validity of defining women out of existence has been mind boggling.

Gender identity studies have been bent from their roots in feminism, of all things, to suborn the very language the lower caste needs to understand what’s going on.

Studying gender identity should be about the value of diversity (because it is valuable! nature destroys monocultures). So it should be stressing the importance of respecting the right to self-definition of each and every person. That would be good.

But that’s not the big message coming out of gender identity studies now. Instead they’re trying to take away the very words, like “woman,” because men who identify as women feel excluded by the term. (If you haven’t heard about this before and are boggling, trust me, I am not making this up. Or even exaggerating.)

The giveaway is that there is no equivalent insistence on destroying the concept of “man.” Presumably that is just as painful to women who identify as men, but somehow that’s not even up for discussion. Meanwhile, everyone nods along about letting anyone and everyone, so long as they’re not members of the lower caste, define what it means to be a woman. The other giveaway is that any group containing men, such as blacks, American Indians, etc., is explicitly allowed to self-define. Anything less is considered bigoted. The only group to whom that doesn’t apply is our last remaining lower caste.

Preventing any consciousness of a collective is never enough. Enforcement is also necessary. In some parts of the world, women are stringently limited to staying at home which prevents meaningful exercise of the right to associate. In the countries trying to abide by rule of law, though, the laws and publicly accepted customs no longer support that.

Unfortunately for the project of keeping women always on the outside looking in, they have learned how to read. And write. It’s almost impossible to prevent even physically isolated people from understanding their common problems when they’re literate.

So another type of enforcement is applied. Women are belittled. “[A] woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.” (Samuel Johnson, 1763) If you can convince the lower caste they’re worthless, they won’t fight for such tertiary creatures even if they can articulate the problem.

It works. Women are the only group always willing or required to put their less-important concerns at the back of the line. Racism needs attention first, or war in the Middle East, or poverty, or something, anything, completely disregarding the fact that more than half the suffering from any other problem is borne by women.

The project of belittling women is ongoing.. (Moss-Racusin 2012) However, it’s meeting with less and less success because truths, once seen, can’t be unseen. As more women describe the injustices they face, more and more people understand the actual problem. The effect is cumulative, unlike lies which have to be rebuilt every time they’re run over by reality.

So the enforcement against women getting out of “their place” becomes more and more obvious. But all of it has a hurdle to overcome. Officially, women are equal to men. Officially, they’re not supposed to be kept in any specific place. Enforcement these days in Western-style democracies takes place without much help from the law. Sometimes that behavior is even officially illegal.

But — and this is the hallmark of keeping women “in their place” — laws or customs against the required nastiness become curiously unenforced. All that’s needed is some people who are willing to do what it takes to shove women back down. Meanwhile, the finickier members of the higher caste and their hangers-on don’t notice or write it off as “fun” or an individual aberration or, at best, shrug regretfully and say, “Whatcha gonna do?” Meanwhile, the caste system remains and it’s nobody’s fault. Which is, of course, essential if it’s “real” and untouched by human hands.

Enforcement actions against women are widespread in private or there wouldn’t be a “domestic” abuse problem, but I wanted to go over the ones keeping women out of public life. Collective action is not possible from the confines of your living room, an understanding evident in, for instance, the old South African banning orders against activists.

The internet has become the modern public square and has some of the most widespread and vicious silencing seen since the far-off days of ducking stools for women who spoke loud enough to hear.

cartoon of two women being abused for expressing feminist ideas on social media

It’s particularly noticeable because publication on the internet can’t be prevented. When there are gatekeepers, women simply don’t get a hearing. Problem solved. But anybody can write anything on the internet, even women.

Now we have armies of trolls silencing women. The trolls are not simply disturbed lowlifes acting out their own neuroses, although they’re that, too. They are not silencing everyone equally. Women get hugely more harassment, and it’s much cruder and more violent. They’re told to ignore graphic threats of torture by men not self-evidently incapable of carrying them out, because it’s just a joke, it’s not for real (until it is). The cost in time, mental energy, and effort in trying to avoid attack is left entirely up to women. Nothing is done about the perpetrators.

Compare that shoulder shrugging to the reaction to an actual joke. A white female fourteen year-old fed up with US airport security sent out a sarcastic tweet about blowing up airline passengers. The FBI was called out.

Does the harassment work? Of course it does. Look at the current example of the so-called enthusiasm gap of Hillary voters. Supposedly, they don’t really like her (she’s not “likable,” y’know?) so they can’t be bothered to mention their support for her. In reality? They can’t express their political opinions without harassment, so they don’t. It’s a fundamental offense against the very freedom of speech that’s supposed to be so sacrosanct. Except when it silences women.

The decades-long dust-up about abortion is another tool to try to keep women in their place. It’s never been about life. The people most intent on denying women control over their own bodies are not generally anti-war or against the death penalty or for needle exchange programs to save drug addicts’ lives or for contraceptives to reduce the demand for abortions. They just want to deny women abortions so that their biology can be used to control their lives.

Furthermore, even if it was about human life, it’s a rule applied only to women. In other cases where someone will die without life support, they have no right to requisition a kidney or part of a liver from someone with a tissue match. The very concept is shocking, and yet taking over somebody else’s body is actually up for debate or, worse, taken for granted, when it comes to women.

Imagine if it was decided that people’s intestinal bacteria were such a finely tuned ecosystem that it would be irresponsible to kill it off just because you happened to need antibiotics for some disease. So first you’d be required to prove you’d been responsible in doing everything you could to avoid infection in the first place. The custom of handshaking would disappear overnight. People would wear face masks to the grocery store.

Withholding solutions to biological issues can be used to control anyone. But outside of torture, only female biology is turned into a problem since that can be targeted at women.

The real giveaway is that while other methods were working to keep women down, nobody was confused about the nature of the fetus. The irreplaceable Sady Doyle tweeted about this quote from a conservative evangelical seminary professor in 1968:

“God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed. The Law plainly exacts: “If a man kills any human life he will be put to death” (Lev. 24:17). But according to Exodus 21:22-24, the destruction of the fetus is not a capital offense. …. Clearly, then, in contrast to the mother, the fetus is not reckoned as a soul.”

{Sady Doyle adds:]
This [life begins at conception] is a late-20th-century belief. Not only do sacred texts not support it, they CONTRADICT it. It’s politics, masquerading as faith.

It’s not unexpected or coincidental that “fetal personhood,” as ideology, arose at precisely the moment the Pill & second-wave feminism did.

This is not core belief. This is backlash to women’s autonomy. It arrived right on time. We only PRETEND it was always there.

Then there’s the last and technology-independent barrier: keeping women out of physical public space. It’s the ultimate line of defense to keep them boxed in, literally and figuratively. Unfortunately for the caste system, unless you have laws enforcing invisibility, like Saudi Arabia, it’s becoming increasingly impossible to get women to disappear. The only effective remaining tool is the worst: the threat of sexual torture, with enough actual torture to make it more than an empty threat.

I’m calling it torture not because that’s a colorful term, but because it’s the right one. The purpose of torture is to destroy the target’s ability to resist the torturer. It’s to make the target terrified to do anything that might run afoul of the torturer again. It channels the victim into behaving the way the torturer wants, or at the very least into hiding from him. Rape fits that pattern perfectly.

Unlike other crimes of severe violence, rape is met with all the usual caste-affirming excuses. Boys will be boys, so whatcha gonna do. The subtext is it’s somehow “natural,” an unfortunate side effect of basic nature, part of reality, something humans can do nothing about.

That attitude gets a big boost from the usual confusion about sex organs and sex. Just because sex organs are involved in torture doesn’t make it sex. Rape is torture that uses sex. Not unfortunate sex that felt bad. Also, imagine the excuse of “naturalness” being used against murder, a crime with a history older than humans.

Dependent on the naturalness of it all is the insistence that it’s all the victim’s fault. If she hadn’t done whatever it was that caused the predictable “natural” consequence, then it wouldn’t have happened. The crime is her fault. All she has to do to achieve that triggering effect is to exist while female. If being invisible were enough to prevent rape, the crime would be unknown in places like Saudi Arabia. But that’s not the case. Because its purpose is to box in women.

By the way, this is why whenever a rape is notable enough to make it into the news, there’s always an undercurrent, or even an explicit current, of questions about what the victim(s) ought to have done to avoid the situation. That drags the crime back into the frame of something natural, abhorrent but natural. Then nobody has to see it as an atrocious tool of caste enforcement that human beings could stop doing. There’s also the factor that potential victims are desperate to believe there’s something they can do to stay safe, but the two are not at all mutually exclusive.

When pretending it’s “normal” no longer works, then it’s an individual aberration, men with mental problems, definitely without wider implications for the structure of the whole society. If the pattern starts becoming too clear, then the crime is insignificant, something to joke about. (At least in the US, we’ve only recently reached this stage. Fifty years ago, there was no mainstream joking on the topic.)

Sylvia Walby’s research into the reality of violence against women in the UK demonstrates how the Crime Survey erases the experiences of people who experience domestic violence by capping the number of crimes that one person can report at 5. The Office for National Statistics insist the cap is necessary as “otherwise the sheer number of crimes committed by perpetrators against the same individual would skew the rest of the statistics.”

When it is acknowledged as a real crime, the laws against it are hardly enforced. As with lesser harassments so long as the targets are women, it’s always just too difficult. Imagine if we pursued every single case of street harassment, “domestic” violence, and rape! Why, the police would have no time to deal with any other crimes! That’s rarely explicitly said out loud, although sometimes (see side box) it is. But even unstated, it’s always there as a subtext in a backhanded acknowledgement of the fact that men make women live in a war zone.

I’ve been writing as if men don’t get raped because as a tool of social control — not on an individual level — they don’t. The main exception is prison rape, but that just proves my point. The contrast between men’s danger of rape inside and outside prison shows how much difference frequency of occurrence makes for social control. Outside of prison, it doesn’t even occur to men to worry about it. Women have to structure their entire schedules around avoiding attack, and even that doesn’t keep them from being victimized.

Now, there’s no reason except the caste system for why adult men aren’t raped often outside of prison. But the unspoken assumption is that it doesn’t happen because it’s not the natural order of things. Men lack the anatomy to be raped the same way as women. And anatomy is just the way things are.

But men can be raped. The point isn’t the method. The point is the sexual humiliation. Abu Ghraib showed everyone that sexual humiliation to break a man’s spirit worked very well. Sexual humiliation makes a person want to hide forever. It destroys many people, including men, as a force to be reckoned with.

So it’s interesting that it is the form of torture applied against women to keep them in their caste. Lower class men are kept in line with mere economic and police force, not torture. (Although that was used in medieval times.) But applying rape is making the victim “your bitch.”

Two asides about excellent articles posted recently. First, something the always outstanding Glosswitch said.

…I was convinced that this was because men just didn’t quite get it. They didn’t yet understand rape, what it was, what it did. Now I’m not so sure the opposite isn’t true. Men don’t rape because they don’t know the damage it does; perhaps they rape because they do. …

As a feminist blogger, I could have a template for all the posts about rape that I could have written, using contemporary examples, at any point in my lifetime: why women are not like laptops/mobile phones/unlocked houses; why the latest police safety campaign is victim-blaming nonsense; why that particular rapist’s sporting/acting/academic achievements do not make his crime less serious; why false accusations are far rarer than is widely assumed; why it is not “common sense” to constantly tell women to restrict their own freedom of movement, etc, etc. As a subject, it’s amazing that rape culture could be both so enraging and so mind-numbingly boring. If we’ve made these arguments once, we’ve made them a million times. It has become a purification ritual. Moreover, it has almost become part of rape culture itself. Just as masculinity reforms and consolidates itself via the repeat performance of being “in crisis,” rape culture has acquired its own cyclical narrative. Violation, exposure, outrage, repentance, repeat ad infinitum.

That is exactly the point I have been trying to make. It is a part of rape culture. It is a purification ritual. It’s all an attempt to keep it in the realm of “natural,” outside of human control, not, God forbid!, the brute force holding up the caste system. And yes, of course men know on some level. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t fear prison rape until it happened to them. But to keep the caste system going, it’s vital to pretend rape has something to do with sex and is “natural.” Otherwise, it’s obviously violence serving the caste system and the whole thing will become evident for the con job that it is. So there has to be a cycle of wash, rinse, and repeat. It’s all an elaborate shadow play to ignore the actual purpose of rape, to ignore the fact that it’s not pointless and crazy, to look away from its job of being the final blow to keep women down.

The second aside is about a phrase often heard now. “Toxic masculinity” describes the whole suite of behaviors whose purpose is to damage people. There’s a problem with the term. Yes, those behaviors are toxic. They’re meant to be. They’re the brutal face of the enforcement system. But the phrase buys into the idea that they have something to do with masculinity. It actually confirms the caste-affirming notion that any of this is natural, rather than just an attempt to maintain the castes. Men are flashing their man cards not because they want to be men, but because they want to be upper caste. And the brutality is just the same as that which underpinned other castes we no longer believe in.

Even though it’s a colorful term, I think “toxic masculinity” isn’t actually useful. Because it’s not about masculinity. None of this has anything to do with male and female. It’s about power, control, benefits. Not sex. Accepting the frame that masculinity plays into it somewhere is at least partly buying in to the system causing the problem.

Getting back to the caste system itself, I was talking about the final force holding it up.

Sexual torture is the worst tool not only in the damage it does to human beings. It’s also the worst in a different sense. A caste system can only be maintained if people believe it’s real. Once the violence shows, the castes lose their legitimacy. Real differences, such as the color of your hair, don’t change depending on violence. Sooner or later, everybody notices that caste differences can’t be real if they have to be propped up with torture.

Now that rape culture is beginning to be recognized, it’s the beginning of the end. But rape culture isn’t really the right term for the whole picture. It’s just the harshest end of the spectrum. It continues through the lower grades of harassment, the unwillingness to stop or prevent all kinds of harm to women, the belittling, the definition of women as uncool unadmirable nonentities, and all the way to the desperation of men to hang on to their man cards at all costs.

The problem with applying the descriptor “rape” to the culture of belittling women or buying your perfume after-shave in square stocky bottles is it doesn’t help people see the connections right up to the mildest and most effective imprints of the caste system. The unthinking reaction is to reject the label because, obviously, that’s not “rape.” And one reaction is often all you can hope for. Thinking is rare. So we’d be better served by terminology that’s easier to recognize, including rape culture for the worst end.

All the manifestations, from mild to horrible, are tentacles of the caste system. But once the foundation of the castes in money and violence beomes visible, they never regain legitimacy. To close with another of Sady Doyle’s pithy summaries. May 28, 2016:

But if we admit the game is giving some women conditional value to distract from violence against us all, it’s ruined.

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