Ill-Judged

Two recent court rulings in the US have caught my attention. Here’s the first:

A federal judge has blocked President Trump from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, saying the administration’s justification was not “legally adequate.” Under DACA, which Barack Obama created via executive order, young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children can apply for legal protections.

The judge in Tuesday’s ruling called Trump’s DACA decision “arbitrary and capricious,” and noted that while the administration had claimed that DACA’s implementation by Obama was unconstitutional, Trump’s tweets about revisiting DACA suggested that he thought the president was well within his right to use executive authority this way.

What the judge is effectively saying is that Barack Obama was quite within his rights to implement the DACA program via executive authority, but Donald Trump is not permitted to allow the program to expire using that same executive authority.

Many people, myself included, thought Obama’s use of executive orders to bypass congress set a dangerous precedent, because future holders of the office may not be quite so benign (as if Obama was). Happily, certain judges in the USA have found a solution to this problem by only granting executive authority to presidents they approve of.

This isn’t the first time a judge has blocked Trump on DACA. In January, a federal judge in California ordered the Trump administration to again start accepting DACA renewal applications. Tuesday’s ruling goes farther, saying that the Trump administration must start processing new DACA applications.

This is not ruling on matters of law, this is blatant political sabotage. Note the judge’s references to Trump’s tweet. Since when has the personal opinion of the president been a factor in whether the actions of his predecessor were legal or not? The judge has passed this ruling as a matter of personal preference, confident he will have the backing of millions of people, the law be damned.

Here’s the second ruling:

On Monday, a New York judge awarded $6.7 million to graffiti artists who sued the owner of buildings they defaced because he tore down the buildings.

Federal Judge Frederic Block ruled against Long Island developer Jerry Wolkoff, who had permitted the “artwork” on his property, known as 5Pointz, for decades, stating that Wolkoff was not sorry he had painted over the graffiti in 2013, torn down the buildings in 2014, and begun construction for two 40-story residential apartment buildings in 2015. Block said the penalty he assessed would not have been so exorbitant if Wolkoff had waited for the judge’s permission and demolished the art 10 months later than he did; that would have allowed artists to retrieve their paintings from the buildings.

Apparently graffiti artists have greater rights to a building in New York than the owner.

Block was seemingly impressed with the aerosol artists; in November, during the trial triggered by a lawsuit from the 21 aerosol artists, he gushed abut how works produced by the artists “spoke to the social issues of our times.” He also stated that the “respectful, articulate and credible” artists testified about “striking technical and artistic mastery and vision worthy of display in prominent museums if not on the walls of 5Pointz.”

And there was me thinking judges were appointed to adjudicate on matters of the law, not serve as art critics.

Block said, “Wolkoff has been singularly unrepentant. He was given multiple opportunities to admit the whitewashing was a mistake, show remorse, or suggest he would do things differently if he had another chance. … Wolkoff could care less. As he callously testified.

Why should somebody who has altered his own property, breaking no laws, be repentant?

The sloppy, half-hearted nature of the whitewashing left the works easily visible under thin layers of cheap, white paint, reminding the plaintiffs on a daily basis what had happened. The mutilated works were visible by millions of people on the passing 7 train.”

Apparently the price of paint carries weight in the law. Who knew?

Block also asserted, “The shame of it all is that since 5 Pointz was a prominent tourist attraction, the public would undoubtedly have thronged to say its goodbyes during those 10 months and gaze at the formidable works of aerosol art for the last time. It would have been a wonderful tribute for the artists that they richly deserved.

Okay, that’s enough of that.

In recent times we’ve heard western journalists and politicians express outrage over judges being “replaced” wholesale in places like Russia and Turkey, particularly after they’ve thwarted some nefarious government scheme or other. In many parts of the world, the idea that a judge is some impartial arbitrator of the law and not just some servant of the ruling classes is preposterous (the Russian film Leviathan made this point rather well). This is why the outrage over judges being replaced is often more muted in the country concerned; the people simply view it as another round of shuffling the political pack. But westerners get all hot under the collar because they think judges are above politics, and serve as an an essential restraint on politicians’ actions.

The two rulings I refer to above suggest the USA might be well on its way to becoming more like the third-world than a beacon of law and order. To be honest, this is probably nothing new: the Supreme Court’s decision over gay marriage was a naked display of judges deciding not what the law actually said, but what they thought progressives wanted it to say, something that Antonin Scalia captured rather well in his dissent. We also had the pantomime last year of regional judges declaring Trump’s immigration policies unlawful, using bizarre and unprecedented justifications.

The one thing that prevents American judges being replaced in the manner they are in much of the world is the preservation of the notion that they are disinterested arbiters of the law and not engaged in politics or activism. For whatever reason, some of their number seem rather keen to demonstrate otherwise. I don’t know how deep this runs, but I think we’re already in dangerous waters. If my mythical despot should seize the reins of power, he will likely waste no time sacking judges likes these in large numbers, and a whole load of others to boot. The problem is, the current actions of these so-called judges will make such a move reasonably easy to justify. Wherever this is leading, it won’t end well.

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You’re through to a feminist, how may I lecture you today?

An article on sexism, from the BBC:

Although you are likely to have dealt with both male and female call centre agents, the fact is that 71% of workers in the global call centre industry are female. Dubbed the “female ghetto” or, more positively, “female-friendly workplaces”, women are significantly over-represented in call centres.

My initial, gut-instinct response is that, with women now pouring into the workplace by the million, someone needed to find something for them to do. Hence the growth of HR departments, process-driven bureaucracies, NGOs, and – for the dimmer women out there – call centres.

With the closure of factories, automation, and a shrinking army the options for dim young men are narrowing, but they can still work as security guards or lug stuff around on a building site. But what are the dim women supposed to do, now they’ve been encouraged (or forced, due to house prices) to enter into the workforce? Cashiers are dwindling thanks to automation brought about in part by the minimum wage, leaving them with few options outside a call centre. The author has other ideas, though:

My research sheds light on this phenomenon. After extensive interviews with call centre managers and agents, as well as an investigation into the industry’s working culture and practices in Scotland and Denmark, it became clear that call centres are built on the sexist attitudes embedded in society.

Of course. What else could it be?

Call centres are intensely regulated and target-driven work places. Agents are instructed to speak to customers in certain ways. The extent to which they follow these instructions is monitored by managers, and their salaries and career advancement can depend upon it.

Agents may be told to use the customer’s name, create small talk and interject with prescribed “listening sounds” such as “aha”, “OK” and “I see”. The purpose is to ensure that agents keep the call on track and also give the impression of a personalised service.

Call centre employees need to be agreeable? I’m not sure this required much research to figure out, but okay.

When I compared male and female call centre agents’ compliance with the language prescriptions, an interesting pattern emerged: it was invariably the female agents who complied more. This was the case for both the Scottish and the Danish women.

Women are more agreeable than men, on average, so tend to do well in customer service roles. Who knew?

Why would female agents comply more than their male colleagues with the linguistic prescriptions?

Because their natural behaviours are more in line with what their managers are asking them to do? Apparently not:

There is evidence from child development and schooling research that girls are rewarded for complying with the rules and sanctioned more severely than boys for breaking them – such as messing around or shouting out in class.

Women working in call-centres are more agreeable than men because when they were at school they were cowed into submission by sexist teachers. Like many profound revelations, it’s obvious once pointed out.

It is conceivable that these socialised differences carry over into the workplace. These differences then show up particularly clearly in highly regimented workplaces, where following instructions and meeting targets is how your performance is measured.

Note that none of these differences are natural; they’re purely socialised.

Greater female rule keeping would explain both these phenomena. But while rule compliance is valued and rewarded in schools, by the time young women enter the professional arena it may start to work against them.

On the contrary, the plethora of process-driven corporate and government departments seems to have sprung up at precisely the time women entered the professional workplace en masse.

It keeps them in highly regimented jobs with low prestige and little influence.

This will come as a surprise to anyone who’s worked in a modern corporation.

Interviews with call centre managers and recruiters suggest that female workers are preferred over males because they stick to the rules.

Women being preferred over men is an example of revolting sexism against women, is it?

Of course, greater female rule compliance is just one among several explanations for why women are disproportionately represented in call centre jobs. Some women may choose themselves to work in call centres. Call centre work is often amenable to flexible working, which makes it attractive to women of child-rearing age. And, of course, there are deep-rooted beliefs in society about the different strengths of each gender. Service jobs require emotional labour, which women are believed to be particularly good at.

And just like that, the premise of the entire article disappears in a puff of smoke. But the author being a senior lecturer in English Language and applied linguistics, from the Open University no less, soldiers on:

Call centres have opened up new opportunities for women in the UK and across the world. However, in the longer term, the over-recruitment of women to the industry could be detrimental to gender equality.

Translation: women deserve better jobs than working in nasty call centres. Because, wimminz.

Call centre jobs are notorious worldwide for their high levels of turnover, absenteeism, employee burnout and emotional exhaustion. Agents are at constant risk of angry outbursts from customers, sexual harassment and outright abuse.

As if men don’t find themselves working dirty, dangerous, poorly-paid, and soul-destroying jobs.

If women are driven into these low-paid and stressful jobs, where they have little influence and low status, talent will be lost.

Just think of all those potential power-skirts wasting away in a cubicle under the colossal weight of a headset.

It also potentially discriminates against men who could and would want to do the job.

Heh! I like this: men shouldn’t be discriminated against for jobs we feminists think are beneath us. For the good jobs, we need quotas and diversity targets.

If we want to have a more diverse workforce and exploit everyone’s talent to its full potential, it is time to start challenging call centre recruitment practices.

And there’s the gender equality movement in a nutshell: we want women to have all the well-paid, cushy jobs in air-conditioned offices; the men can do all the shit we don’t want to.

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Six things young women need to know

This is actually pretty good:

Here are 6 things young women need to know about their future lives

Go on.

1. By the time you hit 30, the likelihood of your deciding that marriage and family—not career—is the most important thing in your life is astronomically high.

Yup.

2. Whom you choose to marry, not which career you choose, is the single most important decision you’ll ever make.

Uh-huh.

3. The quality of your marriage will have more effect on your happiness and well-being than anything else in life.

Indeed.

4. Divorce doesn’t solve problems—it creates new ones.

Probably true in many cases, possibly even most. There will be exceptions, though. If your husband is kicking the shit out of you, it’s probably best you don’t stick around. And this:

getting divorced will likely ruin you financially

If only that were true of women, we’d probably see a lot fewer divorces.

5. If you remarry, rest assured your new husband will have just as many warts as the first.

Yup. As someone wrote in a review of my book: “as you get older everyone has baggage. The key is whether people with different backgrounds can justify their decisions and create a compatible relationship”.

6. There are things you can do to strengthen your marriage so it doesn’t crash and burn.

A relationship takes work, particularly communication and compromise. A lot of people I’ve met don’t seem to understand this.

Trying to be a big shot powerhouse and still be a sane, loving and engaged wife and mother is futile. Those two worlds don’t intersect—they collide. They are in direct competition with one another, as Indra K. Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, courageously admitted in 2014.

I recently listened to a Freakonomics podcast with Indra Nooyi, and she came across very well. She appears, at least to me, to be a genuinely successful female CEO and deserving of the post, not one just parachuted in to please the diversity department. Whereas this:

Each to his own, but I’d be a lot prouder if my partner’s promotion didn’t come about as a result of a gender parity pledge. If I was a woman who genuinely deserved to be elevated to partner, I’d be absolutely livid at this.

Anyway, back to the list. Can you imagine what a list of 6 things young women need to know about their future lives would look like if it were compiled by the BBC, Guardian, or Laurie Penny? It would pretty much fisk itself. That’s why I found this lady’s post rather refreshing:

And finally, because at the end of the day it is our relationships, not our jobs, that matter most.

Well said.

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What shall we do with the dunken sailors?

Staying on the subject of deluded millenials:

Nikki Walsh, 24, and boyfriend Tanner Broadwell, 26, decided nearly a year ago that they were tired of working.

“How can we live our lives when we’re working most of the day and you have to pay so much just to live?” Walsh, who booked time-share tours for a living, said to The New York Post.

It’s just so unfair.

“Most of the work you do goes to your home. There has to be another option,” she added.

She has a point: house prices are ludicrous, almost everywhere.

So the Colorado couple sold all their furniture and their SUV and purchased a 49-year-old boat in Alabama to live on and eventually sail the world in.

Twenty minutes on a sailing forum would have told them that you would never, ever buy a boat that old unless you had a lot of money and only wanted it for some Sunday afternoon fun in good weather.

The couple moved onto the 28-foot boat, which was in the marina of Tarpon Springs, a town on Florida’s Gulf Coast, and lived there for months with their two-year-old pug, Remy, while they stocked up on food and supplies.

The article didn’t mention whether they spent much effort getting the boat sea-worthy and honed their sailing skills. These would seem equally important as getting in food, in my humble opinion.

“We were pretty prepared,” Walsh said, of gathering items to last them for their planned trip to the Caribbean.

You probably don’t want to be going sailing in the open sea “pretty prepared”. Did they even have any experience?

Nearly two days into their venture, the couple’s boat capsized in a channel of water called John’s Pass.

“We thought the channel was where we were going, but it wasn’t,” Walsh told the Post, telling the publication they were armed with GPS and paper navigation charts.

All the gear, no idea.

“We started freaking out because waves were coming, and it was tossing our boat back and forth,” Walsh recalled.

An unusual situation to find oneself in when sailing, I suppose.

Broadwell was at the rear of the boat, holding onto Remy when the trouble hit.

Other than the boat capsizing, we don’t actually know what happened.

Local boat captains say the sandbars often shift in John’s Pass, the Post reported.

Do shifting sandbars cause boats to capsize?

Before abandoning ship, Walsh said they grabbed some clothes and important documents, as well as things for their dog.

“I also grabbed Remy’s food and just about everything he needed,” said Walsh. “He doesn’t deserve to go without his favorite toys.”

This whole thing reads like it’s taking place in about three feet of water in a boating pond down at the local park.

Walsh admitted she and her boyfriend, who used to drive for Uber, were “new to sailing.”

Frankly, they’re lucky they’re alive to tell the tale. When I was sailing during the time I lived in Melbourne, I used to frequent some of the sailing forums and read a few books on the subject. One thing I quickly learned was that there is an enormous difference between pleasure sailing (which is what I did) and covering long distances in the open sea or ocean. I was surprised to learn that all boats leak, and leak badly: if you’re going sailing in rough waters for any length of time, expect to be cold, wet, and miserable. I also learned that you need to have a lot of experience to do proper sailing, which you build up by doing shorter day trips in different weathers and environments, then a few overnight trips, learning as you go for months or years before you attempt to take to the open seas. I absorbed all this information and promptly decided I’d stay well clear of ocean sailing. Have our two heroes learned the same lesson?

However, the couple, who has been left with just $90 in cash, no jobs and no boat insurance, say they are still hopeful for their world-sailing plans and have started a GoFundMe begging people to help them “not give up on [their] dreams.”

I’ve just checked the GoFundMe page: at the time of writing they’ve raised over $14k, no doubt thanks to national press coverage.

The pair are seeking $10,000 to rescue the ship, which sunk off the coast of Madeira Beach, FL. Walsh said raising the boat alone will cost at least $6,700.

Leaving $7k with which to refit the boat, head for the high seas, and promptly sink again. Giving these idiots money borders on criminal negligence.

Though the pair seem down and out, they still plan to “buy or salvage another boat” at some point and “try try try again,” Walsh writes on the GoFundMe.

“You only have one life. Why spend it doing what you don’t love. Money isn’t everything!” Walsh told the Post.

Money isn’t everything, says the couple who blew thousands on a boat they didn’t know how to sail, learning nothing in the process. I don’t think they’re quite as hard-up as they think they are.

“We have a lot of family helping us, but it’s hard when you’ve lost everything,” Walsh told The Post from Jacksonville, where the couple is staying with loved ones.

Uh-huh. When you get to the bottom of these stories of millenials who are suffering from poverty or some other catastrophe, you almost always find a paragraph alluding to a wealthy, middle-class lifestyle which likely contributed to the situation they’re in. Lost all your money through raw stupidity? Never mind, friends and family can step in and help out. The genuinely poor rarely have this option, which is why they have to weigh their decisions a lot more carefully. Their misfortunes also tend not to get covered in the national press.

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I Am the Very Mother of a Modern Major Whiner

Via My Burning Ears in the comments, I bring you this wonderful little story:

I bought my 17-year-old daughter driving lessons for her birthday. It was always assumed she would have my partner’s six-year-old car when she passed her test and that he would get a new, bigger car.

This seems very generous. What a lucky girl!

But she has decided she doesn’t want this car: it’s not cool enough, it’s the wrong colour and the pattern on the seats is embarrassing. She feels we should buy her a different car. I think she is being ungrateful; she’s lucky to be given a good car.

Oh. Well, if that’s how she feels, fair enough. My suggestion is you tell her that’s the car on offer and she can take it or leave it, but next week it’s going on eBay and if she wants it after that point she’s going to have to put in a winning bid.

However, many of her friends have been given “better” cars. One has a brand-new Mini; another was going to have her mum’s car but didn’t like it, so they sold it to buy her a new one, leaving her parents to share a car. Others have been bought used cars that are not embarrassing.

This is what happens when parents enter into social groups where children – or rather, the money lavished on them – marks one’s status. This is a lot more common than you think: next time you hear a middle-class mother talking about how well her eight year old daughter is doing in her tennis lessons, ask yourself for whose benefit the club membership was bought.

My daughter doesn’t need a car – her sixth form school is two minutes’ walk away and we have good public transport.

No, it’s a status symbol. But your daughter’s materialism and status-signalling didn’t come out of a clear blue sky. How much of it was learned at home?

We can afford to buy her a car, but I don’t think that’s the best thing to do.

Only now is it dawning on her that lavishing gifts on her ungrateful brat might not be the wisest course of action.

She has some money from a savings plan, which she’s suggested using, but she is supposed to be saving for university.

Depending on what she intends to study at university, buying a car might be the better option. After all, you wouldn’t want her to be £30k in debt in three years’ time and having to take the bus to McDonald’s each day, would you?

Also, if she did spend that money, it would mean an older car than the one she is being offered, which I don’t think is sensible.

Yes, but the car might be cooler. This is important. Why a grown woman feels the need to write to a national newspaper for help with this stuff is a mystery to me. What’s the girl’s father doing? The woman refers to a partner rather than husband. If he’s not the girl’s father, this might explain everything.

Am I being stubborn, or out of touch? I appreciate teenagers today have different expectations and more pressure through social media than I did. But I am struggling with this.

This has little to do with the daughter, and everything to do with the mother. The advice is also amusing:

We all want our children to know their own minds and show independence, but the moment they do – usually about things we may not agree with – some parents don’t like it. I want you to imagine your daughter at a work meeting (or similar) in a few years from now. She is offered a substandard contract or, at least, one she doesn’t like. And she digs in her heels and asks for a better one. You’d be proud, wouldn’t you?

I bet both the author and the mother have conjured up visions of the daughter becoming a high-flying power-skirt being headhunted for a senior role by several major corporations, issuing her demands for a bigger bonus and the corner office. In reality, she’s more likely to be presented with a zero-hours contract from Sports Direct which is about as negotiable as Annapurna in winter. In order to negotiate a contract, you need to understand your market worth and be able to convince the other party of the value you will bring to the table. An employment contract is, in theory, mutually beneficial – quite unlike the gift of a car. It is a poor analogy, and worse advice. When you’re young and inexperienced you need to do crap work for not much pay until you’ve figured out what you want to do, and start developing your market worth. Until then, simply saying “I don’t like it” and digging in your heels isn’t going to result in anything other than you living for a long time in your parents’ house.

It’s easy to say your daughter is spoiled and being bratty…

I’ve encountered greater difficulties cloud-watching.

It does not mean that you should just buy her another car. You shouldn’t. You have offered her the car and you should let her do what she wants with it. Give her the option of selling it and buying another car of her choice with the money. Let her learn about commerce and that to make something happen, she needs to have some input.

The savings fund is a difficult prospect. I don’t know if it’s in her name or yours; if she has sole control over it, there’s little you can do if she decides to spend it, and the harder you push or threaten, the more determined she will be to prove you wrong. When teenagers want something, they do so with a desire and tenacity that is immensely powerful. It’s not a good idea to get in the way of it. Instead, you need to approach it as you would a rip-tide at sea – don’t swim against it, but go alongside it until the pull subsides and you can swim to shore.

Okay, the practical advice is sensible. It’s a shame the author had to sugar-coat the root cause, though.

To help you process this, I would also ponder what this means for you. Don’t feel rejected by her not wanting the “embarrassing” car. This has nothing to do with you. Teenage behaviour can shine a light into areas of a parent’s life that may need work: if there is anything you feel insecure about, they will find it. Try to unravel what this means for you beyond the car.

As I said, this isn’t really about the daughter, or the car.

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Swan Son

A few people have brought this article to my attention:

In Tuesday’s books podcast, we marked LGBT history month by interviewing Christine Burns, a campaigner for transgender rights, about her history of the UK’s trans community. The next day, my son was in a TV documentary – deep breath – about polyamory.

Sounds edgy. Do go on.

Love Unlimited wasn’t about trans people, but about life choices that challenged traditional thinking about relationships. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word polyamory back to 1992 and says it is not to be confused with casual recreational sex, serial monogamy or swinging.

Similarly, Playboy is not to be confused with pornography. Because of the articles.

My 24-year-old son was one of a dozen or so young people – gay, straight, bisexual, trans and cis – interviewed about love lives that to them seem entirely normal, but which all involve the possibility of committed partnerships with multiple lovers.

So there is no actual committed partnership in these polyamorous arrangements, merely the possibility of one. Meaning, it’s possible in theory or they spend time thinking about it. In which case, my own love life seems entirely normal but involves the possibility of weekly sessions in a hot tub with Maria Sharapova and two of her closest friends. Ahem.

The interviewees included three gay men, two of whom work as nurses, who are filmed whiling away an evening with board games in their Edinburgh flat before retiring to their two bedrooms (there isn’t room for all three to sleep comfortably in one bed, and shift work means often only two of them are in anyway). Their setup is known in polyamorous circles as a triad or “thruple”.

Three gay men shagging each other is news? Did we suddenly slip back in time to 1950?

What, they say, could be more ordinary?

Indeed. The only mystery is why this became a TV show.

My son’s arrangement is a daisy chain, in which each person is free to have other lovers while remaining committed to each other.

An arrangement which, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is not to be confused with casual recreational sex.

He currently has only one partner, but “they” – the pronoun of choice – are also in a lesbian relationship, so I resonate strongly with the splendidly upfront mother of one of the gay nurses as she recalled her initial reaction to the introduction of a third partner: “[I thought] that’s my baby’s man … Does this mean they’re not going to get married? Is my baby going to be lying in bed alone at night crying because his partner’s not there and is away shagging some other bloke?”

Paraphrasing from Fawlty Towers, there’s enough material there for an entire conference.

The film says my son and his partner regard themselves as non-binary “in that they identify as neither exclusively masculine nor feminine”. Wrong, says my son, when I discuss it with him: they see themselves as neither exclusively male nor female, but his partner strongly identifies as femme.

Such delicate distinctions can wrongfoot the best of us. Pronouns, in particular, have been an issue in my household since my son came out as trans. I am clumsy in my attempts to negotiate a way around “he” and “they”. Childhood anecdotes in particular frequently leave me blundering back to “she”.

Life’s tough in modern Britain. Who is writing this gibberish, I hear you ask?

Claire Armitstead is associate editor, culture for the Guardian

Ah.

Meanwhile, via Whiteboard Technician:

Bisexual Polyamorous Goose Love Triangle Ends In Tragedy

Which is only marginally more ludicrous than the first story.

Homosexuality has been widely documented in the animal kingdom: 1,500 known species display this behavior, and more cases are likely to be discovered. Luckily for them, there is no indication that homophobia exists outside of humans.

Nor does consent.

Thomas’s multi-partner inclinations are also no oddity in nature – significant evidence of polyamorous behavior (not to mention polygendered individuals) has been recently observed, prompting biologists like Antonia Forster to keep challenging our understanding of sexuality.

Presumably we should also be sniffing each other’s arses, licking our balls, and flinging shit around too, then?

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America is even luckier than I thought

Back in September I wrote:

Given how easy it was in hindsight to wrest the presidency from the grasp of America’s complacent political elites, we should perhaps reflect on how fortunate we are that it was a 70 year old multi-millionaire New York playboy that stumbled upon the gaping hole that led straight to the levers of power.

Consider for a moment who might have got in. What if it had been a young, charismatic unknown who harboured greater ambitions than Trump and a far more ruthless streak that appeared on stage and said all the right things?

Somebody far worse than Trump could have trodden the path he took to power, and Twitter outbursts and trannies in the military would be the absolute least of our worries. Hillary really could be in jail instead of flogging her book of excuses, and the leaders of Antifa and BLM lying in hospital contemplating life in a wheelchair. If you think the decency of the American people and the robustness of the political system would prevent such an outcome, think again. In an era of Executive Orders, a weaponised IRS, politicised appointed judges, and a president with a pen and a phone, there’s an awful lot resting on the decency of Trump. Now there’s a thought.

Now let’s consider the state of affairs implied by the infamous Nunes memo:

Perhaps this is hyperbole, so let’s look at what National Review has to say:

[The memo] does make a persuasive case – pending any detailed rebuttal by its partisan Democratic critics – that flimsily-corroborated Democratic Party campaign opposition research succeeded in influencing law enforcement to spy on a U.S. citizen involved in the political process at the height of a presidential campaign. That may not be an enormous scandal in size, but it is, if true, a scandal.

And Streetwise Professor:

But one thing that this entire sordid episode has demonstrated is that the bureaucracy generally, and the intelligence and federal law enforcement agencies in particular, consider themselves an independent power, a co-equal–superior actually–branch of government, the Constitution be damned. Trump is deemed the usurper.  Indeed, it is clear that many senior members of the FBI, DOJ, and the intelligence community considered it their right to intervene in the election in order to prevent Trump’s election, and failing that, to kneecap his presidency. And virtually all of the political class in the US is on their side. This is the real Constitutional crisis.

This is not the end.  This is at most the end of a beginning. For the acknowledgement that the FBI and DOJ–and the Obama administration–used under false pretenses a dossier paid for by a political campaign and assembled by rabid partisans to obtain permission to spy on an American just raises other questions. Who other than Page was spied on? Were their names unmasked? What use was made of the information obtained from the Page surveillance? By whom?

So far, Trump’s response to the combined efforts of the DoJ, FBI, Democratic Party, and apparently Barack Obama to derail his presidential campaign has been rather benign, preferring to let the wheels of justice turn slowly, assuming they’re turning at all. What few people are willing to acknowledge is that, if Trump were a lot more ambitious and as dangerous as people say, he would have a handy excuse to start rounding people up and throwing them in jail by the hundred, if not thousand.

When malevolent authoritarians take charge of a country, they often need to fabricate a reason to start arresting their political opponents en masse. Consider the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey which, whether it was genuine or not, handed Recep Tayyip Erdoğan the perfect excuse to jail thousands of opposition figures including politicians, journalists, judges, and military personnel replacing them with steadfast loyalists. Sure, this is mostly banana republic stuff but then so is what is going on in the USA. What else to call it? Imprisoning or murdering political activists is a lot harder to justify if they aren’t actively conspiring to overthrow a sitting president, or scuttle their election campaign using illegal methods. Once it’s been demonstrated that they are…well you’re taking your chances on the decency of the man at the top. Consider this:

How do you think Putin or Erdogan (or even Macron) would react to a challenge like this? If the FSB were brazenly threatening to bring down the Russian president, having been caught red-handed trying to stop him getting elected, heads would be rolling, the prisons would be rapidly filling up, people would be fired, and loyalists installed before the week was out.

I suspect the head honchos in the FBI, DoJ, and other branches of the “permanent government” or Deep State believe they can count on the loyalty of their members to oppose Trump on all fronts, sabotaging any attempt to bring about reform. If so, this puts them on dangerous ground. Trump is meeting resistance only because the people concerned feel safe to mount it; if they saw a few senior people being dragged away at the end of a gun and a new boss they don’t know immediately telling them to get in line or else, the resistance would melt like snow in the spring. How many activist judges or defiant mayors would remain once a few of their number had been arrested and replaced in the middle of the night, their families cast into the street? But they know Trump isn’t going to have anyone jailed or shot, so they act with impunity.

For anyone doubting whether Trump could conjure up a band of loyalists ready to do his bidding consider this: James Mattis inspires a loyalty and following which nobody in Washington could even hope to match. If he called on some former colleagues to take over as head of the FBI, DoJ, and any other branch of the government they’d crawl over hot coals to do so, and do exactly what they were told from thereon. Not that I think Mattis would go along with such a programme but again, we’re relying on the decency of Trump and his key staff members. Anyone who thinks Trump & Co. couldn’t find enough willing servants to do their dirty work should they want to is deluded. Hell, I’d bet 90% of those praising Obama would switch allegiance in a heartbeat if promised greater pay and prestige under a new regime which wasn’t taking any prisoners.

In my previous post, I made the point that the state of US politics in 2016 left the door wide open for some seriously nasty bastard to take charge. Now we’ve learned that the winner was not only handed a government structure thoroughly corrupted and open to obscene manipulation, but he was also provided with a rather tempting excuse to engage in a massive purge which would see hundreds of senior government figures in prison for life. Americans ought to be on their knees praying in gratitude that the person who stumbled into this was a billionaire New York playboy in his seventies with a supermodel wife and a penchant for tweeting and playing golf. Instead, most people seem to be labouring under the impression it was the worst outcome imaginable. This is why they might not dodge the next bullet quite so successfully. If they don’t, they can’t ever look back and say the warning signs weren’t there.

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One Girl, Two Kilts

Barely a week seems to go by without another polyamory puff-piece turning up in our media. Reader Robert Harries alerts me to this one from the BBC:

Noni is polyamorous – she has two boyfriends and is committed to them both equally.
The 23-year-old, who lives in North Berwick, says she felt trapped and claustrophobic in monogamous relationships, no matter how much in love she was.

Readers will be astonished to learn one of Noni’s boyfriends has a tangled beard and ponytail.

She tells the BBC Scotland documentary Love Unlimited: “There is nothing wrong with one partner.
“I just don’t see why I should artificially limit the amount of love that I put out into the world.
“I’m greedy. I like people liking me.”

Polyamorists have the annoying habit of assuming normal people have never considered the possibility of having sex with multiple people at the same time. So wrapped up in their own sense of uniqueness it’s never occurred to them that almost everyone considers this, but prefers the benefits an exclusive, monogamous sexual relationship brings.

Although she is only 23, Noni insists that polyamory is a lifestyle choice she intends to continue and does not think it is incompatible with raising a family.

Oh yeah? In all my writings on polyamory I’ve never once heard a quote from a sane, functioning adult who was raised in a polyamorous relationship. The only ones we hear from are those whose own wishes appear to come before anything else.

She says: “I know people who are polyamorous and have children.

I knew hookers who had children, too.

“There is an assumption that polyamory is an overtly sexual thing which it does not have to be. You don’t have to have an orgy house.”

It doesn’t have to be, but it usually is because it’s the sleeping arrangements which define a polyamorous relationship. However she goes about it, her kid is going to have to process its mother disappearing frequently to be with her other partner, or the father disappearing frequently to make space for the other man. How is either good for the kid?

“It is really outdated to think a child needs one mother and one father.”

This is true, provided nobody really cares what sort of adult the child becomes and there is a healthy welfare system in place.

Noni says polyamory is not actually new but it is still taboo, though that could be changing.

That’s certainly what those who commission these articles are hoping, at any rate.

“People have been practising polyamory for as long as people have existed,” she says.

Yes, it was called “shagging around”, or even “dating”.

“I would not say we are blazing a trail but we are definitely creating an environment that allows for a healthy community.”

As Wikipedia would say: citation needed.

These articles are seemingly endless. There’s an agenda here, isn’t there?

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Equal Pay for Unequal Work

I can’t see this being successful:

Tesco is facing Britain’s largest ever equal pay claim and a possible bill running to £4bn.
Thousands of women who work in Tesco stores could receive back pay totalling £20,000 if the legal challenge demanding parity with men who work in the company’s warehouses is successful.
Lawyers say hourly-paid female store staff earn less than men even though the value of the work is comparable.

That lawyers think warehouse work is comparable with that in the shop floor doesn’t surprise me: I doubt they have the slightest idea what either is like.  But doesn’t the law say the work must be the same, not merely “comparable” in a way defined by a lawyer?

Paula Lee, of Leigh Day solicitors, the firm acting for up to 1,000 women who are likely to take test cases, told the BBC it was time for Tesco to tackle the problem of equal pay for work of equal worth.
The most common rate for women is £8 an hour whereas for men the hourly rate can be as high as £11 an hour, she added.

I would imagine all Tesco need to is demonstrate there is equal pay between men and women working in the store, something which ought to be rather straightforward. What people – men or women – are paid in the warehouse, under different conditions which are easy to list, is irrelevant.

I suspect the lawyers know this, but have decided to leap on the equal pay bandwagon to give themselves publicity, further the narrative, and maybe shake down Tesco in the process, who might not want the adverse publicity.

That said, if the court ruling goes against Tesco, it may open the door for men working in warehouses to demand equal pay with the powerskirts loafing around in air-conditioned offices. But I think this will be thrown out long before then.

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