Five Things, 1/25/21

John Scalzi

I’m back on my novel-writing thing now, but for you — just for you! — I took a quick look at the news and world to see if I had thoughts on any of it. Here’s what I’ve got for today:

Rob Portman retiring from Senate: He’s Ohio’s Republican senator, and he says he’s retiring because things have become “too partisan,” which I think is his polite midwestern way of saying “The GOP has become entirely batshit and I don’t want its traitorous stink on me any longer than it has to be.” I’ll be curious to see who in the Ohio GOP steps up to take his spot, and whether it will be someone like Jim Jordan (shudder) or someone somewhat more moderate. Given the current state of the GOP, I suspect it might be more toward the former than the latter. I also suspect that if someone like my own district’s Warren Davidson gave it a shot, he might do reasonably well. I’m not happy with Davidson at the moment — he’s part of the brigade that voted against certifying the election — but I’m not exactly his ideal voter anyway. On the Democratic side of things, I have no idea who they’ll run, but whoever it is will have a reasonably good shot; note Ohio’s other senator, Sherrod Brown, is a Democrat. Should be exciting, to the extent that Ohio politics is ever exciting.

Harry Potter, the TV series (maybe): A very preliminary report in The Hollywood Reporter suggests something is afoot at HBO Max. This strikes me as not entirely unlikely, given the enduring appeal of the series, even in the face of JK Rowling’s divisive public statements regarding transgender issues (disclosure: I know JK Rowling a bit, and it’s safe to say she and I don’t see eye-to-eye on these matters). I don’t have any inside or personal knowledge of any plans or negotiations with regard to a HP series, or anything else regarding the Wizarding World, and I’m not saying that what I’m about to suggest is likely to happen, but I would be surprised if Warner Bros/AT&T hasn’t offered Rowling a huge friggin’ pot of money — like, billions — to buy up all the IP of, and rights to, the Wizarding World, similar to how Disney bought LucasFilm from George Lucas. The franchise is that important to Warner Bros, and buying it lock, stock and barrel would get the franchise out from under any controversy regarding Rowling’s opinions. I don’t think Rowling has an interest in that (she certainly doesn’t need the money), but, again, I would be surprised if the offer wasn’t at least in the air out there.

Biden repeals Trump transgender military ban: Speaking of transgender issues, Biden tossed out Trump’s bigoted and awful executive order barring transgender folks from serving openly in the US Armed Forces. And, obviously, good on him for doing so, because a) it was bigoted and awful, b) it stole rights from our citizens, c) it made us less safe in a military sense, not more so. I do realize some folks are upset and/or scandalized about transgender folks once again being able to serve openly in our armed forces, but, you know what, fuck ’em. Being in the military is hard enough without being able to be fully one’s self. Biden continues to make me reasonably pleased with his policy decisions. Sure, it’s less than a week in, but so far, so good. Oh, and:

Majority of Americans approve of Trump impeachment and conviction: Which makes sense because Trump was an awful human who fomented an insurrection against our nation’s government, and more news comes out daily about how all the shocking things he tried to do in order to illegally stay in office. That said, I’m not betting the Senate actually convicts him, because the senate Republicans are cowards and even now you still have someone of them who can’t admit that Biden fairly won the election. Prove me wrong, senate Republicans! I know you won’t, but I’d be thrilled if you did.

State of the Scalzi: As noted last week, my plan is to get back into the fiction writing groove starting today, and while it’s waaaay too early to say anything about it, I will say that so far I’m feeling good, and somewhat more focused than I was. Again, part of that is not feeling like there’s a possibility that the world will fly apart if I take my eye off of it — honestly, it’s amazing what a decent, sane president in a decent, sane administration can do, even in the space of a few days — but a lot of it is some psychic impatience at not having the work done already, inasmuch as I’m already so late with it. My brain wants to get going on it, which is… nice!

And that’s five things for today.

— JS

52 Comments on “Five Things, 1/25/21”

  1. Every senator should be forced to admit Biden won the election fair and square as part of the requirements for taking part in the impeachment process. Dems should relentlessly hammer the bastards who wont admit this simple truth

  2. transgender military ban

    Considering that the army main role is supposed to be to fight and not to f*ck, such bans makes no sense – why would the gender or sexual orientation or preference of an individual matter, as long as they are fit to serve.

  3. That’s–a big thing for me, senators and other people still not acknowledging that Biden won the election. It’s a big part of why I believe Trump has to be tried, even though he’s out of office (I’d say he “deserves to be convicted, even though it won’t formally remove him from office,” but I’m trying not to pre-judge the trial): namely, he still hasn’t admitted that he lost fair and square, despite his mealy-mouthed “concession” speech. So how can we allow this man even the slightest chance of getting his hands on power again, given how hard he tried to not give it up? At the very least, we need to examine the evidence against him (lots and lots, in my view) to see if that’s what he really tried to do (yes, again in my view, but we’ll see) . . . hence the trial. As a minimum necessary action/precaution.

  4. Regarding your last point, “State of the Scalzi”, yesterday was the first day in years I woke up and felt relaxed and cheerful. I realized deep inside that I didn’t need to check the news to see what had happened overnight, wonder what had hit Twitter. I could pick up the Sunday paper and turn to the comics and sports first without waiting for the weight to fall.

  5. @Jogy

    It doesn’t, but it is a big deal culturally. I was in the Navy when Bill Clinton was elected. Women weren’t even allowed on combatant ships at that time. All male crews and squadrons, etc… had a pretty “all male” view on things, and the UCMJ, being somewhat antiquated, actual made things like “being gay” a literal federal offense. NIS was executing no-knock searches on housing of suspected gay members and regularly kicking out otherwise completely qualified sailors after Article 15 proceedings.

    So when Bill Clinton said “Hey, maybe it would be a good idea not to do that” the entire US military lost it’s shit. I was on an aircraft carrier. Of the 2500 or so ships company and additional 2500 air wing crew, I was one of two people I knew about that thought it was a great idea.

    People bitch about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but in all honesty, DADT was a great leap forward from where they were at prior, and about as good a deal as Bill Clinton was going to get.

    Attitudes change generationally, and now you have a younger generation standing the watches, and young people by and large don’t really care about sexual orientation or gender norms the way the people running it when my generation was in.

    So we went from all men all the time to women in some combat roles to gays in the military and transgender recognition. In every one of those steps, the same right wing lunatics had the exact same temper tantrum and declared it the end of the military. And in every case, going back to Harry Truman integrating the military racially, they were wrong.

    The next generation will wonder what all the fuss was about.

  6. Harry Potter finished before I got divorced. So, over 12 years ago? Damn. I remember being oh so happy the kids were too old, and the grandkids being too young, for me to spend a night outside a Barnes & Noble.

    [This bit of complete transphobia deleted; try not to do that again, Jim — JS]

    Finally, Trump absolutely needs to be convicted of his impeachment. I say this as someone who votes more often than not R, and really liked a lot of the stuff Trump did. But Trump as president was absolutely disgraceful.

    Caveat: 4 years ago I voted for neither Clinton (she should be in prison), nor Trump (dafuq?). Went Gary Johnson, who was a huge letdown.

  7. Should have said I voted Biden this time, even though I disagree with 90% of what he says The 10%? Truth. Honesty. Decency.

  8. Always nice to see republicans and conservatives proving their opponents right about them.

    The squealing over the social-justice related executive orders is very, very telling, as are the excuses being made for the insurrectionists.

    Lil Kev now thinks there were bad people on “both sides” because he’s too big of a chicken shit to stand by his condemnations of Trump.

    Meanwhile, the turtle is doing his level best to hamstring the rightful winners of the senate majority as the lesser of rightwing evils jump ship and make way for Trumpbots bent on destroying this country.

    Here’s hoping democrats lead with their teeth rather than with their outstretched hands.

    If unity means republicans get to decide who suffers and who doesn’t (targeted assistance, in deed), than the conversation is over, especially when the ones doing the objecting are safely vaccinated, well off, enjoying relative job security and have access to top of the line treatment should covid put a foot in their asses.

    Please let there be a constitutional way to outmaneuver the Kentucky fried turtle.

  9. Yes, much easier to focus on creative stuff now. Looking forward to more Smudge images… And burritos… Much love to all at the Scalzi Compound!

  10. But wait! Didn’t Rob Portman work feverishly to develop and patent that traitorous stink of partisanship, slathering himself all over with it for the last 12 years? I’m shocked—SHOCKED!—to find that he now professes to despise the stench that he (and many of his cohorts) so laboriously brought into being!

    What hath the GOP come to?!?!?

  11. Admittedly I am speaking from here on TERF island, but the sense I get from a lot of fans here is that after Rowling’s attacks on the trans community, there is not a lot of interest in Harry Potter stuff at all. And judging from the various Harry Potter/Smallville mashup videos on youtube, those that have survived the copyright strikes anyway, it seems like the time for a Potter tv show was about ten years ago anyway.

  12. I’m afraid that Ohio might elect the loathsome JD Vance, which would be truly regrettable. Gym Jordan’s dumb evil, but JD is smart evil. Ugh.

  13. I’m glad y’all are happy – 2+ years unemployed me? I’m still waiting for my $2K Stimulus check….

    Actually, scratch that – I’m still waiting for my $1,500 Stimulus check from LAST year! Apparently, being in my Sixties and unable to find a job means I should just…die….

  14. Jerome (and others): You young whippersnappers…

    Sexual orientation has a helluva lot less to do with maintaining good order and discipline than does your personnel’s concern with what might happen in the barracks or after a night out at the NCO club.

    I was the Old Man for much of the Reagan and Bush (I) administrations, charged with actually investigating and putting my name on the papers. Which I refused to do, on the ground that until I was given the resources to deal adequately with nonconsensual heterosexual misconduct (including, but not limited to, a range from undue-influence fraternization up to outright rape), I wasn’t going to waste my time and resources on a witch hunt. The flag officer above me in the chain of command at least bought that “allocation of resources.”

    Then, in a later assignment, I saw the source documents (not just public summaries) concerning integration in the military in 1947 through 1951, together with the statements of the respective Academy Superindents for the next thirty years or so. So I’m not at all surprised at what’s happening now, and would scream “Santayana!”{1} in their faces.

    {1} Most famous aphorism often misquoted as “Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.” Of course, it’s from a 1905 (or thereabouts) book, which is itself history…

  15. I wonder if the Democrats can box the GOP in on the trial and conviction of Trump.

    Republicans have settled on the narrative that acquittal begets unity and conviction begets division.

    The facts and polling favor the Democrats, who can break this narrative frame by frame.

    I’m seeing a lot of social media chatter about accountability as the counter-message. Good.

    The next thing is forcing the GOP to lean into Trump’s actions. Right now, unity is hostage-taking. The Republicans don’t want to convict for two reasons: firstly, the political calculus within the GOP favors Trump and they can no longer grab back the keys to the Republican kingdom; secondly, Republican elected officials identify with far-right ideology and ethnocultural resentment and need Trump and his specter to normalize it.

    Shedding some light on the second aspect, identity, would force the GOP to act and possibly crack up in the face of untenable demands.

  16. @Jerome O’Neil
    I remember those years, and yeah, at the time DADT was a sharp step up. It was part & parcel of the whole “he-man woman-hater manly men” mentality of the military at the time–remember Tailhook? I still remember what an uphill battle it was to convince regular people that a crime had actually happened with that Navy scandal. I was a DoD contract employee at the time (engineering company) and my first year I remember that the Navy pilots (and associated military personnel) wouldn’t even talk to me. Asked some coworkers (all male–I was one of maybe a dozen women in my building) what the deal was & they pointed out I was a civilian female subcontractor & an accusation from me could cause big problems for their careers. So they just literally said nothing, on the grounds that you can’t get in trouble for what you don’t say. Which is not to imply that their fellow female pilots/other female military members were afforded the same careful consideration. Harass female military = boys will be boys; harass civilian female contractor = kiss your career goodbye & why were you so stupid in the first place. So yeah, being ok with LGBTQ in the military didn’t just make things better for the LGBTQ community, they made things better for everybody.

    That said, SCOTUS just tossed ALL the emoluments lawsuits out, even the ones that haven’t reached the Supremes yet. So the Republican SCOTUS has sent a clear message to the next Grifter In Chief that it’s perfectly OK to sell access to the CIC, at a premium price. Trying so hard not to vomit. Clearly we have a long hard slog back up to normal.

  17. The military is a sexist, racist and transphobic institution. It cannot be fixed. Having transgender people serve, openly or otherwise, as soldiers is not a victory. Trans people shouldn’t serve because nobody should serve in the military. War is bad. When Colin Powell became the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the military remained racist. When a Transwoman is appointed, it will have a similarly negligible effect. Same with the first general, first admiral, etc.

  18. I know there are bigger things to discuss & I know we won’t get into a fight about this BUT “Rowling’s divisive public statements regarding transgender issues”?
    There aren’t any – she made statements about protection of women’s rights that the transgender lobby took offence to and then further comments about free speech after the reaction.
    So – I know you met her and, frankly I don’t actually care much for the woman or her political stance but you are misrepresenting the situation in a way I find bewildering.
    Ok – small rant over

  19. As for nonstandard sexuality, I no longer remember when Canada and Europe allowed gay men and women to serve. It’s been that long. The republics and monarchies did not fall, and no male tried to wear a cotton dress on parade.

    A few years back, it was in the news that a sergeant major, with permission of the base commander, raised a rainbow flag at the base in Edmonton. Again, no panic, no drop in Canadian fighting ability.

    I wonder if, for the US, anti-trans is related to white supremacy.

  20. @Audrey – apparently the emoluments cases were about preventing Trump from doing stuff like that again as the President, and as he’s no longer the President, the cases kind of have to be dropped as moot. They weren’t about trying to get the money back from Trump. So apparently, there isn’t much the courts could do, unless someone with standing sues Trump to get the money back. See (LegalEagle).

  21. You have to be a flaming hypocrite to be republican today.

    Dems should get every republican’s benghazi-investigation-justification speech and read it back to them for the impeachment trial and ask them to explain why the exact same speech doesnt apply now. Are there not dead americans in this riot? Are there not political leaders who should be held accountable?

    If dems cant get a conviction in the senate, they should at least do everything in their power to show the absolute hypocricy of the republican senators who defend trump.

  22. I think that, for the military, barring transgender service may have been more about the ongoing problems in the service with sexual assault than to do with white supremacy.

    The military has had a very difficult, and thoroughly unfinished, struggle with eradicating sexual assault and rape in the service. Most of (though not all of) this sexual assault and rape is male on female.

    Because most people who identify as transgender haven’t had, and will never have, “bottom surgery,” this means that most people identifying as transgender women still have penises, and most people identifying as transgender men still have vaginas.

    Regardless of self-identification, the inclusion of people with penises in groups limited to women, and the inclusion of people with vaginas in groups limited to men will inevitably result in increased sexual abuse and rape in the service (primarily by those in the previous group, and also of those in the latter group).

    Of course everybody in the service should not be sexually abusive, and all people should be equal. But until it is standard practice for all servicemen and -women, regardless of sex or gender, to shower together (like they do in science fiction or, presumably, in Scandinavia), including trans-foxes among the hens will exacerbate existing fox/hen problems.

  23. Paul: “she made statements about protection of women’s rights”

    Uhm… No.

    She made statements based on her own personal insanely irrational fear: that an abusive man willing to assault and beat and rape a woman, would, however, be stopped from pursuit of said rape if the woman … wait for it… went into … wait for it … a bathroom for … “cis women only”.

    She’s not defending women’s rights. She is arguing for some nonexistent “bathrooms are sanctuary from rapists” nonsense to roadblock equal protection for trans people.

    And then this insane argument continued by saying that if trans people are allowed to go into the bathroom of their choice, that male rapists would suddenly find their barrier to entry into the “cis women only” bathroom suddenly lifted.

    Male rapists, you see, are like vampires and ‘cis women only’ bathrooms are like someones home: rapists can only enter a cis women only bathroom if invited in. And without the invitation, these bathrooms are impenatrable sanctuaries against male rapists.

    Rowling is literally telling complete fiction here. And it BEST, maybe she’s telling this story of “rapists stopped by bathrooms” because she was traumatized by an abusive man at some point in her life. But her “solution” is to allow trans people to continue to be suffer real discrimination and real violence to indulge her nonsense.

    If thats true, she needs some serious, hard core therapy to kick her in the head and stop the bullshit. Shes in a decades long panic attack and is hurting people as a result.

    At worst, she’s a flaming transphobe and this “bathrooms are impenatrable sanctuaries from male rapists” is complete bullshit cover story for her bigotry. In which case she needs to stop the bullshit.

    So no. There is no impenatrable magic anti rapist sanctuary in bathrooms. And pretending there is a magic bathroom has fuck all to do with “protection of womens rights”.

  24. Rowling also leaned pretty heavily into some anti-Muslim tropes too, with her man-in-a-burka bit from her most recent book. That was prime War on Terror anti-Muslim propaganda stuff. She is just a trash person who managed to hide how trashy she was for a long time, now the mask has started slipping though…

  25. Jim Dude: “The military has had a very difficult, and thoroughly unfinished, struggle with eradicating sexual assault and rape in the service”

    The WORLD has an unfinished struggle erradicating rape. Mostly because the WORLD lets men get away with rape. Victims of rape got fucked over again by cops who dont do anything, prosecutors who dont, courts that allowed the “they were asking fir it” arguments.

    The military version of this is best captured by the tailhook scandal. Navy and marine pilots sexually assaulted 83 people. After multiple investigations, not a single one of them was punished.

    There was a massive problem with pedophilia in the catholic church too. And again, it can be traced back to a culture that looks the other way.

  26. The part that so many people either don’t bother to consider, or choose to overlook, with regards “letting them” – whatever particular flavor of “them” of the moment may be – serve in the military is that we’re still talking about people who are qualified to serve, who choose to do so.

    Pick whatever historical moment, and its own “we can’t let them serve” argument, you want, and sure, some people aren’t suited to being in the military.

    I was at the US Naval Academy during the years women were being integrated into it, and I ended up in any number of arguments with people trying to explain that women didn’t belong in the military by pointing to some woman who wasn’t ever even going to apply to do so, and saying “Would you want to serve in combat with her?” My answer then, and still is, “She’s not even ASKING to serve in combat. But I’d certainly stand by some of the women I do know who are in the military without hesitation.”

    The majority of people aren’t suited to being in the military, and that most definitely includes a LOT of cishet straight white men. It also includes a lot of women, LGBT people, and members of other minorities.

    The question isn’t “Should we allow ALL of “those” people to serve?” The question is whether those who are qualified, willing, and able to serve should be prevented from doing so because of some element of who they are that has nothing to do with their qualifications. Some people will be better suited to combat, or to special forces, and some will not. I served “with distinction” and got a number of awards during my service, and I sure as hell wasn’t suited to being a Navy Seal. But I was pretty damn good at the job I did.

    And if someone is going to be damn good at the job they do, they need the same access – and to be held to the same standards – as anyone else. And there are plenty of LGBT people who are willing and able to do so.

  27. @Paul:

    No, she employed an antifeminist, biologically essentialist argument against a segment of society she hates then pulled the yawn-worthy, ignorant bigot brand trick of conflating free speech with consequence free speech when she got roundly and deservedly dragged for being a transphobe.

    She gets a pass for her ignorance RE: free speech, not being American and all, but the “muricans” jumping to her defense certainly don’t.

    Gotta love how hateful and terrified people operate under the belief that being entitled to an opinion means being entitled to others’ respect of and/or for said opinion.

  28. You need to practice saying “Senator Jim Jordan.”

    Yeah. It’s going to be hard. Normal mouths don’t work that way, and you’ll probably throw up a little bit every time for a while.

    But Ohio went for Trump by a comfortable margin, and Trump’s most dogged and crazy supporter is a near shoo-in. Diddling teenagers won’t stand in the way.

  29. re: OH politics and US senate…

    Any thoughts on Nan Whaley? Seems like a big step up from mayor of Dayton, but we had the mayor of South Bend, IN run for President.

  30. Harry Potter: How big is it, nowadays? Certainly nothing like it was twenty years ago, of course, but that just stands to reason. Nothing could maintain that pace. But my sense is that for The Kids Nowadays, it is fairly minor cultural background noise.

    My middle schooler is a reader. She read some of the books a few years back. Her response was essentially a shrug. She didn’t hate them, but I’m pretty sure she only read a couple of the books, and so far as I know has no interest in the movies. Star Wars interested her more, and the Hunger Games books and movies a lot more. Nowadays she is into Legend of Zelda and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. My take from talking to her is that these are all pretty typical of her peers.

    But then again perhaps she is an outlier. She is growing up fast. She is very aware of the news, and properly appalled. I gave her, at her request, a copy of Howard Zinn’s People’s History. I see a campus radical in my future.

  31. @pjcamp
    Not so sure about Senator Gym Shower. There’s already a lot of evidence that Trump voters want Trump and not a Trump clone. Being a nutcase Trumper didn’t seem to help in Georgia or Arizona.

  32. I’m not sure my heart can take any more mentions of trans people in your blog posts. :|

    In other news, I’m hoping the various Republican Senate retirements mean they sense a shift in the electorate. Of course, it sucks to be in the minority party, too. So maybe the wave of fleeing congress critters doesn’t mean anything at all.

    On the military:

    @Jim Dude: That argument about pre-op trans people and rape is transphobic propaganda, and has been proven wrong in every other format it’s been tried. Nice job sneaking it in here, though.

    @Johnny Cake: I agree that the US military is overall a force for bad. That said, denying membership to trans people isn’t going to make any of the bad stuff go away. And on top of that, you’re denying one of the main sources of employment to a population that suffers heavy employment discrimination (no lie, the best-off demographic of trans people suffers worse unemployment than the worst-off cis demographic – 2015 US Transgender Survey). So on balance, yes, the trans military ban was a bad thing, and it’s good that it’s gone.

  33. Paul,

    “women’s rights”/”transgender lobby” are bullshit dogwhistles for anti-trans bigotry. Rowling is a bigot. If you buy into that, you’re a bigot.

    If you don’t like being called a bigot…

    … don’t be one and don’t parrot bigotspeak.


  34. Dear Johnny Cake,

    I’m vehemently anti-military, just so ya knows…

    That said, this argument was hashed out half a century ago, around women in the military. The feminist movement was overwhelmingly anti-military. Hence, the question.

    The answer was, and still is, you let women/LGBTQ/whatevers have the same choice as everyone else, because that’s what equal rights means!

    Also, on a very practical level, federal and state governments enable (and yes, I mean that word in the abuse sense as well as otherwise) the military by providing substantial perks and benefits to those who participate, while denying those same benefts to those who don’t. Or, most importantly, can’t! And, yup, that’s legal– the Supreme Court said so over 40 years ago.

    If you believe in full and equal rights for X, then you have to allow X the same choices and perks as the “good folk,” whether or not you approve of those choices. Otherwise, you discriminate against them.

    pax / Ctein

  35. I thought Portman was blaming the Dems. I guess that’s better than I thought. On the other hand, when you won’t do anything while your party gives up its principles, perfects its performance of Newspeak, tries to hide (and if not hide, lie about) things it doesn’t like, destroys any faith in institutions or sources of evidence other than itself, and basically hardwires Chthulu’s number into its cell phone, you shouldn’t really be surprised when your party buttdials Chthulu and can’t get him to hang up. If you want decency to matter, you have to act like it does, and when you don’t, your party’s behavior is what you get.

  36. If Portman is so worried about partisanship, why not stay and vote his conscience instead of along party lines?

  37. Jordan is barely a highly enough-evolved form of legislative life to call a “scale-model of a real Senator” – he’s Roy Jones with slightly more deniability.

  38. Because he can’t get elected doing that, I think – he can’t be a Republican and get their funding for his campaign, and likely gets knocked out by a Trumpite in the primaries. He can’t be a Democrat (even doing the right things, I don’t know that I’d trust him), and he probably can’t be independent (I don’t know that there are enough people in the middle to right who will support him in that behavior).

    He doesn’t seem horrible (which is high praise for the GOP, now) but he watched while the GOP heaved chum out of the boat and now has decided that maybe he doesn’t want to swim in those waters or fish with the people on the boat. A little more conscience would have been useful somewhat earlier, I think.

  39. In the House, Jim Jordan has the advantage of being in a heavily gerrymandered district. He loses that advantage if he runs for Senate. He also has a lot of baggage.

    At the same time, he was claiming the Ohio State wrestling abuse cover-up scandal was a conspiracy against him, so he does seem to fit in with the GOP of the times.

  40. “She is just a trash person who managed to hide how trashy she was for a long time, now the mask has started slipping”

    Ding ding ding!

    I’ll also point to her rant on and organization designed to abolish volunteer programs at orphanages.

    Ostensively, she aims to combat “orphanage tourism ,” a worthy goal if you miss the implication that said orphanages are dirty government programs that make life easier than it should be for people who have children they either can’t or won’t care for.

    Apparently, young volunteers should devote their time and energy to causes that are more worthwhile, and their loss would break the backs of the industry and force struggling or unfit parents to deal with their own damn kids.

    I might could be misreading things just a bit because I really, really don’t like this woman, so I’ll just leave this here.

    I’ll add that while she isn’t entirely wrong about the problems associated with these kinds of institutions (I believe every word of the horror stories being told in the article), she is ignoring major reasons why some families either cannot or should not be preserved.

    Also, what happens to the kids currently housed in these orfanages when students decide to use their time “wisely”?

    All of this circles back to how very much her aims and stances stink of toxic conservatism, from her unapologetic transphobia to her anti-Islamic sentiments to her wholesale attack on approaches to child poverty and abuse that she, even as a DV survivor, doesn’t fully comprehend.

  41. This is me taking responsibility for that whopping spelling gaff, one I don’t make anywhere else in the post.

  42. I’ll note that I declined to post a comment that started something like “This probably won’t make it onto the page,” because, as noted in the comment rules, if you start a comment like that, I would be sad to disappoint you.

    Also note that I didn’t read the post after the sentence, but I will say that generally speaking if I have you in moderation before your posts go live, if I don’t let your comment out of moderation, it’s usually because I’m trying to save you from looking like an ass in public (or, at least, on my site).

  43. Why would HBO Max think buying the total rights to the Potterverse would inoculate it from attacks by those who are upset with J.K. Rowling’s personal views? The reason you’d buy the total rights is to have total creative control over future productions. Perhaps Rowling would be willing to make a deal, perhaps not, depending on how much she values the legacy of her Potterverse.

  44. A good friend on another blog I follow (B-J) posted this information about trans-phobic legislation:

    Montana House just passed a bill to ban transgender girls and women from participating in school sports with as their actual gender, and would use genital checks, to “verify” someone’s gender identity. (Yes, that’s right, they want doctors to be able to examine girls’ genitals.) Oklahoma, North Dakota and Tennessee are considering similar versions of the same bill, North Dakota’s bill would also prevent any trans athletes from out-of-state. Tennessee is also considering one.

    Montana House also passed a bill to ban trans kids from getting any trans-related health care — and fine doctors who do so. Similar bills are under consideration in multiple states. Alabama and Texas would make it a felony to provide trans health care to kids, and require the doctors out any kid who asks for it. Texas in particular would make it felony child abuse. Mississippi’s bill, which would ban any care until age 21, would also forcibly out trans kids (and adults under 21) who ask for care. The backers of Tennessee’s version explicitly say that trans kids shouldn’t get care “because they’ll grow out of it.” Indiana, Iowa and Utah is considering a similar measures.

    This is a concerted effort by the Heritage Foundation, ALEC and the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is why we’re seeing highly similar bills.

    Thankfully South Dakota just rejected a bill to ban trans people correct the gendering marked on their birth certificates. But these bills, like zombies, rarely die on the first try. They come back to try to hurt us again.

    I think this puts the issue right where it belongs:
    In the burning dumpster!

    Everyone deserves to be treated equally, on every vector of bias out there. Thanks John, for your viewpoint on gender equality, and your strict position against giving trans-phobic bigots any break when they spew their hatred out in public.

  45. In re: the ridiculous cover for bigotry that is “penis=TEH RAPE”…well, two things.

    Marion Zimmer fucking Bradley.
    IDK what sort of weird alternate universe you people are from, but here in this one, dicks do not have the terrifying powers you attribute to them.

    I have interacted with a fair few, certainly more than either of my parents would want to know about, of various origins and ages. None of them have been the One Ring.

    If someone with a penis is a decent person, they won’t rape anyone. If they’re not a decent person, they might rape someone, penis or no penis. The way to tackle rape is by talking straightforwardly about consent and establishing very clear punishments for violating same, not wigging out about people’s junk.

    In re: JKR, what everyone else has said. She’s trash. The best thing she could do now…

    …well, our host probably doesn’t want me saying what that is.

    The second-best thing she could do now is shut the fuck up, forever, and fade into the obscurity she so richly deserves.

  46. Can’t help wonder about Portman’s 2024 ‘intention’ and if it might affect his vote on impeachment.

  47. Social Conservatism: Bolstering and Justifying the Terrified and Tribalistic Since, Forever.
    My personal favorites are among the anti-woke crowd, the ones who sneer at Butler, Hooks and other feminists but do such a great job of proving them right.

    Think of the chiiiiiildren, cry these creatures, until the children can be weaponized in their war on communities they hate and want to obliterate.

    Those are heinous laws proposed by heinous people. Full stop.

    If righties don’t want to be dragged by everyone who isn’t a right wing media guzzler, they ought to lay off the disgusting views and harmful policies.

    If republicans don’t want to be painted with the bigot brush, they need to go on record with their disgust for said views and policies.

    Until then, I’ll continue to lap at the tears they cry over being “labeled,” “attacked” and “scolded.”

    Far as I’m concerned, you’re one of them (them specifically meaning the ruthless bigotes bent on stomping out entire swaths of marginalized people) until you prove you’re not.

  48. @Janne
    I get the part about needing standing but seriously, every time I see that asshole with yet another grift involving the highest office in the land it’s all I can do not to vomit.

    I raised my hand and took the oath of service & have abided by it fairly, honestly & faithfully. Seeing that orange slime mold sleaze all over the oath of office is enraging.

    On the plus side, now I guess I have an out. Since the orange dipshit was a federal employee for four way-too-long years, I suppose I can always claim unequal treatment. For anything. Because the orange dipshit left no outpost of integrity and decency intact.

  49. If it’s not likely that the Republicans will vote to convict Trump, why not turn the trial into a truth commission with votes on barring Trump from ever holding public office again? That way, the maximum amount of damaging information about Trump gets out there, and the ex-president doesn’t get to falsely brag about being exonerated.

  50. @Peter:

    I’d be down with that, but what size vote would need to happen in order to slam that particular door?

    At least 45 senate republicans have cemented themselves as partisan cowards who care more about pandering to Trumpist terrorist cells than about keeping the oath they took.

    As for that option being considered, I don’t really know.

    Susan “he’s lerned his lesson” Collins and Tim Kaine are on the right track, especially with the whole “unity” thing, but I also suspect that democrats may decide to go ahead with this on principle, as they won’t want to set the precedent that republicans can stomp their wittle feetsies and shut down things they don’t like.

    Speaking of accountability, nothing would thrill me half as much as seeing the sedition caucus publically flayed for their role in what happened.

    In particular, Cruz and Hawley need to be expelled from the senate, and the ones who otherwise voted to overturn the election should be punished to the fullest extent of senate rules.

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