Our new Master isn’t very bright

February 22, 2024

MTF trans lies

Elite sport is over for me” is the headline ITV News has used for an interview with Bridges. If we were allowed to compete, if I was allowed to compete, it would be a different conversation,” he claims, but I can’t compete […] I can’t do something I used to love.’

Bridges is 6’2, was born male and went through male puberty. Like Thomas, he towers over female athletes and his voice in interviews is that of a young man. He could go on racing for years if he were willing to compete in the male or open” category, a point made by ITVs sports editor, Steve Scott. 

Scott’s challenge goes to the heart of the matter, exposing the fact that there is no ban on trans athletes. But they want validation of their claimed gender identity, and they won’t get that in the open” category. 

Unsurprisingly, Bridges has no answer to Scott’s question, appearing lost for words. Would it be safe for me to compete in an open category?” he asks after a long pause. The answer is obviously yes, but trans athletes are not used to having their hyperbolic claims called out like this. 

… 

Bridges is now making even more absurd statements, however, such as the notion that protecting the female category in sport has normalised the exclusion of trans people from public life”.

Trans cyclist Emily Bridges: elite sport is over for me’

February 21, 2024

Florida’s most notorious abortion clinic is located at 1103 Lucerne Terrace in downtown Orlando. On the sidewalk directly in front of this clinic, the Orlando Women’s Center, there are two prominent marks in the concrete. They are signs of an extraordinary story.

The concrete was worn away by the feet of John Barros, who for nearly two decades stood outside this clinic as a sidewalk counselor …

I asked him, once, how he’d felt called to the pro-life movement. I wasn’t called to the pro-life movement,” he replied. God called me to forty feet of sidewalk.”

Farewell to a Pro-Life Hero

February 21, 2024

Reproductive rights, gay rights—they’re the new White Man’s Burden.

R.R. Reno, Global Culture War (emphasis added)

February 21, 2024

New study: trans youth not at elevated risk of suicide - UnHerd


February 19, 2024 - 7:00am

A new study challenges the common assertion that gender-dysphoric youth are at elevated risk of suicide if not treated with gender affirming” medical interventions. If it’s true, it ought to have a seismic impact on the accepted medical approach to gender-confused youth.

Reported in the BMJ, the study examines data on a Finnish cohort of gender-referred adolescents between 1996 and 2019, and compares their rates of all-cause and suicide mortality against a control group. While suicide rates in the gender-referred group studied were higher than in the control group, the difference was not large: 0.3% versus 0.1%. And — importantly — this difference disappeared when the two groups were controlled for mental health issues severe enough to require specialist psychiatric help.

In other words: ==while transgender identity does seem to be associated with elevated suicide risk, the link is not very strong. What’s more, the causality may not work the way activists claim.==

The association between gender dysphoria and mental illness is well-documented by both providers of gender-affirming care” and trans advocacy groups and clinical psychology research. ==But one less well-evidenced claim, based on this association, is that these difficulties are caused not by being transgender, but by the political and social stigma associated with it. Gender dysphoria, we are to understand, is not in itself a mental health issue. What causes mental health issues in transgender youth — up to and including suicide — is the wider world’s rejection of their identity, and of the metaphysical frame of gender identity” as such.==

This is the root of the oft-repeated social media assertion that anyone who demurs about trans identity, however mildly, is complicit in trans genocide”. The same assertion that invalidating trans youth makes them kill themselves is also behind the rhetorical question routinely used to browbeat parents into consenting to social and medical transition for their gender-confused offspring: Would you rather have a live daughter or a dead son?”

It’s behind the prohibition on trans conversion therapy” already in force in several countries, and promised by the Labour Party in England too. Such measures forbid therapists from exploring with their clients whether there is any link between their gender dysphoria and — for example — life trauma or other mental health issues. For logically, if the cause of distress and suicidality in trans people is not being accepted for who they are, any therapist who seeks to explore links between gender dysphoria and other biographic or psychiatric issues is complicit in just this kind of non-acceptance, and is thus not helping but harming their client.

But as the study puts it: ==“Clinical gender dysphoria does not appear to be predictive of all-cause nor suicide mortality when psychiatric treatment history is accounted for.” Rather, what predicts risk in this population is psychiatric morbidity”. And contra the activists, transitioning does nothing to reduce it: medical gender reassignment does not have an impact on suicide risk.”==

Every suicide is a tragedy, and leaves grieving loved ones behind. No one wants to be complicit in pushing a young person down that path. So the suggestion that questioning someone’s gender beliefs may have this effect serves as a powerful emotional cudgel. But if the Finnish study is correct, this whole rhetorical, legislative, and medical edifice may be built on sand. If the elevated risk of suicidality in trans youth disappears when you control for other psychiatric difficulties, this suggests strongly that trans youth are not more at risk due to transphobia or invalidation, but due to the well-documented fact that gender dysphoria tends to occur in people who are disturbed and unhappy more generally.

It ought to follow from this that the way to manage suicide risk in trans-identified young people is not to affirm their gender identity and whisk them off for medical interventions, but to watch for and treat psychiatric comorbidities. Ultimately, though, the claims of gender ideology are less scientific than metaphysical. So don’t expect scientific evidence that contradicts its prescriptions to have much impact on trans advocates. Even if following the science” would make a real difference to suicide risk in gender-dysphoric youth.

February 19, 2024 · transgenderism gender_dysphoria suicide myth comorbidities cudgel live_daughter_or_a_dead_son trans_identity trans_genocide mental_illness medical_interventions gender_affirming

MAGA Menace

[A]re you aware how much the constant threat of violence, principally from MAGA sources, is now warping American politics? If you wonder why so few people in red America seem to stand up directly against the MAGA movement, are you aware of the price they might pay if they did?

David French, who has the receipts”:

That’s a long list, but here’s the clincher for me:

The intimidation is systemic and ubiquitous, an acknowledged tactic in the playbook of the Trump right that flows all the way down from the violent fantasies of Donald Trump himself. It is rare to encounter a public-facing Trump critic who hasn’t faced threats and intimidation.

A vote for Trump is a vote for these jackboots.

February 19, 2024

You call that trivial trick a hunger strike”!?

February 16, 2024

People send samples of colorful writing to Frank Bruni, who curates them for us. This week’s, further curated by me:

February 16, 2024

I think I detest Donald Trump as much as the next guy, but Trumpian populism does represent some very legitimate values: the fear of imperial overreach; the need to preserve social cohesion amid mass migration; the need to protect working-class wages from the pressures of globalization.

The struggle against Trump the man is a good-versus-bad struggle between democracy and narcissistic authoritarianism, but the struggle between liberalism and Trumpian populism is a wrestling match over how to balance legitimate concerns.

David Brooks, The Cure for What Ails Our Democracy - The New York Times

February 16, 2024

I’m beginning to comprehend, I think, some of the reasons for Hitler’s astounding success. Borrowing a chapter from the Roman church, he is restoring pageantry and colour and mysticism to the drab lives of twentieth-century Germans.

William L. Shirer, Berlin Diary

February 15, 2024

Of the Evangelicals who attack their fellow-Evangelicals for not supporting Trump enough: Is it their position that nobody of sound mind and morals could support a senile Democrat over a toxic narcissist with a documented history of sexual assaults who has promised to upend our treaties and fill his administration with Certified Sycophants™?

February 14, 2024

[T]rying to disqualify Trump through a dubious, convoluted 14th Amendment process after discouraging the Senate from doing so via a quick, clean, legally sound conviction mirrors the eternal shortsightedness of the Republican establishment in dealing with Trump. 

There’s always some other institution, and some other time, that’s better suited to hold him accountable. 

Senate Republicans declined to end Trump’s political career after January 6 when they had the chance because they assumed the criminal courts would eventually do it for them. Now that the courts have taken up the matter, those same Republicans have been compelled by pressure from their voters to argue that Trump’s prosecutions are politicized and illegitimate. Only the voters themselves can properly issue a verdict on him, they insist.

But voters tried that in 2020 and you know how it ended. It’ll end the same way this year if Trump loses again, with the very same Republicans alleging that the American people couldn’t possibly have voted the way they appear to have voted.

Every opportunity to banish him from politics is a missed opportunity, by design.

Nick Catoggio

February 14, 2024

A 10-Word Epitaph for Democrats’ Hopes - The Dispatch

It was the week that Democrats had been waiting for. 

Former President Donald Trump, on the precipice of locking down the Republican nomination, was causing chaos everywhere, while the members of his party in Congress were cutting each other’s throats.

Then came these words: a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

Biden says that the magnitude of the threat posed by Trump is why he had no choice but to seek a second term. He is, no doubt, well-meaning,” and certainly a sympathetic” figure. But what the president is not is a person with a true sense of himself and of his condition. And those things will not get any better in the 269 days until the election.

If Trump is returned to power, there will be many who deserve blame—the voters, the craven Republicans who abetted him against their own judgment, the media hucksters who went along for the ride—but very near the top of the list will be Biden and his inner circle, particularly the first lady, who did not find the courage and humility to step aside. 

Chris Stirewalt

February 11, 2024

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume that Biden senses [that he’s too old and frail to serve a second term, and that his age and frailty are driving voters to Trump], but he feels trapped by his own terrible vice-presidential choice. If he drops out and anoints Kamala Harris, she’s even more likely to lose to Donald Trump. But if he drops out and doesn’t endorse his own number two, he’d be … setting his party up for months of bloodletting and betrayal, a constant churn of personal and ideological drama.

There is no easy escape from these dilemmas. But the best approach available to Biden is a distinctively old-fashioned one. He should accept the necessity of drama and bloodletting but also condense it all into the format that was originally designed for handling intraparty competition: the Democratic National Convention.

That would mean not dropping out today or tomorrow or any day when party primaries are still proceeding. Instead Biden would continue accumulating pledged delegates, continue touting the improving economic numbers, continue attacking Donald Trump — until August and the convention, when he would shock the world by announcing his withdrawal from the race, decline to issue any endorsement, and invite the convention delegates to choose his replacement.

Pain would follow. But so would excitement and spectacle, the things that Biden himself seems too old to deliver. Meanwhile any agony would be much briefer than in a long primary battle … And the format would encourage the party-as-institution, not the party-as-mass-electorate, to do a party’s traditional job and choose the ticket with the most national appeal.

Ross Douthat, The Question Is Not If Biden Should Step Aside. It’s How.

February 11, 2024

Feeling more like prophecy, less like catharsis:

And so, goodbye, Donald J. Trump, the man who wanted to be Conrad Hilton but turned out to be Paris Hilton. Au revoir, Ivanka and Jared, Uday and Qusay — there’s a table for four reserved for you at Dorsia. So long, Melania — it’s still not entirely clear what you got out of this, but I hope it was worth it. A fond farewell to Ted Cruz’s reputation and Mike Pence’s self-respect, Lindsey Graham’s manhood and Fox News’s business model. In with Dr.” Jill Biden, out with Dr.” Sebastian Gorka.

Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night.

I’m sure we’ll all meet again. But I’d really rather we didn’t.

Kevin D. Williamson, Witless Ape Rides Helicopter (January 2021)

February 11, 2024

I thought ‘Clinton versus Trump’ has God’s judgment written all over it.” I wasn’t wrong, but I think He’s writing in bigger letters this time: Doddering Biden versus I am your retribution’ Trump who now understands the system a bit better and has plans to keep grown-ups out of the room.” Something like that.

February 9, 2024

According to Michael Podhorzer, former political director of the AFL-CIO, exposing and clarifying Trump’s 2025 agenda will be crucial to Biden’s success or failure:

Donald Trump will lose the election to the extent that voters accurately understand what his plans for a second term would be. Not only are most voters now not paying attention to Trump’s legal troubles, they know next to nothing about what he’s said on the campaign trail about what he will do if elected again, let alone the very specific and chilling agenda Trump allies have assembled in the event Trump wins a second term.

Podhorzer argued in an email that

It is necessary, but far from sufficient, for voters to hear that from Biden and congressional Democrats. Unless the media and other trusted nonpartisan civil society institutions are forthright in affirming that the 2024 election is not a contest between two politicians, Donald Trump and Joe Biden, but a virtual constitutional referendum, Trump could win.

In support of his argument, Podhorzer wrote:

Since 2016, MAGA has lost nearly every important election in which voters understood this, including 23 of the 27 statewide elections in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, while picking up a dozen House seats in California and New York in the midterms when voters did not.

Thomas B. Edsall, Is Trump’s MAGA Superpower’ Actually His Kryptonite?

February 7, 2024

Trump Doesn’t Threaten Democracy—He Embodies It - WSJ

February 5, 2024

Gail: We’re in an unnerving amount of accord. Think Congressional Republicans feel the same way? It really looked as if there was going to be an agreement on the border — until Trump made it clear he didn’t want anybody agreeing to any progress on anything while Biden was in office.

Do you think the Republicans will have the spine to march on through?

Bret: Neither the spine nor the brains. The former, because Trump has signaled his opposition, on the cynical view that a continued migration crisis helps his election chances, and Republicans are nothing but invertebrates in the face of their master’s wrath. The latter, because they don’t seem to realize that failing to get an immigration deal when they could have had one for the asking gives Biden the advantage in the immigration debate, because he can rightly put the blame on Republicans for walking away from border security.

Gail: I do love the idea of a campaign in which Biden’s the border security guy.

Bret: If I were Mitch McConnell, I’d push forward with a deal anyway: He doesn’t have a political future so he may as well try to acquire a political legacy. But that still leaves the hopeless, hapless House Republican caucus, where Speaker Mike Johnson says the bill is dead on arrival.” So consider that another reason I’m rooting for a big Biden win in the fall: It isn’t that I like the Democrats; I just detest the Republicans so much more.

Gail: You haven’t mentioned the Democrats much — anything in particular you’d like to vent about?

Bret: In another age, I’d have plenty to complain about when it comes to Democrats, or at least this administration. Doing it now feels like bemoaning a hemorrhoid when you’ve just been diagnosed with colon cancer.

Brett Stephens and Gail Collins

January 29, 2024

Since 2015, perhaps the foremost argument for Trump has been of the but he fights!” variety. By my rough estimate, 100 books, 10,000 op-eds, and a trillion tweets have been dedicated to the proposition that he’s the fighter we need. He’s King David! Red Caesar! Cyrus! He’s a counterpuncher! He takes the gloves off. He’ll go there! He’ll say what others won’t say! When the rules are defined as the stuff of a corrupt establishment, the refrain is he’s not going to play by your rules.” When the rules are defined by a paranoid conviction that the left and the deep state will do anything to hold onto power, the refrain switches to he’ll beat them at their own game!” In short, the argument is that Trump is a juggernaut, an unstoppable force who will do anything until he wins.

Trump even managed to take the fact—and it is a fact, even according to him— that he is an incessant whiner into a strength. I do whine because I want to win, and I’m not happy about not winning, and I am a whiner, and I keep whining and whining until I win.” And, amazingly, his biggest fans—you know the people who talk about the glories of manliness and strength and who think that Cry more, lib” is a mic-drop response to any argument they don’t like—processed this confession of deliberate crybabiness as something to celebrate.   

But here’s the thing: It’s all B.S.

By their own standards, Trump is a staggering weakling and coward.

Jonah Goldberg, The Caver in Chief

January 27, 2024

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