taking a knee

It’s become popular among some Republicans to claim Comrade Trump isn’t really a Republican at all. They act like he’s some sort of chimera — a semi-mystical, implausible synthesis of disparate bits of different animals. Part liberal, part conservative, part patriot, part iconoclast, part traditional, part unconventional, part who the fuck knows. A new type of politician, they say.

Bullshit. Trump is the distillation of everything the Republican party has become in the last couple of decades. He’s selfish, self-centered, cruel, mean-spirited, fearful of anything different, completely unscrupulous, alienated from reality, dismissive of science, contemptuous of facts, mercenary, fundamentally dishonest, sneering, arrogant, judgmental, and too privileged to give a shit about anybody or anything that isn’t useful to him.

In brief, Trump is an asshole. Over the last couple of decades the Republican party has gradually shed any semblance of a conservative philosophy of governance and replaced it with being an asshole. You want to know what the Republican position is on any given policy? Ask yourself this: ‘What would an asshole do in this situation?’ The environment? More coal, fewer regulations. Epidemic of gun violence? More guns, fewer regulations. Healthcare? More regulations, fewer people insured.

This is what you can expect from the president when the president is an asshole. Free speech? Call NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem ‘sons of bitches’ who disrespect the nation, and encourage owners to fire them.

Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,’

You have torch-toting nazis marching at night in an American city? An asshole would say there are some “very fine people” among them. A football player who takes a knee during the national anthem to protest violence against African-Americans?  An asshole would call that “total disrespect of everything that we stand for.”

Because all of those football players are paid huge amounts of money to entertain the public, assholes will claim they should keep their political opinions to themselves. Because most of them are black, assholes will feel victimized by that exercise of free speech while at the same time complaining to other assholes that the players are being uppity.

But here’s a true thing about assholes: they polarize people. Today there are probably folks — standard NFL fans — who were maybe mildly offended by the decision of players to take a knee, who are now applauding the practice. Today there are probably folks who don’t care at all about professional sports who are appending #takeaknee to their social media posts. Today there are probably folks who are supporting the ‘take a knee’ movement NOT because they agree with it, but just because they’re just fed up with having an asshole for a president.

By the way, those NFL players? Some of them are assholes too. But a LOT of them, even though they’re making obscene amounts of money, are also showing up at soup kitchens, they’re standing up against bullying, they’re helping with flood relief, they’re raising and donating money to hurricane victims, they’re supporting research to cure diseases, they’re fighting homelessness, they’re actually out there doing stuff for their communities while assholes are sitting at home and complaining.

Let me also say this, since I come from a military family rather than a sports family. In the military ‘take a knee’ means to take an immediate break, right where you are, because you’re just fucking exhausted. It’s a moment — and only a moment, which is why you’re only taking a knee — to stop, catch your breath, allow your sore muscles to relax, and consider what to do next.

I think this whole nation needs to take a knee.

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many sides

The president — and man, I cannot tell you how it sickens me to refer to that colossal lying fuckwit as ‘the president’ — said this in response to the violence in Charlottesville yesterday:

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.”

Fuck you. Fuck you from many sides. Only one side decided to gather at Charlottesville to champion hate and white supremacy. Only one side arrived carrying firearms and wearing military gear. Only one side carried flags made infamous by genocide, and flags made infamous by lynching and church-bombing and racial assassination. For that matter, only one side wore MAGA hats. The truth that only one side instigated the violence is so obvious that to dispute it is, in effect, to support and promote the violence. Which is exactly what the president did. So fuck you, Trump, fuck you and your lies about many sides.

There was only one side that Made America Ashamed Again. That side could be represented by Vanguard America, a group devoted to what they call ‘American fascism.’ Those polo-shirted fuckwits toting tiki torches and shouting “Blood and soil” on Friday night? They were chanting the motto of Vanguard America. This group advocates one side supremacy. Given the power, they wouldn’t allow many sides to even exist. The Vanguard America manifesto specifically calls for an:

America based on the immutable truths of Blood and Soil. A multicultural nation is no nation at all, but a collection of smaller ethnic nations ruled over by an overbearing tyrannical state. Our America is to be a nation exclusively for the White American peoples who out of the barren hills, empty plains, and vast mountains forged the most powerful nation to ever have existed.

The most powerful nation, there’s the clue. Not the greatest nation, not the most civilized, not the most free, not a nation of many sides, not the most open or the most welcoming nation. The most powerful. You know who wants the most powerful nation? People who are afraid. People who are afraid and want to dominate those they’re afraid of. People who hate. People who drive muscle cars (of course, it would be a muscle car) into a crowd of peaceful protesters.

James Alex Fields, the driver of that car, was associated with Vanguard America. They deny he was a member, of course, despite the fact he was photographed with the group yesterday, carrying a Vanguard shield and dressed in their usual Vanguard-emblazoned white polo shirt and khaki pants. Have you noticed how often groups that espouse the belief that only one side is legitimate tend to wear uniforms?

Blood and soil. Only one side at Charlottesville was eager to spill blood on the soil.

Me, I like a many-sided world. I love a many-sided world. I may not like or agree with some of those sides, but a many-sided world is a healthier, a more vital and a more interesting world. Yet the only time Trump and his hate group supporters refer to many sides is when they’re trying to diffuse responsibility, when they’re trying to spread the blame, when they’re trying to dodge their own culpability.

Trump is culpable. Not for the racism or white supremacy or hate itself, but for nurturing and encouraging racism and white supremacy and hate. He created a petri dish of racial resentment and gender hostility and class rage that spawned what happened over the last couple of days in Charlottesville. He didn’t drive that car into the crowd, but he helped create an environment that made it possible for James Alex Fields to do it.

 

damage over time

You want to know what’s crazy? I’ll tell you what’s crazy. I mean, just about everything about Comrade Trump’s presidency is crazy, but THIS is really crazy. Yes, his health care bill is cruel and stupid. Yes, his approach to foreign policy is inconsistent and stupid. Yes, his take on immigration policy and border security is mean-hearted and stupid. Yes, his inability or refusal to understand the issue of climate change is short-sighted and stupid. And yes, his habit of rage-tweeting in the morning is self-defeating and incredibly stupid.

But what’s really crazy is that we get so caught up in Comrade Trump’s incompetence and stupidity that we forget the most important thing — we forget he’s an illegitimate president. We ignore the preponderance of evidence that indicates he was elected primarily because a foreign enemy state interfered with the U.S. election process.

Here are some things we know to be true (and yes, we know these things — this isn’t supposition; this is fact — apologies I didn’t write this list in the Dark Tongue of Mordor).

  1. We know a number of people who were involved in the Trump campaign had close business and political ties with Russia.
  2. We know those people were in frequent, often secret communication with Russians who occupied high political/diplomatic/intelligence positions in the Russian government.
  3. We know Russia intelligence agencies hacked the databases of both Democratic and Republican parties (though deeper and more thoroughly into the Democrats).
  4. We know the Russians sifted through that hacked data to find information that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton and provided it to WikiLeaks.
  5. We know WikiLeaks released that information at timed intervals in order to cause maximum damage to Clinton’s campaign.
  6. We know Russian operatives (and parties paid by Russia) amplified and exaggerated the leaks through the use of social media. We know they created false narratives directed at harming Clinton and her campaign — like the insane Pizzagate fiasco. We also know they deliberately fomented antagonism between Hillary supporters and Bernie supporters, thereby weakening her overall support by Democrats.
  7. We know the same social media disruptors also planted and supported the false narrative that the election was being rigged against Trump.
  8. We know Russian hackers infiltrated voter databases in at least 21 and possibly as many as 39 individual state voting systems. We do NOT know the result of that breach.
  9. We know that since his election, Comrade Trump has been uncommonly cozy with the Russians.

Now that is some crazy shit. And what’s even crazier is that for the most part, we’re just ignoring it. The man who occupies the White House as President only got there through a systematic ratfucking of the election. If that sort of shit happened in a high school election for King and Queen of the Prom, the entire election would have been invalidated. They’d do it over.

And remember this: Russia didn’t go to all that effort because they LIKE Comrade Trump. They did it to destabilize the United States. Hell, they probably never believed we’d actually elect the guy. They just wanted the election process to be fucked up so that regardless of who won the U.S. would be wounded and weakened by the process.

Wounded and weakened. There’s a concept in video gaming called Damage Over Time. In most games involving some form of combat there’s a system that allows the player to defeat a far more powerful opponent. Since you can’t take the opponent down with a single blow, you find a way to gradually erode his health. You shoot him with a magic flaming arrow. The arrow itself does some damage, but it also continues to burn, so that each moment the opponent becomes weaker. You shoot him with a radioactive bullet, you stab him with a poisoned knife, you summon rats that bite and claw and gnaw at his body. The idea is to continuously inflict a relatively small amount of damage to the opponent, so that the damage accumulates independently of any other factors.

That’s what the Russians have done to us. Damage over time. They shot us with a flaming arrow and as we go about our daily lives, we’re still burning. They summoned rats, and those wee bastards haven’t stopped nipping at us. They created a poisoned knife and stabbed us with it; day the wound bleeds a bit more. The poison gradually spreads, and each day we’re just a little bit weaker.

Damage over time. Here’s the thing: the rats won’t kill us. Nor will the burns from the flaming arrow, nor will the poison from the knife, nor will the radioactivity from the bullet. But the combined effect is incapacitating. It cripples us as a society.

Damage over time. This is what we forget. Comrade Trump? He’s not really the monster; he’s the monster’s poisoned knife.

brain corrosion? what brain corrosion?

Over the weekend I read a few of the right-wing political nut job conspiracy theory blogs. Now some of you are probably saying, “Dude, what the hell is wrong with you? Reading that stuff will corrode your brain.” That’s a legitimate question and a legitimate concern. My answer is that it’s important to read this stuff occasionally. And since I only read it occasionally, I think I’m pretty well protected from brain corrosion.

But why is it important to ever read right-wing political nut job conspiracy theory blogs? This is why: some of the crazy shit that you find in the RWPNJCT blogs makes it way, in some form, to real news outlets. I’m not just talking about FoxNews; I’m talking actual news outlets. Like The New York Times or National Public Radio. That sounds like a conspiracy theory right there, doesn’t it. But it’s not. It actually happens.

Remember that Pizzagate insanity? The conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton was involved in a Satanic pedophile sex ring based in a DC pizza parlor that was connected to other nearby businesses through a series of tunnels in which kidnapped children were kept for ritual sexual abuse? That began on RWPNJCT blogs, and eventually made its way to legitimate news. Granted, the more legit sources reported on it as a conspiracy theory, but even that sort of reporting brought the lunatic idea to a wider audience. Some folks, not paying close attention, only knew that NPR was discussing something about Hillary and a child sex ring.

The stink of that shit lingers. A post-election poll by Public Policy Polling showed that 9% of registered voters believed Hillary was involved in a child sex ring; 19% said they ‘weren’t sure’. One of every five registered voters said they weren’t sure whether or not Hillary Clinton was lurking in tunnels diddling little kids. That’s fucking nuts. And guess what — 46% of Trump voters thought it was true.

The Russians helped promote that theory, of course, but it’s still scary as hell that so many people were willing to even consider it. So if you want to know what sort of crazy shit might be coming down the conservative lunatic turnpike, you have to occasionally take a peek into the RWPNJCT blogotoilet.

Then–FBI Director Robert Mueller and then–Deputy Attorney General James Comey in a practice conspiracy. indicting the CEO of Enron — Feb. 2004

And hey, bingo, it didn’t take long to find one. This is Early Stage conspiracy theory, so it hasn’t entirely coalesced yet — but the framework is coming together. Here it is: James Comey and Robert Mueller are in a conspiracy to bring down Comrade Trump.

What? Evidence? You want evidence? I got your evidence right here, pookie.

  • A noted right-wing conspiracy theorist named Jack Posobiec (who also promoted the Pizzagate nonsense) said, “I’m told Comey did not keep his memos on FBI systems as he testified.” Posobiec also tweeted “Comey now claims he deleted his original memos.”
  • Therefore the Comey memos don’t really exist.
  • Or if they exist, they were written after he was fired.
  • Which means Comey lied under oath when he testified that he wrote the memos contemporaneously after meetings with Comrade Trump.
  • Also Comey claimed to have given the memos to Mueller.
  • Comey cleared his prepared statement with Mueller before he released it.
  • Also Comey and Mueller are both career law enforcement/FBI types, and are considered to be friends.
  • Therefore Comey and Mueller are both members of the Deep State and part of the conspiracy dedicated to destroying Comrade Trump.

But wait, you say, if Comey wants to destroy Trump, why did he re-open the Hillary email fuss, thereby making it more likely Trump would be elected? I’m so glad you asked.

  • The October letter announcing the re-opening of the case was released because it would hurt Hillary less than the leaks he knew were coming.

What leaks, you ask? Shut up. Here’s more evidence of the Mueller-Comey conspiracy.

  • Comey and Mueller have known each other for years and worked together on several “investigations” all of which were directed at rich white men. Conspiracy!
  • Comey met with Mueller behind closed doors before he testified. There’s no public record of what they discussed. Conspiracy!
  • Comey testified he gave one of the memos to a friend to be released to a news agency in order to get a Special Counsel appointed. His friend Mueller was then appointed Special Counsel. Conspiracy!
  • Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein had the authority to make the appointment because Attorney General Sessions recused himself. Therefore Rosenstein and possible Sessions are either members of the Deep State conspiracy against Trump, or are unwitting accomplices, or just useful tools (to be determined). Conspiracy!
  • Mueller has refused to recuse himself from the investigation even though Comey is a friend of his, which is a clear conflict of interest, further demonstrating Mueller is part of the Deep State anti-Trump cabal. Conspiracy!

What? That’s not enough? You want more evidence? Damn, you people are hard to satisfy. Okay, how about this?

  • Comey actively colluded with Loretta Lynch to obstruct the Hillary Clinton Campaign and was a major player in the FISA unmaskings. He parted company with Lynch when she was stupid enough to get caught meeting with Bill Clinton in a biz jet on the tarmac in Phoenix because he figured the jig was up and Lynch was going to bring him down with her. That’s why he went public on Hillary. Comey’s testimony to the Senate was one part trying to intimidate them with a ”if I go down, I’m taking as many of you with me as I can” and one part advertisement to turn states evidence against Lynch and others.

That ought to be enough to convince even the most skeptical observer. But if you still need more evidence, there’s this:

Conspirators plotting against Trump with Kenyan imposter in June, 2013.

Hah! Explain that photograph. If that doesn’t convince you there’s a conspiracy, then nothing will. Which makes me wonder if maybe you’re part of the Deep State anti-Trump Clinton-Obama Pedophile Death Squad your ownself. I’ve never heard you deny it. And if you deny it now, why should I believe you?

What are you talking about, brain corrosion? That you’d even suggest my brain is corroded is more evidence that you’re in cahoots with Mueller and Comey and Hillary. I need to tweet about this.

 

an odd day

Yesterday was a very odd day, wasn’t it. A very odd day all around the globe, really, considering what happened in the U.K. (U.K. elections are as incomprehensible to me as the rules of cricket), and what happened in Japan (what’s the point of being the emperor if the nation has to pass a law in order to allow you to abdicate?), and what happened in Australia (seriously, Saudi Arabia? Your fútbol team can’t offer up sixty seconds of silence to honor the victims of terrorism?).

And here in These United States the entire nation came to a halt — well, okay, not an actual halt; more like a slow coast — while the recently fired Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation unloaded on Comrade Trump, the cartoonish dimwitted bully who is, to the constant astonishment of many, the sitting President of the United States. That spectacle was odd on so many levels that you’d need an abacus to count them all.

It was odd in part because throughout the day I heard a chorus of complaints and despair about how utterly fucked the U.S. is. I heard folks say they wished they could emigrate to…well, almost any place other than the U.S. Canada, France, Sweden, Spain, pick a place. I heard folks claim civilization was crumbling and democracy was dead. I heard folks wondering if the U.S. was salvageable as a nation. I heard them complain that the investigations into the Russian interference with the U.S. presidential elections were pointless because nothing would ever change. I heard them bemoan the fact that nobody really seemed to care that the President of These United States was elected in part because of that Russian interference, that Republicans in particular would continue to support Comrade Trump even if it was demonstrated that he was vulnerable to blackmail by Russia, that nobody really cared about anything but lining their own pockets.

I heard all that from people while they were watching Comey testify. I can’t (and don’t) blame folks for being disheartened and discouraged. I feel that way my ownself. But I’m also feeling stupidly hopeful, because I see a LOT of folks coming together to resist the barrage of bullshit that’s taking place.

You can’t claim nobody cares when there were millions of people are paying close attention to the Comey hearing. CBS News estimated that approximately 26 million employed people watched the hearing, which resulted in “$3.3 billion in lost or delayed productivity.” And that’s just the regularly employed people; it doesn’t count students, or folks who work from home, or folks who are unemployed, or people (like James Comey himself) who are “between opportunities.” It doesn’t count the people who listened to the hearing on the radio, or the people who followed the hearing on Facebook or Twitter, or who watched it live on YouTube. It doesn’t count all those folks who gathered in coffee shops and bars to watch the hearing, or the folks who watched it while at the gym. A LOT of people were paying attention to that hearing.

(REUTERS/Joe Penney)

You can’t claim democracy is dead while the U.S. Senate is listening to the former Director of the FBI testify under oath in an open forum that he was fired by the president for investigating possible collusion between the president’s staff and Russia. Sure, the Republicans on the committee tried to present Comey’s testimony in the best possible light for Comrade Trump, but none of them suggested Comey’s claims were false (with the possible exception of John McCain, who was apparently distracted because he was in fierce hand-to-hand combat with reality). That’s democracy taking place, right there in front of us.

Things are most definitely fucked up in the U.S. right now. It’s bad, but we’ve been through worse — and not that long ago. Things were much more fucked up in 1974, when President Nixon was under investigation and facing probable impeachment. Back then the president’s Chief of Staff talked about possibly needing to mobilize the 82nd Airborne division of the U.S. Army to protect the president. We’re only at the stage where protecting the president means keeping his own cellphone out of his hands.

Things are fucked up, and it will almost certainly take some time to unfuck them. It’s much easier to fuck things up than to unfuck them.

Speaking of time and cellphones — and this is entirely unrelated — yesterday evening I was sitting outside sipping a beer and ignoring my book, just idly looking at the clouds. As twilight slid on toward dusk, one star in the north sky became bright enough to see. Actually, I wasn’t sure if it was a star or a planet. I was interested in the constellations as a kid, but it’s been a long time since I paid any attention to them. So I engaged in a bit of what used to be science fiction.

We live in an age where a person can pick up their cellphone, ask it to suggest a star map application, download that app in seconds, and use it to identify a single star in the sky. How cool is that? It turned out to be Polaris, the pole star. My cellphone also informed me it was about 433 light years away. That means the light I was seeing yesterday evening had left that star during the height of the European Renaissance. That’s sort of staggering, isn’t it. Humbling, in fact.

I’m not going to claim it puts yesterday’s testimony in perspective, because you’d have to be a tunahead to consider contemporary politics from an intergalactic time frame (wait, is Polaris in our galaxy? Where’s my cellphone?). It was just one more oddity to add to an already odd day. I only mentioned it because it’s my blog and I can mention stuff if I want to.

led by a donkey

Okay, then. Let’s face it, when a Republican candidate can grab a reporter by the throat, throw him to the ground and punch him, and still get elected to Congress, it’s time for Republicans to officially change their name from the Republican Party to the Republican Horde. Or, if you prefer, the GOH — the Grand Old Horde.

It’s an appropriate term. horde. It comes from the Turkic and Mongolic term ordu, which originally referred to a nomadic encampment. Over time the term was applied to a roving patriarchal militaristic social system grounded in the concept of raiding for plunder. Raid other nations, raid other cities, raid other tribes, raid related tribes if necessary. Take what you can carry, burn the rest, move on. By the early 1600s, the term horde was used to describe any noisy, unruly, uncivilized gang.

Actual Mongol Horde

We have a president who has no political or religious ideology other than personal profit and self-aggrandizement. We have a president who doesn’t just lie, but whose lies are totally self-serving and are easily revealed as lies. He leads a Republican Horde intent on enriching themselves at the expense of others, with no long-term consideration for the future. Think of the Mongol Hordes, only instead of guys with long mustaches riding on ponies, drinking kumis and airag, and shooting at folks with little bows, it’s white guys in suits sneering at liberal snowflakes. Think of the Dothraki from the Game of Thrones, only instead of brawny, bare-chested warriors, it’s pasty white guys who brag about grabbing women by the pussy while denying them health care.

Republican Horde

Actually, I’m being unfair to Mongols (and probably to Dothraki). The Mongols may have been plunderers and pillagers, but they had some strict codes of behavior. For example, the Yasa forbade Mongols to eat anything in the presence of another without inviting that person to also partake in the food. It also forbade anybody from eating more than his comrades. It insisted any passing wayfarer who arrived during a meal should be allowed to join in the meal without asking permission. Of course, it also demanded that a hunter who let an animal escape during a hunt be beaten with sticks, and that anybody who urinated into a stream be put to death — which seems a wee bit harsh, but those things put the health and welfare of the community at risk.

Republican Horde

I’m inclined to think the folks who belong to the current Republican Horde wouldn’t hesitate to eat in front of the hungry. I think they’d casually deny wayfarers from joining a meal. I think they’d protect a member who let an animal escape during a hunt (so long as the Republican Elders had enough to eat) and they’d probably cheerfully piss in the river — not just because they don’t care who lives downstream, but because it would amuse them.

Republican Horde

There’s a saying often attributed to Genghis Khan:

An army of donkeys led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a donkey.

He might have actually said that, I don’t know. I do know Chabrias, the Athenian general, said something very much like it some fifteen hundred years earlier. I wouldn’t put it past old Genghis to have stolen the line. I’ve no doubt modern Republicans would lift if without a moment of hesitation. It is a good line, after all; I might steal it myself some day. However, it doesn’t apply to the current Republican Horde.

They’ve become an army of donkeys led by another donkey.

astonishing

These last few days have been astonishing. Literally astonishing. Astonishing in the oldest sense of the term. You know — stunned, made senseless by the crash of thunder. From the French estoner and the Latin tonare — to thunder. Astonish.

Last week we learned the newly elected President of These United States, who is under investigation for colluding with the government of Russia to disrupt and interfere with the presidential election, held a private meeting with the Russian ambassador and the Russian foreign minister in the Oval Office. In any other administration, that alone would be astonishing. But that’s not the most astonishing thing. In that meeting, Comrade Trump told the Russians that he’d just fired the Director of the FBI, who was heading the investigation into the campaign collusion. And no, even that isn’t the most astonishing thing. The most astonishing thing is he told them he’d fired the FBI chief because of the investigation.

Think about that for a moment. The target of what is essentially a conspiracy investigation tells the people with whom he’s accused of conspiring that he fired the investigator because he was investigating the conspiracy. And the target is the President of These United States.

That is just fucking astonishing. You’d be justified in thinking Clan Trump had fulfilled its monthly quota of astonishing things. But no. Trump went to Saudi Arabia. And he took his daughter. The tall, smart one with the long neck. And she spoke about women’s economic empowerment to a group of fifteen Saudi women described as “leaders in society, businesswomen and elected government officials”. Prepare to be astonished. This is part of what she told them:

“In every country around the world women and girls continue to face unique systematic, institutional, cultural barriers, which hinder us from fully engaging in and achieving true parity of opportunity within our communities. Each of you know this to be true. And yet the stories of Saudi women, such as yourselves, catalysing change, inspire me to believe in the possibility of global women’s empowerment.”

Yeah. Those 15 Saudi women leaders? The ones who inspire Ivanka as catalysts of change? They can now vote in local elections. Local elections. Of course, they need their husband’s permission to vote. No, wait — that’s not fair. They don’t need their husband’s permission to vote; they only need their husband’s permission to travel to the voting site. Women in Saudi Arabia aren’t allowed to drive. As you almost certainly know, they can’t go anywhere outside the home unless they have the permission of a male family member — husband, father, brother, uncle, son (yes, that’s right — if no other male family member is available, a woman would have to get permission from her son). Oh, and they need to be accompanied by a male family member too. They also need a male family member’s permission to go to school. Or get a job. Or open a bank account.

The Saudis wore black, Ivanka wore powder blue.

And if they go out in public, those 15 women leaders have to abide by a strict dress code. At the very least, they have to wear a head scarf and a long cloak. But hey, they’re no longer required to cover their faces. Progress! Of course, most of the places these Saudi women can visit are gender segregated — public buildings, universities, parks, even amusement parks. If they go shopping, they’re generally not allowed to try on the clothes, because that would require getting undressed. In a private dressing room. In a gender-segregated shop. You can’t be too careful.

But hey, if they want to buy the clothes they can’t try on? They can use their own credit card! The one they received from the bank when they opened their account. Which they were allowed to open with the permission of their husband or father.

“Saudi Arabia’s progress, especially in recent years, is very encouraging but there’s still a lot of work to be done and freedoms and opportunities to continue to fight for.”

Oh, Ivanka. She’s so right. There’s a lot of work to be done, but it’s so very encouraging. And yes, there are so many opportunities to fight for. Ivanka knows an opportunity when she sees one.

Speaking of opportunities, did I mention that after Ivanka spoke about the encouraging progress made by Saudi women, she announced that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had contributed US$100 million to a women’s empowerment fund? Oh, and did I mention that the fund was spearheaded by Ivanka Trump?

After Ivanka’s speech on empowerment and the announcement of the $100,000,000 donation, the fifteen Saudi women leaders left through the separate women’s entrance and, with the permission of their husbands or fathers, were driven home, where they’re allowed to remove their cloaks and head scarves.

Astonishing, isn’t it.