a few true things

Here’s a true thing: back in 2019, a Chinese ‘businesswoman’ named Yujing Zhang was caught wandering around Mar-a-Lago carrying some unidentified electronic equipment and two different passports. She was eventually stopped by a random receptionist.

Another true thing: a woman calling herself Anna de Rothschild showed up at Mar-a-Lago driving a $170,000 Mercedes. She visited the resort often, attended several ‘functions’, and was photographed larking about with both Sen. Lindsey Graham and Comrade Trump his ownself. We now know her name is Inna Yashchyshyn; a Russian-speaking Ukrainian immigrant.

These women almost certainly weren’t spies. They were probably just grifters. But the fact that they were able to infiltrate and roam around Mar-a-Lago shows how shoddy the security was. And probably still is. I’m talking about the security of the facility itself. The security of the former president is handled by the Secret Service; their only concern about the resort is how it affects Trump’s physical safety. They’re bodyguards, not counter intelligence operatives.

Comrade Trump, Comrade Graham, and ‘Anna de Rothschild’

Here’s another true thing: we only learn about the incompetent spies, or the spies who are unlucky. We only hear about the spies who get caught. There are undoubtedly agents and assets of hostile (and friendly) foreign nations noodling around Mar-a-Lago. They’d be foolish NOT to be.

One more true thing: in October of last year–eight months after Comrade Trump moved to Mar-a-Lago–the CIA sent a cable to every single CIA station warning there had been a sudden a rash of CIA informants and assets in hostile countries (particularly China, Russia, Iran, and Pakistan) who’d been compromised, captured, arrested, or killed. It also warned that some informants and assets may have been turned, and may now be double agents. These informants and assets were vanishing in different adversarial countries at the same time, rather than a single geographical area. That suggests it wasn’t simply a local breach in security; it suggests somebody with access to high level worldwide internal CIA operations had exposed those assets and informants. The British Security Services apparently suspected there may be a ‘super mole’ in the CIA.

And still another true thing: among the many classified documents seized at Mar-a-Lago were some labeled HSC-P and HSC-O. HSC refers to HUMINT Control System. Human intelligence. That’s spy stuff. HSC-P refers to the product of an intelligence operation–the stuff the spies learned. HSC-O refers to the operation itself. What the spies did (and possibly still are doing) to obtain the product.

Just to be clear, I’m NOT saying that CIA informants and assets were compromised and killed in hostile nations because 1) Mar-a-Lago is an attractive soft target for spies from hostile nations and 2) because Trump’s ignorance of and lack of concern about security issues made spying easier there, and 3) because highly classified documents pertaining to human intelligence operations were left in non-secure venues of Mar-a-Lago. Those things may NOT be linked at all.

It could be a coincidence.

I’m just pointing out a few true things.

more about assholes and libraries

In my last post, I wrote about assholes and Carnegie libraries. I didn’t expect this to be a theme. But this is the United States in 2022, and Comrade Trump has turned the Republican Party into a smug nationwide collective of aggressively stupid, hate-fueled, authoritarian bullies.

So, there’s a Carnegie library in the small Iowa town of Vinton, population of about 5000. Dedicated in 1908, it’s one of the smallest Carnegie libraries in the US. It operated to the benefit of the community for over a century.

That pretty much ended last week, when the library was closed. Why?

Because of assholes.

It began in May of 2020 when, Virginia Holsten, the Director of the Vinton Public Library for 35 years, resigned. She was replaced by Janette McMahon, who’d been a librarian in both Iowa and Wyoming.

You may remember that 2020 was an election year. Some library patrons complained about books written by Kamala Harris (who, by the way, had visited the Vinton Library and read from her children’s book) and Dr. Jill Biden being on display. They also complained that there weren’t enough books about Comrade Donald Trump. McMahon explained the rigorous process by which books are selected for the library. She said, “I can’t buy what doesn’t exist, and there weren’t quality books about Trump. We pay attention to reviews and publishers and our collection needs as a whole. We don’t just say what looks good on Amazon.”

Library patrons who objected to the Biden and Harris books began checking them out, then refusing to return them. In effect, they stole the books.

Eventually the attacks against the library became personal attacks against McMahon. She resigned.

In November 2021, Renee Greenlee was hired as Director. She had a long, respected career as a librarian in Iowa. She was one of the librarians given the 2022 I Love My Librarian award, which is bestowed by the American Library Association. Only ten librarians in the country win the award each year.

Vinton library patrons objected to the fact that she hired some LGBTQ staff and that there were book dealing with LGBTQ topics on display in the library. At a library board meeting, one of the patrons read a statement, saying:

It appears that there is a slow, quiet agenda moving into our local library culture through the staff hiring decisions and the books that have crept in our children’s section of the library. I don’t believe the library is representing our town well with hiring a majority of staff who are openly a part of the LGBTQ community.

Another said,

We would like to see more balance in the offerings of books for children. For each book promoting the LGBTQ lifestyle, there should be a book on display that discusses how God created and designed people as either male or female from birth, for life.

Greenlee reported that of the 5,779 children’s materials the library holds, only three books had a subject heading of ‘LGBT’, only two books had a heading of ‘Gay’ and only two books referenced ‘transgender’ issues. In addition, there were 173 books in the library collection that were based on Christian life.

Following the next library board meeting, which was apparently a repetition of the previous one, Greenlee resigned. The interim Director, a gay man, resigned shortly afterward, leaving the Vinton Public Library without any full-time staff.

This is NOT to say that Vinton, Iowa is a town full of assholes. It’s to say that the people of Vinton allowed their local assholes to disrupt a public service that’s been supporting their community for over a century. They’ve turned a lovely gift–a Carnegie library–into an open, festering wound of resentment and hate.

This is happening all over the United States. It happens because the assholes show up while decent people stay home and watch television. In small towns throughout the nation, a minority of bitter, ignorant, self-righteous religious bigots terrified of imaginary enemies have begun to impose their mean-spirited agenda on the rest of us.

And we’ve let them do it. We can’t expect them to be better. We have to DO better ourselves.

well, here we are

I haven’t written here for a week or so — not because I don’t have anything to say, but because there’s SO MUCH to say. I start to write about this, which is necessarily tied into that and is deeply connected to this other thing. You can’t, for example, write about abortion without also writing about the political corruption of the Supreme Court, which means you also need to address the rising fascism of the Republican Party and the green grass grows all around, all around.

But here we are on July 4th. Independence Day, right? When we celebrate the decision by a group of colonists so fed up with a hostile government that subjected them to such “a long train of abuses and usurpations” that they felt it was necessary “to dissolve the political bands which have connected them.”

I think the operative term there is necessary. It’s from the Latin necesse (which meant ‘unavoidable’) and cedere (to withdraw, go away). Necessary, a thing from which there is no backing away. The colonists felt it was necessary to rebel against the government that oppressed them.

When we think about the Declaration of Independence, we tend to focus on the dramatic bits at the beginning. Mainly this line:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That’s powerful stuff, no mistake. Beautifully written. But we forget that the biggest chunk of the Declaration is a list of grievances — an inventory of all the shit the government of the King of England was imposing on the American colonies. That list includes stuff like:

— He has obstructed the Administration of Justice
— He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices
— He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us

There’s another small chunk of Declaration that gets overlooked. It’s just a paragraph that basically says, “Hey, look, we warned you guys about this. Repeatedly. We asked you nicely to knock this shit off. We have appealed to your native justice and magnanimity. But no, you fucking ignored all those warnings. You have been deaf to the voice of justice.

A lot of us today feel much as those colonists did almost 250 years ago. Instead of a tyrannical king or queen, we have to deal with a neo-fascist Republican Party. We have to deal with Republican at the state level who are actively manipulating laws to undermine the process of representative democracy. We have to deal with a Republican Supreme Court that ignores legal precedence when it conflicts with their personal religious beliefs or their political ideology. We have to deal with a former president who not only refused to accept the result of a free and fair election, but continues to foment sedition.

Those colonists had to choose — do we keep putting up with this shit, or do we act? We have to make a similar choice. We know basically what needs to be done. The Supreme Court MUST be made neutral. It MUST be returned to balance. Not a liberal Court (as much as I’d love that); just a Supreme Court that isn’t governed by any partisan ideology.

The Declaration of Independence was a revolutionary document. I mean revolutionary in every sense of the term. It sparked an actual revolution, it started a shooting war. We don’t want or need that here. We don’t need to turn the world upside down — at least not at this point; we just need to put it back into balance.

But one thing is clear. If we don’t act, if we keep putting up with this shit, if we don’t start electing Democrats who are willing to make some radical but legal decisions to balance SCOTUS, if we don’t do that in the very next election, then we may never see another free and fair election in my lifetime.

“the people’s elected representatives”

Yesterday morning, before I went to the gym, a woman who unexpectedly discovered she was in the early stages of pregnancy had options. If she didn’t want to be pregnant, she had the right to consult with a doctor and choose to terminate the pregnancy. By the time I left the gym, that right had been nullified in many states.

In those states, pregnant people lost the authority over their own bodies. Six Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States had given that authority to “the people’s elected representatives.” That’s right, a group of State legislators get to decide whether or not a pregnant person will be forced to carry an unwanted fetus and give birth to an unwanted baby. (NOTE: SCOTUS also decided the same group of State legislators do NOT have the authority to decide whether or not a person can carry a firearm; go figure.)

Was the pregnancy a result of rape? Sorry, it’s still up to “the people’s elected representatives” to decide whether or not a person has to remain pregnant. What if the development of the fetus threatens the mother’s health? Sorry, same answer — the decision belongs to “the people’s elected representatives.” What if the fetus develops improperly, if it suffers from physical defects that preclude it from survival after birth? If “the people’s elected representatives” want the person to deliver a baby that will die within hours of birth, then that’s what will happen.

As of today, in many states, a person who is pregnant has lost their status as a free and equal citizen. They are effectively under the control of “the people’s elected representatives.” That could mean a pregnant person who puts the health of an unwanted fetus at risk–by having wine with meals, by engaging in certain types of sports or exercise, by smoking tobacco, by not eating properly–could be punished by “the people’s elected representatives.”

You may say the proper response to that is to elect representatives who will give pregnant people autonomy over their own bodies, but there are two problems with that (hell, there are dozens of problems with it, but I’m only going to focus on two.) First, “the people’s elected representatives” in many states are changing laws to make it more difficult for certain groups to vote. This is an effort to insure they remain “the people’s elected representatives.” Second, the issue isn’t whether or not “the people’s elected representatives” are willing to grant a person autonomy over their own body; it’s that “the people’s elected representatives” shouldn’t have the power or authority to grant or deny that in the first place. That’s just fucking wrong.

This is a fundamental issue. Do pregnant people have equal rights? As of today, in many states, the answer is no. That is horrifying. It’s made worse by the fact that the tyranny of “the people’s elected representatives” will be felt most by the poor. And yes, that also means racial minorities will suffer the most.

Women will die as a result of this. Women will die. But we can be certain none of the dead will be members of “the people’s elected representatives.”

EDITORIAL NOTE: We need to burn the patriarchy. Burn it to the ground, gather the ashes, then set fire to them again. Burn the patriarchy, then drive a stake directly through the ashes where its heart used to be, and then set fire to the stake. Burn the fucker one more time. And keep burning it, over and over. Burn it for generations. Then nuke it from orbit.

folks buying groceries refreshing the tree of liberty

As Thomas Jefferson famously wrote, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Oh, and kids in school. And folks shopping for groceries, if they’re not white.” Yesterday, while I was enjoying a pleasant…what?

Okay, some of you are saying, “Greg, old sock, I don’t think you’ve accurately quoted our boy TJ.” Maybe you’re right; this may not be an exact quote, but it’s close enough to the way it’s interpreted by a lot of people who identify as right-wing lunatic gun nuts. Okay, okay, maybe they don’t actually identify themselves that way, but stop calling me old sock.

I mean, sure, TJ was talking about Daniel Shays, a farmhand in western Massachusetts who was having trouble paying his taxes, partly because he was also having trouble collecting the pay he was supposed to have received as a grunt in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. There’s still a lot of debate about what TJ meant by that tree of liberty bullshit, but the right-wing lunatic gun nuts take it as an article of faith that TJ was suggesting folks need to periodically have a good old fashioned bloody war of rebellion against the legitimate government. This is exactly WHY the term lunatic is included in the name of ‘right-wing lunatic gun nuts’.

But even right-wing lunatic gun nuts have trouble explaining how mass murder events at schools, mall, movie theaters, and grocery stores fit into that ‘blood of patriots and tyrants’ business. Especially when…oh yeah, and churches, I forgot to include churches. And temples and mosques. Anyway, right-wing lunatic gun nuts have trouble explaining how that blood of patriots stuff fits with those mass murders committed by white men specifically against victims who aren’t white. Or men. Or people who don’t quite fit into the right-wing lunatic gun nut definition of ‘men’.

So the right-wing lunatic gun nuts have developed a pair of sure-fire (get it? Sure-fire? See what I did there? I’m a hoot) responses to those events. First, they…well, wait. I say ‘first’ as if this is the preferred response, which would be inaccurate on account of these two responses are pretty much equally relied on. So when I say ‘first’ I’m just admitting that I can’t share two responses at the same time. These responses are numerical, not sequential. Or the other way around, maybe? Doesn’t matter.

First, they blame the mass murder on emotional health. As in “This kid who shot up the supermarket in Buffalo must be CRAZY because, yeah sure, he says he was motivated by hate and he says white folks are being replaced by non-white folks who breed faster and yeah sure, that’s exactly what Tucker Carlson says on FoxNEWS every night, but c’mon, you’d have to be CRAZY to believe that, so there, it’s a mental health issue.”

Second, they claim the mass murder is a false flag event perpetrated by Democrats or Jews or some other Satanist-pedophile group in order to TAKE OUR GUNS, or at least distract us from Hunter Biden’s laptop. They seem to think this is a perfectly reasonable thing to believe.

Sometimes they combine the two responses, suggesting Democrats and Jews and other Satanist-pedophile groups convince mentally ill white folks to commit mass murders to distract the population from some vague but really awful thing that Democrats, Jews, and other Satanist-pedophile groups really enjoy.

But as I was saying (you may have to refer back to the beginning of this blog), yesterday, while I was enjoying a pleasant 30-mile bike ride from one bike pub to another bike pub, some white kid went to a supermarket in a predominantly black community and killed a whole bunch of folks who were just buying groceries.

Mentally ill (probably) white kid led astray (probably) by Democrats, Jews, of some other Satanist-pedophile group (probably), but clearly guns aren’t the problem.

Right now on television (I don’t actually know this, but I know this) some conservative is on a national news Sunday program explaining that the mass murder in Buffalo would never have happened if we had better mental health programs, which we can’t afford to make free because that would raise taxes, but maybe for-profit insurance companies could include mental health anti-mass murder options for people who can afford it, but guns don’t kill people, mentally ill people kill people and if they didn’t have guns, they’d do it with axes, do you really want to ban axes, and besides guns are good because an armed patriot inside the store could have returned fire and prevented more needless death, and sure there was a security guard who did return fire and hit the killer, but the shooter was wearing tactical body armor which is protected by the Second Amendment, however a highly trained patriot could have shot him in the head–or at least the part of his head that wasn’t covered by his tactical helmet–and that would have ended the tragic situation, but there’s nothing in the Second Amendment that says private citizens should have to undergo training to carry a weapon, and did I mention the kid was mentally ill, because that’s the problem. Unless if was a false flag event.

So it turns out TJ, whatever he actually meant, was right about the blood and the tree of liberty. We are refreshing the fuck out of that tree.

failed russian flatworm strategy

Even flatworms have demonstrated the ability to learn from experience. Flatworms, like mammals, have a centralized brain; they can be trained to remember a behavior and perform it on cue. They can also be trained to avoid behaviors.

The same apparently isn’t true of Russian Army field commanders.

Your basic flatworm–not clever, but capable of learning from experience.

Perhaps the most astonishing thing about the Russian invasion of Ukraine is the staggering incompetence of their field commanders, who repeatedly fail to take even the most basic precautions to protect their troops. I mean, anybody who has spent any amount of time in military harness just assumes their commanders are fucking idiots who are casually trying to get them killed. The difference is that in the Russian Army, that appears to be true.

Behavioral psychologists back in the 1950s trained flatworms to avoid electric shocks. The Russian Army has failed to learn that lesson. In the weeks since they invaded Ukraine, the Russians have repeatedly left troops and vehicles in vulnerable, stationary positions. And the Ukrainian military has repeatedly shelled the shit out of them.

Last week, the Russians decided to take the town of Lysychansk, which meant they had to cross the Siverskyi Donets River. Crossing a river in a combat zone is a big deal. It’s a complex tactical situation for a couple of reasons. First and most obvious, the troops and vehicles crossing the river are terribly exposed. There’s no cover or concealment on a bridge. Second, you have a LOT of vehicles and troops concentrated in the same place, waiting to take their turn crossing the bridge. So they’re exposed, vulnerable and stationary. An army has to prepare to cross a river.

The Ukrainians knew the Russian Army needed to cross the Siverskyi Donets River. They sent a guy named Max–an engineer and an EOD (explosive ordinance disposal) officer–to scope out the situation. He took a recon unit along the river, found the best place to ford it, and left some recon troops in place to keep watch. They prepared to defend the river.

And hey, the Russians showed up as expected. The Ukrainians let them build a pontoon bridge. They let a few troops and combat vehicles to cross over. Then they shelled the shit out of the bridge and the troops and vehicles waiting to cross over. When the artillery subsided, the Ukrainian Air Force showed up and did some close quarters bombing. The Ukrainian recon units hunted down and killed the troops that had already crossed the river and had no way back.

A flatworm wouldn’t have made this mistake.

We don’t have any solid numbers, but it appears the Russians lost over 50 armored combat vehicles and anywhere from 1500 to 2000 troops–and that includes specialized combat engineering troops, which are really hard to replace. That’s effectively a couple of battalion tactical groups eliminated. It’s a staggering loss for the Russian Army at a time when they’re already getting their ass kicked.

This was clever work by the Ukrainians, but it was made possible by the incompetence of the Russians. They failed to do any reliable reconnaissance before the operation. They failed to have reliable real-time drone recon information. They failed to establish and provide any artillery protection for their troops. They failed to provide close air support. They failed in every possible way.

A flatworm can learn from experience.

As a supporter of Ukrainian independence, I’m glad to see Russia get bloodied. But as a military veteran, I hate seeing any troops get killed because of the rigid stupidity of their leaders. The Russian Army has demonstrated it can’t win a traditional, linear ground war, not even against a smaller nation.

The Russian Army is dumber than a flatworm.

UPDATE: It appears the Russian Army attempted to cross the Siverskyi Donets River three times. They failed in their first attempt as reported, so they made a second attempt AT THE SAME LOCATION. I’m not making that up. And hey bingo, they got the same result. Lots of destroyed vehicles, lots of dead troops. So, being the Russian Army, they decided to try cross the river a third time AT THE SAME LOCATION AGAIN. With the same result.

EDITORIAL FLATWORM NOTE: Okay, this has nothing to do with Russia or Ukraine, but there’s an exceedingly cool thing about flatworms and memory. Like a lot of other types of worms, flatworms can regenerate themselves. If you whack off a flatworm’s tail (and really, you shouldn’t, because what’s a flatworm ever done to you?), in a couple of weeks it’ll grow into an entirely new flatworm, complete with a shiny new centralized brain.

But that’s not the cool thing. The cool thing is that if the original flatworm had been taught to run (well, not run–it’s a flatworm, after all) a maze, the newly regenerated flatworm would remember how to run the maze too. Which suggests memory isn’t limited to the centralized brain. Memory MAY be somehow stored in other cells. How cool is that?

in the neck (again)

I just want to say this right at the start: fuck you, Sam Alito. Fuck you in the neck.

I was going to write a few paragraphs describing the role of SCOTUS draft opinions, because that’s important. I was also going to natter on about how Comrade Trump and the GOP have gutted the integrity of the Supreme Court. And I thought about saying something about unenumerated rights in the Constitution. All that stuff is important and deserves to be discussed. But mostly I just want to say why Justice Sam Alito should go fuck himself.

First off, he writes this: “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start.” Obviously, I disagree. But that’s not why Alito should go fuck himself. I mean, I disagree with lots of folks about lots of things. Believing Roe was wrongly decided is a valid opinion even though I happen to think it’s stupid.

Fuck this guy

No, Alito should go fuck himself, in part, because in his draft opinion he goes on (oh, it occurs to me that I should include a link to the actual draft opinion in case you want to read it, so here it is) to make this argument:

It’s time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives. “The permissibility of abortion, and the limitations, upon it, are to be resolved like most important decisions in our democracy: by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting.” That is what the Constitution and the rule of law demand.

This is a bullshit argument for a metric fuck-ton of reasons. First and foremost, it’s galling for SCOTUS to claim the answer is voting AFTER they’ve helped states gut voting rights. Fuck you, Sam Alito, in the neck. If SCOTUS says 1) states can gerrymander voting districts (which are also Congressional districts), and 2) states can impose arbitrary partisan restrictions on voting places and voting times, and 3) states can impose partisan methods of voting identification (like accepting a concealed weapon permit, but rejecting a student ID), and 4) states can impose arbitrary restrictions on absentee voting or voting by mail, then SCOTUS is an irresponsible asshole for claiming the answer to any important civil question is voting.

You CANNOT eviscerate voting rights and then claim voting is how important decisions should be made. Fuck SCOTUS and Sam Alito in the goddamn neck.

But wait, there’s more. Alito also argues that any ‘unenumerated right’ “must be strongly rooted in U.S. history and tradition.” Unenumerated rights are those NOT specifically mentioned in the Constitution. The right to privacy is an unenumerated right. There’s nothing in the Constitution that explicitly says we have a right to privacy. But a LOT of SCOTUS cases have depended on that right. For example:

  • Skinner v Oklahoma, which said a law allowing convicted criminals to be sterilized was unconstitutional.
  • Griswold v. Connecticut, which said a law banning contraceptives was unconstitutional. The case made it legal to use birth control.
  • Loving v. Virginia, which said a law banning inter-racial marriage was unconstitutional. The case made it legal to marry somebody of a different race.
  • Lawrence v. Texas, which said a law against two persons of the same sex engaging in certain intimate sexual conduct was unconstitutional. The case essentially made it legal for gay folks to have sex.
  • Obergefell v. Hodges, which said a law banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The case made marriage equality legal.

That’s five cases I can think of without any real research. None of the issues in these cases are mentioned in the Constitution; they all depend on the unenumerated concept of a constitutionally protected right to privacy. If, as Alito argues, these rights “must be strongly rooted in U.S. history and tradition” in order to be constitutional, then all of these cases can be overturned. I mean, there WAS NO history or tradition of allowing inter-racial marriage when Loving was decided. Hell, for that matter, there WAS a history and tradition of banning inter-racial marriage.

If/when Roe is overturned, then look for marriage equality to be threatened. Look for the right to contraception to be threatened.

That’s why Sam Alito should go fuck himself. So should Clarence Thomas, and Brett ‘I Like Beer’ Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett. And so should every motherfucker in the Senate who voted to approve them for the Court. And so should everybody who voted for every motherfucker in the Senate who voted to approve them.

There are a whole lot of people who should go fuck themselves in the neck.

EDITORIAL NOTE: Burn the patriarchy. Burn it to the ground, Burn it to the ground, collect the ashes, and grind them into powder. Bury the powder deep in the earth, and salt the ground above it so nothing will ever grow there. Pour cement over the salt. Then nuke the entire site from orbit (it’s the only way to be sure).

human decency 101

Fischer Wells just wants to play field hockey. The State of Kentucky says she can’t. I’m not making this up. Kentucky passed a law to make sure this twelve-year-old girl won’t be able to play field hockey at her middle school. Think about how fucked up that is.

You know what? It’s more fucked up that you think. Consider the process of passing a law in Kentucky (or any other state, for that matter). It’s a time-intensive process. You have to cobble together the language of the bill you want to become law, including defining all the elements. Then you have to present the bill to…wait. Here, look at this:

This is the amount of effort the State of Kentucky went to in order to keep 12-year-old Fischer Wells from playing field hockey at school. Note Step 11: “If bill is vetoed, it goes back to each chamber. If approved by a constitutional majority in each chamber, the veto is overridden and the bill becomes law.” That actually happened with this particular bill.

Andy Beshear, a Democrat and the Governor of Kentucky, vetoed the bill because it “most likely violates the equal protection rights afforded by the United States Constitution.” The Republicans, who control both legislative chambers, voted to override the veto.

Why would Republicans go to so much fuss and bother to pass this law? Because Fischer Wells is a trans girl. She’s the ONLY known trans girl playing in middle or high school sports in Kentucky. She’s in the 8th grade. She’s not much of a threat.

12-year-old Fischer Wells

A number of states have passed similar laws designed to prevent trans students from participating in middle school, high school, or college sports. They claim they’re doing it in the interest of ‘fairness’. Their reason can be summed up in this comment by Robby Mills, the Kentucky law’s GOP sponsor:

“Boys have athletic advantages even before puberty in cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, speed, agility and power tests. A lot of time and effort is put into achieving a certain level of mastery in a sport and it would be crushing for a lady to train her whole career to have it end up competing against a biological male in the state tournament or state finals.”

Sure, that would be tough on a ‘lady’. But Mills and his fellow (should I call them bigots? I mean, the law is bigoted, to be sure. And it’s supported by anti-trans bigots. But it’s possible, I suppose, for a legislator to support the bill NOT because they’re a bigot, but because they want the votes cast by a bigoted public. But fuck that, if you vote for a bigoted law, you’re a bigot) bigots seem to be under the insane impression that there are guys out there in the sports world who consider themselves male BUT are so insecure in their ‘mastery in a sport’ that they’re willing to temporarily identify as female simply in order to win a high school sports championship.

And that’s fucking ridiculous. You have to be astonishingly stupid to believe that.

At the college level, where sports participation starts to really pay off, they’ve already taken steps to insure fairness. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has a complete policy outlining transgender student-athlete participation. In theory, it applies to both trans men and trans women; in practice it’s directed primarily at trans women. It says trans women have to be taking hormonal treatment for gender transition for a certain period of time in order to participate in women’s sports. Trans men, on the other hand, don’t have to be taking testosterone in order to participate in men’s sports.

I’m not entirely convinced the NCAA actually needs to do this, but at least it’s an honest and sensible approach to ‘fairness’ regarding trans folks in college sports.

But the ‘fairness’ issue is really just a mask for all trans-related fear and hatred. Banning trans athletes isn’t just unfair to openly trans athletes, it actively discourages trans kids from even considering participating in sports. It actively discourages trans kids from letting their family and friends know they’re trans. It actively encourages trans kids to hate themselves. It actively increases the likelihood of trans kids self-harming or killing themselves. It actively encourages transphobic people to bully trans kids or find other ways to harass trans people. It normalizes trans fear and hatred.

On the surface, this seems to be a partisan political issue. Republicans pass anti-trans laws, Democrats try to protect trans rights. But some (how much, I don’t know–maybe a lot, maybe a little) of GOP anti-trans legislation is an aspect of their performative politics. It gets their base motivated, so they don’t give any thought to the repercussions. And yet at least one GOP governor demonstrated some basic human decency.

Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah vetoed an anti-trans sports bill passed by his own party–a bill that, like the Kentucky bill, only affected a few kids. Cox wrote this in his response:

“Four kids and only one of them playing girls sports. That’s what all of this is about. Four kids who aren’t dominating or winning trophies or taking scholarships. Four kids who are just trying to find some friends and feel like they are a part of something. Four kids trying to get through each day. Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few. I don’t understand what they are going through or why they feel the way they do. But I want them to live.”

I want them to live. There it is. I don’t understand what they’re going through or why they feel the way they do. BUT I WANT THEM TO LIVE. You don’t have to understand (though it would be nice if you tried). You don’t have to agree with their choices. Just refrain from cruelty. Just let other folks live and be comfortable in their bodies.

There have been thousands–tens of thousands–of Fischer Wells, who’ve grown up afraid. There are lots of adult Fischer Wells out there, trans women who worry about going out in public, who wonder if they look fem enough to avoid harassment, to avoid assault, to avoid being targeted and killed.

If you vilify a 12-year-old trans girl who only wants to play field hockey, you create the social conditions that can keep her scared and uncertain and anxiety-ridden and alienated her entire life.

Just let Fischer Wells play. Let every Fischer Wells play. Just stop being assholes. Just make some attempt at some basic human decency. That’s really what this is about. Letting other people get on with their own lives. Letting people be themselves. It’s really not that hard.