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June 05, 2015

Comments

I don't think "I can accept intellectually that someone might, like Jenner, want to change gender. But I simply cannot relate to it on any other kind of level" is necessarily a product of culture. It's just that you're in your (correct/preferred) gender.

What gets me about all the "God created M/F and that's the way it MUST be!" is that there are people, a few, that are born hermaphroditic, or XXY, or genetic mosaic, or whatever.

Unless you're going to take a medieval view that such people are the Spawn of Satan, to be shunned at best, or possibly burned at the stake, then one is rather forced to accept that human sexuality doesn't always fit simply in a simple M/F dichotomy. And if that is true for major physiological differences, simple dichotomy isn't so compelling for more subtle effects.

Humans are complex critters. They don't fit well in simple boxes.

@Snarki -- The recent book "Galileo's Middle Finger" by Alice Dreger discusses this at some length among other topics: there is a startlingly large number of children born intersex. Those who are not given surgery to "correct" them before they can consent are generally no more unhappy than anyone else is with how they are put together. Unless you want to believe in original sin, well, it is indeed true that gender is not really binary. As with almost anything that's not purely abstract, it's more complicated than that.

The Dreger book is generally terrific and a very quick read, by the way.

I feel sorry for Bruce. It's bad enough that the guy has a mental illness, people had to go and enable it, instead of encouraging him to overcome it.

Seems the first hospital to be doing sex reassignment surgery did the normal medical thing, and tracked the outcomes of the surgery. And then, looking at the outcomes, stopped doing them.

"You won't hear it from those championing transgender equality, but controlled and follow-up studies reveal fundamental problems with this movement. When children who reported transgender feelings were tracked without medical or surgical treatment at both Vanderbilt University and London's Portman Clinic, 70%-80% of them spontaneously lost those feelings. Some 25% did have persisting feelings; what differentiates those individuals remains to be discerned.

We at Johns Hopkins University—which in the 1960s was the first American medical center to venture into "sex-reassignment surgery"—launched a study in the 1970s comparing the outcomes of transgendered people who had the surgery with the outcomes of those who did not. Most of the surgically treated patients described themselves as "satisfied" by the results, but their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn't have the surgery. And so at Hopkins we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a "satisfied" but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.

It now appears that our long-ago decision was a wise one. A 2011 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden produced the most illuminating results yet regarding the transgendered, evidence that should give advocates pause. The long-term study—up to 30 years—followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery. The study revealed that beginning about 10 years after having the surgery, the transgendered began to experience increasing mental difficulties. Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population. This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery. The high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgery prescription."

It appears that lopping off organs doesn't do anything to fix a problem that's located in your brain.

My wife made the point with which I generally agree that while she has no issue with Jenner having reassignment surgery, for God's sake she's 65! How much additional plastic surgery did it take for her to look like that, and why does she need to present as a woman of 40 or thereabouts? What's wrong with looking like a woman of 65?

He went into surgery to look the way he wanted to look. I suspect even real women of 65 would prefer to look like women of 40. So that's the least crazy part of it.

And I suspect there's an awful lot of airbrushing involved in his looking like he's 40. I mean, seriously, his skin was not that good looking before the surgery.

I honestly don't give a good crap about this. It doesn't rise to the level of "issue" for me. It doesn't even rise to the level of "oh, that's interesting; I would like to know more".

Bruce Jenner is only a topic of conversation because he's a former Olympic athlete who's decided, rather late in the game, to swap genders. And whose daughter has done something vaguely naughty whose exact nature I can't recall and don't really care about.

If these things are important to you in the sense that they inspire you to rail on about them, maybe you're in need of rather more of a life than what you've got. Get out. See the outdoors. Visit a museum. Read about history.

I have seen petitions to have Jenner's gold medal revoked. I doubt those could be effective, but if they're upset that he won a gold medal in the men's decathlon using his sekrit advantages of being a woman on the inside, I say give him another gold medal just like it for even more awesomeness.

Other than that: I don't know the guy; have no connection with him at all. And I think it'd be cool when people stop paying him so much attention and start paying attention to the things going on of real, actual consequence.

EOR

wj,

I looked quickly at the report you link to, and I don't see a word about policy other than a remark or two about how important it is.

It's all about mechanics and messages. If Republicans are convinced that nothing about their positions needs to change then either they are doomed or the country is.

Am I saying that they need to become Democrats? No. But they need to start respecting rationality and evidence. Right now they just don't.

Consider this:

The Republican Party must be the champion of those who seek to climb the economic ladder of life. Low-income Americans are hardworking people who want to become hard-working middle income Americans. Middle-income Americans want to become upper-middle-income, and so on. We need to help everyone make it in America.

But there is nothing to suggest how they plan to do this. Taken a look at Kansas lately? Does the phrase "47%" ring any bells? Does cutting education budgets to reduce income taxes improve opportunity?

We have to blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file
workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.

Maybe Mitt Romney can say something about that, or Carly Fiorina.

If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what
we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.

Gee, where would they ever get that idea?

Look, wj. I know you consider yourself a Republican, and hope the party can come to its senses. Frankly, I think it's hopeless.

@Brett's 6:39

Given that it would be essentially impossible to control for transgender individuals being an isolated and generally despised closeted minority, I can't say that the study you mention actually proves what you and the article you quote purport that it proves.

Having said that, Snarki's point at the top of the thread is worth underlining. Biological sex is not as cut-and-dry as we like to pretend it is, and gender is ultimately mostly a social construct. I'm sure if we had less rigid and prominent gender roles, we'd see far fewer people opting for gender reassignment surgery.

What byomtov sez.

With full measure to you, wj, the visible face of the Republican Party has egg splattered all over it - and only it doesn't know it. It's a sad, sick, idiotic joke with a death warrant that Newt Gingrich first signed, and that has slowly but surely gathered more signatories - again, only it doesn't know that.

What needs to happen for it to become the party you want it to be is for a coalition of fed-up, pissed-off people such as yourself to stage a coup to drive out the Tea Party and their ilk, force the Scott Walkers and Sam Brownbacks to resign their positions for the utter failures they actually are, pull the Ted Cruzes and Bobby Jindals off the stages by the scruffs of their suits, and in every other way, shape and form, dump the racist, sexist, classist, and other-bigoted garbage that has polluted it, and give a great big huge middle finger to the Koches to tell them to go form their own party. Every lousy element of American society that gives it a bad name has been parasitic on the GOP for far too long, and it's past time for those such as yourself who still believe it can stand for something affirmative to take it back.

Until that happens, the Republicans will continue to reinforce their own stereotype as a retreaded Southern Democratic party, taken nationwide, which is to say that it will die as surely as the bulk of its base will (soon) do - yet once again, only it doesn't know that.

By every measure you really sound like a Democrat, and the only thing keeping you from their ranks is your admirable loyalty to the Republican name. Yet it has no loyalty to you, and I fail to see any notion of loyalty in the vocabulary of this characterless charade of candidates it persists in throwing up. That's apt - it's less interested in communicating meaningfully to those such as yourself and more in puking its sick guts up in your face, projectile-style to boot.

Good luck in manning the station. Unless you can get more to shore it up with you, you're hopelessly outnumbered.

Slart summed up my reaction to a T.

That said, I might ... might watch a YouTube video of Jenner pole-vaulting into a tub of collagen when she turns 85.

Jon Stewart had a great bit about the media's reaction to Jenner, in effect welcoming her into the strictly surface glass ceiling, what-is-she-wearing-there attention she will now receive as a woman in this society, rather than as a man, not that Jenner didn't encourage that.

If it wasn't for the "oh, my eyes, my eyes!", certified oddballality of the Kardashian Reality TV exhibitionist grift preceding all of this, I might admit there is courage being displayed here, but my attitude toward ALL Reality TV is along the lines of Greta Garbo's (maybe Marlene Dietrich's) reaction to the Beast, appearing at the end Jean Cocteau's beautiful film "Beauty and the Beast" as a normal man -- "Please, please, give me back my Beast!"

We have enough reality of the lame kind already, don't we?

Aliens receive these transmissions eventually, don't they? I can't decide whether they are moving their invasion plans up on the calendar as they view our stupifyingly lame antics, or crossing us off their bucket lists because we probably can't taste very good.

I was momentarily captivated by Jenner's remark that she has always been a strict fiscal conservative politically (are there clinics anywhere who offer ideological dickectomies as well?) and the odd stutter-step of the conservative media as they perked up at the news and tried to reconcile all of this reality being thrown their way.

I now predict that at least seven of the 623 Republican candidates for President will soon opt for sex-change operations and hormone therapy to make the short-list of who is allowed on camera during the debates so they can capture the token transgender flat-to-no-tax voter audience.

The prospect of Chris Christie going this route could be an occasion for major eyeball hemorrhaging, but desperate people will do what they do.

Grover Norquist will introduce them at the debates while himself dressed as an armed Vivian Vance, but as always, he will be mistaken for his inner dyspeptic William Frawley.

I also do not give a rat's rectal sphincter for anyone named Kardashian. It's not that I wouldn't piss on them if they were on fire, it's that not one of them is worth a millisecond of my time, unless they were badly wounded and in need of some help that I was in some position to provide.

Ok, I just spent more than that typing this. So: hypocrite me.

Not telling people who to pay attention to, but we've become a nation of spectators. Why does the media report on this crap? Because our spectator nation laps it up.

Which is fine. I've got better things to do, for the most part.

Humans are complex critters. They don't fit well in simple boxes.

Snarki and JakeB's comments led me here.

I try to keep up with things, but every now and then I am hipped to a corner of the world that I had not really thought about or even been aware of.

So, Jenner et al to the side, that's all food for thought.

To wj's broader point, what I think has happened to the Republicans of yore is that they are now Democrats.

Republicans of today - by which I mean the Republican party as a political institution, not individual people who identify as (R) for whatever personal and historical reasons - are essentially a reactionary force. And not necessarily, it seems to me, on the substance of things, but mostly as a matter of being reactionary in principle.

cleek's law applies here, it seems to me.

I sympathize with you, wj, not least because I don't know where the (D)'s of yore have gone, either.

Compare and contrast the outrage and disgust the Right is expressing over Jenner versus the outrage and disgust they expressed over torture, indefinite detention, and the Iraq war with all its profligate, incompetent cruelties.

The GOP will survive and prosper in its current form as long as the US is run by rich people who are intellectual and moral morons. The trick isn't remaking the GOP; the trick is getting rid of the plutocracy. And they're dug in as tight as ticks on a dog.

I don't know about that, Casey. Most of my fellow right-wingers seem more bored than anything else over the Jenner thing.

There's the revoke his medals crowd, but to be honest it seems kind of lonely and neglected.

Even my Dad can't seem to summon much outrage over it, and outrage flowers on him overnight a bit like psilocybe on cowflops.

It is interesting that the report has high praise for GOP governors. WTF? Brownback, Walker, Jindal, Scott, Page, Perry, Christie? Who are the other geniuses in that group?

byomtov, I'm not actually suggesting that the Republicans need to become Democrats (except in so far as a bunch of folks who were once Republicans are now (for the moment) Democrats . . . or at least independents. But that is not to say that they don't need to become, once again, a center-right party.

As russell notes, the Republican Party today is, as an institution, a reactionary body. Probably in part because of the Nixon/Atwater strategy of recruiting the Dixiecrats -- who then proceeded to take over. (It's almost like when Bank of America took over Merrill Lynch. And then ended up with ex-Merrill executives running big chunks of the company. It has not been an improvement for them either.)

To russell's question, the Democrats of yore are still there. It's just that, having ended up with a lot of moderate Republicans in their party as well, the Ds are a lot less solidly left than they once were. Including, but by no means limited to, a lot of big business enthusiasts who were once solid Republicans. Not to mention a majority of black voters.

If you'll take the Dixiecrats back, we'll (OK, some of us) be glad to take some of our ex-Republicans back. ;-) And, from a lot of historical practice, I figure you guys will know how to keep them safely under control.

byomtov, with regard to the GOP governors, did you happen to notice that Brownback (yes, really!) has now proposed a tax increase in Kansas? Apparently his theory that tax cuts would be made up in massively increased economic activity has not proven out in practice. And, having a state to run, reality has rather forced itself upon him -- at least a little bit.

I'm not actually suggesting that the Republicans need to become Democrats (except in so far as a bunch of folks who were once Republicans are now (for the moment) Democrats . . . or at least independents. But that is not to say that they don't need to become, once again, a center-right party.

wj,

I don't disagree that having a legitimate center-right party would be a good thing. My point is that the Republican Party of today has, IMO, zero chance of becoming such a party. I'm hard-pressed to come up with important areas where it (as an institution, not particular individuals) holds center-right views. Isn't Obamacare a center-right policy?

Maybe you can identify some such, as a starting point.

Meanwhile, what I see is a party whose primary domestic policy goals seem to be making sure that rich people pay as little tax as possible, preferably zero, that no silly concerns for the common good, like environmental or health and safety rules, for example, interfere with their supporters' business activities, and that poor people are kept in their place.

The primary foreign policy goals seem to be endless wars and making sure as few people as possible go to Cuba.

Dixiecrats? Your guys won them over. Keep them.

Probably in part because of the Nixon/Atwater strategy of recruiting the Dixiecrats -- who then proceeded to take over.

and assisted by the rise of right-wing radio. the right-wing outrage machine flourished once the audience didn't have to pay for its content and the delivery was in near real time. but, the need to fill hours and hours every day, in real time, lowered the bar for what counts as an outrage so low that it's now basically underground.

and now, the web has democratized the outrage producing system. and made it bipartisan.

i don't know how we recover from that.

I absolutely blame the newsworthiness of Marco Rubio's traffic citations on the Republicans.

Bastards.

Also, Mitt put a dog on his car and had binders full of women.

I'd bet if we went back to Lincoln's time and read the newspapers, none of this kind of crap would appear.

"Even my Dad can't seem to summon much outrage over it, and outrage flowers on him overnight a bit like psilocybe on cowflops."

I'll be stealing that.

I wouldn't say the possibility is zero. Not enormous, unfortunately, but not zero.

If we are going to have a center-right party, it has to come from somewhere. The options for that, as far as I can see, are:
1) the Republicans go back to being that party,
2) a new center-right party emerges from somewhere,
3) The Democrats become the center-right party, leaving an opening for a new center-left party.

Of those, the first seems like the most likely. For openers, 2) and 3) require a new party to emerge. So far, the only times we have seen that happen is when there is some huge issue that neither party is willing to address adequately. I don't really see one of those at the moment.

That said, 3) may actually be the way we go after all. A lot of moderate to conservative Democrats are emerging. And the existing ones are getting more so. (See Bernie Sanders' comments on the need to be business-friendly. And he's the far left candidate at the moment!) So the left may leave in disgust and try to start something more to their liking. Again, they'd need a big issue as a proximate cause, not just serious irritation. Maybe russell sees something that could drivce that.

I could see #4, the Democrats splitting in two. That would take a big enough win for the party to be dominant, so that internal politics can come to the fore.

If that happened some Republicans might join the more centrist faction and the extreme wing of the GOP would be marginalized.

But it's remote. It has to start with centrist Republicans abandoning the party, which will take a lot.

Your #4 is actually what I meant by #3.

But, it should be said, centerist Repblicans are already abandoning the GOP. Even centerist Republican office-holders, who have a far stronger incentive not to do so than mere party members. (Lincoln Chaffe and Charlie Christ are just the first two that leap to mind.)

the enrage/rally/grift business model that right-wing radio, web, and TV all follow requires a constant push away from the left. so, i don't see US conservatism moderating itself anytime soon.

Cleek, if you are talking about the US, you really ought to put "conservatism" in quotes. Just to make clear that you know that the label doesn't mean what it once did -- and still does in the rest of the world.

Well, heck, "West" doesn't mean in the US what it means in Europe, or else we'd be calling the East coast the "Not as West coast". You've got to use these terms relative to where you are, not the other side of the planet.

Imo the democrats already the center right party.

I don't know what it take for a significant left to emerge in the US. if the last 15, or 35 for that matter, years haven't done it, I don't think it's in the cards.

I feel sorry for Bruce. It's bad enough that the guy has a mental illness, people had to go and enable it, instead of encouraging him to overcome it.

I must be exceptionally dense. Because I don't understand why Brett supports the Republicans on social issues. Where one would expect his libertarian world-view would lead him the other direction.

In this case: Jenner can do what he pleases, since it is his life. And nobody should judge.

But that isn't what is happening. Like I say, I must be dense not to understand.

"west" once was a word that had 'relative to' built into it while 'conservative' had a fixed position where difference had to be expressed by adding 'more' or 'less'. Well, the old rule of conservative = on the political right does not apply anymore either since there are few guys more conservative (in the literal sense) than those on the 'old left'* while the paleos shake their heads at the sight of the young 'conservatives'.

*at least over here that does not depend on age. It's both amazing and depressing to hear young adults today spew leftist slogans that had begun to grow stale in the late 1920ies.

"Where one would expect his libertarian world-view would lead him the other direction."

Finally, a cut he won't endorse.

wj, almost no one cares what Caitlin Jenner does. More people care that they are being told they should care, its brave and heroic, or bad and mental illness, but something they should care about. A very few, that create news, are aholes that say stupid things like giving back medals.

In the end almost no one could do what she did anyway. She has spent hundreds of thousands on all sorts of plastic surgery, not counting gender reassignment.

In the interest of justice, I'd like to publicly applaud this gem from Slartibartfast (above):

I have seen petitions to have Jenner's gold medal revoked. I doubt those could be effective, but if they're upset that he won a gold medal in the men's decathlon using his sekrit advantages of being a woman on the inside, I say give him another gold medal just like it for even more awesomeness.

As a track fan for over 60 years, and someone who very nearly made it to the 1976 Montreal Olympics, my interest in Jenner is primarily in his track exploits. He was once considered the very best athlete in the world (how many of us have ever been even close to being the very best *anything* in the world?). That was a hell of an accomplishment, and whatever his fortunes and misfortunes have been over the succeeding decades, they can't take that away from him/her. So I wish her well in whatever happens next. Well said, Slarti!

Yep. It was a hell of a thing, what Jenner did, and should be acknowledged irrespective of what you think about his/her current situation.

From Wikipedia: "as of 2011, Jenner is 25th on the all-time list [of decathlon scores] and the No. 9 American".

After 35 years, Jenner's accomplishments are STILL noteworthy when compared to all other athletes in the world, ever.

If Michael Phelps ever decided to make the switch, I'd have just as much regard for his accomplishments. They are, to me, unrelated to any conversation about gender switch.

Thanks for the kind words, doc!

It would be absurd to take his gold medal away, for any reason save some long after the fact discovery of cheating. He could have himself surgically altered into a talking dog, and it wouldn't change his past athletic accomplishments.

I don't question his right to have himself surgically altered in any way he wants. His madness isn't of a sort to make him a danger to others, just himself, and he's entitled to be a threat to himself, if he wants.

I just feel sorry for him, as I say, that instead of encountering people who'd help him overcome his insanity, he encountered people who'd enable it.

And now I hear that the same dynamic is starting up with the crippled, people claiming to be "transabled", and wanting perfectly healthy limps amputated.

I would end up living my 'golden years' in Heinlein's "Crazy years".

"...drive out the Tea Party and their ilk, force the Scott Walkers and Sam Brownbacks to resign their positions for the utter failures they actually are, pull the Ted Cruzes and Bobby Jindals off the stages by the scruffs of their suits..."

In other words, become the Democrat Party Lite.

Ah, but the question is, is it insanity? I admit that I don't understand it. But I have to doubt that it is any more insane that homosexuality -- once also considered a form of insanity. (And, I have the distinct impression, still so considered by some here.)

wj: ... I don't understand why Brett supports the Republicans on social issues.

Simple transitivity. Republicans oppose the Democrats on social issues, ergo ...

The question I have for you, wj, is the one John Oliver might ask:
How is the GOP still a thing?

What is it that holds together a coalition of sex-obsessed evangelicals, paranoid gun enthusiasts, panglossian free market worshippers, and unabashed chickenhawk militarists? What's the unifying theme underlying science denialism and opposition to the "death tax"? What brings plutocrats and racists together in a single party?

I am not for a minute suggesting that you personally correspond to any one of those categories. So I am not asking "How can you call yourself a Republican?" I'm asking you the purely analytical question: how is the GOP still a thing?

--TP

I don't support Republicans on all social issues. I'm for legalization of all victimless crimes. But, how much has the Democratic party done in that direction lately?

The GOP is still a "thing", because 10-20 years ago, the GOP and the Democratic party conspired together to rewrite US ballot and campaign laws, and alter some less legalistic mechanisms having to do with elections and campaigns, so as to make 3rd parties infeasible in the US.

First past the post means two parties, 3rd parties are artificially suppressed, so the GOP will continue to fill that second opening.

wj,

centerist Repblicans are already abandoning the GOP. Even centerist Republican office-holders, who have a far stronger incentive not to do so than mere party members. (Lincoln Chaffe and Charlie Christ are just the first two that leap to mind.)

Maybe, but I don't see it. The Republicans hold a majority in both Houses of Congress, and there are 30 Republican governors, many of them looneybags, as indeed many of those in Congress are.

And even the ones who are superficially non-looney have some strange ideas. An excellent example is Paul Ryan, regarded as the party's budget genius, whose plans are either nonsensical or the kind of thing you'd expect from Louis XVI. When some Republican calls him out for what he is I'll listen.

Charles WT,

I don't know what you mean by "Democrat Party Lite." Did you mean to say "Democratic Party Lite?" I don't think recognizing that Jindal and Brownback have been disastrously bad governors, owing largely to their devotion to GOP tax orthodoxy, makes anyone a Democrat. I think it makes them a realist. Something the Republicans could use more of.

I'm going to assume that most of you don't realize how *extremely* rude you're being.

The person we're talking about is a "she", Caitlyn Jenner. Bruce Jenner was a lie.

It is very rude, unkind, dismissive, and arrogant to misgender someone who's made such a point about their gender. I get misgendered a lot, but I'm not a person it really bothers, I just laugh and move on. Caitlyn Jenner *really* cares, and basic respect for persons (=courtesy) says, try to call people what they want to be called.

You may well think that the chances of you personally interacting with Caitlyn Jenner are negligible, so what difference does it make if you misgender her? The difference is that there are trans* people reading this blog (I know some specific cases, though I don't have the right to name them), and they will use the way you speak of Jenner as an indicator for how you might think of them.

Cleek, if you are talking about the US, you really ought to put "conservatism" in quotes.

i usually do.

I feel sorry for Bruce. It's bad enough that the guy has a mental illness, people had to go and enable it, instead of encouraging him to overcome it.

mental illness? "overcome it"?

WTF?

TP, the answer is that 10's of millions of Republicans aren't any of the things you name. Just as 10's of millions of Democrats aren't the absurd radical definition of their positions I could come up with. The GOP is a thing because there are rational differences between reasonable people that everyone hopes will be represented once people like you quit name calling.

Tony: I'm asking you the purely analytical question: how is the GOP still a thing?

As noted, creating a new party is an extremely difficult undertaking. So the GOP continues, combining the various disparate groups you list, for one simple pair of reasons:
a) tradition (they went there once), and
b) where else would they go?

A lot of those groups, for one reason or another, became Republicans at one point or another over the past half century. Most often, because they were embracing "the way thing used to be" (for all that the past they embraced frequently exists only in their imaginations), and the Democrats were so uncongenial for their mindset.

And they remain so they remain because, for a much the same reason, where else could each of them go?
Can't become Democrats, for the same reason they became Republicans in the first place. It's just so uncongenial.
And can't successfully start a new party (although the libertarians, at least some of them, keep trying) . . . if only because, on their own, each is too small a group to succeed -- and deep down, they know it.

That's my analysis. Perhaps someone else can offer some alternate points.

Brett: because 10-20 years ago, the GOP and the Democratic party conspired together to rewrite US ballot and campaign laws, and alter some less legalistic mechanisms having to do with elections and campaigns, so as to make 3rd parties infeasible in the US.

I would say that, long before that, third parties in the US were pretty infeasible -- in the sense of not being able to actually win a national election. The last time it happened was just before the Civil War, when the Republicans appeared (and the Whigs disappeared). Since then, nobody new has managed to pull it off -- and that's a century worth of elections before your start point.

Marty, I'm not sure I buy your numbers.

But that aside, the number of Republicans who don't fit one of Tony's categories is small enough, compared to those who do fit, that a national candidate has to fit his positions to them. At least, touch the hot buttons for most of the groups. And, for safety sake, try for all of them.

Whereas the number of Democrats who don't buy that party's more extreme postion is substantial compared to those who do. So they can successfully nominate someone who is not that extreme. Still nowhere near where the Republicans are, of course. But moderate enough to pull in most of the independent (i.e. not party members) nationally.

Belief in democracy was also once considered as a mental illness* (apart from being at minimum borderline treasonous). And Germans were sent to the madhouse for claiming during WW1 that there was a food shortage.
It's less bad PR-wise to put people into padded cells than behind Swedish curtains or against the wall. Or at least it was until it became 'weak on crime' (and too expensive).

*China took up that tradition after Tienanmen labelling it an infectious disease on par with AIDS.

wj, I suspect that you may be correct in presidential elections on the numbers, but the Democrats real success is convincing Republicans like you that the majority of Republicans, even politicians, are somehow radical idiots. So really, you're the problem.

"What is it that holds together a coalition of sex-obsessed evangelicals, paranoid gun enthusiasts, panglossian free market worshippers, and unabashed chickenhawk militarists?"

Hippy punching.

Bruce Jenner was male, both physiologically and genetically.

I personally am just being reality-based. At some point Cautlin will be clearly female in some sense, and I'll be just fine with using the preferred gender when referring to her.

With gender ambiguity comes of necessity some ambiguity in pronouns. It's part of the territory. It's not intended to be dismissive.

I really don't care to argue this. It's not, as you say, likely that Caitlin Jenner will show, here.

...His madness isn't of a sort to make him a danger to others, just himself, and he's entitled to be a threat to himself, if he wants.

I just feel sorry for him, as I say, that instead of encountering people who'd help him overcome his insanity, he encountered people who'd enable it.

Unkind souls might question your own grip on reality, Brett.

Marty, the Democrats didn't convince me of anything. It was watching (actually listening to and reading) the Republicans which convinced me.

You might try considering this. Given several of the policy decisions he made, and the legislation he championed, could Ronald Reagan (actually a politician of a different name who did those same things**) get nominated for President today by the Republican Party? I'd say he would have no chance at all. At least unless he (ala Romney) ran as hard as possible away from everything he had done in office.

** Just for reference, I'm thinking of:
- raising taxes (11 times!), when it turned out that the tax cuts he had made didn't raise revenue and cut the deficit after all.
- supporting gun control, specifically the Brady Bill
- negotiating a reduction in a major military weapon (nuclear weapons) with a hostile foreign power.
No doubt there are more. But just those three would make it impossible for him to get the nomination.

O Ed Wood, where art thou?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glen_or_Glenda

Perhaps I should unpack, some.

Bruce Jenner was a very well-known public figure who was known and identified as male. You cannot erase the Bruce Jenner who was a world-class male athlete.

So, you can see that Jenner is a bit of an unusual case, by my reckoning.

Anyway. That's how I see it. I certainly intend no insult to anyone.

wj,
1) not why he did that,in fact they dud exact what he expected, you do sound like a Democrat
2) If one of you great friends gets shot it can create an altered view

3)After deploying the Ground Launch Cruise Missile in Europe he created a strategic advantage that allowed a treaty to be signed on our terms. That's good anytime.

On nomenclature, we're all used to transitioning names, and if we (especially we historians) are chronology conscious, we adjust accordingly.

So: Cassius Clay won an Olympic gold medal. Later, as Muhammad Ali, he won the world heavyweight championship.

UCLA's NCAA champion basketball teams were headed by Lew Alcindor, who only later became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The Kingdom of Siam became the Kingdom of Thailand.

Burma, which had once been Myanmar, became Myanmar again a few decades after independence. This transition was brought about by rulers who were widely (and justly) despised, so some people persist(ed) in still calling it Burma, just to show them! (Cf. white supremacists who insist on calling Ali "Clay")

Thus: Bruce Jenner won the 1976 Olympics in a world record. Yes he did. He is now she, and as Caitlyn Jenner deserves our respect for her new nomenclature - but I'm not sure how much of it is retrospectively transitive; it would depend on grammatical and rhetorical context.

I *am* sure that I'm in no position to judge her sanity, and neither is anyone else here on ObWi.

Tony,

What is it that holds together a coalition of sex-obsessed evangelicals, paranoid gun enthusiasts, panglossian free market worshippers, and unabashed chickenhawk militarists? What's the unifying theme underlying science denialism and opposition to the "death tax"? What brings plutocrats and racists together in a single party?

My guess is first that each group is fanatically devoted to its single issue and doesn't care very much about the others. So they are comfortable in an alliance.

"if one of your great friends gets shot it can create an altered view"

Especially if you get shot at the same time.

That's the key to conservatives and government action, whether it's reasonable cream pie control or research dollars for diseases. If it doesn't affect them directly at some personal level or their narrow interests, everyone else, including those in their base, can go pound sand.

If the Soviets had only targeted the poor of the world with their nuclear arsenal, Reagan would have done f*ck-all to try and neutralize it.

It makes a guy hope bad things happen to certain people just so the rest of us can have nice things.

An "altered view": that's exactly what gets deviationist RINOs in trouble with the certifiably batsh*t base of their Party, the conservative "media", and the post-1990 war-declaring, name-calling pig Republican offspring in elective office at all levels of government who were spawned by the Gingrich/Luntz haters.

"if one of your great friends gets shot it can create an altered view"

Especially if you get shot at the same time.

That's the key to conservatives and government action, whether it's reasonable cream pie control or research dollars for diseases. If it doesn't affect them directly at some personal level or their narrow interests, everyone else, including those in their base, can go pound sand.

If the Soviets had only targeted the poor of the world with their nuclear arsenal, Reagan would have done f*ck-all to try and neutralize it.

It makes a guy hope bad things happen to certain people just so the rest of us can have nice things.

An "altered view": that's exactly what gets deviationist RINOs in trouble with the certifiably batsh*t base of their Party, the conservative "media", and the post-1990 war-declaring, name-calling pig Republican offspring in elective office at all levels of government who were spawned by the Gingrich/Luntz haters.

My mouse is a rat.

I think both Caitlan Jenner and the Dugger family deserve cake on demand.

THAT's the sound of one Democrat's hand clapping.

1) not why he did that,in fact they dud exact what he expected

I guess you missed all the discussions of the Laffer curve at the time.

My mouse is a rat.

A Siberian hamster! (named Basil)

An old Scotsman visited a museum of natural history, and approached a guide that was standing next to a stuffed specimen of a North American moose.

"What be that?"

"It's an American Moose"

"Och! If that's a moose, they must have rats the size of elephants!"

(must be done in cheesy fake scottish accent)

The GOP is a thing because there are rational differences between reasonable people that everyone hopes will be represented once people like you quit name calling.

Why does anyone who identifies as (R) care what names other people call them?

If there are reasonable people who want to be represented by (R)'s, I encourage them all to go vote. Why does having their reasonable points of view represented have to wait until Tony P, or anybody else, stops saying bad things?

Please, just get on with it! We will all thank you.

The GOP is still a "thing", because 10-20 years ago, the GOP and the Democratic party conspired together to rewrite US ballot and campaign laws

Conspiracies, everywhere, always.

Reagan called union membership "one of the most elemental human rights". he didn't go to church. he sold weapons to terrorists, and negotiated with Iran.

he couldn't even get into CPAC as a seat filler, these days.

He not only spoke like that of union membership. He was a union leader earlier in life. And apparently a relatviely effective one.

Well, it still depends to which terrorists you sell the weapons. If they fight against the enemy du jour, it's till A OK (until they become the enemy du jour themselves).

My guess is first that each group is fanatically devoted to its single issue and doesn't care very much about the others. So they are comfortable in an alliance.

To put it another way, on the specific issues that they care about, the defining characteristic of each of those groups is that deviation is simple not tolerated. They may tolerate differences of opinion on other issues (e.g. the ones that one of the other groups cares about), but absolutely not on that.

It must be said that the left has similar fanatics as well. They just don't happen to be in large enough numbers, on most issues, to enforce absolute conformance on porential candidates. There is some enforced conformance, as we are doubtless all aware. But not on enough issues to leave all potentially viable candidates sounding essentially identical.

You mean all one viable candidate?

Marty: Just as 10's of millions of Democrats aren't the absurd radical definition of their positions I could come up with.

Actually, Marty, I'd love to hear your "absurd radical definition" of the Democratic positions. Let me get you started: tree-hugging environmentalists; godless socialist peaceniks; namby-pamby welfare-state liberals; dirty pot-smoking hippies. But don't let me put words in your mouth. I'm sure you can come up with better ones.

In any case, I'd appreciate YOUR take on what unifies the "10's of millions of Republicans" who are NOT "any of the things [I] named" into a political party.

--TP

Marty, there is certainly one leading candidate among the Democrats -- so far and this time around. (But there are at least two others who have at least entered the running.)

And the fact that one candidate is leading substantially is not to say that things this time may not change over the next year or more.

And certainly in the past three elections for President not involving an incumbant there were potential Democratic candidates with rather different views on a variety of issues.

Are we on jokes that need Scottish accents?

What is the difference between Mickey Mouse and his creator?

Mickey Mouse has big ears and Walt Disney.

wj, there has been absolutely no space between the "viable" Democratic Presidential candidates platforms in decades. Anything left of Obama/Clinton couldn't get enough independent votes, right of there not enough Democrats. The joke is the party represents none of those constituencies. IMO. Better social media management really doesn't equal better government.

You mean all one viable candidate?

and that is a complete historical anomaly. it's caused a bit of unrest within the party, too. we're really not all 100% onboard. as of last week, she's got about 60% who say she should be the nominee. that's solid. but that number had been falling pretty steadily. if Sanders could get some press, he'd be doing much better. Clinton's celebrity is crushing him.

and there were 8 official candidates in 2008 and the race was extremely hard-fought until the very end. and the Obama v Hillary fight caused a lot of rancor within the left.

"The person we're talking about is a "she", Caitlyn Jenner. Bruce Jenner was a lie."

The person we're talking about has one X and one Y chromosome, until recently had matching male gentilia, an Adam's apple, and so forth. You're calling the physical reality a lie. You do realize that, right?

The person we're talking about can legally change his name to "Caitlyn", but was a guy, and is a guy, albeit now surgically altered to look like a woman. And all the disturbed ideation and delusions in the world can not change that fact.

Bruce Jenner is the objective truth, Caitlyn Jenner a disturbed fantasy surgeons have created an illusion to match. And the carefully collected statistics of medical researchers say that Bruce/Caitlyn is not going to become any less disturbed by paying to be surgically disfigured.

there has been absolutely no space between the "viable" Democratic Presidential candidates platforms in decades

You might recall some 6-7 years back, where one candidate seeking the Democratic nomination was enthused about the war in Iraq (and had voted for it), while the other had opposed it. One might consider that some space between the two.

the carefully collected statistics of medical researchers say that Bruce/Caitlyn is not going to become any less disturbed by paying to be surgically disfigured.

Got a cite for that, Brett?

Thanks

Upthread. It's the third comment in this thread.

But here it is again.

Oh, a tip: If you can't read a WSJ article, just copy the bit you can read, and do a search on it: They let you read it if you arrive via a search.

"On May 30, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services review board ruled that Medicare can pay for the "reassignment" surgery sought by the transgendered—those who say that they don't identify with their biological sex."

Presumably HHS' Review Board ruled that way because there is no real benefit? Hmmm.

Granted that the author of that article believes that transexuals are mentally ill. But it isn't clear that this is a widespread view of professionals in the field.

I also note this comment on the author of the article you link to: "McHugh has spent his career imposing his religious beliefs on the bodies of others and on the practices of peers."

libertarians who think genetics is destiny are the best kind of libertarians.

Presumably HHS' Review Board ruled that way because there is no real benefit?

Medical benefit? Political benefit? Both? Neither?

I'll never know what it feels like to strongly desire to express myself as a man, because that's not part of my biological programming. On the other hand, I am very much aware of my attraction to other women, in defiance of what society deemed "normal" though that particular definition of "normal" is being whittled away, piece by piece, as the years go by. Therefore I can grant my sympathy to Caitlin Jenner, because I know what it feels like to be put upon by others solely for the way my biology works. But she doesn't need my sympathy any longer. She now is who she feels she should be. Why is this simple fact so worthy of our societal scorn?

It is not up to anyone to label Caitlin as mentally ill for expressing a non-normative desire with regards to her gender. It is up to us, as a society, to choose how we want to deal with the knowledge that she was so clearly moved by this desire as to undergo a major physical transformation. Some may see having surgery to remove something you were born with as a sign of mental instability, but in that case why are people who undergo other physical alterations such as liposuction or breast reduction in an effort to improve their own lifestyles not viewed with the same lens? Why is it OK to tell someone, "Yes, go ahead and have the stomach band surgery and I'll be here for you while you recover," but not, "Yes, go ahead and have the gender reassignment surgery and I'll be here for you while you transition,"?

Why do we not bat an eyelash at women who choose to have cosmetic breast augmentation so as to feel better about themselves, but immediately start throwing around words like 'crazy' and 'insane' when someone elects to have cosmetic gender augmentation surgery so as to feel better about herself?

If nature was the be-all, end-all decider of what we should and should not do as humans, then humanity is hearing nothing of it. We've got transplants to restore your hair if you feel you have too little, and laser application to remove it if you think you have too much. We have pills that give you an erection so you can father a child later in life, and ones that make it so a woman can decide when she wants to bring a child into the world instead of taking a gamble each and every time she has sex. We've got vaccines that protect us from all manner of dangerous microorganisms that otherwise run unchecked causing untold levels of misery. Why are these acceptable, but the idea of someone feeling more feminine than masculine is somehow going against nature and a sign that he/she needs mental help?

Again, Brett, there's nothing there about how the cited study could hope to control for discrimination and isolation arising therefrom before before the article concludes that obviously it's at best unhelpful.

I also really like how the author claims it's a "transitory mental illness" that'll pass on its own, while admitting that 25% of those tracked with it from a young age never "got better".

Oh, and the part comparing it to an eating disorder was nice. I've had issues with eating disorders in the past, and I find his description of how they're typically "contagious" to be amusing at best, and even entirely setting aside my anecdata, not really in keeping with what I've read about them elsewhere.

All in all, regardless of the author's qualifications, said article is shallow and does very little to support its claims. It mostly just asserts that "of course it's not normal or health" and then suggestively waves inconclusive studies around while declaring them to conclusively demonstrate that gender dysmorphia is a mental illness that can only be cured by repressing it.

Although again, this whole mess would be far less of an issue if we could just be less damned prominent and rigid with our gender roles in this society. I kid, I kid; I know we could never hope to do such a thing, because arbitrary social constructs are destiny!

On nomenclature, we're all used to transitioning names, and if we (especially we historians) are chronology conscious, we adjust accordingly.

I've been mulling this comment over, which I find really thought provoking, especially after wj invokes Reagan. For some folks, there is a problem with the notion of being 'chronology conscious', in that sticking to a chronology can, in a sense, deny a connectedness and a subjective sense. This is not to suggest that dr ngo is wrong, but chronology conscious is just one way of being right and there are other ways of being right. (perhaps as many as being wrong)

Certainly, the person Ronald Reagan was in 1942 is not the 1967 Ronald Reagan, who in turn is not the 1994 Reagan. Naming both reveals and obscures, and you never reveal something without obscuring something else, even if it to the extent that the viewer's attention is directed to something else while what was s/he was looking at still lies in plain sight.

"Again, Brett, there's nothing there about how the cited study could hope to control for discrimination and isolation arising therefrom before before the article concludes that obviously it's at best unhelpful."

I suppose it's conceivable that discrimination against people who've had sex change operations just conveniently negated all the positive effects. You'd want some kind of evidence of that, because the study is likely going to include people who got the operation, weren't famous, and simply moved to someplace where everybody assumed they were what they looked like. But I admit it's possible. It's also possible that people deranged enough to think that they're women when they're really men, don't stop being deranged just because you surgically alter them to look like women.

I don't think that makes the study unhelpful. Johns Hopkins took the normal medical position that, if you're going to be doing radically invasive surgery, you need evidence that it actually helps something. And a theory for why it didn't help isn't the same thing as evidence that it does.

"Although again, this whole mess would be far less of an issue if we could just be less damned prominent and rigid with our gender roles in this society."

You mean, if we weren't a sexually dimorphic species, where men and women are actually different, in a whole host of ways? Which just happen to end up reflected in gender roles?

To quote myself, "Johns Hopkins took the normal medical position that, if you're going to be doing radically invasive surgery, you need evidence that it actually helps something."

Now, this isn't the only surgical viewpoint, or else you wouldn't have piercing salons, and people getting their tongues split, and stuff like that. I think that's the category "sex reassignment surgery" belongs in, not medical treatment.

And so, Bruce, being a competent adult, who's presumably paying for this himself, is entitled to do it. But that doesn't obligate anybody else to pretend that he's really become a woman. His rights to modify his own body don't extend to requiring everybody else to humor his delusions.

He was, and is, a guy.

But that doesn't obligate anybody else to pretend that he's really become a woman.

No, no one is obligated to do anything w/ regards to Jenner. I'm not obligated to stop using the nickname my brother hates, either. But because I'm not an ass, I see no reason to use the name my brother would like to be called. I likewise see no reason not to refer to Jenner (in the unlikely event I ever meet her) how she wants to be referred to.

It costs me nothing to be nice.

In the unlikely event I ever encounter him, I will try to refrain from calling him Bruce, and even avoid gender specific pronouns in his presence, so long as he doesn't press the matter. That's just being polite. Like ignoring it when your friend with Tourettes barks.

He's not present, pretending he's a woman has nothing to do with being nice. It has to do with complying with an ideological position concerning gender. A position I don't hold. So I will continue to refer to him as "him", because that's what he is.

And, just to be clear, it's not like it's theoretically impossible to turn a man into a woman, or the other way around. I could imagine some application of molecular nanotechnology and very advanced biology that might accomplish that feat. But it would involve much more profound changes than remodeling the plumbing and taking some hormones. Men and women are genetically different, neurologically different, anatomically different. The differences go right down to the individual cells of our bodies, and the way our brains are wired.

You don't make a man into a woman by sex reassignment surgery. You make him into a man who happens to look like a woman.

This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery.

Apparently, the experience of transgendered folks who had the surgery was not much different from those who did not.

So, perhaps surgery was not the solution to their sense of being "psycho-socially troubled".

Perhaps that "sense of isolation" was a factor.

Maybe the fact that so many people consider transgendered people bizarre mentally ill freaks, whether they have had surgery or not, contributes to their sense of isolation, and their apparent psycho-social "troubles".

I could imagine some application of molecular nanotechnology and very advanced biology that might accomplish that feat.

Maybe they can come up with something to help people not be jackasses. Maybe a simple and benign genetic modification that would enable people to be, for example, kind.

Now, that would be something.

"Maybe the fact that so many people consider transgendered people bizarre mentally ill freaks, whether they have had surgery or not, contributes to their sense of isolation, and their apparent psycho-social "troubles"."

Alternatively, BEING mentally ill contributes to their sense of isolation. Since, you know, they're one gender, and think they're a different one, which is kind of by definition an example of mental illness.

Maybe the mental condition which causes them to reject their actual gender doesn't go away when they get surgery? Losing weight doesn't, after all, tend to cure anorexia.

Brett, 10 comments are listed in the latest comments and you have 6. Not sure why this seems to agitate you so much, but you really need to chill.

But that doesn't obligate anybody else to pretend that he's really become a woman. His rights to modify his own body don't extend to requiring everybody else to humor his delusions.

Absolutely correct! Nobody else is required to go along with someone's 'prefered gender'.

You certainly made your point, Ms. Bellmore.

I'm happy to respect people's desires regarding their own self-definition. The situation can be more complicated than that though.

Maybe "it takes a woman to make a better man" is a more profound thought than we imagined:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBLNYuKLYD0

Brett might explain:

Man don't need to worry bout the motion of the ocean.

But just be there when I get the notion.

LJ: Certainly, the person Ronald Reagan was in 1942 is not the 1967 Ronald Reagan, who in turn is not the 1994 Reagan. Naming both reveals and obscures, and you never reveal something without obscuring something else

Here, as so often, politics is a world of its own. From what I have seen, politicians feel entirely free to fault each other (when convenient) for anything someone might have done previously, even if it was decades ago.

Other people may change their mind on something (in the light of new evidence, or simply after thinking it over), and even get complemented for being willing to do so. But if a politician does it, he will be accused of "flip-flopping" on the issue. Apparently politicians are not allowed to simply change their minds on something.

It's always a great thing to be able to laugh at yourself. So we all probably ought to catch Dilbert http://dilbert.com/ today.

His rights to modify his own body don't extend to requiring everybody else to humor his delusions.

Of course, no one is talking about what anyone is "required" to, except for being courteous or kind. But I guess Brett is being helpful by not humoring another person's delusions. After all, he knows that anyone whose sense of self is at odds with his or her physical gender is, in fact, delusional and that it is better not to accept such a person's preferences, for some reason or another. Brett's just being awesome and super real.

People who see no reason not to comply with Caitlyn Jenner's or any other transexual person's preferred gender identity are the real jerks, doing harm to reality itself by feeding the delusions of the delusional, and for no good reason at that.

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