When All Else Fails, Target Trans Kids

The NCGOP relives HB2 glory days + local cops use creepy social media scraper tech + Mitch McConnell likes his free speech green + the Senate is the property of Joe Manchin now

Wed., April 7, 2021

A quick story about me going AWOL:

  • I took Good Friday off. Not for religious reasons, Just wanted a long weekend.

  • Sunday, I got my second COVID vaccine. No big deal, right? I felt fine. Went for a hike afterward. Had a bit of a headache. Figured it was the sun. Came home and decided to call it an early night. No newsletter Monday.

  • Woke up Monday. Felt … weird? Not sure how else to describe it. Like a fog had descended over my body. I tried to write, but everything was gibberish. I gave up, took a nap, watched bad TV, and turned in around eight. No newsletter Tuesday.

  • Woke up Tuesday. Felt better! Had a ton of stuff from Monday to catch up on. Didn’t finish it all. Missed a deadline. Banging out this newsletter late at night.

  • Weather: Partly cloudy and hot. High in the mid-80s.


Today’s Quote

Sen. Mitch McConnell, on corporations donating millions of dollars to his political action committee:

  • “That’s fine. It’s legal, it’s appropriate. I support that.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell, on corporations opposing Republican legislation:

  • “From election law to environmentalism to radical social agendas to the Second Amendment, parts of the private sector keep dabbling in behaving like a woke parallel government. Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order.”

Source: CNN


+TODAY’S TOP 3

1. NCGOP Wants to Do HB2.0

If Arkansas jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you do it, too? If you’re Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, Conservapedia-certified expert on gender dysphoria, the answer, it seems, is sure, why not?

  • On Monday, the day Arkansas’s Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed a bill banning gender-affirming treatments for transgender people under age 18, Hise, along with Sens. Warren Daniel and Norman Sanderson, introduced Senate Bill 514, which bans treatments for anyone under 21.

  • Hutchinson’s veto was overridden on Tuesday.

Hise et al. want to make the following illegal:

  • “Performing surgeries that sterilize, including castration, vasectomy, hysterectomy, oophorectomy, metoidioplasty, orchiectomy, penectomy, phalloplasty, and vaginoplasty.

  • Performing a mastectomy.

  • Administering or supplying the following medications that induce transient or permanent infertility:

    • a. Puberty-blocking medication to stop or delay normal puberty.

    • b. Supraphysiologic doses of testosterone or other androgens to members of the female sex.

    • c. Supraphysiologic doses of estrogen or synthetic compounds with estrogenic activity to members of the male sex.

  • Removing any otherwise healthy or nondiseased body part or tissue.”

Violations will mean license forfeiture and a $1,000 fine.

  • While there’s an exception carved out for babies born with sexual abnormalities—i.e., both ovarian and testicular tissue—I don’t see one for other medical reasons.

  • Puberty blockers have been around since the 1980s, used when children develop too soon and too fast, a condition called precocious puberty. If your 8-year-old grows a beard, tough luck, I guess.

  • On that note, does this mean a 20-year-old man can’t get a vasectomy? Or a 20-year-old woman can’t get her tubes tied? Those are both methods of sterilization, after all.

Just a thought here, Ralph—do you prefer Dr. Hise?—I don’t mean to dump on your statistics degree or anything, but maybe we should leave these questions to people who know what the hell they’re talking about. Children’s lives are at stake here. Say, for instance, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry:

Variations in gender expression represent normal and expectable dimensions of human development. They are not considered to be pathological. Health promotion for all youth encourages open exploration of all identity issues, including sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression according to recognized practice guidelines. Research consistently demonstrates that gender-diverse youth who are supported to live and/or explore the gender role that is consistent with their gender identity have better mental health outcomes than those who are not. 

State-based legislation regarding the treatment of transgender youth that directly oppose the evidence-based care recognized by professional societies across multiple disciplines is a serious concern. Many reputable professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Endocrine Society, which represent tens of thousands of professionals across the United States, recognize natural variations in gender identity and expression and have published clinical guidance that promotes nondiscriminatory, supportive interventions for gender diverse youth based on the current evidence base. These interventions may include, and are not limited to, social gender transition, hormone blocking agents, hormone treatment, and affirmative psychotherapeutic modalities.

(Emphasis mine, in case the point was getting lost.)

This isn’t Republicans’ only attack on trans kids this session, either. Last month, picking up another Hot GOP Fad, we got HB 358, the Save Women’s Sports Act, which aims to solve a culture war boogeyman that mostly exists in the minds of men who spend too much time worrying about teenage girls’ genitalia.

  • The law says that transgender girls can’t compete in girls’ “interscholastic or intramural athletic activities,” and anyone who suffers “harm” because a biological boy competed in a girls’ sport can sue.

  • To buttress their case, the bill quotes a 2019 Washington Post op-ed column from Duke Law professor and Olympic track star Doriane Coleman, tennis champion Martina Navratilova, and Olympic track star Sanya Richards-Ross: “The evidence is unequivocal that starting in puberty, in every sport except sailing, shooting, and riding, there will always be significant numbers of boys and men who would beat the best girls and women in head-to-head competition. Claims to the contrary are simply a denial of science.”

On Monday, however, Coleman, Navratilova, and elite trans athlete Juniper Eastwood responded with an op-ed in the N&O:

  • “We write in opposition to North Carolina House Bill. 358, the Save Women’s Sports Act, which proposes to exclude all transgender girls from playing on all girls’ school sports teams. The bill itself uses our names and its proponents rely on us in one way or another in support of their position. In doing so, however, they cherry-pick what we have said and done, missing the essential point.”

  • “[The bill] fails because it doesn’t make an exception for transgender girls who’ve never experienced male puberty and so haven’t developed the traits the classification was designed to exclude. It fails because it doesn’t take into account the multiple goals of sport at different levels of play and competition, which range from after-school clubs to elite regional events. It fails because it doesn’t distinguish between being on the team and being tapped for a spot in the competition. Finally, it fails because it doesn’t allow for reasonable accommodations akin to the approach taken by the NCAA, which allows transgender women who have experienced all or part of male puberty to compete with hormone suppression.”

  • Of course, under Hise’s bill, puberty blockers and hormone suppressors would be illegal, so this would all be mute.

With Governor Cooper in the Executive Mansion and Democrats able to sustain a veto—unlike in Arkansas—neither of these bills is likely to become law.

  • Still, Hise and many of his fellow Republicans were in the General Assembly in 2016, when their last anti-trans crusade made Pat McCrory a talk-show host. You have to wonder why they’d want to go down that road again.

▶️ OTHER SCHOOLS NEWS

  • Wake County’s superintendent asked the Board of County Commissioners for an additional $28 million. (I suppose it’s time for my annual rant about how dumb it is that school boards don’t have taxing power.) (N&O)


2. Local Cops Used an Orwellian Facial Recognition System

Buzzfeed News dropped an investigation showing that employees at more than 1,800 police agencies across the country have run searches using Clearview AI—a controversial facial recognition software built by scraping images off the web—“looking for people, including Black Lives Matter protesters, Capitol insurrectionists, petty criminals, and their own friends and family members.”

  • “The data indicates that Clearview has broadly distributed its facial recognition software to federal agencies and police departments nationwide, offering the app to thousands of police officers and government employees, who at times used it without training or oversight.” 

  • “The New York City–based startup claims to have amassed one of the largest-known repositories of pictures of people’s faces—a database of more than 3 billion images scraped without permission from places such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. If you’ve posted images online, your social media profile picture, vacation snapshots, or family photos may well be part of a facial recognition dragnet that’s been tested or used by law enforcement agencies across the country.”

  • “Based on conversations with people who have used the software, a Clearview search may include a demonstration scan at a trade show, a police officer looking up a colleague as a test, or an actual investigative attempt to find a person of interest. While this database [of 34,000 searches] represents only a snapshot of Clearview’s reach as of February 2020, it provides unprecedented insight into how facial recognition technology can spread through law enforcement agencies across the country.”

  • The police chief in Wilson’s Mills, North Carolina, told Buzzfeed that he downloaded Clearview because it was free and he wanted to check it out. He “tested Clearview AI using his own personal photos, but the software returned no matches. ‘I ran two known persons to see if they came back with any useful info. I didn’t think it worked the way the ad said it would,’ he said.”

With the background out of the way, let’s look at the database and see which local departments are messing around with this junk.

  • All of them.

  • More specifically: Alamance County Sheriff’s Office, Cary Police Department, Chapel Hill Police Department, Chatham County Sheriff’s Office, Durham County Sheriff’s Office, Durham Police Department, Garner Police Department, Knightdale Police Department, North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles: License & Theft Bureau, North Carolina Department of Revenue: Criminal Investigations, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Raleigh Police Department, Wake County Alcoholic Beverage Control Law Enforcement, Wake Forest Police Department.

  • Most did not respond to Buzzfeed’s requests for comment. Among those who did:

  • Raleigh Police Department, which has run between 1,001 and 5,000 searches: “Clearview AI is most often used to investigate formidable crimes that are extraordinary in nature such as reports of human trafficking and shootings. With the understanding of the privacy issues that the software raises, consideration of the 4th Amendment is forefront. Many factors are considered when detectives are conducting an investigation before they decide what would be the best route to take in order to follow a lead. These searches are fairly narrow in their scope, are limited, and are focused specifically on what they are looking for at that time. Any relevant information gained from its use is retained as part of the investigation.”

  • Despite the use of present tense, RPD banned the use of Clearview last year after a WRAL investigation questioned whether the tool violated the department’s policies.

  • The N&O reports: “Records released by [RPD] show the app ultimately led to charges for at least one suspect: James Mero, who in 2019 was arrested and charged with more than 30 crimes related to fraud and sexual exploitation of a minor. Details of that case made it into the company’s marketing materials.”

  • Knightdale Police Department, which has run between 11 and 50 searches: “To date, our agency has used the tool to generate leads in several cases where the suspect is unknown. As required by the user agreement, and in accordance with established department expectations, the use of Clearview is intended to serve as an investigative tool and leads generator. It does not constitute probable cause for immediate charges against a suspected person, nor does it absolve investigators from independently verifying search results. Additionally, search results are not admissible as evidence. … No arrests have been made as a direct result of searches conducted using Clearview AI.”

  • Chapel Hill Police Department, which has run between 51 and 100 searches: “The Chapel Hill Police Department had a short trial with Clearview AI in 2019 and decided not to use the tool. Employees at Chapel Hill Police are not using Clearview AI. No use of Clearview AI has led to an arrest by Chapel Hill Police.”

  • Why the hell are the booze cops using facial recognition?

▶️ OTHER COPS NEWS


3. The Senate Discovers Water

In theory, an arcane decision handed down on Monday night by the Senate parliamentarian could open the door to an aggressively progressive agenda without jettisoning the filibuster.

  • The parliamentarian ruled that the February budget resolution “could be reopened to include at least one more round of reconciliation, which allows for measures governing taxes and spending to be protected from filibusters.”

  • “The newfound leeway could ultimately ease the way for some of their most ambitious endeavors. It could allow them to break down some of Mr. Biden’s proposals, including his two-part infrastructure plan to address both an ailing public works system and the economic inequities facing the nation’s workforce, into smaller, more palatable pieces.” (NYT)

  • In essence, Dems would get at least one more crack at reconciliation in this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, then two in the next—a total of six before this Congress adjourns.

  • The one this fiscal year will almost certainly be used on the infrastructure package, which is unlikely to secure any Republican support. Biden wants it finished by the summer.

  • “The early decision has the potential to reshape how future majorities wield their power in the slow-moving body …. ‘It’s as if the Senate has discovered water,’ said Alan Frumin, a former Senate parliamentarian …. ‘We have known about it for years. It's anybody's guess why it hasn't been utilized for years.’” (CNN)

  • Tl;dr: The world is Joe Biden’s oyster, so long as he can get Joe Manchin to agree.

▶️ OTHER CONGRESSIONAL NEWS

  • Possible sex trafficker/Trump ass-kisser/all-around sleazeball Matt Gaetz reportedly hit up the former POTUS for a blanket pardon for him and a bunch of his pals at the end of Trump’s term, claiming that the Deep State was out to get them. Or maybe Gaetz had just been caught sleeping with a high schooler. (NYT)