Wednesday, November 30, 2022

066 The Erickson Report for November 24 to December 14


066 The Erickson Report for November 24 to December 14

This is our annual telling of the story of "the First Thanksgiving" based on actual historical accounts.

Rest assured that both traditionalists and revisionists will have cause to be annoyed by an accurate telling of the tale.


Tuesday, November 22, 2022

065 The Erickson Report for November 11 to 23, Page 2: Transgender youth know who they are

Welcome to Jon Swift Roundup Readers!
If you'd like to see the video version of The Erickson Report, go to
For more of my writing on transgender rights, try
065 The Erickson Report for November 11 to 23, Page 2: Transgender youth know who they are
Now on to a topic I have talked about before and expect I will again.

First, do you remember, and it wasn't that long ago, that there was a big surge in stories about "abortion regret?" A wave of orchestrated personal testimonials from women who later regretted having an abortion, some of them describing being tortured by their consciences because "I killed my baby." Remember that? It was a campaign to stampede the public into opposing abortion by playing on fears and any shred of doubt a woman might have about having the procedure.

Well, now we're seeing the same sorts of tales, only this time with transgender youth: "transition regret," with fables of kids either being pressured by parents into transitioning or being convinced it's somehow "cool" to do it and now desperately trying to undo it.

The word "fables" is chosen deliberately because the fact is, the more data we get in, the more research is done, the more the question gets asked, the more we know that transgender youth know who they are, know what is right for them, and the manufactured fears over "transition regret" are just another tactic by the reactionaries to deny the value, indeed the reality, of trans lives.

The results of a study published in 2014 of 50 years of data in Sweden of people who applied to get sexual reassignment surgery - or the more accurate and now preferred name gender affirmation surgery - found that of 767 transgender people who had the surgery, only 2.2 percent of them expressed regret after having it.

That number is even lower for nonsurgical transition methods, like taking puberty blockers. Amsterdam University Medical Center’s Center for Expertise on Gender Dysphoria is the largest gender-identity clinic in the Netherlands. A 2018 study looked at the medical records of transgender young adults who went to a clinic there, covering 1972 to 2015, a period of 44 years. It found that only 1.9 percent of adolescents who started puberty suppressants did not go on to pursue hormone therapy, which is typically the next step in the transition process. Put another way, once they started, 98.1% continued.

And you also have to ask why those who stopped did so. In a 2015 survey of nearly 28,000 people conducted by the US-based National Center for Transgender Equality, only 8 percent of respondents reported detransitioning, and 62 percent of those people said they only detransitioned temporarily, that is, they resumed the process later. Significantly, the most common reason for detransitioning, according to the survey, was pressure from a parent, the opposite of the line the wacko right is pushing. Only 0.4 percent of respondents said they detransitioned after realizing transitioning wasn’t right for them.

And now we have another study, this one published October 20 in The Lancet, one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world. The study looked at data from the Center for Expertise on Gender Dysphoria in Amsterdam from a different angle: Researchers checked the medical records of 720 patients who had historically received at least three months of puberty blockers starting before they turned 18 to see how many continued on to hormone replacement therapy medications.

At the end of the data collection period, 98% of those patients had active hormone replacement therapy prescriptions, effectively confirming the earlier study.

And as before, you don't know why the 2 percent stopped. Indeed, most of those who had stopped had had some form of gonadectomy - that is, gender affirming surgery - and may not know they still need hormone treatment to avoid osteoporosis or other conditions. Some may have decided they are nonbinary and may not want further treatment, some may have decided to detransition, and some may have been pressured into stopping - remember that the most common reason for stopping in that 2015 survey was pressure from a parent.

It is simply a fact: Despite the screeching from the reactionaries, transgender adolescents know who they are.

According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, there are an estimated 1.4 million transgender adults in the US. The UK’s Government Equalities Office “tentatively” estimates there are between 200,000 and 500,000 trans people in Britain and Northern Ireland.

Even if there are as many trans youth in the US as there are adults and that combined estimate is off by an order of magnitude - that is, the total is 10 times the estimate - we'd still be talking about 8% of the population.

So much hatred, so much bile, so much fear, directed toward so few people. And driven almost entirely by cruel exploitation of bigotry in pursuit of political power and selfish gain. It really is a moral disgrace.

065 The Erickson Report for November 11 to 23, Page 1: On the election results

065 The Erickson Report for November 11 to 23, Page 1: On the election results
[This is a little different from the broadcast version, which was done the day after the election. It's essentially the same, but has in a few cases been updated to reflect later results.]
So. We had us some elections.
So I'll give you my comments on a rundown of the results.
I'll start by confessing I was concerned - to be honest, fearful - coming into this election because I was afraid the Dimcrats would blow it in the same way they blew 2016. That time, they managed to lose to the most unpopular major party presidential candidate in the history of such polling, one even less popular than Hillary Clinton, whose own approval was well under water.
They did it by making the central theme of their campaign "We're not Donald Trump. He's a scumbag, a creep, disgusting, so vote for us." Not that they never talked about anything else, but that was the primary approach, forgetting (or ignoring) the fact that not enough people cared; in fact, there were people who liked Tweetie-pie because of that, who thought "That's the kind of 'I don't give a damn' attitude we need more of in our leaders."

This time, they staked it all on reproductive rights, to the point where even as the burning anger over the Dobbs decision, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, faded some (as anger naturally does over time) and it appeared people were shifting their attention to economy and crime, party campaign consultants were telling candidates to just not talk about those issues, even though Dems had, particularly on the economy, good things they could say on their own behalf.

So it came as a great relief that this time around they did better than expected, indeed they held their own and even marked a few gains as the predicted "red wave" or "red tsunami" proved to be more of a pink ripple.

One reason for that is shown by exit polls that indicated that people who voted for Demcrats had reproductive rights and threats to democracy high on their list of concerns while GOPper voters were more focused on the economy and crime.

It was claimed that this validated the Democrats' strategy, but I'm not giving up on my own analysis quite so easily: Holding your own, not getting swamped, is hardly a stirring goal or a basis on which to build. I maintain that had they spent some of their time addressing those other issues, where again they did have
things to say for themselves - even on crime, on violent crime, which yes, had gone up recently but had already peaked and was starting to come down and in any event even at the peak was way below what it had been in the '90s - anyway, if they had spent just some time on those two points, they could have done better than just hold their own. We should have learned at least by the time of John Kerry's run that you can't let those sort of attacks go unanswered for weeks on end and expect that to not affect people. This time they ran the same risk - but they got away with it. Fortunately.

Anyway. The GOPpers, as expected, retook the House of Reperesentatives, with the breakdown now projected as 221-214, essentially the same majority the Dems had before.

It easily could have been worse, part of the reason the results are being called "better than expected." In each of the last four midterm elections, the president’s party has lost an average of about 37 House seats. In 2010 (Obama’s first midterm), Democrats lost 64 seats; in 2018 (Tweetie-pie's midterm), Republicans lost 42 seats.

This time, they lost about nine or ten, depending on the results of few campaigns that are still not called.

In the Senate, they actually stand to gain a seat. With wins in both Arizona and Nevada, they are guaranteed no worse that a 50-50 split, which leaves the Dems, as the party in the White House, in control because VP Kamala Harris would be the deciding vote in the case of a tie.

Meanwhile, Georgia is set for a run-off on December. You'd have to think that Raphael Warnock is the favorite not only because he came in first in the general, almost always an advantage, but because the third candidate in that race, a guy named Chase Oliver who got a couple of percent of the vote, presented a pretty liberal platform despite being a Libertarian, focusing more on civil liberties including - something I'd really like to see - an end to qualified immunity, so I expect that many of the people who voted for him, if they vote in the runoff, are far more likely to go for Warnock.

Which means the next Senate could easily be 51-49, which delights me because it would mean that on any given vote, either Kyrsten Sinema or Joe Manchin could be told to go F themselves.

Okay, on some more general notes:

I enjoyed the tweet from Hannah Trudo, the senior political correspondent at, who said

The entire Bernie Sanders-aligned wing of the Democratic Party won tonight, from Fetterman in the Senate to the new Squad members in the House.

It's also important to note where the results came from: voters under 30. Not only did they turn out, they voted for Democrats by a net 28 percentage points, enough to offset the votes of those over 45.

As the Washington Post noted in an post-election article, voting took place against a background of increasing worry among Americans that US democracy is under threat. About 70% of voters in an exit poll said our degree of democracy is “very” or “somewhat” threatened.

Interestingly, the same poll said that about 80% of voters were "very" or "somewhat" confident that elections in their own state would be fair and accurate, which reminded me of all the polls about Congress where people would say how much Congress sucks but when asked about their own representatives, they'd say "Oh, they're okay. It's all those other ones who are lousy."

The important point, however, is that the Post looked at 569 GOPper candidates for state and federal office and found that 291 of them, 51% of the total, questioned or refused to accept that Joe Biden is the legitimate president and over half of that number, somewhere between 150 and 200, won.

A mitigating factor is that the vast majority of those who won were running for seats in the House, where they would have little involvement with or impact on the actual conduct of elections. And most of the them campaigned on a range of issues, so it's hard to say how much their wins translate into support for election denial in the general public.

They still could be an issue, however, as they will be a sizable majority within the House Republican caucus and so still could drive the selection of Speaker despite Kevin McCarthy having won an initial intra-party caucus - and the Speaker would in turn preside over the House in 2024, when the presidential vote could again be contested.

So while having those people win for the House is not as threatening, it's not non-threatening.

Better news is at the state level, where officers like governor, secretary of state, and attorney general have significant power overseeing and conducting elections. That is where the concern really is and there, happily, the elections deniers by and large lost. In Arizona, the heartland of paranoid election denial, it appears the whole slate of deniers went down.

This doesn't mean some of the deniers didn't get in, but not nearly as many as were feared.

But that doesn't mean the issue goes away. Even before polls closed and many states began releasing vote counts, far-right users in Telegram channels and other fringe forums were spreading conspiracy theories and trying to declare the midterm elections fraudulent.

Consider Maricopa County, the largest county is Arizona. They had a problem which was later shown to be a printing problem with the ballots such that the tabulating machines had trouble reading them. Officials announced they had a problem, explained what they were doing about it, which involved getting tech help from the manufacturers of the machines, and assured everyone not to worry, the ballots would still be counted because they had the paper ballots which if necessary could be counted by hand.

Which prompted wacko loser Kari Lake - who really is a Karen and who still has not conceded - to point to officials acknowledging a problem and specifying what they were doing to fix it as clear evidence of fraud. And she was not alone.

In response to such inanities, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, herself the target of such claims, noted that “There are always things that potentially could be seized upon that really have no impact" and aptly called the whole conspiracy claims "a political strategy that some have chosen to pursue to the detriment of who we are as Americans and our democracy.”

Since we talking now about the state level, its a good time to note that another surprise in the elections was that Democrats also over-performed at that level, including flipping a couple of legislative houses and winning two governorships along with increasing the number of states where they control both Houses and the governorship, the so-called trifecta. They still trail GOPpers in that measure, but no longer by as much.

One area that matters to me is the progressive prosecutors movement, comprised of those District Attorneys who make reform of the criminal justice system part of both their campaign platforms and their practice in office. They did rather well in the midterms, winning in places, as said by Lara Bazelon, director of the Innocence Commission inside the San Francisco DA’s Office, "purple and blue and even red."

The right wing had persistently tried to bury the movement under a barrage of "criminals running wild" rhetoric. After progressive Chesa Boudin was recalled from his position as San Francisco DA in June, a good deal of the media, always ready to be swayed by right-wing screeching, was prepared to declare the whole movement dead. The wing nuts failed and the media was wrong.

Meanwhile, the Dems were right about one thing: Protection of reproductive rights is broadly popular. Protection of such rights was on the ballot in five states. It won in all five.

Voters in California, Vermont, and Michigan added protections for reproductive rights to their state constitutions, while reliably red Montana and bright red Kentucky rejected measures that would have added restrictions to access to reproductive care, in Kentucky's case by proposing to specifically deny any state constitutional protections for abortion.

Include the vote in Kansas is August that rejected a ballot measure that would have given the state legislature the authority to restrict abortion access through a state constitutional amendment, and you have reproductive rights going six for six this election cycle.

On another matter, legalization of recreational marijuana was on the ballot in five states. Maryland and Missouri approved their measures, while Arkansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota said no.

As of now, 21 states and Washington, DC, have legal recreational marijuana, something polls say 60% of the public supports. It is worth noting that in all three states that rejected the idea, medical marijuana is legal.

While I support legal grass and in fact have for oh my word over 50 years, it has never been high on my list of personal political priorities. So I want to mention that even as they rejected legal grass, the voters of South Dakota did something of more importance to me: By a hefty margin, they approved expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act. Some 40,000 people in South Dakota thus become eligible for Medicaid, many of who would not afford access to health care without it.

Finally on elections for now, something of which many of us are unaware: The 13th amendment did not ban slavery outright. It says:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. [Emphasis added.]
That is, slavery can be a punishment for crime. Which is why there has been and continues to be forced labor in US prisons.

Today, such prison labor is a multibillion-dollar industry, with prisoners given the choice of working for pennies on the dollar or being punished by being denied phone calls and family visits or even being thrown into solitary confinement.

Nearly 20 states had language in their state constitutions permitting slavery and involuntary servitude for prisoners. On election day, voters in four of those states said "Not here, not any more." Voters in Alabama, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont approved measures to remove the relevant language from their state constitutions.

A fifth measure, in Louisiana, failed only after its backers told people to reject it because they realized they had screwed up the legalese and it didn't clearly outlaw involuntary servitude.

Max Parthas, campaigns coordinator for the Abolish Slavery National Network, said his network hopes to have this on the ballot in a dozen states next election cycle.

Monday, November 21, 2022

065 The Erickson Report for November 11 to 23


065 The Erickson Report for November 11 to 23

This episode includes my reactions to some of the election news along with a follow-up to last episode's look at transgender rights.


On the election results

Transgender youth know who they are
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