Aside from the Marco Rubot malfunction, the most dismal aspect of Saturday's Republican debate was the sight of supposed conservatives competing in their enthusiasm for making women sign up for "selective service". For non-Americans, I should explain that registering for "selective service" - as in military service - is something all young men have to do upon turning 18, so, in the event that the draft is ever reinstated, they'll have everybody's name in the big database. As with many aspects of the vast bloated federal bureaucracy, it seems a largely redundant exercise: I mean, between Social Security numbers, the IRS and the US Census, don't they have every 18-year-old male in the database already?
Be that as it may, there's now a proposal to make the young ladies register for selective service, too. And naturally the Republican candidates were falling all over each other to say how hot they were for the idea. For my own part, I'd like to go back to the days - barely within living memory now - when America won wars, rather than figure out ways to lose them more diversely. But, as usual with Republican pandering, it seemed to me a bit behind the curve. Here's the horrible discriminatory reality of selective service:
Individuals who are born female and have a gender change are not required to register. U.S. citizens or immigrants who are born male and have a gender change are still required to register.
Got that? If you're a female-to-male transgender, you don't have to sign up. But, if you're a male-to-female transgender, you do: "Trannie, get your gun!" for me but not for thee. Is there no Republican panderer willing to take a stand against the appallingly selective transphobia of selective service?
~Speaking of transitioning, it's not just that supposed right-wing sexists are transitioning into left-wing feminists, but it's happening the other way round, too:
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem has drawn the wrath of the Twitterverse for suggesting that young women supporting Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign are doing so to gain the attention of men.
"When you're young, you're thinking, 'Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie,'" Steinem told Bill Maher Friday night on the comic's HBO show "Real Time."
I think I saw that film. Was it Where The Bern Is, or Beach Blanket Bernie or How To Stuff A Wild Bernkini? The one where Annette Funicello talks Connie Francis into skipping out on Hillary's speech to Goldman Sachs because Frankie Avalon and Fabian want to sign them up as town committee chairs while they read Bernie's policy paper for a 90 per cent marginal tax rate over a chocolate malt.
Meanwhile, fellow feminist icon Madeleine Albright warns:
"A lot of the younger women don't think â€” that think it's been done. It's not done. And you have to help. Hillary Clinton will always be there for you," Albright said. "And just remember â€” there's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other."
You'll be feeling the Bern all right - on Satan's roasting spit for all eternity, you hussies!
~Speaking of a woman's place, how's that old Two-Tier Sisterhood coming along? While America's coeds see violent raging rapists in every effete pajama boy, in Britain the micro-aggressions are more precisely targeted:
A case of female genital mutilation (FGM) is reported in England every 109 minutes, according to official health figures.
Some 2,421 instances of mutilation were reported from April 2015 to September 2015 - the latest full six months of figures published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).
Experts said the figures, which are released on the eve of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM on Saturday, are just the "tip of the iceberg".
That's an unusually vivid clichÃ© in this context. The great Tim Blair, whom I hope to be seeing in the course of my antipodean foray this month, notices a strange omission in this otherwise thorough news story:
The Press Association's report doesn't offer any reasons why female genital mutilation is increasing in England.
Just so. It seems to be just something in the air - like climate change, except that in this case it's not man-caused. It's just sort of ...happening:
Tanya Barron, the chief executive of the anti-FGM charity Plan UK which collected the figures, said: "FGM has been a hidden danger threatening girls in the UK and around the world - only now is the full scale becoming clear.
"A hidden danger threatening girls"? Could you be a little more specific perhaps? I mean, by 2014 it was estimated that 137,000 girls in England and Wales had been genitally mutilated. On a rough count, that's about 137,000 more genitally mutilated girls than there were in England and Wales circa 1954. Any idea why something hitherto unknown to a civilized country is now rampant?
[Crickets chirping outside the cricketidectomy clinic]
You don't occasionally wonder if the "hidden danger" mightn't have something to do with a certain word beginning with...?
Whoops, we're right out of time. Maybe we'll get to that when the FGM rate is up to one every 19 minutes. Then again, maybe not. Unlike the flower of America's maidenhood, no one needs to sign these girls up for the new war: They're already on the front line.
As Tim Blair concludes:
England is basically a third-world country coated with a micron-thin patina of fading civilisation.
Or, as I put it in my book, "Somalia with chip shops".