The Virtual Pub Is Open

image of a pub Photoshopped to be named 'The Beloved Community Pub'
[Explanations: lol your fat. pathetic anger bread. hey your gay.]

Belly up to the bar,
and be in this space together.

And please don't forget to tip your bartender!

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The Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by the echo of a familiar song.

Recommended Reading:

Carey Purcell: [Content Note: Sexual assault] The GOP's Health-Care Bill Is Absurdly Cruel to Sexual Assault Victims

Divya Ghelani: [CN: Fire; death; neglect] Grenfell Tower: 'There Are Only the Deliberately Silent, or the Preferably Unheard'

Eillie Anzilotti: A Higher Minimum Wage Is Not Doing the Bad Things Critics Said It Would Do

Keith Reid-Cleveland: [CN: Sexual assault] Bill Cosby Wants to Lecture People on Sexual Assault, Seriously

Kaiser: Nancy Pelosi Is Not Your Mommy; Stop Blaming Her for Everything

Ragen Chastain: [CN: Fat hatred] How Mamamia's Treatment of Roxane Gay Reveals the Fatphobia in Feminist Spaces

Michael Fitzgerald: [CN: Nazism; homophobia; internment] Lawmakers to Annul Convictions of 50,000 Gay Men in Nazi-Era Germany

Dave Holmes: [CN: Spoilers; sexual assault; death] The Book of Henry Is the Best Worst Movie of the Year

Rae Paoletta: The Dumbo Octopus Is Eight Cute Legs of Stone Cold Murder

Leave your links and recommendations in comments. Self-promotion welcome and encouraged!

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Shakers Are So Dreamy

Part six in a hilarious ongoing series.

I was just reminded that I dreamt last night that I was hanging out with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. OBVIOUSLY. Why wouldn't I be?

That seems at least as likely as my being a barista, lol!


Naturally, we shall use this as the jumping-off point for another thread about how frequently I and the other contributors/mods and other Shakers appear in each other's dreams. Shakes-related dreams come up in comments fairly regularly, and one of the most common subjects among reader emails is telling me that they dreamed about me and/or another contributor. (And, no, the vast majority of these are not the least bit creepy.)

So: Fess up. Have I appeared in your dream as your first-grade teacher? Has a fellow Shaker met you for drinks on the moon in your sleep? Has Deeky come to you in the night as a gummi-worm wielding organ grinder? Did I just invent the quadruple entendre with that last sentence...?

Tell the tales of your Shakesville Dreams here.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat lounging on the couch, looking super cute and fluffy and silly
This flufftastically silly monster right here, tho. LOL.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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We Resist: Day 155

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: Trump's Argle-Bargle Codswallop on Taping Comey and "I Feel Like We Sort of Choked".


Nahal Toosi at Politico: Trump Administration Dissolves Afghanistan-Pakistan Unit. "The Trump administration on Friday moved to eliminate the State Department unit responsible for dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan — transferring its duties to a regional bureau whose leadership ranks have been decimated, two sources told Politico. The development came with less than a day's notice. It deeply rattled U.S. officials who say the shift leaves unclear who is responsible for handling diplomacy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan at a time when the Trump administration is considering ramping up military efforts in that region." OH MY GOD.

Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker at the Washington Post: Trump Is Struggling to Stay Calm on Russia, One Morning Call at a Time.
Trump has a new morning ritual. Around 6:30 a.m. on many days — before all the network news shows have come on the air — he gets on the phone with a member of his outside legal team to chew over all things Russia.

The calls — detailed by three senior White House officials — are part strategy consultation and part presidential venting session, during which Trump's lawyers and public-relations gurus take turns reviewing the latest headlines with him. They also devise their plan for battling his avowed enemies: the special counsel leading the Russia investigation; the "fake news" media chronicling it; and, in some instances, the president's own Justice Department overseeing the probe.

His advisers have encouraged the calls — which the early-to-rise Trump takes from his private quarters in the White House residence — in hopes that he can compartmentalize the widening Russia investigation. By the time the president arrives for work in the Oval Office, the thinking goes, he will no longer be consumed by the Russia probe that he complains hangs over his presidency like a darkening cloud.

It rarely works, however. Asked whether the tactic was effective, one top White House adviser paused for several seconds and then just laughed.
On the one hand, there's a part of me that feels satisfied that Trump is squirming over Russia, because it's the least he fucking deserves when many of us are having major anxiety about it. On the other hand, a stressed-out Trump is a Trump that makes even worse decisions than usual, so. Frankly, the only solution is removing him from office. As soon as possible.

Nancy Cook and Josh Dawsey at Politico: Trump Loses Patience with His White House Counsel. "Trump started the week by giving [White House counsel Don McGahn], a loyal supporter who was among the first Washington establishment figures to sign on with his presidential campaign, a dressing down in the Oval Office for not doing more to squash the Russia probe early on. ...Trump's willingness to lay into him for the escalation of the probe — largely the result of Trump's own decision to dismiss Comey — illustrates McGahn's falling stock in the West Wing, as well as Trump's desire to find someone to blame for his legal predicament." And Trump's terrible temperament, lack of leadership, and cavernous void of ethics and decency.

Ken Dilanian at NBC News: Coats Tells House Investigators Trump Seemed Obsessed with Russia Probe. "Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, told House investigators Thursday that [Donald] Trump seemed obsessed with the Russia probe and repeatedly asked him to say publicly there was no evidence of collusion, a U.S. official familiar with the conversation told NBC News."

Michael Martin at Metro: FBI Official Won't Say That Trump Is Not a Russian Agent, a First for an American President. "Donald Trump's unprecedented actions as president are stacking up daily, but this is a truly new one: A top FBI official will not say whether the president is an 'unwitting agent' who aided Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. Bill Priestap, the assistant director of the FBI's counterintelligence division, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee [on Wednesday]... 'Did Donald Trump become an unwitting agent of the Russians?' asked Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. After a long pause, Priestap said, 'I can't really comment on that.' 'I don't blame you for not answering that question,' replied Heinrich, to laughter from the audience."

Sarah Kendzior at the Correspondent: Trump Is the Best Autocrat. The Best. Nobody Has a Better Autocrat Than We Do. "There are some who believe Trump is too dim-witted to carry off the manipulations of both law and the public that have defined his presidency. 'He's not playing three-dimensional chess,' pundits insist snidely, unaware that the game is actually charades. Many do not realize they are playing along with him, abetting his administration by reporting planted stories of palace intrigue or doubting the criminality that takes place in front of their eyes. Trump is the kind of guy who can beg Russia to access Hillary Clinton's emails at a press conference and, nearly a year and multiple federal hearings later, still have people asking if there's really anything to that whole Russia story."

Timothy L. O'Brien at Bloomberg: Hey, Mueller, You Should Check Out Iceland. "Earlier this week I wrote about the Bayrock Group, a property developer that did business deals for a decade with [Donald] Trump. Felix Sater — a Bayrock principal who was a career criminal with American and Russian mob ties and who has remained in the Trump orbit — helped reel in funds of murky origin that Bayrock and Trump used for projects such as the Trump Soho hotel in Manhattan. And one of Bayrock's biggest financial backers was an Icelandic investment bank, the FL Group. Iceland would seem like an unlikely place for U.S. Justice Department investigators to look as they probe Trump connections with Russia and related matters. Yet there are trails to pursue there."

Allegra Kirkland at TPM: Feds Are Investigating Financial Deals Involving Manafort, Son-In-Law. "Financial dealings involving [Donald] Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Manafort's son-in-law are under scrutiny by federal investigators, the New York Times reported Friday. Two sources close to the matter told the Times that Manafort bankrolled real estate purchases of luxury apartments and homes in New York and California in collaboration with his son-in-law Jeffrey Yohai, who was sued by a former investor for defrauding him. The sources said it was unclear if this particular investigation was part of the broader federal probe into Russia's election interference and possible collusion between Trump associates and Russian operatives."

Jason Leopold and Claudia Koerner at BuzzFeed: Memo Shows Preet Bharara Was Concerned After Phone Call from White House. "Former US Attorney Preet Bharara sent an email to Justice Department officials in New York to express concern about a voicemail he received in March from [Donald] Trump's secretary, Madeline Westerhout, according to emails BuzzFeed News obtained Thursday from the Department of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act. ...Bharara ultimately decided not to speak with Trump and called back the president's secretary to say so. 'At approximately 6:30 p.m., I called back the President's secretary, Ms. Westerhout, and told her I had consulted with the AG's [Attorney General's] office and that it was their advice that I not speak directly to the President at this time,' Bharara's wrote in the email. The next day, Bharara and dozens of other US attorneys were asked to resign. He refused, and the following day, he was fired."

Zack Ford at ThinkProgress: Fox News' Embarrassing, False Attack on James Comey.
Conservative outlets are eager to feed Trump's conspiracy-minded fanbase — and will seize on the tiniest scrap of information to support their efforts. The Daily Mail "reported" Thursday that Comey was seen with his wife entering the New York Times' building. Suspiciously, the two were wearing sunglasses!

This prompted several pro-Trump outlets to speculate that Comey was doing an interview with the Times and possibly sharing more information that would hurt the President.

Fox News picked up the Daily Mail's story about Comey's "sneaky visit," fueling conspiracy theories about Comey, Mueller, and the media all supposedly working together against Trump.

...All of this speculation was wrong. Comey, a foster parent, was attending an event at a law firm in the building in support of a charity that works to find safe homes for abused children.
Good grief. GOOD GRIEF.

* * *

In other news...

[Content Note: Neglect; injury; climate change] Griselda Nevarez at the Guardian: Burned Feet, Parched Throats: Arizona Homeless Desperate to Escape Heatwave. "According to the National Weather Service, when the air temperature is 102 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun is shining, blacktop can be heated to as much as 167 degrees. That is hot enough to fry an egg or cook ground beef, though more worryingly, the weather service also notes that in such conditions, 'human skin is instantly destroyed.' Pets' paws are also vulnerable — and it is common for homeless people to have dogs. ...On Thursday, close to 100 homeless people packed the Lodestar Day Resource Center in downtown Phoenix. Some were drenched in sweat and their skin was tomato-red, while others sat and laid their heads on round tables trying to sleep."

Terrible. If people even think at all about homeless people navigating extreme weather, we tend to think about winter more than summer. But summer presents its own set of problems for homeless people (and their pets), and those problems are worsening with climate change.

Phil Wahba at Fortune: Sears Closing Another 20 Stores Amid Ongoing Sales Slide. "Sears Holdings is closing another 20 locations on top of recently announced shutterings, bringing to total store closures to 260 this year for the struggling retailer which is trying unsuccessfully to stanch years of sales declines. The latest closures include 18 Sears stores and two Kmart locations, according to a regulatory filing on Friday by real estate investment trust Seritage Growth Properties, which was spun off by Sears in 2015. These stores will start liquidation sales by June 30 and be closed by mid-September, Sears said in a statement."

I'm including this in the We Resist thread not because there's much we can do to resist the collapse of retail (besides shop in brick and mortar stores), but because: 1. The attendant job losses are all the more reason to resist the Republicans' assault on the social safety net; and 2. The continued decimation of retail as a result of online shopping must underwrite a demand of all political leaders to craft serious policy to meaningfully address automation.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

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"I feel like we sort of choked."

I feel like we sort of choked. Those are the words of "a former senior Obama administration official involved in White House deliberations on Russia," quoted in this massive piece by the Washington Post's Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima, and Adam Entous, detailing the timeline of discoveries of the means and extent of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and the subsequent responses of the Obama administration, the intelligence community, and Congressional leaders.

After reading the entirety of the piece, which I highly recommend, it's hard to disagree with that official's assessment.

This passage in particular is haunting me: "To some, Obama's determination to avoid politicizing the Russia issue had the opposite effect: It meant that he allowed politics to shape his administration's response to what some believed should have been treated purely as a national security threat."

It haunts me for two reasons:

1. Although I had criticisms of Obama's presidency, I never felt—never—like I could not implicitly trust him on national security. I always felt confident that we could trust him to protect us. So to find out that we couldn't, and that the reason we couldn't is because he was afraid of accusations of partisanship, is really shaking me.

2. As longtime readers will no doubt recall, my biggest hesitation about Obama during the 2008 election was that I feared he did not take seriously enough the intransigence of Congressional Republicans. I had strong reservations about his emphasis on bipartisanship and worried that the Republicans would use it against him. It's really fucking something that my greatest fear about Obama may turn out to be the very thing that got us into the mess in which we now find ourselves.

Make no mistake: I am powerfully angry at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and all his party compatriots, for abandoning all pretense of patriotism and threatening President Obama with accusations of partisanship, when he appealed to them to publicly disclose Russian meddling ahead of the election, when voters absolutely should have been made aware of that information.

I am angry at the leaders of intelligence agencies who dragged their feet, and who didn't connect the dots they should have. I have particular contempt for (no surprise) James Comey, who "initially agreed to attach his name [to the administration's first public comment on Russia's 'active measures'] officials said, but changed his mind at the last minute, saying that it was too close to the election for the bureau to be involved."

That was on October 7, three weeks before he sent his letter about the Clinton email investigation to Congress. So a month before the election was "too close" for the FBI to make a statement about foreign meddling that was being orchestrated on behalf of one of the candidates, but 11 days was not too close for the FBI to make a public statement about an investigation of the other candidate. Cool.

I do not singularly hold accountable Obama, by any means. But he was the president, and it was ultimately his call, and I don't think he made the right one — even as I want to stress, again, that I understand how difficult a decision it was, especially without the benefit of hindsight.

Charles P. Pierce writes on this subject:

It's at moments like this that I wish he'd never given that speech in Boston in 2004. It froze him into a public persona and a political stance that made even justifiable partisan politics look like base hypocrisy. It is entirely possible that, at what we must now believe was a critical moment (if not the critical moment) of his presidency, the better angels of a president's nature were the voices he should have avoided at all cost.

The interference of Russia in our election, and our reaction thereto, is a complex (and still unfolding) story. It is also a very uncomplicated story of simply not doing enough when we should have.

And the why of that failure is partly because of miscalculated priorities — avoiding the appearance of partisanship over protecting national security at any cost — but is also partly because of a pernicious cultural narrative we have about Strong Women.

We celebrate Strong Women for overcoming the horrendous barricades we put in their way, and we do so by dehumanizing them as superhumans and heroines. We imagine that they don't need any help, even when they're women who talk about how each of us needs a village to succeed.

Others will surely disagree with me, but I think this single line might be the most important of the entire WaPo piece: "The assumption that Clinton would win contributed to the lack of urgency."

That's the problem, right there.

The Obama administration assumed that Clinton would win, even in the middle of unprecedented foreign meddling into the election with the explicit purpose of undermining her campaign.

Clinton had absolutely earned a magnificent amount of confidence from her president, her party, and the electorate — but the assumption that she would win, in spite of Russians doing everything they could to ensure she wouldn't, while the Republicans and large parts of the political media were doing precisely the same, is not reasonable confidence. That's abandonment justified with precisely the dehumanizing narrative of the Strong Woman, who is meant to be uniquely impervious to oppositional forces, no matter how harmful.

Clinton needed help to win (the electoral college and thus the presidency). She needed her village.

But her village didn't step up. They just assumed that she would single-handedly take care of demolishing all the incredibly powerful forces that were conspiring to derail her.

And then they used that assumption to justify doing nothing.

When Hillary Clinton returned to her alma mater to deliver the commencement address last month, she said: "You know, our culture often celebrates people who appear to go it alone. But the truth is that's not how life works. Anything worth doing takes a village."

Surely that includes protecting the sovereignty of this nation and its democratic institutions.

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Take Action Against Trumpcare

The most recent polling on House Republicans' version of Trumpcare is abysmal: "Just 16 percent of adults believe that House health care bill is a good idea, versus 48 percent who say it’s a bad idea." So just wait until everyone gets a good look at the Senate version, which is even worse.

I have never, in all my days, seen either party so arrogantly pursue legislation that was so wildly unpopular. It's almost like the Republicans know they won't have to answer to voters next year. Which is a pretty terrifying thought.

But as of right now, as far as we know, they still will have to answer to voters next year, so let us all take the time today to make calls, send faxes, compose emails, craft tweets, whatever it takes to communicate with our Republican Senators (if we have the misfortune of being represented by one or two of them) and let them know in no uncertain terms that they will not have our votes if they vote for this disgusting piece of legislation.

Work those teaspoons, Shakers!

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Trump's Argle-Bargle Codswallop on Taping Comey

We know that Donald Trump is a reflexive, abundant liar. We know that he mangles the English language every time he opens his maw. We know that he routinely declares himself a genius, even and particularly when he has been exposed as a mendacious fool.

And even knowing these things, his morning interview with Fox & Friends' Ainsley Earhardt is something to behold.

AINSLEY EARHARDT: You wanna explain that? Why did you want [James Comey] to believe that you possibly [recorded conversations]?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I didn't tape him. You never know what's happening when you see that the Obama administration and perhaps longer than that was doing all of this unmasking and surveillance, and you read all about it, and I've been reading about it for the last couple of months, about the seriousness of the — and horrible situation with surveillance all over the place, and you've been hearing the word unmasking, a word you probably never heard before, so you never know what's out there, but I didn't tape, and I don't have any tape, and I didn't tape, but when he found out that I, you know, that there may be tapes out there, whether it's governmental tapes or anything else, and who knows, I think his story may have changed — I mean, you'll have to take a look at that, because then he has to tell what actually took place at the events, and my story didn't change; my story was always a straight story; my story was always the truth — but you'll have to determine for yourself whether or not his story changed, but I did not tape.

EARHARDT: It was a smart way to make sure he stayed honest in those hearings.

TRUMP: Well, ahh, it wasn't — it wasn't very stupid, I can tell you that. He was — he did admit that what I said was right, and if you look further back, before he heard about that, I think maybe he wasn't admitting that, so you'll have to do a little investigative reporting to determine that, but I don't think it'll be that hard.
Blink. Blink.

I guess all of that makes about as much sense as Trump crowing about Comey's testimony being a "total and complete vindication."

Now that Trump is feeling all up in his own strategic genius again, he also hinted during the interview that might try to remove Special Counsel Bob Mueller.

So, to recap: Trump asked Comey if he was under investigation, and Comey told him no. Then Trump asked Comey to kill the investigation of Michael Flynn. When Comey wouldn't, Trump fired him, oddly noting in the termination letter that Comey had assured him he wasn't under investigation. Comey was called to testify about all of this, during which he confirmed that Trump hadn't been under investigation while he was FBI Director. Trump declared victory, as Comey had confirmed under oath Trump hadn't been under investigation.

The thing is: Trump is now under investigation for having fired Comey and thus possibly attempting to obstruct justice.

But Trump is all pumped up from the smoke being blown up his ass about how clever it was to trick Comey into telling the truth by lying about recording him, so now he's threatening to maybe oust Bob Mueller, which would double down on the very thing for which he is being investigated.

It's surreal watching all of this unfold. Trump believes he is a mastermind — and his sycophants and supporters agree. The rest of us are looking at these machinations and seeing nothing but a transparent liar and ridiculous fool.

It's like Machiavelli's The Prince Has No Clothes, or something.

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Open Thread

image of a pink couch

Hosted by a pink sofa. Have a seat and chat.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker catvoncat: "What is your go-to movie food?"

I'm pretty boring: Popcorn.

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image of thumbs up & thumbs down Shaker Thumbs

Shaker Thumbs is your opportunity to give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to a product or service you have used and that you'd recommend to other Shakers or warn them away from.

Today I'm giving a big thumbs-up to Dick's 20 oz. Misting Water Bottle.

image of my water bottle, looking down on it from above, so the top functions can be seen

So, you may recall my mentioning that I'm anhidrotic, which means I don't produce enough sweat. As you can imagine, this makes it very difficult to engage in any extended physical activities!

When I was a little kid running around as little kids do, I'd frequently get overheated, swoon, and have to be revived with Gatorade, heh. As an adult, I basically just swell up like a big red tomato, get nauseous, and eventually faint, if I push myself too hard. Not good.

I recently purchased the above misting water bottle on an impulse, and oh how I love it! You just push down on the handle and a fine mist of water sprays up out of the little nozzle.

It's not nearly as good as, you know, actually sweating, but it helps immensely. (For people who don't need the help, I imagine it would just be a refreshing added feature.) I was able to do 20 minutes on the treadmill without feeling nearly as woozy as usual. Huzzah!

Anyway! Give us your thumbs-up or thumbs-down in comments!

[Just to be abundantly clear, I am not affiliated in any way with Dick's, nor am I receiving any form of payment from them. It's just a product I've personally found super useful and am happy to recommend.]

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President Obama on the Senate GOP "Healthcare" Bill

After the text of Senate Republicans' vile "healthcare" legislation was made public, President Barack Obama made the following statement on Facebook:

Our politics are divided. They have been for a long time. And while I know that division makes it difficult to listen to Americans with whom we disagree, that’s what we need to do today.

I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party. Still, I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.

We didn’t fight for the Affordable Care Act for more than a year in the public square for any personal or political gain – we fought for it because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course.

Nor did we fight for it alone. Thousands upon thousands of Americans, including Republicans, threw themselves into that collective effort, not for political reasons, but for intensely personal ones – a sick child, a parent lost to cancer, the memory of medical bills that threatened to derail their dreams.

And you made a difference. For the first time, more than ninety percent of Americans know the security of health insurance. Health care costs, while still rising, have been rising at the slowest pace in fifty years. Women can’t be charged more for their insurance, young adults can stay on their parents’ plan until they turn 26, contraceptive care and preventive care are now free. Paying more, or being denied insurance altogether due to a preexisting condition – we made that a thing of the past.

We did these things together. So many of you made that change possible.

At the same time, I was careful to say again and again that while the Affordable Care Act represented a significant step forward for America, it was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts – and that if Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it.

That remains true. So I still hope that there are enough Republicans in Congress who remember that public service is not about sport or notching a political win, that there’s a reason we all chose to serve in the first place, and that hopefully, it’s to make people’s lives better, not worse.

But right now, after eight years, the legislation rushed through the House and the Senate without public hearings or debate would do the opposite. It would raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it. That’s not my opinion, but rather the conclusion of all objective analyses, from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that 23 million Americans would lose insurance, to America’s doctors, nurses, and hospitals on the front lines of our health care system.

The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.

Simply put, if there’s a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family – this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation.

I hope our Senators ask themselves – what will happen to the Americans grappling with opioid addiction who suddenly lose their coverage? What will happen to pregnant mothers, children with disabilities, poor adults and seniors who need long-term care once they can no longer count on Medicaid? What will happen if you have a medical emergency when insurance companies are once again allowed to exclude the benefits you need, send you unlimited bills, or set unaffordable deductibles? What impossible choices will working parents be forced to make if their child’s cancer treatment costs them more than their life savings?

To put the American people through that pain – while giving billionaires and corporations a massive tax cut in return – that’s tough to fathom. But it’s what’s at stake right now. So it remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need.

That might take some time and compromise between Democrats and Republicans. But I believe that’s what people want to see. I believe it would demonstrate the kind of leadership that appeals to Americans across party lines. And I believe that it’s possible – if you are willing to make a difference again. If you’re willing to call your members of Congress. If you are willing to visit their offices. If you are willing to speak out, let them and the country know, in very real terms, what this means for you and your family.

After all, this debate has always been about something bigger than politics. It’s about the character of our country – who we are, and who we aspire to be. And that’s always worth fighting for.
As always, there is lots of good stuff here. I am very glad indeed that Obama said plainly that the senate bill "is not a health care bill."

Where I differ with President Obama is that I am completely done (you may have noticed I've been completely done, for 13 years or so) pretending that the Republicans operate in good faith. They don't.

Republican Senators are not going to ask themselves any tough questions. And they don't deserve a premise suggesting they might. I respect President Obama immensely, but I take strong issue with any frame that suggests Republicans haven't already thought about what they are doing. They aren't children. They're adults who are acting with deliberate indecency.

I'm all the fuck out of good will. And, even if I weren't, I'm not sure why on earth I would extend any to the Republican Party ever again, when all they do with it is use it against me.

They're waging war on the citizenry they're meant to represent, and we will never win even a single battle if we insist on some absurd pretense that the opposition is simply misguided, rather than resolute.

They didn't cluelessly bumble their way into this moment. They have made decades of preparation to secure our defeat, and they are counting on our meeting their malice with pleas for reconsideration.

This is not a health care bill. Asking them to think about whether it's a good health care bill suggests that it is one. It isn't. It's a plan for killing vulnerable people en masse, under the auspices of care.

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The Definitive Proof That Hillary Is A MONSTER

Oh, Hillary Clinton. You keep living your life and serving your country and running for office and giving terrific speeches as though you're not a horrendo nightmare monster, but, if you were really just a human woman whose blood isn't running with the malevolence of an actual devil, wouldn't your approval ratings be higher than they are?

This headline from Gallup perfectly encapsulates how extraordinarily terrible the she-beast really is: "Hillary Clinton Unique with No Post-Election Image Gain."

UNIQUE. No one, but no one, is as bad as she is, friends.

Over the past quarter century, the favorable ratings of losing presidential candidates generally have increased after the election — some in the immediate aftermath and others in the months that followed. With the exception of John Kerry, for whom there are no comparable data, losing presidential candidates since 1992 have experienced a boost of at least four percentage points in favorability when averaging their ratings from the day after the election through the following June.

While some increases have been modest, such as Mitt Romney's and Bob Dole's four-point improvements, others have been much larger, such as George H.W. Bush's 16-point and John McCain's 14-point gains in favorability.

But for Clinton, this has not been the case. Seven months after her failed bid for the presidency, she remains as unpopular now as she was then.
She is the ONLY ONE whose favorability hasn't improved after losing. She is also the only losing opponent whom the winning candidate kept publicly trash-talking long after the election was over; the only one who was (is) called corrupt by the seated president. She's the only one who lost to a president who continues to hold rallies at which he continues to rail about his opponent and suggest she needs to be investigated.

She's the only one who went away for awhile only to be scolded for disappearing into the woods, and the only one who returned to the public sphere only to be admonished to go away. She's the only one whom a former vice-president of her own party and her former primary opponent repeatedly blame for losing the election, even though she won the popular vote despite unprecedented foreign interference, breathtaking unprofessionalism from the intelligence community, shameful media coverage, voter suppression, and a tsunami of misogyny.

She is also the only woman on this list.

A woman who has been chosen as Gallup's most admired woman of the year a record twenty-one times. Which Gallup didn't bother to mention in their story about her "Unique No Post-Election Image Gain."

She wins that popular vote handily. She won the popular vote of the presidential election handily. But for some mysterious reason, her image isn't bouncing back like all those dudes who weren't social-media-shat-upon by the victors to whom they lost, and whose party didn't tell them to FOAD after they lost.

Anyway. It's all enough to give me another idea for a title for Hillary's upcoming memoir:

photoshopped image of a book cover featuring a photo of Hillary Clinton drinking a beer, the title of which is: 'Popular Vote Unpopular Lady: A great misogyny mystery of life' with the word 'misogyny' struck through and on the spine it has HRC's name plys the words 'I ain't a fan of you, either'

Please feel welcome to use it, Hillary. It's the least I can do for a fellow monster. And, hey, if you need a co-writer, call me!

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound's toes just sticking out over the back of the couch in the living room, as he's lying on the couch upside-down taking a nap
Where's Dudley?

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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We Resist: Day 154

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

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Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: Trump in Iowa: A Disaster Tale and The Latest on Trump and Russia.


[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Massimo Calabresi at Time: Election Hackers Altered Voter Rolls, Stole Private Data, Officials Say.
The hacking of state and local election databases in 2016 was more extensive than previously reported, including at least one successful attempt to alter voter information, and the theft of thousands of voter records that contain private information like partial Social Security numbers, current and former officials tell TIME.

In one case, investigators found there had been a manipulation of voter data in a county database but the alterations were discovered and rectified, two sources familiar with the matter tell TIME. Investigators have not identified whether the hackers in that case were Russian agents.

...Congressional investigators are probing whether any of this stolen private information made its way to the Trump campaign, two sources familiar with the investigations tell TIME.

"If any campaign, Trump or otherwise, used inappropriate data the questions are, How did they get it? From whom? And with what level of knowledge?" the former top Democratic staffer on the House Intelligence Committee, Michael Bahar, tells TIME. "That is a crux of the investigation."

...Both intelligence committees are looking at whether and how the intrusions could have furthered Russia's larger strategic goals of undermining U.S. democracy, hurting Hillary Clinton, and helping Donald Trump. During the run up to the vote, Obama Administration cyber-security officials took steps to prepare for widespread voter registration manipulation, fearing Russia might seek to cause chaos at polling places to undermine the credibility of the election. Current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials say Russia could also have tried to use stolen voter data to gain leverage over witting or unwitting accomplices in the Trump camp, by involving them in a broader conspiracy.

The House and Senate Intelligence committees held hearings on June 22 to highlight the ongoing vulnerability of the U.S. election systems. "I'm deeply concerned," said North Carolina Republican Senator Richard Burr who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, that "we could be here in two or four years talking about a much worse crisis."
In a private conversation about this, Eastsidekate said (which I'm sharing with her permission): "We've spent at least eight months hearing about how it would be impossible for outsiders to alter voting rolls, yet it turns out some folks already knew it was possible, BECAUSE IT HAPPENED." Yup.

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Annie Linskey at the Boston Globe: Trump's Voter-Fraud Panel Wants to Look into Russian Hacking, Too. "Two members of a presidential commission charged with investigating alleged voter fraud want the panel to focus on what could be the biggest fraudulent scheme of all: attempted Russian hacking of numerous state election systems. The call, by the secretaries of state in New Hampshire and Maine, presents a potential change in direction for a special commission that has widely been seen as a political smoke screen to justify the president's unfounded claims about widespread fraud by individual voters in places like New Hampshire and California." LOLOLOL whoooooooops! That certainly backfired. I mean, this is a commission chaired by Mike Pence. They weren't supposed to do anything but vindicate Donald Trump's bullshit claims about voter fraud.

Jonathan Lemire at the AP: Trump's Tease of Possible Comey Tapes Fits Familiar Pattern. "Trump has stretched out a new high-stakes guessing game, this time in the White House, by hinting that he might have recordings of his conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey. Trump is expected to answer the tapes question this week. If they do exist, they could become a central piece of evidence in the Russia investigation that has transfixed Washington and cast a shadow over the future of Trump's presidency. If they don't, questions will be raised about why the president would stake his reputation and political capital on promoting something that just isn't real." Because he's a garbage-brained dipshit?

UPDATE: Aaaaaaand there are no tapes.

Carrie Levine at the Center for Public Integrity: Trump Appointee Is a Saudi Government Lobbyist. "One of [Donald] Trump's newest appointees is a registered agent of Saudi Arabia earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby on the kingdom's behalf, according to U.S. Department of Justice records reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity. Since January, the Saudi Arabian foreign ministry has paid longtime Republican lobbyist Richard Hohlt about $430,000 in exchange for 'advice on legislative and public affairs strategies.' Trump's decision to appoint a registered foreign agent to the President's Commission on White House Fellowships clashes with the president's vow to clean up Washington and limit the influence of special interests." Haha ya think?

Graham Russell at the Guardian: Trump Says He Doesn't Want a 'Poor Person' Handling Economy.
Donald Trump has said he doesn't want "a poor person" to hold economic roles in his administration as he used an Iowa rally to defend his decision to appoint the wealthy to his cabinet.

The US president told a crowd on Wednesday night: "Somebody said why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy? No it's true. And Wilbur's [commerce secretary Wilbur Ross] a very rich person in charge of commerce. I said: 'Because that's the kind of thinking we want.'"

The president explained that Ross and his economic adviser Gary Cohn "had to give up a lot to take these jobs," and that Cohn in particular, a former president of Goldman Sachs, "went from massive pay days to peanuts."

Trump added: "And I love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions I just don't want a poor person. Does that make sense?"
NOT REALLY. Because this entire premise is made of straw. There is a vast cavern of space between a "poor person" and a billionaire whose only qualification is being a billionaire. There are plenty of people who are non-billionaires with relevant expertise that would have been better suited for the positions Cohn and Ross are holding.

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[CN: Police brutality; racism; disablism] David Perry at the Guardian: Police Killings: The Price of Being Disabled and Black in America. "No one knows how many of the victims of police violence are disabled. We have some national data, which I pulled into a white paper for the Ruderman Foundation in 2015, but we're far too reliant on anecdotes — only because police departments and state governments have been too resistant to tracking use of force. The anecdotes remain telling, though." A must-read in its entirety.

[CN: Police brutality; descriptions of sexual assault] Alan Pyke at ThinkProgress: D.C. Cops Used 'Rape as Punishment' After Inauguration Day Mass Arrests, Lawsuit Says. "The 'guilt by association' round-up and mass arrests, the liberal use of pepper spray, and the kettling itself would all be constitutionally dubious enough on their own, the ACLU's Scott Michelman said Wednesday. But the experiences of the lawsuit's four plaintiffs — independent photojournalist Shay Horse, volunteer legal observer Judah Ariel, and peaceful protesters Elizabeth Legesse and Milo Gonzalez — suggest that MPD sought physical and emotional retribution on the hundreds of people kettled, the ACLU alleges. ...'I felt like they were using molestation and rape as punishment. They used those tactics to inflict pain and misery on people who are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty,' Horse said. 'It felt like they were trying to break me and the others — break us so that even if the charges didn't stick, that night would be our punishment.'" Fucking hell.

[CN: Sexual assault; rape culture] Monica Vendituoli at the Fayetteville Observer: N.C. Law: Woman Can't Back Out of Sex Once Underway. "In 1979, the North Carolina Supreme Court, in State v. Way, ruled that women cannot revoke consent after sexual intercourse begins. Jeff Jackson, a Democratic state senator who represents Mecklenburg County, is working to get the law changed. He said many other women have approached him privately about cases in which they withdrew consent for sex, but the law would not permit the men to be charged. 'Legislators are hearing more and more about women who have been raped and are being denied justice because of this [indecent] loophole,' Jackson said. 'North Carolina is the only state in U.S. where no doesn't mean no.'" Seethe.

Derek Hawkins at the Washington Post: Wisconsin Lawmakers Advance Bill to Suspend or Expel Students Who Disrupt Campus Speakers. "Under a new bill approved Wednesday night by the Wisconsin State Assembly, such student protesters in the UW system could be suspended or even expelled if they repeatedly disrupt campus speakers they disagree with. The Republican-backed legislation, called the Campus Free Speech Act, is part of a national effort by conservative groups to crack down on protests intended to silence controversial speakers on liberal college campuses. Similar measures have been enacted in Colorado and introduced in Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia, and California." What execrable trash.

[CN: Nativism] Tina Vasquez at Rewire: NC Woman's Deportation Order a 'Symbol of Everything Wrong with the Immigration System'. "For the past eight years, Minerva Cisneros Garcia has checked in regularly with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But on April 23 everything changed for the mother of four children, who is being forced to leave her home of 17 years by bus on June 28." This is just horrendous. I am so goddamned angry that my government behaves like this toward undocumented immigrants whose only transgression is failing to have the right piece of paper.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

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The Senate GOP Healthcare Bill Is Vile Garbage

Senate Republicans have made public the text of their version of Trumpcare, and it is one of the most obscene pieces of legislation on which I've ever laid eyes. The long and the short of it is this: Senate Republicans have proposed absolutely annihilating Medicaid to pay for a massive tax cut for the super wealthy.

Andy Slavitt, who managed Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act for President Obama, provided an analysis of the details in a Twitter thread:

Point 1: The ACA is not repealed. Health care for poor people, kids, the disability community, and seniors is. The ACA income-based tax credits stay—due to Senate rules. They just get bulldozed. More accurately, the people receiving the help do. What's a conservative to do? They hate the tax credits. But they do demolish what an insurance company needs to do. Which they love.

Older people will be charged much more. People over 350% of poverty [line] won't get any support. Insurance will only cover 58% of someone's needs. Millions of families lose coverage. Those with insurance will get a lot less. Maternity, mental health, cancer treatments—not required. Insurers won't cover expensive HIV and cancer meds if they are the only ones. Coverage will devolve. That's the point, not a side effect.

Point 2: The main event in the Senate bill is the destruction of Medicaid. Far, far worse than even the House bill. Eligibility for exchanges would begin at 0% of FPL. This means states could eliminate Medicaid and put people in the exchange with no help.

Medicaid's cuts of 25% in the House increase much more in the Senate. Hundreds of billions more cuts. Medicaid cuts spike further in 2025. The year baby boomers turn 80. And Medicaid pays half of nursing home care in the country. This bill is awful for anyone planning on aging. Age tax, nursing home cuts, robbing Medicare Trust Fund. For seniors, this bill is the opposite of our commitment to Americans as they age or get ill.

The Senate bill hurts kids by putting a capped price tag on their lives too.

Point 3: There is one sacrosanct part of the bill. The giant tax cuts for wealthy, insurers, pharma, and other corporations are intact.
It is quite genuinely not hyperbole to say that this is the absolute opposite of a healthcare bill. It is a death sentence for the most vulnerable citizens of this nation, whose very lives Republicans believe are an acceptable cost to make wealthy people and corporations even wealthier.

This is utterly vile. A six-year-old child traveled to D.C. to literally beg for healthcare, and Senate Republicans wrote a bill that would condemn children to miserable, painful, unnecessary deaths. I cannot find the words to adequately convey the profundity of my grief-suffused rage for the architects of this despicable, abusive bill.

Call your senators today and tell them, if they are Democrats, to fight this bill with everything they've got, and, if they are Republicans, that if they vote in favor of this disgusting legislation, you will fight their reelection with everything you've got.

This bill is beyond "mean." It is a precipitous escalation in the class warfare the Republican Party has been waging for decades. It is the work of a party whose breathtaking avarice is matched only by their malignant cruelty. It is anti-life.

I am not surprised by the horror Senate Republicans have crafted in secrecy and haste. I know them far too well for astonishment. But I am incandescently angry. At their greed. At their enmity. At their intolerable delight and pride in harming the very people whose interests they were elected to protect.

What loathsome wrecks of humanity the members of this detestable party have become. The quintessence of malice.

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The Latest on Trump and Russia

A few items of note today, the last two somewhat tangential but nonetheless worth noting:

1. Dana Bash, Evan Perez, and Manu Raju at CNN: [Contenet Note: Video may autoplay at link] Intel Chiefs Tell Investigators Trump Suggested They Refute Collusion with Russians.

Two of the nation's top intelligence officials told Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team and Senate investigators, in separate meetings last week, that [Donald] Trump suggested they say publicly there was no collusion between his campaign and the Russians, according to multiple sources.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers described their interactions with the President about the Russia investigation as odd and uncomfortable, but said they did not believe the President gave them orders to interfere, according to multiple sources familiar with their accounts.

Sources say both men went further than they did in June 7 public hearings, when they provided little detail about the interactions.

The sources gave CNN the first glimpse of what the intelligence chiefs said to Mueller's investigators when they did separate interviews last week. Both men told Mueller's team they were surprised the President would suggest that they publicly declare he was not involved in collusion, sources said. Mueller's team, which is in the early stages of its investigation, will ultimately decide whether the interactions are relevant to the inquiry.
If Trump "suggested" that Rogers and Coats "publicly declare he was not involved in collusion" with Russia, I'm not sure how they believe he did not "give them orders to interfere." A public declaration on the very subject being investigated would clearly stand to have an effect on that investigation.

If Mueller's team is scrutinizing whether Trump committed obstruction of justice, I suspect that these interactions will be considered "relevant to the inquiry," irrespective of whether Rogers and Coats themselves believed that they were given orders to interfere.

2. Jordain Carney at the Hill: Judiciary Committee to Continue Russia Probe After Mueller Meeting.
Top members of the Judiciary Committee indicated Wednesday that they will move forward with their own investigation into Russia's election meddling, after meeting with special counsel Robert Mueller.

"We appreciate Special Counsel Mueller's willingness to meet with us, and both parties have committed to keeping an open dialogue as we proceed," Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said in a joint statement after the meeting.

They added that they had a "very productive discussion" on how their respective investigations "can proceed without impeding the other."
At some point, the dual investigations could get extremely problematic, especially if the Republicans on the committees continue to run interference for Trump. If any or all of the Congressional investigations come to conflicting conclusions with Mueller's investigation, it could seriously undercut the potency of his findings. (Which could be one objective of continuing.)

3. Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Matt Flegenheimer at the New York Times: White House Tries to Get G.O.P. to Water Down Russia Sanctions Bill. "The White House is quietly lobbying House Republicans to weaken a bill overwhelmingly passed by the Senate last week that would slap tough new sanctions on Russia for its meddling in the 2016 election and allow Congress to block any future move by [Donald] Trump to lift any penalties against Moscow." Clearly the perfect way to convince everyone that Trump isn't in Putin's pocket.

4. Spencer Ackerman at the Daily Beast: [CN: Islamophobia; white supremacy] FBI Fired Sebastian Gorka for Anti-Muslim Diatribes.
The inflammatory pundit Sebastian Gorka worked for the FBI while he was a paid consultant to Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, lecturing bureau employees on counterterrorism issues.

Until the FBI terminated Gorka for his over-the-top Islamophobic rhetoric.

...After Trump's election, word circulated of the FBI's investigation of the campaign's ties to Russia, prompting Trump's drumbeat of Twitter-borne attacks on the U.S. intelligence community generally and the FBI in particular. Meanwhile, Gorka, a former Breitbart national-security editor when White House strategist Steve Bannon ran the website, joined the transition and then the White House, where he serves as deputy assistant to the president.

After Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, some within the bureau began to wonder if Gorka's hard feelings contributed to a White House atmosphere of distrust for the FBI.

"This might be a way for Gorka to get back at the FBI for firing him," a senior FBI official told The Daily Beast.
It's certainly a valid question whether Gorka's resentments have played a part in Trump's war on the intelligence community. The bigger question I have is how the fuck Sebastian Gorka was ever employed by the FBI in the first place, since he has extensive ties to European Neo-Fascists; did not disclose his affiliation with a Hungarian far-right anti-Semitic group when applying for his visa nor his citizenship; and "publicly supported a violent racist and anti-Semitic paramilitary militia that was later banned as a threat to minorities by multiple court rulings."

5. Andrew Osborn and Robin Emmott at Reuters: Russian Defense Minister's Plane Buzzed by NATO Jet over Baltic.
A NATO F-16 fighter jet buzzed a plane carrying Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as it flew over the Baltic Sea, but was seen off by a Russian Sukhoi-27 military jet, Russia said on Wednesday, an account partly disputed by NATO.

...NATO said it had tracked three Russian aircraft over the Baltic on Wednesday, including two fighter jets which it said did not respond to air traffic control or requests to identify themselves.

"As is standard practice whenever unknown aircraft approach NATO air space, NATO and national air forces took to the sky to monitor these flights," a NATO official said.

...Russian politicians called the episode the latest in a string of "provocations," a day after the Russian defense ministry said an RC-135 U.S. reconnaissance plane had swerved dangerously near a Russian fighter jet over the Baltic and that another RC-135 had been intercepted.

The Pentagon disputed that, saying the U.S. aircraft "did nothing to provoke this behavior" and that the Russian intercept had been unsafe.

In another episode, Sweden said on Wednesday it had called in Russia's ambassador for talks after a Russian fighter jet buzzed a Swedish military jet on an electronic intelligence gathering mission over the Baltic on Monday.

"The Russian plane's actions were out of the terms of the distance between the planes which was at certain times very small," the Swedish military said in a statement.
In case you've forgotten (or never heard), Sweden has been making "preparations for a possible military attack" by Russia since the end of last year.

And the United States President is not taking this threat seriously. Whether he's colluding with Putin or whether he isn't, either way he has no clue the scope of the game Putin is playing.

I'm reminded of the story about German Chancellor Angela Merkel's meeting with Trump in March: "Merkel brought a 1980s map of the former Soviet Union and noted the way its borders stretched for hundreds of miles to the west of Russia's current boundary, according to a source who was briefed on the meeting. The German leader's point was that Putin laments the Soviet Union's demise and, left unchecked, would happily restore its former borders. Merkel left Washington unconvinced that Trump had gotten the message, the source said."

That's really bad news for everyone but Vladimir Putin.

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Trump in Iowa: A Disaster Tale

Last night, Donald Trump had another presidential rally in Iowa, because he is a vainglorious fascist who needs literal applause to survive. And lots of neat stuff happened there, obviously — but, before we get to that, first we need to talk about the open letter to Trump published by the editorial board of the Cedar Rapids Gazette ahead of his arrival. Because it is amazing.

The last time you visited us, you were a candidate for the presidency. Now, you're the commander in chief.

...Mr. President, the campaign is over. You won. Now is not the time to rally. Now is the time to sell your policies, listen to Americans with a stake in those efforts, and govern.

Iowans have questions and concerns about your plans. They can't be heard over the cheers of a rally.
The editors then go on to explain basic policy to Trump, on issues he consistently gets wrong, and repeatedly recommends he meet with the people of Iowa while he's there to learn what the impacts would be of his garbage proposals. The piece ends thus:
That's a lot of ground to cover while you're on the ground in Iowa. But we think it's critical you understand the real world implications of these and many other policies your administration is proposing.

We concede it's not as much fun as hearing the cheers and chants of folks convinced you're making America great again. But it's what presidents do.

Again, welcome to Cedar Rapids, and safe travels. Mr. President.
DAMN. It's one of the best things I've read about Trump in some time, and you should definitely read the entire thing.

So that was the backdrop against which his visit for a Make Clapsounds for Trump Again rally was to take place: Local grown-ups asking the baby king to try to behave like a president while he was in town.

And here's how Trump came to the stage (with grinning white girls taking selfies as one of them throws a "zieg heil" behind him [edit: or maybe she was dabbing, but isn't it fun, ahem, that the U.S. president is so terrible either one seems possible?]):

Thank you, everybody. It is great to be back in the incredible, beautiful, great state of...IOWA! [cheers and applause] Home of the greatest wrestlers in the world, including our friend Dan Gable. Some of the great, great wrestlers of the world. Right? We love those wrestlers. It's always terrific to be able to leave that Washington swamp [cheers] and spend time with the truly hardworking people. We call 'em American patriots. Amazing people.
Everything about that is clearly incredible, but I especially like the part where he says no one works hard in Washington.

Naturally, he isn't talking about himself, because he is working hard all the time to come up with tremendous ideas like the one he shared with the crowd later in his nearly hour-long rambling argle-bargle address.

And we're thinking of something that's unique. We're talking about [pauses and swishes his hand through the air] the Southern border. Lots of sun, lots of heat. We're thinking about building the wall as a solar wall, so it creates energy [applause] and pays for itself. And this way, Mexico will have to pay much less money! And that's good. Right? Is that good? [cheers] You're the first group I've told that to! A solar wall. Makes sense. Let's see. We're working it out. We'll see. Solar wall. [swishes hand through air] Panels. Beautiful. I mean, actually, think of it. The higher it goes, the more valuable it is. [chuckles] It's like— [audience laughter] Pretty good imagination, right? [he points at his head] Good? My idea. So we have a good shot. That's one of the places that solar really does work. The tremendous sun and heat. It really does work there. So we'll see what happens with that. That would be great. And I think we could make it look beautiful, too. It would really look beautiful. So that would be nice.

Among the other big league ideas Trump proposed last night was the creation of a law that has existed since 1996: "Trump in a rally on Wednesday evening said immigrants who enter the United States should not be eligible for welfare benefits for five years, though such a law has already existed for 20 years. ...Known as the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), the legislation was passed during the administration of former President Bill Clinton and said that an immigrant is 'not eligible for any Federal means-tested public benefit' for 5 years, which starts on the date the immigrant enters the country."

Having been through the immigration process with Iain, I can confirm that this law indeed already exists!

Details. Minor details.

The important thing is that Trump is winning. Winning so much. Just driving everyone crazy with all the win, win, winning.

And we are making such incredible progress. We are making progress like nobody can believe. These people [points at media] are being driven craaaaazy. Crazy. [applause] I mean, they have phony witch hunts going against me; they have everything going. And you know what? All we do is win, win, win. We won last night. They can't believe it. They say, "What is going on? WHAT IS GOING ON?!" [applause] We won last night. And even the worst of 'em said, "That was a big win for Trump. I couldn't believe it, actually." [points at media] Thank you very much, folks. I appreciate it. [audience laughter]
I'm not sure to what win he's referring. It must have been so big that my puny ears couldn't handle hearing about it.

So, in sum: Trump believes he is nonstop winning. He's got loads of great ideas, including laws that have existed for two decades. And he continues to be an embarrassing wreck who is only happy when he is standing on a stage basking in the sound of applause from people who don't know anything.

Everything is fine in America.

*jumps into Christmas tree*

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Open Thread

image of a yellow couch

Hosted by a yellow sofa. Have a seat and chat.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker eyeballsmccat: "If you had to pick another line of work and expertise for 5 years, and after those 5 years you wouldn't ever do it again, what would that be? (Mine is being a Shakespearean actor!)"

Veterinarian. I think 5 years is all my heart could take.

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