The Virtual Pub Is Open

image of the exterior of a pub which has been 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.

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Friday Links!

This list o' links brought to you by walnuts.

Recommended Reading:

Carol E. Lee, Courtney Kube, and Josh Lederman at NBC News: Officials Worry Trump May Back Erik Prince Plan to Privatize War in Afghanistan

Libby Watson at Splinter: Super PACs Are Getting More Brazen Than Ever in Their Quest to Hide Their Donors

Paola Rosa-Aquino at Earther: Puerto Rico's Farmers Face a Long Road to Recovery

Clarissa Hamlin at News One: [Content Note: Racism; workplace discrimination] Hospital Faces Lawsuit over Allegedly Agreeing with Patient Refusing Care of Black Nurse

stavvers at Another Angry Woman: Top Tips for Staying on Twitter as Jack Fucks It Up

Megan Farokhmanesh at the Verge: Science Confirms That Women's Pockets Suck for Smartphones

Kaiser at Celebitchy: Jordan Peele Covers Variety: "There Has Been a Lack of Imagination in Hollywood"

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

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#365feministselfie: Week 33

I am again participating in the #365feministselfie project, now in its fifth year, and promised a thread for others to share selfies and/or talk about the project, visibility generally, self-apprecation, and related topics. So here is a thread for Week 33!

A few of my selfies over the last two weeks:

image of me from the shoulders up with my hair up and contacts in, making a silly face as I look in the mirror
A slightly cross-eyed and very slap-happy lady fixes to wash her face.

image of Deeky and me from the shoulders up, standing together smiling in my entryway
These two assholes.

image of me from mid-chest up, standing in the doorway between my kitchen and the entryway, looking wilty; Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt is pictured lying on the tiled floor in the background
It's been so muggy that, even with the AC running, all some of us can do
is lie on the cool tile floor — or the couch! — and not move too much, lol.

image of my face in close-up, smiling broadly
Snuggled in under a blanket on a rainy day,
for a three-hour marathon phone call with my girl Miller.

image of me from the shoulders up in a green t-shirt and wearing contacts, with my hair down, smiling widely
Just home from my first swim in a long while and VERY HAPPY about it!

image of me from the waist up, standing in a mirror taking my picture, wearing a white blouse with a colorful flowery pattern
Kind of a doofy expression here, but whatever lol. I like this top!

image of me in the car, wearing a Dirty Dancing t-shirt and shades
Old Swim Head on her way to the pool.

Please feel welcome and encouraged to share your own selfies in comments, or share your thoughts on the project, or solicit encouragement or advice, or do whatever else feels best for you to participate, if you are inclined to do so!

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat lying on a purple chair, atop a gold and white pillow, yawning
It's exhausting lying around being cute all day.

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 575

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 (plus the occasional non-Republican who obliges us to resist their nonsense, too, like we don't have enough to worry about) 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.

* * *

Earlier today by me: And Then This Happened and An Observation.

Here are some more things in the news today...

Shane Harris at the Washington Post: Signs of Trump-Putin Collaboration, Starting Years Before the Campaign?
The precise nature and location of that "intelligence exchange" have never been fully explained. But journalist Craig Unger thinks he may have found it, running out of the offices of Bayrock Group, a real estate development company that operated in Trump Tower in Manhattan in the early 2000s and partnered with the Trump Organization.

Based on his own reporting and the investigative work of a former federal prosecutor, Unger posits that through Bayrock, Trump was "indirectly providing Putin with a regular flow of intelligence on what the oligarchs were doing with their money in the U.S."

As the theory goes, Putin wanted to keep tabs on the billionaires — some of them former mobsters — who had made their post-Cold War fortunes on the backs of industries once owned by the state. The oligarchs, as well as other new-moneyed elites, were stashing their money in foreign real estate, including Trump properties, presumably beyond Putin's reach.

Trump, knowingly or otherwise, may have struck a side deal with the Kremlin, Unger argues: He would secretly rat out his customers to Putin, who would allow them to keep buying Trump properties. Trump got rich. Putin got eyes on where the oligarchs had hidden their wealth. Everybody won.
NB: This is just a theory, but it is a compelling one. Related Reading: Donald Trump, Wilbur Ross, and the Russians.

Meanwhile, over at the Manafort trial...

Nancy Gertner at the Washington Post: The Extraordinary Bias of the Judge in the Manafort Trial. "The performance of U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III in the trial of Paul Manafort on bank fraud and tax evasion charges has been decidedly unusual. During the trial, Ellis intervened regularly, and mainly against one side: the prosecution. The judge's interruptions occurred in the presence of the jury and on matters of substance, not courtroom conduct. He disparaged the prosecution's evidence, misstated its legal theories, even implied that prosecutors had disobeyed his orders when they had not."

FYI: Ellis was the judge in two Blackwater trials, and dismissed both of them, while seeming weirdly pally with Erik Prince (Seychelles backchanneler and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos). In both cases, Ellis expressed the interesting judicial perspective that a mercenary couldn't have bad intentions. Huh.

Katelyn Polantz, Dan Berman, Marshall Cohen, Liz Stark, and Kara Scannell at CNN: Manafort Jury Returns for Day Two of Deliberations; Trump Calls Trial 'Very Sad'. "After a full day Thursday, the jury hadn't yet reached a verdict on the 18 counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and hiding foreign bank accounts brought by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election. ...At the White House Friday, Trump decried the trial and Mueller probe. 'I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad... I think it's a very sad day for our country,' Trump said. 'He happens to be a very good person, and I think it's very sad what they've done to Paul Manafort.'"

Wildly inappropriate. And, as Andy Towle notes at Towleroad, Trump also used the occasion to predict that "the 2018 midterms would be very good for Republicans."

Nothing to worry about there. Just the United States president who was elected because his campaign and his party and the NRA and conservative Christian groups conspired with Russia to steal the election stating with confidence that the midterm elections will yield another good result for them.

I continue to be very worried about the midterms.

* * *

Kate Riga at TPM: At White House Meeting with Vets, Trump Digressed to Fight About Apocalypse Now. "Trump started normally enough, going around the room to ask for ways he could improve veterans' services. However, when one representative brought up Agent Orange, an herbicide used during the Vietnam War which has left lasting health problems for soldiers poisoned with it, Trump got off track. He asked if Agent Orange was 'that stuff from that movie.' Though he did not name the film, per the Daily Beast, attendees soon realized he was talking about the Vietnam War film Apocalypse Now. When the representatives caught on and tried to tell Trump that the film depicts the use of napalm, not Agent Orange, he dug in his heels. 'No, I think it's that stuff from that movie,' he reportedly kept saying. He then made everyone in the room voice their opinion on if he was right or not."

I have so many problems with that framing that I hardly know where to begin. This guy is reportedly thinking of running for president. If he believes we could pray Donald Trump into being a decent leader, I'm gonna take a hard pass.

[Content Note: Nativism; carcerality; self-harm] Priyanka Bhatt and Azadeh Shahshahani at Colorlines: It's Time for Atlanta to Stop Colluding with ICE. "Over the last year, dozens of detained immigrants shared harrowing stories of fleeing persecution and violence only to find themselves locked away and subjected to more inhumane treatment at [the Atlanta City Detention Center (ACDC)]. 'It was so horrible, I almost hurt myself. If I had a blade I would've cut myself,' one man said after being held in solitary confinement at ACDC for 48 hours. These stories are documented in a report from Project South and Georgia Detention Watch that was released last week. Titled 'Inside Atlanta's Immigrant Cages,' it is the result of interviewing 38 detained immigrants, speaking with a number of local immigration attorneys, touring the ACDC facility, and inspecting scores of documents obtained from the city."

[CN: Guns; white supremacy; death] Angela Helm at the Root: 'Stand Your Ground' Is for White People: Markeis McGlockton's Lawyer Says the Statute May Be Legal But It's Not Moral. "Since the Trayvon Martin case, the controversial 'stand your ground' law has actually been amended, but not in the way most opponents would like. Last June, the Republican-led Florida legislature, backed by the NRA, actually strengthened the law, shifting the burden of proof to prosecutors, making it even more difficult to indict killers who claim self-defense. ...''Stand your ground' was already inconsistently applied,' said Michele Rayner, a civil rights and defense attorney representing the McGlockton family. 'And now it's even more inconsistently applied because you have attorneys who are in court, and all the defense has to do is make a prima facie case … meaning on its face, stand your ground is applicable. And then the burden shifts to the state.' Rayner, who has practiced criminal defense in Clearwater for six years, says that in her own practice, she's seen how black clients are rarely given the option of using 'stand your ground' — especially by law enforcement."

[CN: Class warfare] Abby Baird at ThinkProgress: Trump Administration Reportedly Poised to approve Restrictive Changes to Medicaid. "The Trump administration is preparing to approve a number of changes to Medicaid — the government health care program that provides coverage to low-income people — that could leave tens of thousands of people without coverage. As Politico first reported Friday, the administration is set to approve waivers from some states that would impose work restrictions and allow questions about illegal drug use to be included on applications for Medicaid. The report comes two days after numbers out of Arkansas showed more than 5,000 people could be in jeopardy of losing their Medicaid coverage after failing to meet the state's work requirements."

Joe Romm at ThinkProgress: Fracking Is Destroying U.S. Water Supply, Warns Shocking New Study. "An alarming new study reveals fracking is quite simply destroying America's water supply. That means we are losing potable water forever in many semi-arid regions of the country, while simultaneously producing more carbon pollution that in turn is driving ever-worsening droughts in those same regions, as fracking expert Anthony Ingraffea, a professor at Cornell University, explained to ThinkProgress. The game-changing study from Duke University found that 'from 2011 to 2016, the water use per well increased up to 770 percent.' In addition, the toxic wastewater produced in the first year of production jumped up to 1440 percent."

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

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Discussion Thread: Good Things

One of the ways we resist the demoralization and despair in which exploiters of fear like Trump thrive is to keep talking about the good things in our lives.

Because, even though it feels very much (and rightly so) like we are losing so many things we value, there are still daily moments of joy or achievement or love or empowering ferocity or other kinds of fulfillment.

Maybe you've experienced something big worth celebrating; maybe you've just had a precious moment of contentment; maybe getting out of bed this morning was a success worthy of mention.

News items worth celebrating are also welcome.

So, whatever you have to share that's good, here's a place to do it.

* * *

One of my oldest and dearest friends just arranged his flight to come visit soon, and I couldn't be more excited to see him! I haven't seen him in ages, and I CAN'T WAIT!

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An Observation

Also: There's nothing wrong with being a worker bee. I am a worker bee. And I am proud to be one.

Also also: In an era of meddlers, tricksters, spies, and traitors, it's probably a good idea to scrutinize the history of anyone who positions themselves as a leader, especially an indispensible one. Trust the people who have done the work to make themselves trustworthy.

(If you're wondering if this is about a certain resistance leader and her meltdown shitshow, yes, it is.)

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And Then This Happened

Yesterday, after hundreds of news organizations published editorials criticizing Donald Trump's attacks on the free press, Trump tweeted a bunch of bullshit about it, singling out the Boston Globe, whose editorial board spearheaded the collective pushback.

And then someone called in a bomb threat to the Globe's offices, requiring an "increased police presence" at the paper's headquarters and an FBI investigation.

Last month, I wrote a piece about the Trump Regime's reliance on stochastic terrorism: Leverage visibility and influence to dehumanize your enemies and cast them as threats, then sit back and wait for your most radical and/or unstable supporters to take violent action.

I noted that Trump would continue to disseminate "toxic bile from his Twitter account [and] let his base handle it."

And here we are.

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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 Suzy: "Are you a dog person, a cat person, both, or neither?"

I think we all know my answer to that one!

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Throwback Thursdays

image of me as a baby standing next to a rock feature at an airport with my grandfather, who is holding out his hand while I place rocks from the feature into his palm
At the airport with my grandfather, circa 1976.

I'm not sure which airport this was: Either we were flying home from New York out of Laguardia, or my grandparents were flying home from Chicago out of O'Hare or Midway. We usually flew to New York for Christmas when I was that age, so, based on our cold weather clothing, I'm guessing it was Laguardia, just after New Year's, 1976.

I love how patiently my grandfather held out his hand, as I pulled rocks out of the decor and handed them to him. This likely went on for a ridiculously long time, lol, but he never got impatient with me. He was so kind. I always felt so safe with him.

[Please share your own throwback pix in comments. Just make sure the pix are just of you and/or you have consent to post from other living people in the pic. And please note that they don't have to be pictures from childhood, especially since childhood pix might be difficult for people who come from abusive backgrounds or have transitioned or lots of other reasons. It can be a picture from last week, if that's what works for you. And of course no one should feel obliged to share a picture at all! Only if it's fun!]

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For Women, Our "Peak" Isn't Determined by Men

In a strange piece at the New York Times, Maya Salam for some reason re-invigorates evolutionary psychology and MRA talking points to undercut a comedy special she both praises and seems to entirely miss the point of.

The piece begins (emphasis added):

If you haven't watched 'Nanette,' Hannah Gadsby's fearless comedy special on Netflix, do that now. (We'll wait.)

In it, Ms. Gadsby takes on the fragility of masculinity — and at one point drills into Pablo Picasso, who, well into his 40s, had an affair with a teenage girl.

Ms. Gadsby, who has a degree in art history, recounted how Picasso justified the relationship by claiming that he and the girl, Marie-Thérèse Walter, were both in their prime. Seething, Ms. Gadsby said: "A 17-year-old girl is never in her prime. Ever! I am in my prime." She is 40.
I want to first note that I watched Gadsby's comedy special recently and I know exactly how it probably looks to misogynists: A 40-year-old butch-looking woman is not really in her prime. That's absurd. The old bat is clearly just jealous of cute younger women.

Which brings me back to Salam's piece. She notes that she was reminded of Gadsby's bit when she heard about a study of an online dating app showing that women's desirability to heterosexual men "peaks" at age 18. This was used to "disprove" Gadsby's claim:
The researchers determined that while men's sexual desirability peaks at age 50, women's starts high at 18 and falls from there.

In other words, not so far from the ages of Walter and Picasso."
Where Gadsby's piece interrogates the idea that a woman's "peak" is something that is determined by whether or not a man wants to fuck her, Salam seems to concede otherwise. This concession is also made within the title of Salam's piece itself (possibly generated by an editor), that asserts: "For Online Daters, Women Peak at 18 While Men Peak at 50, Study Finds. Oy."

I don't see a great need for that resigned "oy." It's not, actually, a huge, groundbreaking revelation that many men want to have sex with younger women. This proves jack about when a woman does or does not "peak."

Relatedly, the article goes on to note that men tend to be less attracted to women with postgraduate education and... yeah. No shit. And while Salam cites the weak-sauce evopsych rationale that men just want to have sex with younger, less educated women for childbearing reasons, in my experience, a lot of men don't want to date smart, educated, and/or funny women because they have no fucking clue how to relate to women as peers, let alone actual human beings. (Also related: It's not that women aren't funny. It's that men simply don't want us to be.)

Near the end of her comedy special, after recounting previous experiences of men assaulting her when she was younger, Gadsby declares, "I am in my prime. Would you test your strength out on me?" She defines her peak and, consequently, it's determined by when she feels strong, not by the extent to which men are comfortable or turned on. Indeed, to the contrary, her entire routine as a comedian in her peak does, and should, make many men feel deeply uncomfortable.

It is only now, as a 40-year-old woman, after a lifetime of living within a culture (and profession) that contributed to her inability to process her traumas, that she's able to speak about her experiences on her own terms, while also — by the way — basically inventing a new form of comedy.

So, yes. We know. A lot of men do prefer younger, less educated, less experienced, and less autonomous women to date and fuck. But maybe, strangely enough, women have worth regardless.

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Shaker Gourmet

Whatcha been cooking up in your kitchen lately, Shakers?

Share your favorite recipes, solicit good recipes, share recipes you've recently tried, want to try, are trying to perfect, whatever! Whether they're your own creation, or something you found elsewhere, share away.

Also welcome: Recipes you've seen recently that you'd love to try, but haven't yet!

* * *

I don't have any new recipes to share, as it's been so hot here that we've wanted nothing to eat but cold cereal and cold salads, lol! I will mention, however, that I discovered salmon and walnuts are a smashing combination atop a salad!

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat sitting on the fireplace looking up at a plant whose fronds dangle far above her head
She's thinking about it...

image of Sophie reaching up on her tiptoes and stretching out her arm sooooo farrrrr trying to reach the fronds
She tried it!

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 574

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 (plus the occasional non-Republican who obliges us to resist their nonsense, too, like we don't have enough to worry about) 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.

* * *

Earlier today by me: Trump's War on the Press: The Press Fights Back and Trump Revoked Brennan's Security Clearance Because "Something Had to Be Done."

Here are some more things in the news today...

On the same day that over 300 news organizations are publishing editorials about Donald Trump's attacks on the free press, he tweeted this trash:

Meanwhile, at his propaganda outlet... JM Rieger at the Washington Post: On Fox News, Robert Mueller Is Often a Bigger Bogeyman Than Vladimir Putin. "When conservative radio host Mark Levin appeared on Fox News' Hannity last week to discuss the latest in the Russia investigation, he ended up baffling even some of his most conservative allies. 'Robert Mueller is a greater threat to this republic and the Constitution than anything Vladimir Putin did during the campaign,' Levin said. ...It also closely aligns with another fringe theory long-pushed by Fox: Mueller is part of a coup d’état to overthrow Trump. No fewer than nine Fox hosts and pundits have suggested as much since February 2017... Fox pundits have also called the investigation a 'witch hunt,' 'illegitimate,' and 'corrupt,' and Hannity called it 'a direct threat to this American republic' on the anniversary of Mueller's appointment."

Speaking of Bob Mueller's investigation... Tom McCarthy at the Guardian: Paul Manafort Trial: Judge Hands Case to Jurors After Closing Arguments. "A Virginia court heard closing arguments Wednesday in the trial of the former Donald Trump campaign chairman on charges of bank fraud, tax fraud, and failure to disclose foreign bank accounts. ...Judge TS Ellis III handed the case to jurors Wednesday evening. Deliberations were scheduled to begin in earnest on Thursday morning on the 18 charges."

In other Russia news, cough..

Everything is fine. (Everything is not fine.)

* * *

[Content Note: Nativism; abuse. Covers entire section.]

Amanda Michelle Gomez at ThinkProgress: The Trump Administration Hasn't Shared the Number of Separated Kids Under 5 for More Than a Month. "The family separation story that dominated headlines in June and July has now seemed to have fallen from public consciousness, at least in the communities not directly affected. But the crisis is far from resolved as the government failed to reunite hundreds of families it separated as part of its 'zero tolerance' immigration policy. And one critical question remains: How many kids are still separated from their parents? The government has not updated the public — or the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is representing migrant kids in court — in more than a month on the status of kids under the age 5. In mid-July, they estimated that 45 kids remained separated from their parents."

David Yaffe-Bellany, Jay Root, and Juan Luis García Hernández at the Texas Tribune: Asylum-Seekers Say They Cross the Border Illegally Because They Don't Think They Have Other Options. "Every month, thousands of asylum-seeking families cross the Rio Grande and turn themselves in to Border Patrol rather than line up at a port of entry. Since October, more than 40,000 family members traveling together have presented themselves at the ports of entry without proper documentation; nearly twice that many have crossed into the country illegally over the same time period. ...'If you are seeking asylum for your family, there is no reason to break the law and illegally cross between ports of entry,' Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen declared on Twitter at the height of the family separation crisis in June. But that message ignored the deep-rooted factors — from smuggling practices to the complexities of U.S. immigration law — that drive Central American asylum-seekers to the river, despite the risks of a clandestine crossing."

Hamed Aleaziz at BuzzFeed: The Trump Administration Is Seeking to Restart Thousands of Closed Deportation Cases. "The Trump administration has requested the restarting of thousands of deportation cases that immigration judges previously had suspended, according to statistics provided Wednesday by the Department of Justice's Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees the immigration courts. So far this fiscal year, attorneys for Immigration and Customs Enforcement have sought the reactivation of nearly 8,000 deportation cases that had been administratively closed — meaning pushed off the court's docket."

* * *

Katelyn Burns at Rewire.News: Trump's Labor Department Is Expanding Its Imposition of Religious Fundamentalism. "The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) moved to further cement the imposition of fundamentalist Christian religious beliefs on economic and employment policies last week through a new directive and an appointment to the federal agency. ...'This is an attempt to encourage businesses to take taxpayer dollars and then fire people for being transgender,' said Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy at the National Center for Transgender Equality in a statement. 'Religious organizations have ample protections under federal law, but they are not allowed to use federal money to discriminate against people. The language of this directive is so broad and so vague because it is part of a long line of attempts by this administration to sow confusion and encourage any employer to act on their worst prejudices.'"

[CN: Domestic violence] Melissa Jeltsen at the Huffington Post: Violence Against Women Act Is About to Expire. "The Violence Against Women Act — which directs the national response to crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking — will expire at the end of September if lawmakers don't act fast. In late July, House Democrats introduced a measure to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA. Then House lawmakers went on recess. When they return on Sept. 4, they will have only a few weeks before the law expires. ...While VAWA was reauthorized in 2000, 2005 and 2013 with bipartisan support, the current House bill does not have a single Republican co-sponsor to date."

[CN: Police brutality; racist violence; white supremacy] Breanna Edwards at the Root: Prosecutors Cannot Call Laquan McDonald, 17-Year-Old Shot and Killed by Chicago Cop, a 'Victim' During Murder Trial. "A Chicago judge ruled on Wednesday that prosecutors will be unable to call Laquan McDonald, who was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer, a victim until closing arguments. ...'Here we have the defense of self-defense. So, if it's justified, justified use of force, then there is no victim,' Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan said. 'Certainly, there is a person that's dead as a result of this tragic situation but that doesn't mean that the person is a victim legally.' ...Gaughan then conceded that prosecutors could use the word 'victim' in closing arguments 'if the evidence supports it.'"

Lawrence Mishel and Jessica Schieder at the Economic Policy Institute: CEO Compensation Surged in 2017. "[I]n 2017 the average CEO of the 350 largest firms in the U.S. received $18.9 million in compensation, a 17.6 percent increase over 2016. The typical worker's compensation remained flat, rising a mere 0.3 percent. ...CEO compensation has grown far faster than stock prices or corporate profits. CEO compensation rose by 979 percent (based on stock options granted) or 1,070 percent (based on stock options realized) between 1978 and 2017. The corresponding 637 percent growth in the stock market (S & P Index) was far lower. Both measures of compensation are substantially greater than the painfully slow 11.2 percent growth in the typical worker's compensation over the same period."

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

Open Wide...

Trump Revoked Brennan's Security Clearance Because "Something Had to Be Done"

Yesterday, Donald Trump revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, who has been a vocal critic of the Trump Regime.

During the subsequent press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a statement attributed to Trump that attempted to justify the startling action with myriad explanations, each of which were variations on accusing Brennan of being too unstable to retain access to classified information.

Brennan has, according to the White House, demonstrated "erratic conduct and behavior," he "has a history that calls into question his objectivity and credibility," he is a liar who perjured himself before Congress, he has "leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations — wild outbursts on the Internet and television," his conduct is "characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary," and he shares "the very aim of our adversaries, which is to sow division and chaos."

That sounds like a pretty good description of someone else I can think of, but not John Brennan.


Despite the Trump Regime's best attempt at rationalizing the unprecedented revocation of a former CIA Director's security credentials because he can no longer be trusted with classified materials, Trump once again undermined the entire endeavor during an interview with the Wall Street Journal, notes Aaron Blake at the Washington Post.

It really was the Russia investigation all along.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal posted late Wednesday, [Donald] Trump once again gave away the ballgame when it comes to his efforts to impact the probe and tear down its leaders (both current and former). He confessed that his true motivation for revoking former CIA director John Brennan's security clearance was the "rigged witch hunt" that Brennan once "led."

"I call it the rigged witch hunt; [it] is a sham," Trump told the Journal's Peter Nicholas and Michael C. Bender. "And these people led it!"

He added: "So I think it's something that had to be done."

You could be forgiven for having flashbacks to Trump's interview with NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt in the aftermath of his firing last year of James B. Comey as FBI director. Then, as now, the White House offered a series of motivations for the crackdown on a person who was a liability in the Russia probe. Then, as now, it seemed clear what the actual motivation was. And then, as now, Trump appeared to go out and just admit the actual motivation.
He can't resist. Trump will lie all day long, but the one lie he cannot bear is the one in which his own power and malice are concealed.

He had the power to fire Comey and humiliate Brennan, and he needs the world to know that he did it and why.

And he fears no consequences for making plain his rank abuses of power, because he knows damn well that no one is going to do anything about it. So fearless is he that the statement read by Sanders included the open threats of further abuses of power toward other prominent administration critics:
As part of this review, I am evaluating action with respect to the following individuals: James Clapper, James Comey, Michael Hayden, Sally Yates, Susan Rice, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr.

Security clearances for those who still have them may be revoked, and those who have already lost their security clearance may not be able to have it reinstated.
It is a naked threat to current critics and a warning to those who may contemplate raising their voices in resistance to the Trump Regime: We will come for you.

None of this is normal. And none of it is okay.

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RIP Aretha Franklin

image of Aretha Franklin singing at President Obama's inauguration
Aretha Franklin at President Obama's inauguration, Jan. 20, 2009.
[Photo: Cecilio Ricardo | U.S. Air Force]

Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin has died at age 76. Her New York Times obituary is here: "When Ms. Franklin sang 'Respect,' the Otis Redding song that became her signature, it was never just about how a woman wanted to be greeted by a spouse coming home from work. It was a demand for equality and freedom and a harbinger of feminism, carried by a voice that would accept nothing less."

Trying to pick a favorite Aretha Franklin song seems impossible, but I really, really love "Think." The version from the Blues Brothers is amazing.

That voice. There will never be another like it.

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Trump's War on the Press: The Press Fights Back

Donald Trump has been waging a war on the press since virtually the moment he announced his candidacy in July 2015.

In the first year of his campaign, Trump made "incredible personal attacks on members of the press, openly mocking disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski; saying Fox debate moderator Megyn Kelly had 'blood coming out of her wherever'; ginning up outrage against the press at campaign events; and launching an all-out jeremiad against the media during a press conference, during which he called the press 'sleazy' and 'unbelievably dishonest.'"

He defended his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was accused of physically assaulting a female reporter, in addition to having allegedly "pushing a CNN reporter who tried to ask the candidate a question; physically confronting an aide for a rival campaign in a post-debate spin room; publicly shouting threats over the phone at a restaurant; making sexual comments about female journalists; and calling up women in the campaign press corps late at night to make unwanted romantic advances."

Further, Trump blocked news organizations from his campaign events, revoking the press credentials of established institutions like the Washington Post, because he didn't like their coverage.

This was all before he started screaming "Fake news!" and elevating his war on the press to dangerous levels, as part of a demonstrable pattern Aphra Behn comprehensively documented.

Earlier this week, outgoing UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said that Trump's campaign against the media is "getting very close to incitement to violence" and has become reminiscent of hostility toward the press preceding the two world wars.

Already, we have come to a point where a majority of Republicans now believe that the press is an "enemy of the people."

The press is not above criticism. But Donald Trump's war on the free press is not "criticism." It is a sustained campaign to discredit reputable media institutions; to elevate propagandists; to intimidate individual reporters; to silence critics; and to make himself the arbiter of what constitutes "the truth."

This is a chapter right out of the authoritarian's playbook. It is an assault on the U.S. democracy.

Today, more than 300 news organizations in the U.S. and abroad are publishing editorials fighting back against Trump's attacks on the media and defending freedom of the press.

Erin Durkin at the Guardian reports:
The publications are participating in a push organized by the Boston Globe to run coordinated editorials denouncing what the paper called a "dirty war against the free press."

As of Wednesday morning, 343 publications had pledged to participate, said Marjorie Pritchard, the Globe's deputy managing editor overseeing the opinion page.

The Guardian has also joined the effort and has published an editorial alongside outlets around the United States.

"Donald Trump is not the first U.S. president to attack the press or to feel unfairly treated by it. But he is the first who appears to have a calculated and consistent policy of undermining, delegitimising and even endangering the press's work," the Guardian's editorial says.

...The hundreds of newspapers and sites participating include the New York Times, Chicago Sun Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Miami Herald. A host of smaller papers from cities and towns around the country are also joining in.
The Boston Globe will continue to lead the charge, compiling and sharing many of the editorials being published today. I hope they will consider removing their coverage from behind the paywall, at least for today, but, if you can't view it at their site, you can follow along on Twitter.

Please feel welcome and encouraged to share recommendations in comments, in addition to your own thoughts about Trump's heinous war on a free press.

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

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Mama_Skywalker: "Did you have a favorite summer project as a kid? I just made pasta with the twins and they liked it."

When I think of childhood summer projects, the thing that comes to mind is learning how to do something. One summer, it was learning to ride a horse. Another summer, it was learning to ride a bike without training wheels. Other summers, it was swimming and roller skating and tubing and skateboarding.

Lots of skinned knees and bumps and bruises, lol.

Because I'm not cut out for outdoors activities, some of these "stuck" more than others: The horseback riding, because the horse is doing most of the work; the roller skating, because I could do it inside at the local rink; the swimming, because I stay cool, even outdoors. But I loved all of them.

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