The Virtual Pub Is Open + Programming Note

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.

Next Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, which usually makes for a quiet week around here, since many folks are traveling or spending time with family, so we'll be taking next week off for a much-needed break and will return on Monday the 26th.

When I think about for what I am thankful as I sit down to our Thanksgiving meal, I will, as always, be thinking of this community. I am thankful for you, Shakers.

♥ ♥ ♥

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Friday Links!

This list o' links brought to you by cake.

Recommended Reading:

Kevin Berger at Nautilus: We Are All Bewildered Machines

Ashley Feinberg at the Huffington Post: What Did 'Pod Save America' Expect?

Sarah Boseley at the Guardian: The Big Sleep: How the World's Most Chaotic Country Is Beating a Deadly Disease

George Dvorsky at Gizmodo: First Major Rain in Centuries Triggers Wave of Death in Earth's Driest Desert

Miss Cellania at Neatorama: Deaf Students Learn That People Can Hear Farts

Staff at Bon Appetit: The Thanksgiving Recipes We Make Again and Again (and Again and Again)

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

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Mike Pence Is a Scoundrel Who Won't Go Quietly

One of Donald Trump's most loyal stenographers, the New York Times' Maggie Haberman, has put this shit into the world on behalf of the president: [Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] "Is Mike Pence Loyal? Trump Is Asking, Despite His Recent Endorsement."

One. No. Mike Pence is not loyal.

Two. If Trump imagines that publicly questioning Pence's loyalty is going to make him more loyal, he doesn't understand his veep at all. This passive-aggressive shit categorically is not going to make Pence more loyal, because Pence has never been loyal. (And never will be.) Positioning himself proximate to Trump's power isn't loyalty. His objective is to seize that power for himself, as soon as possible.

Three. I suspect Trump will swiftly discover all of the above once arrives the day in January marking the halfway point of his term, at which time Pence can assume the presidency and still be eligible to serve two full terms as president himself.

I have long said that I believe Pence has been working with the FBI since the campaign and with Mueller since he started his investigation, and I believe it still. And, as I have said many times, to really understand Mike Pence, you have to understand that he has wanted to be president virtually his entire life, and he will do anything to get it. (Besides being a decent human being with good policy, obviously.)

All of which means: Pence knows if Trump goes down in an election loss in 2020, his own last, best shot at the presidency goes down with it — meaning his best bet is to make sure that Trump goes down via resignation or impeachment. Even election rigging can't help someone who doesn't get nominated.

Four. About that "recent endorsement." Trump publicly asked Pence to be his veep again only after a reporter asked the question, seemingly out of left field, at a press conference. I had an instinct that Pence had planted the question, so I asked if anyone knew who the reporter was, and got the answer: Mark Meredith, who just so happens to have done a ridiculous softball interview with Pence in July.

And in trying to find out more about him, I saw this tweet, which led me to discover he works for Nexstar Media Group, the second largest media group after Sinclair.

So this kid reporter (who is terrible, by the way, if you watch that interview) somehow is a credentialed White House reporter for Nexstar, and just randomly decided to ask if Pence would be on the ticket again. The day after the midterms, in which Trump was delivered a staggering defeat.

And he explained it on Twitter thus: "I thought it was as good as [sic] time as any to ask."

Yeah. And it was just coincidentally the best time for Pence to get his boss to publicly commit to keeping him a heartbeat away from the presidency.

No wonder Trump is getting antsy. He should be.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound lying on the chaise on his side, looking at me with sleepy eyes
Dudley hopes everyone has a nice, relaxing weekend.

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 666

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: Scorched Earth, Toxic Air, Raging Fire, and Imminent Water and Meanwhile, in the Midwest and on the East Coast.

Here are some more things in the news today, the 666th day of Donald Trump's presidency...

As a terrible reminder that natural disasters don't end when they fall out of the news: Kyla Mandel at ThinkProgress: Thousands Told to Vacate North Carolina Apartments in Second Wave of People Displaced by Florence.
Some 700 tenants of the Market North affordable housing apartment complex in Wilmington, North Carolina were given one week's notice to leave their homes after black mold was discovered in the wake of Hurricane Florence. Residents were able to push the deadline back one more week, but the entire complex was vacated by October 22.

A second wave of displaced people are finding themselves newly homeless, months after Florence hit the state. Beginning at the end of September, at least six apartment complexes in New Hanover County have issued notices to the majority, or all, of their residents to vacate. Long after the floodwaters receded, thousands of people have had to pack their bags and leave.

With much of the temporary housing — rental apartments, Airbnb, or hotels — already full from the initial impact of Florence, finding a new place to stay in Wilmington is a challenge. Some may stay with family while others will be forced to to look further away for a place to live.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is often one of the first places people turn for disaster assistance. But, as John Mills, a FEMA spokesperson who has been based in North Carolina since just before Florence struck, told ThinkProgress, "FEMA money does not solve the issue of the shortage of available housing."
* * *

This thread by Cecile Richards is a must-read:


In other election news:

Bill Barrow and Kate Brumback at the AP: Abrams Preparing New Challenge in Georgia Race. "Top Stacey Abrams advisers outlined her prospective case to The Associated Press, stressing that the Democratic candidate hasn't finalized a decision about whether to proceed once state officials certify Kemp as the victor. That could happen as early as Friday evening. Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, Abrams' campaign chairwoman, is overseeing a team of almost three-dozen lawyers who in the coming days will draft the petition, along with a ream of affidavits from voters and would-be voters who say they were disenfranchised. Abrams would then decide whether to go to court under a provision of Georgia election law that allows losing candidates to challenge results based on 'misconduct, fraud, or irregularities...sufficient to change or place in doubt the results.'"

Allan Smith at NBC News: Mississippi GOP Sen. Hyde-Smith Calls Voter Suppression 'Great Idea.' Campaign: 'Obviously' Joking. "A video surfaced Thursday of Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi saying it might be a 'great idea' to make it harder for some people to vote, and her campaign quickly responded that she was 'obviously' joking. Hyde-Smith, who is in a runoff against Democrat Mike Espy on Nov. 27, made the remark at a campaign stop in Starkville, Mississippi, on Nov. 3. It was posted to Twitter on Thursday by Lamar White Jr., publisher of The Bayou Brief. Smith earlier this week posted video of Hyde-Smith making a comment on Nov. 2 about a 'public hanging' that started a controversy. 'And then they remind me that there's a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who...maybe we don't want to vote,' Hyde-Smith is heard saying. 'Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that's a great idea.'"

* * *

[CN: Genocide] I wouldn't call this good news, but it is the very least the survivors deserve and I am relieved they are getting it. Hannah Ellis-Petersen at the Guardian: Khmer Rouge Leaders Found Guilty of Genocide in Cambodia's 'Nuremberg' Moment. "The two most senior Khmer Rouge leaders still alive today have been found guilty of genocide, almost 40 years since Pol Pot's brutal communist regime fell, in a verdict followed by millions of Cambodians. Nuon Chea, 92, who was second-in-command to Pol Pot, and Khieu Samphan, 87, who served as head of state, were both sentenced to life imprisonment for genocide and crimes against humanity carried out between 1977 and 1979, in what is a landmark moment for the Khmer Rouge tribunals. The pair are already serving life sentences for crimes against humanity. As senior figures in the Khmer regime, the court declared both men responsible for murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation imprisonment, torture, persecution on religious, racial, and political grounds, enforced disappearances, and mass rape through the state policy of forced marriages."

Foster Klug and Hyung-Jin Lim at the AP: North Korea Tests New Weapon Amid Stalled Nuclear Diplomacy. "North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observed the successful test of an unspecified 'newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon,' state media reported Friday, in an apparent bid to apply pressure on the United States and South Korea. It didn't appear to be a test of a nuclear device or a long-range missile with the potential to target the U.S. A string of such tests last year had many fearing war before the North turned to engagement and diplomacy. Still, any mention of weapons testing could influence the direction of stalled diplomatic efforts spearheaded by Washington and aimed at ridding the North of its nuclear weapons."

In additional foreign policy news — and also Mike Pence continues to make his move news... Ishaan Tharoor at the Washington Post: After Flopping in Europe, Can the White House Succeed in Asia? "The week began with [Donald] Trump lashing out after another rancorous trip to Europe. But it ended with Trump's deputy assuming a more poised role in Asia. Vice President Pence spent the week touring the Asia-Pacific region, meeting with numerous leaders and dignitaries. ...Pence now heads to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit this weekend in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea. He'll be joined by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and other statesmen from around the Pacific Rim. Conspicuously absent here is Trump. He declined the opportunity to make the trip... Pence cuts a more circumspect figure, even while he's enacting Trump's agenda." Doesn't he always.

Here's an example of Pence's cool talking points on his whirlwind trip through Asia: "Authoritarianism and aggression have no place in the Indo-Pacific. And I know this vision is shared by the United States and Japan." LOL. Dude.

* * *

[CN: Rape culture] AP/Guardian: Betsy DeVos to Alter Sexual Misconduct Guidelines to Bolster Rights of Accused. "Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Education Secretary, is proposing a major overhaul of the way colleges handle complaints of sexual misconduct, narrowing the definition of sexual harassment, and increasing protections for students accused of misconduct. The Education Department released a plan on Friday that would require schools to investigate sexual assault and harassment only if the alleged misconduct was reported to certain campus officials and only if it occurred on campus or other areas overseen by the school. The plan would narrow the definition of sexual harassment and allow students accused of misconduct to cross-examine accusers in campus hearings. DeVos' proposal would replace Obama-era guidelines she scrapped last year, saying they were unfair to students accused of sexual misconduct." We knew this was coming, and here it is. Seethe.

Heidi Przybyla at NBC News: U.S. Marshals Service Spending Millions on DeVos Security in Unusual Arrangement. "Education Secretary Betsy DeVos began receiving around-the-clock security from the U.S. Marshals Service days after being confirmed, an armed detail provided to no other cabinet member that could cost U.S. taxpayers $19.8 million through September of 2019, according to new figures provided by the Marshals Service to NBC News. While it remains unclear who specifically made the request, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions granted the protection on February 13, 2017, a few days after DeVos was heckled and blocked by a handful of protesters from entering the Jefferson Academy, a public middle school in Washington." Fucking absurd.


Nicole Gaouette and Elizabeth Landers at CNN: Trump Picks Handbag Designer, Mar-a-Lago Member to Be Envoy to South Africa. Yeah, that sounds about right.

* * *

[CN: War on agency] Jessica Mason Pieklo at Rewire.News: Kentucky Is Trying to Ban Most Abortions After 15 Weeks — and It's Not Alone.
Attorneys from the state of Kentucky are in federal court this week arguing for a law that makes it a felony for doctors to perform the most common form of second-trimester abortion.

Lawyers on behalf of the state's only abortion clinic sued almost immediately to block the law after it became law in April. Kentucky is one of nine states that has in some form tried to ban the dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure. So far, every court to have considered these bans has found them unconstitutional — including a federal court that in April blocked the Kentucky law from taking effect while it made its way through the courts.

That hasn't deterred anti-choice advocates, however, who insist they will take their fight over these pre-viability abortion bans all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where they believe a freshly anointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh will provide the fifth vote in their favor.

All they need is one federal court to give them an opening. And with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit currently considering a similar ban in Texas, the Eighth Circuit considering a similar law out of Arkansas, and an appeal all but inevitable at the end of this week's trial in the western district of Kentucky, the fight over D and E bans is shaping up to be the next big abortion rights test before the Roberts Court.
[CN: Homophobia; threats of violence] Andy Towle at Towleroad: Lyft Driver Brandished Gun, Told Passenger He Wanted to Kill All Gay People. "A Miami man says his Lyft driver brandished a gun, used homophobic slurs, and said he wanted to kill all gay people before assaulting him and throwing him out of the car. ...[Andres Berreondo] said the driver became aggravated when it was pointed out that he wasn't following the GPS maps for his ride. The driver then became enraged, pulling out a gun and banging on the steering wheel, telling Berreondo he wanted to kill all gay people. After Berreondo called 911 the driver pulled over and threw him out, assaulting him." Fucking hell.

[CN: Stochastic terrorism] Ian Millhiser: Republican Senator Claims 'the Left' Will Start a Civil War Unless Federal Highway System Abolished. "On Thursday, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) delivered a speech to the conservative Federalist Society that would have been more at home on Alex Jones' radio show than at a gathering of many of the most powerful lawyers and judges in the country. In it, Lee warned of a brewing civil war, and claimed that the only way to avert violence would be to eradicate a long list of federal programs including 'the interstate highway system,' funding for 'K through 12 public education,' 'federal higher education accreditation,' 'early childhood education, the Department of Commerce,' 'housing policy, workforce regulation,' and what Lee labeled the 'huge glut of federally owned land.'"

This is stochastic terrorism. Openly saying liberals will start a war over and over, for absurd and unsubstantiable reasons, is incendiary, tacitly encouraging violent conservatives to hurt us in order to stop us.

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.

* * *

This Instagram video that The Good Place official account posted last night of William Jackson Harper, Kristen Bell, and D'Arcy Carden teaching Ted Danson the backpack kid dance makes me the kind of happy where my face feels like it's going to crack from grinning.

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Meanwhile, in the Midwest and on the East Coast...

[Content Note: Death.]

While fires rage on the West Coast, the East Coast had an unexpectedly bad snowstorm yesterday, claiming "at least eight lives and knocked out power for tens of thousands of people. A turbulent mix of rain, snow, and ice that initially hit the Midwest caused havoc from the south to the northeast Thursday."

This early season winter storm will bring more snow, sleet, and freezing rain in the Central Appalachians through the Northeast on Friday. Heavy snowfall is expected Friday in the northern Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states. In portions of Pennsylvania and New England, residents could see snowfall totals of 6 to 12 inches, the National Weather Service said.

More than 389,000 customers were without power Friday morning in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, according to Poweroutage.us.
This was a bad storm for a few reasons, not least of which because it made road conditions unusually perilous: In Montgomery County, PA (which is where I live), "the Department of Public Safety has reported more than 250 accidents in the county since noon Thursday. There have also been 350 disabled vehicles in Montgomery County."

And in New Jersey, "state police have responded to 555 motor vehicle crashes and 1,027 motorist aids in NJSP patrolled areas since midnight."

People are being advised not to travel if possible, but of course that's not an option for many people whose jobs won't wait for bad weather.

If you have to be on the roads today, I wish you safe travels.

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Scorched Earth, Toxic Air, Raging Fire, and Imminent Water

[Content Note: Wildfires; death and displacement.]

There are now 63 confirmed deaths due to the Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire in California. Hundreds of people are still missing. Thousands have been displaced. And millions are breathing toxic air as a result of the still-burning blazes.

Inadequate support for evacuees and people left homeless by the Camp Fire, which destroyed the entire town of Paradise, has left dozens of families sheltered in tents in a Walmart parking lot. The evacuation centers available, meanwhile, have been compromised by communicable disease.

Nicole Santa Cruz, Maria L. La Ganga, and Marisa Gerber at the LA Times: Made Homeless by Flames, Camp Fire Evacuees Face Hardship, Disease, and Desperation.

In a region that was facing a housing shortage even before the fire, some survivors were forced to seek refuge in a tent city outside a Walmart in Chico. For others, evacuation centers established outside the burn zone have become breeding grounds for disease. On Thursday, Butte County health authorities warned that an outbreak of norovirus was spreading with alarming speed, and appeared to have sickened survivors in at least four shelters.

In the days since sheets of flames sprinted through Paradise, killing at least 63 people and decimating the entire town in minutes, evacuees have endured hardship and sorrow in a surreal state of limbo. Some sleep in their trucks to keep warm and swallow tears as they imagine the shells of their homes. Others pray that unanswered texts to missing friends don’t mean what they think they mean, and they feign normalcy for the sake of their children.

"Rain is coming and these people need a shelter over their heads," said Debby Barbero, a volunteer who has been coordinating donations at the tent settlement.

As a group, the volunteers decided that Sunday at 1 p.m., they would need to shut down the makeshift donation center and tent city and try to help people find shelter in the meantime.

"This is unsustainable right now," she said, adding that it has been difficult to find shelter space for evacuees.

Matters weren't much better for those who had managed to find space in the evacuation centers.

By Thursday, an outbreak of the highly contagious norovirus had spread to several shelters. At the evacuation locations, 145 people had come down with vomiting or diarrhea, said Lisa Almaguer, the public information officer for the Butte County Department of Public Health. Twenty-five people had been hospitalized, she said.

"The number of sick people is increasing every day," Almaguer said.
There is much more at the link.

Their LA Times colleagues Alejandra Reyes-Velarde and Alene Tchekmedyian further report: Smoke from Camp Fire Sends Nightmarish Air Quality South to Bay Area and Sacramento Valley. "Since the blaze broke out last week, about 100 miles north of the capital, smoke has been pouring into the region, pushing the air quality into the unhealthy zone on the Environmental Protection Agency's index. ...'We're recommending for people to really not be outside,' said Jenny Tan, a spokeswoman for the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District. 'Limit the amount of time you are out there.' ...Even San Francisco’s iconic open-air cable cars have been pulled off the streets."

Donald Trump will be "traveling to California Saturday to visit people affected by the wildfires," and I am already dreading his inevitable use of inappropriate superlatives about the fire that make it sound like he's bragging it happened during his presidency.

We need serious leadership in serious times. We don't have it.

The fire, meanwhile, was still only 40% contained by late yesterday. Unfortunately, this is far from over yet.

If you are able and eager to help the survivors of the wildfires, charities say that they are overwhelmed with donated items and what they need most right now is cash and gift cards.

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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 AmeliaEve: "What is your favorite thing that you have hand made for yourself? For another person?"

Trust that no one — including me! — wants me hand-making anything for them, lol. About the closest I can come to a hand-made gift worthy of giving is something written, e.g. a poem or a song. I've given a number of those over the years.

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Throwback Thursdays

black and white image of me as a baby in pajamas, walking around with a purse slung over my shoulder and dragging another bag on the ground with the opposite hand

Me, circa 1975, hauling around what looks like my grandmother's handbag and maybe my grandfather's camera bag. Places to go and people to see!

[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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Just a Casual Observation


It also happens to be another Friday on which a lot of people are expecting Special Counsel Bob Mueller to announce some serious indictments. Of course, we've heard that plenty of times before. But it would be a fun day for him to indict Jared Kushner, because you know.

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OMG SHOEZ

Listen, the news is tough, and we all need moments of escape from the horror to recuperate and prepare for the next onslaught, and I can talk about shoes all the livelong day, so welcome to the OMG SHOEZ thread.

Got a favorite pair of shoes you want to share? Bought a new pair about which you're super excited? Have a recommendation to make, or want to caution us away from a purchase you regret? Want to solicit suggestions for a specific event, a foot issue, an elusive something for which you've been hunting? Having trouble finding something particular on a budget? Have at it in comments!

* * *

I got these some time ago, but, since we're getting the first snow of the year here today, I thought it was a good day to show off some boots:

image of my lower legs; I'm wearing blue jeans and black oxford-style lace-up boots, which also have a zip in the side
Kenneth Cole Blind Sided Black Wingtip Oxford Boot

These were on sale when I got them, and now you can get them for the even more deeply discounted price of $39!

They run a little long, but I have done a bunch of walking in them without any problems, despite the extra space around the toe. Super comfy, like every other pair of Kenneth Cole shoes I have. He does a damn good shoe!

So, that's what up with me! What's up with you?

(As always: I am not affiliated with nor am I receiving compensation from any of the brands or shoe retailers mentioned in this thread. Any shoes and/or retailers I recommend is just because I really like 'em!)

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt sitting in the garden with her chin lifted regally
Loyal hound in the garden.

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 665

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 Fannie: Is Facebook Worth It? And by me: This Is Making Me Filthy Angry and Saudi Prosecutor Says Team Dispatched to Rendition Khashoggi Killed Him.

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

[Content Note: Anti-Semitism; Nazism; terrorism] Christina Tkacik at the Baltimore Sun: Man Shouts 'Heil Hitler, Heil Trump' During Intermission of Baltimore Performance of Fiddler on the Roof. "A man shouted a pro-Nazi and pro-Trump salute during a performance of Fiddler on the Roof at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre on Wednesday night. Audience member Rich Scherr said the outburst during intermission prompted fears that it was the beginning of a shooting. The man, who had been seated in the balcony, began shouting 'Heil Hitler! Heil Trump!' Immediately after that, 'People started running,' Scherr said. 'I'll be honest — I was waiting to hear a gunshot. I thought: Here we go.'" Horrendous.

Meanwhile... Casey Michel at ThinkProgress: As Hate Crimes Rise, a Bill to Combat the Problem Languishes in Congress. The legislation "attempts to not only stem the rising tide of hate crimes across the U.S., but to also help Americans get a better handle on where and how these hate crimes take place, and who exactly is targeted. The 'National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality Act,' dubbed the 'NO HATE Act,' was introduced early last year by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). However, it has languished in Congress over the past 18 months — perhaps due to the fact that the measure has zero Republican co-sponsors. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced a similar bill in the Senate in 2017."

Related Reading: Today in Trump's Campaign of Stochastic Terrorism.

* * *

Staff at the Daily Beast: Trump Attacks Mueller as 'Disgrace to Our Nation,' Claims White House Is Running 'Smoothly'. "With the midterm elections over and the threat of additional indictments apparently looming large on his mind, [Donald] Trump turned his anger to Robert Mueller and his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, calling his team 'a disgrace to our nation' in a Thursday morning tweet. ...'The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess,' he wrote. 'They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers they want. They are a disgrace to our Nation and don't care how many lives the ruin. These are Angry People, including the highly conflicted Bob Mueller, who worked for Obama for 8 years. They won't even look at all of the bad acts and crimes on the other side. A TOTAL WITCH HUNT LIKE NO OTHER IN AMERICAN HISTORY!' Separately, he claimed the White House is 'running very smoothly.'"

Since everything Trump says is projection, we can safely assume Mueller's team is the one running very smoothly and the White House is a chaotic disgrace to the nation. Also: We can see the same with our own eyes. Also also: Bob Mueller did not work for Obama for eight years. Just FYI.

* * *

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Cheyenne Haslett at ABC News: Judge Sides with Nelson, Rules Florida Law on Matching Ballot Signatures Being Applied Unconstitutionally. "In the latest legal twist in the Florida vote-counting controversy, a federal judge has ruled that the state's law requiring signatures on ballots to match those on file is being applied unconstitutionally. U.S. District Chief Judge Mark Walker has granted a preliminary injunction, sought by Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson... Vote-by-mail and provisional ballots have become increasingly popular, Walker said, but the county canvassing boards, which determine whether a voter's signature on vote-by-mail and provisional ballots match state records, are 'staffed by laypersons that are not required to undergo formal handwriting-analysis education or training.'" What a mess.


Walter M. Shaub, Jr. at Slate: This Is the Saturday Night Massacre. "With the firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, America is in uncharted territory. ...The thing about traveling in uncharted territory is that you don't know where you'll end up. This may seem like a simplistic observation, but it's one worth making. Uncharted territory is the last place a conscientious government official wants to be and the first place an unscrupulous one wants to go. ...[W]hatever the outcome of Mueller's investigation, America is establishing new precedents. One precedent is that [Trump] fired the FBI director — and Congress did nothing. Another is that Trump admitted the FBI's investigation of his campaign motivated the firing — and Congress did nothing. A third precedent is that Trump fired the attorney general after having railed against him publicly for refusing to intervene in the investigation — and Congress has done nothing. A fourth precedent is..." (Read the whole thing. It's very good.)

Anna Schecter at NBC News: Text Messages Show Roger Stone and Friend Discussing WikiLeaks Plans. "Six days before WikiLeaks began releasing Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's emails, Roger Stone had a text message conversation with a friend about WikiLeaks, according to copies of phone records obtained exclusively by NBC News. 'Big news Wednesday,' the Stone pal, radio host Randy Credico, wrote on Oct. 1, 2016, according to the text messages provided by Stone. 'Now pretend u don't know me.' 'U died 5 years ago,' Stone replied. 'Great,' Credico wrote back. 'Hillary's campaign will die this week.'"


Vaughn Hillyard at NBC News: Second Trump-Kim Summit to Go Ahead without List of Nuclear North Korean Weapons, Pence Says. "The U.S. will not require North Korea to provide a complete list of its nuclear weapons and missile sites before [Donald] Trump and the North's leader Kim Jong Un meet for a second time, Vice President Mike Pence told NBC News exclusively on Thursday. Since an initial agreement for denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula was reached between Trump and Kim in June, the United States has pressed the North Koreans to provide information on the entirety of its nuclear operations. The Kim regime has refused to provide the details of the country's operations and postponed scheduled meetings with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in New York City last week. The second Trump-Kim meeting, slated for after the New Year, will be where a 'verifiable plan' to disclose the sites and weapons must be reached, Pence said." Sounds legit.


[CN: Domestic violence] Claudia Rosenbaum and Ruby Cramer at BuzzFeed: Stormy Daniels' Attorney Michael Avenatti Has Been Arrested on Suspicion of Domestic Violence. "A report on the alleged incident was taken on Tuesday, and as of Wednesday afternoon, Avenatti was booked on a felony domestic violence charge, LAPD Officer Jeff Lee told BuzzFeed News. Officials declined to elaborate on the allegations, except to say the alleged incident occurred at a residence in the 10000 block of Santa Monica Boulevard near Beverly Hills. ...Avenatti, who was released on $50,000 bail, denied any allegation of abuse or violence, first in a statement through his law office, and again outside after his release." Sounds about right.

* * *

And finally, this is a remarkable act of resistance, which I am angry has even been necessitated, and I take up space in solidarity with the teachers.

Casey Quinlan at ThinkProgress: Los Angeles Teachers Are Willing to Strike for Better School Conditions 'as Long as It Takes'. "Teachers at Beachy Avenue Elementary School are weary. They're tired of paying for so many of their classroom supplies, having very few physical education options for students, lacking laptops for students to regularly use, the co-location of charter schools, and dealing with the burden of constant testing. And they're willing to go on strike. ...[Oralia Reyes, a third grade teacher at Beachy Avenue Elementary School, said:] 'I don't want any of my students to feel like they're lacking. I don't want any of them to feel second class or anything. That is what I am fighting for. And I think the parents once they hear that, understand that we're not in it for ourselves.'"

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

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Is Facebook Worth It?

This New York Times article about Facebook's responses to Trump's and Russian actors' misuse of social media, and its platform specifically, is really something.

Following revelations that Facebook allowed private company Cambridge Analytica, linked to Republican candidates, to access its users' personal information:

Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros. It also tapped its business relationships, persuading a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.
Given the data that millions of Americans freely give to Facebook, it's alarming to think of the extent to which Facebook could also leverage that data to discredit its critics, should they want to do so.

 In addition (emphasis added):
...Russian hackers appeared to be probing Facebook accounts for people connected to the presidential campaigns, said two employees. Months later, as Mr. Trump battled Hillary Rodham Clinton in the general election, the team also found Facebook accounts linked to Russian hackers who were messaging journalists to share information from the stolen emails.

Mr. Stamos, 39, told Colin Stretch, Facebook's general counsel, about the findings, said two people involved in the conversations. At the time, Facebook had no policy on disinformation or any resources dedicated to searching for it.
Facebook is a multi-billion dollar social media company founded in 2004. It's phenomenally shameful that no one there leaned into creating and implementing a "policy on disinformation," particularly since Facebook has more resources than most to put into doing so.

To take a step back, I remember in the 1990s, when the Internet was still new, at least for most ordinary folks, and many people were extremely skeptical of information that "came from the Internet." That culture has changed quite a bit. Now, it seems that many people will concede that misinformation exists on the Internet; it just exists on platforms other than the ones they use.

To be clear, I think misinformation and disinformation is more prominent on the political right in the USA. But Facebook as a platform is interesting in that it is used widely by people across the political spectrum and 81% of the public is reported to lack confidence in the company after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

What I've been wondering for awhile now, as well, is for how long people will find reasons to continue to use Facebook, given the other options that exist for connecting — and given Facebook's increasingly visible bad faith practices. It seems that a lot of the continued use boils down to the lukewarm sentiment that "everyone else is on it and it's an easy way to get in touch with people," and, as more people begin to abandon or close their accounts, that habit will become easy to break.

My personal experience of the site is that, in addition to the national security and personal privacy concerns, and this might be too misanthropic, being connected to people necessarily involves being connected to..... people. Over-sharing, gullible, endlessly-arguing, irritating people. Frankly put, many people use Facebook for reasons that I don't care to. I don't enjoy or trust getting political information from Facebook users. Political debate on the site can become a completely hellish thing to have to monitor. And for photo-sharing and messaging, other options exist.

If dwindling personal use doesn't critically threaten Facebook's current model, something else needs to happen. I'm not arguing that the government should shut down Facebook. Regulate it, yes.

But I wonder if that time will come, or if users will drift away from Facebook when they realize that the cons of using a platform that engages in such unethical business practices aren't worth whatever benefits they get from it.

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Saudi Prosecutor Says Team Dispatched to Rendition Khashoggi Killed Him

[Content Note: Murder.]

Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb has announced the findings of his investigation into the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and his conclusions are curious, to say the least.

Kareem Fahim and Zakaria Zakaria at the Washington Post report:

[The prosecutor asserts] that a team of Saudi agents who had been dispatched to Istanbul with orders to bring him home alive had instead killed the journalist and dismembered his body.

Saudi Arabia's crown prince had no knowledge of the operation, Shaalan al-Shaalan, a spokesman for the prosecutor, said at a news conference in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

He said that 11 suspects had been indicted and that authorities were seeking the death penalty for five of them. The order to kill Khashoggi, who had criticized the Saudi monarchy over the past year, had come from the leader of the Saudi team in Istanbul, Shaalan said without naming any of the suspects.

...Al-Mojeb's statement on Thursday implicated two higher-level officials in what the prosecutor said was an operation intended either to persuade or force Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia.

...The Saudi prosecutor's version of events on Thursday — that Khashoggi was killed during a fight with the Saudi agents, who administered a lethal injection — contradicted the findings of Turkish investigators, who have said Khashoggi was strangled or suffocated soon after he entered the consulate, in a premeditated killing.
The main thrust of the prosecutor's statements seems to be that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had nothing to do with it. Left unanswered is why a team dispatched with orders to bring someone home alive would happen to have a bonesaw on hand.

The prosecutor also provided no information on the whereabouts of Khashoggi's remains.

This entire charade is transparent bullshit. I don't know what else to say about it besides that. I remain so sad and so angry for Khashoggi's family, friends, and colleagues. They are not only being denied justice; they are being denied even the truth.

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This Is Making Me Filthy Angry

[Content Note: Misogyny; ageism.]

Matt Fuller at the Huffington Post reports the latest on Democrats who want to deny Nancy Pelosi the speakership:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is suddenly in a fight for her political survival as a group of Democratic detractors is preparing to block her ascent to the speakership.

About a dozen incumbent Democrats and a half-dozen incoming Democrats are preparing a letter pledging to not support Pelosi on the House floor for speaker. The members also intend to note another contingent of Democrats who privately say they won’t support the longtime California Democrat but won’t sign the letter, according to Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), one of the ringleaders of the effort to block Pelosi.

Sources familiar with the letter say there are currently 17 names on it, but the group is trying to get more than 20 members before releasing it. Currently on the letter, though not certain to stay on it, are:

- Tim Ryan (D-Ohio)
- Seth Moulton (D-Mass.)
- Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.)
- Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.)
- Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.)
- Filemon Vela Jr. (D-Texas)
- Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio)
- Bill Foster (D-Ill.)
- Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.)
- Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.)
- Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.)
- Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.)
- Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.)
- Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.)
- Max Rose (D-N.Y.)
- Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.)
- Ben McAdams (D-Utah)

There is another contingent of Democrats ― including Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), Dan Lipinksi (D-Ill.), Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Jason Crow (D-Colo.), Haley Stevens (D-Mich.), Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) and Andy Kim (D-N.J.) ― who are seen as likely to vote against Pelosi, but who also are hesitant to sign the letter.
A number of Pelosi foes don't want to go public officially, because they are goddamned cowards who know they have no legitimate reason to challenge Pelosi. They lurk in the shadows with nebulous talking points about "the establishment" and "effective leadership," the latter of which falls to absolute rubbish when Pelosi's actual record is discussed.

So they conceal their names and make the vaguest of arguments, relying on public hostility for any older woman seeking power to serve as the case they refuse to make.

Meanwhile, they're skulking around trying to bring other Democrats on board and claiming they have the numbers to defeat her, to force her out of the contest altogether:
Pelosi's allies all readily point out that "you can't beat somebody with nobody," but Pelosi's opponents are testing that idea. In fact, they seem to think their movement is strengthened without a clear alternative.

The idea is that, once Pelosi knows she can't win, she will step aside and there would be a new race for the speaker position.
Shady fucking cowards. They don't have the decency to just choose someone among their ranks to run against her fairly and squarely. Instead they want to push her out of the way in the most craven and undemocratic way possible.

Utterly shameful.


Additionally: If your biggest concern right now is keeping Nancy Pelosi out of power, you've really taken your eye off the ball.

These folks should be grateful they have someone as experienced and effective as Pelosi positioned to hit the ground running in opposition to Donald Trump and the Republicans. Instead, they're resisting her.

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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 Suzy: "What's your go-to potluck dish?"

I always try to figure out the hole that needs to be filled — cold salad? hot vegetable? protein? dessert? — and then choose appropriately from my list of go-tos.

Often I discover the thing that's missing is something super kid-friendly, in which case I bring a big dish of homemade mac 'n cheese.

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