Homeland Security Will Start Surveilling All Immigrants

[Content Note: Nativism.]

In March, I wrote about then-White House strategist Steve Bannon's contention that the United States has "a problem with legal immigration." At the time, I noted:

The administration started by going after undocumented immigrants. Then they turned their attention to Muslim immigrants and refugees, people who were coming to this nation legally.

Bannon, who is now the White House chief strategist, has gone on record saying that there are too many "legal" immigrants, full-stop.

This is very troubling for anyone who is a documented immigrant, or partnered with a documented immigrant, even if they are already citizens, because the law only protects you insofar as any administration respects the rule of law. And this administration doesn't.

And they particularly disregard the rule of law when they are seeking to silence and intimidate.

I'm certainly not ignoring the immense privilege that Iain has as a white European immigrant. I also can't ignore that his being an immigrant, when the White House chief strategist is making blanket statements about legal immigrants, could be used against us (at some point, as the erosion of the rule of law continues), because I'm a public, outspoken critic of the administration.

It's a feature of authoritarian regimes to make statements precisely like this one to keep people in line. The threat of coming after people who thought they were safe.
Naturally, I was accused of alarmism, hyperbole, paranoia, and the usual chorus of insults, but I regret to report that essentially the precise fears I detailed six months ago are now becoming our new reality.

Adolfo Flores at BuzzFeed reports (emphases mine):
Federal officials are planning to collect social media information on all immigrants, including permanent residents and naturalized citizens, a move that has alarmed lawyers and privacy groups worried about how the information will be used.

The Department of Homeland Security published the new rule in the Federal Register last week, saying it wants to include "social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results" as part of people's immigration file. The new requirement takes effect Oct. 18.

DHS and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Adam Schwartz, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for privacy and free expression, said the plan was disturbing.

"We see this as part of a larger process of high tech surveillance of immigrants and more and more people being subjected to social media screening," Schwartz told BuzzFeed News. "There's a growing trend at the Department of Homeland Security to be snooping on the social media of immigrants and foreigners and we think it's an invasion of privacy and deters freedom of speech."

This would also affect all US citizens who communicate with immigrants, Schwartz said, who could self censor out of fear that information they exchange with someone overseas could be misconstrued and used against them.
This new set of guidelines is being justified by an unproven premise that social media behavior can predict potential terrorist acts. There is no evidence of efficacy, never mind the ethical concerns, of such a program — but that's almost beside the point. Irrespective of whether it "works" or whether it's decent or legal, surveilling immigrants' social media will function spectacularly as a chilling intimidation to immigrants and their families.

Covering the new rule at Gizmodo, Matt Novak writes: "Collecting this kind of information would also have a dramatic impact on every single person that interacts with immigrants to the US, since it would seemingly make all of their conversations on social media subject to surveillance. In the interest of full disclosure, yours truly is married to a US green card holder, so not only will my wife be subjected to this new rule, conceivably I will as well."

My spouse is a naturalized citizen. What does my work mean for us? For our future?

I don't know. All I know for sure is that every word I write in resistance of this administration puts us at greater risk with each passing day.

That is not alarmism. That is not hyperbole. That is my reality.

Once upon a time, we could count on the courts to overturn such an egregious overreach by an administration. No longer. Trump is busily filling 100 federal court vacancies, and Neil Gorsuch now sits on the Supreme Court. There are no guarantees anymore, and precious little to protect us.

I spit venom in the direction of any person who said there was no difference between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Fuck every last one of you. For a million reasons — including this one: Under a Hillary Clinton presidency, I never would have had to send my husband an email this morning, or any morning, saying we need to talk about whether we are still safe in this country, the country of my birth and his country of choice.

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Trump Is a Vile Disgrace As a Humanitarian Crisis Emerges in Puerto Rico

Last Thursday, I noted that 70 percent of the people in Puerto Rico lacked reliable access to drinkable water after the devastation caused by back-to-back hurricanes. At the time, the scope of the damage and attendant crisis was only beginning to be understood, as information infrastructure had been compromised and many parts of the island had become inaccessible due to debris.

Those problems persist, making comprehensive assessments yet impossible, but the emergent picture is of an emergent large-scale humanitarian crisis.

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Nicole Chavez at CNN reports: "Authorities flew over the island Saturday, and were stunned by what they saw. No cellphones, water, or power. Roads completely washed away and others blocked by debris, isolating residents. 'It was devastating to see all that kind of debris in all areas, in all towns of the island,' Jenniffer González, the island's non-voting representative in Congress, told CNN." Governor Ricardo Rosselló "met with more than 50 mayors and representatives from across Puerto Rico on Saturday," some of whom "described the conditions in their communities as 'apocalyptic.'"

One of those mayors, Jose Sanchez Gonzalez, from the north coastal town of Manati, told Rosselló that his town needs "basic supplies such as water, ice, and gas immediately. He says hysteria is starting to spread and the hospital is at capacity and people are going to start dying."

In a gut-wrenching report in the New York Times, Puerto Rican farmers survey the vast destruction of crops, and farmer José A. Rivera says, "There will be no food in Puerto Rico. There is no more agriculture in Puerto Rico. And there won't be any for a year or longer." Even in the precious few places where crops survived, unpassable roads, or roads completely washed away altogether, mean even food that can be harvested may never make it to hungry people.

Puerto Rico, which already imported about 85 percent of its food, will now have to rely even more heavily on imports. Rivera noted, however, "that other islands that export food to Puerto Rico, such as the Dominican Republic, Dominica, and St. Martin, were also hit, and that the food supply could be even more precarious if the island's other suppliers were also affected."

People are scrambling to find clean water, and the coastal city of Arecibo' emergency management director David Latorre said: "It was an odyssey to find food. We had to break down doors to get it. The food system collapsed."

Governor Rosselló said yesterday that the island is on the verge of a "humanitarian crisis," and "called on Congress to prevent a deepening disaster."

Stressing that Puerto Rico, a United States commonwealth, deserved the same treatment as hurricane-ravaged states, the governor urged Republican leaders and the federal government to move swiftly to send more money, supplies, and relief workers. It was a plea echoed by Puerto Rico's allies in Congress, who are pushing for quick movement on a new relief bill and a loosening of financial debt obligations for the island, which is still reeling from a corrosive economic crisis.

"Puerto Rico, which is part of the United States, can turn into a humanitarian crisis," Governor Rosselló said. "To avoid that, recognize that we Puerto Ricans are American citizens; when we speak of a catastrophe, everyone must be treated equally."

Although FEMA aid has been dispatched to Puerto Rico, much more significant help — and in greater numbers — is required to get water, food, supplies, and rescue to people currently isolated in remote locations left inaccessible by the storm.

Yesterday, it was reported the White House planned to request funding from Congress in October, which is clearly not soon enough. The White House does not seem to understand, or care, about the urgency of the need in Puerto Rico.


[Image in tweet shows a CNN chyron reading: "Millions of desperate Americans beg Trump & U.S. for help."]

Donald Trump has instead been preoccupied with publicly ranting and tweeting about NFL players protesting white supremacy (which many people have wrongly called a "distraction," when in fact his defense of white supremacy is inextricably tied to his indifference toward the residents of Puerto Rico). When Trump finally did tweet something about Puerto Rico yesterday, it was typically reprehensible.


[Image is screenshot of three tweets, across which Trump has said: "Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble. It's [sic] old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities - and doing well. #FEMA"]

So far this morning, Trump has tweeted about the NFL four times, and has tweeted only once about Puerto Rico, and that was to thank the mayor of San Juan "for your kind words on FEMA etc."


Trump can't even be arsed to pretend that he gives a fuck about the people of Puerto Rico, millions of whom are increasingly desperate and scared. Even people for whom things are okay now are understandably worried about what will happen if the United States president continues to be so cavalier toward their plight, and if the Republican Congressional majority doesn't step up with the necessary urgency.

Contact your Senators and rep today and ask them to prioritize sufficient and comprehensive relief for Puerto Rico. Remind them that Puerto Ricans are United States citizens. Urge them to take immediate action.

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Lock Them Up, or Whatever

Matt Apuzzo and Maggie Haberman at the New York Times: At Least 6 White House Advisers Used Private Email Accounts.

At least six of [Donald] Trump's closest advisers occasionally used private email addresses to discuss White House matters, current and former officials said on Monday.

The disclosures came a day after news surfaced that Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and adviser, used a private email account to send or receive about 100 work-related emails during the administration's first seven months. But Mr. Kushner was not alone. Stephen K. Bannon, the former chief White House strategist, and Reince Priebus, the former chief of staff, also occasionally used private email addresses. Other advisers, including Gary D. Cohn and Stephen Miller, sent or received at least a few emails on personal accounts, officials said.

Ivanka Trump, the president's elder daughter, who is married to Mr. Kushner, used a private account when she acted as an unpaid adviser in the first months of the administration, Newsweek reported Monday. Administration officials acknowledged that she also occasionally did so when she formally became a White House adviser. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with reporters.

Officials are supposed to use government emails for their official duties so their conversations are available to the public and those conducting oversight. But it is not illegal for White House officials to use private email accounts as long as they forward work-related messages to their work accounts so they can be preserved.

During the 2016 presidential race, Mr. Trump repeatedly harped on Hillary Clinton's use of a private account as secretary of state, making it a centerpiece of his campaign and using it to paint her as untrustworthy. "We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office," Mr. Trump said last year. His campaign rallies often boiled over with chants of "Lock her up!"
I'll just turn this one over to Hillary Clinton: "The hypocrisy of this administration, who knew there was no real scandal, who knew that there was no basis for all their hyperventilating. ...No, we're finding with the latest revelations ― they didn't mean any of it. It's just the height of hypocrisy."

Yeah. Yeah.

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Open Thread

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

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The Virtual Pub Is Open (+ Programming Note)

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.

I'm going to be otherwise occupied for most of the day Monday, so I will be taking the day off and return on Tuesday. See you then!

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The Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by lined paper.

Recommended Reading:

Ayana Byrd: How to Help Residents of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands Recover After Hurricane Maria

Tina Vasquez: [Content Note: Nativism; death] Deported to Death: Cases That Reveal the Danger of U.S. Immigration Policy

Monica Roberts: My Houston Statue Replacement Suggestions

Shannon Liao: [CN: Rape threat; misogynist slur] Instagram Accidentally Advertises Itself on Facebook with Rape Threat Photo

Michael Fitzgerald: [CN: Transphobia] Students Stage Mass Protest After High School Fails to Punish Transphobic Football Players

Rae Paoletta: Brainless Jellyfish Are Making Us Rethink Our Understanding of Sleep

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

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Quote of the Day

"Graham-Cassidy, the health bill the Senate may vote on next week, is stunningly cruel. It's also incompetently drafted: The bill's sponsors clearly had no idea what they were doing when they put it together. Furthermore, their efforts to sell the bill involve obvious, blatant lies. ...Graham-Cassidy isn't an aberration; it's more like the distilled essence of everything wrong with modern Republicans."—Paul Krugman, in "Cruelty, Incompetence, and Lies" for the New York Times.

MAKE YOUR CALLS. RESIST.

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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!

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt and Dudley the Greyhound lying on the floor in Iain's office
The doggies chilling in Iain's office.

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 246

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: Bernie Sanders, What Are You Even Doing? and Two Terrible Men Escalate Their War of Terrible Words.

Josh Dawsey and Burgess Everett at Politico: Trump Publicly Backs Health Care Effort, Privately Harbors Doubts. In other words, he's just like the rest of the lying liars in his party with zero integrity and the singular principle that winning is everything. "Several White House officials described the president as determined to sign something — anything, really." Cool.

Jessica Glenza and Molly Redden at the Guardian: Republicans' New Health Bill Would Hit Women Hardest, Experts Say. "[E]xperts said funding cuts and weaker insurance regulations would leave more female patients worse off, hitting access to reproductive health hardest. 'The Graham-Cassidy bill is an assault on healthcare, period. But I really think women, particularly poor women, are bearing the brunt of this,' said Jessica Schubel, a senior policy analyst at the progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. ...One of the most concerning provisions in the Graham-Cassidy bill, advocates said, was a push to defund the reproductive health provider Planned Parenthood." Fuckers.

Apparently, this tweet is evergreen. Unfortunately.


Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post: This Republican Health-Care Bill Is the Most Monstrous Yet. "There is a rational motive for all of this, although it's a nefarious one that the GOP doesn't like to talk about: Slashing Medicaid spending would make room for huge tax cuts that primarily benefit the rich. Yes, senators, we see that, too. It is tempting to let the Republican Party drive itself, Thelma-and-Louise style, off this cliff. But the human impact of the latest repeal-and-replace measure would be too tragic. Call your senator. Make a deafening noise. We must do everything we can to kill this bill." YES.

MAKE YOUR CALLS.


* * *


Y'all. I detest him so profoundly.

[Content Note: Islamophobia; video may autoplay at link] Toluse Olorunnipa and Greg Stohr at Bloomberg: Trump's Travel Ban Decision Could Set Off New Wave of Turmoil. "Donald Trump is on the verge of a fresh clash with business leaders and civil-rights advocates as he faces a critical deadline this weekend for continuing his travel ban on six predominantly Muslim countries. The president hinted he might broaden the initial ban, which is set to expire on Sunday, in his response to a terrorist attack in London last week. Even mere renewal of the prohibition on entry into the U.S. by most citizens of those nations would reopen controversy over an action that provoked sharp criticism from prominent corporate leaders, multiple court challenges, and internal strife within the White House. Trump may announce his decision on the next step as as soon as Friday." Deplorable.

[CN: Nativism; carcerality; exploitation; video may autoplay at link] Aimee Picchi at CBS News: Working for Peanuts: Detained Immigrants Paid $1 a Day.
If there's one aspect in a new battle over the treatment of immigrant detainees that both sides agree on, it's this: They're paid just $1 a day.

But whether that meager pay is legal is now a contested issue, with the Washington state attorney general's office suing private prison operator GEO Group (GEO) over the detainees' work pay. The lawsuit alleges the $1 a day payment violates the state's minimum wage laws; it also claims the detainees sometimes don't even earn cash, but rather are paid in chips and candy.

The legal dispute, which appears to be the first of its kind, poses a host of questions about the treatment of detainees in the U.S. at a time when arrests of suspected undocumented immigrants is on the rise. Many of them are housed in facilities operated by private prison companies such as GEO as they await their immigration court hearings. The detention centers aren't jails or prisons, nor have the detainees been convicted.

"They are breaking Washington state law and exploiting detainees for their profits," Bob Ferguson, the Washington attorney general, told CBS MoneyWatch. "It's not OK."

...Yet detainees haven't been convicted of breaking the law, and they aren't facing criminal charges, Ferguson pointed out. Some are asylum-seekers, while others may be found to be legally residing within the U.S. and released.
Meanwhile...


I hate the way this administration treats people. I hate it so much. It feels like getting a million paper cuts every single day.

* * *


Damian Paletta and Mike DeBonis at the Washington Post: White House Plan for Tax Cuts Moves Forward. "The White House plan for a massive package of tax cuts is gaining new momentum as Republicans attempt to set aside months of intraparty squabbling and unify behind a key part of [Donald] Trump's agenda. Two developments are accelerating the effort: Key Senate Republicans reached a tentative deal this week to allow for as much as $1.5 trillion in tax reductions over 10 years; and there is a growing willingness within the GOP to embrace controversial, optimistic estimates of how much economic growth their tax plan would create." Fucking hell.

Nancy Cook at Politico: Trump Aides Begin Looking for the Exits. "Many who joined the administration in January did so with the explicit idea that they'd stay for at least a year, enough to credibly say they'd served. But in the aftermath of a wave of abrupt, high-profile departures over the summer that culminated with former strategist Steve Bannon's ouster in August, aides up and down the chain are reaching out to headhunters, lobbyists, and GOP operatives for help finding their next job. ...'There will be an exodus from this administration in January,' said one Republican lobbyist, who alone has heard from five officials looking for new gigs. 'Everyone says, 'I just need to stay for one year.' If you leave before a year, it looks like you are acknowledging that you made a mistake.'" OH YOU MADE A FUCKING MISTAKE. YOU WORKED FOR DONALD TRUMP. ONE DAY WOULD HAVE BEEN A HUGE MISTAKE. FUCK YOU AND WHOEVER HIRES YOU NEXT.

Teresa Walsh at McClatchy: Push to Unseal the Draft Whitewater Indictment Against Hillary Clinton Gets Court Date. "A federal appeals court will hear a case brought by Judicial Watch on Friday to make public draft indictments of Hillary Clinton from the Whitewater scandal in the 1990s." PERFECT. *jumps into Christmas tree*

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

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Hello

There is a lot going on in the world right now. A lot of people are hurting. And the governing party of the United States is busily trying to hurt even more people.

It is overwhelming. It is enough to make a person feel scared, unmoored, lost.

Sometimes all of the feelings one has — while helplessly watching suffering from afar, or up close, and/or suffering oneself at the whims of nature or the cruelty of powerful villains thinly veiling their malice behind a veneer of civility — swirl together in a morass of emotion that congeal into an urgent need to be known by your community, the place where you feel safe.

I see you. And you are not alone.

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Two Terrible Men Escalate Their War of Terrible Words

[Content Note: Disablism.]

Choe Sang-Hun at the New York Times: Kim's Rejoinder to Trump's Rocket Man: 'Mentally Deranged U.S. Dotard'.

Responding directly for the first time to [Donald] Trump's threat at the United Nations to destroy nuclear-armed North Korea, its leader called Mr. Trump a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard" on Friday and vowed the "highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history."

The rejoinder by the leader, Kim Jong-un, who is about half as old as Mr. Trump, 71, added to the lexicon of Mr. Kim's choice of insults in the escalating bombast between the two.

"A frightened dog barks louder," Mr. Kim said in a statement, referring to Mr. Trump's speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday in which he vowed to annihilate North Korea if the United States were forced to defend itself or its allies against it.

"He is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician," Mr. Kim said.
It's really neat (it is terrible) how these two dudes lob really specific insults at each other without a trace of fucking self-awareness. Or any detectable sense of irony.

Meanwhile...

David Nakamura and Anne Gearan at the Washington Post: Amid New Sanctions, Trump Calls North Korea's Leader 'Madman' Whose Regime Will Face New Tests.
Trump lashed back Friday at North Korea's leader, calling Kim Jong Un a "madman" whose regime will be "tested like never before" amid new U. S-imposed financial sanctions.

...Kim on Thursday reacted angrily to Trump's remarks and actions this week, calling the president a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard" and Trump's earlier speech at the U.N. "unprecedented rude nonsense." Kim said that he was now thinking hard about how to respond.

..."I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected when he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue. Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation," Kim said, saying that he would "tame" Trump "with fire."

On Friday, Trump added the latest barb with a tweet calling Kim a "madman" who brings famine and death on North Koreans.

"Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn't mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!" Trump wrote.
So everything is fine, as usual. (Everything is not fine.)

If only someone had mentioned before Election Day that Trump is an erratic, reckless, provocative bully with a poisonous temperament who is catastrophically unfit to be president. OH WELL.

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Bernie Sanders, What Are You Even Doing?

Daniella Diaz at CNN: CNN to Host Town Hall Debate Monday with Graham, Cassidy, Sanders, and Klobuchar.

CNN will host a town hall with Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, who will be debating health care with Sens. Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar on Monday, September 25 at 9 p.m. ET.

CNN anchor Jake Tapper and chief political correspondent Dana Bash will moderate the 90-minute live event from Washington.

Graham and Cassidy are the namesake sponsors of a last-ditch effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act ahead of an end-of-the-month deadline, while Sanders introduced a new "Medicare for all" health care bill with a third of the Senate Democratic caucus by his side.
This is such a bad idea. It's a bad idea for a lot of reasons — not least of which is that Bernie Sanders is not actually a good debater (see: the 2016 primary) — but mostly because it's playing directly into the hands of Republicans who have been trying to frame the issue as "Republican garbage legislation vs. single-payer," pretending that improving on the Affordable Care Act isn't even an option, and now Sanders, with his shitty timing in introducing his bill and agreeing to do this fucking debate, has handed them precisely the optics they need to make that frame work.

It's a false frame, but it's one that Republicans want and need to make their heinous legislation appealing to people who are reflexively afraid of "socialist" healthcare.


Further, this debate shouldn't be happening on television; it should be happening in Congress.

Which I am hardly the first or only person to observe.


CNN will give Graham and Cassidy the freedom to lie their asses off without any pushback from the moderators, which will give the illusion of parity between their "facts" and Sanders' and Klobuchar's arguments. Just two sides to every issue!

Having the debate on TV means that it's incumbent on just two Senators to make sure the public understands that Graham and Cassidy are lying and that their bill is dangerous rubbish. If the debate were held in Congress, the pushback wouldn't have to come from just two Senators; every Democratic Senator would have a chance to make the case. The chances of failure would be significantly lower.

We don't need to be lowering our chances to defeat this horrible bill, for fuck's sake.


So do I.

Although, to be perfectly blunt, having agreed to this debate is already a pretty big fuck-up. Of course, that's only from my perspective, with an objective of protecting and expanding healthcare access for as many people as possible. That's not necessarily Sanders' objective.


And, just as a reminder: Sanders' plan still doesn't deal with the Hyde problem, so this debate is quite literally about two healthcare coverage options neither of which guarantee comprehensive care for more than half the population. Cool.

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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 jeanology: "What factor in your upbringing (like a choice your parent or guardian made, or the general philosophy with which you were raised) has had the most impact, positive or negative, on who you are as an adult?"

Two things immediately come to mind, and they were things that both of my parents and all three of my grandparents (my paternal grandfather died before I was born) did:

1. Encouraged reading in every possible way, from modeling being readers themselves to buying me books to reading to me every day and letting me read to them once I knew how.

2. Never using slurs or making bigoted statements of any kind, against people of color, women, members of the LGBTQ community, disabled people, minority religions, atheists, addicts, immigrants, etc. Every slur and stereotype I learned outside my house.

(The one exception to that was fat hatred. Which was mostly in the form of self-criticism from my parents. And that had an impact, too.)

This is not to suggest that there was never any uninterrogated prejudice or unexamined privilege modeled for me at home. There was. But I was told that all people were equal and deserving of respect, and, for the most part, that's what I saw practiced by the adults closest to me.

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Throwback Thursdays

black and white image of me as a baby, trying to use a vacuum
Me, circa 1975, trying and failing to vacuum some gorgeous '70s carpet.

[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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The Situation in Puerto Rico Is Not Good


I am so upset about how awful the situation in Puerto Rico is for its residents right now, especially because there's nothing meaningful I can do.

I'm also wondering why the FUCK it is that I'm getting the best news on what's happening in Puerto Rico from the Guardian. The U.S. media is treating Puerto Rico like it's some far-off place, just another exotic locale in some other country.

Which isn't justification for ignoring people in need anyway, but: PUERTO RICO IS PART OF THE UNITED STATES. They literally don't have fucking drinkable water, and our media is barely paying attention and our Congress is dicking around with trying to kill people by taking their healthcare away.

And what does the president have to say about it? "The White House on Thursday morning declared Puerto Rico 'a major disaster' zone and ordered federal assistance to be directed to dozens of municipalities in the territory." How will that aid get there? When will it get there? Who knows — because Trump was too busy doing his gross superlative-hurling about the scope of the devastation, saying that Puerto Rico had been "absolutely obliterated" by the intense winds: "All you have to do is read or turn on the television and you will see a place that is practically leveled," he said.

A place where 70% of the population currently lacks access to clean water. That seems more urgent than virtually anything else in the country right now.

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How the Media Shapes the Healthcare Debate

As grateful that I am — and I am, genuinely and abidingly — that Jimmy Kimmel is willing to speak up about his son's healthcare issues on behalf of people with preexisting conditions and/or without insurance, and is willing to keep speaking up about it, even after navigating lots of very personal criticism directed at him and his infant child (for fuck's sake!) for having spoken out in the first place, I'm not thrilled that his is the loudest — or indeed only — opposition voice lots of people in this country are hearing.

How many people have seen a single headline about anything Nancy Pelosi, for example, has said on healthcare this week? And it ain't because she hasn't said anything!

screenshots of a series of tweets on the healthcare bill posted by Pelosi this week

Et cetera. Her entire timeline is filled with RTs on the subject, and that's just what she's doing on Twitter.

This is, in large part, because of whom the media chooses to amplify. And it's worth taking a moment to consider why it is that Kimmel in particular is being amplified.

Sure, yes, it's because he has a compelling story and he is an extremely good teller of that story.

But Kimmel also works for ABC, which is owned by Disney, one of the biggest media conglomerates in the world. All of their media properties want to amplify Kimmel because it's good busine$$ for them.

Meanwhile, all their competitors will either decide to try to steal some share by amplifying Kimmel or amplify his critics, because it's a neat hit on the host of ABC's late night host, to try to ding his ratings with conservative viewers. (Or both. Whatever's good for business!)

Which means that the healthcare debate (such as it is) is primarily being driven by the networks' late night ratings wars, about which literal movies have been made, because the competition is so fierce.

Cool.

That's not, of course, the only reason that Kimmel is being amplified, nor the only reason that people are listening to him, but media profits are playing a big, if unseen, role.

The same networks whose political news properties host guests paid to publicly ponder: What do the Democrats even stand for?

That's a problem, my friends.

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Daily Dose of Cute

The other night, Matilda and Olivia were napping on the sofa together, and they kept posing in synchronized positions, which was SO CUTE I didn't even know what to do with myself!

image of Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat and Olivia the White Farm Cat both lying on the sofa on their sides, looking in the same direction
image of Matilda and Olivia both lying on the couch, looking toward me
image of Matilda and Olivia lying facing one another, with their legs stretched out toward one another, creating a shape not unlike an infinity symbol
CAT INFINITY SYMBOL!!!

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

Open Wide...

We Resist: Day 245

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: Lying Liars and Their Garbage Healthcare Bill and Trump's Administration of Toxic Masculinity.

There's a lot of notable foreign policy news today...

Anna Fifield at the Washington Post: North Korea Is Likely to Fire More Missiles After Trump's Speech, Experts Say.
Kim Jong Un's regime tells the North Korean people every day that the United States wants to destroy them and their country. Now, they will hear it from another source: the president of the United States himself.

In his maiden address to the United Nations on Tuesday, [Donald] Trump threatened to "totally destroy North Korea."

Analysts noted that he did not even differentiate between the Kim regime, as President George W. Bush did with his infamous "axis of evil" speech, and the 25 million people of North Korea.

"[Donald] Trump has handed the North Koreans the sound bite of the century," said Marcus Noland, an executive vice president at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and one of the authors of its North Korea: Witness to Transformation blog. "That footage will be used time and time and time again on North Korea's state television channel."
Super.

Hallie Jackson, Carol E. Lee, Vivian Salama, and Kristen Welker at NBC News: Trump Leaning Toward Decertifying Iran Nuclear Deal, Sources Say. "Donald Trump is leaning toward decertifying the Iran nuclear deal and putting the decision of whether the United States withdraw from the accord in the hands of Congress... Such a move would come before an Oct. 15 deadline and would trigger a 60-day window for lawmakers to determine whether to reimpose sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program that were lifted as part of the 2015 agreement. ...Still, several of the sources cautioned that the president could change his mind over the next three weeks as he faces pushback from allies internationally." Of course. Because he has no fixed principles and is a reckless mess constantly in search of approbation to satiate his voracious ego.

David Filipov and Liz Sly at the Washington Post: Russia Threatens Retaliatory Strikes Against U.S. Troops and Their Allies in Syria. "Russia on Thursday raised the threat of a direct confrontation with U.S. forces in Syria, saying that the Russian military would target areas occupied by American units and U.S.-backed militias if Moscow's troops come under fire. The warning came amid rising tensions in the Syrian desert between the United States and its Kurdish and Arab allies on the one hand, and Russia, the Syrian regime and Iranian-backed militias on the other, as both converge on Islamic State-held territory in eastern Syria." No big deal. Just Russia threatening to start a war with the U.S. in Syria.

Steve Dorsey at CBS News: As Number of Injured Diplomats Soared, State Dept. Kept Cuba Attacks Secret. "An internal Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs document obtained by CBS News shows the State Department was fully aware of the extent of the attacks on its diplomats in Havana, Cuba, long before it was forced to acknowledge them. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert only admitted the attacks were occurring after CBS News Radio first reported them August 9. ...At the time, Nauert said she didn't believe the number of Americans injured was in the tens or dozens. But a source says that by the time the State Department first publicly acknowledged the attacks, it knew the reports of Americans injured had reached double-digits. 'They for sure tried to keep the numbers secret,' the source said." JFC.

In addition to making an arse of himself by inventing an African country yesterday, Trump engaged in some unabashed colonialism while speaking to African leaders:

Africa has tremendous business potential. I have so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich. [Grins and pauses like he expects laughter, which does not come.] I congratulate you. They're spending a lot of money. But it does — it has a tremendous business potential and representing huge amounts of, uh, different markets, and for American firms it's really become a place that they have to go, that they want to go.

Six of the world's ten fastest growing economies are in Africa. Increasing American trade and investment across diverse industries — including agriculture, energy, transportation, healthcare, travel, and tourism — will further transform lives throughout the continent.
Holy shit this guy. Capitalist colonialism being described to world leaders in the tone of a bored sixth grader giving a report comprised of facts he plucked off a Wikipedia page. Unreal.

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On Tuesday, in comments of my piece on the latest with Mueller's Russia investigation, which included the report about former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort having been wiretapped, Shaker Brad C. noted: "I'm concerned to what degree Trump and his cronies will use this reporting as an excuse to justify his long-debunked 'Obama wiretapped me!' claim. Facts notwithstanding, of course, but he's never let that bother him before..." To which I replied: "They'll use it. Despite the fact that this does not, in fact, vindicate his ridiculous claims at all."

And as all of us knew as surely as we know our own names, Mike Pence was trotted out on Fox News to make precisely this horseshit argument. My favorite part is how he doesn't use Manafort's name, but instead refers to him as "someone who had a condominium in the Trump Tower." Someone who also hand-selected Pence to be veep, for fuck's sake!

In other Mueller and Manafort news...


Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig, and Adam Entous at the Washington Post: Manafort Offered to Give Russian Billionaire 'Private Briefings' on 2016 Campaign. "Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the discussions. Paul Manafort made the offer in an email to an overseas intermediary, asking that a message be sent to Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business in the past, these people said. 'If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,' Manafort wrote in the July 7, 2016, email." Just normal stuff.

Josh Dawsey at Politico: Manafort Used Trump Campaign Account to Email Ukrainian Operative. "Former Donald Trump aide Paul Manafort used his presidential campaign email account to correspond with a Ukrainian political operative with suspected Russian ties, according to people familiar with the correspondence. Manafort sent emails to seek repayment for previous work he did in Ukraine and to discuss potential new opportunities in the country, even as he chaired Trump's presidential campaign, these people said." Cool.

So, you might have noticed there's a lot of news focused on Manafort lately, all of these scoops care of anonymous sources. That's not an accident. Someone (WHO COULD IT BE?) wants to make Manafort the fall guy for Russian collusion. No doubt he was at the center and in the thick of it, but he was, ultimately, only the go-between for two much more powerful players. The buck shouldn't stop with him. It's pretty clear who benefits from making sure it does stop with him, though.

That such a brazen effort is being made to frame him in the press is a hint that, behind the scenes, the key players may be trying to shape what evidence (documents and testimony) are provided to Mueller to direct his investigation toward Manafort and steer scrutiny away from Trump, Pence, and Kushner.

I don't think for a second that Mueller is naive enough to fall for it, or corrupt enough to go along with it, but I do think there's a real possibility that he'll be effectively stymied by these corrupt liars who have zero respect for the rule of law.

Which is a big part of the reason I keep saying: Continue to maintain measured expectations.

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Mike Allen at Axios: Another Potential Mueller Honey Pot: Spicer's Notebooks. "Former colleagues of Sean Spicer tell Axios that he filled 'notebook after notebook' during meetings at the Republican National Committee, later at the Trump campaign, and then at the White House. When Spicer worked at the RNC, he was said to have filled black books emblazoned with the party's seal. Spicer was so well-known for his copious notes that underlings joked about him writing a tell-all. ...When we texted Spicer for comment on his note-taking practices, he replied: 'Mike, please stop texting/emailing me unsolicited anymore.'" LOL.

Jenny Hopkinson at Politico: Trump Hires Campaign Workers Instead of Farm Experts at USDA. "Donald Trump's appointees to jobs at Agriculture Department headquarters include a long-haul truck driver, a country club cabana attendant, and the owner of a scented-candle company. A POLITICO review of dozens of résumés from political appointees to USDA shows the agency has been stocked with Trump campaign staff and volunteers who in many cases demonstrated little to no experience with federal policy, let alone deep roots in agriculture." Terrific.


[Content Note: Police brutality; disablism; racism] Matthew Haag at the New York Times: Despite Pleas, Oklahoma City Officer Fatally Shoots Deaf Man. "An Oklahoma City police officer fatally shot a man on Tuesday night despite pleas from neighbors that the man was deaf and could not hear the commands to drop a metal pipe he was holding, the authorities said. The man, Madgiel Sanchez, was shot around 8:15 p.m. outside his home soon after the police responded there to investigate a hit-and-run accident. The first officer to arrive called for backup, pulled out his Taser and ordered Mr. Sanchez, 35, who was on his front porch, to drop the two-foot-long pipe he was clutching, the police said. The officer's commands did not register with Mr. Sanchez. He ambled off the porch toward the officer, waving the pipe in his right hand, according to the police and a witness. ...[Mr. Sanchez] never left home without the pipe, wielding it shoo away stray dogs." Goddammit. My condolences to his family, friends, and neighbors.

[CN: Anti-Semitism; white supremacy] Rob Schultz at the Wisconsin State Journal: 'Trump Rules, Antifa Sucks': Graffiti and Swastikas Scrubbed from Monument Near Historic Madison Synagogue. "Vandals sprayed swastikas and other graffiti on a monument next to the Gates of Heaven Synagogue building in James Madison Park — in time for it to be discovered hours before the start of a Jewish holiday. The monument honors Americans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade that joined the international armies that fought the fascist forces of Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War. 'Antifa sucks' and 'Trump rules' also were sprayed onto the monument in red paint. ...[Dawn Berney, executive director of Jewish Social Services of Madison] said the graffiti was particularly disturbing because Wednesday is the start of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year. 'The person who did this knew that,' she said." Disgusting.

[CN: Toxic water; reproductive complications; video may autoplay at link] Keith Matheny at USA Today: Study: Fewer Pregnancies, More Fetal Deaths in Flint After Lead Levels Rose in Water. "Flint saw fewer pregnancies, and a higher number of fetal deaths, during the period Michigan women and their unborn children were exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking water, according to a new research study that reviewed health records from Flint and the state. Fertility rates decreased by 12% among Flint women, and fetal death rates increased by 58%, after April 2014, according to research by assistant professors and health economists David Slusky at Kansas University and Daniel Grossman at West Virginia University. ...On fertility rates, 'Flint's numbers fell off a cliff, and the rest of the cities stayed pretty much constant' after April 2014, Slusky said." Awful.

[CN: White supremacy] Maggie Astor at the New York Times: South Carolina 5th Graders Are Asked to Explain K.K.K.'s Thinking. "'You are a member of the K.K.K.,' the fifth-grade homework assignment read. 'Why do you think your treatment of African-Americans is justified?' The worksheet, given on Thursday as part of a lesson on the Reconstruction period, caused an outcry after one student's uncle, Tremain Cooper, posted a photo of the assignment on Facebook. 'This is my little 10-year-old nephew's homework assignment today,' he wrote. 'He's home crying right now.'"

That assignment would have put me in tears instantly when I was a kid, too. Asking me to explain why I was right to hurt other people, to empathize with abuse, would have been so upsetting to me, even as a white child. I can only imagine the pain it would cause a Black child. Fuck this.

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

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