Mueller Thread

Special Counsel Bob Mueller has delivered his report to the Justice Department. Per the Wall Street Journal, a senior Justice Department official reports that he won't be recommending any further indictments.

As Sarah Kendzior notes, this means that Michael Flynn and "others who committed severe crimes — and remain major national security threats — got cushy cooperation agreements," for reasons that certainly aren't readily apparent.

There are reports that Attorney General Bill Barr is going to swiftly deliver the report to the House Democrats, but let's not believe that until we see it. House Democrats have, meanwhile, "immediately renewed their demands to make Robert Mueller's report — and the evidence it is based on — public as quickly as possible, warning that there would be consequences if the White House attempts to censor or manipulate it."

Anyway. That's where things stand at the moment. Here is a thread for discussion as things unfold.

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

image of the exterior of a pub which has been photoshopped to be named 'The Beloved Community Pub'
[Explanations: lol your fat. pathetic anger bread. hey your gay.]

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

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Friday Links!

This list o' links brought to you by the satisfying quarter following a reluctant sneeze.

Recommended Reading:

Peter Wilson at the Economist: [Content Note: Diet talk; fat hatred] Death of the Calorie, the World's Most Misleading Measure

Emilia Clarke at the New Yorker: A Battle for My Life: I Had Just Finished Filming Season 1 of Game of Thrones, Then I Was Struck with the First of Two Aneurysms

Staff at the International Women's Health Coalition: The Commission on the Status of Women: A Regional Approach

Shannon Luders-Manuel at Dame: [CN: Sexual harassment; racism] When a Moment of Solidarity Turns into Friendship

Staff at Good Black News: Ava DuVernay to Develop and Produce Romance Anthology Series Cherish the Day for OWN

Paul Caputo at Sports Logos: RiverDogs Honor Trivial Pursuit with Moops Jersey

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

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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.

* * *

I am going to spend time with friends this weekend, including friends I haven't seen in a long time, and that is a very good thing indeed! I'm also going to try to spend some time swimming and some time reading, which will be good, too!

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat sitting atop a stack of boxes in our front entryway, eating her breakfast out of a small bowl

"And today I will take my breakfast on top of these boxes that were just delivered. Please and thank you, Two-Legs!"


close-up of Sophs crouched over the bowl eating, her little pink tongue visible

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 792

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.

* * *

Late yesterday and earlier today by me: Trump Announces U.S. Will Recognize Israel's Sovereignty over Golan Heights and Trump Still Wants Hillary Clinton "Locked Up" and So Much Anticipatory Mueller Chatter and Primarily Speaking.

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

This is a call to action from Rep. Maxine Waters:

MAKE YOUR CALLS. Let your reps know that you support the Democrats in pursuing impeachment of Donald Trump. They need to hear that we want them to do whatever it takes to disempower Trump.

* * *

I linked this in comments of yesterday's thread, but just in case anyone missed it, especially given its importance...

Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney at Politico: Cummings Demands Docs on Kushner's Alleged Use of Encrypted App for Official Business.
House Democrats are raising new concerns about what they say is recently revealed information from Jared Kushner's attorney indicating that the senior White House aide has been relying on encrypted messaging service WhatsApp and his personal email account to conduct official business.

The revelation came in a Dec. 19 meeting — made public by the House Oversight and Reform Committee for the first time on Thursday — between Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the former chairman of the Oversight panel, and Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell.

Cummings, who now leads the Oversight Committee, says in a new letter to White House counsel Pat Cipollone that Lowell confirmed to the two lawmakers that Kushner "continues to use" WhatsApp to conduct White House business.

...Kushner, whom the president charged with overseeing the administration's Middle East policies, reportedly has communicated with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman via WhatsApp.

The details of the discussion about Kushner's email and messaging practices came as part of a new Oversight Committee demand for a slew of new documents from Kushner and other current and former White House officials, including his wife Ivanka Trump, former deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland, and former top strategist Steve Bannon.

...According to Cummings, Lowell also told him and Gowdy that Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter who also serves as a top adviser, conducts official White House business through her personal email account. Cummings suggested that Ivanka Trump was in violation of the Presidential Records Act because she was not forwarding emails to her official White House account that deal with government-related business.

...Cummings also told Cipollone that the committee obtained a document showing that McFarland was using an account to conduct official White House business. Cummings said the document shows that McFarland was in communication with Tom Barrack, a longtime Trump confidant and the chairman of the president's Inaugural Committee, about transferring "sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia."

Barrack pitched the plan to Bannon through Bannon's personal email account, according to Cummings.
Fucking hell!

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Shane Croucher at Newsweek: Jared Kushner's Using WhatsApp for White House Business Is 'Far More Egregious' Than Hillary Clinton's Emails, Cybersecurity Expert Says. No shit! "During a discussion about the Kushner WhatsApp news on MSNBC's The 11th Hour, Clint Watts, a former FBI special agent and a cybersecurity expert, noted a story in The New York Times about 'internet mercenaries' selling their hacking skills to foreign governments. Watts told The 11th Hour that these private security companies were now targeting people 'in their communications at the point of origin — at the phone.' He continued: 'This is what it's about now. It's not about this intercepting en route. It's about companies now that have the ability — and this is well-known in cybersecurity circles, I hear about it all the time — going in and targeting anyone's phone and being able to tap into those communications. We cannot have this.'"

I mean, yes, of course that's correct. But when Jared Kushner is using WhatsApp to communicate directly with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and K.T. McFarland is using an AOL account to discuss transferring U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, the concern about hacking is rather less serious than the concern that we have traitors running the government who are using these technologies to operate in secrecy.

It would be bad if they were just being foolish in their top secret communications and risked getting hacked, but it's even worse that they are strategically avoiding transparency because they are apparently committing treason.

* * *

Staff at the Daily Beast: Trump: 'People Will Not Stand for It' If Mueller Report Makes Me Look Bad. "In a new interview with his favorite cable TV network, [Donald] Trump was adamant that 'the people won't stand for it' if a report delivered by Special Counsel Robert Mueller makes him look bad." This, too, must be understood as part of Trump's campaign of stochastic terrorism. He is tacitly urging his supporters to not "stand for it" and to take action if Mueller's report is even critical of their dear leader.

The Christian Broadcasting Network asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo if he thinks Donald Trump might have been sent by God to save Jews from Iran, and he responded, "As a Christian, I certainly believe that's possible." OMG.

Matt Apuzzo at the New York Times: How Strongmen Turned Interpol into Their Personal Weapon. "Unwaveringly confident in its fellowship of nations, Interpol was slow to recognize an era in which autocrats and strongmen wield increasing power over international institutions. Today, Interpol is scrambling to bolster oversight across 194 countries and review tens of thousands of red notices that have accumulated over the years. Nobody knows how many are tainted by political influence. That leaves governments around the world, including the United States', trying to figure out whether they are arresting a fugitive or employing their police for the whims of a despot."

* * *

[CN: Nativism. Covers entire section. Video may autoplay at first link.]

Danica McAdam and Artie Ojeda at NBC San Diego: Young U.S. Citizen Detained at Border Gave 'Inconsistent Info,' CBP Says. "U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are defending the decision to detain a 9-year-old girl for more than 30 hours as they worked to verify her identification. Thelma Galaxia said her friend, Michelle Cardenas, was driving each of their two children from Tijuana, where they live, to their schools in San Ysidro Monday morning, as they do nearly every day. ...Galaxia says CBP officers accused her daughter of lying about her identity [because she is younger in her passport photo]. ...CBP said the girl 'provided inconsistent information during her inspection,' and officers took her into custody 'to perform due diligence in confirming her identity and citizenship.'" Goddammit.

Michael Y. Park at the Points Guy: Airline Assured Flight Attendant She'd Be Safe to Fly to Mexico; When She Returned, ICE Detained Her. "Selene Saavedra Roman, 28, a resident of College Station, Texas, had been a crew member for Phoenix-based Mesa Airlines for less than a month in February when she was scheduled for a flight to Mexico out of Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), even though she'd already made it clear that she didn't want to work any flights outside the U.S. ...Saavedra immediately told her supervisors she was worried — she was, after all, a so-called Dreamer, one of an estimated 700,000 immigrants to the US who fall under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. ...But Mesa Airlines insisted she was legally all right to fly to Mexico and back. ...She ended up being held at the Houston airport for 24 hours, then Immigrations and Customs Enforcement transferred her to a privately run immigration detention facility in Conroe, Texas."

This is a situation where Trump's vile nativist agenda has fundamentally changed things for undocumented immigrants living in the United States: "According to [her attorney, Belinda Arroyo], immigration officials at Houston airport previously would have granted Saavedra a parole — a legal exception that would have allowed her, as a DACA recipient, to leave and reenter the country without hassle. But because of DACA's legal limbo, it's not clear whether paroles still apply." Rage seethe boil.

Molly O'Toole at the LA Times: Marine Corps Commandant Says Deploying Troops to the Border Poses 'Unacceptable Risk'. "The commandant of the Marines has warned the Pentagon that deployments to the southwest border and funding transfers under the president's emergency declaration, among other unexpected demands, have posed 'unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency.' In two internal memos, Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller said the 'unplanned/unbudgeted' deployment along the border that [Donald] Trump ordered last fall, and shifts of other funds to support border security, had forced him to cancel or reduce planned military training in at least five countries, and delay urgent repairs at bases." Welp.

* * *

[CN: Anti-choicery; dehumanization of people who can get pregnant] Ari Bee at Rewire.News: Georgia's Total Abortion Ban Would Give Rights to a Fertilized Egg.
Most of Georgia's House Bill 481 focuses on redefining medical and legal viability as beginning when a fetus has "a detectable heartbeat," usually around six weeks' gestational age. This effectively outlaws all abortion, as many people don't know they're pregnant at six weeks. However, the bill slips in language that fundamentally redefines a "natural person," to include "a member of the species Homo sapiens at any stage of development who is carried in the womb."

...Jalessah Jackson, the Georgia coordinator for SisterSong, a women of color reproductive justice collective based in Atlanta, told Rewire.News by email that the so-called fetal personhood language in anti-choice bills like HB 481 is a direct attack on the autonomy and rights of anyone who can become pregnant.

"To be clear, the desired outcome of fetal personhood framing is to remove the pregnant person's human and reproductive rights altogether," Jackson said.
As I have been noting for at least six years, these laws value fetuses more highly than the people who carry them. That's not a bug of anti-choice legislation; that's a feature.

[CN: Gun violence; abuse] Arika Herron at the Indianapolis Star: 'It Hurt So Bad': Indiana Teachers Shot with Plastic Pellets During Active Shooter Training. "An active-shooter training exercise at an Indiana elementary school in January left teachers with welts, bruises, and abrasions after they were shot with plastic pellets by the local sheriff's office conducting the session. The incident, acknowledged in testimony this week before state lawmakers, was confirmed by two elementary school teachers in Monticello, who described an exercise in which teachers were asked by local law enforcement to kneel down against a classroom wall before being sprayed across their backs with plastic pellets without warning. 'They told us, 'This is what happens if you just cower and do nothing,'' said one of the two teachers, both of whom asked IndyStar not to be identified out of concern for their jobs." JFC.

[CN: Trans hatred] Also in Indiana... Casey Quinlan at ThinkProgress: Indiana Republicans Push Anti-Trans Legislation Days After Gender-Neutral License Victory. "Indiana lawmakers are trying to make it harder for transgender and non-binary people to correct the gender on their ID cards and driver's licenses only a few days after Indiana became the sixth state in the nation to provide non-binary people with a gender marker option. A new amendment, introduced by a Republican state representative, would require people who want their correct gender marker on their ID card to first change their birth certificate — something that is often impossible for people born in a different state." Such assholes.

Emily Barrett and Katherine Greifeld at Bloomberg News: U.S. Treasury Yield Curve Inverts for First Time Since 2007. "A closely watched section of the Treasury yield curve on Friday turned negative for the first time since the crisis more than a decade ago, underscoring concern about a possible economic slump and the prospect that the Federal Reserve will have to cut interest rates. The gap between the 3-month and 10-year yields vanished on Friday as a surge of buying pushed long-end rates sharply lower. Inversion is widely considered a reliable harbinger of recession in the U.S. The 10-year slipped to as low as 2.439 percent." Swell.

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

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Primarily Speaking

image of a cartoon version of me smiling and holding the poop emoji wrapped in a pink bow, while standing in front of a patriotic stars-and-stripes graphic, to which I've added text reading: 'The Democratic Primary 2020: Let's do this thing.'

Welcome to another edition of Primarily Speaking, because presidential primaries now begin fully one million years before the election!

So, an informal poll of folks I know who are not diehard politicos but are all dedicated liberals who will vote for whichever Democrat is the eventual nominee revealed something interesting: Bernie Sanders is really going to struggle this time around, because of Donald Trump. By which I mean that two years of Trump has significantly eroded a lot of folks' tolerance for loud men with an outsized ego.

And among people to whom I've spoken, those who are inclined to believe that a white dude has the best chance of defeating Trump are looking at Pete Buttigieg to get the job done. He is, they told me, "likeable."

Sanders and his most aggressive supporters might regret having traded so heavily on the "likability" of candidates last time around.


Speaking of old white dudes, here are two headlines about Joe Biden that I saw back-to-back this morning: At CNBC, "Skeptical Democratic Donors Tell Joe Biden They Will Not Raise Funds for Him at the Start of the 2020 Campaign," and, at Politico, "Obama Donors Prepare to Power Biden's Campaign." Wow, bad news and good news for Uncle Joe! Donors are totally not going to support him, and donors are totally going to support him! I guess it makes sense since he is totally running for president, while also totally not running for president! The dual-dimension candidacy of Joe Biden sure is something!

Here is a nice story by Emily Heil at the Washington Post about how Ariana Grande "is turning her ongoing 'Sweetener' tour into a voter-registration drive, partnering with the nonprofit organization HeadCount to get concertgoers to complete the paperwork that makes them eligible to cast ballots in the 2020 presidential race." Awesome!

Please savor that lovely bit of election news for a moment, because this next bit covers Democrats' opponents and it is all terrible!

Voracious ego in an ugly suit Howard Schultz was on MSNBC this morning, and it sounds like he is really amping up the garbage he disgorges in defense of his (proposed? actual?) third-party run. Apparently, he claimed that "if Democrats win the 2020 election there is no proof anything will change, and he also said he has a path to win as an Independent." No and no. This fucking guy.

The only person more confident that they'll win in 2020 is Donald Trump, and that's because he knows he's got Vladimir Putin and the Republican Party on his side to put their thumbs on the scale.

On that note, Brad Reed at Raw Story reports that Republicans are resigned to Trump not winning the popular vote, but are convinced he'll win reelection care of the Electoral College. "[W]hile 'Trump's populist brand of partisan grievance' will isolate the majority of voters, they believe that it is 'an attitude tailor-made for the Electoral College in the current era of regionally Balkanized politics.'" Cool.

Reed notes: "Were Trump to lose the popular vote in 2020 while once again winning the Electoral College, it would mark the first time in American history that a president had held the office for eight years without winning either a majority or a plurality of the popular vote." What a fun democracy, where the loser gets to run the country for nearly a decade!

If that isn't an unassailable argument for abolishing the Electoral College, I can't imagine what would be.

[Content Note: Hate crimes] This is a chilling analysis to contemplate right as we're entering into campaign season once again: "We found that counties that had hosted a 2016 Trump campaign rally saw a 226 percent increase in reported hate crimes over comparable counties that did not host such a rally. ...Recent research also shows that reading or hearing Trump's statements of bias against particular groups makes people more likely to write offensive things about the groups he targets." This election is going to be scary. Shiver.

John Hickenlooper is still definitely running for president.

Talk about these things! Or don't. Whatever makes you happy. Life is short.

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So Much Anticipatory Mueller Chatter

The title of this post is the whole thing. There's a lot of chatter that Special Counsel Bob Mueller is about to issue his report. Which would go to Attorney General Bob Barr. Who would then decide if Congress and/or the public get to see all or parts of it.

As is no secret, I've been very dubious about this investigation and what it will yield since virtually its inception. I've repeatedly cautioned moderation in expectations, for a whole lot of reasons, not least of which is that it would be unprecedented for a special counsel investigation to result in criminal charges that led to the forcible removal of a sitting president, no less of both a sitting president and a sitting vice-president.

I don't have anything to say other than that. Maybe Mueller is close to wrapping it up! Maybe we'll get to see his report! Maybe something in it will actually matter! I don't know!

But here's a place to talk about all the possibilities!

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Trump Still Wants Hillary Clinton "Locked Up"

When Donald Trump's deplorable supporters break into a "Lock Her Up!" chant at one of his rallies, fully two years into his presidency, there are people who express surprise that they're still hanging on to resentments about Hillary Clinton.

It should not be a surprise. Because Trump is an authoritarian who regards (and casts) his critics and political opponents as dangerous enemies, fomenting that same view among his seething cultists. He still wants her locked up, so of course they do.

"Lock Her Up!" chants aren't going to stop anytime soon when this is what Trump himself is still saying:

Donald Trump said in an interview that aired Friday he hopes Attorney General William Barr will “do what’s fair” with regards to opening investigations to perceived crimes by his 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey, former intelligence chief James Clapper, and former CIA Director John Brennan.

[Trump] asserted in an interview on Fox Business Network's Mornings with Maria he'd been treated "very unfairly" by investigators probing his ties to Russia.

"So when I won, I made my opening speech, everyone's shouting, 'Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!' I said, 'No, no, no, let's forget her. Let's get on to the future,'" the president recalled Friday. "But they have treated me so viciously, and they have treated me so badly and we did nothing wrong — you look at the others — and all of these people you hear about, that had nothing to do with Russia, Russia collusion, nothing."

While Trump maintained that no one on his presidential campaign conspired with Russian agents to influence the 2016 election, one subject of special counsel Robert Muller's probe, he complained that "nobody does anything" in the face of alleged evidence of "stone cold crimes" by former Obama officials.

He accused Comey, Clapper, and Brennan of telling "absolute lies" to Congress, declining to provide proof of his claim or elaborating further on their alleged lies.

...Trump called it an "interesting question" whether he thought Barr should look into Trump's accusations against Clinton and the other Obama officials, despite two Trump-appointed attorney generals so far declining to do so.

"I think — look, I have a lot of respect for him. I've never known him. He's a very, very smart, respected man," he said of Barr. "Hopefully he'll do what's fair. ...All I can ask is what's fair."
What's fair, he says. After casually suggesting he resumed his attacks on Hillary Clinton out of spite for how he was being treated. (Which isn't even true: His attacks on her never stopped.) Trump doesn't traffic in fair.

If he cared about anything resembling fairness, he wouldn't still be publicly urging his Attorney General to investigate Hillary Clinton.

The sitting president is a dangerous authoritarian waging a campaign of stochastic terrorism against dissidents. This should be the biggest news of the day, every day, until he is removed from power.

Instead, it's reported like it's just another wacky day in Trump's zany presidency. If it's even reported at all. For fuck's sake.

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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

What turn of phrase makes your teeth grind every time you hear it?

For the purposes of this question, we'll take all inherently offensive phrases (e.g. those with racist origins, or containing a gendered slur, etc.) out of contention. And it's not a question about a phrase that people frequently get grammatically wrong (e.g. "should have went" instead of "should have gone"), either.

It's about clichés, idioms, aphorisms, slivers of so-called conventional wisdom, and assorted one-liners of various stripes that just get on your nerves, either for no real reason other than you just bloody hate them or because they communicate an idea or attitude you can't abide.

My answer is: "Life isn't fair."

While it's aggravating when someone uses the phrase in a well-meaning but misguided attempt to be commiserative about something that either needs a better display of empathy or the wisdom of silence (like, say, when you've just lost a good friend suddenly at a young age), it's when those three horrid little words are offered up flippantly in response to a genuine injustice that I go all SET PHASERS TO FUCK OFF.

Extra bonus rage points earned by the even more excruciating "Nobody ever said life was fair."

I am not a violent person, Shakers, but when some privileged wankstain meets a legitimate grievance of the marginalized with a chorus of life ain't fair, I want to punch things.

[Originally posted April 14, 2010.]

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Throwback Thursdays

image of me outside wearing a blue moto jacket, black-and-white framed glasses, and black fedora hat
On National Hat Day, 2016.

[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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Trump Announces U.S. Will Recognize Israel's Sovereignty over Golan Heights

Julian Borger at the Guardian reports:

Donald Trump has announced that the U.S. will recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967, in a dramatic move likely to bolster Benjamin Netanyahu's hopes to win re-election, but which will also provoke international opposition.

Previous U.S. administrations have treated Golan Heights as occupied Syrian territory, in line with UN security council resolutions. Trump declared his break with that policy, in a tweet on Thursday.

He said: "After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!"

By defying a 52-year-old unanimously adopted UN resolution on "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war," Trump has also broken the postwar norm of refusing to recognise the forcible annexation of territory — which has underpinned western and international opposition to the Russian annexation of Crimea.

...Netanyahu, the Israeli PM, quickly tweeted his gratitude for Trump's gesture.

"At a time when Iran seeks to use Syria as a platform to destroy Israel, [Donald] Trump boldly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights," the Israeli prime minister wrote. "Thank you [Donald] Trump!"
Donald Trump didn't come up with this idea. It's so specific, and so far outside anything Trump has ever even pretended to know anything about, that we must question the genesis of Trump's decision to "fully recognize" Israel's sovereignty over Golan Heights.

That the decision undermines the rationale for opposing Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea, and delights Netanyahu, gives us a pretty good idea of the answer to that question.

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World of Shakescraft

image of colorful yarn
[Via Shirsty Cat Designs. You can buy their beautiful yarn here.]

As you know, I am not a crafty person. I am terrible at crafts! And I'm only slightly better with DIY home projects, with the occasional modest success.

But lots of Shakers are very talented crafters and DIY-ers, and I am happy to read about all of your terrific projects! So here is a thread to talk about your current crafting and/or DIY project(s), completed projects, or future projects; to share ideas; to brag about your successes or lament your setbacks; and to solicit advice from fellow creators!

(As always, make sure you don't offer advice unless it's solicited.)

Have at it in comments!

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound and Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt lying on the sofa, butt to butt, taking up the whole darn thing
Puppehs. ♥

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 791

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: New Zealand Bans Military-Style Rifles Used in Attack and Primarily Speaking.

Have y'all noticed there seems to be a lot less hard news about the Trump administration recently? It's all "Trump fights with McCain's ghost" and "Trump doesn't wish his son happy birthday on Twitter" and "Trump fights with Kellyanne Conway's husband" and "Stormy Daniels mocks Trump in stand-up routine" and "Trump wants Kraft at White House despite spa scandal" and what even the fuck is anyone in his administration doing?

There is far less meaningful policy news than there was, and I'm sure there are multiple reasons for that, not least of which may be multiple cabinet vacancies that have slowed down media dispatches about what's happening in various federal departments. I mean, does anyone even care that we haven't had a Defense Secretary since fucking December?!

The slowdown in hard/policy/investigative news is really noticeable to me when I'm doing my news rounds looking for items to include in this thread. It feels like the news hole that happens in August.

Which, since it's March, feels like an ominous silence. Like the settling wind before a crashing storm.

The hairs on the back of my neck are up, friends.

Anyway. Here are some of the things that are in the news today...

Brian Naylor at NPR: Trump Backs Public Release of Mueller Report. "Amid signs that special counsel Robert Mueller will soon complete his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, [Donald] Trump says that he looks forward to seeing the report and that it should be made public. Answering questions from reporters on the South Lawn of the White House prior to traveling to Ohio on Wednesday, Trump said of Mueller's report, 'Let it come out. Let people see it — that's up to the attorney general.' Federal law requires Mueller to present Attorney General William Barr with a confidential report upon the completion of his work." So, in other words, Barr has already assured Trump there will be nothing in the report to harm him. Cool.

Sarah Blaskey, Nicholas Nehamas, and Caitlin Ostroff at the Miami Herald: Cindy Yang Helped Chinese Tech Stars Get $50K Photos with Trump. Who Paid?
More than a year before her Super Bowl selfie with the president, Li "Cindy" Yang brought two Chinese-born tech executives — an Australia-based cryptocurrency guru known in the industry as "the Martian" and a startup CEO whose firm recently became a jersey sponsor for the Dallas Mavericks — to take formal photos with [Donald] Trump.

Both men flashed a thumbs-up for the camera. So did Trump.

It was a big moment — and it came with a big price tag: $50,000 per photo, benefiting the president's re-election campaign.

But neither Ryan Xu nor Lucas Lu appear to have paid for the privilege. A search of a federal database showed no record of either man giving to Trump Victory, the political action committee that sold tickets — as well as perks like photos with the president — for the Dec. 2, 2017, breakfast fundraiser hosted by the Republican National Committee in New York City.

So who paid Trump Victory for their photos?

Yang isn't saying — but she and three associates with an Asian-American political group donated a total of $135,500 to Trump Victory in the weeks leading up to the event. None of those associates would comment either. One of them told the Miami Herald she could not recall making a $25,000 donation listed in her name and address.
Eric Umansky and Heather Vogell at New York Public Radio: Trump's Moscow Tower Problem. "We already knew that Trump had business interests involving Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign — which he denied — that could have been influencing his policy positions. As the world has discovered, Trump was negotiating to develop a tower in Moscow while running for president. Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has admitted to lying to Congress about being in contact with the Kremlin about the project during the campaign. All of that explains why congressional investigators are scrutinizing Trump's Moscow efforts. And we've found more."

Kyle Cheney at Politico: Julian Assange Won't Hand over Docs to House Judiciary, Attorney Says. "'The First Amendment dictates that an inquiry by Congress should not begin by issuing requests to journalists for documents pertaining to its newsgathering,' the attorney, Barry Pollack, wrote in an email." Journalist. Snort. "Assange has long parried criticism that he acted on behalf of Russia when he posted hacked Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee emails in 2016 by suggesting his actions were no different than journalists accepting and publishing confidential documents. But the U.S. intelligence community has assessed that WikiLeaks was an active participant in the effort to obtain and post Democratic emails, partnering with Russian propaganda outlets and acting as a tool of the Russian government."

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

Adolfo Flores at BuzzFeed: A 40-Year-Old Mexican Immigrant Died in U.S. Custody — the Fourth Death in Recent Months. "A 40-year-old Mexican immigrant died in U.S. custody on Monday — the fourth person to die after being apprehended by border authorities in recent months. The man, who has not been identified, died at Las Palmas Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, after being diagnosed with flu-like symptoms, liver failure, and renal failure, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement. ...In February, a 45-year-old Mexican mad died in CBP custody after being initially diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and congestive heart failure. In December, two Guatemalan children, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal and 8-year-old Felipe Gómez Alonzo, also died in the custody of CBP."

Aleksandr Sverdlik at the ACLU: Border Patrol and ICE Routinely Violate Immigrants' Religious Rights. "One pork sandwich every eight hours for six straight days. That’s the only food that Border Patrol provided to Adnan Asif Parveen, a Muslim immigrant who was detained in South Texas in January because his work permit had expired and was pending renewal. Mr. Parveen reportedly informed officials that his religion forbids him from eating pork, but they didn’t care. ...Despite the agency's 'Religious Sensitivity' policy, which directs officers and agents to 'remain cognizant of an individual's religious beliefs while accomplishing an enforcement action in a dignified and respectful manner,' officials have seized rosaries from Catholic immigrants. One janitor found so many rosaries discarded by Border Patrol officials that he was able to create and photograph an entire collection of them."

Rebekah Entralgo at ThinkProgress: Supreme Court Ruling to Strip Immigrants of Due Process Rights Has Major Repercussions, Experts Say. "Breyer notes that the conservative interpretation of the law could permit federal agents to detain undocumented immigrants indefinitely without bail for minor drug offenses of even 'crimes of moral turpitude, such as illegally downloading music or processing stolen bus transfers.' 'I fear,' Breyer added, that the majority's decision 'will work serious harm to the principles for which American law has long stood.' Access to a bond hearing is critical for immigrants seeking to stay in the United States and denying anyone of that access could have serious repercussions on the lives of immigrants who have spent decades building a life in the United States."

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And that's why I call the Republicans "Democracy Killers." One of many reasons.

In good resistance news, however...

Katelyn Burns at Rewire.News: Senate Democrats Call for Hearing on Trump's Domestic 'Gag Rule'. "A group of Senate Democrats sent a letter on Monday to committee leadership demanding a hearing on the Trump administration's newly finalized rule restricting family planning funding, dubbed the domestic 'gag rule' by opponents. Democrats on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) explained their concern that the anti-choice restriction would force providers to violate medical ethics by banning referrals for abortion care. The letter also says that the rule's requirement that clinics physically and financially separate Title X-funded family planning services from abortion services 'appears to be aimed at and would disproportionately affect Planned Parenthood health centers, which currently serve over 40% of Title X network patients.'"

Sarah Ferris at Politico: House Dems to Take Up Gender Pay Gap, Domestic Violence Laws. "House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Monday formally rolled out the party's agenda for the next month, eyeing high-profile votes on the gender pay gap, net neutrality, and domestic violence laws. None of the bills — which have few GOP cosponsors — are expected to make it through the Republican-controlled Senate, at least without substantial revisions. But it's an aggressive agenda to cap off Democrats' first 100 days in the majority, as Hoyer laid out in a letter to members." WORTH DOING. Force Republicans to vote against pay equality and domestic violence protections. The fucking shitwheels.

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

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Awesome Things About Aging

image of a forest floor covered in fallen leaves, with sunlight streaming through trees in the background, to which I've added text reading 'The Aging Thread'
[Photo credit: Pixabay.]

In January, I asked what sorts of topics you might like to see in future threads, and Shaker Lady Blanchester suggested a thread in which we shared "Awesome Things About Aging."

She wrote: "As I keep going past 40 (a small part of me thought I was going to get to stop there forever), I crave positive stories and representations of aging to counteract society's negative narratives about older people, especially older women. The Netflix show Grace and Frankie is great, but I'd love to hear Shakers' takes on getting older."

Me, too! I'm especially excited about this because there is so much cultural incentive to complain about aging and very little incentive to enthuse about it.

Aging is scary for lots of people, probably all the more so due to the dearth of positive messages about aging. Celebrating what's good about it can demystify and deterrorize it for younger folks.

It also visibilizes those of us who don't have nostalgia for any "glory years" past and wouldn't go back to our younger days for love nor money. I am very contentedly aging, and I love to talk about its benefits (far beyond that old chestnut about its being better than the alternative) and to listen to others talk about what they enjoy, appreciate, and value about aging.

So here is a thread to share and discuss all the things that you've found are awesome about getting older!

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Primarily Speaking

image of a cartoon version of me smiling and holding a cup of steaming coffee that says 'I hate myself,' while standing in front of a patriotic stars-and-stripes graphic, to which I've added text reading: 'The Democratic Primary 2020: Let's do this thing.'

Welcome to another edition of Primarily Speaking, because presidential primaries now begin fully one million years before the election!

So, Joe Biden still hasn't announced that he's running for president, and lots of people are quite reasonably wondering what the hold-up is, because it's obvious that he is running despite the fact that he shouldn't be. And it's probably because he's sorting out what goddamned stupid gimmick he's going to use to try to convince people that he's the best candidate.

For some time, there have been rumors that Biden might announce with a running mate already in tow and/or that with a promise that he would only serve one term. Maybe a combination thereof. Today, Axios reports that his out-of-the-gate running mate may be Stacey Abrams.

First of all, we all need to understand that this "report" is Biden's team floating a trial balloon to gauge public reaction to the idea — and, if Abrams isn't already on board, potentially a way of publicly putting pressure on her.

This is a very bad idea. Mostly for whoever agrees to be Biden's running mate, especially if it's Abrams. For one thing, Biden's disgrace during the Anita Hill testimony against Clarence Thomas is going to come up if Biden runs. Surely Abrams doesn't want to be associated with that mess. For another, Abrams has cultivated a good reputation for speaking honestly about her personal debt, while Biden has been handing out gifts to predatory lenders in Delaware his whole career. The questions about that mismatch aren't going to serve Abrams well.

And, in any case, that Biden is even contemplating that his road to the presidency starts with some sort of godawful stunt is disqualifying, in my estimation. We need serious people, not prankster doofuses.

In other news... Senator Bernie Sanders is quite deservedly getting eleventy shitloads of criticism for his deplorable hires. And it isn't just on social media. At the Washington Post (though in the Style section?!), Paul Farhi makes the very good point that David Sirota's failure to disclose to his readers at the Guardian and elsewhere that he was working behind the scenes for Sanders while trashing other candidates not only makes him a shitty campaign hire but also a shitty journalist.

On Twitter, @eclecticbrotha additionally notes: "The Intercept's Briahna Joy Gray was also devoting a lot of her time attacking Sanders' presidential rivals in the months before officially becoming Sanders' campaign press secretary. That relationship could stand some investigating as well." Indeed.

Speaking of Twitter, here is just a terrible but necessary reminder that the company on whose platform much of our political debate now takes place is managed by a bunch of fascist shitwheels:

They then deleted that tweet and replaced it one now reading: "Update: This replaces a previous Tweet to reflect that the electoral college exists, in part, to give a greater voice to less populous states." Hahahaha fuck you! The electoral college exists because of classist patriarchal white supremacy.

[Content Note: Disablism] Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has introduced legislation ostensibly to address the opioid addiction epidemic but will, in actual practice, be incredibly harmful to people who rely on opioids for pain management. Ana Mardoll has published two excellent Twitter threads on the subject. The first ends with this tweet (scroll up to get to the beginning), and the second begins with this tweet (scroll down to read the rest). Having supported this legislation is really bad, and failing to listen to the people whom it will harm is even worse. It's a terrible move as a presidential candidate, and it's a terrible move as a sitting senator. Really disappointing stuff.

From the other side of the aisle: "Mike Pence woos 2016 anti-Trumpers to bankroll billion-dollar reelection: The vice president is serving as a conduit and Trump translator for the traditional GOP donor set." Keep your eyes on Pence.

Just after I recommended an interview with Mayor Pete Buttigieg yesterday, I saw that he said some more objectionable shit in a different interview:


Not to be outdone, John Hickenlooper yonked open his maw and jammed his entire clodhopper in there:
"Governor," CNN's Dana Bash said at a presidential candidate town hall, "some of your male competitors have vowed to put a woman on the ticket. Yes or no, would you do the same?"

"Of course," Hickenlooper said, before saying he wanted to ask Bash a question.

"How come we're not asking more often the women, 'Would you be willing to put a man on the ticket?' " he said with a shrug, to audible groans from the audience.
Oh for fuck's sake. Look, I get that he was trying to make the point that women aren't reflexively presumed to be the nominee, but this is not the way to make that point. It's not in the same galaxy as the way to make that point. In one sentence, Chloe Angyal makes plain precisely why: "Have you considered including more men in your trailblazing feminist accomplishment?" Exactly.

Jay Inslee is still definitely running for president.

Talk about these things! Or don't. Whatever makes you happy. Life is short.

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New Zealand Bans Military-Style Rifles Used in Attack

[Content Note: Gun violence.]

Just six days after a mass shooting at two mosques in which 50 people were killed and 40 people were injured, New Zealand has banned the military-style semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles of the sort used in the attack.

Anna Fifield at the Washington Post reports:

A buyback program will be launched to take existing weapons out of circulation, and gun owners who do not comply will be subject to fines, [Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Thursday].

"On 15 March, our history changed forever. Now, our laws will, too," Ardern said. "We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place."

...Ardern has said there is no reason for New Zealanders to own these kinds of weapons, and there is broad consensus on that argument.

The center-right opposition National Party supported the ban. Its leader, Simon Bridges, said it was "imperative in the national interest to keep New Zealanders safe."

The changes mean that the weapons will now be removed from circulation.
Even before today's announcement, I saw reports that owners were voluntarily handing in their weapons.

This is such a fundamental and heartbreaking difference from the United States, where owners of such weaponry are more likely to be marching through towns with their rifles on display, making a statement about their Second Amendment rights, than they are to be offering to get rid of their weapons for the safety of the nation.

Gun laws aside, we all, from the U.S. to New Zealand and everywhere in between, need to embrace effective strategies to challenge and dismantle the white supremacy and toxic masculinity underwriting these vile acts of public violence.

Getting rid of the guns is crucial. Getting rid of resentful men's urge to pick up weapons and slaughter other humans is even more urgent. And far more difficult.

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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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