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.

As Monday is Memorial Day in the United States, we will be taking Monday off and will see you back here on Tuesday!

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The Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by leaves.

Recommended Reading:

Lance Mannion: [Content Note: Class warfare] They Hate Us. All of Us.

Sarah Kendzior: There Are Many Reasons to Oppose a Mike Pence Presidency—But His Skill at Lying Is the Biggest

Sarah Lerner: [CN: Culture of abuse; white male privilege] Only White Men Get to Do Apology Tours

Amy Littlefield: [CN: Christian Supremacy; war on agency] Will a Catholic Hospital Merger Gut Health Care in Gary, Indiana?

Kenrya Rankin: April Ryan Explains Press Responsibility in the Age of Trump

Keith Reid-Cleveland: Gina Prince-Bythewood Becomes First Woman of Color to Direct Marvel Superhero Film

Rebecca Bodenheimer: [CN: Fat hatred] Where Are All the Fat Women in The Handmaid's Tale?

Shannon Gibney and Lori Askeland: [CN: White supremacy] Race, Intersectionality, and the End of the World: The Problem with The Handmaid's Tale

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

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Comey's Devastating Unprofessionalism

On Wednesday, we learned that former FBI Director James Comey's public communications during the election about the Hillary Clinton email probe were influenced by a fake Russian intelligence document.

And it gets even worse.

[Content Note: Video autoplays at link] Dana Bash, Shimon Prokupecz, and Gloria Borger at CNN report that not only was the document fake, but Comey knew it was fake.

Then-FBI Director James Comey knew that a critical piece of information relating to the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email was fake — created by Russian intelligence — but he feared that if it became public it would undermine the probe and the Justice Department itself, according to multiple officials with knowledge of the process.

As a result, Comey acted unilaterally last summer to publicly declare the investigation over — without consulting then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch — while at the same time stating that Clinton had been "extremely careless" in her handling of classified information.

...US officials now tell CNN that Comey and FBI officials actually knew early on that this intelligence was indeed false.

In fact, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe went to Capitol Hill Thursday to push back on the notion that the FBI was duped, according to a source familiar with a meeting McCabe had with members of the Senate intelligence committee.

...In classified sessions with members of Congress several months ago, Comey described those emails in the Russian claim and expressed his concern that this Russian information could "drop" and that would undermine the Clinton investigation and the Justice Department in general, according to one government official.

Still, Comey did not let on to lawmakers that there were doubts about the veracity of the intelligence, according to sources familiar with the briefings. It is unclear why Comey was not more forthcoming in a classified setting.
As Eastsidekate succinctly summarized: "They admitted to intentionally using hostile propoganda to undermine HRC in order to prop up their own credibility?" Yup.

You know how I keep hammering away about how this war between Donald Trump and intelligence community is not a good thing? And issuing reminders that pro-Comey leakers are shaping their narratives to be favorable to him? Yeah, this is why.

Comey engaged in devastating unprofessionalism during the election, and it had catastrophic consequences. There is very good reason to withhold enthusiastic cheerleading for James Comey, and many of the people on "his team" in this escalating war.

As usual, Hillary Clinton gets it right (commenting before this news broke) in a new profile by Rebecca Traister:
"I am less surprised than I am worried," she says of the Comey firing. "Not that he shouldn't have been disciplined. And certainly the Trump campaign relished everything that was done to me in July and then particularly in October." But "having said that, I think what's going on now is an effort to derail and bury the Russia inquiry, and I think that's terrible for our country."

It will be days before newspapers report that Trump asked Comey to move away from the Russia investigation prior to firing him, but the implications are already clear. History, says Clinton, "will judge whoever's in Congress now as to how they respond to what was an attack on our country. It wasn't the kind of horrible, physical attack we saw on 9/11 or Pearl Harbor, but it was an attack by an aggressive adversary who had been probing for many years to figure out how to undermine our democracy, influence our politics, even our elections."

Her hope, in the wake of Comey's dismissal, is that "this abrupt and distressing action will raise enough questions in the minds of Republicans for them to conclude that it is worthy of careful attention, because left unchecked … this will not just bite Democrats, or me; this will undermine our electoral system."
The takeaway here is that it is the Republicans' job as the majority in Congress to take this stuff seriously. That's the way our system of government is supposed to work.

When they refuse to take action—and we can be certain they will refuse to take action on this newest revelation of breathtaking failure, as they have on every other piece of the colossal scandal that was the 2016 election—they are actively preventing the government from working the way it was designed. They are breaking it.

Because they are enemies of the state.

Will Comey ever face meaningful accountability for the role he played in 2016? I suspect not. And that is a real shame. For us all.

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Hillary Clinton Is a Builder of Villages

Today, Hillary Clinton delivered the commencement address at her alma mater Wellesley, 48 years after she gave the first-ever student commencement address. And it was tremendous.

[Complete transcript.]

There were, as ever, so many things to appreciate and value about this address, but this part was particularly meaningful to me:
You know, our culture often celebrates people who appear to go it alone. But the truth is that's not how life works. Anything worth doing takes a village. And you build that village by investing love and time into your relationships. And in those moments, for whatever reason, when it might feel bleak, think back to this place where women have the freedom to take risks, make mistakes, even fail in front of each other. Channel the strength of your Wellesley classmates and experiences. I guarantee you it will help you stand up a little straighter, feel a little braver, knowing that the things you joked about and even took for granted can be your secret weapons for your future. One of the things that gave me the most hope and joy after the election, when I really needed it, was meeting so many young people who told me that my defeat had not defeated them.

And I'm going to devote a lot of my future to helping you make your mark in the world. I created a new organization called Onward Together to help recruit and train future leaders, organize for real and lasting change. The work never ends. When I graduated and made that speech, I did say, and some of you might have pictures from that day with this on it, the challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible possible. That was true then. It's truer today.

I never could have imagined where I would have been 48 years later. Certainly never that I would have run for the presidency of the United States or seen progress for women in all walks of life over the course of my lifetime. And yes, put millions of more cracks in that highest and hardest glass ceiling. Because just in those years, doors that once seemed sealed to women are now open. They're ready for you to walk through or charge through. To advance the struggle for equality, justice, and freedom. So whatever your dreams today, dream even bigger. Wherever you have set your sights, raise them even higher. And above all, keep going. Don't do it because I asked you to. Do it for yourselves. Do it for truth and reason. Do it because the history of Wellesley and this country tells us it's often during the darkest times when you can do the most good.

Double down on your passions. Be bold. Try. Fail. Try again and lean on each other. Hold on to your values. Never give up on those dreams. I'm have been optimistic about the future. Because I think after we've tried a lot of other things, we get back to the business of America. I believe in you with all my heart. I want you to believe in yourselves. So go forth. Be great.
Hillary Clinton is a leader for people who want to lead. She is a shatterer of glass ceilings. She is a blazer of trails. She is a dreamer of big dreams, and the inspiration for even bigger ones.

Above all, Hillary Clinton is a builder of villages.

She knows, and reminds us often, that it takes a village. She knows, too, that not everyone has the village they need—and so her life's work has been, and continues to be, finding ways to ensure that every person is part of a strong, supportive, sustainable village that can uplift its villagers to achieve their goals. And to imagine radical goals of otherwise improbable scope, which can only be conceived in the safety of spaces where opportunity and community make the impossible seem within reach.

Clinton embodies the absolute inverse of the Republican Party's destructive instinct. Following days and weeks (and months and years) of the Republican Party proposing and enacting policy designed to destroy democratic institutions, communities, and people's very lives, it was an excruciatingly stark juxtaposition listening to Clinton speak about the things we can—and must—build. And promising to help us build them.

image of Hillary Clinton in profile, sitting outdoors in the sunshine
[Photo: Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America.]

Following Clinton's address, a number of Important People wondered: "Where was this Hillary Clinton during the election?" There is, perhaps, no more dishonest or self-serving musing anyone could make in response to that address, which was classic Clinton.

It is a musing that is naught but rank victim-blaming and gaslighting. A rhetorical device meant to absolve oneself of having failed to see who she really is.

She was right in front of our faces, all along. I spent the entirety of the campaign writing about "this Hillary Clinton," which was one of the great privileges and highlights of my professional life. She was there to behold, for anyone who was not busy instead being enchanted by Trump's empty podium or four decades of misogynist filth.

The difference between now and the campaign is not in Clinton: The difference is that she is no longer seeking power. The terrifying threat of female power is gone. (For now.)

"This Hillary Clinton," the one giving a sharp and stirring commencement address, was the same Hillary Clinton who has always stood before us, offering her service. The same gifted leader, the same master of policy, the same patriot who petitioned to lead this nation.

The same builder of villages.

I am incandescently angry at the people who made great efforts to not see "this Hillary Clinton" during the election. I will never get over her not being my president; we will lose so very much because she isn't—and I lay a significant portion of the blame at the feet of those who couldn't be bothered, or flatly refused, to see Clinton for who she is and has always been.

And I almost—almost—feel sympathy for them, that they have denied themselves the opportunity to get to know and spend time with this extraordinary woman, and with the people who believe in her; the people who see her.

Because it is a fine experience indeed to be a part of the village she's built.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat lying on the sofa, with one paw hanging down the front of the cushion
Tils is over it.

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

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We Resist: Day 127

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: The Russia Probe Is Officially a Family Affair.

Donald Trump disgraced himself thoroughly at the NATO summit yesterday. In addition to shoving Montenegro Prime Minister Duško Marković and failing to explicitly endorse Article 5 of NATO's founding treaty, [Content Note: Video may autoplay] he also said that "The Germans are bad, very bad," purportedly meaning on trade, and added: "See the millions of cars they are selling to the U.S.? Terrible. We will stop this."

It seems as though the United States president is unaware that the U.S. does not have bilateral trade agreements with individual countries in the European Union. It also seems as though the United States president is unaware that there are a number of U.S. workers making German cars in the United States. It further seems as though the United States president does not care about maintaining functional diplomatic relationships with our allies.

Further to that point:

In case you didn't get the upshot of all of that: Trump is working very hard to undermine goodwill with our NATO allies, with a special insult to Germany. Since the end of WWII, Russia has had an explicit objective of busting up the U.S.-German alliance, because the combined strength of the U.S. and Germany, in both military might and democratic cultural influence, provided a check on the empiric aspirations of the Soviet Union, now Russia.

Trump's subversion of the U.S-Germany relationship is providing a dangerous opening to Putin, who has already made abundantly clear his intent to rebuild Russia's reach with his annexation of Crimea and moves in Ukraine.

It is extremely likely that Trump's next move will be lifting the U.S.'s economic sanctions on Russia, further empowering Putin.

Trump likely believes that Putin is his ally. He is wrong. Trump is Putin's useful tool. I am reminded of this line from Amanda Kerri's recent piece about Trump at the Advocate: "I really have to wonder how many times he thought he was the con man but was actually the mark?"

* * *

Andy Greenberg at Wired: Russian Hackers Are Using 'Tainted' Leaks to Sow Disinformation. "Over the past year, the Kremlin's strategy of weaponizing leaks to meddle with democracies around the world has become increasingly clear, first in the US and more recently in France. But a new report by a group of security researchers digs into another layer of those so-called influence operations: how Russian hackers alter documents within those releases of hacked material, planting disinformation alongside legitimate leaks." (Ahem.)

Alice Ollstein at TPM: Florida GOPer Helped Russian Hacker Disseminate Dems' Voter Turnout Data. "A Republican political operative in Florida asked the alleged Russian hacker who broke into Democratic Party organizations' servers at the height of the 2016 campaign to pass him stolen documents, according to a report Thursday by the Wall Street Journal. In return, that operative received valuable Democratic voter-turnout analyses... The hacker went on to flag that same data to Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of Donald Trump's who briefly advised his presidential campaign, and who is currently under federal investigation for potential collusion with Russia. The Wall Street Journal's report presents the clearest allegations to date of collusion between people connected to Donald Trump's campaign and Russia."

Scott Feinberg at the Hollywood Reporter: Donald Trump Angled for Soviet Posting in 1980s, Says Nobel Prize Winner. "Donald Trump, in the mid-1980s, aggressively pursued an official government post to the USSR, according to a Nobel Peace Prize winner with whom Trump interacted at the time. ]He already had Russia mania in 1986, 31 years ago,' asserts Bernard Lown, a Boston-area cardiologist known for inventing the defibrillator and sharing the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize with a top Soviet physician in recognition of their efforts to promote denuclearization. Lown, now 95 and retired in Newton, Massachusetts, tells The Hollywood Reporter that Trump sought and secured a meeting with him in 1986 to solicit information about Mikhail Gorbachev. ...During this meeting, Lown says, the fast-rising businessman disclosed that he would be reaching out to then-president Ronald Reagan to try to secure an official post to the USSR in order to negotiate a nuclear disarmament deal on behalf of the United States, a job for which Trump felt he was the only one fit."

Sarah Kendzior has documented Trump's "fascination" with Russia dating back to the 80s, but this is the first I've heard that he explicitly angled for a Soviet posting.

Jonathan Swan at Axios: Bannon's Back. "The escalating crisis surrounding the Russia investigation (with reports last night on FBI interest in Jared Kushner) looks like good news for somebody in the White House: Steve Bannon. Nine sources in the West Wing and within Trump's close orbit said the Russia situation is Bannon's shot at redemption. He's being described as a 'wartime consigliere' relishing a fight against the 'deep state,' media, Democrats, and investigators." This all sounds great and everything is fine. *jumps into Christmas tree*

* * *

Joy-Ann Reid at the Daily Beast: Trump, Ryan, Mulvaney, All of Them: Partners in Plutocracy. "Mulvaney, Ryan, Orrin Hatch, and the 'freedom caucus' may be more blunt and callous in voicing their disdain for people without means, but they are not out of their party's mainstream. Ask any average Republican, of any income level, if they agree with the following statement: "the U.S. must balance its budget even if it means cutting out things like public broadcasting and Meals on Wheels, and even if we spend more on defense and tax cuts." Your pity for Trump voters who stand to be grievously harmed by his economic policies may not survive the answer."

Paul Krugman at the New York Times: It's All About Trump's Contempt. "What would happen to West Virginia if all these Trump policies went into effect? Basically, it would be apocalyptic: Hundreds of thousands would lose health insurance; medical debt and untreated conditions would surge; and there would be an explosion in extreme poverty, including a lot of outright hunger. ...So many of the people who voted for Donald Trump were the victims of an epic scam by a man who has built his life around scamming. In the case of West Virginians, this scam could end up pretty much destroying their state. Will they ever realize this, and admit it to themselves? More important, will they be prepared to punish him the only way they can—by voting for Democrats?"

Kelly Weill at the Daily Beast: Carrier Sends Jobs to Mexico, Workers Say Trump 'Misled' Them. "Though Trump struck a deal with Carrier promising them $7 million in local business incentives if they kept their Indianapolis plant open, the heating and cooling company warned that it would still outsource a number of Indiana jobs to Mexico, regardless. But the Trump campaign still championed the deal as a win for American workers. This week, the Carrier announced it will cut 632 jobs from its Indiana plant by the end of the year. For labor leaders like Chuck Jones, the layoffs are a grim told-you-so moment."

Important resistance item regarding the Republicans' garbage healthcare [sic] reform bill:

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

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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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The Russia Probe Is Officially a Family Affair

As I guessed, Jared Kushner is indeed the White House official who is being investigated as part of the probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Ken Dilanian, Peter Alexander, and Courtney Kube at NBC News: Jared Kushner Under Scrutiny in Russia Probe, Officials Say.

Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and one of his senior advisers, has come under FBI scrutiny in the Russia investigation, multiple U.S. officials told NBC News.

Investigators believe Kushner has significant information relevant to their inquiry, officials said. That does not mean they suspect him of a crime or intend to charge him.

The FBI's scrutiny of Kushner places the bureau's sprawling counterintelligence and criminal investigation not only on the doorstep of the White House, but the Trump family circle.

...It is not known whether Kushner has received any records requests from federal investigators.

Also unclear is what precisely about Kushner's activities has drawn the FBI's interest as it investigates whether Trump associates coordinated with the Russian campaign to interfere in the election.
The reason I suspected Kushner was because the original report noted that investigators were focused not only on Russia's interference but also on "possible financial crimes." That made Kushner a likely candidate because he—in addition to former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and two members of the Trump campaign's national security team, J.D. Gordon and Carter Page—had an undisclosed meeting with Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak.

Later, at Kislyak's request, Kushner also met with Sergey N. Gorkov, the chief of Vnesheconombank.

Vnesheconombank is Russia's state-owned economic development bank, which is controlled by members of Putin's regime and was subject to U.S. sanctions following Putin's annexation of Crimea and operations in Ukraine.

It's not clear at all why Kushner would be asked by the Russian ambassador to meet with Vnesheconombank's chief. What kind of business could the son-in-law of the U.S. president have with a bank run by Putin and on the U.S.'s sanctions list?

I'm guessing that investigators would like to answer that question.

Then again, it could be something else entirely, since Kushner's got his hands in every cookie jar in the Oval Office.

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The GOP Has Become an Enemy of the State

Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate in the Montana special election, who physically attacked Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs, has won the election.

I cannot put this any more plainly: The Republican Party has become an enemy of the state. And it is not sudden. This is a trajectory on which they've been for a very long time, and we are witnessing its grotesque endgame.

There is no good-faith read on the GOP that concludes they are merely a party with a different, but equally patriotic, vision of this nation. That ship sailed decades ago. They are actively seeking to destroy democratic institutions and norms, annihilate vulnerable populations, and center abuse and neglect in their policy-making.

The United States is not a perfect country—far from it. But it is a far better country than the Republican Party wants it to be.

And if we are to save that which is right with this country, the things worth saving, then the GOP must be stopped. We must resist them with everything we've got.

Before we're left with nothing at all.

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Open Thread

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

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Amarie: "What's your preferred hair care routine?"

Wash as infrequently as possible to not interfere with natural oils. Shampoo but no conditioner. Use a detangling comb. Air dry as often as possible. Blow dry on low and cool when I have to blow dry it. Style with a little pomade or whatever hair product I'm into at the moment.

When I'm bored with the same old bob, I mix it up with the wave iron.

Basically, no matter whether my hair is long, mid-length, short, or supershort, I want the same routine: QUICK AND EASY!

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image of thumbs up & thumbs down Shaker Thumbs

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

Today I am giving a thumbs-up to the Petmate Replendish Gravity Waterer.

image of gravity watering bowl for pets, in blue

Let me tell you how much I LOVE this 4-gallon filtered gravity waterer with five animals in the house, lol. Especially when one of them has Cushings and thus drinks a lot of water every day!

Instead of filling a bowl eight thousand times a day, now we only have to fill this beauty once every couple of days.

It's a little unwieldy, because it's so heavy, but there are smaller versions than the 4-gallon monster we got. We just decided to GO FOR IT, and, for us, it was entirely worth it.

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

[Just to be abundantly clear, I am not affiliated in any way with Petmate or Petco, nor am I receiving any form of payment for recommending the bowl. It's just a thing I've personally found super useful and am happy to recommend.]

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"We have demonstrated our commitment to the Party. It is time for the Party to demonstrate its commitment to us."

Yesterday, a group of Black women who are activists, civic and community leaders, and/or elected officials published a letter to DNC Chair Tom Perez, asking for a meeting "with Black women leaders and activists where you can hear not only our concerns, but also our thoughts on how the DNC can invest in Black women's engagement and leadership moving forward from hiring of key staff and consultants to investment in training and leadership opportunities."

The letter makes the case—and you know that I resoundingly and unequivocally agree—that Black women are the heart of the Democratic Party, the most reliable of Democratic voting blocs, and thus should be leading the party.

Dear Chairman Tom Perez:

Black women have consistently shown up for Democrats as a loyal voting bloc, demonstrating time and again that we are crucial to the protection of progressive policies such as economic security, affordable healthcare and criminal justice reform.

We have voted and organized our communities with little support or investment from the Democratic Party for voter mobilization efforts. We have shown how Black women lead, yet the Party's leadership from Washington to the state parties have few or no Black women in leadership. More and more, Black women are running for office and winning elections — with scant support from Democratic Party infrastructure.

Well, like civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, who testified at the 1964 Democratic convention demanding Blacks have a seat and voice within the Party, we are "sick and tired of being sick and tired."

The Democratic Party has a real problem. The data reveals that Black women voters are the very foundation to a winning coalition, yet most Black voters feel like the Democrats take them for granted. The Party's foundation has a growing crack and if it is not addressed quickly, the Party will fall even further behind and ultimately fail in its quest to strengthen its political prospects.

...Organizing without the engagement of Black women will prove to be a losing strategy, and there is much too much at stake for the Democratic Party to ignore Black women.

...We have demonstrated our commitment to the Party. It is time for the Party to demonstrate its commitment to us. We stand ready to join you, your team, and Party leadership on the front lines — but not as silent partners.
There is much more, and I strongly encourage you to read the entire thing.

This letter is not mine to co-sign, but I do take up space in solidarity with the women who wrote and signed it.

I have said many times over the past couple of years that I believe progressive Black women should be leading the Democratic Party. Routinely, I get pushback accusing me of being "performative" or pandering to Black women. And let me be perfectly frank: I don't give a fuck what the people leveling those accusations think of me or my motivations, but I do care a whole hell of a lot that implicit in those charges is the idea that Black women don't deserve and haven't earned my fervent support.

The fact is, the reason I believe that progressive Black women should be leading the Democratic Party is because I get behind smart people. I follow the lead of people who have proven time and time again that they know what the fuck they're doing.

Black Democratic women have demonstrated that they make good political choices. For a very long time. I would be a fool if I didn't listen to them and support their leadership.

And while a person with my particular privileges cannot know what is best for Black women and their communities, any decisions they make will be good for me, too. I believe in a bottom-up (rather than top-down) model of social justice, for that very reason.

So, if anyone wants to question my motives—fine. I can't control what someone else thinks of me and won't bother trying. But I won't let that narrative serve as distraction from the very real reasons that Black women deserve my (and your) support as Democratic leaders.

As a voting bloc, they have gotten it right over and over. They know how to win, even with meager (or no) institutional support. They are indeed the "very foundation to a winning coalition."

That is the coalition of which I want to be a part. And I believe progressive Black women will get us there.

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There's a Pattern Here: Documenting the Escalating Trumpist War on Journalism

[CN: This post includes descriptions of physical assaults, and links may include images, video or audio of same. There are also verbal assaults which include misogynistic language, anti-Semitic language, and anti-Black language.]

One of the problems of Trump’s America is that he and his neo-fascist followers have done their best to normalize their war on a free and open media. That makes it hard to see the pattern of escalation.

So this is a timeline of sorts. It is neither complete or comprehensive, but it is enough, I think to show that Trump, the followers he enables, and the members of the party he leads, are indeed waging a war on the free and open press, one that has gotten worse and more emboldened over time.

I have many criticisms of the way big media journalism works in the United States. I also have great respect for the many individual journalists who work their asses off to bring news to the world, often facing great danger. But regardless of my feelings about any single journalist or media outlet, I find it utterly chilling to watch as our free press is hectored, harassed, assaulted, and arrested in what is a clearly escalating pattern with one end: to enable a right wing authoritarian takeover of this nation.

I will also note that our nation has a long history of shrugging at abuse and silencing aimed at journalists from marginalized communities,and at their more privileged allies. The point of my post is not to erase that, or to say that it’s a only problem now that straight white cis men are targeted. The point is: it's all getting worse, both for those who have encountered this before, and those who have been more insulated by privilege.

We are not a fascist state yet. We are not yet living in Putin’s Russia, where the harassment and murder of journalists is all too frequent. The treatment that candidate Trump and his followers gave journalists was disgraceful. Now that he is president, he has the means to use the state against them, and has begun to do so.

Abusers escalate. Read this, and ask: what is the next escalation? I’d rather not find out.

(Video may auto-play at link.) August 8, 2015:

During Thursday's presidential debate, [Megyn] Kelly pressed Trump about misogynistic, sexist comments he made in the past, such as calling some women "fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals."

Trump slammed Kelly, saying her questions were "ridiculous" and "off-base."

"You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes," Trump told CNN's Don Lemon on Friday night. "Blood coming out of her wherever."

August 25, 2015: Trump kicks Latino journalist Jorge Ramos out of a presser after he tries to ask a question about Trump's deportation policy.

November 26, 2015: Trump is criticized for openly mocking reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has a physical disability.

February 26, 2016: Donald Trump promises to “open up libel laws” to make it easier to sue news organizations.

Feb 29, 2016:

Videos posted on Twitter earlier this afternoon show a photographer for Time magazine being violently thrown to the ground by a member of Donald Trump's security team, possibly a US Secret Service agent. [Chris]Morris, an award-winning photojournalist who has covered war zones, struggles back to his feet and is led away by several other security team members.

March 1 2016: The Daily Beast chronicles the torrent of online abuse Breitbart has been encouraging Trump followers to direct at writers and journalists who criticize Trump, including critics on both the left and right.

March 3, 2016: Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski arrested and charged with battery after physically assaulting a female reporter. Although video existed documenting the assault, the Trump campaign denied it happened and accused the victim of seeking attention.

April, 28 2016: Reporter Julia Ioffe receives torrents of anti-Semitic abuse online after her profile of Melania Trump is published in GQ.

June 3 2016: Trump security removes Politico reporter from rally.

June 13, 2016:

During a press conference, reporters asked Donald valid and routine questions about his disbursements of charitable donations to veterans’ groups—questions necessitated by his campaign’s failure to provide straightforward and consistent answers on this fundraising for months. Donald went on an extended tirade against the press, calling them “sleazy and dishonest” and sarcastically telling CNN’s senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta that he’s a “real beauty.”

At the end of his press conference, during which he unleashed a bullying jeremiad of antagonism toward the media in response to basic questions seeking accountability, Donald was asked if the exchange could fairly be seen as a preview of what it would be like covering him as president. Yes, he replied matter-of-factly. “I find the political press to be unbelievably dishonest.”

July 27, 2016: Politico documents Trump’s continuing verbal abuse of NBC reporter Katy Tur, going back as far as the fall of 2015.

[Edited to add this incident, h/t Liss]September 26, 2016: Candidate Donald Trump himself physically assaults reporter Alexi McCammond, who is a black woman:

I asked, "How would you respond to young women who are nervous about voting for you?" This question was inspired by the countless students I spoke to earlier that day who told me they were nervous about the future of women's rights if Trump were to be elected. My phone was out and already recording in anticipation of the answer Trump would hopefully give me. Instead, another reporter behind me yelled a question to him (something about what he'd say to the people of Westchester, New York). Trump then looked at me, grabbed my right wrist (which was the hand holding the phone), said, "Put that down," and pushed my hand down.

(Video may auto-play at link.) September 28 2016: Trump supporters verbally abuse CNN reporter.

October 6 2016: Trump supporters verbally abuse a reporter who is interviewing a Holocaust denier at a Trump rally.

October 7, 2016: Kurt Eichenwald writes about Trump supporter sending him a video with a strobe light on Twitter in a deliberate attempt to provoke an epileptic attack.

October 14, 2016:

The boos at the Trump rally were scattershot as the first laptop-toting reporter emerged from the black curtains covering a side entrance a few hundred feet from the spotlighted stage.

Within moments, they grew to a menacing, thunderous roar.

Donald J. Trump’s supporters have aimed their verbal ire at undocumented immigrants, Republican rivals and Hillary Clinton. This week, they have settled on a new target: the news media.

But even reporters long accustomed to the toxic fervor of Trump rallies were startled — and even frightened — at the vitriol of a Cincinnati crowd on Thursday evening as more than 15,000 supporters flashed homemade signs, flipped middle fingers and lashed out in tirades often laced with profanity as journalists made their way to a crammed, fenced-in island in the center of the floor.

October 16, 2016:

Trump’s traveling press contingent of about 20 has been met with boos, shouts and obscenities as it entered — as a single group — the venues where Trump has spoken this week. One reporter who is part of the traveling group described it as “a mob mentality,” particularly at larger rally sites.

Reporters are now concealing or removing their press credentials when leaving the pen to avoid confrontations with Trump’s supporters. The atmosphere is particularly threatening to female reporters and to female TV reporters whose faces are well known, reporters say. (“The camera draws the hate,” as one put it.) Some reporters have wondered aloud about the need for more security, or at least more barriers to separate them from the crowd as they enter and exit Trump’s events.

On Thursday, Trump said the news media was part of a “global conspiracy” working in concert with Hillary Clinton to destroy his candidacy. He kept it up Friday, denouncing reports that he had sexually assaulted women as “lies” and saying, “the corrupt media is doing everything in their power to stop this movement.”

(Video may auto-play at link.) October 24, 2016: CNN’s Sara Murray recounts the constant harassment of covering Trump.

The "dishonest media" had been one of Trump's favorite foils for a while by the time Christie endorsed him in February. That was the day someone tampered with the cables of our live truck. We struggled to take the news of the endorsement live while our cables were cut not once, but twice.

During the general election, we were at a stop in Florida when someone followed my producer to our car. When we left the event hours later, we discovered someone keyed our car on both sides

November 2, 2016: Trump supporter chants “Jew-S-A” at media pen.

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Daily Dose of Cute

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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 126

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:

Below is video, care of CNBC's Steve Kopack (and H/T to Aphra Behn) of Donald Trump at the NATO summit in Brussels today, literally shoving another NATO leader aside to get in front of the group for a photo op. After shoving him, he straightens his coat with his nose in the air like a fucking peacock. He thinks he's a goddamned king.

Which is nothing compared to this embarrassment... Brad Reed at Raw Story: 'Close to a Disaster': Foreign Policy Scholar Explains Massive Damage Done by Trump's NATO Speech.
Donald Trump on Thursday delivered a speech at NATO headquarters in which he did not explicitly endorse Article 5, which outlines a policy of collective defense among all members of the alliance.

While this might seem like a small oversight to casual observers, Brookings Institute fellow and top foreign policy scholar Tom Wright said Trump's refusal to endorse Article 5 has rendered his entire foreign policy trip a "failure."

"The White House told the NYT yesterday Trump would finally endorse Article 5," he wrote on Twitter. "The fact that he did not is astonishing and shows that someone in the White House or [Trump] himself took it out. This will come as a huge shock to NATO members."

Wright went on to say that Trump's trip can now be considered "close to a disaster" unless he explicitly fixes things by endorsing Article 5 later on Thursday. He also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin "will be thrilled at Trump's refusal to endorse Article 5," which he described as "unimaginable under any other president."
Meanwhile, the BBC reports that the European Union and the U.S. do not have a common position on Russia any longer:
After meeting Mr Trump earlier on Thursday, European Council President Donald Tusk said they had agreed on "many areas" but had differences over Russia.

"I'm not 100% sure we can say that we have a common position, a common opinion on Russia, although when it comes to the conflict on Ukraine we were on the same line," he said.

Mr Trump has been criticised for his admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his administration is embroiled in allegations of close ties with Russian interests.

Mr Tusk stressed the "fundamental Western values like freedom, human rights, respect for human dignity" at the heart of relations with the US.
Cool. Everything is fine. (Glad to hear we'll still have allies as long as have respect for human dignity the day after it was made public that Trump called Rodrigo Duterte a "good man.")

Speaking of Russia...

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Manu Raju and Evan Perez at CNN: Attorney General Jeff Sessions Did Not Disclose Russia Meetings in Security Clearance Form, DOJ Says. "Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not disclose meetings he had last year with Russian officials when he applied for his security clearance, the Justice Department told CNN Wednesday. Sessions, who met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least two times last year, didn't note those interactions on the form, which requires him to list 'any contact' he or his family had with a 'foreign government' or its 'representatives' over the past seven years, officials said. The new information from the Justice Department is the latest example of Sessions failing to disclose contacts he had with Russian officials. He has come under withering criticism from Democrats following revelations that he did not disclose the same contacts with Kislyak during his Senate confirmation hearings earlier this year." Pattern of concealment.

Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman, and Matt Apuzzo at the New York Times: Top Russian Officials Discussed How to Influence Trump Aides Last Summer. "American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers, according to three current and former American officials familiar with the intelligence. The conversations focused on Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman at the time, and Michael T. Flynn, a retired general who was advising Mr. Trump, the officials said. Both men had indirect ties to Russian officials, who appeared confident that each could be used to help shape Mr. Trump's opinions on Russia. Some Russians boasted about how well they knew Mr. Flynn. Others discussed leveraging their ties to Viktor F. Yanukovych, the deposed president of Ukraine living in exile in Russia, who at one time had worked closely with Mr. Manafort." And Tad Devine.

Allegra Kirkland at TPM: Report: Manafort Advised Trump Camp on Russia Firestorm After Parting Ways. "As the rumors of Trump campaign staffers’ ties to Russia piled up in the days before inauguration, the team got a call offering advice from a rather unlikely source: former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Despite being forced out of his role because of his own ties to businessmen and politicians close to the Kremlin, Manafort called Trump's chief of staff Reince Priebus to push back on the ballooning scandal, four people familiar with the conversation told Politico. ...The GOP operative is now one of the central figures in federal and congressional investigations into potential collusion between the Trump team and Russian operatives trying to swing the election."

By way of reminder, Manafort also hand-selected Mike Pence as Trump's running mate.

Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman at the Washington Post: 'Anyone...with a Pulse': How a Russia-Friendly Adviser Found His Way into the Trump Campaign.
As Donald Trump surged in the Republican primary polls in the early months of 2016, his outsider campaign faced growing pressure to show that the former reality-TV star and noted provocateur was forming a coherent and credible world view.

So when Carter Page, an international businessman with an office near Trump Tower, turned up at campaign headquarters, former officials recall, Trump aides were quick to make him feel welcome.

A top Trump adviser, Sam Clovis, employed what campaign aides now acknowledge was their go-to vetting process — a quick Google search — to check out the newcomer. He seemed to have the right qualifications, according to former campaign officials — head of an energy investment firm, business degree from New York University, doctorate from the University of London.

Page was in. He joined a new Trump campaign national security advisory group, and, in late March 2016, the candidate pointed to Page, among others, as evidence of a foreign policy team with gravitas.

But what the Google search had not shown was that Page had been on the FBI's radar since at least 2013, when Russian officials allegedly attempted to use him to get information about the energy business.

By the summer of 2016, Page, who had been recently named as a Trump adviser, was under surveillance by FBI agents who suspected he may have been acting as an agent of the Kremlin.

Another reminder: White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus was then the RNC chief. He probably, ahem, should have been aware that the leading contender for his party's nomination was using woefully insufficient Google searches to vet campaign staff. Which brings us to our next item.

Betsy Woodruff, Lachlan Markay, and Asawin Suebsaeng at the Daily Beast: Reince Priebus Sweating Secret Comey Memos, White House Sources Say. "Comey, the former FBI director who was fired earlier this month by Trump, took detailed notes of his interactions with the president and senior Trump administration officials in order to properly document conversations that were on the verge of improper. Three White House officials told The Daily Beast that Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has privately expressed worry about a possible Comey memo specifically involving one of their reported chats, and how it might play in the press and to investigators. ...Priebus asked Comey and his then-top deputy, Andrew McCabe, on Feb. 15 to refute news reports about conversations between Trump campaign staff and Russian government officials. Comey and McCabe reportedly refused."

Sounds a lot like Priebus committed obstruction of justice, too. At best, "Priebus' private conversation with Comey could have violated longstanding FBI policy barring officials from discussing its cases with the White House." Whoooooooops.

Every one of these dudes—Trump, Pence, Flynn, Manafort, Page, Priebus—they're all up to their necks in ties to Russia during the campaign and the subsequent attempt to cover up those ties.

Oh, and then there's the little matter of Trump's ties to Russia even before the campaign.

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Greg Farrell at Bloomberg: Democrats Ask Deutsche Bank to Produce Documents on Trump Family Loans. "Democratic lawmakers asked Deutsche Bank AG to hand over its findings on two politically charged matters—its banking on behalf of [Donald] Trump and trades from the bank's Moscow operation that helped move some $10 billion out of Russia. ...The lawmakers asked whether the bank's loans to Trump, made years before the New York developer ran for president, 'were guaranteed by the Russian government, or were in any way connected to Russia.'"

Yet another reminder: The last chairman of Deutsche Bank is now the chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, which has a history of helping Russian oligarchs launder their money. He was appointed chair by the Bank of Cyprus' two largest shareholders, one of whom, Viktor Vekselberg, is a business associate and personal friend of Vladimir Putin. The other is U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

It's quite a tangled cast of characters. All of whom seemed to mysteriously end up running the country after an election in which Russian interference influenced the outcome.

* * *

If Trump shoving a NATO leader wasn't enough embarrassment for one day, Michael Crowley and Tara Palmeri report at Politico that German Chancellor Angela Merkel showed Trump a map of the Soviet Union when she visited the White House to try to teach him some history: "When German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited [Donald] Trump at the White House in March, she brought a visual aid to help Trump understand the menace posed by his would-be friend, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Merkel brought a 1980s map of the former Soviet Union and noted the way its borders stretched for hundreds of miles to the west of Russia's current boundary, according to a source who was briefed on the meeting. The German leader's point was that Putin laments the Soviet Union's demise and, left unchecked, would happily restore its former borders. Merkel left Washington unconvinced that Trump had gotten the message, the source said."

Tarini Parti at BuzzFeed: A Top Mar-A-Lago Employee Is Quietly Doing Government Work for Trump's Foreign Trip. "A top Mar-a-Lago employee is also working for the government to help prepare for [Donald] Trump's visit to Taormina, Italy, for the G-7 Summit—an unconventional arrangement that further blurs the line between the president's business empire and the White House. Heather Rinkus, the guest reception manager at Trump's 'Winter White House,' is working with the president's advance and logistics team [and] has an official White House email and government-issued phone, two sources familiar with Rinkus's trip told BuzzFeed News. ...She is married to a twice-convicted felon, Ari Rinkus, who is known to brag about his wife's access to the president as he trawls for investors and pursues government contracts on behalf of a foreign company."

Kate Taylor at Business Insider: Tourism in the US Has Drastically Declined Since Trump Was Elected. "America's share of international tourism has dropped 16% in March, compared to the same month in 2016, according to Foursquare data released Wednesday. The decline began in October 2016, the month before the presidential election. From October to March, tourism-related traffic has fallen an average of 11% in the US, compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, tourism in the rest of the world has increased 6% year-over-year during the same period."

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

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The CBO Score on Trumpcare Is Out, and It's Awful

The Congressional Budget Office released its report on the final project cost and consequences of the Republican healthcare [sic] bill, which passed the House earlier this month, because Donald Trump wanted a win, at any cost.

And to absolutely no one's surprise, the CBO found that the bill is a stinking piece of shit.

Hands-down, NARAL had the best response to the report:

If you can't view the image embedded in the tweet, it's a photo of a literal dumpster fire.

I don't know what I can say that I haven't already said countless times. The Republican Party are a bunch of fucking ghouls. I don't know what could better illustrate the depth of their depravity than this response to the CBO from "moderate" Republican Senator Lindsey Graham:

What Graham is advocating here, in case it isn't clear, is doing everything they can to ensure that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) fails so they can then justify replacing it.

They refuse to work with Democrats on fixing the ACA to make sure it works and to expand access for people who still aren't covered. And they refuse to do that for no other reason than because they don't want President Obama's signature initiative to be a success.

The Republican Party will let people die in order to deny Obama a deserved legacy of expanding healthcare access.

If that doesn't convey precisely the scope of the Republican Party's obscene contempt for the people of this nation, I can't imagine what would.

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Republican Candidate Bodyslams Reporter; Lies About What Happened

[Content Note: Violence.]

Last night, Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs was asking Greg Gianforte, the Republican nominee running in the special election in Montana to replace Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, about the newly-released CBO score of the Republican healthcare bill when Gianforte flipped his shit slammed Jacobs to the ground, breaking his glasses.

The audio was indeed published by the Guardian, and it makes abundantly clear what happened. The Guardian report also includes this surely non-incidental fact: "On 28 April, Jacobs reported on Gianforte's financial ties to Russian companies that have been sanctioned by the US. Gianforte's wealth is estimated at between $65m and $315m."

Gianforte, who has been endorsed by Donald Trump, left the scene without being interviewed by police. His campaign released this statement: "Tonight, as Greg was giving a separate interview in a private office, The Guardian's Ben Jacobs entered the office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face, and began asking badgering questions. Jacobs was then asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg's wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It's unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ."

Note that the candidate is "Greg," while the reporter he assaulted is "Jacobs," and "a liberal journalist."

The Huffington Post's Michael Calderone noted: "In the past two weeks, reporters have been arrested, pinned against a wall, and now body slammed—all for trying to ask a question."

Which is the inevitable result of a president who spent his campaign waging a war on the press. Who defended, using gross rape culture tropes, his then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski's assault of reporter Michelle Fields. Who himself grabbed the wrist of reporter Alexi McCammond. Who repeatedly insulted NBC's Katy Tur in misogynist terms. Who encouraged his supporters to hate and harass the press.

We should not be surprised—although we should be very, very outraged—that a member of the press has now been assaulted by a Republican candidate.

Trump didn't invent the conservative contempt for the "liberal media," but he has escalated it into a newly vicious war. He carried the flag, and the Republican Party has followed him into battle against the free press, shouting about "fake news" and failing utterly to condemn Trump as he continues to erode press access, changing libel laws, and personally demeaning journalists.

The attack on Ben Jacobs is heinous. It is part of a larger attack on the free press that constitutes a dire threat to this country's future. And it must be taken very seriously.

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Scenes from Manchester

[Content Note: Terrorism; injury; death.]

Following Monday night's bombing in Manchester, police have made a number of arrests. The investigation continues—though the UK has reportedly stopped sharing information with the US after administration officials leaked the name of the suspected bomber to the media before the UK had made it public.

Families of those killed are being notified, and dozens of people who were injured remain in hospital being treated. Some have gone home to complete their physical recoveries. Again I want to offer my condolences to the families, friends, and communities of those who were killed. My sympathies to the injured, and to the survivors who were not physically injured but must process this extraordinary trauma. I am so sorry.

Yesterday, one of Manchester's two English Premier League football teams (and the team of which I am a massive, rabid supporter), Manchester United, won the Europa Cup.

It was a huge game for the club even had it not come days after a heinous attack in their city. It meant the difference between whether the team would be in the Champions League next year; it was such a much-needed victory after a season in which so many players suffered catastrophic injuries; it was, perhaps, maybe the last match in which the team captain, the legendary Wayne Rooney, would ever play with Man United. There was a lot riding on it even before Monday night.

The boys delivered a big win for their hometown fans, who needed it for so many reasons. Even their cross-city rivals, Manchester City, celebrated their victory and what it meant this particular week.

The first goal was scored by Paul Pogba, who is a devout Muslim. I don't know how many other Man U fans considered that, but I certainly did—as tears spilled down my cheeks watching a stadium of fans rise to their feet and cheer for him.

This morning, in St. Ann's Square, Mancunians gathered for a moment of silence, which was observed by the entire city. Following the moment of silence, a woman began to sing "Don't Look Back in Anger," a song by Oasis, a Manchester band. The crowd joined in, and they sang together.

There are still so many people hurting, so many people grieving. No number of arrests, no football match, no spontaneous song can change that. This is merely my attempt to recognize what is special about Manchester, and to take up space in solidarity with the people there who are trying to find a way to heal.

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Open Thread

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

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