The Virtual Pub Is Open

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.

My apologies for forgetting to put up the pub last night! Sorry, everyone!

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Open Thread + Programming Note

image of a yellow couch

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

I will be away today and tomorrow, as I'm going to be helping out a friend. I will post the Virtual Pub tomorrow night, so there will still be a place to chat over the weekend. See you Monday!

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Diverkat: "What good books have you read this year?"

I'm embarrassed to say the last book I finished was What Happened. I used to devour books relentlessly, but reading and writing all day for this job just exhausts my brain, and I find I have very little energy left for leisure reading at the end of the day. And of course it's only gotten worse over the last year and a half.

But I just received a copy of Ijeoma Oluo's So You Want to Talk About Race, and I am very excited to start it, because she is terrific.

image of the aforementioned book sitting on a red chair

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Wednesday Links!

This list o' links brought to you by streaming sunshine.

Recommended Reading:

Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair: "Trump Wants Them out of There": After Swinging the Axe at Tillerson, Trump Mulls What to Do with McMaster, Sessions, Jared, and Ivanka

Samuel James at Black Woman in Maine: [Content Note: Racism] Accidental Experiment: Getting the "White" Treatment from Police as a Black Man

Carla Green and Candice Pires at the Guardian: [CN: Homelessness] 'This Is the House That We Built': Homeless People on Their Makeshift Residences

Sarah Rickman at Ms.: The Military Pilot Who Broke Barriers for Women

Marykate Jasper at the Mary Sue: Laura Dern Couldn't Help Making "Pew Pew" Noises When She Fired Her Blaster in The Last Jedi

Ryan F. Mandelbaum at Gizmodo: Scientists Find Same Wild Physical Effect Happening in Two Vastly Different Materials

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

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Noting my most recent act of self-care was new shoes, Shaker (and self-described "power lurker," lol) Ellie requests, which I'm sharing with her permission: "I love the Fat Fashion and Makeup Threads. Could we have a shoe-love thread, too?"

Listen, the news is tough, and we all need moments of escape from the horror to recuperate and prepare for the next onslaught, and I can talk about shoes all the livelong day, so clearly the answer is yes!

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

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I was looking for the perfect pair of shoes in the perfect shade of yellow for a very long time, and recently I finally found them!

image of my bare tattooed legs from mid-calf down, with my feet wearing yellow patent shoes

I almost never buy heels over 2.5 inches, but these were precisely the yellow for which I'd been searching — and they were only $23, via Amazon. So it was worth a shot. And I've only worn them once so far, for a short outing that did not include a whole lot of walking, but they were very comfortable the whole time. Yay!

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On the Death of Stephen Hawking

Cosmologist, theoretical physicist, and author Stephen Hawking has died at his home in Cambridge at age 76. Ian Sample's obituary for Hawking at the Guardian is very good.

My condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and admirers around the world. And, to be fair, possibly in other worlds. Should there be intelligent life out there watching, I feel it's safe to say they were fans of Professor Hawking, if they are fans of any humans at all.

It seems trite to say there were many things to admire about Professor Hawking: He was an extraordinary physicist, an accomplished author, and a disabled person with a transgressive body whose very willingness to be visible and heard was a radical act, regardless of whether he desired it to be so.

He was a man of science who was certain of some things and eminently willing to change his mind, when additional information warranted it. I was always deeply admiring that he changed his position on assisted death for terminal ill people, carefully caveating his support with respect to consent.

[Content Note: Misogyny] But if I'm to be entirely honest, for the past six years, the thing — at least one thing — I always thought of when I encountered Hawking's name was this:

In an interview to mark his 70th birthday this weekend, Stephen Hawking, the former Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, admitted he spent most of the day thinking about women. "They are," he said "a complete mystery."
Misogyny is never neutral; I am never indifferent to encountering it. But there was something particularly troubling to me, hurtful, about a man who spent a lifetime contemplating the universe and endeavoring to make it accessible to people without his innate talents or superior education, only to declare women "a complete mystery."

To be somehow more unknowable than the universe is distressing. To be known is to be safe. Thus, to be unknowable is to be permanently unmoored; forever in a state without the comfort and security — and justice — that being scrutable, being accepted, provides.

It can be a cruel thing to tell someone they cannot be deciphered, can never be understood.

I realize that men who say women are a mystery often intend it as a compliment, or at least not a devised harm. (And I realize that many women receive it as a compliment, as we are encouraged to do.) But it is alienating, at best. Not just different, but other.

Hawking was inspiring to countless scientists. I can only imagine how much that comment must have rattled many female scientists who looked up to him.

I suspect that many of those female scientists are having complicated feelings today, about a man who both invited them to explore the vastness of the universe and also made them feel small.

There are places all over the internet today that will be celebrating Hawking without acknowledging such complications, where any woman who wanted to talk about the loss of someone who simultaneously awed her and diminished her would be accused of shitting all over the legacy of a great man or speaking ill of the dead.

This is not one of those places. Professor Hawking was a complicated human being, like all others, and you may have complicated feelings here.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound lying on his back on the couch with his legs in the air and his head twisted at an impossible angle
Just normal greyhound stuff.

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 419

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: Trey Gowdy Contradicts Colleagues; Says Russia Wanted to Assist Donald Trump and Harm Hillary Clinton and A Terrible Reminder That White Supremacy and Patriarchy Are Inextricably Linked and U.K. to Expel Russian Diplomats After Spy Poisoning.

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

Let us start with some good resistance news, as young people across the nation demand action on gun violence:

There is much, much more under the hashtag #NationalWalkoutDay on Twitter. I take up space in solidarity with the students who are walking out and calling in legislators to take action.

In related news:

Amy Larson at KSBW: Seaside High Teacher Accidentally Fires Gun in Class, Students Injured.

Pat Collins, Erica Jones, and Andrea Swalec at NBC 4 Washington: School Resource Officer Accidentally Fires Gun Inside Alexandria School.

AP/Detroit News: Sheriff Apologizes for Leaving Gun at School.

Keep marching, kids.

* * *

Anna Nemtsova at the Daily Beast: Ukraine Government Has Frozen Its Manafort Investigations; Critics Say It Is Currying Favor with Trump. "Investigations here into payments allegedly made to Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort by deposed Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych have ground to a halt, potentially affecting the U.S. case against Manafort. Information from the Ukraine investigations is a cornerstone of the indictments brought against Manafort by special counsel Robert Mueller, who has charged him with money laundering, failure to register as a foreign agent, and other crimes. But it appears that many top officials here, from the current president on down, would like to forget about the Manafort case. Their reason: They don't want to get on the wrong side of the Trump administration." Or, presumably, Vladimir Putin.

This is very bad news. And it is very worrying for the future of Mueller's investigation, given that Qatar has also decided not to turn over to Mueller "evidence of what they claim is illicit influence by the United Arab Emirates on Jared Kushner and other Trump associates," because they fear "harming relations with the Trump administration."

Not good. Not good at all.

* * *

[Content Note: Islamophobic violence; anti-choice terrorism] Michael Tarm and Amy Forliti at the AP/Chicago Tribune: 3 Illinois Men, Including One Who Drafted a Border Wall Plan for Trump, Charged with Minnesota Mosque Bombing.
Federal authorities on Tuesday charged three men from rural central Illinois with the bombing of a Minnesota mosque last year and said one of the suspects told an investigator the goal of the attack was to "scare" Muslims out of the United States.

A statement from the U.S. attorney's office in Springfield, Illinois, says the men also are suspected in the attempted bombing of an abortion clinic.

The Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, was bombed just before morning prayers on Aug. 5, causing a fire and extensive damage although no one was injured or killed. And there was an attempted bombing of the Champaign, Illinois, Women's Health Practice on Nov. 7.

One of the men, Michael B. Hari, 47, described in an April 2017 Chicago Tribune article how he drafted a $10 billion plan to build a wall along the border with Mexico, citing [Donald] Trump's call for such a wall. Hari drew up the proposal after launching a security company, Crisis Resolution Security Services, the newspaper said.
Trust that if it were anyone other than white men who had engaged in two separate acts of terrorism against two distinct groups, this would be a massive news story. But it's just white men who love Trump attacking Muslims and feminists, so NBD I guess. Seethe.

* * *

Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng at the Daily Beast: Trump Wants to Stock White House Team with Fox News Stars and Loyalists. "A leading contender to succeed Gary Cohn as Director of the National Economic Council is CNBC's Larry Kudlow. ...The president is a fan of Kudlow's TV commentary, according to sources in and outside of the administration, and the two occasionally speak on the phone. ...Former UN Ambassador John Bolton [who is on the shortlist to replace National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster] also speaks with the president on occasion [and] happens to be a regular on Fox News. And the president is said to enjoy his commentary. ...Hours after Tillerson's resignation, one of his deputies, Steve Goldstein, the Undersecretary of State for Public Affairs, was also sacked. He was quickly replaced by Heather Nauert, a department spokeswoman and former Fox News host." JFC.

Meanwhile — and I'll believe it when I see it — Republican Senators Rand Paul and John McCain have said they won't support Mike Pompeo's and Gina Haspel's nominations to State and CIA respectively, leaving Republicans with just 49 votes.

If they actually go through with their opposition, good. But also? Fuck. Because what will happen if Trump is denied? By which I mean: What will Trump do?

It definitely won't be nothing.

That's not an argument for giving him what he wants, by the way. It's just a straightforward acknowledgment that Trump is a vengeful shit who causes pain when he doesn't axiomatically get what he demands.

This was always going to be the problem with electing as president a spoiled adult man who won't abide being told "no."

If you never tell him no, that's a problem, because he will become a dangerously indulged tyrant. And if you do tell him no, that's a problem, too, because he will react in a way that may cause equal or even more harm than what he originally sought.

Either way, we lose.

* * *

[CN: Nativism. Covers entire section.]

E.A. Crunden at ThinkProgress: 'Show Me Your Papers' Law Goes into Effect as Texas Activists and Lawmakers Vow to Continue Fight. "A three-judge panel declared Tuesday evening that Senate Bill 4 (SB4), a law targeting so-called sanctuary cities, can go forward, seven months after it was meant to take effect. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed most of a ruling by a San Antonio judge who blocked the law from going into effect in August. While the appeals panel rejected one component of the law, which would have barred officials from endorsing policies curbing immigration crackdowns, the rest now stands. 'The plaintiffs have not made a showing that they are likely to succeed on the merits of any of their constitutional claims,' wrote Judge Edith H. Jones, in a ruling lauded by the Texas government." Goddammit.

Tina Vasquez at Rewire News: Activists Fear ICE Will Target Another Reproductive Justice Advocate for Deportation. "Eva Chavez, a domestic violence survivor who has worked with La Unión del Pueblo Entero for 15 years and with the Texas Latina Advocacy Network of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) for ten years, was detained by ICE on February 14. Advocates said the federal immigration agency released Chavez because she is the primary caretaker for her son, who requires weekly doctor's visits, including thrice weekly therapy sessions. ICE released Chavez but required her to return for a check-in Wednesday. Advocates fear Chavez will be the next victim of the agency's 'silent raids.' Silent raids are the increasingly common practice of ICE turning a routine check-in into deportation, either by informing the person they have 30 days to leave the United States or by detaining them on the spot. These raids are affecting immigrant mothers across the country. This is the second NLIRH-affiliated reproductive justice advocate to be targeted by ICE this month." Rage.

Adolfo Flores at BuzzFeed: Trump Said He Wants Tough Border Walls Because Would-Be Crossers Are Like 'Mountain Climbers'. "During his visit to San Diego Tuesday to look at prototypes for the border wall, [Donald] Trump said he wants structures that will be difficult for migrants to get over, calling them 'professional mountain climbers.' 'Getting over the top is easy. These are like professional mountain climbers, incredible climbers. They can't climb some of these walls,' Trump told reporters. 'Some of them they can. Those are the walls we're not using.'" This fucking guy.

Sudhin Thanawala and Amy Taxin at the AP/Denver Post: Immigrants Sue U.S. over End to Temporary Protected Status. "The Trump administration's decision to end a program that lets immigrants from four countries live and work legally in the U.S. was motivated by racism and leaves the immigrants' American born children with an 'impossible choice,' according to a federal lawsuit filed on Monday. Nine immigrants and five children filed the suit in federal court in San Francisco to reinstate temporary protected status for people from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan. ...The lawsuit — at least the third challenging the administration's decision to end temporary protected status — cites [Donald] Trump's vulgar language during a meeting in January to describe African countries. 'They did it because of xenophobia, and we need to make sure that we say it loudly so that everyone knows,' said Martha Arevalo, executive director of the immigrant advocacy group, Central American Resource Center." Right on!

AlJazeera Video: Muslim Immigrants' ID Cards Used to Build a 'Wall of Defiance'. "Donald Trump's hardline immigration policies have been at the centre of debate not only in the United States, but worldwide. And one artist in Washington has built her own wall — to highlight the faces, fears, and faith of America's Muslim immigrants. Artist Sobia Ahmad transferred ink from Muslim American immigrants' ID photos onto ceramic tiles for her wall installation." I am so angry that she was obliged to create this piece of resistance, but, given the regrettable circumstances, I love that she did.

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

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U.K. to Expel Russian Diplomats After Spy Poisoning

There was a time, not long ago, when if Russia had poisoned a person within the borders of our closest ally, the United States would be mobilizing to support Britain in a united response to what would have been considered an act of war.

But, in a post-Brexit and Trump presidency world, those days are gone. Britain has been left with few good options, even as the Russian Embassy publicly taunts the British over the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a Russian defense intelligence officer who spied for Britain.

Brexit has alienated them from European allies, and the United States' leadership has all but abandoned them, with Donald Trump weakly offering yesterday: "We're speaking with Theresa May today. As soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be." Yet worse, Trump appears to have fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in response to his saying that Russia was behind the poisoning which would "certainly trigger a response."

So the U.K. is being obliged to act largely in isolation, which leaves them with little leverage. Which is precisely what Russia has been angling to accomplish.

Alexander Smith at NBC News: U.K. to Expel 23 Diplomats in Retaliation for Spy Poisoning.

Britain is to expel 23 Russian diplomats operating as undeclared intelligence officers after Moscow ignored a midnight deadline to explain how its nerve agent was used in the attempted assassination of a former double agent on U.K. soil.

The move — the largest such expulsion in three decades — "will fundamentally degrade Russian intelligence capabilities in the U.K. for years to come," British Prime Minister Theresa May announced in Parliament Wednesday. "If they seek to rebuild them we will prevent them from doing so."

...With the deadline ignored, May chaired a meeting of Britain's National Security Council. Here, the prime minister, her top advisers and senior Cabinet ministers decided how to react to what May had earlier called an "unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom."
Naturally, Russia immediately responded by calling Britain's response an escalation and further escalating the stakes themselves.
"Everything that is done today by the British government is absolutely unacceptable and we consider this a provocation," Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko told Sky News outside the Foreign Office.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Britain was flagrantly trying to mislead the international community but that Russia would not allow this to happen.
Lavrov was one of the two Russian officials to whom Donald Trump spilled classified information given to the U.S. by Israel.

To be abundantly clear: Russia has actively sought for decades to undermine the alliances between the United States and the U.K., Germany, France, and others. It has been an explicit goal to create global instability and a subsequent power vacuum that Russia could exploit.

And here we are.

Where we go next is anyone's guess, but it's certainly not going to go in a direction that favors democracy-loving people, without an epic fight.

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A Terrible Reminder That White Supremacy and Patriarchy Are Inextricably Linked

[Content Note: White supremacy; domestic violence; descriptions of violence.]

White supremacist Matthew Heimbach, who came to national prominence by leading a hate group, shoving anti-racist protesters, and being quoted in a number of shameful Nazi-normalizing features in various news publications, has been arrested for domestic battery.

Marwa Eltagouri at the Washington Post reports:

Heimbach was charged with assaulting his wife and his wife's stepfather, Matt Parrott, who is also co-founder of Heimbach's Traditionalist Worker Party. The organization is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a new white nationalist group masking itself in "traditionalism."

About 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, Parrott, 36, called police from a Walmart in Paoli, Ind., according to a police report obtained by the SPLC. Parrott told police he had fled to the Walmart with his stepdaughter after a confrontation with Heimbach, who had allegedly been involved in an affair with Parrott's wife. The stepdaughter told police that the affair had lasted three months but had recently ended.

But that night, according to the police report, Parrott caught Heimbach with his wife. He confronted Heimbach and told him to get off his property, but Heimbach wouldn't leave. Parrott poked his chest, then Heimbach allegedly grabbed Parrott's hand and twisted it down. Heimbach got behind Parrott and "choked him out" with his arm, according to the police report.

Parrott told police he briefly lost consciousness. When he woke up, he again told Heimbach to get off his property, and Heimbach again tried to choke him, according to the police report. Parrott again lost consciousness, and upon waking up heard his wife tell Heimbach to track down his stepdaughter's phone because it had a recording of Heimbach and Parrott's wife together, according to the police report. Parrott and the stepdaughter escaped to the Walmart.

After police met Parrott at the Walmart, they left to track down Heimbach, and found him in a verbal confrontation with his own wife. Heimbach's wife told police that her husband grabbed her face and "threw me with the hand on my face onto the bed."

All four people involved in the incident stated their occupations were "White Nationalists" in the police report.
That Heimbach is a violent domestic abuser should come as no surprise. Despite their reprehensible, patriarchal rhetoric about "protecting" women, men who are grotesque racists don't treat women well, either. White supremacy and the patriarchy are inextricably tied together, and men who view exacting violence against people of color as their vocation don't come home from a long day of being vile shits to be loving husbands and fathers.

The human mind isn't built to compartmentalize eliminationist hatred so it can happily coexist with a healthy, functional, loving home life. White supremacists run profoundly abusive households.

And I want to highlight that Heimbach repeatedly choked his stepfather-in-law, because that is not an insignificant detail. To the contrary:

This is a dangerous man on a very dangerous path, who is increasingly violent at home. That is a major red flag.

I desperately hope that Heimbach encounters and engages with someone from a group like Life After Hate and abandons this heinous trajectory. It is the only intervention I can imagine having even a chance of altering his course of violence, which is chillingly being empowered and encouraged every day from the highest office in the nation.

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Trey Gowdy Contradicts Colleagues; Says Russia Wanted to Assist Donald Trump and Harm Hillary Clinton

Rep. Trey Gowdy, who recently announced that he would not seek reelection after an inglorious Congressional tenure that included overseeing the Benghazi witch hunt, during which Hillary Clinton was grilled for 11 hours and which cost taxpayers nearly $8 million, has publicly broken with his Republican colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee, saying that there is, in fact, evidence that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to assist Donald Trump and harm Hillary Clinton.

I don't want to give Gowdy too much credit for merely stating the manifestly obvious, but what is even happening? The only thing more surprising would be if Devin Nunes, for whom Gowdy took over leadership of the investigation when Nunes was obliged to recuse himself, had said this.

Kevin Breuninger at NBC News reports:

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., on Tuesday contradicted his own GOP-led committee's findings in its probe of Russian meddling during the 2016 U.S. election.

In a statement, Gowdy said it was "clear, based on the evidence, Russia had disdain for Secretary Clinton and was motivated in whole or in part by a desire to harm her candidacy or undermine her Presidency had she prevailed."

The statement from Gowdy, who is not seeking re-election at the end of his current term, cuts against conclusions announced Monday by the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee.

...Gowdy said Russia's attempts to divide Americans are "crystal clear."

"Russia's ultimate goal was to turn Americans against Americans, undercut our confidence in the electoral process, and sow the seeds of discord," he said. "On that measure, we are in direct control — as Americans — of whether they succeed or not."
I don't know what's going on with Gowdy — and whatever it is, it's far too little far too late, to be frank; he owns this fuckery as much as any sitting Republican and more than many — but whether he's got a guilty conscience or some insight into how compromised his party has become or wants to retain the appearance of integrity before getting a cushy lobbying job or a federal judgeship, perhaps his position in this particular instance has something to do with this: "Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, is the only Republican on the committee who read the underlying surveillance court documents from which the GOP memo was drawn."

I doubt his colleagues would have been persuaded if they had read them, but the fact that they didn't even bother is very telling indeed.

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Open Thread

image of a red couch

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

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Hellianne: "Whaaaaaaaaaa?"

I can't even imagine a better QotD for the end of this day.

My answer: The fuck if I know.

Wait, that's not true. I do know. I just wish I didn't.

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Russia Reveals Meeting of Top Russian and US Military Leaders

This has been a day of many serious happenings and disclosures. And here is yet one more:

America's top military officer, Gen. Joseph Dunford, spoke with his Russian counterpart Gen. Valery Gerasimov, on Tuesday, the same day Gerasimov threatened to target US forces in Syria should they retaliate against the regime's use of chemical weapons.

The call was first revealed by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

"The conversation focused on issues of mutual concern, to include the situation in Syria. In accordance with past practice, both have agreed to keep the details of their conversation private," Col. Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN.

Ryder said the two men had last spoken on Jan. 20.

Earlier on Tuesday, Gerasimov warned the US against any retaliatory strikes over Syria's chemical weapons use, claiming that anti-regime rebels were planning to stage a regime chemical weapons attack and saying any US strike against Damascus would threaten Russian troops.

"The United States of America plan to accuse the Syrian government troops of using chemical weapons, demonstrate so-called 'evidence' of alleged numerous victims among civilians caused by actions of the Syrian government supported by the Russian leadership," Gerasimov told a meeting of Russian military officers convened to discuss the situation in Syria.

"If lives of the Russian officers are threatened, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will retaliate against missile and launch systems," Gerasimov added.
Emphasis mine.

This is very, very serious. It's honestly difficult for me to convey how profoundly upsetting this day has been for me, not only because of everything that has happened, but because it's so evident that many people with power and influence who should be taking it more seriously simply don't understand, or don't care, how serious it is.

I suspect in the future we will look back at this day as one in which it was truly revealed, despite the endemic reluctance to see it, that the United States has been as deeply and disastrously compromised by Russia as any of us could have feared. It's a tipping point.

We have derailed. I don't know how we are going to get back on track.

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Kremlin Hints It Influenced Tillerson Decision

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has cryptically suggested that they may have influenced Donald Trump's decision to fire Rex Tillerson.

That is, if they can stop making jokes long enough to treat with the gravity it deserves what is happening in and to this nation.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat lying on the floor along the permiter of a room, looking alert
Forever on the lookout for more trouble to get into.

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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Rex Tillerson Reads Goodbye Statement

Binned Secretary of State Rex Tillerson just read a brief statement, taking no questions before he disappeared into the sunset or wherever he's headed. It was a completely bland statement about the transition and the good people at State and how proud he's been to serve etc. — unsettlingly anodyne, given the fact that Tillerson found out he was fired when Donald Trump tweeted it this morning. For a guy who should be unfathomably angry, he instead sounded...nervous.

What a fucking day.

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We Resist: Day 418

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: This Is What It Looks Like When Your President Is Owned by Russia and Trump's Personal Assistant Fired and Removed from White House and Women Bring Class Action Lawsuit Against Microsoft.

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

Luke Harding at the Guardian: Russian Exile Nikolai Glushkov Found Dead at His London Home. "A Russian exile who was close friends with the late oligarch Boris Berezovsky has been found dead in his London home, according to friends. Nikolai Glushkov was discovered by his family and friends late on Monday night, aged 68. The cause of death is not yet clear." Russia is doing the most to break apart the US-UK alliance and start a world war. We must be clear on this point, no matter how terrifying it is to process.

And, because I am clear on that point, I ask: Chuck Schumer, what are you even doing?

Trump said in full (according to the New York Times' transcript of the brief press avail):
I've worked with Mike Pompeo now for quite some time. Tremendous energy, tremendous intellect. We're always on the same wavelength. The relationship has been very good. That's what I need as secretary of state.

I wish Rex Tillerson well. Gina, by the way, who I know very well who I worked very closely, will be the first woman director of the C.I.A. She is an outstanding person who also I have gotten to know very well. So I've gotten to know a lot of people very well over the last year and I'm really at a point where we're getting very close to having the cabinet and other things that I want.

But I think Mike Pompeo will be a truly great secretary of state. I have total confidence in him. And as far as Rex Tillerson is concerned, I very much appreciate his commitment and his service and I wish him well. He's a good man.

...Rex and I have been talking about this for a long time. We got along actually quite well. But we disagreed on things. When you look at the Iran deal. I think it's terrible. I guess he — it was O.K. I wanted to either break it or do something. And he felt a little bit differently.

So we were not really thinking the same. With Mike, Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process. I think it's going to go very well.
The important takeaways: 1. Trump wants a yes-man as Secretary of State. 2. Trump doesn't want anyone at State challenging him, especially on Russia. Also note Pompeo's agreement with Trump that "the Iran deal [is] terrible." 3. Trump says he's "getting very close to having the cabinet and other things" he wants. It's unclear what those "other things" are, but it's clear that the cabinet he wants is one full of deferential sycophants who will aid and abet his authoritarianism.

So there is literally no reason for Schumer to be pretending at this point — and every reason to stop pretending — that there is any good faith to be found among Trump's cabinet. They are not going to do the right thing. There will be no "new leaf" for Mike Pompeo, no more than there has ever been a "pivot" for Trump.

To insist otherwise is to indulge the utterly false narrative that this administration is something other than profoundly abnormal, subversive, disloyal, and intent on undermining our democratic institutions, norms, and laws.

It is to further pretend that the rest of the Republican Party hasn't colluded with this coup every step of the way, despite the fact that they have, openly and shamelessly. Here is another piece from Trump's presser:
We're very happy with the decision by the House Intelligence Committee saying there was absolutely no collusion with respect to Russia. And it was a very powerful decision, a very strong decision.

Backed up — I understand they're going to be releasing hundreds of pages of proof and evidence. But we are very, very happy with that decision. It was a powerful decision that left no doubt. So I want to thank the House Intelligence Committee and all of the people that voted so strongly.
I'll bet. I'm sure Donald Trump is incredibly grateful to his helpers in Congress, who refuse to acknowledge his collusion, because that might shine a spotlight on theirs.

I understand the Democrats are in the minority and there is not a whole lot they can do to stop Trump as long as Republicans are in charge, having abandoned their patriotism and duty to provide checks and balances on the executive branch. But the one thing Democrats can do is stop talking about this in a way that ignores or soft-pedals reality. That only helps Trump.

Be honest. Even if the honesty is difficult for people to hear and accept. Especially when it is.

That's the reality about Mike Pompeo. New leaf, my fat fucking ass.

* * *

Aaron Rupar at ThinkProgress: Nunes Justifies Ending Russia Probe with Talking Point That Was Debunked 8 Months Ago. "'If you look at the one example of which was I think bad judgement which is where they met with a Russian lawyer, but it had to do with Russian adoptions,' Nunes said, after he was asked to explain how the House Intelligence Committee arrived at its conclusion that there was no collusion." As has been well documented, "adoptions" is code for "sanctions."

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post: The Republican Coverup for Trump Just Got Much Worse.
House Republicans may have the power to prevent important facts about [Donald] Trump and Russia from coming to public light. But here's what they don't have the power to do: prevent important facts about their own conduct on Trump's behalf from coming to public light.

...In an interview with me this morning, Rep. Adam B. Schiff — the ranking Democrat on the Intel Committee — confirmed that Democrats will issue a minority report that will seek to rebut the GOP conclusions.

But here's the real point to understand about this minority report: It will detail all the investigative avenues that House Republicans declined to take — the interviews that they didn't conduct, and the leads that they didn't try to chase down and verify. And Schiff confirmed that the report will include new facts — ones that have not been made public yet — that Republicans didn't permit to influence their conclusions.
Sargent is right, and I'm hugely appreciative that Schiff continues to say and do the right thing, but what will any of this matter as long as the Republicans remain in charge? Who is going to make it matter?

I wish I thought that any of this was going to matter, to the people empowered to hold these traitors accountable.

* * *

Get this dude outta there, Pennsylvania 18! Good luck, Democrats. I'm rooting for ya from the other side of the state.

* * *

[Content Note: Chipping away at abortion rights. Covers entire section.]

Rolling back abortion access, and the very right to access abortion at all, continues apace across the country, as Republican legislatures pass anti-choice laws in a vacuum of inattention and with a newly-sympathetic Supreme Court majority:

1. Mississippi passed a "blanket ban on abortion after 15 weeks gestation."

2. Kentucky's House passed a ban on the 'dilation and evacuation' procedure, "the most commonly-used method for second trimester abortions."

3. Tennessee's House passed legislation "seeking federal approval to ban TennCare payments to abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, for non-abortion services."

4. Idaho's House passed legislation that "would require the state Department of Health and Welfare to provide individuals seeking abortions with information about reversing a medication-induced abortion. It would also require the agency to publish information on its website about the reversal procedure, which according to Planned Parenthood, has 'no basis in science.'"

So, everything is going great for women and others who can get pregnant and thus need access to a full state of reproductive healthcare options.

* * *

[CN: Nativism; reproductive coercion] Layidua Salazar at Rewire: Activist's Detainment Reminds Us Immigration Is a Reproductive Justice Issue.
Ale has talked about her decision to have an abortion and why she feels having a family under this administration would be unsafe. "When I first found out I was pregnant, I was conflicted," she said earlier this year on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. "For a minute or two I smiled at the idea of being a mother. I quickly had a reality check and knew I couldn't start a family here, right now. I do not want to be a mother because families are under attack."

She added that, "The same people who would force me to continue my pregnancy are the same people who would rip my baby from my arms and deport me because of my immigration status. I can't ignore the irony of lawmakers whose only mission is to control a woman's body, and refuse to support us in accessing childcare and livable wages for our families. The president is a known racist and encourages police to keep killing us instead of working towards a country that can begin transforming itself to be a place that truly is the best country in the world."

[CN: Death penalty] Alfonso Serrano at Colorlines: Death Sentence: Trump Considers Capital Punishment for Drug Dealers. "An opioid overdose crisis that killed nearly 64,000 people in 2016 has proved more deadly than the AIDS epidemic at its peak and has played a significant role in reducing life expectancy in the United States for the second straight year. As morgues overflow with bodies and children pour into the foster care system, states are scrambling to stop the hemorrhaging via high tech solutions, ramped up addiction services, and lawsuits targeting drug makers. But [Donald] Trump has recently floated a different approach, inspired by some Asian countries: death sentences for drug dealers. During a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday (March 10), Trump said that drug dealers might deserve the death penalty. It's the second time he has voiced the idea in two weeks."

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

Open Wide...

Women Bring Class Action Lawsuit Against Microsoft

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

With everything else being a raging dumpster fire, I nearly forgot for 5 seconds that women are still treated like absolute shit in the workplace:

Women at Microsoft Corp working in U.S.-based technical jobs filed 238 internal complaints about gender discrimination or sexual harassment between 2010 and 2016, according to court filings made public on Monday.

The figure was cited by plaintiffs suing Microsoft for systematically denying pay raises or promotions to women at the world's largest software company. Microsoft denies it had any such policy.

The lawsuit, filed in Seattle federal court in 2015, is attracting wider attention after a series of powerful men have left or been fired from their jobs in entertainment, the media and politics for sexual misconduct.

Plaintiffs' attorneys are pushing to proceed as a class action lawsuit, which could cover more than 8,000 women.
Damn. That's more than 10 percent of the entire company, which "had about 74,000 U.S. employees at the end of last year."
Out of 118 gender discrimination complaints filed by women at Microsoft, only one was deemed "founded" by the company, according to details in the unsealed court filings.

Attorneys for the women called the number of complaints "shocking" in the court filings and the response by Microsoft's investigations team "lackluster."
Fucking hell.

Obviously, this will be a case to keep our eyes on, as it could have ramifications for the tech industry, and possibly all of corporate America, if systematic gender discrimination is established, despite Microsoft not having an official policy to deny female employees raises and promotions.

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Trump's Personal Assistant Fired and Removed from White House

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at first link.]

While Donald Trump heads off to San Diego to tour nativist wall designs, his personal assistant was fired and escorted off the White House grounds so abruptly that he didn't even have time to grab his jacket.

Michael C. Bender at the Wall Street Journal reports:

Donald Trump's personal assistant, John McEntee, was escorted out of the White House on Monday, two senior administration officials said. The cause of the firing was an unspecified security issue, said a third White House official with knowledge of the situation.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders declined to comment saying, "We don't comment on personnel issues." Mr. McEntee didn't return a call seeking comment.

...Mr. McEntee was removed from the White House grounds on Monday afternoon without being allowed to collect his belongings, a White House official said. He left without his jacket, a second White House official said.

It wasn't clear exactly why Mr. McEntee was fired Monday. He indicated to colleagues that it was an issue in his background.
After news of the firing, it quickly ciculated that, in December, a Politico profile of McEntee noted in passing that McEntee routinely forged Trump's signature to prank other staffers:
For months, he has played a practical joke on unwitting staffers by handing them a note, "signed" by Trump, whose signature McEntee has perfected. The note usually gives the staffer a hard time about something, or an "atta-boy" for all of the work they are doing. Only later does McEntee reveal that he wrote it, as other staffers usually start laughing. Many hang on to the notes as keepsakes. "For context, it's about having fun," one former White House staffer hastened to explain. "Not trying to undermine the U.S. government."
Perhaps that had something to do with McEntee's eventual firing, but it's a three-month old published report at this point, so, if that's the reason, it sure took a long time. It seems more likely that, as McEntee told colleagues on his way out the door, something came up in his background during this recent focus on White House security clearances.

In any case, Trump isn't bothered by whatever it is, as McEntee will reportedly join Trump's reelection campaign. Talk about landing on your feet.

ETA. [CN: Video may autoplay at link] Kaitlan Collins, Jeremy Diamond, and Jeff Zeleny at CNN report that McEntee "was fired because he is currently under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for serious financial crimes, a source familiar with his firing told CNN. The charges are not related to the President, the source said."

And yet McEntee will nonetheless join the Trump campaign "as a senior adviser for campaign operations."

Open Wide...

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