Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound lying on the couch curled up on his back
The biggest wee baby who has ever lived.

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

Open Wide...

We Resist: Day 5

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 disgorge 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 I've read today:

A number of Trump's Cabinet nominees have been passed out of committee for full Senate votes: Rex Tillerson for State; Ben Carson for HUD; Wilbur Ross for Commerce; Elaine Chao for Transportation.

James Mattis (Defense); John Kelly (Homeland Security); and Mike Pompeo (CIA) have already been confirmed in full Senate votes. The only Democratic Senator to vote against all three of them is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York (who filled Hillary Clinton's vacated seat).

Trump will also be retaining James Comey as FBI director, because of course he will.

Lisa Lambert at Reuters: Republicans pass sweeping bill to reform 'abusive' U.S. regulation. This piece is nearly two weeks old already, and the fact that it went largely without notice makes it all the more terrifying. Remember what I was just saying about checks and balances? At best, this is an extraordinary erosion of checks and balances. At worst, the House just declared we're a dictatorship now. (Relevant reminder: Trump campaigned on slashing 90% of federal regulations.)

Josh Dawsey and Nancy Cook at Politico: Trump Assembles a Shadow Cabinet. "The White House is installing senior aides atop major federal agencies to shadow the administration's Cabinet secretaries, creating a direct line with loyalists who can monitor and shape White House goals across the federal bureaucracy."

Caroline Mortimer at the Independent: Trump administration suspends all Environmental Protection Agency grants. "Staff at the Environmental Protection Agency have been told by the incoming Trump administration to freeze all the grants designed to fund research, redevelopment of former industrial sites, air quality monitoring, and education, but were banned from discussing it with anyone outside the agency."

Steve Holland at Reuters: Trump to advance Keystone, Dakota pipelines. "U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed executive actions to accelerate the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects and to decree that American steel should be used for pipelines built in the United States. Trump also signed an action to expedite environmental review and approval of high-priority infrastructure projects that he hopes to get moving as part of his drive to rebuild U.S. airports, roads, and bridges."

Oliver Darcy at Business Insider: Breitbart National Security Editor and Fox News Contributor Expected to Join Trump White House. "Breitbart national security editor and Fox News contributor Sebastian Gorka is expected to join President Donald Trump's White House, a source familiar with the matter told Business Insider. The source said that the position is likely in the National Security Council." This is terrifying, given Breitbart's position on meddling in foreign elections to assist white supremacist referenda and candidates.

Richard Engel, Marc Smith, and Eric Baculinao at NBC News: Beijing Strikes Back at White House, Draws Red Lines Over South China Sea, Taiwan. "A day after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer vowed that the United States would stand up to China's military expansion in the South China Sea, officials here are firing back. 'There might be a difference' of opinion regarding who has sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea, 'but that's not for the United States' to get involved in, Lu Kang, a senior official with the Chinese foreign ministry, told NBC News in an exclusive interview on Tuesday. In other words, he was suggesting the U.S. should butt out of China's relationship with its neighbors. But the new Trump administration has made it clear it has no intention of doing so."

Jon Swaine at the Guardian: Two journalists covering inauguration protests face felony riot charges. "Two journalists who were arrested while covering the unrest in Washington D.C. surrounding Donald Trump's inauguration last Friday have been charged with felonies and could face up to 10 years in prison. The journalists, who were there on assignment, are both charged with the most serious level of offense under the District of Columbia's law against rioting. They could also each be fined up to $25,000 if convicted."

Stephen Wolf at dKos: South Dakota GOP will declare 'state of emergency' to repeal voter-approved ethics reform law. "On Monday, Republicans are set to begin passing House Bill 1069, which would effectively eviscerate the voter-approved ethics reform law. Especially galling is how lawmakers are using a mechanism reserved for declaring literal states of emergency so that the repeal measure would take effect immediately."

Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) has introduced federal legislation "To provide that human life shall be deemed to begin with fertilization."

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

Open Wide...

Oscars Thread

The 2017 Oscar nominations have been announced. Spoiler Alert: They are still very white! Although the Best Supporting Actor and Actress categories did manage to respectively nominate two and three people of color!

No female director nominees, of course. But Mel Gibson got a nomination for Best Director, so.

In better news: Hidden Figures got a Best Picture nomination, and it's one of three pictures with Black leads that are nominated in the category, along with Moonlight and Fences. Joi McMillon is the first Black woman to be nominated for Best Editing for her work on Moonlight. And Viola Davis is the first Black woman to be thrice-nominated for an Oscar.

And if you're a Lin-Manuel Miranda fan, you might be thrilled to hear that his nomination for Moana brings him one step closer to being the youngest EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winner ever!

Discuss.

Open Wide...

This Is a Real Thing in the the World

Authoritarianism watch, part 87,942 in an endless series: "Trump names his Inauguration Day a 'National Day of Patriotic Devotion'."

No, really.

President Trump has officially declared the day of his inauguration a national day of patriotism.

...On Monday, the paperwork was filed with the federal government declaring officially that Jan. 20, 2017 — the day of Trump's inauguration — would officially be known as the "National Day of Patriotic Devotion."

"Now, therefore, I, Donald J. Trump, president of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Jan. 20, 2017, as National Day of Patriotic Devotion, in order to strengthen our bonds to each other and to our country — and to renew the duties of government to the people," the order says [pdf].

"Our Constitution is written on parchment, but it lives in the hearts of the American people," the order continues. "There is no freedom where the people do not believe in it; no law where the people do not follow it; and no peace where the people do not pray for it."
The order opens with this declaration: "A new national pride stirs the American soul and inspires the American heart. We are one people, united by a common destiny and a shared purpose." This, despite the fact that Gallup announced yesterday that the Loser President has set a new low for inaugural approval ratings.
President Donald Trump is the first elected president in Gallup's polling history to receive an initial job approval rating below the majority level. He starts his term in office with 45% of Americans approving of the way he is handling his new job, 45% disapproving and 10% yet to form an opinion. Trump now holds the record for the lowest initial job approval rating as well as the highest initial disapproval rating in Gallup surveys dating back to Dwight D. Eisenhower.
He doesn't even have a 50% approval rating, and yet he's declaring a "new national pride" among "one people, united by a common destiny and a shared purpose."

We're not even united by a common reality.

Relatedly: Last night, the Loser President met with Congressional leaders and insisted, with zero evidence, "that he only lost the popular vote because between 3 million and 5 million people voted illegally."

This straight-up did not happen. It is a lie—and it is a lie with two very specific purposes. One: To justify tasking incoming Attorney General Jeff Sessions with encroaching on voting rights under the auspices of "preventing fraud." Two: To salve the Loser President's ego, because he cannot bear that he legitimately lost the popular vote by a huge margin and has no mandate.


He is not a legitimate president, for a multitude of reasons. But the one that bothers him the most is that, even given huge assists from Vladimir Putin, James Comey, and a corporate media that gave him billions of dollars of free advertising, he still lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly three million votes.

Open Wide...

Take Action Now to Save Net Neutrality


As you may recall, during the election I warned that one of Donald Trump's first orders of business, were he to be elected, would be to rescind Net Neutrality. Naturally, I was widely dismissed as a big ol' cuckoo hysteric, by Trump supporters (because Trump loves the internet and is the champion of the little guy) and by lefties (because Net Neutrality is settled and even Trump wouldn't be so brazen blah blah).

Yeah. He would. Because that's what authoritarians do. They quash dissent and erode access to factual information in any way they can.

So here we are: "Net Neutrality Foe Ajit Pai Officially Named FCC Chairman."
As expected, President Trump has elevated Ajit Pai from his FCC Commissioner to Chairman, clearly establishing that the new administration seeks to undo the telecommunications regulations of the previous White House.

..."We need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job creation," he recently said about the future direction of the FCC.

The primary target of that weed-whacking is likely to be the 2015 Open Internet Order (better known to the kids as "Net Neutrality"), which prohibits internet service providers from favoring, blocking, or slowing down traffic based on where it's coming from.

On the day in Feb. 2015 when the FCC voted to approve these rules, Pai spent a full 30 minutes railing against the regulation, repeatedly politicizing it by referring to Net Neutrality as "Obama's plan to regulate the internet," and claiming that new taxes and fees were coming, even though the rule does not allow for such charges.
Like many members of the Trump administration, Pai is a fan of "alternative facts."

Get ready for the conservative talking points about how Net Neutrality crushes business and innovation, despite the fact the precise opposite is true.

Rescinding Net Neutrality favors Internet service providers (ISPs), who are currently disallowed from "forging packets to tamper with certain kinds of traffic or slowing down or even outright blocking protocols or applications." If they are granted permission to discriminate against sites and services at will, it would not only create a scenario in which access to information is only for those who can afford it, but it would have a chilling effect on free speech.

As I have previously noted: "Net Neutrality is an access issue. Who has access to information, and what kinds of information. One of the most dangerous potential outcomes of subverting Net Neutrality is that media with the broadest potential audience—i.e. kyriarchy-upholding garbage, which makes money hand over fist—will be the most cheaply accessible, while specialized media—i.e. kyriarchy-challenging material, which struggles to turn a profit—will be the most expensive, since media producers invested in social justice don't tend to get rich from their work."

And as Shaker Ignatius Cheezburger noted in the comments of that piece: "The other concern being that if the ISP happens to endorse or support certain political or cultural views as a matter of corporate policy, that ISP can now selectively filter certain content for priority delivery that is in keeping with their views and other content that runs contrary to those views for lower priority delivery, or no delivery at all. For example, NARAL or Planned Parenthood suddenly finds its alerts and updates getting bounced from all of its members within the ClearChannel family. Not good. Not good at all."

In an era where online organizing is so crucial to fighting back (see: THIS POST), the idea of Net Neutrality being rescinded is absolutely chilling.

We need to start fighting back NOW.

To that end, you can call the FCC at 1-888-225-5322 and register your support for Net Neutrality.

Script: "I'm calling FCC Chair Ajit Pai to urge him to stand with internet users and preserve Net Neutrality."

If you are in the U.S., you can also contact your senators and respresentative now, even if they are Republican, and let them know you want and expect them to support Net Neutrality. It's unclear, frankly, whether legislators will have much influence, but it can't hurt—and a well-placed call at the right time could mean tipping off a legislator who will try to fight by introducing legislation to preserve Net Neutrality.

(Calls are always better than emails, but emails are better than nothing. Best yet is a call, an email, and a tweet!)

If you need a sample script, here you go:
I'm calling to let [elected official] know that I am very concerned about the appointment of Ajit Pai as FCC Chair, because of his views on Net Neutrality. I want and expect [elected official] to support preserving Net Neutrality.
And, most crucially, engage in awareness-raising. Get as many people as you can educated about this issue, encourage them to call the FCC, and let's start making some noise, so they cannot erode internet access in a vacuum of inattention.

Open Wide...

Open Thread

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

Open Wide...

Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Odalis Aiza: "Which TV show or film would you like to see a female (or other alternative) version of?"

Open Wide...

The Monday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by the scent of lilac.

Recommended Reading:

Jess: What's Next?

Kenrya: [Content Note: Misogyny; Islamophobia] #IMarchWithLinda Trends as Conservatives Come for Linda Sarsour

Monica: Janet Mock's DC Women's March Speech

Angry Asian Man: This Photo Perfectly Sums Up Inauguration Day

Andy: Dan Rather Denounces Trump Administration's Lies in Viral Facebook Post

Prison Culture: [CN: Carcerality; violence] #SurvivedAndPunished: A Week of Action

Matt: Yes, the Eerie Carl Sagan Prediction That's Going Viral Is Real

Ragen: [CN: Fat hatred; diet talk; stalking] Terrible Trend – Private Message Diet Spam

Captain Awkward: A Beautiful Short Documentary About a Woman Artist by a Woman Artist

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

Open Wide...

A Message from the White House to KEEP RESISTING

During today's absurd White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer complained bitterly about the negative coverage of Donald Trump:

It's not just about a crowd size. It's about this constant, you know— He's not gonna run. Then if he runs, he's gonna drop out. Then if he runs, he can't win. [insert another full minute of whining about how unfair lol the press has been to Trump] I think over and over again there's this constant attempt to undermine his credibility and the movement that he represents. And it's frustrating, for not just him, but I think so many of us that are trying to work to get this message out.
Boo-hoo. And we're the ones who are supposed to be the delicate snowflakes.

Anyway.

Spicer certainly did not intend his words to be received this way—quite the opposite!—but as Adam Jentleson, retired Senator Harry Reid's former deputy Chief of Staff, noted: Spicer's "whining monologue about how he finds bad stories 'demoralizing' is incredibly energizing for those of us in the opposition."

Yes, yes it is.

Spicer has unintentionally telegraphed precisely what we need to do: KEEP RESISTING. And keep resisting by pointing out that Donald Trump is the losingest winner to ever enter the Oval Office, with a massive popular vote deficit, with historically low favorability ratings, with a wildly unpopular Cabinet, with an Electoral College victory delivered to him by Russian interference and the catastrophically bad judgment of a rogue FBI director, with no mandate.

Demoralize the Loser President and his band of miscreants and minions. Their message is garbage, and they should be blocked at every turn from "getting it out."

Reject. Refuse. Resist.

It's Day Three—and it's already getting to them. Good.

Open Wide...

Keep. Your. Eyes. On. Mike. Pence.

[Content Note: War on agency.]

As I mentioned earlier, one of Donald Trump's first executive orders was to reinstate the Global Gag Rule, also known as the "Mexico City Policy," which "bans recipients of U.S. foreign aid from offering abortion-related services."

Made U.S. policy through an executive order issued by President Ronald Reagan, it restricts family planning providers from offering comprehensive health care and, when in place, denies international family planning organizations the right to:

* Provide abortion-related information to their patients and clients
* Provide referrals to other health care providers who perform safe abortions
* Provide legal abortions or legal abortion-related services
* Advocate for the legalization of abortion in their country

The Mexico City Policy infringes upon women's fundamental right to make informed decisions about their bodies and their health. It denies women access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care that includes abortion care and related information and referrals.
It is a vile policy, rescinded by Democratic presidents and reinstated by Republican presidents like clockwork.

Trump's position on abortion has been inconsistent, to put it politely, but he has made it abundantly clear that, as a Republican president, he will align himself with anti-choice extremists. Including and especially Vice-President Mike Pence, to whom Trump delegated his presidential transition and who has been tasked with taking the lead on policy.


To be clear: I am not suggesting that Trump is stupid. I am observing, based on Trump's own comments, that he doesn't care about policy; that he is willfully ignorant about an enormous amount of policy because to be well-versed in it serves no purpose to him, as it does not cater to his grandiose ego and would steal time from the things that do.

Trump explicitly wanted a vice-president who "would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy," leaving Trump free to "Make America great again," whatever that means on any given day. Tweeting at SNL on one day; provoking China by calling the Taiwanese President on another.

Everything else belongs to Mike Pence, who was a radically conservative governor and has already made several notable trips to Capitol Hill to meet with Congressional Republicans to see what radically conservative legislation—starting with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act—they can bring to Trump's desk for his disinterested signature.

In December, Gallup noted Pence's influence squarely sits on the shoulders of Trump's lack of experience: "As has been true for previous vice presidents, Pence's background complements that of the president. But this seems particularly important for the incoming administration, given that Trump will be one of the few presidents without any elected political experience (the last was Dwight Eisenhower in 1952). Pence's legislative and policy experience may make him the 'quarterback' on the White House legislative team who has to deal with complex congressional processes. And his experience as a state governor may make him someone Trump relies on to help navigate 10th Amendment issues."

Trump's comprehensive inexperience leaves a void that Pence will be happy to fill.

Trump has almost certainly not learned the details of the Global Gag Rule, nor will he, but he didn't need to know them. Pence knew them. He is an extreme anti-choicer who, as Indiana's governor, waged war on Planned Parenthood, defunded clinics, and criminalized miscarriages. You bet he knew the details of the Global Gag Rule. You bet it was one of Mike Pence's priorities.

This, then, is a perfect and terrible example of why I am the brokenest of broken records about keeping our eyes on our most powerful vice-president ever, including even Dick Cheney.

As I wrote previously:
During the campaign, I repeatedly warned about Mike Pence's extremism with a particular urgency, given Donald Trump's desire for a vice-president who "would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy."

And, since the election, I have been carefully watching the role Pence is playing in the emerging Trump administration. He was put in charge of the presidential transition, and, to those who have long been familiar with Pence, his fingerprints are all over the selection of people and policy that is emerging.

…An article in Politico confirms precisely that about which I have been warning. Under the blunt title "Pence's power play," the writers detail his efficacy in building bridges with the Republican Congressional caucus and quote a former Pence aide saying, "He's going to play a more influential role on the policy front than we've seen from vice presidents in recent years."

It is a neat bit of understatement about an already observable fact.

Pence's style has always been less aggressive than it is opportunist — which does not make him any less dangerous. To the contrary, his patience in waiting for effective opportunities in which to implement his extremism, and his willingness to brazenly disregard democratic processes to get it done, makes him all the more toxic.

His stealth is the perfect complement to Trump's theatrical egotism: Pence will exploit every second of being ignored to enact a radical conservative agenda in the long shadow cast by Trump’s attention-grubbing megalomania.

Mike Pence would like nothing more than our inattention. Which is precisely why we must keep our eyes on him.
Pence—who, unlike his boss, does not have an ego rooted in personal glory, but in personal orchestration of a conservative agenda, irrespective of whether he gets the credit—is smart enough to realize that he has more power without scrutiny.

As a vice-president (and thus president of the Senate) who has been handed extraordinary power by the president, and a former member of the House with deep ties to many members of the GOP caucus, Pence is perfectly positioned to simultaneously: Assist Trump with his awful executive agenda; support Congress in their sinister legislative aims; and work with the Cabinet (which he has clearly shaped) to destroy every federal agency.

Trust that Pence does not want any attention that stands to undercut his enormous power at the center of this triangle.

Which is why I will say once more: Pence would like nothing more than our inattention—and that is precisely why we must keep our eyes on him.

Open Wide...

Daily Dose of Cute

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat sitting in the window, watching a squirrel
Livs cannot tolerate this display of squirrely cuteness out her window.

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

Open Wide...

We Resist: Day 4

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they disgorge every single day.

Which is to say nothing of the reprobates in the Republican Congressional caucus, who, working with unofficial White House Congressional liaison Vice-President Mike Pence, will be unleashing their own relentless series of terrors onto the U.S. public.

And naturally there will be all sorts of myriad trash coming from Republican-majority state legislatures, who have been empowered by the Trump presidency, a Republican Congressional majority, and an open seat on the Supreme Court.

It is going to be tough for any individual person to follow. Which, of course, is precisely the point.

To that end, I am launching the "We Resist" thread, which is a space 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.

Some of these things I, or one of the other contributors, will write about, but we can't cover all of them. Between all the members of this community, however, we have a better chance of at least making sure everyone gets as much info as they can about what is happening every day.

So each weekday, sometime during midday (and always to be followed by the Daily Dose of Cute, except on days when something breaking intercedes), I will post this thread, with links to relevant news items I have seen, and invite you to share what you have been reading.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things I've read today:

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Eric Bradner at CNN: What the Trump Administration Has Done So Far. He's already gone haywire in his first 72 hours.

Jeff Pegues at CBS News: Sources Say Trump's CIA Visit Made Relations with Intel Community Worse. Which should not come as a surprise to anyone here, as I've been saying for months that Trump is waging a campaign to discredit the intelligence community so he can replace them with "his own people." What's new in the piece is the confirmation that Trump brought "his own people" to clap and cheer at the event, to give the appearance of his being well-received by the intelligence community. Wow.

Eric Lipton and Adam Liptak at the New York Times: Foreign Payments to Trump Firms Violate Constitution, Suit Will Claim. His first full day of work (since he took the weekend off), and a lawsuit has been filed against him.

David Smith at the Guardian: Trump Will Issue Executive Order to Begin NAFTA Renegotiation, Report Says.

Cyra Master at The Hill: Report: Trump White House Hiring Breitbart Writer. Welp. Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich is launching an all-out assault on the political media.

Robert Pear at the New York Times: Trump's Health Plan Would Convert Medicaid to Block Grants, Aide Says. This would be utterly devastating.

And, already today:


Jennifer Haberkorn at Politico:
If there was any doubt about President Donald Trump's stance on abortion, he settled it Monday by using an executive order to bar U.S. aid to groups that provide or promote the procedure overseas.

The decision to reinstate the Republican policy known as the "Mexico City policy," or the "global gag rule," was delivered a day after the 44th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion and two days after the Women's March on Washington and similar events across the country drew crowds to rally for reproductive rights, among other issues.
What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

Open Wide...

Quote of the Day

"I have given quite a few speeches since the election and inevitably some variation of this 'reaching out' issue is raised in the form of a question, and my answer is always the same: The Enlightenment must never bow to the Inquisition. Recognizing and even celebrating individual identity groups doesn't make America weaker; it makes America stronger. Acknowledging that identity groups have not always been—and indeed, continue not to be—treated equally in this country should not be a cause for agitation, but a call to action. Parity is not born of forced erasure but rather respectful subsumption. ...If my difference frightens you, you have a problem, not me. If my discussion of my pain makes you ill at ease, you have a problem, not me. If you feel that the excavation of my history presages the burial of yours, then you have a problem, not me. ...The women's marches sent a clear signal: Your comfort will not be built on our constriction. We are America. We are loud, 'nasty' and fed up. We are motivated dissidents and we are legion."—Charles M. Blow, in the New York Times today. I strongly encourage you to read his entire piece, which is stunning and important and put air into my lungs.

Open Wide...

Women's Marches Prove Historic

For the first time since November 8, 2016, I feel more than just small glimmers of hope. It is a cautious thing, but it is a real hope, still, and I will take all I can get.

Despite some last-minute male concern about how calling it the Women's March on Washington might have been "bad" marketing, attendance at the DC March and the more than 600 Sister Marches around the world, including an online Disability March, in response to Donald Trump's Inauguration exceeded all expectations. Via Politico, the Marches are estimated to be the largest protests in US history, with approximately 2-4 million attendees.

I found being in the physical presence of hundreds of thousands of other people opposed to Trump and his agenda to be a powerful bolster to my resistance. I say this while I also recognize the efforts of those who have been, and continue, resisting Trump and his fans online and off, apart from the Marches - writing, commenting, refusing to normalize deplorable actions, and speaking out when we can.

That we are living in a historic moment cannot be overstated. Trump continues to fill his Cabinet with unqualified extremists as though he has the strongest of mandates, even though by key measures he has no mandate to do so.

His electoral college win, temperament, lack of competence, lack of knowledge, and bigotry have inspired the largest protest in US history. He lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. And, via Media Matters, he is "the least popular president-elect since modern polling was invented."

For posterity, I note some reactions to this historic weekend.

Winner of the 2016 popular vote Hillary Clinton:


Yes.

Meanwhile, loser of the 2016 popular vote, Donald Trump:


Two hours after that tweet, Trump (or someone) wrote another tweet recognizing "the rights of people to express their views." How big of him. Such a presidential pivot! Because the bar is so very low for this man, I'm sure he'll get some major props from some people for this basic acknowledgement of our constitutional rights.

Jill Stein of the Green Party, and 2016 presidential candidate, re-tweeted this statement:


I think that the March was "mainstream" is supposed to be a bad thing. And, if so, I strongly oppose this sort of "hipster activist"/non-pragmatic attitude among some segments of the left.

Listed as the number one value on the Green Party USA's Ten Key Values page of its website is: Grassroots Democracy. The Women's Marches were events in which millions of people were active participants in grassroots democracy. That these protests were extremely popular, even among celebrities and politicians, does not and should not detract from them. Rather, it is a testament to the marches for doing something the Green Party is rarely able to do: mobilize millions of people on the left, even if they're not yet sufficiently enlightened about social justice matters.

I suspect that if and when I get through the Trump years, I will be most grateful for the people who walked along beside me - physically or in spirit. We need to reject this type of cynical mocking of major resistance events as too "mainstream" and, hence, imperfect.

And, especially given the role that misogyny played in this election, it should be fundamental to every progressive movement to want large-scale resistance to misogyny mainstreamed.

Speaking of which, on the conservative side of things, I've heard that some folks have the vapors about the pussy hats some women wore, calling them "vulgar." This notion comes from an ideology in which [content note: sexual violence] saying pussy is worse than grabbing one without consent.

Relatedly, we also saw commentary of the always-creative "get back in the kitchen"/"you're ugly" variety. For instance, this headline at The American Thinker [sic], by Drew Belsky, tells you all you need to know [content note: misogyny]:


Meanwhile, Julie Bosman at The New York Times, in a piece entitled, "In a Rust Belt Town, the Women's Marches Draw Shrugs and Cheers From Afar," began her piece quoting a few women who hadn't heard of the Marches and mostly let non/anti-feminist women frame the piece. Sample:
"There are bigger concerns in Niles[, Michigan] than expanding the rights of women, many people said. They worry about the state of local schools, the cost of health care and the town's economy, which has struggled with the loss of manufacturing jobs.

Mr. Trump's campaign promise to 'Make America Great Again' had special resonance in Rust Belt towns like Niles, said Tracy Guetterman, 49, a retail manager....

'Personally, I'd love to see our country go back to one parent working, like the good old days,' she said. 'I want to be able to quit my job."
One day, I hope the mainstream media might stop gazing into the the navels of white Trump supporters long enough to learn that there are lots of other disgruntled folks in this country. Again, the election of Trump has inspired the largest protest in US history. Let's start centering more protagonists in that narrative.

Also, note how this "economic anxiety" rhetoric parallels the "no identity politics" approach that some on the left take. The woman's quote in this article encapsulates my ongoing fear when people reference these "bigger concerns" people have that supposedly have nothing to do with gender or other aspects of identity. She worries about the economy and jobs, but also wants to see economic opportunities for women limited.  

Huh?

Economic issues are almost always gender (and racial) issues as well, even if that's not immediately apparent to some. Progressive politicians who speak about, and advocate centering, economic issues need to show me that they understand the intersections of identity and economics before I will trust them. We had that candidate. We don't anymore.

On the positive side, there were some fantastic speeches. Julia Serano shared the text of hers, after speaking at the San Francisco March:
"I would absolutely love to live in a world where I didn’t have to constantly navigate the fact that I am a woman, or that I am bisexual, or that I am transgender. But I don’t have the privilege of not thinking about these aspects of my person, because I am often treated inferiorly and targeted for harassment because I am a woman. And there are tons of people out there who hate me and wish to silence me because I am bisexual and transgender.

Donald Trump ran a campaign that constantly stoked hatred against minority and marginalized groups. He selected one of the most anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-women’s reproductive rights politicians in the nation to be his Vice President. His entire platform and rhetoric were predicated on racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and other prejudices. And yet, these pundits have the gall to claim that we’re the ones who are making this about identity?"
Meanwhile, The Atlantic posted March photos from the around the world, and they are stunning.

Also, people sang:

As the left continues to work through internal critique and dialogue, I hope we can do so while also keeping a wide view. To me, a man like Trump in power, with the people he's surrounded himself with, signifies an existential threat.

Accordingly, I am grateful to the women who organized the March on Washington, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour. I acknowledge their work even as I disagree with the decision to not list Hillary Clinton's name as one of women who has inspired the March, even as the website used Clinton's "Women's Rights Are Human Rights" quote without attribution.

It is still hard for me not to think about how hard Hillary Clinton would have worked for us as President, and how I trusted that she more than anyone else would have done what she thought best for the country in all its pragmatic complexities. I think about this every day. I was marching for many reasons but, in part, for her. For what she endured. And, for the pain many of us felt when we watched what she endured. To be a qualified woman and to lose to an unqualified bigot like Trump is a devastating testament as to how perfection is expected in female leaders while the grossest of imperfections are tolerated, and even celebrated, in men.

For this reason, too, I try to extend understanding to other progressive and liberal women, knowing that we do and will disagree, and that deep divisions exist. I say this knowing that the Democratic primary was a brutal one and I certainly took a side in that. And, at least some of the divisions were egged on by Russian agents (I have a strong suspicion/evidence my own blog was targeted).

Social movements and events often start out as exclusionary messes and are gradually improved, over time, with dialogue - dialogue that is hard, ridden with power imbalances, frustrating, and also hurtful at times. But, as we excoriate Trump for wanting to build a wall, we have got to get better at building bridges with each other on the left and question some some of the thinking that if a person makes mistakes then they are forever ruined.

We are stronger together, still. We have to be.

Perhaps this, too, is too much to hope for, but sometimes I imagine what political poetic justice might look like, for me. Sometimes, in my most hopeful moments, I imagine that Trump could do the impossible: unite a diverse left that is centered around opposition to him.

Open Wide...

We Need to Adjust Our Thinking

Further to the idea that many folks—in the corporate media, in politics, and outside of these institutions—are still using old thinking to process the Trump administration, I tweetstormed last night about this concept with regard to "checks and balances," and how so many people still expect "checks and balances" to stop the most egregious abuses of Trump and his cadre of vandals.

In case you missed it, and/or for discussion in this space, here is that tweetstorm in full:

[*contingent]

Open Wide...

"Alternative Facts"

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's first official act was to demonstrably, ludicrously lie about the size of the crowd at the inauguration, because he is a sniveling sycophant transfixed by a petty dictator.

On Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd challenged White House Chief Propagandist Kellyanne Conway about this despicable display, and her response instantly became infamous, and will surely reverberate throughout the entire tenure of Donald Trump.

The entire interview is viewable here, and the full transcript is available here, but here is the relevant excerpt (with my commentary below the transcript):

CHUCK TODD: Then explain—you did not answer the question: Why did the President send out his Press Secretary, who's not just the spokesperson for Donald Trump; he could be— He also serves as the spokesperson for all of America at times. He speaks for all of the country at times. Why put him out there for the very first time in front of that podium to utter a provable falsehood? It's a small thing. But the first time he confronts the public it's a falsehood?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Chuck, I mean, if we're going to keep referring to our Press Secretary in those types of terms, I think that we're going to have to rethink our relationship here. I want to have a great open relationship with our press. But look what happened the day before talking about falsehoods. We allowed the press—the press to come into the Oval Office and witness President Trump signing executive orders. And of course, you know, the Senate had just confirmed General Mattis and General Kelly to their two posts. And we allowed the press in. And what happens almost immediately? A falsehood is told about removing the bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. from the Oval Office.

TODD: All right—

CONWAY: No, that's just flat out false! And the pool writer—

TODD: And it was corrected immediately.

CONWAY: But why— Chuck, why was it said?

TODD: But Kellyanne, no, let me—

CONWAY: Chuck, why was it said in the first place because—

TODD: I don't know!

CONWAY: —everybody's so presumptively negative—

TODD: Climb into the head of that reporter.

CONWAY: No, that it's okay. No excuse me.

TODD: But—

CONWAY: Oh no, no, no, no. That reporter was writing to—on behalf of the press pool. That falsehood—

TODD: I understand that—

CONWAY: —got spread 3,000 times—

TODD: But it does not excuse—

CONWAY: —before it was corrected.

CHUCK TODD: —excuse me. It does not—

CONWAY: And it's still out there.

TODD: —excuse and you did not answer the question.

CONWAY: I did answer—

TODD: No you did not.

CONWAY: —your question.

TODD: You did not—

CONWAY: Yes I did.

TODD: —answer the question of why the President asked the White House Press Secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood. Why did he do that? It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office—

CONWAY: No it doesn't.

TODD: —on day one.

CONWAY: Don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. What— You're saying it's a falsehood. And they're giving Sean Spicer, our Press Secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point remains—

TODD: Wait a minute. Alternative facts?! Alternative facts?! Four of the five facts he uttered, the one thing he got right—

CONWAY: Hey, Chuck, why— Hey Chuck—

TODD: —was Zeke Miller. Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true. Look, alternative facts are not facts. They're falsehoods.

CONWAY: Chuck, do you think it's a fact or not that millions of people have lost their plans or health insurance and their doctors under President Obama? Do you think it's a fact that everything we heard from these women yesterday happened on the watch of Barack Obama? He was president for eight years. Donald Trump's been here for about eight hours. Do you think it's a fact that millions of women, 16.1 million women, as I stand here before you today, are in poverty along with their kids? Do you think it's a fact that millions don't have health care? Do you think it's a fact that we spent billions of dollars on education in the last eight years only to have millions of kids still stuck in schools that fail them every single day? These are the facts that I want the press corps to cover—

TODD: I—

CONWAY: And these are—this is why I'm here at the White House—

TODD: But I understand this.

CONWAY: —to change awful—

TODD: What I don't understand is—

CONWAY: —numbers like that.

TODD: —that is not what yesterday was about. So you—

CONWAY: Yes it is.

TODD: —have not answered the qu— You did not answer the question the—

CONWAY: It's what this presidency's going to be about.

TODD: You sent the Press Secretary out there to utter a falsehood on the smallest, pettiest thing.

CONWAY: I don't think that anybody can prove the—

TODD: And I don't understand why you did it.

CONWAY: —look, I actually don't think that— Maybe this is me as a pollster, Chuck. And you know data well. I don't think you can prove those numbers one way or the other. There's no way to really quantify crowds. We all know that.

TODD: [chuckles incredulously]

CONWAY: You can laugh at me all you want. But I'm very glad—

TODD: I'm not laughing. I'm just befuddled.

CONWAY: Well, but you are. And I think it's actually symbolic of the way we're treated by the press. The way that you just laughed at me is actually symbolic of the way—very representative of the way we're treated by the press. I'll just ignore it. I'm bigger than that. I'm a kind and gracious person.
Todd insisted—and I understand why—that Conway didn't answer his question. But she did. It just wasn't the answer that any reasonable person would expect or want to hear.

Todd wanted to know why Spicer would be sent out to lie. And Conway's answer came in two parts:

1. That he was offering "alternative facts" and no one can prove otherwise.

2. "It's what this presidency's going to be about."

That last part, which has gotten virtually no attention compared to the "alternative facts" line, is the real meat of her answer. This presidency is "going to be about" disseminating misinformation in order to discredit the media and create chaos, from which Trump will then promise to deliver us.

That is the playbook of authoritarians. Undermine trust in institutions; sow discord; create chaos; and then position themselves as uniquely capable of saving The People from the very horror show the strongman himself created.

Conway did answer. It's just that Todd, like most of the corporate media, isn't listening with ears primed to hear what she is saying, because they are still in denial about the fact that they helped elect a despot.

Open Wide...

Open Thread

image of a purple sofa

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

Open Wide...

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.

Open Wide...

Resistance Ink

I've had a number of spontaneous conversations with a bunch of different folks today about getting tattoos of resistance. So, in case you, like many of my friends, are thinking about the subject, here's a thread for discussion!

Most of my ink is a reference to resistance of one sort or another, but, tattooed on my right forearm is the Clan McEwan motto: Reviresco. It means: "We grow strong/verdant again."

I am feeling pretty good about that right now.

image of REVIRESCO tattooed on my arm

Open Wide...

Trump's America: Day One

CNN is showing a line of police in riot gear near the inaugural parade route, and reporting that 95 protesters have already been arrested.

Meanwhile:


Then there is this:


That was necessary, you see, because of a federal law mandating a 7-year gap between active military service and serving in a role such as Defense Secretary, to ensure defense leadership positions are held by civilians, because military governance is not good for democracy.

And in other news [H/T to Aphra Behn]: Trump's WhiteHouse.Gov Disappears Civil Rights, Climate Change, LGBT Rights. The subhead on that story is: "The minute Donald Trump was sworn into office, the White House's web site changed—dramatically."

Indeed. Searching for "women" gives you a pretty cool result, too.

He's been president for two hours.

#RESIST

Open Wide...

Back |