Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Diverkat: "What's something totally impractical that you really want to do/own/experience?"

Owning a Shetland pony. Obvs.

image of a Shetland pony, pictured standing on a hillside in a breeze on the Shetland islands
[Image via Pixabay.]

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Your Best Photograph

If you're a photographer, even if a very amateur one (like myself), and you've got a photo or photos you'd like to share, here's your thread for that!

It doesn't really have to be your best photograph — just one you like!

Please be sure if your photo contains people other than yourself, that you have the explicit consent of the people in the photos before posting them.

* * *

Here's a photo I took the other night of the sky at dusk. It was so pretty; it didn't even look real. (There is no filter on this photo.)

image of the sky through trees at dusk, with pink and purple clouds streaked across the sky

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This Is a Display of Dominance

[Content Note: Sexual assault.]

One of the things that's getting lost in the Brett Kavanaugh nomination news is what this entire situation means in terms of the Republican Party's consolidation of their power.

Given that Kavanaugh has now been accused of sexual assault and lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee, it would be easier, frankly, to switch the nominee and ram that person through as quickly as possible.

Even allowing that the Republican Party is full of indecent wrecks of humanity who don't care that Kavanaugh is a liar or an abuser, they've still got a tougher road ahead if they press forward with him.

There is, of course, no shortage of conservative judges with similar qualifications to Kavanaugh and an equal willingness to be the Trump Regime's lackey on the Supreme Court.

So why go the harder route?

Because to back down, even for an easier road to the same destination, would concede that they are not yet all-powerful; that they can still be stopped.

By public pressure, if not rules, laws, norms, or ethics.

The only reason to dig in is to prove that their coup is virtually complete. To show that not only are they refusing to provide checks and balances on the president, but that there are no longer any checks or balances on them.

This is a display of dominance, a flick of the tail of a dragon who has just learned to breathe fire.

Keep up the pressure. Keep making noise. Keep resisting.

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OMG SHOEZ

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 welcome to the OMG SHOEZ thread.

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!

* * *

I mentioned in the last OMG SHOEZ thread that I'm really into flat loafers at the moment, but that doesn't mean I've abandoned heels completely! I still love me a pair of heeled boots, including these beauties:

image of my feet in white velvet ankle boots with a red and blue geometric pattern
image of my feet in the boots while I'm sitting down with my legs crossed
Dr. Scholl's Darcia Velvet Bootie.

These have a 3-inch heel, which I almost never do — but because they're Dr. Scholl's, I can walk and stand comfortably in them for a reasonable amount of time. Like the duration of date night, for instance!

I don't do heels very often, but I like to have a few pairs just so I can occasionally experience what it's like to be "tall." I'm all of 5'5" in a 3-inch heel, lol.

So, that's what up with me! What's up with you?

(As always: I am not affiliated with nor am I receiving compensation from any of the brands or shoe retailers mentioned in this thread. Any shoes and/or retailers I recommend is just because I really like 'em!)

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt and Dudley the Greyhound standing and staring at me as I sit at my desk
"What do we want?" "TREATS!" "When do we want them?" "NOW!"

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 607

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: Maybe We Could All Try Being Better Than Trump and Trump Declassifies Documents in Brazen Authoritarian Move.

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

[Content Note: Sexual assault; rape culture. Covers entire section.]

Andy Towle at Towleroad: Trump Snarls at Reporter Who Asks If Kavanaugh Should Withdraw: 'What a Ridiculous Question That Is'. "Donald Trump defended Brett Kavanaugh on Monday afternoon in a session with reporters in the wake of the sexual assault allegations launched at his SCOTUS nominee. Said Trump: 'Brett Kavanaugh is one of the finest people that I've ever known. He's an outstanding intellect, an outstanding judge respected by everybody, never had even a little blemish on his record.' ...Asked if he had offered to withdraw from the process, Trump snarled: 'Next question. What a ridiculous question that is.'"

Anita Hill at the New York Times: How to Get the Kavanaugh Hearings Right. "In 1991, the Senate Judiciary Committee had an opportunity to demonstrate its appreciation for both the seriousness of sexual harassment claims and the need for public confidence in the character of a nominee to the Supreme Court. It failed on both counts. ...That the Senate Judiciary Committee still lacks a protocol for vetting sexual harassment and assault claims that surface during a confirmation hearing suggests that the committee has learned little from the Thomas hearing, much less the more recent #MeToo movement. ...A fair, neutral, and well-thought-out course is the only way to approach Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanaugh's upcoming testimony. The details of what that process would look like should be guided by experts who have devoted their careers to understanding sexual violence."

There is an epic fuckton of rape apologia being disgorged on behalf of Brett Kavanaugh, and one of the most common refrains is that the allegations shouldn't matter, even if they're true, because "he was just a kid." I briefly addressed that on Twitter:


Every motherfucking time I have to read someone talking about how teenage rapists are just confused kids, I flash back to the look on his face while he did it. He wasn't confused about what he was doing.

He was also drunk, like Christine Blasey Ford says Kavanaugh was — another piece of information that is being used to suggest he isn't responsible for his actions. Especially when other abusers or encouraging witnesses are present, sexual predators may drink to lower their inhibitions to facilitate the harm they want to do. Being drunk is hardly the mitigating factor rape apologists seem to believe that it is.

I also want to quickly note how utterly distressing the entire dynamic of this public discussion is, for others who may be feeling upset by it and would benefit from validation of those feelings and/or can't find the words to articulate it.

It's disgusting. I'm exhausted from having to publicly talk about my own survival, over and over, opening myself up to more harassment because there are people who don't give a fuck about survivors. It feels exploitative, and it feels futile. We just keep laying ourselves bare talking about the costs of harm, and it's basically jerk-off fodder for Trump and his 30 million bros.

"OOH TELL US MORE ABOUT HOW MUCH IT HURTS YOU."

So my choice is between giving wank material to sadists or keeping my mouth shut? Great options.

I choose to keep speaking. But goddamn does it come at a steep cost.

* * *

[CN: Hurricanes; displacement; racism; class warfare] Adam Gabbatt and Oliver Laughland at the Guardian: In North Carolina, It's the Poorest Who Bear the Brunt of Flooding.
Amid the cluster of uniformed officials, flashing lights, and shallow-bottomed boats in downtown Lumberton on Sunday afternoon, six figures stood out.

Patrice Carmichael, Clarence Hargrove and three of their children were walking slowly through the driving rain, pushing their four-month-old baby in a stroller and hauling a shopping trolley filled with clothing and food.

The family had been forced to evacuate their apartment in the path of the expected flooding from the Lumber river. But without a car or, it appeared, any help from authorities, they were forced to walk a mile and a half to an evacuation shelter.

...Greenleaf is home to national civil rights leader the Rev William Barber, who left the city briefly to evacuate his elderly mother.

On the phone, Barber argued that Florence should mark a moment to discuss the state's various forms of structural racism and economic inequality.

"Where the hurricanes hit the hardest are the counties that have the highest number of black populations and poor populations. And yet in those areas the resources and the infrastructure that could be put in before we have storms is never quite dealt with," he said.
Tracy Connor at the Daily Beast: Man Who Lost Wife and Baby to Florence: 'It All Went Wrong So Fast'. "Early Friday morning, when the storm called Florence was still at hurricane strength and bearing down on North Carolina, Adam Johnson was in the bedroom he shared with his wife Lesha Murphy-Johnson and their 8-month-old son. ...The family–including Lesha's three daughters from a previous relationship and her mother – didn't feel like they were in any imminent danger. 'And then it all went wrong so fast,' Johnson told The Daily Beast on Monday, three days after his wife and child became early casualties of a storm that has claimed at least 20 lives." Their house in Wilmington wasn't in the mandatory evacuation zone. Sob.

Nick Miroff and William Wan at the Washington Post: Embattled FEMA Chief Brock Long Facing Possible Criminal Investigation. "William 'Brock' Long, the top official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is facing a potential criminal probe related to his use of government vehicles, after an internal investigation into his travel was referred to U.S. attorneys for prosecution, according to administration officials and others familiar with the matter. The development intensifies pressure on Long to step down and comes as he leads FEMA's response to Hurricane Florence."

So the guy tasked with leading the federal response to a horrendous disaster is now facing a possible trial because he's corrupt like the rest of this shitshow regime. If he stays, he'll be distracted by the investigation; if he goes, someone new has to hit the ground running during major demands on FEMA's increasingly limited resources. And the people who will suffer are some of the most vulnerable in the Carolinas. Goddammit.

* * *


[CN: Nativism] Rebekah Entralgo at ThinkProgress: Trump Administration Announces It's Slashing Refugee Admissions to a Record Low. "The United States will admit will a maximum of 30,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced at a press briefing late Monday afternoon. During the briefing, Pompeo said refugee admittance should not be seen as the 'sole barometer' to measure a country's humanitarian efforts and that the 30,000 cap 'must be considered in the context of the many other forms of protection and assistance offered by the United States.' The new cap would be the lowest since the program began in 1980 and represents less than one-third of the average number of refugees admitted before [Donald] Trump took office."

[CN: Child abuse] Yessenia Funes at Earther: The EPA Is Failing to Keep Students Safe from Asbestos: Report. "The Environmental Protection Agency has been slacking when it comes to monitoring asbestos in schools. It did such a poor job between 2011 and 2015 that even its Office of Inspector General can't protect its image. The inspector general's office published a report Monday breaking down how badly the EPA has failed our children: The agency conducted only 13 percent of the inspections at public, private, and nonprofit schools that are required under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act from fiscal years 2011 to 2015. For comparison, the 21 states that handle this responsibility themselves conducted 87 percent of the required inspections."

[CN: Christian Supremacy; sexual assault] Katelyn Burns at Rewire.News: Leaked Title IX Rule Would Allow Religious Schools to Discriminate — Without Saying Why. "A leaked copy of U.S. Department of Education (DOE) Secretary Betsy DeVos' proposed rule for handling campus sexual assault allegations appears to reveal a plan to make exemptions to Title IX anti-discrimination laws easier for religious institutions. ...A copy of the draft rule, posted online by the Association of Title IX Administrators (ATIXA) and reviewed by Rewire.News, shows that it may also give broad license to religious institutions to claim exemptions from Title IX regulations, which protects against sex-based discrimination in education. ATIXA believes the document is authentic."

[CN: Sexual harassment and assault; descriptions of harassment and assault at link] Dominic Rushe at the Guardian: McDonald's Workers Walk out in 10 U.S. Cities over 'Sexual Harassment Epidemic'. "On Tuesday, Tanya Harrell and hundreds of other McDonald's workers will protest outside the fast-food giant's restaurants in 10 cities across the U.S., highlighting what they claim is an epidemic of sexual harassment for workers that they say the company has done little to address. Workers in Chicago, McDonald's hometown, Durham, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Orlando, San Francisco, and St Louis will all walk out at lunchtime in an effort to highlight their struggle and call on the company to take action. Bolstered by the success of the #MeToo movement, where high-profile women have decried sexual harassment in the workplace, they are hoping the strike will highlight the plight of women and LGBT workers in low-paid jobs who face similar issues on a daily basis but whose struggles rarely make the headlines."

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

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Discussion Thread: Good Things

One of the ways we resist the demoralization and despair in which exploiters of fear like Trump thrive is to keep talking about the good things in our lives.

Because, even though it feels very much (and rightly so) like we are losing so many things we value, there are still daily moments of joy or achievement or love or empowering ferocity or other kinds of fulfillment.

Maybe you've experienced something big worth celebrating; maybe you've just had a precious moment of contentment; maybe getting out of bed this morning was a success worthy of mention.

News items worth celebrating are also welcome.

So, whatever you have to share that's good, here's a place to do it.

* * *

My shoulder, which was bothering me for ages and prevented me from swimming for almost two months, is still holding up after I've been back to my regular swimming scheduled for a couple of weeks now. And that is a very good thing which makes me incredibly happy! Fingers crossed that it stays functional and pain-free.

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Trump Declassifies Documents in Brazen Authoritarian Move

It's just a good thing everyone is talking about Donald Trump's dick today, because that's definitely the most important news. I mean, as long as you ignore that, last night, the president selectively declassified documents related to the Russia probe, in an attempt to hurt his "enemies."

Ken Dilanian and Mike Memoli at NBC News report:

In an unprecedented move that stunned current and former intelligence officials, [Donald] Trump on Monday ordered the public release of highly classified documents and text messages related to the FBI investigation into whether his campaign conspired with Russia.

A statement by the White House press office said Trump had directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the Department of Justice, and the FBI to declassify about 20 pages of a highly sensitive application for surveillance against Carter Page, a one-time Trump foreign policy aide.

The documents Trump is releasing reflect a specific request, down to the page numbers, made by the Republican members of the House judiciary and intelligence committees this summer. Justice and intelligence officials had resisted releasing the information on the grounds that it was too sensitive.

Trump also ordered the agencies to publicly release, in full, all text messages relating to the Russia investigation of former FBI Director James Comey, Former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, and current Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr, a Russian organized crime expert. Those are all people Trump has criticized as out to get him.
This is extraordinary for two reasons in particular:

1. It's another brazen escalation of Trump's aggressive contempt for the rule of law and a rank abuse of power.

2. All of the people named had Top Secret clearances, which gave them access to sensitive materials. But: "A U.S. official with direct knowledge told NBC News that the agencies would not be able to conduct a damage assessment on the text messages, because there are too many of them." Which means that the declassification could reveal state secrets, something about which the president ostensibly should care.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D.-Calif., the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said he had been told the release of these materials could compromise intelligence sources and methods.

"[Donald] Trump, in a clear abuse of power, has decided to intervene in a pending law enforcement investigation by ordering the selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defense team and thinks will advance a false narrative," Schiff said in a statement.

The president has the authority to declassify any secret in the government, but experts could not recall a president doing so in a manner that seemed to leave aside any concerns raised by his own intelligence advisers.

"This is certainly unprecedented," said Robert Litt, the former general counsel of the ODNI during the Obama administration.

"Between the compromise of sources and methods, the impact on the willingness of people to cooperate, and the potential of selective release of classified material for partisan purposes, I think intelligence officials will find it very troubling."
I certainly find it troubling. I frankly question the patriotism of any American who doesn't.

This is such an unprecedented, extraordinary, gravely serious event. It is the President of the United States interfering in an ongoing investigation with a profound abuse of his power, demonstrating overt hostility for the rule of law.

It's yet another signal that the imperious scofflaw occupying the White House will not be constrained by norms or ethics or laws. He does whatever the fuck he wants, to get whatever the fuck he wants.

We really and truly need a more comprehensive plan than "vote," folks.

Because I don't see Donald Trump just reasonably accepting the outcome of any election that doesn't go his way. Do you?

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Maybe We Could All Try Being Better Than Trump

[Content Note: Rape culture.]

In the middle of another news cycle that has been tough to navigate for many survivors, an excerpt from Stormy Daniels' forthcoming book has been made public, in which she describes Donald Trump's genitals in unflattering detail.

I am not going to link to her description, nor am I going to republish it here. It's easy enough to find, if you're so inclined.

First, I want to say to my fellow survivors who are having a tough time at the moment: I see you. I take up space in solidarity with you. You are not "too sensitive." The world is not sensitive enough.

Secondly, I want to implore anyone whose instinct is to make public jokes about Trump's dick: Please remember that you're making jokes about the dick of a confessed sex predator. There are already lots of survivors who are raw because of the news about Brett Kavanaugh, and the last thing they need is to encounter jokes about Trump's dick everywhere they turn. This is a time to be a grown-up.

Also: I'm guessing this is really not a fun day for anyone who has a dick that resembles the description at which everyone is laughing. Body mockery always has more than one target. So, there's another reason to lay off, if caring about not triggering survivors isn't compelling enough on its own.

You know who's the kind of person who would spend all day making jokes about someone else's dick? Donald Trump.

Be better than him.

It isn't difficult. He sets a very low bar.

Step over it.

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Open Thread


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

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker eyeballsmccat: "What is your favorite piece of your wardrobe? Why?"

It's hard to pick a single piece, but I'm going to say my Mr. Celery shirt, because WHY WOULDN'T I?

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Monday Links!

This list o' links brought to you by pillows.

Recommended Reading:

Hillary Clinton at the Atlantic: American Democracy Is in Crisis

Leah Fessler at Quartz: Hillary Clinton's Three-Point Plan for Solving Tech's Diversity Problem

Shay Stewart-Bouley at Black Girl in Maine: [Content Note: Discussion of white supremacy] Podcast Launch: You Don't Know the Half

Caity Weaver at the New York Times: How Maya Rudolph Became the Master of Impressions

Kayleigh Donaldson at Pajiba: [CN: Misogyny; sexual assault] Dear Olivia Munn: I'm Sorry

Dorothy Snarker at Dorothy Surrenders: Work It, Sis

Francesca Volke at Bust: Dolly Parton and Sia Team Up in a Collaboration We Didn't Know We Needed

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

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Discussion Thread: Self-Care

What are you doing to do to take care of yourself today, or in the near future, as soon as you can?

If you are someone who has a hard time engaging in self-care, or figuring out easy, fast, and/or inexpensive ways to treat yourself, and you would like to solicit suggestions, please feel welcome. And, as always, no one should offer advice unless it is solicited.

* * *

I am going to continue watching the Great British Baking Show, which some of y'all recommended to me and I listened! And I am indeed enjoying it VERY MUCH!

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#365feministselfie: Week 38

I am again participating in the #365feministselfie project, now in its fifth year, and promised a thread for others to share selfies and/or talk about the project, visibility generally, self-apprecation, and related topics. So here is a thread for Week 38!

A few of my selfies over the last two (and a bit) weeks:

image of me in a car, smiling, with my hair down and wearing my glases and a light blue-green top
On my way to yet another doctor's appointment.

image of me from the shoulders up, sitting at my desk with my hair pulled back and wearing glasses and a grey t-shirt, blowing out my cheeks with exasperation as I look at my computer screen
Listening to the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing. Omggggggggg.

image of me from the shoulders up, wrapped in a pink towel with wet hair, smiling
After a much-needed and much-enjoyed swim!

image of me at my desk, from the mid-cheest up, wearing large black-framed glasses and a purple t-shirt with text on it
Working. And wearing a t-shirt with one of my favorite
phrases on it: "I'm not offended; I'm contemptuous."

image of me lying on the couch, reaching up over my head to pet Sophie, who is nestled in my hair
Sophie is sitting on my hair. Why? Because she
wants me to do exactly what I'm doing, lol!

image of me standing in a full-length mirror, wearing a black and white striped top, jeans, and white and black loafers, with my hair down and contacts in
Feeling good after a swim and some sushi.

image of me from chest up in a mirror, with my hair up and wearing grey-framed glasses, wearing a yellow t-shirt that has Garfield the Cat on it and text reading: 'Laid back.'
When you realize you're wearing your "Laid Back" Garfield t-shirt
to do fully nine zillion hours of borderline OCD closet reorganization.

Please feel welcome and encouraged to share your own selfies in comments, or share your thoughts on the project, or solicit encouragement or advice, or do whatever else feels best for you to participate, if you are inclined to do so!

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat and Olivia the White Farm Cat lying on me as I lie on the sofa; the bottom of my black top can be seen covered in cat hair
"Pet us, or the shirt gets MORE HAIR."

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 606

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: Brett Kavanaugh, Consent, and Listening to Survivors and Hurricane Florence, Part 5.

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

[Content Note: Sexual assault. Covers entire section.]

John Wagner and Seung Min Kim at the Washington Post: Kavanaugh Accuser Willing to Testify, Her Attorney Says; Judge Offers Fresh Denial. "An attorney for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who said Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh assaulted her when the two were in high school, said Monday that Ford is willing to testify about the allegations before the Senate Judiciary Committee. 'She is. She's willing to do whatever it takes to get her story forth,' lawyer Debra Katz said on NBC's Today show when asked whether her client would speak publicly about [Donald] Trump's Supreme Court nominee."

Asawin Suebsaeng, Gideon Resnick, and Sam Stein at the Daily Beast: Trump Believes There Is a 'Conspiracy' to Torpedo the Kavanaugh Nomination.
In the hours after a 51-year-old California professor came forward to publicly allege that Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were in high school, the White House signaled no interest in slowing Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination.

Instead, the president's team and his allies on and off the Hill began to mount a vigorous defense against the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, questioning why she had identified herself only now, and framing Kavanaugh's alleged behavior as almost commonplace in nature.

A senior White House official told The Daily Beast that, as of Sunday evening, things are still "full steam ahead" for Kavanaugh. On Friday afternoon, a different White House official confirmed that [Donald] Trump had been made aware of the earlier reports involving the Kavanaugh sexual-misconduct allegation — reports that did not name the accuser.

The president has told those close to him in recent days that he believes there is a "conspiracy" or organized effort by Democrats to smear Kavanaugh and try to derail the nomination of a "good man." One Trump confidant said Sunday that they "can't imagine that" Ford coming forward will change the president's position, and that it will far more likely cause Trump to dig in and attack those going after Kavanaugh.
*crawls into giant cannon; fires self directly into the sun*

The rotten crabapple, of course, does not fall far from the fetid tree:


In other horrible rape culture news, Charlie Rose is the latest serial sex abuser who's getting the rehabilitation treatment, and now he's getting an assist from his good pal Michael Bloomberg, who has publicly questioned the veracity of the accusations against him.


In fine (cough) company:


And just as a reminder that misogyny is everywhere in politics, on both sides of the aisle, much to our collective chagrin:


*jumps into fully one million Christmas trees*

* * *

Dennis Romero at NBC News: FEMA to Test 'Presidential Alert' System Next Week. "Next Thursday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will do its first test of a system that allows the president to send a message to most U.S. cellphones. More than 100 mobile carriers, including all the major wireless firms, are participating in the roll out, FEMA stated in a message on its website posted Thursday. 'The EAS [Emergency Alert System] is a national public warning system that provides the President with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency,' FEMA said." Fuck no. FUCK NO.

Danielle McLean at ThinkProgress: Trump Administration Planning Further Trade War Escalations with China. "The Trump administration is planning to escalate the U.S. trade war with China by targeting around $200 billion in Chinese goods, according to the Wall Street Journal. The move is expected to draw a reciprocal response from China, which will likely impose new retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exporters, especially farmers, the newspaper reported. ...The move is intended to give the U.S. leverage in planned high-level discussions with Beijing over its practice of demanding American companies turn over technology to do business in China. However, the new tariffs are expected ahead of the midterm elections and the holiday shopping season and will likely result in the increased costs on thousands of products for American consumers."

Raphael Satter at the AP: Leaked Docs Show Assange Bid for Russian Visa. "[In 2010, Assange] wrote to the Russian Consulate in London. 'I, Julian Assange, hereby grant full authority to my friend, Israel Shamir, to both drop off and collect my passport, in order to get a visa,' said the letter, which was obtained exclusively by The Associated Press. The Nov. 30, 2010, missive is part of a much larger trove of WikiLeaks emails, chat logs, financial records, secretly recorded footage, and other documents leaked to the AP. The files provide both an intimate look at the radical transparency organization and an early hint of Assange's budding relationship with Moscow. The ex-hacker's links to the Kremlin would become increasingly salient before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, when the FBI says Russia's military intelligence agency directly supplied WikiLeaks with stolen emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman and other Democratic figures." Yeah, that sounds about right.

* * *

[CN: Nativism. Covers entire section.]

Andrew Sheeler at the Sacramento Bee: Study Finds Undocumented Immigrants Have Less Reported Chronic Disease Than Documented Americans. "A new study challenges the political notion that undocumented immigrants are a burden on the U.S. health care system — in fact, they're much less likely to seek medical care at all, the study found. The four-year study, from Drexel University in Philadelphia and published in the journal Medical Care, relies on a California health survey and finds undocumented immigrants are using health care services at a lower rate than they did 15 years ago. 'There are significant disparities in access to and utilization of health care by legal authorizations status,' Alex Ortega, of Drexel's Dornsife School of Public Health, said in a statement. 'And given the current political climate that is very hostile to immigration — especially from Latin America — we can only expect the disparities to get worse.'"

Dianne Solis at the Dallas News: ICE Is Ordering Immigrants to Appear in Court, But the Judges Aren't Expecting Them. "The orders to appear are not fake, but ICE apparently never coordinated or cleared the dates with the immigration courts. It's a phenomenon that appears to be popping up around the nation, with reports of 'fake dates' or 'dummy dates' in Dallas, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, Atlanta, and Miami. Some immigrants have even been given documents ordering them to be in court at midnight, on weekends, and on a date that doesn't exist: Sept. 31. The result, immigrant advocates say, is more 'chaos' in the heavily backlogged immigration court system. ...Neither ICE nor the court agency offered an explanation for the confusion."

[CN: Misogynist violence] Adolfo Flores and Grace Wyler at BuzzFeed: A Border Patrol Agent Has Been Arrested for Killing Four Women. "A US Border Patrol agent suspected of killing four women was arrested Saturday after a fifth woman escaped and notified law enforcement, who referred to the agent as a 'serial killer.' Juan David Ortiz, a supervisor for the Border Patrol, was arrested by the Texas Rangers early Saturday morning in relation to multiple homicides in and around Laredo, Texas. Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar confirmed in a statement that the 35-year-old had murdered the four victims within the past two weeks. Ortiz, a Navy veteran, had been with the US Customs and Border Protection agency for 10 years. ...Ortiz is the second Border Patrol agent from the Laredo sector accused of multiple murders this year. Ronald Burgos-Aviles, a 28-year-old Border Patrol agent, was arrested in April on two counts of capital murder, after reporting that he found the bodies of his girlfriend, 27-year-old Grizelda Hernandez, and her 1-year-old son Dominick Hernandez near a park in South Texas."

* * *

[CN: Environmental toxins] Michael Biesecker at NBC4 Washington: Toxic Waste Sites in Florence's Path Under Close Watch. "Heavy rains from Tropical Storm Florence have caused a slope to collapse at a coal ash landfill at a closed power station outside Wilmington, North Carolina, Duke Energy officials confirmed. Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said Saturday evening that about 2,000 cubic yards (1,530 cubic meters) of ash, enough to fill roughly 180 dump trucks, have been displaced at the Sutton Plant and that contaminated storm water likely flowed into Sutton Lake, the plant's cooling pond. The company hasn't yet determined if the weir that drains the cooling pond was open or whether any contamination may have flowed into the swollen Cape Fear River."

[CN: Wildfires] Addy Baird at ThinkProgress: Wildfires in Utah Rage On, Displacing More Than 6,000 People. "As of Saturday afternoon, the two fires had grown to cover a combined 86,107 acres, wreaking havoc on air quality around the state. The two fires — at Pole Creek and Bald Mountain in Utah and Juab counties, respectively — could be the most destructive in an already dangerous fire season, according to Gov. Gary Herbert (R). Among Herbert's concerns were the multitude of homes directly in the paths of the wildfires. As of Saturday evening, the fires were reportedly within half a mile of residences."

[CN: Death; displacement] Yessenia Funes at Earther: The Strongest Storm of the Year Shook Southeast Asia This Weekend.
Tropical Storm Mangkhut was on the move Monday as it made its way through Southeast Asia. The former Super Typhoon, which at its peak became the strongest storm to form on Earth this year so far, has been pummeling Hong Kong, Macau, and the Philippines all weekend.

Heavy rainfall from has triggered landslides throughout northern regions of the Philippines where Mangkhut struck on Saturday, and the government is blaming the mining industry — namely, small-scale mines that operate illegally. At least 34 miners who sought refuge in a bunker were discovered dead; another 30 are still missing, reports the Guardian. Now, President Rodrigo Duterte is calling for the halt of all mining activities, per Reuters.

In total, at least 64 people are dead in the Philippines, but Hurricane Maria in the U.S. taught us that death tolls can increase dramatically weeks or even months after a storm passes through.

Mangkhut's trail of destruction didn’t stop in the Philippines, however. The storm continued its way north, going on to strike Hong Kong and Macau on Sunday with 100 mph gusts.

...For the rest of the week, the China Meteorological Administration is forecasting heavy rains along the storm's projected path inland from the southeastern coast. Anywhere between four to six inches are expected to pour onto southern Chinese regions as the storm deteriorates.
As a reminder, I include extreme weather news in the We Resist thread, because all of these events are exacerbated by climate change, which is a human-made disaster that we must continue to fervently resist.

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

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Discussion Thread: How Are You?

I am tired about having to write about men who abuse women. I am tired of having to think about them, and listen to them speak, and transcribe their words, and look at their sinister fucking faces. My body just aches all the time now, and I know that part of it is because I'm sat in their filth all day, every day.

I remain stressed the fuck out about a future I have dedicated my life to preventing that now feels inexorable.

I'm also grateful to be looking forward to a visit with an old friend, whom I have known so long that we can be fully present and vulnerable together, our best and worst selves, without judgment, because we have seen it all and still love each other mightily. To be so known and yet so loved is a profound comfort.

And I am, as always, glad for this community, in this moment. Anyone who wants to join me in another enormous virtual group hug is welcome.

How are you?

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Hurricane Florence, Part 5

[Content Note: Death and displacement. Previously: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4.]

The flooding from Hurricane Florence has been catastrophic in the Carolinas. Seventeen people have died, thousands are displaced from their homes, and three-quarters of a million people are currently without electricity. And it's not yet over. In fact, the worst is still to come.

Martin Pengelly, Adam Gabbatt, Oliver Laughland, and Khushbu Shah at the Guardian report:

"The storm has never been more dangerous than it is now," [North Carolina] Governor Roy Cooper said. "Many rivers are still rising, and are not expected to crest until later today or tomorrow."

...After blowing ashore as a hurricane with 90mph winds, Florence lingered over the Carolinas. By Sunday it had weakened to a tropical depression. Winds were down to 35mph. But in North Carolina, rivers were swelling.

The evacuation zone included part of Fayetteville. "This is not a talking point," said its mayor, Mitch Colvin, on Saturday. "This is not a script, but we are saying this because we are concerned with you. The worst is yet to come. If you are refusing to leave during this mandatory evacuation, you need to do things like notify your legal next of kin. The loss of life is very, very possible."

Forecasts said rivers would crest on Sunday and Monday at record or near-record levels: the Little, the Cape Fear, the Lumber, the Neuse, the Waccamaw, and the Pee Dee were all projected to burst their banks.
The flooding in Wilmington is so severe that the entire city of 120,000 people is now effectively cut off entirely from the rest of the state and supplies will have to be airlifted: "Woody White, the New Hanover county commission chair, said officials were planning for food and water to be flown into the coastal city. 'Our roads are flooded,' he said. 'There is no access to Wilmington.'"

At CNN, Dakin Andone has a comprehensive report recounting how the storm has played out. There are images of the devastation at the link, so please be advised if you would like to avoid that sort of imagery.

I want to again link this piece by Aimée Lutkin at Lifehacker: How to Help Hurricane Florence Victims.

And here are a few other compilations of suggestions on how to direct your resources, if you are able and keen to help hurricane victims:

Kelly Phillips Erb at Forbes: Helping Out After Hurricane Florence: Where, What, and How to Donate.

Melissa Locker at Fast Company: How to Help Hurricane Florence Victims: 10 Things You Can Do Right Now.

Nicole Spector at NBC News: Hurricane Florence: How to Help the Victims of the Storm.

Karen Zraick at the New York Times: Tropical Depression Florence: How to Help.

Christopher Dawson at CNN: How to Help Those Impacted by Hurricane Florence.

Please feel welcome and encouraged to share other ways to help in comments.

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Brett Kavanaugh, Consent, and Listening to Survivors

[Content Note: Sexual assault; rape culture.]

On Friday, I wrote about the anonymous allegation that had been made against Brett Kavanaugh that he attempted to rape someone in high school. The story was that Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein had gotten a letter from the woman who had been assaulted by Kavanaugh but had not made it public, and the implication was that she concealed it because she didn't want it used against him, for some inexplicable reason.

A lot of people decided to immediately go after Feinstein, based on zero actual evidence of this nefarious plot — and despite all evidence to the contrary, given that Feinstein has generally been a reliable advocate for survivors. (For example.)

I was not convinced it went down the way far too many people reflexively believed that it did, not only because it seemed out of character for Feinstein to me, but also — and primarily — because I hadn't heard from the woman herself, and I had no idea what her actual wishes were regarding coming forward in a formal way.

And having spent a damn lot of years of working with and listening to survivors, I suspected that it did not go the way that people were keen to presume, because of their own various agendas, none of which had anything to do with actually caring about the human being who alleged that she had been harmed by Kavanaugh.

In a private conversation with colleagues on Friday, I wrote: "My guess — and it is entirely a guess, but based on many interactions I've had with survivors over the last 14 years — is that the woman reached out in good faith, and then when Feinstein told her what it would require for them to use the information, and what the Republicans would do in retaliation, she backed off. I don't see why else Democrats were meeting with her attorney."

Because that was my guess, I wrote the piece I did, urging people to consider that we hadn't heard from the woman, whose name we now know is Christine Blasey Ford, and urging caution about making assumptions about what happened.

Well, unfortunately, because this issue was made public without her consent, Ford has been obliged to publicly share her story about what happened then, and what happened now, and my guess was not far off, it seems.

Emma Brown at the Washington Post reports [please note there are descriptions of assault at the link]:

She contacted The Post through a tip line in early July, when it had become clear that Kavanaugh was on the shortlist of possible nominees to replace retiring justice Anthony M. Kennedy but before Trump announced his name publicly. A registered Democrat who has made small contributions to political organizations, she contacted her congresswoman, Democrat Anna G. Eshoo, around the same time. In late July, she sent a letter via Eshoo's office to Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

In the letter, which was read to The Post, Ford described the incident and said she expected her story to be kept confidential. She signed the letter as Christine Blasey, the name she uses professionally.

Though Ford had contacted The Post, she declined to speak on the record for weeks as she grappled with concerns about what going public would mean for her and her family — and what she said was her duty as a citizen to tell the story.

She engaged Debra Katz, a Washington lawyer known for her work on sexual harassment cases. On the advice of Katz, who said she believed Ford would be attacked as a liar if she came forward, Ford took a polygraph test administered by a former FBI agent in early August. The results, which Katz provided to The Post, concluded that Ford was being truthful when she said a statement summarizing her allegations was accurate.

By late August, Ford had decided not to come forward, calculating that doing so would upend her life and probably would not affect Kavanaugh's confirmation. "Why suffer through the annihilation if it's not going to matter?" she said.

Her story leaked anyway. On Wednesday, the Intercept reported that Feinstein had a letter describing an incident involving Kavanaugh and a woman while they were in high school and that Feinstein was refusing to share it with her Democratic colleagues.

...As the story snowballed, Ford said, she heard people repeating inaccuracies about her and, with the visits from reporters, felt her privacy being chipped away. Her calculation changed.

"These are all the ills that I was trying to avoid," she said, explaining her decision to come forward. "Now I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation."

Katz said she believes Feinstein honored Ford's request to keep her allegation confidential, but "regrettably others did not."

"Victims must have the right to decide whether to come forward, especially in a political environment that is as ruthless as this one," Katz said. "She will now face vicious attacks by those who support this nominee."
Emphases mine.

I am absolutely furious and deeply sad that Ford's story was made public without her consent, by an outlet whose editors don't give a single fuck about Ford, but were eager to dunk on Senator Feinstein. Fuck the Intercept forever, for not caring about Ford's consent any more than Brett Kavanaugh did.

And I am equally rageful and grieving that Ford ultimately made the entirely understandable calculation to not come forward, because she knew that it probably wouldn't have mattered — which is the consequence of being governed by a Republican majority whose members are as eager to tolerate sex predators in their ranks as they are to legislatively undermine women's consent and agency at every turn.


And now the Republican Party and their deplorable base will commence tearing Ford alive in the press, not only to try to discredit her, but also as a warning shot across the bow to any other women who Kavanaugh has harmed, who might consider coming forward to tell their stories.

This is what will happen to you if you dare.

I am sorry that Ford was put into this position without her consent, and I take up space in solidarity with her. I will do the same if there are any other women who will risk the gauntlet to tell their truth.

And I will listen to them. Not just to their stories, but to what they want and need from their fellow countrypeople.

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Open Thread

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

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