We Resist: Day 188 + Programming Note

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

I've got some offline life stuff happening today and tomorrow which will keep me away until Friday morning. So, here is a thread for sharing and discussion of political news this afternoon and tomorrow.

I will be on Twitter as I'm able.

See you back here Friday.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt lying on the floor under my desk, her chin resting on her paws, looking up at me
Zelly peeping at me from underneath my desk.

I love it when she lies with her chin on her paws like this, and her shar pei inherited neck rolls pooch out and make her look like she's got chipmunk cheeks. She is so freaking cute. ♥

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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Russia Sanctions Are Bringing Us to a Brink

A brink of what is not yet clear. Although I think we have a good idea about some pretty dire scenarios. Here's why...

Richard Lardner at the AP/ABC: House Punishes Russia, Blocks Trump from Waiving Penalties.

Eager to punish Russia for meddling in the 2016 election, the House has overwhelmingly backed a new package of sanctions against Moscow that prohibits [Donald] Trump from waiving the penalties without first getting permission from Congress.

Lawmakers passed the legislation, 419-3, clearing the far-reaching measure for action by the Senate. If senators move quickly, the bill could be ready for Trump's signature before Congress exits Washington for its regular August recess. The Senate, like the House, is expected to pass the legislation by a veto-proof margin. The bill also slaps Iran and North Korea with sanctions.

The 184-page measure serves as a rebuke of the Kremlin's military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed President Bashar Assad. It aims to hit Putin and the oligarchs close to him by targeting Russian corruption, human rights abusers, and crucial sectors of the Russian economy, including weapons sales and energy exports.

"It is well past time that we forcibly respond," said Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Trump hasn't threatened to reject the bill even though Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other senior administration officials had objected to a mandated congressional review should the president attempt to ease or lift the sanctions on Russia. They've argued it would infringe on the president's executive authority and tie his hands as he explores avenues of communication and cooperation between the two former Cold War foes.

But Trump's persistent overtures to Russia are what pushed lawmakers to include the sanctions review. Many lawmakers view Russia as the nation's top strategic adversary and believe more sanctions, not less, put the U.S. in a position of strength in any negotiations with Moscow.

Trump's "rhetoric toward the Russians has been far too accommodating and conciliatory, up to this point," said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa.
In sum, Trump's behavior toward Russia has become so alarming that even Republicans now understand they have to do something about it — so they've enacted a safeguard to ensure he can't just unilaterally ditch the sanctions they've voted to impose on the nation who attacked our election process.

Putin is not going to be happy about sanctions designed to "hit Putin and the oligarchs close to him" by targeting, among other things, "crucial sectors of the Russian economy." He's going to be very angry, in fact. And he's going to be very frustrated that the Made in America presidential puppet he bought isn't doing his bidding.

And he's not being quiet about it.

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Stepan Kravchenko at Bloomberg: Russia Warns of 'Painful' Response if Trump Backs U.S. Sanctions.
Russia threatened to retaliate against new sanctions passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, saying they made it all but impossible to achieve the Trump administration’s goal of improved relations.

The measures push U.S.-Russia ties into uncharted territory and "don't leave room for the normalization of relations" in the foreseeable future, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Wednesday, according to the Interfax news service.

Hope "is dying" for improved relations because the scale of "the anti-Russian consensus in Congress makes dialogue impossible and for a long time," Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia's upper house of parliament, said on Facebook. Russia should prepare a response to the sanctions that's "painful for the Americans," he said.
Russia is just openly, publicly threatening to attack the U.S. in a way that is "painful" for the civilian population if our president doesn't do whatever they want (which is painful for us in a different way).

What is Trump going to do? Even if he vetoes the sanctions bill, it has a veto-proof majority and will likely get passed without his signature. Then what? Russia isn't going to care that the imposition of sanctions are out of Trump's hands.

Then what?

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Trump vs. Sessions: A Classic Authoritarian Struggle

Previously: Trump Is a Terrible President — and a Terrible Boss.

Donald Trump's campaign to cajole Attorney General Jeff Sessions into quitting continued into the afternoon yesterday, as he said during a press conference in the Rose Garden: "I am disappointed in the Attorney General. He should not have recused himself [from the Russia probe] almost immediately after he took office. And if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me prior to taking office, and I would have, quite simply, picked somebody else. So I think that's a bad thing not for the president, but for the presidency. I think it's unfair to the presidency. And that's the way I feel."

Which was a reiteration of what he told the New York Times last week. And it's just as alarming now as it was before.

Sessions reportedly has no plans to quit, especially because "more than any other member of Trump's Cabinet, Sessions has been an uncompromising advocate for Trump's agenda. The attorney general has worked methodically to dismantle Obama's legacy at the Justice Department" — and Sessions knows how beloved that has made him among conservatives. He has his own base of loyalty, so he's prepared to "call Trump's bluff."

If he hangs on, that will eventually result in his regaining Trump's loyalty and support, because Trump is a coward who fears looking weak, so he won't risk defeat in a major showdown. Instead, he'll re-embrace Sessions — and Sessions is giving him good reason to do so by reportedly planning to "make an announcement about several criminal leak investigations within days."

"The investigations will be centered around news reports containing sensitive material about intelligence," which has been an era of Trump's obsessive focus for months.

How all of this is unfolding is incredibly informative, illuminating just how resolutely Trump is running his administration like a classic authoritarian. He demands personal loyalty, which very specifically entails committing to abet and replicate his contempt for the rule of law and lack of ethics, and when he doesn't get it, he immediately begins the process of alienation.

Weak characters will simply leave (e.g. Sean Spicer). Strong characters will call his bluff, and he will spin to look like he's the one in control of their collective fates. They'll throw him a bone to stay in his good graces. But with every interpersonal battle lost, he will become weaker, and thus more dangerous, as he responds to feeling weak with displays of the abuse he substitutes for actual strength.

None of this is good, at all. And beware the political press minimizing it as "drama" or "palace intrigue." It is serious, scary business — and we should all understand exactly what we're seeing.

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Open Thread

image of a red couch

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

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Drazil: "You get a super power! You can fly, or be invisible, or know whether someone is lying or telling the truth. Which do you pick and why?"

Flying. For one million reasons, but mostly because IT WOULD BE SO FUN.

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Christopher Nolan on Tom Hardy: "He's Extraordinary"

four images of Tom Hardy with his face partially covered for roles in four different films: The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, and Dunkirk

Just yesterday, I said in my review of Christopher Nolan's new film Dunkirk: "I don't know why Tom Hardy keeps picking roles where masks cover up the most beautiful face of all time. That said: He can do more with his eyes than actors who draw $5M+ salaries can do with their whole bodies, costuming, props, and dialogue."

With a hat tip to Billerina, I've discovered that Nolan agrees. (Which is no surprise, considering he keeps putting Hardy in his films!)
Nolan told the Press Association: "I was pretty thrilled with what he did in The Dark Knight Rises with two eyes and couple of eyebrows and a bit of forehead so I thought let's see what he can do with no forehead, no real eyebrows, maybe one eye."

"Of course Tom, being Tom, what he does with a single eye acting is far beyond what anyone else can do with their whole body; that is just the unique talent of the man. He's extraordinary."
What immense praise. And well deserved.

I've seen a couple of tweets, by the way, that suggest Tom Hardy does his best work while his face is all covered up. That is incorrect. He also does fantastic work while being extremely naked, lol.

(That link goes to a post about his nakedness, sans images. You're welcome and/or I'm sorry.)

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Senate Votes to Open Debate on Obamacare Repeal

Oh, also? They just completely shit all over the United States democracy, until it suffocated under the weight of their filth and died.

The vote today was on a "motion to proceed," which opens debate on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. What Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did was essentially convince nearly every member of his caucus to vote to move forward to "debate" a bill that hasn't yet been written. And within the allotted debate time (20 hours), Senate Republicans will scramble to write an actual bill on which the Senate will then vote.

Fifty Republican Senators went along with this profoundly anti-democratic and authoritarian charade, and then Vice President Mike Pence cast the tiebreaking vote.

What comes next is unknown, because the Republicans can't get a piece of "healthcare reform" legislation passed when its details are known. This is a humongous fraud being perpetrated on the American public, and virtually the entire Republican Party is going along with it, all for the vile objective of taking away people's health insurance.

The malice of it is breathtaking.

I watched, with tears streaming down my face, the Republicans cast their votes, eager to make their constituents' lives worse and willing to consign to the dustbin of history even the illusion that we will restore anytime soon something proximate to functional democracy.

I watched one of the two major parties in this country — the majority party; the governing party — toss aside democratic processes and the most basic responsibility of lawmakers to know what constitutes a law before voting to advance it.

I watched as John McCain returned to the Senate to a standing ovation, so he could cast a vote to move ahead with taking away healthcare from the people who pay for his.

Look at that. Look at their happy faces; listen to their enthusiastic applause. They are over the fucking moon that John McCain rushed back from his brain surgery to advance a bill that will deny people the same lifesaving care.

I loathe every one of them. In the gallery, spectators chanted, "Don't kill us!" They heard the citizens who pay their salaries, pay for their healthcare coverage, pay for their travel when they fly back to cast an execrable vote, begging them not to take away the healthcare they need to live.

And one by one, they ignored those pleas and voted "Aye."

Against the wishes of voters. In breach of democratic norms. With zero hesitation about the lack of a bill to actually advance.

I would say that we will vote them out of office should they pass whatever turd of a bill they write, but they are busily making sure we can't do that, either.

Twenty hours from now is one last chance to stop this iteration of repeal. Tonight, call as you have never called before. Make their lives a fucking misery.

Tell them no. Even if you believe it won't make a difference to them. It will make a difference to you.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound standing on the couch in the living room, looking at me with his tongue hanging out and silly ears
Dudley peeks up from his nap to say hi.

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 187

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: McCain to Return for Healthcare Vote and Trump Is a Terrible President — and a Terrible Boss and Senate Healthcare Open Thread.


Allegra Kirkland at TPM: Manafort to Provide Notes from Trump Tower Meeting to Senate Panel. "When he meets with Senate investigators this week, Paul Manafort is expected to provide contemporaneous notes he took during a June 2016 meeting billed as part of the Russian government's effort to help the Trump campaign, Politico reported. An anonymous source 'close to the investigation' told Politico that the former Trump campaign chairman is expected to answer questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee about the Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya."

Again, good. But whether this amounts to anything, like the entire rest of these investigations, is ultimately contingent on Republicans' willingness to hold Donald Trump accountable — and they still, at this juncture, appear wholly uninclined to do so.

To the contrary, they are still utterly unwilling to even say critical words about Trump's ravenous bid for authoritarian rule. On his controversial (to put it mildly) attempts to passive-aggressively oust Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which itself is laying the groundwork for firing Special Counsel Bob Mueller, here is what Speaker of the House Paul Ryan had to say:

Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker at the Washington Post: New Communications Director Moves Toward Possible Staff Purge at White House. (Emphasis mine.)
Anthony Scaramucci, the flashy financier President Trump hired to overhaul the White House communications operation, is exercising a broad mandate from the president and intends to follow through on threats to purge aides he believes are disloyal to Trump and leaking to the press, officials with knowledge of the fast-moving effort said Monday.

...Scaramucci wants the communications shop focused on serving a single client — the president — and is looking outside of the White House to recruit new advisers with professional experience, especially on television. He is considering bringing on corporate communications specialists as well as people who have on-air experience, according to people briefed on his plans. Scaramucci has deep contacts at Fox News, where he was a paid contributor and hosted a weekly show on Fox Business Network.

..."You can either adapt Trump into the presidency or you can adapt the presidency into Trump," said Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign adviser. "The latter is the only way it will ever work, and I think that's what we're seeing."
Purges, propaganda, and fundamentally altering the office of the presidency. This is authoritarianism at work.

And, like Russian collusion, it's right out in the open. They're not even trying to conceal it. Again, the audacity stuns people into inaction: It couldn't really be an authoritarian takeover if it's this brazen! Yes, yes it could. And it is.

* * *

Katie Mettler and Derek Hawkins at the Washington Post: Trump's Boy Scouts Speech Broke with 80 Years of Presidential Tradition. "For 80 years, American presidents have been speaking to the National Scout Jamboree, a gathering of tens of thousands of youngsters from around the world eager to absorb the ideas of service, citizenship, and global diplomacy. In keeping with the Scouts' traditions, all eight presidents and surrogates who have represented them have stayed far, far away from partisan politics. [But Trump] bragged about the 'record' crowd size, bashed President Barack Obama, criticized the 'fake media,' and trashed Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. In the lengthy 35-minute speech, the president threatened to fire his health and human services secretary if he couldn't persuade members of Congress to vote for the Republican health-care bill."

Trump also told the Scouts that "under the Trump administration, you'll be saying Merry Christmas again when you go shopping" and (mis)characterized Obamacare as "a horrible thing…that's really hurting us." Further: "At another point, Trump shared a meandering story about a wealthy developer who sold his business, bought a big yacht, got 'bored' with his debauched life of 'yachts and sailing and all of the things he did in the south of France and other places,' and then ultimately decided to buy his business back."

Yes, Trump smashed 80 years of nonpartisan tradition, but he did it in a very specific way — attempting to co-opt a boys' youth organization and conflate their values with his own: "Trump conflated his politics with the values and work of the Scouts. Despite the fact that most in the audience would have been too young to vote last fall, he portrayed his victory in the presidential election as 'an unbelievable tribute to you and all of the other millions and millions of people that voted to make America great again.'"

The Boy Scouts' leadership has a history of being conservative in a way that has, at times, varied between troubling and outright bigoted. But even they are uncomfortable with Trump's shameless "Trump Youth" approach, issuing a milquetoast but still distancing statement today.
The Boy Scouts of America is wholly non-partisan and does not promote any position, product, service, political candidate or philosophy. The invitation for the sitting U.S. President to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition and is in no way an endorsement of any political party or specific politics.

The sitting U.S. President serves as the BSA's honorary president. It is our long-standing custom to invite the U.S. President to the National Jamboree.

* * *

[Content Note: White supremacy] Matthew Sheffield at Salon: Alt-Right Activists Say Trump and Bannon Are Giving Them "Space to Destroy" by Keeping FBI Away. "While the neo-fascist alt-right is not entirely happy with [Donald] Trump's first few months in office, one thing for which they are grateful is that the new administration is giving them free reign to engage in building their movement, completely unencumbered by any law enforcement scrutiny of their activities. ...'He's going to give us space to operate, and frankly, it is space to destroy,' [said Michael Peinovich, the creator of The Right Stuff, an alt-right podcast network said during a Sunday guest appearance on 'Fash the Nation,' the movement's most popular web radio show]. ...'We have to use these four years to grow into something that can't be defeated,' Peinovich said, referring to possible future investigations of neo-fascist groups."

[CN: White supremacy] Aram Roston and Joel Anderson at BuzzFeed: The Moneyman Behind the Alt-Right. "William Regnery II, a man who inherited millions but struggled in business, tried for 15 years to ignite a racist political movement — and failed. Then an unforeseen phenomenon named Donald Trump gave legitimacy to what Regnery had seeded long before: The alt-right. Now, the press-shy white separatist breaks his silence."

This shit is difficult to read, but it's important to fully understand the breadth of what's happening in this country among white supremacists, and how Donald Trump has empowered them.

* * *

[CN: War on agency]

Fuck. That is right near my old home. This is what Mike Pence's policies have wrought in Indiana.

[CN: Trans hatred; war on agency] Teddy Wilson at Rewire: Texas Republicans 'Subverting' Democracy in Their Rush to Pass Anti-Transgender, Anti-Abortion Laws. "The breakneck speed at which the state senate has moved during the special session has been criticized by Democrats for subverting the democratic process. Several senate committees have held hearings on a range of controversial proposals, including increased restrictions on abortion care and regulations targeting transgender people. State Sen. José Rodríguez (D-El Paso), chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus, told the Texas Observer that senate leadership is not allowing lawmakers or the public sufficient time to review the legislation being considered. 'And it's important for people to be prepared to address particular bills when the hearing comes, so it's not acceptable,' Rodríguez said. 'The bottom line is this is subverting the deliberative process.'" Sounds familiar.

[CN: Guns]

[CN: Animal and environmental harm] Ayana Byrd at Colorlines: Feds Will Skip Environmental Impact Study Before Building Border Wall Through Wildlife Refuge. "Though funding for the estimated $21.6 billion U.S.-Mexico wall has not yet been secured, the federal government continues to move forward with construction. In the latest development, the Trump Administration intends to invoke a 2005 anti-terror law to avoid conducting an environmental review of the impact the wall will have on a national wildlife refuge. Per the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), environmental impact studies are required for large-scale projects. But Reuters reports that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will use the REAL ID Act to bypass having to conduct one, according to two government sources."

[CN: Police brutality; death] Guardian/AP: Woman 'Slapped' Minnesota Police Car Before Justine Damond Shooting. "A woman approached the back of a Minneapolis police car and 'slapped' it shortly before an Australian woman was shot and killed by an officer, according to a search warrant filed by the Minnesota bureau of criminal apprehension (BCA). The search warrant, which was obtained by Minnesota Public Radio, did not say that the woman was Justine Damond. It said: 'Upon police arrival, a female 'slaps' the back of the patrol squad … After that, it is unknown to BCA agents what exactly happened, but the female became deceased in the alley.' ...Noor, who was in the passenger seat of a squad car, shot across his partner in the driver's seat and hit Damond. His partner told authorities that he was startled by a loud noise shortly before Damond appeared at the police vehicle. The search warrant did not say whether the slap was the loud noise Noor's partner described, MPR reported."

All of that is so much spinning and bullshit to try to justify the shooting. They won't say definitively it was Damond who slapped the car, nor even whether the alleged slap was the loud noise that startled the officer who didn't even do the shooting. But let's say it was her and it was the slapping that startled one of the officers. Let's say it even startled both of them. SO FUCKING WHAT. Being startled by a noise isn't a justification for killing someone, for fuck's sake! Goddammit.

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

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Senate Healthcare Open Thread

It's not clear at the moment what is happening with the Senate healthcare bill today — although Rand Paul tweeted that Mitch McConnell informed him the plan is to vote on a clean repeal.

That, by way of reminder, is the worst of the proposed options: The CBO estimated it would leave 32 million more people uninsured by 2026.

There are also reports that McConnell could try to push through what's being called a "skinny repeal," in which the goal is to repeal the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and the medical device tax.

Also note, the "skinny repeal" option includes passing the bill then conferencing with the House "to work out a bill."

I can't emphasize this enough: Passing legislation and then writing it is authoritarianism. It is not democracy.

Things continue to move. Here's a thread for discussion, info-sharing, and updates.

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Trump Is a Terrible President — and a Terrible Boss

Donald Trump has been increasingly annoyed with Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia investigation. In other words: Sessions did the ethical thing, and Trump considers that a breach of loyalty.

Now, because Trump would rather bully someone into quitting instead of just having the professionalism, maturity, and decency to fire them, he's waging a public humiliation campaign against Sessions.

His morning tweetshitz included this attack:

Which has naturally led to headlines like this one in the Washington Post: Trump Leaves Sessions Twisting in the Wind While Berating Him Publicly.

And this leak from the White House ended up at Axios: "Trump, in one of his hallmark rituals, recently called a longtime political associate and asked out of the blue: 'What would happen if I fired Sessions?'"

None of this is making Senate Republicans happy, since they all love their former colleague Sessions. (Which is a whole other story, but.) Not that they'll do anything about it, except for make vaguely grumpy noises, but even that pathetic show is more than usual.

Trump's treatment of Sessions is already making it tough to identify a replacement. After Rudy Giuliani's name was floated, he contradicted Trump "by saying Sessions was right to recuse himself from matters related to the 2016 campaign and Russian meddling therein." So he clearly doesn't want the job.

Then Senator Ted Cruz's name [video may autoplay at link] was floated, but he issued a statment backing Sessions, so he clearly doesn't want the job, either. (That said, Cruz has about as much integrity as a burst balloon, so we'll see.)

And Trump's churlish behavior is having ripple effects throughout his administration, with Rex Tillerson [video may autoplay at link] reportedly "growing increasingly frustrated with the Trump administration and could quit before the year is through."

All of this is going to make it even more difficult to fully staff the administration, which, six months in, still isn't fully staffed. And the people who they hire will be unqualified clowns, because no serious people with serious credentials want to tank their professional reputations working for this shitshow.

Conservatives have long said they want to destroy the federal government. Well, it looks like their wish is finally going to come true, care of Trump's comprehensive incompetence, impulsiveness, and cowardice.

I don't think any of us are truly prepared for the consequences of what is an imminent collapse of governance, if Trump is not swiftly removed from office.

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McCain to Return for Healthcare Vote

Teresa Walsh at McClatchy: Sen. McCain Will Return to Senate Tuesday Ahead of Health Care Showdown.

Less than a week after announcing he has brain cancer, Sen. John McCain will return to the Senate as Republicans prepare to vote on Obamacare repeal and replacement.

The 80-year-old Arizona senator will be back on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

"Senator McCain looks forward to returning to the United States Senate tomorrow to continue working on important legislation, including health care reform, the National Defense Authorization Act, and new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea," McCain's office said in a statement released Monday night.

McCain's absence put the future of the GOP effort to pass a new health care bill in jeopardy because the party cannot afford to lose votes. It needs 50 — Vice President Mike Pence would break a tie — to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with new health care legislation under Senate rules.
The fact that his office classified the Senate health care bill as "health care reform" is a sure sign that he will vote with the rest of his party — as is the fact that he's racing back a week after brain surgery to cast that vote.

I know it's all the rage, especially while he's having health problems, to talk about John McCain as a man of decency and integrity, but I've rarely seen a reputation so undeserved.

He is an ill-tempered bully whose childhood nicknames were "Punk" and "McNasty," and who has said he has to "wake up daily and tell myself, 'You must do everything possible to stay cool, calm, and collected today.'"

He is an impulsive opportunist, who chose the catastrophically unqualified Sarah Palin as his running mate. (How he escapes judgment for that decision is a remarkable example of the endless good faith and forgiveness extended to white men, as well as the misogyny heaped upon women. Somehow, it has become Palin's fault for accepting the gig more than McCain's for offering it.)

He is a man with cruel humor, who has, among many other objectionable behaviors while serving as a United States Senator, "joked" about killing himself if the Democrats won a Senate majority, "joked" about bombing Iran, "joked" about bringing Jon Stewart an IED from Iraq as a gift, "joked" about domestic violence, "joked" about rape, and "joked" about how he's kind of a hothead. And that compilation ended in 2008.

Basically, McCain's the kind of guy who would fly back to D.C. after getting a life-saving surgery for which taxpayer-funded health insurance paid, just to cast a vote to take health insurance away from millions of people.

Tell me again what a man of quality he is.

Still. It's never too late to surprise me. I hope he does, and I'm fairly certain he won't.

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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 Brenda A.: "What movies have you lately had to stop flipping channels to watch — if only to finish the scene?"

The Matrix. Because obviously!

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The Monday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by rainclouds.

Recommended Reading:

Josephine Hazelton: [Content Note: Street harassment; white cis male centrism] The Shocking Connection Between Street Harassment and Street Lighting

Tomicka Robinson: Some States Are Turning the Tide in Funding Child Care — Others Should Follow

Corinne Green: [CN: Trans hatred; nativism] Policy Desk: New Attacks in Texas

Andy Towle: Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz to Bring First Gay Characters to Star Trek TV Series in Onscreen Romance

Rhett Jones: Roomba's Next Big Step Is Selling Maps of Your Home to the Highest Bidder

Michael Nuñez: Tech Company Offers Freaky Microchip Implants to Employees

And finally! Snopes.com, the original warriors against fake news, could use your help, if you can spare it.

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

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For the Record

This is a tactic that is really beginning to wear on my last good nerve. Every time someone tries to center facts of what happened during the election into the conversation, especially facts around who supported Hillary Clinton and why, we are accused of "relitigating the election."

That is not relitigation. That is part of a Sisyphean effort to stop privileged people yet again rewriting history in such a way that writes women and marginalized men out of history altogether, for the express purpose of centering white men.

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Trump Made a Statement on Healthcare and It Went Pretty Much Exactly How You'd Expect

You don't hear this from the Democrats; they like to tell you just the opposite, and they didn't even know the bill. They run out; they say, "Death, death, death." Well, Obamacare is death! That's the one that's death. And besides that, it's failing — so you won't have it, anyway.
I don't even know what to say anymore. There are people who get really annoyed with me when I call the Republican Party a white supremacist death cult, but tell me where the fuck I'm wrong. (Actually, don't even try. Because I'm not.)

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat making a squinchy face as she scratches her ear with her back foot
Perfectly captured backfoot-scratching squinchy cat expression.

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 186

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: Jared Kushner Is Not a Crook!


Paul Krugman at the New York Times: Health Care Is Still in Danger. "[N]either Mitch McConnell nor the White House have given up on their efforts to deprive millions of health care. In fact, on Saturday the tweeter-in-chief, once again breaking long-established rules of decorum, called on the audience at a military ceremony, the commissioning of a new aircraft carrier, to pressure the Senate to pass that bill. This has many people I know worried that we may see a repeat of what happened in the spring: with the media spotlight shining elsewhere, the usual suspects may ram a horrible bill through. And the House would quickly pass whatever the Senate comes up with. So this is actually a moment of great risk."

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] David Durenberger at USA Today: Former GOP Senator: Resist the Bullying — Don't Vote for a Mystery Health Care Bill. "What do you do when you are a U.S. senator and the president wants you to vote for a health care bill that could radically change health care? You ask questions. You hold hearings. You understand what it would mean to your constituents. You listen to those who know the system. And when it doesn't add up, you vote against it."

If only they cared. But they definitely don't!

Matt Shuham at TPM: Trump Tells AP Reporter Asking About Obamacare Repeal Effort: 'Quiet'. "According to a pool report, reporters were 'unexpectedly summoned' into the East Room of the White House [on Monday morning] to observe a photo-op with Trump and White House interns. A reporter, who Bloomberg's Jennifer Epstein identified as the Associated Press' Catherine Lucey, asked Trump if he thought Attorney General Jeff Sessions should resign. Trump didn't answer, but video of the exchange shows him rolling his eyes, to laughter from the interns. Lucey then asked Trump if he had anything to say about Senate Republicans' Obamacare repeal effort. 'Quiet,' he said, to more laughter from the interns."

[CN: Misogyny; violent rhetoric] Aaron Rupar at ThinkProgress: GOP Congressman Blames Health Care Struggles on 'Repugnant' Republican 'Female Senators'. "Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) is livid at the inability of the Senate to repeal Obamacare, and he knows exactly who to blame: the Republican women of the Senate. During a radio interview on a Corpus Christi station last Friday, Farenthold said he finds it 'absolutely repugnant' that 'the Senate does not have the courage to do some of the things that every Republican in the Senate promised to do.' Farenthold singled out female senators for opposing the repeal of Obamacare, before suggesting that if they were men, he'd ask them to settle things with a gunfight. 'Some of the people that are opposed to this [i.e., repealing Obamacare] — there are some female senators from the northeast,' Farenthold said. 'If it was a guy from south Texas I might ask them to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style.'"

* * *

Wendy Dent, Ed Pilkington, and Shaun Walker at the Guardian: Jared Kushner Sealed Real Estate Deal with Oligarch's Firm Cited in Money-Laundering Case.
Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Donald Trump, who acts as his senior White House adviser, secured a multimillion-dollar Manhattan real estate deal with a Soviet-born oligarch whose company was cited in a major New York money laundering case now being probed by members of Congress.

A Guardian investigation has established a series of overlapping ties and relationships involving alleged Russian money laundering, New York real estate deals and members of Trump’s inner circle. They include a 2015 sale of part of the old New York Times building in Manhattan involving Kushner and a billionaire real estate tycoon and diamond mogul, Lev Leviev.

...Leviev, a global tycoon known as the "king of diamonds," was a business partner of the Russian-owned company Prevezon Holdings that was at the center of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit launched in New York. Under the leadership of US attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by Trump in March, prosecutors pursued Prevezon for allegedly attempting to use Manhattan real estate deals to launder money stolen from the Russian treasury.

The scam had been uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky, an accountant who died in 2009 in a Moscow jail in suspicious circumstances. US sanctions against Russia imposed after Magnitsky's death were a central topic of conversation at the notorious Trump Tower meeting last June between Kushner, Donald Trump Jr, Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin.
There is much more at the link. Lots of threads pulled together well here.

Robin Eberhardt at the Hill: Putin Told Trump That Russian Hackers Were Too Good to Get Caught. "Russian President Vladimir Putin told [Donald] Trump that Russian hackers wouldn't have gotten caught if they did hack Democratic groups because they're too skilled at spying, The New York Times reported Monday. Trump has since repeated the claim, according to White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. Scaramucci told CNN's 'State of the Union' on Sunday that someone told him that if Moscow hacked the Democratic National Committee, 'you would have never seen it. You would have never had any evidence of them, meaning that they're super-confident in their deception skills and hacking.' Pressed by host Jake Tapper on who told him that, Scaramucci said it was Trump himself."

Mike Allen at Axios: Trump Ponders Rudy Giuliani for Attorney General. "Trump is so unhappy with Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he has raised the possibility of bringing back Rudolph Giuliani to head the Justice Department, according to West Wing confidants. ...Trump often muses about possible personnel moves that he never makes, sometimes just to gauge the listener's reaction. So the Giuliani balloon may go nowhere." Or, you know, it will end up with the waking nightmare of Rudy Giuliani leading the Justice Department.

Meanwhile, in other White House staffing news... Jonathan Swan at Axios: Trump Wishes Reince Would Take the Hint. "A much-discussed question at the top of the White House: Just what magnitude of indignity would it take for Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to resign? [Donald] Trump knew that appointing Anthony Scaramucci as communications director would humiliate Reince, who fought hard against it. ...Reince has redefined what it means to be the White House Chief of Staff — and not in a good way. It's unclear at this point how he survives much longer, and the breeziness with which [Trump] humiliates him has even his enemies wincing in sympathy." Good lord.

And in new White House staffing news... [CN: Misogyny] Casey Quinlan at ThinkProgress: Anthony Scaramucci Advises Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Her Hair and Makeup. "Newly installed White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci commented on Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders' appearance during an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN's 'State of the Union.' ...After his noting [that Sanders 'does a great job' and is 'incredibly authentic' but could] be 'incrementally better,' Scaramucci focused on Sanders' appearance. 'The only thing I ask Sarah — Sarah if you're watching — I love the hair and makeup person that we had on Friday, so I'd like to continue to use the hair and makeup person,' he added." Cool guy.

* * *

[CN: Islamophobia; hate crimes] Khizr Khan at the Washington Post: Attacks on American Muslims Are un-American: Under Trump, They're on the Rise. "Has our president paused to wonder why his campaign and election have coincided with such attacks? ...ACT for America's founder, Brigitte Gabriel, had said that a practicing Muslim who believes the words of the Koran 'cannot be a loyal citizen of the United States.' Lest you think this view is relegated to the political extremes, virtually identical language — 'devout Muslims cannot truthfully swear the oath to become citizens of the United States of America' — has been used by the American Center for Law and Justice, whose founder, Jay Sekulow, is part of Trump's personal legal team. As a Muslim, a patriotic American and a Gold Star father, these false assertions offend me deeply."

[CN: Nativism; abuse] Jonathan Blitzer at the New Yorker: A Veteran ICE Agent, Disillusioned with the Trump Era, Speaks Out.
The agent's decision to allow me to write about our conversations came after learning that ice was making a push, beginning this week, to arrest young undocumented immigrants who were part of a large wave of unaccompanied minors who crossed the border in recent years and who, until now, had been allowed to live in the U.S. Rather than detaining these young people, the government had placed them in the care of families around the country. Most of them are trying to lead new lives as American transplants, going to school and working.

ICE now plans to pursue those who have turned eighteen since crossing the border, and who, as a result, qualify for detention as legal adults. "I don't see the point in it," the agent said. "The plan is to take them back into custody, and then figure it out. I don't understand it. We're doing it because we can, and it bothers the hell out of me."

The agent went on, "The whole idea is targeting kids. I know that technically they meet the legal definition of being adults. Fine. But if they were my kids travelling in a foreign country, I wouldn't be O.K. with this. We're not doing what we tell people we do. If you look next month, or at the end of this month, at the people in custody, it's people who've been here for years. They're supposed to be in high school."
Goddammit. This fucking administration.

Samantha Page at ThinkProgress: Trump Administration Officially Files to Make It Easier to Frack Public Lands. "The Department of the Interior intends to repeal an Obama-era rule designed to prevent fracking companies operating on public lands from polluting water supplies. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Monday submitted a proposed revocation to the Federal Register to wipe from the books a rule that required fracking operators on public lands to disclose chemicals used in fracking and to ensure certain precautions are taken around clean water sources." Seethe.

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