On Waxing Nostalgic for George W. Bush

Former President George W. Bush appeared on the Today show this morning, and, during an interview with Matt Lauer, he said some words about media and accountability, which have been (quite rightly, no doubt) interpreted as throwing shade at Donald Trump.

Former President George W. Bush said Monday that the media is "indispensable to democracy," a break from the position of his fellow Republican, President Donald Trump, who has called the press "the enemy of the American people."

"I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. That we need the media to hold people like me to account," Bush told Matt Lauer, anchor of NBC's "Today" show. "I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere."
Cool. And y'all already know that I'm incredibly uncharitable, so let me just dive right in.

I remember the Bush administration. I wrote about the Bush administration for eight long years. And there was never a day in which any member of that administration agreed with those sentiments. Not while they were in power.

What Bush is saying sounds great. It also sounds entirely like something someone would say who wants to conceal his own role in paving the road to now.

Let us not forget it was a Bush advisor, after all, who gave us the "reality-based community," while speaking to Ron Suskind, who revealed this incredible exchange in a comprehensive profile of Bush for the New York Times in October 2004.
In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend—but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
Emphasis mine.


My memory is too long for me to appreciate anything George W. Bush has to say on this subject. And virtually any other.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound asleep on the couch with his tongue hanging out and a huge grin
I mean. LOL.

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 39

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 I've read today:

Donald Trump promised over and over along the campaign trail that he had a secret plan to immediately defeat ISIS. Unsurprisingly, that plan has never materialized. But today, he is reportedly in receipt of a plan from the Pentagon.


There are no other immediate details, but this is something to be aware of, because fighting ISIS is certain to become a major piece of Trump's foreign policy, whatever the strategy ends up being.

* * *

On Friday, the Washington Post's Greg Miller and Adam Entous reported: "Acting at the behest of the White House, the officials made calls to news organizations last week in attempts to challenge stories about alleged contacts between members of President Trump's campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, U.S. officials said."

On Sunday, the Guardian's Tom McCarthy reported: "The White House made a messy attempt on Sunday to control public perceptions of a widening scandal over alleged contacts between aides to Donald Trump and Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 election, alleging that the FBI had dismissed reports of such links. ...Contacts between the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and top FBI officials have come in for particular criticism as a violation of a necessary line separating the White House from justice department investigations with potential targets inside the administration. On Sunday, a Trump spokeswoman once again tested that line, saying the FBI had dismissed allegations of inappropriate Trump-Russia ties as 'BS'—bullshit."

Today, Axios' Mike Allen reports: "White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer personally picked up the phone and connected outside officials with reporters to try to discredit a New York Times article about Trump campaign aides' contact with Russia, then remained on the line for the brief conversations, Axios has learned." He then follows up with "ten key points," and I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

This is a very important story, as even some Republicans are starting to get squeamish with the reports that the Trump administration has tried to pressure both intelligence agencies and the media in an attempt to quash investigating and reporting of ties to Russia.

Relatedly, the leaks continue apace. Chas Danner at New York Magazine: White House Staffers Leak News of Sean Spicer's 'Phone Check' Targeting Their Leaks. "Last week, White House press secretary Sean Spicer conducted a surprise phone check on his staff in an effort to stamp out leaks, according to a new Politico report. Spicer, upset that information had leaked out of a previous meeting he had held with roughly a dozen members of his staff, ordered another meeting and had staff surrender their phones and other electronic devices when they arrived. The search—which applied to both personal and government-issued phones—was overseen by White House lawyers, and Spicer then warned staffers against using privacy-focused messaging apps like Signal and Confide, noting that doing so violates the Federal Records Act. He also, per Politico's sources, 'warned the group of more problems if news of the phone checks and the meeting about leaks was leaked to the media,' which it promptly was."

More leaking. The Reuters team reports: Trump Budget Plan Boosts Pentagon, Trims State Dept, EPA. "One of the officials said Trump's request for the Pentagon included more money for shipbuilding, military aircraft and establishing 'a more robust presence in key international waterways and chokepoints' such as the Strait of Hormuz and South China Sea. A second official said the State Department's budget could be cut by as much as 30 percent, which would force a major restructuring of the department and elimination of programs."

Not only is Trump seeking to reenvision foreign policy with more military and less diplomacy; he is also seeking to more forcefully militarize border patrol, including hiring 10,000+ new (anti)immigration agents. But many of the applicants fail to meet the requirements, so naturally, reports Molly O'Toole at Foreign Policy: Trump Administration Seeks to Loosen Hiring Requirements to Beef Up Border Patrol.

Jeremy Herb at Politico: Nominee for Navy Secretary Withdraws. "Donald Trump's nominee for Navy secretary, Philip Bilden, withdrew from consideration Sunday, becoming the second Pentagon pick unable to untangle his financial investments in the vetting process." Up and down this administration, they simply cannot find qualified and competent people to work for them, so they're just trying to fill positions with people ideologically aligned. And, surprise, many of them aren't suited for high-level government work.

[Content Note: Nativism] Brad Reed at Raw Story: Trump-Backing Town Angry After ICE Detains Beloved Local Mexican Restaurant Owner. "While residents in the town said that they were still supportive of the president's moves to deport undocumented immigrants, they told the Times that the president should make more exceptions for people like Pacheco, who have not only been exemplary local businessmen, but also pillars of the community who take part in local charity events."

As Atrios notes: "There's no way to write a 'people like Carlos because I like him' clause into the law. There just isn't. Decide it's ok to aggressively transport longtime residents away, and you're going to be rounding up a lot of people who are 'that nice immigrant I know' to somebody."

[CN: Queer hatred] Andy Towle at Towleroad: Trump Transition Official Says Anti-LGBT 'Religious Freedom' Executive Order Being Redrafted, Still Coming. "The domestic policy chair of Donald Trump's transition team, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, told SiriusXM host Michelangelo Signorile that the rumored anti-LGBT 'religious freedom' executive order is still coming, but is being reworked to make it less vulnerable to legal challenges." Seethe.

[CN: War on agency] Ally Boguhn at Rewire: Purveyor of Anti-Choice Misinformation Working on Trump.s Abortion Policy. "Katy Talento, a member of President Trump's Domestic Policy Council, confirmed she is working on anti-choice policies for the administration in an interview Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). ...'The president has been very clear about where he stands on a lot of these issues, so we're enacting his agenda and his policies,' she said." More seethe.

Charles M. Blow at the New York Times: Trump, Archenemy of Truth. "Trump lashes out with mindless twaddle, insinuating that the media has fully abandoned the pillars and principles of journalism to join the opposition. The fact is that Trump simply wants the truth not to be true, so he assaults its quality. He wants the purveyors of truth not to pursue it, so he questions their motives. And yet, truth stands, rigid and sharp, unforgiving and unafraid. It is our only guard against tyranny..."

* * *

[CN: Islamophobia; violence] Justin Jouvenal at the Washington Post: Virginia Man Charged with Hate Crime After Using Muslim Slurs, Biting Victim's Face. "Robin McGreer, 35, approached a 31-year-old man in a Tysons Corner Center parking lot Nov. 27, started a conversation and then threatened him using anti-Muslim slurs, Fairfax County police said. An altercation ensued and McGreer bit the man's face, leaving him with a 'significant face wound,' police said." This. Didn't. Happen. In. A. Vacuum.

[CN: Anti-semitism] Stephanie Farr and Jason Laughlin at the Philadelphia Inquirer: 'Beyond Belief': 75-100 Headstones Toppled at Jewish Cemetery. "What [Stacy Silver] saw when she arrived was worse than she imagined—tombstone after tombstone, story after story, was toppled to the ground—including those belonging to her mother and great-grandmother. 'Your stomach just drops,' Silver said. 'I mean it's just horrible.' Detectives canvassing the cemetery Sunday afternoon estimated that 75 to 100 headstones had been knocked over. 'It's criminal. This is beyond vandalism,' said Northeast Detectives Capt. Shawn Thrush, as he walked the cemetery grounds. 'It's beyond belief.'" This. Too. Didn't. Happen. In. A. Vacuum.

[CN: Anti-semitism; terrorism] Justin L. Mack at the Indianapolis Star: Bomb Threat Sent to Jewish Community Center in Indianapolis. The Jewish Community Center of Indianapolis was closed after receipt of a bomb threat, which turned out to be just a threat. Indianapolis Metropolitan police have now "issued an all clear." This follows Jewish Community Centers being evacuated in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware in response to threats. None. Of. This. Is. Happening. In. A. Vacuum.

* * *

Donald Trump has announced that he won't be attending the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Of course he won't, because he is a thin-skinned drip who has no sense of humor about himself.


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

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I Write Letters

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

Dear Men:

Stop telling me how I should feel or what I should be doing about Trump.

Now, just to be clear, right up front: What I'm not talking about is respectful, good-faith discussions among colleagues and peers about big-picture strategy or even minutiae like the efficacy of calling a Senator's office versus emailing.

What I am talking about is the steady drumbeat, day after grim day, of men telling women that our feelings or priorities are wrong.

Men who insert and assert themselves to tell us that our responses to Trump aren't the "right" responses, or that we shouldn't be writing about, or protesting, or tweeting this but instead should be dedicating our time and energy to that.

I don't want to hear your opinions of how I should be feeling, or how I should be spending my time resisting, or on what you think I should be focused. I don't want to hear your condescending lectures about how I should be feeling or interacting with Trump supporters. I don't want a single syllable of your unsolicited advice.

It doesn't matter if you're Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times or some rando on Twitter. Keep that shit to yourself.

If you want to use "I" language to talk about how you feel or what you are doing in this moment of rising fascism or what you believe is the best approach or primary area of focus, have at it. Set an example, in your own space, if believe your strategy is better. But don't get up in my grill to audit me.

I didn't ask you, and I don't care.

I am not new. More than 20 years ago, I dived into activism by protesting my university using student funds to bring Ralph Reed to campus as a speaker. (We won, by the way.) There are 13 years of public archives of my written work. I'm a 42-year-old fat feminist woman whose body has been politicized her entire life.

And yet you talk to me like I'm a ninnybrained noob who's never thought about this stuff before.

Trust this: I have.

Now I would like you to think about this: Telling women what to do is one of the most pernicious and inescapable aspects of institutional misogyny. It doesn't matter how independent, how smart, how tough, how educated, how successful, how financially independent, how close to bearing the highly subjective cultural markers of "respect-deserving" a woman is. It doesn't matter how determined we are to persist. It doesn't matter if we have reached a certain age, or journeyed well beyond.

There are still men, not deterred by an urge for decency nor by their own intellectual mediocrity, who think they have the right to tell us how we should feel and how we should behave.

It is, though they would surely bitterly resist acknowledging it, evidence of their intractable belief that they own us. And that they are further obliged, by virtue of said ownership, to instruct us; to insert themselves uninvited into the lives and spaces of women they don't even know, in order to tell us what we should be feeling and thinking and doing.

You don't own women.

And if you're a man who reflexively agrees with that—maybe even feels his hackles slightly raising that I would even presume to say it, the mere statement itself an offense with its implication there are men who don't agree—yet you're also a man who feels it's his right to tell a woman she is not complying with his ideas about the way she feels and spends her time, then you need to have a long think about what it is that you think confers that right upon you.

Because guess what? It's a feeling of entitlement, which is rooted in cultural narratives of ownership.

And that thing you insist is "disagreement" is actually auditing. You are positioning yourself as an auditor when you cannot abide silently a woman doing something in a way you would not do it, but instead must interlope to try to "correct" her.

Even before you try listening, to see if maybe it's not that you disagree but that you don't understand.

You are, of course, welcome to disagree with my priorities all the fuck you want. But you are not welcome to tell me about it and expect me to give a shit.

And if, for whatever contemptible reasons, you cannot keep your auditing to yourselves, and you come into my space or orbit with a patronizing lecture or admonishments to follow your roadmap rather than my own, then don't be surprised when I push back.

You can tell me, in response to my defending my own boundaries and right not to be audited by every dude who happens across my timeline or blog, that I'm a fucking cunt, and that I'm the reason that we can't have unity, but understand this: It is you who are the barrier to unity. You and your shitty entitlement and your asserted "right" to audit women.

I never want to hear again some dude who's come at me with what I should be feeling or how I should be responding to Trump, positioning his opinion as the objective truth, and then respond to my lack of gratitude by scolding me for not appreciating that he's "on my side."

If you are lecturing me instead of listening to me, you're not on my side.

And if you cannot contain yourselves from pestering me about how I should be spending my time out of a sense of basic decency, then do it to avoid looking unfathomably stupid. Because no matter how I'm spending my time, I can guarantee it's more productive than spending it telling other people how they should feel.

Sincerely,
Liss

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Dispatches From the Queer Resistance (No. 2)

As I've written previously, with exit polls showing LGBT voters overhwhelmingly casting votes for Hillary Clinton (77%) in Election 2016, it is no surprise that LGBT people across all identity groups are both under attack from and resisting the Trump regime in various ways.

Here's a semi-regular update on that front:

[Content note: Transbigotry, gender policing, mention of suicidality]

1) Reversal of Obama Guidelines

On February 22, 2017, Trump's Republican Administration issued a "Dear Colleague" letter that withdrew Obama-era guidelines stating that public schools should allow transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.

This effort was led by Trump's Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a long-time opponent of LGBT rights who was also deemed too racist to be a federal judge in the 1980s. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos co-issued the letter, although reports state that she had initially wanted to leave Obama's guidance in place (I know, better throw a ticker-tape parade for her!).

In response, Chris Matthews hosted trans rights advocates Laverne Cox (also an actress) and Mara Keisling (executive director of the National Center for Transgender Rights) to discuss the issue with "the other side," represented by Travis Weber of the Family Research Council's Center for Religious Liberty. On air, Matthews asked Weber what restroom Cox should use in public, if he didn't support her using the women's restroom. Weber gave a bumbling, evasive response about the federal government taking away the rights of "localities," which didn't, of course, answer the question. When pressed to actually answer, Weber whined that he was trying to answer but maybe Matthews was just "afraid" to hear it.

Ah yes, the last refuge of the overconfident, intellectually sub-par man: when all else fails, just call the opponent a coward who can't handle the truth.

Both Cox and Keisling also spoke (full clip here, closed captioning available). Keisling observed that if she and Laverne walked into the men's restroom, Weber would be "freaked out," thus leaving trans people effectively without access to public restrooms. Cox added that it's important to remember the lived experiences of trans people and not to just talk about them in theory, reducing them to body parts.

Indeed, while anti-trans bigots treat the issue like an esoteric, abstract debating exercise, trans people exist in the world with bodies that, like most human bodies, require the removal of wastes at somewhat-regular intervals. It makes me incandescently angry when people treat this issue with such lack of empathy for the conditions in which trans people exist. Imagine opposing restroom access to a segment of the population without ever having thought of which bathroom a trans person should use, then, if not the one for designated for their gender?

Also notable is that the Southern Poverty Law Center has been tracking the Family Research Council as an extremist anti-LGBT group for many years. I acknowledge what it might have taken for Ms. Cox and Ms. Keisling to share a platform with a staff member from FRC who possibly knows next-to-nothing about trans people's daily lives and yet who opposes their identities and full humanity anyway. Both women nonetheless spoke with dignity, grace, and composure in his presence even though they had every reason and justification not to.

So little is asked of cis people. The bar is so low. Weber is advocating for an inherently-uncivil, un-empathetic position and yet trans people are expected to be paragons of civility in response to that position. I've written before about the silence marginalized people often endure, sometimes willingly sometimes not, so that people of privilege don't have to feel bad about themselves for being bigots.

Of all the things about enduring Trump, it is this silence, and the continual demands for it, that I now realize will break my heart over and over again. To trans members of our community, I'm sorry. I see you and stand with you.

2) Communities Rally

In response to the reversal of the Obama guidelines, 2,000-3,000 people were reported to have held an emergency rally at Stonewall in New York City. This is at least the second protest at the historic site since the Republican President was inaugurated. Related protests and rallies were also held in Chicago and Washington, DC.

3) SCOTUS Reprimands Trans-Bigots

In G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, the US Supreme Court will examine the extent to which Title IX and the Fourteenth Amendment cover discriminatory bathroom policies as they relate to trans individuals. It is believed that Jeff Sessions wanted Obama's previous guidance withdrawn in anticipation of this court case, so it could not be cited in support of trans rights.

Usual anti-LGBT suspects Liberty Counsel and National Organization for Marriage (NOM) have submitted amicus briefs in the case, because of course they have. In it, they have misgendered the respondent, who is a trans man, because of course they have.

In response, the Supreme Court issued a letter to Liberty Counsel noting that the mis-gendering resulted in their brief being non-compliant with one the many strict Supreme Court Rules for the formatting of legal briefs. In this instance, Liberty Counsel did not accurately caption the case, as required, when it changed the pronoun of the respondent from "his" to "her."

The letter is a subtle reprimand, to be sure, but hopefully foreshadows a more overt message from SCOTUS when it renders its opinion on the Title IX and constitutional issues.

4) Butcher Launches Epic Tweetstorm About Bathrooms

Out butch lesbian comedian Rhea Butcher tweeted last week about her experiences of fear with respect to public restrooms. Anti-trans bigots often facetiously cite "protection of women" as a reason to exclude trans women from women's restrooms, but they never consider the many women, cis and trans, who are already harassed in restrooms for not presenting their gender in socially-acceptable, gender-conformist ways.

This harassment is not a new development, as Butcher notes - and it's an experience that is commonly talked about among my group of queer women friends. But, it's always alarming when anti-trans initiatives are being politicized because it implies that the scope of gender policing is set to be imminently broadened and legitimized. What is at first a policy to exclude trans women "for the safety of" cis, gender-conforming women often becomes justification to remove or harass any woman who is deemed to not sufficiently "look like a woman."


5) NOM Echoes Trump's "Fake News" Charge

Repeating the Republican Administration's charge that established news entities spread "fake news," the anti-LGBT organization NOM published a recent blog post claiming that a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has resulted in the spread of "fake news." (Note: JAMA is a peer-reviewed medical journal founded in 1883).

In a post entitled "Fake News Drawn From Flimsy Study," NOM claims:
"A recent study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics has caused a lot of buzz in the press. The study claims to trace the 'Association Between State Same-Sex Marriage Policies and Adolescent Suicide Attempts' among LGBT youth and is being presented by the media as "proof" that gay marriage saves lives.

But like much of the fake news coverage this study has generated, the study itself leads people to a  fake conclusion: that somehow the enactment of same-sex marriage results in reduced teen suicide attempts, especially for  LGBT teens. (emphases in original)"
I do think it is appropriate to render critique of a study's methods when flaws exists, and many mainstream publications don't do a great job of summarizing research in general.

BUT, we have to push back on this gratuitous label "fake news," as it implies that the information within a report is a complete hoax or fabrication, wherein the authors had an intent to deceive the public. It's alarming to see bigoted activist groups begin to repeat the "fake news" charge. The Republican Administration has set a tone, to be sure, wherein any news article, study, or report is labeled "fake news" - a hoax - simply because it doesn't align with a certain belief system.

I will continue to monitor the situation.

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"Business as Usual"

Over the weekend, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez was elected chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The usual suspects are bitterly complaining about his victory, saying that he represents "business as usual" in the Democratic Party.

I have stayed out of all the DNC chair stuff, but I feel obliged to say something about this "business as usual" narrative.

Let's take a look back at the 2016 campaign for a moment.

The Democratic primary saw a woman and a Jewish man take turns making history by being the first woman or Jewish person to win primaries/caucuses.

The party eventually nominated the first female major party candidate in history. She then ran on the most progressive platform the Democrats have ever put forward.

The Democratic convention was run by three Black women: Marcia Fudge, Donna Brazile, and Leah Daughtry.

The breakout speaker at that convention was a Muslim man: Khizr Khan.

That convention also featured the first ever trans speaker at a major party convention: Sarah McBride.

Hillary Clinton's campaign had the most diverse campaign staff ever, including a gay campaign manager: Robby Mook.

Eventually, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million votes, getting more votes than any white male candidate ever.

The DNC just elected the first Latino chair ever, Tom Perez. Had his strongest contender, Keith Ellison, won, the DNC would have elected its first Black Muslim chair. Ellison will serve as deputy chair of the DNC, so Dems will be led by a Latino and a Muslim. (Which is a fairly stark repudiation of Trump's domestic agenda.)

All of this is being described as "business as usual."

I don't know what political system the people saying that have been looking at, but that is not "business as usual."

This is the perfidy of the argument that "identity politics" don't matter. It allows people to ignore and dismiss marginalized leaders—and the people whom they represent at the table, many of whom have never had that sort of representation before. And to ignore and dismiss those leaders in a moment when a fascist president is elevating white supremacy.

Thus we get incredible arguments that Dems need to pander more to aggrieved white people when we need to combat white supremacy. And somehow pandering to aggrieved white people is positioned as the opposite of business as usual.

That is exactly—and perilously—wrong.

[This was originally published as a thread on Twitter.]

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The Oscars Thread

So, I didn't watch the Oscars last night, because the only nominated film I'd seen was Hidden Figures, not for lack of desire to see some of the others, but I just haven't had the time to see any of them.

Mainly, I was just rooting for Viola Davis (I haven't seen Fences, but it didn't matter, because VIOLA DAVIS), and she won! Yayayayayay!

Since I wasn't watching, I didn't hear about the epic clusterfuck when they announced the wrong Best Picture winner. Emily Yahr, Elahe Izadi, and Lindsey Bever at the Washington Post have a detailed description of what happened. Hoo boy.

Anyway! If you want to talk about the Oscars, here's a thread to do it!

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Open Thread

image of a purple sofa

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

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

image of a pub Photoshopped to be named 'The Beloved Community Pub'
[Explanations: lol your fat. pathetic anger bread. hey your gay.]

Belly up to the bar,
and be in this space together.

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The Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by sunshine.

Recommended Reading:

Jessica: [Content Note: Trans hatred] Title IX Protects Trans Students, No Matter What the Trump Administration Believes

Violet: I Need You to #ShowUp4TransYouth

Sameer: Charleston Activist Freed After Arrest for Knocking Down Confederate Flag

Jorge: [CN: Nativism; racism] Inside the Heartbreaking Conversations Undocumented Parents Are Having with Their Children

Ragen: [CN: Fat hatred; child abuse] Stanford Children's Hospital Excited to Harm Fat Kids

Pam: Reviving the Fine Art of Bitchitude

Vivian: [CN: Anti-feminism; moving GIF at link] No Surprise, Kellyanne Conway Defines Feminism as "Pro-Abortion" and "Anti-Male"

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

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"Many of our social justice problems like racism and sexism are often overlapping, creating multiple levels of social injustice."

[Content Note: Misogynoir; police brutality; images of police violence against Black women and girls.]

Via Monica Roberts, I just watched this video of Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw giving a TED talk on intersectionality in December. Please take the time to watch and/or listen to the entire thing. A complete transcript is also available.

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White House Confirms Apparent Violation of Justice Department Rules

Spencer Ackerman at the Guardian: White House Confirms Conversation with FBI about Trump and Russia.

The White House has confirmed that its chief of staff spoke with top FBI officials about the bureau's inquiry into links between Donald Trump's associates and Russia—a conversation which appears to violate justice department rules to ensure the integrity of investigations.

The administration had sought to push back against reports from CNN and the Associated Press that the chief of staff, Reince Priebus, had asked the FBI's top two officials to rebut news reports about Trump allies' ties to Russia.

But in doing so, the White House on Friday acknowledged that Priebus, the FBI director, James Comey, and deputy director, Andrew McCabe, had discussed what the FBI knew about Russian ties to the Trump presidential campaign.

"The White House appears to have violated accepted protocols and procedures," said former FBI special agent Ali Soufan.

...Another retired FBI special agent, Michael German, said the FBI leadership had potentially jeopardized an investigation.

"It is illegal for an FBI employee to take information from an ongoing criminal investigation and share it with a potential witness or subject of that investigation. Obviously, if the justice department ultimately initiates a prosecution in this matter, this purported conversation would be exculpating evidence. Again, if it is true that high bureau officials believe the current FBI investigation is [bullshit], they should close the investigation and be prepared to justify this decision, not leak their opinion to anyone outside of the investigation," German said.
There is much more at the link.

The general gist, however, is this: The White House was pissed about leaked reports about FBI investigations into TrumpCo's ties with Russia, and the investigations themselves. So they tried to press the FBI to publicly push back. That conversation was leaked, and, in pushing back on that, the White House told their version of events, which reveals said conversation compromised the investigation.

Out of the frying pan; into the fire.

Part of that is because Trump and the rest of his corrupt coterie don't believe the rules apply to them. But part of it is also because most of these reprobates have zero experience in the federal government and don't even know what the rules are. Which is why they stupidly admit to shit that is just another level of corruption.

If you haven't done so recently (or ever), now would be a good time (if you're USian) to contact your Senators and representative and ask them to thoroughly investigate Trump and his associates' ties to Russia—and every bit of unethical and illegal behavior that has arisen therefrom.

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Breaking: WH Excludes CNN, NYT, BBC, and Others from Presser

After an afternoon address at CPAC in whcih Donald Trump renewed his attacks on American journalism and unnamed press sources, the White House excluded a number of news organizations from its press gaggle.

According to a report from Michael M. Grymbaum at the New York Times:

Organizations allowed in included Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended.

Reporters from Time magazine and The Associated Press, who were set to be allowed in to the briefing, chose not to attend in protest of the White House’s actions.

Jordan Fabian at The Hill reports:

Among the outlets not permitted to cover the gaggle were news organizations that President Trump has singled out for criticism, including CNN.

The New York Times, The Hill, Politico, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail, BBC, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News were among the other news organizations not permitted to attend.

Among other things, I note that the BBC is not even an American press outlet. It is, in fact, the journalism arm of the public service broadcaster of one of the United States' closest allies.

CNN's PR tweeted the following response:

Of the non-propaganda outlets in attendance, I hope the first question is: "Why did you exclude those organizations?" And when the question is stonewalled, I hope the next question is "Why did you exclude those organizations?" And so on.

It goes without saying, but: this is not what free and open democracy looks like. This is what it looks like to slide into authoritarian dictatorship.

Please feel free to update in comments.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat all curled up on the couch, asleep, looking very tiny and very adorable
Wee little monster!

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 36

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.

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Here are some things I've read today:

[Content Note: Nativism] At Rolling Stone, Tim Dickinson has more on the story about which I wrote yesterday, regarding passengers being asked for ID after deplaning from a domestic flight.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, a spokesperson for CBP said the agency had been asked "to assist in locating an individual possibly aboard Delta flight 1583" who had been "ordered removed by an immigration judge." The spokesman added that CBP agents "requested identification from those on the flight" but that ultimately "[t]he individual was determined not to be on the flight."

Rolling Stone asked CBP to point to its statutory authority to stop and examine the identity documents of deplaning domestic passengers. The spokesman sent a link to a document titled CBP Search Authority. The document refers to CBP's authority to inspect international arrivals. Specifically, it cites 19 C.F.R. 162.6, which states, "All persons, baggage and merchandise arriving in the Customs territory of the United States from places outside thereof are liable to inspection by a CBP officer." The CBP document adds: "CBP has the authority to collect passenger name record information on all travelers entering or leaving the United States." (Emphasis added.)

Asked to clarify CBP's authority over domestic passengers, the spokesman replied that "at this time this is all I have."
Deeply troubling.

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Today at CPAC, Donald Trump gave an address (during which he mentioned Hillary Clinton, because of course he did, and the crowd chanted "Lock her up!" because of course they did), and the whole thing was obviously horrific, but his section was particularly chilling:
TRUMP: All of our military, all of our military—offensive, defensive, everything—bigger and better and stronger than ever before—and hopefully we'll never have to use it, but nobody's gonna mess with us, folks. Nobody. [cheers and applause] It will be one of the greatest military build-ups in American history. No one will dare question, as they have been, because we're very depleted—very, very depleted—sequesture. Sequesture. Nobody will dare question our military might again. We believe in peace through strength, and that's what we will have. [cheers and applause]
Who the fuck even knows what "sequesture" is supposed to mean, since that is not a word. But, more importantly: Remember that this is the guy who wanted to know why we had nukes if we couldn't use them. So, in addition to all the other reasons why a massive military build-up is a terrible idea, we'd be building a giant, immensely deadly toy with which Trump would want to play.

And this follows immediately on the heels of Trump saying he wants to put the U.S. nuclear arsenal "at the top of the pack," which has prompted Kremlin officials to warn/threaten that Trump's belligerence could unleash a new arms race.

If you think the Cold War was scary under Reagan and Gorbachev (and it fucking was) (and they ended it!), two men who at least had the wherewithal to prioritize self-preservation over muscle-flexing obliteration because they keenly understood the stakes of mutually assured destruction, just imagine what a reboot would look like under Trump and Putin. Maude save us all.

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Also at CPAC:

Philip Rucker and Robert Costa at the Washington Post: Bannon Vows a Daily Fight for 'Deconstruction of the Administrative State'. "The reclusive mastermind behind President Trump's nationalist ideology and combative tactics made his public debut Thursday, delivering a fiery rebuke of the media and declaring that the new administration is in an unending battle for 'deconstruction of the administrative state.' ...Appearing at a gathering of conservative activists alongside Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Bannon dismissed the idea that Trump might moderate his positions or seek consensus with political opponents. Rather, he said, the White House is digging in for a long period of conflict to transform Washington and upend the world order."

This is probably a good time to recall that Bannon once described himself as a Leninist, because "Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that's my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment."

Meanwhile, the Hill profiled Bannon and promoted it with this shit: "Bannon shows softer side at rare public appearance at CPAC." Stop. Normalizing. White. Supremacy.

Speaking of white supremacy... Ned Resnikoff at Think Progress: High-Ranking Trump Official Has Extensive Ties to European Neo-Fascists. "A deputy assistant to President Donald Trump has spent years working closely with members of Hungary's anti-Semitic hard right, according to a Friday report from The Forward, a publication for American Jews. The report says Sebastian Gorka, who advises the White House on national security, co-founded a political party with former members of Jobbik, which is frequently described as a fascist party. Gorka—who once said it would be 'national suicide' to admit Muslim refugees—also spent time working for the Hungarian National Committee, a Jobbik-linked coalition led in part by the head of the ultra-nationalist 64 Counties Youth Movement, according to The Forward."

This is probably a good time to recall that erstwhile NatSec Advisor Michael Flynn met with the leader of Austria's white supremacist Freedom Party at Trump Tower. And that a number of Trump's team have close ties to white supremacist organizations.

[Content Note: Nativism] Francis Wilkinson at Bloomberg: Yes, Mass Deportations Are Coming. And We Know Why. "So we have a new policy that promises to identify millions of undocumented immigrants as criminals. We have memos from the head of DHS authorizing agents to remove all such criminals. We have new policies to make enforcement actions more aggressive and removals speedier. Finally, we have a direction from Kelly 'to expeditiously hire 10,000 agents and officers, as well as additional operational and mission support and legal staff necessary to hire and support their activities.' Roughly 5,800 ICE employees are Enforcement and Removal Officers. Kelly's surge would take that number to almost 16,000, with still more staff to support their removal efforts. There isn't much doubt about what this adds up to. Trump has laid the legal basis for mass deportations, and Kelly has organized his department to conduct them. In addition, he seeks a drastically larger deportation force, the purpose of which can only be more deportations."

In addition to the fundamental indecency of this mass deportation plan, as Edward Helmore reports at the Guardian, mass deportations would devastate the economy in many ways, including the potential to "resonate up to the top of the housing chain, testing the entire system in ways that are both novel and not clearly understood."

Russ Choma at Mother Jones: Donald Trump's Mystery $50 Million (or More) Loan. "A recent Wall Street Journal article noted that Trump pays a minimum of $4.4 million a year in interest in connection with his loan from Chicago Unit Acquisition LLC. His disclosure form states he pays the prime interest rate plus 5 percent for this loan. (Consequently, Chicago Unit Acquisition would have at least that much in annual revenue, though none is reported.)"

[CN: Homophobia; video may autoplay at link] Wanda Moore at WPTV: LGBT Church in Palm Beach Gardens Vandalized. "Vandals pulled down the electrical wires at the Metropolitan Community Church of the Palm Beaches, causing an electrical surge and frying all computers, telephones, and their organ." This, too, is not happening in a vacuum.

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

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This Is Terrorism

[Content Note: Gun violence; death; white supremacy.]

This is terrorism. At least, that's what it would be called if it were a non-white and/or non-Christian man who committed a crime like this.

A 51-year-old man faces first-degree murder charges after shooting three men in an Olathe, Kan., bar Wednesday night, police say, reportedly telling two of them, local Garmin engineers from India, to "get out of my country."

One of the Indian men, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, died in the hospital later from his wounds.

...Adam W. Purinton, 51, of Olathe, was also charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder for shooting two other patrons at Austin’s Bar and Grill: Alok Madasani, 32, of Overland Park, Kan., and 24-year-old Ian Grillot, who tried to intervene.

...Witnesses told the Kansas City Star and The Washington Post that Purinton was thought to have been kicked out of the bar Wednesday night before the shooting took place. ...He reportedly came back into the bar and hurled racial slurs at the two Indian men, including comments that suggested he thought they were of Middle Eastern descent.
My deepest condolences to Srinivas Kuchibhotla's family, friends, and colleagues. My thoughts are with Alok Madasani and Ian Grillot as they recover from their injuries.

Not only is this shooting not being reported as terrorism (and hardly being reported at all, compared to acts of public violence committed by non-white and/or Muslim shooters), but: "Authorities would not classify the shooting as a hate crime, but federal law enforcement officials said Thursday they are investigating with local police to determine if it was 'bias motivated.'"

CAIR-Kansas Board Chair Moussa Elbayoumy called for both "state and federal hate crime charges to be brought against Purinton 'in order to send a strong message that violence targeting religious or ethnic minorities will not be tolerated.'"
Purinton, a Navy veteran, IT specialist, and former pilot and air traffic controller, was taken into custody about 70 miles away in Clinton, Mo., authorities told the Associated Press.
Taken into custody alive, after shooting three people. It's amazing how white killers are somehow always taken alive, but Black people selling loose cigarettes or pulled over for a traffic violation or running away from police out of fear so often end up dead.

If there is any meaningful public conversation about this vicious crime at all, Purinton will be described as a "crazy lone wolf" whose bootstraps made him do it. There will be no exploration of the white supremacist organizations and institutions with which he was affiliated; there will be no exploration of how the military has been tasked with killing Muslims for more than a decade; there will be no exploration of how this did not happen in a vacuum, but in a political climate of extreme hostility toward Muslims and immigrants led from the top-down by our sitting president.

This is ideologically-motivated terrorism, even if no one in power will say so.

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I Am Angry

[Content Note: Trans hatred; sexual assault.]

I have always loathed—and always will—the despicable attempts to justify discrimination against trans people under the auspices of "protecting" me.

The "trans predator" meme is wretched trash: It was wretched trash when Phyllis Schlafly was using it to tank the ERA before my ancient ass was ever born, and it is wretched trash now.

I am incandescently angry that people who support policy that will harm trans people, including children, make the indefensible and malicious argument that I need to be "protected" from trans women in bathrooms, or anywhere else.

It has always been a vile argument.

But there's something even more grotesque about trans protections being revoked, and such revocation being defended on the basis of protecting cis women from imaginary trans predators, when it comes from the administration of a president who is, by his own admission, a confessed serial sexual predator.

A man who has bragged about grabbing women by their genitals. A man who has boasted about peeking at naked pageant contestants in their dressing rooms.

Don't fucking tell me that you give a single shit about protecting cis women from sexual violence when you happily support a man who has assaulted women and gloated about it; whose ex-wife gave sworn testimony that he sexually assaulted her; who counts among his friends a convicted rapist; who sexualizes his own daughters; who threatened to sue the dozen-plus women who reported he sexually assaulted them.

Everything about the rollback of trans protections is bullshit—the aggressive void of basic decency, the "state's rights" dodge that ensures the people who are most vulnerable by virtue of where they live are least likely to get the protection they need and deserve, the arrogance of cis people asserting the "right" to audit trans lives under the auspices of "different opinions"—but the fact that, this time, the purveyor of this hostile filth is himself a sexual predator is utterly rage-inducing.

It is unfathomable that anyone would make such cynical, unsubstantiable, harmful arguments about "protecting" cis women in the first place. That they will make them when the signature on the rescindment paper belongs to a man who has himself harmed countless women is unforgivable.

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This. Is. Not. Normal.

This is a breathtaking abuse of power:

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asked a top FBI official to dispute media reports that President Donald Trump's campaign advisers were frequently in touch with Russian intelligence agents during the election, a White House official said late Thursday.

The official said Priebus' request came after the FBI told the White House it believed a New York Times report last week describing those contacts was not accurate.

..."The White House is simply not permitted to pressure the FBI to make public statements about a pending investigation of the president and his advisers," said Michigan Rep. John Conyers, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.
So, Donald Trump's chief of staff reportedly tried to interfere with and FBI investigation. And what does Trump tweet this morning? Criticism of the FBI for leaks.


That, too, is a breathtaking abuse of power.

It also appears to be a confirmation that the leaked information about TrumpCo's contact with Russian intelligence is accurate. So there's that.

This is Day 36 of the Trump administration.

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Open Thread

image of a pink couch

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

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Socchan: "What's your band name (real or imaginary)? My current imaginary band name is the Cautionary Accidentals."

Deeky's and my imaginary band is called Bad Hombre and the Nasty Woman. Obvs.

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