Open Thread + Programming Note

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

I'm still sick. Worse than yesterday, to be honest. FML. I'm sorry, y'all. I really hope I'll be feeling better tomorrow.

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Open Thread + Programming Note

image of a purple sofa

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

I've got another medical test early this morning, and I was going to do a half day afterwards, but I've come down with a terrible cold or flu or something, so I'm probably going to collapse back into bed as soon as I get home. I sure hope I will feel better tomorrow. I'll keep you posted.

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

image of the exterior of a pub which has been 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.

(And please don't forget to tip your bartender!)

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Friday Links!

This list o' links brought to you by falling leaves.

Recommended Reading:

Ayana Byrd at Colorlines: [Content Note: Class warfare; racism] Flooded Coastal Communities No Safer After Being Rebuilt with FEMA Dollars

Victoria Fleisher and Josh Israel at ThinkProgress: [CN: Threats] Donald Trump Smears Former Adviser with One of His Favorite Tactics — the Treat of Exposure

Kenyetta Whitfield at Rewire.News: [CN: Fat hatred; misogynoir; privilege] Fat, Black Women's Bodies Are Under Attack. Why Did It Take a Thin White Man to Get Our Cries Heard?

Staffa at Reproaction: [CN: War on agency] Reproaction Launches Fake Clinic Database: Anti-Abortion Fake Clinics Outnumber Abortion Clinics More Than Three Times

Kristy Puchko at Pajiba: [CN: Rape culture] Jimmy Kimmel Invites Feminist to Sing About Rape Culture, But We Remember Last Week

Ray White with Aparna Nancherla at Mashable: [CN: Video autoplays at link] Comedian Aparna Nancherla Takes the Bob Ross Challenge

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

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#365feministselfie: Week 41

I am again participating in the #365feministselfie project, now in its fifth year, and promised a thread for others to share selfies and/or talk about the project, visibility generally, self-apprecation, and related topics. So here is a thread for Week 41!

A few of my selfies over the last (almost) two weeks:

image of me in the car, wearing white sunglasses and a red and black striped shirt, with my hair down
Out and about with Iain.

image of me at my desk in a green t-shirt and rainbow-colored glasses frames, with my hair down
If having a white streak in your hair makes you too
old for rainbow specs, I don't want to hear about it.

image of part of my face in close-up, looking miserable
It's been a rough couple of weeks.

image of my face, smiling, as I sit in my living room
A portrait of the writer as a 44-year-old woman.

image of me from the shoulders up, wearing a grey sweatshirt and a necklace with a gold scarab, and with my hair down, smiling with teeth
It me.

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

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat sitting on the back of the sofa, looking bored
Sophs is so over this week and ready for the weekend.

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 631

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures (plus the occasional non-Republican who obliges us to resist their nonsense, too, like we don't have enough to worry about) is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

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

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Earlier today by me: An Entire Administration of Misogynist Wrecks and The Trump Regime Is Still Harming Immigrant Children.

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

[Content Note: Hurricane; death] J. Freedom du Lac, Mark Berman, Dana Hedgpeth, and Eli Rosenberg at the Washington Post: Hurricane Michael Aftermath: Death Toll Spikes After Five Storm-Related Fatalities Reported in Virginia. "Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane — the strongest on record to hit the area — and charged north through Georgia and into the Carolinas and Virginia, wreaking havoc and causing emergencies. In the storm's wake lay crushed and flooded buildings, shattered lives, and at least 11 deaths, a number that officials worry could rise. ...Four of the deaths were related to people being swept away in floodwaters along roads; the fifth was a firefighter who was killed in a crash along a highway, according to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management."

My sincerest condolences to the family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors of the people who died. Officials keep gravely warning that the death toll will rise as they manage to reach devastated residences through nearly impenetrable wreckage. There are also over half a million people without power in Virginia alone, which could have dangerous results if the outages persist.

My thoughts are with everyone in the affected areas.

* * *

[CN: Death penalty] In good news: Nina Golgowski at the Huffington Post: Washington State's Supreme Court Declares Death Penalty Unconstitutional. "Washington state's Supreme Court has ruled that the death penalty is unconstitutional and converted to life in prison all pending death sentences in the state. The court's decision on Thursday was unanimous, with the justices determining that capital punishment is applied 'in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.' 'The use of the death penalty is unequally applied — sometimes by where the crime took place, or the county of residence...or the race of the defendant,' the court said in its opinion. 'The death penalty, as administered in our state, fails to serve any legitimate penological goal; thus, it violates article I, section 14 of our state constitution.'" YES.

* * *

[CN: Violence; death. Covers whole section.]

Shane Harris, Souad Mekhennet, John Hudson, and Anne Gearan at the Washington Post: Turks Tell U.S. Officials They Have Audio and Video Recordings That Support Conclusion Khashoggi Was Killed. "The audio recording in particular provides some of the most persuasive and gruesome evidence that the Saudi team is responsible for Khashoggi's death, the officials said. 'The voice recording from inside the embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered,' said one person with knowledge of the recording who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss highly sensitive intelligence. 'You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic,' this person said. 'You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured, and then murdered.'"

I don't want these recordings to be made public, because it would be so terribly traumatic for Khashoggi's loved ones. That said, I really wish that someone I felt I could reasonably trust had heard and/or seen the recordings and would give their assessment on the record, because I don't feel like I can trust anonymous Turkish and U.S. officials at this point. (Not that I'm trusting the Saudis' claims for a moment, mind you.) It's so troubling to me that I don't feel there is any reliable state agency involved, including my own government.


* * *

Today in rampaging authoritarianism...

Luke O'Neil at the Guardian: Trump Administration Plans Crackdown on Protests Outside White House.
Donald Trump has frequently and falsely crowed about the idea of so-called paid protesters, including most recently the sexual assault survivors who confronted senators in the lead-up to the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation. Now his administration may be trying to turn that concept on its head, by requiring citizens to pay to be able to protest, among other affronts to the first amendment.

Under the proposal introduced by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in August, the administration is looking to close 80% of the sidewalks surrounding the White House, and has suggested that it could charge "event management" costs, for demonstrations.

...Naturally, civil liberties groups consider the proposals an affront to the rights guaranteed under the first amendment. As the ACLU notes, such fees "could make mass protests like Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic 1963 March on Washington and its 'I Have a Dream' speech too expensive to happen."
Which is the entire point.

Susan B. Glasser at the New Yorker: I Listened to All Six Trump Rallies in October; You Should, Too. "Much of the coverage of these events tends to be theatre criticism, or news stories about a single inflammatory line or two, rating Trump's performance or puzzling over the appeal to his followers. But what [Trump] is actually saying is extraordinary... It's not just the whoppers or the particular outrage riffs that do get covered, either. It's the hate, and the sense of actual menace that the President is trying to convey to his supporters. Democrats aren't just wrong in the manner of traditional partisan differences; they are scary, bad, evil, radical, dangerous. Trump and Trump alone stands between his audiences and disaster. I listen because I think we are making a mistake by dismissing him, by pretending the words of the most powerful man in the world are meaningless. They do have consequences. They are many, and they are worrisome."

Jay Michaelson at the Daily Beast: Republicans Have a Secret Weapon in the Midterms: Voter Suppression. "With Democrats furious over Donald Trump, and many Republicans furious over the treatment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the 2018 elections are likely to see the highest turnout of midterm voters in recent history. But those voters will be confronted by a byzantine array of voter restrictions, voter-suppression efforts, and voter discrimination standing in their way. A review by The Daily Beast found at least five voter-suppression practices in active use today. All are led by Republicans, all have disproportionate effects on non-white populations, and all are rationalized by bogus claims of voter fraud."

* * *

Some trade and foreign policy news...

Doina Chiacu and Susan Heavey at Reuters: Trump Says He Could Do 'a Lot More' on China Trade. "[Donald] Trump warned on Thursday there was much more he could do that would hurt China's economy further, showing no signs of backing off an escalating trade war with Beijing. ...Trump imposed tariffs on nearly $200 billion of Chinese imports last month and then threatened more levies if China retaliated. China then hit back with tariffs on about $60 billion of U.S. imports. ...'It's had a big impact,' Trump said in a Fox News interview. 'Their economy has gone down very substantially and I have a lot more to do if I want to do it.' ...The growing trade war prompted the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday to cut its global economic growth forecasts for 2018 and 2019."

Patrick Wintour at the Guardian: Yemen: End Airstrikes and Give Child Victims Justice, Says UN Body. "A UN human rights body has called on Saudi Arabia to end airstrikes in Yemen and start ensuring the perpetrators of attacks on children are brought to justice. ...The latest UN report from a 15-strong panel in Geneva found that since March 2015 at least 1,248 children have been killed and the same number injured, amounting to about 20% of the total deaths and injury since the war began. The report condemns 'the dramatic consequences for civilians, and particularly for children who are being killed, maimed, orphaned, and traumatised, of military operations, aggravated by an aerial and naval blockade that has rendered many millions of people, including a high proportion of children, food insecure.' It says the independent assessments undertaken by Saudis of their air raids are 'insufficiently independent, lack detail, and have no mechanism for enforcement.'"

* * *

[CN: Clergy abuse; rape culture] Andy Towle at Towleroad: Pope Accepts Resignation of Washington Archbishop at Center of Pennsylvania Child Sex Abuse Scandal, Praises His 'Nobility'."Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation of Washington Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who was at the center of the Pennsylvania grand jury report in August which accused more than 300 Catholic priests of the sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children. ...The NYT reports: 'But instead of making an example of Cardinal Wuerl...Francis held him up as a model for the future unity of the Roman Catholic Church. The pope cited Cardinal Wuerl's 'nobility' and announced that the 77-year-old prelate would stay on as the archdiocese's caretaker until the appointment of his successor. In an interview, Cardinal Wuerl said that he would continue to live in Washington and that he expected to keep his position in Vatican offices that exert great influence, including one that advises the pope on the appointment of bishops.'"

And Republicans in Pennsylvania decided to cover themselves in shame, too:

The Catholic Church and the Republican Party continue to abet abusers and fail survivors, deliberately and maliciously. No decent person should ever give a penny to either of these organizations ever again.

[CN: Privacy concerns] Deborah Netburn at the LA Times: So Many People Have Had Their DNA Sequenced That They've Put Other People's Privacy in Jeopardy. "A new study argues that more than half of Americans could be identified by name if all you had to start with was a sample of their DNA and a few basic facts, such as where they live and about how old they might be. It wouldn't be simple, and it wouldn’t be cheap. But the fact that it has become doable will force all of us to rethink the meaning of privacy in the DNA age, experts said. There is little time to waste. The researchers behind the new study say that once 3 million Americans have uploaded their genomes to public genealogy websites, nearly everyone in the U.S. would be identifiable by their DNA alone and just a few additional clues. More than 1 million Americans have already published their genetic information, and dozens more do so every day."

[CN: Anti-vaxxers; video may autoplay at link] Staff at CBS News: Growing Number of U.S. Children Not Vaccinated Against Any Disease. "A small but growing proportion of the youngest children in the U.S. have not been vaccinated against any disease, worrying health officials. An estimated 100,000 young children have not had a vaccination against any of the 14 diseases for which shots are recommended, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Thursday." That is so scary to hear for all of us with compromised immune systems. JFC.

And finally:

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

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Keep Shakesville Truckin'

image of a white piggy bank wearing black glasses, into which three pennies are falling, accompanied by text reading: 'Bi-Monthly Fundraising Reminder | Your donations are necessary to support Shakesville's daily content & vibrant community in an ad-free space.'

teaspoon icon This is, for those who have requested it, your bi-monthly reminder to donate to Shakesville and an important fundraiser to keep Shakesville going.

To keep doing this job, and to keep Shakesville a safe ad-free space, I need to be making enough through donations to support myself. Although Iain and I combine resources, like many couples, I don't want to find myself in a place where I couldn't support myself on my own if I needed and/or wanted to.

So this full-time gig has to pay me a livable wage for my time, and enough to pay contributing writers for their work, or I need to find another way to make a living. I'm not looking to get rich off this work. I simply want to make enough money that I am able to support myself modestly, in exchange for my full-time labor.

If you value the content and/or community in this space, please consider setting up a subscription or making a single end-of-year contribution.

Please click the button below to make a one-time donation:

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I cannot afford to do this full-time for free, but, even if I could, fundraising is also one of the most feminist acts I do here. I ask to be paid for my work because progressive feminist advocacy has value; because women's work has value.

So! If you value my work here and/or on Twitter — if you appreciate being able to tune in for coverage of politics and culture, for curated news about the Trump administration and/or the resistance, for media analysis, for a safe and image-free space to discuss difficult subjects, for the Fat Fashion or Makeup or Shaker Gourmet threads, or for whatever else you appreciate at Shakesville, whether it's the moderation, community in the Open Threads, video transcripts, or anything else — please remember that Shakesville is run exclusively on donations. I would certainly be grateful for your support, if you are able to chip in.

Thank you to each of you who donates or has donated, whether monthly or as a one-off. I am deeply appreciative. This community couldn't exist without that support, truly. Thank you.

My thanks as well to everyone who contributes to the space in other ways, whether as a contributor, a moderator, a guest writer, a transcriber, and/or as someone who takes the time to send me a note of support and encouragement, some cool art, or anything else you think might give me a smile or fill my lungs with air. (You're usually right!) This community couldn't exist without you, either.

Finally and essentially: Please note that I don't want anyone to feel obliged to contribute financially, especially if money is tight. There is a big enough readership that no one needs to donate if it would be a hardship, and no one should ever feel bad about that.

I mean that. We're all in this thing together.

One of the things I hate most about fundraising is knowing that it might make some people feel bad, if they want to donate but aren't able. I would never presume to tell you how to feel, but please know that I don't want you to feel bad.

What I want is for you to know that, some days, your kind words are the only thing that keeps me going. I need money to survive. It is your encouragement that keeps me doing this work. You support me in many ways, and I am immensely thankful for them all. ♥

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The Trump Regime Is Still Harming Immigrant Children

[Content Note: Nativism; child abuse; reference to Holocaust.]

When Donald Trump signed an executive order on immigration in June, purportedly putting an end to family separations at the border, I wrote: "The truth is that Donald Trump, with the aid of the nativist scum in his administration and the complicit media, created a problem with the explicit intent of provoking protest that he could abuse to make himself look heroic while actually making a historically significant white supremacist move that will be a lasting shame on this nation."

My concern was that the executive order was actually an expansion of the administration's nativist policies, designed to appear as though it was fixing the problem of separating families and incarcerating infants and young children; that the purpose was to evade accountability and give the public an excuse to stop paying attention, as the administration quietly escalated its war on immigrants.

That is exactly what has happened.

At the New Yorker, Sarah Stillman highlights the ongoing atrocity by telling the story of one child: Five-year-old Helen, who fled Honduras with her grandmother, Noehmi, because the family had been threatened by gang violence. The bluntly titled "The Five-Year-Old Who Was Detained at the Border and Persuaded to Sign Away Her Rights" is a must-read in its entirety, but I have included an excerpt below which details how Trump's vile nativist agenda has flourished in and because of public inattention. Emphases are mine.

As the summer progressed with no signs of Helen's return, Noehmi and Jeny [Helen's mother, who had already established herself in the U.S. when her mother and daughter fled to the States] contacted LUPE, a nonprofit community union based in the Rio Grande Valley, to ask for help winning Helen's release. Founded by the famed activists César Chávez and Dolores Huerta in 1989, LUPE fights deportations, provides social services, and organizes civil mobilizations on behalf of more than eight thousand low-income members across south Texas; Jeny, employed as an office cleaner, was one such member. Tania Chavez, a strategy leader for the organization, met with the family to hear their story.

Helen's case didn't fit the typical LUPE mold. "Historically, we have served longtime residents of the Rio Grande Valley," Chavez told me, "but since this new surge of refugees came about, we've been on the front lines of advocacy against family separation." Freeing Helen struck Chavez as a tangible and urgent goal. "Right away, we said, 'How do we help this little girl?'" she said. As Chavez saw it, the girl's seizure by the government showed that the family-separation crisis hadn't been resolved, as many Americans believed — it had simply evolved.

The first stage of the family-separation crisis unfolded largely out of public view, not long after Trump took office. By January, 2018, when I began collecting the stories of parents who had been separated from their children at the border, the government denied that these separations were happening without clear justifications, and insisted that they weren't encouraged by official policy. In the late spring, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, was still espousing this line, even as she ramped up "zero tolerance" prosecutions — criminally charging parents with "illegal entry," and seizing their kids in the process.

Stage two of the crisis unfolded in the national spotlight. As the number of separations soared past two thousand, and their wrenching details surfaced, hundreds of thousands of Americans protested in the streets. Laura Bush said that the practice broke her heart. The American Academy of Pediatrics denounced it as "abhorrent," noting that the approach could inflict long-term, irrevocable trauma on children. On June 20th, the President issued an executive order purporting to end the practice.

Now stage three has commenced — one in which separations are done quietly, LUPE's Tania Chavez asserts, and in which reunifications can be mysteriously stymied. According to recent Department of Justice numbers — released because of an ongoing A.C.L.U. lawsuit challenging family separations —a hundred and thirty-six children who fall within the lawsuit's scope are still in government custody. An uncounted number of separated children in shelters and foster care fall outside the lawsuit's current purview — including many like Helen, who arrived with a grandparent or other guardian, rather than with a parent. Many such children have been misclassified, in government paperwork, as "unaccompanied minors," due to a sloppy process that the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General recently critiqued. Chavez believes that, through misclassification, many kids have largely disappeared from public view, and from official statistics, with the federal government showing little urgency to hasten reunifications. (O.R.R. and U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not respond to requests for comment.)

...Jess Morales Rocketto, of Families Belong Together, told me that Helen's reunion — the result of the first known public mobilization to free a specific kid from O.R.R. custody — holds lessons for a broader organizing effort. "One of the things Helen's story really showed us is that the Trump Administration never stopped separating children from their families," Morales Rocketto said. "In fact, they've doubled down, but it's even more insidious now, because they are doing it in the cover of night." She added, "We believe that there are more kids like Helen. We have learned we cannot take this Administration at their word."
This is a profound human rights crisis in which children are being systematically abused, and far too many people decided it no longer warranted their attention after a compulsive liar driven by malice put his name on a paper that he claimed solved the problem.

People wonder how it is that average German people could possibly claim they didn't know what was happening in the death camps in their country. Well, surely some of them were liars. And the rest simply weren't paying attention, because they didn't have to.

Talk about this. Amplify Helen's story. Make people uncomfortable. Make noise. RESIST.

Open Wide...

An Entire Administration of Misogynist Wrecks

[Content Note: Misogyny; xenophobia.]

The Trump Regime is truly an administration of pathetic, abusive men (and a few women) who hate women. And, like most vile misogynist wrecks, the members of the Trump Regime are intimidated by any woman who doesn't prostrate herself in service to their patriarchal agenda. Like Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Even "the generals," who Donald Trump told us were the strongest men in the nation and who are supposedly the "moderating" influences in his shitshow of an administration, are at core just shivering misogynists who have to insult any woman who asserts herself as their equal (or better). Like John Kelly.

Jason Leopold at BuzzFeed: John Kelly Called Elizabeth Warren an "Impolite Arrogant Woman" in an Email.

White House chief of staff John Kelly called Sen. Elizabeth Warren an "impolite arrogant woman" in a private email he exchanged last year with his top aide following a telephone conversation with the Massachusetts Democrat about the Trump administration's travel ban.

"Absolutely most insulting conversation I have ever had with anyone," Kelly, then serving as the Secretary of Homeland Security, wrote to Kevin Carroll, who was then his senior counselor at the Department of Homeland Security, in an email from Feb. 8, 2017. "What an impolite arrogant woman. She immediately began insulting our people accusing them of not following the court order, insulting and abusive behavior towards those covered by the pause, blah blah blah."

Carroll responded to his boss's criticisms of Warren in an email the same day. "Too bad Senate Majority Leader McConnell couldn't order her to be quiet again!"
Fucking hell.

Imagine if the "most insulting conversation" you "ever had with anyone" was talking to Elizabeth Warren about policy. What a truly privileged life John Kelly has led.

I suppose observing such a thing makes me an impolite arrogant woman, too. Oh well. Nevertheless, I persist.

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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 Lady Blanchester: "What is your favorite regional food?"

Philly cheesesteaks and New York slices.

And I was never a huge fan of Chicago style pizza generally, but I do miss the heck out of Lou Malnati's!

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Happy Day of the Girl

To all the girls, everywhere:

I dream of futures formidable and vast.

I dream of them when I am sleeping, and when I am wide awake. Behind each blink of my eyes is an audacious vision, urging me.

My dreams are vivid with abstract images of times and spaces where equality is not a promise but a fact.

In my dreams, we look each other in the eyes and hold each other's gazes without swallowing down fear. We want to know one another and want to be known. Because it is safe.

It turns out there is enough humanity for us all. Plenty to go around.

In my dreams, I do not fly. I float. I float in a cool sea of collective fulfillment. Here, cradled in the embrace of these sparkling, reverberant waves, I realize this true thing: Contentment is better than joy.

In my dreams, the world is full of girls who are more than the incandescently happy we're meant to regard as a finite goal. In my dreams, they are safe. In my dreams, they are valued. Because being safe and valued makes unhappiness survivable and real happiness possible. Because both are parts of the complex humanity denied by defining a rigidly policed happiness the exclusive objective.

In my dreams, the haunting feeling doesn't exist — I don't feel like I will never be enough of any of the things I am expected to be.

In my dreams, there are no more terrible bargains. Even in my dreams, I expect more. Because I don't know how to expect anything else.

In my dreams, every day is a day of and for every girl.

Open Wide...


I know virtually nothing about my family history beyond my great-grandparents — and even that generation is mostly just names and a few photos to me, with the exception of John Noble, the Vaudevillian. I grew up knowing I was a mutt, mostly Scottish and German, with an Irish great-grandmother, and knowing nothing about the ancestors whose origins laid the features upon my face and the nature in my bones.

Recently, Shaker Westsidebecca generously offered to explore my ancestry with her wicked genealogy skillz. I gave her everything I knew — names, locations, occupations, dates of birth, dates of death. I had more information than I thought, but there were gaping holes, waiting to be filled by someone with the requisite talents for this very particular research.

For the past few weeks, she's been unearthing all kinds of fascinating stuff, some of it very surprising indeed. So far, she's discovered I am in fact very German, and a little Irish, but also Hungarian, French, Spanish, and English!

And no Scottish — yet! That's probably because the (presumably, based on the name) Scottish part of my paternal lineage has been in the States so long that Becca is many generations back and still in the U.S., and the (supposedly) Scottish part of my maternal lineage goes straight through the aforementioned John Noble, who may have invented his entire identity!

Or maybe I've got no Scottish ancestry at all! I sure never knew I was significantly Hungarian and English, nor a little French and Spanish, so apparently anything is possible!

(And fortunately I have zero investment in any particular history.)

Suffice it to say, we've encountered some fun mysteries and lots of intriguing information. Becca told me, "I am blown away by how much family history you have." So am I.

I'll be sharing more information in the future, so long as folks find it entertaining, and today I'll start with this amazing article Becca found about a bar fight in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NYC in April of 1866. Jacob Thomas was my great-great-great-grandfather, and he was a barber.

[Content Note: Description of violence. Note: "The 20th inst" means the 20th of the current month.]

image of newspaper clipping; transcription of the text is below
SERIOUS AFFRAY AT GREENPOINT — A MAN DANGEROUSLY STABBED. — This morning, about half past twelve o'clock, an affray occurred in a drinking saloon at Greenpoint, which resulted seriously for one of the parties engaged, who was twice stabbed with a dirk knife. It appears that at the above time a barber named Jacob Thomas, doing business on Franklin, between H and I streets, accompanied with an employee named Jacob Schale, went into the saloon of one McNally, corner of Franklin and G streets.

While there he began skylarking with the proprietor, who had been indulging rather freely in liquor, and struck him over the face. McNally became angry, and attacked Thomas, beating him over the body with his fists. The latter defended himself as well as he was able, when a number of drunken ruffians, who were in the place at the time, also began to assault him. With this combined force, he was overpowered and dragged about the bar-room.

Schale seeing how his employer was being used, ran to his assistance, when he likewise was assailed, and in defence, he states, drew a dirk knife. During the melee he stabbed one of his assailants in the right side, the blade coming in contact with the ribs, and in the right leg, the blade this time entering just beneath the knee pan.

The injured man, who is named Luke Fagan, aged about thirty years, and employed as a driver on the Greenpoint cars, was conveyed to his apartments, in the same house, and Dr. Peer summoned. Officer Reed of the 47th precinct, was notified of the affair, and succeeded in arresting Schale, who had fled to the shop of his employer, and was about escaping out of a rear window when taken. He is about twenty years of age, and but recently arrived in this country.

This morning the prisoner was arraigned before Justice Dailey, and committed to jail until the 20th inst. Fagan's injuries are of a serious but not necessarily fatal nature.
Was this written by Benjamin H. Grumbles?! I expected it to end with an account of the heroic immigrant Jacob Schale, who saved my grandfather, breaking out of jail: "...And then the rascal attempted to abscond the scene on his pennyfarthing!"

Trust that there is more skylarking and plenty of affrays where this came from. My family history is some wacky shit, not that anyone who knows me at all would have expected any different, lol.

Open Wide...

What I'm Listening To

A thread for sharing what we're currently listening to: Music, podcasts, audiobooks, whatever.

Once-frequent guest blogger and sharer of election terrors BrianWS, who still may or may not become a full-time contributor someday because you just never know I mean this world is getting wackier by the day and stranger things happen all the time, texted me a couple of months ago and asked if I would be up for a hang-out day that culminated in seeing his current superfave Amy Shark in concert, to which I obviously screamed yes.

So, yesterday, BrianWS flew in to Philly, and I met him for an afternoon of talking about ALL THE THINGS, and then Iain joined us for dinner and drinks and the show, which was amazing.

And now I'm listening to Amy Shark. Who, by the way, was just nominated for 9 ARIA Awards yesterday! Woot!

[Lyrics here.]

What are you listening to these days?

Open Wide...

Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound sitting on the couch, looking at me with a big grin

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 630

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures (plus the occasional non-Republican who obliges us to resist their nonsense, too, like we don't have enough to worry about) is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

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

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Earlier today by me: Well, This Is Very Troubling and Today in Rampaging Authoritarianism and Happy National Coming Out Day!

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

[Content Note: Hurricane damage; death and displacement; climate change. Covers entire section.]

Jonathan Erdman at the Weather Channel: Hurricane Michael Was the Third Most Intense Continental U.S. Landfall on Record, an Unprecedented Location for a Category 4 Landfall. "With an estimated minimum central pressure of 919 millibars, Michael was the third most intense hurricane landfall in the continental United States, according to NOAA's Hurricane Research Division. Only a pair of Category 5 landfalls, Hurricane Camille in 1969 and the Florida Keys Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, had lower central pressure at continental U.S. landfall than Michael. ...Michael was by far the most intense hurricane to landfall in the Florida Panhandle, according to NOAA's 167-year best-track hurricane database."

Mark Berman, Antonia Noori Farzan, Eli Rosenberg, and J. Freedom du Lac at the Washington Post: Violent Storm Claims Second Life, a Child in Mobile Home, on Its Way to Carolinas. "The Gadsden County Sheriff's office said that a man was found dead in his home in a small town outside of Tallahassee after a tree crashed through the roof. Sgt. Angela Hightower did not identify the man but said he had been found at the home in Greensboro around 6 p.m. ...High winds from Hurricane Michael lead to the death of an 11-year-old girl in Seminole County, Ga., EMA Director Travis Brooks told The Washington Post early Thursday morning. The girl had been inside a trailer home in an unincorporated area of the county near Lake Seminole, close to the Florida-Georgia border. ...'It looked like a war zone,' Brooks said, adding that it had taken deputies from the Seminole County Sheriff's Office practically all day to get to the mobile home due to the road conditions in the area."

Elisha Fieldstadt at NBC News: Officials Worry Hurricane Michael Death Toll Could Rise as Crews Struggle to Access Hard-Hit Areas. "With two people killed in the most powerful storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in recorded history, officials warned the number was likely to rise as search crews struggled to gain access to ravaged areas and sift through the piles of debris. ...And Michael isn't finished yet. The Carolinas, still cleaning up from Hurricane Florence, could see 50 mph winds, flooding, tornadoes, and up to 7 inches of rain on Thursday. ...About 400,000 customers were without power in Florida about 450,000 in Georgia, officials in those states said."

I have previously noted that I include extreme weather items in the We Resist thread because they are worsened by climate change, which, unfortunately, remains a political issue urgently in dire of our continued attention. To wit: Miranda Green and Timothy Cama at the Hill: [CN: Video may autoplay at link] GOP Shrugs Off Dire Study Warning of Global Warming. "Few GOP lawmakers on Wednesday said they had read the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) report, which warned that the planet would be unlivable if leaders failed to cut carbon emissions. ...Even fewer said they were heeding the warnings that action needed to be taken to cut emissions by 2030. 'That's the UN. That's the group that was formed to sell this in the first place,' said Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the former chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee and one of the best-known skeptics of climate change in the Senate. 'They come from that prejudiced perspective,' Inhofe said of the report's author."

Malice is the agenda.

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Shane Harris at the Washington Post: Crown Prince Sought to Lure Khashoggi Back to Saudi Arabia and Detain Him, U.S. Intercepts Show.
The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia and then detain him, according to U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan.

The intelligence, described by U.S. officials familiar with it, is another piece of evidence implicating the Saudi regime in Khashoggi's disappearance last week after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say that a Saudi security team lay in wait for the journalist and killed him.

...The intelligence pointing to a plan to detain Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia has fueled speculation by officials and analysts in multiple countries that what transpired at the consulate was a backup plan to capture Khashoggi that may have gone wrong.

A former U.S. intelligence official — who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter — noted that the details of the operation, which involved sending two teams totaling 15 men, in two private aircraft arriving and departing Turkey at different times, bore the hallmarks of a "rendition," in which someone is extra­legally removed from one country and deposited for interrogation in another.

But Turkish officials have concluded that whatever the intent of the operation, Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate. Investigators have not found his body, but Turkish officials have released video surveillance footage of Khashoggi entering the consulate on the afternoon of Oct. 2. There is no footage that shows him leaving, they said.

The intelligence about Saudi Arabia’s earlier plans to detain Khashoggi have raised questions about whether the Trump administration should have warned the journalist that he might be in danger.

Intelligence agencies have a "duty to warn" people who might be kidnapped, seriously injured, or killed, according to a directive signed in 2015. The obligation applies regardless of whether the person is a U.S. citizen. Khashoggi was a U.S. resident.
That last bit is important. Especially since Donald Trump is banging on about how Khashoggi wasn't a citizen.

That Khashoggi was not a citizen doesn't matter in terms of the Trump administration's responsibility to warn him that he was in danger, nor should it matter in terms of the actions the Trump administration should take in response to his murder.

But this is Donald Trump we're talking about, so.

Nahal Toosi at Politico: 'Sweep It Under the Rug': Fears Grow Trump Won't Confront Saudis over Journalist's Disappearance. "Calls are mounting for the Trump administration to find out what happened to Jamal Khashoggi. Republicans and Democrats in Congress have taken steps to force a government investigation. Khashoggi's fiancée has pleaded for Trump to 'help shed light on Jamal's disappearance.' The fury has grown after a Washington Post report that U.S. intelligence knew of Saudi plans to abduct Khashoggi, raising questions about whether the administration failed to warn the journalist. The White House insists it's taking the case seriously, with Trump vowing Wednesday to 'get to the bottom of it.' But former officials and analysts, including some friendly with Khashoggi, are dismayed by what they say is a milquetoast response so far by the Trump team."

The essence of milquetoast: "Trump on Thursday morning addressed the report that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered an operation to lure Washington Post contributor and vocal critic Jamal Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia and 'detain' him, telling Fox & Friends that it would be a 'sad thing' if that report turned out to be true. ...When asked specifically what he would do if the report about Mohammed bin Salman — a close ally of Trump adviser/son-in-law Jared Kushner — was true, Trump responded that 'I have to find out what happened. And we're probably getting closer than you might think,' later adding that 'I don't like it. No good.'"

Krishnadev Calamur at the Atlantic: The Disappearance of a Saudi Critic Signals a Broader Danger for Journalists.
Khashoggi's fate reflects a larger pattern of violence inflicted on journalists around the world this year. Year after year, reporters are detained, abducted, and, with some frequency, killed. As Margaux Ewen, the North America director at RSF, told me, "We're seeing targeted killings even outside war zones."

Since January 2018, RSF points out, 57 journalists have been killed, along with 10 citizen journalists and four media assistants. The numbers are already higher than the figures at the same time last year. Additionally, 155 journalists have been imprisoned, along with 142 citizen journalists and 19 media assistants.

"We're ultimately seeing that the press is no longer viewed as a key component of democracy but are more and more viewed as the opposition, the enemy, those that only want to criticize," Ewen said. She added, "It doesn't really help when the president of the country of the First Amendment, the United States, repeatedly refers to journalists as enemies of the people and denigrates their work, compares their negative coverage to fake news. It really sends the wrong signal … in a way that can really embolden other countries who haven't been repressive in the past to start being repressive."

What this does, she said, is embolden already authoritarian regimes, such as Saudi Arabia, to believe there won't be true consequences for their actions.
Trump's war on the press not only consists of intimidating and targeting members of the free press, but also by corrupting friendly conservative media into straight-up propaganda machines: "The White House has vowed to 'look into' a decision taken by Fox News to stop broadcasting Donald Trump's rallies live and in full because they're no longer bringing in high ratings. ...The report states White House figures are concerned Trump is losing control of a key platform ahead of the midterms. One senior White House official told Politico they were unsure why the network is cutting away from the rallies, saying officials planned 'to look into that' and that they expect White House Communications Director Bill Shine, a former Fox News executive, to be in touch with his former colleagues about the move."

When an authoritarian gets his own propaganda outlet, it puts members of the free press in ever graver danger.

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If it seems like Trump's authoritarianism is becoming more brazen and accelerating very quickly now, that's because it is:

Aaron Rupar at ThinkProgress: Trump Hints That He Plans to Seriously Obstruct Justice After the Midterms. "During a lengthy interview on Fox & Friends on Thursday morning, [Donald] Trump hinted he might make serious moves to end the FBI investigation into his own campaign after next month's midterm elections. Asked about a Washington Post report that he's in active talks to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Trump said, 'I'm not doing anything — I want to get the elections over with, we'll see what happens. I'm very disappointed that we go through this witch hunt, this ridiculous witch hunt… There's no collusion.'"

Matthew Choi at Politico: Trump Pledges to 'Weed Out' Administration Officials He Does Not Trust. "Donald Trump said Thursday that he will 'weed out' individuals inside his administration who he does not like, echoing remarks from his wife, who told ABC News that there are people working for her husband who she does not trust. ...Trump said he would do away with those he does not like. 'Are there some I'm not in love with? Yes. We'll weed them out slowly,' the president said. ...Melania Trump was more direct in her negative opinions about some in the administration. [ABC's Tom Llamas] asked her whether there are people in the administration she doesn't trust. She responded flatly: 'Yes.'"

[CN: Nativism] Rebekah Entralgo at ThinkProgress: U.S. Is Violating Human Rights, Lying About How Asylum Seekers Are Treated at Border, Per New Report. "Under orders by the Trump administration, thousands of asylum seekers fleeing dangerous living situations are being arbitrarily detained, forced to return to their country of origin, and separated from their children. According to a scathing new report from Amnesty International, these actions by the U.S. government violate human rights. The U.S. is prohibited from sending asylum seekers back to countries or territories where their lives or freedom would be threatened, either directly or indirectly, yet that is exactly the policy of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Seeking asylum is not a crime, yet the Trump administration continues to treat those who arrive at ports of entry in search of a better life as if they were criminals."

And, of course, members of Trump's party are escalating in their rhetoric as they consolidate power behind him, too. On both the federal level:

Nicole Lafond at TPM: Graham: 'Going Low Is a Step Up' for Dems, They're 'in the Gutter'. "Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Wednesday responded to Hillary Clinton's claims that civility will return to Congress if Democrats win in November by invoking former First Lady Michelle Obama. 'So, Michelle Obama said, 'when they go low, we go high.' Here's my view of the Democratic Party regarding Kavanaugh,' he told Fox News' Martha MacCallum. 'Going low is a step up for you. You are in the gutter in terms of the Democratic Party's approach.'"

And the state level:

We are in very scary times, my friends. Resist with all your might.

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

Open Wide...

Happy National Coming Out Day!


Today is the 31st annual National Coming Out Day! Thirty-one years ago today, half a million people marched on Washington for LGBTQ equality and Coming Out Day was born.

A lot has changed since then. And a lot hasn't. And a lot of what has changed is now under threat of being reversed again. But what has changed, and what will change, and what will be preserved is due to the brave women, men, and genderqueer folks who come out because they expect more than a closet.

As long as we live in a deeply hetero- and ciscentrist culture that privileges straightness and cisgenderedness, coming out will remain a radical act — and anyone who comes out is an activist and an advocate, sheerly by virtue of their public existence, because straight/cis people who know out members of the queer community are exponentially more likely to be political allies.

The privileging of straightness also means that coming out is not a fixed event on a single day in a life, but a never-ending process of assessing one's safety and balancing it against the need for disclosure. Coming out to family, coming out to old friends, coming out to new friends, coming out at school, coming out at every new job... A series of comings out necessitated by a culture that reflexively assigns straightness until an individual demands to be recognized otherwise, a culture that arbitrarily and unnecessarily attaches meaning, and difference, to sexual orientation.

There yet remain many places in the world, including many parts of the U.S., in which queer people do not feel safe coming out. As we mark Coming Out Day in this space, let us remember those people who have not come out for reasons of personal safety, or religious oppression, or out of a profound fear of familial or community rejection.

And let us celebrate coming out, and the people who build spaces where coming out and being out is safe.

I invite you to share your coming out stories here, as a road-map to the people who are beginning that journey, and an invitation to the party that awaits them when they arrive.

Open Wide...

Today in Rampaging Authoritarianism

Last night, at yet another Make America Clap for Me Again rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton of colluding with Russia, following more chants of "Lock her up! Lock her up!" from his crowd of cultists. Lauren Egan and Jonathan Allen at NBC News report:

"There was collusion between Hillary, the Democrats and Russia," Trump said, just after his supporters had chanted "lock her up" about Clinton. "There was a lot of collusion with them and Russia and lots of other people."

...Trump has discussed that theory publicly and on Twitter, but his remarks Wednesday night amounted to an unusually direct allegation that Clinton herself conspired with the Russian government to influence the election. He offered no evidence of his claim.
Then, this morning, during an extended interview on Fox & Friends, Trump praised members of his own party as great patriots. Kathryn Watson at CBS News reports:
He declared that Rep. Devin Nunes, the controversial chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who has vigorously defended the president, should receive the "Medal of Honor." That award is the highest military honor reserved for those who display selfless acts of valor. Maybe, the president added it should be called the "Medal of Freedom."

The president lauded other House Republicans who have defended him amid the Russia probe and put pressure in the Justice Department, including House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

"I think they're becoming folk heroes," Mr. Trump said.
Trump is praising members of his own party as folk heroes and accusing political opponents of treason. The treason his party actually committed.

These are techniques right from the authoritarian's playbook. He's not stumbling into this rhetoric by accident. This is a strategy.

Specifically, it is the strategy of a tyrant whose political party is consolidating power and working overtime to discredit their critics and intimidate the resistance into silence and retreat.

When threats and chants don't wholly quell dissidents, the tactics will escalate.

This is what is happening. Trump is not just a terrible president who will be constrained and eventually replaced by a functional democratic system. He is a rank authoritarian leading an irredeemably corrupt party supported by a toxic base of increasingly violent extremists — who have aligned to conspire to permanently subvert the nation's democratic institutions in service to their corruption and malice.

Anyone who tells you different is a fool who isn't paying attention, a complicit coward, or a gaslighter who wants to silence or corrupt you, too.

And as I have said many times now: We can't even begin to solve this problem if we collectively refuse to be honest about what the problem truly is.

Open Wide...

Well, This Is Very Troubling


David E. Sanger and William J. Broad at the New York Times: New U.S. Weapons Systems Are a Hackers' Bonanza, Investigators Find.

Authorized hackers were quickly able to seize control of weapons systems being acquired by the American military in a test of the Pentagon's digital vulnerabilities, according to a new and blistering government review.

The report by the Government Accountability Office concluded that many of the weapons, or the systems that control them, could be neutralized within hours. In many cases, the military teams developing or testing the systems were oblivious to the hacking.

A public version of the study, published on Tuesday, deleted all names and descriptions of which systems were attacked so the report could be published without tipping off American adversaries about the vulnerabilities. Congress is receiving the classified version of the report, which specifies which among the $1.6 trillion in weapons systems that the Pentagon is acquiring from defense contractors were affected.

But even the declassified review painted a terrifying picture of weaknesses in a range of emerging weapons, from new generations of missiles and aircraft to prototypes of new delivery systems for nuclear weapons.

"In one case, the test team took control of the operators' terminals," the report said. "They could see, in real time, what the operators were seeing on their screens and could manipulate the system" — a technique reminiscent of what Russian hackers did to a Ukrainian power grid two years ago.
And again in June of 2017.

Once again, I am reminded of that December 2016 article at the New Yorker by Eric Schlosser: "World War Three, by Mistake." And this paragraph, in particular:
Strict precautions have been taken to thwart a cyberattack on the U.S. nuclear command-and-control system. Every line of nuclear code has been scrutinized for errors and bugs. The system is "air-gapped," meaning that its networks are closed: someone can't just go onto the Internet and tap into a computer at a Minuteman III control center. At least, that's the theory. Russia, China, and North Korea have sophisticated cyber-warfare programs and techniques. General James Cartwright — the former head of the U.S. Strategic Command who recently pleaded guilty to leaking information about Stuxnet — thinks that it's reasonable to believe the system has already been penetrated. "You've either been hacked, and you're not admitting it, or you're being hacked and don't know it," Cartwright said last year.
Everything is not fine.

I don't even know what else to say about this subject.

Open Wide...

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