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 lamplight.

Recommended Reading:

Julia Serano: [Content Note: Transphobic narratives] On Transgender People and 'Biological Sex' Myths

Ragen Chastain: [CN: Fat hatred] Slate's Hiring Policy: No Fat Chicks?

Shay Stewart-Bouley: [CN: Misogynoir] My Black life Matters, or Ramblings of Middle Age

Keith Reid-Cleveland: [CN: Police misconduct] Body Camera Footage Shows Baltimore Police Officer Planting Drugs

Russell Brandom: Verizon Admits to Throttling Netflix in Apparent Violation of Net Neutrality

Charline Jao: [CN: Images of violence/guns in video at link] Hit Woman Taraji P. Henson Does Not Mess Around in Proud Mary Trailer

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

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Your Best Photograph

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

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

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

* * *

This is a photo I took in our backyard earlier today of a gorgeous big bee in a sunflower, which sprouted from fallen birdseed mix that contained sunflower seeds. Nature!

image of a sunflower surrounded by various green plants, with a big, fuzzy bumblebee right at its center

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"Mooch" Is Settling in Nicely

So, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who has been regularly filling in for Sean Spicer when he was stuck in a bush or whatever, has been made White House Press Secretary, i.e. Spicer's old job. And Anthony Scaramucci has officially been announced as White House Communications Director.

He started the gig by holding a press briefing where he went on endlessly about how much he loves Donald Trump, who is the greatest guy and an amazing athlete and a total winner and and and...


Scaramucci's obnoxious presser was documented by a number of journalists who are already calling him "Mooch." Sure.

But here's the thing:


Trust that he spent time during the presser flattering the press, too, and talking about how he wants to improve relations between the White House and the media. Which was evident bullshit — and far less important than this:

I do believe that the best messenger, the best media person, the most savvy person in the White House is the President of the United States, and I'm frankly hoping to learn from him.
Yeah, that would be the same guy who's been waging a war on the free press since he became a candidate. "Mooch" will learn a lot from him, I'll bet.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt lying on the floor looking up at me
THIS FACE!!! ♥

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 183

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

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

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

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: Republicans Are "Dismayed" Again. Oh. and If You Make an Authoritarian President, He Will Behave Like an Authoritarian and I Don't Like This One Bit and Sean Spicer Has Resigned.

REMINDER: KEEP CALLING YOUR SENATORS TO TELL THEM TO VOTE NO ON REPEALING THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT.


Sarah Boseley's important article is also accompanied by an equally stark image of Donald Trump signing the Executive Order that reintroduced the Mexico City policy, while surrounded by grinning white men: Reince Preibus, Peter Navarro, Jared Kushner, Steven Miller, and Steve Bannon.

The article is tough, but I highly recommend reading it. Please note if you have a needle phobia, there is an image of a young woman getting a contraceptive implant about midway through the story.

* * *

Ben Wieder, Gabrielle Paluch, and Kevin G. Hall at McClatchy: Ex Trump Associates Helped Fugitive Kazakhs in Visa Scheme.
Two former associates of Donald Trump helped a family of wealthy Kazakh fugitives make extensive investments in the United States, some aimed at helping family members obtain legal residency here, a McClatchy investigation shows.

Felix Sater, an ex-con and one-time senior adviser in the Trump Organization, helped the Trump family scout deals in Russia. He led an effort that began in 2012 to assist the stepchildren of Viktor Khrapunov, who that year had been placed on an international detention request list by the global police agency Interpol.

...On paper, Donald Trump's business relationship with Sater ended almost a decade ago. But earlier this year, Sater re-entered Trump's orbit when he and Michael D. Cohen, one of Trump's personal lawyers, were involved with a Ukraine-Russia peace proposal that was presented to Michael Flynn, then Trump's national security advisor.

...Several key people in Trump’s orbit did business with the Kazakh clan, including the law firm of Trump campaign surrogate Rudy Giuliani and the Bayrock Group, which developed Trump-branded projects in New York, Florida, and Arizona and was founded by Tevik Arif, a politically-connected former Soviet official from Kazakhstan.

Lincoln Mitchell, a political consultant who specializes in Russia and its neighboring countries, said virtually any investment from Kazakhstan warrants scrutiny.

"It would be hard to imagine getting Kazakh investment that wasn't close to the ruling family," Mitchell said in a telephone interview from the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
Again: Legitimate for Bob Mueller to scrutinize Trump's finances. Legitimate, and crucial.

Guardian/AP: CIA Director: Russia Loves to Meddle and 'Stick It to America'. "The CIA director, Mike Pompeo, said on Thursday that Russia had no plans to leave Syria and would continue to try to meddle in US affairs to 'stick it to America.' He reiterated his belief that Russia interfered in the US presidential election and described the US-Russia relationship as 'complicated.' 'I think they find any place that they can make our lives more difficult, I think they find that's something that's useful,' he said." Yep. Have you mentioned this to your boss, sir?

Speaking of Russians fucking with us... Keir Simmons and Saphora Smith at NBC News: Russia's Lavrov Says Trump May Have Met Putin More Times.
Donald Trump may have held more meetings with Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit earlier this month, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday — but he shrugged off the importance of the encounters.

"They might have met even much more than just three times," he told NBC News' Keir Simmons in an exclusive interview, dismissing speculation about the leaders' meetings.

"Maybe they went to the toilet together," he joked.

Asked whether the two presidents had other conversations or met in the corridors of the G-20 meeting, Lavrov used the analogy of children mingling at a kindergarten.

"When you are bought by your parents to a kindergarten do you mix with the people who are waiting in the same room to start going to a classroom?" he asked.

He added: "I remember when I was in that position I did spend five or ten minutes in the kindergarten before they brought us to the classroom."
Fucking ridiculous. I will never stop being angry that Donald Trump is such an overconfident dipshit that he put us in the position of being mocked by the Russian Foreign Minister, who just takes the piss at will, because we are being (un)governed by a man who is little more than a Russian nesting doll of character defects.

On that note... Philip Bump at the Washington Post: Trump Can Usually Make It About a Third of the Way Through an Interview Without Mentioning Hillary Clinton. "In fact, in 19 interviews that he's conducted since becoming president, we found that Clinton tended to be mentioned much earlier than a number of Trump's other favorite topics: The 2016 election, the votes he received, the electoral college and Barack Obama. ...In 17 of 19 of his interviews, Clinton came up, on average about 36 percent of the way in. ...How much does Trump like to raise the subject of Hillary Clinton? He even mentions her more frequently and sooner than his other favorite opponent: the press." GOD, DONNIE, GET IT THROUGH YOUR HEAD: SHE'LL NEVER LIKE YOU.

Sara Robinson at Rewire: Trump's Sensitivity to Being Laughed at Should Alarm Everyone. "When we hear Trump say, 'They're laughing at us,' it's almost certainly because he's about to put forth a policy explicitly designed to assert dominance or act out rage, abusing the vast powers of his office to brutally stuff some inferior group or nation back into its perceived place because they have dared to challenge him. Trump's fear of being laughed at is the clearest possible sign that we have installed an abuser-in-chief in the White House. Savvy global actors have already figured out that laughing at him is a very reliable way to provoke him into ridiculous postures and self-destructive policies. But closer to home, we also need to realize that over the next three and a half years, the worst abuses of power, the most draconian displays of force, and the most profound violence this administration does to our nation and to the bodies and futures of its citizens will almost inevitably occur because Trump thought somebody was laughing at him."

Daniel Dale at the Toronto Star: Donald Trump Said 414 False Things in His First Six Months. "The Star has tracked every single word Trump has said, tweeted or issued in his name since he took the oath on Jan. 20. Other than the sheer quantity of lies, what's most striking is their outlandish obviousness. With some exceptions, this is not sophisticated deceit. Trump is the toddler with purple icing on his face declaring that a fairy must have eaten the last piece of cake."

* * *

In other news...


[Content Note: White supremacy] Ayana Byrd at Colorlines: Climate Scientist Blows Whistle on Trump Administration's Department of the Interior.
Joel Clement's previous job: Director of the Office of Policy Analysis at the U.S. Department of the Interior, where he focused on helping endangered Native communities in Alaska prepare for and adapt to climate change.

His current job, as of June 15 when he was involuntarily reassigned: Collecting royalty checks from fossil fuel companies as a senior advisor at the Office of Natural Resources Revenue.

On Wednesday (July 19), Clement filed a complaint and a whistleblower disclosure form with the Office of Special Counsel, an independent investigative and prosecutorial agency for federal employees. That same day, The Washington Post published an op-ed by him titled, "I'm a Scientist. I'm Blowing the Whistle on the Trump Administration." It begins with this disclaimer:
I am not a member of the deep state. I am not big government.

I am a scientist, a policy expert, a civil servant and a worried citizen. Reluctantly, as of today, I am also a whistleblower on an administration that chooses silence over science.
Clement writes that involuntary reassignments like the one he (and about 50 others) received were used to eliminate those whose views did not agree with the new administration's.
Fucking hell. And what did Clement do that targeted him for retaliation? "I believe I was retaliated against for speaking out publicly about the dangers that climate change poses to Alaska Native communities."

[CN: LGBT hatred] Michael Fitzgerald at Towleroad: Donald Trump to Nominate Another Anti-LGBTQ Secretary to the Army. "Donald Trump has announced that he plans to nominate anti-LGBT veteran and defense contractor manager Mark Esper as Secretary of the Army. Esper is a lobbyist and vice president for government relations at defense contractor Raytheon and served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense from 2002 to 2004. ...However, GLAAD reports that Esper was also the former chair of the National Security Policy subcommittee for the 2008 Republican Party Platform, which specifically targeted LGBT service members. Additionally, he has worked with anti-LGBT lawmakers including Senator Bill Frist and served as Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President of the Heritage Foundation."

David Shepardson and Valerie Volcovici at Reuters: White House Deregulation Push Clears out Hundreds of Proposed Rules. "The White House said Thursday it had withdrawn or removed from active consideration more than 800 proposed regulations that were never finalized during the Obama administration as it works to shrink the federal government's regulatory footprint. ...The steps to eliminate regulations makes good on a much-repeated Trump campaign promise to promote business-friendly policies. Investors have anticipated the action, helping to push share prices higher on hopes that fewer regulations will boost business growth and lead to higher corporate profits."

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

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Sean Spicer Has Resigned


[If you cannot view the image in the second tweet, it is a photo of Sean Spicer with his eyes cast downward, to which I've added text reading: "I'm resigning to spend more time with my family working on my Melissa McCarthy impersonation. Thank you and goodbye."]

Spicer reportedly handed in his notice because Donald Trump hired Anthony Scaramucci as White House Communications Director: "Mr. Trump offered Mr. Scaramucci the job at 10 a.m. The president requested that Mr. Spicer stay on, but Mr. Spicer told Mr. Trump that he believed the appointment was a major mistake, according to a person with direct knowledge of the exchange."

That person is almost certainly Reince Priebus, who rumor has it isn't thrilled with Scaramucci's appointment, either.

Let's all take a moment to fondly recall, while Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You" plays, all of the horrors that Spicer was willing to spin and defend, all of the corruption about which he was willing to straight-up lie, all of the indignities he was willing to suffer on behalf of this obscene administration. But he drew the line at having to work with someone he doesn't like.

Sounds about right.

Good riddance, Sean. Give Scottie McClellan a call. You'll have a lot to discuss, I'm sure.

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I Don't Like This One Bit

Next week, the Trump administration will reportedly announce a unilateral travel ban on U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea.

Koryo Tours and Young Pioneer Tours, who both operate there, said the ban would be announced on 27 July to come into effect 30 days later.

They were informed by the Swedish embassy, which conducts US affairs in the country.

US officials have confirmed the ban to US media and linked it to the death of jailed American student Otto Warmbier, but given no details on date or scope.
This is potentially a pointless provocation (although Kim Jong Un doesn't particularly want Americans visiting anyway), but, more importantly, it's a very concerning precedent: Warmbier's death is being used as a rationale for banning people from traveling to North Korea, when there is already a State Department caution for traveling there.

And if the motivation were genuinely just concern for citizens' safety, I'm not sure, at all, why this alarming punitive measure is part of the ban: "After the 30-day grace period [to allow tourists and humanitarian workers still in the country to leave] any US national that travels to North Korea will have their passport invalidated by their government."

This strikes me as the exploitation of a tragic situation in order to have an excuse to set a precedent for banning U.S. citizens' travel to other places.

Lest you imagine that's unjustifiable alarmism: "Associated Press news agency quoted US officials as saying that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had decided to implement a 'geographical travel restriction' for North Korea, meaning the use of US passports to enter would be illegal."

I have long suspected that the Trump administration would eventually disallow foreign travel for average citizens. That is, that we simply won't be allowed to leave.

I fear that Trump's border wall, for example, on which he persists despite the fact that undocumented immigration from Mexico has significantly declined, is really less about keeping people out than it is about keeping people in.

And, last month, to little fanfare, the Trump administration reinstated some travel restrictions to Cuba (where it has never been illegal, full-stop, for U.S. citizens to visit, unlike this North Korea ban).

What it utterly unclear is what limitations this administration believes there are, if any, on its ability to issue executive orders defining additional "geographical travel restrictions."

Suffice it to say, this news is not reassuring.

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If You Make an Authoritarian President, He Will Behave Like an Authoritarian

This is what happens when a country decides to make its president an arrogant, nepotistic authoritarian with contempt for the rule of law: He shreds every last vestige of functional democratic systems if anyone tries to hold him or his family accountable for their corruption.

Carol D. Leonnig, Ashley Parker, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Tom Hamburger at the Washington Post: Trump Team Seeks to Control, Block Mueller's Russia Investigation.

Some of [Donald] Trump's lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president's authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members. and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump's lawyers have been discussing the president's pardoning powers among themselves.

One adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller's investigation.
The President of the United States has "simply expressed a curiosity" about whether he can pardon himself and his children, whom he inappropriately elevated to key roles in his campaign and/or administration, because they have definitely broken laws and thus may need to be pardoned if the Special Counsel, who was appointed because that president's Attorney General is also a corrupt liar, finds out about their lawbreaking in the course of his investigation, which just expanded to include said president's personal business dealings.

You know. Normal stuff.
Other advisers said the president is also irritated by the notion that Mueller's probe could reach into his and his family's finances.

Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face. His primary frustration centers on why allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia should spread into scrutinizing many years of Trump dealmaking. He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.
There are a number of reasons Trump is "disturbed" at the thought of his tax returns being scrutinized, from the possibility of embarrassment if they reveal Trump is nowhere as wealthy as he has claimed, which is pathetic but relatively harmless, to the possibility of being exposed as having had business dealings with Russia (or individual Russians), despite having repeatedly claimed he does not, which could be a bigger problem, given the raison d'être of Mueller's probe.

There's some reason, after all, that Trump defiantly refused to disclose his tax returns, in breach of common practice, during the presidential election. He has stubbornly resisted financial transparency, and Mueller's scrutiny is certain to reveal precisely why.

So naturally Trump's legal team is going on the offense, trying to discredit Mueller as being compromised by conflicts of interest and accusing him of violating the limited scope of his investigation.
"The fact is that the president is concerned about conflicts that exist within the special counsel's office and any changes in the scope of the investigation," [one of Trump's attorneys, Jay] Sekulow said. "The scope is going to have to stay within his mandate. If there's drifting, we're going to object."

Sekulow cited Bloomberg News reports that Mueller is scrutinizing some of Trump's business dealings, including with a Russian oligarch who purchased a Palm Beach mansion from Trump for $95 million in 2008.

"They're talking about real estate transactions in Palm Beach several years ago," Sekulow said. "In our view, this is far outside the scope of a legitimate investigation."
Except it's not outside the scope of a legitimate investigation — because that Russian oligarch, Dmitry Rybolovlev, purchased the estate from Trump for two-and-a-half times what Trump paid for it two years earlier, which looks exactly like what happens in real estate money laundering schemes.

That doesn't mean it was a money laundering transaction, but it looks enough like it could be that it warrants investigation, especially given that Mueller is investigating collusion and thus must examine any potential evidence of quid pro quo.

Recall what Trump just said on the investigation to the New York Times: "By the way, I would say, I don't — I don't — I mean, it's possible there's a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don't make money from Russia. In fact, I put out a letter saying that I don't make — from one of the most highly respected law firms, accounting firms. I don't have buildings in Russia. They said I own buildings in Russia. I don't. They said I made money from Russia. I don't. It's not my thing. I don't, I don't do that. Over the years, I've looked at maybe doing a deal in Russia, but I never did one. Other than I held the Miss Universe pageant there eight, nine years [crosstalk]."

Being that Trump is known to be a profligate liar, who tells "big lies, needless lies, above all else unrelenting lies," it's just as likely and maybe more so that those words were actually another confession, masquerading as another denial.

Mueller has every reason to investigate Trump, his family, and his associates, in excruciating detail. And the fact that he does is precisely why Trump is "curious" about the means he has to stop him.

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Republicans Are "Dismayed" Again. Oh.

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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 DesertRose: "If you enjoy reading, do you have a 'comfort book' or several? What is it/are they? One of mine is Pamela Dean's Tam Lin, which got me through my degree, because the main character is an English major as I was, and re-reading it helped lift my spirits and remind me why I was doing what I was doing."

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Throwback Thursdays

image of me standing in a road, holding a CD, on an Edinburgh street
Edinburgh, 2001.

In the photo, I'm holding a Clann an Drumma CD, which I'd just purchased after seeing the band perform at the Scott Monument. I'm standing on the street leading into the housing estate at which Iain lived at the time.

[Please share your own throwback pix in comments. Just make sure the pix are just of you and/or you have consent to post from other living people in the pic. And please note that they don't have to be pictures from childhood, especially since childhood pix might be difficult for people who come from abusive backgrounds or have transitioned or lots of other reasons. It can be a picture from last week, if that's what works for you. And of course no one should feel obliged to share a picture at all! Only if it's fun!]

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The Republican Party Has Abandoned All Pretense of Democratic Governance

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Rebecca Shabad at CBS News: Senate GOP eyes Tuesday for Health Care Vote, But Exact Plan up in the Air.

Calling the plan "up in the air" is far too kind. Republican Senate leadership straight-up don't want potential objectors in their caucus to see the bill before the vote, so they don't know what they're voting on and thus can't mount substantive objections.

If you imagine that's hyperbole, I assure you it is not:

Senate GOP leaders are eyeing Tuesday for a health care vote, but no one knows yet which proposal will be voted on.

Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said the first vote will be on the House-passed health care bill from May just to open up debate and the amendment process.

"The motion to proceed will be just to get on the House bill and the substitute [amendment] will be, you know it'll be a judgment call the leader will make, at some point between now and Tuesday," Thune told reporters.

Asked if the substitute amendment would be the repeal only plan, Thune said, "It could be that, or the other," referring to the repeal and replace plan.

"Who knows?" he shrugged as the doors of his elevator closed.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Thursday that 50 people are ultimately going to decide whether there's an "outcome" in the end.

"Any three people can kill the bill at the end if they're not satisfied," he said.

But when asked if senators would want to know the plan beforehand, Cornyn said, "Yeah, but it's a luxury we don't have."
Knowing what they're voting on isn't a luxury in any normal democratic process. It is not unusual that federal legislators don't have time to read bills in their entirety (which is bad enough), but it's unheard of that they wouldn't even know the basic details — and most bills aren't as significant as a "healthcare" reform that will affect 1/6th of the United States economy.

Republicans just refuse to slow down the process to give senators the "luxury" of knowing what's in the bill before the vote, because they know their proposal will be such garbage that even some Republicans won't reflexively vote for it.

And instead of making the bill better, they are just making the process of passing it worse, because the objective is to get a win as fast as possible.

A win for them, that is. A loss for all the rest of us.

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Shaker Gourmet

Whatcha been cooking up in your kitchen lately, Shakers?

Share your favorite recipes, solicit good recipes, share recipes you've recently tried, want to try, are trying to perfect, whatever! Whether they're your own creation, or something you found elsewhere, share away.

Also welcome: Recipes you've seen recently that you'd love to try, but haven't yet!

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Deplorables Regret Their Deplorable Vote

Twelve percent of them do, anyway: "About one in eight people who voted for [Donald] Trump said they are not sure they would do so again after witnessing Trump's tumultuous first six months in office, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll of 2016 voters."

There is nothing that Trump has done so far that wasn't entirely predictable, no behavior he's demonstrated that wasn't on full display during the campaign, no repulsive attribute or lack of qualification and competency that he had not revealed before Election Day.

So what's changed?

They didn't think he'd come after the undocumented immigrants in their families? They didn't think he'd come after the Muslims in their communities? They didn't think he'd take away their healthcare?

He was just supposed to get rid of all the bad swarthy folks, not the "good ones" they know — the exceptions. He was just supposed to take away the healthcare from the moochers on Obamacare, not the upstanding citizens on the Affordable Care Act.

They're mad that their bigot king isn't making exceptions for them.

The people who cast their votes for a conman who made them feel special are now feeling betrayed at the discovery that they're not special to him at all. Not even a little.

Whoooooooooooops.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat curled up asleep on a white chair

At first glance, you may think this is another rare image of Olivia not being naughty — but that's only because you didn't know that she's curled up asleep in my desk chair, from which I walked away for maybe two whole minutes to use the bathroom, lol. IRREPRESSIBLE SCAMP!

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 182

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

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

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

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: Trump Hands Putin Another Gift and On Trump's Latest Interview with the NYT.

REMINDER: KEEP CALLING YOUR SENATORS TO TELL THEM TO VOTE NO ON REPEALING THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT.

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Laura Litvan, Steven T. Dennis, and Shannon Pettypiece at Bloomberg: Trump Urges Senate GOP to Delay Recess as Health Talks Revived. "Donald Trump told Senate Republicans Wednesday they should stay in Washington until they repeal Obamacare, sparking renewed negotiations just two days after GOP efforts to enact a new health-care law collapsed. A group of about 20 Republican senators met at the Capitol Wednesday night with White House officials, including Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, to hash out possible paths forward, including reviving a measure proposed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell."

I'm going to say this one more time: DO NOT BELIEVE REPORTS THAT THE REPEAL IS DEAD. How many times now have we heard that Republican healthcare reform is "dead"? We heard it when the House bill failed the first time — only for them to rally and pass a bill. We heard it when the Senate bill failed the first time — only for them to rally and try a second time. We heard it after the Senate bill failed the second time — and now here they are rallying again. If they can't replace it, they'll just repeal it. THIS IS NOT OVER. Not even close.

Kyle Cheney and Rachael Bade at Politico: Freedom Caucus to Try to Force Vote on Obamacare Repeal. "House conservatives are launching a late effort to force their colleagues to vote on an outright repeal of Obamacare. Leaders of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus on Wednesday evening will jump-start a process intended to force the measure — a mirror of the 2015 repeal proposal that President Barack Obama vetoed — to the floor as early as September."

See? And trust that they will stoop to levels we haven't even begun to contemplate in order to take away people's healthcare.

To wit: Sam Stein at the Daily Beast: Team Trump Used Obamacare Money to Run PR Effort Against It. "The Trump administration has spent taxpayer money meant to encourage enrollment in the Affordable Care Act on a public relations campaign aimed at methodically strangling it. ...'I'm on a daily basis horrified by leaders at the Department of Health and Human Services who seem intent on taking healthcare away from the constituents they are supposed to serve,' former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an interview with The Daily Beast." Disgusting behavior.

In service of a disgusting objective:


* * *


Welp! This is about to get very interesting, for a whole lot of reasons, not least of which is that Trump might now try to fire Mueller. Fucking hell.

* * *

CBS/AP: Russia Says Talks Underway on Joint U.S. Cybersecurity Unit. "A Russian official was quoted by the country's government-run media on Thursday as saying Moscow and the U.S. government were in talks about establishing a joint cybersecurity unit — a prospect first raised, and then seemingly dismissed by [Donald] Trump after he met with Vladimir Putin. The RIA news agency said Russia's special envoy on cybersecurity Andrey Krutskikh confirmed that talks were underway to create a bilateral working group, and acknowledging that it could create a 'problem' for [Donald] Trump. Krutskikh was quoted as saying, 'there is no need to dramatize the working process, it is undoubtedly difficult, taking into account the current American realities, but this is a problem rather of the U.S. administration, not ours.'" WOW.


Margaret Hartmann at NY Mag: Paul Manafort Owed Millions to Pro-Russia Interests. "Before becoming Donald Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort owed as much as $17 million to pro-Russia interests, according to financial records from Cyprus. ...One of the more interesting debts is $7.8 million owed to Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to Russian president Vladimir Putin. Deripaska has previously claimed that Manafort and his associates owed him $19 million for a failed investment in a Ukrainian TV company." The question is: Did Manafort repay those debts by selling the White House? (Spoiler alert: Probably!)


Allegra Kirkland at TPM: Not Deep Throat: The Trump Scandal Figure Who's Too Open for His Own Good. "[Carter Page] is one of a handful of former Trump campaign hands reported to be under federal scrutiny for his ties to Russia... Page is not concerned about the prospect of legal consequences for his foreign contacts. 'There's nothing to hide,' Page said, reiterating that he sat for over 10 hours of interviews with FBI agents without a lawyer present and is relying on unnamed 'volunteers' for legal advice." This fucking guy.

* * *

Trump is slowly starting to fill a few of the multitudinous vacancies in his administration, and the choices are exactly what you'd expect.

Rebecca Kheel at the Hill: Trump to Nominate Raytheon Lobbyist for Army Secretary.

Juliet Eilperin and Chris Mooney at the Washington Post: Trump Just Nominated a Climate Change Skeptic to USDA's Top Science Post.

Maureen Groppe at the Indianapolis Star: [CN: video may autoplay] Trump Picks Indiana Agriculture Director Ted McKinney for USDA Post.


Everything is fine.

* * *

Oh, hey, here's a pretty good reason why everything is not fucking fine: The Republican-controlled legislative branch refuses to provide checks and balances on the president, and Trump is busily reshaping the judiciary so that they won't, while also waging war on the press so that they can't, either.

LEGISLATIVE BRANCH — Burgess Everett and Rachael Bade at Politico: Republicans Lament an Agenda in 'Quicksand'. "'I don't even pay any attention to what is going on with the administration because I don't care. They're a distraction. The family is a distraction, the president is a distraction,' complained Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho). 'At first, it was 'Well yeah, this is the guy we elected. He'll learn, he'll learn.' And you just don't see that happening.'" So ignore him, rather than hold him accountable? Cool.

JUDICIAL BRANCH — Ronald A. Klain at the Washington Post: The One Area Where Trump Has Been Wildly Successful. "[While Donald] Trump is incompetent at countless aspects of his job, he is proving wildly successful in one respect: naming youthful conservative nominees to the federal bench in record-setting numbers. ...He not only put Neil M. Gorsuch in the Supreme Court vacancy created by Merrick Garland's blocked confirmation, but he also selected 27 lower-court judges as of mid-July. Twenty-seven! That's three times Obama's total and more than double the totals of Reagan, Bush 41 and Clinton — combined. For the Courts of Appeals — the final authority for 95 percent of federal cases — no president before Trump named more than three judges whose nominations were processed in his first six months; Trump has named nine. Trump is on pace to more than double the number of federal judges nominated by any president in his first year."


(As you may recall, I've been frantically and repeatedly raising the alarm about Trump's 100 federal court vacancies for quite some time. Also: I would stake a fuckload of pennies on Pence running the court appointments, which means that this problem isn't even solved if Trump is removed from office.)

PRESS — [CN: Video may autoplay at link] Jacqueline Alemany at CBS News: For Details of Trump's Meetings, Foreign Governments Fill in the Blanks. "When news broke that [Donald] Trump had chatted with Russia President Vladimir Putin in a previously undisclosed meeting for an hour at the G-20 summit in Germany, it was another reminder that much of the information about the president's whereabouts and policymaking comes from sources outside the White House. ...Since Mr. Trump took office in January, White House reporters — and by extension the American public — have on more than this occasion received more detailed information about the president's conversations and whereabouts from foreign governments rather than from official channels in Washington."

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There is literally so much awful news today, I feel like I've barely begun to scratch the service, but I've got to draw a line under it somewhere, so I can get it posted. As always, please crowdsource the resistance and share what you've been reading that I missed!

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

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"But What Is Harm?"

[Content Note: Discussion of assisted death.]

Although this piece in the Guardian by Haider Javed Warraich has an absolutely dreadful headline, it is a very good piece on the history of right-to-die law and the current state of the assisted death debate in the United States.

I definitely recommend it, especially if you are, like me, someone who would like to have this legal choice available, when and if we need it.

[Note: Although discussions of right-to-die laws routinely refer to patients' deaths as "physician assisted suicide," right-to-die laws are really not about suicide, which is the intentional taking of one's own life. Terminally ill people's lives are already being taken by disease; they are just being given control of the "when" of their deaths. Please bear that distinction in mind in this thread and take care not to conflate "suicide" with assisted death in comments.]

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On Trump's Latest Interview with the NYT

So, Donald Trump did another interview with the New York Times, extended excerpts from which [Content Note: video may autoplay at link] have been published for all of us to read and build core strength by repeatedly recoiling in horror.

The major pull item from the interview has been [CN: video may autoplay] Trump complaining about Attorney General Jeff Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation: "Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else."

Yikes. Walter Schaub, who recently resigned as Director of the Office of Government Ethics, said bluntly: "That's an absolutely outrageous statement for the president to have made." Yup. And it was hardly the only outrageous statement he made regarding the Russia investigation: Trump "also accused James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director he fired in May, of trying to leverage a dossier of compromising material to keep his job. Mr. Trump criticized both the acting F.B.I. director who has been filling in since Mr. Comey's dismissal and the deputy attorney general who recommended it. And he took on Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel now leading the investigation into Russian meddling in last year's election," warning "investigators against delving into matters too far afield from Russia."

All of which constitutes just a small percentage of the alarming content of the far-ranging interview, during which he also referred once again to his "enemies" in the press and described his granddaughter (who just happened to stroll in during the interview to say "I love you, Grandpa" in Chinese) as having "good, smart genes."

Following are just a few other quotes which piqued my interest for various reasons (and, yes, all of these are real):

On healthcare.

"So pre-existing conditions are a tough deal. Because you are basically saying from the moment the insurance, you're 21 years old, you start working and you're paying $12 a year for insurance, and by the time you're 70, you get a nice plan. Here's something where you walk up and say, 'I want my insurance.' It's a very tough deal, but it is something that we're doing a good job of."

"I want to either get it done or not get it done. If we don't get it done, we are going to watch Obamacare go down the tubes, and we'll blame the Democrats."

"This health care is a tough deal. I said it from the beginning. No. 1, you know, a lot of the papers were saying — actually, these guys couldn't believe it, how much I know about it. I know a lot about health care. [garbled]"

On his travels abroad.

"I have had the best reviews on foreign land. So I go to Poland and make a speech. Enemies of mine in the media, enemies of mine are saying it was the greatest speech ever made on foreign soil by a president."

"[French President Emmanuel Macron]'s a great guy. Smart. Strong. Loves holding my hand. People don't realize he loves holding my hand. And that's good, as far as that goes. I mean, really. He's a very good person. And a tough guy, but look, he has to be. I think he is going to be a terrific president of France. But he does love holding my hand."

"It was a two-hour parade. They had so many different zones. Maybe 100,000 different uniforms, different divisions, different bands. Then we had the retired, the older, the ones who were badly injured. The whole thing, it was an incredible thing."

"We had dinner at the Eiffel Tower, and the bottom of the Eiffel Tower looked like they could have never had a bigger celebration ever in the history of the Eiffel Tower. I mean, there were thousands and thousands of people, 'cause they heard we were having dinner."

On...history?

"Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad. But I asked that. So I asked the president, so what about Napoleon? He said: 'No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.' [garbled] The street grid, the way they work, you know, the spokes. He did so many things even beyond. And his one problem is he didn't go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death. How many times has Russia been saved by the weather? [garbled] Same thing happened to Hitler. Not for that reason, though. Hitler wanted to consolidate. He was all set to walk in. But he wanted to consolidate, and it went and dropped to 35 degrees below zero, and that was the end of that army. But the Russians have great fighters in the cold. They use the cold to their advantage. I mean, they've won five wars where the armies that went against them froze to death. [crosstalk] It's pretty amazing. So, we're having a good time. The economy is doing great."

On the economy.

"I've given the farmers back their farms. I've given the builders back their land to build houses and to build other things."

"Dodd-Frank is going to be, you know, modified, and again, I want rules and regulations. But you don't want to choke, right? People can't get loans to buy a pizza parlor."

On his undisclosed meeting with Putin at the G20.

"We talked about Russian adoption. Yeah. I always found that interesting. Because, you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don [Jr.] had in that meeting. As I've said — most other people, you know, when they call up and say, 'By the way, we have information on your opponent,' I think most politicians — I was just with a lot of people, they said [inaudible], 'Who wouldn't have taken a meeting like that?'"

On foreign policy.

"Crimea was gone during the Obama administration, and he gave, he allowed it to get away. You know, he can talk tough all he wants, in the meantime he talked tough to North Korea. And he didn't actually. He didn't talk tough to North Korea. You know, we have a big problem with North Korea. Big. Big, big. You look at all of the things, you look at the line in the sand. The red line in the sand in Syria. He didn't do the shot. I did the shot."

On Jeff Sessions' recusal.

"Well, Sessions should have never recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else. ...So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, 'Thanks, Jeff, but I can't, you know, I'm not going to take you.' It's extremely unfair, and that's a mild word, to the president."

"Yeah, what Jeff Sessions did was he recused himself right after, right after he became attorney general. And I said, 'Why didn't you tell me this before?' I would have — then I said, 'Who's your deputy?' So his deputy he hardly knew, and that's Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, who is from Baltimore. There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any. So, he's from Baltimore."

On Bob Mueller's investigation.

"By the way, I would say, I don't — I don't — I mean, it's possible there's a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don't make money from Russia. In fact, I put out a letter saying that I don't make — from one of the most highly respected law firms, accounting firms. I don't have buildings in Russia. They said I own buildings in Russia. I don't. They said I made money from Russia. I don't. It's not my thing. I don't, I don't do that. Over the years, I've looked at maybe doing a deal in Russia, but I never did one. Other than I held the Miss Universe pageant there eight, nine years [crosstalk]."

Oh.

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