Joe Biden, What Are You Even Doing?

[Content Note: Toxic masculinity; victim-blaming; rape culture; fat hatred. Video may autoplay at link.]

Joe Biden was never my favorite politician, to put it politely. But Maude Almighty is the former veep working overtime to make me loathe him even more than I already did.

To wit, via Karma Allen at ABC News: Biden Says He Would Have 'Beat the Hell out' of Trump in High School for Disrespecting Women.


Leaving aside the cringe-inducing absurdity of a 75-year-old man talking about beating up a 71-year-old man when they were in high school six decades ago, this is toxic masculinity in its chivalrous iteration: Using violence to defend women's "honor" is not feminist and it's not heroic. It's chauvinist trash.

Former Vice President Joe Biden took fresh jabs at [Donald] Trump on Tuesday while speaking at an anti-sexual assault rally, telling students at the University of Miami that he probably would have "beat the hell out" of Trump if they'd attended school together.

"A guy who ended up becoming our national leader said, 'I can grab a woman anywhere and she likes it,'" Biden said. "They asked me if I'd like to debate this gentleman, and I said 'no.' I said, 'If we were in high school, I'd take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.'"
First of all, the solution to abuse is never more abuse. Secondly, Joe Biden was once face-to-face with a man who abused multiple women, and not only did he not "beat the hell out of" Clarence Thomas, but he was shitty to Anita Hill and refused to call three other witnesses who were prepared to make their own allegations against Thomas.

Women don't need men to beat up other men to defend us. We do, however, need powerful legislators to hold abusive men to account and ensure they don't, for instance, get a lifetime appointment to a court which empowers them to make decisions about our lives.

Biden failed that test. Big time. And he doesn't appear to have learned any lessons from that spectacular failure.

He went on to make what appears to be a defense of the narrative that popular guys beating up creepy losers is a workable rape prevention strategy, as if attractive athletes don't abuse women, and naturally threw in some fat hatred to boot:
"I've been in a lot of locker rooms my whole life," Biden continued. "I'm a pretty damn good athlete. Any guy that talked that way was usually the fattest, ugliest S.O.B. in the room."

And if that weren't enough, Biden went on to admonish survivors that we have a responsibility to report being raped, as part of rape prevention:
"It's not just on the men. It's on you women, as well, on campus," Biden said. "All the studies show that 95 percent of young women who are abused — the first person they tell is their roommate, their friend, someone on campus. You've got to inform yourself as to what facilities are available, what help is available, not just empathize, hug and say, 'I'm so sorry.' You have an obligation to be informed."
Nope. Let me say that again: NOOOOOOOOOPE.

There are a lot of things that discourage survivors from reporting. Among them is men publicly fantasizing about violent retribution against rapists, which can leave survivors reluctant to report for fear of furthering a cycle of violence. Many, many survivors neither appreciate nor value men threatening other men ostensibly on our behalf.

That Biden doesn't understand that makes him untrustworthy. That he failed to hold a sexual harasser accountable when it mattered makes him unreliable. And that he thinks it's hip to wax tough about traveling back in time to beat up Donald Trump in high school makes him a fucking joke.

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Trump Disgorges More Contempt for the Rule of Law — and the Media Continues to Fail Us

If you can't view the embedded screencapped tweets authored by Donald Trump, they read: (1) "'Special Council is told to find crimes, whether a crime exists or not. I was opposed to the selection of Mueller to be Special Council. I am still opposed to it. I think President Trump was right when he said there never should have been a Special Council appointed because..... (2) ...there was no probable cause for believing that there was any crime, collusion or otherwise, or obstruction of justice!' So stated by Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz."

* * *

This is the President of the United States, who is under investigation for collusion with a foreign adversary, showing undiluted contempt for the rule of law and suggesting that he is, in fact, above the law. These are the words of an unapologetic authoritarian.

And yet, it will not be covered that way. It will be reported by the political press as Trump "going on the offense against Mueller" or "taking on Mueller" or some variation thereof, as if he isn't the president and this is all happening in a vacuum where the power differential between a president and literally everyone else in the country, including a special counsel, doesn't matter; as if Trump isn't under investigation for trying to obstruct this very investigation; as if the very future of our democracy isn't at stake, specifically because Trump has repeatedly indicating he's willing to cause a Constitutional crisis if he's cornered; as if it isn't manifestly apparent by now, as it has always been, that Trump cares about himself more than he cares about the entire nation.

Meanwhile, here is CNN anchor Jake Tapper responding to Trump calling Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his victory by engaging in some breathtakingly mendacious bothsiderism:

We can have a good faith debate about whether Obama should have made that call. But, either way, it's not the same thing by a country mile.

And pretending that it is the same, even remotely, is to normalize Trump's presidency and thus to abet his authoritarianism. On a day, like every day, in which he endeavors to undermine our laws, norms, and very democracy.

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The Austin Bomber Has Been Stopped

[Content Note: Terrorism; eliminationist violence; self-harm.]

After five bombings around or destined for Austin, the suspect in the bombings was identified by federal agents from surveillance footage at FedEx, who then obtained a search warrant which in turn led them to receipts for bombmaking supplies and a suspicious Google search history. The suspect was located using cell phone data, was pursued by police, and then detonated an explosive inside his vehicle on the shoulder of a highway, killing himself and causing minor injuries to a SWAT team officer.

Although I never hope for or celebrate anyone's death, I am hugely relieved for the residents of Austin that this horrific period of terror is (presumably) over. Authorities have cautioned more packages may yet be undetonated, and naturally investigators will have to determine if the deceased suspect was working alone.

As most of us probably assumed, given the nature of the attacks and the intended victims of the early bombings, the suspect was a white man, whose identity has not been disclosed.

Authorities had tracked the suspect — a 24-year-old white man — to a hotel in Round Rock, a city in the Austin metropolitan area, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said at a news conference.

They tracked his vehicle until he pulled over on Interstate 35 and "the suspect detonated a bomb inside the vehicle, knocking one of our SWAT officers back," Manley said, adding that the officer sustained minor injuries.

Another member of the SWAT team fired and, as is standard practice, has been placed on administrative duty while the investigation continues, Manley said.

"The suspect is deceased and has significant injuries from a blast that occurred from detonating a bomb inside his vehicle," he added.

...Even though the suspect is dead, officials warned locals to keep on the lookout for other possible explosives.

"This is the culmination of three very long weeks for our community," Manley said. "We don't know where the suspect has spent his last 24 hours, and therefore we still need to remain vigilant to ensure no other packages or devices have been left in the community."

ATF Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski told reporters that officials were "concerned that there may still be other devices out there."
I'm sure the investigation will tell us something more about the motive of this terrorist, who will almost certainly continue to not be called a terrorist by the Trump administration.

UPDATE: Authorities have released the identity of the deceased bombing suspect: Pflugerville resident Mark A. Conditt, who was 23, not 24 as originally reported.

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Open Thread

image of a red couch

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

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Dreadful Invalid: "What is your real-life mundane super power (for instance, some people rarely get sick, others have perfect pitch, and other small-and-unsual-but-handy things like that)?"

I can float straight up and down in water like a cork, without moving.

It's just because I have giant boobs and the calm to trust that I won't sink no matter how still I am, but it's still pretty neat.

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I Write Letters

[Content Note: Tone policing; rape culture.]

Dear Drew Barrymore:

I hope you appreciate the rich, rich irony that your vile tone policing of survivors of sexual harassment and assault for being too angry made me quite angry.

Have a terrible fucking day.

No Love,

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Cambridge Analytica: Killing Global Democracy for Fun and Profit, Part 2

Yesterday, I shared part one of Channel 4's appalling exposé on Cambridge Analytica, which included undercover footage of Cambridge executives bragging about their complex strategies for subverting democracy around the world.

Channel 4 has now released part two of their investigation, which reveals that Cambridge Analytica claims to have run the entirety of Donald Trump's digital campaign, and, as noted in today's We Resist thread, may have broken U.S. election law in the process.

Again, the entire 17-minute video is worth your time to watch. If I am able to locate a transcript, I will post the link. In the meantime, you can read Channel 4's summary here: "Exposed: Undercover Secrets of Trump's Data Firm."

At the link, Channel 4 notes: "As the report went on air, the firm announced it has suspended chief executive Alexander Nix, pending a full investigation."

Like this is news to them. Good grief. What deeply mendacious scoundrels.

Two additional notes:

1. Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff wants Nix to testify to the House Intelligence Committee about all of this.

2. Nix has already testified once before:
Last year, the House Intelligence Committee spoke with Wylie's former boss Alexander Nix — the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica — by videoconference, as Nix is located in London.

Schiff stressed in his invitation to Wylie that his accounts of Cambridge Analytica's data operations "raise serious questions about the veracity of the testimony" Nix gave to the committee.
So, to be clear: The whistleblower Wylie has raised new questions about Cambridge Analytica's role in the 2016 election, and whether the firm broke U.S. election law while working for Donald Trump's campaign, which has prompted Schiff to want to question Nix for a second time, given concerns that he might have lied to the committee.

Fucking hell.

It's still considered bad taste to say plainly that the sitting United States president is an enemy of democracy, but he sure had a lot of help from people who hate democracy: Cambridge Analytica, whose entire business is based on subverting the democratic process; Vladimir Putin, whose hostility toward democracy is legendary (which is as succinctly as I can sum his vast autocratic resume); and, of course, the entire Republican Party, who have been endeavoring to undermine U.S. democracy for decades, as they can't win nationally on the merits of their garbage policies, so have had to resort to cheating.

Donald Trump keeps bad company for a person who claims to value democracy.

I suspect, friends, that's because he doesn't.

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Fat Fashion

This is your semi-regular thread in which fat women can share pix, make recommendations for clothes they love, ask questions of other fat women about where to locate certain plus-size items, share info about sales, talk about what jeans cut at what retailer best fits their body shapes, discuss how to accessorize neutral colored suits, share stories of going bare-armed for the first time, brag about a cool fashion moment, whatever.

* * *

In one of my selfies from the past two weeks, I was wearing Eloquii's Opposing Striped Knit Dress, which has quickly become one of my favorite pieces. In the photo below, which Iain took, you can see the colored stripes a bit better than in my selfie.

image of me standing in our entryway in a colorfully striped dress

The colors of the Miz Mooz boots with which I paired the dress still aren't really visible in that shot, either, so below is a pic of just the boots.

image of green ankle boots with purple trim

I adore the dress so much — and since I work at home, I will literally wear it anywhere, lol. In the past three weeks, I've worn it to dinner twice, to therapy, and to the gym!

I have been on a major WEAR ALL THE COLORS kick lately, which I don't see ending anytime soon, and this dress has been absolutely perfect for my sudden mega-colorful phase.

Anyway! As always, all subjects related to fat fashion are on topic, but if you want a topic for discussion: What do you wear when you want to feel bright and colorful, or is that how you always dress, or is that instinct completely foreign to you altogether?

Have at it in comments! Please remember to make fat women of all sizes, especially women who find themselves regularly sizing out of standard plus-size lines, welcome in this conversation, and pass no judgment on fat women who want to and/or feel obliged, for any reason, to conform to beauty standards. And please make sure if you're soliciting advice, you make it clear you're seeking suggestions—and please be considerate not to offer unsolicited advice. Sometimes people just need to complain and want solidarity, not solutions.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat cuddling with a plushy bunny

I walked into the room to find Sophie cuddling with the plushy bunny (a favorite toy of all the furry residents), and she just looked so freaking tiny and cute, like she was clinging to a security blanket to deal with being impossibly small in an impossibly big world.

She only looks that way, though, lol. In reality, she is a haughty little boss who doesn't take any shit from anyone!

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 425

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.

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Earlier today by me: Fifth Bomb Destined for Austin Injures Another Person and Have I Mentioned the Media Is Failing Us? and Bernie Sanders, What Are You Even Doing This Time?

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

My contempt for this president cannot be measured on a scale fathomable by human intellect. What a truly disgusting person he is.


(⬆️ That was written with disdain, in case it wasn't obvious.)

* * *

[Content Note: Gun violence; death; injury] AP/Guardian: Shooter Dead and Two Injured after Maryland High School Shooting. "Sheriff Tim Cameron of St Mary's county told a news conference the shooter and the officer both fired a round and it was not known if the officer killed the suspect. 'When the shooting took place,' Cameron said, 'our school resource officer, who was stationed inside the school, was alerted to the event and the shots being fired. He pursued the shooter and engaged the shooter, during which that engagement he fired a round at the shooter. Simultaneously the shooter fired a round as well. So, in the hours to come, in the days to come, through a detailed investigation, we will be able to determine if our SRO's round struck the shooter.' The male student was armed with a handgun, Cameron said. A female student and a male student were wounded. All three were transported to hospitals, where the shooter died. The school resource officer was not hurt."

It sounds a lot like the shooter shot at a specific girl and boy before turning the gun on himself. Fucking hell.

I hope the two students who were shot are able to recover quickly and totally from their physical injuries and have access to resources they need to heal from the trauma. I hope everyone else at the school does, too, including the safety officer.

* * *

Carole Cadwalladr and Emma Graham-Harrison at the Guardian: Staff Claim Cambridge Analytica Ignored U.S. Ban on Foreigners Working on Elections. "The company's responsibilities under U.S. law were laid out in a lawyer's memo to the company's vice-president, Steve Bannon, British CEO Alexander Nix, and Rebekah Mercer, daughter of billionaire owner Robert Mercer, in July 2014. It made it clear that most senior and mid-level positions involving strategy, planning, fundraising, or campaigning needed to be filled by US citizens. 'Any decision maker must be a U.S. citizen or green card holder,' the memo, seen by the Observer, warned. It also provided a brief legal history of cases involving foreign involvement in election campaigns, drawn up by a lawyer at the firm founded by former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. 'To the extent you are aware of foreign nationals providing services, including polling and marketing, it would appear that unless it is being done through U.S. citizens, or foreign nationals with green cards, the activity would violate the law.'"

That's a pretty big deal, to put it mildly. Or it would be, on another timeline in which we didn't have a traitor as a president and a goddamn sycophantic clown running the Justice Department.

Special Counsel Bob Mueller may have something to say about that, but the Republicans in Congress will crawl all over each other trying to be first to ignore it.

In related news...

Jamie Ross at the Daily Beast: 'Astonishing' Facebook Intervention Could Have Compromised Cambridge Analytica Evidence, Says U.K. "Britain's information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, confirmed she was applying to the courts for a warrant to search Cambridge Analytica's London offices and said Tuesday morning that she has been left frustrated by the company's reluctance to cooperate with her investigation. Fears have also been raised that the investigation may have been compromised by the presence of cybersecurity consultants from Stroz Friedberg — the company hired by Facebook to audit Cambridge Analytica on its behalf — who were in the London offices on Monday evening, until they were asked to leave by the information commissioner."

Elizabeth Dwoskin and Tony Romm at the Washington Post: Facebook's Rules for Accessing User Data Lured More Than Just Cambridge Analytica.
Cambridge Analytica — unlike other firms that access Facebook's user data — broke Facebook's rules by obtaining the data under the pretense of academic use. But experts familiar with Facebook's systems and policies say that the greater problem was that the rules for accessing the social network's information trove were so loose in the first place.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in 2007 invited outside developers to build their businesses off Facebook's data, giving them ready access to the friend lists, "likes," and affinities that connect millions of Facebook users. Practically any engineer who could persuade a Facebook user to download an app or to sign into a website using Facebook's popular 'log-in through Facebook' feature would have been able to access not only the profile, behavior, and location of that Facebook user but also that of all the user's Facebook friends, developers said.
[CN: Moving GIF at link] Casey Newton at the Verge: Facebook Is Losing Control of the Narrative — and Maybe the Platform. "Facebook's lack of enforcement in the face of bad actors, coupled with misuse of its platform on a grand scale, have drawn outrage around the globe. And while Cambridge Analytica is among the most prominent examples to date of how Facebook can be misused, it belongs to a long and growing list. In March alone: Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp were forced to shut down temporarily in Sri Lanka after inflammatory messages posted to the service incited mob violence against the country's Muslim minority; United Nations investigators blamed Facebook for spreading hate speech that incited violence against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar; the Facebook search bar briefly auto-filled its search bar with suggestions for porn; a far-right Italian politician credited Facebook with his party's surprising electoral victory, after reports that Russian state media used the platform to promote stories suggesting Italy faced an immigration crisis; Facebook banned far-right group Britain First, which had more than 2 million followers, for inciting violence against minorities; and Facebook's chief security officer is quitting after reportedly arguing too forcefully that the company should investigate and disclose Russian activity on the platform."

Jesus fucking Jones.

* * *

Robert Costa and Carol D. Leonnig at the Washington Post: Trump Legal Team Seeks to Add Star GOP Attorney Theodore B. Olson. "Trump's legal team has reached out to Theodore B. Olson, one of the country's most high-profile and seasoned litigators, to join forces amid mounting challenges in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to three people familiar with the discussions. ...Olson, 77, who served as solicitor general in the George W. Bush administration and has long been considered a legal superstar, would bring deeper ties to the Justice Department and more experience on landmark cases than any of Trump's current lawyers. Olson is said to be reviewing the offer while weighing potential conflicts with his clients at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he is a partner, one person close to him said." Oh.

(Honestly, they tried to get Olson before and he refused, so I think this report may be nothing more than an attempt by the Trump team to try to convince him to come aboard. Good luck! I'm sharing it nonetheless because, if Olson did join the team, it would be big news.)

Jenna McLaughlin at CNN: A Family Affair: Susan Pompeo's Active Role Raising Debate within the CIA. (Is that "debate" whether the United States has officially become a banana republic now, or...?) "Susan Pompeo, wife of Central Intelligence Agency chief Mike Pompeo, has taken on an unusually active role for a CIA spouse in agency affairs since he started the job in January 2017, regularly spending her days at the agency, traveling with her husband, and attending agency social events — seven sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN. ...While Pompeo does not technically have her own office, she frequents the seventh floor director's suite at CIA's campus in Langley, Virginia, where CIA employees often 'assist Mrs. Pompeo in various ways,' said [CIA spokesperson Ryan] Trapani." Oh.

[CN: Rape culture] Yvette Cabrera at ThinkProgress: Congress Quietly Preserves Ability to Pay Sexual Harassment Settlements with Taxpayer Money. "Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who introduced the bipartisan Congressional Harassment Reform Act last December, said on Monday that House and Senate leadership 'stripped' provisions from the language from the spending bill at the eleventh hour. 'I am appalled that House and Senate leadership removed provisions from the omnibus bill at the last minute that would have finally brought accountability and transparency to Congress's sexual harassment reporting process,' said Gillibrand in a statement released Monday. ...However, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), disputed Gillibrand's account that provisions of the act were on track to be included in the spending bill, according to Politico." Oh.

Darlene Superville at the AP/TPM: Melania Trump to Host Her First Ever Public Event on Cyberbullying. "Melania Trump is hosting executives from major online and social media companies to discuss cyberbullying and internet safety, more than a year after saying that would be her issue as first lady. The meeting Tuesday marks her first public event on the topic, a choice some observers have questioned given that her husband often berates people on Twitter. Amazon, Snap, Facebook, Google, and Twitter are among the companies that are expected to attend the meeting." Oh.

* * *

And finally: I don't really give a fuck that Don Trump Jr. is getting a divorce, and I don't really give a fuck that he had an affair with a singer whom I've never heard of, but I do give some major fucks about getting laughs wherever I can get them these days, so...

Stephen A. Crockett Jr. at the Root: Is Aubrey O'Day's Song "DJT" About Her Affair With Donald Trump Jr.?
While many of us believe that Donald Trump Jr. is just an inbred walking reindeer hoof whose flirting techniques include making bacon jokes about a woman's vagina, and we are right, it turns out that he may still have been quite the ladies' man.

News broke late Monday that Trump Jr. had an affair with former Danity Kane singer Aubrey O'Day during her appearance on season 5 of his father's show Celebrity Apprentice in 2011.

Now, and I really don't know how anyone found this out, O'Day had a song called "DJT" on her 2013 album, Between Two Evils. The song is a "sultry" track in which an unnamed man breaks it to O'Day that there is no way he's leaving her to return to his family.

...Now, let's investigate this further. The song is titled "DJT." Trump Jr.'s full name is Donald John Trump Jr. The song is about a man who loves a woman but can't be with her because he's got another life.

That's it; investigation over. Of course this shit is about Donald John Trump Jr.

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

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Bernie Sanders, What Are You Even Doing This Time?

Last night, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, director Michael Moore, and economist Darrick Hamilton gathered for an online panel discussion of "poverty, the decline of the middle class, and the consolidation of corporate power."

Amana Fontanella-Khan and Lauren Gambino at the Guardian report:

Speaking to the Guardian before the event, Sanders said: "We have to fight Trump every day. But we have to not lose our vision as to where we want to go as a country. We can talk about the disastrous role Russia has played in trying to undermine American democracy. That is enormously important. But we also have to talk about the fact that we have the highest rate of child poverty in any major economy of the world."

...Sanders and Moore both complained about the media's poor coverage of inequality and working people's struggles. Moore said: "You turn on the TV and it's 'Russia, Russia, Russia!'" Sanders interjected: "And don't forget Stormy Daniels!"

Moore continued: "These are all shiny keys to distract us …We should know about the West Virginia strike. What an inspiration that would be. But they don't show this, Bernie, because, what would happen if they did?"
A few thoughts:

1. Does a man who seriously wants to be President of the United States of America expect me to buy the premise that the subversion of (healthy) democracy and outcomes for children are unrelated issues? Because whoooooooooops!

Even in the United States, unequal access to participatory democracy has affects outcomes. That is: Communities who are disproportionately targeted for disenfranchisement from voting, and/or whose votes are disempowered via gerrymandering, have less power to effect changes and enact policy that benefit their communities.

But that's a discussion which requires intersectional analysis beyond class and into the area of "identity politics," which Sanders holds in contempt — even though it's abundantly clear [pdf] that race is even more important than class in the United States for Black and American Indian people, especially boys/men.

2. Russia is a "shiny key to distract us" from what, exactly? Class inequality? Working people's plight? I mean, do these bozos think those things are somehow going to improve if we turn over control of our country to Russia?

I don't understand the argument here — except, of course, inasmuch as calling Russia a "distraction" is itself a distraction from the fact that Sanders' campaign was aided by Russia and the fact that he doesn't want to talk about that.

3. Why is Sanders not angry that Russia fucked with his campaign and his supporters? He has no problem expressing angry about literally everything else, so why not that?

4. Stormy Daniels is also not a "distraction." She is a human being at the center of a serious story about the U.S. president, known to be profoundly corrupt and a confessed serial sex abuser, silencing women using alleged threats of violence and possibly illegal campaign fund payoffs.

Perhaps Sanders hasn't been paying close enough attention to the news, but this is not merely a story about a president who had a consensual affair with an adult film star. It's a story about corruption, misogyny, and ethics. All of which are things that should matter to a sitting senator, who is tasked with holding aforementioned president accountable and who is himself contemplating another run for the presidency.

5. The West Virginia strike was widely covered. Who does it help to pretend that it wasn't?

In other news, "Trump was barely mentioned during the event," but Sanders did manage to once again give Trump wildly undeserved credit on trying to start a trade war:
While Sanders doesn't agree with [Donald] Trump's tariffs, he said that they are a "weapon you can use" to address competitors from low-wage countries. "American workers are put in an extreme disadvantage in that kind of competition," Sanders said, adding: "We have to go broader [than Trump's tariffs]. I have called for the ending of permanent normal trade relations with China and NAFTA. I think trade is a positive thing, but it has to be done in a way that is fair."
Or he could have pointed out that Donald Trump's focus on trade is misplaced altogether, since automation is our future reality, and is a bigger threat than trade imabalances or "competitors from low-wage countries," which a majority of Americans have identified, even if the Senator yet has not.

It continues to be absolutely stunning to me how catastrophically unhelpful Sanders, Moore, and even Warren can be on the subject of class inequality, which is a subject of great importance to me, and to most other progressives, too.

How they continue to fail to see the critical need for intersectional analysis and a robust defense against any subversion of a healthy democracy, from foreign interference to domestic voter suppression, is beyond me.

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Have I Mentioned the Media Is Failing Us?

Oh, why yes, I just mentioned that yesterday. And pretty much every day before that for the last 13 years. So let me just go ahead and mention it fucking again: The media is failing us.

I don't know what else to do except continue to document this sickening enablement of Trump's authoritarian bid. I'm sure not going to ignore it. I'm sure not going to pretend it's tolerable, or even neutral.

This is infuriating. It is irresponsible. It is shameful.

And I am keeping receipts.

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Fifth Bomb Destined for Austin Injures Another Person

[Content Note: Terrorism; eliminationist violence.]

Background: Part One and Part Two.

Following four other explosions in Austin, a package bound for Austin exploded at a FedEx distribution facility near San Antonio this morning. One person was injured, not seriously.

The FBI has agents at the site of the explosion, which comes after a string of bombings in Austin. FBI spokeswoman Michelle Lee says, "We believe that the explosion is likely connected" to those earlier blasts.

...It's the fifth explosion of a device either in Austin or meant to be delivered to the city. Investigators said Monday that a "serial bomber" is behind the attacks, which have killed two people and injured several others.

"Several local news outlets report the package was coming from Austin and being sent to an Austin address," Nadia Hamdan of member station KUT in Austin reports. "The FedEx facility is about an hour southwest of the city."

It seems that Tuesday's explosion was not as dangerous as it might have been had it reached its target.

"[T]he package was moving from an elevated conveyor belt to a lower section when it exploded," reports CBS Austin.

The package "contained shrapnel consisting of nails and pieces of metal, sources said," according to the CBS affiliate.
This is the third different M.O. in the series of bombs: The first three were packages left at residences; the fourth was a roadside bomb; and now a package delivery via a professional delivery service.

The use of FedEx in this case is what took the package out of Austin, even though it originated from an Austin address and was destined for an Austin address. It's possible the bomber never realized that it would have left the city.

Incredibly scary. My thoughts are with you, Austinites. Someone is terrorizing your city, and I am very angry and very sad about that.

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Open Thread

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

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker GoldFishy: "If you could say something to any one person, who would you talk to and what would you say?"

Mike Pence. And I would tell him that I know he's a fucking liar; that he might be able to fool lots of people, but he doesn't fool me.

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Monday Links!

This list o' links brought to you by streaming sunshine.

Recommended Reading:

Heather Dockray at Mashable: Sex and the City's Cynthia Nixon May Become New York's First Gay Governor

Brian Kahn at Earther: There's Another Nor'easter Coming Because This Is Our Life Now

Yasemin Besen Cassino at Ms.: [Content Note: Misogyny] The Cost of Being a Girl: Working Teens and the Origins of the Gender Wage Gap

Anna Greer at Bust: Ava DuVernay Responds to A Wrinkle in Time Critics: It's Not Supposed to Be "Selma in Space"

Patrick Redford at Deadspin: The New Tax Bill Could Unintentionally Force Sports Teams to Pay Taxes on Trades

Evette Dionne at Bitch: 7 Women of Color Activists Who Are Making History

Sachin Bhola at Vogue: Meet Samhita Mukhopadhyay, Teen Vogue's New Executive Editor

Catherine Lizette Gonzalez at Colorlines: A Very Serious Roundup of Race-Focused Books Coming out This Spring

Andy Towle at Towleroad: First Look: Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland in New Biopic Judy

Nick Statt at the Verge: The Ataribox Gets an Official Name, with Pre-Order Date to Be Announced in April

Andrew Liszewski at Gizmodo: [CN: Moving GIF at link] I Can't Wait to Give Everyone a $55 Lickable Lollipop Version of My Face

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

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Cambridge Analytica: Killing Global Democracy for Fun and Profit

In today's We Resist thread, I linked several pieces about Cambridge Analytica's despicable campaign to affect the outcome of the 2016 election by harvesting millions of Facebook profiles to develop targeted advertising to exploit voters' biases and fears.

Britain's Channel 4 has now published an appalling exposé on Cambridge Analytica, which includes undercover footage of Cambridge executives bragging about subverting democracy around the world by combining newfangled technologies with old school strategies both unethical and illegal, including spying, bribery, fraud, and entrapment.

The entire 19-minute video is worth your time to watch. If I am able to locate a transcript, I will post the link. In the meantime, you can read Channel 4's summary here: "Revealed: Trump's Election Consultants Filmed Saying They Use Bribes and Sex Workers to Entrap Politicians."

One of the key points in Channel 4's piece is that Cambridge does all of its shady dealings with zero transparency, leaving no fingerprints. They are manipulating world affairs in a way that leaves the global population unaware of, unable to see, the machinations of the for-hire unprincipled mercenaries who are shaping our world, irrespective of what the billions of us without the means to hire them want the world to be.

That is deeply troubling. And I despair that companies like Cambridge are abetted so thoroughly by endemic indifference, by people's unwillingness to expect more, because they no longer feel like there's any hope it could ever be any other way.

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#365feministselfie: Week 11

I am again participating in the #365feministselfie project, now entering 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 11!

A few of my selfies over the last two weeks:

image of me from the shoulders up in a swimsuit, swimcap, and goggles, giving a thumbs-up
Swimmin' it up!

image of me in a full-lenth mirror, wearing a colorful striped dress and ankle boots
Stripey dress with green boots for date night.

image of me from the shoulders up, standing in front of a white bannister on a staircase with a purple wall
At a friend's house, in front of a lovely purple wall.

image of me lying on my couch beside my friend Deeky; both of us are making toothy expressions at the camera

[True Fact: When you caption a photo "TEEF MONSTERRRRRRRS!" on Instagram, the mobile version offers a translation link, and when you click it, the translation it offers is: "Bitch Monsterrrrrrrs." LOLOLOL! Accurate.]

image of me from mid-chest up, wearing a Star Wars t-shirt and riding in the backseat of a car
Riding in cars with my favorite boys: Iain and Deeks.

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 Olivia the White Farm Cat napping under the dining room table
Olivia napping in one of her favorite places: In a stream
of sunshine, underneath the dining room table.

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 424

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.

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Earlier today by me: It's All Happening Very Fast Now and The Media Is Failing Us and Fourth Bomb Injures Two More in Austin.

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

Carole Cadwalladr and Emma Graham-Harrison at the Guardian: Revealed: 50 Million Facebook Profiles Harvested for Cambridge Analytica in Major Data Breach.
The data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump's election team and the winning Brexit campaign harvested millions of Facebook profiles of US voters, in one of the tech giant's biggest ever data breaches, and used them to build a powerful software program to predict and influence choices at the ballot box.

A whistleblower has revealed to the Observer how Cambridge Analytica — a company owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and headed at the time by Trump's key adviser Steve Bannon — used personal information taken without authorisation in early 2014 to build a system that could profile individual US voters, in order to target them with personalised political advertisements.

Christopher Wylie, who worked with a Cambridge University academic to obtain the data, told the Observer: "We exploited Facebook to harvest millions of people's profiles. And built models to exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons. That was the basis the entire company was built on."

Documents seen by the Observer, and confirmed by a Facebook statement, show that by late 2015 the company had found out that information had been harvested on an unprecedented scale. However, at the time it failed to alert users and took only limited steps to recover and secure the private information of more than 50 million individuals.

...On Friday, four days after the Observer sought comment for this story, but more than two years after the data breach was first reported, Facebook announced that it was suspending Cambridge Analytica and Kogan from the platform, pending further information over misuse of data.
Will Bunch at the Philly Inquirer: How Your Facebook 'Likes' Helped Trump Steal the 2016 Election.
The basics of the story are this: In 2013-14, the young firm called Cambridge Analytica had backing from the right-wing billionaire, Robert Mercer; a rising political force in its association with the Breitbart News impresario Steve Bannon; a bold mission to, in the words of one former employee, "fight a culture war in America" and a scheme to use state-of-the-art Big Data and psychological profiling to win elections with modern propaganda.

What CA lacked, however, was the data the pull this off. That's when what Facebook's top lawyer has now acknowledged was "a scam — and a fraud" came into play. Wylie — the young political data maven now turned whistleblower — and the team assembled by Mercer and Bannon turned to experts in "psychometrics" at Britain's Cambridge University; there, a Russian American (heh … a bit more on that later) professor named Aleksandr Kogan was hired for $800,000. Kogan reportedly then lied to Facebook about his real project — a personality quiz and an app that 270,000 people consented to but which allowed the firm to pull Facebook "likes" and other personal info from 50 million unsuspecting Americans. (The company also seems to have lied to Facebook about later destroying the data.)

According to the newspapers, Cambridge Analytica ultimately created about 30 million usable profiles for voters — who were then targeted in the 2016 election with the kind of psychological warfare that the Pentagon has honed for decades to use on our enemies.

In 2016, the enemy was us.
Craig Timberg and Tony Romm at the Washington Post: Facebook May Have Violated FTC Privacy Deal, Say Former Federal Officials, Triggering Risk of Massive Fines. "Two former federal officials who crafted the landmark consent decree governing how Facebook handles user privacy say the company may have violated that decree when it shared information from tens of millions of users with a data analysis firm that later worked for [Donald] Trump's 2016 campaign. ...On Sunday morning, [David Vladeck, who as the director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection oversaw the investigation of alleged privacy violations by Facebook and the subsequent consent decree resolving the case in 2011] said in an interview with The Washington Post that Facebook's sharing of data with Cambridge Analytica 'raises serious questions about compliance with the FTC consent decree.'"

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Matt Rosoff at CNBC: Facebook Is Facing Its Biggest Test Ever — and Its Lack of Leadership Could Sink the Company. "For more than a year now, Facebook has been deflecting stories about how its platform was used during the 2016 presidential election. Some of this activity — like Facebook embedding workers with the Trump campaign to tell them how to advertise more effectively — was perfectly legal... Other activity was against Facebook's policies, or outright illegal. Most notably, a U.S. grand jury recently indicted 13 Russian nationals for conducting a disinformation campaign on American soil intended to further political divisions in the country and sway the election toward Trump. Their tactics included using Facebook groups to organize divisive political protests and buying targeted ads. CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg has remained aloof throughout the whole sequence of events."

Fucking hell.

As you may recall, Jared Kushner has previously bragged about working with Cambridge Analytica and he is potentially being investigated for leveraging the campaign's data operation to help select Facebook targets for the Russians.

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[Content Note: Death penalty] Amanda Holpuch and Jessica Glenza at the Guardian: Trump to Call for Death Penalties for Drug Dealers as Focus of Opioids Plan. "Donald Trump will formally call for death penalties for drug dealers on Monday, in an opioids policy rollout that will, however, not include proposals for new legislation. ...Some states already charge drug dealers with murder if customers overdose. ...Drug-induced homicide laws, which emerged in the 1980s, are being used more frequently because of the opioids crisis. According to a November 2017 report by the Drug Policy Alliance, however, there is no evidence that such laws reduce drug use." Which makes what Trump is proposing nothing more than state-sanctioned murder for its own sake.

Stephanie Griffith at ThinkProgress: Retired General Sounds Alarm on Trump, Says He's Being Controlled by Putin. (No shit, General Sherlock.) "Retired U.S. Army general Barry McCaffrey says he can't remain quiet any longer. Late Friday, the respected four-star general sounded an alarm about uncomfortably close relations between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, warning in a tweet that the U.S. president appears to be 'for some unknown reason under the sway of Mr. Putin.'"

Too little, far too late.

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Caitlin MacNeal at TPM: Mueller Team Sends Questions to Trump as Part of Interview Negotiations. "Special counsel Robert Mueller sent questions to [Donald] Trump recently, around the same time that Trump published angry tweets on Saturday aimed at Mueller and the Russia probe, according to the New York Times. Mueller's team sent the questions as a preliminary step in negotiations for an interview with the President, and the special counsel's office would ask Trump questions in the interview." That Trump is so reactive in these situations is why I keep saying that I hope we can safely get through whatever comes next.

Trump's reactivity is also why there are renewed calls for Congressional legislation to protect Mueller's investigation. [CN: Video may autoplay at link] Democratic Senator Mark Warner writes at USA Today, "Congress Must Draw 'Red Line' to Protect Mueller, Warn Trump Against Firing and Pardons," and law professor Steve Vladeck writes at Lawfare, "It's Time for Congress to Pass the Mueller Protection Bills."

Meanwhile, elsewhere in this unfathomably corrupt administration...

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Karen Freifeld, Sarah N. Lynch, and Mark Hosenball at Reuters: Sources Contradict Sessions' Testimony He Opposed Russia Outreach.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' testimony that he opposed a proposal for [Donald] Trump's 2016 campaign team to meet with Russians has been contradicted by three people who told Reuters they have spoken about the matter to investigators with Special Counsel Robert Mueller or congressional committees.

Sessions testified before Congress in November 2017 that he "pushed back" against the proposal made by former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos at a March 31, 2016 campaign meeting. Then a senator from Alabama, Sessions chaired the meeting as head of the Trump campaign's foreign policy team.

"Yes, I pushed back," Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee on Nov. 14, when asked whether he shut down Papadopoulos' proposed outreach to Russia.

Sessions has since also been interviewed by Mueller.

Three people who attended the March campaign meeting told Reuters they gave their version of events to FBI agents or congressional investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 election. Although the accounts they provided to Reuters differed in certain respects, all three, who declined to be identified, said Sessions had expressed no objections to Papadopoulos' idea.

One person said Sessions was courteous to Papadopoulos and said something to the effect of "okay, interesting."

The other two recalled a similar response.

...The three accounts, which have not [previously] been reported, raise new questions about Sessions' testimony regarding contacts with Russia during the campaign.

Sessions previously failed to disclose to Congress meetings he had with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and testified in October that he was not aware of any campaign representatives communicating with Russians.
In other words, this may be the second time that Sessions has perjured himself. Not a sterling record for Attorney General of the United States.

Bernard Condon at the AP: Kushner Cos. Filed False NYC Housing Paperwork. "When the Kushner Cos. bought three apartment buildings in a gentrifying neighborhood of Queens in 2015, most of the tenants were protected by special rules that prevent developers from pushing them out, raising rents, and turning a tidy profit. But that's exactly what the company then run by Jared Kushner did, and with remarkable speed. Two years later, it sold all three buildings for $60 million, nearly 50 percent more than it paid. Now a clue has emerged as to how [Donald] Trump's son-in-law's firm was able to move so fast: The Kushner Cos. routinely filed false paperwork with the city declaring it had zero rent-regulated tenants in dozens of buildings it owned across the city when, in fact, it had hundreds."

Michael Kranish and Karen DeYoung at the Washington Post: Kushner Companies Confirms Meeting with Qatar on Financing. "Jared Kushner's father met with Qatar's finance minister three months after [Donald] Trump's inauguration, a New York City session at which funding for a financially troubled real estate project was discussed, the company acknowledged Sunday. However, Charles Kushner said he turned down possible funding to avoid questions of a conflict of interest for his son, who had run the family company until he became Trump's senior adviser. ...The company said Kushner agreed to the meeting as a courtesy. A spokesman for the Qatari Embassy in Washington said his government had no comment."

Olivia Nuzzi at NYMag: What Hope Hicks Knows. "Hope Hicks wasn't a victim; on this both her allies and critics agreed. She didn't faint in a field of poppies and wake to find herself on Donald Trump's campaign, 35,000 feet up and strapped in aboard a Boeing 757. Over the course of three years, she'd spent more time with Trump than anyone, more than his own children and his wife, and she acknowledged his flaws and idiosyncrasies. She had made her choices knowingly, even if she couldn't know where they'd lead her. But she believed Trump was a good person, and she was angered that his critics didn't seem open to the parts of his personality that would lead them to believe the same. To Hicks, the president's policies were secondary considerations — the man himself came first. And at the end of the day, she really liked him. "Part of it is because of the proximity," a source close to her said, "part of it is human nature." She even sounded a little like him sometimes, uttering words like loser in her sugary voice."

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Jonathan Watts at the Guardian: Water Shortages Could Affect 5bn People by 2050, UN Report Warns. "More than 5 billion people could suffer water shortages by 2050 due to climate change, increased demand, and polluted supplies, according to a UN report on the state of the world's water. The comprehensive annual study warns of conflict and civilisational threats unless actions are taken to reduce the stress on rivers, lakes, aquifers, wetlands, and reservoirs. The World Water Development Report — released in drought-hit Brasília — says positive change is possible, particularly in the key agricultural sector, but only if there is a move towards nature-based solutions that rely more on soil and trees than steel and concrete."

[CN: War on agency] Teddy Wilson at Rewire: In Fight Against Abortion Rights, Fetuses Could Soon Have Legal Standing in Indiana. "The Republican-held Indiana legislature last week approved final passage of bill that would allow a anyone who causes the death of a pregnant person to be charged for the death of her fetus. Reproductive rights advocates charge this continues the trend of criminalizing pregnant people for negative pregnancy outcomes. SB 203, sponsored by state Sen. Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis), provides that the crimes of murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and feticide, may be committed against a fetus in any stage of development."

[CN: Guns; gun violence; image of gun; misogyny]

[CN: Misogyny] Lindsay Gibbs at ThinkProgress: Martina Navratilova Reveals Staggering Pay Gap Between Herself and Male Wimbledon Commentator. "In 2007, Wimbledon became the final of tennis's four major tournaments to offer equal prize money to its men's and women's champions. But more than a decade later, pay equality is still a long way off in the broadcast booth. In an interview for BBC Panorama: Britain's Equal Pay Scandal, Martina Navratilova — who won a combined 59 major titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles — revealed she is paid £15,000 by the BBC to provide commentary during broadcasts at Wimbledon, while her colleague John McEnroe (17 combined major titles) was paid between £150,000 and £199,999 for a similar role." JFC.

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

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