Open Thread


Hosted by a toucan.

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

[Explanations: lol your fat. pathetic anger bread. hey your gay.]

TFIF, Shakers!

Belly up to the bar,
and name your poison!

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lol ur easter favors

Mama Shakes spotted some precious Easter gems while out shopping and not only kindly emailed them to me, but gave me her permission to post them, along with her commentary:

I just thought I would share the sentiment that nothing says "EASTER" to me like Spiderman eggs, I mean, "Treat containers"...
...unless it's a pirate-themed Easter basket. I wonder if that's Pontius Pirate.

[That pun just for Deeky, who LOVES PUNS!]

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A Counterproposal

On All Things Considered, NPR just aired an interesting interview with Third Way senior fellow David Kendell, where the latter explained why he thinks the IRS should issue receipts that show how much of your income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes the federal government spends on various programs. It's a cute idea. However, I've got a couple of tweaks:

1) Okay, so this is kinda a pain in the ass given all of the different governments involved, but the receipts should really include all taxes and fees collected during a calendar year. State and local taxes are a huge part of many individuals' tax burden, and most states have regressive tax structures.

2) I don't really care that I paid 46 cents to fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. What I want to know is how much you paid to fund the CPB. So each year, it'd be cool if I got someone else's receipt. Maybe in 2011 I'll learn that a family of undocumented immigrants down the street paid all sorts of taxes. Maybe in 2012, I'll find out if Bank of America has decide to do the same.

That would be informative.

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Game of Thrones

So, are any Shakers planning on watching Game of Thrones, based on George R. R. Martin's fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, which premieres this weekend on HBO...?

It will definitely be watched at Shakes Manor, where there's a reasonable possibility Iain will actually explode with excitement before the show even airs. He's read Game of Thrones, but I haven't. I am a huge fan of the fantasy genre, but you all know why I'm really watching it:

I'm also thrilled that Lena Headey is in it, who was not only Queen Gorgo in 300, but was Luce in Imagine Me & You, one of my favorite rom-coms.

Although I am looking forward to it, I'm doing so with some trepidation, because fantasy + women + cable [usually] = BOOBIEZ (and not much else for the ladies to do), and I'm getting a dark skin = baddies vibe (possibly wrongly) from some of the trailers I've seen.

Anyway, I'll provide a discussion thread after the premiere, if others are interested. Let me know in comments.

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TSA Security Targets Critics

[Trigger warning for discussion of enhanced TSA screening.]

The much-discussed "enhanced security procedures" put into place by the US Transportation Security Administration late last year are still in place, despite waning attention, and anyone who wants or has to be a passenger on a US flight can still expect the possibility of having to choose between body scanners or pat-downs, if they're pulled for additional scrutiny by security officers.

Today, CNN reports that among the "behavioral indicators" TSA officers are using to identify potentially dangerous travelers is "passengers' attitudes towards security, and how they express those attitudes."

CNN has obtained a list of roughly 70 "behavioral indicators" that TSA behavior detection officers use to identify potentially "high risk" passengers at the nation's airports.

Many of the indicators, as characterized in open government reports, are behaviors and appearances that may be indicative of stress, fear or deception. None of them, as the TSA has long said, refer to or suggest race, religion or ethnicity.

But one addresses passengers' attitudes towards security, and how they express those attitudes.

It reads: "Very arrogant and expresses contempt against airport passenger procedures."

TSA officials declined to comment on the list of indicators, but said that no single indicator, taken by itself, is ever used to identify travelers as potentially high-risk passengers.
Still, the fact that expressing "contempt" for screening is being considered an indicator at all is absurd, given the variety of legitimate reasons one might express contempt for invasive procedures that don't even work.

And then there's this: Using grumbling about security as an indicator of potential danger is predicated on the ridiculous fantasy that terrorists are so fucking stupid that they'll stand in a line loudly complaining about security measures. Sure.
But some experts say terrorists are much more likely to avoid confrontations with authorities, saying an al Qaeda training manual instructs members to blend in.

"I think the idea that they would try to draw attention to themselves by being arrogant at airport security, it fails the common sense test," said CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen. "And it also fails what we know about their behaviors in the past."
I'm glad that CNN found a suede-elbowed professor of obviousology to inject some expertise into this discussion.

Honestly, TSA: Get it together. Christ.

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Daily Dose of Cute

Well, after his trip to the vet yesterday, and almost a full 24 hours of sleep, Mr. Doodles is starting to feel a wee bit better.

"My eyes are hurty."

Dudley's eyes still look terrible, but they look positively splendid by comparison to how they looked yesterday. He'll go back to the vet again tomorrow, just to be sure everything's proceeding as expected and looking good.

I said this in comments earlier, but it bears repeating: I'm really lucky that Dudley's such a good dog. He was an absolute champ at the vet's yesterday: He had his temperature taken, got several sets of various drops and dyes in his eyes, took three different meds, had lights shined in his eyes by two vets, and he was perfect through the whole thing. He even wagged his wee tail at the vet when he left and came back into the exam room, as if to reassure him, "I know you're here to help me and I ain't mad."

He's taking both of his meds without complaint, and he's letting me check his eyes and administer the drops without any problem; he's even figured out that after one eye gets drops, the other one's next, and helpfully tilts his head in the other direction. All this through double conjunctivitis so severe the vet said he looked as if he'd been pepper-sprayed by the mail carrier. He's such a GOOD BOY.

"I can haz treat now, Mama?"

You bet your ass you can!

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Bi-Monthly Reminder & Thank-You

This is, for those who have requested it, your bi-monthly reminder* to donate to Shakesville.

Asking for donations** is difficult for me, partly because I've got an innate aversion to asking for anything, and partly because these threads are frequently critical and stressful. But it's also one of the most feminist acts I do here.

It's also the only way I am able to manage this community as a safe space, which requires my full-time commitment in addition to our volunteer contributors and moderators.

Over the past couple of months, when widely-linked discussions of contentious subjects, have bought in droves of new and frequently disruptive commenters, the fierceness of our vigilance and the value of what it provides has been even more evident than usual. People commented how very much like magic it is to enjoy threads free of apologia, bigotry, and hateful/triggering material.

But it is not magic. It is hard and unrelenting work.

And, as we move into yet another presidential election season (can it really be that time already?!), I hope you will consider the value of a space that guarantees all candidates will be discussed on the basis of their policies and not their sex, race, sexuality, or appearance.

So. Here is your reminder to support this space if you appreciate what happens here.

You can donate once by clicking the button in the righthand sidebar, or set up a monthly subscription here. We first made the Subscribe to Shakesville page available in March, which means many of the subscriptions are running out and have to be renewed if you want to keep your subscription active.

Let me reiterate, once again, that I don't want anyone to feel obliged to contribute financially, especially if money is tight. Aside from valuing feminist work, the other goal of fundraising is so Iain and I don't have to struggle on behalf of the blog, and I don't want anyone else to struggle themselves in exchange. There is a big enough readership that neither should have to happen.

I also want say thank you, so very much, to each of you who donates or has donated, whether monthly or as a one-off. I am profoundly grateful—and I don't take a single cent for granted. I've not the words to express the depth of my appreciation, besides these: This community couldn't exist without that support, truly. Thank you.

My thanks as well to everyone who contributes to the space in other ways, whether as a regular contributor, a guest contributor, a moderator, a transcriber, or as someone who takes the time to send me the occasional note of support and encouragement. This community couldn't exist without you, either.


* I know there are people who resent these reminders, but there are also people who appreciate them, so I've now taken to doing them every other month, in the hopes that will make a good compromise.

** Why I ask for donations is explained here.

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I See What You Did There

Earlier today there was a vote on the Republican Study Committee's alternative budget. From TPM:

Normally something like that would fail by a large bipartisan margin in either the House or the Senate. Conservative Republicans would vote for it, but it would be defeated by a coalition of Democrats and more moderate Republicans. But today that formula didn't hold. In an attempt to highlight deep divides in the Republican caucus. Dems switched their votes -- from "no" to "present."

Panic ensued. In the House, legislation passes by a simple majority of members voting. The Dems took themselves out of the equation, leaving Republicans to decide whether the House should adopt the more-conservative RSC budget instead of the one authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. As Dems flipped to present, Republicans realized that a majority of their members had indeed gone on the record in support of the RSC plan -- and if the vote closed, it would pass. That would be a slap in the face to Ryan, and a politically toxic outcome for the Republican party.

So they started flipping their votes from "yes" to "no."

In the end, the plan went down by a small margin, 119-136. A full 172 Democrats voted "present."
Hoist them by their own petards! Very clever.

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Using the Rape Culture to Defend a Rapist

[Trigger warning for sexual violence, rape apologia, victim-blaming.]

In what might be the most perfect, clear, hideous example of how rape culture interacts with actual acts of rape, an appellant brief (pdf) was filed last March in the Montana Supreme Court on behalf of Duane R. Belanus, who had been convicted (pdf) of "of sexual intercourse without consent involving the infliction of bodily injury, aggravated kidnapping, burglary, tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, and misdemeanor theft" after beating and anally raping his then-girlfriend. The brief, which bases its appeal almost entirely on the premise that Belanus was drunk and therefore should not be held responsible for his actions, begins thus:

Yes, you're reading that right. A legal brief in defense of a convicted rapist was submitted quoting real-life convicted rapist Mike Tyson's character in a movie in order to argue that if real-life convicted rapist Mike Tyson's character in a movie can forgive a bunch of drunk characters in a movie for stealing his pet tiger, then a real jury in the real world should be able to consider, and forgive, a real-life convicted rapist who really raped someone in the real world.

Can you not see the perfect logic?

In the rape culture, this all makes sense. As does the fact, as the brief goes on to mention, that the victim was drinking and taking drugs, too, which is presented as though to create reasonable doubt about whether she could have consented and forgotten, as opposed to treating it like the damning evidence Belanus raped someone who could not possibly have given informed and enthusiastic consent that it actually is.

And it gets even more absurd.

Or possibly just stays exactly as absurd as it began, depending on your feelings about quoting a fictional Mike Tyson character vs. quoting Mel Gibson in defense of a convicted rapist. Yes, for real, this is how the brief concludes:

Classic. Dancing on a table with a lampshade on one's head is exactly the same as shouting anti-Semitic rants, which itself is exactly the same as beating and raping someone.

It is, of course, true that alcohol lowers inhibitions, but that doesn't translate into "making people do something for which they can't be held responsible." What it means is that alcohol removes the self-censoring or self-containing mechanisms that keep people who hold racist thoughts (for instance) or have violent desires (for instance) from shouting epithets or punching someone in the face.

Alcohol lowers inhibitions; it doesn't remove accountability.

Fortunately, the Montana Supreme Court agrees, and was unconvinced by the poignant arguments of Messrs. Tyson and Gibson. They upheld Belanus' conviction.

[H/T to Shaker Erin W, who found it at Lowering the Bar.]

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An Observation

Lots of feminists/womanists are women who have been told "You can't" for much of our lives, or had seemingly unnavigable barriers put in our way by people who didn't want us to succeed. Lots of us are women who, had we played by The Rules, wouldn't have gotten where we are—because The Rules are designed so that we fail. The odds have been against us our whole lives; everything we've ever done has been in defiance of the distinct likelihood—and expectation—that we would settle for less than we wanted.

Our routes have been nontraditional, our strategies neither obvious nor logical by traditional standards. By design, and by necessity.

What if we'd all taken our boobs and gone home, when someone who saw the perfect logic of it told us to...?

[It's an old one, but occasionally bears repeating, I think.]

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Two Facts

1. David Brooks is still being paid to write a garbage column for the New York Times.

2. He's just taking the piss now, because this is not the work of an adult human being:

President Obama and Paul Ryan are two of the smartest, most admirable and most genial men in Washington. It is sad, although not strange, that in today's Washington they have never had a serious private conversation. The president has never invited Ryan over even for lunch.

As a result, both men are misinformed about the other, and both have developed a cold contempt for the other's position.
Yes, Mr. Brooks, but what happens when, during The Luncheon That Will Totes Solve the Vast and Bitter Partisan Divide in Washington, Rep. Ryan orders a STEAK (Real AmericanTM) and President Obama orders an ARUGULA SALAD (gay)? What THEN, sir?!


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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Rebecca Black: "Friday"

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Number of the Day

$1 million: The amount of money raised since its launch on February 16 by former Senator Russ Feingold's political action committee, Progressives United, "a grassroots effort aimed at countering the effects of the Supreme Court's infamous Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates to corporate spending in the U.S. electoral system. It works to call out cases of corporate influence, empower individuals to stand up to special interests, and elect progressive candidates at the local, state, and national levels."

When Feingold first announced that he, like many politicians and former politicians, would be starting a political action committee, he made it clear that he wanted his group to be different -- a grassroots effort aimed at countering the influence of corporations in politics.

In line with its mission statement, Progressives United is following the example set by Feingold's own campaigns, rejecting soft money and unlimited contributions.

"We're going to be reporting every dime that we get, whether required by law or not," he said to The Huffington Post in February. "Every penny of every contribution -- a practice I used as a U.S. senator. So it will be very different from the 527s and other groups that have been spawned by Citizens United. It will be 100 percent accountable, and that is an important principle that I believe in that we'll follow to the T with Progressives United."
I have been a Feingold fan for a very long time, and I couldn't be more pleased and grateful that he's such a principled and effective progressive, whose PAC is making it manifestly apparent that there is a functional Left in this county desperate for serious representation on a national scale.

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Thank You, Michele!

Wednesday, I challenged Rep. Michele Bachmann to place her brain on the table instead of her birth certificate. I'm glad to see that she didn't disappoint me at all, as shown by RJ at C&L:

We'll sound the bell every time she floats a discredited idea. Ready?

Raising taxes for the wealthy shouldn't be "on the table," says Bachmann, because "tax rates are high enough (ding!), and history shows (ding!) that when we raise taxes, particularly on job creators (ding!) we actually bring in less revenue (ding! ding! ding!) rather than more."
In Bachmann's world, a zero-percent tax rate is too high, companies who either don't hire to stay lean or get cheaper labor overseas are "job creators", and revenue from higher taxes is less than revenue from lower taxes.

Thank you very much for this glimpse into your intriguing thought processes, Congresswoman.

More, please.

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Important Announcement

[Trigger warning for rape culture.]

Appropriate and necessary use of the word rape: To describe what has happened to someone who has been forced or coerced into a sex act.

Inappropriate and unnecessary use of the word rape: To describe what has "been done to you" by the IRS and/or US Government by requiring you to pay taxes.

Important Corollary, subject to same rules as Important Announcement #10: If you are a rape apologist and/or teller of rape jokes, you are not a progressive; you're a fauxgressive.

[This announcement will be made annually during tax season until further notice.]


Reminder! You actually have until Monday the 18th to get your taxes done this year, because Emancipation Day is being observed in the capital today.

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Your Review Is Scarier Than Scream 4

by Kevin Wolf, a longtime Shaker and movie fan.

[Trigger warning for misogyny, eating disorders and body policing, ableist language.]

The masses were clamoring for another Scream sequel (people simply would not stop talking about it!) so Scream 4 was manufactured and hits theaters today. Hence, the posting of reviews across the internets, including this one from Michael O'Sullivan at The Washington Post, which opens:

"Scream 4" has issues.

If it were a person, and not a movie, it would be a 17-year-old bulimic girl, desperate for the attention of 17-year-old boys and alternately bingeing on cheesy slasher-flick cliches, and purging, by pointing out, over and over, just how gag-me-with-a spoon cheesy they are.

On the one hand, it is obsessed with itself, winking and pouting in front of the metaphorical mirror of self-referential scrutiny that the series — directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson — is famous for. On the other, it suffers from a case of crushingly low self-esteem, reminding us at every turn just how lame it is. (In a sense, it won't shut up about how fat it looks in these jeans.)
Mr. O'Sullivan is not a teen, bulimic or otherwise. But because this is a movie for and about teens, he evidently felt obliged to wedge something "teenagery" into his review. And because this movie has "issues," he must represent our hypothetical teen as a "girl" who is bulimic, who is desperate for boys to notice her, and who is so "lame" and self-involved she won't shut up about how fat [she] looks in these jeans!!

Now, I'm not the target audience for the movie, nor the target of O'Sullivan's horrific clusterfuck of misogynist, fat-hating, exploitative, condescending bullshit, yet for some reason I've taken offense. Why? Because I hate the assumption made by this critic that it's gonna be just fine with me that he represent this film and its audience in this carelessly stupid, thoughtless, and endlessly privileged way.

I'm going to suggest to O'Sullivan that he take another look at this review and compare that opening with a paragraph further along: "At the heart of the film is a joke: What's happening on screen is just like a bad horror movie. Except that, by acknowledging its own badness, 'Scream 4' hopes to turn itself into a good horror movie. Or at least a hip, funny and self-aware one." Notice, Mr. O'Sullivan, that you have here said essentially the same thing (the movie is agonizingly self-conscious and wants to be hip) without personifying the film as an offensive stereotype and thus demeaning teenage girls with disordered eating in the process. And it was so easy!

Please, Michael O'Sullivan: Stop trying to be hip and clever. For a start, you're about as hip and clever as an Allstate commercial. And your lack of self-awareness and empathy is painful—one guesses especially so for the targets of your "humor."

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Opening Day!

Good news, libertarians! Your long national nightmare is finally over: Objectivist wank fantasy Atlas Shrugged (Part 1) opens in theaters today!

"They are not getting my metal!" It's a story about trains and steel and white people and the vast deserts of Wisconsin. Of course, there's stuff about the evils of taxation and unionization and how the world doesn't appreciate people who work hard creating steel that is just too good or something. I'm unclear, really, having never read anything by Ayn Rand. I have read some George Will and he says trains are Socialist, so I think that makes sense.

Anyway, every teabagger with an SUV will be at the movies this weekend, and I am projecting an opening weekend box office of $10 Billion (USD). Which is awesome and guarantees all three movies in the series will hit the big screen. I am especially looking forward to Atlas Shrugged Part 3: The Musical. No, I am not joking. "You know, part three could be a musical... like a Les Miserables kind of a musical," says John Aglialoro, the film's producer. Also, I am very serious about looking forward to that. I hope Elton John writes the songs. I'll totally buy the soundtrack album. Okay, I'd illegally download it. But you should buy it. Support the artist!

So, who's going? You're all going, right? Because how else will we be able to discuss it on Monday. We're discussing it on Monday. Ayn Rand Movie Open Thread! I'm taking the bus to the theater, because irony. It's a free bus too! (Dagny: "Boo!")

Also opening today:

Rio. (Animated.) Features the voice of Jesse Eisenberg as the titular capybara, and Michael Cena as his wise-cracking best pal and tamarin. (Wacky accents!) It's a story of wonder and discovery and the importance of family. Features seven new songs by Phil Collins!

Scream 4. (Or SCRE4M; typography!) It's about Courteney Cox collecting a paycheck. Good for her! Free markets! Probably features no trains.

The Conspirator. (Limited release.) And "art film" about a woman; set in the 1860s; should have some trains.

See ya in the popcorn line, Shakers!

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Open Thread


Hosted by a pianist.

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Question of the Day

What would improve your life right now?

It can be anything from "a new job" to "a milkshake."

Me? Fish and chips.

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Blog Note

I'm going to be out the rest of the afternoon. I just got back from the vet with Dudley, who has a severe eye infection in both eyes. We were just there this weekend, for his boosters, and Dudley was fine when the vet checked his eyes routinely and saw no problem; today his eyes were so red that the vet suspected his corneas might have ulcerated. Luckily, that turned out not to be the case.

Also in good news, it isn't contagious to cats, so the girls should be fine.

We've got three meds, one of which numbs his eyes so that he won't scratch at them, but I've still got to keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn't worry his eyes and make them any worse. It hasn't affected his vision so far, but one eye is getting cloudy, so we're taking this very seriously.

Anyway, I'm taking the rest of the day off so I can keep my attention on him. And because I'm kind of a wreck, frankly.

Dudley was a very good boy at the vet, and is now resting comfortably with his BFF Piggy.

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Horrible people made to look horrible

This story via Digby (and Bloomberg) pretty much made my day, in a sad, I-told-me-so kinda way:

US Uncut, a group protesting corporate tax issues and government service cutbacks, claimed responsibility for a fake press release that said General Electric Co. (GE) would return a "$3.2 billion tax refund.”
Whoops, the rumors of your corporate responsibility have been greatly exaggerated!

I imagine GE's actual plan is to use that cash to hold a surprise pizza party for the entire city of Schenectady. (Shhhhhhhh......)

ETA: You know who's probably having a really bad week? This guy.

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Seen (and Bought)

As of April 8th at 2:06 AM, I have another niece. CMB was 8 pounds, 2 ounces at birth, and she's growing fast. The onesie baby-suits my sister got as gifts are either too small or too big at this point, so I want to make a few. I found a good size onesie (for a baby up to 16 pounds) at a local dollar store for a great price because it was slightly damaged. I can reverse-engineer a pattern from it. So, it does not matter what the print on the original looks like. But here's what it looks like:

image of a baby onesie with a pictures of puppies playing baseball all over it
Image description: a close-up photo of a baby onesie with a print of puppies playing baseball interspersed with stars in a patriotic color-story of blue, white, and red.

The package declaimed "BOY" on the label, and it's a good thing: how else would I have known? The "GIRL"-declaiming onesies had pink ballet shoes, tiaras, and the word "Princess" in curlicue script all over them. Just so we know for sure.

It was enough to make me burst into song (with apologies to Barbra Streisand):

Puppies who play baseball
Are the luckiest puppies in the world

We’re humans gendering our children
We sow cultural fears of all sorts
By freighting these dogs and ball-sports
With our forced projections of nature

Are very special symbols
They’re the manliest symbols in the world
With one puppy
One puppy who plays baseball
A feeling deep in your shirt says
You’re a jock not a flirt

No more toe-shoes and pink
Just think a mere puppy who plays baseball
Puppies who play baseball
Keep your boychildren manly: not like girls

(context: this YouTube clip of Barbra Streisand singing "People" in the film Funny Girl--lyrics below the fold in most browsers)

(music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill)

People who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world

We're children needing other children
And yet, letting our grown up pride
Hide all the need inside
Acting more like children than children

Are very special people
They're the luckiest people in the world
With one person
One very special person
A feeling deep in your soul says
You were half, now you're whole

No more hunger and thirst
But first be a person who needs people
People who need people
Are the luckiest people in the world

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Pictures of Woman Charged with Filing False Rape Report Found on Camera of Accused Serial Rapist

[Trigger warning for sexual violence, rape culture narratives.]

There aren't words to convey the cavernous profundity of my contempt for the people who bullied the victim of a serial rapist into taking a plea deal after charging her with false reporting because they didn't believe her:

The victim in a Washington state sex assault now linked to a 32-year-old Lakewood man was charged with false reporting and paid a $500 fine in 2008 because police didn't believe her story.

Authorities in Lynnwood, Wash., reopened their case and reimbursed the woman after Colorado detectives found pictures of the victim on a camera belonging to Marc O'Leary, an Army veteran charged in two similar cases in Golden and Westminster, Lynnwood police Cmdr. Steve Rider said.

O'Leary, who has not been charged in the Lynnwood case, lived in nearby Mountlake Terrace, Wash., from 2006 to 2009.

"At the time (2008) information came up that basically led investigators to make the wrong conclusion about the case," Rider said.

Rider declined to elaborate, but did say there were "strong similarities" between the Lynnwood case and the Colorado cases.
What Rider seems to be referring to is the fact that the accused rapist "was meticulous about not leaving evidence at the scene." He wore gloves and a mask, to avoid leaving fingerprints or reveal his identity, and he obliged his victims to destroy evidence by forcing them to brush their teeth and shower after he'd assaulted them. He also cleaned the scenes with wet-naps he'd brought, and left with his victims' clothes and bedding in tow after he spent hours raping them and cataloging the events on camera.

It was among the hundreds of photos he'd taken that the images of his Lynnwood victim were discovered.

Rider seems to be implying that Lynnwood police "made the wrong conclusion" because of the lack of evidence, but I would argue that concluding the woman was lying, as opposed to simply concluding there was not sufficient evidence to sustain an open investigation, is attributable to something decidedly more nefarious than a lack of evidence.

If we didn't have bullshit narratives about multitudinous false reports made by vindictive bitches, would an example need to have been made of this woman with her rape allegation and its lack of physical evidence? That's rhetorical, in case my sneering disdain is not palpable.

It's a case of he said she said! That's what the rape apologists always say. You can't RUIN A MAN'S LIFE just on some woman's word! As if rape convictions on nothing but witness testimony happen all the time.

(They happen never. And men who are wrongly convicted of sexual assault are virtually never the victims of false reporting, but of mistaken IDs, shoddy or corrupt police work, and/or legal railroading.)

But what is happening, over and over, is women's lives are being ruined because their word can't be verified. And the takeaway lesson here, I guess, is that if rapists are careful enough to destroy all the evidence, not only will they get away with it, their accusers will be accused of committing a crime if they report it. Swell. Let's definitely keep supporting a practice that empowers rapists. Great idea. Very cool.
Rider said the victim in the Lynnwood case, whom police did not identify, was assigned a public defender in 2008 and ultimately agreed to a plea deal to avoid a trial. Her case was dismissed in 2010, after she completed conditions of the plea, which included counseling.

Police are now working with prosecutors to have the woman's record expunged, Rider said.

..."We really appreciate Colorado's work on this case," he said. "Without them, this would have gone into the annals of time as a false report."

Well, what do you want the police to do—just let women who make false reports GET AWAY WITH IT?! Yes. That is exactly what I want. Because I frankly think that most reports called "false reports," which constitute less than 2% of rape allegations, aren't actually false reports in the first place (see: this story) and that the tiny remainder of authentically false reports do not warrant the continuation of a practice that empowers rapists and discourages survivors of sexual violence from reporting the crimes against them, for fear of being arrested if their allegations can't be proven.

I don't guess I need to point out that when survivors are discouraged from reporting the crimes against them, rapists go free. That not only empowers rapists, but creates more victims.

And anything that does that is a tool of the rape culture.

[H/T to Shaker Mike.]

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark: "(Forever) Live And Die"

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Chase Rep: Deaf People "Probably Can't" Have a Credit Card


A little over a month ago, my father and I decided to respond to an offer from Chase for their Ink Business MasterCard. We're both principals in the business I own. He's deaf; I'm not. (These details will be relevant shortly.)

...[W]e were approved, and both our cards arrived shortly. I activated mine and was able to make some purchases. After a while, I wanted to set up my account for online access at My attempts to register online failed, so I called Chase, which is when the nightmare began.

We were soon sidetracked because my father's card hadn't been activated (though mine had been). Fair enough; I can see why they want both cards to be acknowledged and activated, even if my father isn't very likely to use his card. (As I mentioned, he isn't involved in the day-to-day affairs of the business.) So I tried to work with them to activate his card over the phone, with me being the interpreter. Even though my parents have always been able to do this in my past — with my mother (who can hear) serving as interpreter whenever activating a card — the customer service agent immediately shot down this option. Annoying, but, OK, how about a customer service number for the deaf and hearing impaired? He put me on hold for a bit, but came back and said he couldn't find any information on that.

Hmmm. I see. Is there some sort of procedure for processing card activations for cardmembers who can't hear? This is where it gets good. The customer service agent suggested that the hearing impaired "probably can't" have a card. I informed him that this is probably very illegal, and that it'd be news to American Express, the Charles Schwab Visa people, PNC Bank, and the various other companies that my father has credit with currently. He still seemed to think that Chase probably wouldn't be able to offer him a card.

"I'm quite sure there are laws against that," I pointed out, which seemed to unnerve him enough to put me on hold, this time for a little longer.
There has been more back-and-forth, but the issue has yet to be resolved, and the cards "are effectively frozen until Chase feels everything's been resolved to their satisfaction. But as long as they continue to shoot down anything we try to do to help resolve this issue, we're stuck."

Unless Chase just added this information today, they've got a customer service number for the deaf and hearing impaired listed here, but part of accessibility is making sure the people representing your company know about alternative options and how to direct customers to use them. That means meaningful and practical diversity training, not pointing it out once and expecting employees to figure it out.

[H/T to Shaker FWM.]

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Profits up on account of poor economy

Stephen Hemsley, who runs UnitedHealth, took home a paltry $48.8 million dollars in 2010. In 2009, he took home $102 million dollars, owing to $98.6 million in stock options.

Still, things are looking up for UnitedHealth:

Like other health insurers across the board, UnitedHealth posted strong gains in 2010 as consumers put off routine and elective medical procedures during the still-weak economy.
It's call synergy, bitchez.

Full disclosure: UnitedHealth is my health insurance company and it suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks.

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Trump on Race Relations

[Trigger warning for racism.]

Unofficial Republican (or Reform Party) candidate Donald Trump is currently being interviewed on Fred Dicker's show, and the Politico's Ben Smith, who's listening to that mess, just tweeted:

Trump: "I have a great relationship with the blacks." Calls overwhelming black support for Obama "frightening."
That would be hilarious if it weren't such a pointed reminder that racist jackasses are wildly popular with a huge swath of the US population, not despite their racism but explicitly because of it.

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Santorum 4 Prez

Joining his BFFs Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, and Willard Romney, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee.

"In 2008 Americans wanted a president who they could believe in, but after two years they realized that what they needed is a president who believes in them," Santorum said in a statement. "It's time for America to be America again - an America that rewards innovation and hard work, that stands by our allies instead of our enemies, that protects even the most vulnerable of our society, and an America that says every life is to be cherished. That is what I believe in, and that's why I'm taking this next step in a possible run for president."
He is such a colossal dipshit.

For those among us too young to recall the glory days of Rick Santorum, here are a few of his greatest hits:

— On same-sex marriage: "In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be."

— On feminism: "What happened in America so that mothers and fathers who leave their children in the care of someone else find themselves more affirmed by society? Here, we can thank the influence of radical feminism, one of the core philosophies of the village elders."

— On homosexuality: "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery... You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does."

— On diversity: "The elementary error of relativism becomes clear when we look at multiculturalism. Sometime in the 1980s, universities began to champion the importance of 'diversity' as a central educational value."

— On institutional sex abuse in the Catholic Church: "While there's no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm."

— On same-sex marriage: "Isn't that the ultimate homeland security, standing up and defending marriage?"

— On late-term abortion: "Partial birth abortion [is] the calculated killing of the nearly born."

— On homosexuality: "I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts."

— On then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D) criticizing Bush in 2003 for initiating military action against Iraq without support of the UN Security Council: "Sen. Daschle clearly articulated the French position."

Good times.

[Previous Santorum.]

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Open Thread


Hosted by an orchestra conductor.

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Question of the Day

What single album is most evocative of your late teenage/high school years for you?

I can't listen to a single measure of any song on Morrissey's "Kill Uncle" without being instantly transported back to the publication room, after school, working on the school newspaper—my hands covered in the sticky residue of the wax used to create the mock-up pages, and wax-covered trimmings I'd sheared away with an X-acto blade sticking to the soles of my shoes.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to listen to that album in awhile.

Luckily, REM's "Out of Time" has exactly the same effect, for moments when I'm desirous of a little nostalgia.

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I write letters

Dear Out Magazine,

I see that you've published this year's list of the most powerful 50 gays and lesbians.

Either this:

[Jim Gaffigan reminds you that it's time to buy milk.]

1) Is actually a picture of the fifty white gays and lesbians with the most "power to influence cultural and social attitudes, political clout, individual wealth, and [highest] media profile."


2) Really is a picture of the fifty gays and lesbians with the most "power to influence cultural and social attitudes, political clout, individual wealth, and [highest] media profile."

If it's the former, I humbly suggest you relabel your feature. If it's the latter, maybe y'all could have a meeting at Shepard Smith's house to discuss, um, "The Situation"?

Sorry, I always get Shepard Smith confused with Anderson Cooper, and Anderson Cooper confused with Mike from "Jersey Shore."


P.S. LOL ur B n' T.

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Oh Dear

Image Description: A screen cap from a video clip of Dr. Drew's new show, featuring the doc himself and the segment title "Men Are From Mars?" CNN has labeled the video clip "Dr. Drew on what men really want."

So much barf in one little frame.

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Bret Easton Ellis Has Garbage Where His Decency Should Be

[Trigger warning for homophobia and mockery of disease.]

If you don't believe me, see the tweet from Bret Easton Ellis' official Twitter account early this morning: "I like the idea of Glee but why is it that every time I watch an episode I feel like I've stepped into a puddle of HIV?"

Really? Really?

Further reading: link and link.

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Quote of the Day

"For the love of EVERYTHING, if I see one more news organization allow Republicans to claim that they are worried about preventing tax dollars from funding abortions, I will lose it. Tax dollars cannot go to abortions. This has been true for over thirty years. Everyone in the House is supposed to know this, because it is a law and they are legislators. Don't let anyone you talk to get away with this bullshit."—Miss O, at STFU, Sexists.

[H/T to @scatx.]

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Thanks from Shakes Manor

A few Shakers have done special things for me lately, and I want to thank them: First, thank you to Shaker Cortney for the kind words, which Iain passed along.

Second, my profound and joyful thanks to Shakers natbsat, ajoye, math-geek, phoquess, eviltammy, jazzyroo, and one more whose permission I haven't gotten to publish her name, who got together and made this amazing quilt for me:

It is gorgeous and matches our living room perfectly, and it is sooooooo soft and cuddly. I've already used it and love it to tiny little bits—and, if I want to use it in future, I'm going to have to fight Sophie for it, who has decided that it's hers. (Guess again, Sophs!) Thank you so much, to each of you. I am so grateful for your kindness and thoughtfulness. I will be using that for a very long time to come.

And finally, my thanks to Shaker Carole, who after reading my account of being a fat patient in a doctor's office without a gown that fit me, made me my very own personalized gown:

That picture does not do its remarkable cuteness any justice; I couldn't figure out a good way to photograph it—but, as you can see, it came emblazoned with a teaspoon and my name. (So much blub.) And Carole, despite having "ideas on how to make it prettier/more comfy/less of the butt-hanging-out style" (hee!), used a real hospital gown as a pattern, with the shoulder snaps, ties, and all, to reduce the likelihood I wouldn't be allowed to use it. I am so appreciative, Carole; I adore it, and I will always, always, always bring it with me to every doctor's appointment from now on.

Thank you so very much, Cortney, natbsat, ajoye, math-geek, phoquess, eviltammy, jazzyroo, Anon Shaker, and Carole.

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Daily Dose of Cute

Lady Olivia of Chubbington

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Today in Barf News

Will Daniels seek presidency? Sounds like it.

[Republican Indiana Governor Daniels] eagerly fielded questions about the idea of running for president during a meeting with The Indianapolis Star's Editorial Board on Tuesday afternoon. His answers made clear what we already knew -- that he is giving the question deep thought -- and underscored how intently he has worked through the issues that would face him and the messages on which he would base a campaign.

Much of his message would center on his concern about what he calls the "red menace" of federal debt, which has been the focus of many of his national speeches and writings.

If he runs, he said, "it would simply be because I do think, and I hope I am wrong, that the country has put itself in a very difficult place."

There is incentive to tackle the problem now, he said, before the problem is too dire. He warned that if the nation delays Medicare and Social Security reforms, the goal he and many others share of not reducing benefits for those approaching retirement age may prove to be out of reach.

"We're starting to run out of time," he said.
Still no.

Video Description: Scenes of Shia LaBeouf saying "no" like a zillion times.

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So the President Gave a Speech

As expected, he did use some of the recommendations of the Catfood Commission, and he insisted that he would protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, while simultaneously declaring that nothing was off the table for additional reforms:

Today, I'm proposing a more balanced approach to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over twelve years. It's an approach that borrows from the recommendations of the bipartisan Fiscal Commission I appointed last year, and builds on the roughly $1 trillion in deficit reduction I already proposed in my 2012 budget. It's an approach that puts every kind of spending on the table, but one that protects the middle-class, our promise to seniors, and our investments in the future.

The first step in our approach is to keep annual domestic spending low by building on the savings that both parties agreed to last week - a step that will save us about $750 billion over twelve years. We will make the tough cuts necessary to achieve these savings, including in programs I care about, but I will not sacrifice the core investments we need to grow and create jobs. We'll invest in medical research and clean energy technology. We'll invest in new roads and airports and broadband access. We will invest in education and job training. We will do what we need to compete and we will win the future.

The second step in our approach is to find additional savings in our defense budget. As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than protecting our national security, and I will never accept cuts that compromise our ability to defend our homeland or America's interests around the world. But as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, has said, the greatest long-term threat to America's national security is America's debt.

Just as we must find more savings in domestic programs, we must do the same in defense. Over the last two years, Secretary Gates has courageously taken on wasteful spending, saving $400 billion in current and future spending. I believe we can do that again. We need to not only eliminate waste and improve efficiency and effectiveness, but conduct a fundamental review of America's missions, capabilities, and our role in a changing world. I intend to work with Secretary Gates and the Joint Chiefs on this review, and I will make specific decisions about spending after it's complete.

The third step in our approach is to further reduce health care spending in our budget. Here, the difference with the House Republican plan could not be clearer: their plan lowers the government's health care bills by asking seniors and poor families to pay them instead. Our approach lowers the government's health care bills by reducing the cost of health care itself.

Already, the reforms we passed in the health care law will reduce our deficit by $1 trillion. My approach would build on these reforms. We will reduce wasteful subsidies and erroneous payments. We will cut spending on prescription drugs by using Medicare's purchasing power to drive greater efficiency and speed generic brands of medicine onto the market. We will work with governors of both parties to demand more efficiency and accountability from Medicaid. We will change the way we pay for health care - not by procedure or the number of days spent in a hospital, but with new incentives for doctors and hospitals to prevent injuries and improve results. And we will slow the growth of Medicare costs by strengthening an independent commission of doctors, nurses, medical experts and consumers who will look at all the evidence and recommend the best ways to reduce unnecessary spending while protecting access to the services seniors need.

Now, we believe the reforms we've proposed to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid will enable us to keep these commitments to our citizens while saving us $500 billion by 2023, and an additional one trillion dollars in the decade after that. And if we're wrong, and Medicare costs rise faster than we expect, this approach will give the independent commission the authority to make additional savings by further improving Medicare.

But let me be absolutely clear: I will preserve these health care programs as a promise we make to each other in this society. I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry, with a shrinking benefit to pay for rising costs. I will not tell families with children who have disabilities that they have to fend for themselves. We will reform these programs, but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment this country has kept for generations.

That includes, by the way, our commitment to Social Security. While Social Security is not the cause of our deficit, it faces real long-term challenges in a country that is growing older. As I said in the State of the Union, both parties should work together now to strengthen Social Security for future generations. But we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans' guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.

The fourth step in our approach is to reduce spending in the tax code. In December, I agreed to extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans because it was the only way I could prevent a tax hike on middle-class Americans. But we cannot afford $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our society. And I refuse to renew them again.
You can read the full text of the speech, as prepared for delivery, here.

It's better than I had feared, but I fundamentally disagree with the underlying contention that austerity is a wise strategy, so.


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Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by Shaxco, publishers of the upcoming memoir Conversations About Cheese by Melissa L. McEwan and Paul T. Spud.

Recommended Reading:

Ta-Nehisi: Lies Damn Near Everyone Told Me

Helen: UK Government Equalities Office Online Survey of Transgender People

Lori: International Alliance of Activists Launches Ten-Point Action Agenda for Sexual and Reproductive Justice

Crystal: Word Cloud: How Toy Ad Vocabulary Reinforces Gender Stereotypes

Amber: Director Spotlight: Jane Campion

H. Roy Kaplan: How Much Is Enough?

Leave your links in comments...

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I Write Letters

Dear Ridiculous Reactionaries,

Your pearl-clutching, offensively small-minded and false outrage over Jenna Lyons' J. Crew ad featuring her painting the toe nails of her son pink is tired. It's so tired that it just needs to be put to bed. Forever. So, just stop. Also? I have something for you as a parting gift:

No love & less respect,

A Mom of A Boy Whose Favorite Color is Pink

P.S. For the people who also think these reactionaries are jackasses and say things like "my (brother/son/nephew/cousin) dressed up in tutus and make-up and he turned out just fine--he's all grown up now and he does Totally Hetero things"...I understand you may mean well but please stop using "just fine" as a euphemism for "not gay". It still sends the message, however inadvertently, that being gay or transgender or whatever it is those people think will happen to boys if they show any signs of liking "girl things" is somehow not "just fine". It is perfectly fine.

P.P.S. Image of ad below fold.

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I Write Letters

Dear Michele Bachmann,

My understanding is that you think it would be a good idea for presidential candidates to throw their birth certificates on the table.

I have a better idea.

I think all presidential candidates should place their brains on the table, starting with yours. I would find that to be far more revealing and helpful to the public.

Space Cowboy

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Meet the Candidates! Tronald Dump

Hi. I'm Tronald Dump, and I am running for President of the United States.

Now, I know what you're thinking: Who the heck is this gumball and why on earth would I vote for him? Good question! Let me tell you a little about myself.

I am, according to tens of minutes of research I did at, the fifth cousin of billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump. But don't let the uncanny resemblance and our shared record of bankruptcy fool you! We are nothing alike. For one, I do not own a gold-plated toilet. For another, I believe our president is an American citizen.

Also, I have never been the star of a network reality series—although my cable access cooking show, "A Braising Grace with Tronald Dump," was very popular in the mid-nineties.

Most importantly, however, while Cousin Donnie (we have not met, but I am sure that is what he would want me to call him if we did) is a conservative, I am a liberal.

There are a lot of liberal causes that are important to me—net neutrality, habeas corpus, civil liberties—but perhaps none so close to my heart AND my brain as reproductive rights, which is why I feel it's so vital, especially now as a liberal presidential candidate, to get out there and lecture women on how stupid they are if they don't vote for me.

Listen, ladies, I don't know if you're aware or not, but the Republicans are really against abortion. Frankly, I'd be surprised if any of you gals could have missed that memo, but I know sometimes it helps to have an objective source tell you these things.

You know how they call themselves "pro-life"…? Well, that's a laugh! They're not pro-life at all. You've probably never thought of it this way before, but since Republicans don't support universal healthcare and do support wars, they're more like PRO-DEATH. And here's another protip for ya, sisters: Being against abortion is pretty hostile to your quality of life, if you don't want to have a baby.

So here's the big 411: If a Republican president gets elected, he—or SHE (feminism)—is going to replace all the decrepit Supreme Court justices with rightwingers who hate abortions and then they're going to overturn Roe v. Wade and then you're gonna be shit outta luck!

I know what you're thinking: What have you Democrats done for us lately? Well, I'LL TELL YOU. We've nominated two women (not too shabby) to the Supreme Court to stand on the line and guard Roe for the rest of you lot.

Now, I've skimmed (tl;dr) some of your complaints about how the Democrats are using abortion rights as a bargaining chip with the Republicans, and about how the Democratic executive and Democratic Senate majority aren't doing bupkis to create a counter-narrative to the national onslaught of anti-abortion bills in state legislatures, and about how the Democrats throw women's rights under the bus every time it's politically expedient, and about how the current Democratic president uses language that plays to rightwing frames on abortion rights, and all the rest of that gobbledygook, and, frankly, I don't find your arguments very compelling.

Partly that's because I didn't really bother reading them (hysterical), but mostly it's because I'm mad that you're going to ruin everything for the rest of us with your principles (wtf).

I need to get elected to protect your rights, ladies, and if that means I have to occasionally undermine your rights to do it, that's just how the game is played. You just don't understand politics, is all. It's very sophisticated stuff.

So just settle down and vote for me, Tronald Dump, Democratic candidate for president of the USA.

We all know you've got nowhere else to go, anyway—and I'm sure we can all agree like ADULTS that merely failing to protect your rights is in no way as terrible as actively attacking them.

You can read more of my detailed policy proposals to not make things worse unless I have to under "Dump on Women" at my campaign website: www.geocities.fart/dump2012.

Tronald Dump has been a fauxgressive concern troll since he first got a boner blaming Nader voters for the 2000 election that was decided by the Supreme Court. He is not related to Donald Trump.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Daft Punk: "One More Time"

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Whoooooooooops Your Party Is Full of Bigots!

[Trigger warning for Islamophobia, mention of sexual violence.]

Reporting from the Freedom Federation's "The Awakening 2011" conference ("Raising Our Voices: Equipping and empowering a New Revolution / Because our Faith matters. Because our Freedom matters."—sure), Think Progress' Scott Keyes shares a delightful tale of anti-Sharia activist Frank Gaffney and anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist getting all up in each other's grills about just how much bigotry in the GOP is too much. Or whatever.

Norquist has HAD IT with these extremists, people! And to put that into perspective, let us recall that Norquist has famously said shit like: "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." And: "Bipartisanship is another name for date rape."

Now he's a Republican moderate.

[Related Reading: "Where Did We Go Wrong?"]

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But We Can Be Absolutely Certain That Michele Bachmann Is a Public Embarrassment

[Trigger warning for homophobia; dehumanization.]

Asked if she agrees with the position of The Family Leader, a virulently anti-gay group in Iowa before whom she was making an appearance, that "homosexuality is a public health hazard akin to second hand smoke," Rep. Michele Bachmann couldn't come up with an answer.

Think Progress' Igor Volsky: Congresswoman, some groups — including this one, I believe — have argued that homosexuality is a public health crisis akin to second-hand smoking. I was wondering if you agreed with that.

Bachmann: Um. I — I don't have an answer on that. I don't have an answer. Why don't I have another question.
Its patently absurd that Bachmann was startled by the question and did not have a response ready. Apart from the fact that any decent person would reflexively disavow such manifest nonsense, Bachmann should have been at least minimally aware of what the group with which she was affiliating is promoting: The Family Leader (nice name, btw) considers its "public health hazard" position central to its message and actively promotes "gay conversion therapies."

That Bachmann had no reply whether she agrees with the organization's framing of gay people effectively as diseased vermin who must be eliminated for the public good is not only indicative of her appalling ethics, but evidence that her team ain't ready for primetime.

Good luck with that presidential run, asshole.

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Open Thread


Hosted by a peacock.

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Question of the Day

When was the last time you heard a song for the first time and became instantly enamored of it? Today I got an e-mail for a new show that's playing in NYC called We're Gonna Die by playwright Young Jean Lee, and she posted a demo of one of the show's songs.

I cannot stop listening to it, and I think I have to see the show now.

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Let Them Eat Bootstraps

Hey, you remember the president's bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, right? The very white, very male, and very terrifying collection of geniuses otherwise known as the Catfood Commission, for their hot recommendations to "to get people to pay more for their health care and retirement with money they don't have," co-chaired by Alan "Milk Cow With 310 Million Tits" Simpson...?

Sure you do.

And no doubt you'll be thrilled to hear that President Obama "will not blaze a fresh path when he delivers a much-anticipated speech Wednesday afternoon at George Washington University. Instead, he is expected to offer support for the commission's work and a related effort underway in the Senate to develop a strategy for curbing borrowing. Obama will frame the approach as a responsible alternative to the 2012 plan unveiled last week by House Republicans, according to people briefed by the White House."

So: Extreme right-wing plan vs. center-right bipartisan plan. Peachy!

Susie doesn't mince words: "All the hoo-hah over the Ryan plan was only to soften us up for what Obama wanted all along: The plan from his handpicked members of the Catfood Commission. Just like he did with the healthcare plan, he sat down with the players and worked out his own back-door 'bipartisan' deal to sidestep that messy democracy thing he finds so distasteful."

Also see [TW for ablist language]: David Dayen, who notes, quite rightly, that this is "a pre-emptive surrender, and a needless one at that."

Well. Only if you support progressive policies.

If you fancy yourself the next coming of Ronald Reagan, I guess everything is turning out just fucking right.

UPDATE: House Democrats have sent a letter to Obama warning him that, if he wants to retain their support, he will not include cuts to Social Security in the deficit reduction program to be outlined Wednesday night: "[W]e remain concerned that the Bowles-Simpson proposal may serve as a starting point for budget negotiations. We consider this plan to be flawed in several key areas, especially with respect to its proposed cuts to Social Security Benefits. We believe that any proposal that includes cuts to a popular, fiscally sound program lacks credibility and does not reflect the political center."

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Random YouTubery

Please enjoy this redonkulously adorable video of a cat playing with a dolphin:

[Via Andy.]

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Quote of the Day

"Twelve dimensional chess, assholes!"—Me, upon reading that Servicemembers United, a nonprofit organization representing LGBTQ active servicemembers and veterans, was not invited to the launch of Michelle Obama's and Jill Biden's Joining Forces initiative, "a program meant to raise awareness of the challenges faced by members of the military and their families," because, according to the office of the First Lady, Don't Ask Don't Tell "still remains the law." Indeed. A law which, as Servicemembers United's executive director Alexander Nicholson points out, "does not apply to the civilians who work at their advocacy and service organizations."

[H/T to Spudsy, who wryly comments: "Don't invite, don't include."]

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Discussion Thread: The Killing

[Trigger warning for violence; spoiler warning for The Killing.]

Is anyone else watching the new AMC series The Killing...?

I was pretty interested in this series, because not only is it about a female cop working to solve the murder of a female victim, but half of its 12 credited producers are women, Agnieszka Holland is directing several of the episodes, and Michelle Forbes, whom I love (still need to write that post), is in it.

So, I've watched the first couple of episodes, and, even though its homage to Twin Peaks is heavy-handed and there are too many annoying reversals (three—seriously, three—"you totes think this is a dead body but whooooooops it's not—gotcha!" reversals in the first 10 minutes), I'm kind of digging it.

That said, there is still some of the voyeuristic, sexifying of violence against young women of the type endemic to Law & Order: SVU episodes and thrillers starring Ashley Judd.

That said, my expectations are admittedly pretty low, but the violence seems less pornified than usual—and it's balanced with some scenes of surviving family members' pain that feel very authentic. Watching the Larsens try to navigate conveying information to their young sons (what information? how much detail? when?) about their older sister's death is very pointed commentary about the reverberating effects of violence.

Anyway: What do you think?

[There have only been two episodes of the US series, so if you've seen the Danish series on which it's based, please don't leave spoilers in comments.]

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Tronald Dump

So, ever since Donald Trump starting yammering about running for president, Kenny Blogginz and I have had this running gag about a presidential candidate named Tronald Dump, who attends his campaign appearances in a Tron suit, often with a turd on his head.

This morning, as part of a tradition of granting magical wishes, I made this for KBlogz:

Now this guy looks like he knows how to run America!

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Mods Get to See the Darndest Things

This gem just showed up in the moderation queue. In honor of Equal Pay Day, we decided to share its rich wisdom with you all.

How do feminists justify lying about men as they do?

You all know the wage gap is a big lie -- women don't get paid any less if their lazy assess ever do the same work as men, but how often does that ever happen? Right. That 77% figure is saying women do 23% less work than men and so not surprisingly they get paid less on average. Women don't work as man hours as men, women don't do the nasty jobs men do, women don't do dangerous jobs men do, women don't do stressful jobs and women tend to take jobs with a lot of personal fulfillment. Men have careers but then men don't get to marry a woman who pays their bills.

So celebrate your day for how lazy women are while spreading the bigoted lie that women are paid less for the same work. You all know you are liars.

"I know you are, but what am I?" is about as sophisticated a rejoinder as this one deserves, I think, but feel free to discuss it. Or, you know, just point and laugh.

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Daily Dose of Cute

As we know, spring has sprung once Dougie has sniffed a bluebonnet. This past weekend, he made our dreams come true:

a black, white, and brown King Charles Spaniel in a field of bluebonnets
Dougie in a field of Texas bluebonnets. Photo by TheLadyEve.

a black, white, and brown spaniel looks into the distance among bluebonnets
This shot reveals Dougie's new warm weather cut. Photo by TheLadyEve.

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You Know What You Need?

The theme from H.R. Pufnstuff:

Which is now out on DVD, by the way. Can't do a little cause he can't do enough!

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Number of the Day

28: The number of states in which anti-choicers "are pressuring state lawmakers to pass legislation restricting private health insurance plans from covering abortion services."

Currently, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, private insurance companies that participate in public exchanges are allowed to provide abortion coverage. However, women seeking abortion coverage must make two separation payments - the first for abortion coverage and the second for the remaining cost of coverage.

Adam Sonfield, a public policy expert at the Guttmacher Institute (pdf) stated, "Every additional restriction is adding to the probability that insurance companies will throw up their hands and say, 'This isn't worth our time anymore.'"
Meanwhile, the Guttmacher Institute reports today that, though March 31 of this year, "legislators introduced 916 measures related to reproductive health and rights in the 49 state legislatures that had convened their regular session. (Louisiana's legislature will not convene until late April.)" Additionally:
As a whole, the proposals introduced this year are more hostile to abortion rights than in the past: Fifty-six percent of the bills introduced so far this year seek to restrict abortion access, compared with 38% in 2010.

...At the same time, legislators are proposing little in the way of proactive initiatives aimed at expanding access to reproductive health-related services. This stands in sharp contrast to recent years, when a range of initiatives to promote comprehensive sex education, permit expedited STI treatment for patients’ partners and ensure insurance coverage of contraception were adopted. For the moment, at least, supporters of reproductive health and rights are almost uniformly playing defense at the state level.

More than 500 pieces of anti-choice legislation introduced in 49 states, with 28 states considering restrictions on private health insurance plans paying for abortions, and our allegedly pro-choice Democratic president who purportedly didn't want his healthcare bill to be "an abortion bill" cannot find time for an address to declare his solidarity with the 52% of the population whose agency and bodily autonomy are being attacked.


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#thingsfatpeoplearetold: You Are Strong

This started out as a comment to Brian's guest post about the #thingsfatpeoplearetold hashtag, but it got really long, so I made it its own post.

One of the things by which I was struck, once again, as I read through the shared stories, is how truly tough the life of a fat person is—and how pointedly that belies the narrative that fat people are lazy.

Totally aside from whatever factors underlie Teh Dreaded Fat—which may in some cases include a lack of exercise, for a multitude of reasons, one of which might be physical laziness—being fat, living the life of a fat person, is not a life for a lazy person. It is hard work to move every day through a world that hates you.

Facing each day of one's life knowing that what awaits is navigating a sea of prejudice squarely rooted in the basic assumption that one is less than, a disgusting, shameful figure symbolizing sloth and avarice, too contemptible to even warrant pity no less dignity and respect, is not for the lazy, nor the faint of heart, nor the weak.

Knowing that just the mere act of walking down the street is likely to elicit moos and epithets and admonishments to hide one's body away from the world, that doing something, anything in public while fat may elicit exhortations to exercise, while exercising itself elicits exhortations to stop being so fat in public, does not make for a life that suits laziness.

Having to battle doctors for basic healthcare, and employers for equal pay, and friends and family for safe boundaries, and retail clerks for clothes, and ourselves for self-worth despite a metric fuckton of internalized narratives that we deserve nothing but scorn is not for the trepidatious.

Being criticized by strangers for what one is wearing, or eating, or looks like; receiving unsolicited "suggestions" about diets and exercise and weight-loss surgery; getting back-handed compliments about having a "pretty face" or not being "that fat" or being "proportional" or some variation on doing the best with the supposedly self-evidently terrible hand we've been dealt; being corrected when you describe yourself as fat, as if it's not a neutral descriptor but something of which to be ashamed; hearing people who purport to care about us express amazement that we have found partners who love us, or have found professional success at jobs we love, or have put together a stylish outfit; these are not aspects of a life that suits laziness.

Having a thin friend or relative look you in the face and tell you that zie can't believe you are happy, when zie is not, that you have a fulfilling life, when zie does not, that you are confident, when zie is not, with the clear implication that you don't deserve to be happy, fulfilled, confident, content, loved because you're fat, is not part of a life for the timid.

Moving through a world which marginalizes fat bodies and privileges bodies not like yours, a world which is designed to facilitate and uphold that privilege, a world which indoctrinates you and everyone around you into that system of privilege and socializes you to believe is the natural and right and immutable state of the world, a world full of shills for that system of privilege and bullies who crawl out of the woodwork in droves to kick you back into line if you dare to question the message, a world decorated with images to remind you that your body is wrong, your body is bad, your body is less than, a world in which it is acceptable for people to believe that accurate conclusions can be drawn about your behavior based on your body and that expressing negative judgments based on those conclusions is their right and obligation, a world in which eliminationist language about people with bodies like yours is not considered controversial, a world in which you, your personhood, your very humanity is challenged on a near-constant basis under the auspices of concern for your "health," is not a world that indulges laziness, cowardice, or weakness.

You've got to be strong to live the life of a fat person. Strong as fuck.

People who accuse fat folks of indolence, or pusillanimity, or weakness (particular of the emotional sort) have, quite evidently, no idea of what being fat, living the life of a fat person, is really like. At least not the life of a fat person who has the unmitigated temerity to believe fervently in hir own right to exist, to participate, to live in a space, internally and externally, which isn't ruled by self-loathing.

What would it take for you to live in a world that hates you?

It takes an indomitable will to live life while fat, in the shadow of ubiquitous reminders that we're doing so in direct contravention of the expectation that we should be secreting ourselves away, and the incessant grim predictions of an allegedly imminent demise.

I've said it before and I'll say it once again: It remains a radical act to be fat and happy. If you're fat, you're not only meant to be unhappy, but deeply ashamed of yourself, projecting at all times an apologetic nature, indicative of your everlasting remorse for having wrought your monstrous self upon the world. You are certainly not meant to be bold, or assertive, or confident—and should you manage to overcome the constant drumbeat of messages that you are ugly and unsexy and have earned equally society's disdain and your own self-hatred, should you forget your place and walk into the world one day with your head held high, you are to be reminded by the cow-calls and contemptuous looks of perfect strangers that you are not supposed to have self-esteem; you don't deserve it. Being publicly fat and happy is hard; being publicly, shamelessly, unshakably fat and happy is an act of both will and bravery.

Of all the #thingsfatpeoplearetold, it is a scandal and a disgrace that "You are strong" is rarely among them.

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