Open Thread

Hosted by Mayor Quimby. Vote Quimby!

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

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

TFIF, Shakers!

Belly up to the bar,
and name your poison!

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

I've got a doctor's appointment this afternoon, and several of the other moderators are also otherwise busy, so we're going to wrap it up early today. See you Monday!

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt lying in the middle of the living room floor surrounded by plushy toys

Zelly and her toyfriends.

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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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Nina Simone: "Backlash Blues"

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In The News

[Content note: Homophobia, racism]

Friday Friday Friday:

The Family Research Council wants everyone to get on their knees for gay stuff. Or because gay stuff. Something! It's definitely gay:

John Travolta and Robert De Niro are teaming up for first time in new action drama. God help us all. Maybe Al Pacino and Mork from Ork can have cameos!

Indiana Governor Mike Pence doesn't like gays. Quelle surprise!

Tim Huelskamp of Kansas has vowed to introduce a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage across the nation. LOL! Okay, well, good luck with that. I guess it'll get you some attention.

Wanna watch the Taiwanese animation version of Wendy Davis' filibuster? Sure you do!

BART unions officially gave notice that they could shut down the Bay Area's transit system when their contracts expire at 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

This, folks, is the headline of the day: Antifreeze-Addicted Marmot Hitches a Ride to San Francisco. Good luck, marmots everywhere!

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Obesity Is a Disease Now, You Know

[Content Note: Fat hatred.]

Texting! With Liss and Eastsidekate!

Kate: Apparently, [Westsidebecca] say this in Real Simple, because Real Simple is awful. [sends image]

image of a page from Real Simple Magazine featuring the headline 'Is your home OBESOGENIC?' and a cartoon image of a fat white woman with blond hair looking miserable, whose fat torso has been replaced by a house

Liss: Whut. Obesogenic will be the new buzzword now that fat is a disease.

Kate: From the Latin for WHUT. I prefer "obsogenic."

Liss: I prefer CATCHFATS!

Kate: LOL! Real Simple is full of shit, but you knew that because you're obsogenic.

Liss: I wish it were full of DOUGHNUTS. (Full disclosure: I don't care for doughnuts.)

Kate: How about donuts?

Liss: Those are even worse.


Liss: LOL!

Kate: Personally, I like doughnuts, just not all the foo-foo ones. Bacon, home brew, and Froot Loops on a 4 lb bear claw!

Liss: Directions: Eat while wearing a trucker hat. IRONICALLY.

Kate: Just in the handlebar mustache parts of Brooklyn.

Liss: My favorite thing is when thin hipsters blog about how gross fat, poor, Midwestern people are from cafes with free wi-fi while sucking down a $7 soy latte and eating an ironic doughnut. It makes me think, "I should be ashamed of myself."

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With Allies Like These...

[Content Note: Hostility to agency.]

Under the insufferably condescending headline "The Real Problem With Rick Perry's Comments About Wendy Davis," liberal concern troll Jonathan Chait explains that the "immediate liberal reaction" to Texas Governor Rick Perry's contemptible speech at the National Right to Life Conference yesterday identified the wrong problem. Perry was not attacking Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, nor dismissing her as a teen mom; he was actually "pointing to her life as a success." Instead, argues Chait, the real problem with Perry's comments are thus:

Now, to be sure, Davis would respond that giving birth was her choice, and ought to remain her choice. I agree. But this merely pushes the debate back to irreconcilable moral premises. The abortion debate, at its root, pits differing ideas on the fundamental question of what is a human life. Perry's side thinks that sperm plus egg equals human life. My side thinks the fertilized egg does not approach human status until much later in the process, which means the mother's prerogative supercedes any rights it has.

There's no real resolution to this dispute. Nobody even makes much of an effort to resolve it. Both sides advance arguments that only make sense if you already accept their premise about what a human life is. That's what Perry's doing here. He's saying we should force women to give birth even when they don't want to, because babies born in bad circumstances can be happy anyway. That isn't an acceptable burden to place on women, in my opinion, but it surely is if you think abortion is murder.

Likewise, liberals often call conservatives hypocritical for wanting to shrink government while expanding government's power to ban abortion. Except, if you think abortion is murder, then banning abortion is the sort of thing government ought to be able to do, even if it does very little overall. "Stopping murder" is one function of government that even Grover Norquist would endorse. Anti-abortion conservatives aren't hypocritical, they're (from the pro-choice standpoint) wrong about what a murder is.

I realize a plea for understanding sounds odd coming from me, not being known for gentleness. I suppose I find certain bedrock conservative beliefs, like that the poor are genetically inferior or it's okay for people to be denied access to basic medical care, to be barbaric and often simply premised on obvious mistakes. Having a different idea about when human life begins strikes me as the ultimate example of an issue where reasonable people can disagree.
Wow. Okay.

First, let me address Chait's assertion that Perry did not rhetorically attack Davis. In fact, he did. Even granting the premise that Perry was "pointing to her life as a success," when a man appropriates a woman's lived experiences in order to redefine them and use them in service to his own agenda, no less when that agenda is controlling her body, that is an attack, if the word is to have any meaning at all. Whether Perry presumes to be (backhandedly) complimenting Davis or indicting her is irrelevant: He is claiming ownership of her story, her experience, and deploying it as though it is his right to use. It is not. Chait is an intelligent man; surely he can understand the particularly bitter irony of an anti-choice legislator assuming rhetorical control of a pro-choice woman's personal narrative.

Secondly, of course there is a real resolution to the "dispute" about when life begins, and if Chait actually images "nobody" has made "much of an effort to resolve it," perhaps he should make an effort to familiarize himself with the legions of feminist writers who have spilled endless amounts of ink (digital or otherwise) on this very subject. I am eminently willing to concede that people can have a good faith disagreement about when human life begins, but that has absolutely no bearing on whether the "dispute" about abortion cannot be resolved.

Granting the premise that a fetus has the equivalent value of the born uterus-having person carrying it, I will observe (once again) that my life, right now, is not so precious that any other human being could be compelled to use their body to support mine for the next nine months (at least). No other human being is obliged to give up an organ for me, even if it would save my life. Nor bone marrow, nor blood, nor skin. People who are forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term are being asked to do something no other people are asked to do for another person, which exposes the truth of the anti-choice position: Fetuses are valued more highly than the people who carry them.

Here, then, is how we resolve this disagreement: By not making an exception for the sustenance of fetal life that we make for no other life.

It isn't as though there isn't precedent in our existing law and culture. We institutionally value lives differently, some more than others, all the time. We value lives of US citizens more than the lives of non-USians. We value the lives of inmates less than the lives of the free population (among whom are many highly-rewarded perpetrators of white-collar crimes). We value the lives of the wealthy more than the poor. We value the lives of people we allow to live without healthcare access less than the lives of those who by fate or fortune have health insurance. And these are only the valuations that can and do routinely mean a visible difference between life and death.

Which is to say nothing of all the kyriarchal valuations of lives that have repercussions small and large and sometimes deadly, too.

(We also wisely value some lives over others for complex reasons, like the life of the highly-protected US President over the life of an average citizen.)

But the people who are in the seats of power that legislatively prioritize US, supposedly law-abiding, wealthy, healthcare-having lives over others are largely very privileged men. And we are expected to understand that their agreement to globally prioritize their own lives over everyone else's is Moral Values, and an individual woman's choice to value her life over a fetus is murder.

The "when does life begin" debate is nothing but smoke and mirrors to obfuscate the reality that we routinely make valuations about different lives, some rightly and some wrongly. It is an attempt to pretend that abortion is an entirely unique scenario, and thus cannot be easily resolved. And no one knows this better than the architects of the anti-choice movement, who qualify fetal life as "innocent life," as opposed to the soiled lives of, say, the people whose lives were cut short because we lacked the political will to fund effective levees or repair a crumbling bridge.

It is the worst kind of intellectual dishonesty to indulge this garbage argument about irreconcilable disagreement over when life begins. It doesn't matter even if life does begin at conception. The calculus thus becomes which life matters more, which is an assessment we are willing to make in dozens of other situations across our political and cultural landscape.

Concede their point. Then make the argument that we must actually value the actual lives of actual people who have actually been born over fetuses.

The question is not really when life begins. The question is whether we recognize women and other people with uteri as humans whose lives have intrinsic value and the rights of agency, bodily autonomy, and consent. It is only because such a vast swath of our population cannot or will not answer a resounding and unqualified "yes" to that question that there is even space for a reprehensible debate about when life begins.

The "real problem" with Perry's comments about Davis are not that they expose some tedious, specious, allegedly unresolvable debate about when life begins—an argument which is resolved by centering the humanity, agency, bodily autonomy, and consent of women. The "real problem" with Perry's comments is that they make evident that the anti-choice movement is an extension of the rape culture, which seeks to strip women of precisely those things.

Jonathan Chait, stop indulging this misogynist frame. It does not warrant serious engagement. It empowers the anti-choice position—and so, by the way, does putting forth arguments that disappear the work of pro-choice advocates.

Nobody even makes much of an effort to resolve it. Nobody? Welp. That's part of the problem, right there.

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Rep. Tammy Duckworth: BOOM.

On Wednesday, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing following "a months-long House probe into whether [government contractor Braulio Castillo]'s company won IRS contracts thanks, in part, to help from a top contracting official and friend inside the IRS named Greg Roseman, who pleaded the Fifth Amendment when called to testify. While much of the hearing delved into questions about Roseman and Castillo's friendship, lawmakers from both parties wondered aloud how" an injury resulting from a broken foot Castillo sustained at the US Military Preparatory School nearly three decades ago, which he attended for nine months before playing football in college "could result in Castillo's company getting special set-aside contract status from the government," based on his technology business having been certified as a service-disabled, veteran-owned company, "at a time when so many injured veterans are looking for work. But among hours of testimony, [questioning by Democratic Representative from Illinois, Tammy Duckworth, who lost her legs and the use of her right arm as a helicopter pilot in Iraq in 2004] stood out."

[Transcript below care of Shaker DesertRose.]
REP. TAMMY DUCKWORTH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You know, this hearing is very troubling to me because this case really shows how things can go wrong. I want to support our small business owners as much as possible, I want these set–asides to be successful, but I am absolutely appalled by the advantages that have been taken of this system.

Mr. Flohr, I know you cannot discuss Mr. Castillo's case, because you would need his permission to discuss his particular case; that's why you could not answer the question earlier. My understanding also is that the VA, VBA specifically, is bound by legislation that says a certain condition has a certain disability rating. For example, a below-knee amputation is 40%, it just is, correct?

MR. FLOHR: That is correct, ma'am.

REP. DUCKWORTH: So it seems like there is an opportunity here for some legislative fixes to this system. Mr. Chodos, is it true that any rating, even if it is just 5%, would qualify someone for a service-connected disability owned business?

MR. CHODOS: So long as they qualify under the VA's rules for service-connected disability, that is adequate for the self-certification.

REP. DUCKWORTH: Thank you. Mr. Castillo, how are you? Thank you—thank you for being here today.

MR. CASTILLO: I am not well, but you're welcome.

REP. DUCKWORTH: All right, so, your foot hurt, your left foot?

MR. CASTILLO: Yes, ma'am.

REP. DUCKWORTH: It hurts. Yeah, my feet hurt too. In fact, the balls of my feet burn continuously, and I feel like there is a nail being hammered into my right heel right now, so I can understand pain and suffering and how service connection can actually cause long-term, unremitting, unyielding, unstoppable pain. So I'm sorry that twisting your ankle in high school has now come back to hurt you in such a painful way, if also opportune for you to gain this status for your business as you were trying to compete for contracts. I also understand why, you know, something can take years to manifest themselves [sic] from when you hurt them. In fact, I have a dear, dear friend who sprayed Agent Orange out of his Huey in Vietnam, who, it took forty years, forty years, for the leukemia to actually manifest itself, and he died six months later, so I can see how military service, while at the time you seem very healthy, could forty years later result in devastating injury. Can you tell me if you hurt your left foot again during your football career, subsequently to twisting it in high school?

MR. CASTILLO: Ma'am, I don't understand the high school comment.

REP. DARRELL ISSA: The young lady—prep school—post high school.

MR. CASTILLO: I apologize—I'm not—

REP. DUCKWORTH: Post high school, okay post high school, prep school, before college, prep school. Did you injure your left foot again after prep school?

MR. CASTILLO: Um, I'm not sure I understand the question, ma'am.

REP. DUCKWORTH: You played football in college, correct?

MR. CASTILLO: Yes, ma'am.

REP. DUCKWORTH: As a quarterback?

MR. CASTILLO: Yes, ma'am. I did.

REP. DUCKWORTH: Did you hurt, did you injure that same foot again subsequently in the years since you twisted it in prep school?

MR. CASTILLO: Not to my recollection, ma'am.
REP. DUCKWORTH: Not to your recollection, okay. Why didn't you, Mr. Castillo, tell the VA that your doctor's note to them was inaccurate when you knew that it was?

MR. CASTILLO: I don't feel that it's inaccurate, ma'am.


MR. CASTILLO: Would you like me to address that?

REP. DUCKWORTH: Yep, go ahead.

MR. CASTILLO: Yes, ma'am, so, one of my doctors that submitted letters so, as part of the injury you have to establish that it's chronic and reoccurring [sic], so when I returned home to San Diego, my doctor from San Diego had also returned—had said that he had treated me for the foot injury that I suffered on active duty. When I moved to Las Vegas, a couple years later, that doctor submitted that he continued to treat me for a left broken foot injury. Finally, when I moved to Virginia, I went to a doctor and that it continued to hurt, and he established that—so Dr. Sam Wilson, who ironically was also stationed at Monmouth—

REP. DUCKWORTH: I have to cut you off, because I'm running out of time. I'm sorry.

MR. CASTILLO: So, I just want to—just, so, let me finish—so, in talking to Dr. Wilson who himself is a disabled veteran, and very familiar with Fort Monmouth in that his son had went there as well and played football, he actually was the one that talked to me about, "Hey this may be something that is connected." And I believe I told him that I was first—[crosstalk]

REP. DUCKWORTH: So let me—let me, I have to cut you off. I have to cut you off. Now, this is not an argument, I'm talking, I'm up here. Let me ask you this. Do you feel the 30% rating that you have for the scars and the pain in your foot is accurate to the sacrifices that you've made for this nation? That the VA decision is accurate in your case?

MR. CASTILLO: Yes ma'am, I do.

REP. DUCKWORTH: You know, my right arm was essentially blown off and reattached. I spent a year in limb salvage with over a dozen surgeries over that time period, and in fact, we thought we would lose my arm, and I'm still in danger of possibly losing my arm. I can't feel it; I can't feel my three fingers. My disability rating for that arm is 20%.

In your letter to a government official, I think it's the SVA, attention Gina Mu (ph), you said, "My family and I have made considerable sacrifices for our country. My service-connected disability status should serve as a testimony to that end. I can't play with my kids because I can't walk without pain. I take twice daily pain medication so I can work a normal day's worth. These are crosses—these are crosses—that I bear due to my service to our great country, and I would do it again to protect this great country."

I'm so glad that you would be willing to play football in prep school again to protect this great country. Shame on you, Mr. Castillo. Shame on you. You may not have broken any laws. We're not sure yet; you did misrepresent to the SBA, but you certainly broke the trust of this great nation. You broke the trust of veterans. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans right now are waiting an average of 237 days for an initial disability rating, and it is because people like you who are gaming the system are adding to that backlog so that young men and women who are suffering from post-traumatic stress, who are missing limbs, cannot get the compensation and the help that they need. And I'm sure that you played through the pain of that foot all through college.

Well, let me tell you something. I recovered with a young man, a Navy corpsman, who, while he was running into a [sic] ambush where his Marines were hurt, had his leg knocked off with an RPG. He put a tourniquet on himself and crawled forward. He is who played through the pain, Mr. Castillo. You did not. You took advantage of the system. You described these statuses, just today, that other companies were using these special statuses as competitive weapons against you.

You, who never picked up a weapon in defense of this great nation, very cynically took advantage of the system. You broke the faith with this nation. You broke the faith with the men and women who lie in hospitals right now at Walter Reed, in Bethesda, at Brooke Army Medical Center in (?), you broke the faith with them. And if this nation stops funding veterans' health care and stops, and calls into question why veterans deserve their benefits, it is because cases like you have poisoned the public's opinion on these programs.

I hope that you think twice about the example that you are setting for your children. I hope that you think twice about what you are doing to the nation, to this nation's veterans, who are willing to die to protect this nation. Twisting your ankle in prep school is not defending or serving this nation, Mr. Castillo.

Mr. Chairman, I'm sorry, you've been very indulgent. I yield back.

REP. ISSA: I thank the young lady, and the time was well spent.
Why is Darrell Issa calling Tammy Duckworth "the young lady"? Shut up, Darrell Issa. She is a congresswoman. And you are a jerk.

[H/T to Shaker zmayhem. My profound gratitude to Shaker DesertRose for providing the transcript.]

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Open Thread

Hosted by Quisp. Yay, Quisp!

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Question of the Day

What are the best and worst movie sequels of all time?

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...Sen. Wendy Davis thinks Gov. Rick Perry is the worst, too.

Perry invoked Davis' experience as a teenage mother at the National Right to Life conference in Dallas Thursday, telling attendees that it was "unfortunate" that she "hasn't learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters."

"They are small words that reflect a dark and negative point of view," Davis told the Associated Press Thursday. "Our governor should reflect our Texas values. Sadly, Gov. Perry fails that test."

She also added that his comment was "without dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds."

Hey, remember when this guy was running for president? HA HA WHOOPS.

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Immigration Bill Passes Senate; House GOP Says No Way

This afternoon, the much ballyhooed bipartisan immigration reform bill passed the US Senate. And basically what happened is that, in exchange for meager progress for migrant workers and a path to citizenship for "eligible" immigrants, the Democrats agreed to Republicans' proposals to militarize the border and establish biometric tracking at airports.

Ultimately, senators voted on a plan that attempts to fortify the U.S.-Mexico border and other exit points across the country while also providing opportunities for millions of eligible immigrants to apply for permanent status and eventually citizenship.

At a cost of roughly $30 billion, the legislation would double the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexico border to roughly 40,000 and require the construction of 700 miles of fencing along the southern border. In addition to a "surge" of border agents, the federal government would be required to begin using military-style technology, including radar and unmanned aerial drones to track illegal border crossings.

The Department of Homeland Security also would be required to establish a biometric tracking system at the nation's 30 largest airports and eventually at border crossings and seaports to catch people attempting to leave the country with overstayed visas.

...In an attempt to address the needs of a broad cross-section of the business community that relies on immigrant laborers, the agreement also would increase the number of visas available to high-skilled workers, most of whom work in the fields of science and technology, and lower-skilled people who take jobs in the construction and hospitality industries. Immigrant farm workers would be admitted under a temporary guest worker program.
What a neat deal!

Naturally, it's still not terrible enough for House Republicans to get behind it.
Most House Republicans have dismissed the Senate bill as providing insufficient border security measures and being too generous to the nation's illegal immigrants.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), a key deputy GOP whip, on Thursday labeled the Senate bill a "pipe dream" that won't come up for a vote in the House.

"The House has no capacity to move that bill in its entirety," Roskam said at a breakfast hosted by the National Review. "It just won't happen."
We need immediate and meaningful immigration reform to provide a path to citizenship and better worker protections for migrant workers of all skill levels. What we don't need is more America 2.0 bullshit and militarized borders in a gross expansion of government spending and federal policing, proposed by the (ha ha) party of small government.

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2FA, #23

a comic of Deeky and I having the following conversation: Liss: I hate Rick Perry so much. He is THE WORST. Deeks: He is SO the worst. Liss: I want to yell in his face SO LOUDLY. Deeks: Do it. And use the word 'fuck' A LOT.

Today's edition of Two Fucking Assholes is dedicated to Jessica Luther.

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♥ Senator Leticia Van de Putte ♥

At the end of Texas Senator Wendy Davis' epic filibuster Tuesday night, after it had been ended by her mendacious Republican colleagues, right before midnight, Senator Leticia Van de Putte took the mic. And then this happened:

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, a middle-aged Latina woman, holds a mic and says: "Mr. President, a parliamentary inquiry." Offscreen, the president of the state senate, a white man, says, "State your inquiry." Van de Putte asks, "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?" Cheers and applause. The video ends after a few moments, but the cheering and applause continued for ages.
So, she's awesome, basically.

Yesterday, she penned a piece for the Houston Chronicle titled "Why I stood with Wendy: Texas women must be heard." [NB: Not only women need access to a full spectrum of reproductive choice.] You should definitely read the whole thing, because it is very good! I especially loved this:
Unfortunately, some of my Senate colleagues do not believe in trusting women with their reproductive organs. It's amazing to me that they do not trust women with a choice, but they trust them with a child.

If you would like to send her a thank-you for also standing up for women and other people with uteri in Texas and throughout the country, you can send a note to her here.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

The Bright Light Social Hour: "Wendy Davis"

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Rick Perry is the Worst.

[Content Note: Hostility to agency; appropriations; rape culture.]

Igor at Think Progress:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) directly attacked state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) during a speech at the National Right to Life conference on Thursday, arguing that the state senator who filibustered for 13 hours to defeat an omnibus anti-abortion bill should have learned from her own life experiences as a single mother to value "every life."

"Who are we to say that children born into the worst of circumstances can't grow to live successful lives?" Perry asked, before suggesting that Davis' own struggles should have turned her against abortion:
PERRY: In fact, even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of a single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas senate. It is just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.
...During his remarks, the Texas governor also described Davis' filibuster as "hijacking of the Democratic process" and said of the pro-choice movement, "the louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done."
This fucking guy.

Of course it's no surprise that a dirtbag who is keen to legislate what women and other people with uteri are allowed to do with our bodies would, without a hint of compunction, presume to lecture a woman on what lessons she should have gleaned from her lived experience. He feels just as entitled to own and control Wendy Davis' story as he does entitled to own and control her body.

And blah blah insert here another 3,000-word screed that would never penetrate Rick Perry's skull if it were delivered typed on a paper airplane flown directly into his ear about how recognizing that "every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters" is precisely why those of us who are pro-choice are, since we actually value the actual lives of actual people who have actually been born.

Also: Did a male governor of a state with a disproportionately male legislature who are trying to legislate control over primarily women's bodies seriously just say "the louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done"? Because WHAT. THE. FUCK.

I have previously noted on many occasions (here, was probably the fist time) that I'm hard-pressed to see why I should be any less contemptuous of a man who sits at a big mahogany desk in a government building making decisions about my body without my consent than I should be of the man who used physical force to make decisions about my body without my consent.

It is an observation by which anti-choice legislators are outraged. They are horrified to be compared, even obliquely, to sexual predators. As well they should be. I am horrified to have to make it. But anyone who holds the position that zie should be able to legislate away my bodily autonomy and supersede my consent about what happens to my body shouldn't be too goddamned surprised by the comparison.

And anyone who does it while proudly bellowing, about mostly-male legislators seeking control of mostly-female bodies to the sounds of screaming protest, "the louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done" really, really shouldn't be surprised.


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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat snuggled up in a comforter on a bed
Livsy: Professional Snugglepuss.

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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In The News

Deeky W. Gashlycrumb, MD is currently filling his phone dictionary with absurd and/or dirty words, so you're stuck with me today.

[Content Note: Worker exploitation; gun violence; racism; appropriations; homophobia; death penalty.]

You should definitely read this article about US "temp towns." Temporary blue-collar workers are one of the most exploited employee demographics, and one of the least visible.

In totally unrelated (ahem) news, average CEO compensation in the US last year was $14.1 million, or 272.9 times that of a typical worker.

Rachel Jeantel, the last person to speak to her friend Trayvon Martin, testified at George Zimmerman's trial yesterday, telling the court the last thing she heard was Martin yelling "Get off," before the phone went dead. Blub.

Johnny Depp says of his (supercool) role in The Lone Ranger that "It's my small contribution to righting the wrongs committed in the past. It was very important to me to represent the American Indians and it's really the only reason I made the movie." Oh cool. I guess we can expect Depp, who made $50,000,000 for Alice in Wonderland and $55,500,000 for the last Pirates of the Caribbean film, to donate whatever enormous paycheck he earned for The Lone Ranger to First Nations charities. Since he didn't make the movie for the money and all.

Justice Antonin Scalia is the worst, and lifetime appointments are terrible.

Nate Silver crunches the numbers on same-sex marriage and finds that, by August 1, "the availability of same-sex marriage in the United States as a percentage of population will have more than doubled within the year... By August, about 95 million Americans out of a population of 314 million—about 30 percent—will live in states where same-sex marriage is legal." Neat! Also: That is not enough! 100% OR BUST.

In Australia, Julia Gillard (who gave that great speech on misogyny) is out as Prime Minister and Kevin Rudd is in. Australia loses its first female PM, but Rudd is the first sitting Australian PM to support same-sex marriage.

Texas executed its 500th inmate last night. What a grim and horrible record.

Hillary Clinton will run for president whether she likes it or not!

And finally: Oprah once again tops Forbes' list of Most Powerful people. You know what that means! Everyone is getting a brand new caaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrr! (No, they're not. Sorry!)

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More Paula Deen

[Content Note: Racism.]

The fallout continues for Paula Deen, after the disclosure of her practiced racism as part of a discrimination suit filed by employees. She has now lost two more major deals, from Caesars Entertainment Corporation and Walmart. And Walmart is pretty much an expert on racism, so.


In an attempt to manage the crisis, which was apparently organized by the PR firm of Yikes & Whoops, Deen went on The Today Show to do the interview with Matt Lauer she canceled last week due to exhaustion. And she had some pretty amazing things to say, like how she definitely wouldn't have fired herself for using racial slurs and engaging in employment discrimination, and how "every one of God's creatures was created equal. I believe that everyone should be treated equal, that's the way I was raised and that's the way I live my life," sure, okay, and also this:

The Today host then questioned Deen on whether she can understand why some African-Americans could find her racially insensitive language offensive.

"I don't know, I have asked myself that so many times," Deen answered. "It's very distressing for me to go into my kitchens and hear what these young people are calling each's very distressing for me."

"I think for this problem to be worked on, that these young people are gonna have to take control and start showing respect for each other."

*record scratch*


Listen, Paula Deen, you need to stop talking at this point. And it's not because I give a fuck how deep a hole you dig yourself into; it's because racism harms people, and going on a national chat show to defend yourself by blaming your young black employees for racism is itself racism. And it is harmful. And it is deeply fucking wrong. I can't say it any more plainly than that.

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Homophobia.]

"I think [the Supreme Court decision on DOMA] was wrong. [The justices substituted] their own judgment for the judgment of a Republican Congress and a Democratic President. In the Republican Congress in the '90s and Bill Clinton. I thought that Justice Kennedy's opinion was, in many respects, incredibly insulting to those people, 340-some members of Congress who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, and Bill Clinton. He basically said that the only reason to pass that bill was to demean people. That's a heck of a thing to say about Bill Clinton and about the Republican Congress back in the '90s. And it's just another example of judicial supremacy, rather than having the government run by the people we actually vote for."—Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, confessing that he doesn't understand how the fuck the Supreme Court works.

I couldn't be less thrilled about the undue power held by essentially one swing-voter on a bitterly partisan Court, nor about the Court's service to corporations rather than to people, but being unhappy with a decision (ha ha or SO MANY DECISIONS) that the Court doesn't mean I imagine the better option is putting marginalized people's civil rights to a vote.

And, by the way, all the conservatives who keep making this same argument: I am on to you. I get that matters of social justice tend to not go your way in the courts, and that the tyranny of the majority tends to work out better, especially once you rig the game. (Or just break the rules.) This is all a lot of high-falutin' talk for people who just want to put minority rights to a ballot to which the most privileged people who are reluctant to yield their privilege justly are the most likely to have access. If you were honest brokers, you'd just say, "The Court stinks. Long live mob rule."


I also love (hate) this argument that the Court reversing a piece of discriminatory legislation is "insulting" to the bigots who instituted it. Yes, excellent (terrible) point, Chris Christie! Let us forever keep denying same-sex couples their fundamental and constitutionally-guaranteed equality, because we don't want to hurt the delicate fee-fees of their oppressors.

And considering Bill Clinton is happy the gross legislation he signed into law has now been rendered to the dustbin of history, I don't think we need to worry about him.

Shut up, Chris Christie.

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Hey, you know how Texas Governor Rick Perry has decided to call another special session because the first special session didn't pass his grody anti-abortion bill thanks to an incredible filibuster and a massive outpouring of voters? REMEMBER THAT?  

Well, it has been pointed out to me in email that the Texas legislators make $7,200 per year (plus per diem) and are usually expected to hold second jobs in addition to their legislative work. (Unless, of course, they're rich enough to treat politics like a game and/or corrupt enough to leverage their political power into more money. But this is not the ideal, is what I am saying.)

Asking legislators to work an extra 30 days (again!) without more pay because the governor's pet bill wasn't ready and/or didn't get passed in the regular session is bullshit. And yet here we are. Because Rick Perry and his Republican buddies don't give a shit about people who have different bodies, different salaries, different responsibilities, or different anything from them and their Privilege Club.

Much credit to eastsidekate for pointing this out.

Cross-linking: I'm compiling a filibuster retrospective here, for those who missed the live-tweeting the first time and/or found the 140-character limits a little confusingly terse. 

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Open Thread

Hosted by Quidditch.

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Question of the Day

What's next?

(Interpret however you like.)

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Of Course

Texas Governor Rick Perry is a fucking jerk:

In the wake of the Senate's failure to enact abortion legislation before last night's midnight deadline, Gov. Rick Perry Wednesday called the Legislature back for a second special session to begin Monday at 2 p.m.

The call for the session also includes transporation and juvenile justice legislation, both of which also fell by the wayside in last night's chaotic fight over legsilation that would make Texas' abortion laws among the most restrictive in the nation.

"I am calling the Legislature back into session because too much important work remains undone for the people of Texas," said Perry in a statement. "Through their duly elected representatives, the citizens of our state have made crystal clear their priorities for our great state. Texans value life and want to protect women and the unborn. Texans want a transportation system that keeps them moving. Texans want a court system that is fair and just. We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do."
Pretty much every single thing about that statement enrages me, but I CANNOT EVEN DEAL with how "prevent us from doing what he people of this state hired us to do" totally disappears that Senator Wendy Davis was doing what the people who were in that chamber cheering elected her to do.

Which is to say nothing of all the Texans who were cheering her on from their homes.

There's certainly been a breakdown of decorum and decency in Texas, all right, but it ain't Wendy Davis and her senate allies and supporters who are the culprits.

Rick Perry, you are the worst. THE WORST.

[H/T to Shaker mary_k, in comments.]

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Number of the Day

Six: The number of states "already moving ahead with voter ID laws, some of which had already been rejected as discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act," less than 24 hours after the Supreme Court's garbage nightmare of a decision that essentially obliterated the Voting Rights Act.

Before 1965, when the law was first passed, state and local governments came up with ever-inventive ways to keep blacks from voting, forcing the federal government to launch countless legal battles. When Texas was prohibited from holding all-white primaries in 1927, for example, it passed a new law to allow the party leadership to decide who could vote. They chose an all-white primary.

"Early attempts to cope with this vile infection resembled battling the Hydra," said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her fierce dissent of the Supreme Court's ruling.

"Whenever one form of voting discrimination was identified and prohibited, others sprang up in its place. This Court repeatedly encountered the remarkable 'variety and persistence' of laws disenfranchising minority citizens," she continued.

Since last year, 41 states have introduced some form of restrictive voting legislation, and of those 18 passed laws. Among the most popular are those that require voters to show a photo ID in order to vote, which proponents say helps to counter fraud — a phenomenon that almost never happens (pdf), analysts say.
This is particularly bad news in light of the fact that, in 2008, the Court upheld Indiana's bullshit voter ID law.

I consider the right to vote about as close to sacred as anything gets in my secular world, and I have nothing but unadulterated contempt for anyone who tries to deny that right. I am so fucking angry about the disenfranchisement that will happen as a result of this foolish, loathsome, utterly wrong decision. I urge you (again) to sign the NAACP's petition to Congress.

Buncha goddamn shameless cheats who can't win on the merits [sic] of their barfy robber baron policies, so they rig the game. A stolen victory feels just as good when you've got a lump of petrified avarice where your social conscience oughtta be.

[H/T to Amadi.]

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♥ Wendy Davis ♥

image of Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, a white middle-aged woman with blonde hair, smiling and lifting her arm into the air during yesterday's filibuster

A little recommended reading: Elizabeth Plank's 10 Reasons You Should Love Wendy Davis.

[H/T to Shaker superior olive (Bethany), in comments.]

* * *

[Content Note: Anti-choice terrorism.]

Also: Do you remember in March of last year when I wrote about a Texas State Senator whose office was firebombed? That was Wendy Davis.

At the time, she said: "It's a sad but true fact of public service that we have to feel concerned sometimes for our personal safety. But we can't let that stop us."

She knows exactly what she's risking. And she stood the fuck up there for 13 hours and did it anyway.

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In the News

[Content note: Homophobia, misogyny]

The Stars At Night Are Big And Bright:

A new law in Iowa gives that state's governor final say on whether the state will fund medically necessary abortions for poor women.

Paul Giamatti is joining the cast of Downtown Abby.

Devo drummer Alan Myers has died after a battle with cancer.

Glenn Beck makes more money per year than Lady Gaga, Oprah and Rush Limbaugh. Gross.

Check this out: Fat People: #IAmNotADisease.

Fox News is super pissed!

Did you buy a box of Twinkies off eBay for like $100? If so: whoops!

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Quote of the Day

"Who cares?"—House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, responding to a question at a Capitol Hill press conference about Rep. Michele Bachmann's statement that SCOTUS had tried to "undo what a holy God has instituted" by striking down Section 3 of DOMA.

The exchange begins at the two-minute mark in the below video.

Transcript starting at 2:00:

Male reporter, offscreen: Congresswoman Bachmann put out a statement, and she essentially said that, ah, that the decision today cannot undo god's order. How do you guys react to that?

Pelosi, standing with a group of male democrats around a podium, with a shrug: Who cares?

[H/T to Alison.]

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Please Support Shakesville

teaspoon icon If you have appreciated being able to tune into Shakesville for coverage of the goings-on in Texas, or the recent Supreme Court decisions, or discussion of Paula Deen's racism free of fat hatred, ageism, and regionalism, please remember that Shakesville is run exclusively on donations. I would certainly appreciate your support, if you can afford to chip in. The donation link is in the sidebar to the right. Or click here.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Shirley Bassey: "Get The Party Started"

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CNN Nooz

So this is a sweet screenshot I grabbed from CNN:

screen shot from the front page of CNN that says LGBT RIGHTS CALCULATOR: Find out which states match your values when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

What the fucking fuck? Is CNN implying that people move to states that are suitably (not)bigoted? (Yes, that is exactly what it's implying).

The article to which it links, by the way, is three months old. Way to "celebrate" SCOTUS' decision by recycling some old crap in order to tell us to uproot our lives and abandon our homes so we don't have to inconvenience bigots with our rights.

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Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by two hours of sleep.

Recommended Reading:

NAACP: Sign the Petition to Tell Congress They Must Act NOW to Protect Voting Rights

If you weren't able to watch the action live in Texas last night, Susie has a great round-up of videos.

Seth: DOMA Ruling Clears Path for Binational Couples

Andy: President Obama Calls Prop 8 Plaintiffs on Live TV from Air Force One [Video]

Resistance: Manslaughter Case Ends in Mistrial [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of racism, gun violence, and police malfeasance.]

Sikivu: LGBT Foster Care Crisis: Who Will Step Up? [Content Note: The post at this link includes discussion of homophobia, transphobia, disablism, and religious discrimination.]

Living ~400lbs: Histamines in Food

Sesali: Disney Channel to Include First Same-Sex Couple

Isabella: The 1960's Batman Theme Song Sung by Actual Bats [That is the greatest thing I have ever seen.]

Leave links to whatever good stuff you've been reading and/or writing about in comments...

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt sitting in the garden in the sunshine, grinning

"It's a day!"

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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An Observation

It is truly rage-making that a court capable of firing Section 3 of DOMA into the sun is also capable of decimating the Voting Rights Act.

One person makes the difference for millions.

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OMFG. SCOTUS has struck down DOMA. Here is the decision (pdf). I will update with more shortly...

UPDATE 1: It was a 5-4 decision. Justice Kennedy wrote the opinion. I'm reading through it as quickly as I can. This is what the case was about, by way of reminder or introduction:

DOMA contains two operative sections: Section 2, which has not been challenged here, allows States to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed under the laws of other States. See 28 U. S. C. §1738C.

Section 3 is at issue here. It amends the Dictionary Act in Title 1, §7, of the United States Code to provide a federal definition of "marriage" and "spouse." Section 3 of DOMA provides as follows:
"In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife." 1 U. S. C. §7.
The definitional provision does not by its terms forbid States from enacting laws permitting same-sex marriages or civil unions or providing state benefits to residents in that status. The enactment's comprehensive definition of
marriage for purposes of all federal statutes and other regulations or directives covered by its terms, however, does control over 1,000 federal laws in which marital or spousal status is addressed as a matter of federal law.
The Court has struck down Section 3. The federal government cannot restrict the definition of marriage.

UPDATE 2: "The power the Constitution grants it also restrains. And though Congress has great authority to design laws to fit its own conception of sound national policy, it cannot deny the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment."

UPDATE 3: Here is the conclusion of the decision:
What has been explained to this point should more than suffice to establish that the principal purpose and the necessary effect of this law are to demean those persons who are in a lawful same-sex marriage. This requires the Court to hold, as it now does, that DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.

The liberty protected by the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause contains within it the prohibition against denying to any person the equal protection of the laws. See Bolling, 347 U. S., at 499–500; Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Peña , 515 U. S. 200, 217–218 (1995). While the Fifth Amendment itself withdraws from Government the power to degrade or demean in the way this law does, the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment makes that Fifth Amendment right all the more specific and all the better understood and preserved.

The class to which DOMA directs its restrictions and restraints are those persons who are joined in same-sex marriages made lawful by the State. DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty. It imposes a disability on the class by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper. DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others. The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.

By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

This opinion and its holding are confined to those lawful marriages.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is affirmed.

It is so ordered.
THE FEDERAL STATUTE IS INVALID. All the blubs forever.

UPDATE 4: Scalia's dissent is, of course, undiluted garbage. I'm not even going to quote a word of it, because fuck him. And fuck the other three horsemen of the crapocalypse, too.

UPDATE 5: A random pic of a rainbow over DC. Because THE FEDERAL STATUTE IS INVALID.

image of a rainbow over the DC skyline

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The Rules

As Ana mentioned, she's got a longer post coming about the details of what happened in Texas last night; we're sort of tag-teaming coverage this morning, as we did yesterday. We spent pretty much the entire evening texting back and forth, lots of "WHAT IS HAPPENING" and "THIS IS WRECKING MY SHIT" and "WENDY DAVIS IS EVERYTHING" and other CAPS LOCK OBSERVATIONS. All of my feminist friends, in Texas or elsewhere, were watching. Or, like Jessica Luther, they were at the statehouse, making ALL THE NOISE when noise-making was necessary.

To quote my pal Veronica, "After #StandwithWendy, I don't wanna hear another peep about NYC being the center of feminism, online or not. We're everywhere."

We're everywhere. And we're watching. We're watching Republicans stop at nothing to try to legislate state control of our bodies. Literally nothing. When all else fails, they simply break the rules. Because they're in the business of making rules for us, and using those rules to marginalize us; not in the business of following the rules. Rules are for people they want to control. Rules don't apply to them.

Last night, this was my most popular tweet, which has now been retweeted more than 400 times:

screen cap of a tweet I posted reading: 'It's amazing how a bunch of jerkbags who spent the day obsessed with the minutiae of parliamentary procedure now don't care about the rules.'

Texas State Senator Wendy Davis abided the rules for nearly 13 fucking hours, standing there in a back brace, not able to take a piss or rest her voice or touch the podium, and then the Republicans broke the rules like it was nothing. Like the rules don't matter, except as a weapon to wield against people who are trying to do something they don't like.

They are a reprehensible bunch of scoundrels.

screen cap of a tweet I posted reading: 'And by 'amazing,' I mean comprehensively contemptible.'

Republicans break the rules. And then they have the unmitigated temerity to accuse cheering pro-choice constituents of being "unruly."

That would be fucking hilarious, if it weren't so goddamned terrible.

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The SB5 Bill Is Dead

The bill is dead. The Republicans conceded gracelessly after a pic from the Senate floor circulated showing that the official printed minutes indicated the vote had occurred AFTER the midnight deadline. That official record was briefly entered into the online record, screen capped, and then changed online to before midnight -- these images circulated too.

The speaker for the Republican concession called the brave men and women who risked arrest with their cheers -- CHEERS, not threats -- "unruly".

You would have to be monumentally out of touch with Texas culture to not realize that isn't the insult they seem to think it is. But then, you would have to be monumentally out of touch with Texans to not realize or care how unpopular this bill was.

Unruly. Uncharitable. Indecorous. That's what they call me now. Fine. Let me add a word of my own: Unshakable.

I'll have a much longer post up soon on what happened last night because I really want to detail what I saw when I watched (from before 11 am to after midnight), which much the mainstream media isn't reporting because they didn't watch. In the meantime, HUGE hat-tip to Kristy who stayed up all night when I couldn't. You are an amazing lady.

Update: Here is a decent story about how the Republicans tried to win by cheating.

Initially, Republicans insisted they had started voting before midnight, but official computer records and printouts showed the vote took place on Wednesday, but had been changed to read Tuesday. Senators then convened for a private meeting, after which Dewhurst acknowledged that the vote had been derailed.
And I saw it happen. I saw the screencap when the vote times went up online, and I saw the new screencap after they altered the online record. And I saw the picture of the official printed record, snapped on the Senate floor. It is vitally important that the takeaway from last night isn't "no phones or recording devices on the Senate floor". Democracy worked today because we dragged it into the light and WATCHED IT. Over 120,000 of us.

While CNN talked about muffins.

image of CNN broadcast last night, while Piers Morgan and Dr. Drew talk during a segment labeled onscreen as 'BLUEBERRY MUFFIN = 350 CALORIES'
[Photo via Elizabeth Plank.]

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Open Thread

Hosted by the quadratic formula.

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Question of the Day

What the fuck?

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Texas, Again

[Content Note: Hostility to agency.]

I'm watching Texas state senator from Fort Worth Wendy Davis' epic filibuster (a live stream is embedded below), which Ana mentioned earlier today, and I cannot fathom how ANYONE can listen to all of these stories and still support criminalizing abortion. Such obstinate indecency.

It's breathtaking. But so is her determination, and the collective fight being waged against this gross legislation.

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BOOTSTRAPS! And More Paula Deen.

[Content Note: Racism; racist apologia.]

Because the "Paula Deen's an old white Southern lady" apologia is (still) driving me to utter distraction, and I'm so angry about it that I fear my head might fall off, I need to ask (again): When is the expiration date on this excuse? And do the people who are using this excuse imagine that white people today, everywhere in the US, are not being raised as racists? Because whoops.

Also: Isn't it just fucking PERFECT that the same privileged white people (and some Exceptional Black People) who endlessly scold poor black USians that they need to take more Personal Responsibility are the first assholes to argue that Paula Deen doesn't need to take any?

If you are a poor black USian whose opportunities have been limited by poverty and racism—and, depending on your individual circumstances, any number of other intersecting oppressions—and you struggle to thrive, or even survive, in a country which stacks all the cards against you, you are (so goes the narrative) a lazy, complacent taker who just isn't working hard enough.

If you are a rich white USian who is privileged enough to access most of the world and interact with just about anyone in it, but instead choose to be a small-minded racist bigot, you are (so goes the narrative) just a helpless product of your environment.

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY! Except for not wielding your white privilege like a weapon of harm.

BOOTSTRAPS! Except for this one time! And the next time a white person fucks up!

CULTURE DOESN'T EXIST! Except for how an old white Southern lady can't help but be racist. That's just CULTURE, people!

EVERYTHING HAPPENS IN A VOID! Except for this white person's rank racism! That is part of her intractable socialization.

Once again, we find that the Ownership Society wants to own everything but personal accountability. That's for those people.

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Quote of the Day

"Americans across the country are already paying the price of inaction—in insurance premiums, state and local taxes, and the costs of rebuilding and disaster relief. So the question is not whether we need to act. …The question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it's too late."—President Barack Obama, during his address on climate change today at Georgetown University.

I would argue there may yet be some question about whether we will have the courage to take genuinely meaningful action, and possibly some question about whether it's already too late. But I'm an asshole that way.

Above is video of the address; the quoted section begins at 16:11. I have not yet located a complete transcript of the speech, but will drop a link into comments as soon as one is made available. (Please feel welcome to drop a link if you find one.)

Treehugger's Chris Tackett has details of the policy and analysis of the speech here.

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The Snowden Chronicles

I've been following what's going on with Edward Snowden's world tour to evade capture by US authorities, but I haven't had much to say about it. I will say I believe there can be good faith disagreement about whether (and why) Snowden should or shouldn't feel obliged to turn himself in. I will also say that I don't believe you have to like Glenn Greenwald to agree that Meet the Press' David Gregory asking him "To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn't you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?" is comprehensive bullshit.

And I'll note that there is a lot of fast-moving and complex shit (technical term) going on regarding Snowden's presence in a Moscow airport—he has entered Russia; he hasn't entered Russia; he won't be extradited; Obama's taking a hands-off approach to extradition, anyway—possibly on his way through to South America, all of which is being complicated by the fact that US foreign policy has pissed off a lot of people. Whoops.

Edward Snowden, the fugitive American contractor who revealed details of the U.S. government's extensive spying network, so far has evaded capture by hop-scotching around the world with the help of nations that have their own beefs with the United States.

Lucky for him, there are plenty.

While they don't share Snowden's stated cause of government transparency, countries such as China, Russia and Ecuador all have extended him assistance in what analysts say is a rare chance for payback over unwelcome U.S. policies. Snowden's revelations that U.S. surveillance extended to foreign countries only adds to the willingness of nations to dismiss the Obama administration's demands for Snowden's immediate extradition to the United States, analysts said.

...[Hong Kong allowed Snowden to leave] rather than hold him as U.S. authorities had demanded. Hong Kong's official announcement of Snowden's departure said there was no cause to hold him because U.S. documents "did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law." But the statement ends with what could be the real reason Hong Kong – and its administrators in Beijing – looked the other way as Snowden fled.

Hong Kong, the statement said, "has formally written to the U.S. government requesting clarification on earlier reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by U.S. government agencies."

...Vladimir Putin's government [has refused to] comply with demands for Snowden's expulsion...after a particularly fraught year for U.S.-Russian relations. The tensions go deeper than the fact that Moscow and Washington support opposite sides of the bloody civil war in Syria. Other strains include Russia freezing U.S. adoptions of Russian children after fatal abuse cases, Congress approving a law barring several Russian officials from entering the U.S., and Russia revealing the purported CIA station chief after broadcasting on TV the arrest of an American agent who was caught trying to recruit a Russian spy.

"Why should the United States expect restraint and understanding from Russia?" said Alexei Pushkov, head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of Parliament, according to the Reuters news agency.

The Obama administration could expect a similar response from Ecuador, whose president, Rafael Correa, seeks to boost his anti-American credentials in Latin America as well as be seen as a paladin against secrecy. Ecuador is among the countries considering asylum applications for Snowden.

Everything about this story is pretty much the worst. The end.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin: "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves"

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The Killing Open Thread

image of Holder, a white man, and Bullet, a white girl who presents as a boy
Holder and Bullet: BFFs.

So I have been watching and enjoying this season of AMC's The Killing, which has returned for a third season after everyone was all: "Please bring back AMC's The Killing, AMC! But also? Make sure the mystery only lasts one season this time, or we will be sooooo mad, but will probably watch the fourth season to find out whodunnit, but, seriously, for real, solve it in one season. Please."

Whatever legendary criticisms (they were not legendary) I had about the first two seasons of AMC's The Killing, I still have them! (Pornified violence! So many white people! Isn't Linden kind of the worst cop?) But also I am really loving that Mireille Enos is allowed to have facial expressions now! Yay!

And I am Officially On-Board with virtually any project featuring Peter Sarsgaard, as well as virtually any project featuring Elias Koteas (who will, now and forever, be Duncan the Punk from Some Kind of Wonderful to me), no less BOTH OF THEM.

But my favorite thing in this season? The developing friendship between Holder (♥) and Bullet, who presents as a boy but identifies as a girl, and who is so goddamn desperate to find her best friend that she'll even maybe trust a cop.

Are you watching? What do you think?

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Daily Dose of Cute

Dudley is so over it:

image of Dudley the Greyhound lying on his back on the ottoman with his legs in the air

image of Dudley lying on his back on the loveseat with his legs sticking out all akimbo

image of Dudley lying on his back on the couch with his legs curled up, completely zonked

He's over it like a totally over thing made out of over parts with lots of little bits of over stuck on it.

* * *

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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In The News

[Content not: Racism, homophobia, violence, terrorism]

Tuesday Stuff:

The largest massacre of LGBT persons in American history happened 40 years ago at the UpStairs Lounge. There's an informative piece on this little-known story here. (Be warned, there are some horrific images at the site.)

George Zimmerman's lawyer opened the trial with a joke. Obviously.

Elsewhere (Fox News), Mark Fuhrman weighs in on the case (perfect!) and declares Zimmerman to be not guilty.

Neil Tennant was offered a judging role on American Idol after Simon Cowell left. He turned down the offer.

Paula Deen has lost a major endorsement deal.

Meanwhile, her sons say she didn't use a word she admits under oath to using. Okay.

Science fiction author and screenwriter Richard Matheson has died. He was 87. (I love the Kolchak movie he wrote.)

I could use a Fresca right about now.

p.s. Butthole.

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SCOTUS' Terrible Voting Rights Ruling

[Content Note: Racism; classism.]

I don't fucking even with this Court and its garbage majority:

The Supreme Court on Tuesday effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-to-4 vote, ruling that Congress had not provided adequate justification for subjecting nine states, mostly in the South, to federal oversight.

"In 1965, the states could be divided into two groups: those with a recent history of voting tests and low voter registration and turnout, and those without those characteristics," Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. "Congress based its coverage formula on that distinction. Today the nation is no longer divided along those lines, yet the Voting Rights Act continues to treat it as if it were."

Chief Justice Roberts said that Congress remained free to try to impose federal oversight on states where voting rights were at risk, but must do so based on contemporary data. When the law was last renewed, in 2006, Congress relied on data from decades before. The chances that the current Congress could reach agreement on where federal oversight is required are small, most analysts say.

...The majority held that the coverage formula in Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, originally passed in 1965 and most recently updated by Congress in 1975, was unconstitutional. The section determines which states must receive preclearance from the federal authorities.

The court did not strike down Section 5, which sets out the pre-clearance requirement itself. But without Section 4, which determines which states are covered, Section 5 is without significance — unless Congress chooses to pass a new bill for determining which states would be covered.
Emphasis mine.

I don't guess I need to point out that Congress will do shit. Especially the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, since the majority party has a vested (and explicit) interest in making sure that poor black USians don't vote. Otherwise known as: The very thing the Voting Rights Act was devised to address.

UPDATE: And here is a summary of their also terrible decision in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl.

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The Latest from Texas

[Content Note: Rape, Reproductive Coercion]

The majority of Texans oppose the abortion ban that Wendy Davis is attempting to filibuster today.

A minority do not.

A minority do not care that the ban will require, among other things, people with uteri to bear their rapist's child. A minority do not care that many states in the US allow rapists to sue for visitation and custody rights in an attempt to further harass and control their victim. A minority do not care that by preventing abortions in the case of rape, they are guaranteeing that many wanted babies will never be born because some will decide never to get off their birth control if it means risking forced impregnation or death.

This minority view wrecks all my shit.

We should not, in the year of our fjord 2013, have to justify our decision if we choose not to bear our rapist's child. That is a monstrous bullshit position, and one which seeks to completely remove the agency of Texans. And yet I have had long twitter conversations (including one yesterday) with self-identified pro-life activists who (a) neither understand nor care that this legislation with stop many from conceiving wanted pregnancies because they are adamantly unwilling to carry to term any pregnancy that is the result of rape, and who (b) neither understand nor care that this legislation will result in forced pregnancies and mandatory deaths of people who were denied access to birth control prior to rape or whose wanted pregnancy resulted in unforeseen dangerous complications.

That's not a pro-life position, this position which seeks to minimize the number of wanted births and which counts as acceptable "casualties" the unnecessary deaths of people with uteri.

This legislation seeks to shut down 37 of 42 clinics in the state, not only to prevent access to abortions, but also to prevent access to birth control of any kind. In the place of these closed clinics will spring up more and more "crisis pregnancy centers", designed to disseminate false information to people seeking abortions and/or genuine information on family planning. This legislation seeks to make it increasingly more difficult for poor people to access birth control and abortion, by forcing them to travel farther and in a narrower time frame to access these services. This legislation seeks to make it harder for all people with uteri to exercise agency over their reproduction and to protect their health and their lives from government interference.

teaspoon icon If you have the ability to share, Wendy Davis is accepting personal stories (with a 500-word max limit) for her filibuster here. You can also find valuable information in Jess Luther's What You Can Do Today To Help Stop #SB5 In #TXlege No Matter Where You Live  post.

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Angelina Jolie at the UN with a Giant Teaspoon

[Content Note: Descriptions of sexual violence.]

Yesterday, Angelina Jolie, a special envoy for the UN Refugee Agency, spoke before the UN Security Council, urging them to prioritize addressing war zone rape as she shared survivors' stories. Here is AP video of part of her testimony:

I will never forget the survivors I've met, or what they told me. The mother in Goma, whose five-year-old daughter had been raped outside a police station in plain view. Or the Syrian woman I met in Jordan last week, who asked I hide her name and face, because she knew that if she spoke out against the crimes against her, she would be attacked and possibly killed.

Rape is a tool of war. It is an act of aggression and a crime against humanity. The numbers are so vast, and the numbers so painful, that we often have to stop to remember that, behind each number is someone with a name, a personality, a story, and dreams no different from ours and those of our children.

I understand that there are many things that are difficult for the UN Security Council to agree on, but sexual violence in conflict should not be one of them. That it is a crime to rape young children is not something I imagine anyone in this room would not be able to agree on.

The rights and wrongs of this issue are straightforward, and the actions that need to be taken have been identified. What is needed is political will. And that is what is being asked of your countries today: To act on the knowledge of what is right and what is unjust, and to show the determination to do something about it.
Reuters: "After Jolie spoke—along with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Ban's special envoy on sexual violence in conflict, Zainab Bangura—the 15-member Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution recognizing that rape can exacerbate conflicts and impeded the restoration of peace and security. The resolution 'encourages members states to include the full range of crimes of sexual violence in national penal legislation to enable prosecution for such acts.'"

This is an important start in addressing a vast and difficult problem.

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SCOTUS' Terrible Harassment Ruling

[Content Note: Sexual harassment.]

Ian Millhiser at Think Progress: The Scariest Supreme Court Case That You've Probably Never Heard Of.

The law provides very robust protections to employees who are harassed by their supervisors, but it is drastically more difficult for an employee to win a racial or sexual harassment lawsuit if they have only been harassed by coworkers. In the later case the worker must show that their employer has "been negligent either in discovering or remedying the harassment." For this reason, it matters a great deal who qualifies as a "supervisor" for purposes of sexual harassment law. If the word is defined too narrowly, it could encompass employees who have the power to intimidate their victims into keeping their harassment secret.

That's more or less what the lower court did in Vance v. Ball State University... According to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, a "supervisor" is someone whose authority "primarily consists of the power to hire, fire, demote, promote, transfer, or discipline an employee." Employees who can assign tasks to other workers, or even those who direct their day to day activity, don't count.

...At oral argument, Justice Elena Kagan raised the hypothetical of a secretary who works for a professor, and the professor "subjects that secretary to living hell, complete hostile work environment on the basis of sex." Under the Seventh Circuit's rule, this professor nonetheless does not qualify as a "supervisor" if the secretary can only be fired by a bureaucrat with the job title "Head of Secretarial Services," even if the professor directs every minute of the secretary's day.
There was an awful lot at stake: "If the justices side with the Chamber in this case, it could drastically impede workers' ability to stand up to harassment. A woman's boss could grope her, make sexist jokes, and assign her to demeaning tasks, and her employer could nonetheless be immune from suit if the only person who can technically fire her is some unknown official in the company's HR department."

And so came the ruling: "The opinion is out, and it is as bad as it can possibly be. The Seventh Circuit's rule is affirmed in a 5-4 decision by Justice Alito."

Ha ha for a moment I almost forgot that the Supreme Court works for corporations, not for the people. Now I remember, and it all makes terrible sense.

[H/T to Eastsidekate and Misty.]

UPDATE: And, via Garrett Epps at The Atlantic, a report of Justice Samuel Alito behaving like a petulant child while Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissents from the bench on both the above case and the affirmative action case (edit: the gif is from a State of the Union, where he was pulling the same shit):

gif of Alito making his face and mouthing the word 'no'
At this point, Alito pursed his lips, rolled his eyes to the ceiling, and shook his head "no." He looked for all the world like Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, signaling to the homies his contempt for Ray Walston as the bothersome history teacher, Mr. Hand.

The offense against decorum is greater when the object of scorn is a woman 17 years his senior, one who is acknowledged even by most of her critics to have spent a distinguished career selflessly pursuing justice in the precise area of her dissent--gender equality in society in general and the workplace in particular. Her words are as worthy of respectful attention as were his.

...A Justice of the Court lives his life in a swaddle of deference most of us cannot imagine. It is not too much to ask that, in return for this power and privilege, he or she should act like an adult.

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