Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker iwillbedamned: "Have you seen my keys?"

I have not seen your keys, but have you seen my wallet?

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Film Corner: Legend

[Content Note: Violence.]

Remember when Tom Cruise made a fantasy film in the '80 with Mia Sara, whom we probably all know best as Sloane Peterson from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Tim Curry, who played the Devil I MEAN DARKNESS because of course he did, and it was directed by Ridley Scott (huh?) and it was called Legend, and there was so much pollen from sparkleflowers floating in the air?

This is not that movie. This is a different movie called Legend.

And this movie called Legend—which could have been called The Last of the Famous International Playboys or Fuck You, Spandau Ballet (these are esoteric but terrific references) (look them up!) (or don't)—is about the Kray Brothers, Reggie and Ronnie, who were hot twin gangsters in London in the 1960s, and it stars Tom Hardy playing both of them.


I repeat: Two Tom Hardys.

That's fully 100% more Tom Hardy than you usually get in a Tom Hardy movie!

Here is the teaser trailer for Legend starring two Tom Hardys, and it will probably not be my finest trailer work, both because teaser trailers are always full of quick-edit montagery and because all the blood is gone from my brain AND I AM SORRY.

Video Description: Guitar music. London at night. Text onscreen: "This year." Tom Hardy in '60s glasses smoking a cigarette and the smoke curls around his face. Tom Hardy without glasses struts down a street. Text onscreen: "Witness the true story." A young white lady lying in a bed. Tom Hardy without glasses looking surly and walking somewhere. Text onscreen: "Of the twins who ruled a city." Tom Hardy standing at a window in what looks like a fancy hotel room, looking out over the city at dusk.

"Me and my bruvah," says Tom Hardy in voiceover. Two Tom Hardys (TWO! TOM! HARDYS!) in the back seat of a swanky car. "We're gonna rule London," Tom Hardy says in voiceover. A police officer looks at a board covered in pictures of the Toms Hardy. HE HAS THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD!

"These are the Kray twins," a man's voice says, and some dude sitting in a chair at a desk looks behind him to see the Toms Hardy sitting in chairs behind him, rather menacingly. "Ronald and Reginald."

Car in a forest. The lady at a casino. The two Tom Hardys drinking and smoking and things, always wearing the best '60s suits OMG. Punching. Pistol. Newspaper headlines. The Toms Hardy sitting in court in a defendants' box, just sitting there next to each other, looking pissed as hell.

image of Tom Hardy without glasses and Tom Hardy with glasses sitting in a courtroom

The Toms Hardy look at each other. The police officer runs through hung laundry in the street. Dancing with the lady. Pistol at a pub. Lady in the mirror. Stacks of cash. Tom Hardy without glasses in prison. The Toms Hardy posing for a picture. The street at night. More quick-edit montagery of dark rooms and fights and gangster stuff.

Text onscreen: "LEGEND." Text onscreen: "Tom Hardy." Tom Hardy with glasses in a car smoking. Text onscreen: "Tom Hardy." Tom Hardy without glasses in a car not smoking. Text onscreen: "In cinemas September 11."


Two Tom Hardys, y'all. TWO.

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You Have the Right Obligation to Remain Unhappy

[Content Note: Sexual assault; workplace injury; misogyny.]

Amanda Hess: "Evidence of Life on Facebook: Appearing happy on social media may be used against you in a court of law."

Amanda does a good job of teasing out a lot of the reasons why people may cultivate illusory lives via carefully curated social media, and I just want to add this observation: Many people who have survived trauma, including the very sorts of trauma for which civil suits are brought, have to withhold from public view anything that shows vulnerability, because the person/people who harmed them lay in wait to exploit that very vulnerability.

So, in a very real way, this shit empowers the very abuses who limit their victims' freedom of expression. It's a gross revictimization.

There are so many reasons that people don't or can't put their pain on public display. And the last thing anyone needs is for that to be used against them.

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Say What You Mean

[Content Note: This post talks about disablist language and includes examples of disablist slurs.]

So, now that we're careening into another election season, and the Republican candidates are proving to be typically obnoxious, indecent, and contemptible, I want to post a reminder that disablist language is a violation of the commenting policy.

Words and phrases with disablist etymologies are deeply embedded in contemporary US English—lame, dumb, crazy, insane, maniac, lunatic, idiot, moron, imbecile, cretin, freak, spaz, -tard, -nut, madness, sickness, myopic, blind and deaf used as synonymous with ignorant, etc.—and there is an obstinate tradition in political discourse of dismissing one's ideological opponents as "crazy."

I used to do it, too: The rhetorical flourish of "those people are nuts" is deeply entrenched in partisan punditry, and I had to be called out by people more sensitive than I was to the destructive nature of disablist language.

Working through one's privilege publicly can be difficult, but given the choice between showing my ass and learning from it, or being an asshole in private, I'll take showing my ass every time. I just regret that it means I've hurt or alienated people in the process.

Anyway. The point is that it was enough for me to stop using disablist slurs because they undermine the safe space. (And they're rather self-defeating and self-loathing, to boot. So there's that.) But the more distance I get from relying on disablist language—and the more I am forced to say what I really mean, that Mike Huckabee (for example) is not crazy, but privileged and bigoted and cruel—the more I realize how progressive pundits' reliance on disablist language is not merely hurtful or alienating, but counterproductive.

I said in comments once upon a time:

It really gives me the shivers to think about how much of the US' lurch rightward has been enabled by the left condescendingly dismissing rightwing extremist operatives—and the people to whom their ideas appeal—as "crazy."

The US left has used that flippant bit of ableist rhetoric to give ourselves permission to ignore all manner of indecency. And then feign shock when it turns out the "crazy" ideas presented without counter were embraced by a population of whom we were too contemptuous to even bother trying to communicate.
We need to do better than "those people are nuts." Not just because it's more ethical, but because relying on contemptuously dismissing ideological opponents as "nuts" is lazy—and I don't mean merely uncreative (although that, too) but a way of absolving ourselves of having to deconstruct, over and over, the way in which dishonest, immoral, selfish, and in other ways terrible positions held by conservatives are dishonest, immoral, selfish, and variously terrible.

It occurs to me that the rightwing must love our casually dismissing them as "nuts," as unworthy of intensive examination. Yeah, sure, we're nuts, they agree, as they pass more "crazy" anti-choice legislation in seventeen state legislatures, nationally unscrutinized behind a wall of disablism.

So, in this space (and hopefully everywhere), instead of relying on disablist language: Say what you mean.

If you mean that the Republicans, or whomever, are being dishonest, say that they're being dishonest. And, if you mean that they're indecent, say that they're indecent.

If you need a less specific word, there are plenty of words that will do—contemptible, reprehensible, awful, terrible.

Not only is this a good practice so as not to alienate and other people with mental illness; it's also more politically effective in terms of developing counter-arguments and defining solutions. Because good solutions depend on defining problems accurately.

And "crazy" or "idiots" or "wingnuts" doesn't do that. Not even a little.

Let's think about what our objections really are, and then thoughtfully and carefully say what we mean.

[Previously: A Thing About Disablist Language. See Also: I Write Letters; Liss Says Stuff.]

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound lying on the loveseat with his tongue hanging out
Dudley is so over 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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Terrible People

[Content Note: Racism; food insecurity.]

Rage seethe boil:

Republican Maryland state Delegate Patrick McDonough suggested this week that parents did not deserve to continue receiving food stamps if they refused to stop their children from protesting the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

In audio obtain by First Look's Lee Fang, a caller on a Baltimore radio program asks McDonough why the government could not "take away benefits from families, from like the parents who are collecting welfare" if the protesters were "too young."

"That's an idea and that could be legislation," McDonough volunteers. "I think that you could make the case that there is a failure to do proper parenting and allowing this stuff to happen, is there an opportunity for a month to take away your food stamps?"
As if there aren't parents who are out protesting with their kids, because they are frightened and angry that their children might meet the same fate as Freddie Gray.

Republicans think people aren't entitled to food under the best of circumstances, so naturally any opportunity to take away food stamps is their happiest day. You'd think people who constantly jerk off about the Constitution would be aware that protest is a Constitutional right, and that even the suggestion that people be denied food for exercising that right is obscene.

McDonough went on to propose a "scientific study" to explore the mindset of "thug nation."
"These young people, they're violent, they're brutal, their mindset is dysfunctional to a point of being dangerous," he says. "We have got to study, investigate, and really look at what this is all about."
Violent, brutal, and dysfunctional to the point of being dangerous doesn't sound a lot like the protesters, but it sure as hell does sound a lot like the Baltimore Police.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Consuelo Velasquez: "Besame Mucho"

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Police brutality; racism] Welp: "Investigators with the Baltimore police have finished their investigation into the death of Freddie Gray. The results - which have not been made public—were handed over to the state's attorney's office, which is conducting its own investigation. The city's top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, will decide whether to take the case to a grand jury to seek an indictment of any of the officers." So far, what we know for certain is that the police have been lying.

[CN: Torture] Swell: "The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists. ...'The A.P.A. secretly coordinated with officials from the C.I.A., White House and the Department of Defense to create an A.P.A. ethics policy on national security interrogations which comported with then-classified legal guidance authorizing the C.I.A. torture program,' the report's authors conclude." Ethics schmethics.

Diverging from President Obama's view and aligning with Senator Elizabeth Warren's view, Hillary Clinton opposes a key provision of the Trans-Pacific Partnership: "Currently the United States is negotiating comprehensive agreements with eleven countries in Asia and in North and South America, and with the European Union. We should be focused on ending currency manipulation, environmental destruction, and miserable working conditions in developing countries, as well as harmonizing regulations with the EU. And we should avoid some of the provisions sought by business interests, including our own, like giving them or their investors the power to sue foreign governments to weaken their environmental and public health rules, as Philip Morris is already trying to do in Australia. The United States should be advocating a level and fair playing field, not special favors." John Oliver addressed this dynamic in a recent episode.

This is a good idea: "President Barack Obama will go to a public library in one of Washington's poorest neighborhoods on Thursday to talk about a plan to give low-income children access to 10,000 e-books. Working with publishers and libraries, the White House sees the modest plan as part of a strategy to address inner city problems by increasing educational opportunities for kids." This could be a life-changer for kids who can't safely access a public library.

Huzzah: "Public health experts are celebrating some good news this week: Rubella [also known as "German measles"], a contagious virus that can cause serious health defects in unborn children, has been eliminated from the Americas. It's the first region of the world that the World Health Organization has officially declared to be rubella-free. ...This week's milestone is thanks to the availability of the shot that effectively protects against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)."

[CN: Transphobia] In other healthcare news, Leela Ginelle details the horrid history of cis gatekeeping around trans* healthcare, and describes the required "real life test" as "a form of hazing," which is a great description of a terrible thing.

[CN: Fat hatred] The FDA has approved a drug to get rid of double-chins without surgery, and ABC helpfully reports this news with a whole new disgusting variation on the headless fatty: Just a fat chin with the rest of the face cropped out. I came up with my own solution for my double-chin years ago: Believing that it is perfectly fine and does not need to be changed.

Indiana State Superintendent Glenda Ritz says she might run for governor and oust the shitlord who's been trying to strip her of her power ever since she was elected. If she does, I will enthusiastically support her!

[CN: Misogyny] Whoooooooooooops! "The publisher of a science journal has apologised after a peer reviewer said two female researchers could improve their research by seeking help from 'one or two male biologists.' The review sent to the University of Sussex student read: 'It would beneficial to find one or two male biologists to work with (or at least obtain internal peer review from, but better yet as active co-authors)' to prevent the manuscript from 'drifting too far away from empirical evidence into ideologically biased assumptions.'" Wow.

South LA Man Builds Homeless Female Friend a Small, Portable House. I love everything about this story, especially that he asked her before doing it.

This literally sounds like it was designed to be my perfect companion: Chinese scientists have discovered a new dinosaur species about the size of a pigeon which had bat-like wings, but couldn't fly. And, according to an artist's rendering, basically looked like a pocket-sized Skeksis.

[Video autoplays at link] And finally! A puppy gets mad at his own hiccups lol awwwwwww!

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Racism; violence.]

"We are lovers. We refuse to allow our brothers spine to break in the dark without the song of our grief being heard. There are those who do not acknowledge that our rage is a symptom of our grief, a symptom of a society that has all but left us for dead. Their narrative is ahistorical and disconnects us from our legacy of demanding justice. We stand in solidarity with the people of Baltimore and the millions of Black people across the country who are tired of poverty, racism, and state-sanctioned murder. Black people, we are fully deserving of the room and space to fully express our humanity. This is what Black Lives Matter is truly about. We support all of our emotions, from our bliss to our anger to our grief. All of it is welcome, as this is what it means to be human, to love, and to lose those that we love so much. We acknowledge that our uprisings are being fueled by the love we have for ourselves and for one another. A love that challenges silence, repression, and death."—Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi, the founders of Black Lives Matter, in "#BlackLivesMatter Stands with Baltimore."

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Primarily Speaking

[Content Note: Racism; misogyny.]

image of Senator Bernie Sanders smiling, to which I've added text reading: 'I'm in!'

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has officially announced he's running for president as a Democrat, and he came out rhetorically swinging with a promise to address "obscene levels" of class disparity: "This is a rigged economy, which works for the rich and the powerful, and is not working for ordinary Americans. ...You know, this country just does not belong to a handful of billionaires." BOOM.

I will note that I'm not thrilled Sanders brought up Hillary Clinton's Iraq war vote, for which (again) she's since apologized and said she was wrong. Very bluntly: "As the war dragged on, with every letter I sent to a family in New York who had lost a son or daughter, a father or mother, my mistake [became] more painful. I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. And I wasn't alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple."

Progressives always say that we want Democrats to get more progressive, to admit their failures, to meaningfully apologize when they fuck up, to embrace better policies when shitty policies they endorsed fail, to progress. But when Clinton does precisely that, instead of being commended for doing exactly what progressives ostensibly want Democratic politicians to do, she's just a terrible harpy who only "evolves" for political expediency.

See also: Many of the reactions to Clinton's speech about criminal justice reform. People have (rightly) pointed out that she once supported and endorsed then-President Clinton's terrible policies that contributed mightily to the era of mass incarceration. And now she's saying that shit didn't work and we need reforms.

Even though I believe her proposed reforms don't go far enough, I'm still glad that Clinton has moved in the right direction on this issue. I trust and respect politicians who hold themselves accountable for policy failures. Because, the thing is, I expect that, if elected, Clinton will make mistakes as president, as all presidents do. And I want someone who can and will admit when they're fucking wrong and pivot to try something better.

And, you know, on a personal level, as someone who has publicly learned and changed her mind dramatically about a number of issues over the decade I've been doing this, I just find it really obnoxious when people are held to positions they've changed and mistakes they've made, for which they've apologized. Progressives are meant to progress.

One of the things I've really liked about President Obama's presidency—and what I like about President Obama—is that he makes changes when necessary. Now, sometimes that's been out of political expediency (same-sex marriage), and sometimes it's been because he's learned something doesn't work (reflexive bipartisanship). I don't agree with all of his policies, but I trust and respect him for being someone who grows.

And then there's this: Holding the same views for decades is antithetical to progressivism. The world changes; views and policies need to change. Consistency isn't always a positive, when circumstances demand otherwise.

I mean, do I wish President Obama and Hillary Clinton had supported same-sex marriage much sooner? Yes. Do I think both of them prioritized politics over decency on that issue? Yes. Do I think those choices were a problem? Yes. Do I value Republican candidates' consistent opposition to same-sex marriage more than I value Obama's and Clinton's delayed support and "flip-flop" on the issue? NOPE.

Anyway. Let's deal with today's issues, shall we, candidates? Thanks.

Postscript: Let's also stop pretending that Hillary and Bill Clinton are the same fucking person or have identical brains and positions. And if we're going the "well, she endorsed those policies!" route, then let's hold Jeb Bush to the same standard and write fully one million articles about how he has to distance himself from the policies of his father's presidency which he supported, and the policies of his brother's presidency which he supported. None of this "Bush legacy" marshmallow fluff: Let's see reams of digital ink spilled over precisely which policies he supported, as long as two decades ago, and then hold him accountable for them.

What? That's never going to happen, because we don't treat men the same way we treat women, especially when they're wives? HUH!

I also wonder if Martin O'Malley will be held as responsible for his tenure as mayor of Baltimore, during which his policing policies were fucking horrendous, as Clinton has been for endorsing her husband's policies. Ha ha just kidding! I don't wonder that! I know for sure that he will not be, because nothing any male candidate actually did is ever as terrible as something Hillary Clinton endorsed once upon a time.

But none of this is uninterrogated misogyny. Nothing to see here. Move along.

In other news...

Whooooooooops your primary! "The rapid growth of the GOP presidential field is causing major headaches for party bosses ahead of a primary debate season that begins this summer. The dilemma for Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee chairman, is stark: If the declared field grows to 18 or 20 candidates, as now looks plausible, how can those numbers be winnowed in a way that seems fair and reasonable rather than arbitrary and undemocratic? 'You've got to prevent it from becoming a WWE SmackDown event on national television,' said GOP strategist Ford O'Connell." LOL.

Senator Ted Cruz is awful: "As Baltimore residents continue to protest the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Wednesday accused President Obama of worsening racial tensions in the country. 'President Obama, when he was elected, he could have been a unifying figure,' Cruz said at a U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce event, according to Politico. 'He could have chosen to be a leader on race relations and bring us together. And he hasn't done that; he's made decisions that I think have inflamed racial tensions that have divided us rather than bringing us together.'"

If one more fucking Republican accuses the President of being divisive when they've done nothing for six years but dog whistle racist shit at him, I am going to explode from rage into a shower of tiny stars.

[Video may autoplay at link] Mike Huckabee just keeps saying words that I cannot believe an adult human being says in the year of our lord Jesus Jones two thousand and fifteen: "I respect the courts, but the Supreme Court is only that—the supreme of the courts. It is not the supreme being. It cannot overrule God. When it comes to prayer, when it comes to life, and when it comes to the sanctity of marriage, the court cannot change what God has created."

Again, I will point out that for those of us who don't believe our marriages are sacred, insisting that they are changes the definition of our marriages more than same-sex marriage ever could. (Which is: Not at all.)

Welp, I'm sure Marco Rubio and Rand Paul and Rick Perry and Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson and the rest of the Clown Car Club are up to lots of fun stuff today, too, but who cares. Not me!

Talk about these things! Or don't. Whatever makes you happy. Life is short.

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Baltimore Police: Freddie Gray Hurt Himself

[Content Note: Police brutality; racism; dehumanization; self-harm.]

Yesterday, conservative bloggers were peddling an absurd conspiracy theory that Freddie Gray was injured before his arrest. Which is not true, and is manifestly obvious from the arrest video in which Gray is still able to talk and is not in a coma.

I expect nothing less from the conservative blogosphere.

But, this morning, the Washington Post has published a report based on a leaked police document which claims there was another prisoner in the van with Freddie Gray, about whom we're inexplicably hearing only now, who says he could hear Gray "banging against the walls" of the van and believes Gray "was intentionally trying to injure himself."

The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him. His statement is contained in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court. The Post was given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate's safety.

The document, written by a Baltimore police investigator, offers the first glimpse of what might have happened inside the van. It is not clear whether any additional evidence backs up the prisoner's version, which is just one piece of a much larger probe.
Emphases mine.

So, what we have here is an unsubstantiated report offered by someone who couldn't even see what was happening with an incentive to offer a statement supporting police, who has mysteriously just surfaced after two weeks.

Sure. It seems super responsible to publish this report.

I'm probably not the first person to make this observation, but even if this anonymous detainee did legitimately hear "banging," that is hardly reason to axiomatically assume the noise was evidence of Gray "intentionally trying to injure himself."

It could easily be evidence that Gray was indeed being given a "rough ride."

It could have been a desperate attempt to signal for help.

And even if Gray had been trying to harm himself, the police are obliged to protect people in their custody, even from self-harm. (That's why "suicide watch" exists.) Police are responsible for the safety of people they detain.

There is no scenario—even the most outrageous, unbelievable, impossible version of this story—in which police are not culpable.

And of course it says something about Baltimore Police's regard for the safety and humanity of people they take into custody that they believe floating this reprehensible fantasy about Gray nearly severing his own spine and crushing his own larynx will absolve them of accountability.

Even were it conceivably true. Even if this weren't a classic example of Occam's Big Paisley Tie—the most aggressively outlandish explanation for what happened to Freddie Gray.

The reason that a suggestion Gray flopped himself around the back of a police van until he put himself in a coma from his injuries doesn't sound ludicrous on its face to anyone who hears such codswallop can be credited to centuries-old racist narratives that other black people in profoundly dehumanizing ways. Magical Negroes with superhuman strength.

Narratives which are constantly invoked in cases of police brutality against black men and women. Like Victor White III, who somehow shot himself while his hands were cuffed behind his back. Like Michael Brown, who Darren Wilson described as looking like "a demon" after he shot him the first time, and, then, as he fired subsequent shots: "At this point it looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots, like it was making him mad that I'm shooting at him."

Baltimore Police have already admitted that Freddie Gray was not seatbelted in the van, which is a breach of protocol and indication of their disregard for his safety.

They've also admitted that Gray was only handcuffed when the van took off, but that they stopped the van so they could put him in leg shackles. But, again, failed to seatbelt him.

So, by their own account, police restrained all of Gray's limbs without a safety belt, and even checked on him once during the ride (in order to further restrain him), but now claim the most likely explanation for Gray's fatal injuries were that he did it to himself.

There is no way to believe that incredible tale. Unless you want to believe it.

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Open Thread

image of Hermione Granger wielding her wand

Hosted by Hermione.

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Question of the Day

Has someone ever recommended something to you, or said they just know you'll love something (a movie, or a song, or a book, or whatever), and once you actually get a look at it, you're slightly offended that they thought you'd like it?

I know this has happened to me a number of times, but I can't think of any specific examples off the top of my head. "What would make you think I'd like this AHHHH?" lol. Very occasionally, it's happened with people, too; I'm introduced to someone I've been told I'll just love, and then I'm either baffled or miffed by the certainty that I was going to love someone who I really, really don't like at all.

And it's always pretty evident the other person feels precisely the same way!

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Racism; police brutality; violence.]

"Baltimore, not at all uniquely, has experienced a century of public policy designed, consciously so, to segregate and impoverish its black population. ...Certainly, African American citizens of Baltimore were provoked by aggressive, hostile, even murderous policing, but Spiro Agnew had it right. Without suburban integration, something barely on today's public policy agenda, ghetto conditions will persist, giving rise to aggressive policing and the riots that inevitably ensue."—Richard Rothstein, in a must-read essay, "From Ferguson to Baltimore: The Fruits of Government-Sponsored Segregation."

[H/T to Mary D.]

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The Make-Up Thread

Here is your semi-regular make-up thread, to discuss all things make-up.

Do you have a make-up product you'd recommend? Are you looking for the perfect foundation which has remained frustratingly elusive? Need or want to offer make-up tips? Searching for hypoallergenic products? Want to grouse about how you hate make-up? Want to gush about how you love it?

Whatever you like—have at it!

* * *

image of me wearing pink eyeshadow, pink blush, and pink lipstick
Pink look in a purple room. *wink!*

I decided to play with bright pink, and I like how this turned out, especially given that I was wearing a superhero t-shirt, which lends itself to a vibrantly colorful look.

I paired ColourPop's (unfortunately named) Slave2Pink eyeshadow with their Scandy lip liner and lipstick and Too Faced's Perfect Flush Blush. Fun!

What's up with you?

* * *

Please note, as always, that advice should be not be offered to an individual person unless they solicit it. Further: This thread is open to everyone—women, men, genderqueer folks. People who are make-up experts, and people who are make-up newbies. Also, because there is a lot of racist language used in discussions of make-up, and in make-up names, please be aware to avoid turns of phrase that are alienating to women of color, like "nude" or "flesh tone" when referring to a peachy or beige color. I realize some recommended products may have names that use these words, so please be considerate about content noting for white supremacist (and/or Orientalist) product naming.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat, chilling on the back of the couch
Ms. Snugglehead.

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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The Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by buttons.

Recommended Reading:

Pilot: [Content Note: Racism; eliminationist violence] Black Exhaustion

Prison Culture: [CN: Police brutality; misogynoir] On Showing Up, Erasing Myself, and Lifting Up the Choir

Jamilah: [CN: Racism; violence; class warfare] Baltimore Been Burning

Mannion: The Problem with Journalism Is Journalism

Jill: [CN: Misogynist terrorism] Listening to Women in the World: Discussion of Fighting Online Threats

Scott: When You Don't Have the Law or the Facts, Pound Theories of Judicial Restraint You Don't Believe

driftglass: The Church of Lyin'tology

Andy: [CN: Homophobia] New York Inches Closer to Banning "Conversion Therapy" for Minors

Korin: [CN: Misogyny; racism] Gender, Race, and Stereotypes in Scorpion, Silicon Valley, and Big Bang Theory

Sarah: Unmasking the Secrets of Mercury

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

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Ritchie Valens: "La Bamba"

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Earthquake; death; injury] As the death toll in Nepal from the devastating earthquake that hit over the weekend passed 5,000, aid is finally beginning to reach remote regions, where "many survivors are in desperate need of food and water." Among the grim reports, there are some bits of good news: Rishi Khanal was rescued alive after spending more than 80 hours buried in rubble, and a 4-month-old baby was rescued after nearly a day trapped in a collapsed building. The rescue effort continues, even though hope for survivors dims the more time passes and the focus increasingly changes to getting food, water, and healthcare to survivors.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited with President Obama yesterday, during which Obama said: "Today is also a chance for Americans, especially our young people, to say thank you for all the things we love from Japan. Like karate and karaoke. Manga and anime. And, of course, emojis." To which I can only presume Abe replied: "And we'd like to thank you for Beyoncé and bourbon and McDonald's." I feel that this vaguely inappropriate nod to the US' infatuation with Japanese pop culture was a real missed opportunity to thank Japan for Ninja Warrior.

[CN: Worker exploitation] Here is a complete transcript of their shared remarks, the most notable part of which is their enthusiasm for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Which Senator Bernie Sanders explains in the Guardian is a continuation of trade policies that hurt workers, both in the US and abroad. It'll be great for corporations, though!

[CN: War on agency] Chip, chip, chipping away at Roe in Virginia: "The Manassas, Virginia, city council on Monday approved an ordinance that abortion access advocates say would threaten to close the city's lone abortion clinic. The measure would reclassify women's health centers, among other medium-sized clinics—larger than dentist offices but smaller than hospitals—as medical care facilities. That change would require those clinics have special use permits, granted only after a public comment period and city council approval. Opponents of the measure contend that requiring abortion clinics to get the backing of the city council, currently controlled by Republicans, will be virtually impossible, effectively prohibiting any clinics from opening or relocating within the city limits." Rage. Seethe. Boil.

[CN: Death penalty; torture; video may autoplay at link] Today, the US Supreme Court is hearing a death penalty case "filled by several death-row prisoners in Oklahoma ... exactly one year after the botched execution of an inmate there reignited debate over capital punishment and triggered a federal review of protocols nationwide. The specific issue is the sedative midazolam and the question of whether it puts condemned inmates into a coma-like state before two other drugs are given and protects them from the kind of pain that would violate the Eighth Amendment restriction on cruel and unusual punishment." I wish I had any hope at all that the Court will outlaw the death penalty, but I don't. I desperately hope I'm wrong.

[CN: Homophobia; misogyny] Speaking of the Supreme Court... In case you missed it, here is Justice Ginsburg eviscerating the case against marriage equality in six sentences yesterday: "[Same-sex couples] wouldn't be asking for this relief if the law of marriage was what it was a millennium ago. I mean, it wasn't possible. Same-sex unions would not have opted into the pattern of marriage, which was a relationship, a dominant and a subordinate relationship. Yes, it was marriage between a man and a woman, but the man decided where the couple would be domiciled; it was her obligation to follow him. There was a change in the institution of marriage to make it egalitarian when it wasn't egalitarian. And same-sex unions wouldn't—wouldn't fit into what marriage was once."

[CN: Misogyny] Without a trace of irony: "Speaking during his weekly general audience, Pope Francis asked that Christians 'become more demanding' about achieving gender equality, according to the National Catholic Reporter. 'Why is it expected that women must earn less than men?' he asked the crowd at St. Peter's Square. 'No! They have the same rights. The disparity is a pure scandal.'" Says a man whose job literally cannot even be held by a woman.

[CN: Class warfare; financial insecurity] A new study conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Northwestern Mutual found that one-third of USian respondents have no financial plan for our futures. Which is the same finding as a different survey done last year. And I'll say the same thing I did then: It's not like most of these people could be saving for retirement (or a rainy day, or whatever) and are just choosing to be capricious. It's impossible to save if you need every penny you've got just to survive in the here and now.

This is a really nice story about a young man with autism whose life was changed by a rescued dog. (I just want to note that Autism Speaks is quoted in this article, and that there is some implication that people with autism should be "fixed." I'm sharing the story because of the young man talking about how much happier he is because of his puppeh BFF. And no doubt his furry friend is happier now, too!)

[CN: Fire] This hero cat alerted his owner to a fire in their apartment building, which in turn led to all the residents getting out safely. Good kitty!

And finally! A homeless dog rescues a member of his foster family from a rattlesnake and secures himself a forever home. Blub.

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Hillary Sexism Watch, Part Wev in an Endless Series

[Content Note: Misogyny; ageism; cissexism; violence.]

Aphra_Behn just passed along this Washington Post article to me, and everything about it is fucking amazing (and that was sarcsm): "This is how GOP hopefuls want to take on Hillary Clinton."

Spoiler Alert: They want to use misogyny and ageism!

And, naturally, reporters Philip Rucker and Robert Costa are happy to help: "Rubio—who at 43 is young enough to be Clinton's son—called the 67-year-old Democrat "a leader from yesterday ... promising to take us back to yesterday."

Oh thank you, gentlemen, for pointing out that Clinton is old enough to be another candidate's mother, reminding us that she is a woman and that womanhood is defined by one's reproduction.

(Something you will never see in an equivalent article: "Rand Paul, who is young enough to be the actual son of a dipshit who just retired from never winning the Republican nomination...")

And speaking of reproduction, I was particularly fond of this gem:

"Some guys will take a sledgehammer towards her; others will use a stiletto," said David Carney, a veteran Republican consultant. "There will be lots of strategies in the back alleys as they figure out how to do it."
Back alleys, huh? I hope they don't run into any abortionists they've legislated into those back alleys during their strategy sessions!

I'll also never stop loving the use of violent rhetoric and imagery directed at Hillary Clinton, whether it's a Republican operative talking about using a sledgehammer (or a stiletto) to take her out, or Keith Olbermann and Howard Fineman discussing the need for a superdelegate to "take [Clinton] into a room and only he comes out."

The refrain is always the same: Clinton mustn't just lose; she must be annihilated to her very death.

The article goes on to inform us that Mike Huckabee, always a rebel, has a pretty unique plan to destroy Hillary Clinton:
"Who can effectively attack Hillary Clinton without coming across as a jerk?" asked Hogan Gidley, a Huckabee adviser. "Mike Huckabee has that ability; he has that winsomeness."
Okay, first of all, did the Koch Bros. order up a big plate of winsomeness this election or what? Because Santorum was just promising to be "winsome" a few weeks ago. The hell?

Secondly, this is obviously a terrific strategy, because nothing says "winsome" like forcible pregnancy and rank homophobia.


The election is fully a year and a half away, and I am already exhausted.

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Primarily Speaking

[Content Note: Racism; carcerality.]

image of Rand Paul standing in front of a US flag, to which I've added text reading: 'This is your regularly scheduled reminder that I am the worst.'

Senator Rand Paul, who is the worst, gave just a terrific interview about the rebellion in Baltimore in which he first said "that talking about 'root causes' was not appropriate in the middle of a riot," then immediately pivoted to dog whistle some execrable racist garbage about black absentee fathers and the inferiority of black families: "There are so many things we can talk about: The breakdown of the family structure, the lack of fathers, the lack of a moral code in our society." And then tried to cover his ass with: "This isn't just a racial thing." This is, however, a FUCK YOU thing, Senator.

In other Baltimore-related news, Democratic wannabe candidate Martin O'Malley, who was mayor of Baltimore before he served as Maryland's governor, did a walking tour in West Baltimore yesterday, and was not universally well-received (ahem): "He was confronted by two men on motorcycles who shouted expletives and blamed the recent violence in the city on O'Malley's tough-on-crime policies from 1999 to 2007."

Speaking of tough-on-crime policies, former President Bill Clinton said yesterday that "changes in penal policy that happened largely under his watch put 'too many people in prison and for too long' and 'overshot the mark.'"
In 1994 Clinton championed a crime bill that laid down several of the foundations of the country's current mass incarceration malaise. Vowing to be "tough on crime"—a quality that had previously been more closely associated with the Republicans and which Clinton adopted under his "triangulation" ploy—he created incentives to individual states to build more prisons, to put more people behind bars and to keep them there for longer. His also presided over the introduction of a federal three-strikes law that brought in long sentences for habitual offenders.

Under "truth in sentencing", states which sentenced people to long terms in prison with no chance of parole were rewarded with increased federal funds. The crime bill also enshrined a Clinton program known as COPS—Community Oriented Policing Services—in which federal money was provided to states to allow them vastly to increase the number of police officers on the streets—in turn generating more arrests and more convictions.

In a foreword to a new book of essays compiled by the Brennan Center for Justice, Clinton stops short of giving a full mea culpa for the vast increase in prison numbers. He writes that by 1994 crime had become a major problem across the country and that "we acted to address a genuine national crisis".

But he goes on to say that "it's time to take a clear-eyed look at what worked, what didn't, and what produced unintended, long-lasting consequences …Too many laws were overly broad instead of appropriately tailored. Some are in prison who shouldn't be, others are in for too long, and without a plan to educate, train, and reintegrate them into our communities, we all suffer."
No shit. And, not for nothing, but there were plenty of progressive advisors who predicted at the time that precisely these things would happen, but Clinton chose to ignore them.

So what does this have to do with the primary? Well, as soon as I read this, I thought: So, Hillary Clinton is going to propose something to address mass incarceration. Because I am a genius! Ha ha just kidding! I am just a supernerd who has been paying attention to politics since I wrote a letter to President Reagan asking him to please work with Mr. Gorbachev so no bombs would be dropped on my head!

Anyway: "Hillary Clinton to Outline Pitch for Criminal Justice Reform." Whaddaya know!

Clinton will reportedly outline a sweeping criminal justice reform plan that includes: The end of mass incarceration, police body cameras, and "a changed approach to punishment and prison, including making changes to probation practices, finding alternative punishments for low-level offenders, and increasing support for mental health and drug treatment."

I mean, sure, that sounds fine. But here I bump up against the same issue as always, which is that no Democratic candidate who even has a reasonable chance of being elected is nearly as progressive as I am. We don't need to reform the system; we need to obliterate it and replace it with something where justice is actually possible. We need to disband the police force and abolish prisons, and replace them with community mediators, rehabilitation and treatment centers, and a robustly funded social safety net that includes a basic minimum income for everyone.

That sounds radical, I know—but a serious look at what underwrites most criminality, and what solutions are actually effective, makes such a radical suggestion also the only reasonable one. That is, if you're interested in justice and not the profits of privatized prisons.

But I digress!

Look at me, all talking about serious policy solutions in a post about presidential politics. HA HA HA I AM SUCH A FUNNY JOKE CLOWN!

In other Hillary Clinton news: It turns out Hillary's logo is kinda cool! And speaking of her logo, if you are a Hillary fan and want a free bumper sticker, here is where you can get one! (In exchange for your address and email.) (Which might not be a bad exchange, especially if you want campaign updates.) (You decide!)

In polls that don't matter and won't for at least a year: Clinton leads the Democratic candidates in Iowa, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker leads the Republicans, even though he isn't running (yet).

I love these early polls, especially on the Republican side, because it's always some guy who ain't running who wins the day, until he starts running and voters get a look at him, and then some other guy who ain't running takes the lead. No one is more likeable to Republican voters than someone whose most odious views haven't yet been dissected by the national media!

And finally! Senator Bernie Sanders, the only socialist (♥ ♥ ♥) in Congress will reportedly announce tomorrow that he is seeking the Democratic nomination, too. Good on ya, Bernie. I don't think you can win, but I think you can bring some important progressive ideas to the Democratic primary! Please say the word abortion a lot thank you!

Talk about these things! Or don't. Whatever makes you happy. Life is short.

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Baltimore Updates

[Content Note: Police brutality; racism; victim-blaming.]

Last night was quieter in Baltimore, after a city-wide curfew was imposed and 2,000 National Guard troops were activated and fanned out across the city.

But "quiet" is a deceptive word, which comforts people who only want peace but no justice.

There was less rebellion, because of aggressive policing. That's what "quieter" means. No one with a vested interest in meaningful justice supports this kind of quiet—the kind of quiet that includes the blackbag kidnapping of protesters.

Joseph Kent, a 21-year-old student at Morgan State University who rose to local prominence during the Michael Brown protests, was seen on live television standing with his hands in the air alongside a line of riot gear-clad police officers just before 11 p.m. Moments later, a National Guard humvee rolled up, and a swarm of officers swallowed Kent. The vehicle blocked the camera's view of the arrest.

..."They drove the vehicle up and when it got close enough to create a wedge they ran out an grabbed him, pinned him against that and arrested him," CNN anchor Chris Cuomo said. He also told viewers Tuesday night that police had earlier shot pepper spray at the young protester as he approached their line in the street.

...A local attorney, Stephen Beatty, who said he would offer Kent his services pro bono, tweeted early Wednesday morning that Kent was safe and at Baltimore Central Booking.

"As a service to the community I can confirm that Mr. Kent is at CBIF awaiting processing. Report is he is ok and safe," he said. "Due to large numbers of arrests, processing is slow. He is not even in system yet. More will be known in about five hours. I do not yet rep him although I will gladly if he wants me to. But everyone breathe. No longer in [Baltimore Police Department] hands. [Correctional officers] have him. Safer," he said.

Journalist Brooke Obie said she called the Baltimore Police Department and was told Joseph Kent was "arrested for breaking the law and is in jail."
It was another day filled with dehumanizing language and victim-blaming, even as residents of the affected areas of Baltimore spent their day cleaning up the streets. Some of the people cleaning up were also the people who rioted. The first thing to get lost when people are dehumanized en masse is that human beings are complicated. No one is all "thug" or all "saint."

Even during the clean-up, police stood guard.

White people continued to invoke and misappropriate the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The President called rioters "criminals." Freddie Gray's family asked for nonviolence, and their words were used to shame protesters and rebels, even though the family of a man who has been killed might have different needs and priorities than the men and women who are desperate not to be the next person killed.

An avocado says wisely: "maybe violence is sometimes the answer to questions you don't need to ask but others do anyway this is just an avocado tweeting nvm."

* * *

Here are a few pieces of highly recommended reading:

Mychal Denzel Smith: "Toward a New 'Broken Windows' Theory."

Stacia L. Brown: "Dispatch From Baltimore: Praying for Peace, Living Another Reality."

Jesse Williams: "There is nothing 'black' about rioting."

Sam Brodey and Jenna McLaughlin: "Eyewitnesses: The Baltimore Riots Didn't Start the Way You Think."

David Edwards: "Activist Deray McKesson Schools Wolf Blitzer: 'You are suggesting broken windows are worse than broken spines.'"

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Open Thread

image of a hobby horse toy

Hosted by a hobby horse.

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Question of the Day

Suggested via email by Shaker Bill Boulden: "What communication methods do you let notifications pile up for and which ones do you rigorously check?"

Says Bill: "I got a really good discussion going on Twitter [about this subject last week]. It was very interesting hearing about people who let emails pile to to over 70K unread but check every instagram notification the second it arrives, or people who check twitter for @mentions continually after they tweet but never go back to reread facebook threads once they have commented on them. Learned a lot!"

I am pretty good about keeping up with online communications, because, if I don't stay on top of them, I get wildly behind, but I'm terrible about checking voicemail. As basically all of my friends have discovered, lol. (I'm sorry!)

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Quote of the Day

"If you're going to have relentlessly negative coverage from the media, it's going to affect your poll numbers."—Republican Governor of New Jersey, wannabe presidential candidate, and odious bully Chris Christie, offering a terrific explanation for why his approval ratings are in the toilet.

Obviously, his approval ratings would be a lot higher if the media covered all his good works. And maybe they will, if he ever does any.

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Today in Rape Culture

[Content Note: Rape culture.]

Via Lucy Leiderman, here is a picture of a bottle of Bud Light emblazoned with its hot new ad campaign:

image of a bottle of Bud Light, the label on which reads: 'The perfect beer for removing 'no' from your vocabulary for the night. #UpForWhatever. The perfect beer for whatever happens.'

"The perfect beer for removing 'no' from your vocabulary for the night. #UpForWhatever. The perfect beer for whatever happens."

How about go fuck yourself? Are you up for that, Bud Light?

Apparently, Bud Light is claiming they were unaware of the rape culture connotations of this language.

They are lying.

There is literally no way that nary a single person involved with the development and execution of this campaign was aware of the messages implicit in an alcoholic beverage advertising its magical ability to "remove 'no' from your vocabulary." It defies belief.

And so I do not believe it.

I utterly refuse to credit as ignorance what is manifest dishonesty. Bud Light is not unaware of the rape culture connotations. They just don't care.

Except, perhaps, insomuch as appealing to rapists was entirely the point.

Meanwhile, here's the totally convincing statement of regret from Anheuser-Busch Vice President Alexander Lambrecht:
The Bud Light Up for Whatever campaign, now in its second year, has inspired millions of consumers to engage with our brand in a positive and light-hearted way. In this spirit, we created more than 140 different scroll messages intended to encourage spontaneous fun. It's clear that this message missed the mark, and we regret it. We would never condone disrespectful or irresponsible behavior.
They begrudgingly admit "missing the mark," but only because a bunch of hysterical scolds refused to engage "light-heartedly" with their rape joke.

I mean, they would never condone disrespectful behavior. Don't let their decades of misogynist advertising featuring sexually objectified women tell you otherwise!

Nor their long advertising history of images of women being plied with beer by men.

image of a woman sitting next to a record player, appearing to be on a date, while a man out of frame pours a Budweiser for her

series of images of advertisements all featuring men pouring Budweiser beer for women

Forgive them. They had no idea that people might interpret their fun message as a suggestion to engage in irresponsible behavior.

[H/T to Andrea Grimes.]

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound lying on the loveseat, yawning
Oh, pardon me, Lord Yawnington. Am I boring you?

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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This is a real thing in the world.

You know that dipshit Peter Schweizer who wrote Clinton Cash, the book that alleges the Clintons conspired with foreign governments to something something money something something foreign policy—allegations which, thus far, have not passed basic scrutiny?

Well, I knew he was a Republican operative who had published other flimsy conservative tomes, but I only just saw that this is the actual cover of one of his actual books which was actually published with this actual title:

image of the cover of a book bearing the title: 'Makers and Takers: Why Conservatives Work Harder, Feel Happier, Have Closer Families, Take Fewer Drugs, Give More Generously, Value Honesty More, Are Less Materialistic and Envious, Whine Less...and Even Hug Their Children More Than Liberals'

Makers and Takers: Why Conservatives Work Harder, Feel Happier, Have Closer Families, Take Fewer Drugs, Give More Generously, Value Honesty More, Are Less Materialistic and Envious, Whine Less...and Even Hug Their Children More Than Liberals.

Yes, it's real.

It seems to me that Makers and Takers: Why Liberals Are Garbage People Who Belong in a Dumpster would have been more catchy, but what do I know?

I guess I'll have to wait for Schweizer's follow-up Why Liberals Are Totally Definitely Certainly Absolutely Without a Doubt Catastrophically Wrong About How Super Cool and Terrific and Amazing and Wonderful and Fantastic and Awesome Really, Really, Really Long Book Titles Are.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

[Content Note: There is a strobe-light effect in this video.]

Selena: "Como la Flor"

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Earthquake; death; injury] As Nepal's people continue to search for survivors from the massive earthquake over the weekend, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala says the death toll may reach as many as 10,000 people. "International aid has finally begun arriving in the Himalayan nation of 28 million people, three days after Saturday's 7.9 magnitude quake, but disbursement is slow. According to the home (interior) ministry, the confirmed death toll stands at 4,349, with more than 7,000 injured. 'The death toll could go up to 10,000 because information from remote villages hit by the earthquake is yet to come in,' Koirala said."

Again, please feel welcome and encouraged to drop into comments suggestions for how we may help individually, if we are able.

[CN: Terrorism; death] Boko Haram has made another attack, this time in the northeast Nigerian town of Damasak, and hundreds of people have been killed: "The discovery of hundreds of bodies, including women and children, and the latest attacks underline both the brutality of the conflict and the continuing threat posed by the extremists."

Stanley Greenberg persuasively argues that Democrats must embrace populist progressive policy: "Those who advocate such 'centrism' could not be more wrong. The key to both winning today's white working-class voters and building overwhelming majorities with the Rising American Electorate is a robust agenda of progressive reform and government activism."

[CN: Police brutality; racism; disablism] Daniel Covarrubias, 37, was killed by police after suffering from hallucinations and being hospitalized. Following his release: "Two officers found Covarrubias hiding atop a 25-foot-tall stack of lumber. They fired after Covarrubias allegedly reached into his pocket. It's unclear how many times Covarrubias was shot. He later died at the hospital. ...[Police] have not yet said whether Covarrubias had a weapon."

[CN: Transphobia] An important read by Marti Abernathy: "Media Supports Demonizing of Trans Children, Silent on Trans Reparative Therapy: [T]he safest track for transgender children is to let them find their own way without guilt or shame. But that doesn't make for a good debate, does it?"

In good news: "Tyson Foods Inc., which is the country's biggest poultry supplier, announced this week that it plans to eliminate the use of human antibiotics in its chicken flocks by 2017. The impending deadline is being described as 'one of the most aggressive timelines yet set by an American poultry company.'"

[CN: Misogyny; sexual assault] Comedian Tamale Rocks discovered a two-way mirror in the women's restroom at a Chicagoland bar, and the owner of the establishment responded with this pile of horseshit: "I will burn this fucking place to the ground before I get rid of that mirror. Do you know how much joy that mirror has brought to us? We're synonymous with Halloween. We do a freaky family fun day, and all the kids look in the mirror. This is a fun house, honey, and if you don’t like the two-way mirror, go fuck yourself." Um, okay.

In more good news: Viola Davis "will star in, produce, and exec produce a biopic on the life of Harriet Tubman, for HBO. ...Davis' Tubman film will be based on the 2004 book, Bound for the Promised Land—Harriet Tubman Portrait: of an American Hero, by historian Kate Clifford Larson, which draws from a trove of new documents and sources, as well as extensive genealogical research, to paint a portrait of a complex woman and her passionate pursuit of freedom."

RIP Jayne Meadows: "Jayne Meadows, a longtime television actress who was the widow of TV legend Steve Allen and the elder sister of actress Audrey Meadows, died of natural causes at her home in Encino, Calif., on Sunday night. She was 95." A three-time Emmy nominee, Meadows "received the Susan B. Anthony Award for her continued positive portrayals of women in her acting."

This is really fascinating: "Automatic cameras in the Ukrainian side of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone have provided an insight into the previously unseen secret lives of wildlife that have made the contaminated landscape their home. ...In the first four months since the cameras were deployed, the team has 'trapped' more than 10,000 images of animals, suggesting the 30km zone, established shortly after the April 1986 disaster when a nuclear reactor exploded, ejecting radioactive material across the surrounding terrain and high into the atmosphere, is now home to a rich diversity of wildlife."

Cool: "Fossil hunters in Chile have unearthed the remains of a bizarre Jurassic dinosaur that combined a curious mixture of features from different prehistoric animals. The evolutionary muddle of a beast grew to the size of a small horse and was the most abundant animal to be found 145 million years ago, in what is now the Aysén region of Patagonia. The discovery ranks as one of the most remarkable dinosaur finds of the past 20 years, and promises to cause plenty of headaches for paleontologists hoping to place the animal in the dinosaur family tree."

And finally! Teeny Tiny Kitten Meets Big Dog. *melts*

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Discussion Thread: Grocery Costs

[Content Note: Class warfare; food insecurity.]

Although the "food price outlook by the USDA states that, as of this year, the consumer price index for grocery or supermarket food items was down .5 percent in March," it's still "1.9 percent higher than last year around the same time."

I've had a bunch of conversations with local friends lately about the increasing cost of groceries, and the increasing reliance (in our state and in others) on food programs and pantries even among working people, so I thought I'd open a thread to discuss cost-saving ideas and recommendations.

Do you use a coupon program that you'd recommend? A food delivery service that is cost-effective for people who can't shop for themselves? Are you a member of a warehouse retailer like Costco or Sam's Club, with recommendations about particularly cost-effective items? Got secrets for stretching pantry items that you'd love to pass on?

Whatever tips or tricks you've got, share 'em in comments.

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SCOTUS to Hear Marriage Arguments Today

[Content Note: Homophobia.]

Today, the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Obergefell v. Hodges, one of several same-sex marriage cases brought to the Court.

Obergefell v. Hodges requires the Court to answer: "1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?"

The Washington Post has information on the lawyers who will be making the arguments.

SCOTUSblog will be liveblogging the oral arguments.

I don't have a lot to say right now, except to reiterate my unreserved support for the legalization of same-sex marriage.

I desperately hope that SCOTUS gets this right.

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#BlackLivesMatter in Baltimore

[Content Note: Police brutality; racism; dehumanization.]

Freddie Gray was arrested after Baltimore police saw him "[flee] unprovoked upon noticing police presence," according to court documents. He took off running when he saw police, so they gave chase, detained him, and searched him. Witnesses say they heard a Taser being used, but police say a Taser was never used. During the search, police found a small pocketknife of legal size. Nonetheless, Gray was arrested on a weapon charge, pressed into the sidewalk as he told police he needed his asthma inhaler, and was then thrown into the back of a police van.

Video shows Gray looking weak as he's loaded into the van, but he is conscious and talking. By the time he was removed from the van, within an hour of his arrest, his larynx was crushed, his spine was 80% severed at the neck, and he was in a coma. A week later, he died.

Six Baltimore police officers have been suspended with pay, following the announcement of an investigation into Gray's death. But 10 days after Gray died, we still have no idea why he was arrested. Baltimore Police Department spokesperson Captain Eric Kowalczyk dodged questions over the weekend: "Pressed on why police initially stopped Gray, Kowalczyk said the department hadn't released that information because investigators are still conducting interviews."

We also still have no idea what happened to Gray in that van. But there is speculation, based on the nature of his injuries and previous suits against the city, that he was given a "rough ride" by police—that is, shackled but not seatbelted in the van, so he was left to tumble about the back of the van as officers made quick starts and stops.

You can imagine what sort of injuries, especially around the head and neck, you'd get sliding around the back of a vehicle with your arms and legs constricted, no way to hold yourself steady, no way to break the tumbling.

So this is the immediate background to what is happening in Baltimore now. The larger background, of course, is that Freddie Gray is just one of many black men and women who have been harassed by police without cause, arrested and detained unfairly, been subjected to "rough rides," been hurt and killed by police.

In Baltimore. And everywhere across the country.

And it's the same pattern as always: Police lie about what happened. Video surfaces. Police close ranks. The city government says words about investigations, but no information is forthcoming. Accountability is elusive. Justice is elusive.

People protest. Peacefully, in large numbers. A few people engage in criminal behavior. The media focuses their cameras on them. Police show up in riot gear. "Police clash with protesters." The situation escalates as the city starts to look like a war zone with police filling the role of an occupying force. Tensions rise. The media asks questions about whether black people should really be allowed their constitutional right to protest. Dehumanizing language permeates public discussion: The protesters are "thugs" and "animals."

There is very little conversation about how police were throwing rocks at protesters yesterday.

There is very little discussion about how the police shut down public transportation hub for the part of town in which protests were happening, stranding kids who were trying to get home from school, then declared all the kids stuck there a mob.

There is very little concern about how Ravens fans rioting to celebrate their ballsports team winning a big game did more damage to the city than people protesting for their very lives.

There is very little willingness among white people to try to understand that their lives are not policed like black people's lives are policed; to try to empathize with the anger and frustration and fear that underwrites people destroying property in their own communities; to see that the media images we get are filtered through institutional racism; to stop fucking policing how black people respond to being killed by people who are meant to protect them; to look at our history and see that revolutions always start with riots; to listen and offer support instead of condemnation and dehumanization.

Every time this happens, I point out that dehumanizing language is part of the problem. That there is something wrong with looking at images of people desperate to be heard and for their lives to matter and seeing nothing but "thugs" and "animals."

And every time, every fucking time, I get pushback in the form of rank racism and red herrings. I get stupid quotes about the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., from white people who think they own him but only care about his message insofar as they twist it and use it to condemn civil action. I get lectured about how I wouldn't feel that way if I were a small business owner in Baltimore whose life's work was being destroyed. As if small business owners in that community and the protesters are mutually exclusive groups. (They are not.)

One of the buildings destroyed by fire last night was a community senior center. Dr. Donté Hickman, pastor of the Southern Baptist Church, who with his community built that center, appeared on MSNBC last night. He expressed his disappointment and grief at the profound loss of the center, without ever using dehumanizing language. He is someone who lost so much, and yet he still centered the humanity of all the protesters.

Dr. Hickman practices inclusive social justice at his church. If you have the desire and the means to donate to Southern Baptist Church, in order to support their rebuilding, you can donate here.

That seems rather more important than trying to appropriate the lived experiences of men like Dr. Hickman in order to justify using dehumanizing language to describe people who are fighting for their very lives.

Today, the public schools in Baltimore are closed, and the National Guard is rolling in. A curfew has been imposed. And there are still no answers about what happened, what really happened, to Freddie Gray.

The protests will continue. And we must listen.

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Open Thread

image of hastas, a green leafy plant

Hosted by hastas.

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Question of the Day

Borrowed from Ria Misra at io9: What science fiction technology do "you never expect to make the jump into the real world [and] why? (Too complex? Too dangerous? Too expensive to get right?)"

Well, I have to say, I've pretty much given up on flying cars at this point!

In all seriousness, I think we're much more likely to have automated grounded vehicles ("driverless cars") than we are to have personal airships ("flying cars"), because I suspect the lower altitude in which flying cars would inhabit will be filled by surveillance and delivery drones instead.

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The Monday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by buds.

Recommended Reading:

Ragen: [Content Note: Fat hatred; eliminationism; child abuse] When They Say "War on Obesity" I Hear "Casualties"

Kimberly: [CN: Police brutality; racism; misogyny] No One Showed Up to March for Rekia Boyd

Andrew: [CN: Environmental destruction] What Happens When We Punch a Hole in the Seafloor?

Arturo: [CN: Racism; misogyny] Native American Actors and Activists Protest New Adam Sandler Project

TLC: [CN: Transphobia; racism; anti-immigrationism; violence] End the Detention and Deportation of the LGBTQ Migrant Community

Nadia: Hubble Still Wows at 25, But Wait 'Til You See What's Next

Sam: Meryl Streep Has Funded a Screenwriting Workshop for Women over 40

Diamond: The New Ava DuVernay Doll Is Peak Carefree Black Girl

Katharine: An Art Project Turns Cracks in Cities into Geodes

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

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Money Talks Votes

[Content Note: Class warfare.]

Something you probably know about me by now is that voting is about the closest thing there is to a sacrament in my secular little world. Even when my vote doesn't matter to the outcome of an election, for one reason or another, my vote matters to me.

That's why I get angry about gerrymandering, about disenfranchisement, about the decimation of the Voting Rights Act, about financial influence in politics, about Citizens fucking United.

That's why I get angry when I read shit like this:

Never have so many candidates entered a White House contest boosted by such huge sums.

...Some party operatives say that 2016 could be the first race in the modern era in which a candidate does not need to win Iowa or New Hampshire to prevail. Strong showings in those early states historically translated into much-needed financial momentum. But this time, wealthy patrons might keep their favorite picks aloft through independent spending.

...The 2016 primary contest could resemble the fracas in 2012, when super PAC benefactors kept alive the bids of former House speaker Newt Gingrich and former U.S. senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, forcing Mitt Romney into an extended fight for the nomination.

Adelson and his family poured $15 million into a super PAC backing Gingrich, then an unthinkably large amount. This time, with more big spenders in the mix, such sums could be commonplace, the former House speaker said.

"What seems like really big money is less than a yacht," Gingrich said in an interview. Wealthy donors could decide that "this year, instead of buying a new yacht, I'm going to spend $70 million on a candidate," he said.
One person with more money than zie could ever spend in a lifetime now has the ability to meaningfully affect the nation's presidential election.

That isn't a democracy. Not a functional, meaningful one.

What that is, despite conservative caterwauling about "wealth redistribution" in response to any attempt to robustly fund an effective social safety net, is class warfare.

Class warfare is not, as we are meant to believe, taxing people who have way more than they need so that people who don't even have the basics to survive can have a little more.

Class warfare is obliterating a democracy by rendering irrelevant the votes of any and all human beings who aren't grotesquely wealthy, and calling it "free speech."

Class warfare is believing that money is "free speech," but one's constitutional right to cast a vote that means something is not.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt standing in the middle of the living room looking upwards with her head cocked to one side as if listening intently
"Time for walk now?"

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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Quote of the Day

"We are all just here for a time—whether in this building or even on this earth. But the values we hold dear will live on long after we have left this stage. Our responsibility, while we are here, is to breathe life into them; to imbue them with the strength of our convictions and the weight of our efforts."—Loretta Lynch, who was sworn in today (at long last) as Attorney General of the United States, becoming the first black woman to hold the position.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Kinky: "Mas"

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Earthquake; death; images of death and destruction at link] A major earthquake hit Nepal over the weekend, which has caused widespread destruction, injury, and death—and is now "stretching medical services in the impoverished and unprepared Himalayan nation to breaking point." The primary quake was followed by an aftershock "stronger than many earthquakes hit Nepal, collapsing more buildings and triggering new panic in a country trying to recover from the most powerful quake to hit it in 80 years." Nearly 4,000 are known to have died, and rescue and recovery operations continue. An international aid effort is being organized to help Nepal.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to drop into comments suggestions for how we may help individually. I will, as always, recommend donating to Doctors Without Borders, who are already sending teams to help.

[CN: Police brutality; racism] Hundreds of people gathered for Freddie Gray's funeral in Baltimore: "Many of the hundreds of mourners who came to the church Monday morning said they did not know Gray personally, but felt compelled to attend the funeral to demonstrate their outrage about the circumstances surrounding his death. 'I don't understand how these things keep happening,' said Ken Carolina, 54, a retired corrections officer, after viewing Gray's body. 'It's another life gone.'"

[CN: Transphobic violence] On Friday night, ABC aired its much-anticipated and/or dreaded interview with Bruce Jenner about hir transition. ABC has made available their full coverage, including video of the episode. We watched the entire thing, and there were parts of it that were just infuriating, mostly along the lines of the stupidity of some of the questions which treated fear and loathing of trans* people as a given, but overall it was not as bad as I'd feared it would be. Jenner was very patient and indulgent and, despite saying zie's not a spokesperson for the trans* community, highlighted many important issues, including the number of trans* women of color who are murdered. (Hir kids seem pretty amazing, too.)

[CN: Transphobia; racism; violence] That said, this piece is definitely recommended reading: "What trans people of color fear after the Bruce Jenner media circus."

[CN: Climate change; wildfires] Fuck: "'Explosive' Wildfires Are Already out of Control Months Before Fire Season: 'Wildfire season' seems to be a thing of the past for drought-stricken California, with fires now raging throughout the year. There have already been nearly 850 wildfires this year—70 percent above the average, according to CAL FIRE data. High temperatures and low precipitation, both related to climate change, have dried out forests and scrublands across the western United States, allowing fires to spread faster and farther than usual, any time during the year."

Something something Brian Williams has probably lied a lot.

[CN: War on agency] This piece by Imani Gandy on the mendacity of anti-choicers is a must-read: "When Does an Error Become a Lie? The Case of the Missing Decimal Point."

[CN: Homophobia] Care of Ari Ezra Waldman, here's what you can expect during oral arguments at the Supreme Court this week on one marriage equality case.

OMG!!! "NASA May Have Accidentally Created a Warp Field: Meanwhile, in the lab, NASA and other space programs were working on prototypes of the EmDrive or RF resonant cavity thruster invented by British aerospace engineer Roger J. Shawyer. This propulsion device uses a magnetron to produce microwaves for thrust, has no moving parts and needs no reaction mass for fuel. In 2014, Johnson Space Center claimed to have developed its own low-power EmDrive. ...When lasers were fired through the EmDrive's resonance chamber, it measured significant variances and, more importantly, found that some of the beams appeared to travel faster than the speed of light. If that's true, it would mean that the EmDrive is producing a warp field or bubble."

Meanwhile: "At first glance, there is not the slightest doubt: to us, the universe looks three dimensional. But one of the most fruitful theories of theoretical physics in the last two decades is challenging this assumption. The 'holographic principle' asserts that a mathematical description of the universe actually requires one fewer dimension than it seems. What we perceive as three dimensional may just be the image of two dimensional processes on a huge cosmic horizon."

And finally! Dogs and cats hiding in plain sight. Aww lol!

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