Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker kiwi_a: "Puppy-sized elephant or elephant-sized puppy?"

LOLOLOLOLOL! This question delights me! And my answer is 100% puppy-sized elephant. Because I know with unyielding certainty that I could not handle an elephant-sized puppy!

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Stevie Wonder: "My Cherie Amour"

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Your Best Photograph

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

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

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

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Here's one I took not long ago of the eaves of a local restaurant, at dusk, on a particularly gorgeous summer day:

image of the eaves of a restaurant's roof, with yellow and red neon light designs, against a bright blue sky

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[Content Note: Intersectionality fail.]

Bernie Sanders is going to be a magical president:

Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont whose policies are left of mainstream liberals, told David Axelrod that Obama made a "mistake" by expecting he could easily charm the other party into negotiating with him. "He thought he could walk into Capitol Hill and the Oval Office and sit down with John Boehner and Mitch McConnell and the Republicans and say, 'I can't get it all. You can't get it all. Let's work out something that's reasonable,' because he's a reasonable guy. He's a pretty rational guy," Sanders said on the debut episode of "The Axe Files with David Axelrod" podcast.

"These guys never had any intention of doing [serious] negotiating and compromising," Sanders added, according to a Politico report. "I think it took the president too long to fully appreciate that."
I'll stop there for a moment in order to say I agree with Sanders on this point. One of my major criticisms of President Obama when he ran for president in '08 was that I felt like he was tremendously naïve/arrogant about his capacity to change Washington by sheer force of will, and I was critical of his approach reflecting that belief for the first few years of his presidency. But President Obama isn't that guy anymore, and hasn't been for a long time.

But okay. I don't disagree with Sanders' criticism that it took Obama too long to get on that page. The problem begins when Sanders is asked how he's going to succeed where Obama failed:
When pressed further about it, Sanders didn't offer an explanation of how he would successfully compromise with GOP lawmakers. The only way things will get done with a divided Congress is if voters pay more attention and demand it, Sanders told Axelrod.

"I don't have any illusion that I'm going to walk in -- and I certainly hope it is not the case, but if there is a Republican House and a Republican Senate -- that I'm going to walk in there and say, 'Hey guys, listen. I'd like you to work with me on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour,'" Sanders said. "It ain't gonna happen, I have no illusion about that. The only way that I believe that change takes place…is that tens of millions of people are going to have to stand up and be involved in the political process the day after the election."
Is Sanders suggesting that President Obama didn't have "tens of millions of people [ready] to stand up and be involved in the political process the day after the election"? Because whooooooooooooops. I described being in Chicago literally the day after President Obama was first elected thus:
Wednesday, the day after the election, the Space Cowpokes, Iain, and I were in Chicago all day, and something incredible had happened. (The same thing was happening in New York, too, as noted by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, and I've gotten emails from people saying they found the same thing.) It was, like, Crazyhappyland. Everyone was laughing and smiling and being extra nice—spontaneous conversations about music, art, food, life, the election with strangers in elevators, in restaurants, in cabs, on the sidewalk. It was like every single person in Chicago had been told they had 100 years to live. Black, white, gay, straight, woman, man, everybody. People were happy and inspired and excited. A cloud had lifted. In one of the most politically cynical cities in the world, where the people know better than most that policians are fallible beings who often fail to deliver and fuck up in myriad ways, there was still a tangible, beautiful sense of the possible. The entire city was enveloped in great expectations.

Right now, let's believe we can do this.

And because, as I've said no fewer than a nonillion times now, this election is not just about Barack Obama, and his presidency will not be just about Barack Obama, but about us all, there's just this huge chance for something big in that optimism blanketing Chicago on Wednesday.
There was a palpable feeling of excitement and engagement, all over the country. If that didn't translate into enough energy and involvement to overcome the Republicans' gross obstructionism, welp.

And I get that Sanders is arguing that he's going to harness what he imagines will be an even greater level of enthusiasm after his hypothetical victory; that he won't squander this precious resource the way he believes Obama did.

Except: It's (almost) eight years later. And no one can walk into Capitol Hill and sit down with John Boehner and say anything anymore, because John Boehner has been pushed out of his party for not being conservative enough.

Just at the very moment that John Boehner is becoming too liberal for the GOP, Sanders thinks he's going to magic a Republican-majority Congress into working with him, with the help of progressive activists like the ones over whose work the GOP is currently threatening to shut down the government?


I'll also just note that it's pretty hard to build a progressive coalition when you bellicosely stick to a message tailored very particularly to straight white cis working class men and ignore criticism around a failure of intersectionality and instead just keep insisting that your class-based message should appeal to everyone, because you're an undeterrable subscriber to the notion of trickle-down social justice.

If Sanders genuinely imagines he's going to achieve what President Obama could not (and I'll just mention here that President Obama has hardly failed in toto to promote and oversee meaningful transformation during his presidency, even if he has not succeeded and deserves criticism in other areas) by engaging tens of millions of activists, he'd better start making some serious moves to bring those activists to the table.

Because, right now, the whole "stop playing identity politics and get on board" shtick just feels like another variation on the same old "where else ya gonna go?" chestnut. Which is about as uninspiring as politics gets.

But also? Whether Sanders manages to successfully build a huge coalition is frankly irrelevant in terms of executive branch politics. This is not a serious answer to a very important question. It's a vague concept that relies on an increasingly outdated notion about how much influence average people (without endless amounts of cash and access) have over Congressional legislators.

Disengagement is indeed a big problem, but so are disenfranchisement and disillusionment. And lobbyists. And Citizens United.

If Sanders is betting his presidential efficacy on a people's uprising, we have a big problem.

Especially when some of the people are still trying to stop others from rising.

[H/T to Shaker Aphra_Behn.]

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The Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by cough drops.

Recommended Reading:

Shena: [Content Note: Abortion stigma. NB: Not only women need access to abortion] Shattering the Stigma of Abortion

Leah: [CN: Anti-choice trolling] Pink Out! (Also, Deftly Handling Some Trolls)

Miriam: [CN: Racism; class warfare] Navajo Midwives in New Mexico Plan First-Ever Native American Birth Center

stavvers: [CN: Rape culture; victim-blaming] Walking Home Alone: A Manifesto for Preventing Rape

Asam: [CN: Transphobia; gender policing; racism; classism] An Interview with Panmai, a Trans and Mixed-Caste Theatre Troupe from India

David: [CN: Disablism] A Day in the Life at Chicago Public Schools: Special Ed

Fannie: [CN: Homophobia; Christian Supremacy] Christian School Denies Entry to Child of Same-Sex Couple

Teresa: Jennifer Lopez Becomes United Nations' First Global Advocate for Women and Girls

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

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat lying on the loveseat hiding her face, with one paw outstretched across the arm
"Where's Matilda? I can't see her at all!"

image of Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat lying on the loveseat peeking over the arm
"Oh there she is! I was totally fooled!"

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

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Misogyny; war on agency] Yesterday I posted a short representative clip of the rude-ass rude behavior of rude-ass rude Republicans toward Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards during her Congressional testimony, but if you'd like to see every single time a Republican interrupted Richards, here you go!

[CN: Death penalty] The state of Georgia has executed convicted killer Kelly Gissendaner despite appeals for a commutation of her sentence to life in prison, making Gissendaner the first woman executed in Georgia in 70 years. Gissendaner was convicted of conspiring with her former boyfriend to kill her husband. Her former boyfriend is the one who actually killed her husband, but he "was given life in prison as part of a plea bargain." Even Gissendaner's children with the victim begged for clemency, but to no avail. My condolences to them. End the death penalty now.

[CN: Guns; death; injury] The extraordinary number of shootings in Chicago has Mayor Rahm Emanuel (whose garbage policies are entrenching the poverty and desperation and marginalization in the communities in which most of these shootings are happening) calling again for stricter gun laws: "Fourteen people, including two young boys, were shot in Chicago over a 15-hour period from Monday night to Tuesday morning. Six people were killed and at least eight were wounded, following two consecutive weekends when more than 50 people were shot in the city. Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and police officials repeated their calls for stricter gun laws and a more robust criminal justice system. 'I'm angry about what happened here and I think I speak for everybody,' Emanuel said on Tuesday. 'And I think I speak for everybody when I say enough is enough.'" Yes. But also? Stop investing in tourist garbage and start investing in neglected communities, Mr. Mayor.

[CN: Sexual harassment] OMFG I couldn't make this shit up: Indiana State Representative Jud McMillin, a "rising star" in the Republican Party and chair of the House Courts and Criminal Code committee (lololol), abruptly resigned yesterday "after a sexually explicit video was sent via text message from McMillin's cell phone. It's unclear who sent the text or how broadly it was distributed. [McMillan] sent a separate text message apologizing to his contacts for "anything offensive" they may have received after he said he lost control of his cell phone. ...McMillin said in a text message last week, 'My phone was stolen in Canada and out of my control for about 24 hours. I have just been able to reactivate it under my control. Please disregard any messages you received recently. I am truly sorry for anything offensive you may have received.'" LOL OKAY PLAYER. McMillan said he is resigning "to focus all of my attention on making my family's world a better place." Lucky them!

[CN: Infertility; fat bias; ageism; relationship policing] This is pretty amazing: "Ten British women without wombs will get the chance to carry their own babies after approval was granted by a special research committee which covers Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. A clinical trial will launch in the spring and more than 100 women have been identified as potential recipients of donor wombs. ...If the trial is successful, the first British baby born as a result of a womb transplant could arrive in late 2017 or 2018, with more in the future." Although naturally, fat women, older women, and women who don't want a partner need not apply: "The 10 women who will be selected for the trial must all meet strict criteria, which includes being 38 or under, having a long-term partner, and being a healthy weight."

What is Lawrence Lessig even talking about? "If you support Bernie, you're not going to get Hillary. If you support Hillary, you're not going to get Bernie. But if you support me, you could get Hillary or Bernie or Elizabeth Warren or somebody. This is two for the price of one." That assumes we want him. Facts not in evidence, Your Honor.

Here's a cool headline today: "Bill Gates Named America's Richest Person for 22nd Straight Year." Neat! How's everyone else doing?

[CN: Domestic violence] Good grief: Lena Dunham has had to apologize (sort of) for comparing being attacked online to an abusive relationship. "I wasn't making a joke about domestic violence—I was over emphatic in my attempt to capture how damaging the Internet can be (not just to celebrities.)" The thing is, internet abuse is bad enough and real enough on its own. There's no need to use metaphors that appropriate other types of abuse.

Cool: "Nicki Minaj is set to executive produce and appear in a scripted comedy series for ABC Family based on the rap star's life growing up in Queens, New York. The project, from Aaron Kaplan's Kapital Entertainment, will film a pilot episode in Minaj's hometown this winter, with the intention to continue to series."

Awesome: "Alden Kane, a Detroit high school student, created a custom adaptable stroller that will allow new mother Sharina Jones—who uses a wheelchair—to take her baby for a walk... The 16-year-old is a senior at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and began developing the apparatus in his STEM class in the spring, after receiving an assignment to create a device that would let a mother in a wheelchair easily carry her baby, according to a news release from the university. Jones was to be the recipient of the prototype. ...Kane consulted Jones during the design process, using her July due date as the motivating force to efficiently complete the project."

[CN: Injury; bullying] What a lovely story: "For 38 years, a few black-and-white photographs of a nurse cradling a baby provided comfort to a woman who suffered terrible burns and endured years of playground taunts and painful surgeries thereafter. For all that time, until Tuesday, she dreamed of meeting her again. The photos [shot for the Albany Medical Center's 1977 annual report] show Amanda Scarpinati at just 3 months old, her head thickly wrapped in gauze, resting calmly in the nurse's arms. ...'Growing up as a child, disfigured by the burns, I was bullied and picked on, tormented,' she said. 'I'd look at those pictures and talk to her, even though I didn't know who she was. I took comfort looking at this woman who seemed so sincere, caring for me.'" Scarpinati finally found the nurse, Susan Berger, via Facebook. "Preserved by the photos, their encounters in the pediatric recovery room turned out to have a lasting impact on both their lives. ...Both women were thrilled to see each other again Tuesday, sobbing and embracing as cameras clicked all around them in a medical center conference room. ...Someone asked if their reunion might be the start of a lifelong friendship. Scarpinati had a quick answer to that: 'It already has been a lifelong friendship. She just didn't know.'"

[CN: Disablist language] And finally! "25 Hilarious Tweets That Perfectly Capture Your Feelings About Animals." LOL.

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Russia Launches Airstrikes in Syria

[Content Note: War.]

Ohhhhhhhh fuck:

Russian warplanes began airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday, adding an unpredictable new element to a multi-layered conflict that has already drawn in the United States and allies, created millions of refugees, and opened room for gains by the Islamic State.

Washington quickly criticized the airstrikes — warning it brings added risks to Syria — but said Moscow's moves would not change the U.S.-led air campaign targeting the Islamic State in Syria.

In Moscow, a statement from Russia's Defense Ministry said airstrikes were carried out "against positions held by the Islamic State in Syrian territory," state news agencies reported.

It gave no further details, but the missions follow a Russian military build-up in Syria to support its longtime ally President Bashar al-Assad. Earlier Wednesday, in a surprise vote, the Russian parliament gave President Vladi­mir Putin authorization to use military force in Syria.

...The introduction of Russian military power is certain to deepen concerns by the United States and allies over escalations in the Syrian battle fronts and bolstered strength for Assad's government, which the West and others have demanded must eventually step aside.

...Amid the fast-moving developments, Secretary of State John F. Kerry told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that the Russian airstrikes are "not helpful," according to a senior State Department official speaking anonymously about the Russia military activity.

Kerry also told Lavrov the airstrikes run counter to Russia's stated intention to cooperate on so-called "deconfliction," or making sure that mishaps do not happen inadvertently in the air.

The official said Kerry insisted deconfliction talks must begin immediately.
There is so much potential clusterfuckery here. Obviously, there are a lot of ramifications for international relations, particularly between the US and Russia, and that concerns me, but my primary concern at the moment is for the average people of Syria who are suffering mightily at the hands of both IS and the Assad regime, as well as being threatened by external intervention under the auspices of helping them. People who stay are in danger; people who leave are in danger.

And more airstrikes from additional interlopers is only going to make that insecurity and risk of harm even worse.

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I'm SHOCKED (I Am Not Shocked)

[Content Note: War on agency; harassment.]

After those garbage "sting" videos of Planned Parenthood were released by an anti-choice organization claiming to have "proof" that Planned Parenthood sells fetal tissue for profit, 11 states launched investigations into Planned Parenthood's fetal tissue sales. Six states—Pennsylvania, Georgia, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Indiana, and Florida—had already concluded their investigations and found no evidence of any wrongdoing, and yesterday Missouri made it seven.

In a statement released Monday, Missouri's Attorney General announced that there was "no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Planned Parenthood's St. Louis facility is selling fetal tissue." The findings came after an audit of every procedure performed by the state’s only authorized abortion facility over a 30-day span.

Good luck, Arizona, Texas, Ohio, and Louisiana. I'm sure you'll definitely turn up THE PROOF! that none of these other states could find during your politically motivated investigations that are nothing but, and are never going to be anything but, intimidation of people who provide (and seek) abortions.


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Your Progressive Pope, Part Wev in an Endless Series

[Content Note: Homophobia.]

So, homophobic Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis says that she met the Pope in a secret meeting during his trip to the United States:

Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis says a private meeting with Pope Francis has inspired her — and given her a renewed sense of purpose.

"I was crying. I had tears coming out of my eyes," Davis said in an exclusive interview with ABC News.

"I'm just a nobody, so it was really humbling to think he would want to meet or know me."

Davis, who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, says the private meeting occurred during the pope's historic trip to the United States. After receiving a surprise phone call from a church official, the Kentucky county clerk says she traveled to Washington, D.C., where she and her husband Joe met the pope Sept. 24 at the Vatican Embassy.

"I put my hand out and he reached and he grabbed it, and I hugged him and he hugged me," Davis said. "And he said, 'thank you for your courage.'"
There are, at this point, no photos of the meeting—which is causing lots of people to question the veracity of the story. And the Vatican isn't exactly helping, as a statement from from the Vatican Press office reads: "The Holy See is aware of the reports of Kim Davis meeting with the Holy Father. The Vatican does not confirm the meeting, nor does it deny the meeting. There will be no further information given."

Um, okay.

We do know that Pope Francis held a secret meeting while he was here with the Little Sisters of the Poor, the religious order of Catholic sisters who are suing the Obama administration over the contraception provision in the Affordable Care Act.

And we know that Pope Francis made comments in support of conscientious objection on his flight back to Rome.

And we know that Pope Francis is very aware of the optics of his papacy and the Church in the modern age. I have been saying for two years that the primary difference between Pope Francis and his predecessors is not that he's more liberal, but that he's more invested in PR.

So I wouldn't be shocked if it is indeed true that he met with a reviled figure of US liberals in order to congratulate her on her bravery, but did so in secret so as not to undermine the glowing coverage of how amazing he is. Saying/doing one thing publicly, only to quietly reverse course or have the Vatican issue a "clarification" days later, has been a feature of his tenure since Day One. All the fawning media over his "radical" positions of basic decency on climate change, poverty, and the death penalty might have been overshadowed if he held public meeting with the Little Sisters of the Poor and (supposedly) Kim Davis.

Anyone who imagines it's not even possible for the Pope to have met with Kim Davis hasn't been paying attention.

This Pope isn't a liberal. His positions aren't even particularly better, especially on social issues, than his predecessors—he's just a much more sophisticated spinmaster. And he cunningly exploits our habits of not paying close attention, if we hear something that suits our hopes.

I will observe once again: Progressives' fascination with Pope Francis is mystifying. It is beyond the soft bigotry of low expectations. It is an epic failure to expect more.

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Open Thread

image of a what appears to be white woman's hand holding a Tiffany & Co. blue gift box, with nails painted to match

Hosted by Tiffany blue nail polish.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker ericacbarnett: "What is the name of your imaginary band?"

I call "new band name!" about a biebillion times a week, and they are all AMAZING (they are not amazing), so it's impossible to choose just one.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Neil Diamond: "Heartlight"

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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!

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image of me standing in my kitchen wearing a grey tank-top, blue tortoiseshell glasses, and pink lipstick/blush

No foundation or eyes today: I tried out a product I got in my Birch Box, a sample of Laqa & Co's Cheeky Lip pencil in "Humble Brag." It's a color stick that can be used for both lips and cheeks, and, I have to admit, I was kind of dubious, but I really like it! It goes on nicely on both lips and cheeks, and I dig how it creates a whole cohesive look with one item.

It doesn't have terrific staying power (for me) as a lip color, but I still like it and will definitely use it again.

Anyway! What's up with you?

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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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Rage. Seethe. Boil.

[Content Note: Misogyny; war on agency.]

Today, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards testified in front of the House Oversight Committee as part of the entirely ridiculous Congressional investigation launched by Republicans after an anti-choice group released highly-edited gotcha videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood employees doing something wrong, even though those discredited videos showed no illegal or unethical behavior at all.

It is an absurd indignity that Richards would even be dragged through this farce, but here is just a short clip of House Oversight Committee Chair, Republican Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz, questioning Richards in the most aggressively disrespectful manner, to give you some idea of how Richards was treated during her testimony.

Richards: —every year. Thank you.

Chaffetz: Thank you. I'll now recognize myself for five minutes. Um, Ms. Richards, Planned Parenthood has sent thirty-two plus million dollars in grants overseas. Does any of these funds [sic] go to the Democratic Republic of the Congo?

Richards: Congressman, let me tell you—

Chaffetz: No no no. No. We don't have time for a big narrative.

Richards: I'm not going to give you— You asked me—

Chaffetz: Yes or no.

Richards: You asked me a question. Any of the money that Planned Parenthood raises and is given by foundations and individuals to support family planning services around [I think she meant "outside"] the country is in Africa and in Latin America, and they go to individual organizations. I'm happy to provide you a list of those organizations, but I did not bring them with me today—

Chaffetz: If you could give us a list of those organizations... Does Planned Parenthood have any ownership in foreign—foreign companies?

Richards: I don't believe so. I don't know what you mean by ownership—

Chaffetz: Well, in your 2013 tax return, it lists three point three million dollars marked as, quote, investment, unquote, in Central America and the Caribbean. I'm just asking if that investment was an actual investment.

Richards: We don't own anything in those countries. What our global—

Chaffetz: Okay. We can keep going.

Richards: Well, I—

Chaffetz: I have to keep going. I need—I would appreciate a list—and you've been very cooperative so far—

Richards: We have been extremely cooperative.

Chaffetz: Yeah, and I just cited that. If you can give us a listing, as you said you would, of where those dollars go overseas, we would very much appreciate it. Your—your compensation in 2009 was three hundred and fifty-three thousand dollars. Is that correct?

Richards: I don't have the figures with me, but I—

Chaffetz: It was. Congratulations. Um, in 2013, your compensation went up some two hundred and forty thousand dollars. You—your compensation we're showing at baseline tax returns as five hundred and ninety thousand dollars, correct?

Richards: That's not my annual compensation. I actually—my annual compensation is five hundred and twenty thousand dollars a year. I believe there was a retirement—there was a program that the board, um, a sort of—put together for a three-year—

Chaffetz: Okay.

Richards: I'm happy— Again, I think we've been extremely forthcoming with all of our documents, so—

Chaffetz: Let me go to the next one.

A female representative offscreen: Will the gentleman yield?

Chaffetz: No I won't. Planned Parenthood and its lobbying arm, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, uh—
This is not a serious inquiry being done by serious people. It's a witch hunt being carried out by unethical shitlords who don't even have the common decency not to interrupt the answers they're allegedly seeking. Because, of course, they don't want answers. What they want is a spectacle. What they want is to discredit Planned Parenthood. What they want is to limit abortion access. What they want is control over women and our bodies.

And that should be manifestly obvious to anyone watching a male congressman assert his control over the female president of an organization that primarily provides healthcare services to women.

This is an exercise in the assertion of patriarchy, being funded by the taxpayers' dime.

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He Seems Nice

[Content Note: Misogyny; rape culture.]

Now that the extreme rightwing of the Republican Party has successfully ousted that liberal rabble-rouser John Boehner, they've got their sites set on a supercool replacement: Florida Representative Daniel Webster, who is affiliated with the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), a ministry founded by Bill Gothard, whose name you might recognize from his association with the Duggars.

[University of North Florida professor Julie Ingersoll] writes that Webster's speeches to Gothard's group emphasized that "God is on his side and that God opposes his opponents," even "attribut[ing] the fact that he has often run unopposed to God's intervention as a result of these prayers."

Most controversially, Webster spoke at one IBLP event about the need for wives to submit to their husbands and for husbands to be the heads of their households, which, as Sarah Posner notes, is strongly in line with Gothard's views about the dominance of male authority.

...Last year, Gothard faced accusations of sexual harassment from 34 women and charges that he engineered a cover-up of abuse claims.
And he's the BFF of the favorite choice of Congressional rightwingers to be Speaker of the House.

House Majority Leader and California Representative Kevin McCarthy is still more likely to succeed Boehner, and this is the voting record of the more "moderate" choice. Anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-parental leave, anti-universal healthcare, anti-amnesty, anti-affirmative action, pro-corporation, pro-death penalty, pro-gun, pro-war. And he's not conservative enough for many Congressional Republicans.

They want to go with a guy who believes women are the property of their fathers and/or husbands. In the year of our lord Jesus Jones two thousand and fifteen.

I don't even know what to say anymore.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt sitting on the back porch, grinning
Says Zelly: "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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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

Good, now let's make some shit happen! "This weekend, on the 20th anniversary of the fourth world conference on women in Beijing, leaders from around the globe met in New York City to discuss concrete and measurable plans for eliminating discrimination against women. ...'The highest leaders in the land are taking personal responsibility for their commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of women,' UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said. 'Now the world looks up to them to lead the game-changing actions that secure and sustain implementation. Today we take the first firm steps towards 25 September, 2030.'"

[Content Note: War on agency] Good news—for now: "An El Paso clinic shuttered by Texas' tough 2013 abortion law reopened Tuesday, the first in the state to do so since the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked enforcement of some of the key restrictions three months ago. The Reproductive Services clinic, so close to the Texas-Mexico border that its windows offer views of Ciudad Juarez across the Rio Grande, is now taking appointments and should begin performing abortions next week. The reopening brings to 20 the number of abortion clinics in America's second most-populous state. But that's still down from 41 in 2012, and the facility could close again soon. A June 29 Supreme Court order only created a temporary block that will hold until the high court decides whether to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling refusing to suspend the Texas restrictions. It's not clear when that decision will come, but the summer ruling is a strong indication that the Supreme Court eventually will hear the full appeal—which could be the biggest abortion case in decades. 'We're so excited about the reopening, but the discouraging part is we could be closed down at any time,' said Marilyn Eldridge, president of Nova Health Systems, which operates Reproductive Services."

[CN: Moving GIFs at link; discussion of transphobia] Blub foreverrrr: "Erica Maison, a mother of five from Detroit, surprised her transgender daughter Corey with her first dose of hormones—something the 14-year-old had been waiting over two years to receive. She managed to capture the emotional moment on video." THE LOOK ON COREY'S FACE!!!

[CN: Rape culture; sex abuse] "Lawyers for Dennis Hastert are reportedly in negotiations about a possible guilty plea to charges the former House Speaker was paying to cover-up alleged sexual misconduct with a former male student." I'm sure he'll get a terrific deal, because of course he will. In the meantime: "Hastert remains free on his own recognizance."

Here's just a real story on CNN today: "The Chuck Norris-Mike Huckabee bromance is alive and well." For fuck's sake.

Rush Limbaugh, at maximum Limbaugh: "Okay so there's flowing water on Mars. Yip yip yip yahoo. You know me, I'm science 101, big time guy, tech advance it, you know it, I'm all in. But, NASA has been corrupted by the current regime. I want to find out what they're going to tell us. OK, flowing water on Mars. If we're even to believe that, what are they going to tell us that means? That's what I'm going to wait for. Because I guarantee, let's just wait and see, this is September 28, let's just wait and see. Don't know how long it's going to take, but this news that there is flowing water on Mars is somehow going to find its way into a technique to advance the leftist agenda." Blink.

RIP Catherine Coulson, who most famously played the Log Lady on Twin Peaks. Said David Lynch: "Today I lost one of my dearest friends, Catherine Coulson. Catherine was solid gold. She was always there for her friends—she was filled with love for all people—for her family—for her work. She was a tireless worker. She had a great sense of humor—she loved to laugh and make people laugh. She was a spiritual person—a longtime TM meditator. She was the Log Lady." She was the Log Lady.

Awwwwwww: "The newly discovered Angustopila dominikae is a really tiny snail. With a shell height of just .86 millimeters, nearly 10 of the creatures could fit into the head of a sewing needle."

And finally! "The Happiest Cats Who Show the Best Smiles." I can't be arsed setting up an account to submit a picture, but, if I could, this picture of Olivia is definitely the one I'd submit!

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Today in Rape Culture

[Content Note: Sexual violence; child abuse; death; malicious prosecution.]

This is one of the most catastrophic police failures in a rape case about which I've ever read, which is really saying something.

Lara McLeod was raped by her sister's fiancé Joaquin Rams, who himself conveyed to police that the rape had happened by denying it before they even asked. The police compelled Lara to file a report, then they disbelieved her, despite the fact that Rams had a criminal history that included being suspected of two murders and abusing his older son, based largely on "evidence" in the form of a recording of the rape which was provided by Rams and was clearly edited. So they charged her with making a false report and accused her of conspiring with her sister Hera McLeod, who had a son with Rams, to invent the accusation to assist in a custody battle (that wasn't even happening until after Rams raped Lara). That eventually aided Rams in getting visitation with his younger son with Hera, who subsequently died while in Rams' care.

It continues to be a real fucking mystery why lots of rape survivors don't want to report the crimes against them to police.

And after destroying this family, the police defend their actions and refuse to apologize:

In a private meeting with the McLeods, the chief of police admitted the department bungled aspects of the investigation...but he stressed that women do lie about rape, so it was important for officers not to be too credulous — and that it was only his "personal opinion" that police shouldn't have pressed charges.

"It is not uncommon for people to make false, malicious, salacious allegations of sexual assault," he said. "That does happen."

...The family had specific requests: Train officers on how to properly respond to sexual assault. Discipline the detectives that charged the sisters. Make a public statement, so someone who googles Lara — a potential employer, say — would not see the outlandish charges.

"A few of your concerns, I think, have been corroborated," Chief Hudson told Hera in the meeting, a recording of which was obtained by BuzzFeed News. He admitted that the decision to allow Joaquin to recover the video was "improper" and "violates our policies on handling evidence." Hudson said the police report was "sloppy" and he thought some aspects of the investigation had been "shortcutted."

"I think fatigue played a part in this," he said, "and not a good part."

Hudson admitted that the detectives had "reached a conclusion and didn't pursue it further" and that, "in hindsight," he would "prefer that the charges not have been made."

"One of the shortcomings in this case is the fact that they didn't do further investigation on the specific charge against you," he said to Hera. "To leap to the conclusion that you needed to be charged at the time you did I thought was cut short."

But he said there was nothing "technically improper" with the charges brought against Hera and Lara, as it was the detectives' "judgment call." And, he said, even if the police hadn't charged them, Joaquin still wouldn't have been arrested for rape. When Hera asked whether it was common for the department to charge women with falsely reporting rape, Chief Hudson said that he didn't know if he would "call it an aberration." The department deals with about 9 or 10 charges of false reporting a year out of 80–100 reports, he said.

As for the idea that his officers needed further instruction on handling sexual assault cases, he said their training was already "cutting edge." He said they would address some issues internally but could not elaborate on what or how.

"Is there nothing your department can do to say 'we made some mistakes and we're fixing them?'" Hera asked.

"I would certainly think that it would be possible for me to say, in this investigation we uncovered some concerns about the methods used in the investigation that we are addressing administratively and internally," Chief Hudson said, but he would have to ask their attorneys. "That's probably about as far as I'd be able to go." He couldn't say Hera and Lara should never have been charged at all, because that was just his "personal opinion," he said.

...In July, Prince William Detective Samuel Walker said it's standard protocol to arrest people for falsely reporting rape because the department tries "to deter false allegations," but "only if they can determine that the person is at fault." However, he said, the department does not track how often it arrests people for falsely reporting sexual assault to a police officer, making it impossible to know how big — or how small — the problem actually is. Walker also said the department would be unable to provide BuzzFeed News with data detailing the number of women who report sexual assault per year to the Prince William police, or with a clear breakdown of how many of those reports are deemed "unfounded" and why.
Let me just say for the eleventy millionth time: That a rape cannot be sufficiently "proven" to authorities does not mean a rape didn't happen. That even many police officers evidently believe that if they can't "prove" a rape happened it means the report must be false is terrifying. And hardly consistent with the "cutting edge" training the officers handling Lara's case are supposed to have had.

Would that we spent as much time talking about rapists who are fucking liars, cops who understand or care shit about the rape culture and rape victims, and the extraordinary courage it takes for survivors to report because of the colossal risk of being disbelieved and punished, legally and/or socially, for reporting, as we do talking about the vanishingly small percentage of false reports, most of which are actually not even truly false reports but accounts of actual rapes that are simply disbelieved by the people tasked with justice.

I take up space beside Lara and Hera McLeod, and I believe them.

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Shaker Gardens: September Edition

Shaker Gardens is usually Aphra_Behn's beat, and there's a darn good reason for that—because I have the ungreenest thumb that has ever thumbed! But our lovely neighbor, who has enviable garden skills and an abundance of generosity, brought us some of the gorgeous yield from her garden, so Aphra consented to let me take over today so I could share a picture and invite you to share tales or pics of what's happening in your gardens during this season.

image of tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers in a red basket, sitting on my back porch
Mmmmmmmmmm veggies.

I love the fresh vegetables she brings us. She also brought us a bunch of cherry tomatoes, and they are beyond delicious. They taste like the essence of tomato and sunshine.

To quote Aphra: "How about you, Shakers? How does your garden grow? Please feel free to share your tales and trials. Whether your 'garden' is a pot on the windowsill or an acre in the country, post away! (And if you're in the Southern Hemisphere, please feel free to join in with whatever is appropriate to this season or past/future seasons!) As always, please respect that different gardeners have different goals and needs, whether those be saving money or water or space, gardening organically or with other goals, etc."

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Shhhhhh Matt Damon. Stop Talking and Go to Bed.

[Content Note: Straightsplaining; heterocentrism.]

On the heels of whitesplaining black female director Effie Brown about diversity, Matt Damon decided that straightsplaining gay actors seemed like a hot idea:

In 2013, he starred as Liberace's lover, Scott Thorson, in the Steven Soderbergh television drama film Behind the Candelabra.

Damon was a straight man playing gay. Is it harder for actors to be openly gay in Hollywood? "I'm sure. When Ben and I first came on the scene there were rumours that we were gay because it was two guys who wrote a script together."


"I know. It's just like any piece of gossip… and it put us in a weird position of having to answer, you know what I mean? Which was then really deeply offensive. I don't want to, like [imply] it's some sort of disease – then it's like I'm throwing my friends under the bus. But at the time, I remember thinking and saying, Rupert Everett was openly gay and this guy – more handsome than anybody, a classically trained actor – it's tough to make the argument that he didn't take a hit for being out."

He thinks attitudes are changing, and welcomes the introduction of same-sex marriage in California in 2008. "I think it must be really hard for actors to be out publicly," he continues. "But in terms of actors, I think you're a better actor the less people know about you period. And sexuality is a huge part of that. Whether you're straight or gay, people shouldn't know anything about your sexuality because that's one of the mysteries that you should be able to play."
Says the guy whose public persona is centered around his very "normal" life of having married a non-famous woman and being a father to their four girls—which, yes, is discussed at length in the same article. And who has of course been accompanied by his wife on red carpets, and has probably never thought about that as revealing something about his sexuality, because straightness is normalized and privileged.

Damon then went on Ellen DeGeneres's show, where he explained: "I was just trying to say actors are more effective when they're a mystery. Right? And somebody picked it up and said I said gay actors should get back in the closet. Which is like I mean it's stupid, but it is painful when things get said that you don't believe." Ellen assured him: "I know you and I know you're not that guy." Except, he is that guy. Because he blamed Rupert Everett for coming out, not the homophobia endemic to their industry and to the culture in which their work products are consumed.

Saying actors should remain "a mystery" is not a condemnation of prejudice. It's a condemnation of disclosure.

And Damon clearly wasn't listening when his colleague Ellen Page spoke, just last month, about how coming out made her a better actor and how "retaining the mystery" of her sexuality was soul-crushing misery:
Has coming out put you more in touch with your art?

One hundred percent. And even more than whatever it means to act, whatever it means to know that you're living an authentic life. For me, the level of sadness and lack of inspiration and joy in general—that was hurting my work. I didn't feel motivated. I was just depressed. Going to meetings, or trying to push for things: It was this little flame that was barely flickering anymore. The moment I came out, I felt every cell in my body transform. I was happier than I ever could have imagined. You feel excited about life, and motivated and inspired. You want to do more. You want to go on adventures. For the most part that was gone.
That's what Matt Damon wants for LGB actors? So that homophobic audiences can "accept" them in straight roles? Fuck that.

screen cap of a tweet authored by me reading: 'I never liked an actor less after finding out they were gay, but I like Matt Damon significantly less after finding out he's an asshole.'

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Open Thread

image of the cover of the album 'Tiffany' by the singer Tiffany

Hosted by the album Tiffany by Tiffany.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Ananke: "What is the most inspiring and uplifting song you listen in your dark times?"

My answer depends on whether I need validation of the feelings that have put me in a grim mood, or whether I need motivation to get myself past whatever's put me in a grim mood.

It's usually (for me) the latter, and my go-to is Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now," which is apparently no coincidence!

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The Monday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by cookies.

Recommended Reading:

Katie: [Content Note: Sexual violence; displacement; death] Female Refugees Face Rape, Displacement, and Death

Sameer: [CN: White supremacy; police brutality] The Top 3 Times Law Enforcement Let White People Wild Out in 2015

Libby Anne: [CN: Clergy abuse; rape apologia] Pope Francis Presides over a Church Still Fighting to Keep Accused Sex Abusers from Going to Trial

Ragen: [CN: Fat hatred; appropriation; fraud] Tony Posnanski Should Stop Lying About Fat People

George: This Glowing Turtle Is the First Biofluorescent Reptile Ever Discovered

Stephen: Will CBS' Supergirl Show Inspire a New DC Comics Title?

Angela: These Cats on Amps Are More Metal Than You

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

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Meanwhile on Twitter...

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

I had a few things to say about a meme going around around Senator Bernie Sanders and his indifference to his hair, which is being used to shame former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for caring about her hair. The meme is a picture of Sanders with his typically unkempt hair, with added text reading: "Hillary gets a $600 haircut chosen by a panel to better appeal to voters. Bernie Sanders doesn't give a shit about his haircut. He's got work to do."

I Storified those tweets for anyone who isn't on Twitter.

(Note, by the way, that even in the meme, Clinton is "Hillary" while Sanders is "Bernie Sanders." But tell me again this isn't rooted in misogyny.)

Basically: If you don't understand or care why a female politician can't NOT care about her hair, you're part of the problem.

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Bigotry; video may autoplay at link.]

"I'm not interested in the back and forth to be a member or part of his freak show."Senator Marco Rubio, on Donald Trump and his trash-talking about Rubio.

Rubio is merely the latest, and most brazen, of Republicans to talk about Trump as though he and his fetid campaign exist somehow outside the Republican mainstream, instead of being the uncensored id of their disgusting party that he really is.

As if Rubio doesn't know the truth about his party. Of course he does. Every single time he dogwhistles "tradition" or "values" to his base, he's evoking that truth. He, like Governor Bobby Jindal, is just mad that Trump has the spine and the indecency to be straightforward about what that truth really is.

If Rubio, Jindal, or any of their other fellow candidates for the US presidency are really operating under the misapprehension that their base isn't voting for them because of fear, hatred, and bigotry, but because of smaller government and lower taxes, then they are too fucking ignorant to be trusted to tie their own shoes, no less elected to lead the nation.

To be clear, I don't think a single one of them has any illusions about who their base really is. My point is just that there's no good reason for Rubio to be playing this distancing game. Either he's mendacious or he's a fool.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

4 Non Blondes: "What's Up"

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat standing at the back door, looking up at the handle
"Open the door open the door open the door!"

Every time Olivia wants me to do something—open a door, turn on the sink tap, give her food—she stares at the thing that needs my doing and yowls until it is done. I have to say, it's a very effective strategy, because she is extremely tenacious and can always outlast my patience, lol.

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

Here is some stuff in the news today...

THE COOLEST NEWS: "Liquid water runs down canyons and crater walls over the summer months on Mars, according to researchers who say the discovery raises the chances of being home to some form of life. The trickles leave long, dark stains on the Martian terrain that can reach hundreds of metres downhill in the warmer months, before they dry up in the autumn as surface temperatures drop. Images taken from the Mars orbit show cliffs, and the steep walls of valleys and craters, streaked with summertime flows that in the most active spots combine to form intricate fan-like patterns. Scientists are unsure where the water comes from, but it may rise up from underground ice or salty aquifers, or condense out of the thin Martian atmosphere. 'There is liquid water today on the surface of Mars,' Michael Meyer, the lead scientist on NASA's Mars exploration programme, told the Guardian. 'Because of this, we suspect that it is at least possible to have a habitable environment today.'"

[Content Note: War on agency; self-harm; criminalization of need] Andrea Rowan has written a new report for the Guttmacher Institute about prosecuting women who self-induce abortion, which will only become increasingly common as access to abortion is further limited. "As the legal barriers to abortion care mount, reproductive health advocates expect that more women may resort to inducing abortion themselves. Not only can self-inducing put a woman's health at risk, but punitive laws and overzealous prosecutors can place these women in double jeopardy. ...The criminalization of pregnant and miscarrying women and women who self-induce abortion does not advance women's health or address the underlying societal and public health issues." I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing.

[CN: Racism; white supremacy; police brutality] Senator Elizabeth Warren gave an amazing speech on racial injustice in the US and the Black Lives Matter movement, which the WaPo's Wesley Lowery calls "perhaps the most full-throated endorsement to date by a federal lawmaker for the ongoing protest movement." Said Warren: "A half-century ago...entrenched, racist power did everything it could to sustain oppression of African Americans, and violence was its first tool. Lynchings, terrorism, intimidation. ...But violence was not the only tool. African Americans were effectively stripped of citizenship when they were denied the right to vote. The tools varied—literacy tests, poll taxes, moral character tests, grandfather clauses—but the results were the same. They were denied basic rights of citizenship and the chance to participate in self-government. The third tool of oppression was to deliberately deny millions of African Americans economic opportunities solely because of the color of their skin." It is terrific: There is video and a full transcript available here.

[CN: Misogyny] Hillary Clinton, who in 1995 famously said at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, "If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights, once and for all," has angered Chinese misogynists by tweeting about President Xi Jinping's women's rights record, thus pretty much demonstrating the need for her continued criticism. Misogynists are experts at nothing so much as PROVING THE POINT MORE.

[CN: Homophobia] Your progressive Pope: "Although the Argentine-born pontiff delved into some of the United States' thorniest political debates during his visit, he never specifically referred to a controversy over same-sex marriages, which the Church firmly opposes. ...On the flight back to Rome, he was asked if he supported individuals, including government officials, who refuse to abide by some laws, such as issuing marriage licenses to gays. 'Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right,' Francis said."

[CN: Illness] The Guardian asked women living with endometriosis to describe their experiences, and "more than 600 women responded in just 24 hours." They compiled a selection of the responses, and it is extraordinary to see so many women speaking frankly about endo in one place.

Ian Millhiser has "Everything You Need to Know about the Big Supreme Court Cases the Justices Will Hear This Term: Next Monday, the Supreme Court will gavel in its newest term and the justices will take the bench for the first time since last June, when the conservative Roberts Court handed down a string of uncharacteristically liberal decisions. This term, however, liberals will need to swim upstream, with the justices poised to consider a number of issues—unions, voting rights, race, and abortion—where the members of the Court's conservative bloc have not often show a penchant of heterodoxy."

[CN: Video autoplays at link] I know this is a corporate production sponsored by Kleenex, and I don't even care, because it's so great: Atlanta-area nurse Renee Hendrix has worked as a NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) nurse at WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, Georgia, for 33 years. "In honor of Neonatal Nurses Day on Tuesday, Kleenex brand wanted to show this miracle worker how much she's appreciated by the parents and children she has served." LOVE.

Simpsons Spoiler Alert! Smithers is going to disclose to Mr. Burns that he is gay on an upcoming episode of The Simpsons.

And finally! A baby emu tries to get hir doggy friend to play with hir, but the dog isn't having it! Still, the trying is VERY hilarious and adorable!

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More Guns! (Said No Sensible Person Ever)

[Content Note: Guns; injury.]

The next time you hear a gun advocate talking about how there would be less crime if only there were more "good guys" carrying guns, link them to this story:

Houston police say that an armed man's attempt to stop a carjacking went terribly wrong on Saturday night when he shot the vehicle's owner in the head, then fled the scene.

...Police officials say that two men jumped the owner of a Chevrolet pickup truck and absconded with his vehicle.

As the men struggled with the car-owner, a passerby produced a gun and fired multiple shots, missing the thieves but striking the victim in the head.

The shooter quickly gathered up his shell casings from the pavement and fled the scene.

The injured man was rushed to a nearby hospital where he is currently in stable condition.
Thank Maude that the person who was shot was not killed, although the consequences of the injury and what rehabilitation will be required is unknown. (Not to mention the cost of the care.) Can you even imagine being in the middle of a carjacking only to be shot in the head by some asshole trying to be a hero? Jesus Jones.

I don't want guns anywhere near me, and that includes gun-toting shitlords who think it's their right and obligation to "save" me, but might end up killing me instead.

[Related Reading: No-Gun Culture.]

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Do Your Jobs

[Content Note: War on agency.]

The Republicans are still fixing to shut down the government over funding to Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that 69% of USians do not support the shutdown, including 56% of their own party:

Nearly seven in 10 Americans — 69 percent — oppose shutting down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood, according to the results of a new national Quinnipiac University poll released Monday.

Just 23 percent support closing the government over the dispute. Even among Republicans, a majority of 56 percent to 36 percent opposes a shutdown due to Planned Parenthood.

At the same time, 44 percent to 39 percent said they had a favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood, with a significant gender gap. Among women, 50 percent to 35 percent approve of the group, while men disapprove, 43 percent to 38 percent.

But as far as cutting off funding to the group, 52 percent said they would oppose doing so, compared with 41 percent who supported such an action. Women opposed such an action by a wide margin — 60 percent to 34 percent — while men responding to the survey supported an end to federal funding 49 percent to 44 percent.
The people elected to do the will of the people are explicitly unwilling to do the will of the people.

And why would they do that? Because they don't fear a significant backlash, thanks to our garbage media who has not clearly communicated who is to blame:
Should the government still shut down, however, 39 percent told Quinnipiac they would blame congressional Republicans, while 37 percent would point the finger at President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, and 14 percent said everyone would be equally at fault.
Every Democrat in Congress needs to find a camera, get in front of it, and explain who is really to blame for this undemocratic fuckery.

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Last night, there was an incredibly rare super blood moon lunar eclipse. The moon itself was extraordinarily beautiful, and there are lots of terrific photos of it. Below, a great photo taken by Shaker GoldFishy, and shared with his permission:

image of the moon looking reddish orage in a dark night sky

Did you get any good snaps of the supermoon and/or the eclipse? Have you seen any published elsewhere that you loved? Drop your pix and/or links in comments! Because SUPERMOON!!!

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Open Thread

image of a dragonfly Tiffany lamp with a gold base

Hosted by a Tiffany lamp.

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

image of a pub Photoshopped to be named 'The Braintwinz Bar & Grille'
[Explanations: lol your fat. pathetic anger bread. hey your gay.]

TFIF, Shakers!

Belly up to the bar,
and name your poison!

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

[Content Note: There is some flickery animation and editing in this video.]

Rebecca Black: "Friday"

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The Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by pink shoelaces.

Recommended Reading:

Jes: [Content Note: Fat hatred; medical malfeasance] Weight Isn't the Real Problem—Weight Biased Healthcare Is

Hannah: [CN: Sex shaming; victim-blaming] What Schools Are Teaching Teens about Sex Is Terrible

Imani: [CN: War on agency] Ninth Circuit Deals Blow to Group Behind Planned Parenthood Smear Videos

Mustang Bobby: [CN: Death penalty] Say What?

Sam: [CN: Moving GIFs at link] This 104-Year-Old 'Yarn Bomber' May Be the World's Oldest Street Artist

Dan: Paul Feig Heads off Leaks by Announcing Sigourney Weaver Is in Ghostbusters!

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

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound asleep on the loveseat with one leg stretched up into the air; the lampshade in the background looks like its sitting on top of his paw

Dudley Q. McEwan: Asking a question, doing a damn good lampstand impersonation, or just taking a nap in a typically ridiculous position? YOU BE THE JUDGE!

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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David Beckham: World Class

[Content Note: Reference to violence; videos may autoplay at links.]

So, in case you don't follow British football/soccer, here's some very simplified background to this story: Alex Ferguson is a former footballer and the most successful manager in footballing history, having won 49 trophies. In 1986, he was made manager of the highly popular and successful Manchester United football club, and he managed the team for an extraordinary 26.5 years until 2013. David Beckham was one of the many star footballers who played for Man U during Ferguson's tenure, and he was a star among stars.

Beckham has often said that Ferguson was a father figure to him, and when Becks was sold to Real Madrid in 2003, the two of them had a major falling out, during which Ferguson said some really shitty stuff about Beckham. (This was also shortly after Ferguson had kicked a boot in Becks' face, injuring him.) According to Beckham, the two repaired the falling out earlier this year, but it seems like Ferguson may not totally share that feeling.

Which brings us to this latest story, in which Ferguson said he'd "worked with just four world-class players at Manchester United. ...The Scot nominated Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ryan Giggs, and Paul Scholes as the quartet who were at the very highest level."

All of those players are indeed "world class," whatever that vague and arbitrarily quantified designation means, but Ferguson left off his list some other arguably world class players with whom he's worked, including Wayne Rooney, Roy Keane, and Ruud van Nistelrooy, to name a few—but no omission has raised as many eyebrows as David Beckham's.

Beckham won the Premier League six times at Manchester United, and his skill with a dead-ball is truly unrivaled. (Here's a fun video, if you're interested, about Becks' amazing free kick to defeat Greece in the final moments of a World Cup qualifier.) By pretty much any standard, including the one where you get movies named after you and your finest skill, he's world class on the field.

And he's world class off the field, too:

The omission of Beckham from the list came as a surprise to some, but not the former United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and England star himself.

And Beckham told the BBC the snub did not bother him.

"Not at all," he said. "I played for the greatest manager of all time. I was lucky to play with the players that I did and be successful with the club I love. I tend to agree with the manager because there are certain players that you can call world class and thankfully I played with many of them."
This guy. The best.

It's not just that he's humble about his own skill; it's not just that he has the generosity to compliment Ferguson; it's that he turns the focus back to his teammates, to keep at them at the center of this story.

Becks forever.

And since y'all know I will literally use any excuse to (re)post this video, here one more time is David Beckham surprising fans in a photo booth.

Text Onscreen: adidas presents

Image of a photobooth labeled "Great Britain #takethestage".

Text Onscreen: We invited a bunch of people to take the stage and support Team GB."

Cut to a group of three football fans, two black women and a black man, doing a footie chant while taking pictures in the booth. Suddenly their expressions turn to surprise.

Text Onscreen: We also invited someone else...

Cut to two black young men in the photo booth; David Beckham peeks his head into the booth and they react with shock and delight. Becks laughs.

Cut to a montage of Becks taking pictures and grinning with lots of different groups of people, who are all surprised and grinning. He genuinely looks like he's having fun, throwing his arms around their shoulders and posing for pictures with them in the booth. He hugs people and lets women and men kiss his cheeks. He shakes their hands and says, "Nice to meet ya." With a group of two white men holding props, he is offered a prop microphone. "I've got the rubber duck!" he says, holding up a Union Jacked rubber ducky. He surprised a young white woman and asks, "Can I get in?" She squeals, "Yes!" and waves him into the booth. He hugs a little white boy who is weeping with being overwhelmed. "Should we do some pictures?" Becks asks him.

Cut to people who've had their pictures taken with Becks leaving in an elevator. They are all excited. "Best thing ever!" enthuses a black woman. "That was wonderful!" says a white woman. "Wow," whispers a black man. The little boy wipes his tears.

Text Onscreen: #takethestage / adidas / official sportswear partner of the 2012 London Olympics
Literally every. single. time. I watch this, I cry. I love everything about it, not least of which is David Beckham asking people if he can join them. World class indeed.

[Note: I am not saying that David Beckham is perfect! I am sure he has all kinds of human flaws, like unexamined privilege or forgetting to put his stinky socks in the hamper! I am just saying he's PRETTY GREAT!]

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Rape culture] There is an update to this story on the Patrick Kane rape case: The accuser's attorney has quit, and apparently said the victim's first name on his way out, because her mother allegedly fabricated the story about the rape kit/evidence bag left at her home. The DA gave a press conference earlier today, in which he said that he interviewed the accuser's mother (not under oath) and she denied taking it. Obviously, I have no idea how this is going to shake out, but I will say if that the mother did invent the story, it's not illegal, per the DA, but it's clearly unethical. And while I certainly don't condone that sort of thing, I do understand the desperation that underwrites it, when there are so many things (starting right from a rape exam cut short "because of problems with equipment") acting to undermine the cause of accountability and justice. As ever, rape apologists will use this as "proof" that they are right to engage in rape apologia and harassment of survivors, but the reality is that their rape apologia and harassment of survivors is why people feel hopeless and impotent and end up doing desperate things.

[CN: White supremacy] In another follow-up: Matt Damon says he agrees with "the people who were upset" about his whitesplaining Effie Brown with shitty comments about diversity in filmmaking, and subsequent garbage apology, but I still don't feel like he really gets it, since he claims his words were taken out of context before saying: "Look, it's a very sensitive subject and the shame of it for me is that I agree with the people who were upset. So, that part was a little difficult. But in terms of our own Greenlight contest, we ended up with a group of 20 finalists. 16 or 17 were white men and we have to recruit more aggressively in other areas and do better so that our contestant pool is more diverse. Because all kinds of people are making movies and all kinds of people want to make movies. And the whole point of Greenlight is to give people access, so we've got to do a better job. And we will." I sure hope so.

[CN: War on agency] Goddammit: "The Michigan legislature is considering a pair of bills that would criminalize coercing a woman to have an abortion, a policy that has been pushed for years by anti-choice lawmakers. Supporters claim that the proposals will protect women from being forced into terminating a pregnancy, while opponents say the language of the bills is too vague and will promulgate myths about abortion. 'Coercive abortion laws like these are the byproduct of a decades long public and political campaign to market that anyone who seeks an abortion does so because she's confused, misled or coerced,' Shelli Weisberg of the ACLU of Michigan told" Reproductive coercion is a serious issue. It is irresponsible as fuck to use it as cover for anti-choice legislation.

[CN: Police brutality; death; racism; disablism] My god: "A family in Wilmington, Delaware is demanding answers about why wheelchair-bound Jeremy McDole was shot multiple times. Police officers say he threatened them with a gun, though video suggests otherwise. In a video of the encounter on Wednesday afternoon, an unidentified officer points his gun at the 28-year-old, yelling 'show me your hands!' A shot is fired, but it is unclear who it came from. The officer continues to yell for the man to put his hands up and 'drop the gun,' and three more officers arrive for back up, saying 'hands up, put your hands up,' with guns drawn. The witness who recorded the video notes that McDole is bleeding. McDole moves his hands around in his lap and appears to put one in his pocket, when the cops fire their weapons at least ten times." Ten times. Ten times.

Today in unsurprising news: "The Swiss attorney general has opened criminal proceedings against Sepp Blatter in the heart of the Zurich HQ he has dominated as Fifa president for 17 years, as the continuing corruption crisis gripping world football took another dramatic turn."

Oh dear lolsob: "22 Hilarious Excerpts from Scathing Reviews of Stonewall."

All right then: "Mind reading might not be as far-fetched as many people believe, says a study published by researchers at the University of Washington. Their research, published in PLOS One on Wednesday, demonstrated 'that a non-invasive brain-to-brain interface (BBI) can be used to allow one human to guess what is on the mind of another human.' With only the use of brainwaves and a specifically designed computer, they examined the potential for exchanging basic information without saying a word." Deeky and I already do this all the time. It's called BEING BRAINTWINZ!

Hugh Jackman wants Tom Hardy to be the next Wolverine and my love center just exploded. (Please interpret "love center" however you see fit. You'll be right either way.)

Holy Maude, this picture captured by the Hubble Space Telescope of the Veil Nebula is absolutely breathtaking.

And finally! Blub: "A little opossum named Poncho was found on the side of the road clinging to his mother after she had been hit and killed by a car. Rescuers saved the little marsupial and hoped he would survive; however, without a mother to help him, his chances were slim. Along came Hantu, a German Shepherd, who stepped up to fill in Poncho's mom's shoes. The two became inseparable." Good dog.

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Whoa: John Boehner to Resign

[Content Note: War on agency.]

Speaker of the House John Boehner has announced that he is resigning, not just from the speakership but also from his seat in Congress:

Speaker John A. Boehner, under intense pressure from conservatives in his party, announced on Friday that he would resign one of the most powerful positions in government and give up his House seat at the end of October, as Congress moved to avert a government shutdown.

Mr. Boehner, who was first elected to Congress in 1990, made the announcement in an emotional meeting with his fellow Republicans on Friday morning.

...Most recently, Mr. Boehner, 65, was trying to craft a solution to keep the government open through the rest of the year, but was under pressure from a growing base of conservatives who told him that they would not vote for a bill that did not defund Planned Parenthood. Several of those members were on a path to remove Mr. Boehner as speaker, though their ability to do so was far from certain.
The rest of the Times article at the link describes how Boehner's ouster is part of the ongoing showdown between the "moderate" and extreme right wings of the House Republicans. (This is how far right the GOP has moved, that Boehner is now considered a moderate.) Boehner wasn't willing to force a shutdown of the entire government just to defund Planned Parenthood at the behest of the most virulently anti-choice misogynists in his party, so he's resigning the speakership and leaving Congress altogether.

I can't say I'm sad to see John Boehner go, but I am pretty horrified by the fact that he wasn't conservative enough for an increasingly powerful segment of his reprehensible party.

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JEB! Can Be Racist, Too

[Content Note: Racism; anti-blackness; class warfare.]

Although Donald Trump is turning overt racism up to 11 in this campaign, it's imporant to remember that racism, particularly anti-blackness, has long been a centerpiece of the Republican platform.

To underline the point that this shit isn't new, these comments about black voters that Jeb Bush made at a campaign event in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, last night echo Mitt Romney's and Paul Ryan's "takers and moochers" language from the last election, which itself is just an extension of Saint Ronald Reagan's "welfare queens" rhetoric, which was a then-modern varation on the Southern Strategy:

"Look around this room," a man told Bush, who spoke to a mostly white crowd. "How many black faces do you see? How are you going to include them and get them to vote for you?" asked the man, who was white.

Bush pointed to his record on school choice and said that if Republicans could double their share of the black vote, they would win the swing states of Ohio and Virginia.

"Our message is one of hope and aspiration," he said at the East Cooper Republican Women's Club annual Shrimp Dinner. "It isn't one of division and get in line and we'll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting -- that says you can achieve earned success."
Free stuff. Like healthcare and education and housing and food. Which can be difficult to secure care of social Darwinist policy conceived and enacted and enforced by Republicans (with plenty of assist from craven Democrats).

It is the height of audacity for Jeb Bush, a man of undiluted privilege whose entire career is owed to his family connections, to indulge the dishonest rhetoric of the meritocracy; to lecture people about pulling themselves up by their bootstraps when his station is built upon a foundation of stolen boots.

But this is the Republican Party. This is its history, and this is its present. And Trump, Bush, and all the rest of this garbage lot are doing their damnedest to make sure that racism will be their party's future, too.

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Imagine the Possibilities!

In yesterday's In the News, I mentioned the DOG TRAIN, which is obviously the greatest, and this morning I had a thought that I felt was important to share:

screen cap of tweet authored by me featuring a picture of the dog train and a picture of Tom Hardy kissing a pitbull puppy and reading: 'Y'all, I just had a thought: What if Tom Hardy was driving the DOG TRAIN?'
screen cap of tweet authored by me reading: '#IfTomHardyWasDrivingTheDogTrain I would literally explode into a million cartoon hearts.'
screen cap of tweet authored by me reading: '#IfTomHardyWasDrivingTheDogTrain the Skeksis and Mystics would spontaneously merge and save Jen a whole lot of trouble.'
screen cap of tweet authored by me reading: '#IfTomHardyWasDrivingTheDogTrain dancing in the streets would be more than a song terribly covered by David Bowie and Mick Jagger.'
screen cap of tweet authored by me reading: '#IfTomHardyWasDrivingTheDogTrain there would be mass appeal to Congress for legislation allowing a Hardy/Dogs ticket.'
screen cap of tweet authored by me reading: '#IfTomHardyWasDrivingTheDogTrain Sauron would throw the ring into the fire himself.'
screen cap of tweet authored by me reading: '#IfTomHardyWasDrivingTheDogTrain no one would even THINK about putting Baby in a corner.'

Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list of all the MAGICAL WONDERS that would happen if Tom Hardy were driving the dog train. I couldn't possibly conceive of all of them on my own! I AM ONLY ONE HUMAN WOMAN. Please head to comments to help me with the monumental and delightful task of imagining the possibilities!

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Your Republican Front Runner

[Content Note: Anti-immigrant sentiment and language; racism; sexual violence.]

Yesterday, gold toilet aficionado and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump appeared, via phone, on CNN's New Day with host Alisyn Camerota. The embedded video is the full 26-minute segment, the full transcript for which is available here, but I just want to talk about the first few minutes, for which I've provided the transcript, as prepared by CNN, below.

Alisyn Camerota: Good morning, Mr. Trump.

Donald Trump: Hi, Alisyn.

Camerota: Hi, long time no talk. Nice to have you on.

Trump: It's been a long time. But that's great.

Camerota: OK, great to have you. Let's talk about the pope's visit. Let's just start there. Because the pope has been talking about one of your signature issues and that, of course, is immigration. The pope has a different take on immigrants. He, in fact, spoke out to people who might not feel comfortable with immigrants. And let me just read to you his sort of poignant words.

The pope said yesterday, "Perhaps it will not be easy for you to look into their souls. Perhaps you will be challenged by their diversity. But know that they also possess resources meant to be shared. So do not be afraid to welcome them." What do you think of the pope's words?

Trump: Well, I think his words are beautiful; and I respect the Pope and I like the Pope very much. I will say this: we have a country that is going through tremendous problems. We owe $19 trillion, so, No. 1, we can't afford this process. We have tremendous crime problems; as you know, the illegal immigrants are coming in. and you just have to look at San Francisco and Kate or so many other instances, California two weeks ago where a woman was absolutely decimated, killed, raped by an illegal immigrant. A veteran, at 66 years of age, by the way.

And many, many -- you know, thousands and thousands of cases. We're having tremendous crime waves. We have a lot of problems coming in. we have drugs pouring over the borders. We have to seal up our borders. We have to do something about illegal immigration. And people like my plan very much, and I think it's a plan that's going to happen.

Camerota: OK, let's talk about your plan, because it's a two-parter. You talk about building a wall. And then you talk...

Trump: Build a wall, that's right.

Camerota: Sure. And then you talk about deporting the 11 to 12 million undocumented workers who are here...

Trump: Illegal immigrants.

Camerota: Illegal immigrants who are living here. So let's talk. That's the part that you have not been terribly specific about. How would you specifically go about doing 11 million mass deportations?

Trump: Through good management and through a process. And the process is the bad ones go, and they never come back. They're never coming back.

Camerota: Yes.

Trump: The really good ones -- and there are many -- they will go, and they will come back legally. They will come back on an expedited system. And they'll come back legally, Alisyn.

Camerota: OK, but when you say...

Trump: You know, if you go into the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower, who was a respected president, was doing the same thing. He had to get rid of the illegal immigrants, and he did that. He got them out of the country.

Camerota: But when you say...

Trump: There were a lot of problems. It was done in the 1950s by Dwight Eisenhower.

Camerota: But let's talk about what it looks like nowadays. Would you use the National Guard? Would you use the police, the Army?

Trump: I would use different forms and it will take place and it will be done effectively and warmly and humanely. And a lot of people will be very happy about it. You know that I had a good Hispanic poll the other day because the Hispanics, as an example, don't want to see -- you know, the ones that are here legally don't want to see this where everyone is pouring into the country illegally.

Camerota: Sure -- look...

Trump: We're going to have to do something about it. You know, you use the word "illegal immigrant." That's what it is. You're illegally in the country. So we have to do something about it. We're going to build a wall. We're going to let people in, but they're going to come in legally.

Camerota: Look -- I mean, Mr. Trump, yes, they are here illegally, but often they've been invited in. I mean, you know what our history is with undocumented workers. They've been given jobs; they often pay taxes.

Trump: Right. And they've been coming back legally.

Camerota: I mean...

Trump: Alisyn, they're going to be coming back in, but they're going to be coming back in legally.

Camerota: But, Mr. Trump, I want you to specifically explain how you are going to get rid of them. Because you know what this hearkens to? What it reminds me at least of, is remember the case of Elian Gonzalez where the little Cuban boy, there was this dispute about he belonged in Cuba, he was Cuban.

And the federal agents went into his apartment, and it was splashed all over the media. And it gripped the nation, because you watched federal agents pull this boy from his extended family. And you are talking about doing that with 11 million people. Are you going to separate families?

Trump: No, we're not separating families. We're taking the families, and we're taking them as a unit. And we did it with -- Dwight Eisenhower did it with over 1 million people in the 1950s, and it was something that was done -- You know, now we're a politically correct society. We can't do anything. We're more bound -- we're a society that can't do anything anymore. We can't function anymore. We have millions of people in the country illegally...

Camerota: Yes, so you're prepared to use the police?

Trump: ... tremendous problems -- Listen, they're not paying taxes. They're taking jobs from other people. We have a country that desperately needs jobs. They're taking jobs from other people.

Camerota: Well, look, millions of them are paying taxes.

Trump: Alisyn, what I'm saying is this. It starts with we build a wall; and the wall will be very easily built and a very effective wall. It's going to have a big open gate. And people are going to come into the country through that gate. They're going to come in legally. It's going to be a country that's run -- it's going to be a country with a border.

We're not going to have people pouring drugs across the border. Right now the cartels are bringing drugs across the border. They're bringing the drugs, and they're taking out the money. That's the way...


Camerota: Look, no one wants the criminal aspect. You're with everyone.

Trump: ... billions of dollars. And by the way, do you know that the gangs that you see, all of these terrible gangs that you see, many of those gangs are made up of illegal immigrants, and they're tough dudes. And by the way, they're going -- day one they're going to be out of here. We're going to get rid of them day one.

Camerota: OK. Let's talk...

Trump: The rest is, the good people, they're going and they're coming back in an expedited way. They're going to come back legally. And you watch with good management how nicely that could work.

Camerota: OK. We will wait to see what your specific strategy is for that.
This is a perfect, terrible example of Trump's entire candidacy: Solid in its bigotry; ridiculously vague in its policy. Trump doesn't have a single defined idea other than "hate, blame, and get rid of migrants," and that is enough for his base, who are satisfied that all that's required to "make America great again" is some gold-lettered hats and a desire to rid the country of as many brown people as possible.

He has no fucking idea what he's talking about, and says manifestly absurd trash like "I would use different forms [of armed law enforcement] and it will take place and it will be done effectively and warmly and humanely," and that's good enough, more than good enough, for his supporters, who are simply thrilled and relieved to have a white man speak to their deeply held "politically incorrect" fears about losing their white privilege, which they talk about as losing "their country."

Trump's campaign is literally nothing but straight-up fearmongering and scapegoating and hatred. The only substance detectable is rank bigotry, which delights his insecure and angry white supporters, and makes detached white progressives laugh, and makes Latin@ children terrified that they will be forcibly removed from their homes if Mr. Trump becomes president.

This is grotesque. It's not funny, it's not entertainment, and it's certainly not harmless. This is the stuff catastrophically violent social policy is made of.

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