The Virtual Pub Is Open

image of a pub Photoshopped to be named 'The Shakesville Arms'
[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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The Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by feathers.

Recommended Reading:

Prison Culture: [CN: Carcerality; misogynoir] Marissa Alexander: One Year Later

Ragen: [CN: Fat hatred; misogyny] How Fat People Deserve to Be Treated

Tressie: [CN: White supremacy] The Limits of Education Reform: A Road Paved With the "Best Intentions"?

Françoise: Why the Next U.N. Secretary-General Must Be a Woman and a Feminist

Chase: [CN: White supremacy; ciscentrism] How Making a Murderer Erases Race and Gender From the Realities of Injustice

Teresa: Four Reasons Why Grease Is a Feminist Musical

Maddie: This Cosmic Fart Cloud Is on a Collision Course with Our Galaxy

And finally! If you didn't read the item I linked yesterday about Kanye West's Twitter rant, you'll need to check that out so you understand the context for this parody piece by Jesse: Hillary Clinton Just Went in on Bernie Sanders in an Epic Tweetstorm.

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

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The President's Remarks on Advancing Equal Pay

[Content Note: Misogyny; racism.]

Earlier today, I mentioned that President Obama would be announcing some executive action today on advancing equal pay. Here are the remarks he delivered at this afternoon's announcement, as provided by the White House Press Office:

Thank you. Thank you, everybody. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Thank you. Everybody have a seat. Thank you so much. I heard you all were in the house so I wanted to stop by. (Laughter.)

We've got some important personages here, so let me just call them out. We've got Senator Amy Klobuchar. Where's Amy? There she is. (Applause.) Our outstanding Labor Secretary Tom Perez. (Applause.) The chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Jenny Yang, is here. (Applause.) One of my favorites, the outstanding Billie Jean King is in the house. (Applause.) And of course, Lilly Ledbetter is here. (Applause.) Lilly has just become a dear friend to our family. And I can tell you that she's beloved not just by us but by all the staff that work with her. She's just terrific. As she just mentioned, she was by my side when I signed my first bill into law -- the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. And I was looking at a picture of that wonderful event, and she looks the same. (Laughter.) And I don't. (Laughter.)

But while we've got a lot to celebrate that day, we knew that our work wasn't done. We knew we had a lot more to do to close the pay gap between men and women, and ensure that no woman would ever face the kind of discrimination that Lilly faced on the job.

And everybody here knows the numbers, and many of you have experienced it. Today, women account for almost half of the workforce. But the typical woman who works full time still earns 79 cents for every dollar that the typical man does. The gap is even wider for women of color. The typical black working woman makes only 60 cents. The typical Latino woman makes only 55 cents for every dollar a white man earns. And that's not right. We're talking about oftentimes folks doing the same job and being paid differently. And it means that women are not getting the fair shot that we believe every single American deserves.

It doesn't just offend our values. At a time when women are increasingly the breadwinners in our households, paying them less makes it harder for families to cover the necessities like child care or health care, just to pay the bills. It makes it harder for a family to save, harder for families to retire. It means local businesses have customers with less money to spend. So it's not good for our communities. It's not good for our families. It's not good for our businesses. What kind of example does paying women less set for our sons and daughters?

So today, we're taking one more step in the right direction. We are proposing to collect and report pay data by race, ethnicity, and gender from businesses with 100 employees or more. And the goal is to help businesses that are trying to do the right thing, like the ones here today, to get a clearer picture of how they can ensure their employees are being treated equally. A better picture of the data will also help us do a better job enforcing existing equal pay laws.

This won't solve every problem. We've still got to get more women and girls into high-paying fields like science and technology, engineering and math. We've still got to make sure that women are not penalized or held back in the workplace simply for starting a family. Guys, we're responsible for the family thing, too. (Laughter.) And they're already doing more work than we are in getting that thing going. They shouldn't be penalized twice or three times. (Laughter.)

We still need to raise the minimum wage, guarantee sick -- (applause) -- guaranteed paid sick and family leave, fully protecting pregnant workers, finally passing the Paycheck Fairness Act to give workers more tools to fight pay discrimination. (Applause.)

And all of us have to make sure that all of our young girls know that we're invested in their success. And, by the way, I do want to emphasize there are businesses that are doing the right thing. We've got a good friend of ours, Marc Benioff, CEO of, which is consistently shown as one of the companies people most like to work for. And part of the reason is, is that Marc understands that his company thrives when he is drawing from the entire pool of talent out there and making sure that everybody is having a chance to thrive and succeed at his company. And when people see that, they're working harder and more productive and more enthusiastic. And ultimately, they make more money.

So this is not an either/or proposition; this is a win-win situation proposition if we think about it in the right way. That's part of what Billie Jean taught us so many years ago. I mean, those of you who are tennis fans, let's face it, a lot of times the women's tournaments are more interesting than men's. (Laughter and applause.) And the notion that somehow we would be keeping my daughters or Marc's daughters, or any of your daughters out of opportunity, not allowing them to thrive in every field, not letting them fully participate in every human endeavor -- that's counterproductive. It's not how we're going to build a great future for our country.

So that's why, this May, the White House Council on Women and Girls will lead a day focused on women in America and around the world. And we're going to bring people from all across the country to examine the progress that we've made and the work that remains to give every woman and girl in this country a fair shot at success. And we're going to keep pushing until every single girl has the rights and the opportunities and the freedom to go as far as her dreams will take her.

This will be a long haul. One of the things that I am consistently reminding young people when they're working here in the White House is that social change never happens overnight. It is a slog. And there are times where you just have to chip away and chip away, and then suddenly there may be some breakthroughs. But it's reliant on all of us to keep pushing that boulder up the hill, to just be steady and persistent, and understand that the work that we do today is ultimately going to lead to a better future tomorrow.

And we will not see necessarily all the fruits of that labor. The same way that Lilly described her endeavors -- when she lost that court case, she could have given up, but she didn't. And that spirit is what all of us have to adopt. That's the spirit that built America. That's the spirit that opened up opportunity for so many more people than a generation ago. And that's the spirit that I intend to keep pushing as long as I have the privilege to be in this office.

Thank you, everybody. (Applause.)

As always, feel free to comment on both the stuff you liked and the stuff you didn't like.

For the most part, I liked it. Y'all know I'm a broken record on the whole "it's hard for families" and "it's bad for the country" stuff, because yeah that's true, but also JUST PAY WOMEN EQUALLY BECAUSE IT'S THE DECENT THING TO DO.

And I still wish that employers would just be required to make all employees' pay public, because the Ledbetter Act only matters if a woman knows she's making less than her male counterpart(s). But, that said, if employers have to submit the info to the EEOC, and the EEOC actually enforces it, then that will actually take the burden off of female employees. But, that said, I'm wondering how easy it will be for employers to fudge records to make it look as though a female employee isn't entitled to equal pay through creative job descriptions, and/or how likely it will be for employers to even more routinely deny female employees the correct job titles (e.g. continue to call them assistants when they're doing managerial tasks) in order to justify lower salaries.

I HAVE QUESTIONS. Basically. But I'm keen to see how this works out! Because it could work out very well!

Especially if our next president is a Democrat who doesn't immediately unwind this action.

Anyway! A+ women's tennis joke. Which isn't so much a "joke" as a "true observation."


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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Billy Joel: "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me"

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Sanders Has a Big Problem: His Supporters

[Content Note: Misogyny; racism; harassment.]

The Sanders Stans are awful, and the media is starting to take notice.

Last night, I read this at the BBC: "Bernie Sanders supporters get a bad reputation online."

And this morning, I read this at Mashable: "The bros who love Bernie Sanders have become a sexist mob."

Sexist, and racist, and ageist. And I've seen plenty of LGB and/or trans people who criticize Sanders being 'splained at that they're ignorant or stupid or in some other way wrongity-wrong for their insufficient support of Sanders, too.

Naturally, people will say this isn't Bernie Sanders' fault!

And, sure, he's absolutely not explicitly directing his supporters to harass people who criticize him and/or support Hillary Clinton.

But when the central premise of his campaign is an aversion to "identity politics," and his primary line of attack on his female opponent is inherently misogynist, and his response to criticisms of playing into misogynist narratives is to accuse Clinton of looking for things to get mad about, and he reacts to criticism of his careless comments about major women's health and queer rights organizations by gaslighting critics and putting targets on their backs, and all he can muster in response to his campaign manager's gross misogyny is that the comments were "inappropriate," and when he's asked to center Black Lives Matter activism and deflects by talking about "all groups," and and and...

Well, maybe Sanders has earned some of the responsibility for how many of his fervent supporters are behaving. This shit isn't happening in a vacuum.

[NOTE: If you're fixing to respond by going in on Clinton supporters, save it. I have been doing this a long time, and I'm well aware every candidate has some supporters who behave in terrible ways. And because I criticize Clinton, too, I get my share of shit from Clinton diehards. But nothing, nothing, in all the years I have covered presidential politics has even come close to the garbage I get and have seen directed at others by Sanders Stans.]

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt lying on the floor with her paws around a big plushy duck
Zelda and Duckie.

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: Racism; police misconduct] The U.S. Department of Justice and Ferguson, Missouri, officials have reached an agreement that is poised to overhaul the city's entire justice system. [January 27] marked the end of negotiations sparked by the Justice Department's 2015 investigation, which concluded that the city's policing methods violated the rights of its Black citizens on the streets and in the courtrooms, all in the interest of filling the city's coffers. St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the agreement, called a consent decree, will go through three rounds of public hearings before the city council votes on its adoption on February 9. If it rejects the agreement, the Justice Department will move forward with a suit against the city. Key points of the 131-page agreement include: Community policing and engagement, policies and training, eliminating bias, stop and search procedure, first Amendment activity, force, and municipal code reform."

[CN: War on agency] "Ohio's GOP-held state senate voted this week for the second time on a bill that would cut funding to Planned Parenthood. This time state senators were met with protesters offering testimonies, wearing patient smocks, and asking where the GOP lawmakers expected them to access health care." The protesters are so brave and amazing, but fuck if I'm not angry they are obliged to do this.

Potentially good news for marriage equality advocates in Australia: "Support for marriage equality in Australia's parliament has reached critical mass in both houses for the first time ever, according to the Sydney Morning Herald: 'According to the key lobby group leading the charge for a broadened definition of marriage in the Marriage Act, Australian Marriage Equality, there is now a slim majority of pro-change MPs in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate.'"

Taiwan has elected its first female president: "In a landslide victory, the leader of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Tsai Ing-wen won the country's presidential election, becoming the first woman in Taiwan's history to hold the position. ...A scholar with advanced degrees in law from Cornell University and the London School of Economics, Tsai served previously as chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Office, a government office that mediates interactions between Taiwan and Beijing. In 2004, Tsai joined the DPP, stepping in as the party's chairwoman just four years later. Despite a failed presidential bid in 2012, Tsai persevered, guiding her party to victories in regional elections. Tsai also emerged as a vocal advocate of women's and LGBT rights, advocating publicly for equal employment opportunities for women and marriage equality, respectively."

(If there are less flattering things to be said about Tsai or her platform, I'm not deliberately concealing them; I'm just not super familiar with Taiwanese politics.)

"The US economy grew at an annualised rate of 0.7% in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared with the same quarter a year ago, official figures show. The rate of growth marks a sharp slowdown from the 2% growth recorded in the previous quarter. The US Commerce department said one reason for the slower growth was a slowdown in consumer spending." Here's an idea: Let's pay people livable wages and then see if they have more money to spend!

Okay! "Friday marks seven years since President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law, the first bill he signed, aimed at helping women combat the gender wage gap by giving them more time to bring lawsuits. But in that time, the gender wage gap—which means that American women working full-time, year round make 79 percent of what men make, a gap that's much larger for women of color—has only narrowed by two cents, not a statistically significant change. So to mark the anniversary, Obama will announce executive action on Friday to institute a new requirement that companies with 100 or more employees report what workers are paid broken down by gender, race, and ethnicity to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)."

Octavia Butler's personal journal is everything. Wow.

"Octopuses are social animals that change colors to resolve disputes and even throw debris at each other, video footage of a group of the feisty sea creatures in Jervis Bay has shown." They are forever fascinating creatures.

[CN: Fat stigma; disordered eating] Oprah Winfrey, who recently bought a huge stake in Weight Watchers and has been doing the most dreadful commercials for them, said in an interview, "I actually was traveling the other day and opened a 5 oz. bag of crinkle cut, black pepper potato chips and I counted out 10 chips. And I ate the 10 and I savored every one. And I put the bag away. Of all the accomplishments that [I] made in the world, all the red carpets, and the awards and those things that I've done. The fact that I could close the bag and not take another chip—it's major for me." I understand that Winfrey is dealing with disordered eating, but her stated goal is explicitly thinness. And the fact that she regards not eating chips as one of her major accomplishments is just fucking depressing as hell.

And finally! Baby hummingbirds! Squeeeeee!

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An Observation

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

I can't remember the last time good faith engagement with a dude online on the subject of misogyny resulted in anything but a huge waste of my time.

It's happened. But not anytime recently.

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Today in Fat Hatred

[Content Note: Fat hatred; bullying; body policing.]

Here is a cool headline: "Obese women experience much more negative social stigma than previously thought, study finds." Previously thought by whom, exactly? Because I'm pretty sure that fat women have long been aware of how much "negative social stigma" we get.

Women who are obese experience many more incidents of stigmatization because of their weight — an average of three incidents a day — than previous research has reported, according to a study published in the Feb. issue of the Journal of Health Psychology.

Past research has tended to suggest that people who are overweight or obese experience negative weight-related stigmatization only a few times during their entire lives.
LOL! It's kind of incredible to me that anyone could actually believe that, if you even have any meaningful interaction with fat people. Or even just look at how fat public figures are treated and the enormous amounts of ridicule to which they're subjected.

But: "Those studies relied, however, on asking people to recall any past experiences with weight-related stigmatization. This new study had women keep contemporaneous diaries." Which suggests how unfathomably normalized fat hatred is for fat people. We are obliged to navigate a world so full of fat hatred that to ignore or deny an enormous amout of it is a crucial survival strategy.

It also suggests to me how pernicious fat stigma is: There are undoubtedly a lot of people who are ashamed to report incidents of fat hatred, because we tend to internalize that it reflects badly on us, rather than the people who bully and shame us.
As background information in the current study explains, the stigmatization of overweight people has increased significantly over the past two decades. These negative attitudes have disproportionally been aimed at women, even though the rates of obesity are similar for both men and women.
Sure. Because men's bodies aren't considered public property and men aren't regarded as a sex class who are expected to conform their bodies to the sexual expectations of every random woman on the planet.
Weight-related stigmatization can take many forms, such as interpersonal (being ridiculed or shamed for your size), institutional (not getting a job or promotion because of your size), or physical barriers (not being able to find clothes that fit or chairs in theaters or restaurants that can accommodate your body).
And "interpersonal" fat hatred is not merely just "weight-related stigmatization," if and when it's delivered by someone close to you. The article notes: "The most frequent sources of the nasty comments, by the way, were spouses, friends, and family members." A stranger harassing you is also classified as "interpersonal," but when a spouse or partner or friend or family member does it, that's not just fat hatred, but emotional abuse.

Which is something this study, like most studies of fat stigma, doesn't address. Emotional abuse is further damaging, and fat stigma is on its own damaging in myriad ways:
Such stigmatization has been linked to low self-esteem and increased rates of depression, but it can also have physical and health consequences. People who report weight-related stigmatization are more likely, for example, to become binge eaters and to avoid exercise and other healthful habits.
This, of course, is something I have been saying for years: I have been a fat person who hates her body, and let me put this as bluntly as I can: There is no incentive to take care of a body you hate. No one has ever gotten healthier, in any way, by being constantly treated like garbage. And no one has ever gotten bullied into feeling better about themselves.

This study is hardly the first to find fat stigma to be harmful. And it's not like there haven't been outspoken fat people saying that very thing for a very long time—not that most people, especially fat haters, care to listen to us and regard us as authorities on our own lives and experiences.

And most of the people who engage in fat hatred under the auspices of "helping" have to know that it doesn't work—which ultimately reveals that its true intent isn't to help but to harm. To punish fat people for having the unmitigated temerity to be fat in their presence.

At this point, we don't need more studies saying that fat stigma is prevalent and destructive. What we need is a culture that agrees and decides to start disincentivizing the harassment of fat people.

[Related Reading: Today in Things Fat People Have Been Telling You.]

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Round Seven Wrap-Up

Last night was the seventh (!!!) Republican debate, sans High Quality Person Donald Trump, who is TOO CLASSY to participate in such a low caliber event. I did not watch it, because I've already watched fully one kerblillion hours of these dirtbags saying awful things, and I needed a break. My apologies to anyone who follows my usual splendid commentary on debate nights.


The Washington Post has a complete transcript of the debate, and here is just a perfect clip of Ted Cruz that encapsulates the tenor of the latest debacle in this endless parade of bozofuckery:

Ted Cruz, standing at a podium onstage with several of his fellow candidates: —the last four questions have been 'Rand, please attack Ted. Marco, please attack Ted. Chris, please attack Ted. Jeb, please attack Ted.' [audience boos] Let me just say this—

Moderator Chris Wallace: It is a debate, sir.

Cruz: Well, no—no, a debate actually is a policy issue, but I will say this: Gosh, if you guys say—ask one more mean question, I may have to leave the stage.

[A mixture of laughter, cheers, and boos, as no one seems to be sure if Cruz is seriously threatening to leave or just making fun of Donald Trump. In my estimation, he was trying to make fun of Trump, but failing royally in his delivery.]

Cruz: The most important determination any voter is going to make in this election is who's best prepared to be commander-in-chief. Who has the experience, who has the knowledge, who has the judgment, who has the clarity of vision and strength of resolve to keep this country safe. That is what this debate is all about, and I would suggest let's stay focused on those issues, rather than just attacks directed at each other.

Wallace: I—I think the questions were about issues, but Senator Rubio—

You know who lacks the experience, the judgment, the clarity of vision, and the strength of resolve to be President of the United States? Anyone who throws a goddamn tantrum about being questioned during a debate.

Even if you're legitimately being "attacked." Especially then. Just ask President Obama if being subjected to unfair attacks is part of the job.

This shouldn't be a mystery to Senator Ted Cruz, since unfair attacks on the President is his speciality.

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Open Thread

image of a man in a zoot suit

Hosted by a zoot suit.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker DesertRose: "What food(s) do you wish you liked but hate no matter how many times and/or preparations you try?"


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Meet Cutes

Yesterday, I read a thing where real-life couples shared the stories of their unusual meetings. Their "meet cutes," if you will. It was all straight couples, though, and it was all about romantic meetings, even though I've heard (and experienced!) some terrific stories of unusual meetings that resulted in non-romantic long-term relationships. Friendships, working relationships, etc.

Anyway! I thought it might be fun to have a Meet Cute thread in which anyone who wanted to share a story of an unusual meeting, whether it be a spouse, a long-term romantic partner, a one-night stand, a friend, a boss, a business partner, whatever, could share that story.

The circumstances don't even have to be all that unusual! Just feel free to share what made the meeting special to you.

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The Inherent Misogyny of Sanders' Antiestablishmentarianism

[Content Note: Racism; misogyny.]

So, for awhile, Bernie Sanders' "establishment" line of attack on Hillary Clinton, and the organizations and people who support her, has been bothering me, for reasons on which I couldn't quite put my finger. I've written about some specific instances, but something about the overarching approach was itching at the back of my brain.

This morning, while reading this terrific Storify (which I highly recommend reading in full) by @docrocktex26, I came across this article (which had been highlighted by @eclecticbrotha) that begins thus:

The Sanders campaign is finalizing plans for its alternative route to the Democratic nomination, a classic insurgent strategy that is heavily reliant on the limited number of states holding caucuses.

The idea is to take advantage of the caucus format, which tends to reward campaigns with the most dedicated partisans. The caucuses play to Sanders' strength in another important way—they are largely held in states that are heavily white, which helps Sanders neutralize Clinton's edge with minority voters.

With a dozen such contests coming before the end of March—and Clinton expected to perform well on March 1, the first big multi-state primary day—the caucuses are emerging as an integral part of Sanders' long-shot plan.

"Caucuses are very good for Bernie Sanders," explained chief Sanders strategist Tad Devine, likening the 2016 strategy to the one he deployed as Mike Dukakis' field director in 1988. "Caucuses tend to be in the much-lower turnout universe, and having people who intensely support you in events like that makes a huge difference."
Emphases mine.

The Democratic primary system is about as establishment as it gets. White supremacy and segregation are about as establishment as it gets. And Bernie Sanders' campaign is unabashed about saying they are exploiting the caucuses, and the primary schedule, which puts early caucuses in disproportionately white states, in order to try to win the primary.

In order for Sanders to win the office of the President of the United States of America. Which is about as establishment as it gets.

Which is reflected by the fact that, despite rumors of former presidents who weren't quite straight or weren't quite white, the first 43 of the nation's presidents were publicly viewed as straight white men.

President Barack Obama broke into that straight white boys' club. And while many of his policies uphold "the establishment," as it's defined by Sanders—enough that Sanders suggested that President Obama should be primaried in 2012—the establishment represented by the US presidency is not defined exclusively by economic privilege. It's also been long defined by the privileged identities of the people who held it.

The men who have held it.

Like Obama, Hillary Clinton supports a number of policies that uphold "the establishment." But also like Obama, Clinton would be more than a mere "symbol" for people who share her identity if elected.

This little black boy touching the President's hair and discovering it feels like his is more than a symbol.

This little black girl losing! her! shit! in the most adorable way about getting to shake the hand of a President (then candidate) who looks like her is more than a symbol.

The fact that there are children old enough to understand the basics of a presidential election who have never known anything but a black First Family is more than a symbol.

These images challenge the white supremacy inherent to the establishment.

Inherent to it, and a key tool in facilitating and upholding it.

These images, and the very existence of a black president, convey a possibility to young nonwhite people with a concreteness that can serve as the foundation of an achievable dream.

Paths littered with obstacles are always easier to traverse if someone has tread them before.

In this way, President Obama's presidency has changed the establishment forever.

A Hillary Clinton presidency would change the establishment forever, too.

Certainly I'm not saying that policy doesn't matter. Nor am I suggesting that there are not legitimate reasons to oppose Clinton's candidacy. There are. And no one should feel obliged to support her just because she's a woman—although no one should be shamed if they're supporting her for that reason, either.

But her presidency would be more than symbolic, just as President Obama's has been. And her presidency would be a challenge to the establishment, sheerly by virtue of her gender. And the gender of literally all of her predecessors.

In this country, we tell little girls, at least the decent among us do, that they can be anything they want to be when they grow up, but there are still so many spaces which women have never inhabited. And the most visible of them all is the presidency.

Because of an "establishment" that keeps us out.

And this is what bothers me, this is the thing that has been itching at the back of my brain, about Sanders using this particular line of attack against Hillary Clinton. To continually assert that she is representative of "the establishment," into the highest echelons of which women aren't even allowed, is a neat way of obfuscating the fact that she is, in her very personhood, a challenge to the establishment.

Let me say that again, plainly: Sanders calls Clinton emblematic of an establishment that has never even allowed a woman to be seated at the head of the table.

And the only way that argument works is by saying that Clinton's gender doesn't matter. Which is always, always, an inherently misogynist and dehumanizing line of attack. During the 2008 campaign, I wrote, in response to a commenter saying he wanted to "punch Clinton the person, not Clinton the woman":
Hillary Clinton can't escape the context of womanhood by wishing it away, and you can't wish it away, either. She can't wave a magic wand and erase it to her benefit, and you can't declare it irrelevant while discussing how you want to pummel her. She doesn't get to say, "I'm not running for president as a woman; I'm running for president as a person," because being a woman still matters in this culture; womanhood still precludes full personhood. You don't get to pretend that's not the reality in which we live to declare you're punching "Hillary Clinton the person," not "Hillary Clinton the woman."

Consider what it means, just for a moment, that we are still meant to regard those as mutually exclusive concepts.
Earlier today, on Twitter, I was recalling when I went to see Clinton speak at a local union hall in '08, and the man who introduced her said she had "testicular fortitude." When she took the mic, she said that both women and men could have fortitude of their own—and she has it! That got lots of applause, especially from women. Because Clinton wasn't just defending herself against misogyny masquerading as a compliment, but every woman in the room who was hit with the rhetorical buckshot.

I will never forget having to see a female president start her campaign event by addressing misogyny, intended as a "compliment."

I will never not understand that Hillary Clinton is not allowed to forget her womanhood for a moment, even if she wanted to, while she is running for president, and what it means that Bernie Sanders' primary line of attack against her depends on treating her womanhood like it doesn't matter.

This, of course, is indicative of Sanders' entire campaign, where gender, or any identity, isn't what's important; the issues are. And no wonder: If Sanders actually embraced an intersectional approach that detailed how marginalized people are disproportionately and differently affected by economic, social, and political injustice, it might become abundantly clear how absurd it is to continually suggest that a woman is representative of the establishment.

And oh how absurd it is, truly, when one takes a long gaze at the uninterrogated misogyny that is being lobbed at Clinton, even by ostensible progressives. (That link shared with Erica's permission.) If gender really didn't matter, then it wouldn't matter to Clinton's opponents, either.

But it does. Clinton's womanhood matters. Her clothes matter. Her hair matters. Her voice matters. Her tone matters. Her likeability matters. Her emotions matter. Her "murderous cackle" matters.

The thing about "the establishment" is that it's impervious to such demeanment.

It sets the rules by which Hillary Clinton is judged ever wanting, by virtue of metrics that are inextricably tied to womanhood.

There is a person in this Democratic primary who can be visibly angry, who can shout, who can use any tone and show any emotion, who can show up to campaign events looking like they just rolled out of bed after a bender. Who can coast by on the double-standard defined and enforced by the establishment.

It is not Hillary Clinton.

All the things I am admonished to admire about Bernie Sanders, that he is passionate, that he is unpolished, that he is impolitic, that he doesn't give a fuck, are things that the very establishment he allegedly wants to dismantle do not afford his female competitor.

And it would be possible, eminently so, for Sanders to make the case for economic justice that didn't rely on calling Hillary Clinton the face of the establishment. But he has chosen a different path.

Thus have I.

And I hope, I genuinely do, that Sanders supporters will hear what I'm saying and reconsider replicating this line of attack. It is not helpful. It is not even neutral. It is harmful.

One might reasonably ask if I imagine that Hillary Clinton, with all her privilege, is really some sort of definitive challenge to the establishment. No. That is not what I imagine. What I imagine is that her being a woman matters.

Because paths littered with obstacles are always easier to traverse if someone has tread them before.

What I imagine is a future in which there are so many women with influence, multiple female presidents with ideas more radical than Hillary Clinton can even conjure, that to suggest a woman is representative of the establishment might be more than a mirthless punchline regarded as fact by people who think gender is irrelevant.

[Related Reading: Ha Ha But Seriously Who Cares If You're a Woman.]

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Ben E. King: "Stand by Me"

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Police brutality; racism; death] "The microphone equipment for the dashboard camera in the cruiser in which Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was riding on the night he fatally shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald had been 'intentionally destroyed,' according to maintenance documents first acquired by DNAinfo. The records, which include service requests on hundreds of Chicago police vehicles, show that officers have routinely been involved in the intentional destruction and sabotage of body-worn microphones that sync with dashboard camera video." Rage seethe boil.

[CN: Police brutality; racism; death] In related news from Chicago: "The Chicago police officer accused of killing 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier just after Christmas says he intends to file a lawsuit against the dead teenager's estate, alleging that LeGrier assaulted the officer and caused him emotional distress. Officer Robert Rialmo claims he shot LeGrier seven times because the teenager swung a bat at him. Rialmo also accidentally shot an elderly neighbor, Bettie Jones, in the chest and killed her." I don't even have fucking words.

[CN: Contaminated water] "Senate Democrats said Thursday they would request $600 million in emergency federal aid to help Michigan attack the contaminated water emergency in the city of Flint, the most far-reaching financial solution proposed so far to manage the crisis. Under the proposed legislation, the federal government would provide $600 million in federal emergency aid to the state, with as much as $400 million designated for drinking water infrastructure improvements and $200 million to deal with the health fallout from the lead exposure. ...Democrats said the federal government has a responsibility to help Flint, where the drinking water was found to have elevated levels of lead. As of last month, the state had identified 43 people with elevated toxic lead levels in their blood. 'We all know this was literally a man-made crisis,' said Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, who attended a town-hall meeting in Flint on Wednesday. 'It is so heartbreaking to talk to moms and dads and kids who are so afraid of what's going to happen,' she said."

[CN: Insurrection] The FBI is negotiating with the remaining insurrectionists at Malheur. While some remain inside the refuge, others are surrendering. "The FBI took three additional militants into custody Wednesday, as occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge began to trickle away from the site they have held for 26 days, and as the militants arrested Tuesday faced indictment in federal court."

Another big endorsement in the Democratic primary: "The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) political action committee CAPA21 formally endorsed Hillary Clinton for president today, citing her track record on AAPI community issues and staff appointments. CAPA21 is the first major AAPI political action committee to make an endorsement in the 2016 presidential race. 'CAPA21's endorsement of Secretary Clinton is a recognition of her attention to AAPIs and AAPI issues in her campaign,' Glen S. Fukushima, CAPA21 co-founder and chair, told NBC News. 'A major rally dedicated to AAPIs, her AAPI Leadership Council, her vision statement on AAPI prosperity, and her appointment of AAPIs to key campaign positions demonstrate that she values AAPI voters.'"

[CN: Misogynoir; slut-shaming; reproductive policing] Kanye West went on an unbelievable Twitter rant yesterday, which included some vicious slut-shaming against his ex Amber Rose. Damon Young has the play-by-play with lots of amazing commentary, at turns hilarious and serious.

[CN: Fat stigma] "Barbie, the iconic plastic toy doll model, is getting three new body types this year. The US company behind the famous toy, Mattel, is adding 'tall, curvy, and petite' body shapes to its line-up of the fashion dolls. Several skin tones, eye colours and hair styles will also be added to the collection, the company said." But no fat Barbies, because we wouldn't want to tell fat girls that their bodies are okay, too. Fates forfend.

Wow: A New Jersey family's "one-of-a-kind geothermal/solar snow-melt system" had them out from under Storm Jonas' heaps of snow in no time!

And finally! "This Baby Polar Bear Hitched a Ride on Its Mom's Butt." As advertised.

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Thanks, Bernie! Congratulations, Hillary!

[Content note: Gun violence]

A few days ago Mother Jones published an excellent article about Bernie Sanders and the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which granted sweeping immunity to gun manufacturers against lawsuits. Written by Pema Levy, the article put that vote and the Act into important historical context: lawsuits were beginning to be a very valuable tool in the fight against gun manufacturers who flagrantly ignored violations of the law by gun sellers. I wrote about my profound sadness about his vote when put in that context, when considering what a very different country the United States might be if that law had not passed. Bernie Sanders is not solely responsible for the epidemic of gun violence the United States is facing--far from it. but being someone with liberal ideas and aspirations, I expressed my wish that he would listen and hear the valuable criticism he's been receiving about that vote, and about his probelmatic history with gun control issues. As recently as Monday night, he was still defending his vote.

Today, I was very pleased to learn that Sanders has aparently heard his critics on this issue and reversed his support for the PLCAA.

Photo of tweet describing Bernie's position on PLCAA photo Bernieguns_zpsn4zpmyf3.jpg

Text of Tweet from Dan Merica: "Tad Devine, Sander's top strategist, confirms that Sanders has agreed to be a co-sponsor of the PLCAA repeal bill."

Thank you, Senator Sanders. And congratulations, Secretary Clinton, for helping to move Sanders to the left.

That's not snark. (Okay, maybe there is a hint of snark.) From the moment Sanders entered the primary, many pundits and bloggers have trumpted the notion that Sanders would "move Clinton to the left," seldom acknowledging that there are issues where her record has more consistently championed progressive issues than he has. Or that there are issues where his "lefty-er" cred is actually about equal with hers. Or that there are issues where they both need to move, and pretty damn fast, if you ask me.

I think Sanders deserves credit for keeping economic justice and the influence of corporate money in US politics at front and center. I also think Clinton deserves credit for talking about women's issues, children's issues, and the way she has tied those issues to gun violence frequently and consistently. So thanks, Bernie and Hillary. Because you know who really wins when politicians listen to good faith criticism, from each other, from activists, from voters?

We all do, that's who.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat sitting on the arm of one couch, with her paw outstreched to the arm of the other couch, looking at me intently
"Whatever you have, I would like some."

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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Headline of the Day

"Coyotes High on Mushrooms Possibly to Blame for Strange Incidents on Highway." Possibly!

[H/T to Eastsidekate.]

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[Content Note: Misogyny.]

screen cap of a tweet authored by E McMorris-Santoro reading: 'Susan Sarandon intros Bernie in Mason City. 'I'm here because gender is not what's important, the issues are what's important.'' which I have quoted and added my own commentary reading: 'A construction that separates 'gender' from 'the issues' is so infuriating I don't know where to begin.'

This shit demonstrates complete ignorance of why intersectionality matters. You can't talk about income inequality, as but one of a million examples, and say gender doesn't matter, when the means by which income equality is enacted against women is different than how it is enacted against men.

And how it is enacted against women of color is different than how it is enacted against white women. And how it is enacted against trans women is different than how it is enacted against cis women. And black trans women vs. white trans women. And all the other identities that overlap with womanhood: Queer women, women with disabilities, fat women, etc.

Each of these groups are economically marginalized in very specific (and demonstrable) ways, explicitly on the basis of our particular identities.

And I will observe yet again that when control over our reproduction, or lack thereof, is one of the most important factors in determining women's (and trans men's) economic security, no one should be saying that gender isn't crucial to "the issues."

Saying that "gender is not what's important," as if gender is somehow separate from the issues about which Sanders is focusing, is antifeminist garbage that only serves to uphold kyriarchal privilege.

Sanders says he wants a revolution, but his campaign is tailoring a message to appeal to privilege. And you know what I think about that: If your revolution doesn't implicitly and explicitly include a rejection of misogyny and other intersectional marginalizations, then you're not staging a revolution—you're staging a change in management.

Trickle-down economics doesn't work, and neither does trickle-down social justice.

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Challenger: 30 Years

[Content Note: Death.]

Thirty years ago today, the space shuttle Challenger took off as much of the world watched, and then exploded 73 seconds after liftoff, due to a failed engine booster.

Many US children were watching that day, because, on board with the six NASA astronauts was Christa McAuliffe, who was a school teacher meant to be "the first teacher in space." Lots of classrooms were tuned into the launch.

It's one of those moments in US history, like the assassination of JFK or 9/11, where people who were alive at the time tend to remember where they were when they saw or heard the news.

I was in 6th grade. My math teacher had brought in her own little TV, and it was sitting on a chair at the front of the classroom. We were watching it live, like most of the other students in the building, and I remember how all of us looked at the teacher when it happened, and she ran to the TV and grasped its edges in her hands, staring at the screen, like maybe she would somehow be able to stop it.

The Challenger astronauts are not the only brave explorers who have lost their lives in the history of the US space program, but January 28 is NASA's Annual Day of Remembrance, and today the 30th anniversary of the Challenger explosion looms large, even as they recommit to ever more ambitious space exploration:

Wreath-laying ceremonies were planned for Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida as NASA commemorated the seven lives lost on January 28, 1986, as well as other deadly space disasters over the years.

"Space exploration is one of the most difficult endeavors we undertake, and from Apollo 1 to Challenger to Columbia, brave Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice in our quest to push new boundaries, and explore new frontiers," President Barack Obama said in a statement marking NASA's annual Day of Remembrance.

"Yet, despite the dangers, we continue to reach for the stars," he added.

"From new partnerships with private industry to the development of groundbreaking inventions that Americans will take with them into the Solar System and eventually to Mars, we will continue our journey of discovery."
Today we especially remember Greg Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Ron McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Dick Scobee, and Mike Smith—the crew of the Challenger, who died reaching for the stars.

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Open Thread

image of a zipper

Hosted by a zipper.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker iwillbedamned: "An oldie but goodie: When did you first realize you were a feminist?"

Or, as the case may be, a womanist. Or a feminist ally. Or however you personally identify.

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An Observation

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The Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by sneezefarts.

Recommended Reading:

Kayla: [Content Note: Sexual harassment; disablism] Nobody Catcalls the Woman in the Wheelchair

[Related Reading, to reaffirm this space explicitly does and will always make room for this experience: On Harassment and the Marking of Visible Womanhood.]

Adam: [CN: Appropriation; racism] On Apache Pizza and the Globalization of American Indian Cultural Appropriation

Danika: [CN: Discussion of addiction and mental illness stigma] Carrie Fisher Talks Mental Health

Fannie: TV Series Signal Boost: Her Story

Kat: Why Missy Elliott's Feminist Legacy Is Criminally Underrated [Note: I take some issue with some of the ways the author compares Elliott to current pop icons and avoids deeper exploration of body size and sexual presentation, so heads-up on that, which I wasn't sure how to succinctly content note, but there's a lot of good stuff there otherwise.]

Angry Asian Man: Nathan Chen Is the Future of US Men's Figure Skating

Cheryl: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me Is Even Weirder Than You Remember

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

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Billie Holiday: "All or Nothing at All"

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Dump Trump! And Other Musings!

[Content Note: Fearmongering; outrage ginning.]

Hey, ya bunch of feminist bats! It's me, Butch Pornstache, America's most beloved political commentator.

I heard some of you weirdos were hoping I'd weigh in on this presidential race, so here I am! Long time no talk about LOVING AMERICA.

Now I know what you're probably thinking: Butch, didn't you used to be a Tea Bagger? Yes, yes I did. But after my ex-wife/fiancée Tammy canceled my BMX Babez subscription and rigged up my phone so Shakesville is the only website I can access on it, this stupid blog is the only reading material I have every time I do a dumper.

And I have to admit, no matter how much I've tried to resist it, I've learned a few things.

Plus, you know the old saying: Consistency is the goblinoid of the salt mines. I've never really understood that saying, but I think it means something about how changing your mind is a good thing. And I guess it still counts if you've changed your mind under the duress of your ex-wife/fiancée Tammy and your stepmom Cheryl screaming at you about how your brainpan is full of what they like to call "indefensible garbage."

Point is: Between Tammy, Cheryl, and you bunch of jerks, I've come a long way, baby!

And, as I don't need to tell you, since you complain about it all the time, being a mediocre white man who's been wrong about everything qualifies me as an expert on any subject I choose.

So here is my tooth sense on the dirtbags and dipshits running to be president of these great United States:

Hillary Clinton: Man, what a nerd! This lady was in her room studying Supreme Court decisions and reading biographies of dead politicians while the rest of us were out shoving leftover pizza through the library book return and smoking weed. Her brain is stuffed full of so much information, I would be scared to get into an argument with her over the spelling of my own name because I'd definitely lose. She's the biggest dork I've ever seen in my life! That seems like a pretty good argument that she should be president to me. We tried the guy you'd most want to drink a beer with, and that didn't work out so hot. I guess presidents should know stuff.

Martin O'Malley: I don't know who that guy is. But I knew a guy named Joe O'Malley once, and he was all right.

Bernie Sanders: This guy seems like a dweeb, too. But not the good kind of dweeb who does all the work when you get paired up for a project in English class. He's more like the dweeb who gets the teachers to sign his yearbook because he doesn't have any friends his own age, and plays Dungeons & Dragons with all the little kids who still let him get away with being mean and shouty about the rules. I kind of want to TP his house. Seems like he could definitely be president without blowing up the planet, though.

Jeb Bush: Oh brother. (No pun intended!) This guy looks like he doesn't even know where he is, and not in the good way. (DRUGS.) He looks like he'd have more fun if he just retired to Florida to play golf and avoid phone calls from his family.

Ben Carson: Nah.

Chris Christie: Pass.

Ted Cruz: I don't get this guy at all. He's always smiling while saying shitty things. It's creepy as hell.

Carly Fiorina: Every time I hear her talking, she's telling me that she's not Hillary Clinton. You're damn right you're not, lady!

Jim Gilmore: Who?

Mike Huckabee: This guy is why I don't go to church. That and also I love to sleep in on Sundays.

John Kasich: Never heard of him.

Rand Paul: Is this the guy whose dad is Ron Paul and whose mom is Ayn Rand? I think Glenn Beck told me I should like this dude back when I was a Tea Partier. My stepmom Cheryl told me that taking advice from Glenn Beck is like taking acting lessons from Steven Seagal, and, as you know, I'm a Van Damme man, so.

Marco Rubio: This guy always looks nervous, and it makes me anxious when I look at him. You know when you go to the post office to pick up your According to Jim DVD collection because when they tried to deliver it your mailbox was full of back issues of BMX Babez you were hiding, and it's really quiet in there, and all of a sudden you have to sneeze and you know the force of it will shoot out a loud fart and it's gonna be embarrassing? That sneezefart anxiety is how I feel when I have to look at Marco Rubio. That can't be a good quality in a president.

Rick Santorum: Yuck.

Donald Trump: Now this is a guy I really have something to say about! DUMP TRUMP! The Donald is always saying he wants to "Make America Great Again." What the fuck, man? AMERICA IS PRETTY GREAT RIGHT NOW. Sure, we've got problems, but what country doesn't? Oh, you know what country doesn't? AMERICA, if you listen to the people who shout at your face that it's the GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD if you happen to favor another country's healthcare system or weed laws.

They say America is perfect if some liberal wants to do something, and they say America is terrible if some liberal wants to do something, and I still ain't no liberal and I would rather eat my best friend Dick Balzac's hairpiece than defend liberals, but that shit just don't make sense!

And nothing Donald Trump says makes any sense! He's no president! He's just like this shithead conductor in front of a giant orchestra of anger (CULTURE), waving his little music stick to make the angry people get louder and louder.

If you listen to only one piece of the wisdom I'm dropping on you today, let it be this: DUMP TRUMP! He is bad for America.

Pornstache: OUT.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat sitting next to Iain's slippers and boots
Wee Sophs.

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: Holocaust; anti-Semitism] "Dozens of elderly Holocaust survivors lit candles at Auschwitz on Wednesday, exactly 71 years after the Soviet army liberated the death camp that has become the most powerful symbol of the human suffering inflicted by Nazi Germany during World War II. The commemoration at the former death camp in southern Poland, an area under Nazi occupation during the war, is part of the U.N.-designated International Remembrance Day, marked by politicians, survivors, and others in ceremonies and events across the world. At Auschwitz some of the survivors wore sashes or scarves that recalled the striped pajama-style clothing that prisoners were forced to wear. They placed candles and wreaths at a wall where many prisoners were executed before gathering with the presidents of Poland and Croatia for official ceremonies. The Nazis killed more than 1 million people at Auschwitz, most of them Jews but also Roma, non-Jewish Poles, and others. This year's commemorations come as a resurgence of anti-Semitism casts a shadow over a new generation of European Jews, something that is driving thousands of them each year to leave the continent. 'We must be honest enough to admit that more than 70 years after the Shoah, anti-Semitism is still alive in our 'civilized' European Union,' Federica Mogherini, the European Union's top foreign affairs representative, said in a statement."

[CN: Toxic water; reproductive injustice] Kanya D'Almeida explains how the Flint water emergency is a reproductive health crisis: "Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that pregnant women and lactating mothers who are exposed to lead are at heightened risk of gestational hypertension. And since lead can persist in bones for decades, especially in pregnant and lactating women, mothers and their babies remain exposed to lead long after external sources of contamination have been eliminated. 'This is a reproductive health crisis of monumental proportions that you would not expect to see in a developed country and certainly not in a state…like Michigan, which ironically is surrounded by one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world,' Dr. John Hebert, director of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Program at the Hurley Medical Center, told RH Reality Check."

[CN: Misogynist terrorism; harassment] Scaachi Koul on the Gregory Alan Elliott harassment verdict and why "There's No Such Thing as Digital-Only Torment: The feelings are the same. You're trapped, you're worried this will escalate into something you can't outrun, you don't want this person to know where you live or who's in your family. People will blame you for this regardless—Were you wearing a short skirt? vs. Were you trolling him?—and your recourse is limited. People feel bad for you, sure, but no one can really do anything." YES.

[CN: Police brutality; racism; death] I don't even have words anymore, only rage and grief: "Before he was killed in Chicago for allegedly swinging a bat at a police officer, 19-year-old Quintonio LeGrier tried calling 911 three times. But audio recordings released this week by the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) reveal that two dispatchers ignored LeGrier's pleas for police assistance. ...When Officer Robert Rialmo arrived at the scene, he shot LeGrier seven times. He also shot a neighbor in the chest, killing her accidentally."

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Of course: "Back at work after last weekend's snowstorm shuttered the federal government, [Senator Lisa Murkowski] the Republican senator from Alaska noted that she shared something in common with every single person in the room. No, Republicans and Democrats didn't magically come together during the weather break and agree on something. Every single person in the room was a woman. Every. Single. One."

IMPORTANT RIHANNA NEWS! "The singer released a brand new single from her forthcoming album Anti early Wednesday, amid rumors that her long-anticipated record could arrive soon. The track, called 'Work,' features Drake and debuted on Tidal. The release comes after Billboard published reports that Rihanna would drop a new song on Wednesday at 8 a.m. ET and that Anti would debut Friday." Yay!

[CN: White supremacy] Keith Reid-Cleveland on why Nate Parker's The Birth of a Nation couldn't have come at a better time: The film—which tells the story of Nat Turner's 1831 slave rebellion and shares its name, very deliberately, with the D.W. Griffith original that is, to put it succinctly, super fucking racist—"was the brainchild of Nate Parker and took the public by storm almost a week after the Academy Awards announced that they, once again, shutout actors and actresses of color for nominations." The film "recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim. The attention was so sudden that there was a bidding war the very next morning that ended when Fox Searchlight, the same studio that released 12 Years a Slave, bid $17.5 million to distribute it."

[CN: Racism; blackface; appropriation] In other film news: "Joseph Fiennes to play Michael Jackson in 9/11 road-trip drama." I'm sorry WHUT.

Neat! "Astronomers have discovered the largest known solar system, consisting of a large planet that takes nearly a million years to orbit its star. The gas giant is one trillion kilometres away, making its orbit 140 times wider than Pluto's path around our Sun. ...The planet, known as 2MASS J2126-8140, is between 12 and 15 times the mass of Jupiter. ...This system is nearly three times the size of the previous widest star-planet pair. The star and its planet were found by a survey of young stars and brown dwarfs in Earth's neighbourhood."

And finally! This is a moving video about miniature horses who work as therapy animals. I love horses so much.

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Primarily Speaking

image of Robby Novak as Kid President, to which I've added text reading: 'Let's all just vote for Kid President and call it a day.'

Only 285 days to go until Election Day now! *collapses*

[Content Note: Racism] Yesterday I mentioned Hillary Clinton's ahistorical and troubling comments on Reconstruction during the last Democratic town hall (and explained further in comments why they were so problematic).

Last night, Clinton's Senior Advisor and Senior Spokesperson, Karen Finney, issued a clarifying statement: "Her point was that we might have gotten to a better place under Lincoln's leadership. What we needed after the Civil War was equality, justice, and reconciliation. Instead we saw the federal government abandon Reconstruction before real change took hold, which ultimately led to a disgraceful era of Jim Crow. And as she talks about frequently, too many injustices remain today. Attempts to suppress voting rights go back to racist efforts against Reconstruction, and in fighting for voting rights and equality today we are continuing a long struggle that still has to be fought and won in our own generation."

Noting "racist efforts against Reconstruction" was wise, as it at least signals that Clinton understands Reconstruction itself wasn't racist. But acknowledging the pernicious narrative about Reconstruction into which her comment played would have been appreciated.

In other Clinton news: "At a campaign event in Deocorah, Iowa on Tuesday, Hillary Clinton lit up when a voter asked her if she would consider appointing the president to the Supreme Court should she win the White House. 'Wow, what a great idea. No one has ever suggested that to me, I love that, wow,' the Democratic presidential candidate responded. 'He may have a few other things to do but I tell you that's a great idea. ...I mean he's brilliant, and he can set forth an argument, and he was a law professor, so he's got all the credentials.'" I LOVE THIS IDEA SO MUCH! But only if President Obama is interested, of course! But if he is, LET'S MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, Donald Trump says he won't participate in this week's Republican debate (awww) because Fox News is mean to him. And his official statement about it is, naturally, fucking amazing.

screen cap of Trump's statement headlined: 'TRUMP CAMPAIGN STATEMENT ON FOX NEWS DEBATE' and reading: 'As someone who wrote one of the best-selling business books of all time, The Art of the Deal, who has built an incredible company, including some of the most valuable and iconic assets in the world, and as someone who has a personal net worth of many billions of dollars, Mr. Trump knows a bad deal when he sees one. FOX News is making tens of millions of dollars on debates, and setting ratings records (the highest in history), where as in previous years they were low-rated afterthoughts. Unlike the very stupid, highly incompetent people running our country into the ground, Mr. Trump knows when to walk away. Roger Ailes and FOX News think they can toy with him, but Mr. Trump doesn't play games. There have already been six debates, and according to all online debate polls including Drudge, Slate, Time Magazine, and many others, Mr. Trump has won all of them, in particular the last one. Whereas he has always been a job creator and not a debater, he nevertheless truly enjoys the debating process - and it has been very good for him, both in polls and popularity. He will not be participating in the FOX News debate and will instead host an event in Iowa to raise money for the Veterans and Wounded Warriors, who have been treated so horribly by our all talk, no action politicians. Like running for office as an extremely successful person, this takes guts and it is the kind of mentality our country needs in order to Make America Great Again.'
Yes, it's real.


In other debate news: "After MSNBC and the New Hampshire Union-Leader announced on Tuesday that they would hold an unsanctioned Democratic presidential debate ahead of the New Hampshire primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said he would not attend a debate not sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee. Jeff Weaver, Sanders' campaign manager, told the New York Times that Sanders won't participate in an unsanctioned debate for fear that he would be barred from future official debates. A spokeswoman for Clinton, told the Union-Leader that the former secretary of state would be 'happy to participate in a debate in New Hampshire if the other candidates agree, which would allow the DNC to sanction the debate.' The DNC said in a Tuesday statement that the party will not sanction the Feb. 4 debate planned by MSNBC and the Union-Leader." Okay.

The rest of the dipshits + Martin O'Malley running for president are still running for president.

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

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Robert Gates Ain't Impressed

[Content Note: Militarism.]

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is a Republican, doesn't have many kind words for the slate of Republican candidates' grasp of foreign policy:

"The level of dialogue on national security issues would embarrass a middle schooler," Gates said of the Republican contenders at a Politico Playbook event in Washington on Monday. "People are out there making threats and promises that are totally unrealistic, totally unattainable. Either they really believe what they're saying or they're cynical and opportunistic and, in a way, you hope it's the latter, because God forbid they actually believe some of the things that they're saying."

...Gates was the only defence secretary in American history to be asked to remain in that office by a newly elected president. Working under Barack Obama, he was alongside Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state and praised her as "tough minded" with "a lot of common sense" but admitted they began to disagree on issues towards the end, notably the intervention in Libya.

He did not mention Bernie Sanders by name but did suggest both Democratic and Republican candidates are being given an easy ride by the media. "Frankly, I think that the press needs to be more aggressive," he said. "A lot of people in both parties are making huge promises and commitments."

"In some cases, the things they're saying they're going to do are unconstitutional or merely against the law and others are, from a budgetary standpoint, inconceivable, and so it seems to be that the press has not hammered hard enough and been relentless in saying, 'How the hell are you going to do that?'"
I have a lot of disagreements with Robert Gates, but this is not among them.

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Behold Your Roosting Chickens: An Ongoing Series

[Content Note: Bigotry; wedge politics; scapegoating.]

Background: Behold Your Roosting Chickens.

Another day, another story about Republican Party elites feigning pretense about how Trump came to be leading in their primary:

With time running out until the first primary votes are cast, establishment Republicans have begun a ferocious round of finger-pointing over who is to blame for the party's failure to stop Donald Trump.
Well, you know what they say: When you point a finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at you.
The chiding, once limited to private conversations, is now erupting in public view — with campaigns, operatives, donors, party officials and conservative intellectuals arguing over why something hasn't been done to stop the man who has been leading nearly every state and national poll since August. Trump, many in the GOP's upper ranks are convinced, would lead the Republican Party to an epic defeat in November, with consequences all the way down the ballot.

"This whole thing is a disaster," said Curt Anderson, a former Republican National Committee political director and veteran operative. "I think I'll write a book about it."
What a perfect, terrible quote. My party is about to nominate someone who would be ruinous for the country if elected. How can I cash in?

The story goes on to detail who has come up for a share of the blame: "Receiving much of the blame is Right to Rise, the cash-flush super PAC that broke records when it announced last year that it had raised more than $100 million in support of Jeb Bush. The group has directed relatively little of that sum toward attacking Trump... Yet others say it's unfair to solely blame Bush—and that Rubio is just as culpable. Despite winning the support of an array of deep-pocketed donors, including hedge fund manager Paul Singer and tech titan Larry Ellison, Rubio has and his allies have done little to attack Trump... Still others fault Ted Cruz, who spent months cuddling up to Trump in hopes of scooping up his supporters... But it's not just campaigns that are coming under fire—it's also donors, many of whom were presented with the opportunity to go after Trump but didn't pull the trigger... Much frustration has been directed at the RNC, which some believe has been pushed around by the party's surprise poll-leader..."

Bush's super PAC. Marco Rubio. Ted Cruz. Republican donors. The Republican National Committee. Someone is to blame, dammit!

The only thing of which they are sure is that it isn't establishment Republicans.

It definitely isn't the people who flatter themselves by claiming to be the intellectual wing of a party that depends on the exploitation of an intractable streak of anti-intellectualism among its key demographic, the people sophisticated enough to not personally be offended by LGBT folks and people of color and uppity women, but unethical enough to exploit such bigotries nonetheless.

It definitely isn't the people who, after decades of fearmongering, scapegoating, dogwhistling, and wedge issue politicking, devised to convince (primarily) poor whites to vote against their own interests, have built a base that is essentially a seething conglomeration of intolerant bullies whose stubborn refusal to evolve ideologically is matched in astonishing obduracy only by their unjustifiable hatred.

It definitely isn't the people who exploited prejudice without reservation, creating the very ideological dumpster from which Donald Trump emerged as Garbage King.

Not only are they themselves not to blame, they are victims!
In some instances, anger has begun boil to over. Earlier this month, during the RNC's winter meeting, Holland Redfield, a party committeeman from the Virgin Islands, rose during a private breakfast to vent to Priebus about Trump. During the impromptu speech, Redfield complained of the pressures to not speak out, saying, "We're almost terrorized as members of our party."

In an interview, Redfield said that other RNC members had privately applauded him since his speech became public. But he predicted that, if Trump becomes the nominee, the party would face an intense battle between those who were going along with his candidacy and those who aren't.

"It will be a major internal fight," he said. "I feel the party has been hijacked."
Yeah, well, that's a little bit like programming your GPS, following the directions, and then claiming your car hijacked you when you reach your destination.

But, as always, the architects of the Ownership Society refuse to own their shit.

"Personal responsibility" is something they shout at vulnerable people who weren't born with their privileges; it's a catchphrase to absolve themselves of their responsibility toward their fellow citizens, not something they feel obliged to practice.

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Update from Malheur

[Content Note: Guns; death; insurrection.]

Last night, law enforcement and some members of the insurrectionists holed up at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge got into a violent confrontation about 20 miles away from Malheur, and one militia member was killed, one was injured, and a bunch were taken into custody.

Oregon standoff spokesman Robert "LaVoy" Finicum was killed and other leaders of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation were arrested Tuesday after the FBI and state police stopped vehicles about 20 miles north of Burns.

Authorities did not release the name of the person who died at the highway stop, but Finicum's daughter confirmed it was Finicum, 55, of Cane Beds, Arizona, one of the cowboy-hat wearing faces of the takeover.

...Ryan Bundy, 43, of Bunkerville, Nev., suffered a minor gunshot wound in the confrontation about 4:30 p.m. along U.S. 395. He was treated and released from a local hospital and was in FBI custody, authorities said.

Also arrested during the stop were his brother, Ammon Bundy, 40, of Emmett, Idaho, Ryan W. Payne, 32, of Anaconda, Mont., Brian Cavalier, 44, of Bunkerville, Nevada, and Shawna J. Cox, 59, of Kanab, Utah. They were charged with conspiracy to impede federal officers, a felony.

...[Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore], a vocal supporter of the Bundy family, said that Ammon Bundy told his wife that Finicum was cooperating with police when he was shot.

But sources told The Oregonian/OregonLive that Finicum and Ryan Bundy disobeyed orders to surrender and resisted arrest. No other details were available.
One might imagine that means their insurrection is over, but one would be wrong: "At the refuge Tuesday evening, occupier Jason Patrick reported no unusual activity. 'It's pretty quiet here,' Patrick said. He said no one was leaving as of 6 p.m. Hours later, Patrick said the refuge remained quiet but 'we're all standing here ready to defend our peaceful resolution.' He wouldn't elaborate."

And outside the refuge, Finicum is now a martyr to the cause, and other extremist groups are rallying around the government action taken against the insurrectionists.
In the meantime, Operation Mutual Defense, a network of militias and patriot sympathizers, issued a call on its website for help at the refuge. The post was written by Gary Hunt, a board member from California who has expressed support for Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City and had ties to the patriot movement.

"You have an obligation to proceed to the Harney County Resource Center (the wildlife refuge) immediately," Hunt wrote. "If you fail to arrive, you will demonstrate by your own actions that your previous statements to defend life, liberty, and property were false."
Which means that things could potentially get a lot worse before this things, unless the feds move to end it swiftly. But they haven't shown much inclination to do that, frankly.

My condolences to Finicum's family, who I'm sure loved him very much.

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Open Thread

image of a zither

Hosted by a zither.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Alison Rose: "I'm gonna borrow this two-parter from James Lipton/Bernard Pivot: What profession other than your own (if you have one at the moment) would you most like to attempt, and what profession would you NOT want to attempt?"

I would like to attempt being an astronomer. I would not want to attempt being a politician.

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Shaker Gourmet

Whatcha been cooking up in your kitchen lately, Shakers?

Share your favorite recipes, solicit good recipes, share recipes you've recently tried, want to try, are trying to perfect, whatever! Whether they're your own creation, or something you found elsewhere, share away.

Also welcome: Recipes you've seen recently that you'd love to try, but haven't yet!

* * *

I just saw this recipe recently for Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup, and I can't wait to try it! I love hearty soups in the winter.

I will probably adjust the recipe a bit, chiefly by adding leeks (mmmmmmm leeks) and reducing the cheese content (because I love cheese but that seems too rich for my guts), but this is a great base recipe.

I've never met a potato soup I didn't like.

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[Content Note: Misogyny; objectification.]

It continues to be a real mystery why Republicans aren't connecting with a majority of female voters:

Republican Sen. Mitch Holmes has seen women wearing "over the top" attire during his decade in the Kansas Statehouse, by which he means, their tops didn't cover over enough.

"A blouse that came way past the rib cage was one of the most outlandish ones," he told The Associated Press in an interview on Monday. He said his dress code was needed to prevent distractions from the legislative process.

But after he was shamed on social media as a "sexist" and "cave man" for telling women how to dress, Holmes dropped his guidelines the next day. His written apology Tuesday said he "meant no offense" by suggesting that "for ladies, low cut necklines and mini-skirts are inappropriate." Failing to apply the code to both genders, he wrote, was unacceptable.

It's at least the fourth time recently that [Republican] lawmakers have retreated from statehouse dress codes that applied to female colleagues, lobbyists, interns, and other citizens.
This story was filed under the headline: "State Lawmakers 'Distracted' by Women's Wardrobes."

Well. If the straight gentlemen who disproportionately fill state legislative positions can't contain themselves and retain their focus in the presence of women who are wearing whatever the fuck we want, perhaps the solution is to replace them with women, who won't get so gosh darn distracted by reflexive objectification.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Crowded House: "Fall at Your Feet"

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Sounds About Right

[Content Note: Bigotry.]

Jerry Falwell, Jr., chancellor of the bigot factory known as Libery University, has endorsed Donald Trump:

Falwell, in a statement released Tuesday, said that Trump is "a successful executive and entrepreneur, a wonderful father and a man who I believe can lead our country to greatness again."

"It is truly an honor to receive Jerry's endorsement. Not only is he a high quality person, with a wonderful family, whom I have great respect for—I also consider him a very good friend and his support means so much to me" Trump said in the same statement.
If Emperor Falfatine of Evangelical Educationland endorsing billionaire cartoon villain Donald Trump doesn't irrefutably demonstrate that the Republican Party ain't about moral superiority and is just about entrenching privilege, I can't imagine what would.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound lying on the couch on his back, with one front leg stretched straight up into the air
Dudley, bringing the max dudliness.

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: Possible shooting; video may autoplay at link] A possible active shooter was reported at the Naval Medical Center San Diego this morning: "NMCSD posted the following notice to its Facebook page around 8:10 a.m. Tuesday: '**!ATTENTION!** An active shooter has just been been reported in building #26 at Naval Medical Center San Diego. All occupants are advised to run, hide or fight. All non-emergency response personnel are asked to stay away from the compound, located at 34800 Bob Wilson Drive, San Diego, CA 92134.'" Fucking hell. I hope everyone is okay.

UPDATE: [CN: Video autoplays at link] "Authorities 'have not located any casualties or evidence of a shooting having taken place,' Navy Region Southwest spokesman Scott Sutherland told Navy Times. 'They are conducting a secondary, more thorough floor-by-floor sweep now.' Personnel remain sheltered in place, he said." Phew.

[CN next two paragraphs: White supremacy] Hillary Clinton is being criticized for historical revisionism after her comments on Reconstruction at the Democratic Town Hall last night: "Identifying Abraham Lincoln—not her husband Bill Clinton nor former rival and boss Barack Obama—as the president who most inspired her, Clinton lauded the 16th chief executive as a figure who 'was willing to reconcile and forgive. ...And I don't know what our country might have been like had he not been murdered, but I bet that it might have been a little less rancor, a little more forgiving and tolerant than might possibly have brought people back together more quickly,' Clinton continued. 'But instead, you know, we had Reconstruction, we had the reigns of segregation and Jim Crow. We had people in the South feeling totally discouraged and defiant. So, I really do believe he could have very well put us on a different path.'" As Jamelle Bouie accurately summarized: "No HRC, Reconstruction was actually good! It didn't fail, it was destroyed!"

And while it is true that during the Reconstruction era, there was rancor and divisiveness, insomuch as white people were rancorous and divisive toward black people, that is clearly not what Clinton said. And language matters. To conflate Reconstruction with white supremacy is a huge fucking problem. As of this writing, her campaign has not issued any follow-up statements, clarifications, or apologies.

[CN: Carcerality] In very good news, President Obama has announced that he is adopting the recommendations in a Department of Justice report on "the overuse of solitary confinement across American prisons," among which includes "ending the practice of placing juveniles in restrictive housing." This is certainly not a comprehensive solution to the vast and varied problems with the US prison system, but it is an important step in reducing one of the key conveyors of the trauma and dehumanization inherent to that system.

[CN: Transphobia; body policing] In more good news: "The International Olympic Committee is adopting new guidelines that will make it easier for trans athletes to compete in the Olympic Games. Previously, trans athletes were required to undergo gender-reassignment surgery. According to guidelines made public on Sunday, the new recommendations remove any restrictions on trans men, and allow trans women to compete in the Olympic Games after one year of hormone replacement therapy." Those are definitely imperfect and arbitrary guidelines! But they are a step in the right direction.

[CN: Misogyny] Lots of women are still dying from heart attacks and heart disease because many of the public awareness campaigns around heart health center on men's symptoms. Here is some crucial information "about key differences in heart attack indicators and treatment in women."

"He's a liar. That's why nobody likes him, that's why his Senate people won't endorse him, that's why he stands in the middle of the Senate floor and can't make a deal with anybody. He looks like a jerk."—Donald Trump, talking about Ted Cruz. Yeah. Donald Trump just said someone else is an unlikable liar who looks like a jerk.

[CN: Video autoplays at link] In case you were waiting to see who George Pataki would endorse after dropping out of the Republican primary, your seemingly interminable nightmare is over! He has endorsed Marco Rubio. What a coup for the thirsty jerk!

[CN: Rape culture] The next time some dipshit is caterwauling about rape accusations ruin men's lives, tell them to watch Woody Allen's new series on Amazon. Because of course he has a new series. And of course stars, including Miley Cyrus, are lining up to be in it.

Wow: "A rare white giraffe was spotted in Tanzania's Tarangire National Park. This giraffe, named Omo, has a condition called leucism. 'Leucism is a genetic condition that results in some of her skin cells being unable to create pigments, so she ends up looking very pale, with only vague patterns compared to a normal giraffe's coloration,' said Derek Lee, founder of the Wild Nature Institute. Lee researches giraffes at the National Park."

And finally! Ecuadoran police saved a sloth who got stuck in the middle of a highway: "That's when the local police went on the most adorable rescue mission and commemorated it by posting pictures on their Facebook page. The little traveller had gained many fans who were glad to know that the story ended well." Oh sloths. ♥

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