Question of the Day

Do you do anything special to mark Leap Year's Day? Do you have any Leap Year Day family traditions? Know anyone who was born on February 29, who does something special on the years when their birth date exists on the calendar? Do you even care or think about Leap Year's Day at all?

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Natalie Imbruglia: "Torn"

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The Monday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by houseplants.

Recommended Reading:

Melissa (via Jamil): [Content Note: Misogynoir] Dearest Nerds

Mary Emily: [CN: Transmisogynoir] Lyft Driver Engages in Threatening Transphobia Against Activist Monica Jones; Lyft Indifferent

Carolyn: George Miller Didn't Think a Dude Could Handle Editing Mad Max: Fury Road

Angry Asian Man: [CN: Racism] On Hollywood's Biggest Night, Asians Are the Joke. As Usual.

Sarah: Friendly Reminder: Misandry Isn't Really Happening

Shay: [CN: Misogynoir] It's Bigger Than No Dates for Black Women, or How We Avoid Naming Racism

TLC: Announcing Our Model Policy and Legal Guide for Homeless Shelters and Housing Programs

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

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The Walking Thread

[Content Note: Spoilers are lurching around undeadly herein. Descriptions of violence.]

screen cap from The Walking Dead in which Grimes is standing and making a garbage face; I have replaced the blood on his face with glitter
Optimus Grimes, with his beard o' blood spatter replaced with beautiful glitter: "What?"

In this week's episode of The Walking Dead: A character has a crisis of faith, but all the other characters' experiences serendipitously serve to restore that character's faith, and Grimes Gang meets a new community of people who aren't what they seem. See also: Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

We open with Sgt. Redbull and Sasha having an awkward conversation in which he says that Maggie and Glenn are stupid for having a baby, and Sasha tells him that he's the stupid one—an exchange which itself is pregnant with meaning, because they totally made out but Sgt. Redbull still hasn't broken it off with Rosita Espinoza.

Sasha tells him she's changing her shift, which means they won't be working together anymore. Instead of getting the message, Sgt. Redbull goes home and has more sex with Rosita Espinoza, who makes him a pretty necklace. But he can't stop thinking about Sasha. Yeesh this guy.

Glenn and Maggie have a SYMBOLISM RICH conversation about the crops at Aarontown. She hopes that they will grow. Glenn promises her that they will.

This conversation couldn't have been more subtle and beautiful unless they'd been standing in front of an oven with Maggie fretting the buns in that oven won't rise.

Meanwhile, back at Grimes HQ, where Optimus Grimes and Michonne (NOOOOOOOOOOOO!) have been startled out of bed by Houdini Jesus (thanks, DWS!), Pirate Carl sneaks up on Houdini Jesus, who's chilling on the stairs waiting for the lovebirds to get dressed, and holds a gun on him until Grimes and Michonne run out and explain the situation.

Pirate Carl immediately realizes that Michonne is doing it with his dad, and I'm frankly amazed he didn't shoot out his other eye.

A bunch of other Grimes Gang members show up, after Doctor Zoey alerted them that Houdini Jesus had escaped. Everyone crowds in as Houdini Jesus explains that he's an ambassador for another community and his job is to broker trade agreements with other settlements. He says that his community, the Hilltop, has livestock and crops, and they'd totes trade some food for ammo and shit.

Obviously, getting mixed up with other settlements has always worked out GREAT for Grimes Gang previously, so they decide that a contingent of them will accompany Houdini Jesus back to the Hilltop to see what's what.


Optimus Grimes, Michonne, Maggie, Glenn, and Sgt. Redbull hop in the camper with Houdini Jesus and off they go. On the way, Sgt. Redbull—whose character sketch presumably reads "tanktops; mutton chops; crappy one-liners"—grills Glenn about his and Maggie's decision to have a baby, and it's almost a relief to see a dude get subjected to some reproductive policing on this show.

Glenn says he and Maggie are trying to build something—AND GROW VEGETABLES THANKYOUVERYMUCH—and Sgt. Redbull tells him that he sure wouldn't have no goddamn babies, and Glenn does not say, "No one asked you, asshole," although he should have.

They come across an overturned truck, with gross zombies gurgling in the wreckage, and Houdini Jesus says it's his people. "This had better not be a trap!" Optimus Grimes tells him, and then they commence to rescuing the survivors, while Maggie holds Houdini Jesus at gunpoint. Luckily it really isn't a trap, since Houdini Jesus is a kung fu master and Maggie is pregnant.

In the commotion of the rescue, Sgt. Redbull almost accidentally kills an injured survivor. Later, back in the camper, the guy says how when he was about to die, he had a vision of his dead wife. Sgt. Redbull sheds a single CGI tear.

Then the camper gets stuck in the mud, because of course it does, but never mind, they've arrived at the Hilltop. After a tense confrontation in which the gate guards insist that Grimes Gang surrender their weapons and Grimes Gang says fuck no, which Houdini Jesus swiftly negotiates to mutually satisfactory resolution, they all go inside the gates, where they see a big old house, a chicken coop, and a bunch of FEMA trailers.

Houdini Jesus tells them the big old house used to be a museum. It blows Sgt. Redbull's mind. They are introduced to the Hilltop's leader, a white man (shocking!) named Gregory Creepfuck, who tells them to go clean their stinky taints if they want to meet with him.

Optimus Grimes tells Maggie she should meet with him, because he is a good decision machine, and it's clearly a perfect idea to send a young woman in by herself to meet with a dude who might as well be wearing a suit stitched together from red flags.

Maggie meets with Gregory Creepfuck, who turns out to be super creepy. He hits on Maggie and tells her that she'd be very desirable in the Hilltop community as a "smart, beautiful woman." She's all GTFO. Afterwards, Houdini Jesus promises he can negotiate a compromise. Because he isn't just great at getting out of handcuffs; he's great at getting out of sticky jams between dueling patriarchs!

All of a sudden, there's a commotion outside. A bunch of Hilltoppers have returned from a mission, and they report that Negan (THAT GUY!) has killed two of their group and is holding another one hostage because their supply drop was insufficient.

They say that Negan told them they have to deliver a message. Gregory Creepfuck asks what the message is, and promptly gets stabbed in the gut. Whoooooops!

Inexplicably, Grimes Gang springs into action and starts wailing on the dude who stabbed Gregory Creepfuck. They literally have no basis to know who's trustworthy in this situation, nor the context in which the assault transpired, but WHO CARES ABOUT SUCH DETAILS.

A melee ensues, and the giant dude who stabbed Gregory Creepfuck gets on top of Optimus Grimes, obliging Optimus Grimes to stab him in the neck. Sure. Someone tries to strangle Sgt. Redbull and he hears Sasha's voice. Obviously. He gets up and leaves the necklace Rosita Espinoza in the dirt. SYMBOLISM.

Houdini Jesus breaks up the conflagration, and then explains that Negan is the head of a group called The Saviors, and they have to give The Saviors half of their food and supplies in exchange for The Saviors not killing them. Grimes Gang asks why the hell they don't just fight back, and Houdini Jesus says that the Hilltoppers don't know how to fight and don't have any ammo, and also Gregory Creepfuck isn't good at confrontation.

Optimus Grimes says they'll destroy Negan and The Saviors (great band name) in exchange for food. "Confrontation has never been a problem for us," he says. Understatement of the zombiepocalypse!

Maggie goes back into negotiations with Gregory Creepfuck, who's convalescing in a grand old bed. She offers to kill Negan and The Saviors in exchange for half their shit. Which Negan and The Survivors are already taking, so...? But Gregory Creepfuck agrees.

Grimes Gang loads the camper with a downpayment of supplies. They bring Hilltop Andy, who's seen Negan's compound, with them, so he can provide intel.

Before they leave, Maggie gets an ultrasound from a doctor, who was one of the Hilltoppers they rescued earlier. They are very happy to see that their vegetables baby is thriving.

On the way back to Aarontown, they pass around a picture of the ultrasound. Michonne smiles and passes it to Daryl, who looks like he wants to barf. He passes it to Sgt. Redbull, who gazes at it then smiles at Glenn. He can't wait to impregnate Sasha now! O happy day!

Next week: More of this garbage.

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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 made this crockpot cassoulet last week and it was sooooo good! Although I made a couple of substitutions, based on what I had in the house: I used chicken thighs instead of the duck and pork, and used smoked turkey sausage instead of Italian sausage. Also: I served it right out of the crockpot, without transferring to the oven. And it was still delicious!

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt sitting on the floor looking at me, with Dudley the Greyhound standing next to her, also looking at me
"Go on and give us things!"

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: Guns; violence; death; Islamophobia] Last week, three young Muslim men were shot and killed in Fort Wayne, Indiana: "The bodies of 23-year-old Mohamedtaha Omar, 20-year-old Adam Kamel Mekki and 17-year-old Muhannad Adam Tairab were found Wednesday evening by officers responding to a 'problem unknown' dispatch. Police Chief Garry Hamilton told WANE-TV each was shot multiple times, and Safety Director Rusty York said authorities don't have any reason to believe the killings were a hate crime. The families of the three were from central Africa and belonged to a community that is heavily Muslim, Hamilton and York told the (Fort Wayne) Journal-Gazette. Darfur People's Association founder and vice president Motasim Adam, who visited with the families Saturday, told The Associated Press on Sunday that Omar and Tairab were Muslim and Mekki was Christian." Al-Jazeera, among other media outlets, noted that their murders have "barely caused a ripple" in the news. That is partly because of who we value as victims, and, increasingly, because of our collective inurement to shooting deaths, by virtue of their sickening frequency.

[CN: Guns; death; domestic violence. Video may autoplay at link.] Prince William County, Virginia, police officer Ashley Guindon was killed Saturday night after only one day on the job. Two other officers were injured. They were responding to a domestic violence incident, in which a woman had been shot and killed. My condolences to Officer Guindon's family, friends, and colleagues, and to those who knew and loved the victim whose death to which she was responding. I have seen this story being filed under the (erroneous) "war on cops" narrative, and one thing I want to note is that a number of police officers killed every year are killed while responding to domestic violence calls. That's not indicative of a "war on cops" so much as it is indicative of the culture of violent entitlement and toxic masculinity.

[CN: Racism; police brutality] Rage-makingly familiar: "On Saturday night, two Salt Lake City officers shot a black teenager in his torso because he refused orders to drop his weapon—a broomstick. The shooting, which left the teen in critical condition, led to clashes between protesters and police. The Salt Lake City Police Department says the shooting occurred when two officers saw two men, including 17-year-old Abdi Mohamed, attacking another man with metal objects. In the officers' version of events, Mohamed refused to drop his weapon and moved to attack the victim, prompting the officers to open fire. But witness Selam Mohammad says that his friend was holding a broomstick and 'barely even turned around' before the officers started shooting." Police said; witnesses said. I desperately hope that Mohamed will recover.

[CN: Misogynoir; violence; police misconduct] Shaker Bruno passes along this story about The Grim Sleeper serial killer, most of whose victims were black women under the age of 35, with the apt note (quoted with his permission): "A story about the systemic dehumanization of black women, with a woefully deceptive and nonsense headline."

[CN: Domestic violence] Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is infamously silent during Supreme Court hearings, never asking questions of the attorneys who present to the Court. But today he "broke 10 years of silence and provoked audible gasps...when he posed questions from the bench during an oral argument." Naturally, it was to ask the wooooooorst question: "The court is considering an appeal from two Maine men who say their guilty pleas for hitting their partners should not disqualify them from gun ownership. With about 10 minutes left in the hourlong session, Justice Department lawyer Ilana Eisenstein was about to sit down after asking the justices if there were no further questions. Thomas then caught her by surprise, asking whether a misdemeanor conviction of any other law 'suspends a constitutional right.'" I am, of course, disgusted by the fact that he opens his mouth after a decade in order to challenge whether men who have committed domestic violence should have their right to own guns infringed. But I am also touched by the fact that it was only after his friend and colleague Antonin Scalia, known for being a tenacious questioner, died that Thomas spoke up, as if to fill the silence that Scalia left.

[CN: Misogyny] Another great piece on Clinton by Sady Doyle: "America loves women like Hillary Clinton–as long as they're not asking for a promotion."

Beautiful: "A new image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope features a rare Wolf-Rayet star. The star, known as WR 31a, is part of the Carina constellation and lies some 30,000 light-years from Earth. WR 31a appears surrounded by a blue bubble—an interstellar cloud composed of gas and dust."

This report is garbage for identifying actress Charlotte Riley in the headline only as "Tom Hardy's wife" and for describing Riley, who recently gave birth to their first child together, breast pumping as "relieving her aching boobs," but it's the only place I saw the description of Hardy being caught hovering outside the bathroom during the Oscars last night and matter-of-factly explaining: "I'm just waiting for my wife to finish breast pumping in the bathroom. She has to do it every hour." I just kind of love how he didn't go for a joke, as so many men do, and just gave a straightforward comment that normalizes breast pumping. A+.

And finally! "Meet Gimo, the Cat with the Biggest Eyes Ever." Awwwwwww lol!

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This Fu@#ing Guy and His Whole Fu@#king Party

[Content Note: White supremacy.]

In other political news, Donald Trump appeared on CNN over the weekend, where he was asked to disavow support for his candidacy from David Duke and the KKK.

CNN's Jake Tapper: Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don't want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?

Donald Trump: Well, just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, okay? I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So, I don't know. I don't know, did he endorse me or what's going on, because, you know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists. And so you're asking me a question that I'm supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about.
After an enormous amount of quite reasonable outrage in response to that dreck, Trump is now blaming a faulty earpiece: "I'm sitting in a house in Florida with a very bad earpiece that they gave me, and you could hardly hear what he was saying. But what I heard was various groups, and I don't mind disavowing anybody, and I disavowed David Duke and I disavowed him the day before at a major news conference, which is surprising because he was at the major news conference, CNN was at the major news conference, and they heard me very easily disavow David Duke. ...He also talked about groups. And I have no problem with disavowing groups, but I'd at least like to know who they are. It would be very unfair to disavow a group, Matt, if the group shouldn't be disavowed. I have to know who the groups are. But I disavowed David Duke."

But not the KKK? Okay.

So Trump has disavowed support from (some) white supremacists, but naturally he hasn't disavowed—or even been asked to disavow—his own policies that invited their support in the first place. The flat truth is that it doesn't really matter if Trump says "I disavow David Duke" but continues a campaign the slogan of which is dogwhistled white supremacy.

The media in particular wants him to disavow support so they can go back to pretending "Make America Great Again" isn't a euphemism for white power. But it is. And no amount of disavowing support from white supremacist individuals and groups is going to change that.

Relatedly, Mike Huckabee was asked about this garbage and gave this incredible response: "Does anybody think Donald Trump is a racist? I don't. I mean, I really don't. I don't know of anything in his life that indicates that this man has racist tendencies."

LOL fuck you.

Meanwhile, we're getting more headlines about the Republicans' supposed horror at the specter of a Trump nomination, like this in today's Washington Post: "The Republican Party's implosion over Donald Trump's candidacy has arrived."

Yeah. I'm sure the Republican Party is just devastated that a man who perfectly encapsulates their shitty platform is about to get the nomination. That's why RNC Chair Reince Priebus tweeted after the last shitshow of a debate: "Tonight we saw another spirited debate between the most diverse & well-qualified group of presidential candidates in history."

I refuse to indulge the pretense that the Republican Party doesn't support Trump's candidacy. The fuck they don't.

The more voters know about their policies, the less they like them. So it couldn't be more helpful that, instead of scrutinizing their policy, the media is jerking off about Trump retweeting a Mussolini quote, and, instead of the candidates talking about policy, they're just hurling childish insults at each other:

screen cap of a list of insults the GOP candidates threw at each other over the weekend: Donald Trump on Marco Rubio: 'I go back and I see him with makeup. And it's like he's putting it on with a trowel. Rubio on Trump: 'The guy with the worst spray tan in America is attacking me for putting on makeup. Donald Trump likes to sue people. He should sue whoever did that to his face.' Trump on Rubio: 'He has really large ears, the biggest ears I've ever seen.' Rubio on Trump: 'And you know what they say about guys with small hands.' Ted Cruz on Trump: 'Multiple news reports have reported about his dealings with, for example, S&A Construction, which was owned by 'Fat Tony' Salerno, who is a mobster who is in jail. It is owned by two of the major New York crime families.''

That's just from this weekend.

And why not? Despite the fact that Trump is being made out to be uniquely horrible among the Republican field, the rest are all just as terrible. In some cases, even worse. See Marco Rubio's extreme position on abortion, for example.

The more they actually talk about policy, the more evident that will become.

I don't believe for a moment that the Republican Party elites are upset about the Trump Spectacle. To the absolute contrary, his bombast gives them the exact hook they need to pretend to be aghast, while no doubt secretly thrilled that he advocates their ruinous policy while doing everything he can to undermine serious discussion of that policy.

Trump is the gold-plated king of the hideous base they've been cultivating for decades. Why would they be mad about that?

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South Carolina Primary Wrap-Up

[Content Note: Racism; misogyny.]

image of Hillary Clinton standing and smiling with her hands clasped together, against a backdrop of a US flag and supporters holding 'Fighting for us' signs, to which I've added text reading: 'Machiavellian ice-harpy Hillary Clinton wins South Carolina; clasps hands in evil glee as she prepares to devour your soul.'
History's Greatest Monster.

Hillary Clinton resoundingly won the South Carolina primary on Saturday, beating Bernie Sanders by 47% and winning virtually every demographic. Maybe now we can stop with the "no one's enthusiastic for Clinton" narrative?

To note that Clinton won large majorities of black voters and women voters is important, because it resists the rhetorical disenfranchisement that's embedded in commentary like "millennials support Sanders" and the shit I saw some dude on CNN saying after the South Carolina primary: Clinton is better in bigger states and Sanders is better in smaller states. That is, ah, not the primary difference between, say, Vermont and South Carolina.

I have a real problem with voters who are disproportionately likely to be disenfranchised at the ballot box also having their support invisibilized in the public conversation about voting.

As @kerryreid observed on Twitter: "Saying 'nobody likes HRC' then looking at who's voting for her gives me an instructive glimpse into what some 'liberals' consider 'nobody.'"

Clinton gave a pretty good acceptance speech, highlighting love and kindness, a turn of phrase that has long meant something to Clinton: "We need more love and kindness in America. Our best years can be ahead of us if we stand with each other."

There was, however, also this mess: "Our country was built by people who had each other's backs. Who understood that, at our best, we all rise together." That's a terrible line, disappearing enslaved black people and indigenous people, much in the same way the ubiquitous "we're a nation of immigrants" does. I hope the Clinton team has heard the criticism and pushback on that line, and will remove it from future speeches. Or, better yet, rework it to acknowledge the history of oppression and pivot to saying that freedom of oppression should and will be built in future.

Lest anyone imagine that Clinton was able to win a decisive victory without being subjected to misogynist bullshit from the media, NBC's Chuck Todd helpfully offered: "Clinton now has new challenge if Super Tuesday looks like tonight: beating Sanders without alienating his supporters." Of course.

Remember, ladies: Winning hurts men's feelings. I hope Clinton's sensitive enough to make each Sanders supporter a sandwich.

By way of reminder, when Clinton eventually conceded to then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008, Obama was not expected by the media to do anything special to reach out to Clinton supporters. Instead, Clinton was expected to do everything she could to bring her supporters with her into his camp. Which she did, by immediately endorsing him and campaigning with him.

Sanders, for his part, tried to spin his crushing defeat by calling the contest a tie so far: "We won a decisive victory in New Hampshire. She won a decisive victory in South Carolina. Now it's on to Super Tuesday."

Except: The thing about Sanders implying it's a virtual tie is that it isn't. Clinton also won Iowa and Nevada. Plus she's got the vast majority of the superdelegates.

The "basically a tie" narrative upholds the pernicious dynamic in which women have to do twice as well as a man to be considered half as good.

So, yes: On to Super Tuesday. But, please, Senator Sanders, do not trade on misogynistic tropes. If a woman is thumping you, it ain't a tie.

That was, unfortunately, not the worst of Sanders' remarks. He immediately flew to Minnesota, one of the states with a primary tomorrow (Super Tuesday), where he told the crowd awaiting him: "There's no way we're going to lose Minnesota. I can see that. You are just too smart."

Zoinks. That is a remarkably shitty thing to say to a largely white crowd after just losing in a state with a significant black population who went overwhelmingly for your competitor.

The following day, he then tried to reframe it: It wasn't that he was saying black voters are too stupid to vote for him, but that southern black voters are too stupid to vote for him.
On This Week, Sanders telegraphed more Super Tuesday defeats among black voters in the day's southern primaries, but suggested black voters outside the region would be more likely to support him.

"I think you're going to see us doing — and I think the polls indicated it, much better within the African-American community outside of the Deep South," Sanders said. "You're going to see us much better in New York state where I think we have a shot to win, in California and in Michigan."

There is a lot to unpack in that statement, a ton just in the phrase "the African-American community outside of the Deep South." Shark Fu had the perfect one-sentence unpacking: "I mean, the Great Migration makes this pivot messy as hell."

I wonder if there is any point in this campaign at which Sanders' most bullying supporters will reconsider the wisdom of screaming down critics who said he needed intersectional analysis and more inclusive messaging.

Probably not.

Especially not when their candidate has given them the perfect scapegoat: Those darn "low-information" black voters in the Deep South who just aren't smart enough to appreciate his sophisticated campaign.

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The Oscars + Flint

[Content Note: Racism; sexual violence; water contamination.]

image of Margaret Sixel holding her Oscar onstage at the ceremony
Margaret Sixel accepts her Oscar for Best Film Editing for Mad Max: Fury Road.

Last night was the 88th Academy Awards. I didn't watch, although I checked in on Twitter occasionally to see what was happening and do a very little bit of tweeting.

The New York Times has the complete list of winners.

There were decidedly mixed reactions to how the Oscars addressed its lack of diversity. Possibly the most telling commentary on the Academy's sincerity was Mexican director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who won Best Director for The Revenant, getting played offstage for speaking too long while talking about diversity in his acceptance speech. Perfect.

Vice-President Joe Biden showed up to give a speech about sexual assault, followed by a powerful performance by Lady Gaga, during which survivors joined her onstage with words like "survivor" and "not your fault" scrawled on their forearms. Those women and men are incredible, and I take up space in solidarity with them.

I will say, however, that I bristled at the hypocrisy of the Academy pretending to give a single fuck about survivors when their industry is one of the most aggressive purveyors of rape culture. And when, on the same stage that night, they invited a man, Louis CK, who has been repeatedly accused of sexual assault, to be a presenter.


Congratulations to Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, winner of Best Short Documentary for A Girl in the River, as well as the women and men who won various Oscars for Fury Road: Margaret Sixel for Best Film Editing; Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson for Production Design; Jenny Beavan for Costume Design; Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega, and Damian Martin for Make-Up; Mark Mangini and David White for Sound Editing; and Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff, and Ben Osmo for Sound Mixing. I was happy to see those winners.

Leo finally won. I'm really glad that a super privileged white man got the recognition he deserved at long last. What a magical night.

* * *

Also last night: Blackout for Human Rights organized an Oscar-night benefit in Flint, Michigan, for its residents. Jamil Smith has done a great write-up of the event for MTV: "Why Flint Was the Place to Be on Oscar Night." If you would like to make a donation to #JusticeForFlint, you can text JUSTICE to 83224.

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Open Thread

image of a painting featuring people walking in the rain with umbrellas, painting from an angle overlooking the people, so they are all hidden beneath a sea of umbrellas

Hosted by umbrellas.

[The pictured painting is "Rain in the City" by Stanislav Sidorov.]

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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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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Journey: "Don't Stop Believin'"

This week's TMNS brought to you by songs telling us to "Don't Stop."

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"I Just Don't Accept That Whatsoever!"

[Content Note: Misogyny. Video may autoplay at first link.]

In the UK, the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign has been pushing back against changes to the state pension scheme, which will disproportionately affect older women, many of whom will have to delay retirement by six years.

Earlier this week, Scottish National Party Member of Parliament Mhairi Black, who is the youngest MP at 21 years old, took to the floor to have her say, and it was amazing.

Although the specific issue is about retirement benefits in the UK, the overarching issues she addresses of integrity in politics, fair representation, austerity, and rights will certainly be compelling to people outside the UK.

Here she is:

Transcript: —and on the front page, it says that the government can't do anything, because [reads from paper in her hand] "WASPI are campaigning for all women born after April 1951 to be given their state pension from age 60." No they are not. That is not what they're asking. And the Member for Gloucester earlier on was talking about misleading—that is misleading! Nobody is against equalization.

Now, on Monday, I was—I attended a media training course. You know, teaching you how to look at the camera, where to put your hands, and one of the guys who was taking it said to me, "As a politician, if you ever find yourself in a difficult situation, where you think 'I'm in the wrong here, and I need to get through this interview,'" he says, "Don't address the issue; just start talking about what you want to talk about." And it hit me immediately: That's what this government's doing! Every single time we talk about this, you talk about things that are completely irrelevant!

The second page states: [reading] "The National Insurance Credits are available for many people to help them build entitlement towards the state pension. National Insurance payments also impact on entitlement to a range of other benefits." Pensions are not a benefit. They are a right.

One of my constituents described them as a contract, and that's exactly what they are. So let me make this very simple: Everybody in here has a phone. In fact, iPads that some people will be sitting on right now. We have a contract. If O2 or Fortune or whoever else three were to change the terms and conditions of our contract, we would have something to say about it. And if they waited fourteen years to tell us that the terms and conditions had changed, I'm sure that everybody in here would have something to say about it.

And if they said on top of that, "You're also gonna be forced to live off your life savings because of the changes of that contract," you would be up in arms about it, and quite rightly so. So why are pensions any different here?

We hear all the time about how— "Where's this money going to come from? Where are we going to find this?" But the truth is, this comes back down to austerity. This is austerity of choice!

And the front bench can roll their head all they like; this is a choice! I have yet to hear of a general or a defense minister say, "We can't bomb that country because we've exceeded our budget. We can't find the money."

When we want to bomb Syria, we can find it. When we want refurbish Westminster, we can find it. But when it comes to giving our pensioners a pension, we cannot do it! I just don't accept that whatsoever!

We've spoken before— In fact, this debate actually reminds me of the tax credit debate. We were giving all these arguments as to how it was so unfair, and the government responded with that exact response: "We don't have the money." And then when the heat was turned up and political pressure was put on them, all of a sudden one hand down the back of the couch and out comes: "Oh, okay, we can afford it. We'll just do a u-turn!" Quite rightly so!

Which brings me to my last point here. How can we ignore the will of this House? We have debated this! In this chamber! And voted a hundred and fifty-eight to zero! How can we ignore that? We debated it in a Westminster Hall that was packed to the gunnels with almost everybody speaking against this government. The government cannot continue to ignore the will of this House.

And I'm no fan of Westminster—I don't think that's a surprise. I think it's more about ego than it is about usher(?). But the truth is, even the most politically savvy minds must be able to see that this is not party political. We have the chance to come together and do something that will earn you respect.

So I think the government should take this chance and act.

[H/T to my cousin-in-law M.]

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"A Complete Failure"

[Content Note: Rape culture; misogynoir.]

Last week, I wrote about the sports site SB Nation having published a despicable 12,000-word piece of rank apologia on Daniel Holtzclaw, the former Oklahoma City police officer who sexually assaulted 13 black women.

Today, at Deadspin, Greg Howard details how the "complete failure" happened.

The whole thing is worth your time to read, but two things in particular stuck out to me:

1. The chief problem with the content of the piece is that it all but ignored the 13 black women who were sexually assaulted by Holtzclaw. In a bitter irony, the chief problem with the publishing of the piece is that the white male editors and writer ignored their black female colleague, "senior editor Elena Bergeron, who explicitly and repeatedly drew attention to the story's flaws in the days leading to its publication."

2. The writer of the piece, Jeff Arnold, is quoted describing what his intentions were: "I hoped to present a more fully-rounded portrait of Mr. Holtzclaw than had appeared in the press. I hoped to explore the question of what had happened to this once-promising young man. I and my editor at SB Nation hoped to find possible answers as to what could have led to him to become a convicted rapist and sexual predator." Yeah. There are a lot of problems with that, not least of which is this: Treating rapists like they emerge individually from a vacuum is a breathtaking misunderstanding of both rapists and the rape culture.

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The Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by glass.

Recommended Reading:

Linda: [Content Note: Fat hatred; privilege] This Is For the Fat Ambassadors, Their Allies, and a Call Out to Their Detractors (Well-Intentioned and Not)

L.E.H.: [CN: Misogynoir] An Interview with Ariell Johnson, Founder of Amalgam Comics: "Everyone Has the Right to Have Their Story Told"

Kat: [CN: Misogyny] The World Is Designed for Men: How Bias Is Built into Our Daily Lives

Olga: A Prosthetic Inspired by Metal Gear Solid

Maddie: The Amazing Way Astronomers Are Now Hunting for Planet Nine

Laura: [CN: Spoilers for Brooklyn Nine-Nine] Brooklyn Nine-Nine Is Doing Something Right: How One Workplace Sitcom Shows That Interracial Relationships Can Be the Norm

Luvvie: [CN: Moving gif at link] Flossie Dickey Is 110 and Done with All of Us

Jessica: [CN: Violence] Poll Says There Are Plenty of People Who Think Ted Cruz Is the Zodiac Killer

Scan: Mean Tweets with Senator Al Franken

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

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt lying half on my lap, asleep and grinning
Zelly is the sweetest, happiest wee doggeh, even when she sleeps.

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...

Y'all, I just heard "burning dumpster fire" used on CNN in election coverage. Welp.

[Content Note: Misogyny] This is an incredible essay by former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau, who, by his own admission, was deeply unfair to Clinton during the '08 election—and after: "It was one of the stupider, more disrespectful mistakes I've made, and one that could have cost me a job if Hillary hadn't accepted my apology, which she did with grace and humor. As a result, I had the chance to serve in the Obama Administration with someone who was far different than the caricature I had helped perpetuate. The most famous woman in the world would walk through the White House with no entourage, casually chatting up junior staffers along the way. She was by far the most prepared, impressive person at every Cabinet meeting. She worked harder and logged more miles than anyone in the administration, including the president. And she'd spend large amounts of time and energy on things that offered no discernible benefit to her political future—saving elephants from ivory poachers, listening to the plight of female coffee farmers in Timor-Leste, defending LGBT rights in places like Uganda. Most of all—and you hear this all the time from people who've worked for her—Hillary Clinton is uncommonly warm and thoughtful. She surprises with birthday cakes. She calls when a grandparent passes away. She once rearranged her entire campaign schedule so a staffer could attend her daughter's preschool graduation. Her husband charms by talking to you; Hillary does it by listening to you."

[CN: Fat prejudice] Oh for fuck's sake: "That spare tire around your waist may also be weighing down your memory. Experts believe that added fat changes the structure and function of the brain, including its ability to recall past events with episodic memory." We've heard this before. That post was six years ago; I wonder how it was possible I remembered it with all the FAT WRECKING MY BRAINZ?!

[CN: Racism] Good grief: "The Black Lives Matter movement has shed light on the racial profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality experienced by the African-American community across America. But apparently some of the employees at Facebook's notoriously white, bro-centric Menlo Park, California office don't agree. In a private memo posted on a company announcement page for employees only, Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that employees have been scratching out 'black lives matter' (sic) and writing 'all lives matter' on the company's famous signature wall."

[CN: Transphobia] A new study has found that "socially transitioned transgender children have notably lower rates of internalizing psychopathology than previously reported among children with GID living as their natal sex." That is, trans children who are allowed to live as their real gender, instead of being forced to live as the gender they were assigned at birth, have better mental health and happiness. File under: Things Trans People Have Been Telling You.

This is pretty cool: "A team of Cleveland Clinic transplant surgeons and gynecological surgeons performed the nation's first uterus transplant during a nine-hour surgery Wednesday, Feb. 24. The 26-year-old patient—who is not being identified publicly—was in stable condition Thursday afternoon. The transplanted uterus came from a deceased organ donor." I really love the global interest in making womb transplants possible.

[CN: Homophobia] Of course: "Not surprisingly, the anti-gay Texas bakers who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple last week have quickly assumed the role of martyrs. Edie and David Delorme, co-owners of Kerns Bake Shop in the East Texas city of Longview, turned away Ben Valencia and Luis Marmolejo, saying they don't prepare cakes for 'homosexual marriages' based on their religious beliefs. ...'We just want equal rights,' David Delorme told Fox News. 'We want to be treated equally.'" STFU.

[CN: Transphobia; corporatism] Anohni, the first transgender performer ever nominated for an Academy Award, explains why she will not be attending the Oscars, after being disinvited from performing.

RIP Tony Burton. "Tony Burton, the former boxer best known for playing Apollo Creed's trainer 'Duke' in the Rocky franchise, has died. He was 78." He was so great in those films.

"Watch Tom Hardy trek through the wilderness in a loincloth." Okay!

This is definitely the Headline of the Day: "Pony dressed as unicorn leads California authorities on wild chase." Sure.

And finally! "Meet Mutka, Our Dog of a Thousand Faces." OMG this dog is the best! LOL!

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Of Course

[Content Note: Abuse; illness; class warfare.]

Background: Flint water crisis.

In a totally expected finding, Republican Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's staff knew about the contaminated water in Flint long before it was publicly disclosed:

Nearly a year before Michigan governor Rick Snyder publicly admitted his knowledge of the city of Flint's lead-contaminated water crisis, advisers in his office had advocated moving Flint back to its prior drinking water source "before this thing gets too far out of control," newly released emails reveal.

And nearly seven months before Snyder's announcement in October 2015, his former chief of staff had internally proposed purchasing bottled water for Flint's residents – even as the governor's administration publicly rebuffed any characterization that Flint's water wasn't safe to drink.

...Valerie Brader, deputy legal counsel and senior policy adviser to Snyder, wrote in a 14 October 2014 email to the governor's then chief of staff and three aides that Flint should return to the previous water supplier, as it was an "urgent matter to fix."

"As you know there have been problems with the Flint water quality since they left the DWSD [Detroit water and sewerage department], which was a decision by the emergency manager there," Brader wrote.

Minutes later, Snyder's then legal counsel Michael Gadola responded by saying the use of the Flint river as a water supplier was "downright scary." Flint had switched water sources as a purported cost-saving measure until a new pipeline it planned to join was in operation.

The city "should try to get back on the Detroit system as a stopgap ASAP before this thing gets too far out of control," Gadola, who was appointed by Snyder in 2014 to the Michigan court of appeals, wrote.

..."There's no reasonable person who can believe at this point that every adviser to Rick Snyder knew that there was an issue [in Flint], but Snyder knew nothing," said Lonnie Scott, executive director of liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan, in a statement. "At worst, he's been lying all along and at best he's the worst manager on the planet. Under either scenario he's clearly unfit to lead our state and should resign immediately."
Naturally, despite the dire warnings and urgent recommendations, nothing was done. Because it was deemed too costly.

In dollars. The cost of lives didn't seem to be part of the considerations.

Once again, I will note that this is what class warfare actually looks like. It isn't asking wealthy people to pay more taxes. It's sacrificing the health, and sometimes the very lives, of poor people so that wealthy people don't have to pay more taxes.

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Mass Shooting in Hesston, Kansas

[Content Note: Guns; death; domestic violence; workplace violence.]

Yesterday, a man named Cedric Ford went on a shooting spree, wounding 14 people and killing three others across multiple sites. He was also killed, reportedly during a shootout with police.

Authorities quickly said that the shooting was not "terrorism," and that Ford was "triggered" by something else, but declined to further elaborate.

At first, it was believed that an argument with a coworker may have been the triggering event, but this morning during a news conference, Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said that Ford "was served a protection from abuse order just hours before the first shooting. Walton wouldn't comment on the specifics of the PFA, but does say it was filed by someone the gunman was in a relationship with."

So here again is another shooting spree that began with an incident related to domestic violence.

Are we going to have a serious public conversation about that? No. We're barely even going to talk about this shooting at all, because it's just another day in the United States.

My condolences to the friends, families, and colleagues of the victims who died. I hope the surviving victims have access to the resources they need to heal. I also read that Ford has two young children, and my thoughts are with them and their mother(s).

I'm thinking about the woman who took out the order of protection against Ford, and what she must be feeling in this moment. I hope she has access to the resources she'll need to heal, too.

This guy just did an extraordinary amount of damage, as all of these guys do. Which is, of course, the whole point. They don't just want to kill people; they want to do reverberating harm, leave a trail of lingering destruction.

Lots of people will, again, be calling for better screening, better mental healthcare, etc. But the truth is that Ford was probably not mentally ill, and very likely would never have been flagged for treatment even if he were.

The only thing that will ever meaningfully reduce gun violence is reducing access to guns.

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Republican Debate Wrap-Up, Round Wev

[Content Note: Bigotry.]

photo from the GOP debate in which Marco Rubio is standing at his podium shrugging and Donald Trump is standing at his podium screaming, to which I've added text indicating that Rubio is saying 'Meh meh meh.' and Trump is saying 'AROOOOOOOOOOO!'

The Republicans had yet another stinking debate last night with the five remaining candidates: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and Ben Carson. It was terrible. They are all terrible.

The Washington Post has a complete transcript. My sympathies to whomever had to try to write a transcript of two and a half million hours of five blowhard dipshits just screaming at and over each other.

I live-tweeted the debate, and I've compiled those tweets into a Storify.

Cruz and Rubio tried to attack Trump at every opportunity, largely a futile effort because Trump has decades of experience being a smug, nasty bully. Whatever they could give him, he could give back double.

Rubio's smarmy "ha ha can you believe this guy?" approach seemed particularly ineffective to me. He didn't manage to successfully rout Trump, but did make himself look even less like the moderate, mainstream, competent, grown-up candidate he is reported to be.

It was also a futile effort because they have no real material with which to work, since the Republican Party has incredibly failed to do oppo research on Trump. (Editor's Note at the end of that piece: A+.) By comparison, "one Democratic opposition research said that they've spent the past eight months compiling material on Trump as he's risen up the ranks. ...That researcher estimated that of all the material they've compiled—court and property records, newspaper clips and videos—approximately 80 percent of it has yet to surface in this election cycle."

So, essentially, Trump's Republican opponents aren't well-armed to attack him. And they aren't gaining on him. Super Tuesday is next week, and he's likely to win a majority of the states.

The Republicans say they failed utterly to vet Trump because they didn't take him seriously, and they claim that they don't want him as the nominee, but I have my doubts, frankly. He's been extremely successful at articulating the GOP platform—the reason his opponents can't attack him on policy is because they share the same policies—and cultivating enthusiasm among the GOP base.

After the debate, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus tweeted: "Tonight we saw another spirited debate between the most diverse & well-qualified group of presidential candidates in history."

That doesn't sound like a party who's mad about Donald Trump, his huge lead, and his disgusting campaign.

As always, my summation is the same: None of these men should be allowed anywhere near the Oval Office. They are awful and they are dangerous, and any one of their administrations would be ruinous for the country.

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Open Thread

image of a white votive candle

Hosted by a votive candle.

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Question of the Day

You knew this was coming after yesterday's QOTD, right? What's your favorite hot beverage?

Hot cocoa with soy milk.

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Throwback Thursdays

my third grade school picture, in which I'm wearing a lacy peach top and oversized glasses, with my hair in pigtails tied with orange ribbons
My third grade school picture, 1983.

What is even that expression lol? I have no idea. "I've got a silly secret!" And that secret is that my two front teeth have come in and they're too big for my mouth!

[Please share your own throwback pix in comments. Just make sure the pix are just of you and/or you have consent to post from other living people in the pic. And please note that they don't have to be pictures from childhood, especially since childhood pix might be difficult for people who come from abusive backgrounds or have transitioned or lots of other reasons. It can be a picture from last week, if that's what works for you. And of course no one should feel obliged to share a picture at all! Only if it's fun!]

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Queen: "Don't Stop Me Now"

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Clinton: "I Shouldn't Have Used Those Words"

[Content Note: Racism.]

Earlier today, I mentioned that Hillary Clinton had been confronted at an event by activist Ashley Williams (originally identified incorrectly as being affiliated with Black Lives Matter). At the time, Clinton didn't respond to Williams' request that she account for her 1996 "superpredators" comment, but this afternoon told the Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart: "Looking back, I shouldn't have used those words, and I wouldn't use them today."

Here's what she told me in full.
In that speech, I was talking about the impact violent crime and vicious drug cartels were having on communities across the country and the particular danger they posed to children and families. Looking back, I shouldn’t have used those words, and I wouldn’t use them today.

My life's work has been about lifting up children and young people who've been let down by the system or by society. Kids who never got the chance they deserved. And unfortunately today, there are way too many of those kids, especially in African-American communities. We haven't done right by them. We need to. We need to end the school to prison pipeline and replace it with a cradle-to-college pipeline.

As an advocate, as First Lady, as Senator, I was a champion for children. And my campaign for president is about breaking down the barriers that stand in the way of all kids, so every one of them can live up to their God-given potential.
"That speech" was a 1996 address at New Hampshire's Keene State College in support of the 1994 Violent Crime Control Act, otherwise known as the crime bill. In her remarks, then-first lady Clinton said, "They are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called 'superpredators.' No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel."

This isn't the broad brush Clinton's critics today are accusing her of using 20 years ago. Despite Williams's assertion that "I know you called black youth 'superpredators,'" Clinton was clearly talking about a narrow band of young people who would not have included the admirably assertive Williams or the vast majority of African American youths then and now. And in light of the overarching fear of crime across the United States back in the 1990s, Clinton's going out of her way to define "superpredator" as a kid with "no conscience, no empathy" is noteworthy.
Capehart correctly identifies the nuance in Clinton's original statement, but Clinton is also right that she "shouldn't have used those words," because, as I'm sure we're all aware, there are plenty of white people who couldn't be bothered to appreciate the nuance in her words—and indeed heard, irrespective of what she actually said, that black kids are superpredators.

So I'm very glad she recognizes that she shouldn't have said that then, as well as acknowledging she wouldn't say that now.

I do want to note here that not everyone will find her response sufficient. And that's okay. There are people who legitimately feel she has not yet been fully accountable on past issues, who are not trying to score political points but to meaningfully hold a presidential candidate accountable because they are exploring whether they can trust her.

That's different from the people for whom it just wouldn't matter no what Clinton said. Who, in fact, are using her expression of regret over 20-year old comments (and policies) to suggest that we can't know who she really is.

She has changed positions on a number of issues, in a positive direction, over the last two decades. Which is what progressive critics say that we want. For the people representing us to progress.

The fact that a politician has learned and grown over two decades is a good thing. It's indicative of an open mind and a willingness to listen.

At a certain point, saying that if someone was wrong once means they can never be trusted, especially if they change their position, sets an impossibly high standard of historical perfection.

I don't know about y'all, but I certainly can't meet that standard. So I'm not going to hold anyone else to it, either.

That doesn't mean I'm just not going to care if Hillary Clinton got shit wrong. I do care. I'm sure she'll get shit wrong in the future, too. And I will expect her to be accountable for it. I will expect better. I will expect more.

I always do.

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Racism; police brutality; injustice. Additional content note for references to sexual violence at link.]

"My [young black male] client's family is out what they paid me. Client himself is traumatized. And basis for police mistrust gets a fresh exhibit. While the officer who (wrongfully) charged him—and pretty clearly lied on official court documents—will face [zero] repercussions. This is what police brutality looks like. It's not just people having their rights violated and the shit kicked out of them. It's an innocent 17yo black kid trying to be a good human being and not running over a cat getting thrown headlong into our court system...based solely on the word of a law enforcement officer who swore an oath to serve and protect who then lied to the court with impunity."—T. Greg Doucette, a criminal defense lawyer in North Carolina, in a 43-part tweetstorm earlier this week, detailing a case in which bullshit charges were "thankfully" dropped against his client.

If you can't view the images at the above link, you can also find the thread on Twitter.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound wrapped in a blanket
Dudley was chilly.

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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I Write Letters

[Content Note: Bigotry; privilege.]

Dear Important White Dudes:

I really love all your hot takes on how Donald Trump isn't entertaining anymore. Just terrific stuff. Totally trenchant.

You know, some of us People Who Don't Matter never thought he was entertaining in the first place.

If you're contemplating a thinkpiece on Trump not being fun anymore, how about instead a reflectpiece on why you ever thought he was.

Here's your thesis: Finding Trump entertaining is a luxury of the privilege the people he targets with his rhetoric don't have.

I figured I'd make it easy on y'all, since you plagiarize me constantly anyway then claim you've never heard of me. Enjoy the freebie!

But if you'd prefer to just plagiarize me as usual, here you go.

No Love,

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Racism] Last night, Black Lives Matter activists disrupted a private Hillary Clinton event in South Carolina. To be abundantly clear, the activists "contributed $500 to attend the Clinton event." They then held up signs and asked for accountability for Clinton's positions and statements on criminal justice from the '90s, before they were removed by the Secret Service. Naturally, they are receiving a lot of criticism for that, some of it incredibly unfair and some of it straight-up racist. A couple thoughts: 1. Clinton said during her Harlem address: "Hold me accountable. Hold every candidate accountable." 2. She also said during the same address: "Some of what we tried [in the '90s] didn't solve problems; some created even more problems." Some people find that satisfactory; some people don't. 3. People may disagree on methods to hold politicians accountable, but just because your strategy is different doesn't mean another is bad faith. (That doesn't mean all strategies are good faith, but Black Lives Matter disruptions are.) 4. Clinton is running for President of the United States. She can handle being challenged. 5. I am a Clinton supporter and I want her to repudiate those statements and policies, too. To pretend that BLM activists are in cahoots with Sanders is garbage. Desire for accountability comes from many places.

[CN: Police misconduct] Good: "Civil rights lawyers said Wednesday that they intend to appeal a federal court ruling in Philadelphia that citizens do not necessarily have a right protected by the First Amendment to record police activity. In an opinion issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Mark A. Kearney wrote that unless a videographer announces the recording as an act of protest or a challenge to officers, police are free to stop it. 'While we instinctively understand the citizens' argument, particularly with rapidly developing instant image sharing technology, we find no basis to craft a new First Amendment right based solely on 'observing and recording' without expressive conduct,' Kearney wrote. ...The ruling also appears to pit Kearney against stances by former Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, who in 2011 issued a memo to all Philadelphia officers saying they 'should reasonably anticipate and expect to be photographed, videotaped and/or audibly recorded by members of the general public.' Since then, the ACLU of Pennsylvania has led a group of civil rights lawyers in bringing cases involving civilians who were challenged or arrested while recording police carrying out their work."

[CN: Rape culture] Kesha writes a note on the outpouring of support she's gotten, while also noting: "Unfortunately I don't think that my case is giving people who have been abused confidence that they can speak out, and that's a problem." I take up space in solidarity with Kesha.

[CN: Homophobia; transphobia; sexual violence; descriptions of assaults; abuse; carcerality] "Peterson's story, which lies at the intersections of race, sexuality, gender, poverty, and incarceration, occupies a central place in a report released Tuesday examining the ways in which stigma, biased law enforcement, and discriminatory policing pushes LGBTQ people into disproportionate contact with the criminal justice system. Two national think tanks, the Center for American Progress and the Movement Advancement Project, in collaboration with several civil rights groups, penned the report. Unjust: How the Broken Criminal Justice System Fails LGBT People builds on years of work by grassroots advocates to lay bare the scale of criminalization of LGBTQ communities, particularly low-income LGBTQ people of color, and the impact of incarceration on an already marginalized population. Today, 3.8 percent of American adults identify as LGBTQ, a number that more than doubles for incarcerated adults: according to the report, 7.9 percent of people in state and federal prisons, and 7.1 percent of those in city and county jails, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, [and/or] transgender."

[CN: Rape culture; sexual assault] "A former Tennessee football player has confirmed in court documents he assisted a woman who said she had been raped by two other players and that later he was attacked by team-mates and told by coach Butch Jones that he had 'betrayed the team.' [The complaint] states a woman called 911 from former Volunteers receiver Drae Bowles' car to report a rape in the early morning hours of 16 November 2014. The complaint also states that Bowles suffered a bloody lip when teammate Curt Maggitt punched him in the mouth later that day and that he was confronted by teammates Geraldo Orta and Marlin Lane the following day. Bowles called Jones to tell him about being punched, and Jones said he was very disappointed in Bowles and that the receiver had 'betrayed the team,' causing the player to break down and cry, according to the complaint." So, a football player helps a woman raped by his teammates, and he's violently assaulted and berated for it by his coach. Sounds about right. Naturally, the coach denies the allegations.

Mitt Romney says that Donald Trump "has a 'bombshell' hidden in his tax returns." Well, Romney also thought he was going to win the presidency, so. For his part, Trump says Romney is "'one of the dumbest and worst candidates' in Republican history." What a terrific party full of terrific people.

Yay! "Obama Nominates First Black Librarian of Congress: In yet another event that is making this Black History Month the best one ever, President Obama announced yesterday (February 24) that he will nominate Carla D. Hayden to run the largest library in the world. Hayden currently serves as CEO of Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library system. If confirmed by Senate, she will be both the first woman and the first African American to fill this role in the national library's 216-year history."

Damn! "Your next phone might pack a whopping 256GB of onboard storage thanks to Samsung. The Korea-based electronics maker announced on Thursday that it's now mass producing 256GB embedded flash memory chips for smartphones and other devices. The new memory chips are smaller than a microSD card and can pack up to 256GB thanks to Samsung's cutting-edge V-Nand technology. Based on the Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 2.0 specification, the new memory is almost twice as fast as SATA-based solid state storage drives on PCS, Samsung says. The new memory uses two lanes of data transfer to reach speeds of up to 850 megabytes per second (MB/s). Samsung says you'll be able to transfer a full HD movie in about 12 seconds over a USB 3.0 cable at those speeds—assuming a 90-minute movie with an average file size around 5 gigabytes."

[CN: Moving gif at link] A couple built a tiny wheelchair for a paralyzed baby bunny "out of a finger skateboard, a sock, and a bra strap, all from the local dollar store." The bunny's name is Wheelz, because OBVIOUSLY.

And finally! Another fantastic human rescues dog; dog rescues human story. Love!

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Stop Trump

[Content Note: Bigotry. Video may autoplay at link.]

CNN reports that two major editorial boards have condemned Donald Trump and urged Republican Party leadership and voters to stop him:

The editorial boards of the Washington Post and the Boston Globe both penned condemnations of Donald Trump this week, urging the Republican Party to reject him.

On Tuesday, the Boston Globe published a scathing editorial titled "Massachusetts voters must stop Donald Trump." The authors wrote that "stopping Donald Trump is imperative—and not just for his fellow Republicans."

And on Thursday, after Trump's resounding victory in the Nevada caucuses, the editors of the Washington Post followed suit. Under the headline "GOP leaders, you must do everything in your power to stop Trump," the paper's editors exhorted the Republican Party to repudiate the man who is increasingly likely to be their nominee in November.

"GOP leaders, you must do everything in your power to stop Trump," the editors warned, cautioning party leadership against warming to Trump for the chance at the White House.

"History will not look kindly on GOP leaders who fail to do everything in their power to prevent a bullying demagogue from becoming their standard-bearer," they wrote. "The unthinkable is starting to look like the inevitable."
Sure. Accurate. But as I've said over and over, Trump isn't an outlier of the modern Republican Party: He simply refuses to wear the mask GOP candidates typically use to conceal the depth of indecency inherent to their policies.

The singular emphasis on how terrible Trump is elides that all the other candidates are just as bad, when it comes right down to their policy positions.

In the last week, Ted Cruz said he's deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and refugees, and John Kasich signed legislation to defund Planned Parenthood in Ohio.

The problem isn't Trump: He's just the most obnoxious face of an entire party that's rotten to the core.

The problem is the whole damn Republican Party—and they don't need to stop Trump; they need to be stopped by the rest of us, because they refuse to stop themselves.

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Yesterday came the report that President Obama was vetting Republican Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval as a potential Supreme Court nominee. I'm guessing this was a trial balloon, to see how the public would react, and, if so, it's a lead trial balloon. Thunk.

Liberal activists have condemned reports that Barack Obama is considering a Republican politician to fill the contentious vacancy on the supreme court, saying such a move would be "downright absurd."

Brian Sandoval, the governor of Nevada and a former district court judge, is being vetted by the White House as a potential nominee to succeed the late Antonin Scalia, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Naming Sandoval could be seen as a canny manoeuvre to call the bluff of Republicans who have vowed to neither confirm nor even hold hearings for Obama's nominee, contending that the decision should rest with the next president.

But Democracy for America, a grassroots political organisation founded by prominent Democrat Howard Dean, said Sandoval's rightwing record might oblige it to call on Senate Democrats to block his appointment.

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America, said: "It's downright absurd that President Obama would risk his legacy by appointing another anti-labour Republican like Governor Brian Sandoval to an already overwhelmingly pro-big business supreme court. Nominating Sandoval to the supreme court would not only prevent grassroots organisations like Democracy for America from supporting the president in this nomination fight, it could lead us to actively encouraging Senate Democrats to oppose his appointment."

Chamberlain added: "The American people re-elected President Obama because we wanted a leader who would ensure our courts are filled with judges who understand that our constitution is rooted in progressive values that clearly protect things like abortion rights and sit at odds with rulings like Citizens United, not country club Republicans like Brian Sandoval."
Oy. I can't believe that Obama would seriously opt to take this route. I hope it's not even a trial balloon, but a piece of misdirection to throw the GOP off balance and/or merely give the appearance that Obama is considering a broad range of candidates.

Because, at this point, selecting a nominee who the Democrats might have to oppose would just be a fucking circus. And surely the President knows by now that appeasing Republican obstructionism never has a good outcome for progressives. Or decency.

In the waning months of his presidency, Obama's mantra should be: Go big and go home.

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#SayHerName: Joyce Curnell

[Content Note: Misogynoir; police brutality; death.]

In a deadly incident reminiscent of Sandra Bland's death, 50-year old Charleston resident Joyce Curnell, a black woman, died in her cell at the Charleston County jail, after allegedly being denied water.

Curnell was at the hospital for gastroenteritis in July of last year when she was arrested on a bench warrant issued in August of 2014 after she stopped making payments on fines issued on a 2011 shoplifting case. Her family does not know, and the police aren't saying, how they became aware that she was at the hospital.

Curnell was hydrated at the hospital, given medications and told to seek prompt medical attention if she continued to experience pain and vomiting. On top of her illness, she had a history of sickle cell disease, high blood pressure and alcoholism.

Doctors discharged her from the hospital with instructions. The deputies then took her to the jail around 2:30 p.m. It was her only arrest in South Carolina, according to a SLED background check.

A nurse at the jail who examined Curnell when she got there later told SLED that she was complaining only of a headache, this week's court filings stated. A doctor prescribed medication for the headache and nausea, but the documents alleged that the staffers didn't follow the Roper doctor's recommendations.

Instead of staying in the jail's medical facility, Curnell was taken to a housing unit. Jail officers reported later that she vomited "through the night" and "couldn't make it to the bathroom," the documents stated. They gave her a trash bag.

The jailers said they informed the medical staff of Curnell's condition, but the experts "refused to provide any medical attention to (her) whatsoever," the court documents stated.

She couldn't eat breakfast the next morning. No records indicated that she was given water or intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration, the filings added.

A sheriff's incident report stated that the medical staff checked her around 2 p.m., but within three hours, she was dead.
She spent the last 27 hours of her life in the jail, because of five-year-old fines totaling $1,148.90.

And she died because the people in charge of her care neglected her and refused to give her water.

The staff of the jail where Curnell was detained did not just have an ethical obligation to take care of her; they had a legal obligation to do so, too.
The family attorney, James Moore III, said in a statement that her death resulted from a "deliberate failure." While a suit in state court is planned, Moore said one in federal court could follow.

"Providing access to reasonable medical care to those under police custody is a necessity, not a privilege," he said. "It is a constitutional right. We are committed to seeking justice for Joyce and for her family."

...State law requires officials to render medical care when inmates need it, said Shaundra Scott, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina. The Bill of Rights, she said, also demands humane treatment of those incarcerated.

The ACLU plans to monitor the case closely, Scott said.

"It is very unfortunate to hear of another death of an African-American while in police custody," she said. "If Ms. Curnell was denied medical treatment, then it is our position that her constitutional rights were violated."
Leaving a woman who is slowly dying from dehydration to sit in a cell with a garbage bag is tantamount to torture. And all because of a fucking fine that was less than the cost of a pair of designer shoes.

This is the Two Americas: Some people are so wealthy that shoes have to be priced at $1,000+ just to make them feel like they're actually spending money. More than half of people in the US have less than $1,000 in their checking and savings accounts combined. Which can cost them their lives.

But it isn't just classism that killed Curnell. The people who assumed charge of her care when they arrested her at the hospital clearly saw an older black woman and substituted all the racist, misogynist, and agist stereotypes for her actual humanity. Almost certainly, she was treated like a hysteric, a "drama queen," attention-seeking, and disposable—instead of an ill human being who desperately needed help.

My sincerest condolences to Curnell's family, friends, and community. I am so sorry and so angry.

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Open Thread

image of a glass vestibule in a corporate building

Hosted by a vestibule.

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Question of the Day

What's your favorite cold beverage?

Honestly, my favorite cold thing to drink is a glass of ice water. I also love me some guava juice. Yum.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

[Content Note: There are strobe light effects in this video.]

The Black Eyed Peas: "Don't Stop the Party"

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The Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by granola.

Recommended Reading:

Monica: [Content Note: Transmisogynoir; violence] Mya Young Makes Three Trans Murders in 2016

Travis: Harvard Promotes Michelle Williams as First African-American Faculty Dean

Fannie: Quote of the Day

Ragen: [CN: Fat hatred; body policing] Apparently Our Necks Are Too Fat Now

Angry Asian Man: Chloe Kim Wins Two Gold Medals at Youth Winter Olympics

George: Dogs and Certain Primates May Be Able to See Magnetic Fields

Squinky: Guybrush Learns to Climb a Ladder!

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

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This Is Absurd

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

On Twitter, @GraciousKY sent me the link to this unfathomable article by Nathan J. Robinson: "Unless the Democrats Run Sanders, a Trump Nomination Means a Trump Presidency."

Robinson's basic thesis is that Hillary Clinton would be destroyed by Donald Trump in a general election because Trump's personal attack style of campaigning makes her his "dream opponent," given the long history of controversies, scandals, conspiracy theories, accusations, and lies Clinton has weathered, even though most of it is garbage.

Naturally, Robinson generously recounts all of the "fodder" Trump would have to use against Clinton—as well as explaining that she "is neither the best campaigner nor even a skilled one. In fact, she is a dreadful campaigner."

Basically, the argument is: Decades of misogyny means Trump will use misogyny against Clinton, so she should move aside.

That seems fair.

Meanwhile, Robinson argues: "There's only one real way to attack Bernie Sanders, and we all know it: he's a socialist fantasist out of touch with the Realities of Economics."

This is flatly inaccurate.

Seven months ago, Aphra_Behn wrote an incredible, thoroughly researched, four-part series on Sanders background: "Looking for Bernie." I have oft referred to the series as the vetting on Sanders the media has refused to do.

When she was working on the series, she uncovered a number of things about Sanders' personal life, and his family's personal and professional lives, that are of a similar nature to things which have been used to discredit presidential candidates in the past.

We talked about those things. And we did not publish them in this space, because we don't believe they are relevant or fair game.

But the notion that they don't exist is utterly foolish. And even if they have not become mainstream media fodder, that doesn't mean Donald Trump can't and won't find them and use them.

He will.

And it will not be the the eleventieth time that people are hearing about them, unlike whatever Trump lobs at Clinton. It will be the first time. And the first time that Sanders is obliged to respond to them, without the ready-made deflection of "same old tired partisan attacks" that Clinton has deservedly earned the right to use.

I don't think one can say with certainty who would definitely fare better against Trump's attacks in a general election. We can have opinions, but we should not pretend to be oracles.

What I do know, however, for an absolute fact is that it is contemptible in the extreme to suggest that Clinton's having been subjected to a decades-long campaign of rank misogyny and personal attacks should serve as a disqualifying factor for the presidential nomination, just because the likely Republican nominee will carry on the tradition.

If never having been obliged to navigate repeated discrediting attacks cloaked in vicious misogyny is the standard by which a female candidate's fitness is judged, we will never have a female president.


Fuck that.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat lying on me with her chin on my arm
Sophie, lying on me while I was trying to work last night.
She had other ideas for what I should be doing, 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...

[Content Note: War] "The UN says it has carried out its first air drop of aid in Syria to help civilians in an eastern city besieged by Islamic State (IS) militants. UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien told the Security Council that the plane dropped 21 tonnes of humanitarian items on a government-held part of Deir al-Zour. Initial reports indicated that the aid had successfully reached the target area, Mr O'Brien said. The UN says 200,000 civilians are living under siege in Deir al-Zour. In a recent report, the UN said those trapped in the besieged areas were facing 'sharply deteriorating conditions' with reports of 'severe cases of malnutrition and deaths due to starvation.' Last week, more than 100 lorries carrying food and other basic goods reached 80,000 people in five other besieged areas of Syria. Two more convoys were sent to two towns besieged by government forces on Tuesday."

[CN: Domestic violence; autonomy] "Tribal leaders and advocates gathered in Washington, D.C., Tuesday to brief Congress on implementation of a provision in the 2013 Violence Against Women Act, which affirmed tribes' ability to exercise special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over non-Natives who commit domestic assault, or engage in dating violence, on tribal lands. Recognizing that the Department of Justice's 2014 decision to grant special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction under VAWA was a 'historic' step toward upholding tribal sovereignty, advocates and tribal leaders say that the law should be expanded upon to grant greater protections to tribal citizens at risk of assaults by non-Natives, and that Nations should receive adequate resources to implement the law." Yup.

[CN: Racism; police brutality] Rock the fuck on: "Young activists in Chicago are waging a campaign against Cook County's state's attorney, Anita Alvarez, the prosecutor who took more than a year to press charges against Chicago Police Department officer Jason Van Dyke for fatally shooting Laquan McDonald. The latest blow in the #ByeAnita battle came this morning (February 24), when members of BYP100, Assata's Daughters, and Black Lives Matter Chicago came together to disrupt an event meant to raise funds for Alvarez's reelection. The coalition released a statement about this morning's action, which reads, in part: 'We will not be silent while the Chicago business and political elite continue to support Alvarez, who has presided over the 'false confession capital' while protecting murderous CPD officers, agents of one of the most violent police forces in the world.'"

[CN: Homophobia] Shit: "A proposed amendment that would constitutionally carve out religious exemptions for those objecting to same-sex marriage in Missouri got its first hearing before a Senate panel yesterday, the AP reports. The measure, SJR39, 'Prohibits the state from imposing penalties on individuals and religious entities who refuse to participate in same sex marriage ceremonies due to sincerely held religious beliefs.'" Never wonder why I call Indiana the Conservative Legislation Lab.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says "there isn't 'a snowball's chance in hell' that he will back down from his opposition to confirming a Supreme Court justice before a new president is elected." He seems neat.

Donald Trump has gotten his first congressional endorsements: "Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) told Politico on Wednesday that he will support Trump for the Republican nomination, making him one of the first members of Congress to express public support for the Manhattan businessman who is the prohibitive front-runner after his victory in Tuesday's Nevada caucuses. Also on Wednesday, Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) told The Buffalo News that he is backing Trump, saying he has the 'guts and fortitude' to get jobs back from China and to take on foreign threats such as the Islamic State and North Korea." Gross.

In other endorsement news: "Top Senate Democrat Harry Reid said on Wednesday he would support Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for the party's nomination in the November election. In an interview with CNN, Reid said he thought the middle class would be better served by Clinton than by her rival Bernie Sanders, an Independent Senator from Vermont."

[CN: Police brutality] Bernie Sanders made a very good statement on police brutality and neglect: "Asked by the Guardian whether he thought police departments should be mandated to report all officer-involved deaths, the leftwing Democratic presidential candidate said he would also support legislation to that end. 'Yes,' he said. 'Let's rephrase it. You made a judgment: 'They kill.' When individuals die under police apprehension or police custody, should that be mandatory? Yes.'" A+

Ben Carson is so strange: "As Ben Carson slid down the polls after cresting around Halloween, firms closely connected with his campaign advisors and consultants hauled in millions of dollars in Carson's campaign funds. That state of affairs raised eyebrows and may have contributed to a major top-level staff shakeup at the end of last year. Now even Carson himself admits his moribund campaign has had the appearance of a big scam. During an appearance on 'CNN Newsroom' yesterday, Carson, referring to the propensity of his staffers to raise and spend huge sums of money, laughed and said, 'We had people who didn't really seem to understand finances… or maybe they did—maybe they were doing it on purpose.'" WHAT?!

Okay: "Jean-Claude Van Johnson would see [Jean-Claude Van Damme] playing a version of himself—a famous actor/martial-arts pro who also happens to be a secret black ops private contractor." Sure.

Dirty Dancing remake? Nah. Don't care who's cast. Nah.

And finally! "Children Read to Shelter Dogs in the Heartwarming 'Shelter Buddies' Program: Reading to the dogs helps to bring comfort to and reduce the anxiety of shelter pets. When children tell stories to the dogs, it also helps them develop their own reading skills." Awwwwwwww. ♥

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