Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker iwillbedamned: "Do you have a favorite memory or story that always makes you smile?"

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine: "Anything for You"

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So, one of the criticisms I've had of Bernie Sanders is his refusal to fundraise for down-ballot Democratic races. I object to it because, bluntly, I feel like it's shitty for any person running for the Democratic presidential nomination to refuse to use the uniquely massive fundraising capability conferred by that level of visibility to not help Democratic candidates in tough red state battles. But that's a personal opinion, and a highly subjective one.

The other criticism I have is more practical. And that is: How does a Democratic president enact her or his agenda without a Democratic Congress?

Naturally, in the era of intractable gerrymandering, a Democratic House is probably a dream, but a Democratic Senate is still well within reach. It behooves any Democratic presidential nominee to help fund down-ballot races as much as possible. Even if Democrats can't take back the House, the bluer the better. And a Democratic majority in the Senate is a huge asset to a Democratic president.

Hillary Clinton has been doing significant down-ballot fundraising. Trevor LaFauci reported earlier this month:

While Hillary Clinton's Victory Fund has raised at least $26 million for the national Democratic Party and its state groups, Sanders has a raised a total of $1,000 and that amount was provided by the Democratic National Committee for him to open a joint fundraising account. However he has yet to add to this account and has yet to do any fundraising for anyone not named Bernie Sanders.
Last night, Rachel Maddow asked Bernie Sanders about whether he will start doing fundraising for down-ballot races at any point:
MADDOW: I have to ask, though, if you have thought about whether or not you will, at some point, turn your fundraising ability toward helping the Democratic Party more broadly, to helping their campaign committees for the House and the Senate and for other – for other elections?

SANDERS: Well, right now, Rachel, as you are more than aware, our job is to – what I'm trying to do is to win the Democratic nomination. […]

MADDOW: Well, obviously your priority is the nomination, but I mean you raised Secretary Clinton there. She has been fundraising both for the nomination and for the Democratic Party. At some point, do you think – do you foresee a time during this campaign when you'll start doing that?

SANDERS: Well, we'll see. And, I mean right now, again, our focus is on winning the nomination.
Okay. There's nothing wrong with having your focus on winning the nomination. Presumably, Hillary Clinton is pretty focused on winning the nomination, too. That is her immediate priority.

But she's clearly also looking forward to when she might get the nomination, and might thereafter get the presidency, and investing in building as strong a Democratic caucus as possible, which will be key to her executive success, if elected.

I understand Sanders' contempt for the Democratic establishment, and I'm sure that's part (if not all) of what's underwriting his resistance to down-ballot funding. But, that said, given how the US government works, and our current two-party system, I am struggling to see how he imagines he's going to get anything accomplished if he doesn't make nice with the Democratic establishment at some point.

Because the Republicans sure aren't going to help him.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt peeking around a corner at me, grinning
"It's a day!"

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

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I Don't Have the Privilege of a One Issue Revolution

[Content Note: racism, denial of bodily autonomy, gun violence, queer oppression.]

Dear Bernie Sanders Supporters Who Keep Coming at Me:

If your life is such that you can make reforming Wall Street and getting corporate money out of politics your number one issue, well, good for you.

Now, will you please stop telling me that my life is like yours? It clearly is not.

For the record, I’m strongly opposed to the outsized influence of corporate money in U.S. politics and want Citizens United to be overturned ASAP.

But I don’t have the privilege of a one-issue revolution.

I live in a red state. The closest Planned Parenthood just closed down. Abortion access is literally life and death to me. I don't have the luxury of supporting a candidate who dismisses Donald Trump's remarks on abortion as a distraction from "real" issues and who derided Planned Parenthood as "establishment." If I find out I am pregnant tomorrow, I don't have time to wait for your trickle-down social justice that will (allegedly) come when we "get money out of politics."

I live in a red state. I don't have the luxury of bashing the Democratic party as "corrupt." (The local Republicans do that just fine, and by the way, "corrupt" is their code for "run by black people," so you might think about that.) I need a candidate who supports that party, who supports down-ticket races, and who doesn't go around bashing the only party standing between me and a neo-Confederacy.

I live in a red state. I don't have the luxury of acting like all corporations are the ultimate evil. You know what? Big businesses are one of the few forces that red state Republicans fear, and I'll take what allies I can when the issue is whether I and fellow queer folk have human rights or not. There are corporations that have pushed back against terrible gun laws, too. I know that without pushback from business interests in my state, I would have openly carried guns in my classroom, as has happened in eight states already.

To be utterly blunt: big businesses have been better allies to me on gun laws than Bernie Sanders.

Let that sink in.

This is not an abstract debate. This stuff is literally life or death. You have the luxury of calling corporate money "the civil rights issue of our time." I don't. Many Americans don't. Perhaps you'll excuse us for thinking that staying alive takes priority.

My house is burning, the Fire Department has arrived, and your guy is telling me that turning on the water is a distraction from reforming the Mayor's Office.

Screw. That. Noise.

I need a candidate who can do many things at once, who thinks in complex ways, and who gives a shit about people facing intersectional axes of oppression. In Hillary Clinton, I have one.

I'm under no illusion that she is perfect, but she clearly understands that my house is on fire. She's not lecturing me that I'm "distracted" from the real issues.

She's picking up the hose, and fighting the goddamned fire.

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: War on agency; hostility to consent and agency; misogyny; transphobia; homophobia; self-harm] My friend Katie Klabusich writes a letter to Republican Indiana Governor Mike Pence: "Dear Governor Pence, I'm Revoking Your 'Pro-life' Card." Fuck yes. Co-signed.

[CN: Misogyny] "Five key members of the United States women's national soccer team, the reigning World Cup and Olympic champion, have filed a federal complaint charging U.S. Soccer with wage discrimination. In the filing, the five players contend that the women's team is the driving economic force for U.S. Soccer, the governing body for the sport in America, even as its players are paid far less than their counterparts on the men's national team, said their lawyer, Jeffrey Kessler. The players involved in the complaint are among the most prominent and decorated female athletes in the world: the co-captains Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn, forward Alex Morgan, midfielder Megan Rapinoe, and goalkeeper Hope Solo. In their complaint—which was submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination, on Wednesday—the players requested an investigation of U.S. Soccer. But in taking official action, they also thrust their team into a debate roiling in several sports, notably professional tennis, about equal pay for men and women. 'We have been quite patient over the years with the belief that the federation would do the right thing and compensate us fairly,' Lloyd, the most valuable player of last year's Women's World Cup, said in a statement released by the players and Kessler." And then they realized that their patience would continue to be exploited indefinitely by the federation. Good for them.

[CN: Police brutality] Fucking hell: "In Daniel Shaver's final moments, he was heard pleading for his life—sobbing and saying to police officers, 'Please don't shoot me.' Shortly afterward, Shaver was shot and killed by one of them, according to an investigation report from the Mesa Police Department. In January, authorities said former officer Philip 'Mitch' Brailsford fatally shot Shaver after responding to a call about a suspect with a gun. He has been charged with second-degree murder and fired from the force. On Tuesday, according to the Arizona Republic, authorities released a report detailing witness testimony as well as audio and video footage from a body camera that suggests an unarmed and intoxicated Shaver was begging to be spared. The report also indicates Brailsford may have had cause for concern as Shaver made a move toward his waistband while approaching police. Authorities said Brailsford then fired five shots." Five shots. I don't even have words, besides offering my sincerest condolences to Shaver's family, friends, and colleagues.

[CN: Police brutality; racism] Goddammit: "Loreal Juana Barnell-Tsingine, 27, was shot and killed by police on Sunday (March 27). Her family says the Navajo woman, who allegedly threatened an officer with a weapon, was armed only with a pair of scissors. 'There are no words to describe the pain in our hearts,' her family said in a statement to Indian Country Today Media Network (ICTMN). A police officer in Winslow, Arizona, shot Tsingine after being summoned to Circle K for a shoplifting call. Officers found her a few blocks from the store and say that she struggled when they attempted to arrest her. 'While attempting to take the subject into custody, a struggle ensued,' the Winslow Police Department said in a press release. 'At this time, the subject displayed a weapon which presented a substantial threat to the officer. The officer discharged his weapon resulting in the unfortunate death.'" The officer who killed Barnell-Tsingine has been put on administrative leave during the investigation.

Welp: "A Lambda Legal review of all 359 opinions authored or co-authored by Merrick Garland, President Obama's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, has concluded the judge does not have enough of a record to suggest how he would approach any LGBT-related issues. Lambda Legal also considered other decisions in which Merrick participated involving LGBT issues, 'employment discrimination, reproductive rights, voting rights, criminal justice, rights of detainees, fair courts, or constitutional rights of equal protection, liberty, free speech, or religious exercise.' The civil rights organization's review did not find any specific reasons why Garland should be disqualified but have urged the U.S. Senate to 'do its job and hold hearings on his nomination.'" Do. Your. Job.

[CN: Misogyny] Page Six has all the important and totally fair and not-sexist campaign coverage: "Hillary Clinton's $600 haircut ties up traffic." Fuck you.

RIP Dame Zaha Hadid, "the world-renowned architect whose designs include the London Olympic aquatic centre, has died aged 65. The British designer, who was born in Iraq, had a heart attack on Thursday while in hospital in Miami, where she was being treated for bronchitis. Hadid's buildings have been commissioned around the world and she was the first woman to receive the Royal Institute of British Architects gold medal."

Chris Hemsworth, feminist: "'Oh yeah, for sure,' nods Chris Hemsworth when asked if he considers himself a feminist. 'My mum's a big feminist. I think that my views on things, as far as respect for women and so on, came from my mum. My dad has a very balanced and respectful view on a lot of things too. They were huge positive influences in my life.'"

[CN: Disablist language] Oh dear, lolsob: "Shoddy infrastructure has become a roadblock to the development of self-driving cars, vexing engineers and adding time and cost. Poor markings and uneven signage on the 3 million miles of paved roads in the United States are forcing automakers to develop more sophisticated sensors and maps to compensate, industry executives say."

And finally! All the blubs foreverrrr: "Rocky, a 17-year-old stray dog, has been in and out in a shelter since 2012. His golden years didn't seem promising until a young couple arrived at his shelter. They went there to donate but then they saw Rocky. The couple adopted him immediately. ...'I knew one day I am going to have to say goodbye to you. But until then you are the best gift I have ever gotten and I'm really sad I couldn't give you the best 17 years you deserved but I promise you'll have a great life from now to the day I have to say goodbye!'" ♥

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Yeah, 'Cuz He's the Worst

Philip Rucker and Robert Costa for the Washington Post: "Trump would be least-popular major-party nominee in modern times."

If Donald Trump secures the Republican presidential nomination, he would start the general election campaign as the least-popular candidate to represent either party in modern times.

Three-quarters of women view him unfavorably. So do nearly two-thirds of independents, 80 percent of young adults, 85 percent of Hispanics and nearly half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents.

Those findings, tallied from Washington Post-ABC News polling, fuel Trump's overall 67 percent unfavorable rating — making Trump more disliked than any major-party nominee in the 32 years the survey has been tracking candidates.

...Peter Hart, a veteran Democratic pollster who has studied public impressions of Trump, said voters' views of him are "exceptionally rancid."

"In terms of any domestic personality that we have measured, we've never seen an individual with a higher negative," Hart said.
Exceptionally rancid! And as well they should be.

Gee, maybe the media can stop obsessing over Hillary Clinton's likeability for two seconds and consider Trump's likeability.

Or, rather, the cavernous lack thereof.

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[Content Note: Misogynoir; guns; hostility to agency.]

Jane Sanders, who is married to Bernie Sanders, appeared on MSNBC yesterday and, incredibly, attacked Hillary Clinton for campaigning with the Mothers of the Movement, doing so in a way that was deeply hostile to the women's agency:

Female Anchor (whose name I don't know): Both candidates campaigning in Wisconsin right now—earlier today, Hillary Clinton held a forum about gun control and gun violence in Milwaukee, and one of the mothers, who had actually lost her son to gun violence, she had some tough words for your husband, for Senator Sanders. I want to play that and then get your reaction.

Jane Sanders: Okay.

Video clip showing Hillary Clinton sitting beside Annette Nance-Holt; Holt is holding a microphone and saying: I applaud Secretary Clinton for reaching out to us, because that other candidate on the Democratic side did not reach out to us. [edit] Now I'mma tell you: I think if you want my vote, you better work for it. She's working for our votes. [applause; edit] I'm not going to give it to you just because you say you can do free college, because if my child is dead, he can't go to college! [applause; cut back to studio]

Anchor: Ms. Sanders, what would you say to her if you had a chance to address her?

Sanders: I guess I'd say my heart goes out to you, for losing your child. It's— I can't imagine anything worse. And, I mean, we just don't go after those votes, to call people out of the blue at the worst time in their life and ask them to support him as a candidate. It's just not what we've done. We've reached out to groups—Black Lives Matter and a number of groups—on his whole platform. Um, in terms of gun control, Bernie has very common sense gun control. Secretary Clinton has been all over the map on this. In 19— In 2008, she was very opposed to gun control; now that she's running against Bernie, she's very for gun control. Bernie comes from a rural state, and he has common sense solutions. I think all the solutions that are being offered down in Congress right now, he's been supportive of.
Okay, that is a misrepresentation of Clinton's record on gun reform, and it is further a misrepresentation of Sanders'. His proposals are not so much "common sense" as they are terrible, because, as I've previously noted, the proverbial rural hunting guns are also used to kill and threaten, especially by domestic abusers, and the dichotomy often drawn between guns used by rural hunters and guns used by urban criminals is a false (and implicitly racist) one.

But I'm more concerned about Jane Sanders' contention that Clinton essentially preyed on and is exploiting women like Annette Nance-Holt, coercing them into supporting her rather than having reached out to them to see how she could help them, and her further implication that the women are themselves apparently too daft to even know they are being used.

These women have agency. And perhaps they don't want to be left alone during "the worst time in their life," but instead want to hear from people in power who recognize their pain and want to do something about its cause, to prevent more parents from suffering the same agony of loss.

Goddammit. Sanders was trying to smear Clinton, but, in the process, she said something deeply offensive, belittling, and infantilizing about the black women who have chosen to campaign with her.

And she owes them a fucking apology.

Previously: On the Breaking Down Barriers Moms.

[H/T to Aphra_Behn.]

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Magnum Trumpus

[Content Note: Misogyny; rape culture; racism; abortion stigma.]

I've got a new essay up at Blue Nation Review about Donald Trump, his incendiary misogynist rhetoric, and how it doesn't exist in a vacuum:

One of the most frustrating aspects of the public conversation, such as it is, around Trump and misogyny is the pretense that it's something specific to him. Oh, that's just how Trump is. Even people who ardently disagree with his opinions on women tend to be more forgiving, or indifferent, because he's regarded as some sort of outlier, uniquely terrible.

But Trump does not exist in a vacuum. His sexism, including his language borrowing from rape apologia, isn't even unique to his party. And it's certainly not unique to the populace as a whole, where in every corner of the culture, from pop culture to the halls of Congress, there is to be found plethoric evidence that feminism is still necessary.

Trump is not an exception in the US, but a Pokémon final form of gross sexism—an exemplary product of a culture in which even female presidential candidates are subjected to a steady stream of gender bias.

He did not emerge from a vacuum, and he does not disgorge his sexism into one.

To the contrary, he speaks this stuff into a landscape where many men share his toxic views, and whose own sinister attitudes toward women are empowered by a leading presidential contender elevating them to unprecedented conspicuousness.
I'm especially proud of this one, and I hope you'll head over to read the whole thing.

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Mississippi Senate Passes Heinous Anti-LGBT Legislation

[Content Note: Christian Supremacy; homophobia; transphobia; misogyny.]

Under the guise of "religious freedom," the Mississippi state Senate passed last night what is being called the most extreme anti-LGBT legislation in the nation. The legislation, which is straight-up Christian Supremacist trash, details myriad ways in which people are allowed to discriminate against LGBT people, framing it using an explicitly anti-LGBT morality:

The sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this act are the belief or conviction that:

(a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman;

(b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and

(c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual's immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.
Assessing what kind of discriminatory situations this would enable is easy, because the bill spells those out as well. So long as individuals are motivated by "a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction," any of the following behaviors would have the endorsement of the government:

Religious organizations can decline to solemnize any marriage or provide any services related to recognizing that marriage.

Religious organizations can refuse to hire, fire, and discipline employees for violating the organization's religious beliefs.

Religious organizations can choose not to sell, rent, or otherwise provide shelter.

Religious organizations that provide foster or adoptive services can decline service without risking their state subsidies.

Any foster or adoptive parent can impose their religious beliefs on their children.

Any person can choose not to provide treatment, counseling, or surgery related to gender transition or same-sex parenting.

Any person (including any business) can choose not to provide services for any marriage ceremony or occasion that involves recognizing a marriage, including: Photography, Poetry, Videography, Disc-Jockey Services, Wedding Planning, Printing, Publishing, Floral Arrangements, Dress Making, Cake or Pastry Artistry, Assembly-Hall or Other Wedding-Venue Rentals, Limousine or Other Car-Service Rentals, Jewelry Sales And Services.

Any person can establish "sex-specific standards or policies concerning employee or student dress or grooming," and can manage the access of restrooms and other sex-segregated facilities.

Any state employee can openly express their beliefs without consequence.

Any state employee can choose not to authorize or license legal marriages by recusing themselves from those duties.
The definitions are so broad that a woman could be fired for wearing pants or cutting her hair, if her employer's "sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction" includes that women must wear skirts and/or must not cut their hair, which are beliefs existent in several Christian denominations.

The Mississippi House passed the legislation and sent it to the Senate, where it was also passed. It now goes back to the House so they can reconcile an amendment. Once the House sorts that out, it then goes to Republican Governor Phil Bryant, who "hasn't said whether he'll veto the bill or not, but last week he told WLOX he didn't think the bill was discriminatory."

I am beyond angry about this legislation. This is utterly hostile to the idea of the separation of church and state, and its entire purpose is the legalize discrimination and harm, under the auspices of protecting religious freedom, even as it severely limits the definition of what constitutes "religious belief."

Again, the people of Mississippi who are targeted by this legislation will, if Bryant signs it, be left with no recourse but the courts. I'm sure the ACLU stands at the ready. If you're looking for ways to help, and can afford it, you can donate to the ACLU of Mississippi here. Please feel welcome and encouraged to leave suggestions for other places to direct donations and/or other ways to help in comments.

I take up space in solidarity with the LGBT people of Mississippi. You have my support and my incandescent anger.

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Open Thread

image of a Queen Anne's Lace plant

Hosted by Queen Anne's Lace.

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Question of the Day

If you had to pick just one (ONE!) book to call your favorite (I KNOW!), what would it be?

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

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

New Kids on the Block: "Hangin' Tough"

True Fact: I saw NKOTB in concert three times.

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The Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by potatoes.

Recommended Reading:

Charlotte: [Content Note: Discussion of sex, coercion, body shaming] Against the Cult of the Pussy Eaters

Keith: Warren Buffett's Son and Daughter-in-Law Will Invest $90 Million in Women of Color

Alan: 10 (Un)documented Black and LGBTQIA+ Activists You Need to Know

Monica: [CN: Sexual violence; transmisogynistic violence] Trans Woman Sexually Assaulted at Stonewall Inn

Angry Asian Man: The New Superman Is...Chinese! And Written by Gene Luen Yang

Maddy: A Little Girl Dressed as BB-8 Faces Off Against a Tiny Xenomorph Cosplayer

Sumitra: [CN: Disablist language] 'Blackout' Tattoo Trend Has People Blacking out Large Areas of Their Bodies (Note: I'm linking this piece because I think it's interesting and begs for deconstruction from a racial perspective, although I don't think I'm the person to do it. But that aspect is definitely on topic for comments.)

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

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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!

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On the Debate Debate

So, over the past couple of days, a debate has been raging about Bernie Sanders asking Hillary Clinton for more debates, and Clinton aide Joel Benenson having told CNN's Kate Bolduan that Clinton won't agree to more debates unless Sanders changes his tone:

There's no risk. She's done well in the debates. But Senator Sanders doesn't get to decide when we debate, particularly when he's running a negative campaign. Let's see if he goes back to the kind of tone he said he was going to set early on. If he does that, then we'll talk about debates.

...We'll see what kind of tone he sets. If his campaign wants to run the kind of negative campaign and run negative ads like they did in North Carolina and Illinois all over the country on March 15th, that's going to be disappointing to a lot of Democrats who feel we have to start focusing on Republicans, whether it's Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, and about our differences so we win in November. That's what Democrats ought to be doing. That's what she's doing.
This, naturally, unleashed a firestorm, and there are plenty of articles care of the corporate media, as well as hashtags full of Sanders supporters, criticizing and ridiculing Clinton for suggesting that Sanders' tone has been inappropriate.

For the record, Clinton has not ruled out a debate in New York.

My guess is that Clinton will end up debating Sanders, just as she relented and agreed to more debates after their originally agreed-upon schedule once before. But if she doesn't, I frankly feel like that's fine. There have been more than enough debates by now.

Just to be clear, if the situation were reversed, and Clinton wanted more debates at this point and Sanders didn't, I would also defend his right to take a pass, irrespective of his reasons.

But of course it's her reason that's at issue.

Personally, I find Clinton's condition not only eminently reasonable but good politics. We are bearing down on the general election, and any candidate with a chance at the nomination—which Sanders insists he still has—should be pivoting at this point to making their case against the Republican nominee.

Which, as Berenson noted, Clinton has started to do. In her an op-ed for the New York Daily News on gun reform, she went directly and forcefully after Republicans:
Of course, all of the Republican candidates march in lockstep with the gun lobby.

Donald Trump has called the NRA's efforts to stop gun safety reforms "invaluable." He has vowed to "un-sign" all of President Obama's executive actions to strengthen background checks. And he has pledged that on his very first day in office he would override laws that prevent people from carrying guns into schools.

When he isn't cooking bacon on the barrel of an automatic rifle, Ted Cruz is earning his lifetime NRA "A+ rating" in the Senate by voting against comprehensive background checks. He even signed a letter pledging to "oppose any legislation" to address gun violence.

It's time we stand up to the Republicans and the gun lobby and stand with parents who have lost their children to gun violence.
And in a speech at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she let loose on the Republican Party, their odious front runner, and their Supreme Court obstructionism:
"Donald Trump didn't come out of nowhere," Clinton said in a speech at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "What Republicans have sown with their extremist tactics, they're now reaping with Trump's candidacy."

"Once you make the extreme normal, you open the door to even worse," she added.

In the speech, Clinton asked voters to consider – "as scary as it might be" – who Trump might pick to fill the supreme court vacancy after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. The president has nominated Judge Merrick Garland, but Republican leadership has refused to even grant him a hearing.

Clinton singled out Senate judiciary committee chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa who, along with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have committed to keeping Garland from having a hearing. The Republicans have argued that the next president should pick Scalia's replacement on the bench. She quoted Grassley, who has said that allowing Obama to pick the nominee is in effect denying voters a voice in shaping the Supreme Court.

"As one of the more than 65 million Americans who voted to re-elect Barack Obama, I'd say my voice is being ignored," Clinton argued. Then, she said: "I'm adding my voice to the chorus asking Senator Grassley to step up and do his job. He should hold a hearing."
Meanwhile, Sanders is continuing to make attacks on Clinton, her fundraising, her speaking fees, her ties to the Democratic establishment, etc.

He would certainly use further debates to do the same, even though, at this point in the primary, he should be more invested in weakening the Republicans than the other possible (and likely) Democratic nominee.

He's still running against Clinton, using negative campaigning in which he promised he'd never engage, while she is already looking forward to the fight that awaits whichever one of them wins.

And, frankly, it's a timely reminder that Clinton hasn't weathered decades of Republican attacks by accident or luck. She is a savvy and fearless fighter, with an abundance of moxie and the skills to articulate laser-focused critiques of her career opponents.

Sanders might do well to consider showing us he can keep up, if indeed he can.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound lying on his back, half on my lap, cuddled in a brown afghan
Dudley, half on my lap and fully silly last night.

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 on agency; reproductive coercion] This is a must-read piece by Sharona Coutts at Rewire: "A Rewire investigation has found that at the center of the drama that unfolded in AJ's life was a document produced by Life Dynamics, the prominent anti-choice group that is based in Denton, Texas, which receives the majority of its funding from the fracking billionaires Dan and Farris Wilks. The Wilks brothers are also the main backers of Sen. Ted Cruz's presidential campaign. The document is a bogus 'notice' that tricks women into believing they have signed away their legal rights to receive an abortion. Providers throughout the country have told Rewire that this document has been used for years to deceive and intimidate both patients and providers by threatening them with legal action should they go through with obtaining or providing an abortion. In AJ's case, the tactic did not work. But her story is an illustration of the intrusive and dishonest techniques used by anti-choice activists to deprive women of their constitutional rights." Fucking hell.

[CN: Racism; police brutality] Goddammit: "A Minneapolis county attorney has decided not to press charges against two officers involved in the shooting of unarmed black man Jamar Clark in November 2015. Clark, 24, was shot by police in November following an altercation with two officers just yards from the precinct headquarters, and died a day later from his injuries. Police said that he was shot during a struggle, but some eyewitnesses said he was already in handcuffs. Family members later described the shooting as 'execution-style.' However, county attorney Michael Freeman said that the evidence did not suggest Clark was handcuffed at the time of his shooting, and that he was reaching for one of the officers' gun at the time. He also said that Clark told the officers: 'I am ready to die.'"

[CN: Policing] "The 74's Matt Barnum examined public records for the nation's ten largest school districts to uncover one important statistic: the ratio of counselors to security personnel. What he found sheds light on where the districts—each of which counts students of color as the majority—choose to invest their time and funds. Of the largest five districts, three have more officers than counselors. They are New York City, Chicago, and Miami-Dade. When the scope is widened to the top ten, four fall into the same category." Emphasis mine.

Last night at the Republican townhall, all three remaining candidates "stepped back from their earlier pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee during Tuesday night's CNN town hall." Welp!

[CN: Sexual assault; racism] Yesterday at a Trump rally in Wisconsin, a 15-year-old girl "was groped and then pepper sprayed in the face after pushing away her assailant... A vibrant orange spray of oleoresin capsicum blasted the girl in the face after she shoved a man who was packed among dozens of pro-Trump supporters shouting 'All Lives Matters' outside the Janesville event Tuesday. Janesville cops believe the pepper sprayer was a bearded man with glasses wearing a 'Make America Great Again' hat seen in video footage. ...No suspect information was immediately available as of early Tuesday, but authorities were seeking two men, one sought for the alleged sexual assault and the other accused of spraying the girl's face." That would be on the same day Trump was using rape apologia to defend his campaign manager on charges of gendered violence. Not incidentally.

Meanwhile, Trump is on the cover of People magazine, and insists "I'm a much nicer person than people would think." Yeah, I doubt that.

[CN: Misogyny] Another one by me at Blue Nation Review: "Zombie Frame: The False Narrative of Hillary's 'Enthusiasm Gap' Just Won't Die." To continue stating this false narrative is not only unfair to Clinton, but does a grave disservice to her supporters, whose enthusiastic support is being invisibilized. Many of these voters are from communities most likely to be disenfranchised at the polls, and now the media is adding insult to injury by rhetorical disenfranchising them. It really, really needs to stop.

In other Clinton news: "Beyoncé Gets a Surprise Visit from Hillary Clinton While Filming New Music Video." OMG!

In news we all know, but here are the numbers: "It's Really Hard to Get Bernie Sanders 988 More Delegates."

[NB: Not all men have penises. Not all people with penises are men.] "Finally! Reversible male birth control! All guys have to do is get an injection in their peni— yeah, this is never happening. The option, however, will soon be available for men who want to bear some of the responsibility of internal birth control methods. ...[A]fter years of development, Vasalgel emerged as a viable male birth control that, once injected into the penis, blocks sperm from leaving through the vas deferens. The gel essentially creates a temporary, painless vasectomy."

[CN: Misogyny; abuse] This article about what it was like for Meryl Streep working on Kramer vs. Kramer is fucking incredible. Dustin Hoffman seems like a real piece of work. And by "real piece of work," I mean abusive shithead.

RIP Patty Duke: "Patty Duke, who won a supporting actress Oscar playing Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, starred in 1960s sitcom The Patty Duke Show, and served as president of SAG, died Tuesday. She was 69. Her manager, Mitchell Stubbs, confirmed that she died early Tuesday of sepsis from a ruptured intestine. 'She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a mental health advocate, and a cultural icon. She will be greatly missed,' Stubbs said."

"On March 17, Gerrit Kernbauer, an amateur astronomer in Mödling, Austria, was taking video of Jupiter using a 20 cm telescope. This is a common technique to capture thousands of frames of an object, so that the best parts of each frame can be teased out to create a high-resolution image, removing the distorting effects of the atmosphere. But he got more than he expected. At 00:18:33 UTC he captured what looks very much like the impact of a small comet or asteroid into Jupiter!" Ouch!

And finally! I love this: "What Are Cats Trying to Tell Us? Science Will Explain."

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Good News!

[Content Note: War on agency.]

The FDA has reaffirmed the safety of Mifepristone and approved a new label for medication abortion. And, as Tara Culp-Ressler notes at Think Progress, in the process, they have "removed one of anti-abortion lawmakers' favorite talking points."

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Thank you, FDA!

Vicki Saporta, President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, said in a statement: "We are delighted that the FDA has approved a label change, which brings the label for mifepristone in-line with scientific research and evidence-based practice. ...Because providers in the United States have already been providing evidence-based care, which the new label now recognizes, actual practice will not change. What will change is that politicians can no longer deny women access to this safe and effective method of early abortion care by insisting on an out-dated regimen. We hope the new label changes will soon allow women to access medical abortion care in states where anti-choice restrictions have made this evidence-based care unavailable."

Raegan McDonald-Mosley, Chief Medical Officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement:

First and foremost, this is another affirmation from the FDA that medication abortion is a safe and effective option to end an early pregnancy. Studies show medication abortion has a 99 percent safety record, and that medication abortion is up to 98 percent effective in ending an early pregnancy...

Since Planned Parenthood's medical standards are constantly-evolving with the latest clinical research findings, we have actually had the protocols approved today in place at Planned Parenthood for some time. But given the restrictions on medication abortion enacted at the state level in recent years, updating the label to reflect best medical practice represents a significant step forward for science, for women, and for health care providers who want to give our patients the highest quality care.
And Amy Hagstrom Miller, President and CEO of Whole Woman's Health, said in a statement: "Today's FDA announcement of a label change to Mifepristone is a significant advancement for women in the United States. All of us at Whole Woman's Health are thrilled that the updated FDA labeling reflects evidence-based care that is best for women. People who visit our clinics deserve options for abortion care without worrying about medically unnecessary obstacles and this change allows for more women to get the care they deserve."

She added: "While we appreciate this step forward, we also acknowledge that there are still too many restrictions preventing women from quality care. The reality is that low-income women, women of color, and rural women bear the brunt of abortion care restrictions. We will continue to fight for the day when all women have access to the compassionate and comprehensive reproductive health care that we provide at our clinics."


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SCOTUS: Zubik v. Burwell

[Content Note: War on agency.]

Rather than handing down a ruling on the birth control case Zubik v. Burwell yesterday, the Supreme Court instead handed down a very curious order requesting further briefing. Ian Millhiser explains:

Last week, at oral arguments in this case, the Court appeared likely to split 4-4 in this case — potentially creating a chaotic situation where a woman's right to birth control coverage could depend upon which state she lived in and which regional appeals court considered her employer's obligations under the law. Tuesday's order appears to be an effort to warn off that circumstance.

The order instructs the parties in Zubik and a bevy of related cases to "file supplemental briefs that address whether and how contraceptive coverage may be obtained by petitioners' employees through petitioners' insurance companies, but in a way that does not require any involvement of petitioners beyond their own decision to provide health insurance without contraceptive coverage to their employees" ("petitioners" in this case, refers to the employers who object to birth control).

...[The alternative solution proposed by the Court] would require a religious objector to "inform their insurance company that they do not want their health plan to include contraceptive coverage" at the time when they initially contract with the insurance company. If that seems like a mighty fine hair to split, that's because it is. It's not entirely clear why an employer who is upset by the government's form would suddenly feel better because they are allowed to notify their insurance company of their objection in a different way.

If the Court is, in fact, willing to accept this solution, however, that could be a win for the government — and for women seeking access to birth control.

...The catch, however, is that it may not be possible for the federal government to put such a solution in place, at least without a change to federal law. Employer benefits are governed by complex federal statutes such as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The Obama administration found authorization for its current rules in the existing ERISA statute, but it is not entirely clear that current law will enable them to move forward with the idiosyncratic solution described in the Supreme Court's Tuesday order. Indeed, it is likely that one reason that the Court asked for additional briefing in this case was to determine whether the government has the authority to implement the justices' preferred solution under ERISA.
All of this, of course, could be avoided if we could all just agree that if you have a religious objection to birth control, don't use it yourself, but your personal belief is irrelevant in determining what sort of coverage you are required to provide to your employees who may not share those beliefs.

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On the Enthusiasm Gap That Doesn't Exist

[Content Note: Misogyny; racism.]

I've got a new piece up at Blue Nation Review addressing the false media narrative of the (nonexistent) enthusiasm gap among Hillary Clinton supporters, and how it's not merely wrong but harmful:

Gallup did what (apparently) none of the people repeating ad nauseam the "enthusiasm gap" narrative could be bothered to do: They simply spoke to Clinton voters and asked them if they are enthusiastic about her. And, as it turns out, they are.

Which, really, should not be surprising, since Clinton is leading by a large margin in primary votes. The people who participate in primaries, which is a relatively small portion of the number of qualified voters, tend to be enthusiastic participants in the electoral process. Most people who are indifferent, or would have to hold their noses to vote, aren’t always motivated to vote in primaries.

It was always the more reasonable assumption that someone who is winning the primary has enthusiastic supporters.

So why is it, then, that this particular media narrative took hold? Why, in spite of the safe assumption that primary voters casting their votes for Hillary were enthusiastic for her, and in spite of the fact that it was easy enough to discern by asking, have the media continued to cling to this narrative about an "enthusiasm gap" haunting Hillary?
I have some ideas about that! Click through to read the entire thing.

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[Content Note: Violence against women apologia.]

Yesterday, Donald Trump doubled, tripled, and quadrupled down on defending his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, against charges that he physically assaulted Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields. This sustained defense is absolutely incredible, as he borrows every move from the Rape Apologia 101 playbook (right down to "destroy a man's life), repurposed for physical assault:

Donald Trump, speaking to reporters on what appears to be his private jet: I looked at the tape—there's not even a change of expression on her face! And then I looked at internet, and you take a look at the tweets, and people are saying, "You gotta be kidding me!" [crosstalk as reporters ask questions] I think it's something that's disgraceful. I think that you, as a reporter, and all of you as a reporter, probably get treated a lot rougher than that on a daily basis. I have never seen anything like it. I cannot imagine how they did it. He's got a very good lawyer; they will fight it. I told him he should never settle that case. And I know that's not to my—that is not to my benefit—but I think when people see that tape, and they take a look at that tape, and they take a look at her initial statement, before she knew that she was on tape—take a look at that; you have to see it. You take a look at her initial statement; it sounded like she got thrown out of a building. You take a look at that, and you, and then— [reporter interrupts him] Excuse me?

Female Reporter off-camera: She did get bruises on her arm.

Trump: I don't know if they were bruises from that! Why? Who said they were bruises from that?! How do you know those bruises weren't there before?

Female Reporter off-camera: That's what the police said—

Trump: I don't know what the police said! How do you know those bruises weren't there before?! I'm not a lawyer! But she said she had a bruise on her arm. I mean! To me, you know, if you're gonna get squeezed, wouldn't you think that she would have yelled out a scream or something if she has bruises on her arm? She— Take a look at her— Take a look at her facial expression. Her facial expression doesn't even change! So, you know, you say bruises on her arm—how did they get there? Who put 'em there? I don't know that he put 'em there! In any event, I'm sticking up for a person because I'm not gonna let a person's life be destroyed over somebody that we have on tape and— You just take a look at what people are saying when they see that incident on tape. And no jury, in my opinion, no jury would convict a man and destroy a man's life over what you witnessed.
Keep this guy as far the fuck away from the White House as possible.

* * *

In other Terrible Trumpery news, there was another Republican townhall last night. Each remaining candidate was given an hour with Anderson Cooper, so it was basically three hours with terrible men. CNN has the complete transcript of Trump's turn, which was right in the middle, and he was a fucking disaster. He clearly doesn't know how anything works, from the federal government to his own website.

At one point, Anderson Cooper actually said the actual words to him: "Sir, with all due respect, that's the argument of 5-year-old." Welp.

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Open Thread

image of a Queen of Hearts from a deck of cards

Hosted by the Queen of Hearts.

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Question of the Day

When you eat a meal at home, where do you tend to eat it? Do you sit at a dining room or kitchen table? A kitchen island with seating? Got a built-in banquette? Do you sit and eat in front of the TV?

Usually, we eat at the dining room table. Very occasionally (more often for breakfast), we eat at the kitchen island, where there are a couple of stools. If it's a working night for me, and I'm watching a debate or primary returns come in, we might eat in front of the telly.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

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

Matthew Sweet: "Girlfriend"

(I'd never seen the video for this track before, and his creepy expression is so unsettling lol! I just expect him to say: "But I'm a NICE GUY!")

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Depression; suicidal ideation; fat hatred; bullying.]

"I've struggled with depression since childhood. It's a battle that's cost me time, opportunities, relationships, and a thousand sleepless nights. In 2010, at the lowest point in my adult life, I was looking everywhere for relief/comfort/distraction. And I turned to food. It could have been anything. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. But eating became the one thing I could look forward to. Count on to get me through. There were stretches when the highlight of my week was a favorite meal and a new episode of TOP CHEF. Sometimes that was enough. Had to be. And I put on weight. Big f--king deal. One day, out for a hike in Los Angeles with a friend, we crossed paths with a film crew shooting a reality show. Unbeknownst to me, paparazzi were circling. They took my picture, and the photos were published alongside images of me from another time in my career. 'Hunk To Chunk.' 'Fit To Flab.' Etc. ...In 2010, fighting for my mental health, it was the last thing I needed. Long story short, I survived. So do those pictures. I'm glad. Now, when I see that image of me in my red t-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle. My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Some within. Some without. Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist."—Actor Wentworth Miller, on how fat hatred harmed him, how fat saved him, and how he survives despite the bullies who will never fucking understand, or even try.

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Trump Is the Worst

[Content Note: Misogyny; objectification.]

I've got a new piece up at Blue Nation Review about Donald Trump's gross history of commenting on the quality of women's skin:

Trump objectifies women. He's running to be the standard-bearer for a party that increasingly treats women as property of the state. Every time he speaks about women as though we are things, rather than people deserving of respect, he upholds sexist narratives in which sexist policy, from abortion access to equal pay, flourishes.

And here, he is not just objectifying women generally. Each of the women whose appearance he's critiquing—as though their looks are the only thing they have of value to offer the world—have engaged in meaningful activism.

...These are women who have done more for the country—and the world—than Donald Trump has ever done.
Click on over to read the whole thing.

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Rage. Seethe. Boil.

[Content Note: Transphobia; gender policing; harassment.]

FUCK THIS: "Kansas bills create 'bounty' on transgender students."

Legislation in Kansas that would restrict how public schools and colleges accommodate transgender students is receiving national attention because other students would be able to collect monetary damages if someone was in what is deemed the wrong bathroom.

Two separate but identical bills before House and Senate committees limit accommodations for transgender students. The measures say group bathrooms, locker rooms and showers must be limited to a single sex, and gender would be defined "by a person's chromosomes"—so that transgender students would have to use facilities associated with their birth genders.

If transgender students are discovered using group facilities for their identified genders, other students who were present can sue the schools and colleges. The measures allow an award of $2,500 for each incident, along with monetary damages for "all psychological, emotional and physical harm." Aggrieved students would have four years after an incident to file suit.

"We are referring to them as a $2,500 bounty on the head of every trans student," said Tom Witt of the advocacy group Equality Kansas. "This puts trans kids in danger."
The two bills, SB 513 and HB 2737, which comprise the "Student Physical Privacy Act," were introduced earlier this month and assigned to committee. So far, no hearings have been scheduled—which is not necessarily a good thing, as North Carolina just rammed through anti-queer legislation in 10 hours without giving opponents time to testify after Tennessee was obliged to shelve anti-queer legislation following trans youths' public testimony. So Kansas could be fixing to pull some shit once legislators get back from their "spring break" which lasts until April 27. (Must be nice!)

This is clearly heinous legislation in about a dozen different ways, but I'll just let trans student Taylor Stebbins heartbreakingly sum it up: "I already have to deal with so much, and my own self, attacking my own self, on a daily basis, and I don't need that extra violence on top of me. And if legislators want to protect somebody, it's trans students that they need to protect."

I take up space in solidarity with Taylor, and all the trans students across Kansas, who will be targeted by their peers in a whole new horrible way if this legislation is brought for a vote and passes.

And I direct a concentrated beam of contempt toward any adult who would support this trash under the auspices of "protecting children" as if trans kids don't need protection; as if they don't fucking count.

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The Walking Thread

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

screen cap from The Walking Dead of Daryl, Glenn, and Michonne standing in the woods; Glenn looks stricken
Glenn's face speaks for all our faces.

In the final moments of last week's episode, Carol's boyfriend Tobin found a note left by Carol, saying she's gone and asking that no one comes looking for her. I wrote at the time: "Tobin takes the note to Optimus Grimes. I'm sure he'll definitely respect her request to leave her the hell alone."

If you think that Optimus Grimes respected Carol's request to leave her the hell alone, I have some definitely totally 100% effective anti-zombie repellent spray that I would like to sell you!

In fact, this entire episode was basically about not respecting people's boundaries or choices. Optimus Grimes and Morgan decide to go after Carol. Daryl wants to go murder D-Bag Dwight to avenge Doctor Zoey, even if risking his own life puts the rest of his pals at risk, and he doesn't want anyone to stop him, but Glenn and Michonne and Rosita Espinosa go after him anyway.

It's basically just a cool reminder that Grimes Gang is comprised of a lot of people who make good decisions and have profound respect for each other's safety and agency.

Anyway! The episode opens with everyone getting ready for another lovely day in Aarontown. (Well, technically, it opens with a scene of an idling car on a road with a bullet-shattered windshield and dripping blood on the ground. Because teasing us with violence is necessary, since this isn't the most violent show on television or anything. What a shocker!) All the scenes of Grimes Gangs' lives are super, as usual, but the best is obviously Optimus Grimes and Michonne in bed together (NOOOOO!).

Michonne grabs an apple from the nightstand, because you know how people keep apples on their nightstands so they can eat drippy, sticky fruit in bed, and then takes a bite and hands it to Optimus Grimes, like some kind of Eve.

Michonne expresses concerns about LIFE IN THE ZOMBIEPOCALYPSE, and Optimus Grimes gives her an apple-eating grin and says, "The world's ours and we know how to take it." Good grief.

Shortly thereafter, Optimus Grimes and Morgan take off after Carol, Daryl speeds off to do some murderin', and Glenn, Michonne, and Rosita Espinosa take off after Daryl.

Meanwhile, on the road, Carol passes a pick-up truck full of Saviors, who shoot out her tire. She gets out of the car, and there's a tense standoff until Carol shoots them with a gun she had concealed in her sleeve. Whooooooops you messed with the wrong lady who left her community because she said she didn't want to have to murder anyone anymore!

(How did Carol ever calculate that she would be less likely to have to kill people out on her own than if she'd just told Grimes Gang she preferred not to be on the Murder Team anymore? Even with as IMPOSSIBLY UNREASONABLE AND BAD AT LEADERSHIP IN EVERY CONCEIVABLE WAY Optimus Grimes is, I still feel like he would have agreed to that! "Sure, your cookies are pretty good. Kitchen duty it is!")

The scene ends with a surviving Savior charging at Carol with a knife. Did she make it?! OH NOES!

Cut to Optimus Grimes and Morgan stumbling upon the remains of Carol's fight with the Saviors. There's no sign of Carol, so they follow a trail of blood into a field. On their trek, they have a classic Walking Dead conversation about hard decisions and murder and how the zombiepocalypse totally changes you, man.

Something something a guy looking for a horse. Optimus Grimes shoots at him, but Morgan bumps him so he misses. Morgan tells Optimus Grimes about the W-Head he had captured at Aarontown, and gives some dreadful monologue about how everything comes full circle, because if he hadn't saved the W-Head, then the W-Head wouldn't have saved Doctor Zoey when they got overrun by zombies, and then Doctor Zoey wouldn't have been around to save Pirate Carl.

Which is a pretty terrific story, if you ignore the part where Doctor Zoey never would have been overrun by zombies with the W-Head, if the W-Head hadn't taken her hostage, which he was only around to do because Morgan didn't kill him.

Anyway. Morgan tells Optimus Grimes he'll find Carol on his own, and don't come looking for him if he doesn't return. Which is a pretty amazing thing to tell someone who's out looking for a person who asked no one to look for her! Optimus Grimes hands Morgan a gun and goes home.

Meanwhile, Glenn and Michonne and Rosita Espinosa catch up with Daryl in the woods, near the site where D-Bag Dwight killed Doctor Zoey. Glenn tries to talk Daryl out of his revenge murder, but Daryl is all NOPE! Rosita Espinosa, who was there when Doctor Zoey was killed, joins Daryl on his quest. Glenn and Michonne decide to turn back and go home, because apparently the whole point of this adventure was to politely ask Daryl to reconsider and then shrug when he totally predictably said no.

But whooooooooops Glenn and Michonne are captured by D-Bag Dwight and the Saviors.

Back at Aarontown, Maggie asks Enid to cut her hair, because "I have to keep going and I don't want anything getting in my way." Suddenly she doubles over in pain and collapses to the floor, grabbing her abdomen and screaming. PREGNANCY PERIL! Too bad Glenn was fucking around the woods and just got himself captured!

Speaking of which: Daryl and Rosita Espinosa creep up on the clearing where the Saviors are holding Glenn and Michonne, who are bound and gagged. They make eye contact, and Glenn and Michonne try to "mmph! mmph!" a warning through their gags, but it's too late: D-Bag Dwight has snuck up behind Daryl and has a gun pointed at him. He shoots, and blood squirts all over the lens, obscuring our view of what happened.

This fucking show.

Next week: More of this garbage.

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Daily Dose of Cute

I was walking by the hall closet and saw that its sliding door was open by a few inches. So I figured there were some cat shenanigans going on in there, and here's what I found:

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat sitting beneath an end table, inside its rounded metal bottom

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: Assault] Donald Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who was accused of forcefully grabbing Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, and vehemently denied it, has been charged with misdemeanor battery. In footage of the incident, Lewandowski can be seen grabbing Fields, contrary to his claims otherwise. Wesley Lowery has the text of the arrest report. Nice campaign you've got there, Trump.

[CN: Islamophobia] "Harsh rhetoric about Muslims by Republican candidates in the U.S. presidential election campaign is undermining national security efforts, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Tuesday. Asked about comments by Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, Johnson told MSNBC in an interview that singling out a specific community hampers government efforts to build the connections that are needed to thwart possible attacks. 'Inflammatory comments about patrolling and securing Muslim neighbors or barring Muslims from entering this country, having an immigration policy based on religion, is counterproductive to our homeland security and national security interests,' he said." The Republican candidates are a national security threat for the entire country, and a domestic security threat for Muslim Americans.

[CN: Hijacking] "The hijack of a domestic Egyptian flight that caused it to be diverted to Cyprus has ended with all hostages released and the hijacker surrendering. EgyptAir Flight MS181 was taken over by a passenger claiming to be wearing a suicide explosive belt. Airline officials later said they had been told by Cypriot authorities that the belt was fake. The hijacker's motives remain unclear but the Cypriot president said the incident was not terrorism-related. No-one was injured in the hijacking, Cypriot government spokesman Nikos Christodulides tweeted." What a truly strange story! I'm glad no one was injured.

[CN: Guns] Devastating: "A Chicago teen who appeared in an award-winning public service video about gun violence was shot and seriously injured over the weekend, the New York Times reports. Zarriel Trotter, 13, was struck by a stray bullet after two groups of youths got into a 'heated argument' Friday night on the city's West Side, authorities said. A person pulled out a gun and started firing, striking the boy. 'He was not the intended target,' Police Officer Jose Estrada said, according to the Times. 'He was standing on the sidewalk.' No one else was injured in the shooting. Zarriel, as the Times notes, was one of several young students who took part in a video series last year highlighting the impact gun violence has had on the black community. In the videos, which were part of the YouTube and Facebook campaign, Black Is Human, showed several youth speaking about their fear of gun violence and becoming part of the statistics, as well as the damage it was doing to their neighborhoods. 'I don't want to live around my community where I got to keep on hearing and hearing people keep on getting shot, people keep on getting killed,' Zarriel said in the video in which he is featured."

[CN: Homophobia; transphobia] GOOD: "North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announced on Tuesday that he will not defend HB 2, the state's newly passed anti-LGBT law that bans all local LGBT rights ordinances. Cooper said in a statement that he and his office won't 'defend the constitutionality of the discrimination' in the bill which Governor Pat McCrory signed last week. ...Cooper, a Democrat, is running for governor and challenging incumbent McCrory in the fall."

[CN: Addiction] President Obama will unveil a new $1.1 billion proposal to combat heroin and opioid addiction, and it looks a lot different than the usual war on drugs. "During the summit, Obama will outline a multi-point plan, which will include, according to a White House fact sheet: Expanding access to treatment, establishing a mental health and substance-use disorder parity task force, investing in community policing to address heroin, implementing syringe-services programs." I'm not keen on the policing part, but it's only $7 million in Justice Department funding, out of the entire billion+ budget. So that's a big shift.

[CN: Racism; guns; militarized police] Jamil Smith expresses concerns for his hometown Cleveland, once the Republican convention arrives in town and what it will leave in its wake.

Perfect headline is perfect: "Trump Struggles With Presidential Demeanor Ahead of Wisconsin Primary."

If you've been waiting with baited breath to see who Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker endorsed, your long national nightmare is over: He has endorsed Ted Cruz.

[CN: Rape culture] Here are a few more stars you can add to your "These Fuckers Are Still Willing to Work with Woody Allen" list: Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg, Steve Carell, Blake Lively, and Parker Posey, all of whom star in his new film Café Society, which will open this year's Cannes Film Festival, because of course it will.

Neat! "The discovery of a fossilized skull in Kazakhstan is making paleontologists rewrite the timeline of the Siberian unicorn, Elasmotherium sibiricum. This impressive animal was a real-life unicorn, though it didn't match the image most of us have for the fairytale creature. Closer to a rhino than a horse in appearance, it was similar in stature to the mammoth. Measuring up to 6.5 feet tall and almost 15 feet long, it weighed up to 9,000 pounds. Its most recognizable feature was its single horn, which is thought to have been much longer than a rhino's, up to multiple feet long. Its habitat was the vast territory from the Don River in Russia to east of modern Kazakhstan. ...The Siberian unicorn, which first emerged in the fossil record around 2.5 million years ago, was thought to have disappeared 350,000 years ago. But the discovery made by researchers from Tomsk State University in Siberia, Russia, seems to show that E. sibiricum might have stuck around much longer. In fact, the beast and humans might have met."

Speaking of unicorns: "They are distinctive for the long tusk that protrudes from their head but until now nobody had a clue why the Narwhal evolved like it did. Thanks to a scientific breakthrough, biologists now believe that the horn of the male of the species is in fact a sensory organ. ...The tusk is actually the left canine of the toothed whale which breaks through its upper lip. But unlike a normal tooth it has no enamel, making it porous and meaning sea water can travel through the tusk connecting with nerve endings and then, most importantly, sending signals to the brain."

And finally! Bonnie Baby Bentangs! The Edinburgh Zoo "is hopeful that the two Banteng calves will contribute to the conservation of this endangered species in the future."

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SCOTUS Tie Preserves Fair Share Union Fees

This is very good news for unionized workers who benefit from collective bargaining:

The Supreme Court announced a tie vote today in what labor law experts had called a "life-or-death" case for public employee unions.

The split decision preserves a long-standing rule that requires about half of the nation's teachers, transit workers and other public employees to pay a "fair share fee" to support their union.

The tie vote will come as a relief to union officials who feared the conservative court was on the brink of striking down the pro-union laws that authorized these fees.

...The National Education Assn.—the nation's largest union, with 3 million members—hailed the decision as a victory.

"The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected a political ploy to silence public employees like teachers, school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, higher education faculty and other educators to work together to shape their profession," said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.

The justices, following their usual practice, issued a short statement saying they had affirmed the lower court ruling by a tie vote.

In this case, Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Assn., the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals had rejected the claim of an Orange County teacher who contended it violated her free-speech rights to be forced to support the union she opposed. The appeals court judges said they relied on a Supreme Court ruling from 1977 which had upheld laws that required public employees to help pay the cost of collective bargaining on the theory that all benefit to some degree.

However, employees who do not support their union do not have to pay dues to support the union's political activity.

...If the high court had overturned its 1977 precedent and struck down these fees on 1st Amendment grounds, the decision could have had a [deleterious] effect on public employee unions. Their officials feared that many employees, even those who favored the union, would choose not to pay the fees to support one if they were free to do so.
There are some union members who oppose fair share fees because they don't like their benefits negotiated by their unions; not all objectors do so on free speech grounds. But the collective bargaining power comes from the collective. So, ultimately, the better way to address those disagreements is to campaign for better union representatives, not to dilute the power of the union.

In any case, this is a very important decision for working people, both those already in unions and those who need them. Unions are dwindling across the nation, and if there is a hope for more working people to unionize, it was contingent on this decision. Phew.

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Behold Your Roosting Chickens

[Content Note: Bigotry.]

So sayeth Hillary Clinton:

Hillary Clinton had a message for Republicans bemoaning the rise of Donald Trump: "You reap what you sow."

..."Donald Trump didn't come out of nowhere," Clinton said in a speech at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Monday. "What Republicans have sown with their extremist tactics, they're now reaping with Trump's candidacy."

"Once you make the extreme normal, you open the door to even worse," she added.

It hasn't gotten a whole lot of attention this campaign (SHOCKING), but Clinton has been hitting all the hard points about Trump's presidency. Like when she made the point that Trump's policies are not, actually, outside the Republican mainstream but firmly within it.

She is, suffice it to say, well-prepared to run against this asshole.

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Team Sanders, and Why I'm Not on It

[Content Note: Privilege.]

Yesterday, Bernie Sanders' senior strategist Tad Devine incredibly claimed: "Almost all of Secretary Clinton's delegate lead come from states where she faced little or no competition. Her grasp now on the nomination is almost entirely on the basis of victories in states where Bernie Sanders did not compete."

This is, for the record, a bald-faced lie. Even MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, who has been a reliable Sanders supporter and defender, had to admit that Sanders spent more money in the states in which Devine claimed Sanders did not compete.

Devine also said of Clinton: "She has emerged as a weak front-runner."

This, too, is untrue. Clinton is a strong contender, whose supporters, by their own assessments, report higher levels of enthusiasm for their candidate than Sanders supporters.

Then, last night, Sanders surrogate Susan Sarandon appeared on Chris Hayes' MSNBC show, where she explained that she might not be able to bring herself to vote for Clinton, if she gets the nomination, because Sarandon wants a revolution, and "some people feel that Donald Trump will bring the revolution immediately if he gets in, things will really explode."

When Hayes asked her if that wasn't potentially very dangerous, Sarandon replied: "It's dangerous to think that we can continue the way we are with the militarized police force, with privatized prisons, with the death penalty, with the low minimum wage, threats to women's rights and think you can't do something huge to turn that around."

Just breathtaking privilege, that—for reasons I explained, in part, here.

Meanwhile, presumably many of the same Sanders supporters who were (and continue) harassing Clinton voters are now harassing Clinton superdelegates. A spreadsheet with their names and contact info is being passed around, and a number of superdelegates have reported receiving pressure, harassments, and threats.

There has been an enormous amount of talk among Sanders supporters, surrogates, and staff about the establishment, and superdelegates, and coin tosses, and various conspiracies about why Bernie Sanders isn't winning the Democratic primary.

The truth is, he just hasn't run a very good campaign. His team isn't as effective or decent as they need to be. Sometimes, as yesterday, they lie and say stupid things. A lot of his supporters haven't done him any favors, either.

There's no grand conspiracy, or collection of smaller conspiracies. It's just basic politics.

He hasn't done enough to win.

* * *

A few days ago, I went back and looked at what I wrote when Sanders announced his candidacy.

Senator Bernie Sanders, the only Democratic Socialist serving in the US Senate, says he is considering running for president. Good luck, Bernie Sanders! I would almost definitely vote for you!
That was me, two years ago, when Bernie Sanders announced that he was thinking of running for president.
Senator Bernie Sanders, the only socialist (♥ ♥ ♥) in Congress will reportedly announce tomorrow that he is seeking the Democratic nomination, too. Good on ya, Bernie. I don't think you can win, but I think you can bring some important progressive ideas to the Democratic primary! Please say the word abortion a lot thank you!
That was me, one year ago, the week Bernie Sanders officially threw his hat into the ring.

My vote was his to lose. Despite the fact that I am routinely accused of being in the bag for Clinton, Sanders had a chance—clearly a very good one—to win me over, and he failed.

I've said a few times now, as the campaign goes on, the more I see of him, the less I like him.

People have accused me of being a paid shill for the Clinton campaign, and, perhaps if I were, my increasing displeasure with Sanders' campaign would be more tolerable to his most fervent supporters.

But I'm not. And this is the truth with which they have to reckon: It's not payment from his opposition, nor a reflexive support of Clinton from Day One, nor any other nefarious influence or sinister agenda that has lost Sanders my vote.

It's just that he has simply, straightforwardly failed to win it.

* * *

I am not alone in this conclusion. Many of the Clinton supporters I know were ready to give Sanders a fair shake—in many cases way more than a fair shake. But he didn't deliver.

And I'm not discounting the wide popular support he does have. I get that lots of people like him a lot! It's just that there are, so far, fewer of those people than the people who prefer Hillary Clinton.

That's what a primary is. It's people deciding between candidates. And Sanders isn't losing because of some shady plot. It's really nothing more complicated than this: He's not as popular as Clinton.

Sanders' most conspiratorial supporters can caterwaul all they want that it's because of name recognition or fundraising or party preference or media coverage or whatever the hell else they want it to be, and maybe for some people some of that mattered, but it didn't matter to me. I was open to supporting Sanders. My vote was his to lose.

And he lost it.

Perhaps it's time for some people to consider, quite seriously, that I (and other voters like me) aren't the epic monsters with fat pockets full of Clinton cash they accuse of us being, or "low-information voters" who aren't familiar enough with Sanders, but simply people who made a different choice. For any one of a number of reasons.

And that their candidate isn't actually the messianic figure they assert that he is, but instead just another politician, whose campaign simply hasn't resonated as strongly with as many people as someone else's has.

And that all of that is okay.

I've been accused by Sanders supporters countless times during this primary of not understanding how politics works. I actually do understand how politics works. This is how politics works.

In politics, sometimes your guy loses, because he didn't do what it took to win.

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Open Thread

screen cap of gameplay from an Atari era Q*bert video game

Hosted by Q*bert.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker bandit_queen: "What two creative-type people would you like to see collaborate on a project?"

Paul Feig and Retta.

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Tina Turner: "What You Get Is What You See"

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Discussion Thread: Questions to Ask Your Partner(s)

Note: Although the article which inspired this post is centered on marriage, the discussion in this space does not have to be, as not everyone wants to get married, and not everyone is legally allowed to marry the person and/or all the people with whom they're partnered, e.g. same-sex couples in localities where same-sex marriage is still not legal or polyamorous people with multiple partners. And not all questions at the link will apply to all partnerships, e.g. asexual couples. So please feel welcome and encouraged to expand the definitions as is appropriate to your circumstances, provided you are a person who is interested in long-term partnerships in the first place.

In the New York Times, Eleanor Stanford offers her suggestions for "13 Questions to Ask Before Getting Married."

I think it's a pretty solid list, with the caveat that it only works if the people having the conversation are being honest. And it's important to recognize that one's answers can change over time, as people grow and learn and change.

Which brings me to my invitation to suggest what you think are important questions for people to ask their partner(s).

Because my first addition to the list is: If we don't fundamentally disagree on any of these subjects now, how will we negotiate those differences in the future?

The other suggestion I'd make, again on the subject of change over time, is: How will you feel if my body/appearance significantly changes at any point in our relationship, due to age, pregnancy, illness, injury, disability, and/or weight gain?

Those, like the ones on the list, are fairly specific questions for discussion. But the question I would recommend most of all is much more nebulous: Do you like me as much as you love me?

Iain and I will soon mark 15 years of being together. And that question is what came to mind when I thought about the one thing we both needed to know about each other over the course of those years.

There have been moments where we don't like each other, but love has seen us through, and moments where we don't love each other, but liking each other has seen us through.

And every disagreement we've had, no matter how significant, gets resolved because we both love and like each other enough to make the effort.

Anyway! What are your suggestions?

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The Monday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by wind.

Recommended Reading:

Chauncey: [Content Note: Racism; violence] History Is a Moving Train: From Nixon and Goldwater to Donald Trump and the Age of Obama

Michelle: [CN: Discussion of disordered eating; dieting; food snobbery] It's Okay to Love Food

Ragen: [CN: Fat hatred; child abuse] The War on "Obesity" Is Seriously Harming Kids

Kath: A Tribute to Nurse Kellye

Pissed-Off Son: [CN: Racism] A Spicy South Asian Holler to Mr. Trump

Dan: Oculus Rift Launches Today with Competition on Its Heels from HTC and Sony

Also! I've got a new piece up at Blue Nation Review: "Former NYT Editor Says Hillary Is Fundamentally Honest and Trustworthy."

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

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Shooting Reported at US Capitol

[Content Note: Shooting.]

There have been reports of a shooting at the US Capitol Visitors' Center.

The Daily Beast reports: "U.S. Capitol Police are responding to reports of shots fired at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. EMS units are reportedly on the way to treat multiple injuries. Capitol workers were told by authorities to shelter in place due to a 'potential security threat.' House staffers received an email shortly before 3:00 p.m. ET saying that no one can exit or enter any Capitol buildings and if you are outside to seek cover immediately."

There is very little information available at this time, but I will update the post as more details become available.

Goddammit. I desperately hope no one was seriously injured, and fear that people were.

UPDATE: This is a startlingly good outcome:

A police officer was shot and wounded on Monday in the U.S. Capitol complex and the gunman captured, a source citing information from the Sergeant-at-Arms office in Congress said.

Gunshots were heard in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center and workers were told to shelter and there was confusion in early accounts about what occurred.

The source said the officer's wounds were not serious.

A U.S. Capitol Police officer, who asked not to be identified, said that the suspected shooter was being transported to hospital. The officer did not identify or describe the suspect and he added that there were no additional suspects.
I'm so sorry that the officer was hurt, and that so many people were so frightened by this awful experience, but compared to how much worse it could have been, and has been in so many other cases, I feel very relieved to be able to report a comparatively good resolution.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat sitting on the coffee table, trying to look innocent
Who's got four paws and is fixing to get into some trouble? This cat!

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat sitting on the coffee table, looking around the room
"Hmm, let's see what I can get into?"

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat standing on the couch, licking her lips
Licking her lips after immediately sticking her face in Iain's coffee mug as soon as he walked away. It's blurry, because I accidentally took it while jumping up to try to stop her. Unsuccessfully, 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 on agency] Teddy Wilson has the appalling details on the omnibus abortion bill passed in Indiana, which Governor Mike Pence signed into law "on the last day he could approve or reject legislation this year," despite the fact that it was so onerous that even some Republican state legislatures did not support it. Once again, the Republican-controlled Indiana state legislature is acting in contravention of the will of the people, and has ushered in under the auspices of "women's health" a sweeping piece of hot garbage legislation that is entire hostile to public health.

[CN: Homophobia] In better news, Republican Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced he will veto "HB 757, a 'religious liberty' bill that would enable, among other things, organizations like adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples without jeopardizing their state funding. Deal explained that he found the language in the final version of the bill of 'concern,' noting that it could enable some forms of state-sanctioned discrimination." Towleroad has the full transcript of Deal's remarks.

[CN: Homophobia; transphobia] Last week, when North Carolina passed its heinous anti-LGBT bill, I noted: "The LGBTQI people of North Carolina...are now left with no option but to pursue recourse through the courts." And so they are: "Three individuals and two LGBT advocacy groups early Monday morning filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the recently passed North Carolina law that nullified local LGBT rights ordinances and restricted transgender people's access to restrooms. 'By singling out LGBT people for disfavored treatment and explicitly writing discrimination against transgender people into state law, H.B. 2 violates the most basic guarantees of equal treatment and the U.S. Constitution,' the lawsuit argues. The complaint argues the law violates people's equal protection, privacy, and liberty rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and their civil rights under Title IX of the Education Act of 1972. The lawsuit is asking for a declaratory judgment that the law violates the Constitution and Title IX and an injunction against enforcement of the law."

[CN: Guns] Good grief: "An online petition to allow the open carry of firearms at this summer's Republican National Convention is rapidly gaining signatures and attention, applying pressure to pro-gun rights Republican officials and presidential contenders to walk the walk when it comes to guns. Begun anonymously a week ago, the petition has collected more than 42,000 signatures as of Monday morning, putting it well on its way to a goal of 50,000." There are, unfortunately, a number of liberals who are reacting with glee to this petition (which itself might have been started by someone as a "joke"), but please note that there will be a number of women and marginalized men obliged to work the convention who would be at real risk for harm, or trauma, if this actually happens.

[CN: Guns] Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton writes in a powerful op-ed: "It's time we stand up to the Republicans and the gun lobby and stand with parents who have lost their children to gun violence. I have no illusions about how hard the politics around this issue are, but I refuse to sit on the sidelines while more children die. I am convinced that the majority of Americans—and the majority of gun owners—agree on the need for common-sense safety reforms. ...We have to stand with parents who have lost children in New York and in communities all over America, and not rest until every child can walk safely down any street in every neighborhood and every borough. ...As President, I'll stand with the families victimized by guns, not the corporations that profit from them."

In other Hillary Clinton news: "Hillary was honored by the Puyallup Tribe with two powerful gifts: A blanket and a Lushootseed Indian name."

Toxic Trump: "Just Eight GOP Senators up for Re-Election Would Definitely Back Trump."

Toxic Trump: "More Republicans are planning to vote for Hillary than Democrats are planning to vote for Trump."

Toxic Trump: "Here in Wisconsin we value things like civility, decency, and actual conservative principles."

In other news: A new study has found "that American business would take a major hit without the innovation that immigrants bring to its shores. Recent research from non-partisan nonprofit National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) reveals that of the 87 American startups that are currently valued at $1 billion+, 44 of them (51 percent) were created by immigrants. The collective value of those companies sits at $168 billion. And 71 percent of all big-ticket startups have immigrants in key management or development roles, with CEO, CTO, and VP of engineering as the most common job titles. The founders came from 20 countries, with India leading the way with 14 people. China, Argentina, Egypt, and Iraq also appear on the list."

Loretta Lynn + Willie Nelson = WIN. WWWWWIIIIINNNNN!

Neat! "Scientists around the world are racing to turn quantum computing theory into a practical reality that could transform countless industries with computing grunt faster than we've ever imagined. But nobody has yet managed to build a quantum computing circuit of useful scale because of the impracticability and expense of resources needed. Researchers from Griffith University and the University of Queensland have brought us one step closer after they discovered a way to make the building blocks of quantum computing, quantum logic gates, bigger."

[CN: Moving gifs at link] And finally! "This Wednesday, during a Brazilian championship match between Oeste and Capivariano teams, a lovely pooch interrupted the game by running straight into the field. But no one was bothered too much. On the contrary, the dog melted everyone's hearts. 'It's not just the players who wanna show talent here, the dog is also a part of the show!' the announcer said joyfully. Then, one of the players gently approached the pup and carried the little star out of the field with the crowd giving a wholehearted cheer. Best of all, the announcer also saw the beautiful moment as a chance to spread an important message to everyone watching: 'Be good to an animal, to a dog. It's the least a human being can do to give back for all that they give us.' Well said, indeed." Blub.

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