Question of the Day

What's for dinner? Or whatever the next meal of the day is in your part of the world.

I don't even know yet, lol. Probably fish of some description.

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Remember This

Ahead of Donald Trump's Please Clap for Me address tonight, during which one of the topics will presumably be healthcare "reform," and with Paul Ryan making noise about healthcare "reform" being a priority for Congressional Republicans this spring, I thought it might be useful to return to what Trump promised along the campaign trail during a 60 Minutes interview with Scott Pelley in September 2015.

Pelley: What's your plan for Obamacare?

Trump: Obamacare's going to be repealed and replaced. Obamacare is a disaster, if you look at what's going on with premiums, where they're up 45, 50, 55 percent—

Pelley: So how do you fix it?

Trump: There's many different ways, by the way. Everybody's got to be covered. This is an un-Republican thing for me to say, because a lot of times they say, "No, no, the lower 25 percent, they can't afford private." But—

Pelley: Universal health care?

Trump: I am going to take care of everybody. I don't care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody's going to be taken care of, much better than they're taken care of now.

Pelley: The uninsured person—

Trump: Right.

Pelley: —is going to be taken care of how?

Trump: They're going to be taken care of.

Pelley: How?

Trump: I would make a deal with existing hospitals to take care of people. And, you know what, if this is probably—

Pelley: Make a deal? Who pays for it?

Trump: The government's gonna pay for it. But we're going to save so much money on the other side! But for the most it's going to be a private plan and people are going to be able to go out and negotiate great plans with lots of different competition with lots of competitors with great companies, and they can have their doctors, they can have their plans, they can have everything.
"They can have everything." This is what Trump promised. Remember that.

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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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An Observation

Some people are very annoyed with me that I don't appreciate the virtue of their trenchant suggestion that Democrats must do more to reach out to Trump voters.

And when I point out that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million votes, and lost the electoral college by a pittance of overall votes, they respond, inevitably, with: "SHE LOST."

Yes. But the thing is: The last two Republican presidents (Bush and Trump) only won because of extraordinary circumstances. If Republicans can't win without a hanging chad or a meddling Vlad, I fail to see why I should be more concerned with strategy than I am with election integrity.

I am very concerned indeed with the integrity of our elections.

That includes, but is not limited to: Voting rights, voting accessibility, voter purges, felony restrictions on voting, prisoner disenfranchisement, machine tampering, gerrymandering, foreign meddling, and responsible journalism that centers policy.

The best strategy in the world, no matter one's opinion on what that may be, isn't going to win elections if they're corrupt.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat sitting on the stairs, peeking around the corner
Olivia, keeping watch.

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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We Resist: Day 40

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things I've read today:

In more interesting (ahem) Trump real estate news, Russ Choma and Andy Kroll at Mother Jones report: Trump Just Sold a $15.8 Million Condo to a Consultant Who Peddles Access to Powerful People.
Last week, Donald Trump's company sealed its first big post-inaugural real estate transaction, selling a $15.8 million penthouse to a Chinese-American business executive who runs a company that touts its ability to exploit connections with powerful people to broker business deals in China.

New York City property records show that Xiao Yan Chen, the founder and managing director of a business consulting firm called Global Alliance Associates, purchased the four-bedroom, six-bathroom condo in Trump's Park Avenue high-rise on February 21. Before taking office, Trump signed documents removing himself from the board of directors of Trump Park Avenue LLC, the entity that sold the unit, but he remains the LLC's owner.

Chen, who also goes by Angela Chen, did not return multiple calls and emails requesting comment. Her company bills itself as a "boutique business relationship consultancy" for US firms seeking to do business in China. "For a select clientele," the firm says that it "facilitates the right strategic relationships with the most prominent public and private decision makers in China."

...According to, the penthouse unit Chen purchased last week has an estimated value of $14.3 million.
Zillow isn't exactly a precise estimator, but sometimes it overestimates value. So, potentially, Trump earned even more than $1.5 million over value.

* * *

Michael Kruse at Politico: "He's a Performance Artist Pretending to be a Great Manager." There will never be a pivot. Trump is Trump is Trump.
In recent interviews, [people who worked for him at different points over the past 45 years as well as writers of the best, most thoroughly reported Trump biographies] recounted a shrewd, slipshod, charming, vengeful, thin-skinned, belligerent, hard-charging manager who was an impulsive hirer and a reluctant firer and surrounded himself with a small cadre of ardent loyalists; who solicited their advice but almost always ultimately went with his gut and did what he wanted; who kept his door open and expected others to do the same not because of a desire for transparency but due to his own insecurities and distrusting disposition; who fostered a frenetic, internally competitive, around-the-clock, stressful, wearying work environment in which he was a demanding, disorienting mixture of hands-on and hands-off—a hesitant delegator and an intermittent micromanager who favored fast-twitch wins over long-term follow-through, promotion over process, and intuition over deliberation.

..."I don't think there's anything of scale that he's had his hands on that he hasn't made a hash of," biographer Tim O'Brien said in an interview last week. ..."He's not a great manager," O'Brien said. "He's a performance artist pretending to be a great manager."

...He consistently has managed his image more effectively than he has managed his interests.
All of which is a reflection of his temperament, and thus was patently obvious to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention during the campaign.

There are a lot of ways to describe Trump's "management style" (or lack thereof), but the easiest and most accurate word is abusive. And plenty of people were raising red flags about Trump's abusiveness throughout his campaign, and further noting that it was incompatible with good governance.

Those people were ignored. At the nation's peril.

* * *

This report by Benny Johnson at the Independent Journal Review about Trump's secret dinner at the BLT Steakhouse is worth a read in its entirety. But this passage stuck out to me: "One woman shouts at him 'Donald, it's my birthday!' Trump stops and says 'Happy birthday,' as he hugs the elated woman. 'How about a birthday present? Let's take a photo,' he says to her, afterward telling the woman she looks very young and has great skin." And it stuck out to me because I've written before about Trump's obsession with women's skin. It's so objectifying and so fucking creepy.

Cynthia McFadden, William M. Arkin, and Ken Dilanian at NBC News: Yemen SEAL Raid Has Yielded No Significant Intelligence. "Last month's deadly commando raid in Yemen, which cost the lives of a U.S. Navy SEAL and a number of children, has so far yielded no significant intelligence, U.S. officials told NBC News. Although Pentagon officials have said the raid produced 'actionable intelligence,' senior officials who spoke to NBC News said they were unaware of any, even as the father of the dead SEAL questioned the premise of the raid in an interview with the Miami Herald published Sunday." This was the raid the White House declared "a successful operation by all standards."

Jonathan Swan of Axios provides screenshots of the full text of Trump's executive order rolling back environmental regulations, saying: "Trump admin starts attacking environmental regs in earnest today." Sob. At Politico, Alex Guillén reports: "The White House has proposed slashing EPA's budget by about a quarter and eventually eliminating 1 in 5 of the agency's workers, according to sources familiar with the budget proposal sent to EPA on Monday."

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Dan Hirschhorn at Fortune: Donald Trump Gave Himself an 'A+' for Effort for His First Month as President. Of course he did. And then he blamed President Obama for orchestrating the resistance against him: "Trump also blamed former President Barack Obama, without any evidence, for organizing the frequent protests against him. 'No, I think he is behind it,' Trump said. 'I also think it's just politics. That's just the way it is. You never know what's exactly happening behind the scenes,' Trump added. 'I think that President Obama's behind it because his people are certainly behind it.'" No evidence of any of that. None.

During the same interview with Fox & Friends, Trump was also asked to name when he deserved criticism, to which he responded, "No, probably I could never do that." Over and over, Trump has said he can take criticism if it's deserved, but then never feels any criticism is deserved.

Again from the same interview: "Donald Trump said he believes the extra $54 billion dollars he has proposed spending on the U.S. military will be offset by a stronger economy as well as cuts in other areas. 'I think the money is going to come from a revved up economy,' Trump said." In other words: Taxpayers. Because how the government gets money from "a revved up economy" is more taxes.

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] This is an important story by Fatima Hussein at the Indianapolis Star about Veep Mike Pence and his campaign to get the Indiana Supreme Court to "stay out of his redacted emails." Note that the case in question involves Pence's attempt to ignore President Obama's executive order on immigration. Anyone who imagines Pence is less authoritarian or more decent than Trump is sorely mistaken.

[CN: Racism] Paula Reid of CBS reports that, yesterday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said "he hasn't read DOJ's report on Chicago PD. He read summaries and found them 'anecdotal' and 'not so scientifically based.'" As Christopher Hayes notes: "This admin loves nothing more than to cheaply exploit Chicagoans' trauma but can't be bothered to set aside an hour to read a report."

[CN: Anti-semitism; video may autoplay at link] The desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia, which I mentioned yesterday, is much worse than originally thought. Max Kutner at Newsweek reports: "At least 20 bomb threats were made to Jewish institutions in 12 or more states on Monday, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), causing the organization to issue a security advisory. The wave of threats was the fifth in recent weeks and came one day after Jewish community leaders found more than 500 headstones toppled at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. A similar incident at a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis occurred days before that." Emphasis mine.

[CN: Islamophobia] Meanwhile, the Kansas City Star Editorial Board publishes: Trump's Silence on Deadly Olathe Shooting Is Disquieting. "At some point, embarrassingly late begins to verge on something more disquieting. President Donald Trump has silently planted himself in that space. Nearly a week has passed since two India-born engineers were singled out and shot at an Olathe bar, presumably because they were immigrants, darker in skin tone and possibly viewed by the shooter as unwanted foreigners. People around the world were immediately and rightfully horrified. But our president? Mum. Not a word has been spoken, tweeted, or prepped for Trump's teleprompter."

Finally: Tonight, Trump will deliver an address to a joint session of Congress. It's the address first-year presidents give in lieu of a State of the Union address. It will be broadcast starting at 9:00pm ET.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

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Urgent Threat to Net Neutrality

Last month, I warned a rollback of Net Neutrality was coming and shared some action items.

If you were on social media, you may remember that I got some pushback for that, for being a reactionary alarmist. That shit never gets old.

Today, Jacob Kastrenakes at the Verge reports: "FCC Chairman Says Net Neutrality Was a Mistake."

FCC chairman Ajit Pai said today that net neutrality was "a mistake" and that the commission is now "on track" to return to a much lighter style of regulation.

"Our new approach injected tremendous uncertainty into the broadband market," Pai said during a speech at Mobile World Congress this afternoon. "And uncertainty is the enemy of growth."

Pai has long been opposed to net neutrality and voted against the proposal when it came up in 2015. While he hasn't specifically stated that he plans to reverse the order now that he's chairman, today's speech suggests pretty clearly that he's aiming to.

...Pai has been chairman of the commission for just over a month now, and in that time, he's already begun chipping away at net neutrality in a few different ways: approving zero rating, scaling back transparency rules, proposing to halt major new privacy requirements. After this speech today, it's evident that Pai is just getting started.
It is impossible to overestimate how critical this issue is. Start pushing back NOW.

Again: Suggestions for taking action, should you need them.

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Absolutely Unreal

[Content Note: Racism.]

Yesterday, the White House met with presidents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University, wrote about the meeting:

On Friday I learned that I was selected to give remarks [Monday] for the meeting at the White House with members of the Trump administration, most notably Secretary Betsy DeVos. We learned this weekend that there would be closing remarks by Vice President Pence, but the goal was for officials from a number of Federal agencies (about 5 were there including OMB) and Secretary DeVos to hear about HBCUs.

That all blew up when the decision was made to take the presidents to the Oval Office to see the President. I'm still processing that entire experience. But needless to say that threw the day off and there was very little listening to HBCU presidents today—we were only given about 2 minutes each, and that was cut to one minute, so only about 7 of maybe 15 or so speakers were given an opportunity today.
Emphasis mine.

Following the meeting, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released an absolutely incredible statement:
Statement from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Following Listening Session with Historically Black College [sic] and Universities Leaders

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the following statement after meeting with presidents and chancellors of Historically Black Colleges and Universities at the White House:

A key priority for this administration is to help develop opportunities for communities that are often the most underserved. Rather than focus solely on funding, we must be willing to make the tangible, structural reforms that will allow students to reach their full potential.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have done this since their founding. They started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education. They saw that the system wasn't working, that there was an absence of opportunity, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution.

HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.

Their counsel and guidance will be crucial in addressing the current inequities we face in education. I look forward to working with the White House to elevate the role of HBCUs in this administration and to solve the problems we face in education today.
Wow. Okay. So, this is garbage.

What DeVos has done here, with breathtaking audacity, is appropriate and rewrite HBCUs' purpose and mission, to suit her own personal bailiwick of privatizing education. HBCUs were not about "school choice," but about providing opportunities to Black students because of institutional segregation.

As Ben Mathis-Lilley notes at Slate [CN: descriptions of racist violence]: "[T]his official 2017 federal government press release celebrates legal segregation (!!!) on the grounds that the Jim Crow education system gave black students 'more options,' as if there was a robust competition between HBCUs and white universities for their patronage. (When black Mississippian James Meredith chose the 'option' of enrolling at the University of Mississippi in 1962, a massive white mob formed on the campus; two people were shot to death and hundreds injured in the ensuing battle/riot, during which federal marshals came under heavy gunfire, requiring the ultimate intervention of 20,000 U.S. soldiers and thousands more National Guardsmen.)"

It is abhorrent that DeVos would engage in this particular appropriation, given that the school privatization schemes for which she passionate advocates have been found to actually entrench inequality. In Indiana, where "school choice" has been on offer for years, the Indiana Coalition for Public Education concluded that such proposals stand to "reverse the state's progress on desegregation efforts."

And indeed, Indiana charter schools were found to be turning away homeless and disabled students, in violation of federal law.

And as Carlton Waterhouse, a professor of law and dean's fellow at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, wrote in a recent column, "school choice" will not fix the rot at the core of the "educational crisis," because that rot is white supremacy:
Educational reform efforts over the past five decades have all been efforts to overcome white parents' taste for discrimination. These plans were routinely intended to lure white children into urban schools. Busing, magnet schools, theme schools, home schooling and now vouchers and charter schools have largely been embraced because so many white parents find educational environments with too many African-American and Latino students unsuitable for their children. This unspoken belief that African-American and Latino children threaten the moral and intellectual development of other children has a strong emotional power that drives public education in America.
Consider DeVos' statement in that context. She is eliding the history of segregation from which HBCUs emerged, in order to praise them for providing opportunities to Black students.

The very students to whom she and her (white) supporters don't want to provide opportunities alongside their (white) children.

All of this, during Black History Month.

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Donald Trump, Wilbur Ross, and the Russians

Last night, billionaire Wilbur Ross was confirmed as Secretary of Commerce. Only 27 Senators voted against him, despite the fact that, as Senator Elizabeth Warren noted: "Mr. Ross has extensive ties to Russia. He plans to keep making money from his major oil shipping companies while working as Commerce Secretary. He's made billions off the backs of struggling homeowners. He is practically a cartoon stereotype of a Wall Street fat cat."

Ross' business ties to Russia were never brought up during his confirmation hearing. He was never asked about them, and he certainly never volunteered any information about them.

This was the backdrop to an extended segment on Rachel Maddow's show last night. It's 20 minutes, but I strongly encourage you to carefully watch the entire thing, as it's a very important piece in the Trump-Russia puzzle.

The transcript is not yet available, but, when it is, you'll be able to find it here.

In the meantime, here's a summary of the key points: Deutsche Bank (who we already know appears to be helping Trump play a shell game with his real estate assets) was fined $630 million by the U.S. Department of Justice last month for helping Russian oligarch launder their money. The reason the U.S. DoJ was involved is because the three Deutsche Bank sites engaged with the money-laundering scheme were in Moscow, Cyprus, and NYC.

The last chairman of Deutsche Bank is now the chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, which has a history of helping Russian oligarchs launder their money. He was appointed chair by the Bank of Cyprus' two largest shareholders, one of whom, Viktor Vekselberg, is a business associate and personal friend of Vladimir Putin.

Another major investor in that bank is a Russian mega-billionaire named Dmitry Rybolovlev. In the last decade, he went through what's said to be the most expensive divorce in modern history; his ex-wife was awarded $4.5 billion as her divorce settlement, and even that was probably a pittance based on his actual worth. But that worth is unclear, because he conspired to hide his money from her.

One of the ways he accomplished this was by sinking his money into real estate trusts in foreign countries. He bought, for example, an $88 million apartment in NYC for his daughter, as well as a $100 million estate in Florida. The seller of that estate? Donald Trump.

Trump had bought the estate two years earlier for $40 million in a bankruptcy auction. He never lived there, never refurbished it, etc., and then sold it to Rybolovlev in 2008 for $100 million. Two-and-a-half times what Trump paid for it two years earlier. Why would Rybolovlev overpay? To hide as much of his money as he could.

Rybolovlev never lived there, and he and Trump both claim they never met during the deal, and it was all handled through intermediaries. Who were those intermediaries? Well, the other vice-chair (in addition to Putin's pal) of the Bank of Cyprus, who installed the former Deutsche Bank chair, is none other than newly-confirmed U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Ross is, in fact, the single largest shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus, and Rybolovlev is another major shareholder. Ross is also the only American shareholder, and a longtime friend of Trump.

It isn't clear if Ross was the intermediary in this deal that netted Trump a $60 million profit on a garbage piece of real estate, but it had to be someone who knew Rybolovlev was going through a divorce and was looking to hide his assets in real estate trust and also knew that Trump needed an influx of cash to repay at debt to (surprise!) Deutsche Bank.

Now Ross is a cabinet secretary, so if any scandal about his ties to Russia come out, it will be a scandal inextricably tied to Trump.

Meanwhile, Evan Osnos, David Remnick, and Joshua Yaffa have a huge new piece in the New Yorker, "Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War," which says, in part, regarding that infamous 35-page intelligence dossier on Trump:
The thirty-five-page dossier, which included claims about Trump's behavior during a 2013 trip to Moscow, had been shopped around to various media outlets by researchers opposed to Trump's candidacy. The dossier concluded that Russia had personal and financial material on Trump that could be used as blackmail. It said that the Russians had been "cultivating, supporting, and assisting" Trump for years. According to current and former government officials, prurient details in the dossier generated skepticism among some members of the intelligence community, who, as one put it, regarded it as a "nutty" product to present to a President. But, in the weeks that followed, they confirmed some of its less explosive claims, relating to conversations with foreign nationals. "They are continuing to chase down stuff from the dossier, and, at its core, a lot of it is bearing out," an intelligence official said. Some officials believe that one reason the Russians compiled information on Trump during his 2013 trip was that he was meeting with Russian oligarchs who might be stashing money abroad—a sign of disloyalty, in Putin's eyes.
Emphases mine.


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Open Thread

Hosted by a turquoise sofa. Have a seat and chat.

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Question of the Day

What is your most beloved book from childhood, the one you just read over and over and over because you loved it sooooo much?

Longtime readers will surely be unsurprised at my answer: Beautiful Joe.

image of my tattered copy of Beautiful Joe, featuring a brown dog with cropped ears on the cover

Beautiful Joe is based on a true story of an abused and rescued dog, and was written by Marshall Saunders—actually Margaret Marshall Saunders, who entered (and won) a literary contest sponsored by the American Humane and Educational Society under her middle name because female authors weren't getting published. It was first published in 1893; my tattered copy, which I read and reread and reread as a child, is a 1955 edition.

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The Monday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by horses.

Recommended Reading:

Katherine: [Content Note: Racism] Jimmy Kimmel's Turn Hosting the Oscars Was Filled with Casual Racism

Jamie: [CN: Racism; trans hatred] On Lost Boys and Ethical Boundaries

Teow: [CN: Racism; nativism] On Borders and Citizens

Sasha: [CN: Trans hatred] The Real Issues Behind This Attack on Transgender Rights

Echidne: Trump: "Nobody Knew That Health Care Could Be So Complicated." Call Me Nobody Then.

Sidney: Trump Is Very Wrong About Clean Coal

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

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Paul Ryan Is the Worst

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan gave a press conference today, all of which was terrible obviously, but here are two lowlights:

1. Affordable Care Act

RYAN: We're gonna be rolling out our plan [to repeal the Affordable Care Act] very soon—that's the legislative process. Let's remember one thing: Obamacare is collapsing under its own weight right now. Plans are pulling out right now. Obamacare, to quote an insurance, um, head of an insurance company, is in a death spiral. So this is a rescue mission.

We have to step in and prevent Obamacare from getting worse, from collapsing, and we will replace it with a law that's better! That's more durable. That lowers costs; improves access to more affordable plans.

But, more importantly, we're not gonna sit in the government and force people to buy something that they don't want to buy. We're gonna give people choice and freedom. And that's what a patient-centered health system does, and that is one of the reasons why we must repeal and replace Obamacare, and that is top of our list this spring.
The Affordable Care Act, which has provided healthcare access for 20 million people, is "in a death spiral," according to Ryan. People will literally die if it is repealed, but they are on "a rescue mission," according to Ryan. There ain't enough fuck you in the world for this guy.

2. Russian Election Interference

Trump, his press secretary, and the rest of his garbage administration are "disputing that." In fact, just one hour before Ryan made this absurd claim, Sean Spicer again "disputed that" at his daily briefing.

Clearly, Ryan is not unaware that the entire Trump administration is disputing that there was Russian meddling in the election. And not just disputing it, but going to great (unethical and possibly illegal) lengths to quash both investigations into and press reports about that meddling.

And still he stands before the American people denying that anyone is disputing those facts.

Why? To protect the Trump administration while simultaneously looking as though he actually cares about the integrity of our elections.

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On Waxing Nostalgic for George W. Bush

Former President George W. Bush appeared on the Today show this morning, and, during an interview with Matt Lauer, he said some words about media and accountability, which have been (quite rightly, no doubt) interpreted as throwing shade at Donald Trump.

Former President George W. Bush said Monday that the media is "indispensable to democracy," a break from the position of his fellow Republican, President Donald Trump, who has called the press "the enemy of the American people."

"I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. That we need the media to hold people like me to account," Bush told Matt Lauer, anchor of NBC's "Today" show. "I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere."
Cool. And y'all already know that I'm incredibly uncharitable, so let me just dive right in.

I remember the Bush administration. I wrote about the Bush administration for eight long years. And there was never a day in which any member of that administration agreed with those sentiments. Not while they were in power.

What Bush is saying sounds great. It also sounds entirely like something someone would say who wants to conceal his own role in paving the road to now.

Let us not forget it was a Bush advisor, after all, who gave us the "reality-based community," while speaking to Ron Suskind, who revealed this incredible exchange in a comprehensive profile of Bush for the New York Times in October 2004.
In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend—but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
Emphasis mine.

My memory is too long for me to appreciate anything George W. Bush has to say on this subject. And virtually any other.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound asleep on the couch with his tongue hanging out and a huge grin
I mean. LOL.

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

Open Wide...

We Resist: Day 39

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things I've read today:

Donald Trump promised over and over along the campaign trail that he had a secret plan to immediately defeat ISIS. Unsurprisingly, that plan has never materialized. But today, he is reportedly in receipt of a plan from the Pentagon.

There are no other immediate details, but this is something to be aware of, because fighting ISIS is certain to become a major piece of Trump's foreign policy, whatever the strategy ends up being.

* * *

On Friday, the Washington Post's Greg Miller and Adam Entous reported: "Acting at the behest of the White House, the officials made calls to news organizations last week in attempts to challenge stories about alleged contacts between members of President Trump's campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, U.S. officials said."

On Sunday, the Guardian's Tom McCarthy reported: "The White House made a messy attempt on Sunday to control public perceptions of a widening scandal over alleged contacts between aides to Donald Trump and Russian intelligence officials during the 2016 election, alleging that the FBI had dismissed reports of such links. ...Contacts between the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and top FBI officials have come in for particular criticism as a violation of a necessary line separating the White House from justice department investigations with potential targets inside the administration. On Sunday, a Trump spokeswoman once again tested that line, saying the FBI had dismissed allegations of inappropriate Trump-Russia ties as 'BS'—bullshit."

Today, Axios' Mike Allen reports: "White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer personally picked up the phone and connected outside officials with reporters to try to discredit a New York Times article about Trump campaign aides' contact with Russia, then remained on the line for the brief conversations, Axios has learned." He then follows up with "ten key points," and I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

This is a very important story, as even some Republicans are starting to get squeamish with the reports that the Trump administration has tried to pressure both intelligence agencies and the media in an attempt to quash investigating and reporting of ties to Russia.

Relatedly, the leaks continue apace. Chas Danner at New York Magazine: White House Staffers Leak News of Sean Spicer's 'Phone Check' Targeting Their Leaks. "Last week, White House press secretary Sean Spicer conducted a surprise phone check on his staff in an effort to stamp out leaks, according to a new Politico report. Spicer, upset that information had leaked out of a previous meeting he had held with roughly a dozen members of his staff, ordered another meeting and had staff surrender their phones and other electronic devices when they arrived. The search—which applied to both personal and government-issued phones—was overseen by White House lawyers, and Spicer then warned staffers against using privacy-focused messaging apps like Signal and Confide, noting that doing so violates the Federal Records Act. He also, per Politico's sources, 'warned the group of more problems if news of the phone checks and the meeting about leaks was leaked to the media,' which it promptly was."

More leaking. The Reuters team reports: Trump Budget Plan Boosts Pentagon, Trims State Dept, EPA. "One of the officials said Trump's request for the Pentagon included more money for shipbuilding, military aircraft and establishing 'a more robust presence in key international waterways and chokepoints' such as the Strait of Hormuz and South China Sea. A second official said the State Department's budget could be cut by as much as 30 percent, which would force a major restructuring of the department and elimination of programs."

Not only is Trump seeking to reenvision foreign policy with more military and less diplomacy; he is also seeking to more forcefully militarize border patrol, including hiring 10,000+ new (anti)immigration agents. But many of the applicants fail to meet the requirements, so naturally, reports Molly O'Toole at Foreign Policy: Trump Administration Seeks to Loosen Hiring Requirements to Beef Up Border Patrol.

Jeremy Herb at Politico: Nominee for Navy Secretary Withdraws. "Donald Trump's nominee for Navy secretary, Philip Bilden, withdrew from consideration Sunday, becoming the second Pentagon pick unable to untangle his financial investments in the vetting process." Up and down this administration, they simply cannot find qualified and competent people to work for them, so they're just trying to fill positions with people ideologically aligned. And, surprise, many of them aren't suited for high-level government work.

[Content Note: Nativism] Brad Reed at Raw Story: Trump-Backing Town Angry After ICE Detains Beloved Local Mexican Restaurant Owner. "While residents in the town said that they were still supportive of the president's moves to deport undocumented immigrants, they told the Times that the president should make more exceptions for people like Pacheco, who have not only been exemplary local businessmen, but also pillars of the community who take part in local charity events."

As Atrios notes: "There's no way to write a 'people like Carlos because I like him' clause into the law. There just isn't. Decide it's ok to aggressively transport longtime residents away, and you're going to be rounding up a lot of people who are 'that nice immigrant I know' to somebody."

[CN: Queer hatred] Andy Towle at Towleroad: Trump Transition Official Says Anti-LGBT 'Religious Freedom' Executive Order Being Redrafted, Still Coming. "The domestic policy chair of Donald Trump's transition team, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, told SiriusXM host Michelangelo Signorile that the rumored anti-LGBT 'religious freedom' executive order is still coming, but is being reworked to make it less vulnerable to legal challenges." Seethe.

[CN: War on agency] Ally Boguhn at Rewire: Purveyor of Anti-Choice Misinformation Working on Trump.s Abortion Policy. "Katy Talento, a member of President Trump's Domestic Policy Council, confirmed she is working on anti-choice policies for the administration in an interview Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). ...'The president has been very clear about where he stands on a lot of these issues, so we're enacting his agenda and his policies,' she said." More seethe.

Charles M. Blow at the New York Times: Trump, Archenemy of Truth. "Trump lashes out with mindless twaddle, insinuating that the media has fully abandoned the pillars and principles of journalism to join the opposition. The fact is that Trump simply wants the truth not to be true, so he assaults its quality. He wants the purveyors of truth not to pursue it, so he questions their motives. And yet, truth stands, rigid and sharp, unforgiving and unafraid. It is our only guard against tyranny..."

* * *

[CN: Islamophobia; violence] Justin Jouvenal at the Washington Post: Virginia Man Charged with Hate Crime After Using Muslim Slurs, Biting Victim's Face. "Robin McGreer, 35, approached a 31-year-old man in a Tysons Corner Center parking lot Nov. 27, started a conversation and then threatened him using anti-Muslim slurs, Fairfax County police said. An altercation ensued and McGreer bit the man's face, leaving him with a 'significant face wound,' police said." This. Didn't. Happen. In. A. Vacuum.

[CN: Anti-semitism] Stephanie Farr and Jason Laughlin at the Philadelphia Inquirer: 'Beyond Belief': 75-100 Headstones Toppled at Jewish Cemetery. "What [Stacy Silver] saw when she arrived was worse than she imagined—tombstone after tombstone, story after story, was toppled to the ground—including those belonging to her mother and great-grandmother. 'Your stomach just drops,' Silver said. 'I mean it's just horrible.' Detectives canvassing the cemetery Sunday afternoon estimated that 75 to 100 headstones had been knocked over. 'It's criminal. This is beyond vandalism,' said Northeast Detectives Capt. Shawn Thrush, as he walked the cemetery grounds. 'It's beyond belief.'" This. Too. Didn't. Happen. In. A. Vacuum.

[CN: Anti-semitism; terrorism] Justin L. Mack at the Indianapolis Star: Bomb Threat Sent to Jewish Community Center in Indianapolis. The Jewish Community Center of Indianapolis was closed after receipt of a bomb threat, which turned out to be just a threat. Indianapolis Metropolitan police have now "issued an all clear." This follows Jewish Community Centers being evacuated in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware in response to threats. None. Of. This. Is. Happening. In. A. Vacuum.

* * *

Donald Trump has announced that he won't be attending the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Of course he won't, because he is a thin-skinned drip who has no sense of humor about himself.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

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I Write Letters

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

Dear Men:

Stop telling me how I should feel or what I should be doing about Trump.

Now, just to be clear, right up front: What I'm not talking about is respectful, good-faith discussions among colleagues and peers about big-picture strategy or even minutiae like the efficacy of calling a Senator's office versus emailing.

What I am talking about is the steady drumbeat, day after grim day, of men telling women that our feelings or priorities are wrong.

Men who insert and assert themselves to tell us that our responses to Trump aren't the "right" responses, or that we shouldn't be writing about, or protesting, or tweeting this but instead should be dedicating our time and energy to that.

I don't want to hear your opinions of how I should be feeling, or how I should be spending my time resisting, or on what you think I should be focused. I don't want to hear your condescending lectures about how I should be feeling or interacting with Trump supporters. I don't want a single syllable of your unsolicited advice.

It doesn't matter if you're Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times or some rando on Twitter. Keep that shit to yourself.

If you want to use "I" language to talk about how you feel or what you are doing in this moment of rising fascism or what you believe is the best approach or primary area of focus, have at it. Set an example, in your own space, if believe your strategy is better. But don't get up in my grill to audit me.

I didn't ask you, and I don't care.

I am not new. More than 20 years ago, I dived into activism by protesting my university using student funds to bring Ralph Reed to campus as a speaker. (We won, by the way.) There are 13 years of public archives of my written work. I'm a 42-year-old fat feminist woman whose body has been politicized her entire life.

And yet you talk to me like I'm a ninnybrained noob who's never thought about this stuff before.

Trust this: I have.

Now I would like you to think about this: Telling women what to do is one of the most pernicious and inescapable aspects of institutional misogyny. It doesn't matter how independent, how smart, how tough, how educated, how successful, how financially independent, how close to bearing the highly subjective cultural markers of "respect-deserving" a woman is. It doesn't matter how determined we are to persist. It doesn't matter if we have reached a certain age, or journeyed well beyond.

There are still men, not deterred by an urge for decency nor by their own intellectual mediocrity, who think they have the right to tell us how we should feel and how we should behave.

It is, though they would surely bitterly resist acknowledging it, evidence of their intractable belief that they own us. And that they are further obliged, by virtue of said ownership, to instruct us; to insert themselves uninvited into the lives and spaces of women they don't even know, in order to tell us what we should be feeling and thinking and doing.

You don't own women.

And if you're a man who reflexively agrees with that—maybe even feels his hackles slightly raising that I would even presume to say it, the mere statement itself an offense with its implication there are men who don't agree—yet you're also a man who feels it's his right to tell a woman she is not complying with his ideas about the way she feels and spends her time, then you need to have a long think about what it is that you think confers that right upon you.

Because guess what? It's a feeling of entitlement, which is rooted in cultural narratives of ownership.

And that thing you insist is "disagreement" is actually auditing. You are positioning yourself as an auditor when you cannot abide silently a woman doing something in a way you would not do it, but instead must interlope to try to "correct" her.

Even before you try listening, to see if maybe it's not that you disagree but that you don't understand.

You are, of course, welcome to disagree with my priorities all the fuck you want. But you are not welcome to tell me about it and expect me to give a shit.

And if, for whatever contemptible reasons, you cannot keep your auditing to yourselves, and you come into my space or orbit with a patronizing lecture or admonishments to follow your roadmap rather than my own, then don't be surprised when I push back.

You can tell me, in response to my defending my own boundaries and right not to be audited by every dude who happens across my timeline or blog, that I'm a fucking cunt, and that I'm the reason that we can't have unity, but understand this: It is you who are the barrier to unity. You and your shitty entitlement and your asserted "right" to audit women.

I never want to hear again some dude who's come at me with what I should be feeling or how I should be responding to Trump, positioning his opinion as the objective truth, and then respond to my lack of gratitude by scolding me for not appreciating that he's "on my side."

If you are lecturing me instead of listening to me, you're not on my side.

And if you cannot contain yourselves from pestering me about how I should be spending my time out of a sense of basic decency, then do it to avoid looking unfathomably stupid. Because no matter how I'm spending my time, I can guarantee it's more productive than spending it telling other people how they should feel.


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Dispatches From the Queer Resistance (No. 2)

As I've written previously, with exit polls showing LGBT voters overhwhelmingly casting votes for Hillary Clinton (77%) in Election 2016, it is no surprise that LGBT people across all identity groups are both under attack from and resisting the Trump regime in various ways.

Here's a semi-regular update on that front:

[Content note: Transbigotry, gender policing, mention of suicidality]

1) Reversal of Obama Guidelines

On February 22, 2017, Trump's Republican Administration issued a "Dear Colleague" letter that withdrew Obama-era guidelines stating that public schools should allow transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.

This effort was led by Trump's Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a long-time opponent of LGBT rights who was also deemed too racist to be a federal judge in the 1980s. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos co-issued the letter, although reports state that she had initially wanted to leave Obama's guidance in place (I know, better throw a ticker-tape parade for her!).

In response, Chris Matthews hosted trans rights advocates Laverne Cox (also an actress) and Mara Keisling (executive director of the National Center for Transgender Rights) to discuss the issue with "the other side," represented by Travis Weber of the Family Research Council's Center for Religious Liberty. On air, Matthews asked Weber what restroom Cox should use in public, if he didn't support her using the women's restroom. Weber gave a bumbling, evasive response about the federal government taking away the rights of "localities," which didn't, of course, answer the question. When pressed to actually answer, Weber whined that he was trying to answer but maybe Matthews was just "afraid" to hear it.

Ah yes, the last refuge of the overconfident, intellectually sub-par man: when all else fails, just call the opponent a coward who can't handle the truth.

Both Cox and Keisling also spoke (full clip here, closed captioning available). Keisling observed that if she and Laverne walked into the men's restroom, Weber would be "freaked out," thus leaving trans people effectively without access to public restrooms. Cox added that it's important to remember the lived experiences of trans people and not to just talk about them in theory, reducing them to body parts.

Indeed, while anti-trans bigots treat the issue like an esoteric, abstract debating exercise, trans people exist in the world with bodies that, like most human bodies, require the removal of wastes at somewhat-regular intervals. It makes me incandescently angry when people treat this issue with such lack of empathy for the conditions in which trans people exist. Imagine opposing restroom access to a segment of the population without ever having thought of which bathroom a trans person should use, then, if not the one for designated for their gender?

Also notable is that the Southern Poverty Law Center has been tracking the Family Research Council as an extremist anti-LGBT group for many years. I acknowledge what it might have taken for Ms. Cox and Ms. Keisling to share a platform with a staff member from FRC who possibly knows next-to-nothing about trans people's daily lives and yet who opposes their identities and full humanity anyway. Both women nonetheless spoke with dignity, grace, and composure in his presence even though they had every reason and justification not to.

So little is asked of cis people. The bar is so low. Weber is advocating for an inherently-uncivil, un-empathetic position and yet trans people are expected to be paragons of civility in response to that position. I've written before about the silence marginalized people often endure, sometimes willingly sometimes not, so that people of privilege don't have to feel bad about themselves for being bigots.

Of all the things about enduring Trump, it is this silence, and the continual demands for it, that I now realize will break my heart over and over again. To trans members of our community, I'm sorry. I see you and stand with you.

2) Communities Rally

In response to the reversal of the Obama guidelines, 2,000-3,000 people were reported to have held an emergency rally at Stonewall in New York City. This is at least the second protest at the historic site since the Republican President was inaugurated. Related protests and rallies were also held in Chicago and Washington, DC.

3) SCOTUS Reprimands Trans-Bigots

In G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, the US Supreme Court will examine the extent to which Title IX and the Fourteenth Amendment cover discriminatory bathroom policies as they relate to trans individuals. It is believed that Jeff Sessions wanted Obama's previous guidance withdrawn in anticipation of this court case, so it could not be cited in support of trans rights.

Usual anti-LGBT suspects Liberty Counsel and National Organization for Marriage (NOM) have submitted amicus briefs in the case, because of course they have. In it, they have misgendered the respondent, who is a trans man, because of course they have.

In response, the Supreme Court issued a letter to Liberty Counsel noting that the mis-gendering resulted in their brief being non-compliant with one the many strict Supreme Court Rules for the formatting of legal briefs. In this instance, Liberty Counsel did not accurately caption the case, as required, when it changed the pronoun of the respondent from "his" to "her."

The letter is a subtle reprimand, to be sure, but hopefully foreshadows a more overt message from SCOTUS when it renders its opinion on the Title IX and constitutional issues.

4) Butcher Launches Epic Tweetstorm About Bathrooms

Out butch lesbian comedian Rhea Butcher tweeted last week about her experiences of fear with respect to public restrooms. Anti-trans bigots often facetiously cite "protection of women" as a reason to exclude trans women from women's restrooms, but they never consider the many women, cis and trans, who are already harassed in restrooms for not presenting their gender in socially-acceptable, gender-conformist ways.

This harassment is not a new development, as Butcher notes - and it's an experience that is commonly talked about among my group of queer women friends. But, it's always alarming when anti-trans initiatives are being politicized because it implies that the scope of gender policing is set to be imminently broadened and legitimized. What is at first a policy to exclude trans women "for the safety of" cis, gender-conforming women often becomes justification to remove or harass any woman who is deemed to not sufficiently "look like a woman."

5) NOM Echoes Trump's "Fake News" Charge

Repeating the Republican Administration's charge that established news entities spread "fake news," the anti-LGBT organization NOM published a recent blog post claiming that a study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has resulted in the spread of "fake news." (Note: JAMA is a peer-reviewed medical journal founded in 1883).

In a post entitled "Fake News Drawn From Flimsy Study," NOM claims:
"A recent study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics has caused a lot of buzz in the press. The study claims to trace the 'Association Between State Same-Sex Marriage Policies and Adolescent Suicide Attempts' among LGBT youth and is being presented by the media as "proof" that gay marriage saves lives.

But like much of the fake news coverage this study has generated, the study itself leads people to a  fake conclusion: that somehow the enactment of same-sex marriage results in reduced teen suicide attempts, especially for  LGBT teens. (emphases in original)"
I do think it is appropriate to render critique of a study's methods when flaws exists, and many mainstream publications don't do a great job of summarizing research in general.

BUT, we have to push back on this gratuitous label "fake news," as it implies that the information within a report is a complete hoax or fabrication, wherein the authors had an intent to deceive the public. It's alarming to see bigoted activist groups begin to repeat the "fake news" charge. The Republican Administration has set a tone, to be sure, wherein any news article, study, or report is labeled "fake news" - a hoax - simply because it doesn't align with a certain belief system.

I will continue to monitor the situation.

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"Business as Usual"

Over the weekend, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez was elected chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The usual suspects are bitterly complaining about his victory, saying that he represents "business as usual" in the Democratic Party.

I have stayed out of all the DNC chair stuff, but I feel obliged to say something about this "business as usual" narrative.

Let's take a look back at the 2016 campaign for a moment.

The Democratic primary saw a woman and a Jewish man take turns making history by being the first woman or Jewish person to win primaries/caucuses.

The party eventually nominated the first female major party candidate in history. She then ran on the most progressive platform the Democrats have ever put forward.

The Democratic convention was run by three Black women: Marcia Fudge, Donna Brazile, and Leah Daughtry.

The breakout speaker at that convention was a Muslim man: Khizr Khan.

That convention also featured the first ever trans speaker at a major party convention: Sarah McBride.

Hillary Clinton's campaign had the most diverse campaign staff ever, including a gay campaign manager: Robby Mook.

Eventually, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 3 million votes, getting more votes than any white male candidate ever.

The DNC just elected the first Latino chair ever, Tom Perez. Had his strongest contender, Keith Ellison, won, the DNC would have elected its first Black Muslim chair. Ellison will serve as deputy chair of the DNC, so Dems will be led by a Latino and a Muslim. (Which is a fairly stark repudiation of Trump's domestic agenda.)

All of this is being described as "business as usual."

I don't know what political system the people saying that have been looking at, but that is not "business as usual."

This is the perfidy of the argument that "identity politics" don't matter. It allows people to ignore and dismiss marginalized leaders—and the people whom they represent at the table, many of whom have never had that sort of representation before. And to ignore and dismiss those leaders in a moment when a fascist president is elevating white supremacy.

Thus we get incredible arguments that Dems need to pander more to aggrieved white people when we need to combat white supremacy. And somehow pandering to aggrieved white people is positioned as the opposite of business as usual.

That is exactly—and perilously—wrong.

[This was originally published as a thread on Twitter.]

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The Oscars Thread

So, I didn't watch the Oscars last night, because the only nominated film I'd seen was Hidden Figures, not for lack of desire to see some of the others, but I just haven't had the time to see any of them.

Mainly, I was just rooting for Viola Davis (I haven't seen Fences, but it didn't matter, because VIOLA DAVIS), and she won! Yayayayayay!

Since I wasn't watching, I didn't hear about the epic clusterfuck when they announced the wrong Best Picture winner. Emily Yahr, Elahe Izadi, and Lindsey Bever at the Washington Post have a detailed description of what happened. Hoo boy.

Anyway! If you want to talk about the Oscars, here's a thread to do it!

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Open Thread

image of a purple sofa

Hosted by a purple sofa. Have a seat and chat.

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

image of a pub Photoshopped to be named 'The Beloved Community Pub'
[Explanations: lol your fat. pathetic anger bread. hey your gay.]

Belly up to the bar,
and be in this space together.

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The Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by sunshine.

Recommended Reading:

Jessica: [Content Note: Trans hatred] Title IX Protects Trans Students, No Matter What the Trump Administration Believes

Violet: I Need You to #ShowUp4TransYouth

Sameer: Charleston Activist Freed After Arrest for Knocking Down Confederate Flag

Jorge: [CN: Nativism; racism] Inside the Heartbreaking Conversations Undocumented Parents Are Having with Their Children

Ragen: [CN: Fat hatred; child abuse] Stanford Children's Hospital Excited to Harm Fat Kids

Pam: Reviving the Fine Art of Bitchitude

Vivian: [CN: Anti-feminism; moving GIF at link] No Surprise, Kellyanne Conway Defines Feminism as "Pro-Abortion" and "Anti-Male"

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

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"Many of our social justice problems like racism and sexism are often overlapping, creating multiple levels of social injustice."

[Content Note: Misogynoir; police brutality; images of police violence against Black women and girls.]

Via Monica Roberts, I just watched this video of Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw giving a TED talk on intersectionality in December. Please take the time to watch and/or listen to the entire thing. A complete transcript is also available.

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White House Confirms Apparent Violation of Justice Department Rules

Spencer Ackerman at the Guardian: White House Confirms Conversation with FBI about Trump and Russia.

The White House has confirmed that its chief of staff spoke with top FBI officials about the bureau's inquiry into links between Donald Trump's associates and Russia—a conversation which appears to violate justice department rules to ensure the integrity of investigations.

The administration had sought to push back against reports from CNN and the Associated Press that the chief of staff, Reince Priebus, had asked the FBI's top two officials to rebut news reports about Trump allies' ties to Russia.

But in doing so, the White House on Friday acknowledged that Priebus, the FBI director, James Comey, and deputy director, Andrew McCabe, had discussed what the FBI knew about Russian ties to the Trump presidential campaign.

"The White House appears to have violated accepted protocols and procedures," said former FBI special agent Ali Soufan.

...Another retired FBI special agent, Michael German, said the FBI leadership had potentially jeopardized an investigation.

"It is illegal for an FBI employee to take information from an ongoing criminal investigation and share it with a potential witness or subject of that investigation. Obviously, if the justice department ultimately initiates a prosecution in this matter, this purported conversation would be exculpating evidence. Again, if it is true that high bureau officials believe the current FBI investigation is [bullshit], they should close the investigation and be prepared to justify this decision, not leak their opinion to anyone outside of the investigation," German said.
There is much more at the link.

The general gist, however, is this: The White House was pissed about leaked reports about FBI investigations into TrumpCo's ties with Russia, and the investigations themselves. So they tried to press the FBI to publicly push back. That conversation was leaked, and, in pushing back on that, the White House told their version of events, which reveals said conversation compromised the investigation.

Out of the frying pan; into the fire.

Part of that is because Trump and the rest of his corrupt coterie don't believe the rules apply to them. But part of it is also because most of these reprobates have zero experience in the federal government and don't even know what the rules are. Which is why they stupidly admit to shit that is just another level of corruption.

If you haven't done so recently (or ever), now would be a good time (if you're USian) to contact your Senators and representative and ask them to thoroughly investigate Trump and his associates' ties to Russia—and every bit of unethical and illegal behavior that has arisen therefrom.

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Breaking: WH Excludes CNN, NYT, BBC, and Others from Presser

After an afternoon address at CPAC in whcih Donald Trump renewed his attacks on American journalism and unnamed press sources, the White House excluded a number of news organizations from its press gaggle.

According to a report from Michael M. Grymbaum at the New York Times:

Organizations allowed in included Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended.

Reporters from Time magazine and The Associated Press, who were set to be allowed in to the briefing, chose not to attend in protest of the White House’s actions.

Jordan Fabian at The Hill reports:

Among the outlets not permitted to cover the gaggle were news organizations that President Trump has singled out for criticism, including CNN.

The New York Times, The Hill, Politico, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail, BBC, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News were among the other news organizations not permitted to attend.

Among other things, I note that the BBC is not even an American press outlet. It is, in fact, the journalism arm of the public service broadcaster of one of the United States' closest allies.

CNN's PR tweeted the following response:

Of the non-propaganda outlets in attendance, I hope the first question is: "Why did you exclude those organizations?" And when the question is stonewalled, I hope the next question is "Why did you exclude those organizations?" And so on.

It goes without saying, but: this is not what free and open democracy looks like. This is what it looks like to slide into authoritarian dictatorship.

Please feel free to update in comments.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat all curled up on the couch, asleep, looking very tiny and very adorable
Wee little monster!

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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We Resist: Day 36

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things I've read today:

[Content Note: Nativism] At Rolling Stone, Tim Dickinson has more on the story about which I wrote yesterday, regarding passengers being asked for ID after deplaning from a domestic flight.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, a spokesperson for CBP said the agency had been asked "to assist in locating an individual possibly aboard Delta flight 1583" who had been "ordered removed by an immigration judge." The spokesman added that CBP agents "requested identification from those on the flight" but that ultimately "[t]he individual was determined not to be on the flight."

Rolling Stone asked CBP to point to its statutory authority to stop and examine the identity documents of deplaning domestic passengers. The spokesman sent a link to a document titled CBP Search Authority. The document refers to CBP's authority to inspect international arrivals. Specifically, it cites 19 C.F.R. 162.6, which states, "All persons, baggage and merchandise arriving in the Customs territory of the United States from places outside thereof are liable to inspection by a CBP officer." The CBP document adds: "CBP has the authority to collect passenger name record information on all travelers entering or leaving the United States." (Emphasis added.)

Asked to clarify CBP's authority over domestic passengers, the spokesman replied that "at this time this is all I have."
Deeply troubling.

* * *

Today at CPAC, Donald Trump gave an address (during which he mentioned Hillary Clinton, because of course he did, and the crowd chanted "Lock her up!" because of course they did), and the whole thing was obviously horrific, but his section was particularly chilling:
TRUMP: All of our military, all of our military—offensive, defensive, everything—bigger and better and stronger than ever before—and hopefully we'll never have to use it, but nobody's gonna mess with us, folks. Nobody. [cheers and applause] It will be one of the greatest military build-ups in American history. No one will dare question, as they have been, because we're very depleted—very, very depleted—sequesture. Sequesture. Nobody will dare question our military might again. We believe in peace through strength, and that's what we will have. [cheers and applause]
Who the fuck even knows what "sequesture" is supposed to mean, since that is not a word. But, more importantly: Remember that this is the guy who wanted to know why we had nukes if we couldn't use them. So, in addition to all the other reasons why a massive military build-up is a terrible idea, we'd be building a giant, immensely deadly toy with which Trump would want to play.

And this follows immediately on the heels of Trump saying he wants to put the U.S. nuclear arsenal "at the top of the pack," which has prompted Kremlin officials to warn/threaten that Trump's belligerence could unleash a new arms race.

If you think the Cold War was scary under Reagan and Gorbachev (and it fucking was) (and they ended it!), two men who at least had the wherewithal to prioritize self-preservation over muscle-flexing obliteration because they keenly understood the stakes of mutually assured destruction, just imagine what a reboot would look like under Trump and Putin. Maude save us all.

* * *

Also at CPAC:

Philip Rucker and Robert Costa at the Washington Post: Bannon Vows a Daily Fight for 'Deconstruction of the Administrative State'. "The reclusive mastermind behind President Trump's nationalist ideology and combative tactics made his public debut Thursday, delivering a fiery rebuke of the media and declaring that the new administration is in an unending battle for 'deconstruction of the administrative state.' ...Appearing at a gathering of conservative activists alongside Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Bannon dismissed the idea that Trump might moderate his positions or seek consensus with political opponents. Rather, he said, the White House is digging in for a long period of conflict to transform Washington and upend the world order."

This is probably a good time to recall that Bannon once described himself as a Leninist, because "Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that's my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment."

Meanwhile, the Hill profiled Bannon and promoted it with this shit: "Bannon shows softer side at rare public appearance at CPAC." Stop. Normalizing. White. Supremacy.

Speaking of white supremacy... Ned Resnikoff at Think Progress: High-Ranking Trump Official Has Extensive Ties to European Neo-Fascists. "A deputy assistant to President Donald Trump has spent years working closely with members of Hungary's anti-Semitic hard right, according to a Friday report from The Forward, a publication for American Jews. The report says Sebastian Gorka, who advises the White House on national security, co-founded a political party with former members of Jobbik, which is frequently described as a fascist party. Gorka—who once said it would be 'national suicide' to admit Muslim refugees—also spent time working for the Hungarian National Committee, a Jobbik-linked coalition led in part by the head of the ultra-nationalist 64 Counties Youth Movement, according to The Forward."

This is probably a good time to recall that erstwhile NatSec Advisor Michael Flynn met with the leader of Austria's white supremacist Freedom Party at Trump Tower. And that a number of Trump's team have close ties to white supremacist organizations.

[Content Note: Nativism] Francis Wilkinson at Bloomberg: Yes, Mass Deportations Are Coming. And We Know Why. "So we have a new policy that promises to identify millions of undocumented immigrants as criminals. We have memos from the head of DHS authorizing agents to remove all such criminals. We have new policies to make enforcement actions more aggressive and removals speedier. Finally, we have a direction from Kelly 'to expeditiously hire 10,000 agents and officers, as well as additional operational and mission support and legal staff necessary to hire and support their activities.' Roughly 5,800 ICE employees are Enforcement and Removal Officers. Kelly's surge would take that number to almost 16,000, with still more staff to support their removal efforts. There isn't much doubt about what this adds up to. Trump has laid the legal basis for mass deportations, and Kelly has organized his department to conduct them. In addition, he seeks a drastically larger deportation force, the purpose of which can only be more deportations."

In addition to the fundamental indecency of this mass deportation plan, as Edward Helmore reports at the Guardian, mass deportations would devastate the economy in many ways, including the potential to "resonate up to the top of the housing chain, testing the entire system in ways that are both novel and not clearly understood."

Russ Choma at Mother Jones: Donald Trump's Mystery $50 Million (or More) Loan. "A recent Wall Street Journal article noted that Trump pays a minimum of $4.4 million a year in interest in connection with his loan from Chicago Unit Acquisition LLC. His disclosure form states he pays the prime interest rate plus 5 percent for this loan. (Consequently, Chicago Unit Acquisition would have at least that much in annual revenue, though none is reported.)"

[CN: Homophobia; video may autoplay at link] Wanda Moore at WPTV: LGBT Church in Palm Beach Gardens Vandalized. "Vandals pulled down the electrical wires at the Metropolitan Community Church of the Palm Beaches, causing an electrical surge and frying all computers, telephones, and their organ." This, too, is not happening in a vacuum.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

Open Wide...