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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Very Interesting

Richard Greenberg at NBC News: Obama Officials Made List of Russia Probe Documents to Keep Them Safe.

Obama administration officials were so concerned about what would happen to key classified documents related to the Russia probe once [Donald] Trump took office that they created a list of document serial numbers to give to senior members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, a former Obama official told NBC News.

The official said that after the list of documents related to the probe into Russian interference in the U.S. election was created in early January, he hand-carried it to the committee members. The numbers themselves were not classified, said the official.

The purpose, said the official, was to make it "harder to bury" the information, "to share it with those on the Hill who could lawfully see the documents," and to make sure it could reside in an Intelligence committee safe, "not just at Langley [CIA hq]."
This is something about which we've heard many rumors over the past months, but here is confirmation.

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The Friday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by rain.

Recommended Reading:

Eastsidekate: [Content Note: Trans hatred] A White Trans Lady Circle of Life

Sarah: [CN: Misogyny] What We Actually Gained From Hillary's Loss

Lance: [CN: Bigotry] I Alone Is Not a Populist Message

Karnythia: Let's Talk About Education—Public Education

Jess: [CN: Misogyny] What Women's Basketball Coaching Shows About Sexism in Sports

Keith: [CN: White supremacist murder] Dylann Roof to Plead Guilty to Murder Charges, Avoid Death Penalty

Vivian: Iceland's Government Wants to Make Sure Women Really and Truly Get Equal Pay

Maddie: [CN: Moving GIF at link] Oh My God, Look at Saturn's North Pole

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

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Joe Biden, What Are You Even Doing?

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link.]

Dan Merica at CNN: Joe Biden Indirectly Knocks Clinton's Failed Campaign.

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday indirectly knocked Hillary Clinton's failed 2016 campaign at a Thursday event, suggesting that the former secretary of state failed to talk to middle-class voters.

"What happened was that this was the first campaign that I can recall where my party did not talk about what it always stood for—and that was how to maintain a burgeoning middle class," Biden said during an appearance at the University of Pennsylvania. "You didn't hear a single solitary sentence in the last campaign about that guy working on the assembly line making $60,000 bucks a year and a wife making $32,000 as a hostess in restaurant."

He added: "And they are making $90,000 and they have two kids and they can't make it and they are scared, they are frightened."
A couple of items:

1. Biden only "indirectly" criticized Clinton so much as he didn't have the integrity to actually say her name while trashing her.

2. Perhaps part of the reason we "didn't hear a single solitary sentence in the last campaign" about the assembly line worker and his hostess wife is that the Democratic nominee would never have used such a gross gendered example.

"That guy." "A wife." I can't.

Hillary Clinton spoke a lot—a lot—about middle-class families. She usually did so using the words "middle-class families," quite possibly because conjuring the image of a guy and "a wife" working in specific jobs participates in the endemic political erasure of families who don't fit that mold: Single-parent families, multi-generational families, unmarried partners, same-sex couples, et. al.

Instead, Clinton used inclusive language, into which every middle-class family could read themselves. If "that guy" and "a wife" couldn't see themselves in "middle-class families," that was not Clinton's fault. If Joe Biden couldn't see "that guy" and "a wife" in "middle-class families," that isn't Clinton's fault, either.

3. As for the family who is making $92,000 annually but can't make it, a friend of mine noted in a private message (which I am sharing with his permission): "I make that combined income, and my partner isn't working, so our household income is that same 92k. I have a good home, a manageable mortgage payment, a comfortable lifestyle, and zero difficulty making ends meet. And I live in one of the most expensive metro areas in the country. So yeah, I don't actually feel particularly concerned that the Clinton campaign didn't fall all over itself to address my virtually nonexistent hardships."

That, of course, is not to suggest that every household making $92,000 annually is doing fine. One healthcare crisis, for example, and even households making significantly more can fall off a cliff.

But that's less an issue of income than it is of affordable healthcare. Which I'm pretty sure Clinton mentioned once or twice or three thousand times during the course of the campaign.

I listened to Hillary Clinton very closely for almost two years, and I heard her talk about the struggles of middle-class families and her detailed policy proposals to help them on a constant basis. I also heard her repeatedly talk about building more upwardly mobile education and employment ladders and tearing down the barriers to equal opportunities for marginalized people.

Many of whom are part of the middle-class. Though we are not white men. We might not even be their wives.

I have said it before and I'll no doubt have occasion to say it again: Virtually every time I hear someone complaining about something Hillary Clinton supposedly failed to say, it's not really a problem with her not having said it. It's a problem with their having failed to hear it.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound and Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt drinking out of the same water bowl in the kitchen
Omgggggg so thirsty after running around in the backyard!

image of Dudley looking up at me while Zelda continues to drink from the bowl
"We might need a refill here, Two-Legs."

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 71

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 in the news today:

Amanda Terkel at the Huffington Post: Senate Intelligence Committee Denies Immunity to Michael Flynn in Russia Probe. "Flynn told the FBI and congressional officials that he would be willing to testify in their investigations into Russia's involvement in the elections if he could receive immunity from prosecution, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. NBC reported Friday that the Senate Intelligence Committee turned down Flynn's request for immunity, telling [Flynn's lawyer, Robert Kelner] it was 'wildly preliminary' and 'not on the table' at this time. The Huffington Post confirmed the report with a Senate staffer. The committee declined to comment." Well that was fast!

Meanwhile, from the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee...

No word yet on where the committee chair, Rep. Devin Nunes, stands on giving Flynn immunity. Ahem.

* * *

Mike Allen at Axios: Trump, Baffled and Brooding.
Trump brought his chaos-and-loyalty theory of management into the White House, relying on competing factions, balanced by trusted family members, with himself perched atop as the gut-instinct decider. He now realizes this approach has flopped, and feels baffled and paralyzed by how to fix it, numerous friends and advisers tell us.

"Trump is thinking through his frustrations," said one Washington wise man close to the West Wing. "The team didn't put the windows in right."

The chaos dimension has created far more chaos than anticipated. Come nightfall, Trump is often on the phone with billionaire, decades-long friends, commiserating and critiquing his own staff. His most important advisers are often working the phone themselves, trashing colleagues and either spreading or beating down rumors of turmoil and imminent changes.

This has created a toxic culture of intense suspicion and insecurity. The drama is worse than what you read.
Emphasis mine.

This is such bad news. There is no good to come for the country of a White House in utter disarray, led by a president who trusts no one and has no clue how to fix the profound dysfunctionality around him.


* * *

Elizabeth Spiers at the Washington Post: I Worked for Jared Kushner. He's the Wrong Businessman to Reinvent Government. "I worked for Kushner for 18 months as he tried to infuse a much smaller institution than the U.S. government with cost-cutting impulses from the commercial real estate world. And my experience doesn't bode well for the Office of American Innovation. Not everything that works in the private sector is transferrable to the public sector—and even if it were, Kushner isn't the best person to transfer it. ...Kushner's claim to business knowledge, beyond admiring Silicon Valley, boils down to his work for his family's commercial real estate company, which is hardly comparable to a government institution. And if industry dynamics are not transitive across the board, expertise isn't, either."

McKay Coppins at the Atlantic: The Prince of Oversight. "On a recent afternoon in his Capitol Hill office, I read through a litany of headlines detailing potential entanglements between [Donald] Trump's business and his administration with the congressman. As he listened, Chaffetz leaned back in his chair—jacket off, an ankle resting casually on one knee. ...I asked Chaffetz if he was concerned about Trump reaping financial rewards from his presidency, but he just shrugged. 'He's already rich,' Chaffetz said. 'He's very rich. I don't think that he ran for this office to line his pockets even more. I just don't see it like that.'"

Sarah K. Burris at Raw Story: Mike Pence's Role in the Flynn Scandal 'Is Flashing Like a Red Beacon': Maddow. "Over and over, Rachel Maddow has questioned how it is possible that Vice President Mike Pence couldn't have known that Gen. Mike Flynn was lying about his Russia conversation. ...'As leader of the transition, he was notified in writing by members of Congress about Flynn's apparent financial ties to the government of Turkey,' Maddow outlined [Thursday night], referring back to a letter sent by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). 'The transition was also apparently notified twice by Flynn's own lawyers about his financial relationship with the government of Turkey, but nevertheless, Vice President Mike Pence says he has no idea about any of that.'" Like I've said before: Don't Buy Mike Pence's Innocent Act.

Anne Gearan and Carol Morello at the Washington Post: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Spends His First Weeks Isolated from an Anxious Bureaucracy. "Secretary of State Rex Tillerson takes a private elevator to his palatial office on the seventh floor of the State Department building, where sightings of him are rare on the floors below. On many days, he blocks out several hours on his schedule as 'reading time,' when he is cloistered in his office poring over the memos he prefers ahead of in-person meetings. Most of his interactions are with an insular circle of political aides who are new to the State Department. Many career diplomats say they still have not met him, and some have been instructed not to speak to him directly—or even make eye contact."

[Content Note: Nativism] Shannon Dooling at WBUR News: ICE Arrests Green Card Applicants in Lawrence, Signaling Shift in Priorities. "Federal immigration officers arrested five people in Lawrence [Massachusetts] on Wednesday when they showed up for scheduled appointments at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office. WBUR has confirmed that at least three of those arrested were beginning the process to become legal permanent residents. ...This, [Brian Doyle, the attorney for one of the people arrested] says, is an example of the difficult situation for many immigrants living in the country illegally, who are forced to weigh the costs and benefits of keeping an appointment with an immigration official in light of new deportation priorities set by [Donald] Trump."

[CN: War on agency] Christine Grimaldi at Rewire: Pence's Vote Delivers Death Knell to Family Planning Safeguards. "President Obama's attempt to stop state-level interference in federal funding for family planning clinics, including Planned Parenthood affiliates, fell victim to [Donald] Trump's first 100 days in office. Pence delivered the death knell to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule aimed at helping people with low incomes access family planning services a day after addressing a 'Women's Empowerment Panel' at the White House. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer that same day told reporters that Trump 'made women's empowerment a priority' during his campaign." Fuck all of these dudes.

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

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Sanders Supporters Were "Unwitting Agents" of Russians

[Content Note: Misogyny; violence.]

David Ferguson at Raw Story: Russians Used 'Bernie Bros' as 'Unwitting Agents' in Disinformation Campaign: Senate Intel Witness.

At Thursday afternoon's meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Retired Gen. Keith Alexander — former director of the National Security Agency — said that Russian operatives targeted both liberal and conservative voters in its disinformation campaigns during the 2016 election.

Dr. Thomas Rid of Kings College London's Department of War Studies explained that polarization makes societies vulnerable to manipulation by disinformation campaigns.

Russia, Rid explained, according to CBS News, likes to use "unwitting agents" to carry out its work. WikiLeaks, Twitter, and "overeager journalists" all contributed to Russia's efforts to destabilize the U.S. by disrupting its 2016 election.

Democratic committee co-chair Sen. Mark Warner (VA) asked the panel if they had any doubt that Russia had attempted to interfere in some aspects of the 2016 election. Alexander said not only did he have no doubt, he could get very specific.

"Senator, I think what they were trying to do was drive a wedge within the Democratic Party between the Clinton group and the Sanders group," said Alexander. "And then in our nation between Republicans and Democrats."

Supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) reported earlier this month that during the 2016 election, their social media feeds and pro-Sanders Facebook groups were inundated with what they now believe were Russian bots spewing anti-Hillary memes including fake news stories about Clinton using a body double and murdering her ideological opponents.
"Unwitting" is doing a lot of work there. Yes, in the sense that the faction of Bernie supporters who eagerly disseminated this disinformation weren't aware it was the Russians who were feeding them the info, they were indeed "unwitting agents."

But they still believed and disseminated vile garbage about Hillary Clinton that was demonstrably untrue, because they liked the feeling of destroying her. And the women who supported her.

They were primarily useful because of their own willful "unwittedness." That is, their refusal to do even the most basic research to determine whether what they shared about her was accurate.

They may've been "unwittingly" sharing Russian disinformation, but they were "wittingly" participating in pile-ons of lies about Hillary Clinton, frequently framed in misogynist tropes.

Their impenetrable delight in trying to destroy Clinton was so profound that it stopped them from even cursory scrutiny of the rank lies they were promulgating. Look too closely and the fun might end.

And the seething hatred for her that underwrote both their usefulness as Russian agents and their disinterest in scrutinizing facts continues even now, as they refuse to take a hard look at the ties of Sanders' own campaign to some of the unsavory characters in Trump's orbit.

I have surprised many a Sanders supporter by informing them that Sanders' chief strategist Tad Devine worked in collaboration with Paul Manafort for pro-Putin former Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych. And kept working for him even after his rival, Viktor Yushchenko, barely survived a poisoning attempt, obliging him to "campaign with his face half paralysed and a catheter inserted into his back to inject painkillers into his spine."

Somehow, I doubt that the virulently anti-Clinton Sanders supporters would be so forgiving had Clinton's chief strategist worked for a pro-Putin politician whose opponent had this done to him:

screen cap from the Indpendent showing before and after pictures of Viktor Yushchenko, whose face was destroyed by dioxin

I will note, again, that Tad Devine has not been accused of any illegal activities in association with his work for Yanukovych, unlike Paul Manafort.

But I have to believe that a seasoned political operative, who worked for a pro-Putin Ukrainian politician for many years, would be familiar with the tactics that were used in this U.S. election. I would find it extraordinary if Devine did not recognize what was happening; did not see the proliferation of anti-Clinton disinformation on social media and not even suspect that Russia was interfering on behalf of the Sanders campaign.

Surely he knew, especially as reports began to emerge about Russian interference, and yet he kept absolutely silent about it.

I am concerned by the questions that are raised by Hillary Clinton, a long-time target of Putin's ire, facing two opponents whose key campaign staff both worked for a Putin ally, and whose campaigns were given a direct assist by Russian interference that intelligence agencies have concluded was, in part, explicitly to derail her.

And if I had been a Sanders supporter, especially one who'd been an "unwitting agent" of Russia by circulating lies about Clinton, I would be very angry about that, and I would be very concerned that Sanders' campaign had some idea that it was happening and let me participate as an "unwitting agent" anyway.

I would be very alarmed by reports that Russian hackers targeted the email accounts "of at least 109 Hillary Clinton staffers" last March, in he heat of the primary, but apparently made no attempt to infiltrate the Sanders campaign.

I would feel pretty shitty that I participated in Russian-orchestrated disinformation by spreading lies about an American who has dedicated her life to public service to this country, especially now that I knew much of what I shared was utterly fucking false.

I would be asking a hell of a lot of questions right now. Especially of myself.

[Note: If your instinct is to head to comments with any variation of "But Clinton..." prepare for your comment to be deleted. "But Clinton..." is not relevant to this thread.]

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This Isn't Charming, Especially in a Professional Context

[Content Note: Misogyny; heterocentrism.]

Earlier this week, in a Washington Post profile of Second Lady Karen Pence, this one sentence, included almost in passing, raised a lot of eyebrows: "In 2002, Mike Pence told the Hill that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won't attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either."


Iterations of this story—which is often included, as here, as a "charming" part of Mike and Karen Pence's grand romance—have been repeated in Indiana media over the years. It's supposed to make us think that Mike Pence is a godly man and a loyal husband, but it's really a tale about unusual (to be charitable) marital boundaries which have gross implications for a public servant.

Seriously, think about what it means that Mike Pence has run for Congress, served in Congress, run for governor of Indiana, served as governor, run on a presidential ticket, and is now serving as vice-president, and he's never had occasion to have a working lunch or dinner with a key female staffer? That's absurd.

And, if it's true, it's indicative of how little Pence values women in his professional life. Not only does it suggest he's never put women in leadership positions, but it also suggests he doesn't allow women to get access to him, which can be a crucial networking opportunity, the way that male staffers can.

(This isn't theoretical: In 2015, Sarah Mimms wrote a piece for the Atlantic about women who work on the Hill reporting having been "excluded from solo meetings and evening events, a practice that could be illegal." One woman who worked for the same man for twelve years says he "never took a closed door meeting with me. ...This made sensitive and strategic discussions extremely difficult." I'll bet.)

Pence's private marriage rules are no longer just his business when they quite evidently affect his professional life as a public servant.

And they certainly aren't "charming."

Then there is this: These rules reflect an attitude that every interaction between two people of different sexes is necessarily governed by sexuality. Specifically, they suggest that the primary (or only) reason a man would have to interact with a woman is a sexual one.

This remains a frustratingly pervasive attitude among many straight, cis men—that women's only value is our sexual availability.

Recently, Iain started taking a class, which includes individual instruction, and he was able to choose his instructor after meeting several potential instructors. (I'm sharing this with his permission.) He ended up choosing a female instructor.

When he came home, he was telling me about his process in choosing his instructor—not because he felt obliged to justify choosing a woman, but because it was an interesting conversation—and all I thought about it was that it seemed like they were well-matched and he'd made a good decision. (Many months later now, it turns out he did!)

The next week, he came home and told me how his instructor had introduced him to her boyfriend, who just happened to be there (lol). Iain, being the clever bloke he is, immediately clacked on to the fact that she had to do this, because she'd had male students who had picked her specifically because she's a woman and then hit on her. He expressed his regret (to me) that she had to do this as a routine part of her work.

It was a perfect, terrible example of how ubiquitous is this notion among so many men that women are only useful, even when they are teaching those men something, as objects of sexual desire.

And how that fucked-up attitude affects professional workspaces. Especially for women.

[Commenting Guidelines: Please note that comments about how the Pences' marriage rules matter in the professional sphere are on-topic. Comments that are general commentary about their personal relationship are not.]

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Michael Flynn Will Reportedly Come in for Interview, in Exchange for Immunity Deal

Well, well, well.

Esme Cribb at TPM: Flynn Says He's Willing to Testify in Exchange for Immunity Deal. "Testify" is misleading, as it's unclear whether Flynn has offered just "an interview," or whether he's offered to testify under oath. Hopefully, an immunity deal would be extended only in exchange for the latter, but the original report, in the Wall Street Journal, does not definitively say.

Anyway. Here's what we know: "Donald Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn on Thursday told the FBI and members of Congress that he is willing to be interviewed in exchange for a grant of immunity, the Wall Street Journal reported. Flynn made the offer to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and the FBI via his lawyer but has not succeeded in striking a bargain, according to the Wall Street Journal report, which cited unnamed officials with knowledge of the matter."

This also seems important:

Rep. Adam Schiff is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

I'm not getting my hopes up, but this could be significant. Flynn may have some critical information on Trump administration ties to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, just for a start.

And just because I can't resist, here is a fun reminder of what Michael Flynn had to say about people who seek immunity, once upon a time not so long ago:

People like Hillary Clinton— I mean, five people around her have had, have been given immunity, to include her former chief of staff. When you are given immunity, that means that you probably committed a crime. So, you know, I don't know how he can sit there and say something like that with all of the, the things that have been going around, just swirling around Hillary Clinton with her emails.
Emphasis mine.

Lock her up, Flynn, amirite?


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Open Thread

image of a pink couch

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

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Question of the Day

What is a thing you have successfully worked on yourself to improve?

Worrying. The sort of worrying about things that is distinct from anxiety; the worrying that is very much in my control. I used to worry incessantly about everything, allowing things to spin 'round and 'round in my head. Now when I start to worry, I assess whether it's something in my control. If it is, I turn my thoughts to what I can do to alleviate that worry. If it's not, I give myself permission to let it go, as much as I am able.

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Your Best Photograph

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

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

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

* * *

Here's one I took on the way to Baltimore last Friday night—sunset over the Susquehanna River.

image of an orangey sunset over a river, taken from an overpass

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Pence Breaks Tie in Senate on Planned Parenthood Funding Vote, Because Of Course He Does

[Content Note: War on agency.]

Vice-President Mike Pence, my former governor and personal nemesis, delivered the tie-breaking vote in the Senate today on legislation "that would allow states to block federal family-planning funds to Planned Parenthood."

Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, two GOP lawmakers who have long resisted efforts to bar federal funding for the women's health organization, voted with Democrats against advancing the measure. The GOP holds a 52-48 majority in the Senate.

"We're talking about federal family planning funds and I don't think that those funds should be subjected to state restrictions," Collins told POLITICO. "It's important to recognize that there is already a bar against using federal funds for abortion and that bar stays in effect."
Yes, and it's important to recognize that to underscore that this legislation is specifically designed to prevent women and trans people (in particular, though not exclusively) from accessing healthcare at Planned Parenthood, including preventative care like cancer screenings.

Because Collins and Murkowski voted with the Democrats, the veep, who is also president of the Senate, was required to break the tie. And there was no question how Pence was going to vote, because he is a hardline anti-choicer.

And an aggressive misogynist.

That was in response to a tweet asking if Pence doesn't feel like his god will judge him for serving as the vice-president to a sex predator, but I feel it's relevant in every situation. Including and especially this one.

If there is any opportunity for Mike Pence to make women's lives worse, he is going to take it. Every time.

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Mods Get to See the Darnedest Things

The Wicked Witch of Planned Parenthood peered out from behind her curtains at the fresh-faced Bernie Bro who had fallen into the Mod Queue Moat. He had a shiny Establishment Slayer CommentTM in hand, and was furiously shouting "BERNIEWOULDA."

"Delicious," she thought, and she was rather peckish after having destroyed the country through her selfish concern for civil, identity politics. And so she opened the door, fished him out of the Mod Queue, and brought him inside the castle.

And he, totally sure he was gonna slay that evil establishment witch with his (not only shiny but BRILLIANT) Slayer Comment, opened his mouth and said:

Bernie would have won. The great mistake was pushing a popular candidate to the side while promoting someone who could never win, one of the most hated figures in American politics. The people who put trump in the WH were the people who denied Bernie the nomination. Guess what? We will get over it, and we will move forward. Sad to say so many of the Clintonistas would rather wallow in their own smug hubris than admit they made a mistake. Refusing to get over it, isn't that a sign of mental illness? We all lost, and those who supported Clinton were the reason. You made a huge mistake, now admit it and grow up.

Having finished, he looked at the Witch expectantly, then puzzledly. For she did not burst into flames, nor melt into a puddle, nor even fall at his feet accepting his superior masculine wisdom and keen political analysis.

Instead, the mean old Obviously Establishment Witch laughed. She laughed! At him!

"Ohhhhh, welcome to my castle, my moppet, my poppet. My pretty. My pigsnie." And the fresh-faced Bro was very confused, and then a little scared as he looked around the castle for the first time and saw the giant bags hanging from the wall, labeled, "BERNIE RECEIPTS." Only then did he notice that this was Castle Shakesville.

And as the witch released the bag of receipts down upon him and his Totally Slayer Comment (magically revealing its true nature—a steaming pile of bull) he had just time to think "Maybe this was the wrong place to pull that shit" before she ate him alive.

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An Unfathomable Press Failure

Just before today's White House press briefing, the New York Times' published a report that two White House officials helped give House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes intelligence reports that revealed Donald Trump and his associates "were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies."

The revelation that White House officials assisted in the disclosure of the intelligence reports — which Mr. Nunes then discussed with [Donald] Trump — is likely to fuel criticism that the intelligence chairman has been too eager to do the bidding of the Trump administration while his committee is supposed to be conducting an independent investigation of Russia’s meddling in the last presidential election.

...Several current American officials identified the White House officials as Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on national security issues at the White House Counsel's Office and formerly worked on the staff of the House Intelligence Committee.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment.
I'll bet they did. Naturally, questions about this report featured prominently during the daily press briefing. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer continually dodged answering those questions by repeatedly insisting that the White House isn't concerned with the "process" of the Russia investigations, but with the "substance" of them.

Leaving aside that the process became the substance once Nunes decided to run interference for the administration while they were being investigated, Spicer's contention that the White House cares about the substance of the investigations is itself evident garbage, given Trump's very public expressions of contempt for the investigations.

Further, Spicer asserted that Congressional investigations are the correct venue to determine whether Nunes' behavior, and the behavior of the two White House officials who assisted him, is a problem. (And, presumably, important enough for the White House to care about it.) He said this multiple times during the presser.

What he did not mention is that Nunes himself is the chair of the House committee doing the investigation!

Spicer stood at his podium and insisted that the best place to investigate Nunes is the committee which he chairs. And not a single member of the White House Press Corps questioned that glaring impropriety.

An incredible failure, truly. Please do better, press corps. Cripes.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat sitting in a doorway in profile
Contemplative Sophie.

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 70

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 in the news today:

Paul Wood at the BBC: Trump Russia Dossier Key Claim Verified. "The roadmap for the investigation, publicly acknowledged now for the first time, comes from Christopher Steele, once of Britain's secret intelligence service MI6. He wrote a series of reports for political opponents of Donald Trump about Trump and Russia. Steele's 'dossier,' as the material came to be known, contains a number of highly contested claims. ...But on this vitally important point—[Russian Foreign Ministry embassy economics chief Mikhail Kalugin]'s status as a 'spy under diplomatic cover'—people who saw the intelligence agree with the dossier, adding weight to Steele's other claims."

Peter W. Stevenson at the Washington Post: Here's What We've Learned from the Senate Hearing on Russia So Far. "The Senate Intelligence Committee held a rare public hearing on Thursday, a first look at its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. ...The committee leaders also pointed out that, while Russia appears to have favored [Donald] Trump as a candidate, its overall strategy is more about destabilization than promoting one political party over another. 'Candidly, while it helped one candidate this time, they are not favoring one party over another,' [Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the vice chairman] said, 'and, consequently, should be a concern for all of us.'"

I understand Warner is saying that, in part, to try to avoid the appearance of "sour grapes," but FBI James Comey and Admiral Mike Rogers both explicitly confirmed during Congressional testimony that Putin's goal was not just to undermine faith in our democracy, and not just to help Trump win, but to hurt Hillary Clinton. I also understand that Russia isn't done, just because Clinton lost. So he's right that destabilization is their overarching goal. But in investigating Russian interference in the last election, they did favor one party over the other (see: DNC and Podesta email leaks, vs. no GOP leaks) and that matters.

[Content Note: War; drones] Spencer Ackerman at the Guardian: 'They're Going to Kill Me Next': Yemen Family Fears Drone Strikes Under Trump. "Every day, as they hear the whine of the drones overhead, the Tuaiman family waits for Donald Trump to finish killing them. The drones used to hover about once a week over al-Rawdah, the Yemeni village where the family lives, sending children running for cover. Now, according to Meqdad Tuaiman, the drones come every day—sometimes three or four times. Usually they arrive in the afternoon. Other times they come after sundown and linger until sunrise. The drones have not fired their weapons in four months, but their patrols have intensified since late January, when Trump took office. Meqdad, a 24-year-old used-car salesman and occasional pipeline guard, considers it no coincidence."

Maggie Haberman and Rachel Abrams at the New York Times: Ivanka Trump, Shifting Plans, Will Become a Federal Employee. "Ivanka Trump, the elder daughter of [Donald] Trump, is becoming an official government employee, joining her husband, Jared Kushner, in serving as an unpaid adviser to her father in the White House. ...Ms. Trump, 35, will be an assistant to the president; Mr. Kushner, 36, has the title of senior adviser."

* * *

[CN: War on agency, next four paragraphs. H/T to Adam Jones.] Shawn Setaro at Complex: Iowa House Committee Passes a 20-Week Abortion Ban. "On Wednesday night, Iowa's House Human Resources Committee passed a bill that, if it becomes law, would give the state some of the most restrictive abortion rules in the country. Iowa Republicans originally wanted a so-called 'fetal heartbeat' bill, which would have restricted abortions after as little as six weeks of pregnancy. When that was met with outrage, lawmakers decided to scrap that bill and introduce a new one in its place. That bill, which you can read here [pdf], restricts abortion at 20 weeks, with the barest of exceptions: only to save the life of the child, or if 'the pregnant woman has a condition which the physician deems a medical emergency.'"

Deborah Yetter at the Courier-Journal: Kentucky's Last Abortion Clinic Sues to Stay Open. "Gov. Matt Bevin's administration is seeking to shut down Kentucky's only abortion provider, prompting a federal lawsuit by the clinic to block the move it says would have 'a devastating impact on women.' Bevin's administration has ordered the EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville to stop providing abortions starting Monday, claiming it lacks proper agreements for patient care in the event of a medical emergency. EMW's lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Louisville, calls the order "blatantly unconstitutional" and asks a federal judge to bar the Bevin administration from revoking the EMW clinic's license. 'They've made it clear they won't stop until no woman can get an abortion in Kentucky,' said Donald L. Cox, a lawyer for EMW. 'It's just an attempt to ban abortion in Kentucky.'"

Tara Culp-Ressler at ThinkProgress: Arkansas Law Will Force Doctors to Investigate Abortion Patients. "A new law in Arkansas will force doctors to investigate their patients' medical records before providing them with a legal abortion—and represents the first provision of its kind across the country. Signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Wednesday, HB 1434 is broadly focused on policing the reasons that people may seek abortion care. ...[O]ne particularly concerning provision of HB 1434 goes even further, requiring doctors to spend an unspecified amount of time investigating an abortion patient's background. The Center for Reproductive Rights, an organization that litigates anti-abortion laws across the country, interprets this medical records requirement as an attempt 'to investigate the woman's motives for ending her pregnancy.'"

Republican state legislatures are emboldened by the open seat on the Supreme Court. In anticipation of Trump filling that seat (along with more than 100 federal court vacancies), they are quickly passing anti-choice laws with the expectation that they are much more likely to be upheld by a Trump-shaped judiciary.

* * *

[CN: LGBTQ hatred, next three paragraphs] Sabrina Siddiqui at the Guardian: 'Death by a Thousand Cuts': LGBT Rights Fading Under Trump, Advocates Say. "The latest missive arrived on Wednesday, when the US Census Bureau said a proposal to count LGBT Americans in its 2020 report and annual survey had been a mistake. The agency said it had 'inadvertently listed sexual orientation and gender identity as a proposed topic.' Last week, the Trump administration deleted questions on sexual orientation from at least two other government surveys. ...Separately, Trump signed into law on Monday a bill overturning a Barack Obama executive order that required companies seeking contracts with the federal government to show compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws."

Andy Towle at Towleroad: LGBTQ Rights Groups Slam Discriminatory Late Night Deal to Repeal HB2 Ahead of NCAA Deadline. "Lawmakers and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper reached a deal to repeal HB2 ahead of a looming deadline from the NCAA that the organization would pull its sports events from the state until 2022 if the law wasn't repealed by Thursday. The deal was immediately slammed by a broad range of LGBTQ groups as well as Levi Strauss & Co. for doubling down on discrimination. Its provisions include an extension for the state to continue discriminating against LGBTQ people until 2020. Lawmakers are set to vote on the repeal deal today."

That Trump would be a friend to the LGBTQ community was always an obvious, damnable lie. He is not, nor will his judicial nominees be. And conservatives who have perfected their strategy of chipping away at reproductive rights will now replicate that strategy to erode LGBTQ rights. Seethe.

* * *

Speaking of the courts... Amber Phillips, Darla Cameron, and Kevin Schaul at the Washington Post: How Many Votes Democrats Need to Block Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court Nomination. A running tally on Democrats who have said they oppose Gorsuch's nomination, and those who haven't. MAKE YOUR CALLS.

And finally: In Scenes from the Resistance news... Kenrya Rankin at Colorlines: Activists and Advocates Plan 'A Day Without Immigrants' Strike for May 1. "[T]he national walk off action is led by Movimiento Cosecha, Fight For $15, Food Chain Workers Alliance, SEIU United Service Workers West, and the United States Student Association. Organizers report that thousands of workers have already pledged to strike, with the following demands: 'an end to the criminalization of Black and Brown communities, an end to raids and deportations, and an end to worker exploitation.'"

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

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Betsy DeVos Is Talking Nonsense

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who was probably hand-selected by Mike Pence to help him destroy public education, gave a cool talk at the Brookings Institution yesterday, during which she said a lot of mendacious nonsense, but this garbage takes the cake:

Many would read this and conclude that such alternatives (or choices) are destructive of traditional public schools and of the students they serve. But I would argue that these alternatives are constructive, not destructive, for students, parents and teachers.

Let me offer this example from a different part of our daily lives.

How many of you got here today in an Uber, or Lyft, or another ridesharing service? Did you choose that because it was more convenient than hoping a taxi would drive by? Even if you didn't use a ridesharing service, I'm sure most of you at least have the app on your phone.

Just as the traditional taxi system revolted against ridesharing, so too does the education establishment feel threatened by the rise of school choice. In both cases, the entrenched status quo has resisted models that empower individuals.

Nobody mandates that you take an Uber over a taxi, nor should they. But if you think ridesharing is the best option for you, the government shouldn't get in your way.

The truth is that in practice, people like having more options. They like being able to choose between Uber Pool, Uber X, Lyft Line, Lyft Plus, and many others. Or when it comes to taking a family trip, many like options such as Airbnb.

We celebrate the benefits of choices in transportation and lodging. But doesn't that pale in comparison to the importance of educating the future of our country? Why do we not allow parents to exercise that same right to choice in the education of their child?
No, choosing a school should not be like choosing between Uber, Lyft, or a taxi service—for a lot of reasons, not least of which is that all three of them provide the same basic service, whereas schools don't all provide the same service, by virtue of the fact that not all students have the same needs. And when public school districts are decimated by privatization, there is no guarantee that parents of students with specific learning requirements will be left with the "choice" of a school that provides them.

That's not supposed to be the case, but, in Indiana, where this scheme has been underway for quite some time, the reality has shown otherwise, necessitating requests for a state investigation into allegations that charter schools turned away homeless and disabled students.

Further, privatization exacerbates racial segregation and the exploitation of poor communities of color:
"Research has shown us that these charter schools are arising in poor communities where the students are African-American, Hispanic, Southeast Asian, and one of the things research has shown is the expansion of charters schools mirrors predatory lending," [Dr. Joan Evelyn Duvall-Flynn, president of the Pennsylvania Conference of NAACP Branches and an educator, told Atlanta Black Star]. "When the tax base is low, less money is going to the public," she explained.

"Schools have less resources, it is harder to maintain the facilities, harder to maintain sufficient teaching staff. We also noticed over the years that charter schools were leading to the resegregation of the schools. In that resegregation process, they were re-creating the white supremacy model," she said.
Charter schools are enroll fewer disabled students, and many have instituted enrollment guidelines that may discourage applications from immigrant students. The quality of charter schools can vary wildly, and that is of particular concern given that, among many other problems, charter schools have led to public school closings.

Rerouting tax dollars to school vouchers and charter schools that may select for existing biases means marginalized students end up with the choice between shitty private schools and a shitty public school system. Not better choices, but worse ones.

DeVos argues that "the government shouldn't get in your way" of choosing which driving service one uses, but if one service is, for example, charging lower rates by violating federal labor laws, yes the government should get in way. The government has a responsibility to get in the way of that.

Finally: It's also worth noting, again, that the entire argument about "school choice" is a red herring used to conceal that school privatization is designed to appeal to and entrench white supremacy.

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.
Indeed, the Indiana Coalition for Public Education concluded that privatization schemes stand to "reverse the state's progress on desegregation efforts."

That is the reality. Betsy DeVos wants you to imagine that school choice is as benign as which app you use to call a car to pick you up.

While presuming that everyone can afford a driving service in the first place.

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I Write Letters

image of a cracked U.S. flag

Dear Republican Members of Congress:

I read in this Slate article that many, or even most, of you don't like Donald Trump. That you understand he is dangerous and incompetent. That lots of you "are in various degrees of shock, horror, and disgust at what's going on in this administration."

We don't agree on much, members of the Republican Caucus, but we agree on that.

The thing is, you're not doing anything about it. And why? "None of them want to be decapitated by a primary challenge. Nobody wants the social media fanaticism of the alt-right turned on them."

I'm sorry, WHAT? You are watching your country slide into ruin and the entire world destabilize under the leadership of a catastrophically destructive scofflaw who likely colluded with a hostile foreign power to influence the outcome of our election, and you're worried about your jobs and social media harassment? ARE YOU SHITTING ME?

You fucking cowards.

Your primary job is to protect this country. You don't deserve your jobs if you're unwilling to do that.

And what, pray tell, would be the worst fate to befall you if you were to lose your job in the course of vigorously defending this nation from its lie-breathing dragon of a president, whose ascent to power you abetted with your cowardice? Rick Santorum served two inglorious terms as a U.S. Senator, has spent his time mounting failed presidential bids ever since, and recently landed a sweet gig as a CNN contributor. We've seen you repeatedly fail upwards, so risking your jobs isn't much of a risk at all.

As for your quivering pusillanimity at the prospect of being on the blunt end of social media opprobrium, I have nothing but a heaping bucketload of contempt to offer you.

In the 13 years I have been doing this work, social media harassment is a routine part of my every day. It's just a constant backdrop to the rest of what I'm obliged to navigate as the cost of being a woman who speaks out against injustice and the annihilative politics that emanate almost exclusively from your side of the aisle.

I have been mercilessly inundated for years with gross harassment. [Content Note: Descriptions of abuse.]

Death threats. Rape threats. Threats to kill my family, my pets. Detailed emails describing what it would be like to commit various acts of violence against me. Emails imagining what sex is like between my husband and me, and how he must hate it because I am disgusting. Hopes that someone else will hurt me. Admonishments to kill myself.

Pictures of weapons that people want to use on me. Photoshopped images of me being jizzed on, raped, sliced, diced, murdered. Pictures of dead fetuses.

Pictures of my house. Emails and comments the entire text of which is just my address. Threats. Insults. Slurs. Oh my god, so many slurs.

Harassing phone calls. Voicemails with threats of violence. My home address and phone numbers published. A publicly posted campaign offering a reward to anyone for proof of my rape and/or murder.

Private images stolen and published. Photoshopped images of me as various historical tyrants. Hate sites. My image used in fake Twitter accounts, online dating profiles, blogs. My life scrutinized, my privacy invaded, lies told about me, my appearance mocked, my reported experiences audited.

People have pounded on my front door. Dumped garbage on my lawn. Smashed a phone just beneath my office window, as if to say this is how close I can get.

I have seen my face broadcast on cable news beneath a graphic of a sniper's crosshairs. I have listened to a conservative man say on national television that he wants to personally bankrupt me. (After, by the way, he got me fired from my job.)

All of this, and then some, because I have dedicated my life to trying to prevent the very outcome you now refuse to publicly acknowledge. Because no matter how much you might like to pretend otherwise, Donald Trump is not an outlier of your party; he is its inevitable endgame.

And all the while, I have had to listen to narratives about how Republicans are the "Real Americans." I have had to listen to Republicans call me a traitor for supporting Democrats, for protesting war, for marrying an immigrant. I have seen pick-up trucks drive by my house sporting bumper sticks reading "Liberal Hunting License," and fielded threats from self-identified Republicans because I am a progressive writer.

I have watched John Kerry, a war hero, be diminished as a coward by men who avoided service. I have watched Barack Obama, our first Black president, be subjected to delegitimizing tactics on the basis of his race by people who believe only white people can be truly American. I have watched Hillary Clinton, a woman who has given her life to public service, accused of being careless with classified information by people who now tolerate Russian meddling to destroy the core of our democracy.

All my years have been spent listening to Republicans tell me how it is they who are the great patriots of this nation. That people like me would see America brought to its knees with our capitulation.

Yet now, in this moment, in the middle of a profound and urgent national crisis, with evidence of foreign election meddling and a president whose own fealty to this nation is deeply suspect (which is merely one point in a vast constellation of failures), the Great Patriots of the Republican Party are nowhere to be found.

Because you are worried about social media scorn and being primaried.

Get your heads out of your asses. There are millions upon millions of people in this country with a hell of a lot more to lose than you will ever have.

You are supposed to protect them. You're cowering in silence to keep a job you're not even willing to do.

Shame on you. Shame on you.

You fucking cowards.

No Love,

[H/T for the Slate article to Aphra_Behn. Image via Pixabay.]

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No, Jared Kushner, the Government Should Not Be Run Like a Business

Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law who is also his senior advisor, has been tapped to run the White House Office of American Innovation, ostensibly a task force with a mission to improve government efficiency, which will, in reality, almost certainly serve as just another way to justify the destruction of the federal government and its services.

Kushner is positioning the new office as "an offensive team" — an aggressive, nonideological ideas factory capable of attracting top talent from both inside and outside of government, and serving as a conduit with the business, philanthropic and academic communities.

"We should have excellence in government," Kushner said Sunday in an interview in his West Wing office. "The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens."
And Kushner has already made clear why the government should not be run like a business, and not run by people who believe otherwise. Citizens are not the government's customers. In a democracy, citizens are the government's bosses.

That is but one—though the most important one—of many reasons why the government shouldn't be run as a business, no matter how many Republicans insist otherwise.

Kushner is not likely to succeed, for reasons Ronald Klain details in a terrific piece for the Washington Post. Notably:
[T]here is no way to make the government more efficient if you don't believe in the government and what it does. Trump has already announced that his goal is to collapse Obamacare; should we expect Kushner's Innovation Office to build on USDS work to make better and faster? Will Kushner really focus on fixing the veterans' health-care system — or boost Republican efforts to privatize it? Does he want to find new ways to track and report environmental risks — or is the goal to make it easier to pollute? Trump strategist Stephen K. Bannon's stated mission of "deconstructing" the government is at odds with any genuine effort to "reconstruct" it — and it's easy to guess which is the true aim of the White House.
The Trump administration is lying, again, to the American people. In most businesses, people who lie to their bosses get fired.

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Open Thread

image of a yellow couch

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

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Killemalla: "What is your 'go to' album that lifts your spirits, makes you smile?"

I don't have a single album, but a collection of songs I listen to when I need it. Andra Day's "Rise Up." The Rescues' "Break Me Out." John Legend's "If You're Out There." Sigur Rós' "Festival." Literally anything by Nina Simone.

Right now, this one is getting a lot of play: The Gabe Dixon Band's "All Will Be Well."

[Lyrics available here.]

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The Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by soccer balls.

Recommended Reading:

T.C.: The 265 Members of Congress Who Sold You Out to ISPs, and How Much It Cost to Buy Them

Adam: How to Hide Your Browsing History from Your Snooping ISP

R. Eric: [Content Note: Misogynoir; moving GIFs at link] You Will Never, in Your Entire Life, Get the Best of Maxine Waters

Breanna: [CN: Misogynoir; workplace harassment] Fox News Slapped with Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Bryce: Trump Team Claims Credit for Jobs at Ford That Were Negotiated by a Union

Molly: Will Trump Be the Only President in 100 Years Not to Throw the First Pitch at an MLB Game?

Eric: [CN: Discussion of white nationalism] Feeling 'British'

Ragen: Finally a Fat Positive Salon

Shanon: [CN: Rape jokes; misogyny; transphobia; homophobia] Dave Chappelle: Your Homophobic, Transphobic, Misogynistic Rants Aren't Funny

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

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Donald Trump Is a Turd and My Friends Are Buttholes

Hey, ya bunch of feminist bats! It's me, Butch Pornstache, coming at ya live from the Pornstache Conservatory. (TOILET.)

I heard some of you weirdos were hoping I'd weigh in on how Donald Trump's presidency is going so far, so here I am! Long time no talk about LOVING AMERICA.

Since I'm a reformed Tea Partier, whose stars-and-bars patriotic truck nuts are now hidden away in a Cracker Jack box at the back of my garage, I am no fan of our new president.

Partly that's because I don't trust dudes who slap their name in gold letters on anything but bowling trophies, and partly that's because I've learned a few things since my ex-wife/fiancée Tammy rigged up my phone so Shakesville is the only website I can access and restricted my TV time to episodes of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (which isn't nearly as sexy as it sounds) and re-runs of Parks & Recreation.

I am LITERALLY (Chris Traeger!) surrounded by Trump fans like 97% of the time. Down at the lodge, at the BMX Fanciers Society, at O'Tooterly's Pub and Bait Shop, every time I'm just trying to fish and throw sticks in the water at Winkle Creek, and even at my brother Buck's house. Jesus H. Christ, they are everywhere.

And every time I try to set them straight on some FAKE NEWS they're spouting off like it was handed to them engraved on tablets from Noah on Mount Olympus, they yell some bullhooey at me about how I need to get my head out of my ass and listen to people who don't share my views.

(My views being that Trump is a dipshit with a Cabinet full of turdacious billionaires whose precious butt cheeks probably ain't never even sat on a four-wheeler.)

And it's really starting to make my mustache frizzle to be told I need to listen to Trump voters when THEY'RE SCREAMING IN MY FACE TWENTY-FOUR SEVEN.

It's like, are you goddamn emeffing jerkturkeys kidding me?! Every last one of my happy places that I used to go to escape the OPPRESSIVE REGIME of my house and its RUTHLESS OVERLADIES (feminism) Tammy and my stepmom Cheryl, and enjoy the uncomplicated company of uncomplicated men has now turned into a barfinating TRUMP ZONE OF MANZOMBIES who talk about how great Trump is like they're getting paid in solid gold MAGA hats for every compliment they give that yammering shitbucket!

I couldn't turn off the spigot of pro-Trump propaganda if I wanted to! And believe me—I've tried!

My best friend Dick Balzac has lost his damn mind, can't shut his yapper about Trump for thirty solid seconds, and I offered to give him my entire According to Jim DVD collection and ALL my VHS tapes of John Cena's Greatest WWE Smashes if he'd just stop talking about Trump for ONE DAY, and he couldn't do it!

It's gotten so bad that I'm beginning to prefer the company of women who shout at me every time I say something stupid about how ladies' nights at O'Tooterly's are reverse sexism.

And let me just let you in on a little secret: These men who are RUINING MEN for me aren't talking about their economic anxiety. They're talking about "illegals" and "sexual deviants" and "pro-abortion feminazis" and "white genocide," and when they run out of things to say on that malarkey, they get each other all revved up (IN THE PANTS) by shouting "LOCK HER UP! LOCK HER UP!"

Last week at bowling, I just lost my noodles, and I shouted, "ALL OF YOU SHOULD BE LOCKED UP FOR BEING DUMBASSES!" And, man, you wouldn't even BELIEVE how many hotdogs got thrown at me. It was so many hotdogs.

There was no convincing them, so I just gave them the Eye of the Tiger and got outta there.

Anyways. You know I never liked that Obama character, but maybe I wasn't paying enough attention as I should have been. I got healthcare now, thanks to him. And I still think Hillary is a huge dork, but if huge dorks don't belong in the White House, where are we even supposed to put them?

I don't know, man. The world is getting weird. All my favorite spaces that used to be the coolest with the greatest guys now feel pretty shady—even though it's the same spaces with the same guys. Trump has changed something in them. They're so mean now.

Tammy and Cheryl keep telling me that Trump didn't change them—that I was just a privileged ding-a-ling who didn't notice how mean they always were. Maybe that's true. They're usually right about this stuff.

Maybe my friends have always sucked and it's me who's changed.

All's I know is that I don't want to hear ONE MORE G.D. THING ABOUT HOW DONALD TRUMP IS THE BEST or I'm gonna put my shoe through someone's ass!

Well, I kinda complained so much about my stupid friends that I forgot to complain about Donald Trump's presidency so far. I'll save that for next time. MORE BUTCH FOR YOU, LUCKY DUCKIES!

Pornstache: OUT.

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Why Does Anyone Care What Bernie Sanders Thinks About the Democratic Party? (With Receipts)

 screen cap of tweet authored by David Wright showing the snippet of a transcript from an interview between Joe Scarborough and Bernie Sanders, in which Scarborough asks: 'Can Dems be open to candidates that aren't rigidly pro-choice, rigidly pro gun control?' And Sanders replies: 'The answer, I think, is yes.'

Why on earth does anyone care what Bernie Sanders thinks about the Democratic Party?


If he were, he'd probably know that many of us are already represented by Democrats who aren't "rigidly" supportive of reproductive rights or gun regulations, but then again, if he were a Democrat, he probably wouldn't have sued the party in the midst of a primary.

To be utterly blunt, Bernie Sanders ran a disorganized, deceptive campaign that was disastrous for the Democratic party. I haven't forgotten the Politico article by Gabriel Benedetti and Edward-Isaac Dovere that detailed Bernie's damaging decisions:

It was the Vermont senator who personally rewrote his campaign manager's shorter statement after the chaos at the Nevada state party convention and blamed the political establishment for inciting the violence.

He was the one who made the choice to go after Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz after his wife read him a transcript of her blasting him on television.

He chose the knife fight over calling Clinton unqualified, which aides blame for pulling the bottom out of any hopes they had of winning in New York and their last real chance of turning a losing primary run around.

And when Jimmy Kimmel's producers asked Sanders' campaign for a question to ask Donald Trump, Sanders himself wrote the one challenging the Republican nominee to a debate.

And let's not forget this gem:

But more than any of them, Sanders is himself filled with resentment, on edge, feeling like he gets no respect — all while holding on in his head to the enticing but remote chance that Clinton may be indicted before the convention.

Bernie Sanders was hoping that Hillary Clinton would be indicted.

This is not a man with the good of the Democratic Party in mind.

Recall that the 2016 primaries were Bernie Sanders' first primary. He's run as an Independent in the House and the Senate, but enjoyed a cozy arrangement with Democrats since 1990. He benefited from the overt intervention of the DCCC against a Democrat in 1996. In fact, I have written previously about the many, many times Bernie Sanders has been happy to have the Democrats genuinely "rig" their process--on his behalf. But when it came to actually running in a contested Democratic primary, he couldn't seem to do it. As I wrote previously:

Maybe an actual Democratic Party primary DOES feel unfair to Sanders. After all, he's never actually had to win one. He's always gotten his name on the D-ticket, effectively, without having to compete.

There's definitely someone in this race who is used to showing up and getting a coronation from the Democrats. Someone who is totally out of their depth when faced with a very liberal opponent who is not taking this for granted. Someone who is acting hugely entitled and freaking out because they actually have to follow the rules of the party whose nomination they want.

And that Someone is not named Hillary Clinton.

To be utterly blunt, Sanders proved that he doesn't understand how a party actually works. He utterly failed to follow the First Rule of Democrat Club: Don't damage your opponent—or the party—so much that it hurts in the general.

Now, to be fair, perhaps in another year without Russian bots and trolls amplifying every bit of Democratic Party drama, and without Wikileaks releasing nothingburger-but-much-hyped emails, it would have been different. But this wasn't that year.

Instead, we had Bernie Sanders, so unaccustomed to being challenged from the left that he thought being pressed on his gun records was an unfair attack, and couldn't handle being called on his sexism:

Since the first debate, Clinton, also without naming Sanders, has pushed back on his assertion there that "all the shouting in the world" would not fix the country's problem with gun violence.

"I've been told to stop shouting about guns," Clinton said at a rally in Virginia on Friday, a line she repeated Saturday during her remarks at the J-J dinner. "Actually I haven't been shouting, but sometimes when a woman talks, some people think it's shouting."

"We'd be very happy to have a straight-out debate on issues that matter to people and confine it to that," [consultant Tad] Devine said. "But if they're going to have a campaign that attacks Bernie on gun safety and implies he engages in sexism, that's unacceptable. We're not going to stand for that. We're not going to sit here and let her attack him. We're going to have to talk about other things if they do that. If they're going to engage in this kind of attack, they need to understand we're not going to stand there and take it."

Welcome to the Democratic primary, Mr. Devine and Mr. Sanders! Where sexist bullshit isn't welcome, and where your liberal cred is not beyond fair dispute, and where pointing out that you are not a Democrat is a fact, not an "attack."

Why would anyone give a Trumppence, let alone Ronpaulbuxx, about the opinion of Bernie Sanders, the man whose campaign improperly accessed proprietary data from a rival campaign and then sued the party in order to avoid the consequences of their actions?

Yeah, that sounds like a guy with the best interests of the Democratic Party at heart. Here's what the staffers did, by the way:

Another person familiar with the investigation also told NBC News that a total of four individuals affiliated with the Sanders campaign appear to have accessed the data, including Uretsky and Deputy National Data Director Russell Drapkin.

A series of documents outlining an audit trail maintained by the database company, obtained and reviewed by NBC News, shows that the four individuals spent a total of about 40 minutes conducting searches of the Clinton data. Those searches included terms that point to Sanders' team gaining access to proprietary lists from more than 10 early voting states of Clinton's likely supporters as well as lists for Sanders backers. That data was saved to personal folders.

It also appears that Drapkin "suppressed" two folders after the database company became aware of the breach.

To be clear: Sanders sued the DNC after it temporarily suspended his campaign's access to a system they had flagrantly misused in order to access data they had no right to.

Am I missing something? We're supposed to think he gives a shit about the party after that?

And let's not forget the role of Sanders and Weaver in keeping the lie alive that leaked emails "proved" some kind of improper bias against Sanders during the primaries—the "rigged" claim. This never made sense if one bothered to look at the dates of the emails. DNC staffers snarked about many things (probably unwisely) but the comments about Sanders same from emails late int he game, after it was clear he couldn't win. Per Eichenwald at Newsweek:

According to a Western European intelligence source, Russian hackers, using a series of go-betweens, transmitted the DNC emails to WikiLeaks with the intent of having them released on the verge of the Democratic Convention in hopes of sowing chaos. And that’s what happened—just a couple of days before Democrats gathered in Philadelphia, the emails came out, and suddenly the media was loaded with stories about trauma in the party. Crews of Russian propagandists—working through an array of Twitter accounts and websites, started spreading the story that the DNC had stolen the election from Sanders. (An analysis provided to Newsweek by independent internet and computer specialists using a series of algorithms show that this kind of propaganda, using the same words, went from Russian disinformation sources to comment sections on more than 200 sites catering to liberals, conservatives, white supremacists, nutritionists and an amazing assortment of other interest groups.) The fact that the dates of the most controversial emails—May 3, May 4, May 5, May 9, May 16, May 17, May 18, May 21—were after it was impossible for Sanders to win was almost never mentioned, and was certainly ignored by the propagandists trying to sell the “primaries were rigged” narrative. (Yes, one of them said something inappropriate about his religious beliefs. So a guy inside the DNC was a jerk; that didn’t change the outcome.) Two other emails—one from April 24 and May 1—were statements of fact. In the first, responding to Sanders saying he would push for a contested convention (even though he would not have the delegates to do so), a DNC official wrote, “So much for a traditional presumptive nominee.” Yeah, no kidding. The second stated that Sanders didn’t know what the DNC’s job actually was—which he didn’t, apparently because he had not ever been a Democrat before his run.

Bottom line: The “scandalous” DNC emails were hacked by people working with the Kremlin, then misrepresented online by Russian propagandists to gullible fools who never checked the dates of the documents. And the media, which in the flurry of breathless stories about the emails would occasionally mention that they were all dated after any rational person knew the nomination was Clinton’s, fed into the misinformation.

And here is Jeff Weaver, breathlessly repeating Russian propaganda about the emails' content:

Weaver said the emails showed misconduct at the highest level of the staff within the party and that he believed there would be more emails leaked, which would "reinforce" that the party had "its fingers on the scale."

"Everybody is disappointed that much of what we felt was happening at the DNC was in fact happening, that you had in this case a clear example of the DNC taking sides and looking to place negative information into the political process.

Apparently, Weaver was upset someone in the DNC called him a liar. I WONDER WHY THEY WOULD DO THAT.

I could go on and on, but the point is: Neither Bernie Sanders nor those most closely associated with him in his campaign really seem to have given a fuck about the Democratic Party, nor put much forethought into how their attacks would weaken the Democratic case in the general. And that goes for Tad Devine, as well—long described as a "Democratic" political consultant. Devine was the one who convinced Bernie to run as a Democrat, but I seriously question why any Democrat would go near him ever again if he was really behind the DNC lawsuit:

The biggest transformation for the campaign started out as a kind of nightmare. Everything changed when staffers woke up the Friday before Christmas to stories about the Democratic National Committee shutting them out of the party voter file after a Sanders staffer had used an opening in the system in an apparent attempt to swipe piles of Clinton campaign information.

The 8 A.M. campaign call started confused and frightened, but Devine and Longabaugh cut everyone off. What they should do, they said, was fight. They wanted to sue. In a smaller follow-up call—Devine and Longabaugh sitting next to each other on a plane about to leave Reagan National for Burlington, Weaver in the campaign office, Sanders and his wife at their home—they agreed

That's the same Tad Devine who, with Paul Manafort, had no problem working for ruthless Ukranaian politician Victor Yanukovich. You know, the guy who tried to kill his rival with dioxin poisoning.

Somehow, I can't be arsed to care about Tad Devine's opinions on the Democratic Party, either.

It's not that the Democratic Party is without flaw. But asking Bernie Sanders what it needs to do to fix itself is asking a guy who inflicted plenty of the damage from which it's now reeling. He and his campaign were the unwitting dupes of Russian propaganda, but they also made up their own damaging myths about the party—that there were too few debates, that it was unfair for his campaign to be held to account for stealing data, that Clinton had done something indictable, etc.

If Bernie Sanders wants to help with the Trump resistance, I welcome that. If the Democrats are willing to work with him, I welcome that too. But I don't welcome the opinions of someone so hostile to the party, and to its base of nonwhite voters, and so unwilling to own the damage he's inflicted.

Over and over, Sanders has made it clear: He does not like or respect the Democratic Party. And he's welcome to that opinion, but it doesn't really qualify him as a good faith advisor on its future.

You want me to care what you say about the Dems, Bernie? Then you can start by joining the party.

P.S. If you want to see a most righteous takedown of Bernie being ready to deal on women's bodily autonomy, but Wall Street not so much, then don't miss Imani Gandy's amazing tweets.

Open Wide...