Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker lattendicht: "Memorable non-school childhood activity? Something you did during a weekend, school holiday/vacation/break, either from your own childhood or while looking after kids as an adult."

Going to the public library. One of my favorite childhood activities. Tied with going to the roller rink!

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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.

* * *

I snapped this while we were out driving to pick up a pizza recently. Not an amazing composition, but there was such interesting light as the sun was just beginning to set.

image of a darkening sky over a field at dusk

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Quote of the Day

"You could tell me today that I could marry a rich, generous, lovely, and kind prince who looks just like Idris Elba and the only thing standing in my way of marrying my dream guy is that I could never talk sh-t about Donald Trump again, and I wouldn't take that f–king deal."—Kaiser, in a piece about how Meghan Markle, who is engaged to Prince Harry, will have to restrain her political views in future.


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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound lying on the sofa with his long neck craned upward so his chin can rest on the top of the sofa as he peers over it
When Dudley wants to see what's going on over there
but is too lazy to get up.

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 315

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:

Earlier today by me: More Lauer: This Is What NBC's Indifference Abetted; Trump Looks "Crazy" Because He's Unconstrained by Consequences; and "This is a repudiation of the social contract that Franklin Roosevelt announced at the New Deal."

Nicole Lafond at TPM: White House Plots Shakeup: Tillerson Out, Pompeo to State, Cotton to CIA. "The White House has developed a plan to push Secretary of State Rex Tillerson out of his post at the State Department and replace him with current CIA Director Mike Pompeo within the next several weeks, The New York Times reported Thursday. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) would reportedly replace Pompeo as head of the CIA. ...The Associated Press and CNN also confirmed reports that the White House is planning to replace Tillerson with Pompeo."

This is reportedly all being orchestrated by Chief of Staff John Kelly. (See again my concerns that decisions meant to be made by the president are being made by unelected former military commanders.) It isn't clear whether Trump even approves of the plan. When he was asked about it this morning, his response was: "He's here. Rex is here."

So that's one concern. I don't agree with a single decision Donald Trump makes, but I also don't believe that undermining the democratic principle of executive decision-making fixes the issue of an unqualified and indecent president. It just creates a secondary alarming problem.

Further, Pompeo is completely unqualified to be Secretary of State, and Tom Cotton would be a disaster as CIA chief.

This is just complete chaos — which is, of course, a known and identifiable strategy of authoritarian regimes.

But it's not like we need a functional State Department, anyway, right? Nothing important going on in the world right now.

Anna Fifield at the Washington Post: North Korea Has Shown Us Its New Missile, and It's Scarier Than We Thought. Oh.

* * *

Madeleine K. Albright at the Washington Post: The National Security Emergency We're Not Talking About. "America's diplomatic professionals have issued a dire warning about the crisis facing the State Department: Scores of top diplomats, including some of our highest-ranked career Foreign Service officers, have left the agency at 'a dizzying speed' over the past 10 months. ...[T]he damage being done to America's diplomatic readiness is both intentional and long-term. The administration isn't hurting the State Department by accident. Tillerson maintained a freeze on hiring long after most other Cabinet officials had stopped. The number of promotions has been cut in half and the quantity of incoming Foreign Service officers by more than two-thirds. He is effectively shutting down the State Department's pipeline for new talent."

Suffice it to say, the solution to this problem is not replacing Tillerson with Pompeo. It's not that Tillerson is incompetent; he's doing precisely what the president hired him to do.

But again, it's not like we need effective diplomacy or anything.

Karla Adam and William Booth at the Washington Post: Britain Furious, Trump Unapologetic as Fallout Swells from Anti-Muslim Videos. Oh fuck.

Mike Allen at Axios: The White House Expects Trump to Get Even More Outrageous. "Officials tell us Trump seems more self-assured, more prone to confidently indulging wild conspiracies and fantasies, more quick-triggered to fight than he was during the Wild West of the first 100 days in office. ...Elected Republicans, at least in public, seem fine with it all. They chuckle and say it's simply Trump being Trump. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and his staff seem fine with, or at least resigned to, this reality. No one who matters is doing anything but egging him on."

Helping him create his own reality in which he is king, emperor, god.

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Gloria Borger, Pamela Brown, Evan Perez, and Kara Scannell at CNN: Jared Kushner Met with Special Counsel About Flynn. "Jared Kushner met earlier this month with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team as part of the investigation into Russia's meddling in the election, according to two people familiar with the meeting. ...The conversation lasted less than 90 minutes, one person familiar with the meeting said, adding that Mueller's team asked Kushner to clear up some questions he was asked by lawmakers and details that emerged through media reports. One source said the nature of this conversation was principally to make sure Kushner doesn't have information that exonerates Flynn."

Welp. That sounds pretty bad for Flynn. (And frankly pretty good for Kushner.)

* * *

Shira A Scheindlin at the Guardian: Trump's New Team of Judges Will Radically Change American Society.
While the Supreme Court is the court of last resort — and the one that attracts most attention — the judicial business of the United States is decided in what are called 'the lower courts.' The judges appointed to these courts decide 99.9% of all cases.

Most cases never reach the supreme court. It is the so-called lower courts that play a critical role in deciding a wide range of issues. These judges have decided cases involving voting rights, contraception, privacy, sentencing, prisoner rights, gay rights, immigration, desegregation in schools and housing, employment discrimination, affirmative action, workplace rules, environmental impacts, and many others that shape US society. The impact of their decisions are felt daily by more than 300 million Americans.

This is the background needed to understand the importance of Trump's judicial nominations during his first year in office. Much has been made of the administration's legislative failures but Trump's judicial appointments are calculated to have a more lasting impact on American life than many if not all of his proposed legislative initiatives.

Unlike legislation, these life-time appointments are not reversible. That is why it is so important to scrutinize who he is placing on these benches, and what impact they will have.

There are now approximately 144 vacancies in the federal courts, and Trump has already succeeded in appointing 14 judges, meaning that he began his term with more than 150 vacancies — 10% of the federal judiciary.
And every single judge he nominates will vote to uphold the assault on voting rights that his party is waging, so no wonder they are behaving like a party who will never have to be accountable to voters ever again.

* * *

[Content Note: Sexual harassment and/or assault. Covers entire section. Video may autoplay at first link.] There are a handful of new allegations of sexual abuse today. I don't have anything to say that I haven't already said literally dozens of times before. I am angry and I am rageful and I take up space in solidarity with these women.

MJ Lee at CNN: Army Veteran Says Franken Groped Her During USO Tour in 2003.

Anna Merlan at the Slot: New England Elected Official Says Al Franken Tried to Give Her a 'Wet, Open-Mouthed Kiss' Onstage.

Jenny Lumet at the Hollywood Reporter: Russell Simmons Sexually Violated Me.

Naaman Zhou at the Guardian: Geoffrey Rush Denies Allegations of 'Inappropriate Behaviour' in Play.

Rachel Tepper Paley at Mic: 4 Former Employees Accuse Celebrity Chef Johnny Iuzzini of Sexual Harassment and Abuse.

And in related news:

Brandy Zadrozny at the Daily Beast: Trump Bragged: 'Nothing in the World Like First-Rate Pussy'.

Brianna Sacks at BuzzFeed: Roy Moore Just Blamed His Sexual Misconduct Allegations on Lesbians, Gays, and Socialists.

Scott Stump at Today: Rep. John Conyers' Accuser Marion Brown Speaks Out: 'He Just Violated My Body'.

Matt Shuham at TPM: Conyers' Lawyer Says Congressman Has No Plans to Resign Amid Accusations.

Lauren Gambino at the Guardian: Nancy Pelosi Calls on John Conyers to Resign over Sexual Harassment Allegations.

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

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"This is a repudiation of the social contract that Franklin Roosevelt announced at the New Deal."

The quote in the headline is Joseph J. Ellis, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian, quoted in a New York Times piece by Peter S. Goodman and Patricia Cohen, on the Republican tax plan. Titled "It Started as a Tax Cut; Now It Could Change American Life," the piece details the many ways in which the quickly hammered together plan, currently being rushed through Congress, will fundamentally alter the United States' economy, politics, and the social contract.

The tax plan has been marketed by [Donald] Trump and Republican leaders as a straightforward if enormous rebate for the masses, a $1.5 trillion package of cuts to spur hiring and economic growth. But as the bill has been rushed through Congress with scant debate, its far broader ramifications have come into focus, revealing a catchall legislative creation that could reshape major areas of American life, from education to health care.

Some of this re-engineering is straight out of the traditional Republican playbook. Corporate taxes, along with those on wealthy Americans, would be slashed on the presumption that when people in penthouses get relief, the benefits flow down to basement tenements.

Some measures are barely connected to the realm of taxation, such as the lifting of a 1954 ban on political activism by churches and the conferring of a new legal right for fetuses in the House bill — both on the wish list of the evangelical right.

With a potentially far-reaching dimension, elements in both the House and Senate bills could constrain the ability of states and local governments to levy their own taxes, pressuring them to limit spending on health care, education, public transportation, and social services. In their longstanding battle to shrink government, Republicans have found in the tax bill a vehicle to broaden the fight beyond Washington.

The result is a behemoth piece of legislation that could widen American economic inequality while diminishing the power of local communities to marshal relief for vulnerable people — especially in high-tax states like California and New York, which, not coincidentally, tend to vote Democratic.

...Economists and tax experts are overwhelmingly skeptical that the bills in the House and Senate can generate meaningful job growth and economic expansion. Many view the legislation not as a product of genuine deliberation, but as a transfer of wealth to corporations and affluent individuals — both generous purveyors of campaign contributions. By 2027, people making $40,000 to $50,000 would pay a combined $5.3 billion more in taxes, while the group earning $1 million or more would get a $5.8 billion cut, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office.

...A key feature of the Senate bill is the elimination of a federal deduction for state and local taxes. Conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation and American Legislative Exchange Council have sought to end the deduction as a means of reining in government spending.

In high-tax states like California, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut — where electorates have historically shown a willingness to finance ample safety-net programs — the measure could change the political calculus. It would magnify the costs to taxpayers, pressuring states to stay lean or risk the wrath of voters.

Some see in this tilt a reworking of basic principles that have prevailed in American life for generations.

Since the 1930s, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt created Social Security, unemployment benefits and other pillars of the safety net to combat the Great Depression, crises have been tempered by some measure of government support. Recent decades have brought cuts to social services, but the impact of the current bill could be especially consequential.

"This is a repudiation of the social contract that Franklin Roosevelt announced at the New Deal," Joseph J. Ellis, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian, said of trimming benefits for lower- and middle-income families to finance bigger rewards for the wealthy. Health coverage would shrink under the Republican plan while multimillion-dollar estates would not have to pay a penny in taxes.

The tax cut package, for instance, could trigger rules mandating cuts to Medicare, the government health care program for seniors, the Congressional Budget Office warned. Some 13 million people could lose health care via the elimination of a key plank of Obamacare. Insurance premiums are also expected to rise by 10 percent.
And, as of this morning, it looks even more likely to pass, as Senator John McCain, once again proving he is wholly undeserving of his reputation as a "maverick," has come out in enthusiastic support of the bill, commending his party on its adherence to traditional legislative processes, since his votes against the healthcare bills were based on their failure to comport with same. His statement is classic McCain: Sanctimonious, patronizing, self-aggrandizing, and profoundly dishonest.
After careful thought and consideration, I have decided to support the Senate tax reform bill. I believe this legislation, though far from perfect, would enhance American competitiveness, boost the economy, and provide long overdue tax relief for middle class families.

For too long, hardworking people in Arizona and around the country have not seen a raise in their paychecks. This bill would directly benefit all Americans, allowing them to keep a higher percentage of what they earn. According to the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation, every income bracket would see tax relief under this bill. The child tax credit would be doubled to $2,000 per child and the tax code would be substantially simplified.

By lowering our high corporate tax rate to 20 percent, the bill would make our markets far more attractive for investment. It would also encourage American companies to repatriate assets now held overseas. Small businesses, which are vitally important to the dynamism of our economy, would also receive essential tax relief. Combined, these commonsense steps would promote economic growth and stimulate job creation here at home.

For months, I have called for a return to regular order, and I am pleased that this important bill was considered through the normal legislative processes, with several hearings and a thorough mark-up in the Senate Finance Committee during which more than 350 amendments were filed and 69 received a vote.

I have also argued that health care reform, which is important both to the well-being of our citizens and to the vitality of our economy, should proceed by regular order. This bill does not change that. As a matter of principle, I've always supported individual liberty and believe the federal government should not penalize Americans who cannot afford to purchase expensive health insurance. By repealing the individual mandate, this bill would eliminate an onerous tax that especially harms those from low-income brackets. In my home state of Arizona, 80 percent of people who currently pay the individual mandate penalty earn less than $50,000 per year.

Finally, I take seriously the concerns some of my Senate colleagues have raised about the impact of this bill on the deficit. However, it's clear this bill's net effect on our economy would be positive. This is not a perfect bill, but it is one that would deliver much-needed reform to our tax code, grow the economy, and help Americans keep more of their hard-earned money.
Lies. Lies from a party loyalist who knows his only meaningful constituency is the one percent.

And now that McCain has signed on, it's a virtual certainty that the rest of his party will, too. They are governing like oligarchs who know they will never have to face the wrath of angry voters in free and fair elections ever again.

The Republicans have spent decades waging class warfare, and this may be the final blow.

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Trump Looks "Crazy" Because He's Unconstrained by Consequences

An enormous amount of (disablist) ink has been spilled publicly musing on the state of Donald Trump's mental health. The debate, such as it is, isn't even about whether there's something wrong with him or whether there isn't, but whether he's "addled" by some neurological illness or "crazy" with some mental illness.

After a(nother) series of unfathomably heinous and reckless tweets yesterday, the debate rages on with renewed energy — and increasingly the conclusion is that Trump is delusional.

Simultaneous to that narrative are observations about how Trump is facing no consequences for any of this behavior. On that subject, there is a very good piece by Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker at the Washington Post: "Trump Veers Past Guardrails, Feeling Impervious to the Uproar He Causes."

These two ideas are deeply interconnected.

The fact that Trump never faces any consequences rarely figures into the commentary on how he's "crazy," but it should — because the reason he presents as "delusional" to so many people is because he is behaving precisely like a person who has never faced any meaningful consequences.

That isn't recognizable or familiar to most of us, because most of us don't live a life anything like that.

But its alienness isn't evidence of illness. It's evidence of Trump's immense privilege combined with his immense character flaws. Especially being pathologically insecure.

Trump has spent most of his life — and the entirety of his adulthood — surrounded by sycophants who create and affirm whatever he wants his reality to be. That's the world he created for himself as the head of the Trump Organization. That's the world he created for himself as the star of The Apprentice. That's the world he created for himself within his own family.

Master of a universe built to his own specifications.

That is what we're seeing on the most visible, grandest scale: A deeply spoiled man who just invents the world he wants and assumes that people will make it happen; who behaves however he wants within that world, where there are no consequences because he didn't design them.

"Trump has internalized the belief that he can largely operate with impunity, people close to him said," write Rucker and Parker. Yeah. No shit. That's because he can.

He is the architect. And his blueprints do not include accountability.

The presidency is supposed to come with built-in accountability in the form of checks and balances — but Trump's party, currently controlling both Houses of Congress, refuses to do that job. Like every other sycophant in Trump's history, they just give him what he wants; reflect back to him the reality that he demands.

He's not delusional. He's creating his own reality. Not just internally, but externally. For real. That's how much privilege he has and how much power he wields. The world of his making does not exist merely in his imagination, but in the actual, physical world around him.

What we mistake for "crazy" is actually Trump striding confidently through a reality of his own making. And it doesn't even matter if it doesn't mesh with ours, if it exists in unresolvable tension with ours. He is untouchable.

At least for now.

He knows it's a tenuous grasp he holds on this invention. That's why he spirals when he feels Bob Mueller getting close. That's why he is telling people that Muller's investigation "will be finished by the end of the year, complete with an exoneration." He's trying to make it so.

What should frighten all of us is that he has good reason to believe, based on past events, that he'll get what he wants this time, too.

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More Lauer: This Is What NBC's Indifference Abetted

[Content Note: Description of sexual assault.]

As further details emerge about Matt Lauer's long reign of consequence-free sexual abuse of his female colleagues, and it becomes abundantly clear that NBC management had to have known, the picture of what the network's indiffernce abetted is coming into clear focus — and it is utterly grotesque.

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] At the New York Times, Ellen Gabler, Jim Rutenberg, Michael M. Grynbaum, and Rachel Abrams report on new allegations against Lauer, which include a harrowing account from an anonymous former colleague, who describes being sexually assaulted by Lauer in his office until she fainted and needed medical attention.

The woman who described the encounter in 2001 with Mr. Lauer in his office told The Times that the anchor had made inappropriate comments to her shortly after she started as a "Today" producer in the late 1990s.

While traveling with Mr. Lauer for a story, she said, he asked her inappropriate questions over dinner, like whether she had ever cheated on her husband. On the way to the airport, she said, Mr. Lauer sat uncomfortably close to her in the car; she recalled that when she moved away, he said, "You're no fun."

In 2001, the woman said, Mr. Lauer, who is married, asked her to his office to discuss a story during a workday. When she sat down, she said, he locked the door, which he could do by pressing a button while sitting at his desk. (People who worked at NBC said the button was a regular security measure installed for high-profile employees.)

The woman said Mr. Lauer asked her to unbutton her blouse, which she did. She said the anchor then stepped out from behind his desk, pulled down her pants, bent her over a chair, and had intercourse [sic] with her. At some point, she said, she passed out with her pants pulled halfway down. She woke up on the floor of his office, and Mr. Lauer had his assistant take her to a nurse.

The woman told The Times that Mr. Lauer never made an advance toward her again and never mentioned what occurred in his office. She said she did not report the episode to NBC at the time because she believed she should have done more to stop Mr. Lauer. She left the network about a year later.
I am so fucking sad and angry that Lauer did this to her. I believe her, and I take up space in solidarity with her.

A couple things about this account:

First of all, he did not "have intercourse with her." He raped her in his locked office.

Secondly, note the pattern of escalation (which tracks with what I described yesterday): He started with "inappropriate comments," then moved to invading her space/unwanted touching, then to cornering and assaulting her.

Finally, I don't know if NBC's claim that "the button was a regular security measure installed for high-profile employees" is true or if it's bullshit spin. Either way, it's reprehensible that no one in management considered how that button could be used by high-profile employees to harm the employees over whom they wielded enormous power. At best, the installation of such buttons was an aggressively irresponsible decision.

And at worst, they knew exactly how it was being used by Lauer and just didn't care. Anything to keep their $20 million man happy.

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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 Sue Kerr: "What is your go-to home remedy for colds, the flu, etc.?"

Zinc and matzo ball soup!

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The Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by spearmint.

Recommended Reading:

Bernice Yeung: [Content Note: Sexual harassment and assault] The People #MeToo Leaves Behind

Regina Mahone: [CN: War on agency; white supremacy; ciscentrism] The Future Is 'Radical Reproductive Justice'

Alessandra Potenza: Prehistoric Women Worked So Much Their Arms Were Stronger Than Today's Female Rowers

Kristen V. Brown: Biotin, a Popular Vitamin for Women, Is Skewing Medical Tests

Abraham Riesman: [CN: Appropriation] Marvel's New Editor-in-Chief Admits Writing Under Japanese Pseudonym 'Akira Yoshida'

Tia Vasiliou: Jim Henson's Labyrinth 2017 Special #1 Will Leave You Excited for More

Tori Preston: Here It Is: The 'Avengers: Infinity War' Trailer

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

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More Lauer: An Execrable Abuser — and NBC Knew

[Content Note: Rape culture; descriptions of sexual harassment and assault.]

So, it turns out that Variety was working on a months-long investigation of Matt Lauer, so NBC didn't exactly fire him because of a complaint as much as they did to get out ahead of a report that makes it pretty goddamn clear that management — and probably the legal department — knew about Lauer's pattern of sexual harassment and assault for a very long time, but did nothing about it until they got wind of Variety's investigation.

The piece by Ramin Setoodeh and Elizabeth Wagmeister is headlined "Matt Lauer Accused of Sexual Harassment by Multiple Women." As I noted on Twitter, the headline is incorrect, because the story details, among Lauer's many acts of gross misconduct, his exposing himself to female colleagues without their consent. That is not merely "sexual harassment" just because it happened in a workplace. Flashing is criminal.

That's hardly the only problem with the story: There are a number of curious phrases that reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of the most basic principle that abusers aren't all skulking creeps who live under rocks.

"Despite being married, Lauer was fixated on women, especially their bodies and looks," the authors write, as though wives magically fix harmful men. "In front of the camera, for more than two decades, Lauer had positioned himself as America's squeaky-clean dad. But behind the scenes, Lauer was a different person," they tell us, as though "squeaky-clean dad" and "abuser" are inherently incompatible and thus mutually exclusive. They are not.

But between the problematic writing there is informative reporting on Lauer's history of abuse, as disclosed by some of his former female colleagues. Among those revelations is this:
His office was in a secluded space, and he had a button under his desk that allowed him to lock his door from the inside without getting up. This afforded him the assurance of privacy. It allowed him to welcome female employees and initiate inappropriate contact while knowing nobody could walk in on him, according to two women who were sexually harassed by Lauer.
There is no way that Matt Lauer requested that button, that it was approved and installed, without NBC management being aware of it and understanding its purpose.

And then there is this: "Several women told Variety they complained to executives at the network about Lauer's behavior, which fell on deaf ears given the lucrative advertising surrounding 'Today.' NBC declined to comment." I'm sure they did.

Especially since that flies in the face of NBC News Chair Andy Lack's contention that the recent complaint which supposedly prompted Lauer's firing was "the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he's been at NBC News."

NBC knew. And they chose to abet Lauer's harassment and assault of his female colleagues. Right up until another news organization decided to expose him.

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I Have Questions

I don't know the precise answer to any of these questions, but I know that the answer to all of them is >0.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Deeky stretched out on my couch with a pillow over his face; Sophie the Torbie Cat is sitting atop the pillow

On Thanksgiving, which was also Deeky's birthday this year, Deeks was stretched out on the sofa after our marathon cooking session followed by our marathon eating session. He put a pillow over his face and, within approximately 3 nanoseconds, Sophie had hopped up on the pillow. "Your face is mine now, peasant!"

image of Deeks' hand reaching up to pet Sophie while she sits on the pillow on his face

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 314

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:

Earlier today by me: Matt Lauer Fired for "Inappropriate Sexual Behavior".

Donald Trump's morning tweetshitz were really something today. He engaged in a little more press intimidation by tweeting this horseshit at Joe Scarborough:

[Content Note: Islamophobia] Trump also retweeted Islamophobic hate messages from the deputy leader of white nationalist group Britain First, one of which purported to show a Muslim man abusing a white child but was actually a white man abusing a white child.

When asked to address Trump's retweet of the mendacious, inflammatory video, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it doesn't even matter if it's real, because he's only using it as propaganda to fearmonger on behalf of his agenda, anyway.

That is just extraordinary. We are so far through the looking glass that literally nothing matters anymore. Terrifying.

* * *

[CN: Sexual harassment and/or assault] Garrison Keillor has also been sacked for "sexual misconduct," just a day after defending Al Franken in an op-ed for the Washington Post.

Perhaps one day our reprehensibly irresponsible press — and everyone else in this consent-forsaken society — will finally learn that defending sexual abusers is a big red flag.

* * *

Philip Bump at the Washington Post: Deeply Unpopular Congress Aims to Pass Deeply Unpopular Bill for Deeply Unpopular President to Sign. "It's not odd that Republicans are pushing for a tax bill that's tilted toward business and the wealthy. ...Republicans control the House, they control the Senate, they control the White House. This tax bill is the Republican agenda, and advancing political priorities when you have the majority is how representative democracy works. It's just that everything about it is so unpopular." Yes. The Republicans continue to govern like a party that believes they never have to worry about winning fair elections ever again. I wonder why that might be. Cough.

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Toluse Olorunnipa at Bloomberg: Trump's Tax Promises Undercut by CEO Plans to Reward Investors. "Major companies including Cisco Systems Inc., Pfizer Inc., and Coca-Cola Co. say they'll turn over most gains from proposed corporate tax cuts to their shareholders, undercutting [Donald] Trump's promise that his plan will create jobs and boost wages for the middle class." They're just outright admitting it. The money from tax cuts is going straight to the top. Like I keep saying: This is class warfare. This is a wealth redistribution upwards plan.

* * *

Zoe Tillman at BuzzFeed: A Judge Won't Stop Trump from Installing His Own Pick to Lead the CFPB. "A federal judge on Tuesday handed a win to the Trump administration in the latest fight over the scope of [Donald] Trump's authority, denying a request for an emergency order to block Trump from appointing Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, as the acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. US District Judge Timothy Kelly, announcing his decision from the bench on Tuesday afternoon, said that Leandra English — the CFPB official suing Trump and Mulvaney and claiming to be the rightful acting director — had failed to show that she was likely to succeed in her lawsuit at this stage of the case. ...The fact that Trump nominated Kelly hasn't been raised as an issue in the case." This is what authoritarianism looks like.

And this is what warmongering looks like:

Remember: Lindsey Graham is supposed to be the last moderate Republican. Welp.

Steve LeVine at Axios: McKinsey: Automation May Wipe Out 1/3 of America's Workforce by 2030. "In a new study that is optimistic about automation yet stark in its appraisal of the challenge ahead, McKinsey says massive government intervention will be required to hold societies together against the ravages of labor disruption over the next 13 years. Up to 800 million people — including a third of the work force in the U.S. and Germany — will be made jobless by 2030, the study says. The bottom line: The economy of most countries will eventually replace the lost jobs, the study says, but many of the unemployed will need considerable help to shift to new work, and salaries could continue to flatline. 'It's a Marshall Plan size of task,' Michael Chui, lead author of the McKinsey report, tells Axios." Trump is not up to the task. And the GOP has no interest in a universal basic income. We are so fucked.

And finally: Please take time today to make your calls about Net Neutrality!

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

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The What Happened Book Club

image of Hillary Clinton's book 'What Happened' sitting on my dining room table, with my Hillary action figure standing on top of the book, her arms raised over her head

This is the eighth installment of the What Happened Book Club, where we are doing a chapter a week.

That pace will hopefully allow people who need time to procure the book a better chance to catch up, and let us deal with the book in manageable pieces: I figured we will have a lot to talk about, and one thread for the entire book would quickly get overwhelming.

So! Let us continue our discussion with Chapter Eight: Turning Mourning into a Movement.

* * *

This was a tough chapter to read, because it is always hard to read the stories of young Black people killed by gun violence and/or police brutality, and the stories of children and educators and police killed by gun violence.

It was also a hard chapter because it was the most "political" chapter so far. It's an indication of how truly politicized gun laws are in the United States that, in a book where Hillary Clinton is extremely personal, and in a chapter where she speaks so frankly about being moved and compelled by the Mothers of the Movement and gun violence survivors and parents of children killed in school shootings, here is where her words are most stilted and careful.

There are times, however, when she does not — or cannot — conceal her thoughts about the importance of gun restrictions and racial justice. This passage in particular stood out to me, for its contempt directed at Bernie Sanders and Democrats who would follow his dangerous lead:
I'm sure that some of my fellow Democrats will look at this high-priced onslaught and conclude, as many have in the past, that standing up to the NRA just isn't worth it. Some may put gun safety on the chopping block alongside reproductive rights as "negotiable," so as not to distract from populist economics. Who knows — the same might happen to criminal justice reform and racial justice more broadly. That would be a terrible mistake. Democrats should not respond to my defeat by retreating from our strong commitments on these life-or-death issues. The vast majority of Americans agree that we need to do more on gun safety. This is a debate we can win if we keep at it.
Her greatest contempt, of course, was reserved for the Republican Party — and its president.

She briefly but pointedly addressed the time Donald Trump suggested that the "Second Amendment people" find a way to stop her before she appointed liberal (anti-gun) justices to the Supreme Court. And of course her response was classic Hillary: "I was particularly concerned that if a 'Second Amendment person' came after me, he'd be coming after my security detail of Secret Service agents."

If that doesn't tell you what kind of person Hillary Clinton is, I don't know what could. Trump calls for her assassination, and her particular concern is that it put in danger the people tasked with protecting her.

That alone makes her more qualified to be president than Donald Trump ever could be.

Decency is aggressively underrated.

Especially in politics.

* * *

Although it's from the next chapter of What Happened, which we'll discuss in its entirety next week, I also want to take a moment to highlight the section on Matt Lauer and the Commander in Chief Forum, which I noted earlier as an example of Lauer's unequal treatment of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the campaign.

Here are (some of) Hillary's words on that event, which take on even greater meaning in light of today's news about Lauer's history of sexual harassment and/or assault:
"The decisions a Commander in Chief makes can have a profound and lasting impact on all Americans, but none more so than the brave men and women who serve, fight, and die for our country." That was Matt Lauer introducing NBC's "Commander in Chief Forum" from the deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Intrepid on September 7, 2016. I was standing just offstage listening to his introduction, nodding my head.

Lauer promised the forum would be an opportunity to "talk about national security and the complex global issues that face our nation." That's exactly what I wanted. With Election Day just two months away, it was time to have a serious discussion about each candidate's qualifications to be President and how he or she would lead the country. This wouldn't be a formal debate with me and Donald Trump onstage at the same time. Instead, we'd each do our own thirty-minute session answering questions from Lauer and the audience. I was confident that with a real focus on substance and a clear contrast of our records, Americans would see that I was ready to be Commander in Chief, and Donald Trump was dangerously unprepared.


Lauer and NBC were promoting this forum as a chance to finally get serious about foreign policy and national security. [...] He began with a broad question about the most important characteristic that a Commander in Chief can possess. I used my answer to talk about steadiness, a quality that nobody ever associates with Donald Trump. Lauer cut in to say, "You're talking about judgment." That wasn't what I was talking about, exactly, but it was close enough. "Temperament and judgment, yes," I replied.

I've been around the block enough times to know that something bad was coming. Lauer had the look of someone proud of himself for having laid a clever trap.

"The word judgment has been used a lot around you, Secretary Clinton, over the last year and a half, and in particular concerning your use of your personal email and server to communicate while you were Secretary of State," Lauer said. "You've said it's a mistake. You said you made not the best choice. You were communicating on highly sensitive topics. Why wasn't it more than a mistake? Why wasn't it disqualifying, if you want to be Commander in Chief?"

It was disappointing but predictable that he had so quickly steered the supposedly high-minded "Commander in Chief Forum" to the subject of emails, months after the director of the FBI had announced there was no case and closed the investigation. I understood that every political reporter wanted his or her pound of flesh. But Lauer had already grilled me about emails in an interview back in April. I figured this must be about "balance."


Here I was, facing the blurring in real time, with a charlatan waiting in the wings. But what could I do? I launched into my standard answer on the emails, the one I'd given a thousand times before. [...] Instead of moving to any of a hundred urgent national security issues, from the civil war in Syria, to the Iranian nuclear agreement, to the threat from North Korea — the issues this forum was supposed to be about — Lauer stayed on emails. He asked four follow-ups. Meanwhile, the clock was ticking, and my thirty minutes to discuss serious foreign policy challenges were slipping away.

Finally, after learning absolutely nothing new or interesting, Lauer turned to a question from one of the veterans NBC had picked to be in the audience. He was a self-described Republican, a former Navy lieutenant who had served in the first Gulf War, and he promptly repeated the right-wing talking point about how my email use would have landed anyone else in prison. Then he asked how could he trust me as President "when you clearly corrupted our national security?"

Now I was ticked off. NBC knew exactly what it was doing here. The network was treating this like an episode of The Apprentice, in which Trump stars and ratings soar. Lauer had turned what should have been a serious discussion into a pointless ambush. What a waste of time.
Lauer was hunting her: He laid a trap and then he pounced. It was an ambush.

At the time, many feminist political commentators noted that Lauer's behavior was profoundly misogynist, only to be (as per usual) shouted down and accused of seeing sexism where none exists.

Let me be perfectly blunt: What we saw was Lauer behaving like a misogynist predator in ways that are familiar to women who study and document these patterns.

At some point, it might be both wise and valuable to start listening to women.

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Update from Shakes Manor

As promised, here's a quick update for those who want one on Olivia and Matilda...

Livs continues to recover nicely from her surgery to remove a mammary tumor. She has had surgery two other times in her life, when she was much younger, and both times she came out of anaesthesia roaring and ready to go and immediately resumed her normal schedule of high-velocity naughtiness. This time has been no different, even though she's now 13 years old. She is a tank!

And our adventures with the cone continued to delight last night and this morning, lol.

Meanwhile, the vet called me about this sassy old rag late yesterday.

image of Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat stretched out on the carpet

Her blood work shows she does indeed have hyperthyroidism, which was the best possible outcome of the likely issues. Yay! So we just have to pick up her meds and get her started on them, and she should be feeling better in no time.

Iain and I are, as you can imagine, very relieved to have both of our girls on the mend. ♥

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Matt Lauer Fired for "Inappropriate Sexual Behavior"

[Content Note: Sexual harassment and/or assault. Video may autoplay at first link.]

Today host Matt Lauer has been fired by NBC after an allegation that he sexually assaulted a colleague, whom his bosses had reason to believe may have been only one of many victims.

NBC News Chair Andy Lack issued a statement to employees reading in its entirety:

Dear Colleagues,

On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace by Matt Lauer. It represented, after serious review, a clear violation of our company's standards. As a result, we've decided to terminate his employment. While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over twenty years he's been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.

Our highest priority is to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected, and to ensure that any actions that run counter to our core values are met with consequences, no matter who the offender.

We are deeply saddened by this turn of events. But we will face it together as a news organization — and do it in as transparent a manner as we can. To that end, Noah and I will be meeting with as many of you as possible throughout the day today to answer your questions.

Let's just be real clear: If Lauer has indeed sexually harassed and/or assaulted multiple colleagues over 20 years, none of whom have come forward until now, NBC has utterly failed to "create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected." And that isn't going to change by magic. They have a hell of a lot of work to do.

That starts with acknowledging their failure to heed any of the many red flags about Lauer's rank misogyny over the years.

Just the tip of an enormous iceberg. Of what we could all see. Because we was doing it right on live television.

Yet we're meant to believe he was subtle and surreptitious about his treatment of women behind the scenes? Somehow I doubt that.

When Lauer's former co-host, Ann Curry, was ousted from Today, there was all sorts of speculation as to why. But I will never forget this quote: "Curry felt that the boys' club atmosphere behind the scenes at Today undermined her from the start, and she told friends that her final months were a form of professional torture."

A form of professional torture.

And Lack purports that this is all a big shock to NBC management. Welp.

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Open Thread

image of a red couch

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

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker catvoncat: "I saw this one on Twitter recently and thought the responses were really interesting: Best ever use of a song in a television episode?"

I realize that this question is intended to mean the best use of an existing song, but honestly my answer to this question has to be Andy Dwyer's tribute song to Li'l Sebastian on Parks and Recreation — a song fully five thousand times greater than "Candle in the Wind," thus titled "Five Thousand Candles in the Wind."

That will never not make me laugh and cry.

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Discussion Thread: Self-Care

What are you doing to do to take care of yourself today, or in the near future, as soon as you can?

If you are someone who has a hard time engaging in self-care, or figuring out easy, fast, and/or inexpensive ways to treat yourself, and you would like to solicit suggestions, please feel welcome. And, as always, no one should offer advice unless it is solicited.

* * *

I am going to carve out two hours to watch a beloved movie. I don't know when I'm going to find the time, and I don't know what movie it's going to be, but SOON and PROBABLY DIRTY DANCING because NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A CORNER.

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North Korea's Provocation Continues

Earlier today, North Korea launched another missile, continuing their provocation of their neighbors and the global community.

Yeah. That all sounds about right.

I wish I had something insightful to say about this latest missile launch. I don't. It's simultaneously frightening and incredibly fucking stupid.

And I desperately wish we had another president. Now and every other moment.

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Obviously the Trumps Were Going to Ruin Christmas

And they've already started, in quite spectacular fashion! The White House Christmas decorations are really something.

If you can't view the image embedded in the tweet, it's a picture of a long hall at the White House, both sides of which are lined with darkly lit potted stick configurations, casting eerie shadows on the ceiling, leading to a tiny and dim Christmas tree at the end of the hall. It basically looks like a stage from Pan's Labyrinth.

Here comes Santa drag you into the Upside Down!


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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt sitting in the living room, looking adorable
Zelly Belly, in one of her many impossibly adorable postures.

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 313

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:

Earlier today by me: On That NYT Profile of a Nazi, The President Prominently Reminds Us He Is a White Supremacist, and This Is Class Warfare.

Elana Schor at Politico: Schumer, Pelosi Cancel Meeting with Trump. "Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi said they will not attend a meeting at the White House Tuesday after [Donald] Trump slammed them in a tweet. 'Given that the President doesn't see a deal between Democrats and the White House, we believe the best path forward is to continue negotiating with our Republican counterparts in Congress instead,' the Senate and House minority leaders said in a statement." So everything is going great, as usual.

Caitlin MacNeal at TPM: Top State Department Staffer Leaves Post After 3 Months. "A senior official at the State Department tasked with reorganizing the agency has left the position just three months after she was appointed to the position. Bloomberg News was first to report Maliz Beams' departure from her role as counselor on Monday night, and several outlets later confirmed that she has resigned. Deputy chief of staff Christine Ciccone will take over Beams' efforts to restructure the agency, per Bloomberg News. Beams' resignation follows acknowledgement from the State Department that the plans to restructure the agency have caused morale to plummet." Well, it's not like we need a functioning State Department, anyway, right?

Oh. Speaking of Russia...

Sarah Kendzior with Lindsay Beyerstein at Rewire: On the 'Oligarch Envy' Haunting [Donald] Trump. An excerpt from the podcast (the transcript for which is available in PDF):
I think that, especially in the second half of the Obama administration, they were not on the ball in terms of how they dealt with Russia generally. …I think they underestimated the capacity of Russia to intervene in foreign countries to the degree that they have. And the other thing, of course, that they did was to not go public with all of this earlier. Like the intelligence agencies were aware of the situation by mid-2016. Harry Reid had written about it publicly and asked people like Comey to go public, and I think that some of the skepticism that's been expressed towards this is that it was talked about much more after the election than before. So that made it seem partisan, like 'oh, people are just angry and they want to blame Russia, and they're upset that Trump is in, and this is a way to get it out.' It's like, no, this is a nonpartisan, national security problem. And the sooner people grasp that, the better, because it really does affect everybody. And so I do wish that the Obama administration had handled things differently.

…And I mean, in one sense I understand, because of course the Republicans would have attacked Obama, and of course they would have framed it as partisan, and of course the media would've framed it as partisan. But just because they're going to do that doesn't make it true. And there would have been no good time. They should've just gone forward, because it's their obligation as elected officials who serve the public to inform the public of a national security threat. That's the reason. And they would've had to fend off people like Mitch McConnell, who has expressed out loud that that was his intent, was to try to reframe this as some sort of partisan plot, and that itself is very disturbing. That's not really the way he should be thinking about a threat like this. But, you know, it's what they needed to do, and they didn't do it.

Katie Zavadski at the Daily Beast: Feds Flip Turkish Crook; Did He Rat on Michael Flynn? "Reza Zarrab, a Turkish businessman accused of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, pleaded guilty and will testify against his co-defendant, a federal court heard Tuesday. Zarrab's cooperation with federal prosecutors could have implications for Michael Flynn, who allegedly plotted on behalf of Turkish interests to help free Zarrab. Zarrab, a 34-year-old Turkish-Iranian gold trader, is at the center of an Iran sanctions-busting case in which he used his companies and Turkish state-run banks to trade cash for gold in order to secretly buy oil from Iran. A former deputy general manager of one of those banks, Mehmet Atilla, is charged as part of that same conspiracy. ...Zarrab's apparent cooperation with federal prosecutors raised speculation that he was also cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry into Flynn, because it seemed unlikely prosecutors would offer a plea deal to Zarrab in exchange for his cooperation for the comparatively lower-profile trial of Atilla."

Steve Dorsey at CBS News: Uzbekistan Incident Raises Suspicions of Russian Involvement in Cuba Attacks. "A newly revealed incident reported by a USAID officer who is based at the American embassy in Uzbekistan is raising suspicions Russia may have been involved and could have had a hand in bizarre attacks targeting U.S. diplomats in Cuba, according to American sources. In September, the officer and his wife reported, according to one source familiar with the incident, what may have been at least one acoustic attack similar to those experienced by the diplomats in Havana. ...The State Department declined to describe in detail the incident in Tashkent." Um.

* * *

[Content Note: Rape culture; sexual harassment and assault. Covers entire section.]

Shawn Boburg, Aaron C. Davis, and Alice Crites at the Washington Post: A Woman Approached The Post with Dramatic — and False — Tale about Roy Moore: She Appears to Be Part of Undercover Sting Operation.
A woman who falsely claimed to The Washington Post that Roy Moore, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama, impregnated her as a teenager appears to work with an organization that uses deceptive tactics to secretly record conversations in an effort to embarrass its targets.

In a series of interviews over two weeks, the woman shared a dramatic story about an alleged sexual relationship with Moore in 1992 that led to an abortion when she was 15. During the interviews, she repeatedly pressed Post reporters to give their opinions on the effects that her claims could have on Moore's candidacy if she went public.

The Post did not publish an article based on her unsubstantiated account. When Post reporters confronted her with inconsistencies in her story and an Internet posting that raised doubts about her motivations, she insisted that she was not working with any organization that targets journalists.

But on Monday morning, Post reporters saw her walking into the New York offices of Project Veritas, an organization that targets the mainstream news media and left-leaning groups. The organization sets up undercover "stings" that involve using false cover stories and covert video recordings meant to expose what the group says is media bias.
One of the most important takeaways from this incident is that false stories are, contrary to popular opinion, not widely believed and reported. Here is a perfect example of how a false story did not pass even cursory scrutiny and was thus not published.

And Trump, of course, has endorsed Roy Moore. Cough.

Nicole Lafond at TPM: Top Minnesota Newspaper: Franken Apology Falls Short on Sincerity. "Saying it may not be possible to 'regain Minnesotans' trust,' the editorial staff at the Minneapolis Star Tribune said Sen. Al Franken's (D-MN) apology for the allegations of sexual misconduct that have come out against him in recent weeks doesn't go far enough. ...'With a Senate ethics investigation looming, Franken remains on politically shaky ground,' they wrote. 'It's debatable whether he is, as he said, 'holding myself accountable.' Without saying he didn't do it, he nevertheless has countered every allegation except the one that carries indisputable proof — the infamous photo of him appearing to grab at (Leeann) Tweeden while she slept. Under such circumstances, Franken's apology is less a statement of accountability and more akin to 'I'm sorry for what you think I did.''"

As Ana Mardoll has observed in an important thread, "the Senate ethics committee exists to protect senators." It's not to hold them accountable. Quite the opposite, unfortunately.

George Hunter at the Detroit News: Second Ex-Staffer Accuses Conyers of Sexual Harassment. "A former staffer of U.S. Rep. John Conyers said the veteran lawmaker made unwanted sexual advances toward her, including inappropriate touching, adding to allegations by other unnamed former employees that have prompted a congressional investigation. Deanna Maher, who worked for him from 1997 to 2005, told The Detroit News that the Detroit Democrat made unwanted advances toward her three times. Maher is the second former Conyers staffer to go public with accusations about the veteran lawmaker. Conyers on Sunday stepped aside as the the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee amid a congressional ethics probe of sexual harassment allegations involving former staffers."

And in case you hadn't had yet enough rape apologia lately...

Maude save me. I just about can't take any more.

* * *

[CN: War on agency] Jessica Mason Pieklo at Rewire: Second-Trimester Abortion Ban Could Hit the Supreme Court. "Last week a federal district court ruled unconstitutional a Texas provision that bans the most common form of second-trimester abortions. The decision was an important win in what is emerging as the next big fight over abortion rights: criminalizing abortion procedures and providers in the name of promoting 'fetal life.' But it's not the end of the road. With the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals sitting in the middle of this fight, there is a good chance it will make its way all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. If and when that happens, abortion rights advocates have to hope Justice Anthony Kennedy is on their side — and it's not so clear he will be." Goddammit.

[CN: Homophobia; bullying; self-harm] Andy Towle at Towleroad: San Diego Teen Was Taunted with Anti-Gay Slurs on Social Media Before Killing Himself. "A San Diego teen was bullied with homophobic slurs on Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook and his mother went to the school to complain. Hours after an 'incident' at school which his mother was told about, 14-year-old German Aramburo-Guzman killed himself. ...If you are a young person in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call the TrevorLifeline now at 866-488-7386." My condolences to German's family, friends, kind classmates, and community.

[CN: Homophobia; abduction; rape; torture] Katharine Swindells at Pink News: Lesbian Couple Raped, Beaten, and Held Prisoner for Days Without Food or Water. "A married lesbian couple in Indiana have reported being held prisoner for days, being beaten, and denied food or water. Three men and one woman, aged in their 20s and 30s, face a swathe of charges for the crime, including kidnapping, criminal confinement, battery, and rape." Goddammit. They are so lucky to have survived, and thankfully it seems as though law enforcement are taking this very seriously.

[CN: Racism; violence] Auditi Guha at Rewire: Asian Americans See Spike in Hate-Based Violence in Trump Era. "[Numerous attacks have been] reported by Asians, as documented by Asian Americans Advancing Justice, a national group advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities. The stories collected via a new website, often anonymously, and the toll-free number 1-844-9-NOHATE, indicates that Asians in the United States have not been spared amid the documented rise in hate crime and anti-immigrant sentiment that defines the Trump era. 'It's been very intense. We've seen houses of worship denigrated, people attacked, even killed,' said Aarti Kohli, executive director of the Asian Law Caucus of Asian Americans Advancing Justice." Fucking hell.

[CN: Gun violence; revictimization] Sam Levin and Lois Beckett at the Guardian: U.S. Gun Violence Spawns a New Epidemic: Conspiracy Theorists Harassing Victims. "As record-breaking mass shootings have become a ritual of life in the US, survivors and victims' families across the country have increasingly faced an onslaught of social media abuse and viral slander. Bullying from the ugliest corners of the internet overwhelms the grief-stricken as they struggle to cope with the greatest horror they've ever experienced. The cycles of hoaxer harassment are now as predictable as mass shootings. And yet those with the most power to stop the spread of conspiracy theories have done little to address victims' cries for help." Seethe.

* * *

Jennifer Jacobs and Justin Sink at Bloomberg: White House Weighs Personal Mobile Phone Ban for Staff. "The White House may ban its employees from using personal mobile phones while at work, raising concerns among some staffers including that they'll be cut off from family and friends, according to seven administration officials. ...The White House already takes precautions with personal wireless devices, including by requiring officials to leave phones in cubbies outside of meeting rooms where sensitive or classified information is discussed. Top officials haven't yet decided whether or when to impose the ban, and if it would apply to all staff in the executive office of the president. While some lower-level officials support a ban, others worry it could result in a series of disruptive unintended consequences."

Alex Hern at the Guardian: Three-Quarters of Android Apps Track Users with Third Party Tools. "More than three in four Android apps contain at least one third-party 'tracker,' according to a new analysis of hundreds of apps. The study by French research organisation Exodus Privacy and Yale University's Privacy Lab analysed the mobile apps for the signatures of 25 known trackers, which use various techniques to glean personal information about users to better target them for advertisements and services. Among the apps found to be using some sort of tracking plugin were some of the most popular apps on the Google Play Store, including Tinder, Spotify, Uber, and OKCupid. All four apps use a service owned by Google, called Crashlytics, that primarily tracks app crash reports, but can also provide the ability to 'get insight into your users, what they're doing, and inject live social content to delight them.'"

Craig Silverman at BuzzFeed: Social Platforms Promised a Level Playing Field for All; the Russian Trolls Showed That Was Never True.
The Russian effort exploited one of the great promises of social platforms — a level playing field — to blend in with other content being pushed out during and after the election. Russian propaganda mixed with an avalanche of hyperpartisan political content, which itself inspired fabricated news stories from fake news publishers, which were in turn copied and pushed out by hundreds of young Macedonian spammers. These messages, stories, and memes traveled in the very same containers and pathways as their legitimate counterparts, across platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

These platforms blur the lines between people, entities, and types of content. Accounts can be people or companies or governments. Multiple Facebook pages or Twitter accounts can be run by the same people, but you'd never know to look at them. A tweet or Facebook post can be turned into an ad, which can then accrue additional reach thanks to people engaging with it in a genuine way. Everyone is here and anyone can be anything!
Until nothing matters. Which is, perhaps, the most important thing we need to #resist.

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

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