Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Mustang Bobby: "What is your favorite mode of transportation? Car, bus, train, plane, bicycle, motorcycle, horseback, carriage, foot?"

I don't dislike any mode of transportation, and find myself fairly content on any of them. But if I have to pick a favorite, I'm going to pick train. I have always loved traveling by train, especially in an unfamiliar place.

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Wednesday Links!

This list o' links brought to you by pomegranate.

Recommended Reading:

Andrea Grimes at Dame: [Content Note: Nativism] When Trump Says "Unity," He Means Submit

Yessenia Funes at Earther: The Real-Life Mermaid Fighting to Save Florida's Disappearing Springs

Nicole Yunger Halpern at Preposterous Universe: On What Makes Extraordinary Science Extraordinary

Kaiser at Celebitchy: [CN: Misogynoir] Jennifer Hudson: Flight Attendants Regularly Think I Belong 'in the Back of the Plane'

Marykate Jasper at the Mary Sue: Black Panther Setting Advance Ticket Sale Records

Beth Elderkin at io9: New Star Wars Comic Shows Rose Reacted to Meeting Poe as All of Us Would

George Dvorsky at Gizmodo: [CN: Moving GIF at link] NASA's Curiosity Rover Captures Breathtaking Panorama of Martian Landscape

Rae Paoletta at Inverse: 13 Stunning Images of the Super Blue Blood Moon

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

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Trump Asked Rosenstein About His Loyalty

Pamela Brown, Evan Perez, and Laura Jarrett at CNN have a late-breaking exclusive this afternoon: Trump Asked Rosenstein If He Was 'on My Team'. It's exactly what it sounds like: In December, Donald Trump demanded to know if the Deputy Attorney General, who was overseeing the Russia investigation after Attorney General Jeff Sessions was obliged to recuse himself, was loyal to the president, or to the law.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein visited the White House in December seeking [Donald] Trump's help. The top Justice Department official in the Russia investigation wanted Trump's support in fighting off document demands from House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes.

But the President had other priorities ahead of a key appearance by Rosenstein on the Hill, according to sources familiar with the meeting. Trump wanted to know where the special counsel's Russia investigation was heading. And he wanted to know whether Rosenstein was "on my team."

..."Of course, we're all on your team, Mr. President," Rosenstein told Trump, the sources said. It is not clear what Trump meant or how Rosenstein interpreted the comment.

...As a further sign of the President's focus on Rosenstein's testimony, one of the sources said Trump also had suggested questions to members of Congress that they could ask Rosenstein.
So, not only did Trump ask Rosenstein if he was on his team, but he also contacted Congressional investigators to try to shape what their inquiry of Rosenstein would look like.

These are clearly two more serious attempts by Trump to obstruct justice. And yet this, too, will almost certainly pass as no more than a mere blip in the news, like so many major stories about Trump's vast and varied corruptions.

Just last night, Iain and I were talking about Bob Mueller's investigation, and sharing our concerns with one another about how long it was taking, and I said to him that one of my primary worries is that the public's increased tolerance for abuses of power will mean that Mueller's findings (the public disclosure of which, by the way, is controlled by Rosenstein) might not even be met with significant public demand for accountability.

There is a very good chance, increasing every day, that the majority of the populace will greet a charge of obstruction, for example, with a shrug, because they expect abuses of power and contempt for the law from Trump. He has already redefined what is expected, and accepted, of a president, sheerly by virtue of his aggressive disregard for democratic norms.

And don't think that Trump and the Republican Party don't know it. The clock keeps ticking.

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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 fifteenth 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 Chapters Fifteen and Sixteen: Election Night and Why.

* * *

I decided to combine these two chapters, because "Election Night" is a short one, and "Why" is a long chapter, but it's one that I don't feel terribly much like discussing in detail, and I thought I might not be alone in that assessment. (But if I'm wrong, have at it in comments!)

It's not that I don't think "Why," in which Hillary Clinton writes in detailed sections the various things she believes contributed to her loss, is an interesting or important chapter. To the contrary, I believe it's both! I'm just not especially moved to explore that territory again myself, having done so much of it already over the course of the last year.

I will, however, just quickly mention Hillary's rationale for the chapter, which I think is spot-on:
If it's all my fault, then the media doesn't need to do any soul searching. Republicans can say Putin's meddling had no consequences. Democrats don't need to question their own assumptions and prescriptions. Everyone can just move on.

I wish it were that easy. But it's not. So I'm going to try to explain how I understand what happened, both the unexpected interventions that swung the race at the end, and the structural challenges that made it close to begin with. You don't have to agree with my take. But counter with evidence, with a real argument. Because we have to get this right.
Damn straight. I have been yelled at many times over the past year for "relitigating" either the primary or the general election, when I have zero interest in doing that. I do, however, have a vested interest as a voter in what I want to be a functional democracy, not as a "bitter Clinton supporter," in examining failures to make sure that we don't repeat them.

So, I'm a big supporter of Hillary's "Why" chapter, even though I am personally more keen to discuss "Election Night."

It's one of the shortest chapters in the book, and was one of the hardest for me to read.

First, I have to highlight this bit, about the night before Election Day, because I WAS THERE!
I was exhausted but happy and enormously proud of my team. Standing with Bill, Chelsea, Barack, and Michelle in front of tens of thousands of people at Philadelphia's Independence Hall was one of the high points of the entire campaign. The President hugged me and whispered in my ear, "You've got this. I'm so proud of you."
That was an amazing night, and it is really thrilling to have been part of one of the high points of the campaign for Hillary. It was certainly one of the high points of the campaign for me!

image of the crowd at Independence Hall, with Hillary onstage, and Iain and me in a tiny red circle in the crowd
That's Iain and me inside that red circle!

This is the point in the chapter when I started crying (at least crying in earnest, because we all know I got choked up just reading the title "Election Night"):
It's quite something to see your name on a ballot. After twenty months, twelve debates, and more speeches and town halls than I could count, it all came down to this. All over the country, 136 million people were going to look at my name and Donald Trump's name and make a decision that would shape the future of the country and the world.
And now I'm getting all choked up again, just thinking about that day, and how moved and excited I was to be able to cast my vote for Hillary Clinton in the morning, and how devastated I was by the end of the night.

The other part of this chapter that really got me was the passage about how she wanted to end her acceptance speech, the one that she would never get to deliver, on a personal note:
Throughout the campaign, my mother's story had been an emotional touchstone. Her perseverance spoke to the perseverance our country needed to overcome its own adversity, as well as the long struggle for women's rights and opportunities. With help from the poet Jorie Graham, we had written a closing riff for the speech that made me tear up every time I read it. I want to share it here because, as you know, I never got a chance to deliver it that night:
This summer, a writer asked me: If I could go back in time and tell anyone in history about this milestone, who would it be? And the answer was easy: My mother Dorothy. You may have heard me talk about her difficult childhood. She was abandoned by her parents when she was just eight years old. They put her on a train to California, where she was mistreated by her grandparents and ended up out on her own, working as a housemaid. Yet she still found a way to offer me the boundless love and support she never received herself...

I think about my mother every day. Sometimes I think about her on that train. I wish I could walk down the aisle and find the little wooden seats where she sat, holding tight to her even younger sister, alone, terrified. She doesn't yet know how much she will suffer. She doesn't yet know she will find the strength to escape that suffering — that is still a long way off. The whole future is unknown as she stares out at the vast country moving past her.

I dream of going up to her, and sitting down next to her, taking her in my arms, and saying, "Look at me. Listen to me. You will survive. You will have a good family of your own, and three children. And as hard as it might be to imagine, your daughter will grow up and become the President of the United States."

I am as sure of this as anything I have ever known: America is the greatest country in the world. And, from tonight, going forward, together we will make America even greater than it has ever been — for each and every one of us.
That was the speech Hillary Clinton wanted to give, and the future for all of us she envisioned. Instead, we've got a president who wants to plunge America into toxic mud, and Hillary had to deliver a concession speech.

Which brings me to the last bit I'll share:
The speechwriters gingerly approached with a draft of a concession speech. I honestly wondered why anyone would want to hear from me ever again.
That breaks my heart into a million pieces.

I know it's apparent, given this series, not to mention all the other things I've written about being glad Hillary Clinton won't shut up and go away, but I'll say it again, anyway: I want to hear from Hillary Clinton.

And I do not consider having failed honorably at something a reason not to listen to a woman for the rest of her life.

That is a threshold I find entirely unacceptable — because it sets perfection as the cost of entry.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat sitting on the arm of a red chair in a stream of sunshine
"Your shadow is on the chair, you know. And you're in the mirror."

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 377

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 (plus the occasional non-Republican who obliges us to resist their nonsense, too, like we don't have enough to worry about) 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: State of the Union Recap.

Another rat is jumping ship:

Good riddance.

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Chris Strohm, Billy House, and Justin Sink at Bloomberg: FBI Director Opposes Memo Release Because of Inaccuracies, Source Says.
FBI Director Christopher Wray told the White House he opposes release of a classified Republican memo alleging bias at the FBI and Justice Department because it contains inaccurate information and paints a false narrative, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The memo on actions early in the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign is being reviewed by "our national security lawyers in the White House," who are "slicing and dicing it," White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Wednesday on Fox News Radio. But he left little doubt about the outcome, saying the disputed memo will be released "pretty quick, I think, and the whole world can see it."

The White House has up to five days to decide whether the memo can be released — and whether portions should be withheld — after the House Intelligence Committee voted Monday to make it public. The memo, written by aides under direction of Republican Chairman Devin Nunes, is aimed at raising questions about the validity of the investigation into possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia, now led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The FBI isn't included in the inter-agency review process led by the White House aimed at deciding whether — and how much of — the memo can be made public. Wray was allowed to read the memo on Sunday.

...In a message to the bureau on Monday, Wray said he respects the inspector general's process, but said he wouldn't discuss it, the person said. Wray didn't indicate in the message any wrongdoing by McCabe. But the director said he won't be persuaded by political pressure and he's going to do his job by the book, the person said.
Emphasis mine. Every time someone in the Trump administration says they won't be persuaded by political pressure, we find out later that Trump has been pressuring them.

And Trump has apparently already made up his mind:
As [Donald] Trump departed the House floor after delivering his State of the Union address, C-SPAN cameras captured Representative Jeff Duncan, a South Carolina Republican, asking the president to "release the memo."

"Oh yeah, don't worry, 100 percent," Trump replied, waving dismissively. "Can you imagine that? You'd be too angry."
It's not like I thought that anyone would be able to persuade Trump otherwise, but still every shred of evidence that he is disgustingly cavalier about never doing the right thing makes me boil with fury.

Betsy Woodruff and Spencer Ackerman at the Daily Beast: Devin Nunes Won't Say If He Worked with White House on Anti-FBI Memo. "The Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee refused to answer when a colleague asked him if he had coordinated his incendiary surveillance memo with the White House, The Daily Beast has learned. During Monday's contentious closed-door committee meeting, Rep. Mike Quigley, a Democrat, asked Nunes point-blank if his staffers had been talking with the White House as they compiled a four-page memo alleging FBI and Justice Department abuses over surveillance of [Donald] Trump's allies in the Russia probe. According to sources familiar with the exchange, Nunes made a few comments that didn't answer the question before finally responding, 'I'm not answering.' Spokespeople for Nunes and for the White House did not immediately respond." So he did.

Tierney Sneed at TPM: 'Inconceivable': Why Experts Don't Believe the Nunes Memo Is What GOPers Claim. "For Republicans claims of an abuse to be true, one would have to assume that the dossier was the sole basis of the warrant application, that it was a 'fabrication,' and that the DOJ knew that it was a fabrication when it applied for the FISA warrant, [Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor who specializes in national security issues] said. 'All three things would have to be true for this to actually be an abuse of FISA,' Vladeck said, adding that he wouldn't take the claims seriously unless the White House declassifies the underlying warrant. 'The major problem here is that this is only arguably scandalous in any way if [the DOJ] just essentially repacked the dossier as a warrant package without any work of their own,' [Julian Sanchez, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute] said, adding that it would be 'inconceivable to me that would be the only source.'"

* * *

Shane Harris at the Washington Post: Russian Spy Chiefs Met in Washington with CIA Director to Discuss Counterterrorism. Excuse me — WHAT?!
Two top Russian spy chiefs traveled to Washington last week to discuss counterterrorism issues with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, but the unusual visit also raised concerns among some U.S. officials that Moscow could interpret the encounter as a sign the Trump administration is willing to move beyond the issue of election interference, current and former U.S. intelligence officials said.

Pompeo met with Sergey Naryshkin, the head of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service or SVR, and Alexander Bortnikov, who runs the FSB, which is the main successor to the Soviet-era security service the KGB. The head of Russia's military intelligence, the GRU, also came to Washington, though it's not clear that he met with Pompeo.

...[C]urrent and former U.S. intelligence officials said they couldn't recall so many heads of Russia's espionage and security apparatus coming to Washington at once and meeting with a top American official. They worried the Kremlin could conclude the United States is open to forgiving Russia for its actions and wasn't resolved to forcefully prevent future meddling.
Yes! That the Kremlin could conclude the United States isn't interested in preventing future election meddling is indeed a concern! Another concern is that the Director of the CIA met with Russian spy chiefs to coordinate future election meddling.

This report comes, after all, ONE DAY after Pompeo told the BBC that Russia will definitely target the midterm elections.

JFC. We are so doomed.

[CN: War; violence] Victor Cha at the Washington Post: Giving North Korea a 'Bloody Nose' Carries a Huge Risk to Americans.
North Korea, if not stopped, will build an arsenal with multiple nuclear missiles meant to threaten the U.S. homeland and blackmail us into abandoning our allies in Asia. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un will sell these weapons to state and nonstate actors, and he will inspire other rogue actors who want to undermine the U.S.-backed postwar order. These are real and unprecedented threats. But the answer is not, as some Trump administration officials have suggested, a preventive military strike.

...I empathize with the hope, espoused by some Trump officials, that a military strike would shock Pyongyang into appreciating U.S. strength, after years of inaction, and force the regime to the denuclearization negotiating table. I also hope that if North Korea did retaliate militarily, the United States could control the escalation ladder to minimize collateral damage and prevent a collapse of financial markets. In either event, the rationale is that a strike that demonstrates U.S. resolve to pursue "all options" is necessary to give the mercurial Kim a "bloody nose." Otherwise he will remain undeterred in his nuclear ambitions.

Yet, there is a point at which hope must give in to logic. If we believe that Kim is undeterrable without such a strike, how can we also believe that a strike will deter him from responding in kind? And if Kim is unpredictable, impulsive and bordering on irrational, how can we control the escalation ladder, which is premised on an adversary's rational understanding of signals and deterrence?
Sarah Karlin-Smith and Brianna Ehley at Politico: Trump's Top Health Official Traded Tobacco Stock While Leading Anti-Smoking Efforts. "The Trump administration's top public health official bought shares in a tobacco company one month into her leadership of the agency charged with reducing tobacco use — the leading cause of preventable disease and death and an issue she had long championed. The stock was one of about a dozen new investments that Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, made after she took over the agency's top job, according to documents obtained by POLITICO. ...Buying shares of tobacco companies raises even more flags than Fitzgerald's trading in drug and food companies because it stands in such stark contrast to the CDC's mission to persuade smokers to quit and keep children from becoming addicted. Critics say her trading behavior broke with ethical norms for public health officials." She has now resigned. Bye.

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Eric Eyre at the Charleston Gazette-Mail: Drug Firms Shipped 20.8M Pain Pills to West Virginia Town with 2,900 People. "Over the past decade, out-of-state drug companies shipped 20.8 million prescription painkillers to two pharmacies four blocks apart in a Southern West Virginia town with 2,900 people, according to a congressional committee investigating the opioid crisis. The House Energy and Commerce Committee cited the massive shipments of hydrocodone and oxycodone — two powerful painkillers — to the town of Williamson, in Mingo County, amid the panel's inquiry into the role of drug distributors in the opioid epidemic. 'These numbers are outrageous, and we will get to the bottom of how this destruction was able to be unleashed across West Virginia,' said committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., in a joint statement." Whoa.

* * *

[CN: Misogyny] Melanie Schmitz at ThinkProgress: White House Press Secretary Tells Nancy Pelosi to Smile More. "During an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Wednesday morning, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, discussing the president's State of the Union speech the night before, suggested that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) 'smile a lot more often.' 'I think Nancy Pelosi looks like that all the time,' Sanders said, after Cuomo suggested Pelosi had seemed frustrated during [Donald] Trump's speech. 'I think she should smile a lot more often. I think the country would be better for it. She seems to kind of embody the bitterness that belongs in Democrat Party right now.' Sanders added that 'last night was a good step forward' and suggested that Democrats as a group 'let go of some of that' anger." Smile more, policing a woman's appearance, calling a woman bitter, calling a woman angry — with the free space, I've got BINGO!

[CN: Sexual assault] The Daily Beast: Scott Baio 'Absolutely' Denies Co-Star's Sex-Abuse Allegations. "Actor Scott Baio continued to adamantly deny sexual-abuse claims made by his former co-star Nicole Eggert, in a Good Morning America interview Wednesday. He admitted to having one sexual encounter with Eggert after she turned 18." Hey, remember what I was just saying about how sexual abusers often lie in a really specific way? "One of the ways they exploit [the rape culture] is avoiding outright denials in favor of conceding that something happened, but that it was either consensual or no big deal, thus framing their accuser as vengeful, oversensitive, mistaken, and/or lying." Huh.

[CN: Sexual assault] Laura Snapes at the Guardian: DJ Who Groped Taylor Swift Hired by Mississippi Radio Station. "David Mueller, the DJ sacked after Taylor Swift complained he had groped her at a 2013 meet-and-greet, has been hired by a Mississippi radio station. Mueller lost his job at Denver's KYGO-FM after Swift's management and security team told him he would no longer be welcome at the star's concerts following the incident. He subsequently sued Swift for $3m in damages, claiming he had been falsely accused and that she had ruined his career. She countersued, claiming that Mueller had assaulted her, and a jury ruled in favour of her. Mueller's case against the pop star was dismissed."

So, he groped one of the most famous women in the world and was found guilty by a jury in a civil case, and yet he's still getting hired in the same position that granted him access to women, which he exploited to hurt women.

Let me never, ever, hear again how allegations of sexual abuse "ruin men's lives."

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

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Discussion Thread: How Are You?

The pace of the authoritarian takeover of our democracy feels like it is precipitously increasing. The various investigations into Donald Trump's myriad corruptions are dragging on endlessly, and, in the meantime, irreparable damage is being done to the republic. The vast majority of people either don't care, don't understand, or are profoundly underestimating how extraordinary difficult, if not impossible, it will be to return us to a functional, if imperfect, democracy from this extensive decay.

I feel scared about what is happening, and angry that I was shouted down as a hysterical alarmist when I warned that it would.

And I miss Matilda.

So, overall, I'm feeling pretty crappy at the moment. But I'm focusing on the things that make me feel good: My gratitude and affection for this community; relief that Olivia is still doing well after her cancer surgery; dear friends near and far; and the continued good fortune of being loved by and having the opportunity to love Iain.

How are you?

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"If I had it to do again, I wouldn't."

[Content Note: Sexual harassment.]

On Friday, I noted that the New York Times had published a piece reporting that, in 2008, a man working on Hillary Clinton's campaign had been accused of sexual harassment by a woman working on the campaign, and that he had been demoted, docked pay, and sent for treatment, but not fired.

At the time, I took issue with the Times' accusing Clinton of having "shielded" the man, but I also said plainly that I think Clinton should have fired him.

And so does she.

In a Facebook post, she writes: "I very much understand the question I'm being asked as to why I let an employee on my 2008 campaign keep his job despite his inappropriate workplace behavior. The short answer is this: If I had it to do again, I wouldn't."

But she writes much more than that. I shouldn't have been surprised by how good it is, but, after watching failure upon failure for the past weeks and months (and years and decades), I was. This is what meaningful accountability looks like.

The most important work of my life has been to support and empower women. I've tried to do so here at home, around the world, and in the organizations I've run. I started in my twenties, and four decades later I'm nowhere near being done. I'm proud that it's the work I'm most associated with, and it remains what I'm most dedicated to.

So I very much understand the question I'm being asked as to why I let an employee on my 2008 campaign keep his job despite his inappropriate workplace behavior.

The short answer is this: If I had it to do again, I wouldn't.

Before giving some of the reasons why I made a different choice back then and why looking back I wish I'd done it differently, here's what happened and what my thinking was at the time.

In 2007, a woman working on my campaign came forward with a complaint about her supervisor behaving inappropriately toward her. She and her complaint were taken seriously. Senior campaign staff and legal counsel spoke to both her and the offender. They determined that he had in fact engaged in inappropriate behavior. My then-campaign manager presented me with her findings. She recommended that he be fired. I asked for steps that could be taken short of termination. In the end, I decided to demote him, docking his pay; separate him from the woman; assign her to work directly for my then-deputy-campaign manager; put in place technical barriers to his emailing her; and require that he seek counseling. He would also be warned that any subsequent harassment of any kind toward anyone would result in immediate termination.

I did this because I didn't think firing him was the best solution to the problem. He needed to be punished, change his behavior, and understand why his actions were wrong. The young woman needed to be able to thrive and feel safe. I thought both could happen without him losing his job. I believed the punishment was severe and the message to him unambiguous.

I also believe in second chances. I've been given second chances and I have given them to others. I want to continue to believe in them. But sometimes they're squandered. In this case, while there were no further complaints against him for the duration of the campaign, several years after working for me he was terminated from another job for inappropriate behavior. That reoccurrence troubles me greatly, and it alone makes clear that the lesson I hoped he had learned while working for me went unheeded. Would he have done better — been better — if I had fired him? Would he have gotten that next job? There is no way I can go back 10 years and know the answers. But you can bet I'm asking myself these questions right now.

Over the years, I have made, directly and indirectly, thousands of personnel decisions — everything from hiring to promoting to disciplining to firing. Most of these decisions worked out well. But I've gotten some wrong: I've hired the wrong people for the wrong jobs; I've come down on people too hard at times. Through it all, I've always taken firing very seriously. Taking away someone's livelihood is perhaps the most serious thing an employer can do. When faced with a situation like this, if I think it's possible to avoid termination while still doing right by everyone involved, I am inclined in that direction. I do not put this forward as a virtue or a vice — just as a fact about how I view these matters.

When The New York Times reported on this incident last week, my first thought was for the young woman involved. So I reached out to her — most importantly, to see how she was doing, but also to help me reflect on my decision and its consequences. It's never easy when something painful or personal like this surfaces, much less when it appears all over the news. I called her not knowing what I'd hear. Whatever she had to say, I wanted her to be able to say it, and say it to me.

She expressed appreciation that she worked on a campaign where she knew she could come forward without fear. She was glad that her accusations were taken seriously, that there was a clear process in place for dealing with harassment, and that it was followed. Most importantly, she told me that for the remainder of the campaign, she flourished in her new role. We talked about her career, policy issues related to the work she's doing now, and her commitment to public service. I told her how grateful I was to her for working on my campaign and believing in me as a candidate. She's read every word of this and has given me permission to share it.

It was reassuring to hear that she felt supported back then — and that all these years later, those feelings haven't changed. That again left me glad that my campaign had in place a comprehensive process for dealing with complaints. The fact that the woman involved felt heard and supported reinforced my belief that the process worked — at least to a degree. At the time, I believed the punishment I imposed was severe and fit the offense. Indeed, while we are revisiting whether my decision from a decade ago was harsh enough, many employers would be well served to take actions at least as severe when confronted with problems now — including the very media outlet that broke this story. They recently opted to suspend and reinstate one of their journalists who exhibited similarly inappropriate behavior, rather than terminate him. A decade from now, that decision may not look as tough as it feels today. The norms around sexual harassment will likely have continued to change as swiftly and significantly in the years to come as they have over the years until now.

Over the past year, a seismic shift has occurred in the way we approach and respond to sexual harassment, both as a society and as individuals. This shift was long overdue. It occurred thanks to women across industries who stood up and spoke out, from Hollywood to sports to farm workers — to the very woman who worked for me.

For most of my life, harassment wasn't something talked about or even acknowledged. More women than not experience it to some degree in their life, and until recently, the response was often to laugh it off or tough it out. That's changing, and that's a good thing. My own decision to write in my memoir about my experiences being sexually harassed and physically threatened early in my career — the first time was in college — was more agonizing than it should have been. I know that I’m one of the lucky ones, and what happened to me seemed so commonplace that I wondered if it was even worth sharing. But in the end, that's exactly why I chose to write about it: because I don't want this behavior or these attitudes to be accepted as "normal" for any woman, especially those just starting out in their lives.

No woman should have to endure harassment or assault — at work, at school, or anywhere. And men are now on notice that they will truly be held accountable for their actions. Especially now, we all need to be thinking about the complexities of sexual harassment, and be willing to challenge ourselves to reassess and question our own views.

In other words, everyone's now on their second chance, both the offenders and the decision-makers. Let's do our best to make the most of it.

We can't go back, but we can certainly look back, informed by the present. We can acknowledge that even those of us who have spent much of our life thinking about gender issues and who have firsthand experiences of navigating a male-dominated industry or career may not always get it right.

I recognize that the situation on my 2008 campaign was unusual in that a woman complained to a woman who brought the issue to a woman who was the ultimate decision maker. There was no man in the chain of command. The boss was a woman. Does a woman have a responsibility to come down even harder on the perpetrator? I don't know. But I do believe that a woman boss has an extra responsibility to look out for the women who work for her, and to better understand how issues like these can affect them.

I was inspired by my conversation with this young woman to express my own thinking on the matter. You may question why it's taken me time to speak on this at length. The answer is simple: I've been grappling with this and thinking about how best to share my thoughts. I hope that my doing so will push others to keep having this conversation — to ask and try to answer the hard questions, not just in the abstract but in the real-life contexts of our roles as men, women, bosses, employees, advocates, and public officials. I hope that women will continue to talk and write about their own experiences and that they will continue leading this critical debate, which, done right, will lead to a better, fairer, safer country for us all.

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State of the Union Recap

In sum, it was garbage. Naturally, anyone conscious with a modicum of decency fully anticipated that it would be, but the specific way in which it was garbage was that it was hateful claptrap, poorly written and poorly delivered.

Trump is, as per usual, getting plenty of commendation for managing to read the entire thing off a teleprompter while managing to not shit his pants and keep his teeth in his mouth, but the content was dreck — bigotry and bad policy buried beneath jingoistic pablum that sounded like it was written by a malfunctioning nationalism macro — and his delivery was about as compelling as a piece of wet cardboard on a brown floor.

Truly, the banality of evil.

Which I suppose was the objective. Trump delivered a string of despicable lies, the threat of preemptive warfare against North Korea, and an entire cold-blooded section demonizing Latinx immigrants as murderous gangs in a tone so moderated that pundits who can't be bothered to scrutinize anything but optics couldn't help but assume this was a shiny new "moderate" Trump.

It was not. It was the same old cruel bigot, delivering his terrifying threats of authoritarian ruination with all the excitement of a droning metronome.

And of course his signature line about a "new American moment" was plagiarized from Hillary Clinton.

Anyway. NPR has a full transcript with fact checking, if you're interested. And CNN [video may autoplay at link] has a report on how Trump's SOTU got "the lowest net positive rating for a State of the Union address since at least 1998, when CNN first asked the question." So much winning.


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Open Thread

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

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State of the Union Open Thread

image of Donald Trump screaming, to which I have added text as though it looks like it's tumbling out of his mouth, reading: GARBAGE!

Here is a thread to discuss Donald Trump's State of the Union address, and all the surrounding stuff.

A number of Democratic women will be wearing black in protest. A number of other Democrats are skipping the address altogether. Many Democrats have brought as their guests undocumented immigrants and/or other marginalized people affected by Trump's deplorable policies. The chair of the House contingent of the Congressional Black Caucus reportedly told the members they are allowed to walk out in commentary on Trump's speech, should they feel inclined to do so.

So there might be a lot to talk about, even if you quite understandably have nothing to say about the vile trash that comes out of Trump's reprehensible maw.

I'll be live-tweeting it. By which, as always, I mean: Drinking wine and rage-tweeting.


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Programming Note

Since it's going to be a late night with the State of the Union, I'm taking the rest of the afternoon off, and I will be back later tonight (and will open a discussion thread then) for the garbage disaster that will be Donald Trump doing his best impersonation of a president of a democracy.

See you later!

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Dudley the Greyhound lying on the couch on his back with all four legs in the air
Just a totally normal sleeping position.

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 376

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 (plus the occasional non-Republican who obliges us to resist their nonsense, too, like we don't have enough to worry about) 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 Aphra Behn: Dear NYT: This Is No Time to Obscure White Supremacism. And by me: Authoritarianism Watch: A Deeply Chilling Monday Night and Trump Turns SOTU into Tacky Fundraising Event.

[Content Note: Threats of violence] Nicole Lafond at TPM: Schiff's Office Receiving Calls and Death Threats over Nunes Memo. "Rep. Adam Schiff's (D-CA) office has received crude phone calls and death threats over the 'Republican spin memo' that reportedly proves some type of anti-[Donald] Trump bias within the FBI and the Department of Justice, Axios reported Tuesday. Schiff told Axios that the outrage against his office is fueled by Republican rhetoric, which he called 'reckless hyperbole' that is 'just so destructive to our democracy.'"

This is where we are: A Democratic member of Congress who takes his responsibilities seriously and stands up to this administration and its party's gross abuses of power is now getting death threats.

This is not a functioning democracy. It has not been for some time, but that reality has become so abundantly clear at this point that any politician, journalist, or person of influence in any industry who does not acknowledge this fact and behave accordingly should be presumed to support the dismantling of the republic. There is no neutral anymore.

* * *

Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Nick Hopkins at the Guardian: Second Trump-Russia Dossier Being Assessed by FBI. "The FBI inquiry into alleged Russian collusion in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has been given a second memo that independently set out many of the same allegations made in a dossier by Christopher Steele, the British former spy. The second memo was written by Cody Shearer, a controversial political activist and former journalist who was close to the Clinton White House in the 1990s."

I'm still digging into this story, but I know it'll be a big item today, so, at this point, I'm just sharing it with this caveat: I am not convinced that this report is authentic and/or that the "second memo" is real. I also suspect that, even if it is real, its existence is only truly relevant insofar as it will be used to try to delegitimize the Steele dossier, by virtue of its alleged Clinton-connected authorship.

Take this one with a big grain of salt, unless and until there is well-sourced confirmation.

* * *

Carol E. Lee at NBC News: Trump's Gripes Against McCabe Included Wife's Politics, Comey's Ride Home. "The day after he fired James Comey as director of the FBI, a furious [Donald] Trump called the bureau's acting director, Andrew McCabe, demanding to know why Comey had been allowed to fly on an FBI plane from Los Angeles back to Washington after he was dismissed, according to multiple people familiar with the phone call. McCabe told the president he hadn't been asked to authorize Comey's flight, but if anyone had asked, he would have approved it, three people familiar with the call recounted to NBC News. The president was silent for a moment and then turned on McCabe, suggesting he ask his wife how it feels to be a loser — an apparent reference to a failed campaign for state office in Virginia that McCabe's wife made in 2015. McCabe replied, 'Okay, sir.' Trump then hung up the phone."

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Jennifer Jacobs at Bloomberg: On Flight to Davos, Trump Erupted over DOJ Role in Russia Probe. "Trump erupted in anger while traveling to Davos after learning that Associate Attorney General Stephen Boyd warned that it would be 'extraordinarily reckless' to release a classified memo written by House Republican staffers. ...Trump's outburst capped a week where Trump and senior White House officials personally reproached Attorney General Jeff Sessions and asked White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to speak to others — episodes that illustrate Trump's preoccupation with the Justice Department, according to two of the people. Trump warned Sessions and others they need to excel at their jobs or go down as the worst in history, the two people said."

Just two more examples of a man who is temperamentally unfit to be president; who is an inveterate bully; who has naught but contempt for the rule of law.

About all of which plenty of people, especially women, urgently warned before he was elected.

* * *

Kellyanne Conway continues to be extraordinarily awful, telling Chris Cuomo on CNN's New Day that Russian interference in the 2016 election doesn't matter, and it's the press who are the real culprits: "Everybody who said Donald Trump couldn't win — every screaming headline, every wrong poll, every anchor, every pundit who said this is over, it's a joke, he can't win — tried to interfere in the election." OMFG.

Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth... Gordon Corera at the BBC: Russia 'Will Target U.S. Midterm Elections' Says CIA Chief. "Mike Pompeo told the BBC there had been no significant diminishing of Russian attempts at subversion in Europe and the U.S." Of course there hasn't! Why would there be?! The U.S. president and the majority party in Congress are busily pretending that Russia didn't interfere in the 2016 election and giving Putin everything he wants! They have served Russia zero consequences for meddling in past U.S. elections and have put in place zero safeguards to prevent them from meddling in future U.S. elections! OF COURSE THEY WILL CONTINUE TO DO IT.

And in other election news... Pema Levy at Mother Jones: Millions of Voters Will Cast Ballots in November in Unconstitutionally Gerrymandered Districts. "This fall, millions of voters will cast ballots in legislative districts that have been deemed unconstitutional. Courts have repeatedly tossed out Republican-drawn electoral maps for excessive gerrymandering, but those maps will remain in effect through November, potentially changing who controls Congress and state legislatures for the next two years."

It will never cease to be incredible to me how many people unaccountably believe that the Republican Party who has spent decades rigging elections themselves are somehow gonna start caring about Russian election meddling.

And because the Republicans are in power, federally and in a majority of state legislatures, all the same problems that resulted in the hideous outcome of the 2016 election will still be there for the 2018 election. And then some.

* * *

In the aforementioned interview with the BBC, Mike Pompeo said some other cool stuff! D. Parvaz at ThinkProgress: Mike Pompeo Keeps Saying North Korea Could Nuke the U.S. in a 'Handful of Months'. "CIA Director Mike Pompeo told the BBC that North Korea will be able to launch nuclear strikes against the United States within a few months. 'With respect to our understanding of the program, I think that we, collectively, the United States and our intelligence partners around the world, have developed a clear understanding of [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un's capability,' Pompeo said in the interview published on Tuesday. 'We talk about him having the ability to deliver a nuclear weapon to the United States in a matter of a handful of months,' he added. Pompeo's been doing this for a while now."

Just super responsible stuff from a super cool administration: The CIA Director repeatedly saying that North Korea might nuke us in a few months. No biggie.

And it looks like Trump is going to echo these comments, or amplify them into something truly terrifying, during tonight's SOTU:


Robert Burns at TPM: Pentagon Orders Restrictions on Release of Afghanistan War Data. "The Pentagon has ordered an independent federal auditor to stop providing the public with key information about U.S. war efforts in Afghanistan, accelerating a clampdown on data, such as the size of the Afghan military and police forces, that indicate how the 16-year-old stalemated war is going. ...The restrictions fly in the face of Pentagon assertions over the past year that it was striving to be more transparent about the U.S. war campaigns across Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan."

A lack of transparency is yet another feature of authoritarian regimes.

Adrian Florido at NPR: FEMA to End Food and Water Aid for Puerto Rico. "In a sign that FEMA believes the immediate humanitarian emergency has subsided, on Jan. 31 it will, in its own words, 'officially shut off' the mission it says has provided more than 30 million gallons of potable water and nearly 60 million meals across the island in the four months since the hurricane. The agency will turn its remaining food and water supplies over to the Puerto Rican government to finish distributing. Some on the island believe it's too soon to end these deliveries given that a third of residents still lack electricity and, in some places, running water, but FEMA says its internal analytics suggest only about 1 percent of islanders still need emergency food and water. The agency believes that is a small enough number for the Puerto Rican government and nonprofit groups to handle."

Rage seethe boil. If places that had electricity and running water before don't have electricity and running water now, then the humanitarian emergency has not "subsided." JFC.

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

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Dear NYT: This Is No Time to Obscure White Supremacism

[Content Note: Nativism; white supremacy.]

This morning, the New York Times published a story about Trump's upcoming State of the Union address. The headline (almost certainly not written by authors Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis) and sub headlines read:

Supporters Fear Trump's Speech Will Lack the Edge They Love

As [Donald] Trump prepares for his first State of the Union address on Tuesday, hard-line nationalists worry that he will reach for bipartisanship instead of ideological purity.

But the White House has signaled it will be a more inclusive speech, in tone if not in substance. The speech is at 9 p.m. Eastern, and we'll have live coverage.
What, exactly, is the "ideological purity" these "hard-line nationalists" are worrying about missing? Well, here is a quote from the actual article:
"The question is: Will he display a resolve and a commitment to pursue his immigration goals, or will he start channeling Jeb Bush again?" said Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates restrictive immigration policies that Mr. Bush opposed as Florida governor and as a candidate in the Republican presidential primary against Mr. Trump.
I don't know about you, but the last time I checked the White House's "immigration goals," they included the racist exclusion of people from majority-Muslim countries, cutting immigration from "shitholes" that are majority black while trying to attract Nordic immigrants, enabling ICE in "papers please" tactics, and breaking up families via cruel and arbitrary deportations.

Yet these policies are obscured by the language of "ideological purity" and "populism." It doesn't help that the article gives Krikorian's bland-sounding "Center for Immigration Studies" a pass as advocating for "restrictive" immigration policies.

In point of fact, The Center for Immigration Studies was listed as a hate group by the SPLC last year. In a post about the designation, Heidi Beirich at SPLC notes:
CIS is the brainchild of John Tanton, the father of the modern nativist movement, and part of a network of closely related anti-immigrant groups that Tanton founded. These groups have been responsible for much of the hysteria about immigrants that dominates conservative politics.

Tanton, a retired Michigan ophthalmologist, spent decades at the heart of the white nationalist movement. In addition to his flagship organization, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), he founded and operated the Social Contract Press, which has published numerous overtly racist tracts, including the rancid novel Camp of the Saints.
If Camp of the Saints sounds familiar, it's probably because it's a horrifyingly racist novel that is Steve Bannon's favorite go-to for his anti-immigration stances:
The plot of The Camp of the Saints follows a poor Indian demagogue, named "the turd-eater" because he literally eats shit, and the deformed, apparently psychic child who sits on his shoulders. Together, they lead an "armada" of 800,000 impoverished Indians sailing to France. Dithering European politicians, bureaucrats, and religious leaders, including a liberal pope from Latin America, debate whether to let the ships land and accept the Indians or to do the right thing — in the book's vision — by recognizing the threat the migrants pose and killing them all. The non-white people of Earth, meanwhile, wait silently for the Indians to reach shore. The landing will be the signal for them to rise up everywhere and overthrow white Western society.
There's much more at the SPLC link about CIS. Krikorian, of course, denies it's a hate group, but perhaps he's not in the best place to judge, considering his argument that Haiti's problems stem from not being colonized long enough. Per Think Progress:
"My guess is that Haiti's so screwed up because it wasn't colonized long enough… But, unlike Jamaicans and Bajans and Guadeloupeans, et al., after experiencing the worst of tropical colonial slavery, the Haitians didn't stick around long enough to benefit from it… And by benefit I mean develop a local culture significantly shaped by the more-advanced civilization of the colonizers."
This is a guy who literally argued for the superiority of white civilization; perhaps that merits a mention in relation to his views on immigration.

Who else are the Trump supporters quoted in the article? Well, among others, there's Newt Gingrich, who has made more than a few bigoted remarks over the years. Remember that he claimed Obama was so outside the norm because of his Kenyan, anti-colonial outlook? Like Kirkorian and the CIS, Gingrich likes to hide behind a polish of pseudo-academic racism. (And he's been at it for a while. His doctoral dissertation praised Belgian colonial education in the Congo, neatly ignoring or diminishing any Congolese opinions to the contrary.)

There's also Corey Stewart, described as "a Tea Party Trump backer from Virginia who is running for Senate in the state" and as gaining "national attention in 2007 as a county official for his crackdown on illegal immigration." Some of the rest of us may recall Stewart for his embrace of Neo-Confederacy and defense of Confederate monuments, as detailed by Kevin Robillard in Politico:
When he hasn't lamented the shoddy treatment of Southern heritage, he has compared the politicians who support removing statues to ISIS, the murderous Islamic extremists who have destroyed historic artifacts and religious sites throughout Syria. Or suggested that George Soros "needs to be tried for sedition, stripped of his citizenship, or deported." Or labeling his main opponent a "cuckservative," the disdainful epithet of choice among the alt-right.
Yes, that's just a "hard-line" guy, I guess, talking like a Nazi.

I certainly understand the pressures of precise reporting, and sympathize with the desire not to tangle with these men over their white supremacy. Few people know better than feminists that the "new" white supremacist right has emerged from the collective of MRAs, channers, Gamergaters, and other virulently racist misogynists who have been attacking marginalized people for years, and that their tactics are brutal and silencing.

But that's just the thing: The full and chilling context of the rise of white nationalists to power in the United States isn't obvious to everyone. And it gets more and more obscured by using the language of "hardliners" and "partisanship" and "ideology" without acknowledging that the "hard line" is rooted in eliminationist racism, that the "partisanship" is on behalf of a party that has become the party of white conservative Christian resentment, and the "ideology" is a horrifying blend of Nazism and Neo-Confederate thought, wrapped in an American flag and bent on establishing an ethno-religious authoritarian state.

That context is vitally important to understanding how far we're sliding into white supremacist authoritarianism, how little else the Republicans are offering the country, and how much their support of Trump indicates their craven embrace of the worst parts of American heritage. After all, remember when Republicans mocked Obama's use of a teleprompter as evidence of his intellectual inadequacy? What showed unpreparedness in a black president is now embraced as evidence of a white president's success, the New York Times further reports:
At the White House and among Republicans on Capitol Hill, there is a keen awareness that Mr. Trump benefits from extraordinarily low expectations of his ability to stay on message and deliver a coherent speech, given his tendency to ramble off script and insert divisive notes, insulting asides and mystifying non sequiturs that almost always overshadow the topic at hand.

Given that, officials believe, the president will be judged a success in many quarters as long as he reads faithfully from his script, resisting the urge to respond to perceived slights or settle scores and instead sticking to a positive message that can resonate with a wide swath of Americans.
This is no time to let white supremacy slide by, obscured in language that makes this all seem perfectly normal. If we do not speak truth now, we soon may be unable to speak at all.

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Trump Turns SOTU into Tacky Fundraising Event

For as long as the words "Donald Trump" and "president" have been uttered in the same sentence, even back in the good old days when that didn't seem like anything but a punchline except to all but the most cynical among us, there have been attendant jokes about how he would slap a giant "TRUMP" on the White House; paint it gold; turn it into just another garish monument to his neon ego.

He hasn't ordered the gilded lettering just yet (that we know of), but he does talk about the United States like it's a used car lot he's running, and policy is nothing more than making the best deals.

And, of course, since before he even stepped foot inside the Oval Office, he was using it to personally enrich himself and his family — grifters all and always.

But even by the rock-bottom standards he's already set for himself, this is some real garbage.

John Wagner at the Washington Post: Names of Campaign Donors to Be Flashed During Live Stream of Trump's State of the Union Speech.

[Donald] Trump is seeking to parlay his first State of the Union address on Tuesday into cash for his reelection campaign by offering supporters a chance to see their name flashed on the screen during a broadcast of the speech.

In a fundraising solicitation on Monday, Trump offered those willing to pay at least $35 the opportunity to see their name displayed during a live streaming of the address on his campaign website.

"This is a movement," the solicitation says. "It's not about just one of us. It's about ALL of us. Which is why your name deserves to be displayed during Tuesday night's speech."

The web page to which the solicitation links offers donors the opportunity to contribute as much as $2,700 — the maximum amount allowed per election.
I am embarrassed by Trump and his tacky commodification of the presidency; I am embarrassed by the fact that there are people who will clamor to make a donation to see their names broadcast by this revolting buffoon; and I am embarrassed for the rest of us that this is what our nation has become.

This is the failed state dystopia of our nightmares: The United States plunged into authoritarianism by a gauche clown, whose humiliating indignity is exceeded only by his malignant indecency.

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Authoritarianism Watch: A Deeply Chilling Monday Night

Tonight, Donald Trump will deliver the State of the Union address, and the state of our union is profoundly unwell. We are a deeply divided nation with lots of troubles domestically and abroad; the president and his party are diligently dismantling our democratic systems and scoffing at the rule of law; and it is increasingly clear that our problems are far bigger than the midterm elections can solve.

After Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe was forced out yesterday, leaving us with one fewer person with even an infinitesimal inclination to hold this president to account, Rep. Adam Schiff, the highest ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, disclosed that the Republican Party was acting against the nation's best interests yet again by voting to release Rep. Devin Nunes reckless and menadacios memo alleging that the FBI committed surveillance abuses during the 2016 election.

Schiff: A very sad day, I think, in the history of this committee. As I said to my committee colleagues during this hearing, sadly we can fully expect that the President of the United States will not put the national interest over his own personal interest, but it is a sad day indeed when that is also true of our own committee — because today this committee voted to put the president's personal interest, perhaps their own political interest, above the national interest, in denying themselves even the ability to hear from the Department [of Justice] and the FBI [why the memo should not be released].
Republicans on the committee would not even allow FBI Director Christopher Wray to brief them on the actual intelligence, which is a pretty clear indication they know that what's in Nunes' memo is dishonest trash that Wray would contradict. Instead, they would brook no dissent from their invented "facts," and voted to release the memo publicly (unless Trump instructs them to keep it secret within five days).

That was not the only disclosure that Schiff made following their meeting. He also reported that Republicans are investigating the FBI and the Department of Justice.

Then, late yesterday, Elana Schor at Politico reported that the Trump administration informed Congress the new Russia sanctions they imposed in a bipartisan bill passed last summer would not be implemented.
A State Department spokesperson said by email that the administration is "using this legislation as Congress intended to press Russia to address our concerns related to its aggression in Ukraine, interference in other nations' domestic affairs and abuses of human rights."

Potential targets of future penalties "have been put on notice, both publicly and privately, including by the highest-level State Department and other U.S. government officials where appropriate, that significant transactions with listed Russian entities will result in sanctions," the spokesperson added.

...In addition to the sanctions on entities doing business with Moscow's defense and intelligence sectors, the sanctions law also called for the administration to produce by Monday a list of oligarchs linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin and a report on the consequences of sanctioning Russia's sovereign debt. The sanctions law was crafted partially in response to Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

The administration released the unclassified version of the oligarchs list late Monday, after its announcement on the non-issuance of new sanctions. The Treasury Department noted that the roster "is not a sanctions list" and that individuals listed do not "meet the criteria for designation under any sanctions program" as a result of their inclusion.

The list named 114 individuals who serve "senior political figures" in Putin's government, as well as 96 oligarchs with close ties to Moscow. It is unclear whether Congress received the sovereign debt report also due Monday, which is likely to contain classified information. The State Department spokesperson added: "Further details are contained in a classified report we have submitted to Congress."
Those are the same sanctions over which Putin threatened "painful" retaliation against American civilians if they were enforced, and that is the same oligarchs list which, just yesterday, Putin's Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said Moscow would consider a "direct and obvious attempt to influence" the Russia elections in March.

So Trump has just completely caved to Putin's bullying.

And, in doing so, the executive branch of the United States government has unilaterally overruled the legislative branch.

Let us be very clear about what has happened here: The U.S. president has asserted himself as an authoritarian and fundamentally undermined the basic tenets of the U.S. democracy in order to do the bidding of the Russians, while his party uses their majority in Congress to try to discredit or outright quash investigations into that president's collusion with the Russians.

As I have said many times before: The collusion is right out in the open.

And we are losing the republic because there is simply not enough urgency to even have a frank public conversation about that, no less to disempower a president who is a blatant traitor.

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

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker teearr: "What's an ordinary part of your everyday life that others may find unusual/surprising?"

[Content Note: Body policing; fat hatred] Given that I'm constantly admonished to "get some exercise" by fat-hating numpties, including this very day (as virtually every day) on Twitter, I think there's no ordinary part of my everyday life that others are likely to find surprising than the fact that I love to swim and do it as often as I can.

I actually love all kinds of physical movement; I'm just unable to do much of it because of my inability to sweat. I was super thrilled for a gorgeous 50-degree day this weekend, which I used to get in a couple miles of hiking. Even at that temp, my hypohidrosis eventually caught up to me, but I take what I can get!

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Monday Links!

This list o' links brought to you by red pantsuits.

Recommended Reading:

Erika W. Smith at Bust: Here's How Maxine Waters, Kirsten Gillibrand, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Others Will Respond to Trump's State of the Union

Anh Do at the LA Times: [Content Note: Nativism] As More Cambodian and Vietnamese Immigrants Are Targeted for Deportation, Advocates Say They 'Can't Stay Silent'

Kenrya Rankin at Colorlines: [CN: White supremacy] Census Bureau to Ignore Obama-Era Recommendations for Recording Race, Ethnicity

Kevin Litman-Navarro at Inverse: The NSA Literally Removed 'Honesty' from Its Core Values

Princess Weekes at the Mary Sue: [CN: White supremacy; colorism; moving GIF at link] Rihanna's Victory in the Beauty Industry Changed the Standards for Diversity in Makeup

Katelyn Burns at Everyday Feminism: [CN: Trans hatred; class warfare] Here Are 4 Ways to Get Trans People out of Poverty Now

Angela Chen at the Verge: Americans Are Saving Energy Because Fewer People Go Outside

Scott Mendelson at Forbes: Why Marielle Heller Directing Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers Is a Huge Deal

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

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#365feministselfie: Week 4

I am again participating in the #365feministselfie project, now entering its fifth year, and promised a thread for others to share selfies and/or talk about the project, visibility generally, self-apprecation, and related topics. So (with my apologies for forgetting to post it on Friday) here is a thread for Week 4!

A few of my selfies over the last week:

image of my face, close-up and in profile, as Sophie the Torbie Cat leans her face in toward mine
With wee Sophs, who has, like the rest of her siblings, been a great
comfort this past week, as I hope I have been to them in return.

image of me from mid-torso up, wearing a blue t-shirt, a stripey cardigan, and blue glasses
Heading out to meet friends for dinner.

image of me from the shoulders up, outdoors near some green bushes, wearing a blue pullover hoodie
Took a long walk on the Schuylkill River trail
on a ridiculously lovely January day.

Please feel welcome and encouraged to share your own selfies in comments, or share your thoughts on the project, or solicit encouragement or advice, or do whatever else feels best for you to participate, if you are inclined to do so!

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Bernie Stinks

I know this is hardly trenchant political commentary, but my god does Bernie Sanders stink.

A lot.

Exhibit Wev in an endless series of examples:

It isn't clear when Sanders will give his rebuttal, but presumably he will deliver it immediately following the State of the Union, just like he did last year.

(It wasn't technically a State of the Union, because Donald Trump had just been inaugurated, but it was where the SOTU would have been, if he hadn't been a first-year president.)

Not only will Sanders be splitting progressives' attentions and subverting the message that will be delivered by Democratic Rep. Joe Kennedy, but, he will also be speaking opposite Rep. Maxine Waters, who will be delivering a national address on BET.

Bernie Sanders will never, ever, have my support as long as he keeps pulling stunts like this one, which are clearly designed to explicitly fracture the progressive coalition.

And here's something else: As long as the Democrats continue to give any support or sanction to this divisive asshole who undermines them at every turn to Donald Trump's favor, they are not getting a dime of my money. It's that simple. He is not helping them; he has been actively hurting the Democrats, and here he is doing it yet again.

When he wants to leverage the Democrats' infrastructure, he's a Democrat. When he wants to be a spoiler, then he's suddenly an Independent again. And the only people who can put a stop to his assault on the Democratic Party are the leadership of the Democratic Party.

This is what he's going to keep doing. Give up on this loser.

I sure have.

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Daily Dose of Cute

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 375

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 (plus the occasional non-Republican who obliges us to resist their nonsense, too, like we don't have enough to worry about) 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:


[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Kathryn Watson at CBS News: Andrew McCabe Urged to Step Down as FBI Deputy Director. "FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is retiring from the FBI, CBS News' Pat Milton has confirmed. According to Milton, a source familiar with the matter confirms that McCabe was urged to step down. He is currently on leave and will official retire in March. McCabe was under considerable scrutiny from Republicans, as special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling and any ties to Trump associates continued. McCabe took temporary charge of the FBI after [Donald] Trump fired FBI Director James Comey earlier this year, and some skeptics viewed McCabe as too close to his former boss."

Fuck. And Trump's authoritarian march continues onward.

* * *

Earlier today by me: The Entire Republican Party Is Compromised and Trump Pals Fairly Certain He'll Lie Under Oath.

[CN: Guns; misogyny; death]

Is now the time to have a conversation about a culture of violent entitlement, toxic masculinity, and gun access, or nah? Still going to keep punting while people are killed at the hands of violent misogynist men? Cool.

* * *

[CN: War on agency]

Donald Trump wants to have a big win for his white conservative evangelical base right before the State of the Union address tomorrow night. A thank-you note, for standing with him despite news of his philandering with an adult film star and paying her off to keep silent. "Thanks for having no consistent principles at all except hating marginalized people! Here's some more hating women for you!"

Let us be abundantly clear about this legislation: It will not save any fetuses, but it will kill people who carry them.

* * *

Nico Hines at the Daily Beast: Trump Tower Russian Lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, Exposed in Swiss Corruption Case.
The Moscow operation behind the now-infamous Russian-Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 included a direct attempt to enlist a foreign country's law-enforcement official as a virtual double-agent, according to a court case in Switzerland.

One of Switzerland's top investigators has been fired after allegations of bribery, violating secrecy laws, and 'unauthorized clandestine behavior' in meeting with the very same Russian actors linked to the Trump Tower encounter.

Details of the explosive case have been published by investigative reporters for the Tribune de Genève and Tages-Anzeiger newspapers in Switzerland. The officer, identified only as Victor K., traveled to Moscow—against the expressed wishes of his superiors—where he spoke to Natalia Veselnitskaya, the lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner at Trump Tower.

The meeting was reportedly set up by Russian Deputy Attorney General Saak Albertovich Karapetyan—from the same rogue department that was apparently responsible for offering intel on Hillary Clinton to be shared at the Trump Tower meeting and the Kremlin's further plots to influence U.S. politics.
In other news, care of the BBC: Kremlin Accuses U.S. of Meddling in Election. "An expected U.S. report that could sanction Kremlin-linked oligarchs is an attempt to influence Russia's March presidential election, Moscow has said. The US treasury report is expected to detail the closeness of senior Russian political figures and oligarchs to President Vladimir Putin, who is standing for re-election. ...Dmitry Peskov said the US report was a 'direct and obvious attempt to influence the elections' on 18 March." LOLOLOL okay.

This is a very handy resource from Allegra Kirkland at TPM: Here's the Obstruction Case Against Donald Trump. "From the earliest days of Trump's administration, the president and his closest allies have used a range of tactics to obfuscate damaging information and stymie Mueller's probe into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. And Mueller, in turn, appears to have gathered a plethora of evidence that lays out this pattern of behavior. ...Here's a full timeline, based on reliable reports that haven't been seriously challenged, of the 2017 events Mueller could draw on to establish an obstruction case against the President."

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[CN: Nativism] David Nakamura at the Washington Post: Lawmakers Call on Trump to Drop Bid for Legal Immigration Cuts. "Trump's demands to slash legal immigration levels are likely to sink a deal. Democrats have voiced fierce opposition to a White House plan, released late last week, that featured a path to citizenship for 1.8 million dreamers in exchange for $25 billion for his border wall and sharp cuts to family immigration visas. Though Democratic leaders have grudgingly offered wall funding, they have accused the president of leveraging the dreamers as 'ransom' to severely constrict legal immigration, calling it a wish list for 'anti-immigration hard-liners' and 'white supremacists.'" Correct analysis by the Democrats.

[CN: Nativism; white supremacy] Tina Vasquez at Rewire: Lines Blurring Between Immigration Priorities of Trump Administration and Hate Groups. "[T]he entirety of Trump's blueprint for the country's immigration system appears to come from organizations the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has designated as anti-immigrant hate groups, like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). Put another way, the current president is turning demands from anti-immigrant hate groups, groups that have ties to the eugenics movement and openly advocated for heavily restricting immigration levels in order to maintain a white majority, into U.S. immigration policy. ...A closer look at Trump's proposals — before and now during his presidency — reveal near-exact overlap with these hate groups."

Chaim Gartenberg at the Verge: FCC Chair Ajit Pai Is Opposed to a Government-Run 5G Network. "Over the weekend, Axios reported that officials within the Trump administration have been proposing the creation of a nationwide 5G network in order to protect against Chinese leadership in forthcoming networking technology. However, it seems that the unnamed senior national security officials who presented the proposal failed to talk to current FCC commissioner Ajit Pai first. Pai released a statement this morning that, in no uncertain terms, opposes the plan for a government-run 5G network. It's not a surprising stance for Pai... It's hard to imagine that someone who feels that major telecom companies need less government oversight would be in favor of suddenly allowing the government to run the entirety of America's 5G network."

Matt Novak at Gizmodo: Fitness App's 'Anonymized' Data Dump Accidentally Reveals Military Bases Around the World. "People around the world use the app Strava on their smartphones and Fitbits to track how far they run. But researchers have discovered that an 'anonymized' data dump released by Strava last year has accidentally revealed sensitive locations, including U.S. military bases around the world. The user data was released in November as a '2017 heatmap,' showing over 1 billion activities, including 13 trillion GPS datapoints. That includes where and how fast various people went for a jog, for instance. And if you look closely, something like airfields in Somalia that may house American special forces suddenly light up like a Christmas tree."

Alastair Gee at the Guardian: Amid Dangers from the Trump Administration and Climate Change, Sites Including the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park Are Facing Yet Another Threat: 'Massive Disrepair'. "The National Park Service is the protector of some of America's greatest environmental and cultural treasures. Yet a huge funding shortfall means that the strain of America's passion for its parks is showing. Trails are crumbling and buildings are rotting. In all there is an $11bn backlog of maintenance work that repair crews have been unable to perform, a number that has mostly increased every year in the past decade. 'Americans should be deeply concerned,' said John Garder, senior director of budget and appropriations at the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA). The National Park Service, he argued, is hamstrung by a lack of resources and is in 'triage mode.'"

Caitlin MacNeal at TPM: Trump Claims Ice Caps 'Were Going to Melt' But Are 'Setting Records'. "Donald Trump suggested to Piers Morgan in an interview that aired in full on Sunday that the polar ice caps are actually doing well, despite concerns about climate change, though it's not clear how Trump came to that conclusion. Morgan asked Trump if he believes in climate change. 'Look, it used to not be climate change, it used to be global warming. That wasn't working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place,' Trump claimed in response. He then launched into a baseless claim about ice caps. 'The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they're setting records,' Trump said."

I have no idea what the fuck he is even talking about. During the same interview, he also told Morgan that he isn't a feminist: "No, I wouldn't say I'm a feminist. I mean, I think that would be, maybe, going too far. I'm for women, I'm for men, I'm for everyone." Morgan literally pitched this as "breaking news."

More like "No Shit, Sherlock" news.

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[CN: Misogyny; sexual harassment; sexual assault; rape apologia. Covers entire section.]

Michele Amabile Angermiller at Variety: Grammys So Male? 'Women Need to Step Up,' Says Recording Academy President. "The only woman presented a solo Grammy during the awards telecast on Sunday night? Alessia Cara, who took home best new artist. Recording Academy president Neil Portnow was asked by Variety about #GrammysSoMale and had this to say: 'It has to begin with… women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level… [They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome. I don't have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face but I think it's upon us — us as an industry — to make the welcome mat very obvious, breeding opportunities for all people who want to be creative and paying it forward and creating that next generation of artists.'"

What the actual fuck. This "women need to step up" bullshit will not widely be identified as workplace harassment, but the fact that it's the president of an industry academy saying it means it absolutely is.

Rebekah Entralgo at ThinkProgress: 22 Senators Call on Labor Department to Assess Economic Impact of Workplace Sexual Harassment. "Twenty-two Democratic senators are calling on the Labor Department to collect additional, better data regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. ...'What is known is that harassment is not confined to industry or one group. It affects minimum-wage fast-food workers, middle-class workers at car manufacturing plants, and white-collar workers in finance and law, among many others,' the senators wrote in the letter, provided to Buzzfeed. 'No matter the place or source, harassment has a tangible and negative economic effect on individuals' lifetime income and retirement, and its pervasiveness damages the economy as a whole.' The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that anywhere from 25 percent to 85 percent of women report having been sexual harassed in the workplace."

The signatories include Democratic Senators Kristen Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Cory Booker, and not a single Republican Senator. Not a one.

After Eggert made the allegations, which she has made previously, Baio, who is a major Trump booster, and his wife took to Facebook Live to dispute Eggert's account and call her a liar, because they are gross people.

Judd Legum at ThinkProgress: The GOP Finally Released a Statement on Steve Wynn — and It's Pathetic.
[On Friday], the Wall Street Journal reported that casino mogul Steve Wynn, the Finance Chairman of the Republican National Committee, had engaged in serial sexual harassment and assault. The report was based on dozens of interviews in which people described how Wynn engaged in a "decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct" including "pressuring employees to perform sex acts."

For 24 hours, the Republican Party said nothing. The silence was particularly remarkable in light of the GOP's reaction to reports in October that Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted numerous women. The same day the first report was published, the Republican Party demanded the Democratic Party and all Democratic officials return money from Weinstein, who was a major donor to Democrats.

On Saturday afternoon, Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel released a statement. Here it is, in its entirety:
Today I accepted Steve Wynn's resignation as Republican National Committee finance chair.
The statement was released to press but does not appear on the GOP website or Twitter account. It was also not posted to Twitter by McDaniel.
I am running out of ways to say that the Republicans are hypocrites and scumbags.

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