"It Was This Zoo, This Complete S--tshow."

[Content Note: Sexual harassment. Video may autoplay at link.]

My friend Jessica Luther has been working on this Sports Illustrated piece with Jon Wertheim for months, and I hope you will take the time to read it, because it is terrific, difficult to read, and extremely necessary: "Inside the Corrosive Workplace Culture of the Dallas Mavericks."

It's important for a number of reasons, primarily that the women who, in some cases, spent years being harassed and denied both safety and justice, are being heard and believed by reporters who are amplifying their voices.

Another reason is because the Dallas Mavericks' owner, Mark Cuban, has political aspirations. And he did not handle this situation well, to put it mildly.

It's difficult to believe he had no idea what was going on in the executive offices of a team with which he has routinely bragged about being hands-on, but even if we take his account at face value, there are serious problems:

Reached by SI on Monday, Cuban expressed embarrassment and horror at the accusations—but insisted he had no knowledge of the corrosive culture in his offices. "This is all new to me," he said. "The only awareness I have is because I heard you guys were looking into some things… Based off of what I've read here, we just fired our HR person. I don't have any tolerance for what I've read."

Cuban continued in an emotional response: "It's wrong. It's abhorrent. It's not a situation we condone. I can't tell you how many times, particularly since all this [#MeToo] stuff has been coming out recently I asked our HR director, 'Do we have a problem? Do we have any issues I have to be aware of?' And the answer was no."

Pressed on how it is that a proudly hyperattentive owner could be so oblivious, Cuban said, "I deferred to the CEO, who at the time was Terdema, and to HR… I was involved in basketball operations, but other than getting the financials and reports, I was not involved in the day to day [of the business side] at all. That's why I just deferred. I let people do their jobs. And if there were anything like this at all I was supposed to be made aware, obviously I was not."
So, if we believe that (unbelievable) version of events, here's the problem: The CEO was, by all accounts, the worst offender.

Cuban is trying to pass responsibility onto his CEO and to the HR manager, the former of whom sexually harassed and groped female employees and the latter of whom created a hostile workplace environment by sending out homophobic and anti-choice emails.

He put his trust in untrustworthy men.

And then he relied on their takes when he asked if there were "any issues" he should be aware of, given all of the sexual harassment "stuff" being publicly discussed recently.

First, sexual harassment isn't new. That's something about which the owner of a male-dominated company should have been concerned long before now.

Secondly, and most importantly, a culture of harassment is concealed from the top down. If Cuban was seriously concerned about whether there was a culture of abuse at his company, the people to whom he should have been speaking were the women who worked for him, particularly in the lower levels of the corporate hierarchy.

"I just deferred. I let people do their jobs." Except they weren't doing their jobs, and they were harming women. And it would have been incredibly easy to find that out. But Cuban never bothered speaking to the women who worked for him.

I am very glad that Jessica Luther and Jon Wertheim did. I suspect the women are, too.

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The Thing About Mental Illness and Mass Shootings

[Content Note: Disablism; misogyny; gun violence.]

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll has found that most Americans believe mass shootings "are more reflective of problems identifying and addressing mental health issues than inadequate gun laws. In the poll conducted after a gunman killed 17 people at a Florida high school last week, more than three-quarters, 77 percent, said they think more effective mental health screening and treatment could have prevented the shooting."

There are so many problems with this position, not least of which is that the Parkland School shooter, Nikolas Cruz, had been in psychiatric treatment, which clearly did not prevent the shooting.

I have already written a lot about how problematic the focus on "keeping the hands out of people with mental illness" is:

December 2012: "In Pursuit of Doing Something Meaningful."

December 2012: "An Observation About Mental Illness."

January 2013: "Today in Terrible Ideas."

November 2013: "The Right Thing for the Wrong Reasons."

December 2013: "And What Is the Cost of Demonization?"

May 2014: "Welp."

December 2015: "Not Enough."

January 2016: "The President Takes Executive Action on Guns."

I won't repeat myself on this subject yet again. I will only make this one observation, which I am sure I am not the first person to make: There is no mental illness that causes someone to pick up a gun and start murdering people, and only affects men.

To believe that the primary issue regarding mass shootings — and thus what should be the primary focus of any solution — is mental illness is to believe that there exists a mental illness that almost exclusively affects men.

There is not.

However, toxic masculinity is a thing we could talk about. And should.

The erasure of women is one of the most pernicious and enraging pieces of misogyny in any patriarchal space. But the erasure of women, specifically the erasure of mentally ill women, in this particular construct is comprehensively contemptible. Not only is it misogynist and disablist, in service to notions that abet gun violence, but women are routinely accused of being "crazy" in every conceivable way and for every conceivable reason in every other aspect of our lives.

We are "crazy," we are "insane," we are "hysterical," we are "emotional," we are "irrational," we are every euphemism for mentally ill under the sun, we are "psycho bitches."

But when it comes to mass shootings, suddenly women are so uniquely sane that our failure to have the mystery mental illness that causes "people" to pick up guns isn't even remarkable.

We're crazy when men need us to be crazy to avoid accountability and we're sane as the day is long when we don't want to talk about toxic masculinity or access to guns.

I am a woman with mental illness, and I flatly refuse to be disappeared in service to this narrative. I exist. And so do millions of other women with mental illness. If mental illness is the primary issue, then why is only men who are picking up guns?

Just stop.

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Open Thread

image of a red couch

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

Open Wide...

Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Brenda A.: "What is a bizarre coincidence that has happened to you?"

[Transcript below.]

Probably the most bizarre coincidence I've ever experienced was this: Back in the heyday of chat rooms, in late 1999 or early 2000, I was hanging out in a Yahoo book chat when another user kept popping in and popping out, obviously having some sort of technical difficulty. They asked for help, and no one else offered, so I messaged them offering my assistance, and whatever the glitch had been — I can't even recall now — was quickly sorted.

This person happened to be an Englishman from Nottingham named Paul. We ended up chatting regularly and soon became friends. The bizarre coincidence we discovered, however, is that his best friend whom he'd known since childhood had moved to Chicago, where I was living at the time, and was working as a DJ at a club that was directly across from my flat. Not just in the same neighborhood; not on the same street; but literally across the street.

Small world, they say. Too true! The world has never felt quite as small as that.

Anyway. We've long since lost touch, but not before we had a wonderful visit in Chicago, and, later, Iain and I made a trip to Nottingham, where Paul taught us the Nottingham Forest Football Club fan chant. Obviously.

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Keep Shakesville Truckin'

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teaspoon icon This is, for those who have requested it, your bi-monthly reminder to donate to Shakesville and an important fundraiser to keep Shakesville going.

To keep doing this job, and to keep Shakesville a safe ad-free space, I need to be making enough through donations to support myself. Although Iain and I combine resources, like many couples, I don't want to find myself in a place where I couldn't support myself on my own if I needed and/or wanted to.

So this full-time gig has to pay me a livable wage for my time, and enough to pay contributing writers for their work, or I need to find another way to make a living. I'm not looking to get rich off this work. I simply want to make enough money that I am able to support myself modestly, in exchange for my full-time labor.

So, if you value the content and/or community in this space, please consider setting up a subscription or making a single end-of-year contribution.

Please click the button below to make a one-time donation:

Or use the below dropdown menu to choose set up a recurring monthly donation:

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I cannot afford to do this full-time for free, but, even if I could, fundraising is also one of the most feminist acts I do here. I ask to be paid for my work because progressive feminist advocacy has value; because women's work has value.

So! If you value my work here and/or on Twitter — if you have appreciated being able to tune in for coverage of politics, for deconstruction of the rape culture, for curated news about the Trump administration and/or the resistance, for media analysis, for a safe and image-free space to discuss difficult subjects, for the Fat Fashion or Make-Up or Shaker Gourmet threads, or for whatever else you appreciate at Shakesville, whether it's the moderation, community in the Open Threads, video transcripts, the blogarounds, or anything else — please remember that Shakesville is run exclusively on donations. I would certainly be grateful for your support, if you are able to chip in.

Thank you to each of you who donates or has donated, whether monthly or as a one-off. I am deeply appreciative. This community couldn't exist without that support, truly. Thank you.

My thanks as well to everyone who contributes to the space in other ways, whether as a contributor, a moderator, a guest writer, a transcriber, and/or as someone who takes the time to send me a note of support and encouragement, some cool art, or anything else you think might give me a smile or fill my lungs with air. (You're usually right!) This community couldn't exist without you, either.

Finally and essentially: Please note that I don't want anyone to feel obliged to contribute financially, especially if money is tight. There is a big enough readership that no one needs to donate if it would be a hardship, and no one should ever feel bad about that.

I mean that. We're all in this thing together.

One of the things I hate most about fundraising is knowing that it might make some people feel bad, if they want to donate but aren't able. I would never presume to tell you how to feel, but please know that I don't want you to feel bad.

What I want is for you to know that, some days, your kind words are the only thing that keeps me going. I need money to survive. It is your encouragement that keeps me doing this work. You support me in many ways, and I am immensely thankful for them all. ♥

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Pregnancy and birth complications; death. NB: Not only women give birth. Video may autoplay at link.]

"I almost died after giving birth to my daughter, Olympia. Yet I consider myself fortunate. ...I am so grateful I had access to such an incredible medical team of doctors and nurses at a hospital with state-of-the-art equipment. They knew exactly how to handle this complicated turn of events. If it weren't for their professional care, I wouldn't be here today. ...Mary's baby died because there weren't enough doctors or nurses to save him. This is a chronic problem plaguing the most impoverished countries. But what if we lived in a world where there were enough birth attendants? Where there was no shortage of access to health facilities nearby? Where lifesaving drugs and clean water were easily available to all? Where midwives could help and advise mothers after birth? What if we lived in a world where every mother and newborn could receive affordable health care and thrive in life? That world is possible. And we must dare to dream it for every black woman, for every woman in Malawi, and for every mother out there." — Serena Williams, in a vulnerable and important piece at CNN: "What My Life-Threatening Experience Taught Me About Giving Birth."

She urges us all to take action, so that "one day, who you are or where you are from does not decide whether your baby gets to live or to die."

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Resist Trump's Corruption with All You've Got

In this terrific piece, Andrea delineates precisely the reason I'm constantly wringing my hands about the normalization of Trump's corruption — and the attendant lowering of standards because it's so vast that people come to accept corruption as routine and expect nothing more.

Always expect more. Always.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt sitting in the living room, grinning
Zelda: The grinniest dog who's ever grinned!

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 397

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: Yes, This, Thank You, Finally, Etc. and The Latest from Mueller.

[Content Note: School shooting. Covers entire section.]

Kia Morgan-Smith at the Grio: Outrage After Donald Trump Golfs While Funerals Are Held for School Shooting Victims. "While Florida parents were preparing to bury their children, who were killed in a gruesome Florida high school shooting, [Donald] Trump was reportedly teeing off just miles away. While White House officials have not confirmed whether Trump was golfing, they did say that he avoided playing over the weekend as a mark of respect for the victims." So, in other words, yes he was golfing Monday, just not over the weekend. "Last Friday, Donald Trump sparked criticism after meeting with shooting victims and taking photographs with the police officers and medical staff with a broad smile and a tasteless thumb's up pose." JFC he is awful.

Melissa Ryan at Media Matters: Pro-Trump Media Launch Attacks on Student Survivors of Florida School Shooting.
What’s different about the Parkland shooting is how quickly and powerfully survivors began speaking out. Some students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School immediately took to social media calling on [Donald] Trump and Congress to do something about guns...

And now, Parkland survivors are targets for fake news campaigns, conspiracy theories, harassment, and doxxing. Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has already suggested that the entire shooting is a false flag, which implies that all of the survivors are actors in an elaborate hoax. As survivors speak up, there are already attempts to attack and discredit them individually.

Survivor David Hogg has been the target of conspiracy theories since he began speaking out. The day after the shooting, one far-right account noted in a since-deleted tweet that Hogg was suspicious for speaking so eloquently.

Both the #Qanon conspiracy theory crowd and Gateway Pundit's Lucian Wintrich are claiming that Hogg is a plant because he is the child of an FBI agent.

Right-wing cable news channel One America News Network shared Wintrich's post, and Gateway Pundit's video of Hogg is currently one of the top posts on The_Donald subreddit. Hyperpartisan site True Pundit also ran with it.

Donald Trump Jr. liked tweets sharing the conspiracy theory.

...One popular theme that is making rounds online is that the survivors are "crisis actors."
And Jack Kingston, the stupidest man ever elected to Congress, asserted this morning on CNN that the Parkland survivors are being coached with "left-wing talking points."

It's unfathomably deplorable to attack children who are begging for meaningful gun reform because they watched their classmates be slaughtered in a massacre. But that's where we are.

And the media continues to "both sides" everything, despite the fact that conservatives have utterly conceded decency on this subject and every other.

* * *

[CN: War; death] Kareem Shaheen at the Guardian: 'It's Not a War. It's a Massacre': Scores Killed in Syrian Enclave. "Pro-regime forces continued to bombard the opposition-controlled enclave of eastern Ghouta in Syria on Tuesday, leaving dozens dead, after more than 100 people were killed and hundreds wounded on a day of 'hysterical' violence on Monday. The surge in the killing came amid reports of an impending regime incursion into the area outside Damascus, which is home to 400,000 civilians. More than 700 people have been killed in three months, according to local counts, not including the deaths in the last week. ...'The bombing was hysterical,' said Ahmed al-Dbis, a security official at the Union of Medical and Relief Organisations (UOSSM), which runs dozens of hospitals in areas controlled by the opposition in Syria. 'It is a humanitarian catastrophe in every sense of the word. The mass killing of people who do not have the most basic tenets of life.'" My god.

E.A. Crunden at ThinkProgress: As Syrian Children Die in Latest Massacre, UNICEF Issues Blank 'Statement'. "The U.N. organization dedicated to protecting children issued a completely blank 'statement' regarding the current status of Syrian children on Tuesday, indicating that the situation is beyond description. 'No words will do justice to the children killed, their mothers, their fathers, and their loved ones,' United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) regional director Geert Cappalaere stated in a press release. The comment is followed by a stretch of blank space and then a footnote: 'UNICEF is issuing this blank statement. We no longer have the words to describe children's suffering and our outrage. Do those inflicting the suffering still have words to justify their barbaric acts?'"


Just a reminder that Donald Trump's BFF Vladimir Putin supports the Assad regime in Syria.

* * *

[CN: Rape culture; assault] Eli Saslow at the Washington Post: Is Anyone Listening? This Trump Accuser Keeps Asking Herself That, But She Plans to Keep Talking About That Day in 2006.
Crooks, 35, had been publicly reliving this story for much of the past two years, ever since she first described it in an email to the New York Times several months before the 2016 election. "I don't know if people will really care about this or if this will matter at all," she had written then, and after Donald Trump's election she had repeated her story at the Women's March, on the 'Today' show, and at a news conference organized by women's rights attorney Gloria Allred. Crooks had spoken to people dressed in #MeToo sweatshirts and to her rural neighbors whose yards were decorated with Trump signs. In early February, she launched a campaign to become a Democratic state representative in Ohio, in part so she could share her story more widely with voters across the state. And yet, after dozens of retellings, she still wasn't sure: Did people really care? Did it matter at all?

Despite her story, and the similar stories of more than a dozen other women, nothing had changed. Trump, who had denied all of the accusations, was still president of the United States, and Crooks was still circling back to the same moments on Jan. 11, 2006, that had come to define so much about her life.
[CN: Nativism] Alice Ollstein at TPM: The Senate Failed to Save DACA. What Happens Now? "When the final gavel came down Thursday afternoon, marking the Senate's failure to pass any one of four immigration bills up for debate, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) left the chamber with a spring in his step. Asked by reporters what Congress will do now for nearly 700,000 young immigrants at risk of losing their work permits and legal protections after March 5, the anti-immigration hardliner grinned and replied: 'We move on to confirming judges and banking reform.'" Fucking asshole.

[CN: War on agency] Teddy Wilson at Rewire: State-Level Republicans Pour Taxpayer Money into Fake Clinics at an Unprecedented Pace. "Anti-choice clinics will receive an unprecedented $40.5 million in taxpayer dollars from 14 states this fiscal year — even as lawmakers in these states slash funding for public health initiatives and increase requirements for people with low incomes to access public assistance programs. An analysis by Rewire of state budgets, agency contracts, and other public documents found little transparency and limited oversight of the essentially unregulated organizations receiving millions in funding from Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. 'It's an abuse of public funds to provide even a penny to anti-abortion fake clinics that systematically deceive and shame people seeking abortion care,' said Erin Matson, co-founder and co-director of ReproAction, a pro-choice organization."

Oliver Milman at the Guardian: 'Sloppy and Careless': Courts Call out Trump Blitzkrieg on Environmental Rules. "The reversal of Obama's environmental legacy has been spearheaded by Scott Pruitt, who heads the EPA, the agency he repeatedly sued as Oklahoma attorney general. Pruitt, who accused Obama of 'bending the rule of law' and federal overreach, has overseen the methodical delay or scrapping of dozens of rules curbing pollution from power plants, pesticides, and vehicles. Ironically for Pruitt, who has touted a 'back to basics' approach rooted safely within the confines of the law, this rapidly executed agenda has run into a thicket of legal problems, causing the administration to admit defeat in several cases."

[CN: Police misconduct] Ericka Blount Danois at the Root: These Police Stole, Sold Drugs, and Covered Up Killings; Now Baltimore Must Pick Up the Pieces. "The federal conviction of eight of Baltimore's City Police Department's Gun Trace Task Force officers, former detectives Daniel T. Hersl, Momodu Gondo, Evodio Hendrix, Jemell Rayam, and Maurice Ward, Sergeant Thomas Allers, Wayne Jenkins, and Marcus R. Taylor — for levels of corruption that range from breaking into citizens' houses and robbing them for cash, robbing drug dealers with ski masks and selling the drugs, racketeering conspiracy, covering up police involved killings, filing for unearned overtime pay, planting evidence, performing searches without warrants, and illegal stop and seizures — has reverberations for their victims who are seeking justice. The State's Attorney's office estimates that 'thousands' of cases have been tainted by the convictions of officers. Defense attorneys like Deborah Levi, who leads an initiative by the public defender's office to track police misconduct, and Ivan Bates estimate it at around 3,000 cases after a case search."

[CN: Sexual harassment] Bethania Palma at Snopes: Did 'Bots' Force Al Franken to Resign? (Nope!) "Although the gist of the stories was that Democrats had been duped into pushing Franken out by a propaganda operation run by Russia and the alt-right, the accuracy of these stories is being challenged. They reported that the attack against Franken was orchestrated in part by 'weaponizing' an article by author and writer Ijeoma Oluo to hasten his downfall. But both Oluo and a researcher who tracks Russian-influenced social media activity told us the reports got key details wrong." The "bots" framing also completely disappears the women who accused Franken, of course.

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

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Discussion Thread: Good Things

One of the ways we resist the demoralization and despair in which exploiters of fear like Trump thrive is to keep talking about the good things in our lives.

Because, even though it feels very much (and rightly so) like we are losing so many things we value, there are still daily moments of joy or achievement or love or empowering ferocity or other kinds of fulfillment.

Maybe you've experienced something big worth celebrating; maybe you've just had a precious moment of contentment; maybe getting out of bed this morning was a success worthy of mention.

News items worth celebrating are also welcome.

So, whatever you have to share that's good, here's a place to do it.

* * *

I had a really fun weekend with my bestie, Deeky W. Gashlycrumb. (And of course Iain, too!) We ate good food, we watched funny things, and we had a lovely stroll around an outdoor mall on a beautiful day. Yay!

image of me and Deeky sitting on my couch, posing for a selfie together
I love this guy.

[Photo posted with Deeky's permission.]

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The Latest from Mueller

There has been another indictment in Special Counsel Bob Mueller's Russia investigation this morning:

Specifically, van der Zwaan is alleged to have misled the FBI about his contact with Rick Gates, who is rumored to be close to finalizing a plea deal with Mueller.

In other news, Mueller has reportedly been scrutinizing more of Paul Manafort's and Jared Kushner's respective foreign financial transactions.

Jason Leopold, Anthony Cormier, and Tanya Kozyreva at BuzzFeed: Manafort Under Scrutiny for $40 Million in "Suspicious" Transactions. "Federal law enforcement officials have identified more than $40 million in 'suspicious' financial transactions to and from companies controlled by [Donald] Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort — a much larger sum than was cited in his October indictment on money laundering charges. ...Last week, Mueller's team told a judge that it had evidence Manafort committed bank fraud, and news organizations have reported that the special counsel may be preparing additional charges."

Caitlin MacNeal at TPM: Mueller Team Looking at Kushner Contacts with Foreign Investors. "Special counsel Robert Mueller's team is looking into Jared Kushner's contacts with foreign investors during the presidential transition after [Donald] Trump won the election, CNN reported Monday evening. It was previously reported that the special counsel's team was looking at Kushner's contacts with Russians, but the new report from CNN indicates that Mueller is now looking at Kushner's contacts with other foreign individuals as well."

Welp. The investigation definitely continues!

Open Wide...

Yes, This, Thank You, Finally, Etc.

This is a very good piece by Catherine Rampell at the Washington Post: Don't Blame 'Washington.' Blame the GOP.

Dysfunctional Washington refuses to work out its differences to solve problems that matter to Americans.

So say pundits and policy activists, perhaps hoping that diffuse criticism, rather than finger-pointing, will yield a government willing to govern.

But the problem isn't "Washington." It isn't "Congress," either. The problem is elected officials from a single political party: the GOP.

...[O]bscuring which politicians stand in the way of that elusive "compromise" may instead allow them to keep getting away with it.
This is, of course, something about which I and presumably any person reading these words have been shouting for as long as we've been paying attention to politics, but it's important that Rampell is saying it on the opinion pages of the Washington Post, and I'm grateful that she has.

Masking intransigent Republican obstructionism behind the notion that "Washington is broken" is the worst of bothsiderism. "Both sides" are not breaking the government. "Both sides" are not failing to govern. "Both sides" are not manifestly incapable of governing.

That is true of the Republicans, and the Republicans alone.

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Open Thread

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

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker ericacbarnett: "What is the item in your house/apartment that you've hung onto the longest?"

I have a plushy lamb that has a wind-up music box inside of it. When you wind up the music box, it plays a tune, and the lamb slowly moves her head back and forth. Her name is Lambie-Pie, and I have had her since I was born.

image of Lambie-Pie, sitting on a chair in my living room

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Monday Links!

This list o' links brought to you by purses.

Recommended Reading:

Jeanne Marie Laskas at GQ: [Content Note: Guns] Inside the Federal Bureau of Way Too Many Guns

R. O. Kwon at BuzzFeed: I'm Korean American, and I Can't Watch the Pyeongchang Olympics

Kelly Kasulis with Michelle Kwan at Mic: American Hero Michelle Kwan Still Gets Emotional When She Looks at How Far Figure Skating Has Come

Carmen Rios with Dolores Huerta at Ms.: Dolores Huerta Talks #MeToo, DREAMers, and the Women on the Front Lines

Yessenia Funes: It's Time for Scientists to Learn From the Communities They Study

Kenrya Rankin at Colorlines: Philadelphia District Attorney Dismisses All Marijuana Possession Cases

Julie Muncy at io9: These Activists Are Registering Voters at Black Panther Showings

Elizabeth Vale at Towleroad: Two Kids Try Dressing as One Tall Man in Trenchcoat to Get Into Black Panther

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

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Mass shooting; indifference to gun violence.]

I don't even know what to say anymore. Donald Trump being installed as president shattered my heart into a million pieces, because I knew what would follow. Every day, his administration grinds those shards into ever smaller pieces. At some point, my heart will be nothing but a bag of sand.

[H/T to Shaker SKM.]

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat standing on her back legs, leaning on my knee
Olivia loves to stand on her back legs, leaning on my knee, and it's always so 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 396

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: An Observation and The Latest on Gates.

[Content Note: Guns; video may autoplay at link] Eli Watkins at CNN: Trump Tweet Angers Survivors of Parkland Shooting. "Students who survived the Parkland, Florida, shooting laid into [Donald] Trump after he linked the FBI's failure to follow up on a report about the school shooter and the resources expended on the Russia investigation. ...The President's tweet caused considerable outrage online, including among apparent survivors of the shooting: '17 of my classmates are gone. That's 17 futures, 17 children, and 17 friends stolen. But you're right, it always has to be about you. How silly of me to forget. #neveragain' '17 innocent people were brutally murdered at my school, a place where they should have felt safe. Their lives were gone in an instant. You are the President of the United States and you have the audacity to put this on Russia as an excuse. I guess I should expect that from you.' '...my friends were brutally murdered and you have the nerve to make this about Russia. I can not believe this.'

[CN: Guns] Alice Ollstein at TPM: White House: Trump Supports Gun Background Check Bill.
Early Monday morning, after [Donald] Trump reportedly spent the weekend watching the moving television appearances of the young survivors of last week's deadly school shooting, the White House announced that Trump was encouraging senators to revive a stalled bill to modestly strengthen background checks for gun purchases.

"The President spoke to Senator Cornyn on Friday about the bi-partisan bill he and Sen. Murphy introduced to improve Federal Compliance with Criminal Background check Legislation," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. "While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system."

The announcement comes after the President has been hit with criticism for not mentioning guns at all in his public responses to the mass shooting, focusing instead on mental health.

The bill drafted by Texas Republican John Cornyn and Delaware Democrat Chris Murphy would require all federal agencies to report infractions to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), and would attempt to get states to do so as well through financial incentives. It does not add any new background check requirements for gun purchases or close any of the current loopholes, and it is supported by the NRA.
So, after being widely and deservedly criticized for his typical inaction and indifference, Trump sends out Huckabee Sanders to say he's vaguely supportive of a weak bill supported by the NRA, and Trump gets his headlines suggesting he's Doing Something, when he really isn't and will probably reverse his support if even this woefully insufficient legislation ever reaches his desk, anyway. Cool.

[CN: Shooting] Meanwhile... Dana Branham at the Dallas News: 6-Year-Old Boy Among 4 People Shot Outside Texas Roadhouse in San Antonio. "A 6-year-old boy was among four people shot Sunday evening in the parking lot of a Texas Roadhouse restaurant in San Antonio. Two adults have life-threatening injuries, the San Antonio Express-News reported. The boy was shot in the leg, and his injury isn't expected to be life-threatening, the paper reported. The group was waiting outside the restaurant to eat when the shooting occurred, police said. 'We do not believe that this shooting was random,' San Antonio police Chief William McManus told the Express-News. 'There's details I'm not gonna give out because it's part of the investigation. But we do not believe it's random.' ...The three adults were in their 20s, and all four victims were related, police told the Express-News."

More shootings, many of them acts of domestic violence or committed by domestic abusers, will continue, causing more injuries and taking more lives, including those of children. And it's just another day in America.

* * *

In case you can't see the two excerpts of the transcript embedded in the tweet, here they are:
Margaret Brennan: You don't get to be the CEO of Exxon Mobile as a Boy Scout.

Rex Tillerson: I did.

Margaret Brennan: You talked a lot about something that you call the Code of the West. What does that mean?

Rex Tillerson: Well, you know the Code of the West, as the West was unfolding there wasn't a lot of law enforcement. And people basically relied upon each other's word. And "My word is my bond." And I've used that throughout my life as well, even at Exxon Mobil. I would sit down with the head of state for that country or the CEO of that company and we'd look each other in the eye. And I'd say, all I need to know is that you're gonna live up to your side of this deal. And I give you my word I'll live up to my side of this deal. And then a lotta the Code of the West was people were very loyal to their organizations. And the phrase, "Riding for the brand" is a phrase that's always stuck with me that—

Margaret Brennan: Riding for the brand?

Rex Tillerson: Riding for the brand. When a cowboy signed on to a ranch or— or to that organization, he was committed to that organization.

Margaret Brennan: And what is the brand for you now?

Rex Tillerson: The State Department of the United States government. The American people are my brand.


Margaret Brennan: You've said you had a very close relationship with Vladimir Putin. You've done huge deals with him. Photos of you toasting him with champagne. And all that closeness raised eyebrows It even inspired a Saturday Night Live skit. Did you ever see that skit?

Rex Tillerson: I did. My kids pointed me to it.

Margaret Brennan: Did you laugh?

Rex Tillerson: Absolutely. Absolutely. I laughed out loud.

Margaret Brennan: What— it— it made light though of— of this concern that you have— a friendship with Vladimir Putin and that because of that you and the president aren't going to hold him to account.

Rex Tillerson: The relationship that I had with President Putin spans 18 years now It was always about What could I do to be successful on behalf of my shareholders, how Russia could succeed.

Margaret Brennan: How different was it walking into the Kremlin as secretary of state?

Rex Tillerson: It was different— because— and I had to think very, very h— carefully about that, And the only thing I said to him was "Mr. President, same man, different hat."
A lot of the news around Tillerson is framed to make him appear to be a bumbling dum-dum. But he is a profoundly manipulative and sinister character, just like everyone else in the Trump administration, and possibly worse than most.

* * *

Stephanie Kirchgaessner at the Guardian: Trump-Russia Inquiry: Manafort Under Pressure After Reports That Gates Has Flipped. "Experts say any deal with Gates would only be struck if investigators were confident he had valuable testimony to offer on a more senior figure in their ongoing inquiry. The two developments — the alleged additional evidence of wrongdoing and Gates's possible testimony — could give Mueller and his team additional ammunition to force Manafort to cooperate in their inquiry or face a potentially tough prison sentence if he is found guilty of the crimes he has been charged with. If Manafort were to cooperate in the probe it could potentially offer Mueller's team a wealth of new information about the inner workings of the Trump campaign and any possible interactions with Russian officials."

Tara Culp-Ressler at ThinkProgress: Trump Spokesperson Defends Russia, Blames Election Interference on the Mainstream Media. "Responding to a question [on Fox News on Saturday] about the indictment handed down by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday — which accused 13 Russians and three Russian companies of a coordinated social media campaign to bolster Donald Trump and undermine Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election — [Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley] brushed aside the allegations against Russia, and quickly pivoted to other scapegoats. 'What the Russians were trying to do, as outlined by Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, was create chaos in the American election system,' Gidley said. 'And I will just say this: There are two groups that have created chaos more than the Russians, and that's the Democrats and the mainstream media, who continued to push this lie on the American people for more than a year — and quite frankly Americans should be outraged by that.'"

[CN: LGBTQ hatred]

[CN: Nuclear insecurity] Jonathan Swan at Axios: Skirmish in Beijing over the Nuclear Football. Emphasis original:
On Thursday Nov. 9, when [Donald] Trump and his team visited Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Chief of Staff John Kelly and a U.S. Secret Service agent skirmished with Chinese security officials over the nuclear football.

I've spoken to five sources familiar with the events. Here's what happened, as they describe it:

* When the U.S. military aide carrying the nuclear football entered the Great Hall, Chinese security officials blocked his entry. (The official who carries the nuclear football is supposed to stay close to the president at all times, along with a doctor.)

* A U.S. official hurried into the adjoining room and told Kelly what was happening. Kelly rushed over and told the U.S. officials to keep walking — "We're moving in," he said — and the Americans all started moving.

* Then there was a commotion. A Chinese security official grabbed Kelly, and Kelly shoved the man's hand off of his body. Then a U.S. Secret Service agent grabbed the Chinese security official and tackled him to the ground.

The whole scuffle was over in a flash, and the U.S. officials told about the incident were asked to keep quiet about it.
Everything is fine. (Everything is not fine. Fucking hell. FUCKING HELL.)

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

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Film Corner: Black Panther

image of part of the movie poster for the film Black Panther, showing a number of cast members

The much-anticipated Black Panther had an amazing opening weekend, pulling in $192 million (!!!) at the box office, giving it "the fifth-biggest opening weekend ever, not accounting for inflation. The only films with a higher grossing opening weekend are Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Jurassic World, and The Avengers. It's also the highest-grossing February opening weekend. ...Ryan Coogler's film, which cost about $200m to make, is the most big-budget, largely black ensemble film in years and among the few to be centered on a black superhero. The strong opening suggests Black Panther will easily set a box-office record for films directed by a black filmmaker."

WOOT! I am a major fan of Ryan Coogler, having absolutely adored 2015's Creed and been incredibly moved by his 2013 film about the police killing of Oscar Grant, Fruitvale Station, both of which also starred the terrific Michael B. Jordan, who played Killmonger in Black Panther. So thrilled for Coogler's much-deserved success!

Black Panther is really, really great. The story is solid superhero stuff; the cast is totally outstanding (HELLO, STERLING K. BROWN ILY); the acting is A+; the special effects are brilliant; it has the best car chase for my money since Matrix: Revolutions (fight me!); the score is wonderful; and there's just so much clever stuff in the film, which is also paced really well, so it's compelling in every way.

And that, of course, doesn't even begin to touch what makes Black Panther so profoundly special for its Black audience. (And to its non-Black audiences, though we can't appreciate it in the same way.)

I strongly recommend, especially if you are a non-Black person, searching out the voices of Black people talking about what Black Panther means to them, and of the Black people who worked to create the film. A few recommendations:

* On Twitter, #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe is deeply moving.

* At the New York Times: Carvell Wallace writes "Why Black Panther Is a Defining Moment for Black America."

* At the Root: Clarkisha Kent writes "Wakanda Forever: On the Importance of Black Panther."

* At Rolling Stone, Chadwick Boseman and Ryan Coogler speak to Josh Eells about the 'Black Panther' Revolution.

* At Mother Jones, screenwriter Joe Robert Cole speaks to Brandon E. Patterson.

*At Elle, costume designer Ruth Carter speaks to Kendra James.

* At NPR, Gene Demby speaks to Lulu Garcia-Navarro.

I will never be able to fully understand what Black Panther means to a Black person who loves this film, but I can relate in some way as a fat woman who has longed for representation and loved rare examples of seeing people who look like me imbued with their full humanity on the screen.

To be known in such a thrilling way is intoxicating. I understand that.

Finally: Let us talk about the women of Black Panther, who are goddamned thrilling! As heroic as T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is, he isn't the same Black Panther without:

1. His mother Ramonda (Angela Bassett), who always has his fucking back.

2. His sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), who is not only his bestie, but also a kickass scientist that creates all the impressive technologies on which he and his allies rely.

3. His general Okoye (Danai Gurira), who leads the security force of wicked cool women warriors that guard the king.

4. His confidant and love Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), who is in every way his equal, his sage advisor, and a keen conspirator in the heroics.


It is vanishingly rare that I watch a male superhero film where I don't actively loathe how the female character (singular used advisedly) is treated by the filmmakers. In Black Panther, there were four complex female characters and I loved all of them!!!

Thank you for this movie, Ryan Coogler! ♥

Open Wide...

The Latest on Gates

On Friday, I noted that Rick Gates, former Trump campaign aide and longtime Paul Manafort associate, was reportedly close to finalizing a plea deal with Special Counsel Bob Mueller.

Over the weekend, the LA Times and CBS News reported some additional speculative details:

Rick Gates, the deputy of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, will plead guilty to "fraud-related charges," the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

The Times cited interviews with unnamed people familiar with the case. One person with "direct knowledge of the new developments" said Gates' revised plea would be presented in court "within the next few days": "Rick Gates is going to change his plea to guilty," the source said.

CBS News later reported later Sunday that, according to unnamed sources familiar with the negotiations, Gates was expected to plead guilty.

The network added, referring to Gates' attorneys' move to withdraw from the case: "The fact that three experienced trial attorneys wanted off the case suggested at the time that Gates may be pursuing a plea deal. The attorneys remain under a gag order by the court."
So, essentially just confirmation of CNN's reporting last week — but the additional reports, combined with the Friday announcement of Mueller's indictment of 13 Russian nationals and 3 Russian entities, has sent Donald Trump into a tailspin, prompting coverage with embarassing headlines like this one at the Washington Post: "Trump Lashes out over Russia Probe in Angry and Error-Laden Tweetstorm."
In a defiant and error-laden tweetstorm that was remarkable even by his own combative standards, Trump stewed aloud about the latest indictments brought by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III against Russians for their elaborate campaign to denigrate the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, and push voters toward Trump.

...In a string of 10 Twitter messages — which began after 11 p.m. Saturday and ended around noon Sunday, and which included profanity and misspellings — Trump opened a window into his state of mind, even as Trump's representatives at a global security conference in Germany advised jittery allies to generally ignore the president's tweets.

Trump's latest attacks built on remarks last week in which he misrepresented the evidence revealed by Mueller. He tweeted falsely, "I never said Russia did not meddle in the election." He blamed President Barack Obama's administration for doing "nothing" to stop the intrusion. Trump rebuked national security adviser H.R. McMaster for publicly saying the evidence of Russian interference was "incontrovertible."

And he held the FBI responsible for last week's devastating shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school that left 17 dead. Trump tweeted that the bureau was committing so many resources to the Russia probe that it missed "all of the many signals" about the shooter.
This last bit prompted former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence Frank Figliuzzi to say during an appearance on Joy Reid's show that Trump has "read the 32-page indictment Mueller issued on Friday and he knows there's electronic intercepts of Russian officials. He's scared out of his mind and playing with the parents of America."

Trump is thrashing. Which is very unnerving. His unchecked power is what demands intervention, and it is also what makes intervention so perilous.

Back in October, when Gates was arrested and charged alongside Manafort, I tweeted: "Cornering Trump is dangerous. I am not feeling giddy about what's coming. I am hoping we all get through it safely."

And once again, I want to emphasize that: Although I am positively desperate for accountability for the collection of disloyal scoundrels in the White House, my primary hope right now is that we get through this safely.

There is a reckless megalomaniac sitting in the Oval Office, who is capable of breathtaking cruelty, especially in service to his self-interest. I am very worried what he will do if he is not disempowered — and I am very worried about what he will do if the necessary steps are taken to ensure that he is.

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An Observation

[Content Note: Guns.]

I will never, ever, stop being angry about Republicans' intransigent refusal to take meaningful steps to end gun violence. Unless and until their deadly, shitty priorities change, of course. Unfortunately, I don't see any indication that is likely in the near future.

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Open Thread

image of a purple sofa

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

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The Virtual Pub Is Open

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

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

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Friday Links!

This list o' links brought to you by soccer.

Recommended Reading:

Russell Brandom at the Verge: Russia's Troll Identities Were More Sophisticated Than Anyone Thought

Kayleigh Donaldson at Pajiba: [Content Note: Sexual harassment] Young Adult Authors Jay Asher and James Dashner Accused of Sexual Harassment

Erin Carlson at Dame: How to Fix the Romantic Comedy

Jenn Fang at Reappropriate: [CN: Racism] New York Times Editor Thinks American-Born Mirai Nagasu Is an Immigrant

Monica Roberts at TransGriot: Meet the First Black Player Ever on the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team

Kaila Hale-Stern at the Mary Sue: Netflix's Queer Eye Reboot Keeps Making Me Cry

Corey at Celebitchy: Ulta Sued for Repackaging and Reselling Used, Returned Makeup

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

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#365feministselfie: Week 7

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 here is a thread for Week 7!

A few of my selfies over the last two weeks, since I forgot to do a thread last Friday:

image of me from the shoulders up, wearing a grey t-shirt, a burgundy moto jacket, blue-framed specs, and a necklace featuring a crane
Put a bird on it!

image of my face just peeking into the screen, wearing pink-framed specs, lying next to Dudley the Greyhound, who is taking up most of the frame
Me and a big stinky dog.

image of me sitting at my desk, in profile, wearing a NASA t-shirt, a brown cardigan, and brown-framed specs

image of my face in close-up wearing blue-framed specs; I'm sitting beside a glass door, through which is visible a big bush
Sitting by the back door, waiting for Dudley to finish rubbing
his face on a bush, because he has a brain the size of a walnut.

image of me from the waist up wearing a purple t-shirt with text from Merriam-Webster declaring 'feminism' the Word of the Year

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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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat lying on the floor curled up with a plushy bunny

Don't even THINK about trying to take Sophie's plushy bunny away from her! (It's Dudley's bunny.) (She will literally do nothing if you take away her bunny except mew pitifully.) (Don't tell her I told you that.) (Don't take away her bunny.)

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 393

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: Trump Is Compromised and Rick Gates Reportedly Close to Deal with Mueller.

Well, let's start today with the big news that just broke:

There is a lot in those indictments, but the two biggest things I want to highlight are that the Russians tried to rig the GOP primary for Trump, too (almost certainly because they had kompromat on him, which would be useful to control him if he were to become president) and this: "Specialists were instructed to post content that focused on 'politics in the USA' and to 'use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump — we support them).'"

Of course.

* * *

[Content Note: Mass shooting]

1. This is a big deal. It's a big deal that it happened, and it's a big deal that FBI Christopher Wray is making this public admission of a major failure so quickly. I feel like that's an indication he knows he's on his way out and that his successor will not share his interest in transparency. (Because whoever it is will be chosen for that very reason.)

2. I fear that this is a harbinger of many failures just like it. That's the sort of breakdown that becomes commonplace when the people running the government want to break the government.

* * *

[CN: Nativism; Islamophobia; white supremacy; domestic terrorism] Tina Vasquez at Rewire: Trump Administration Is Conflating Immigration with Terrorism at the Expense of Domestic Threats. "Trump's near-obsessive focus on the supposed criminality and violence of immigrants is coming at a cost, according to researchers, scholars, and even a former DHS analyst. It is jeopardizing public safety and national security by overshadowing the very real threats on U.S. soil: Mass shootings, and the continued rise of right-wing extremism and white supremacist movements. ...'Experts seem to understand that when it comes to threats to the United States, domestic terrorism and white supremacy are much greater risk to us right now, but that expertise isn't making it into the White House,' said Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's (SPLC) Intelligence Project, which monitors the radical right. 'Meanwhile, the administration is funneling a lot of time and resources into painting immigrants and Muslims as criminals and terrorists.'"

[CN: Disablism]

Eli Lake at Bloomberg: Don't Be Fooled: Russia Attacked U.S. Troops in Syria.
If you've been listening just to the Kremlin and the Pentagon, you probably didn't know that Russia attacked American forces and their allies in Syria last week, suffering heavy casualties.

Yes, all sides admit that there was an incident at a U.S. base in Deir Ezzor. And that elements of the Syrian regime and Shiite militias participated in the assault. The Pentagon and Kremlin both acknowledge that Russian "mercenaries" participated, too. But the line for now is that those contractors had gone rogue, and Moscow didn't know anything about it.

When reporters asked U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis about the incident, he called the whole thing perplexing. "I have no idea why they would attack there, the forces were known to be there, obviously the Russians knew," he said. "We have always known that there are elements in this very complex battle space that the Russians did not have, I would call it, control of."

Now, it should be said that Mattis, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, is a very smart man. His perplexity in this case is probably what Plato called a "noble lie," a falsehood spoken by a leader to achieve a greater social good. If Mattis acknowledges the obvious — that the Kremlin authorized a direct assault on a U.S.-sponsored base by non-uniformed personnel — he risks an escalation spiral in Syria. Better to express bewilderment and give Russian President Vladimir Putin a chance to back down and deny culpability, which he ended up doing despite the heavy casualties suffered by his mercenaries.

But make no mistake: There is overwhelming evidence that those Russian contractors were working at the behest of the Kremlin. What's more, the Russians knew U.S. military personnel were in Deir Ezzor, which has been part of successive agreements to separate, or "deconflict," forces fighting in Syria.

...There is a downside, though, to this kind of noble lying. Considering that mercenaries like Wagner are a key part of Russia's broader strategy and tactics, it's also important for the U.S. to deny Moscow its plausible deniability. Russia needs to be told, going forward, that an attack by its mercenaries will be treated as an attack by its armed forces.
So, Russian mercenaries, who are "a key part of Russia's broader strategy and tactics" in Syria, attacked U.S. troops, and U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis decided to give Putin space for plausible deniability. Oh.

Julian Borger at the Guardian: Nuclear Risk at Its Highest Since Cuban Missile Crisis, Says Former Energy Secretary. "Former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, a nuclear physicist who played a central role in securing a landmark non-proliferation agreement with Iran in 2015, said the margin for error in avoiding disaster was getting thinner because of the introduction of new, smaller weapons, the broadening of circumstances in which their use is being contemplated, and a lack of high-level communications between major nuclear weapons powers. ...Moniz, who is now CEO and co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, pointed to a recent false alarm by Hawaii's public alert system as the sort of technological glitch that could lead to fatal miscalculation. ...'We know we've had those warnings many times in history and we've managed so far to dodge the bullet,' he said. 'But dodging the bullets is more difficult when there's not significant communications going on and a lot of tensions between the countries.'"

Jonathan Swan at Axios: Commerce Recommends Major Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum. "The Department of Commerce will recommend tariffs on steel and aluminum that, if applied, would be the first shots in a global trade war, according to two sources briefed on the report. ...A former senior government trade official said that without major exemptions, these recommendations would represent: '[T]he opening shot in a trade war...a declaration of war against the world on aluminum and steel... These are some of our closest treaty allies... These are some serious numbers.' Quote from a trade expert: 'This would be beyond a trade war. You're talking about blowing up the WTO.'"

Cameron Joseph and Tierney Sneed at TPM: Kushner Quietly Made More Fixes to His Financial Disclosures, May Have More to Come. "Jared Kushner, [Donald] Trump's son-in-law and a top adviser, wrote a letter to White House Deputy Council Stefan Passantino dated Jan. 3, 2018 adding a number of additional business interests that had not previously been on his personal financial disclosure form. That letter, which has not been previously reported, corrects and adds new corporate positions and details of his companies' structures that he legally was required to disclose, in a seeming attempt to square his filing with spouse Ivanka Trump's as well as clean up some previously overlooked items."

Aaron Blake at the Washington Post: More Than 40 Percent of Trump's First Cabinet-Level Picks Have Faced Ethical or Other Controversies. "Trump came to Washington promising to 'drain the swamp.' But after less than 13 months, more than 40 percent of the people he originally picked for Cabinet-level jobs have faced ethical or other controversies. The list has grown quickly in recent weeks. ...In total now, nine out of the 22 people Trump initially picked for Cabinet-level posts have found themselves facing scrutiny over their actions."

[CN: Food insecurity; class warfare]

[CN: Police brutality; white supremacy; misogynoir; disablism] Kenrya Rankin at Colorlines: NYPD Officer Acquitted After Killing Deborah Danner. "On October 18, 2016, New York Police Department sergeant Hugh Barry fatally shot Deborah Danner [who had schizophrenia, and whose sister called for assistance in taking her to the hospital]. Today (February 15), Judge Robert Neary found Barry not guilty on charges of second-degree murder, first- and second-degree manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide. ...At the time of the shooting, Police Commissioner James O'Neill told press that Barry's actions did not match up with his training, and that he did not follow proper procedure for interacting with people with mental illnesses. That declaration did not seem to impact the judge, who said that the prosecution did not meet the required burden of proof for a guilty verdict."

[CN: Homophobia; HIV stigma] Michael Fitzgerald at Towleroad: New York to Investigate Reports of Gay Men Denied Insurance for Taking PrEP. "Financial regulators in New York have announced plans to investigate reports that gay men have been denied insurance policies because they were taking PrEP. Maria T. Vullo, the state's superintendent of financial services, said such denials would amount to illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation. ...Vullo has encouraged New York State residents who believe they have been denied coverage because of PrEP to contact her agency."

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

Open Wide...

Rick Gates Reportedly Close to Deal with Mueller

In January, I noted a report by Katelyn Polantz at CNN that former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, who was arrested and charged with his longtime associate Paul Manafort in October, was thought to be negotiating a deal with Special Counsel Bob Mueller's team.

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Last night, Polantz and her colleague Sara Murray broke the news that, according to sources close to the investigation, Gates is now close to finalizing a plea deal.

Gates has already spoken to Mueller's team about his case and has been in plea negotiations for about a month. He's had what criminal lawyers call a "Queen for a Day" interview, in which a defendant answers any questions from the prosecutors' team, including about his own case and other potential criminal activity he witnessed.

Gates' cooperation could be another building block for Mueller in a possible case against [Donald] Trump or key members of his team.

Once a plea deal is in place, Gates would become the third known cooperator in Mueller's sprawling probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. It would also increase the pressure to cooperate on Gates' co-defendant Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, who has pleaded not guilty to Mueller's indictment and is preparing for a trial on alleged financial crimes unrelated to the campaign.
That's the horror scenario for Team Trump. If Gates rolls on Manafort, Manafort's case gets a hell of a lot tougher, which makes rolling on Trump a hell of a lot more appealing.

And if there's one thing we all know about Paul Manafort, it's that he ain't loyal to anyone but himself.

Open Wide...