The Virtual Pub Is Open + Programming Note

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

TFIF, Shakers!

Belly up to the bar,
and name your poison!

I've got some personal stuff to do today, and then we will be taking Monday off for Presidents' Day. So I will see you back here on Tuesday!

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Democratic Debate Wrap-Up

So, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders met in Milwaukee last night for another debate. I watched and live-tweeted it; for anyone who would like to see those tweets, I've collected them in a Storify.

The Washington Post has a complete transcript of the debate.

My primary takeaways:

1. The Democratic debates are infinitely more substantive than the Republican debates. It's genuinely shocking (and terrifying) how huge the disparity is.

2. Sanders is not merely passionate about wealth inequality; it is virtually all he cares about. His opening statement, his closing statement, and any answer to any question that could possibly be answered thus were dedicated to wealth inequality. Even when he is asked to speak about racism or sexism, he talks about wealth inequality. He does not seem amenable to embracing an intersectional analysis at all. Racism? Solve it with jobs and education! Sexism? Solve it with jobs and education! The thing is, he was standing onstage next to arguably the most privileged woman in the world, who is also subjected to arguably the most relentless misogyny in the world. She doesn't need a job or a free college education. She needs her whole humanity respected, and breaking up the banks won't make that happen.

3. Clinton takes strong issue with this approach. Her closing statement was, frankly, killer:

We agree that we've got to get unaccountable money out of politics. We agree that Wall Street should never be allowed to wreck Main Street again.

But here's the point I want to make tonight: I am not a single-issue candidate, and I do not believe we live in a single-issue country. I think that a lot of what we have to overcome to break down the barriers that are holding people back, whether it's poison in the water of the children of Flint, or whether it's the poor miners who are being left out and left behind in coal country, or whether it is any other American today who feels somehow put down and oppressed by racism, by sexism, by discrimination against the LGBT community, against the kind of efforts that need to be made to root out all of these barriers, that's what I want to take on.

And here in Wisconsin, I want to reiterate: We've got to stand up for unions and working people who have been at the core [applause] of the American middle class, and who are being attacked by ideologues, by demagogues. Yes, does Wall Street and big financial interests, along with drug companies, insurance companies, Big Oil, all of it, have too much influence? You're right!

But if we were to stop that tomorrow, we would still have the indifference, the negligence, that we saw in Flint. We would still have racism holding people back. We would still have sexism preventing women from getting equal pay. We would still have LGBT people who get married on Saturday and get fired on Monday. And we would still have governors like Scott Walker and others trying to rip out the heart of the middle class by making it impossible to organize and stand up for better wages and working conditions.

So I'm going to keep talking about tearing down all the barriers that stand in the way of Americans fulfilling their potential, because I don't think our country can live up to its potential unless we give a chance to every single American to live up to theirs. [cheers and applause]
BOOM.

4. I found Sanders' general demeanor extremely unappealing, particularly his snide snipes at Clinton. They only had this debate because he wanted more of them (probably assuming Clinton would say no and he could use that against her whooooooops), and I'm not sure that people seeing more of this act is going to work in his favor.

5. The narrative going into this first post-New Hampshire debate was that Sanders would be confident and Clinton would look desperate. It was precisely the opposite.

Quite honestly, I started out with a much more favorable opinion of Bernie Sanders than I have now. The more I see of him, the less I like. That's largely because the more I see of him, the more I realize how little there is. He is a one-issue candidate. And he believes that one issue is the root of all ills. I disagree. Which doesn't leave us much common ground. Oh well.

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Open Thread

image of a xylophone

Hosted by a xylophone.

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Question of the Day

Suggested by Shaker Diverkat: "What's your favourite mood-boosting/feel good activity?"

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Democratic Debate

There's another Democratic debate tonight, which will take place in Milwaukee and will be moderated by PBS NewsHour anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff. The debate will be simulcast on PBS and CNN.

It will be streamed on the PBS NewsHour website and on CNN.com.

So, here's a thread for discussion!

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Throwback Thursdays

image of me as a toddler, wearing pink footy pajamas and making a silly face, sitting on the floor next to by grandmother, who is wearing a book on her head

Me and my nana, who was being made to wear a book on her head because that is the ultimate in humor to a two-year-old. Queens NYC, circa 1976.

[Please share your own throwback pix in comments. Just make sure the pix are just of you and/or you have consent to post from other living people in the pic. And please note that they don't have to be pictures from childhood, especially since childhood pix might be difficult for people who come from abusive backgrounds or have transitioned or lots of other reasons. It can be a picture from last week, if that's what works for you. And of course no one should feel obliged to share a picture at all! Only if it's fun!]

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NOPE

[Content Note: Racism; misogyny.]

Bernie Sanders once again suggests he's going to be a magical president, and again slams President Obama for failing to overcome Republican obstructionism:

Bernie Sanders says the aim of his political revolution is to bring more people into the political process than President Barack Obama, arguing that he can close a presidential leadership gap that's persisted over the eight years of the Obama administration.

"There's a huge gap right now between Congress and the American people. What presidential leadership is about closing that gap," he told MSNBC in an interview Wednesday that will air in full Thursday evening on "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell."

Asked if he believed President Obama had closed that gap, Sanders said: "No, I don't. I mean, I think he has made the effort. But I think what we need, when I talk about a political revolution, is bringing millions and millions of people into the political process in a way that does not exist right now."
I don't have anything to say about this that I haven't said before:
Is Sanders suggesting that President Obama didn't have "tens of millions of people [ready] to stand up and be involved in the political process the day after the election"? Because whooooooooooooops. I described being in Chicago literally the day after President Obama was first elected thus:
Wednesday, the day after the election, the Space Cowpokes, Iain, and I were in Chicago all day, and something incredible had happened. (The same thing was happening in New York, too, as noted by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, and I've gotten emails from people saying they found the same thing.) It was, like, Crazyhappyland. Everyone was laughing and smiling and being extra nice—spontaneous conversations about music, art, food, life, the election with strangers in elevators, in restaurants, in cabs, on the sidewalk. It was like every single person in Chicago had been told they had 100 years to live. Black, white, gay, straight, woman, man, everybody. People were happy and inspired and excited. A cloud had lifted. In one of the most politically cynical cities in the world, where the people know better than most that policians are fallible beings who often fail to deliver and fuck up in myriad ways, there was still a tangible, beautiful sense of the possible. The entire city was enveloped in great expectations.

Right now, let's believe we can do this.

And because, as I've said no fewer than a nonillion times now, this election is not just about Barack Obama, and his presidency will not be just about Barack Obama, but about us all, there's just this huge chance for something big in that optimism blanketing Chicago on Wednesday.
There was a palpable feeling of excitement and engagement, all over the country. If that didn't translate into enough energy and involvement to overcome the Republicans' gross obstructionism, welp.
Well, I do have one new thing to say. I have a real problem with Sanders' entire campaign increasingly resting on the idea that he will be able to accomplish things that a woman and a black man could never accomplish. I understand that Sanders isn't specifically saying he can accomplish them because he's a white man, but the reality is that he is positioning himself as uniquely capable in comparison to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, neither of whom are white men.

And lest anyone imagine that this unspoken message isn't resonating with at least some of his supporters, behold this incredible meme which is flying across social media:

screen cap of a meme featuring four images: Dumbledore, Gandalf, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Bernie Sanders, accompanied by text reading: 'Sometimes you need an old white guy to help fight the forces of evil'

Yeah.

Bernie Sanders isn't a wizard or a Jedi, despite what his claims about marshaling millions suggest to the contrary. He's just an old white guy, who is currently engaging in fantastical rhetoric that is demeaning to both our current president and his primary competitor.

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Quote of the Day

[Content Note: Racism.]

"There's no doubt there are pockets of the country where some dog whistles blow and there's underlying racial fears that may be exploited. You've got a whole generation of kids growing up where the first president they've known is an African American. Even if they're hearing their parents say he's terrible, it kind of seeps in that it's not a crazy thing. So that sometime later, if there's a Hispanic, or a woman or another African American, that won't seem as exceptional. These things change over time."—President Obama, during an interview yesterday following remarks before the Illinois General Assembly.

Damn, I'm going to miss him.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt curled up in my bed
Zelda, curled up in bed next to me last night, and very carefully ignoring me, because she knows she's not supposed to be in the bed and I'm about to kick her out, lol.

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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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: White supremacy] Cliven Bundy is under arrest and the "remaining occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were expected to surrender Thursday morning on the 41st day of the standoff." Insert all the contempt on the planet here for the evident racist double-standard that affords white seditionists a peaceful surrender. Fuck.

Albert Einstein's prediction was right: Researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory have detected gravitational waves! And naturally, Maddie Stone at Gizmodo has the best headline: "Holy Shit! Scientists Have Confirmed the Existence of Gravitational Waves." LOL! "Gravitational waves were observed on September 14th, 2015, at 5:51 am ET by both of the LIGO detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington. The source? A supermassive black hole collision that took place 1.3 billion years ago. When it occurred, about three times the mass of the sun was converted to energy in a fraction of a second."

[CN: Terrorism; death; video may autoplay at link] Fucking hell: Two female [redacted] bombers blew themselves up this week in a camp in northeastern Nigeria set up to shelter people from terrorism, killing at least 58 people. But others were spared when a third intended bomber realized at the last minute that her family had taken shelter there, too, and refused to detonate her explosives, relief officials sad. Officials said 78 people were injured. The victims were staying in a camp for people who had been displaced by Boko Haram violence in Nigeria's Borno state." (I continue to find it inappropriate that young women and girls who detonate bombs strapped to them are called "suicide" bombers, which connotes an agency that the women and girls kidnapped and forcibly sacrificed by Boko Haram do not have. And while I don't want to strip women of their agency, even when they're committing atrocities, we do not know if the women who self-detonated had any meaningful agency to exercise.)

[CN: War on agency] These laws are heinous: "A Tennessee woman who was one of the first to be charged under the state's controversial fetal assault law accepted a plea deal that will keep her out of jail but on probation for almost a year. Brittany Nicole Hudson pleaded guilty to child abuse, or simple assault, stemming from an incident in October 2014 where Hudson allegedly gave birth to a baby girl in a car on the side of a Blount County, Tennessee road. The Blount County Sheriff's Office then opened an investigation and determined that Hudson had used illicit drugs during her pregnancy. Tennessee lawmakers in April 2014 passed the first-of-its-kind fetal assault bill, which enables prosecutors to charge pregnant patients with assault for actions patients took while pregnant that cause 'harm' to their fetus. SB 1391 allows a person to be prosecuted for the illegal use of a narcotic while pregnant, if the baby is born addicted to or harmed by the narcotic drug, and the addiction or harm is a result of illegal use of a narcotic drug taken while pregnant. This bill allows women to be charged with aggravated assault, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, if they have a pregnancy complication after illicit drug use. Hudson was one of the first women to be charged under the fetal assault law, passed by Tennessee's GOP-majority state legislature."

[CN: Carcerality; death] "Fifty-two people have been killed and 12 wounded in a prison riot in Monterrey, north-eastern Mexico, the state governor has confirmed, just days ahead of a planned visit by Pope Francis to another prison nearby. Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, the governor of Nuevo León, said the violence involved a brutal fight between rival factions, including one led by a member of the Zetas drug cartel. All 52 victims were male, Rodríguez said, adding that they had not yet all been identified. Five of the 12 wounded had serious injuries." Damn.

[CN: Racism] OMFG Meryl Streep: "The Berlin International Film Festival became embroiled in the debate about diversity in the movie industry Thursday, with jury president Meryl Streep dismissing questions about the all-white panel by telling reporters that 'we're all Africans really.' ...Asked by an Egyptian reporter whether she understood films from the Arab world and North Africa, Streep said that while she didn't know much about the region, 'I've played a lot of different people from a lot of different cultures. There is a core of humanity that travels right through every culture, and after all we're all from Africa originally,' she added. 'Berliners, we're all Africans really.'"

This is polite: "Moments after he placed second in the New Hampshire primary, John Kasich was transformed from a low-profile, under-the-radar candidate to the new face of compassionate conservatism in America. ...But behind the unassuming image is a track record in his home state of Ohio, where he is a second-term governor, that puts him a big step to the right of what many Americans would consider moderate." All he does is wear the mask.

"Sources: Jim Webb May Announce Presidential Candidacy Again." Oh.

"Wisdom, a Laysan albatross that researchers first tagged in 1956, has hatched what could be her 40th chick, leading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to call her 'an iconic symbol of inspiration and hope.' Born at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (which is part of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument), the new (adorable) chick has been named Kūkini—the Hawaiian word for messenger."

[CN: Moving gifs at link] And finally! "17 Just Great Looking Dogs." LOLOLOL! (P.S. They're cats.)

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Oops They Did It Again

[Content Note: Hostility to consent.]

The Bernie Sanders campaign continues to have problems with misrepresenting endorsements and associated unethical campaigning.

First, in Iowa, Sanders ran a campaign ad that quoted praise from the Des Moines Register, while concealing that the paper had endorsed Hillary Clinton and tucking the quote in between two other endorsements. The Register's endorsement "came down in favor of Mrs. Clinton's candidacy–which even careful viewers would have no way of knowing."

Then, also in Iowa, Sanders sent out mailers that used the League of Conservation Voters and AARP logos, "a subtle effort to tie himself to those groups, if not implying an endorsement. But neither group has backed him. The AARP, which represents retirees, does not endorse candidates, and the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental advocacy group, is supporting Sanders's Democratic foe, Hillary Clinton."

Then, in Nevada, the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 reported that Sanders staffers were wearing "union pins in order to gain access to employee areas at four of the city's unionized hotels. [The union] said it was 'disappointed and offended' by what it suggested was an unethical move by the Vermont independent's campaign. The union, powerful in Nevada politics, hasn't yet endorsed a candidate in the presidential race... 'It's completely inappropriate for any campaign to attempt to mislead Culinary Union members, especially at their place of work,' Geoconda Arguello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the union, said in a statement. 'The Culinary Union button that hundreds of thousands of union members have proudly worn to work every day represents 80 years of struggle and fighting for justice.' The Sanders campaign told CNN that staffers 'did wear Culinary buttons to try to talk to workers, but did not misrepresent who they were.' That may well be true, but from the vantage point of the union that may not matter."

Then, in New Hampshire, Sanders ran a campaign ad that implied two newspapers there had endorsed him, when, in fact, they had not: "Sanders' 30-second campaign advertising spot, playing less than a week before the key New Hampshire primary, cites glowing praise from the regional Nashua Telegraph and The Valley News alongside organizations that have endorsed Sanders. But the Telegraph and Valley News have not endorsed him—a fact that is not shared with the viewer."

Then, also in New Hampshire, Sanders sent out mailers using images of people without their consent in campaign advertisements, in several cases leaving people with potentially dire professional consequences they had to address, including American Legion state officer Tom Wiley, who "is in the early stages of a campaign himself, for the post of New Hampshire's Department Commander," and was obliged to field calls asking why he was pictured in a Sanders ad wearing his American Legion hat, as "the American Legion fiercely protects its image as a nonpartisan organization."

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] And, today, there is another report that the Sanders campaign has claimed a personal endorsement they were not given: "Brenda Romero, a Nevada student leader and DREAMer that Bernie Sanders' campaign touted as someone who endorsed their campaign, tells CNN she never endorsed the Vermont senator and is backing Hillary Clinton. Romero said Monday she had agreed to be part of Sanders' Nevada Latino Steering Committee, but that she never endorsed the senator. ...'I didn't agree to such an endorsement,' Romero said Monday, noting that while she agreed to be part of the steering committee, she was told that the role would be advising the 'campaign and potentially Sen. Sanders about immigration issues.'"

This latest is reminiscent of the Sanders' campaign also having claimed as foreign policy advisors people who say they've barely had any contact with the campaign: "Five of the people cited by his campaign say they have only spoken to him once or twice. One is President Barack Obama's deputy national security advisor, Ben Rhodes, whom Sanders mentioned at the Bloomberg Politics breakfast. Rhodes told CNN that he had spoken to Sanders twice as part of 'standard briefings' he gives members of Congress on issues like Iran and ISIS. ...Other foreign policy pros named by Sanders seemed similarly distant from him."

Just a few days ago, I wrote: "I don't imagine these incidents to be reflective of an indifference to ethical campaigning; I think they are instead a reflection of the disorganization of a nationally untested campaign that doesn't have the competency to ensure these sorts of things don't happen."

And I still believe that, but my good will is quickly depleting. At a certain point, you've got to actually learn from your mistakes and stop making the same mistakes over and over, or else people are going to quite reasonably start to think they're not actually mistakes at all.

Even at this point, this is far too many instances of, at best, "overenthusiastic" staffers whose indifference to the rules and/or basic ethics hasn't been caught and prevented by the campaign leaders. If it really is just a function of mismanagement, that's a pretty big problem all on its own, no nefarious motives required.

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Utterly Galling

[Content Note: Racism; police brutality.]

Rage seethe boil:

The city of Cleveland is asking Tamir Rice's estate to pay $500 for ambulance and medical services he received after being shot by a police officer.

The city requested the money as the 12-year-old boy's "last dying expense" in a creditor's claim filed Wednesday in Cuyahoga County Probate Court. The claim states the money is overdue.

A Rice family attorney calls the claim "callous and insensitive."
This is breathtakingly insensitive, particularly given that police did not even provide first aid to Tamir Rice. It was only after he had been lying on the ground for four minutes and "a medically trained FBI agent on duty in the area arrived at the scene" that he was given first aid.

And, as PoliticalGroove noted on Twitter: "While the #Oregonstandoff is costing $100,000 a week for armed white militants, Cleveland is suing Tamir Rice's family for ambulance ride."

Goddammit.

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On the CBC PAC's Endorsement of Clinton

[Content Note: Racism.]

The Congressional Black Caucus' Political Action Committee will formally endorse Hillary Clinton today. Already, I'm seeing all kinds of pushback, calling the CBC sellouts, opportunists, fools. Some of the criticism coming from white Sanders supporters has more than a tinge of racist overtones.

And, to be blunt, that's what I'm addressing here. I have no inclination at all to tell black voters how to regard the CBC PAC's endorsement of Clinton. I do, however, have a strong inclination to push back on white voters who are using coded (or overt) racism to criticize the CBC.

No one, of course, is required to agree with the CBC PAC's endorsement of Clinton, nor even their decision to endorse at this stage at all. But it's bad faith to suggest that the CBC came to this decision without serious reflection and discussion.

Reading the Washington Post's story on the endorsement, before I saw any criticism of it, I was struck by how decent and democratic their process was:

[Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), chairman of the CBC PAC] said that 90 percent of the 20-member board of the CBC's PAC voted to endorse Clinton, while none of the board members voted for Sen. Bernie Sanders and a few members abstained because they had not yet endorsed in the race.

On the neutral list was Rep. James E. Clyburn (S.C.), the No. 3 House Democratic leader and the most prominent South Carolina Democrat, who has since then said he is considering backing a candidate and that candidate, he suggested, is likely to be Clinton.

"That was certainly my intention," he said in an interview with The Washington Post of his initial plan to remain neutral. "But I am re-evaluating that. I really am having serious conversations with my family members."

...Clyburn didn't choose sides in the 2008 Democratic primary battle between Clinton and Barack Obama, and ended up arbitrating a nasty feud over allegedly racially-tinged comments by Bill Clinton after Obama's victory in the Palmetto State. And his backing could be crucial with African-American voters, who form a large portion of the primary electorate there.

Meeks made clear that if Clyburn objected to the caucus's endorsement of Clinton, he had the power to prevent it from happening. "He is an important part of the Congressional Black Caucus and an important part of what we do at the PAC, and we are endorsing tomorrow," Meeks said, laughing as he thought about the prospect of Clyburn objecting to the endorsement. "We wouldn't be going forward tomorrow."
My thought, reading that, was: If only politics were always that respectful and considered.

I mean, I'm sure politics aren't always that respectful and considered even just within the CBC, because, you know, human beings. But in this case, that's a pretty solid process.

And it certainly wasn't one undertaken by fools.

I don't know what the official statement will look like, but it doesn't seem as though the CBC PAC is making this endorsement on the premise that Clinton is "better for black people," as has become an awful refrain during this election. I don't think that is their stance, and I suspect there is no one more keenly aware of multitudinous failures of Democratic leadership to center the needs of black USians than the Congressional Black Caucus.

Instead, it seems to be coming down to process, and who they believe is better prepared to get shit done:
"Many of these are first-time voters and Senator Sanders' message resonates with the younger generation because of the promises that he is making," said Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), chairman of the CBC. "But Mrs. Clinton and others are going to challenge the message by suggesting that it is unrealistic to believe that we can accomplish all of the things that Senator Sanders proposes."

"They need to understand that when a candidate presents a message, you've got to pierce the message to determine whether or not it's realistic, given the political climate that we live in," Butterfield said. "It's not a negative, it's not an aspersion on the new voter. It's the fact that many of them are inexperienced and have not gone through a presidential election cycle before."
Which is a concern a lot of people have, myself included. It's not at all surprising that politicians, who will be tasked with the enormous challenge of trying to pass the next Democratic president's agenda, favor the candidate they regard to be more realistic about what can get done and how.

After all, if a president sends them a legislative agenda they have no hope in hell of passing, their constituents might well blame them for failing to deliver what the president promised on the campaign trail.

That's where the heart of the CBC PAC's endorsement seems to lie, to me.

Agree or disagree with their decision to endorse Clinton, I would hope we could agree it was not a simplistic decision made by sellouts and fools.

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Open Thread

image of a hairless dog with perked ears and a curled tail standing outdoors

Hosted by the Xoloitzcuintli. AKA the Mexican Hairless Dog.

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Question of the Day

What do you do with yourself when you're incandescently angry about and/or frustrated by something over which you have no immediate control?

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The Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by broccoli.

Recommended Reading:

Amarie: [Content Note: Misogynoir; tone policing; gaslighting] My Fraught Relationship with the Adjective "Sweet"

Anne: You Are Here

Chelsea: [CN: Transphobia; carcerality] Prison Keeps Us Isolated, But Sometimes, Sisterhood Can Bring Us Together

Keith: [CN: Racism; classism; gentrification] The Rent in the New Cabrini Green Complex Is Ridiculous

Veronica: Beyond Balance: Work, Family, Life in 2016 in Chicago

Susie: Flint Mayor, Residents Thank Hillary for Efforts on Water Crisis

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

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Welp

[Content Note: Bigotry.]

It's pretty terrific (ahem) how members of the media are suddenly interested in talking about how dangerous Donald Trump is now that he's won something.

Now he's not the hilarious entertainment with which they've been delighting themselves for months, but a potential president whose wretched policies might personally affect them.

You know, some of us have been pointing out that Trump is dangerous for months.

Because his rhetoric of bigotry is harmful, whether he wins an election or just stands in front of a microphone.

Of course, that didn't much matter to the privileged gatekeepers of the media who aren't the targets of his identity-based obscenity.

It should have.

And maybe if it had, he wouldn't have just won a primary with 35% of the vote.

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Photo of the Day

image of Hillary Clinton standing outside on a cold day, laughing at a sign being held by someone reading 'The silent majority stands with Trump'
PERFECTION.

[H/T to Jess, who saw it posted by MSNBC.]

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

After failing to impress voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is reportedly considering suspending his presidential campaign. Seeya.

[Content Note: Disablism; mental illness stigma; violation of workers' and students' rights] I don't even know where to begin with the clusterfuck going on at Mount St. Mary's: Basically, the new president decided he wanted to address the school's retention problem by targeting students who were at risk for dropping out, and instructed professors to flag students using questions from a mental health diagnostic survey. And then, when professors pushed back, they were shitcanned. What the everloving hell.

[CN: Police brutality; racism] Good grief: The Ferguson, Missouri, City Council voted Tuesday night "to rebuff a proposed agreement to reform its police department and court. The city proclaimed that the decision amounted to approving a consent decree that it had spent months negotiating with the department, arguing that seven suggested changes were among hundreds of requirements to which the city had agreed. But one of the proposed amendments would wipe out much of the decree in the event Ferguson disbanded its police force." Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, is not happy: "The Ferguson City Council has attempted to unilaterally amend the negotiated agreement. Their vote to do so creates an unnecessary delay in the essential work to bring constitutional policing to the city, and marks an unfortunate outcome for concerned community members and Ferguson police officers. ...The Department of Justice will take the necessary legal actions to ensure that Ferguson's policing and court practices comply with the Constitution and relevant federal laws."

[CN: War on agency] At the Guttmacher Institute, Heather D. Boonstra details how anti-choicers alarmism about fetal tissue research "now threatens fetal tissue research itself," which is very concerning given that "medical research using human fetal tissue obtained from abortions has benefited millions of people worldwide and holds great promise for the continued advancement of basic science, as well as for the development of lifesaving vaccines and therapies."

This is amazing: "The Trust Black Women Partnership (TBW), a collective of Black women-led organizations and advocates, released a solidarity statement with Black Lives Matter (BLM) on Tuesday, reaffirming the shared roots of struggles for Black self-determination and bodily autonomy. The statement comes as movements to end state violence and secure reproductive justice continue to converge around the country. 'The Reproductive Justice movement, created in 1994, the Trust Black Women Partnership, created in 2010, and the Black Lives Matter movement, created in 2012, were created because the lives of Black people were in peril,' the statement reads. 'All were born out of a demand for the…liberation of Black people in this country. And all were born because of the leadership of Black women.' ...'Reproductive justice is very much situated within the Black Lives Matter movement,' [BLM co-founder Alicia Garza] said. 'This isn't just about the rights of women to be able to determine when and how and where to start families, but also our right to raise families, to raise children to become adults.'"

[CN: Homophobia] Goddammit: "South Dakota lawmakers have launched a full-blown attack on LGBT rights, passing two pieces of legislation this week that would do irreparable harm to the state's LGBT community. If signed into law, these two bills would legalize discrimination against LGBT citizens and ban transgender students from participating in high school athletics in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity."

[CN: Privacy violations] Um, what? "The US intelligence chief has acknowledged for the first time that agencies might use a new generation of smart household devices to increase their surveillance capabilities. ...James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, was more direct in testimony submitted to the Senate on Tuesday as part of an assessment of threats facing the United States. 'In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things, e.g. remotely operated thermostats] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials,' Clapper said. Clapper did not specifically name any intelligence agency as involved in household-device surveillance. But security experts examining the internet of things take as a given that the US and other surveillance services will intercept the signals the newly networked devices emit, much as they do with those from cellphones." Terrific.

[CN: Racism] Another aspect of institutional racism within our justice [sic] system: "The rulings of Black judges are 10 percent more likely to be overturned than those of their white counterparts. ...Reversals are anything but inconsequential. They force judges to revisit old cases, while their everyday caseload keeps on filling the docket. Then, of course, there's the reputation hit—good luck getting promoted with an armful of overturned verdicts. Maybe that explains why there are so few dark-skinned arbiters on the appeals bench."

Donald Trump says he would easily beat Hillary Clinton in the general election. Okay, player.

"Aaron Sorkin Is Bringing To Kill a Mockingbird to Broadway." Nope!

And finally! "This Cat in a Cone Is Having a Fucking Awful Day." LOL awwwwww.

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Olivia the White Farm Cat sitting on my lap, looking very content as I scratch her back
Olivia Twist enjoys having her back scratched. A lot.

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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