Question of the Day

When was the last time you made music? Any kind of music, with the broadest definition that includes people who can't hear music in the traditional sense: Humming to yourself, singing a silly made-up song to your kids or pets, playing an instrument, singing in a choir, tapping your foot, creating a vibration that feels of music to you, whatever!

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Kenny Loggins: "This Is It"

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But He Won't Let Us See His Taxes, Naturally

So, you've heard about Trump University, right? Another fine product in the Trump empire, just like his high-quality steaks and classy bottled water. Well, it was basically a huge fraud ALLEGEDLY, just like his steaks and bottled water.

And I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear that, while it was still in operation, one of Trump's hand-picked financial experts gave a cool seminar on how to avoid paying taxes using real estate loopholes.

Now, there are lots of people across the nation who aren't wealthy, and who don't even know how to take advantage of the tax benefits for which they qualify. There's absolutely nothing wrong with people making use of whatever tax breaks they can get—and, frankly, there is a great need for making information freely available to working people on how to navigate our complicated tax code, so that they aren’t paying more than their fair share.

But this is not what we're talking about here. In this case, an obscenely wealthy businessman, who made an enormous amount of money exploiting real estate loopholes, charged people money to have "the loopholes queen" tell them how they can follow his lead—the implication being, though never explicitly stated, that wealth in the realm of Donald's could follow.

The catch, of course, is that Donald started out with enormous wealth. This wasn't helpful advice being offered to the Average Jane and Joe out of the goodness of Donald's heart, but a sinister hoodwinking that charged people to get "tools" that only work for people who already have money to invest—and to pay real financial professionals who offer this advice as part of their job.

Far from being a useful recommendation for average working people, exploiting real estate tax loopholes is bad for the economy to which our fates are tied...
I've got more at BNR, so head on over to read the rest.

One of the more interesting things to me about all this is how Trump was happy to charge people money to share with them this great information about tax loopholes he's proud to have exploited, but doesn't want to release his taxes so we can see that he was so successful at it he's (presumably) got a tax rate of zero. Huh.

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Photo of the Day

black and white photo of Hillary Clinton posing for a selfie with a black woman and a woman who appears to be white or Latina
[Los Angeles, May 24. Photo by Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America.]

I just love everything about this picture, basically.

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I See You. All of You.

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

So, Donald Trump spokesperson Healy Baumgardner appeared on CNN earlier, giving the second of two disastrous appearances in as many weeks. The interview is excruciating to watch, as the CNN anchors express their shock and contempt that she isn't better prepared.

Which, yeah. But this video is really interesting to me for two more important reasons:

1. I've never seen Trump ​himself , nor his right-hand men Paul Manafort and Corey Lewandowski, get grilled that hard. Baumgardner gets grilled way harder than the male representatives of the campaign do, and way harder than even the candidate himself does. I'm not saying, naturally, that they should lay off her, but simply noting they don't give him the same treatment.

2. Clearly, Baumgardner is utterly disempowered by the Trump campaign. She can't be an effective spokesperson because she hasn't been empowered to be one. Which I think speaks very clearly to how much Trump values women in his campaign: She's just a token, who's been sent out to do a job she can't possibly do. Her only value to him is being able to have a female spokesperson. It isn't her skills, whatever they may be.

There's so much going on in that video about both the Trump campaign structure and the media approach to Trump, especially with regard to whom the media is willing to confront.

And it's pretty evident that Trump and the media are in agreement that it's fine to use Healy Baumgardner as a rhetorical punching bag, so that the media can avoid having to levy meaningful accountability, and Trump can avoid having to face it.

We can all watch her get thrown under the bus and are meant to agree that it's a job well done all around.


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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat stretching up under my desk with her paws on my leg, rubbing the top of her head on the bottom of my desk
"Pet me!"

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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Give Me a Break. Seriously. I Need One.

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

As you may have heard, Donald Trump said he wanted to debate Bernie Sanders—and Sanders jumped all over it. Then Trump said it was all a joke, making Sanders look like a fool.

I have a few thoughts about that! Namely, that Sanders is out of his depth, and that I find it incredibly problematic that this was obviously a bid to try to coerce Hillary Clinton into debating him, after she already said no.

Meanwhile, Jeff Weaver tries to salvage it by saying Team Sanders didn't think it was a joke and that they hope Trump doesn't "chicken out."

I can't even.

I can't.

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: Refugee crisis; death] This is just so awful: "Up to 30 migrants are feared dead after a boat capsized in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast while some 50 were rescued by EU vessels from the sea. Ships from an EU task force and Italy's coast guard raced to the scene 35 nautical miles (65km) off the coast as survivors clung to the hull or swam. The alert had been raised by a Luxembourg reconnaissance plane which saw the capsized boat. The Italian navy rescued 562 migrants from a capsized boat on Wednesday. Some 6,000 migrants trying to reach Europe have been rescued from flimsy craft in the Mediterranean this week alone. Aid agencies say the crossing between Libya and Italy is the main route for migrants since an EU deal with Turkey curbed the number sailing across the Aegean to Greece." Just a constant, slow-moving tragedy. People losing their lives desperately trying to save their lives.

[CN: Video may autoplay] I'm sure they are: "President Obama said world leaders are 'rattled' by Donald Trump as the likely Republican nominee for the U.S. presidency. 'They are paying very close attention to this election,' the president told reporters Wednesday in Japan of his discussions with world leaders. 'They are surprised by the Republican nominee. They are not sure how seriously to take some of his pronouncements but they're rattled by him, and for good reason.' Trump has shown an 'ignorance of world affairs or a cavalier attitude or an interest in getting tweets and headlines instead of actually thinking through what it is required to keep America safe and secure and prosperous,' Obama said."

[CN: Video may autoplay] And in related news: Trump is no longer just the "likely" Republican nominee but "has reached the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican Party's presidential nomination. Based on ABC News' analysis of pledged delegates won and commitments made by unbound delegates, Trump has enough support to secure the Republican nomination for president. He now has 1,239 total delegates, according to ABC News' estimates of both pledged and superdelegates."

Meanwhile: "Donald Trump trails Hillary Clinton by 7 percentage points among middle-income voters in the Rust Belt, a key demographic he almost certainly needs to become president. Likely voters with annual family incomes of $30,000 to $75,000 in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin back Clinton over Trump, 46 percent to 39 percent, the latest Purple Slice online poll for Bloomberg Politics shows."

Relatedly: The United Automobile Workers union endorsed Clinton yesterday. "'Hillary Clinton understands our issues on trade, understands the complexities of multinational economies and supports American workers, their families and communities,' said UAW President Dennis Williams."

[CN: Rape culture] In news that will not shock anyone but should infuriate everyone: "Kenneth Starr, bĂȘte noire of liberals in America, is making a comeback, though not entirely of his choosing. Starr, the president of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, is facing mounting pressure over how the university has handled reports of rape and assault by football players. The university says its governing board is still studying the results of an internal investigation and has refused to confirm speculation that Starr will be ousted." Not entirely of his choosing. As if it's not a choice whether to uphold rape culture and treat victims with indifference and disdain.

[CN: Homophobia; transphobia] Oh for fuck's sake! "An energy and water bill was killed in the House on Thursday as the result of an ongoing battle in Congress over LGBT rights and so-called 'religious freedom.' Openly gay New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney successfully added an amendment onto that bill late Wednesday which would ban federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Specifically, Maloney wanted to ensure the enforcement of President Obama's 2014 executive order that prohibits such discrimination. However, two Republican representatives, Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) and Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.), also successfully added a 'religious freedom' amendment and an amendment that would have banned the Obama administration from withholding federal funds from North Carolina over HB 2. The pro-LGBT amendment from Maloney combined with the anti-LGBT amendments from Pitts and Pittenger were enough to kill the bill altogether."

Heads-up! "A new documentary is set to examine the evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement, from its start as a hashtag campaign to its impact on the ground in cities across the nation. Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement is directed by Laurens Grant (producer on The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution and Freedom Riders). Activist and actor Jesse Williams served as executive producer on the project. It's the latest installment in BET's The Truth Series, which launched last July." You can catch it tonight on BET at 9pm ET.

And finally! "Tiny Cat Has Been Best Friends with His Horse Since He Was a Kitten." Awwwwww!

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Quote of the Day

"You don't change Donald Trump."—Trump campaign chair and chief strategist Paul Manafort, explaining in a remarkably awful interview how Trump is gonna win by being maximum Trump. Because he appeals to strongly to white men, and "while we are behind among women over all, we're ahead among white women even now. We'll get some black and Hispanic women as we go along." Cool cool cool.

It was a tough call on my favorite, ahem, quote between that one and this one:

Trump doesn't read briefing papers, but he is a magnet for information, Manafort said. "He reads the newspapers, and he talks on the phone and to office visitors in a never-ending stream. You're sitting there in his office and you realize that he is constantly picking up stuff as he goes."
Yeah, well, so does a Roomba. That doesn't mean I'm gonna vote for one for president.

What an amazing specimen Donald Trump is! He just collects information and the votes of women of color like magic, through the sheer force of his own magnetism. Neat.

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Suspected Arson at Planned Parenthood Clinic

[Content Note: Anti-choice terrorism.]

I am just incandescently angry about this:

A suspicious fire in a Central California Planned Parenthood clinic has forced the local women's health center to shut down for the rest of the week.

The suspected arson took place early Wednesday morning, according to police. Water from the building's sprinkler system has permanently damaged the office and its medical equipment. Police have yet to determine what or who started the fire at the Modesto clinic — but staff have reason to believe it was intentional.

"We have not been receiving threats, but we have been receiving more suspicious calls," Liz Figueroa, a spokeswoman with Planned Parenthood told the local FOX station. "The FBI is looking into it as we speak."

This attack is only the most recent in a string of vandalism directed toward Planned Parenthood clinics across the country in the aftermath of a malicious video campaign directed at the organization...

While the Modesto Planned Parenthood assesses its damage, patients will be redirected to their nearest health center. The next closest Planned Parenthood is a half hour drive away.
I have been obliged to write about so many incidents like this over the last decade, I don't even know what to say anymore. When is this going to be taken seriously? When are we going to center the reality that it's not just abortion access that is under attack, but abortion providers, clinic staff, abortion-seeking people? When are we going to start calling this the terrorism that it is?

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Lowlife, Huh?

[Content Note: Bullying.]

In his latest tirade about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump called her a "lowlife," and naturally I had some thoughts about that:

If Hillary is a lowlife, I can't imagine what that makes the rest of us women by Donald's calculations.

Haha—just kidding! Of course I can imagine what that makes the rest of us. We are things.

I guess he hasn't gotten around to watching Mad Max: Fury Road yet. Or else he'd know WE ARE NOT THINGS.
As always, there's more at the link.

I swear to the fates that Trump is just begging for women to show up en masse on Election Day to defeat him in the most spectacular fashion.

The dude does not know how to compete against a woman. He does not know how to receive criticism from a woman. He does not know how to deal with even the possibility of a woman besting him, or having control over him.

He is deeply fearful of women, and, like most profound fears, that fear manifests as hatred. He constantly lashes out at women in the most despicable ways, and thinks that somehow that strategy is going to endear him to an electorate that is more than 50% women.

Well. I guess he's going to get a lesson in what relentlessly insulting women gets you, come the eighth of November.

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Heck Yeah

Yesterday, during a campaign stop in California, Hillary Clinton promised a massive infrastructure plan, which is also a jobs plan, in her first 100 days as president. WOOT!

In my first 100 days, I will send a plan to Congress to make the biggest, most forward-looking investment in American infrastructure in fifty years! [applause] I will put forth a plan that is as big—in fact, bigger in some ways—than what President Eisenhower did when he created the interstate highway system! [applause] Why would I do that? Because that's how we're gonna create the next generation of jobs for people—good jobs with rising incomes!
Which is pretty damn good news, given that [CN: video autoplays at link] a CNN investigation found "that more than 60,000 bridges have been deemed structurally deficient" and "200 million drive over structurally deficient bridges daily."

This is exactly the kind of stuff I want to be hearing from my candidate.

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Open Thread

image of a collection of scoops of delicious-looking ice cream

Hosted by ice cream.

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Question of the Day

What inanimate thing have you lost, and it still bothers you to this day?

(And by "lost," I mean actually lost, left behind, forgot, etc. rather than having it taken from you in some way.)

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On Hillary's Emails

So. Today the State Department's Office of the Inspector General issued a report finding that "Clinton's use of private email for public business was 'not an appropriate method' of preserving documents and that her practices failed to comply with department policies meant to ensure that federal record laws are followed."

Now, as you may recall, I am not a reflexive defender of Clinton on this issue. When the news first broke in March of last year, I was critical of her decision, which was a violation of the Federal Records Act, in no small part because I spent such an enormous amount of time criticizing the Bush administration for multiple violations of the Federal Records Act. This isn't a small thing to me.

That said, one of the crucial differences between Bush-era violations, and Clinton's violation—which became clear as additional information emerged—is that Clinton wasn't fundamentally deviating from practices and habits of former Secretaries of State. While I still believe that Clinton made a mistake here, I'm much less annoyed about it than I was in March 2015.

Which, in case it's not already abundantly clear, isn't because I am a Clinton supporter—since I was then, too—but because I have carefully followed this story, even down to reading her emails, and further information has reshaped my position.

What strikes me the most about this situation is that Clinton occupied the office at a time—and I don't think this time has yet passed—when best practices governing sensitive electronic communications are still emerging.

I agree strongly with Paul Waldman's assessment:

[I]t also appears, from what we know so far, that there weren't really any practical consequences for the country because of her decision — no covert operations compromised, no key national security information delivered to our enemies. And cybersecurity experts will tell you that her emails likely would have been no less vulnerable had they been on the State Department's servers, which are the target of constant hacking attempts.

So maybe the best thing for Clinton to do now would be to say that this whole episode has brought home to her the need for the federal government to dramatically improve its cybersecurity, and she wants to assemble a blue-ribbon commission of experts to devise a plan to reform the systems across the government, one that she hopes Republicans will join with her to pass through Congress within her first year in office so it can be implemented as soon as possible. At least then some good might come of this controversy.
That's a good idea. And, frankly, it strikes me as precisely the sort of thing that I've seen Clinton do before—take a lesson and make improvements based on what she's learned.

Waldman also notes, quite rightly, that "Republicans aren't making a big deal out of this because of their deep and abiding concern for cybersecurity. They just want something to hammer Clinton with."

And that's a point I made in March of last year, too: "Because I so keenly remember the yawning indifference, of the media and of average USians, to the Bush administration email scandal, I will note that, if this turns into a massive story for Clinton, a potentially presidential-derailing story, it is not because people give a shit about compliance with the Federal Records Act, unless people have suddenly developed an inexplicable fondness for it in the intervening eight years."

Which is a great shame, really. That Clinton's mistake will lead to, bluntly, the even bigger mistake of ignoring the root security issues in order to turn this entire thing into a political football, with no objective but harming the person who might be keenest to fix it.

* * *

UPDATE: This piece by Charles Tiefer for Forbes is definitely worth a read: "State Department Report on Email Vindicates Clinton Rather Than Nails Her."

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Two-Minute Nostalgia Sublime

Kenny Loggins: "Meet Me Half Way"

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The Wednesday Blogaround

This blogaround brought to you by a warm breeze.

Recommended Reading:

Flor: [Content Note: Transphobia; violence; anti-immigrationism] TLC Condemns New Immigration Detention Center in Texas

Kiki: [CN: Disablism; misogyny] #MillionsMissing Protest: Highlighting an Illness Whose Toll Is Unseen

Sabah: [CN: Transphobia; patriarchy] What It Means for Me to Be Trans-Masculine at the Barbershop

Michelle: [CN: Discussion of eating and fat hatred] You Don't Have to Figure Out the Universal Truth of Nutrition

Keith: Marshawn Lynch Helped NFL Players Build a School in Haiti

Jonathan: The New Ghostbusters Action Figures Are Revolutionizing Toy Store Shelves

Amanda: Top 10 Superheroines Who Deserve Their Own Movies

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

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Whooooooooops! Email SNAFU Alerts Media Trump Plans to Hit Clinton on Whitewater

The revival of the '90s attacks continues!

This is just sad on so many levels:

Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo on Wednesday morning emailed a researcher at the Republican National Committee asking him to "work up information on HRC/Whitewater as soon as possible. This is for immediate use and for the afternoon talking points process."

The email was obtained by POLITICO when Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks, who Caputo copied on his request to the RNC, accidentally responded instead to Marc Caputo, a POLITICO reporter who is not related to the Republican consultant.
First, Donald Trump continues to demonstrate a catastrophic inability to face Hillary Clinton on the issues, given that his policy platform amounts to a bunch of contradictory bigotry shouted during the rambling monologues he calls speeches.

Second, his campaign's buffoonery is the reason we know that he's now fixing to go after Clinton on Whitewater.

Third, this is more evidence that Trump is afraid—afraid of competing on the merits, afraid of fighting fair, afraid of women.

Women will Trump Donald—unless, perhaps, he manages to Trump himself first.

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In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

Hillary Clinton's emails! (I will have a dedicated post about this later, so save discussion for that thread, please.)

[Content Note: War on agency; anti-LGBT bigotry] "Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will meet in June with conservative religious leaders, including those from anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ organizations, in a closed-door 'conversation.'" Where, presumably, he will reassure them that he promises to be just as heinous on abortion access and queer rights as they want him to be.

[CN: Transphobia] "Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will announce a lawsuit against the federal government on Wednesday over the Obama administration's guidance on transgender students." Because of course he will. And, once again, I will note: The next time you hear some asshole saying that elections don't matter, that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans, remind them of how a Democratic president is doing everything he can to protect transgender USians, and one of the biggest organizations from which he has to try to protect them is Republicans.

[CN: Descriptions of sexual assault; rape culture; racism] This is an absolutely horrifying story, and incredibly difficult to read, about a black disabled teenager who was raped by his white teammates on the high school football team. Toxic masculinity meets white supremacy meets sports culture. I am absolutely sick about every aspect of this heinous attack, part of an ongoing and escalating campaign of bullying and assault that was not sufficiently addressed by the adults ostensibly charged with the care of these students, and I take up space in solidarity with the victim.

[CN: Eliminationist racism; gun violence; death; white supremacy; death penalty] Dylann Roof is a killer whose vicious white supremacist mass murderer whose actions probably test the convictions of many death penalty opponents. But here is "Why We Must Stand Against the Death Penalty, Even in the Case of Racist Murderer Dylann Roof."

[CN: Misogyny] Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in on Friday as Taiwan's first female president, and already she's the subject of a widely criticized opinion piece, published by the Chinese state media's Xinhua news agency, claiming that she has exhibited "erratic behavior" because: "As a single female politician, Tsai Ing-wen does not have the emotional burden of love, of 'family,' or children, so her political style and strategies are displayed to be more emotional, personal, and extreme." Sounds legit!

[CN: Racism; patriarchy] "Young Black and Latino men need trusted pathways to skills development and mental health resources to succeed, according to a new report. Market research firm Motivational Educational Entertainment Productions drew from the results of nine focus groups to develop 'Heard, Not Judged: Insights into the Talents, Realities, and Needs of Young Men of Color.' The groups featured Black and Latino men ages 18 to 24... 'BMOC are extremely stressed out, taken off task by distractions and temptation, don't believe in the American Dream, and can barely see beyond surviving. They feel trapped at the bottom of the ladder because of a lack of resources, negative peer pressure, and racism. They are afraid to fail and lack awareness and trust of resources currently available to help them.'" Fucking hell.

[CN: Discussion of homophobia] "How an Ad Campaign Made Lesbians Fall in Love with Subaru." Love. P.S. Iain and I totally own a Subaru, and that is not a coincidence!

Hahahahahahaha! "A stealthy, stronger line of female salamanders are skipping sex and stealing DNA from males instead." TEACH US YOUR WAYS.

And finally! "Is This the Most Beautiful Horse in the World?" PROBABLY!!!

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Daily Dose of Cute

image of Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat sitting on the arm of the couch, with a ribbon hanging off her head
Some people have the world on a string. Others not so much.

Although that looks like a straw wrapper hanging off her head, it's actually a piece of ribbon (her favorite thing), which was originally the handle of a giftbag that she nearly destroyed trying to detach the ribbon, 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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