Question of the Day

Sep. 20th, 2017 06:00 pm
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

Suggested by Shaker AmeliaEve: "How did you learn to cook?"

Some basics from family and home ec classes in middle school. Mostly just from trial and error on my own. Trying to recreate things I ate at restaurants was a primary way of expanding my cooking skills, which are decent. I make a few great dishes and a lot of competent ones, lol.

Why I Had a Good Tuesday This Week

Sep. 20th, 2017 10:50 pm
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Posted by John Scalzi

Because yesterday I got to hang out a bit with Alison Moyet, who if you didn’t know is one of my absolute favorite singers, both in Yaz, and with her solo work. We’d become Twitter buddies in the last couple of years and when I mentioned to her Krissy and I would be at her Chicago show she suggested we have a real-life meet. And we did! And it was lovely! And brief, as she had to prepare to entertain a sold-out show (and she did; the concert was excellent), but long enough to confirm that she’s as fabulous in the flesh as she is in her music. Which was not surprising to me, but nice regardless.

(Alison has also blogged about our meet-up as part of her tour journal, which you can find here. Read the entire tour journal, as she’s funny as hell.)

I noted to some friends that I was likely to meet Alison this week and some of them wondered how it would go, on the principle that meeting one’s idols rarely goes as one expects (more bluntly, the saying is “never meet your idols.”) I certainly understand the concept, but I have to say I’ve had pretty good luck meeting people whom I have admired (or whose work I admired). I chalk a lot of that up to the fact that while I was working as a film critic, I met and interviewed literally hundreds of famous people, some of whose work was very important to me. In the experience I got to have the first-hand realization that famous and/or wonderfully creative people are also just people, and have the same range of personalities and quirks as anyone else.

If you remember that when you meet the people whose work or actions you admire, you give them space just to be themselves. And themselves are often lovely. And when they’re not, well, that’s fine too. Alison Moyet, it turns out, is fabulous, and I’m glad we got to meet.

(Which is not to say I didn’t geek out. Oh, my, I did. But I also kept that mostly inside. Krissy found it all amusing.)

Anyway: Great Tuesday. A+++, would Tuesday again.

The Wednesday Blogaround

Sep. 20th, 2017 05:00 pm
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

This blogaround brought to you by mint.

Recommended Reading:

George Dvorsky: [Content Note: Images of storm damage at link] Hurricane Maria Lashes Puerto Rico, Knocking out Power to Entire Island

Jenn Fang: [CN: Racism; nativism] US Immigration Denies Travel Visa to Sister Whose Stem Cell Donation Would Save Cancer Patient's Life

Lance Mannion: [CN: Bigotry; abuse] President of Their Dreams

Shay Stewart-Bouley: [CN: Racism; eliminationist violence] Navigating Racism, or Hate Exists Everywhere Whether You Admit It or Not

Mariame Kaba: [CN: Carcerality] Host Teach-Ins about Bail and Pretrial Detention This Fall

IWHC Staff: [CN: War on agency] Where Are We Now? A Snapshot of Some of the World's Most Egregious Abortion Laws

Leave your links and recommendations in comments. Self-promotion welcome and encouraged!
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

In Guinea and Nigeria, you fought a horrifying ebola outbreak. Nambia's health system is increasingly self-sufficient.
I don't even know.
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

image of Hillary Clinton in a blue jacket, smiling and clasping her hands together
[Photo: Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America.]

Hillary Clinton, commanding winner of the popular vote who nonetheless lost the presidency, continues to be very popular.

Her book is #1 on Amazon; she's sold "more than 300,000 copies in the combined formats of hardcover, e-book, and audio," and her book's "hardcover sales of 168,000 was the highest opening for any nonfiction release in five years"; her book tour is selling out; she's in demand as a guest on TV, radio, and podcasts; and her appearance on Rachel Maddow's show "was cable's most-watched news broadcast of the week, as well as the No. 1 non-sports show on cable."

Lots of people, millions of us, still like the unlikeable Hillary Clinton.

It was always a damnable and sinister lie that there was "low enthusiasm" for the country's first female nominee from a major party. A useful and ubiquitous lie, but a lie all the same.

It is a lie with which her most devoted haters have a hard time reckoning. She is, after all, the most scrutinized candidate ever to run, and, despite mendacious narratives to the contrary, the most transparent. If her supporters know her as well as any public figure can ever be known, and still like her, then how can she be the monster they accuse her of being?

The haters' rap on Hillary is that her supporters don't really know her — that she is deceitful, inauthentic, a chronic liar, a compulsive concealer of her multitudinous misdeeds, which include everything from accepting speaking fees to cold-blooded murder.

But we know. We know her actual failures, and we know all the invented malefactions that have been attributed to her for four decades. We have been urged to "wake up" and "do some research" on Who Hillary Clinton Really Is, but being a Hillary Clinton supporter means that you can't avoid the legitimate criticisms and wild-ass conspiracy theories about her powerful depravity even if you wanted to.

There isn't a valid concern or fringe-spun demon fantasy about Hillary Clinton that I haven't heard. There isn't a mistake she's made or a policy disagreement I have with her that I haven't long and thoughtfully considered. There isn't a horseshit nightmare narrative about her that can be posed to me which I haven't gathered the facts to dispute.

Which is a problem for her haters. They can't convince me not to like her.

And nothing annoys them more than that. Because it's not enough that they hate her. They want everyone else to hate her, too.

It's easy to imagine that this strange dynamic is unique to Hillary Clinton, but it isn't. It only seems that way because of her unusual prominence.

One of the most basic precepts of a patriarchal culture is that women aren't to be liked. Used, consumed, exploited, but never liked. Never respected. Never admired.

Especially not by other women.

Women who like and respect and admire one another are dangerous. We are socialized to hate each other (and ourselves), to think of ourselves and one another as less than, and to regard each other with suspicion and contempt — competitors for resources and opportunities and affection.

Even most feminist women have to make a habit of liking women, of rewriting that entrainment to reflexively see other women in negative terms, and replacing it with a spirit of sisterhood. A lot of women exceptionalize the women in their lives in the same way men do. My group of female friends having fun at this bar is awesome; that other group of female friends having fun at this bar is a bunch of skanks. That is the way we are all socialized to view women — their individual value determined by proximity and affiliation, rather than merit.

It is an insidious and intractable piece of systemic misogyny, this idea that women are simply unlikeable, as a rule.

And thus it is a radical act to like women.

Especially a woman as hated as Hillary Clinton. To like her is reject the cultural imperative to dislike and mistrust women — and it is a stubborn refusal to give her haters what they want; what they feel they are owed by a culture who promises them hatred of women.

All they're supposed to have to do is point out she's a woman. That is meant to be good enough to convince anyone of her loathsomeness! Instead, she is liked. Widely liked. Respected. Admired. Even losing hasn't dimmed the shimmer of her massive popularity.

They still can't get what they really want — which is for all of us to hate her the way they do.

We're supposed to be the irrational ones, but it's her haters who fixate on us, driving themselves to distraction by obsessively responding to any utterance, any written word, any simple tweet with reflexively disgorged hatred, unable to find contentment as long as there exist in the world people (women, especially) who don't share their low opinion of her.

Nothing provokes more outraged responses than my saying anything positive about Hillary Clinton.

(With the possible exception of saying anything negative about Bernie Sanders.)

There are abundant reasons that I like Hillary Clinton, and all of them more important than annoying the people determined to hate her. But I would be lying if I said the plethoric evidence that the mere act of my liking Hillary Clinton drives her haters utterly bananas doesn't bring me endless amounts of joy. It does.

And so they may harass me, they may insult me, they may even threaten me, but nevertheless, I persist.

I'm a nasty woman like that.

Daily Dose of Cute

Sep. 20th, 2017 01:30 pm
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

image of Dudley the Greyhound standing at the top of the deck stairs, squinting into the bright sunshine
"Dudley, don't you want to come run around in the yard on this beautiful autumn day?"
"Nah, I'm good. Can we go back in and get a treat now?"

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt sitting in the garden beside some yellow and purple autumn blooms, looking to one side
Zelly in the garden, patiently waiting for me to start running
around so she can chase me, since Dudley won't oblige her.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

We Resist: Day 244

Sep. 20th, 2017 12:15 pm
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: Senate GOP Wants Healthcare Vote in One Week.

The Editors of the Washington Post aren't pulling their punches on Senate Republicans' latest attempt to repeal Obamacare. Today's editorial is headlined: "Another Execrable Health-Care Bill Proves Bad Ideas Never Die." Ouch! Also: Correct. "Some Republicans want to pass this policy disaster before the end of the month, in less than two weeks. A last-minute committee hearing would be nothing more than a fig leaf disguising a reprehensibly partisan process in service of an unworthy bill." Damn.

With more on said fig leaf, Amanda Michelle Gomez at ThinkProgress: GOP Rushes to Pass Trumpcare Through Irregular Order.
Now, looking to garner support from McCain, his Republican colleagues have scheduled one hearing that would unpack the Cassidy-Graham bill — legislation that undercuts consumer protections more so than any other GOP health bill.

The hearing, which will held by the Senate Committee on Finance, is scheduled for Monday, September 25.

...It's not yet clear who will testify before senators on the potential impacts of the proposal, and it's also hard to imagine they will have all the information they need about the legislation's impact.

Next week's hearing will proceed without a comprehensive analysis from the CBO, which announced Monday that it will only be able to provide a "preliminary assessment" given the limited timeframe — a deadline that's self-imposed by the Senate because it's unlikely senators will be able to get enough support for the Cassidy-Graham to pass the bill with anything but a simple majority.
However, even though the Congressional Budget Office score won't arrive in time (by design, as usual), Greg Sargent notes that the new "Avalere study means GOP Senators now know exactly what they're voting for, even without CBO score."

At the Washington Post, he writes: "The study, which was released this morning by Avalere Health, a consulting firm, finds that many states will see sizable cuts to the federal money that would flow to their states, relative to current law. ...[B]ecause of the bill's funding formula, a lot of states will end up with substantially less federal money to spend on health-care coverage than they would have under current law. ...[T]he bill also creates a massive fiscal cliff for many states who stand to take an enormous wallop after 2026 [when the cuts get substantially worse]."

To reiterate: Republican Senators now know, irrespective of the availability (or lack thereof) of the CBO score, that the bill on which they're voting is terrible and why it's terrible. If they vote for it anyway, they're doing it with full and public knowledge of the millions of people they'd harm.

For ourselves, for our countrypeople, and to give Topher a great birthday, MAKE YOUR CALLS.

* * *

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Morgan Winsor at ABC News: Nikki Haley Defends Trump's 'Rocket Man' Speech to United Nations: He 'Was Being Honest'. "In his speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Trump threatened to 'totally destroy' North Korea if the U.S. is 'forced to defend itself or its allies,' prompting astonished gasps from the audience. Haley said the president 'was being honest' and that his bluntness was in fact 'very much appreciated.'" 1. No he wasn't; and 2. Appreciated by whom? Also: "Being honest" isn't a defense for recklessly provoking a nuclear war. FYI.

Craig Silverman at BuzzFeed: Trump Is Using Targeted Facebook Ads to Reassure Supporters He Will Build the Border Wall.
Donald Trump is using targeted Facebook ads to reassure supporters that he still plans to build the border wall after his recent public comments caused many to question whether he would keep his promise.

"There's been a lot of noise and a lot of rumors," reads the text of a Facebook ad from Trump's personal Facebook page that was targeted to specific users in recent days. "....WE WILL BUILD A WALL (NOT A FENCE) ALONG THE SOUTHERN BORDER OF THE UNITED STATES..." The ad concludes with a pitch for donations.

...The personal Facebook page of Vice President Mike Pence is also running a version of the ad. One difference between the Pence and Trump ads is the VP's refers to "Fake News media," while Trump's calls out the "mainstream media." Both ads include a dig against "liberals in congress."

A White House spokesman told BuzzFeed News the ads are being run by the Trump campaign, and referred all questions to it. The Trump campaign did not respond to emails or phone messages about the ads.

The ads are not visible on the timelines of the Trump or Pence Facebook pages. They are, therefore, so-called "dark post ads" because they can only be seen by people the campaign chose to target with the message. This is the same type of ad Facebook recently acknowledged was purchased by a Russian troll factory in order to target Americans during the election.
RED FLAG. RED FLAG. RED FLAG. I mean, this is how confident Trump is that he's above the law and will face no consequences. It's just a brazen replication of the very thing for which he's being investigated.

Allegra Kirkland at TPM: More Details Emerge About Predawn Raid on Manafort's Virginia Home. "Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his wife were asleep in their Alexandria, Virginia apartment early on the morning of July 26 when a team of armed FBI agents burst through the door with a search warrant focusing on possible crimes committed as far back as 2006. ...A source briefed on the investigation told CNN that special counsel Robert Mueller's team explicitly notified Manafort that they planned to charge him with possible tax and financial crimes." Again: These leaks are not great.

[CN: Trans hatred; child abuse] Chris Massie and Andrew Kaczynski at CNN: Trump Judicial Nominee Said Transgender Children Are Part of 'Satan's Plan'; Defended 'Conversion Therapy'. "In a pair of 2015 speeches, [Donald] Trump's nominee for a federal judgeship in Texas described transgender children as evidence of 'Satan's plan,' lamented that states were banning conversion therapy, and argued that sanctioning same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy and bestiality. Jeff Mateer, the current first assistant attorney general of Texas, was serving at the time as general counsel of the First Liberty Institute, a religious liberty advocacy group known before 2016 as the Liberty Institute. ...If confirmed by the US Senate, he will serve on the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas." And Trump still has 100 federal court vacancies to fill, so that's cool and everything is fine. (Heaving sobs.)

Dan Diamond and Rachana Pradhan at Politico: Price's Private-Jet Travel Breaks Precedent. "In a sharp departure from his predecessors, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price last week took private jets on five separate flights for official business, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars more than commercial travel. ...The travel by corporate-style jet comes at a time when other members of the Trump administration are under fire for travel expenditures, and breaks with the practices of Obama-era Secretaries Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Kathleen Sebelius, who flew commercially while in the continental United States. Price, a frequent critic of federal spending who has been developing a plan for department-wide cost savings, declined to comment." I'll bet he did. This is an entire administration of lying grifters.

Matt Shuham at TPM: Ousted White House Aide Gorka Joins Conspiracy Theory-Happy 'MAGA Coalition'. "Former White House staffer and self-styled counterterrorism expert Sebastian Gorka has joined a secretive pro-Trump super PAC whose leaders have pushed conspiracy theories about a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer and 'Pizzagate.' ...MAGA Coalition asserted in an late August FEC filing that it 'exists to further the political influence of 'America First' policies; engineered to put the freedom, sovereignty, and economic prosperity policies for the American voters into practice in our government.' The group's known staff is extremely small, but Gorka's hiring as its 'chief strategist' shines a bright light on its habit of promoting extreme conspiracy theories." And empowering Nazis.

For more on the MAGA Coalition, see Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng at the Daily Beast: Seb Gorka Joins Pro-Trump Group Founded by Pizzagate Truthers and a Seth Rich Conspiracy Theorist.

[CN: Homophobia; transphobia] Nick Duffy at PinkNews: Kid Rock Opens Senate Bid with Anti-LGBT Rant. I'm not going to reprint his vile bigotry in this space. Instead, I just want to share this passage from the piece: "The outspoken Republican, real name Robert Ritchie, is reportedly planning to run in the US Senate election in Michigan next November, seeking to unseat incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow. Polling has shown he has massive support among the GOP base, despite his lack of experience or policy knowledge or stated political agenda." Despite, or because of. Seethe.

[CN: Racism; police brutality] Kenrya Rankin at Colorlines: Attorney Advocate in St. Louis Asks When Her City Will Begin to Value Black Lives.
Organizers and activists have been in the streets since Friday, protesting the verdict [in which officer Jason Stockley was acquitted on first-degree murder charges for killing 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith] and the system that produced it. Among the crowd: Nicole D. Nelson, a staff attorney with nonprofit civil rights law firm ArchCity Defenders. And as she writes in an op-ed published in The New York Times today, there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to the city's treatment of its Black residents.

...Nelson closes by urging local leadership to heed the policy recommendations of The Movement for Black Lives, including demilitarizing law enforcement, putting an end to the cash bail system, and decriminalizing poverty. "Until then," she writes, "St. Louis law enforcement officials will continue to find themselves locked in this pattern, wondering why Black citizens take to the streets demanding that the police stop killing us."
Relatedly, after Pi Pizzeria owner Chris Sommers was targeted by the union representing St. Louis County police officers, directing people to harass him because he voiced opposition to the police having gassed his restaurant and patrons, Sommers published a thorough response, which is an absolutely devastating indictment of the police's tactics during the protests: "After they threw a tear gas canister at me (again, on video), a guy next to me picked it up and threw it back at them, either to get it away from him and others at Pi, or because he felt violated and wanted to return the poison. They certainly didn't like that, and finally crossed the street, rushing at me as I ran into my restaurant and barely got the door closed before they could break in. Yes, I had to lock down my restaurant for the first time from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. I then had to close the restaurant, buy dinner for remaining guests and ensure that my team, who were now all terrified from the gas and rush by the police, had a safe ride home. I repeat, we only closed our restaurant this weekend out of fear of police, not protestors or the shitheads vandalizing." JFC.

[CN: Carcerality] Matt Krupnick at the Guardian: Bail Roulette: How the Same Minor Crime Can Cost $250 or $10,000. "The Guardian looked at California to try and get a sense of the dynamics across a large state. An inspection of bail schedules in 56 of California's 58 counties — rural Humboldt and Amador counties did not respond to repeated requests — shows huge disparities in how misdemeanor bail is handled. The analysis showed big differences even regarding minor crimes that would lead to little or no jail time upon conviction. ...Bail schedules tend to reflect community values. If you sell drugs near a church in Florida's fifth circuit, west of Orlando, you can expect to pay $5,000 bail. But bringing a gun to school? That will cost just $2,000. 'That's an indication of where we are,' said Mike Graves, the fifth circuit public defender. 'It's a conservative place.'"

[CN: War on agency] Nicole Knight at Rewire: Pennsylvania Officials Still Won't Cut off Anti-Choice Group Misusing Taxpayer Money. "For decades, the anti-choice nonprofit Real Alternatives abused a multi-million dollar Pennsylvania state grant by spending a cut of the money on a network of crisis pregnancy centers, or fake clinics, and anti-choice activities outside the state. Pennsylvania's auditor general on Tuesday said the state was to blame for shoddy oversight of Real Alternatives, announcing it was time to go after the misspent money. But Auditor General Eugene DePasquale stopped short of recommending the state end Real Alternative's $30.2 million grant." OH WELL I GUESS. *headdesk*

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

The Swimming Thread

Sep. 20th, 2017 11:00 am
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

Last month, I posted the first swimming thread, which was one of my favorite threads since last November, lolsob.

As I said then, because of the great feedback and conversations I've had since I started talking more about swimming, I'm going to keep talking about it and opening up space for other people to talk about it, too — whether it's sharing their own feelings about swimming, grousing about lack of accessibility, asking questions about how to dive in (literally), or anything else.

So, here's another swimming thread!

In comments the last time, Shaker ethel mentioned Aquagoggles, which are prescription goggles that sell for $24 plus shipping. That is much cheaper than the contact lenses I buy, primarily (and almost exclusively) for use while swimming, so I decided to give them a try.

image of me sporting my blue Aquagoggles, a pink swim cap, and a purple swimsuit top

I like them a whole lot! They aren't precise prescription lenses, which is how they keep the price so low, but they are close enough that they work perfectly for my purposes.

My only issue with them, which isn't a function of the goggles themselves, is that I can't see my way around the showers without them on, and I have very poor vision without prescription lenses of any kind. I don't love wearing my glasses into the shower, so I'm still sorting that out, but, like I said, that's not about the goggles!

In sum: A big thumbs up to Aquagoggles, and a big thank you to ethel for the recommendation. Thanks, ethel!

As before, please use this thread for all swimming-related discussion, and I am happy to answer any and all questions around being a fat woman who swims: How I navigate the locker room, what strokes I do, how I deal with shitty looks and comments, what's the best suit cut for what body shape to cover all the bits, anything.

Have at it in comments!

What’s Trending? The Crime Drop

Sep. 20th, 2017 02:00 pm
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Posted by Evan Stewart

Over at Family Inequality, Phil Cohen has a list of demographic facts you should know cold. They include basic figures like the US population (326 million), and how many Americans have a BA or higher (30%). These got me thinking—if we want to have smarter conversations and fight fake news, it is also helpful to know which way things are moving. “What’s Trending?” is a post series at Sociological Images with quick looks at what’s up, what’s down, and what sociologists have to say about it.

The Crime Drop

You may have heard about a recent spike in the murder rate across major U.S. cities last year. It was a key talking point for the Trump campaign on policing policy, but it also may be leveling off. Social scientists can also help put this bounce into context, because violent and property crimes in the U.S. have been going down for the past twenty years.

You can read more on the social sources of this drop in a feature post at The Society Pages. Neighborhood safety is a serious issue, but the data on crime rates doesn’t always support the drama.

Evan Stewart is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Minnesota. You can follow him on Twitter.

(View original at

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Posted by Melissa McEwan

Last night, Hillary Clinton was a guest on Stephen Colbert's show, during which she said plainly "I'm not going anywhere," told an amazing story about experiencing Vladimir Putin's misogyny firsthand, and drank a glass of chardonnay. Below, the first (and much longer and substantial) block of her appearance:

STEPHEN COLBERT: Folks, I am terribly excited, because she was first a First Lady, then a Senator, then Secretary of State, and I would have bet anything the next President of the United States. Please welcome Hillary Rodham Clinton!

[audience cheers and applause as Hillary Clinton walks out; she shakes Stephen Colbert's hand as they greet each other warmly; a large part of the audience gives her a standing ovation; she takes her seat on stage to extended cheers and applause]

COLBERT: Thank you so much for being here.

CLINTON: Oh, Stephen, it's good to see you.

COLBERT: It's good to see you. It's an honor to have you here.

CLINTON: Thanks!

COLBERT: You have a new book. It's called "What Happened." And I don't know how else to start this interview, other than saying: What happened?! [audience laughter; Clinton laughs] What happened?

CLINTON: Well, that's the question I try to answer.


CLINTON: Yeah, because it was the question I asked myself starting on election night.

COLBERT: Mm-hmm.

CLINTON: And I started—

COLBERT: What time on election night? [audience laughter]

CLINTON: Ugh! Well, as I write in the book: Midnight. [shrugs] Midnight.

COLBERT: Yeah, I remember.

CLINTON: The dark time of the soul. Midnight. [audience laughter]

COLBERT: Yeah, I'm waiting for it to not be midnight soon. [audience laughter]

CLINTON: Yeah, right. And so I — I was asking it like you just said: What happened?! You know? And I figured, maybe I'd better try to find out, to figure it out. So that's why I dove into this book. It was, ah, very painful and difficult, but, at the end, I really feel like I've done my very best to lay out what happened so that it doesn't happen again. I mean, that's my primary goal here is so that it doesn't happen again. [lengthy audience cheers and applause]

COLBERT: Well, a lot of people have said, "Oh, I, boy, I wish Hillary Clinton would just go away."


COLBERT: "Just go away."

CLINTON: Well, you know, if they take up a collection and send me somewhere really nice— [audience laughter]

COLBERT: Really? [chuckles]

CLINTON: I might consider it!

COLBERT: Really? Yeah!

CLINTON: But it, you know—

COLBERT: Obama's on David Geffen's yacht a lot. You could go with him. [audience laughter]

CLINTON: [shrugs] Well, you know, I — I am not going anywhere. [massive audience applause]

COLBERT: Well, I'm glad you're not!

CLINTON: So. [extended audience cheers and applause; Clinton smiles and chuckles]

COLBERT: I agree. At first I could understand some of those calls — people saying like, "The Republicans are tearing themselves apart; don't give them, you know, someone to rally around in opposition to," because you are a convenient figure for them to unite against.


COLBERT: But I actually do not think that's how what's happening to our government is going to be stopped. I think it's people who are willing to be civically engaged and believe in the promises and the progress of the last fifty years that will save this country.

CLINTON: I agree completely—

COLBERT: So thank you so much for not going away.

CLINTON: —absolutely completely!

COLBERT: But wait a second: It must not have been easy.


COLBERT: It must not have been easy to write this book.

CLINTON: It — it wasn't easy! I mean, it was painful. It was horrible reliving it, and, you know, being as candid, open as I could be about the mistakes I made and talking about those. But also trying to come to grips, as I write in the book, about everything from, you know, sexism and misogyny, to voter suppression, to the unusual behavior of the former director of the FBI, and the Russians. And the Russians! — and you have been sounding the alarm about this — because I believe so strongly that they think they succeeded in messing with our democracy, and I just can't abide that, so—

COLBERT: Do you think they succeeded in messing with our democracy?

CLINTON: Yes I do. I do. I do. Because—

COLBERT: To what degree? Like, influencing the vote? Or influencing opinion?

CLINTON: Influencing voters, and therefore influencing opinion, I think is becoming clearer and clearer. I don't know what the Congressional investigations and I don't know what the Special Counsel investigation are going to find; I'm gonna wait for that. But I don't think anybody can with a straight face say that the Russians did not set out to influence our election, and they did so. This latest revelation about the way they bought ads on Facebook and targeted them — we're gonna find out a lot more, Stephen.

And I am saying as clearly as I can — I feel like I'm a bit of a, you know, a Paula Revere; I'm trying to sound the alarm about this [audience laughter and applause] — is that the—

You know, you've gotta understand what Putin's strategy is. He really doesn't like democracy. He thinks it's an inconvenient, messy process. And he doesn't like us, and he wants to destabilize our country; sow doubt about our democracy.

I mean, these latest revelations, where you had Russians pretending to be Americans — so you had fake Americans, with fake news, and fake stories, and fake demonstrations — that wasn't just because he's bored and has nothing to do. He wants to undermine how we see each other, how we respect each other, how we support our institutions and our society.

So, I think that they believe they had a good outing in twenty-sixteen, and I think that they will be back in twenty-eighteen and twenty-twenty, unless we stop them. [audience applause]

COLBERT: Now, you mentioned that he — that Putin doesn't like democracy and he doesn't like America; part of the speculation is that he specifically doesn't like you. Do you think this was personal on a certain level?

CLINTON: I think it was mostly about the role I played as Secretary of State, which he did morph into a grudge against me, because I would say things like, you know, "The Russian people deserve free and fair elections. They deserve to have a democracy."

COLBERT: Questioning the legitimacy of his election in two-thousand eleven.

CLINTON: The parliamentary elections, that's right. And, so, our intelligence community and others have said that he did have a personal grudge against me— You know, I don't take it personally. I think it's part of his worldview, which is all tied up with his anger, his disappointment in the collapse of the Soviet Union, and his feeling that we're his number one rival — he wants to really undermine the European-American alliance.

And so I see it as: I was doing my job — I was honored to do my job, to stand up and speak out on behalf of American values and our democracy — and, partly because I'm a woman, which does seem to get him a bit agitated— [audience cheers and applause] And he actually has said that, um, some things about that—

COLBERT: Has he — did he ever say anything to you personally that demonstrated his misogyny?

CLINTON: Well, he demonstrated— As I write in the book, you know, there's an expression, we certainly know it in New York, called manspreading. [audience laughter]

COLBERT: [chuckling] Yes.

CLINTON: And every time I met with him, it would be— [spreads her arms and flops back in her chair, taking up lots of space] Okay? [audience laughter] The whole deal! And, so, I'd go to meetings with him— One in particular, we were in his dacha outside of Moscow, and the press comes in, and he just berates America about one of the many things that annoys him about us, and then the press leaves, and I've got four or five things we're trying to deal with him and Russia on — and I always came to my meetings with him trying to find something that I could actually engage him about.

So, we went through the economy and human rights and all these other things that are critically important, and he was, you know— [mimes staring off into space] Like, as President Obama once said, like the bored guy in the back of the room. He couldn't care less.

Then I said: "You know, I am really pleased to hear that you care about wildlife conservation, and that you are trying to save species in Russia, like Siberian tigers and polar bears." Then he came alive! And then we had an interesting conversation, so—

COLBERT: [mimicking Putin] "I wrestle polar bears!" [audience laughter]

CLINTON: Yeah! "I wrestle po—" No, he said to me, so he said: "Come with me!" He takes me down the stairs, down this corridor, into the door — all of his security guys are jumping up, because we weren't expected — into this inner sanctum with this huge desk and the biggest map of Russia I think exists, and he started telling me he's "going here to tag polar bears." And then he says to me: "Would your husband like to come?" [audience gasps and laughter; Clinton grins broadly] And I said, "Well, you know, I'll ask him, but, if he's busy, I'll go!" [she grins as the audience cheers]

COLBERT: We're gonna take a little break, and when we come back, Secretary Clinton and I just might break out the chardonnay.
And so they did!

[Images embedded in tweets are of Hillary Clinton smiling and talking animatedly while holding a glass of white wine.]

Everything about that was terrific, but this was my favorite part, for reasons I'm sure I don't have to explain: "I am not going anywhere." MA'AM.
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

Caitlin Owens at Axios reports that "Senate leadership is aiming to start voting on the Cassidy-Graham health care plan next Wednesday."
"I think so. I think that's the likely thing," Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of leadership, told me.

Leadership is still trying to figure out where each senator stands.

The vehicle Republicans are using to pass the bill with only a 50-vote threshold expires next Saturday.

..."Some don't want to take another tough vote if the whole team (or at least 50) isn't on board. Some say we can't get this close and not try by forcing the vote — make people identify where they are. I think the 'vote no matter what' school is winning out," a senior GOP aide said.
What we know is that they will definitely try to force a vote before next Saturday, because of the simple majority window. What we don't know is whether we'll actually have a full week to organize a robust opposition that sways enough Republican Senators to deny them that simple majority.

They may be saying Wednesday, but actually planning for something sooner.

What that means: MAKE YOUR CALLS NOW.

The Big Idea: Fran Wilde

Sep. 20th, 2017 12:42 pm
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Posted by John Scalzi

Today, award-winning author Fran Wilde has a shocking confession to make! About something she said! Here! And yes, it involves her new novel, Horizon. What will this confession be? Will there be regret involved? Are you prepared for what happens next?!?


Dear readers of John Scalzi’s blog, for the past three years, I’ve been keeping secrets.

I’m not sorry.

Trilogies are a delicate thing. They are a community of books unto themselves. They inform and support one another; their themes and actions ripple and impact one another. They have their own set of rules. Among them: Write down the main character’s eye color or favorite food so you don’t forget it. You’ll regret using that hard-to-spell naming convention by the middle of your second book. Destroy something in book one, you’re not going to magically have it to rely on in book three — at least not without some major effort. Everything gathers — each choice, each voice.

Trilogies are, by intent, more than the sum of their parts.

And, when brought together, a trilogy’s largest ideas sometimes appear in the gathered shadows of what seemed like big ideas at the time.

In Updraft, book one of the Bone Universe trilogy, what began to crumble was the system that upheld the community of the bone towers. It didn’t look like it then. So I didn’t tell you when I wrote my first Big Idea.

Instead, the first time I visited this blog, I wrote: “At its heart, Updraft is about speaking and being heard and — in turn — about hearing others…”

That was true – especially in the ways Updraft explored song as memory and singing and voice. But it was also kind of a fib. I knew where the series was headed, and voice was only the tip of the spear.

I planned to return here a year later to write about leadership, and I did — and, I wrote about demagoguery too, and abut having a book come out during a charged political season. That was September 2016, Cloudbound, the second book in the series was just out, and wow, that post seems somewhat innocent and naive now. But not any less important.

Again, saying the big idea in Cloudbound was leadership was true on its face, but it was also a an act of omission. And again, singing came into play — in that songs in Cloudbound were being adjusted and changed, as were messages between leaders.

With Horizon, I’m going to lay it all out there for you. Horizon is about community.

Structurally, Horizon is narrated by several different first person voices — including Kirit, Nat, and Macal, a magister and the brother of a missing Singer. These three voices come from different places in the Bone Universe’s geography, and they weave together to form a greater picture of the world, and its threats. A fourth voice appears only through a song — a new song — that is written during the course of Horizon, primarily by one character but with the help of their community. That song is the thread that ties the voices together, and, one hopes, the new community as well.

And, like Horizon, for me, the big idea for the Bone Universe series is also community. How to defend one, how to lead one, how to salvage as much as you can of one and move forward towards rebuilding it.

In my defense, I did leave some clues along the way. I shifted narrators between Updraft and Cloudbound in order to broaden the point of view and reveal more about the lead characters and the world, both between the books (how Nat and Kirit are seen each by the other vs. how they see themselves), and within them. I shared with readers the history of the bone towers and how that community, and the towers themselves, formed. I showed you the community’s [something] – that their means of keeping records and remembering was based on systems that could be used to both control messages and redefine them. I made the names of older laws and towers much more complicated to pronounce (and, yes, spell SIGH), versus the simpler names for newer things. This community had come together, then grown into something new.

The evolution of singing in the Bone Universe is, much like the idea of community, something that can be seen in pieces, but that resolves more when looked at from the perspective of all three books together.

Remember that solo voice — Kirit’s — singing quite badly that first book? In the second book, Nat’s voice joins Kirit’s — a solo, again, but because we can still hear Kirit, and because we know her, it becomes a kind of duet. In the third book, three voices present separate parts of the story, and when they all come together, that forms a connected whole.

When you listen to a group of people sing, sometimes one voice stands out, then another. Then, when multiple voices join in for the chorus, the sound becomes a different kind of voice. One with additional depth and resonance.

That’s the voice of a community. That drawing together of a group into something that is more than the sum of its parts. It is an opportunity, a way forward, out of a crumbling system and into something new and better.  

That’s the big idea.


Horizon: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow her on Twitter.

Question of the Day

Sep. 19th, 2017 06:00 pm
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

Suggested by Shaker yes: "What food item do you really enjoy that others usually toss out without eating?"

The orange slices that often come on a plate as a breakfast garnish at diners.

High Enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton!

Sep. 19th, 2017 05:00 pm
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

Hey, here's a neat story that was published today at CNBC! "Hillary Clinton's Book Is No. 1 on Amazon, Outselling Tom Brady and Stephen King." For real! Here's a screenshot and everything!

screenshot of CNBC headline with accompanying photo of Hillary Clinton smiling

Gee, it's almost like that insistent and ubiquitous narrative during the campaign that there was "low enthusiasm" for Hillary Clinton was bullshit, is bullshit, and will always be bullshit.

Just like a boring old neoliberal shill of a stupid broken record told ya.


Earthquake in Mexico

Sep. 19th, 2017 03:45 pm
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

Just 11 days after Mexico was hit by a magnitude 8.2 earthquake, which killed at least 98 people, displaced an enormous number of people, and left an estimated 2.5 million people in need of assistance, another 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit today, collapsing buildings and doing widespread damage that has left large parts of Mexico City without power. Many people have been injured, and there will unfortunately probably be a number of casualties.
The quake hit five miles (eight km) southeast of Atencingo in the state of Puebla at a depth of 32 miles (51 km), USGS said.

Puebla governor Tony Galil tweeted that several buildings in the city of Cholula had been damaged, including churches whose steeples collapsed.

Several buildings in Mexico City collapsed, while swathes of the capital were left without electricity.

Video posted online showed slabs of concrete peeling from the facade of the labor ministry and plunging onto the street below amid clouds of dust.

...The quake shook the capital on the anniversary of the devastating 1985 earthquake which cost thousands of lives and destroyed many buildings in the capital.

Much of Mexico City is built on former lake bed, and the soil is known to amplify the effects of earthquakes even hundreds of miles away.

Just two hours and 15 minutes before Tuesday's quake, buildings across the city held practice evacuations drills on the anniversary of the 1985 quake.

I can't find the words to convey the sympathy I feel for the Mexican people affected by these back-to-back earthquakes and their aftershocks. Nothing feels sufficient. I am so sorry.

Please feel welcome and encouraged to use this thread to share recommended agencies doing earthquake relief and other ways to help. As always, let's keep this an image-free thread. Thanks.
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Posted by John Scalzi

Krissy and I are playing hooky today because we’re going to the Alison Moyet concert in Chicago, which necessitated a bit of a drive. Well, we’re here now, and the view from the hotel is lovely, nary a parking lot in sight. How is your day?

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Posted by Melissa McEwan

[Content Note: Toxic masculinity; misogyny; sexual assault; stalking; class warfare.]

Of all the horrideous post-election Reporter Ethnographies of the Mysterious Masculinity of the Rust Belt pieces, this might be the absolute shittiest, which is really saying something: "Why I Hitchhiked the Rust Belt in Search of the American Man" by Drew Philp at the Guardian.

There are abundant egregious failures in this piece — and I will leave it to you to tease out each and every one of them in their appalling abundance in comments, should you be so inclined — but there is no more execrable failure in the piece than its opening, in which is recounted a story of the writer and his accompanying photographer being picked up by a woman, who tells them of being "raped, beaten, left for dead" by an ex-husband who also killed their son in utero and continues to stalk her.

There is no follow-up to this story in the piece. No commentary on what that story, the story of an American woman whose life has been made a relentless misery by an American man, means for a piece in which two men are on assignment "in search of the American man."

That's because there's no room in this story for women at all. There never is.

There is never room for the women and children who are victims of the American man, and who are simultaneously victims of the class warfare and unregulated capitalism and union-busting and erosion of worker's rights and automation and wage stagnation and insufficient safety net by which many American men in the rust belt are victimized, too.

There is only room for the conjuring of our sympathies for men, by other men who escaped their fate — and deal with the trappings of their privilege by lionizing men of the lower classes with gilded patronization.

Daily Dose of Cute

Sep. 19th, 2017 01:30 pm
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

image of Dudley the Greyhound and Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt lying on the sofa beside each other
Tandem napping.

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

We Resist: Day 243

Sep. 19th, 2017 12:15 pm
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: The Latest on Mueller's Russia Investigation and Trump Is Cringingly Humiliating at the U.N.

As I mentioned yesterday, Republican healthcare access erosion is back, and the GOP Senate caucus is again trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

And Mitch McConnell is wasting no time in trying to ram it through, sans details or Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score, to try to prevent us from having time to organize effective resistance for the third time.

Reuters reports: "U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday urged quick action on a recently introduced bill to repeal Obamacare and said it had a lot of support. The legislation by Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy is 'an intriguing idea and one that has a great deal of support,' McConnell, a Republican, told the Senate. Lawmakers should act, because we know that 'our opportunity to do so may well pass us by if we don't act soon,' he said."

And the bipartisan bill to improve Obamacare is now dead.

This is a complete disaster in the making, especially with the "moderate" Republicans now looking more likely to support the new bill, despite the fact that it addresses none of their concerns. "Principles schminciples."—Every Republican ever.

Especially John McCain: "Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who was one of three Republican 'no' votes in July that derailed the last GOP health care effort, said he might 'reluctantly' vote for the bill if his governor supported it. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, backed the legislation later that day."

You know what I'm going to say: MAKE YOUR CALLS.

But don't just listen to me. Listen to former vice-presidential candidate Senator Tim Kaine.

If you need help resisting, head on over to the Trumpcare Toolkit.


* * *

This is just a real thing in the world:

As you may recall, this is the same shit Mike Pence tried to pull when he was governor of Indiana, and then claimed he didn't know anything about it when he got busted. (See section five here.)

Anyone who imagines that the Republican Party wants to distance itself from Trump is fooling themselves or is a rank liar. The Republican Party couldn't be more thrilled that Trump is ushering in authoritarianism and legitimizing propaganda. They can't fall in line fast enough.

* * *

Rosalind S. Helderman and Karoun Demirjian at the Washington Post: Senate Intelligence Committee Interview with Trump Lawyer Abruptly Canceled.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has unexpectedly canceled a Tuesday session to interview Michael Cohen, a former lawyer for [Donald] Trump's business and a close associate of the president.

The meeting was scheduled as part of the committee's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. Cohen arrived for the interview with his attorney Tuesday morning, but left the closed door session after about an hour, informing reporters waiting outside that committee staff had suddenly informed him they did not wish the interview to go forward.

...Cohen had planned to tell the committee that he has "never engaged with, been paid by, paid for, or conversed with any member of the Russian Federation or anyone else to hack or interfere with the election."
Sounds legit. Anyway, the reason that the committee declined to speak with Cohen today is because he violated an agreement not to speak to media ahead of his testimony by releasing a statement to the press this morning.

In a joint statement, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R) and Vice-Chair Mark Warner (D) explained: "We were disappointed that Mr. Cohen decided to pre-empt today's interview by releasing a public statement prior to his engagement with Committee staff, in spite of the Committee's requests that he refrain from public comment. As a result, we declined to move forward with today's interview and will reschedule Mr. Cohen's appearance before the Committee in open session at a date in the near future. The Committee expects witnesses in this investigation to work in good faith with the Senate."


* * *

Dan Alexander at Forbes: Eric Trump's Old Foundation Apparently Held Secret Event at Trump-Owned Golf Club. "The charity formerly known as the Eric Trump Foundation apparently held a secret event at Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York on Monday, even though the Eric Trump Foundation remains under investigation by the office of the New York state attorney general. The charity, which was renamed Curetivity, is legally allowed to raise money as the investigation continues. But its choice of venue seemed to be an act of defiance. Eric Trump had previously falsely stated that his charity got to use his family's assets '100% free of charge,' but a June story in Forbes magazine debunked that claim and sparked a state investigation into the organization. It is not clear who will cover the costs for Monday's event." This whole fucking family. What a bunch of disgusting grifters.

Matt Shuham at TPM: Trump Officials Quashed Study Showing Refugees' Net Benefit to US. "Trump administration officials nixed a study that found refugees had brought in more government revenue overall than they had cost in benefits, the New York Times reported Monday. The White House was ultimately given a report that spelled out only the costs associated with refugees. It's unclear exactly who nixed the information from the study showing refugees' positive net fiscal impact on the country. The Times' report comes as the Trump administration determines how many refugees to accept in the coming year, ahead of an Oct. 1 deadline. Two people familiar with talks over the refugee cap told the Times that White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller had intervened to ensure that only costs associated with refugees, and not government revenues generated by them, were taken into consideration." That fucking guy.

And finally, a story of resistance that demands our solidarity: Sameer Rao at Colorlines: 6 California DREAMers Sue Trump to Block DACA Repeal.
A group of six California residents filed a federal lawsuit [Monday] (September 18) that challenges the Trump administration's plan to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Reuters reports that six adult plaintiffs, all of whom came to the United States as children of undocumented parents, filed a suit to stop DACA's repeal in U.S. District Court for the Northern Division of California just after midnight today. The complaint describes Trump's decision to end DACA as "a broken promise and an unprecedented violation of the constitutional rights of plaintiffs and other young people who relied on the federal government" to maintain the program.

That promise was made in 2012, when the Obama administration introduced the program. The complaint argues that it struck a bargain that allowed undocumented immigrant children to trust the government while building lives in the U.S.

...[Dulce Garcia, a San Diego-based lawyer who came to the U.S. at age four] and her fellow plaintiffs' lawsuit specifically accuses the government of being "motivated by unconstitutional bias against Mexicans and Latinos" to justify violating the Fifth Amendment, which protects people from self-incrimination (including, per the complaint, telling the federal government about your undocumented status in good faith) and the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs how federal agencies can propose and rescind policies.

These allegations feature in other lawsuits filed in the wake of the DACA repeal announcement. As The Hill reported, attorney generals from 15 states and the District of Colombia co-filed one such lawsuit on September 6. The Times reported four days later that California, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota attorneys general submitted their own lawsuit, filed in the same federal court as a suit filed by the University of California.
What have you been reading that we need to resist today?
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

This morning, Donald Trump gave an address before the United Nations, in which he behaved precisely as you'd anticipate: Rambling, belligerent, and a comprehensive embarrassment to all sensible and decent people of the United States.

The Guardian published a live-blog of the 41-minute address, during which Trump said the United States may "have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea" and referred to North Korean leader Kim Jung-un as "Rocket Man."

—forced to defend itself or its allies. We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.

On Twitter, Hend Amry wryly observed: "Good thing we didn't end up with Hillary the Hawk."

Yeah. We really dodged a bullet nuke there.

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Posted by Melissa McEwan

There were two big stories published last night on Special Counsel Bob Mueller's investigation into possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 election, both centered around former Trump-Pence campaign chair and longtime Donald Trump associate Paul Manafort.

1. Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz, and Pamela Brown at CNN: [Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] U.S. Government Wiretapped Former Trump Campaign Chair.
US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources tell CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe.

...Special counsel Robert Mueller's team, which is leading the investigation into Russia's involvement in the election, has been provided details of these communications.

A secret order authorized by the court that handles the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) began after Manafort became the subject of an FBI investigation that began in 2014. It centered on work done by a group of Washington consulting firms for Ukraine's former ruling party, the sources told CNN.

The surveillance was discontinued at some point last year for lack of evidence, according to one of the sources.

The FBI then restarted the surveillance after obtaining a new FISA warrant that extended at least into early this year.

Sources say the second warrant was part of the FBI's efforts to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives. Such warrants require the approval of top Justice Department and FBI officials, and the FBI must provide the court with information showing suspicion that the subject of the warrant may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.
There is much more at the link. It's likely that Trump was caught on some of these recordings, though there is not even a hint here that he was captured on tape discussing foreign collusion with Manafort. (There's not even a hint that Manafort himself was captured discussing collusion.) At this point, we have no idea at all what was discovered via the wiretaps, if anything.

Also: This is a very bad leak. As Susan Hennessey, Shannon Togawa Mercer, and Benjamin Wittes note at Lawfare, the sourcing for this piece is vague, even in an era of anonymous sources, and the disclosure of a FISA wiretap is more serious than a run-of-the-mill leak:
The story discloses FISA wiretaps against a named U.S. person. Whatever Paul Manafort may have done, he is a citizen of this country, and this is an egregious civil liberties violation. It's also a significant compromise of national security information. Simply put, FISA information should never leak. When it does, it erodes the systems through which the government protects national security—and it rightly erodes public confidence that the systems designed to protect civil liberties work as intended.

Political leaking of wiretapping information is the stuff of the Hoover era. It has no legitimate place in our politics.
I absolutely agree. As you may recall, I have been deeply concerned about the potential erosion of checks and balances in pursuit of accountability for disolyal Trump and his undemocratic cronies, and this is a perfect example of what I fear: Throwing away the rights and privacy of a central figure of this investigation in order to — what, exactly? Make sure things like our rights and privacy aren't thrown away by this administration?

It's likely that the leak came from a member of Congress, given the limited number of people who have access to information about FISA warrants. Either it was a Democrat who wanted to reassure their base that things are happening, or a Republican who wanted to inform their base about what they perceive as government overreach. Either way, leaking this information is bad, and CNN's decision to publish it because SCOOPS! is bad.

Mueller should and must be allowed to complete his investigation without leaks that fundamentally undermine the very democratic norms we're ostensibly tasking him with protecting.

2. Sharon LaFraniere, Matt Apuzzo, and Adam Goldman at the New York Times: With a Picked Lock and a Threatened Indictment, Mueller's Inquiry Sets a Tone.
Paul J. Manafort was in bed early one morning in July when federal agents bearing a search warrant picked the lock on his front door and raided his Virginia home. They took binders stuffed with documents and copied his computer files, looking for evidence that Mr. Manafort, [Donald] Trump's former campaign chairman, set up secret offshore bank accounts. They even photographed the expensive suits in his closet.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, then followed the house search with a warning: His prosecutors told Mr. Manafort they planned to indict him, said two people close to the investigation.

The moves against Mr. Manafort are just a glimpse of the aggressive tactics used by Mr. Mueller and his team of prosecutors in the four months since taking over the Justice Department's investigation into Russia's attempts to disrupt last year's election, according to lawyers, witnesses and American officials who have described the approach. Dispensing with the plodding pace typical of many white-collar investigations, Mr. Mueller's team has used what some describe as shock-and-awe tactics to intimidate witnesses and potential targets of the inquiry.

..."They are setting a tone. It's important early on to strike terror in the hearts of people in Washington, or else you will be rolled," said Solomon L. Wisenberg, who was deputy independent counsel in the investigation that led to the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in 1999. "You want people saying to themselves, 'Man, I had better tell these guys the truth.'"
All of the blah-blah about Mueller's "shock-and-awe tactics" is so much fluff. The only real information of any consequence here (if true, per anonymous sources) is that Mueller has informed Manafort that he will be indicted, possibly as no more than a scare tactic.

Hennessey, Togawa Mercer, and Wittes at Lawfare again:
The significance of this is that it means that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has reached a critical stage—the point at which he may soon start making allegations in public. Those allegations may involve conduct unrelated to L'Affaire Russe—that is, alleged bad behavior by Manafort and maybe others that does not involve the Trump campaign—but which may nonetheless serve to pressure Manafort to cooperate on matters more central. Or they may involve conduct that involves his behavior with respect to the campaign itself. Note that if Manafort cooperates, we may not see anything public for a long time to come. Delay, that is, may be a sign of success. But in the absence of cooperation, the fireworks may be about to begin.
I wouldn't hold my breath for fireworks, in any case. As I've said before, this is evidence that Mueller's investigation is proceeding. Which is a good thing. But unless and until something else happens, that's all it is. Continue to maintain measured expectations.

Hurricane Maria

Sep. 19th, 2017 08:30 am
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

Following dreadfully closely on the heels of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Jose, Hurricane Maria has now spun into a Category 5 after making landfall on Dominica last night. The storm is currently headed for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, with [Content Note: video may autoplay at link] "potentially catastrophic" consequences.
Hurricane Maria, once again a Category 5 hurricane, has its sights set on a potentially catastrophic strike on the already storm-weary Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, following a first-on-record Category 5 landfall for the island of Dominica Monday night.

The National Weather Service office in San Juan, Puerto Rico, warned of "catastrophic damage" from Maria's winds, as well as the potential for "devastating to catastrophic flooding" from rainfall flooding in a hurricane local statement issued Tuesday morning.

...Maria will bring a potentially catastrophic combination of storm-surge flooding, destructive winds and flooding rain to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as a Category 4 or 5 hurricane Wednesday.

"Locations may be uninhabitable for weeks or months," according to the National Weather Service in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
And while various Republicans, notably EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, may insist that this isn't the time to talk about climate change, I don't know what better time there could be than when millions of people are being profoundly affected by climate change.

(For much more on that subject, [CN: audio may autoplay at link] check out Episode 58 of the Hellbent podcast, in which Devon Handy and I discuss at length the politics of climate change and when is the "right time" to talk about it. Spoiler Alert: NOW IS THE RIGHT TIME.)

The jury is not still out on climate change: "Prior to Irma, only four other Category 4 hurricanes had tracked within 75 miles of central Puerto Rico in historical records dating to the late 19th century. Hurricane Hugo in 1989 was the last to do so, before Irma's Category 5 swipe just two weeks ago." And now Puerto Rico will have been battered by two Category 5 hurricanes in as many weeks.

I am scared and deeply sad for the people who have and will be affected by this series of intense hurricanes. I am also angry that we lack compassionate and smart leadership on climate change in the United States.

Please use this thread for info-sharing, updates, checking in, and sharing resources and recommendations on how we can support those affected by the hurricanes and attendant flooding, rebuilding, mold remediation, and other after-effects. As always, let's keep the thread image-free. Thanks.

The Big Idea: Annalee Newitz

Sep. 19th, 2017 11:26 am
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Posted by John Scalzi

In her debut novel Autonomous, former i09 editor-in-chief and current science and tech writer and editor Annalee Newitz gets under the skin of the healthcare industry and thinks about all the ways it’s less-than-entirely healthy for us… and what that means for our future, and the future she’s written in her novel.


There’s a scene from the Torchwood series Miracle Day that I will never be able to wash out of my brain. After humans stop being able to die for mysterious reasons, our heroes tour a hospital full of people who are hideously immortal: their bodies pancaked and spindled and melted, they lie around in agony wishing for oblivion. For all its exaggerated body horror, that moment feels creepily realistic in our age of medicine that can keep people alive without giving them anything like quality of life.

Torchwood: Miracle Day wasn’t my first taste of healthcare dystopia, but it made a huge impression because it distilled down one of the fundamental ideas I see this subgenre: some lives are worse than death. This is certainly the message in countless pandemic films, where the infected are ravening, mindless zombies. Killing them is a mercy.

This idea takes a slightly different form in books like Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Paolo Bacigalupi’s Windup Girl. Both narratives toy with what it means when people are turned into medical experiments, like futuristic versions of the Tuskegee Study. We see some ruling class of people deciding that another class should serve as its organ donors or genetic beta testers. What if somebody were treating us like lab rats, as if our lives didn’t matter?

And then there are the false healthcare utopias, which I find the most disturbing because they remind me of listening to U.S. senators trying to sell the idea that they have a “much better plan” than Obamacare—even though I know people who will die under these “better plans.” Politicians have probably been pushing false healthcare utopias since at least the 19th century, but in science fiction its roots can clearly be traced to Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World. In that novel, everyone is medicating with Soma just to deal with how regimented and limited their lives are.

False healthcare utopias can take many forms, and they overlap with more familiar dystopias too. Some deal with surveillance. In the chilling novel Harmony, Project Itoh imagines a future Japan where the government monitors everyone’s microbiomes by tracking everything that goes into and out of their bodies (yep, there’s toilet surveillance).

Sometimes the false healthcare utopia is just a precursor to a more familiar zombie dystopia like 28 Days Later. Consider, for example, our extreme overuse of antibiotics. Though it appears that we can cure pretty much any infection with antibiotics, we’re very close to living in a world where antibiotics no longer work at all. One of the most terrifying books I’ve read this year is science journalist Maryn McKenna’s book Big Chicken, which is about how the agriculture industry depends on antibiotics to keep animals “healthy” in filthy, overcrowded conditions. This is creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are coming for us, pretty much any day now. That’s right–penicillin-doped chickens are the real culprits in I Am Legend.

I’m fascinated by how many false healthcare utopias depend on coercive neuroscience. Often, brain surgery is involved—we see this in John Christopher’s Tripods and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, both about so-called utopian worlds created by neurosurgical interventions that restrict freedom of thought. Maybe these stories focus on brains so much because these are fundamentally stories about lies, and brains are, after all, the organ that we use for lying.

When I started work on my novel Autonomous (out today! yes it is!), I knew I wanted to explore the lies of the pharmaceutical industry and its gleaming ads promising a better life to those who can afford a scrip. One of the protagonists, Jack, has become a pharmaceutical pirate so that she can bring expensive, patented medicine to poor people who need it. But she also sells a few of what she calls “funtime worker drugs” on the side, to fund her Robin Hood activities and keep her submarine in good repair.

Those funtime drugs are why things go sideways for Jack. She sells some pirated Zacuity, a “productivity” drug that I loosely based on Provigil or Adderall. It gets people really enthusiastic about work, but it has some unexpected side-effects that the pharma company Zaxy has suppressed. Now Jack has to stop the drug from killing more people, while also evading two deadly agents sent by Zaxy: a robot named Paladin and a human named Eliasz.

So Autonomous is chase story with some hot robot sex, but it’s also very much a book about how pharma companies sell us an idea of “health” that is actually really unhealthy.

Today pharma companies market drugs the way Disney markets Star Wars movies, and for good reason. Drugs like Adderall and Provigil are supposed to make us feel better and more competent—or at the very least distract us—for a few blissful hours. Just like a movie. I’m not trying to say there’s a problem with taking drugs (or watching movies) to feel good. Nor am I saying that people don’t need anti-depressants and other meds to treat psychological problems. The issue is when these drugs are overprescribed for enhancement, and “feeling really good” becomes a terrible kind of norm. Pharma companies want us to believe that if we aren’t incredibly attentive, productive, and happy every day, there must be something wrong. This paves the way for an ideal of mental health that almost nobody can (or should) live up to.

There’s another, deeper problem that’s caused by selling medicine as if it were a form of entertainment. Nobody would ever argue that going to see the new Star Wars movie is a right. It’s just a luxury for people with disposable income. If we see medicine like that too, it’s easy to fall for the lie that our healthcare system is great even though it only serves the richest people in the U.S.

In the world of Autonomous, the pharma companies are full of guys like Martin Shkreli, jacking up the prices on medicine because they can. They get away with it because so many people in the U.S. believe that anyone can get medicine if they really deserve it. Only a lie of that magnitude could make it seem fair when working class people can’t afford to treat AIDS-related complications. Or cancer. Or a heart infection.

Autonomous is a book about lies. But more importantly, it’s about what happens to the people who see through those lies and try to do something about it. Everyone deserves to have medicine. It is a right, not a privilege. Until we recognize that, I’ll be hanging out with the pirates.


Autonomous: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow her on Twitter.

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Posted by John Scalzi

Well, specifically this silly person said I would never earn out [x] amount of money I got as an advance, and also that I would in fact never see [x] amount of money, because of reasons they left unspecified but which I assume were to suggest that my contracts would be cancelled long before I got the payout. As [x] amount of money seems to suggest this silly person is talking about my multi-book multi-year contracts, let me say:

1. lol, no;

2. [x] was not the sum for any of my contracts (either for individual works or in aggregate) so that’s wrong to begin with;

3. It’s pretty clear that this silly person has very little idea how advances work in general, or how they are paid out;

4. It’s also pretty clear this silly person has very little idea how advances work with long-term, multi-project contracts in particular, or how they are paid out;

5. Either this silly person has never signed a book contract, or they appear to have done a very poor job of negotiating their contracts;

6. In any event, it’s very clear this silly person has no idea about the particulars of my business.

Which makes sense as I don’t go into great detail about them in public. But it does mean that people asserting knowledge of my business are likely to be flummoxed by the actual facts. Like, for example, the fact that I’m already earning royalties on work tied into those celebrated-yet-apparently-actually-cursed contracts. Royalties, I’ll note for those of you not in the publishing industry, are paid out after you earn back an advance.

How am I getting royalties on a work tied to contracts that this silly person has assured all and sundry I will never earn out? The short answer is because I’ve earned out, obviously. The slightly longer answer is that my business deals are interesting and complex and designed to roll money to me on a steady basis over a long period of time, but when you are a silly person who apparently knows nothing about how book contracts work (either my specific ones, or by all indications book contracts in general) and you have an animus against me because, say, you’re an asshole, or because of group identification politics that require that I must actually be a raging failure, for reasons, you are prone to assert things that are stupid about my business and show your complete ignorance of it. And then I might be inclined to point and laugh about it.

In any event, this is a fine time to remind people of two things. The first thing is that I have detractors, and it’s very very important to them that I’m seen as a failure. There’s nothing I can ever do or say to dissuade them against this idea, so the least I can do is offer them advice, which is to make their assertions of my failure as non-specific as possible, because specificity is not their friend. I would also note to them that regardless, my failures, real or imagined, will not make them any more successful in their own careers. So perhaps they should focus on the things they can materially effect, i.e., their own writing and career, and worry less about what I’m doing.

Second, if someone other than me, my wife, my agent or my business partners (in the context of their own contracts with me) attempts to assert knowledge of my business, you may reliably assume they are talking out of their ass. This particularly goes for my various detractors, most of whom don’t appear to have any useful understanding of how the publishing industry works outside of their (and this is a non-judgmental statement) self-pub and micro-pub worlds, which are different beasts than the part I work in, and also just generally dislike me and want me to be a miserable failure and are annoyed when I persist in not being either. Wishing won’t make it so, guys.

Bear in mind speculating about my business is perfectly fine, and even if it wasn’t I couldn’t stop it anyway. Speculate away! People have done it for years, both positively and negatively, and most of the time it’s fun to watch people guess about it. Even this silly person’s speculation is kind of fun, in the sense it’s interesting to see all the ways it’s wrong. But to the extent that the unwary may believe this silly person (or other such silly people among my detractors, and as a spoiler they are all fairly silly on this topic) knows what they are talking about with regard to my business: Honey, no. They really don’t. They have their heads well up their asses.

Or, as I said on Twitter:

And actually the dog has been in the same room as my contracts, so in fact she might know more. Keep that in mind the next time a detractor opines on my business.

Question of the Day

Sep. 18th, 2017 06:00 pm
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

Suggested by Shaker Helliane: "Is there something you thought you wouldn't like, but then you tried it and really loved it? Is there something you were sure you'd love, but when you finally tried it, you didn't like it at all?"

I didn't think I would like the TV show The Good Place, but I just binge-watched the shit out of the first season, and I loved it!

I always expect that I'm going to love doughnuts, but I keep trying them and I'm always disappointed. They're never as good as I expect they will be, and, at a certain point, I think I just need to admit I don't really enjoy doughnuts, lol. JUST GET A BAGEL, LADY.

Quote of the Day

Sep. 18th, 2017 04:45 pm
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

"I believe that Donald Trump poses a clear and present danger to our democracy, to our institutions, to the rule of law, to the civil rights and human rights of so many Americans, to the economic distribution of wealth — which is already skewed out of proportion to where it should be. I tried to say that during the campaign, and I tried to warn people, because I actually believed him. I believed that he would follow through. There were lots who said, 'Oh, he never will! He's not going to do all those things he said about building a wall and immigrants and the like.' And I thought he was getting so indebted to a minority in our country, but a vocal, very determined minority, that was going to try to hold him to his campaign promises — and nothing I've seen in the last months, ever since he took office, has made me feel much better."—Hillary Clinton, during a terrific interview with NPR's Terry Gross, on Fresh Air.

You can listen to the entire interview here, and a complete transcript is available here.

Stop Trusting Republicans

Sep. 18th, 2017 03:45 pm
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

Stop trusting Republicans. All of them.

Stop giving Donald Trump anything: Trust, chances, the benefit of the doubt, credit for "pivoting," generous interpretations of his worst instincts and vilest actions.

Stop believing that Mike Pence is any better than his execrable boss. The only difference between them is that Pence uses more civil language to express his contempts and tyranny — which doesn't make him a better person and would not make him a better president; it only makes him a more effective politician. It makes him a snake instead of an ass.

Stop praising the "moderate" Republicans whose so-called moderation is only as valuable as whatever screentime it garners their preening egos.

Stop imagining there is a "different" kind of Republican. There isn't. Not anymore.

Anyone who continues to call themselves a Republican and who continues to support Republican candidates on any level and who continues to vote Republican when the head of the party, and indeed the party's inevitable endgame, is a white supremacist, a confessed serial sexual abuser, a rank authoritarian, and a compulsive liar who is actively seeking to undermine the nation's democratic systems and norms, is not a "different" kind of Republican. They are abettors. They are enablers. They are apologists. They empower Trump's abuses of power. There is no neutral.

Stop giving Republicans an ounce of good faith, ever. They don't think people are entitled to food, or clean water, or healthcare, or homes, or jobs with a liveable wage. So they aren't entitled to good faith.

They want to destroy what we value.

They have made that clear.

Stop trusting them.

And when you are admonished to trust some Republican or other, or scolded for failing to trust some Republican or other, or shamed by someone who accuses you of judging, of profiling, of writing off millions of people, of being "the reason" why Trump won; when you are cajoled or criticized but you know deep down that there is no good, no benefit, no decency, no safety in trusting Republicans, listen to that urgent twist in your gut telling you what you know, that Republicans cannot be trusted, not anymore, and instead trust yourself.

Why I Listen To Hillary

Sep. 18th, 2017 02:30 pm
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Posted by Fannie Wolfe

[Content Note: Misogyny.]

You might have heard that 2016 popular vote winner Hillary Clinton has published a book about the election. This book is currently a best-seller, and Clinton is currently traveling the country on a tour, sold out in many places already, talking about the book.

You might have also heard that many pundits, essayists, politicians, op-ed writers, and folks across the political spectrum are angry about this book!

For instance, the summary of one tabloid-esque Politico article is that various anonymous people, including Democrats even, think Hillary is, like, such a selfish bitch for writing the book. It's said that "people" just want to "move on" from the election, you know?

A New York Daily News article suggests that Clinton is, like, such a greedy bitch for requesting payment for her writing and speaking labor!

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders suggests that Clinton is, like, a such a lying bitch for writing a book full of, per Sanders, sad lies.

People, especially men, have also been all a-twitter with their musings on Hillary's book and tour. Many of them wag their fingers in disapproval or act concernedly perplexed as to why an accomplished public servant who participated in perhaps the most consequential election of our lifetimes would publish a book about it:

Jonathan Easley, in a widely-shared piece at The Hill, hyped a small excerpt from Clinton's book about Bernie Sanders' behavior during the election, claiming with grave concern that "it will reopen old wounds from the bitter primary between the two" and noting how popular Bernie Sanders is with the populace. Poor Bernie!

Huffpost took a moment to stand up for innocent Joe Biden, he of all the cute bro memes, who that mean bitch Hillary mentioned in her book: 

Since it appears the pundit classes have an unfortunate case of amnesia, allow me to recap. For the approximately two years predating the 2016 election, we watched as Donald Trump:
Yes, Donald Trump is a person with garbage morals who is actively hostile to many people.  But, I will never stop reiterating that, broadly speaking, Donald Trump was able to so effectively dehumanize Hillary Clinton precisely because women, in our society, are hated and distrusted.

Had Donald been an ordinary person inflicting this behavior on a co-worker in many workplaces, his actions would be referred to as "creating a hostile work environment." In the context of US politics, however, the prime operating principle has, more than ever, become "win by any means."

The practical, if not legal, effect of what we witnessed was that we the people watched as Donald Trump led a public campaign of gender-based harassment of Hillary Clinton. We watched as he not only got away with it, but was rewarded for it.

So, now what? Who narrates political events, and what exactly are they narrating?

With white men dominating the media and many women operating with, and rewarded richly for, internalized misogyny, Hillary is fed the same scolds we've heard since time immemorial: Get over it. Shut up. Liar. Admit that it's all your fault! Are you sure you want to ruin a good man's reputation?

Flash forward to a recent piece in The New York Times, by Amber Tamblyn, "I'm Done With Not Being Believed." Writing in the context of a famous man accusing her of lying about an encounter with him, she notes (emphasis added):
"For women in America who come forward with stories of harassment, abuse and sexual assault, there are not two sides to every story, no matter how noble that principle might seem. Women do not get to have a side. They get to have an interrogation. Too often, they are questioned mercilessly about whether their side is legitimate. Especially if that side happens to accuse a man of stature, then that woman has to consider the scrutiny and repercussions she'll be subjected to by sharing her side.

Every day, women across the country consider the risks. That is our day job and our night shift. We have a diploma in risk consideration."
These ongoing risk considerations are part of, in Melissa's terms, the terrible bargain we have regretfully struck. So often, aggressive, misogynistic toxicity is spewed at us, and we swallow it, rather than have an afternoon, an opportunity, a friendship, or a career ruined by people who operate with at best, privileged obliviousness, and at worst, brutal intentions.

Almost a year ago, I wrote about how I think often about the silence demanded of marginalized people so that other people don't have to feel badly about being bigots. I still think about it, and most specifically about all the heavy lifting that silence does in service of false and one-sided political narratives, particularly the narrative that has developed since the 2016 election: In the wake of one of the most brutally misogynistic, racist, and xenophobic campaigns in recent history, Hillary Clinton needs to blame herself entirely for the loss and then walk into the woods to live her remaining days in isolation at Grey Gardens.

Meanwhile, Amazon currently carries no less than two dozen books that have already, less than a year later, been published about the 2016 election. The vast majority of these are written by men. Do we think these books thoroughly detail the events of the 2016 election? What are the odds that these men have keen insight into the nuances of misogyny, racism, and xenophobia that those across the political spectrum employed to help deliver Trump's win? Are these voices truly the only perspectives needed to shed light on what happened?

Of note, these post-election publications also include a tome by Bernie Sanders, who lost to Hillary Clinton by more than three million votes in the Democratic Primary. He published his book one week after the election. In it, he shares his experience of his campaign, and here's how it literally begins:

Text: "When we began our race for the presidency in April 2015, we were considered by the political establishment and the media to be a 'fringe' campaign, something not to be taken seriously. After all, I was a senator from a small state with very little name recognition. Our campaign had no money no political organization, and we were taking on the entire Democratic Party establishment. And, by the way, we were also running against the most powerful political operation in the country. The Clinton machine had won the presidency for Bill Clinton twice and almost won the Democratic presidential nomination for Hillary Clinton in 2008."
Mentioning "the Clinton machine" without also acknowledging the "Clinton derangement syndrome" that has persisted for decades ought to be recognized for what it is: a narrative decision on Bernie's part. Yet, was the outcry and anger resulting from Bernie's book and tour comparable to what we're seeing now, for Hillary's? Was Bernie, like Hillary, deemed entitled to a fee for his writing and speaking labor? Were he and his fans widely deemed divisive and self-centered?

The broader point is that every narrative has a perspective.

I listen to Hillary Clinton, not because I'm a vapid fangirl as Clinton supporters are so often portrayed, but because history is often written, to paraphrase Howard Zinn, by and for the winners. Hillary Clinton, as a woman seeking the presidency and the most qualified candidate in the 2016 race, was a history-making candidate.

Yet, she lost.

And, so did we, the many women who experienced the 2016 election as a deeply-painful endorsement of gender-based harassment and misogyny. In the too-cool-to-care world of sociopathic Internet culture, I also admit to a deeper heartbreak that transcends Clinton herself:

If Trump could get away with inflicting on a wealthy, powerful white woman what he did with no repercussions, what hope is there for the rest of us?

The white male pundit class likewise talks a lot about populist politicians, as they fetishize the "ordinary people" who voted for Trump and who are drawn to the generic, class-based railings of Sanders. What they speak much less frequently about is that, to quote Laurie Penny, "most of the interesting women you know are far, far angrier than you'd imagine."

We have good reason to be.

White male rage is taken seriously, by politicians and pundits alike, as a political force that deserves to be reckoned with. Yet, the political kowtowing to white male rage is close kin to the entitled demand for female, and marginalized people's, silence. That chorus of calls to ditch identity politics right after Trump won was no odd coincidence, but a verification of the high value placed upon white men's narratives about the world.

Women, as Tamblyn aptly notes, too often don't get to have a side, not one that's deemed valid, anyway. We are, too often, supposed to shut up and take it because our silence serves some purportedly-greater purpose. Like, a man's reputation, a job opportunity, or another cause that is "more important" than misogyny or abuse.

No more.

As those in the mainstream media have largely absconded their responsibility and complicity in Donald Trump's rise, I find hope in listening to the narratives that these voices want to shut up and drown out.

Daily Dose of Cute

Sep. 18th, 2017 01:30 pm
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

image of Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat and Olivia the White Farm Cat lying back-to-back beside me on the sofa
Matilda and Olivia.

image of Matilda and Olivia in the same position, but from a different angle, revealing Sophie the Torbie Cat sitting on the back of the sofa
Sophs was there, too!

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

We Resist: Day 242

Sep. 18th, 2017 12:15 pm
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: Trump Again Displays What a Rotten Specimen He Is and On the Protests and Police Misconduct in St. Louis.

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post: The Trumpcare Zombie Is Back from the Dead — And Here Come the Same Old Lies. "Senate Republicans are planning a major push this week to see if they can get 50 votes for the repeal bill created by Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Politico reports that Trump and the White House will try to build support for it. The Graham-Cassidy bill would get rid of the Medicaid expansion and subsidies for lower income people starting in 2020 and replace them with block grants to the states, which could use that money to cover people in a variety of other ways. ...[M]ost of these Senators, including Collins, Murkowski, Capito, and Portman, originally expressed strong moral opposition to the original GOP repeal bills precisely because of their deep Medicaid cuts. And now we are going to find out whether they meant what they said."

Benjamin Hart at NY Mag: Last-Ditch Obamacare Repeal Effort May Get a Vote. "Graham-Cassidy, as it's known, is far more ambitious than Republicans' last attempt at killing the Affordable Care Act, dubbed a 'skinny repeal,' which came within one vote of passing the chamber in July. The new bill is a veritable parade of horribles: It would replace the subsidies that are a key part of Obamacare with block grants, nix the individual mandate, end federal protections for preexisting conditions, and much more."


* * *

BBC News: North Korea Says Sanctions Will Accelerate Nuclear Programme. "North Korea has warned that more sanctions and pressure will only make it accelerate its nuclear programme. In a strongly worded statement, the foreign ministry called a new round of restrictions imposed by the United Nations as 'the most vicious, unethical, and inhumane act of hostility.' Meanwhile, the U.S. and South Korea have carried out joint military exercises over the Korean peninsula."

Ben Blanchard and Hyonhee Shin at Reuters: Korean Peninsula Draws Range of Military Drills in Show of Force Against North Korea. "The U.S. military staged bombing drills with South Korea over the Korean peninsula, and Russia and China began naval exercises ahead of a U.N. General Assembly meeting on Tuesday where North Korea's nuclear threat is likely to loom large. The flurry of military drills came after Pyongyang fired another mid-range ballistic missile over Japan on Friday and the reclusive North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3 in defiance of United Nations sanctions and other international pressure."

Jonathan Swan at Axios: Trump's Dark View of North Korea Options. "Contrary to the president's breezy which he refers to Kim Jong-un as 'Rocket Man,' top administration officials have a dark view of how this plays out. They believe the confrontation with [Kim Jong-un] will define Trump's first term in office. The consensus view among Trump, Mattis, and McMaster, according to several officials briefed on their thinking, is that this conflict is heading towards two options, both with high risks: Escalated confrontation with China and the military option."

The fact that Trump and his handlers believe that North Korea policy "will define Trump's first term in office" is not good. Not good at all.

* * *

Fred Barbash at the Washington Post: Trump Lawyers Spill Beans, Thanks to Terrible Choice of Restaurant — Next Door to the New York Times. "It is every Washington reporter's dream to sit down at a restaurant, overhear secret stuff, and get a scoop. It rarely happens. Still, everyone in town important enough to have secrets worth keeping knows that secrets are not safe on the Acela train and in Washington restaurants. This is especially true in eateries next door to a major newspaper. Yes, Ty Cobb and John Dowd, lawyers for [Donald] Trump, we're talking to you. But it's too late now." GOOD FUCKING GRIEF. Everyone associated with this administration is a complete jackass with zero discretion!

Caitlin MacNeal at TPM: NYT: Trump Lawyers at Odds over How Many Documents to Turn over to Mueller. A summary of the Times report based on the overheard conversation described above. (And in response to their debate: OH I DON'T KNOW HOW ABOUT ALL OF THEM AS REQUIRED BY LAW?!)

Jon Swaine and Shaun Walker at the Guardian: Trump in Moscow: What Happened at Miss Universe in 2013.
The Guardian has learned of additional, previously unreported, connections between Trump's business partners on the pageant and Russia's government. The ties are likely to attract further scrutiny by investigators who are already biting at the heels of Trump associates.

A full accounting of Trump's actions in the Russian capital as that autumn turned to winter may be critical to resolving a controversy that has already consumed the first eight months of his presidency.

"Our committee's investigation will not be complete unless we fully understand who [Donald] Trump met with when he was over in Russia for Miss Universe, and what follow-up contacts occurred," Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said in an interview.

Trump's attorney, John Dowd, declined to answer when asked whether the president's team accepts that the Miss Universe contest is a legitimate area of inquiry for investigators. "Fake news," Dowd said in an email.
Chris Smith at Vanity Fair: Did Jared Kushner's Data Operation Help Select Facebook Targets for the Russians? "[Investigators in the House, Senate, and special counsel Robert Mueller's office] are intrigued by the role of Jared Kushner, the now-president's son-in-law, who eagerly took credit for crafting the Trump campaign's online efforts in a rare interview right after the 2016 election. 'I called somebody who works for one of the technology companies that I work with, and I had them give me a tutorial on how to use Facebook micro-targeting,' Kushner told Steven Bertoni of Forbes. 'We brought in Cambridge Analytica. I called some of my friends from Silicon Valley who were some of the best digital marketers in the world. And I asked them how to scale this stuff ...We basically had to build a $400 million operation with 1,500 people operating in 50 states, in five months to then be taken apart. We started really from scratch.' Kushner's chat with Forbes has provided a veritable bakery's worth of investigatory bread crumbs to follow."

Natasha Bertrand at Business Insider: Mueller Just Obtained a Warrant That Could Change the Entire Nature of the Russia Investigation. "Robert Mueller, the FBI special counsel, reportedly obtained a search warrant for records of the 'inauthentic' accounts Facebook shut down earlier this month and the targeted ads these accounts purchased during the 2016 election. ...Legal experts say the revelation has enormous implications for the trajectory of the FBI's investigation into Russia's election interference and into whether Moscow had any help from [Donald] Trump's campaign team. ...Mueller would not have sought a warrant targeting Facebook as a company, [Asha Rangappa, a former FBI counterintelligence agent] said. Rather, he would have been interested in learning more about specific accounts [which means he] 'already has enough information on these accounts — and their link to a potential crime to justify forcing [Facebook] to give up the info.'"

* * *

David A. Fahrenthold, Amy Brittain, and Matea Gold at the Washington Post: Trump's Divisive Presidency Reshapes a Key Part of His Private Business. "Trump-owned hotels and clubs have long made money by holding galas and other special events. Now, their clientele is changing. Trump's properties [are losing the kind of customers the business was originally built on: nonpolitical groups who just wanted to rent a room, but] are attracting new customers who want something from him or his government."

Matt Shuham at TPM: In First Words to UN, Trump Praises Trump-Branded Condo Next Door. "Donald Trump opened his first remarks at the United Nations Monday by complimenting the Trump-branded property across the street. 'I actually saw great potential right across the street, to be honest with you, and it was only for the reason that the United Nations was here that that turned out to be such a successful project,' he said, immediately after thanking those in attendance at a meeting on UN reform."

Emoluments clause COUGH.

* * *

[Content Note: Nativism] Christine Grimaldi and Tina Vasquez at Rewire: Anti-Immigrant Bill Exacerbates DACA Tension on Capitol Hill.
A handful of virulent immigration foes in the U.S. House of Representatives claimed the bill they railroaded through on Thursday morning would combat what they've described as an epidemic of gang violence at the hands of immigrants, undocumented or otherwise.

Congressional Democrats, civil rights advocates, and faith-based organizations say that they're wrong—and that Republicans should redirect their efforts to protecting the 800,000 young undocumented immigrants in peril since the Trump administration ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) one week ago.

...More than 350 organizations signed onto a separate letter of opposition. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund's Thomas A. Saenz characterized it as "keeping with the very worst traditions of nativist lawmaking, falling in line with immigrant stereotyping in congressional enactments of a century ago."
Juliet Eilperin at the Washington Post: Shrink at Least 4 National Monuments and Modify a Half-Dozen Others, Zinke Tells Trump. "Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended that [Donald] Trump modify 10 national monuments created by his immediate predecessors, including shrinking the boundaries of at least four western sites, according to a copy of the report obtained by The Washington Post." So, protect confederate monuments and shrink national monuments. Cool.

Also by Eilperin at the Post: Trump Administration Working Toward Renewed Drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Of course.

[CN: Anti-choice terrorism] Jenavieve Hatch at the Huffington Post: Anti-Abortion Protesters Storm the Waiting Rooms of at Least 2 Clinics.
On Friday morning, at least two abortion clinics in the U.S. were targeted by anti-abortion protesters who stormed the clinics' waiting rooms, refusing to leave. The protesters were eventually arrested by local police for trespassing.

HuffPost confirmed the arrests with Northland Family Planning in Sterling Heights, Mich. and Alexandria Women's Health Clinic in Alexandria, Va. Two other clinics, one in Columbus, Oh. and another in Albuquerque, New Mexico were also reportedly targeted, but HuffPost has yet to receive confirmation.

According to Lara Chelian, the Director of Advocacy at the Sterling Heights clinic, there were four arrests made at her clinic.

Chelian said that about 20 anti-abortion protesters showed up outside the clinic on Friday morning ― something that is far from unusual. However, she told HuffPost that five of those protesters "stormed the [Northland Family Planning clinic's] waiting room and refused to leave."

One protester reportedly left when staff threatened to call police. The other four remained, and were later arrested.

"They must have posted bail immediately because the ones who are arrested are back [protesting] already," Chelian told HuffPost on Friday afternoon.
Fuck these assholes. That is terroristic intimidation and a gross invasion of patient privacy.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

[Content Note: Police brutality; racism; anti-Semitism.]

In 2011, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Jason Stockley, who is white, was caught on audio saying "going to kill this motherfucker, don't you know it," as he and another officer pursued Anthony Lamar Smith, who was Black, in a car chase. Once Smith stopped, Stockley walked to the driver's side of the vehicle and fatally shot Smith. Stockley was charged with first-degree murder.

Last week, he was acquitted.

Protesters took to the streets to object to the terrible verdict. The vast majority of demonstrators were peaceful and non-destructive. A few destroyed property, which the police then used to justify escalating their response to the protests, which turned into violent clashes.
"Many of the demonstrators were peaceful. However, after dark, many agitators began to destroy property and assault police officers," [St. Louis police Chief Lawrence O'Toole] said in a joint video statement with Mayor Lyda Krewson (D).

O'Toole said the protesters assaulted police with bricks and bottles, and officers responded by using tear gas and firing pepper-spray balls as a "less lethal option."
Marchers, including Maleeha Ahmad, who was maced by police, assert that it was police who provoked the escalation:
"The police are trying to tear us apart and make us violent, but they're the ones making it violent." She says the officers both rammed them with bikes, using the bicycles as makeshift barricades, and pepper-sprayed them.
Police in riot gear trampled and then arrested an elderly woman who was protesting, and surrounded a Jewish temple which was shielding protesters.

The police also tweeted out private addresses of arrested protesters, putting a target on their backs. And, while making those arrests, some police officers were reportedly heard chanting: "Whose streets? Our streets!"

Chief O'Toole may not have joined the chant, but he nonetheless reiterated the sentiment at a press conference this morning, saying of the arrested protesters: "These criminals that we've arrested should be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We're in control. This is our city and we're going to protect it."

This is our city. That's the chief of police saying a city belongs to the police and not to the people.

[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

It isn't like I wasn't paying attention to the news over my holiday. It isn't like I'd forgotten what a vile person Donald Trump is. I couldn't forget even if I wanted to.

And still it was jarring, if utterly unsurprising, that this is one of the first headlines I saw this morning on my first day back: The GIF of Donald Trump Hitting Hillary Clinton with a Golf Ball Came from an Anti-Semitic Twitter Account.

Immediately, whatever tiny but essential bit of restorative restful-mindedness I had achieved by taking a break was ferociously torn away — by the surreal but depressingly typical news that the current president had used his Twitter account to retweet a white supremacist who'd published a video doctored to show said president hitting a golf ball squarely into the back of the most distinguished stateswoman this nation has ever had.

This is classic Trump: Malicious, self-aggrandizing, elevating the profile of a white supremacist, publicly delighting in imagery of himself harming a woman.

It sickens me. It makes me angry — and sad. It exhausts me.

And because I know there are people waiting, lurking, eager for their chance to admonish me that there are more important things to pay attention to, to shame me for caring about this thing, and to shout down any attempt I make to explain what it is that makes this particular thing so emblematically gutting, even though I am well aware it is merely the tip of an iceberg of atrocious indecencies, I am steeling myself, again and as always, for the fight in front of me.

The fight that is always in front of me.

Trump to my right; an endless throng of gaslighters and belligerents to my left.

There is no tidy ending here. If you feel sick, exhausted, resolved, too, I see you — and we shall take up space in solidarity together.

The Big Idea: Douglas Wynne

Sep. 18th, 2017 02:18 pm
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Posted by John Scalzi

In Cthulhu Blues, author Douglas Wynne wants you to catch the waves. Or perhaps more accurately, to appreciate the fact that the waves already have you — and show something else between them.


Back when I was studying music production and engineering at Berklee College of Music, I had a mystical epiphany that didn’t even involve recreational chemistry. It came to me in the classroom while looking at a handout the instructor had passed around. She was about to present an overview of AM and FM radio technology and wanted us to take a look at the wave spectrum within which those broadcast frequencies are nested. On the left, the diagram showed the subsonic vibrations elephants transmit through the ground to communicate over long distances. Moving to the right, it worked its way up through the octaves of audible sound waves and then on to ultrasonic, radio, microwave, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, x-rays, and gamma rays.

My education up to that point was far more focused on playing guitar than on physics, but I had read about how even matter is essentially composed of waves—or particles, depending on the method of measurement—vibrating at high enough rates to create the illusion of solidity. Still, seeing it all laid out like that, bottom to top, made a profound impression on me. It reminded me that all human perception is just a glimpse through the slats of a fence, a fragmentary picture of a reality we can only experience with a biological bias and a crude, albeit ever expanding, set of tools to fill in the blanks.

It’s a humbling idea. One that I later remembered I’d first encountered in the horror story “From Beyond” by H.P. Lovecraft. In that tale, a scientist discovers alien life forms writhing in the air all around him by tuning his perception with a resonator device he calls “The Ultraviolet.”

When I set out to reimagine the Cthulhu Mythos for the SPECTRA Files trilogy, this idea of exposure to special frequencies opening up human perception to other dimensions and entities was a major element I wanted to explore. After all, the closest thing to real magic I’ve experienced in my own life is the way that music—invisible wave patterns in the air—has the power to open the human heart to unexpected dimensions of feeling.

Music plays a major role in the SPECTRA books. There’s a cosmic boom box that houses a lab-grown larynx, a grand piano that acts as a portal to infernal realms, and a sea organ borrowed from a real architectural instrument in Zadar, Croatia, that plays haunting chords when the waves roll into its chambers. But the main character, Becca Philips, does her work higher up in the wave spectrum. She’s an urban explorer and photographer who shoots infrared photos of abandoned buildings in flood-ravaged Boston. Becca finds an eerie spirituality in the ghostly light emitted by weeds and vines in that range. But when her photos pick up fractal tentacles seeping into our world from an adjacent dimension, she is caught between cultists employing weird tech to evoke monstrous gods and a covert agency that suspects she might be one of them.

From water to sound to light, there are waves rolling through the entire trilogy. But the wave spectrum isn’t the big idea, perception is: how we see the world and our place in it.

Becca Philips is a character defined by her sensitivity. She experienced loss at an early age and continues to suffer from recurrent depression compounded by Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s her sensitivity to light and shadow, her unique way of looking at the world, that makes her a great photographer. And it’s her unique perception that entangles her in the unfolding apocalypse and puts her in a position to do something about it. In book one (Red Equinox), she willingly exposes herself to the harmonics that align the human plane with that of the monsters, an act which makes her more vulnerable even as it dispenses with the illusion of a benign reality so she might be empowered to save others from what lurks just beyond that thin veneer. Becca chose this vision as an act of heroism and chose to keep it when offered a drug that would make it go away. But sometimes the cost of courage is that your contact with dark things changes you and makes you one of them.

I knew from the start that as a sensitive, Becca would also be susceptible to the telepathic dreams of Cthulhu slumbering on the ocean floor sooner or later. I knew she would struggle with her sanity and ultimately have to make a judgment about the sanity of mankind at large and whether our supremacy on the planet is ultimately for the best. As a vegetarian and animal rescuer, Becca sees the value of all life. But when you look long enough into the abyss, the abyss looks into you, and in Cthulhu Blues Becca finally has to grapple with the question of whether or not the Great Old Ones might be better for life on Earth than mankind in the long run. The crux of her crisis is that the same empathetic eye that drives her to save animals, children, and civilization, also opens her to the possibility that the cultists might be right to topple the human race from its throne. She has to ask herself what it is in the spectrum of consciousness that sets humanity apart. If we’re not at the top of the food chain anymore, what makes us unique and worth saving?

I’ve always thought it’s our capacity for compassion. Our ability to see others, even the wretched and subhuman, the animal and the alien, with a kind eye. But if we retreat into the tunnel vision of fear at the first scent of crisis, then what do we have left that makes us the good guys? When you’re caught between a militant covert agency and a radical religious cult, are dark gods really worse than white devils?


Cthulhu Blues: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|JournalStone

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s site. Follow him on Twitter.

When Bros Hug

Sep. 18th, 2017 01:12 pm
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Posted by Hubert Izienicki

In February, CBS Sunday Morning aired a short news segment on the bro hug phenomenon: a supposedly new way heterosexual (white) men (i.e., bros) greet each other. According to this news piece, the advent of the bro hug can be attributed to decreased homophobia and is a sign of social progress.

I’m not so sure.

To begin, bro-ness isn’t really about any given individuals, but invokes a set of cultural norms, statuses, and meanings. A stereotypical bro is a white middle-class, heterosexual male, especially one who frequents strongly masculinized places like fraternities, business schools, and sport events. (The first part of the video, in fact, focused on fraternities and professional sports.) The bro, then, is a particular kind of guy, one that frequents traditionally male spaces with a history of homophobia and misogyny and is invested in maleness and masculinity.

The bro hug reflects this investment in masculinity and, in particular, the masculine performance in heterosexuality. To successfully complete a bro hug, the two men clasp their right hands and firmly pull their bodies towards each other until they are or appear to be touching whilst their left hands swing around to forcefully pat each other on the back. Men’s hips and chests never make full contact. Instead, the clasped hands pull in, but also act as a buffer between the men’s upper bodies, while the legs remain firmly rooted in place, maintaining the hips at a safe distance. A bro hug, in effect, isn’t about physical closeness between men, but about limiting bodily contact.

Bro hugging, moreover, is specifically a way of performing solidarity with heterosexual men. In the CBS program, the bros explain that a man would not bro hug a woman since a bro hug is, by its forcefulness, designed to be masculinity affirming. Similarly, a bro hug is not intended for gay men, lesbians, or queer people. The bro hug performs and reinforce bro identity within an exclusively bro domain. For bros, by bros. As such, the bro hug does little to signal a decrease in homophobia. Instead, it affirms men’s identities as “real” men and their difference from both women and non-heterosexual men.

In this way, the bro-hug functions similarly to the co-masturbation and same-sex sexual practices of heterosexually identified white men, documented by the sociologist Jane Ward in her book, Not Gay. Ward argues that when straight white men have sex with other straight white men they are not necessarily blurring the boundaries between homo- and heterosexuality. Instead, they are shifting the line separating what is considered normal from what is considered queer.  Touching another man’s anus during a fraternity hazing ritual is normal (i.e., straight) while touching another man’s anus in a gay porn is queer.  In other words, the white straight men can have sex with each other because it is not “real” gay sex. 

Similarly, within the context of a bro hug, straight white men can now bro hug each other because they are heterosexual. Bro hugging will not diminish either man’s heterosexual capital. In fact, it might increase it. When two bros hug, they signal to others their unshakable strength of and comfort in their heterosexuality. Even though they are touching other men in public, albeit minimally, the act itself reinforces their heterosexuality and places it beyond reproach.

Hubert Izienicki, PhD, is a professor of sociology at Purdue University Northwest. 

(View original at

Aaaaaaaaaand We're Back!

Sep. 18th, 2017 08:30 am
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Here are a few things you in which you might be interested that you might have missed, unless you were checking in on Twitter the past two weeks:

1. I co-hosted the Hellbent podcast with Devon Handy while Sarah Lerner was under the weather.

2. I was a guest on Zerlina Maxwell's and Jess McIntosh's show Signal Boost, on which I talked with them about the reception to Hillary Clinton's book and how it's time for men who claim to be our allies to step up.

3. I got Hillary's book—

—and wrote a thing (part of which was previously published here) about why I am grateful that Hillary refuses to be silenced and sidelined.

4. I also got ice cream with Deeks. Among other fun things.

I was glad for some time away, and now I am glad to be back. Onward, friends!

Sunday Secrets

Sep. 16th, 2017 11:19 pm
[syndicated profile] post_secret_feed

Posted by Frank

On 9/11/17, 3:59 AM, “Frank Warren” <>
Dear Frank,
Yesterday I went to Barnes and Noble to get a book on infertility (my husband and I have been trying to conceive for almost a year and have reached the point of needing medical appointments). I picked up a PostSecret book while there and clinging to that book is the only thing that kept me from crying while I had to look through the pregnancy and baby type books to find a book to help my hurting heart. I didn’t find what I was looking for but I bought the postsecret book and wanted you to know that it brought me comfort.

Classic Secrets

Sep. 16th, 2017 10:56 pm
[syndicated profile] post_secret_feed

Posted by Frank

Information on Upcoming PostSecret Exhibition at the Museum of Man
(Volunteer or Leave Your Email for Updates)


RSVP and Details for PostSecret Live! in Oslo at Urban Peace Week
(Free and Open to All, September 21st)

New Books and ARCs, 9/15/17

Sep. 15th, 2017 07:23 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

If you were wondering if any new books and ARCs have come to the Scalzi Compound recently, the answer is, why, yes, they have. And here they are! Tell me which titles here intrigue you, down in the comments!

A Spiderweb Collection

Sep. 15th, 2017 03:04 pm
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

This morning was dewy and we have quite a lot of spiders around the Scalzi Compound (it being a rural area and full of bugs, you see), so I went out with my camera and took pictures of some of the webs, and occasionally, the webs’ architects as well. The collection of images is here, if you’d like to see them. Obviously for the spider-sensitive, this collection will feature arachnids, so be aware. I’m making this its own album and will probably add to it over time, so if you like spiders and spiderwebs, check in from time to time.

[syndicated profile] feministing_feed

Posted by Brianna Suslovic

On Tuesday, former New York State Senator Hiram Monserrate narrowly lost a campaign for a seat on New York City Council. Despite his loss, the fact that voters were willing to forgive and forget Monserrate, a known abuser, at the ballot box is concerning.

In 2009, Monserrate sliced his girlfriend’s face with broken glass and then dragged her through the lobby of his apartment. Prosecutors charged that Monserrate — an ex-cop and ex-Marine — attacked his girlfriend Karla Giraldo after finding another man’s business card in her purse. Though Giraldo objected to the case moving forward, Monserrate was convicted of misdemeanor assault and sentenced to probation, community service, counseling, and a $1,000 fine. In 2010, he was expelled from the New York State Senate as a result of his assault conviction. In 2012, he was sentenced to two years in prison after misusing about $100,000 in public funds to help pay for a campaign. This campaign was the latest in a string of failed bids at public office.

Despite this history, Monserrate was able to garner 2,782 votes — 44 percent of the vote — in New York City’s District 21.  

Other than some minor media coverage by the New York Times and local publications like Gothamist, Monserrate’s history as an abuser remained largely obscured from the public narrative of his campaign. When brought up, such as in this interview about his newfound attempt at a political comeback, Monserrate framed his past violence within a redemption narrative:

I paid the price for that, I apologized for that… You can’t judge someone for an incident that occurred in their lives and try to use that incident to diminish them for the rest of their lives. None of us can live in the past.

Monserrate’s narrative is challenging for those of us committed to prison abolition and also to justice for survivors: how do we hold abusers accountable while envisioning a more whole form of justice? We know that abusers hold social and political capital in our country. We also know that incarceration is not the answer: it does not repair the harm done, places survivors in a vulnerable position within the criminal system, and feeds into the prison industrial complex where gender violence is rampant. How, then, are we to balance our desires for accountability with our desires for transformative justice? As far as we (and a sizeable portion of voters in Monserrate’s district) know, Monserrate has not engaged in any sort of public accountability. We don’t know whether he is still an abuser. Monserrate’s redemption narrative shies away from the past while also neglecting any commitments of his for the future — how do we know that he is accountable for his harmful actions, or that he will fight such violence in the future? This process need not involve jail or prison time. It could include various public acts of accountability — committing to supporting legislation that protects survivors, publicly demonstrating positive and healthy relationship norms in his current and future relationships, or committing to dialogue about violence prevention in his own circles, for example. Unfortunately, some voters have not held him to these standards, instead accepting Monserrate’s denouncement of the past as sufficient.

What does these voters’ acceptance of Monserrate’s redemption narrative without any indication that he’s claimed any public accountability for his actions — mean for survivors of intimate partner abuse?” There is trauma in seeing public figures abuse their partners, minimize the harm done, and then move on to their next movie, playoff, or election. This trauma is compounded by the treatment survivors receive for coming out: they are often victim-blamed, discredited, or even jailed by the prosecutors they go to for help. The public sends a dangerous message every time we vote for these individuals, watch their movies, and cheer on their teams: with these gestures of support, we are implicitly telling survivors that their humanity is less worthy than their abusers’. In a country currently governed by a known abuser, where survivors’ civil rights are routinely under attack, this can no longer be the message we endorse at the ballot box.

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