Discussion Thread: Self-Care

Wednesday, 23 August 2017 14:30
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

What are you doing to do to take care of yourself today, or in the near future, as soon as you can?

If you are someone who has a hard time engaging in self-care, or figuring out easy, fast, and/or inexpensive ways to treat yourself, and you would like to solicit suggestions, please feel welcome. And, as always, no one should offer advice unless it is solicited.

Daily Dose of Cute

Wednesday, 23 August 2017 13:30
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

image of Matilda the Fuzzy Sealpoint Cat lying beside me on the couch, reaching her paws out toward me

Matilda was lying next to me just purring away, reaching her paws out beneath the pillow to find my leg and knead and knead and knead, while I rubbed her head and belleh (except for a wee break to snap this photo, natch).

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 216

Wednesday, 23 August 2017 12:15
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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 Doubles Down in Phoenix and Deplorable Dispatches.

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Kellie Hwang and Garrett Mitchell at AZ Central: Fake News? Trump Supporters Circulate Photo of Phoenix Rally Crowds...But it's Not. "Social media is a glorious place. You see something, it looks cool, and so you retweet it. And sometimes that gets you into trouble. Such was the case Tuesday night, when Tennessee Republicans and other supporters of [Donald] Trump started sharing an image of what was purportedly a massive crowd gathered in the streets of Phoenix ahead of his speech. Only problem? The photo is actually an aerial shot from the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers parade. And frankly, anyone who is at all familiar with Phoenix should have known better. It's a desert, people."

LOLOLOLOLOL! The fake news is coming from inside the house!

Indeed, despite the caterwauling about the haters and losers of the fake news media concealing Trump's massive support in Phoenix, the crowd was startlingly sparse.

And as Jenna Johnson reports at the Washington Post: As Trump Ranted and Rambled in Phoenix, His Crowd Slowly Thinned.
Trump spent the first three minutes of his speech — which would drag on for 75 minutes — marveling at his crowd size, claiming that "there aren't too many people outside protesting," predicting that the media would not broadcast shots of his "rather incredible" crowd and reminiscing about how he was "center stage, almost from day one, in the debates."

...But as the night dragged on, many in the crowd lost interest in what the president was saying.

Hundreds left early, while others plopped down on the ground, scrolled through their social media feeds or started up a conversation with their neighbors. After waiting for hours in 107-degree heat to get into the rally hall — where their water bottles were confiscated by security — people were tired and dehydrated and the president just wasn't keeping their attention.
Come for the racism; stay for the fact that it feels safer to face shouting anti-racist protesters in a group if you leave all together.

One person who did love Trump's speech last night? Steve Bannon. Obvs.

And one person who, like all other people with a modicum of sense and decency, really didn't care for the speech is former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Rachel Chason at the Washington Post: James Clapper Questions Trump's Fitness, Worries About His Access to Nuclear Codes. (Someone at the Washington Post is killing it with their headline game!) Clapper questioned Trump's "fitness for office following his freewheeling speech in Phoenix on Tuesday night, which Clapper labeled 'downright scary and disturbing.' 'I really question his ability to be — his fitness to be — in this office,' Clapper told CNN's Don Lemon early Wednesday morning. 'I also am beginning to wonder about his motivation for it — maybe he is looking for a way out.'"

I don't think he's looking for a way out — he's far too egomaniacal and loath to admit failure for that — but I sure hope someone is fixing to give him a way out all the same. And soon.

* * *

Eric Levitz at New York Magazine: GOP Mulls Paying for Tax Cuts Through Shameless Lying. "Permanent tax cuts are probably still out of the GOP's reach, regardless of their budgetary gimmickry. But if the Trump administration is to pass any major legislation, it will need to follow the lead of these House Republicans, and concentrate on their party's strengths: Passing tax reforms that disadvantage powerful interest groups isn't one of them; drafting fraudulent budgets is." Seethe.

Jessica Mason Pieklo at Rewire: Lawsuit: Trump's Election Commission Is Hiding Public Information. "Trump in May signed an executive order creating the 'Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity,' led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kris Kobach... The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School and the Protect Democracy Project filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court in New York to compel the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of Management and Budget to answer requests and disclose public information related to the commission. ...'This administration has a troubling pattern of keeping public information from the public—a pattern that is continuing with this commission,' Wendy Weiser, director of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program, said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. 'The government's obligation to share this information is especially important when there are so many reasons to be skeptical of this commission.'"


[CN: White supremacy; anti-Black racism; Nazism] Jay Dow at Kirstin Cole at PIX11: Nazi Propaganda and Jim Crow Graffiti on Building Terrifies Sunnyside Neighbors. "Residents say they will rally Wednesday because they are fearful and intimidated by Nazi propaganda, Jim Crow-era images, and a condo board president allegedly donning a [Donald] Trump mask. Elevator surveillance video allegedly shows Neil Milano, wearing a mask of the president, plastering the door with Trump stickers in a would be attempt to 'menace' his neighbors in Sunnyside at a building on 39th Place. ...Milano is the condo board president of a building around the corner, where he's put up other references to [Donald] Trump, and a lot more. From provocative Jim Crow-era images, to banners of Adolf Hitler, all framed around what Milano's lawyer calls a historical display." Fucking hell.

Haroon Siddique and Oliver Laughland at the Guardian: Charlottesville: United Nations Warns U.S. over 'Alarming' Racism. "A UN committee charged with tackling racism has issued an 'early warning' over conditions in the US and urged the Trump administration to 'unequivocally and unconditionally' reject discrimination. The warning specifically refers to events last week in Charlottesville, Virginia, where civil rights activist Heather Heyer was killed when a car rammed into a group of people protesting against a white nationalist rally. Such statements are usually issued by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) over fears of ethnic or religious conflict. In the past decade, the only other countries issued with an early warning were Burundi, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Kyrgyzstan, and Nigeria." Welp.

Kenrya Rankin at Colorlines: A Rabbi Asked Paul Ryan If He Supports Censuring Trump for His Comments on Charlottesville. Here's What He Said. "[D]uring a town hall in Racine, Wisconsin, Rabbi Dena Feingold asked House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) what 'concrete steps' he would take to hold the president accountable 'when his words and executive actions either implicitly or explicitly condone — if not champion — racism and xenophobia. For example, will you support the resolution for censure?' Ryan's response: 'I will not support that; I think that will be so counterproductive. If we descend this issue into some partisan hack fest, into some bickering against each other and demean it down into some kind of political food fight, what good does that do to unify this country? We want to unify this country against this kind of hatred and this kind of bigotry.'" Asshole.

[CN: Sexual assault] Elizabeth McLaughlin at ABC News: Fort Benning Drill Sergeants Suspended Pending Sexual Assault Investigation. "The Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, along with the Army's Criminal Investigation Command, were investigating a recent charge of sexual assault by a female trainee against a drill sergeant when [additional allegations of sexual misconduct between trainees and drill sergeants] were discovered, the center said in a press release Wednesday. Now, the drill sergeants under review have been suspended pending the expanded investigation. The Army said they will have no contact with trainees while the investigation is carried out."

Sexual assault in the U.S. military has long been a problem in desperate need of meaningful attention. Advocates were just beginning to finally make some headway when the nation decided to elect a confessed sexual abuser as Commander-in-Chief. So here we are.

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

Deplorable Dispatches

Wednesday, 23 August 2017 11:00
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Posted by Melissa McEwan


Enough already. These people made a terrible, destructive, dangerous decision in voting for Donald Trump. And now the media wants to continually give them a platform to talk about that decision, as if they might have made it out of ignorance about who Trump is (nope!) or as if there is some value to letting them speak endlessly about their choice to cast a vote for a corrupt, bigoted, serial sex predator (also nope!) or as if there is something to be gleaned from mining the thoughts of people who insistently support an authoritarian bully who they have convinced themselves doesn't hold them in utter contempt (a third time nope).

There is no value in any of it. Enough.
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

This morning, MSNBC's Morning Joe debuted two excerpts from Hillary Clinton's upcoming memoir, What Happened. The two audio clips — one explaining what the book covers, and one recalling Donald Trump's creepy behavior during the second debate — featured Clinton reading the excerpts in her own voice.

Morning Joe Co-Anchor Willie Geist: Welcome back to Morning Joe. We have obtained an exclusive excerpt from Hillary Clinton's new book, and, for the first time, we're hearing exactly what she thought about sharing a stage with Donald Trump. First, here's what the Democratic nominee had to say about why she's revisiting last year's losing bid for the White House.

Hillary Clinton: [in voiceover, reading an excerpt from her book] I don't have all the answers, and this isn't a comprehensive account of the twenty-sixteen race. That's not for me to write. I have too little distance and too great a stake in it. Instead, this is my story. I want to pull back the curtain on an experience that was exhilarating, joyful, humbling, infuriating, and just plain baffling.

Writing this wasn't easy. Every day that I was a candidate for president, I knew that millions of people were counting on me — and I couldn't bear the idea of letting them down. But I did. I couldn't get the job done. And I'll have to live with that for the rest of my life.

In this book, I write about moments from the campaign that I wish I could go back and do over. [chuckles] If the Russians could hack my subconscious, they'd find a long list.

I also capture some moments I want to remember forever — like when my tiny granddaughter raced into the room while I was practicing my convention speech, and what it was like, hours later, to step onstage, to deliver that speech, as the first woman ever nominated by a major political party for President of the United States.

Geist: [in voiceover, over footage from the second presidential debate] In the excerpt we have, Secretary Clinton also addressed this moment from October — you'll remember this — when Donald Trump stood directly behind her while the two candidates debated at Washington University in St. Louis.

Clinton: [in voiceover, reading an excerpt from her book] This is not okay, I thought. It was the second presidential debate, and Donald Trump was looming behind me. Two days before, the world heard him brag about groping woman. Now we were on a small stage, and no matter where I walked, he followed me closely — staring at me; making faces.

It was incredibly uncomfortable. He was literally breathing down my neck. My skin crawled. It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching, "Well, what would you do?" Do you stay calm, keep smiling, and carry on as if he weren't repeatedly invading your space? Or do you turn, look him in the eye, and say loudly and clearly, "Back up, you creep. Get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women, but you can't intimidate me, so back up."

I chose Option A: I kept my cool, aided by a lifetime of dealing with difficult men trying to throw me off. I did, however, grip the microphone extra hard. I wonder, though, whether I should have chosen Option B. [chuckles] It certainly would have been better TV!

Maybe I have overlearned the lesson of staying calm, biting my tongue, digging my fingernails into a clenched fist — smiling all the while, determined to present a composed face to the world.
It kills me — it will always kill me — to hear Hillary Clinton talking about disappointing her supporters, letting us down. I'm sure, I know, there are indeed people who voted for her who are disappointed, let down, angry, blameful. I am not one of them.

What I wanted and expected of Hillary Clinton was that she would do her very best to win. I never expected her to be perfect; I never expected that she would never make a mistake. I wanted and expected that she would run with integrity; with tenacity; with a commitment to workable, detailed, progressive policy; and with her love for people and for her country front and center.

That is what she promised, and that is what she did. She owes me no apology.

She also does not owe me the second-guessing of the split-second decisions she had to make in difficult moments. Would I have loved with the power of ten thousand suns if Hillary Clinton had turned to Donald Trump during that second debate and told him to back the fuck off? Hell yeah I would have!

Did I also love that Hillary Clinton was indubitably unflappable even as a toxic, predatory bully stalked her around the stage trying (and failing) to intimidate her? Hell yeah I did!

Of those two options, there frankly wasn't a bad one. They were just different.

And that's the reason, right there, that Hillary Clinton never let me down. She only saw two potential options, both of them valuable (and limited) in their own ways. The bad options never occurred to her.

Hillary Clinton campaigned for 18 months, day after exhausting day, keeping up a ruthless schedule that would drive most people half her age to collapse after three weeks, no less a year and a half. She gave up time with her family, her grandchildren; gave up anything resembling free time; gave up her privacy. She made countless sacrifices on behalf of this country, which has often been very unkind to her in return for her lifetime of service. She did her best, and it was pretty fucking good.

Hillary Clinton still doesn't owe me a goddamned thing. She gave it her all. And that is enough.

[Related Reading: Let's Just Think About This for a Minute.]

Trump Doubles Down in Phoenix

Wednesday, 23 August 2017 08:30
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

Last night, Donald Trump held another Make America Clap for Me Again rally in Phoenix, during which he doubled down on white supremacy and nativism in a discursive rant which became increasingly maniacal as he went off-script in a protracted airing of grievances.

Under the blunt headline "Trump Goes Off-Script in Hour-Long Public Meltdown," Vanity Fair's Maya Kosoff decscribes the spectacle:
After walking onstage at the Phoenix Convention Center to "God Bless The U.S.A." for what was, effectively, a 2020 campaign rally, Donald Trump repeatedly ditched his TelePrompTer and went off-script as he ranted about being mistreated by the media in the wake of Charlottesville, relentlessly attacked an array of enemies including both of Arizona's Republican senators, and portrayed himself as the true victim of a violent clash between white supremacists and counter-protesters that left one woman dead.

Journalists and other social media commentators watched, stunned, as he proceeded to spend the rest of his hourlong speech unloading on the mainstream press, praising a CNN pundit who was fired for tweeting a Nazi slogan, and re-litigating his entire response to Charlottesville, line by line, in what has become a hallmark of the Trump presidency: a full-on public meltdown.

With a captive, cheering audience of thousands before him, Trump reveled in the opportunity to vent, after a long summer of political crises, and to set the record straight. "What happened in Charlottesville strikes at the core of America," he said, blaming the "thugs" and the "dishonest media" for the violence in Virginia. This statement drew nearly a minute of boos from the rabid crowd.

...He proceeded to reread the statement he initially gave in response to the protest, conveniently leaving out the part where he blamed "both sides"—both white supremacists and the anti-racist counterprotesters—for the violence. He mocked the media: "It took a day! Why didn't he say it fast enough!" He berated the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN in one breath, and flatly defended himself against charges of racism. "And then they say, is he a racist? And then I did a second one," he said, referring to another statement he gave. "And then I said, racism is evil. Did they report that I said racism was evil? They all say what a bad guy I am. And then you wonder why CNN is doing relatively poorly in the ratings. They put seven people, all anti-Trump, and then they fired Jeffrey Lord!" he added, referring to the pundit who was fired after tweeting "Seig Heil" at a critic. "Poor Jeffrey."

"The words were perfect," Trump said of his own words about Charlottesville. "They only take out anything they think of, and all they do is complain. The media can attack me, but where I draw the line is when they attack you, the decency of our supporters. You are honest, hard-working, tax-paying—and you're over-taxed, but we're going to get your taxes down—Americans. It's time to expose the crooked media deceptions and to challenge the media for their role in fomenting divisions. They are trying to take away our history and our heritage."
Trump continued to demonize the free press, accusing them of being traitorous people who are actively working to undermine the nation.

And yes, by the way, they are trying to take away our history and our heritage. You see that. [crowd boos] And I say it, and you know, we're all pros; we're all, like, we have a certain sense. We're smart people. [gestures at members of press] These are truly dishonest people. And not all of 'em — not all of 'em. You have some very good reporters; you have some very fair journalists. But for the most part, honestly, these are really, really dishonest people. And they're bad people. And I really think they don't like our country. I really believe that.
Publicly berating journalists and political commentators as enemies of the state is a feature of authoritarian rule. Trump's incendiary rhetoric is designed explicitly to delegitimize the free press — and create a context in which all criticism of the authoritarian is axiomatically suspect. This is incredibly dangerous, and it must be taken very seriously.

As must Trump's equally vile rhetoric of white supremacy and nativism, which ran throughout his aggressive address. Although he did not publicly pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio at the event last night, he all but promised he would do so in future, speaking warmly about one of the most divisive and racist public figures in the country.

Do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe? [crowd cheers wildly for an extended period of time, while Trump basks in their applause and turns in circles, smirking] So, was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job? [the crowd shouts affirmatively] He shoulda had a jury. But you know what? I'll make a prediction: I think he's gonna be just fine, okay? [crowd cheers] But! But! I won't do it tonight, because I don't want to cause any controversy. Is that okay? [crowd cheers] All right? But Sheriff Joe can feel good.
Trump further whipped up the crowd by threatening to shut down the entire federal government if necessary to get his promised border wall built.

Build that wall. Now the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it, but, believe me, if we have to close down our government, we're building that wall. [crowd cheers] Let me be very clear!
From there, it was more — and more — of the same.

This president is pouring gasoline onto a fire whose flames he has been fanning for more than two years. Everyone is warning him that he's going to cause an explosion, as if that isn't his very objective.

He doesn't need to be warned. He needs to be stopped.

If the Republican leadership isn't making a plan to remove this dangerous man from office, they are even more foolish and craven than I thought. (Which I didn't believe was actually possible.)

Of course we all know that they are breathtakingly unprincipled, perfectly content to tolerate (if not personally share) Trump's white supremacy, misogyny, and other sundry bigotries, as long as he would sign off on their heinously indecent legislative agenda. But he's such a bombastic nightmare that he's stymied their agenda (even more than their not having workable policies has) and now risks permanently redefining the Republican brand as the party of Nazi sympathizers.

(Which they already were, but Trump has amplified and made visible that which was long protected under the thin veneer of, I guess, just not being Nazi sympathizers.)

The Republican elites thought they could control him, but they were wrong. Classic Republican error — believing that human nature can be contained because they say so.

Trump's nature cannot be contained, especially not as long as he's got the unrivaled power of the office of the presidency behind him. He won't change, so his circumstances must change. Swiftly and decisively.

Surely even the Republican Party sees that now.

Question of the Day

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 18:00
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

Suggested by Shaker yazikus: "What is your road-trip CD list?"

One of the things I love to do when making a road-trip mix is pick artists that come from the place(s) to which I'm traveling and/or through which I'm traveling on the way to my destination.

So, for example, when Iain and I were still living in Indiana and made a road-trip to visit the Space Cowpokes in New Jersey, I picked a few artists from Ohio for our trip through Ohio, then a lot of artists from Pennsylvania for our trip across Pennsylvania (it's a big state!), and then we ended on artists from Jersey: Bon Jovi, Whitney Houston, The Misfits, The Fugees, Gloria Gaynor, Queen Latifah, Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuce.

An Observation

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 17:00
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

So, some conservative asshole wrote a thing (to which I'm not linking, because fuck that guy) about how Donald Trump's 11-year-old son Barron Trump needs to start "dressing like he's in the White House" after the kid wore t-shirts and shorts on Air Force One over the weekend.

First of all: No.

Second of all: Nope.

Thirdly: What the fuck is wrong with you?

Fourth, fully 67% of the sentient beings in the multiverse have already weighed in on why picking on the way an 11-year-old kid dresses is just the most colossal jerk move ever, because HE IS A CHILD ON HIS SUMMER VACATION, and also WHO CARES SHUT UP YOU GARBAGE BULLY, so let me just add this point: Donald Trump wears a suit in the White House every goddamned day and they don't magically make him behave as though he is a decent and competent president.

What's even the point of demanding that anyone ever dress any way, really?

That's not how clothes work, and also stoppppppppp.

This Week in Fandom, Volume 60

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 14:56
otw_staff: 'Comms' and 'Janita' written beneath the OTW logo (Janita)
[personal profile] otw_staff posting in [community profile] otw_news
This Week in Fandom

This Week in Fandom: Orphan Black and its Clone Club, legal issues with celebrity avatars in virtual reality, and more: https://goo.gl/8e7Wbb

Discussion Thread: How Are You?

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 15:45
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

I feel something coming in the air. Tonight, or soon. I don't know what it is. But I sense that pieces are being moved into place for a big shift. It's making me very anxious, especially because I can't get my head around what it is.

This administration has been a waking nightmare, but the one tiny comfort I had was always being able to predict what was coming.

I'm suddenly unsure, and it's overwhelming me with dread.

That said, as ever I feel strongly that building community in order to validate and support each other is incredibly important, no matter what tomorrow brings, and I am here for it.

Aside from politics, I'm all right. I made a tasty bit of salmon with some perfectly ripened avocado for lunch, and had a quick call with Iain during which we both completely slap-happy and making each other laugh. I was perfectly content for 21 minutes and 44 seconds, which feels like a lot these days. I'll take it with gratitude and without complaint.

How are you?
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Posted by Aphra Behn

[Content note: Gaslighting, lack of consent, infidelity.]

This weekend, architect Kai Cole penned a devastating account of the end of her marriage to Joss Whedon, the creative force behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, and the director of several recent Marvel films.

Cole revealed that for years, Whedon had affairs, both physical and emotional, with the women around him — friends, fans, actresses, and co-workers — affairs which he told her about only as he was ending their relationship. She writes:

Despite understanding, on some level, that what he was doing was wrong, he never conceded the hypocrisy of being out in the world preaching feminist ideals, while at the same time, taking away my right to make choices for my life and my body based on the truth. He deceived me for 15 years, so he could have everything he wanted. I believed, everyone believed, that he was one of the good guys, committed to fighting for women’s rights, committed to our marriage, and to the women he worked with. But I now see how he used his relationship with me as a shield, both during and after our marriage, so no one would question his relationships with other women or scrutinize his writing as anything other than feminist.
Plenty of people out there have offered their reactions to Cole's piece, from Gamer Gate types who hate Whedon for any semblance of feminism he does possess; to those who have long criticized his work’s lack of diversity and often frankly anti-feminist bent; to those who argue you can still cheat and be a feminist, so what’s this all about, really.

I’m not writing to engage those takes. I am writing simply to acknowledge that for a lot of us, this hurts. And it’s not about our opinion of Dollhouse.

It’s about yet another man abusing a position of trust.

And in this case: A man abusing his knowledge of feminism, its language and analysis, in a way deeply hurtful to his partner and their relationship, and then gaslighting her about the reality of the situation.

According to Cole, Whedon revealed the affairs in writing to her after filing for divorce. Per her account, he explained his first affair, on the set of Buffy, thusly:

“When I was running ‘Buffy,’ I was surrounded by beautiful, needy, aggressive young women. It felt like I had a disease, like something from a Greek myth. Suddenly I am a powerful producer and the world is laid out at my feet and I can’t touch it.” But he did touch it. He said he understood, “I would have to lie — or conceal some part of the truth — for the rest of my life,” but he did it anyway, hoping that first affair, “would be ENOUGH, that THEN we could move on and outlast it.”
This is an astonishing way for a man who understands feminism to describe his history. There is blaming of the women involved — if only they had not been so beautiful, so needy, so aggressive, perhaps this would have been different.

He also objectifies them, as “the world laid at my feet,” and further self-aggrandizes his desires as “a disease, something out of Greek myth.” That doesn’t sound much like a man who’s taken full responsibility for harming his relationship. The problem isn’t a curse laid by a sorceress, but Whedon’s own refusal to be honest.

Cole says she is recovering from the relationship, after being diagnosed with complex PTSD. I wish her all the best in her journey. And I write this in support of those who find her account all too familiar. Because this is gaslighting, this is harmful, and we've lived it.

Look at it this way: If Whedon were a Christian megapastor who had hidden behind his reputation as a man of faith in order to carry on affair, who had justified his emotional affairs by claiming he was practicing his faith (“ministering” to women, for example), and/or who had hidden behind his marriage in order to keep people from questioning his involvement with other women, we would have no trouble seeing the issue. And we would understand why those who had put trust in his messages — even if it was sometimes a critical trust — would be feeling devastated.

And we would certainly understand why women who have been in a similar situation would be feeling especially devastated.

And we would instinctively recoil if he blamed Satan or in other ways dodged responsibility by spouting the lingo that had so long shielded him. Or, in this case, by blaming patriarchy for his actions:

When he walked out of our marriage, and was trying to make “things seem less bewildering” to help me understand how he could have lied to me for so long, he said, “In many ways I was the HEIGHT of normal, in this culture. We’re taught to be providers and companions and at the same time, to conquer and acquire — specifically sexually — and I was pulling off both!”
Personally, I have few words for how this makes me feel. I know I am not the only one who has been hurt by someone who has mastered the concepts of feminism well enough to understand how gender roles help abet his infidelity, but couldn’t be arsed to meaningfully engage enough with those concepts to be honest with a partner.

On some level, then, this isn’t about his work, and demanding that every discussion be about his work is not helpful. There’s certainly a time and place to discuss his works, which were already problematic, which already demand discussion. But it feels a little hollow to see this descend into another round of how fucked up his vision of Black Widow is, or how “we” already knew he was a lousy feminist because of Firefly (or whatever.) That can’t be the only conversation.

It’s also not helpful to have every conversation be about how this isn’t a surprise, or that “we” already knew he was problematic, or a jackass, or whatever. Again, that’s a fine conversation, but it doesn’t have to be every one.

Some of us need a space to acknowledge something more fundamental: We’ve been here. And it hurts like fuck to see it being played out again, on the big screen.

This betrayal of trust, trust given in the name of feminism, is a story we have seen played out with Prominent Male Feminists before. And it hurts every time.

In part, it may hurt because we have personally extended Whedon good faith in regards to his works, choosing to believe that he is sincerely interested in feminism as a good thing, even if he practices it poorly. It may hurt because, for some people, his works may have been an introduction to feminism on some level, even if it's one we have outgrown. It's jarring to think that person was using feminism so cynically.

But it may be even more personal than that.

It hurts because some of us have been gaslighted just like this. By men who are not-so-prominent, but equally manipulative. By men who disguised emotional or physical infidelity as "just relating to women better." By men who used their relationships with us as a shield. By men who learned the lingo, only in order to abuse it.

If it’s feeling all too familiar, you have my sympathy, and I take up space in solidarity with those who are having a rough time with this. If you have been looking for a space to talk about those feelings, have at it in comments.

[Note: I have deliberately avoided commenting on the dynamics involved in Whedon’s relationships with women other than Cole, because I do not know enough about the perspectives of the other parties involved. It feels important to acknowledge, however, that the categories Cole describes include people over whom Whedon potentially exercised tremendous professional power, a dynamic that can easily be abused, and where trust can also be betrayed.]

Daily Dose of Cute

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 13:30
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

image of Dudley the Greyhound lying on the couch, grinning at me

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

Trump Threatens Trans Health Care

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 18:30
[syndicated profile] feministing_feed

Posted by Sejal Singh

The Trump Administration plans to quietly undo a regulation banning healthcare providers and insurers from discriminating against trans patients, according a report in The Hill.

To this day, no federal law explicitly prohibits health care discrimination against LGBTQ people (and while we’re at it, no federal law explicitly prohibits employment or housing discrimination either). And we need one, badly. A 2010 survey found that more than half of LGBTQ people reported experiencing discrimination from their healthcare providers, such as being demeaned or harassed, blamed for their health status, or being straight up denied medically necessary care. Transgender people are especially at risk: in 2015, one in four trans people reported that they faced discrimination from their insurers over the course of a single year, including being denied insurance coverage just because of their gender identity.

Trans people should have clear, statutory protections from discrimination. But even without them, transgender patients have rights stemming from the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination provision, Section 1557.

Section 1557 prohibits any federally-funded health care provider (including insurers, hospitals, and individual doctors) from discriminating against patients on the basis of race, national origin, disability, or sex. As more and more federal courts are recognizing, discriminating against someone on the basis of their gender identity can be sex-stereotyping and thus sex discrimination. In other words, laws banning sex discrimination, courts say, also protect trans people.

The Obama Administration affirmed that principle by issuing regulations clarifying these protections: the regulations explicitly banned anti-trans discrimination in healthcare, as well as many other kinds of anti-queer discrimination and discrimination against people who have had an abortion in the past. Contrary to conservative fear-mongering, these rules don’t require any individual doctor to perform gender-reassignment surgery (duh – no one wants doctors to perform surgeries they’re not trained for). What the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) nondiscrimination rules do require is that doctors don’t deny their patient medically necessary care because they’re trans and that insurers cover trans people’s healthcare equally.

Now, the Trump Administration intends to undo that progress. HHS – run by the notoriously anti-LGBTQ Tom Price – scrubbed info on trans patients’ rights from its website in March. The Administration said in court filings that its “re-considering” the nondiscrimination regulations, and the Hill reports the Administration wants to roll back them back in the near future.

Let’s be clear: health care discrimination is quite literally life-threatening. Just ask Jay Kallio, a trans man whose doctor withheld information about his  “very aggressive” breast cancer, apparently because the doctor had “a real problem with [Jay’s] transgender status.” By rolling back these regulations, the Administration would actively enable such discrimination that could cost transgender people their lives.

Conservatives contend it’s an unfair government overreach to ask healthcare providers to treat trans patients, who are putting their lives in their doctors’ hands, equally. But if you ask me, if you’re a doctor or hospital administrator who has a problem giving a trans man their cancer diagnosis, you should get another job, and you definitely shouldn’t get taxpayer money.

The other common conservative complaint is that nondiscrimination regulations also require insurers to cover transition-related care, like hormones. Republicans (and insurance companies) say that transition-related care is “unnecessary,” when nothing could be further from the truth; despite the problematic pathologization inherent in the “gender dysphoria” diagnosis, both courts and medical experts recognize that treatment is a “serious medical need.” By making it easier for insurers to drop transgender people’s coverage, the Right is sending the explicit message that trans people’s health care is unnecessary, burdensome, and disposable – and their implicit message is that their dignity and survival is too. It’s the same message Trump sent when he banned trans people from the military.

The good news is that, as important as these regulations are for helping healthcare providers understand their obligations, trans people’s rights don’t stem from the regulations, they stem from the statute itself. As long as Section 1557 stays on the books, trans patients have rights. So listen up, insurers – no matter what the Trump Administration does, if you discriminate, trans patients can and will see you in court.


Photo credit: National Center for Transgender Equality

We Resist: Day 215

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 12:15
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

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: So the President Gave a Speech Last Night and Pence to Join Trump in Phoenix.

[Content Note: Disablism] Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post: It's Time to Talk About Trump's Mental Health. You know, even setting aside the disablism here and in the dozens of other pieces just like it, the problem is that their authors presume Trump is actually trying to govern like a traditional president and failing. But what if he isn't? And there's frankly an enormous amount of evidence that he isn't.

What looks like "mental illness" — or some other variation on "unfitness" — when judging Trump's comportment against traditional expectations of a president looks a lot less so when judging Trump's comportment against expectations of an aspiring dictator.

Maybe Trump praised Duterte, for example, not because he's "an idiot" who doesn't know any better, but because he actually admires Duterte.

I understand why people don't want to contemplate that possibility, but maybe "it's time" to talk about that.

* * *

[Content Note: War; death] Maya Gebeily at AFP/Yahoo News: Dozens Reported Dead in US-Led Strikes as Battle Nears Raqa Heart.
Dozens of civilians have died in two days of intense US-led strikes on Raqa, a monitor said Tuesday, as fighting to retake the Syrian city from jihadists nears its densely populated centre.

The coalition acknowledges it has pounded the city and surrounding area with more than 250 air strikes over the past week alone, in support of the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance battling the Islamic State group.

The SDF has so far captured just under 60 percent of Raqa, monitors say, leaving IS with about 10 square kilometres (four square miles) in the heart of the city.

But as clashes approach central Raqa, monitors and activists have reported scores killed in intensifying coalition bombardment of the city.

On Monday, US-led air strikes killed at least 42 civilians in several neighbourhoods in Raqa under IS control, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Nineteen children and 12 women were among the dead, the monitor said.

The Observatory says 167 civilians have been killed in coalition strikes since August 14, including 27 on Sunday.

"The tolls are high because the air strikes are hitting neighbourhoods in the city centre that are densely packed with civilians," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Goddammit. I don't even have words. My heart aches.

Tim Johnson at McClatchy: US Navy Collisions Stoke Cyber Threat Concerns. "The Pentagon won't yet say how the USS John S. McCain was rammed by an oil tanker near Singapore, but red flags are flying as the Navy's decades-old reliance on electronic guidance systems increasing looks like another target of cyberattack. The incident — the fourth involving a Seventh Fleet warship this year — occurred near the Strait of Malacca, a crowded 1.7-mile-wide waterway that connects the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea and accounts for roughly 25 percent of global shipping. ...In a little noticed June 22 incident, someone manipulated GPS signals in the eastern part of the Black Sea, leaving some 20 ships with little situational awareness. Shipboard navigation equipment, which appeared to be working properly, reported the location of the vessels 20 miles inland, near an airport. That was the first known instance of GPS 'spoofing,' or misdirection."

Of course it has.

Alec MacGillis at New York Magazine in collaboration with ProPublica: Is Anybody Home at HUD? "The story of the Trump administration has been dominated by the Russia investigations, the Obamacare-repeal morass, and cataclysmic internecine warfare. But there is a whole other side to Trump's takeover of Washington: What happens to the government itself, and all it is tasked with doing, when it is placed under the command of the Chaos President? HUD has emerged as the perfect distillation of the right's antipathy to governing. If the great radical-conservative dream was, in Grover Norquist's famous words, to 'drown government in a bathtub,' then this was what the final gasps of one department might look like."

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Brian Ross, Matthew Mosk, and Rhonda Schwartz at ABC News: Glenn Simpson, Key Figure Behind Million-Dollar 'Dossier,' to Face Questions. "A key figure behind the so-called 'dossier' featuring uncorroborated and salacious allegations about then-candidate Donald Trump's ties to Russia will be questioned by investigators from the Senate Judiciary Committee today about the funding and sources for the document. ...Simpson, who will appear in a closed session on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, hired the former MI6 agent Christopher Steele to compile the now infamous 'dossier,' which alleged that members of the Trump campaign had colluded with Russian agents to damage Hillary Clinton, Trump's Democratic opponent."

My friend Leah McElrath notes that ABC kinda buried the lede on this one:

"According to people briefed on the developments, Steele has met with the FBI and provided agents with the names of his sources for the allegations in the dossier, but it is unclear, how much information lawmakers will be able to obtain from Simpson this week. Attorneys for Fusion GPS have indicated to the committee that its client relationships are confidential." That is the very last paragraph in ABC's piece.

[CN: Misogyny]

Jesus fucking Jones.

Glenn Kessler, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, and Meg Kelly at the Washington Post: Trump's List of False and Misleading Claims Tops 1,000. "We have been tracking [Donald] Trump's false or misleading claims for more than seven months. Somewhere around Aug. 4 or Aug. 5, he broke 1,000 claims, and the tally now stands at 1,057. (Our full interactive graphic can be found here.) That's an impressive number by any standard. In fact, we are a little late with this update because we have simply been overwhelmed keeping track of the deluge of claims made by the president in the later part of July. Things slowed down during the president's 'working vacation,' so we have finally been able to catch up. At the president's current pace, he averages nearly five claims a day."

That actually seems low to me, given that some of his tweets have five bullshit claims in them.

* * *

Oh. My. God.

Damian Paletta at the Washington Post: Treasury Secretary's Wife Boasts of Travel on Government Plane; Touts Hermes and Valentino Fashion.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's wife, Louise Linton, boasted of flying on a government plane with her husband to Kentucky on Monday and then named the numerous fashion brands she wore on the trip in an unusual social media post that only became more bizarre minutes later.

When someone posted a comment on Linton's Instagram picture that criticized the way Linton touted the trip, the treasury secretary's wife swung back hard, mentioning the extreme wealth she and her husband control.

"Did you think this was a personal trip?!" Linton wrote on her Instagram page, responding to the person who had written "glad we could pay for your little getaway."

(Linton's Instagram account was later made "private" so that it could not be publicly seen).

Linton continued in her response to the critic: "Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I'm pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day 'trip' than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you'd be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours."

Linton added, "You're adorably out of touch … Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment. Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute."
At ThinkProgress, Aaron Rupar notes: "Linton's condescending remarks come as Mnuchin, a 17-year veteran of Goldman Sachs who later ran a bank that has been described as a 'foreclosure machine,' ramps up his sales pitch for a tax reform plan that the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says will disproportionately benefit the top one percent of earners."

It also "came on the same day as news about how [Donald] Trump's lifestyle is creating huge financial and logistical problems for the Secret Service and for taxpayers."

What a fucking administration this is.

* * *

[CN: Violence; murder; racism; death penalty] Mark Berman and Wesley Lowery at the Washington Post: Missouri Plans to Execute Marcellus Williams as His Attorneys Say DNA Evidence Exonerates Him. "Missouri on Tuesday plans to execute Marcellus Williams, a death-row inmate convicted in 2001 of killing a former newspaper reporter. But with Williams's lethal injection looming, his attorneys have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay, arguing that Missouri may be on the verge of executing the wrong person. ...Attorneys for Williams argue that he is innocent, pointing to DNA tests they say produced 'conclusive scientific evidence that another man committed this crime.' They say this evidence shows that DNA belonging to someone else was found on the murder weapon, exonerating Williams. ...State officials, though, said they still believe Williams is guilty due to other 'compelling non-DNA evidence.'" JFC. End the death penalty now.

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

Pence to Join Trump in Phoenix

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 11:00
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Tonight, Donald Trump will appear in Phoenix, Arizona, for yet another Make America Clap for Me Again rally — despite the fact that Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton has asked Trump to postpone.

Trump was rumored to be considering the announcement of a pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio at the event — a doubling down on support for white supremacy and nativism, which Stanton (and everyone else with any sense and decency) is worried could result in violent clashes between Trump's white supremacist supporters and protesters at the event.

In a very curious move, Mike Pence will reportedly be joining Trump for the rally in Phoenix.

I'm not exactly sure what's going on, but here's what I've seen over the past week or so: Multiple news reports about Pence laying the groundwork for 2020 run, followed immediately by: Pence pulled back home early from abroad, followed immediately by: Pence getting super promotional on Twitter, which is a highly unusual tone for him, followed immediately by: Pence appearing at Phoenix rally with Trump, in contravention of long-established security protocols.

It seems incredibly unlikely to me that Pence came home from a trip abroad and is creating a massive national security risk just to show solidarity for Trump's Afghanistan war plan, which was vague garbage — hardly a radical military realignment that necessitates such elaborate maneuvers from Pence.

Something is up. And it's moving fast.

I have some ideas about what that might be, but they are nothing more than hunches. I'll be watching what happens in Phoenix closely to see if any of those hunches prove out and/or look more likely after tonight.

My Favorite Eclipse Stuff

Tuesday, 22 August 2017 09:45
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

There was a lot of great, clever, beautiful, and/or hilarious stuff created during and about the solar eclipse yesterday. In no particular order, my Top Five Favorite Eclipse Things:

1. This extraordinary time-lapse photo of the eclipse created by photographer Jasman Mander.

2. This solar eclipse recreation with pug puppies.

Video Description: A fawn pug puppy is held in the air by a person off-screen. From the right side of the screen, a black pug puppy is moved through the air by another person, in front of the fawn pug puppy.
3. This tweet from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

4. Rae's perfect comment on Trump looking straight at the eclipse.

5. This OMG LOLOLOLOLOLOL supercut of Fox News' Shep Smith giving zero fucks about the eclipse, compiled by the Washington Free Beacon, via Jessie.

Video Description: Video clips of Shep Smith sarcastically covering the solar eclipse, which really doesn't impress him. Sometimes he is onscreen making exasperated and sardonic faces while speaking; other times, it is only his voice over eclipse-related images, whether of the eclipse itself or people watching the eclipse, etc. [ETA Content Note: Racist dogwhistle.]

This is Total Eclipse of the Sun Watch Twenty-Seventeen on Fox News Channel. The excitement must be building and building, like fireworks! [edit] If I put this here, and my phone here, I have a total eclipse of the phone! [edit] Fascinating! It's amazing! Oh my god the moon has gotten in front of the—! Well, okay. I don't know. It's interesting-looking. The sun looks a little like the moon up there on my wall. [edit]

If you mention it, you gotta sing it. [sings] Where the deer and the antelope playyyyyyy....! [edit] WOW! Would you look at that?! IT'S A TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN! [edit] They know this is all it's gonna be, right? Just a moon over a sun? [edit] Oh, the sun's coming back now. Oh my goodness. That didn't last long. [edit]

Yoo hoo! I wanna hear more! [edit] No, 'cause now you can look at the thing! It's covered so YOU CAN LOOK AT IT! OH MY GOD! [edit] The sun is returning! Jalapeña! [edit] How was it? Response: "Weird." "Dark." "Cold." Another "dark." "Amazing." "I love nature." "Amazing." "I'm gonna die now." And we hope that doesn't happen! [edit]

Wanna see a total eclipse of this monitor? [holds paper in front of camera] It's totally eclipsed. [edit] Well, we're having a good time, too. And there's some people who think we should take this a little more seriously, on the Twitter. [edit] Because, for us, this is just a lotta fun. We've been watching the path of totality— [runs toward large board showing path of totality; a producer gets caught on camera] You can catch D.C. on screen if you run. [edit]

Do you know that it goes [convulses] buzz buzz buzz like old NASA stuff from the seventies whenever you move around? It's 'cause of the sun! [edit] And then over on MSNBC, it's just—it's just sorta dark and vacant. [edit] They're not gonna have a—what is it?! [the crew murmurs unenthusiastically: "Total eclipse of the sun."] Not a total eclipse of the sun down in— [cracks himself up; edit]

The sun is 400 times larger than the moon. But the sun is 400 times farther away from us than the moon. Which works together nicely. [edit] So, here, it's a little darker than usual, but, uh, it's not, like, dark. [edit] According to one legend from ancient China [does Trump impression] CHI-NA! people were scared that a dragon might eat the sun. Which is always something to consider. [edit]

How was it?! Was it everything?!
Please feel welcome and encouraged to share your favorite eclipse stuff in comments! And don't be shy about self-promoting: If you created something cool, got a neat photo, said something hilarious...toot your own horn!