Question of the Day

Jul. 24th, 2017 06:00 pm
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Suggested by Shaker Brenda A.: "What movies have you lately had to stop flipping channels to watch — if only to finish the scene?"

The Matrix. Because obviously!

The Monday Blogaround

Jul. 24th, 2017 05:30 pm
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

This blogaround brought to you by rainclouds.

Recommended Reading:

Josephine Hazelton: [Content Note: Street harassment; white cis male centrism] The Shocking Connection Between Street Harassment and Street Lighting

Tomicka Robinson: Some States Are Turning the Tide in Funding Child Care — Others Should Follow

Corinne Green: [CN: Trans hatred; nativism] Policy Desk: New Attacks in Texas

Andy Towle: Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz to Bring First Gay Characters to Star Trek TV Series in Onscreen Romance

Rhett Jones: Roomba's Next Big Step Is Selling Maps of Your Home to the Highest Bidder

Michael Nuñez: Tech Company Offers Freaky Microchip Implants to Employees

And finally! Snopes.com, the original warriors against fake news, could use your help, if you can spare it.

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

For the Record

Jul. 24th, 2017 04:30 pm
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan


This is a tactic that is really beginning to wear on my last good nerve. Every time someone tries to center facts of what happened during the election into the conversation, especially facts around who supported Hillary Clinton and why, we are accused of "relitigating the election."

That is not relitigation. That is part of a Sisyphean effort to stop privileged people yet again rewriting history in such a way that writes women and marginalized men out of history altogether, for the express purpose of centering white men.
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

You don't hear this from the Democrats; they like to tell you just the opposite, and they didn't even know the bill. They run out; they say, "Death, death, death." Well, Obamacare is death! That's the one that's death. And besides that, it's failing — so you won't have it, anyway.
I don't even know what to say anymore. There are people who get really annoyed with me when I call the Republican Party a white supremacist death cult, but tell me where the fuck I'm wrong. (Actually, don't even try. Because I'm not.)

Daily Dose of Cute

Jul. 24th, 2017 02:30 pm
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

image of Sophie the Torbie Cat making a squinchy face as she scratches her ear with her back foot
Perfectly captured backfoot-scratching squinchy cat expression.

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 186

Jul. 24th, 2017 01:15 pm
[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: Jared Kushner Is Not a Crook!

REMINDER: KEEP CALLING YOUR SENATORS TO TELL THEM TO VOTE NO ON REPEALING THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT.

Paul Krugman at the New York Times: Health Care Is Still in Danger. "[N]either Mitch McConnell nor the White House have given up on their efforts to deprive millions of health care. In fact, on Saturday the tweeter-in-chief, once again breaking long-established rules of decorum, called on the audience at a military ceremony, the commissioning of a new aircraft carrier, to pressure the Senate to pass that bill. This has many people I know worried that we may see a repeat of what happened in the spring: with the media spotlight shining elsewhere, the usual suspects may ram a horrible bill through. And the House would quickly pass whatever the Senate comes up with. So this is actually a moment of great risk."

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] David Durenberger at USA Today: Former GOP Senator: Resist the Bullying — Don't Vote for a Mystery Health Care Bill. "What do you do when you are a U.S. senator and the president wants you to vote for a health care bill that could radically change health care? You ask questions. You hold hearings. You understand what it would mean to your constituents. You listen to those who know the system. And when it doesn't add up, you vote against it."

If only they cared. But they definitely don't!


Matt Shuham at TPM: Trump Tells AP Reporter Asking About Obamacare Repeal Effort: 'Quiet'. "According to a pool report, reporters were 'unexpectedly summoned' into the East Room of the White House [on Monday morning] to observe a photo-op with Trump and White House interns. A reporter, who Bloomberg's Jennifer Epstein identified as the Associated Press' Catherine Lucey, asked Trump if he thought Attorney General Jeff Sessions should resign. Trump didn't answer, but video of the exchange shows him rolling his eyes, to laughter from the interns. Lucey then asked Trump if he had anything to say about Senate Republicans' Obamacare repeal effort. 'Quiet,' he said, to more laughter from the interns."

[CN: Misogyny; violent rhetoric] Aaron Rupar at ThinkProgress: GOP Congressman Blames Health Care Struggles on 'Repugnant' Republican 'Female Senators'. "Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) is livid at the inability of the Senate to repeal Obamacare, and he knows exactly who to blame: the Republican women of the Senate. During a radio interview on a Corpus Christi station last Friday, Farenthold said he finds it 'absolutely repugnant' that 'the Senate does not have the courage to do some of the things that every Republican in the Senate promised to do.' Farenthold singled out female senators for opposing the repeal of Obamacare, before suggesting that if they were men, he'd ask them to settle things with a gunfight. 'Some of the people that are opposed to this [i.e., repealing Obamacare] — there are some female senators from the northeast,' Farenthold said. 'If it was a guy from south Texas I might ask them to step outside and settle this Aaron Burr-style.'"

* * *

Wendy Dent, Ed Pilkington, and Shaun Walker at the Guardian: Jared Kushner Sealed Real Estate Deal with Oligarch's Firm Cited in Money-Laundering Case.
Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Donald Trump, who acts as his senior White House adviser, secured a multimillion-dollar Manhattan real estate deal with a Soviet-born oligarch whose company was cited in a major New York money laundering case now being probed by members of Congress.

A Guardian investigation has established a series of overlapping ties and relationships involving alleged Russian money laundering, New York real estate deals and members of Trump’s inner circle. They include a 2015 sale of part of the old New York Times building in Manhattan involving Kushner and a billionaire real estate tycoon and diamond mogul, Lev Leviev.

...Leviev, a global tycoon known as the "king of diamonds," was a business partner of the Russian-owned company Prevezon Holdings that was at the center of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit launched in New York. Under the leadership of US attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by Trump in March, prosecutors pursued Prevezon for allegedly attempting to use Manhattan real estate deals to launder money stolen from the Russian treasury.

The scam had been uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky, an accountant who died in 2009 in a Moscow jail in suspicious circumstances. US sanctions against Russia imposed after Magnitsky's death were a central topic of conversation at the notorious Trump Tower meeting last June between Kushner, Donald Trump Jr, Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin.
There is much more at the link. Lots of threads pulled together well here.

Robin Eberhardt at the Hill: Putin Told Trump That Russian Hackers Were Too Good to Get Caught. "Russian President Vladimir Putin told [Donald] Trump that Russian hackers wouldn't have gotten caught if they did hack Democratic groups because they're too skilled at spying, The New York Times reported Monday. Trump has since repeated the claim, according to White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci. Scaramucci told CNN's 'State of the Union' on Sunday that someone told him that if Moscow hacked the Democratic National Committee, 'you would have never seen it. You would have never had any evidence of them, meaning that they're super-confident in their deception skills and hacking.' Pressed by host Jake Tapper on who told him that, Scaramucci said it was Trump himself."

Mike Allen at Axios: Trump Ponders Rudy Giuliani for Attorney General. "Trump is so unhappy with Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he has raised the possibility of bringing back Rudolph Giuliani to head the Justice Department, according to West Wing confidants. ...Trump often muses about possible personnel moves that he never makes, sometimes just to gauge the listener's reaction. So the Giuliani balloon may go nowhere." Or, you know, it will end up with the waking nightmare of Rudy Giuliani leading the Justice Department.

Meanwhile, in other White House staffing news... Jonathan Swan at Axios: Trump Wishes Reince Would Take the Hint. "A much-discussed question at the top of the White House: Just what magnitude of indignity would it take for Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to resign? [Donald] Trump knew that appointing Anthony Scaramucci as communications director would humiliate Reince, who fought hard against it. ...Reince has redefined what it means to be the White House Chief of Staff — and not in a good way. It's unclear at this point how he survives much longer, and the breeziness with which [Trump] humiliates him has even his enemies wincing in sympathy." Good lord.

And in new White House staffing news... [CN: Misogyny] Casey Quinlan at ThinkProgress: Anthony Scaramucci Advises Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Her Hair and Makeup. "Newly installed White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci commented on Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders' appearance during an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN's 'State of the Union.' ...After his noting [that Sanders 'does a great job' and is 'incredibly authentic' but could] be 'incrementally better,' Scaramucci focused on Sanders' appearance. 'The only thing I ask Sarah — Sarah if you're watching — I love the hair and makeup person that we had on Friday, so I'd like to continue to use the hair and makeup person,' he added." Cool guy.

* * *

[CN: Islamophobia; hate crimes] Khizr Khan at the Washington Post: Attacks on American Muslims Are un-American: Under Trump, They're on the Rise. "Has our president paused to wonder why his campaign and election have coincided with such attacks? ...ACT for America's founder, Brigitte Gabriel, had said that a practicing Muslim who believes the words of the Koran 'cannot be a loyal citizen of the United States.' Lest you think this view is relegated to the political extremes, virtually identical language — 'devout Muslims cannot truthfully swear the oath to become citizens of the United States of America' — has been used by the American Center for Law and Justice, whose founder, Jay Sekulow, is part of Trump's personal legal team. As a Muslim, a patriotic American and a Gold Star father, these false assertions offend me deeply."

[CN: Nativism; abuse] Jonathan Blitzer at the New Yorker: A Veteran ICE Agent, Disillusioned with the Trump Era, Speaks Out.
The agent's decision to allow me to write about our conversations came after learning that ice was making a push, beginning this week, to arrest young undocumented immigrants who were part of a large wave of unaccompanied minors who crossed the border in recent years and who, until now, had been allowed to live in the U.S. Rather than detaining these young people, the government had placed them in the care of families around the country. Most of them are trying to lead new lives as American transplants, going to school and working.

ICE now plans to pursue those who have turned eighteen since crossing the border, and who, as a result, qualify for detention as legal adults. "I don't see the point in it," the agent said. "The plan is to take them back into custody, and then figure it out. I don't understand it. We're doing it because we can, and it bothers the hell out of me."

The agent went on, "The whole idea is targeting kids. I know that technically they meet the legal definition of being adults. Fine. But if they were my kids travelling in a foreign country, I wouldn't be O.K. with this. We're not doing what we tell people we do. If you look next month, or at the end of this month, at the people in custody, it's people who've been here for years. They're supposed to be in high school."
Goddammit. This fucking administration.

Samantha Page at ThinkProgress: Trump Administration Officially Files to Make It Easier to Frack Public Lands. "The Department of the Interior intends to repeal an Obama-era rule designed to prevent fracking companies operating on public lands from polluting water supplies. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Monday submitted a proposed revocation to the Federal Register to wipe from the books a rule that required fracking operators on public lands to disclose chemicals used in fracking and to ensure certain precautions are taken around clean water sources." Seethe.

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

Presenting: "The Left"

Jul. 24th, 2017 12:15 pm
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

[Content Note: Rape culture; harassment.]

So, here's the basic gist: During the campaign last year, I tweeted something about being a rape survivor in response to some of Donald Trump's fuckery. A bunch of conservatives, as well as a bunch of "progressive" dudes, had a great time mocking it.

One of the leftist dudes who publicly mocked me is Felix Biederman, one of the co-hosts of the Chapo Trap House podcast. If you don't know anything about CTH, here's one recent example of their particular brand of leftist politics (in which people like me are branded neoliberal shills, when they're being polite):


[If you can't view the screencap embedded in the tweet, it is a passage from an article reading: "They're tired of sitting, slouched and bored, elbows on the table, at the kids' table. And unlike the purely anarchic alt-righters doing it 'for the lulz,' the alt-left offers a coherent, practical, progressive political agenda. As Chapo co-founder Will Menaker put it on a recent episode of the show, addressing an imagined audience pragmatist liberals and centrists: 'Yes, let's come together. But get this through your f–king head: you must bend the knee to us. Not the other way around. You have been proven as failures, and your entire worldview has been discredited.'"]

So, Biederman was repeatedly asked about having publicly mocked me for being a rape survivor. And then someone posted about it on Reddit. And then Biederman replied by "apologizing" (to his fans) and then lying about why he hadn't personally apologized to me, claiming I had him blocked on Twitter.

I do not have, nor have I ever had, him blocked. It's just a straight-up fucking lie.

Anyway. I have been tweeting about all of this horseshit this morning, and here are those tweets compiled in a Twitter moment, for anyone who would like to see and/or share them: Here's Something You Might Want to Know About Chapo Trap House.

* * *

On another note: These fuckers make $72,706 a month for their podcast. A MONTH. That is significantly more than I make in an entire year.

And I haven't had a raise in a very, very long time — despite the fact that this community has continued to grow, here and on Twitter.

Please, if you can afford to become a subscriber to Shakesville, or even make a one-time donation, I would deeply appreciate it.

Film Corner: Dunkirk

Jul. 24th, 2017 11:00 am
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

promotional image for the film Dunkirk, featuring the movie title over a photo of a young white male solidier in the sand, with other soliders in the background, as they keep low to the ground during air bombing

I saw Christopher Nolan's new film Dunkirk this weekend. I am a huge Nolan fan, and love most of his films (sorry, Insomnia, but you're garbage!), and Dunkirk is among my very favorites.

It isn't often that I would strongly recommend a war movie, no less a war movie about such a particular time and place that leaves virtually no speaking roles for women and none for people of color. But Dunkirk is a World War II story worth telling, at this moment.


Many reviewers have, quite rightly, noted that the story of the Dunkirk evacuation is one not well-known to most Americans. It is a story we should know, however: Dunkirk was a pivotal point in World War II. Had the British troops been forced to surrender, as was a real possibility, the trajectory of the war would have been very different indeed.

It is a story about the decisions we make, a story about survival during the onslaught of fascism, and a story about how the fate of nations can turn on the commitment of average people to being extraordinary when freedom demands it.

Anyway. Go see it.

Now, of course, I have to talk about Tom Hardy for a moment.


image of Tom Hardy as a spitfire pilot wearing an oxygen mask that covers most of his face in Dunkirk


[Content Note: Video autoplays at link] If you'd like to see a neat interview with Tom Hardy, talking about working in the spitfire, the acting of his Dunkirk role, and working with Chris Nolan, here you go.

Jared Kushner Is Not a Crook!

Jul. 24th, 2017 09:45 am
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

image of Jared Kushner's face photoshopped over Richard Nixon's in his iconic 'I am not a crook' moment; the presidential seal on the podium has also been replaced with a MAGA sticker
"I am not a colluder!"

Here's an interesting juxtaposition of news articles today:

Rebecca Ballhaus at the Wall Street Journal: Jared Kushner Releases Details on Previously Undisclosed Contact with Russian Ambassador. "Jared Kushner, [Donald] Trump's son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, on Monday released details of his contacts with Russian officials and businesspeople in the two years since Mr. Trump launched his presidential campaign, including a previously undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in April 2016." Oh.

Jeff Mason at Reuters: Kushner, in Statement, Says 'I Did Not Collude' with Foreign Government. "Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner said in a statement to congressional committees on Monday that he 'did not collude' with Russia or seek back channels with Moscow last year. ...Kushner said he had 'perhaps four contacts with Russian representatives' during the 2016 campaign and presidential transition period after Trump's victory." Oh.

Well, that clears everything up.

Obviously, Kushner was just having normal, non-colluding meetings with Russians, like everyone does. Geez.
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, quoted in the Washington Post over the weekend:
"When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don't blame other things — Comey, Russia — you blame yourself," Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in an interview previewing the new plan. "So what did we do wrong? People didn't know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And still believe that."
Goddammit. There are so many things wrong with that load of horseshit, I hardly know where to begin, but I'll start here: I can't even imagine how much Vladimir Putin loves that quote.

Just think about what a huge boner Putin has over the fact that he hated Hillary Clinton so much that he interfered in an election to defeat her and elect Donald Trump, and now the leadership of Clinton's own party is blaming her and insisting that blaming Russia is a deflection of responsibility.

You know who else likes that quote?


Thanks a fuckload, Schumer.

Please join your pals Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in having an entire stadium of fucking seats.

If people didn't know what Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party stood for, it was categorically not because Hillary Clinton failed to articulate those things. She was absolutely relentless with her message of breaking down barriers so that everyone would have the same opportunities. She gave speech after speech detailing her values and her policy plans. She had the most robust campaign website I have ever seen. She spoke to as many voters one-on-one as any human running for the United States presidency possibly could have.

Everything that was in her control to communicate that message, she did.

It was not in her control whether people listened. And it was not in her control that the media often chose to aim their cameras at an empty podium where Trump would appear at some point in the afternoon rather than at her giving a stump speech full of her detailed proposals.

Here's something else that happened this weekend:


Chris Cuomo, the host of CNN's "New Day," the news network's flagship morning news show, doesn't know that Clinton's campaign slogan wasn't "I'm with Her." And arrogantly shames her based on his garbage mistake!

Maybe that sort of shit has more to do with why people weren't more keenly aware of the Democrats' agenda than a failure of Hillary Clinton.

Someone remind Chuck Schumer that she was a good enough messenger, after all, to win the popular fucking vote.

On the New Look

Jul. 24th, 2017 08:15 am
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

So, as you may have noticed, Shakesville has a new look. It's just a cosmetic update: All the functionality is still the same.

Shaker mdevile's amazing Teaspoon Charge banner, which went up in September 2014, was the longest-running banner in Shakesville's 13-year history. I will always love it with one million hearts.

But following the election, it increasingly felt at odds with what I feel like as I'm working every day. Which is not to say I'm not still teaspooning — I most certainly am. But resistance feels more like planting my feet in the ground than it does running forward. Regrettably so.

It's taken me a long time to find an image that better reflects what I'm feeling every day. My profound thanks to the contributors and mods who offered their input on the few images that made it far enough to be shared for feedback.

The new image — train tracks on a bridge to an uncertain destination — resonates strongly with me. Things are changing quickly, and we don't know exactly where we'll end up, but I want to do whatever I can to influence where we go. And to continue to validate the perspective of this community, who's in the same car with me.

Onward together. Stronger together.

Image Credit: Tama66, who has made this image available for use via Pixabay under the Creative Commons CC0.

The Friday Blogaround

Jul. 21st, 2017 04:30 pm
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

This blogaround brought to you by lamplight.

Recommended Reading:

Julia Serano: [Content Note: Transphobic narratives] On Transgender People and 'Biological Sex' Myths

Ragen Chastain: [CN: Fat hatred] Slate's Hiring Policy: No Fat Chicks?

Shay Stewart-Bouley: [CN: Misogynoir] My Black life Matters, or Ramblings of Middle Age

Keith Reid-Cleveland: [CN: Police misconduct] Body Camera Footage Shows Baltimore Police Officer Planting Drugs

Russell Brandom: Verizon Admits to Throttling Netflix in Apparent Violation of Net Neutrality

Charline Jao: [CN: Images of violence/guns in video at link] Hit Woman Taraji P. Henson Does Not Mess Around in Proud Mary Trailer

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

Your Best Photograph

Jul. 21st, 2017 03:30 pm
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

If you're a photographer, even if a very amateur one (like myself), and you've got a photo or photos you'd like to share, here's your thread for that!

It doesn't really have to be your best photograph—just one you like!

Please be sure if your photo contains people other than yourself, that you have the explicit consent of the people in the photos before posting them.

* * *

This is a photo I took in our backyard earlier today of a gorgeous big bee in a sunflower, which sprouted from fallen birdseed mix that contained sunflower seeds. Nature!

image of a sunflower surrounded by various green plants, with a big, fuzzy bumblebee right at its center

"Mooch" Is Settling in Nicely

Jul. 21st, 2017 02:30 pm
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

So, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who has been regularly filling in for Sean Spicer when he was stuck in a bush or whatever, has been made White House Press Secretary, i.e. Spicer's old job. And Anthony Scaramucci has officially been announced as White House Communications Director.

He started the gig by holding a press briefing where he went on endlessly about how much he loves Donald Trump, who is the greatest guy and an amazing athlete and a total winner and and and...


Scaramucci's obnoxious presser was documented by a number of journalists who are already calling him "Mooch." Sure.

But here's the thing:


Trust that he spent time during the presser flattering the press, too, and talking about how he wants to improve relations between the White House and the media. Which was evident bullshit — and far less important than this:

I do believe that the best messenger, the best media person, the most savvy person in the White House is the President of the United States, and I'm frankly hoping to learn from him.
Yeah, that would be the same guy who's been waging a war on the free press since he became a candidate. "Mooch" will learn a lot from him, I'll bet.

Daily Dose of Cute

Jul. 21st, 2017 01:30 pm
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt lying on the floor looking up at me
THIS FACE!!! ♥

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 183

Jul. 21st, 2017 12:30 pm
[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: Republicans Are "Dismayed" Again. Oh. and If You Make an Authoritarian President, He Will Behave Like an Authoritarian and I Don't Like This One Bit and Sean Spicer Has Resigned.

REMINDER: KEEP CALLING YOUR SENATORS TO TELL THEM TO VOTE NO ON REPEALING THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT.


Sarah Boseley's important article is also accompanied by an equally stark image of Donald Trump signing the Executive Order that reintroduced the Mexico City policy, while surrounded by grinning white men: Reince Preibus, Peter Navarro, Jared Kushner, Steven Miller, and Steve Bannon.

The article is tough, but I highly recommend reading it. Please note if you have a needle phobia, there is an image of a young woman getting a contraceptive implant about midway through the story.

* * *

Ben Wieder, Gabrielle Paluch, and Kevin G. Hall at McClatchy: Ex Trump Associates Helped Fugitive Kazakhs in Visa Scheme.
Two former associates of Donald Trump helped a family of wealthy Kazakh fugitives make extensive investments in the United States, some aimed at helping family members obtain legal residency here, a McClatchy investigation shows.

Felix Sater, an ex-con and one-time senior adviser in the Trump Organization, helped the Trump family scout deals in Russia. He led an effort that began in 2012 to assist the stepchildren of Viktor Khrapunov, who that year had been placed on an international detention request list by the global police agency Interpol.

...On paper, Donald Trump's business relationship with Sater ended almost a decade ago. But earlier this year, Sater re-entered Trump's orbit when he and Michael D. Cohen, one of Trump's personal lawyers, were involved with a Ukraine-Russia peace proposal that was presented to Michael Flynn, then Trump's national security advisor.

...Several key people in Trump’s orbit did business with the Kazakh clan, including the law firm of Trump campaign surrogate Rudy Giuliani and the Bayrock Group, which developed Trump-branded projects in New York, Florida, and Arizona and was founded by Tevik Arif, a politically-connected former Soviet official from Kazakhstan.

Lincoln Mitchell, a political consultant who specializes in Russia and its neighboring countries, said virtually any investment from Kazakhstan warrants scrutiny.

"It would be hard to imagine getting Kazakh investment that wasn't close to the ruling family," Mitchell said in a telephone interview from the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
Again: Legitimate for Bob Mueller to scrutinize Trump's finances. Legitimate, and crucial.

Guardian/AP: CIA Director: Russia Loves to Meddle and 'Stick It to America'. "The CIA director, Mike Pompeo, said on Thursday that Russia had no plans to leave Syria and would continue to try to meddle in US affairs to 'stick it to America.' He reiterated his belief that Russia interfered in the US presidential election and described the US-Russia relationship as 'complicated.' 'I think they find any place that they can make our lives more difficult, I think they find that's something that's useful,' he said." Yep. Have you mentioned this to your boss, sir?

Speaking of Russians fucking with us... Keir Simmons and Saphora Smith at NBC News: Russia's Lavrov Says Trump May Have Met Putin More Times.
Donald Trump may have held more meetings with Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit earlier this month, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday — but he shrugged off the importance of the encounters.

"They might have met even much more than just three times," he told NBC News' Keir Simmons in an exclusive interview, dismissing speculation about the leaders' meetings.

"Maybe they went to the toilet together," he joked.

Asked whether the two presidents had other conversations or met in the corridors of the G-20 meeting, Lavrov used the analogy of children mingling at a kindergarten.

"When you are bought by your parents to a kindergarten do you mix with the people who are waiting in the same room to start going to a classroom?" he asked.

He added: "I remember when I was in that position I did spend five or ten minutes in the kindergarten before they brought us to the classroom."
Fucking ridiculous. I will never stop being angry that Donald Trump is such an overconfident dipshit that he put us in the position of being mocked by the Russian Foreign Minister, who just takes the piss at will, because we are being (un)governed by a man who is little more than a Russian nesting doll of character defects.

On that note... Philip Bump at the Washington Post: Trump Can Usually Make It About a Third of the Way Through an Interview Without Mentioning Hillary Clinton. "In fact, in 19 interviews that he's conducted since becoming president, we found that Clinton tended to be mentioned much earlier than a number of Trump's other favorite topics: The 2016 election, the votes he received, the electoral college and Barack Obama. ...In 17 of 19 of his interviews, Clinton came up, on average about 36 percent of the way in. ...How much does Trump like to raise the subject of Hillary Clinton? He even mentions her more frequently and sooner than his other favorite opponent: the press." GOD, DONNIE, GET IT THROUGH YOUR HEAD: SHE'LL NEVER LIKE YOU.

Sara Robinson at Rewire: Trump's Sensitivity to Being Laughed at Should Alarm Everyone. "When we hear Trump say, 'They're laughing at us,' it's almost certainly because he's about to put forth a policy explicitly designed to assert dominance or act out rage, abusing the vast powers of his office to brutally stuff some inferior group or nation back into its perceived place because they have dared to challenge him. Trump's fear of being laughed at is the clearest possible sign that we have installed an abuser-in-chief in the White House. Savvy global actors have already figured out that laughing at him is a very reliable way to provoke him into ridiculous postures and self-destructive policies. But closer to home, we also need to realize that over the next three and a half years, the worst abuses of power, the most draconian displays of force, and the most profound violence this administration does to our nation and to the bodies and futures of its citizens will almost inevitably occur because Trump thought somebody was laughing at him."

Daniel Dale at the Toronto Star: Donald Trump Said 414 False Things in His First Six Months. "The Star has tracked every single word Trump has said, tweeted or issued in his name since he took the oath on Jan. 20. Other than the sheer quantity of lies, what's most striking is their outlandish obviousness. With some exceptions, this is not sophisticated deceit. Trump is the toddler with purple icing on his face declaring that a fairy must have eaten the last piece of cake."

* * *

In other news...


[Content Note: White supremacy] Ayana Byrd at Colorlines: Climate Scientist Blows Whistle on Trump Administration's Department of the Interior.
Joel Clement's previous job: Director of the Office of Policy Analysis at the U.S. Department of the Interior, where he focused on helping endangered Native communities in Alaska prepare for and adapt to climate change.

His current job, as of June 15 when he was involuntarily reassigned: Collecting royalty checks from fossil fuel companies as a senior advisor at the Office of Natural Resources Revenue.

On Wednesday (July 19), Clement filed a complaint and a whistleblower disclosure form with the Office of Special Counsel, an independent investigative and prosecutorial agency for federal employees. That same day, The Washington Post published an op-ed by him titled, "I'm a Scientist. I'm Blowing the Whistle on the Trump Administration." It begins with this disclaimer:
I am not a member of the deep state. I am not big government.

I am a scientist, a policy expert, a civil servant and a worried citizen. Reluctantly, as of today, I am also a whistleblower on an administration that chooses silence over science.
Clement writes that involuntary reassignments like the one he (and about 50 others) received were used to eliminate those whose views did not agree with the new administration's.
Fucking hell. And what did Clement do that targeted him for retaliation? "I believe I was retaliated against for speaking out publicly about the dangers that climate change poses to Alaska Native communities."

[CN: LGBT hatred] Michael Fitzgerald at Towleroad: Donald Trump to Nominate Another Anti-LGBTQ Secretary to the Army. "Donald Trump has announced that he plans to nominate anti-LGBT veteran and defense contractor manager Mark Esper as Secretary of the Army. Esper is a lobbyist and vice president for government relations at defense contractor Raytheon and served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense from 2002 to 2004. ...However, GLAAD reports that Esper was also the former chair of the National Security Policy subcommittee for the 2008 Republican Party Platform, which specifically targeted LGBT service members. Additionally, he has worked with anti-LGBT lawmakers including Senator Bill Frist and served as Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President of the Heritage Foundation."

David Shepardson and Valerie Volcovici at Reuters: White House Deregulation Push Clears out Hundreds of Proposed Rules. "The White House said Thursday it had withdrawn or removed from active consideration more than 800 proposed regulations that were never finalized during the Obama administration as it works to shrink the federal government's regulatory footprint. ...The steps to eliminate regulations makes good on a much-repeated Trump campaign promise to promote business-friendly policies. Investors have anticipated the action, helping to push share prices higher on hopes that fewer regulations will boost business growth and lead to higher corporate profits."

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

Sean Spicer Has Resigned

Jul. 21st, 2017 11:15 am
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan


[If you cannot view the image in the second tweet, it is a photo of Sean Spicer with his eyes cast downward, to which I've added text reading: "I'm resigning to spend more time with my family working on my Melissa McCarthy impersonation. Thank you and goodbye."]

Spicer reportedly handed in his notice because Donald Trump hired Anthony Scaramucci as White House Communications Director: "Mr. Trump offered Mr. Scaramucci the job at 10 a.m. The president requested that Mr. Spicer stay on, but Mr. Spicer told Mr. Trump that he believed the appointment was a major mistake, according to a person with direct knowledge of the exchange."

That person is almost certainly Reince Priebus, who rumor has it isn't thrilled with Scaramucci's appointment, either.

Let's all take a moment to fondly recall, while Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You" plays, all of the horrors that Spicer was willing to spin and defend, all of the corruption about which he was willing to straight-up lie, all of the indignities he was willing to suffer on behalf of this obscene administration. But he drew the line at having to work with someone he doesn't like.

Sounds about right.

Good riddance, Sean. Give Scottie McClellan a call. You'll have a lot to discuss, I'm sure.

I Don't Like This One Bit

Jul. 21st, 2017 10:30 am
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Next week, the Trump administration will reportedly announce a unilateral travel ban on U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea.
Koryo Tours and Young Pioneer Tours, who both operate there, said the ban would be announced on 27 July to come into effect 30 days later.

They were informed by the Swedish embassy, which conducts US affairs in the country.

US officials have confirmed the ban to US media and linked it to the death of jailed American student Otto Warmbier, but given no details on date or scope.
This is potentially a pointless provocation (although Kim Jong Un doesn't particularly want Americans visiting anyway), but, more importantly, it's a very concerning precedent: Warmbier's death is being used as a rationale for banning people from traveling to North Korea, when there is already a State Department caution for traveling there.

And if the motivation were genuinely just concern for citizens' safety, I'm not sure, at all, why this alarming punitive measure is part of the ban: "After the 30-day grace period [to allow tourists and humanitarian workers still in the country to leave] any US national that travels to North Korea will have their passport invalidated by their government."

This strikes me as the exploitation of a tragic situation in order to have an excuse to set a precedent for banning U.S. citizens' travel to other places.

Lest you imagine that's unjustifiable alarmism: "Associated Press news agency quoted US officials as saying that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had decided to implement a 'geographical travel restriction' for North Korea, meaning the use of US passports to enter would be illegal."

I have long suspected that the Trump administration would eventually disallow foreign travel for average citizens. That is, that we simply won't be allowed to leave.

I fear that Trump's border wall, for example, on which he persists despite the fact that undocumented immigration from Mexico has significantly declined, is really less about keeping people out than it is about keeping people in.

And, last month, to little fanfare, the Trump administration reinstated some travel restrictions to Cuba (where it has never been illegal, full-stop, for U.S. citizens to visit, unlike this North Korea ban).

What it utterly unclear is what limitations this administration believes there are, if any, on its ability to issue executive orders defining additional "geographical travel restrictions."

Suffice it to say, this news is not reassuring.
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

This is what happens when a country decides to make its president an arrogant, nepotistic authoritarian with contempt for the rule of law: He shreds every last vestige of functional democratic systems if anyone tries to hold him or his family accountable for their corruption.

Carol D. Leonnig, Ashley Parker, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Tom Hamburger at the Washington Post: Trump Team Seeks to Control, Block Mueller's Russia Investigation.
Some of [Donald] Trump's lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president's authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members. and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump's lawyers have been discussing the president's pardoning powers among themselves.

One adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller's investigation.
The President of the United States has "simply expressed a curiosity" about whether he can pardon himself and his children, whom he inappropriately elevated to key roles in his campaign and/or administration, because they have definitely broken laws and thus may need to be pardoned if the Special Counsel, who was appointed because that president's Attorney General is also a corrupt liar, finds out about their lawbreaking in the course of his investigation, which just expanded to include said president's personal business dealings.

You know. Normal stuff.
Other advisers said the president is also irritated by the notion that Mueller's probe could reach into his and his family's finances.

Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face. His primary frustration centers on why allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia should spread into scrutinizing many years of Trump dealmaking. He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.
There are a number of reasons Trump is "disturbed" at the thought of his tax returns being scrutinized, from the possibility of embarrassment if they reveal Trump is nowhere as wealthy as he has claimed, which is pathetic but relatively harmless, to the possibility of being exposed as having had business dealings with Russia (or individual Russians), despite having repeatedly claimed he does not, which could be a bigger problem, given the raison d'être of Mueller's probe.

There's some reason, after all, that Trump defiantly refused to disclose his tax returns, in breach of common practice, during the presidential election. He has stubbornly resisted financial transparency, and Mueller's scrutiny is certain to reveal precisely why.

So naturally Trump's legal team is going on the offense, trying to discredit Mueller as being compromised by conflicts of interest and accusing him of violating the limited scope of his investigation.
"The fact is that the president is concerned about conflicts that exist within the special counsel's office and any changes in the scope of the investigation," [one of Trump's attorneys, Jay] Sekulow said. "The scope is going to have to stay within his mandate. If there's drifting, we're going to object."

Sekulow cited Bloomberg News reports that Mueller is scrutinizing some of Trump's business dealings, including with a Russian oligarch who purchased a Palm Beach mansion from Trump for $95 million in 2008.

"They're talking about real estate transactions in Palm Beach several years ago," Sekulow said. "In our view, this is far outside the scope of a legitimate investigation."
Except it's not outside the scope of a legitimate investigation — because that Russian oligarch, Dmitry Rybolovlev, purchased the estate from Trump for two-and-a-half times what Trump paid for it two years earlier, which looks exactly like what happens in real estate money laundering schemes.

That doesn't mean it was a money laundering transaction, but it looks enough like it could be that it warrants investigation, especially given that Mueller is investigating collusion and thus must examine any potential evidence of quid pro quo.

Recall what Trump just said on the investigation to the New York Times: "By the way, I would say, I don't — I don't — I mean, it's possible there's a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don't make money from Russia. In fact, I put out a letter saying that I don't make — from one of the most highly respected law firms, accounting firms. I don't have buildings in Russia. They said I own buildings in Russia. I don't. They said I made money from Russia. I don't. It's not my thing. I don't, I don't do that. Over the years, I've looked at maybe doing a deal in Russia, but I never did one. Other than I held the Miss Universe pageant there eight, nine years [crosstalk]."

Being that Trump is known to be a profligate liar, who tells "big lies, needless lies, above all else unrelenting lies," it's just as likely and maybe more so that those words were actually another confession, masquerading as another denial.

Mueller has every reason to investigate Trump, his family, and his associates, in excruciating detail. And the fact that he does is precisely why Trump is "curious" about the means he has to stop him.

Republicans Are "Dismayed" Again. Oh.

Jul. 21st, 2017 08:30 am
[syndicated profile] shakesville_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Page generated Jul. 25th, 2017 12:35 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios