bully

Breathtaking Grotesquerie

#violenceagainstwomen | #WhatTheyVotedFor

U.S. President Donald Trump pauses as he talks to members of the travel pool aboard Air Force One during a trip to Palm Beach, Florida, while flying over South Carolina, 3 February 2017. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

“The latest excuse for assaulting women minimizes the violence so much we can contain it in just one short word: ‘it’.”

Laura McGann

Quibbling over what passes for mastery is probably not helpful. To go down the line from Vox:

• Coaston, Jane. “The White House had to protect Rob Porter to save Donald Trump”. Vox. 9 February 2018.

For the White House, the politics are simple: Protect Trump. Because Trump himself is accused of assaulting dozens of women, they’ve had to lower the bar for male behavior so that even he can meet it. Any allegation of misconduct made against anyone close to Trump, then, must be dismissed as if it were being made against Trump himself.

• Kirby, Jen. “A second White House aide resigns over domestic abuse allegations”. Vox. 9 February 2018.

Another Trump administration official is resigning amid accusations of domestic abuse, just days after White House staff secretary Rob Porter stepped down after he faced similar allegations . . . [Speechwriter David] Sorensen denied the allegations to the Post, saying that he was the victim and that he resigned because he didn’t want the allegations to be a “distraction.” The Post was working on the story when he resigned.

• McGann, Laura. “Trump just taught a master class in manipulating language to excuse abuse”. Vox. 9 February 2018.

Trump’s attempt to help Porter on Friday shows he understands the root of #MeToo’s power. When victims speak, when they take action, when they force us to see, the power of predators fades away. The best Trump could do for Porter was to take away his victims’ humanity, their active descriptions, and replace it all with just one word: ‘it’.

• North, Anna. “Trump’s long history of employing — and defending — men accused of hurting women”. Vox. 9 February 2018.

At least five administration and campaign figures (including Trump himself) have been the subject of abuse allegations. Rather than treat such allegations with gravity, Trump and his team have chosen to ignore them, to fire back at the women on Twitter, or to parrot men’s assurances of their innocence over women’s reports . . . [Staff Secretary Rob] Porter resigned amid public pressure, but Trump’s response is a good reminder of the lesson he’s learned from escaping the reckoning sweeping much of the rest of the country — #MeToo does not apply to him. And given his tolerance for men accused of abuse inside his very inner circle, it’s clear he doesn’t think it applies to his closest associates, either. Trump’s team may lose men like Porter periodically, but the message the president sent on Friday was clear: to him, violence against women really doesn’t matter.

What a day. That is, of course they did, of course he did, of course he did, and of course he does. Nor is that all.   (more…)

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A Two-Bit Poseur

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

U.S. President Donald Trump pauses as he talks to members of the travel pool aboard Air Force One during a trip to Palm Beach, Florida, while flying over South Carolina, 3 February 2017. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

Josh Gerstein, for Politico:

Licking their wounds after a stinging appeals court defeat, President Donald Trump’s aides went into triage mode Friday as they considered options for salvaging his contested travel ban for citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries.

In two different venues Friday afternoon, Trump suggested that the White House is trying to redraft the order to strengthen it against legal challenges, which he expects the administration to continue to fight in court.

It would seem obvious that simply scrapping the former Order in favor of a new one would be the most efficient means of getting various intended restrictions into place. This is not, after all, the sort of thing where you can make headway simply thrashing and hammering over and over and over until judges grow weary of hearing about it and give over, anyway. Then again, this is the Trump administration, so, we ought not be surprised if they try. Meanwhile, among the various running theses out there chattering about what the Trump administration is actually up to, we should probably maintain some space to work a proposition of basic antisocial inclination. That is to say, this isn’t really about national security or even undocumented immigration. This is about taking satisfaction in cruelty, so as many times as the Trump administration can denigrate and offend the people they hate, they will.

And then there is always the countdown until someone says something to the effect of thinking about future presidents, and does anyone actually know the earliest in a term we’ve ever heard the line?

And remember, when the pieces don’t quite add up because, you know, why would any president so denigrate himself as Donald Trump does? Oh, right. Never mind. Could have had her, but uneducated, seething, simpering, terrified, brutish incompetence is #WhatTheyVotedFor. No, really. Remember that this ain’t over until it’s over, and in the meantime, given the range of options under the sun for an American president, it shouldn’t be hard for the handlers to convince a two-bit poseur to keep it up.

And every time someone suggest that sort of indifference to policy failure doesn’t make sense, remember every human being these policies spit on. Because that is the point, to simply spit and piss and yowl and hiss in order to offend and hurt as many people as they already don’t like or can find any excuse to add to the list. And if they get to stomp every once in a while, in between court dates and injunctions, all to the better. They know they cannot win over the long run; this president and his administration just want to hurt as many people as possible while they have the chance.

____________________

Image note: Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters.

Gerstein, Josh. “Trump team plans a new executive order”. Politico. 10 February 2017.

The Donald Trump Show (Piling On)

Melania Trump discusses her husband, Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, during an interview with Anderson Cooper of CNN, 17 October 2016.

To the one, there was no particular (ahem!) “Gary Hart moment” by which Donald Trump explicitly dared the press to do anything … or, you know, maybe there was and … and … I mean, come on, really, it would be easy to miss. After all, the Republican nominee has pretty much declared war against the press. As proverbial shows go, it would seem someone finallyα, took away Trump’s Twitter, which is probably for the best when we pause to consider the idea of a man who “privately muses about all the ways he will punish his enemies after Election Day”, as the New York Times explains, “including a threat to fund a ‘super PAC’ with vengeance as its core mission”.

Setting aside the thought that, “Of course he would”, it always occurs to wonder just how often, within whatever schematic or flow chart or whatever else by which they define their expectations, any given bully so utterly fails to account for the idea that maybe the objects of belligerence might occasionally fight back. That is to say, what does he expect the press will do?

To wit, it’s not like they didn’t have any warning; Associated Press made clear they were onto the story of Melania Trump’s immigration and work history months ago; Alicia A. Caldwell, Chad Day, and Jake Pearson delivered the confirmation of what everyone already kind of suspected:

Melania Trump was paid for 10 modeling jobs in the United States worth $20,056 that occurred in the seven weeks before she had legal permission to work in the country, according to detailed accounting ledgers, contracts and related documents from 20 years ago provided to The Associated Press.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump answers a question at a news conference before a campaign rally in Hampton, New Hampshire, 14 August 2015. (Detail of photo by Reuters/Brian Snyder)The details of Mrs. Trump’s early paid modeling work in the U.S. emerged in the final days of a bitter presidential campaign in which her husband, Donald Trump, has taken a hard line on immigration laws and those who violate them. Trump has proposed broader use of the government’s E-verify system allowing employers to check whether job applicants are authorized to work. He has noted that federal law prohibits illegally paying immigrants.

Mrs. Trump, who received a green card in March 2001 and became a U.S. citizen in 2006, has always maintained that she arrived in the country legally and never violated the terms of her immigration status. During the presidential campaign, she has cited her story to defend her husband’s hard line on immigration.

This is what I don’t get: Why? To the one, is it at all possible for any realistic person capable of running a business scheme like Donald Trump’s to expect that the press somehow would not or could not find this? To the other, in fairness, it is entirely possible that the GOP nominee didn’t know; it is entirely possible he is surrounded by so many yea-sayers that he has no idea what is going on, even with his own wife. To the beeblebrox, neither does the other preclude the one.

Honestly, only American conservatives could accomplish … well, this. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Donald Trump Show.

____________________

α GOP strategist Mike Murphy, on msnbc last month after the vice presidential debate:

“Trump is a genius at stepping on his own messaging, and I don’t think there’s a force on Earth, at least without heavy weaponry, that can ever separate Trump from his ability to tweet. I think everybody in that campaign is trying to pry the smartphone away from him, and it’ll never happen.”

Image note: Top ― Melania Trump discusses her husband, Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, during an interview with Anderson Cooper of CNN, 17 October 2016. Right ― U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump answers a question at a news conference before a campaign rally in Hampton, New Hampshire, 14 August 2015. (Detail of photo by Reuters/Brian Snyder)

Caldwell, Alicia A., Chad Day, and Jake Pearson. “Melania Trump modeled in US prior to getting work visa”. The Big Story. 4 November 2016.

Day, Chad, Jeff Horwitz, and Alicia A. Caldwell. “Former modeling agent says he got Melania Trump’s visa”. The Big Story. 4 August 2016.

Gauthier, Brendan. “WATCH: Journalist Katy Tur responds after Donald Trump bullies her in front of 4,000 people”. Salon. 3 November 2016.

Haberman, Maggie, et al. “Inside Donald Trump’s Last Stand: An Anxious Nominee Seeks Assurance”. The New York Times. 7 November 2016.

Sheehy, Gail. “The Road To Bimini”. Vanity Fair. 1 September 1987.

Justice Answering Hatred

VIII. Adjustment.

The report from Cleve Wootson, Jr. for the Washington Post:

A jury has convicted an Atlanta truck driver accused of pouring boiling water over two gay men as the couple slept in February.

The jury deliberated for about 90 minutes Wednesday before finding Martin Blackwell guilty of eight counts of aggravated battery and two counts of aggravated assault, according to the Associated Press.

Blackwell was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Three words: United States of America.

Two more: Scald attack.

And one more: Bigotry.

This is not complicated math.

____________________

Wootson Jr., Cleve R. “Man who threw boiling water on gay couple will spend 40 years in prison”. The Washington Post. 24 August 2016.

The Conscience of North Carolina

Kamon Dreams and Stranger Things: Detail of frame from 'FLCL' episode 5, "Brittle Bullet".

In addition to the obvious, that we are talking about North Carolina, here, there is another aspect we might pause to consider:

After a third-grader tearfully recounted how another boy had called him “gay” during gym class, teacher Omar Currie chose to raise the issue during story time by reading his students a fable about a prince who falls in love with another prince, ending with a happily-ever-after royal wedding.

That decision in April ignited a public outcry from some parents in the rural hamlet of Efland, North Carolina, resulting in Currie’s resignation this week from a job he loved. The assistant principal who loaned Currie her copy of “King & King” has also resigned, and outraged parents are pressuring administrators at the Orange County Schools to ban the book.

“When I read the story, the reaction of parents didn’t come into my mind,” Currie, 25, said Tuesday. “In that moment, it just seemed natural to me to read the book and have a conversation about treating people with respect. My focus then was on the child, and helping the child.”

Currie knows firsthand what it is like to be bullied. Growing up gay and black in a small town in the eastern part of the state, his memories of middle school are of being a frequent target for teasing and slurs.

(Biesecker)

Right. Welcome to North Carolina. To the one, we shouldn’t be surprised.

To the other, please consider a cetain symbolic value. Twenty-three years ago, Oregonians went to the ballot box and rejected Measure 9, a vicious anti-gay initiative. That year, voters in Colorado passed a similar measure. Amendment 2, as the Colorado version was known, died in federal court, and conservatives still complain about the judicial activism of saying a popular vote in a state cannot overturn the U.S. Constitution. In Oregon, though? The fight in Oregon orbited a library book. To be specific, if Lesléa Newman’s Heather Has Two Mommies was not censored, then a Christian’s equal rights were under siege.

So for all we might recall and raise a glass to the efforts of zealots whose animus has driven gay rights all the way to the marriage equality threshold, it is also important to remember that the running electoral firefight leading from local supremacist ordinances all the way up to questions of constitutional amendments and open insurrection two decades later all started with a book that bigoted parents didn’t like.

There is, then, some symbolic value in this latest tale whispering up out of Efland, North Carolina.

‘Round and ’round, back to where we started.

____________________

Biesecker, Michael. “Teacher resigns after reading students book about gay couple “. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 16 June 2015.

The O’Reilly Spectacle

Bill O'Reilly in undated photo from NBC News.

There are so many unfortunate things about this rising scandal:

Three weeks ago, a Nassau County Supreme Court justice ended a bitter three-year custody dispute between Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly and his ex-wife, Maureen McPhilmy, by granting custody of the couple’s two minor children to McPhilmy. Though nearly all documents pertaining to New York family court cases are sealed, Gawker has learned that the justice in the case heard testimony accusing O’Reilly of physically assaulting his wife in the couple’s Manhasset home.

According to a source familiar with the facts of the case, a court-appointed forensic examiner testified at a closed hearing that O’Reilly’s daughter claimed to have witnessed her father dragging McPhilmy down a staircase by her neck, apparently unaware that the daughter was watching. The precise date of the alleged incident is unclear, but appears to have occurred before the couple separated in 2010. The same source indicated that the daughter, who is 16 years old, told the forensic examiner about the incident within the past year.

As J. K. Trotter explains for Gawker, this is the latest sordid chapter exposed in an ongoing ugly dispute between FOX News host Bill O’Reilly and his ex-wife.

(more…)

Nebraska (Belfry Beats Mix)

SayWhat

“In a strongly worded opinion, the judge said it is not up to the court to decide whether homosexuality is sinful.”

Alissa Skelton

Naota winces in sympathy as Ninamori suffers the effects of N.O. (FLCL ep. 3, 'Marquis de Carabas')This is just one of those lines we might read and then wonder for ourselves what sort of courses might bring our lives to such a moment. Judge John Gerrard felt the need to say it; Alissa Skelton had every reason to report it.

A federal judge will not allow a Nebraska woman to be a legal spokeswoman for God and his son, Jesus Christ.

Judge John Gerrard dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday filed against all homosexuals ....

.... Gerrard said Driskell lacked subject matter jurisdiction and cannot sue a class of unidentified defendants. Driskell did not set forth a factual or legal basis for a federal claim.

“The United States Federal Courts were created to resolve actual cases and controversies arising under the Constitution and the laws of the United States,” Judge Gerrard said. “A federal court is not a forum for debate or discourse on theological matters.”

The thing is that many journalists have seen entire careers pass without having an opportunity to write lines like these. To the one, we will see more explanations like this as the mass media overflow continues to grow into a market flood. To the other, yes, it really does seem like we are, as a society, dispensing with certain dignities quite suddenly seeming inconvenient as traditional empowerment majorities reel from the shock of learning that their bully privileges are being revoked. In this case, the tacit obligation of actually having a point has stretched so thin a judge felt compelled to make the point specifically.

These should be rare days.

After all, the election cycle is only beginning. Things aren’t supposed to get really strange until the Boone Straw Poll in August. And that’s still a whole state away.

____________________

Image note: Naota winces in sympathy as Ninamori suffers the effects of N.O. (FLCL ep. 3, “Marquis de Carabas”)

Skelton, Alissa. “Federal judge dismisses Nebraskan’s suit against all homosexuals”. World-Herald. 6 May 2015.

Kilgore, Ed. “Ames Straw Poll Leaving Ames”. Washington Monthly. 12 March 2015.

The Mike Huckabee Experience (Christian Hatedown Remix)

In this April 18, 2015 file photo, former Arkansas Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee speaks at the Republican Leadership Summit in Nashua, NH.  Huckabee is set to announce he will seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.  He has an event planned for May 5 in his hometown of Hope, Ark., where former President Bill Clinton was also born.  (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

This is a look ahead, toward some difficult times.

On Tuesday, Mike Huckabee made it official. The former Republican Arkansas governor and Fox News host launched his second bid for the White House in his hometown of Hope, Arkansas, vowing to stop the “slaughter” of abortion and calling for the protection of the “laws of nature” from the “the false God of judicial supremacy.”

Tim Murphy reports, for Mother Jones, the “Mike Huckabee you may not remember”, and it’s just as foul a history as you might imagine.

Huckabee, then a Baptist pastor who operated a small television station out of his Arkadelphia church, made sex and morality the centerpieces of his ’92 campaign—and he preached as fiery a message from the stump as he did from the pulpit. The novice politician let loose with eyebrow-raising tirades that occasionally put him to the right of the most fire-breathing conservatives. He endorsed quarantining AIDS patients, condemned efforts to shield homosexuals from discrimination, and called for the death penalty to be imposed on big-time drug dealers. He attacked Bumpers repeatedly as a libertine who supposedly supported giving condoms to 12-year-olds, sanctioned gay throuples, and voted to use taxpayer funds on “pornographic” art.

Serrano, Piss Christ (detail)Huckabee’s 1992 platform was an artifact of the Moral Majority’s high-water mark. In interviews and on the stump he explained that the nation had strayed toward “selfishness and sensuality” and had been “savaged by radical groups bent on a moral and social agenda” at odds with Judeo-Christian values. “When I was in school, they passed out Gideon Bibles—today, they pass out condoms,” he said at stop after stop on the trail. In the new liberal order, Huckabee warned his hometown paper, the Hope Star, a family would consist of “three homosexual men living together.”

The gay agenda, he believed, was influencing and restricting the nation’s response to the AIDS crisis. He endorsed quarantining AIDS patients from the rest of society—a radical view even among conservatives at the time—while arguing that the severity of the epidemic had been exaggerated because gay people wielded so much political clout. The federal government should spend less money on AIDS, he insisted, and more on diseases that the afflicted had not brought on themselves, such as cancer.

“I realize a lot of people have received AIDS through blood transfusions, but AIDS is basically a lifestyle disease, and when the lifestyle is changed, the disease risk goes significantly down,” Huckabee said in one interview. AIDS advocates themselves, not taxpayers, should pony up: “Elizabeth Taylor went before Congress and made a big pitch that we needed more federal funding for AIDS. If Elizabeth Taylor would take one of the rings off her finger and sell it, she could get more money for AIDS research than the average Arkansan will make in two years of hard work. If she’s really serious about it, she’s got assets that she could dispose of. Why should she make me take money from my children’s future, and take it right off my table when she needs to cough up some of her own coin for that.”

It is worth noting that in this time when American Christians lament that they are, in various ways, under some sort of siege―from gays, women, television, even basic reality―it probably won’t help anyone to have so many Republican candidates rushing to proclaim hatred in Jesus’ name.

(more…)

Another Loss

TG-logo-dark

Look, this can’t keep happening.

A 16-year-old transgender teen and YouTube personality has died after allegedly being subjected to intense bullying at the hands of her classmates.

Taylor Alesena made a name for herself on YouTube talking about her experiences with bullying and the loneliness she experienced at the hands of her peers. Now, the transgender teen has reportedly taken her own life ....

(Nichols)

It is easy enough to look at the homophobes and sneer, “I hope you’re fucking happy.”

And, “This is what you want, after all.”

Still, there is this: That pressing whisper in the back of the mind; this comes down to us. The hatred will continue; the bigots are desperate. So it seems that it comes back to us. This can’t keep happening.

Doesn’t mean I have a clue, though.

What the fuck are we going to do?

This just can’t keep happening.

____________________

Nichols, JamesMichael. “Taylor Alesena, Transgender Teen And YouTube Personality, Dies”. The Huffington Post. 9 April 2015.

Cowardice and Hatred, or, Alabama

The heart of cowardice: Alabama.

Perhaps “Yellowhammer State” is the wrong nickname for Alabama, which seems determined to identify according to its titanic yellow streak.

This is what cowards do:

Less than two weeks after a federal judge ordered him to comply with her ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, Mobile County’s probate judge has indicated he will not process a couple’s adoption petition until after the Supreme Court decides another case.

That has put Cari Searcy’s second-parent adoption in legal limbo and prompted her lawyers to filed a new lawsuit Tuesday in federal court asking for an order prohibiting Probate Judge Don Davis from “directly or indirectly” enforcing the state’s same-sex marriage ban that the federal judge struck down last month.

It was Searcy’s inability to adopt the boy that she and spouse Kim McKeand have raised since birth that prompted them to challenge Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage.

David Kennedy, one of the couple’s lawyers, expressed exasperation at Davis’ decision. He noted that the U.S. Supreme Court allowed U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. “Ginny” Granade’s order to take effect and that Granade handed down a separate order on Feb. 13 specifically instructing Davis to stop enforcing the gay marriage ban.

(Kirby)

And if this isn’t enough of an indictment of the low character of Alabama, well, they do go on:

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby said today he has a traditional view of marriage and he understands Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s resistance to the state’s acceptance of same-sex marriage.

“I’ve always believed and still believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. I voted on that in the U.S. Senate,” Shelby, a Republican from Tuscaloosa, said after speaking this morning to the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.

“I think the overwhelming majority of the people still believe that.”

(Cason)

We should not be surprised. Neither Shelby’s ignorance nor cheap hatred reflects anything unusual about what goes on in Alabama. Consider that by Shelby’s logic―

“We had a federal district court in Mobile make a ruling, then they had a ruling from the 11th Circuit, but the Supreme Court hasn’t. So I think that’s the point [Roy Moore is] making, that it’s not a final ruling, as I understand it,” Shelby said.

―nobody anywhere needs obey a court until they reach the Supreme Court and lose. And if that sounds strange, it is. But it’s also the result of applying Shelby’s particular argument to general consideration. In a more mundane consideration, it is also worth pointing out that Sen. Shelby is wrong; polling shows Americans support marriage equality. But, hey, this is Alabama, so what need have they for reality or basic decency, right? Just say whatever the hell they want, because, you know, they’re from Alabama, which means they’re automatically correct even when reality disagrees.

Really. Alabama. They keep electing these bigots; at some point those votes start to reflect on the character of the state, and it is not what we might call a flattering picture.

But, oh, how they do go on: (more…)