Solarbird (solarbird) wrote,

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good morning, it's 19 march 2017

Well, another day. I'm running late, so it's mostly just a stories list this time rather than a writeup. Sorry.

"Trump and the Parasitic Presidency," and "Young Americans: Most see Trump as illegitimate president." And while a bare majority of young whites see Mr. Trump as legitimate, a clear majority disapprove. That's something, I guess.

Fox's Kilmeade: "We keep marrying other species and other ethnics" and it doesn't get better from there. It's not a new quip - it seems to be from 2009, based on the stories in the crawl - but it's a reminder that this horrible shit was always juuuuust below the surface.

The Gorka stories today: "Top Trump Adviser Faces Calls For Resignation After Reports Of Ties To Nazi-Aligned Group," a repeat with "Did Gorka Really Wear A Medal Linked To Nazi Ally To Trump Inaugural Ball?" (because it's relevant again), and "Nazi-Affiliated Hungarian Group: Sebastian Gorka Swore a Loyalty Oath to Us."

A reminder that Republican Senators have committed more crimes in washrooms than all transwomen combined: "Married GOP Senator Ralph Shortey Turns Himself In, is Charged with Child Prostitution: WATCH" - though this one is just a state Senator.

"Kellyanne Conway Is a Star" is an article on Kellyanne Conway that some might find interesting.

"After neo-Nazi-fueled disquiet in Portland, Oregon's U.S. senators call for harsher hate crime laws" - it won't go anywhere, but the effort of writing and filing the bill is worthy.

The Trump administration makes it easier to really dig into people who owe student loans: "Trump administration rescinds Obama guidance on student loan defaults: report"

"George W. Bush Gave Us Donald Trump. Now He Wants To Be Forgiven." FUCK NO. DOING THAT IS HOW WE GOT HERE. FUCK THAT FOREVER.

And finally, "Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women?"

----- 1 -----
Trump and the Parasitic Presidency
Charles M. Blow | The New York Times | MARCH 13, 2017

We have now passed the 50-day mark of the Donald Trump administration and one thing is clear: There is no new Trump.

There is only the same old Trump: Dangerous and unpredictable, gauche and greedy, temperamentally unsuited and emotionally unsound.

If you were trying to create in a lab a person with character traits more unbecoming in a president, it would be hard to outdo the one we have.

He continues to have explosive Twitter episodes — presumably in response to some news he finds unflattering or some conspiracy floated by fringe outlets — that make him look not only foolish, but unhinged.

Indeed, a USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll published last week found:

“By 2-1, those surveyed disapprove of Trump’s temperament, a much more negative rating than he gets for his policy positions. Six in 10, including 40 percent of Republicans, complain that he tweets too much.”

In these fits of rage, he generates a lie or repeats one, which shifts the burden of proof to the legitimate media to swat it down and defend the truth. This exercise is already getting old.

Trump’s assaults on the truth are not benign. Presidential credibility is American credibility. There is no way to burn through one without burning through the other.

----- 2 -----
Young Americans: Most see Trump as illegitimate president
Laurie Kellman and Emily Swanson, Associated Press
Updated 3:40 pm, Saturday, March 18, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jermaine Anderson keeps going back to the same memory of Donald Trump, then a candidate for president of the United States, referring to some Mexican immigrants as rapists and murderers.

"You can't be saying that (if) you're the president," says Anderson, a 21-year-old student from Coconut Creek, Florida.

That Trump is undeniably the nation's 45th president doesn't sit easily with young Americans like Anderson who are the nation's increasingly diverse electorate of the future, according to a new poll. A majority of young adults — 57 percent — see Trump's presidency as illegitimate, including about three-quarters of blacks and large majorities of Latinos and Asians, the GenForward poll found.

GenForward is a poll of adults age 18 to 30 conducted by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

A slim majority of young whites in the poll, 53 percent, consider Trump a legitimate president, but even among that group 55 percent disapprove of the job he's doing, according to the survey.

----- 3 -----
WATCH: Fox + Friends' Brian Kilmeade "We keep marrying other species + other ethnics. Finns marry other Finns so they have a pure society."
Brian Kilmeade on Fox and Friends
June 2009 probably?

[The point is to just have it out there that "pure genes" racism has been _just_ beneath the surface this whole time, and popping up in stark terms once in a while. Like here.]

Brian Kilmeade: "We keep marrying other species and other ethnics and other...." [talked over] "The Swedes, the Swedes have pure genes. 'Cause they marry other Swedes. 'Cause that's the rule. Finland, Finns marry other Finns, so they have a pure society. IN America, we marry everybody, so we'll marry Italians, and Irish... this study does not apply to us."

----- 4 -----
Top Trump Adviser Faces Calls For Resignation After Reports Of Ties To Nazi-Aligned Group
Sebastian Gorka proudly wears a medal from a Hungarian group that collaborated with Nazis during World War II.
By Jessica Schulberg | The Huffington Post | March 17, 2017

WASHINGTON ― A top counterterrorism adviser to President Donald Trump faces growing calls to resign after a series of news reports alleging he has ties to a far-right Hungarian group with historical links to the Nazi party.

Sebastian Gorka was photographed during the January inaugural ball wearing a medal that foreign policy news site LobeLog later identified as a symbol of membership in the Hungarian Order of Heroes. The group, known as Vitézi Rend in Hungarian, collaborated with the Nazi government during World War II, according to the State Department. Members of the group are ineligible for American visas.

Gorka did not respond to LobeLog’s request for comment. He later told Breitbart that the medal belonged to his late father, Paul Gorka, who “was awarded a declaration for his resistance to a dictatorship.” The Forward followed up with a series of reports alleging that Sebastian Gorka spent years immersing himself in far-right, anti-Semitic political organizations in Hungary, and is a sworn member of the Vitézi Rend. Gorka ignored requests for comment on the article and instead issued a denial to a friendly reporter at Tablet after The Forward published the allegations.

Three Democratic senators on Friday called on the acting deputy attorney general and the secretary of homeland security to investigate whether Gorka, who was born in the United Kingdom, “falsified his naturalization application or otherwise illegally procured his citizenship” by failing to disclose his membership in the banned Hungarian group. The senators cited The Forward’s reporting.

----- 5 -----
Did Gorka Really Wear A Medal Linked To Nazi Ally To Trump Inaugural Ball?
By Allegra Kirkland | Talking Points Memo | February 13, 2017, 4:29 PM EDT

[This has a little more context, so I'm repeating it. A black and white photo from this article is going around as new; it's not.]

During an interview with Fox News broadcast from one of President Trump's inaugural balls, soon-to-be White House aide Sebastian Gorka wore a medal that some Hungarian news outlets and scholars identified with Miklós Horthy, the anti-Semitic World War II-era leader whose regime witnessed the murder of some 600,000 Hungarian Jews.

Still days away from officially joining the Trump administration, Gorka, a former Breitbart News editor and self-proclaimed counterterrorism expert known for his hardline views on Islam, effused to Sean Hannity about the the death of “political correctness” in the Trump era. As the interview unfolded, Fox played clips of the President and First Lady dancing at the ball earlier in the evening.

Gorka’s choice of dress, a black braided jacket known as a "bocskai" adorned with two medals, wouldn't necessarily catch the eye of an American viewer. But some Hungarians who came across the interview interpreted the getup as a nod to the knightly order of merit Horthy founded in 1920, the Order of Vitéz. Right-wing Hungarian media in particular fixated on what it saw as Gorka's callback to a resurgent native icon of the far-right.

Hungarian scholars who spoke to TPM did not unanimously agree that the medal he wore on inauguration night could definitively be identified with Horthy’s Order of Vitéz. But they concurred that Gorka's regalia is popular today among Hungary's nationalist conservatives.

----- 6 -----
Nazi-Affiliated Hungarian Group: Sebastian Gorka Swore a Loyalty Oath to Us
By Jesse Singal | New York Magazine | 16 March 2017

Sebastian Gorka, the special assistant to President Trump who calls himself a counterterrorism expert despite the consensus view of the national-security community that he isn’t one, has had a rough month. His misadventures have ranged from presenting false Guantánamo Bay statistics on Fox & Friends to engaging in a crazy, secretly recorded phone-fight with a real terrorism expert to the revelation that he has long palled around with anti-Semitic groups in Hungary (Gorka was born in London but his parents are from Hungary and he has spent a lot of time there).

Now, it turns out Gorka may have an even tighter connection than previously thought to the Hungarian far right. Writing in the Forward, which has been excellent at probing Gorka’s Hungarian connections, Lili Bayer and Larry Cohler-Esses report that according to members of Vitézi Rend (Order of Vitéz), a far-right Hungarian group with deep historical ties to the Nazis and to anti-Semitism, Gorka “took a lifelong oath of loyalty” to the group.

This could help explain why Gorka was seen at President Trump’s inaugural balls sporting a medal associated with Vitézi Rend founder Miklós Horthy, the virulently anti-Semitic World War II–era ruler of Hungary (“[F]or all my life, I have been an anti-Semite,” he once wrote) who cooperated with the Nazis, and why he reportedly signs his name with initials meant to signify membership in the group. At the time, Gorka told Breitbart the medal was meant to symbolize the Hungarian fights against communism and Nazism. And there was some ambiguity about the medal’s precise meaning: “Hungarian scholars who spoke to TPM did not unanimously agree that the medal he wore on inauguration night could definitively be identified with Horthy’s Order of Vitéz,” reported Talking Points Memo in February. “But they concurred that Gorka’s regalia is popular today among Hungary’s nationalist conservatives.”

----- 7 -----
Married GOP Senator Ralph Shortey Turns Himself In, is Charged with Child Prostitution: WATCH
by Andy Towle | TOWLEROAD | March 17, 2017

Married Oklahoma GOP state Senator and Trump campaign chair Ralph Shortey turned himself in on Thursday and was charged with engaging in child prostitution, engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church, and transporting a minor for prostitution.

Shortey has three children. The maximum punishment he faces is 25 years in prison.

----- 8 -----
Kellyanne Conway Is a Star
Not your star, perhaps. But that’s the point.
By Olivia Nuzzi | New York Magazine | March 18, 2017

On the third floor of the West Wing, one flight past the stairwell portrait of President Donald Trump talking on his Android phone, is an office once occupied by Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to Barack Obama; Karl Rove, senior adviser to George W. Bush; and First Lady Hillary Clinton. By cramped White House standards, it’s an expansive space, complete with a desk, a conference table, a couch, a bookshelf stocked with a single copy of The Art of the Deal, a duffel bag full of family photos and a couple of pairs of Spanx — and, through the blinds, a view of the Washington Monument. And on this February day, its current tenant, Kellyanne Conway, was explaining how her life had changed in the nine months since she joined the campaign of the man who would ultimately become the 45th president of the United States — for one thing, she now answers to “Blueberry.”

That’s because she’s one of the only officials in the White House, other than President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, to have Secret Service protection — which staffers receive at the special request of the president, who has famously referred to her as “my Kellyanne.” She got the protection, Conway said, after she was sent a suspicious white substance. And then there were the threats. “Most of them are online,” she remarked, “and most of them are very explicit and graphic, and they’re sometimes people who have a history of following through but for whatever reason weren’t prosecuted.”


As Trump’s highly visible and quotable campaign manager during the election’s final sprint, she became a constant presence on cable news and thus a subject of widespread fascination, armchair psychoanalysis, outrage, and exuberant ridicule. But rather than buckling, she absorbed all of it, coming out the other side so aware of how the world perceives her that she could probably write this article herself. Caricatures from that time, when hardly anyone believed Trump could defy the polls and win, depicted her wielding everything from a whip to a shock collar to tame her unruly candidate. But these days, serving as the senior counselor to the president, Conway is becoming less a supporting character than a bona fide celebrity in her own right. She is simply more famous — more beloved by Trump fans and more hated by Trump detractors — than anyone in any comparable role in any previous White House. And so she has become a complicated symbol for both sides; recently, when a photo of her wearing a mini-dress and sitting on her knees on a couch in the Oval Office went viral — leading a Democratic congressman to say she looked “familiar” in the position — it set off debate among feminists over whether a woman like Conway, who many believe is harmful to their cause, deserves sticking up for in the face of sexism. Personally, Conway claims to be sick of herself. But she’s also clearly having a lot of fun being the center of attention in what’s surely the strangest era in modern political history.

----- 9 -----
After neo-Nazi-fueled disquiet in Portland, Oregon's U.S. senators call for harsher hate crime laws
By Gordon R. Friedman | The Oregonian | March 17, 2017

Noting a recent spate of anti-Semitic "hate incidents" in the Portland area, Democratic U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have introduced legislation to clamp down on hate speech and prejudice-fueled attacks.

Portland's Mittleman Jewish Community Center received a bomb threat this month, and a March 4 rally in Lake Oswego to support President Donald Trump was marked by the presence of a prominent neo-Nazi and Klansman, Steven Shane Howard.

Americans must "stand up" against intimidation and violence sparked by a person's race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation, said Wyden, who is Jewish.

"The wave of hate crimes since the election is intolerable," said Merkley. "This is not who we are as Americans."

The senators are two co-sponsors of the Democrat-backed National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality Act -- or, NO HATE Act. Introduced Wednesday, the bill would bolster resources for victims of hate crimes, according to a news release from the senators.

----- 10 -----
Trump administration rescinds Obama guidance on student loan defaults: report
By Max Greenwood - 03/17/17 - The Hill

The Trump administration on Thursday rolled back Obama-era guidance that forbade student loan debt collectors from charging high fees to defaulted borrowers, The Washington Post reported.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter, the administration tells agencies that collect on defaulted loan debt to disregard guidance prohibiting them from charging borrowers who default on their payments fees of as much as 16 percent of the loan’s principal and accrued interest.

It also says that the initial guidance handed down by the Obama administration in 2015 should have been subjected to public comment before it was issued.

“The Department thinks that the position set forth in the [Obama administration guidance] would have benefitted from public input on the issues discussed in the [guidance letter],” the Trump administration’s directive reads.

“The department will not require compliance with the interpretations set forth ... without providing prior notice and an opportunity for public comment on the issues,” it continues.

----- 11 -----
Kentucky Congressmen Won’t Show Up To Town Halls, So Their Constituents Replaced Them With Literal Empty Suits
by Marykate Jasper | 3:30 pm, March 18th, 2017 | The Mary Sue

Today, constituents in Lexington, Kentucky held an “Empty Suits” town hall for Senator Rand Paul, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Representative Andy Barr (R-KY). (You may remember McConnell’s previous town hall, in which he got called out for his sexism and deflection.) All three representatives received invitations at both their D.C. and Kentucky offices, but none of them showed up. Luckily, a trio of equally useful, literal empty suits could be placed on stage in their stead.

As documented on Twitter, the constituent concerns were wide-ranging. They included demilitarizing the police, preserving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), stopping Trump and Paul Ryan’s war on the poor, and decreasing foreign wars and bombings. Immigrant constituents voiced their concerns about the administration’s xenophobic policies; nurses advocated for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The organizers also collected letters on these issues.

----- 12 -----
George W. Bush Gave Us Donald Trump. Now He Wants To Be Forgiven.
But Americans shouldn't forget so easily.
By Ryan Grim , Alexander Zaitchik | The Huffington Post | 18 March 2017

We’ve all seen the picture. It’s the opening of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, and George W. Bush is sharing a brief snuggle with Michelle Obama. The first lady, maternal and forgiving, has both arms around the former president, who looks like he wants a tummy rub.

When the hug went viral last September, it triggered a once-unimaginable bipartisan “Awww!” that echoed throughout social and established media. Dubbed “The Embrace Seen Around the World” by The New York Times, the photo seemed to hold the power of magic, or at least the power of the most adorable cat video: It cast a spell accelerating a general public softening toward a man once widely scorned as a historic failure, dismissed by many on the left as a blood-spattered buffoon who belonged in a cell at The Hague.

Humans are nostalgic by nature, and history is full of once-reviled public figures who enjoyed later reassessments. But where reputational rehab used to take a generation or two, Bush is trying to loosen the clutches of market-fresh infamy.

If he succeeds, he will have his own presidency to thank. The immediate context for the “normalizing” of George W. Bush is the rise of Donald Trump. But Bush’s policies created the conditions that brought Trump to power, and only in the wake of his own trademarked disasters does he look tame by comparison.

The museum hug and its afterlife showcase the internet’s power to turn anything — even yesterday’s calamities — into today’s cute moments. It’s also a worrying sign about our capacity for collective memory. As such, it suggests something deeper and arguably more frightening about America than even the current administration.

----- 13 -----
Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women?
Tech companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to improve conditions for female employees. Here’s why not much has changed—and what might actually work.
by Liza Mundy | The Atlantic | April 2017 Issue

One weekday morning in 2007, Bethanye Blount came into work early to interview a job applicant. A veteran software engineer then in her 30s, Blount held a senior position at the company that runs Second Life, the online virtual world. Good-natured and self-confident, she typically wore the kind of outfit—jeans, hoodie, sneakers—that signals coding gravitas. That day, she might even have been wearing what’s known as the “full-in start-up twin set”: a Second Life T-shirt paired with a Second Life hoodie.

In short, everything about her indicated that she was a serious technical person. So she was taken aback when the job applicant barely gave her the time of day. He knew her job title. He knew she would play a key role in deciding whether he got hired. Yet every time Blount asked him a question about his skills or tried to steer the conversation to the scope of the job, he blew her off with a flippant comment. Afterward, Blount spoke to another top woman—a vice president—who said he’d treated her the same way.

Obviously Second Life wasn’t going to hire this bozo. But what the heck: He was here, and they had a new employee, a man, who needed practice giving interviews, so they sent him in. When the employee emerged, he had an odd look on his face. “I don’t know what just happened,” he said. “I went in there and told him I was new, and all he said was he was so glad I was there: ‘Finally, somebody who knows what’s going on!’ ”

All Blount could do was laugh—even now, as she looks back on the incident. In the hierarchy of sexist encounters, it didn’t rank very high. Still, it was a reminder that as a woman in tech, she should be prepared to have her authority questioned at any moment, even by some guy trying to get a job at her company.


Such undermining is one reason women today hold only about a quarter of U.S. computing and mathematical jobs—a fraction that has actually fallen slightly over the past 15 years, even as women have made big strides in other fields. Women not only are hired in lower numbers than men are; they also leave tech at more than twice the rate men do. It’s not hard to see why. Studies show that women who work in tech are interrupted in meetings more often than men. They are evaluated on their personality in a way that men are not. They are less likely to get funding from venture capitalists, who, studies also show, find pitches delivered by men—especially handsome men—more persuasive. And in a particularly cruel irony, women’s contributions to open-source software are accepted more often than men’s are, but only if their gender is unknown.

----- 14 -----
While Olympia Threatens ST3, Trump Threatens ST2
March 16, 2017 at 1:48 pm By Zach Shaner

The news out of Washington Thursday morning was terrible for urbanists and transit advocates. President Trump’s 2018 budget request intends to pay for his priorities – increased defense spending, border wall construction, etc – partially on the backs of cities. Worse than percentage cuts to grant formulas, Trump’s budget goes further to propose wholesale federal disinvestment from transit projects. The proposed 13% cut to DOT’s discretionary budget represents a paltry $2.4B – or approximately 0.06% of a roughly $4T total – but it falls almost entirely upon cuts to Amtrak, and elimination of TIGER grants, Essential Air Service subsidies, and worst of all, New Starts and Small Starts grants for large transit projects:

"…limits funding for the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Program (New Starts) to projects with existing full funding grant agreements (FFGA) only. Future investments in new transit projects would be funded by the localities that use and benefit from these localized projects."

This is a very, very big deal for Puget Sound, and especially for Sound Transit. ST2 projects such as Lynnwood and Federal Way may seem secure, but they are both at the penultimate step to construction, just short of a signed FFGA and technically still in Project Development. After years of design, environmental work, planning, and taxes paid by all of us, Trump’s proposed budget could easily pull the rug out from both the Lynnwood and Federal Way extensions. Since ST3 extensions are obviously physically dependent on ST2 completion, pulling these grants also threatens the entirety of Snohomish and Pierce County’s ST3 Link projects. The expected loss would be $1.17 billion for Lynnwood and $500 million for Federal Way, nearly half the funding for those projects. (East Link, funded by taxes, bonds, and a low-interest TIFIA loan, is not threatened at this time.)

Also posted to ソ-ラ-バ-ド-のおん; comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth.

Tags: fascism watch, political
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