Notes and Comment Blog

Blue apron full of holes and covered in cat food

Feb 13th, 2018 8:13 am | By

Of course. Trump and his gang want to get rid of food stamps and replace them with a box of “staples” of the kind that exclude all perishables i.e. fresh vegetables and fruit, milk, cheese, eggs – you know, anything you’d actually want to eat.

The Trump administration wants to slash food aid to low-income families and make up the difference with a box of canned goods — a change that Office of Management and budget director Mick Mulvaney described in a Monday briefing as a “Blue Apron-type program.”

“What we do is propose that for folks who are on food stamps, part — not all, part — of their benefits come in the actual sort of, and I don’t want to steal somebody’s copyright, but a Blue Apron-type program where you actually receive the food instead of receive the cash,” Mulvaney said. “It lowers the cost to us because we can buy [at wholesale prices] whereas they have to buy it at retail. It also makes sure they’re getting nutritious food. So we’re pretty excited about that.”

What a grotesque lie. A box of canned goods is nothing like Blue Apron and it’s also far from the best way to get nutritious food.

On Monday, the Trump administration proposed cutting food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, by $17 billion in 2019 and more than $213 billion over the next decade. The dramatic reductions came as part of a budget proposal that made sweeping, across-the-board cuts to popular safety net programs,including federal housing subsidies and Medicaid.

This is who and what they are: make the poor poorer and the rich richer. That’s their emaciated version of A Better World.

[U]nder the Trump proposal, which the Agriculture Department has dubbed “America’s Harvest Box,” all households receiving more than $90 per month in benefits — 81 percent of SNAP households overall — would begin receiving about half their benefits in the form of government-purchased, nonperishable food items.

Those foods would include shelf-stable milk, juice, grains, cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned meat, fruits and vegetables, according to the USDA. The department estimates that it could supply these goods at about half the cost of retail, slashing the cost of SNAP while still feeding the hungry.

“USDA America’s Harvest Box is a bold, innovative approach to providing nutritious food to people who need assistance feeding themselves and their families – and all of it is home grown by American farmers and producers,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement. “It maintains the same level of food value as SNAP participants currently receive, provides states flexibility in administering the program, and is responsible to the taxpayers.”

No it doesn’t. Canned fruits and vegetables are no substitute for fresh ones.

Many anti-hunger advocates and analysts are equally skeptical of the proposed “food box,” which — if approved — would affect 16.4 million households. They say it’s unclear how USDA would deliver the boxes and how much that would cost. Equally unclear is whether USDA would allot the same foods to, say, an elderly diabetic and a family with young children.

“It boggles the mind how that would play out,” said Kathy Fisher, policy director at Philadelphia’s Coalition Against Hunger. “We know SNAP works now, when people can choose what they need. How they would distribute foods to people with specialized diets, or [to people in] rural areas … It’s very expensive and very complicated.”

It’s punitive. That’s the only point, really – telling poor people they’re worthless and bad and deserve nothing better than canned spinach and stale pasta.

He wants the best for EVERYONE

Feb 12th, 2018 5:20 pm | By

These people.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was tasked Monday with explaining President Trump’s sympathetic comments about alleged spouse abuser Rob Porter. It went about as well as might be expected.

Sanders beat back one question after another about why Trump has suggested that Porter might be innocent but has said nothing about the domestic violence of which Porter stands accused. Then she was asked why Trump opted to go even a step further and wish Porter success in his career — a comment that seemed odd given that this is a man accused of horrible things.

Behold the spin:

“I think the president of the United States hopes that all Americans can be successful in whatever they do,” Sanders said. “And if they’ve had any issues in the past — I’m not confirming or denying one way or the other — but if they do, the president wants success for all Americans.”

She concluded: “He was elected to serve all Americans, and he hopes for the best for all American citizens across the country.”

Men who beat up women included! Would you want him not to wish those men well? Would you want him to wish injury and torment and death on them? What kind of person are you? Are you some sort of sadistic perverted monster???

Porter has been convicted of no crimes, of course, but wishing someone well inherently suggests that you think they are worthy of good things in the future. Trump didn’t say, “I wish Rob Porter well if he didn’t actually beat his wives.” Instead, the president just came out and said he hoped Porter would find success. “Well, we wish him well,” Trump said Friday. “He worked very hard. I found out about it recently, and I was surprised by it. But we certainly wish him well.” Trump added of Porter that “hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him.”

There’s been no reporting that I’ve seen that he wished Porter’s ex-wives well. Did he ever express good wishes toward the women who said he assaulted them? Has he expressed good wishes toward any Democrats lately? How about Don Lemon or Rachel Maddow? James Comey? Robert Mueller?

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Feb 12th, 2018 4:37 pm | By

Too much spotlight

Feb 12th, 2018 12:33 pm | By

NBC News offers some explanation of why Rachel Brand has quit her job.

The Justice Department’s No. 3 attorney had been unhappy with her job for months before the department announced her departure on Friday, according to multiple sources close to Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand.

Brand grew frustrated by vacancies at the department and feared she would be asked to oversee the Russia investigation, the sources said.

The sources say the WalMart job had been in the works for some time.

As far back as last fall, Brand had expressed to friends that she felt overwhelmed and unsupported in her job, especially as many key positions under her jurisdiction had still not been filled with permanent, Senate-confirmed officials.

Four of the 13 divisions overseen by the associate attorney general remain unfilled, including the civil rights division and the civil division, over one year into the Trump administration.

Only one man matters.

While Brand has largely stayed out of the spotlight, public criticism of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein by President Donald Trump worried Brand that Rosenstein’s job could be in danger.

Should Rosenstein be fired, Brand would be next in line to oversee Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, thrusting her into a political spotlight that Brand told friends she did not want to enter.

A spokeswoman for the DoJ said none of it is true. We believe everything they say, yes? No.

The crowd did, in fact, laugh

Feb 12th, 2018 11:42 am | By

Trump’s good friend Duterte has a new idea:

Addressing a group of former communist rebels on Wednesday, Duterte, who served as a city mayor before becoming president, appeared to encourage the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to target women in conflict.

“Tell the soldiers. ‘There’s a new order coming from the mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina,’ ” he said.

“If there is no vagina, it would be useless,” Duterte continued, according to local media reports, appearing to imply that women are useless without their genitals.

The president’s communications office included the comment in the official transcript from the event but replaced the word “vagina” with a dash.

Well I’m guessing he didn’t say the Tagalog equivalent of “vagina” – I’m guessing it was the local version of “cunt.”

Duterte regularly denigrates and threatens women, but when challenged, he insists it was all just a joke. Just last week, his spokesman accused women of “overreacting” to the president’s comments. “I mean, that’s funny. Come on. Just laugh,” Harry Roque said.

According to the official transcript from the Wednesday event, the crowd did, in fact, laugh at Duterte’s remarks.

Duterte, who was elected president in 2016, has made headlines for “joking” about the rape of a kidnapped Australian who was later killed and for telling troops to rape women in conflict. He often shares unsolicited opinions on the sexual attractiveness of women, particularly female politicians who question his policies, in an apparent effort to demean, shame and silence them.

Nooooooooo, he’s just making “jokes.”

Nothing but the best

Feb 12th, 2018 11:29 am | By

Scott Pruitt, destroyer of the EPA, is not stinting himself on luxury accommodations on the taxpayer’s dime.

Just days after helping orchestrate the United States’ exit from a global climate accord last June, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt embarked on a whirlwind tour aimed at championing President Trump’s agenda at home and abroad.

On Monday, June 5, accompanied by his personal security detail, Pruitt settled into his $1,641.43 first-class seat for a short flight from the District to New York City. His ticket cost more than six times that of the two media aides who came along and sat in coach, according to agency travel vouchers; the records do not show whether his security detail accompanied him at the front of the plane.

They all could have just taken the damn train for a fraction of the cost.

He did two tv gigs hooraying Trump’s trashing of the Paris climate agreement and then stayed in a nice posh pricey hotel before zipping back to DC the next day.

That Wednesday, after traveling with Trump on Air Force One for an infrastructure event in Cincinnati, Pruitt and several staffers raced to New York on a military jet, at a cost of $36,068.50, to catch a plane to Rome.

The transatlantic flight was part of a round-trip ticket for the administrator that cost $7,003.52, according to EPA records— several times what was paid for other officials who went. The documents do not explain the discrepancy. In Rome, Pruitt and a coterie of aides and security personnel got private tours of the Vatican and met with papal officials, business executives and legal experts before heading briefly to a meeting of environmental ministers in Bologna.

In short he’s having a lot of fun at our expense, while he takes apart the EPA that Nixon inaugurated.

In total, the taxpayer-funded travel for Pruitt and his top aides during that stretch in early June cost at least $90,000, according to months of receipts obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project under the Freedom of Information Act. That figure does not account for the costs of Pruitt’s round-the-clock security detail, which have not been disclosed.

His round-the-clock security detail that is a bizarre and unprecedented thing for the head of the EPA to have, that is.

Such travel decisions, coupled with a tendency to not publicize out-of-town trips, have prompted criticism from Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups, who have questioned how much some of Pruitt’s trips have to do with the EPA’s mission.

“What did American taxpayers get for Pruitt visiting the Vatican and getting photographed with European agency heads?” said Eric Schaeffer, executive director of the Environmental Integrity Project, of last year’s Italy trip. “This was all for show.”

The group obtained Pruitt’s travel vouchers through litigation and is suing for other travel-related documents, including speeches he has made in closed-door meetings with industry officials.

“It is acutely paranoid,” Schaeffer said of the EPA’s refusal to disclose Pruitt’s whereabouts on any given day. “He’s a public official. His schedule should be publicly known.”

Destructive and extravagant; lucky us.

The men who rent the inside of women’s bodies

Feb 12th, 2018 9:29 am | By

Julie Bindel on charity organizations and prostitution:

Just when I thought my opinion of pro-prostitution lobbyists could not get any lower, I see a tweet by one about the Oxfam scandal: “Buying sex from professionals is not sexual misconduct and women in Haiti may well have been glad to get the sex work. I hate prissy Establishment fiddle-faddle implying ‘development’ workers are ethical puritans or saints.”

There you have it. The idea that the women involved in prostitution in Haiti are somehow benefiting from being bought and sold by the very men that are supposed to be helping them cope with their hellish existence.

Let us consider what this person is defending. Oxfam’s country director in Haiti, Roland van Hauwermeiren, admitted using prostituted females at premises paid for with charitable funds. Children may well have been among those abused by van Hauwermeiren and other aid workers. This happened after the earthquake in 2010, which killed 220,000 people, injured 300,000 and left 1.5 million homeless.

So naturally the women among those 1.5 million people left homeless must have been delighted to “get the sex work” – i.e. get a little cash from Oxfam workers in exchange for being raped.

Wherever there is conflict, natural disasters and dire poverty, women and children will be abused into prostitution. Traffickers target countries such as Haiti, knowing that there will be rich pickings, because women and girls will be additionally vulnerable.

I have witnessed scandals like this before. In 1999, during my first trip to Kosovo, shortly after the end of the war,  I was told by my driver that a number of brothels were being built close to the area inhabited by a number of charities and UN organisations, because so many of the men stationed there were prolific prostitute users. I saw a number of men going in and out of these establishments, despite the fact that many of them were there to advise local law enforcers on anti-trafficking strategies.

This is why we can’t have equality; it’s because people who have the upper hand aren’t going to give it up. Poverty and desperation=cheap and compliant labor, which includes “sex workers.” Slumps and natural disasters are good things for the people on top, because there are so many more desperate people to exploit.

The sex trade is built on colonialism and racism, as well as misogyny. Whether it is the overrepresentation of African American girls and women in prostitution in the US, or the targeting of indigenous and native women and girls in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, it is clear that rich, powerful, white men consider it their “right” to use such women and girls as commodities.

Oxfam is supposed to put vulnerable women and children at the centre of its efforts, and yet some of the organisation’s most senior male officials appear to have done the opposite. It is nothing short of a disgrace that prostitution apologists somehow create a defence of these vile sexual predators by suggesting that the women and girls lured into the sex trade are somehow making a “choice”, and are “professionals” doing a “job”. These women and girls are being abused and exploited by men who are paid huge salaries to make their lives less horrendous.

One of the myths about the sex trade is that the men who rent the inside of women’s bodies for their one-sided sexual pleasure are somehow doing a favour to their victims because money changes hands. As my close friend and colleague, the formidable writer and sex trade survivor Rachel Moran, has said in response to white liberals who claim paying for sex is defensible because it provides an income to poor women: “Wouldn’t you say, if a person cannot afford to feed themselves, the appropriate thing to put in their mouth is food, not your cock?”

Wouldn’t you?

A reputation for speaking truth to power

Feb 11th, 2018 4:21 pm | By

The Times on Asma Jahangir:

Ms. Jahangir, a human rights lawyer, had a reputation of speaking truth to power and defending the weak and the marginalized, women and minorities against injustice. She gained international acclaim for being the voice of conscience in a country where liberal, secular voices have been continuously under threat.

She was the founding chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent group, and was a trustee of the International Crisis Group. She won several local and international awards and served as the United Nations rapporteur on human rights and extrajudicial killings.

Ms. Jahangir never minced words while defending democracy and human rights, despite threats to her life, both from military dictators and militants. She championed the rights of religious minorities — especially those who were charged under the country’s blasphemy laws — and women and men killed in the name of honor.

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Sara Faruqi/Dawn

She got a law degree from Punjab University in Lahore in 1978.

Ms. Jahangir was exposed to politics and activism at an early age. Her father, Malik Ghulam Jilani, was a civil servant and a left-wing politician who was frequently jailed for opposing military dictators. Ms. Jahangir initially appeared in court to represent her jailed father.

Her first foray into politics was in 1969, when she participated in a women’s march to the residence of the governor of Punjab and clashed with the police. In 1983, she was put under house arrest and later imprisoned when she campaigned for women’s rights and democracy during the rule of Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.

The military and right-wing nationalists hated her, especially because she advocated peace with India.

To many women in the country, Ms. Jahangir was an inspiration.

“Asma Jahangir was a voice of the oppressed and an icon of courage and valor,” said Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the daughter and political heir of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “She endured so much but chose to be on the right side of history.”

Critics often questioned her focus on the country’s minorities and on women’s rights. She fended off such criticism as misplaced.

“Yes, I am very unhappy, extremely anguished at human rights violations against Kashmiris in India or against Rohingyas in Burma or, for that matter, Christians in Orissa. But obviously I am going to be more concerned of violations taking place in my own house because I am closer to the people who I live with. I have more passion for them,” Ms. Jahangir told Herald.

“And I think it sounds very hollow if I keep talking about the rights of Kashmiris but do not talk about the rights of a woman in Lahore who is butchered to death.”

Pakistan can’t afford to lose people like her – the world can’t afford to lose people like her.

We may do something in Moscow

Feb 11th, 2018 3:10 pm | By

Don’t forget, Trump knows nothing of Russia, never had any dealings with Russians, never did any business there, just dropped in for a few minutes to grope the pussies at the Miss Universe Pajjunt.

Could get worse

Feb 11th, 2018 2:31 pm | By

This from last March is terrifying: the Koch brothers are bankrolling a move to rewrite the Constitution.

A constitutional convention, something thought impossible not long ago, is looking increasingly likely. Under Article V of the US Constitution, if 34 state legislatures “issue a call” for a constitutional convention, Congress must convene one. By some counts, the right wing only needs six more states. Once called, delegates can propose and vote on changes and new amendments to the US Constitution, which, if approved, are currently required to be ratified by 38 states.

There are two major legislative pushes for a convention at the state level. One would attempt to engineer a convention for a balanced budget amendment only, and the other tries to secure an open convention for the purpose of limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. But once a convention is underway, all bets are off. The convention can write its own rules, resulting in a wide-open or “runaway” convention that can make major changes to the constitution and, some argue, even change the number of states required to ratify those changes.

Running the “Convention of States initiative” is an Austin, Texas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit called Citizens for Self-Governance (CSG). CSG reported revenue of $5.7 million in 2015, more than double its haul from two years earlier, when it launched its Convention of States Project, according to The Dallas News. It now boasts 115,000 “volunteers,” although that figure may represent the number of addresses on its email list.

CSG also has ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate bill mill that unites conservative politicians with big-business lobbyists who develop cookie-cutter “model” legislation behind closed doors at ALEC meetings.

ALEC has long been funded by Koch Industries and a representative of Koch Industries sits on its executive board, while representatives from the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity groups fund and sit on various committees. ALEC has also received funding from Koch family foundations. CMD estimates this funding to be over $1 million, though the actual total could be much higher. In addition, ALEC gets funding from Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund.

According to Common Cause, “no group has been more influential” in promoting an Article V convention than ALEC. In 2011, ALEC commissioned a handbook for state legislators on how to push for a constitutional convention. The group has produced at least three model balanced budget amendment bills and has endorsed several model bills calling for a convention to vote on constitutional amendments, such as requiring Congress to get approval by two-thirds of the states before imposing new taxes or increasing the federal debt or federal spending.

Do not want.

H/t Wesley Elsberry


Asma Jahangir

Feb 11th, 2018 10:01 am | By

Another comrade gone

Feb 11th, 2018 9:54 am | By

Oh damn. Damn damn damn. Asma Jahangir has died.

Prominent Pakistani human rights activist and lawyer Asma Jahangir has died at the age of 66.

She reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest and was taken to hospital, where she later died.

The pro-democracy activist championed women’s rights throughout her career.

She was imprisoned in 1983 and put under house arrest in 2007. Five years ago, leaked documents suggested that some intelligence officers had planned to kill her.

Ms Jahangir called for an inquiry at the time, demanding the government “find the forces who wanted to silence” her.

More recently she spoke out against BBC Persian journalists being put on trial in Iran, as part of her role as UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran.

Pakistan cannot afford to lose any human rights activists, especially female ones.

In her career, Ms Jahangir was a staunch defender of human rights and women’s rights, and a pro-democracy activist, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

She worked closely with her sister Hina Jilani on many of her endeavours.

In 2014 Ms Jahangir told AFP news agency she had seen changes in the perception of human rights in Pakistan.

“There was a time that human rights was not even an issue in this country,” she said. “Then prisoners’ rights became an issue.”

“Women’s rights was thought of as a Western concept. Now people do talk about women’s rights.”

Women are human beings everywhere, including Pakistan.

We need to talk

Feb 11th, 2018 9:44 am | By

Human Rights Watch:

A new law in Poland, threatening to jail those who imply the country had a role in the Holocaust, will likely have a wider chilling effect on free expression.

The law, signed by Polish President Andrzej Duda, makes it a crime punishable by up to three years imprisonment to claim that the Republic of Poland or the Polish nation was responsible for, or participated in, Nazi crimes during the Second World War.

Under the law, the Institute of National Remembrance, a state body tasked with establishing an official historical narrative and prosecuting Nazi and Communist-era crimes, will now also be able to claim compensation from anyone “damaging the reputation” of Poland.

How very Turkish. Turkey throws people in jail for “insulting Turkishness” by talking about the Armenian genocide.

Duda is consulting with the Constitutional Court.

Some observers worry that the Polish government’s motivation goes beyond solely trying to suppress discussion about Poland’s role in crimes committed in the Second World War. Critics argue the government may be able to use the civil remedies in the law to curb broader public criticism of its track record.

While the use of the term “Polish death camps” may obscure the responsibility of the Nazis for those camps on Polish soil, the government has failed to convincingly prove that the harsh measures under the law are necessary to prevent the “falsification of Polish history” and of “slandering” Poles.

Laws that criminalize historical discussion – whether denial of, or responsibility for, genocide – have a chilling effect on free expression even if no one is prosecuted under them.

Imagine a US law making it a crime to talk about the Japanese internments in WW2 or Jim Crow laws or slavery or the genocide of Native Americans…my we have a lot to talk about, don’t we. Imagine a UK law making it a crime to talk about The Empire or the Irish famine or the Amritsar massacre. Imagine it and then say No.

Is that a rat we smell?

Feb 10th, 2018 3:31 pm | By

I was thinking of Rachel Brand’s departure as another humiliation for Trump, but that appears to be wrong.

Going to Walmart did seem like a squalid option, but I didn’t push it beyond that.

Oh. Duh. Of course.

The search is on for a replacement for Brand who will happily fire Mueller if asked…or else already waiting in the wings.


Feb 10th, 2018 11:23 am | By

Fortune reports we’ve been downgraded, we who are Yanks.

While U.S. citizens could once claim to be part of the 9% of people in the world governed by a “full democracy,” they are now part of the near 45% who live in a “flawed democracy.”

That’s according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, which downgraded the U.S. in their 2016 Democracy Index published Wednesday. The move puts the U.S. in the same category as Poland, Mongolia, and Italy.

The “full democracy” period must have been quite brief, since before the Voting Rights Act we definitely were not one.

What besides Trump makes us not one?

  • the electoral college
  • gerrymandering
  • voter suppression (made possible by the Shelby ruling)
  • money in political campaigns (made much worse by the Citizens United ruling)

All that preceded Trump.

To arrive at this conclusion, the paper analyzed over 200 countries and considered factors like political culture and political participation.

“Popular trust in government, elected representatives and political parties has fallen to extremely low levels in the U.S.,” the paper’s authors wrote. “This has been a long-term trend and one that preceded the election of [Donald] Trump as U.S. president in November 2016.”

And then he pushed it off a cliff.

Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?

Feb 10th, 2018 10:48 am | By

Trump today.

A response.

The Times on Trump and the Central Park Five in October 2016:

Donald J. Trump rarely apologizes. When it comes to the case of the Central Park Five, he has never even come close.

In 1989, after these black and Latino teenagers from Harlem were accused of assaulting and raping a white woman in Central Park, Mr. Trump spent $85,000 placing full-page ads in the four daily papers in New York City, calling for the return of the death penalty.

“Muggers and murderers,” he wrote, “should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.” Though he didn’t refer to the teenagers by name, it was clear to anyone in the city that he was referring to them.

Incredibly, 14 years after their sentences were vacated based on DNA evidence and the detailed and accurate confession of a serial rapist named Matias Reyes, Mr. Trump has doubled down.

“They admitted they were guilty,” he said in a statement to CNN this month. “The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous.”

They “admitted” they were at the scene after hours of coercive questioning without a lawyer or a parent present.

The teenagers faced hours of intense interrogations with no lawyers present and often with no parent or guardian, even though they were just 14, 15 and 16 years old. They were denied food, drink and sleep over many hours. And they were terrified.

The young men were all led to believe that they would be allowed to go home only if they said what the police wanted to hear. The four who gave statements admitted to having been present but blamed others for the rape, which they naïvely thought would not incriminate them.

And then years later DNA evidence showed they hadn’t done it. So…it’s a “mere allegation” when it’s a white guy who works for Trump, and “the police say they were guilty” when it’s five black teenagers who don’t work for Trump. Sounds fair.

Pilgrimage and groping opportunity combined

Feb 10th, 2018 10:22 am | By

The BBC on #MosqueMeToo:

Egyptian-American feminist and journalist Mona Eltahawy first talked about her experience of sexual assault during Hajj in 2013.

She is behind #MosqueMeToo.

Muslim men and women from around the world started using the hashtag yesterday and in less than 24 hours it was tweeted 2,000 times.

It has gone on to become one of the top ten trends of Farsi Twitter.

Many of the women sharing their experiences on Twitter report being groped, inappropriately touched or having someone rub against them in the crowd.

For Muslims, the Hajj is the fifth and final pillar of Islam. It is something that every sane adult Muslim must undertake at least once in their lives if they can afford it and are physically able.

It is estimated two million Muslims undertake Hajj each year, creating huge crowds in the holy city of Mecca.

And what’s one thing that happens in huge crowds? Men stick out their hands and grab.

Many Iranian and Farsi speaking Twitter users not only shared their experience of harassment but also challenged the belief that wearing the hijab keeps women safe from assault and harassment.

In Iran the hijab is mandatory. There are posters in cities and towns comparing unveiled women to unwrapped candy and lollipops attracting unwanted attention from flies.

But some of the lollipops are fighting back.


Feb 9th, 2018 3:50 pm | By

So much ordure hitting so many fans I need an omnibus post just to list it all.

Rachel Brand is leaving her job.

Rachel L. Brand, the No. 3 official at the Justice Department, plans to step down after nine months on the job as the country’s top law enforcement agency has been under attack by President Trump, according to two people briefed on her decision.

Ms. Brand’s profile had risen in part because she is next in the line of succession behind the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, who is overseeing the special counsel’s inquiry into Russian influence in the 2016 election. Mr. Trump, who has called the investigation a witch hunt, has considered firing Mr. Rosenstein.

Such a move could have put her in charge of the special counsel and, by extension, left her in the cross hairs of the president.

Kelly says he’s willing to leave his job.

John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, told officials in the West Wing on Friday that he was willing to step down over his handling of allegations of spousal abuse against Rob Porter, the staff secretary who resigned in disgrace this week over the accusations, according to two officials aware of the discussions.

The officials emphasized that they did not consider a resignation imminent, and that Mr. Kelly — a retired four-star Marine general who early in his tenure often used a threat of quitting as a way to temper President Trump’s behavior — had made no formal offer.

But his suggestion that he would be willing to step down if the president wanted him to reflected the degree to which the scandal surrounding Mr. Porter has engulfed the White House.

All the more so after two senior staffers called the Post to report that Kelly had just told them to lie about when he pushed Porter out.

For all the turmoil, Mr. Trump on Friday warmly praised Mr. Porter, saying it was a “tough time” for his former aide and noting that Mr. Porter had denied the accusations.

“We wish him well,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Porter, who was accused of physical and emotional abuse by two ex-wives. The president added, “He also, as you probably know, says he is innocent, and I think you have to remember that.”

“He worked very hard,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office when asked for a comment about Mr. Porter. The president said he had only “recently” learned of the allegations against his former aide and was surprised.

“He did a very good job when he was in the White House, and we hope he has a wonderful career, and he will have a great career ahead of him,” Mr. Trump said. “But it was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad now.”

The glowing praise of a staff member accused of serial violence against women was in line with the president’s own denials of sexual impropriety despite accusations from more than a dozen women and his habit of accepting claims of innocence from men facing similar allegations. Among them was Roy S. Moore, the former Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, who is accused of molesting teenage girls.

#MeToo #TimesUp etc etc.

On Friday morning at the White House, Mr. Kelly appeared to be trying to paint his handling of the matter in a more favorable light. At the end of the senior staff meeting, Mr. Kelly volunteered that he had something he wanted to “clarify,” according to people with knowledge of his remarks.

Mr. Kelly went on to say that he had learned of Mr. Porter’s true situation less than an hour before he removed him from his job. Two people familiar with the comments said that most of the staff appeared incredulous; one person said several people in the room knew that the timeline Mr. Kelly had presented was false.

As the meeting broke up, Ms. Hicks loudly complained about what had transpired, a person briefed on the meeting said.

And The Intercept claims that the CIA is wary of intel that implicates Trump because Pompeo is, shall we say, not exactly non-partisan.

Many intelligence officials are reluctant to get involved with anything related to the Trump-Russia case for fear of blowback from Trump himself, who might seek revenge by firing senior officials and wreaking havoc on their agencies. For example, Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence and thus the man supposedly in charge of the entire U.S. intelligence community, has said he does not see it as his role to push for an aggressive Trump-Russia investigation, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The call came from inside the house.

Hello, Washington Post?

Feb 9th, 2018 12:28 pm | By

Here’s some striking dysfunction – Kelly holds a meeting with senior staff at which he tells them to lie about when he (Kelly) fired Porter. When he leaves the senior staff look at each other and go “Wow, that’s a big lie.” Two of them pick up the phone and call the Post.

The Post reports:

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly on Friday morning instructed senior staff to communicate a version of events about the departure of staff secretary Rob Porter that contradicts the Trump administration’s previous accounts, according to two senior officials.

During a staff meeting, Kelly told those in attendance to say he took action to remove Porter within 40 minutes of learning abuse allegations from two ex-wives were credible, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because discussions in such meetings are supposed to be confidential.

“He told the staff he took immediate and direct action,” one of the officials said, adding that people after the meeting expressed disbelief with one another and felt his latest account was not true.

I mean really. It doesn’t get much more broken down than that. Obviously Kelly knows who was in the room so now he knows that they all knew he was telling them to lie and that two of them instantly told the Post about it. He’ll probably be gone within hours.

Good riddance, by the way. Those lies he told about Representative Wilson? Unforgivable.

Plus he’s telling senior White House staff to lie, just like that. Goodbye.

At Friday’s meeting, Kelly also told subordinates to convey to other White House aides he cares about domestic violence, according to the officials.

“Tell them I care. Tell them I really really care. How much? This much.”

Image result for how much do i care

We hope he has a wonderful career

Feb 9th, 2018 12:10 pm | By

Trump is feeling dismayed and ashamed that his administration hired a guy who beats up women.

Just kidding. He’s feeling the opposite of that. Out loud.

President Trump on Friday afternoon lavished praise on one of his former top aides, Rob Porter, who resigned earlier this week amid accusations that he physically, verbally and emotionally abused his two ex-wives.

“We wish him well, he worked very hard,” Trump said to a small group of reporters at the White House, providing his first public comments on the topic. “We found out about it recently, and I was surprised by it, but we certainly wish him well, and it’s a tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House, and we hope he has a wonderful career, and he will have a great career ahead of him. But it was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad now. He also, as you probably know, says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent, so you have to talk to him about that, but we absolutely wish him well, he did a very good job when he was at the White House.”

He’s very sad now, because he doesn’t have that plum job any more. The women he abused? Oh who cares about them, we’re talking about the feelings of the man here. He’s got a major sad because of that nice job he no longer has. Those bitches took it away from him. By the way they’re liars, I think you have to remember that.

This is not the first time that the president has continued to embrace men close to him who have been accused of assault. In July 2016, Trump called his longtime friend Roger Ailes — who had just been ousted from Fox News amid accusations that he sexually harassed at least two dozen women — “a very, very good person” and cast suspicion on the accusers. In April 2017, Trump said that Bill O’Reilly — who, it had recently been revealed, paid millions in settlements to five women who accused him of sexual or verbal abuse — “a good person” who should not have settled because “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.” Late last year, Trump continued to support Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore — who was accused of sexual misconduct with teenagers — and noted that Moore “totally denies it.”

And Trump himself has been accused of abuse by 13 women who have publicly claimed that Trump touched or kissed them without their permission. Trump has denied all of these accusations and cast all of his accusers as liars. In a 2005 “Access Hollywood” interview caught on a hot microphone, Trump bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women, saying that “when you’re a star, they let you do it.”

And that’s the president of the United States.