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Trump Was and Remains Catastrophically Unprepared for the Presidency

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Donald Trump did an interview with the Associated Press, the complete transcript for which is available here. The entire thing is appalling, for all the usual reasons, but chief among them is the further evidence that Trump had no idea what he was getting into and doesn't even appear remotely ashamed that he is dangerously clueless about the gravity of the United States presidency.

For example: He casually admits that when he said NATO is obsolete that he didn't know anything about NATO. (Emphasis mine.)
TRUMP: They had a quote from me that NATO's obsolete. But they didn't say why it was obsolete. I was on Wolf Blitzer, very fair interview, the first time I was ever asked about NATO, because I wasn't in government. People don't go around asking about NATO if I'm building a building in Manhattan, right? So they asked me, Wolf ... asked me about NATO, and I said two things. NATO's obsolete — not knowing much about NATO, now I know a lot about NATO — NATO is obsolete, and I said, "And the reason it's obsolete is because of the fact they don't focus on terrorism." You know, back when they did NATO there was no such thing as terrorism.
It's horrendous that he was unfamiliar with NATO in the first place, and horrendous that he thinks there's no problem with admitting he didn't.

Further, his claim that he now knows "a lot about NATO" is fairly suspect, given his assertion that "back when they did NATO there was no such thing as terrorism." NATO was established in 1949, smack in the middle of a 16-year terror spree in New York City orchestrated by George Metesky, who planted explosives "in theaters, terminals, libraries, and offices. Bombs were left in phone booths, storage lockers, and restrooms in public buildings, including Grand Central Terminal, Pennsylvania Station, Radio City Music Hall, the New York Public Library, the Port Authority Bus Terminal and the RCA Building, and in the New York City Subway. Metesky also bombed movie theaters, where he cut into seat upholstery and slipped his explosive devices inside." He "planted at least 33 bombs, of which 22 exploded, injuring 15 people."

That certainly wasn't the only act of terrorism before 1949, but it was a significant one, which happened in Trump's hometown. His ignorance of history is stunning. Of course, that's partly because Trump's definition of terrorism seemingly excludes domestic terrorism committed by white men.

Elsewhere in the interview, Trump expresses surprise at how much the presidency necessitates caring about people. (Emphasis mine.)
AP: You've talked a little bit about the way that you've brought some business skills into the office. Is there anything from your business background that just doesn't translate into the presidency, that just simply is not applicable to this job?

TRUMP: Well in business, you don't necessarily need heart, whereas here, almost everything affects people. So if you're talking about health care — you have health care in business but you're trying to just negotiate a good price on health care, et cetera, et cetera. You're providing health. This is (unintelligible). Here, everything, pretty much everything you do in government, involves heart, whereas in business, most things don't involve heart.

AP: What's that switch been like for you?

TRUMP: In fact, in business you're actually better off without it.
Only after becoming president did Trump realize that you have to give a shit about other people, because "almost everything affects people."

And if that weren't incredible enough, he also explains that he's realized "how big" the presidency is, and what "great responsibility" is has. (Emphasis mine.)
AP: Can I ask you, over your first 100 days — you're not quite there yet — how do you feel like the office has changed you?

TRUMP: Well the one thing I would say — and I say this to people — I never realized how big it was. Everything's so (unintelligible) like, you know the orders are so massive. I was talking to —

AP: You mean the responsibility of it, or do you mean —

TRUMP: Number One, there's great responsibility. When it came time to, as an example, send out the 59 missiles, the Tomahawks in Syria. I'm saying to myself, "You know, this is more than just like, 79 (sic) missiles. This is death that's involved," because people could have been killed. This is risk that's involved, because if the missile goes off and goes in a city or goes in a civilian area — you know, the boats were hundreds of miles away — and if this missile goes off and lands in the middle of a town or a hamlet ... every decision is much harder than you'd normally make. (unintelligible) ... This is involving death and life and so many things. ... So it's far more responsibility. (unintelligible) ... The financial cost of everything is so massive, every agency. This is thousands of times bigger, the United States, than the biggest company in the world. The second-largest company in the world is the Defense Department. The third-largest company in the world is Social Security. The fourth-largest — you know, you go down the list.

AP: Right.

TRUMP. It's massive. And every agency is, like, bigger than any company. So you know, I really just see the bigness of it all, but also the responsibility. And the human responsibility. You know, the human life that's involved in some of the decisions.
I don't know what I find more appalling—that he's only now realizing the extraordinary gravity of the presidency and the scope of the federal government, or that he imagines that "human life" is only "involved in some of the decisions." Some.

Trump is an impossibly shallow, deeply unserious man. He is catastrophically unprepared, and unfit, for the presidency. Which was patently obvious when he was running, and has only become even more painfully evident now that he's got the job.

And a big part of how we got here is a political press that was determined to project an aggressively undeserved parity between the two candidates, not only by eliding Trump's tremendous lack of preparation for this extraordinarily demanding and important job, but also by criticizing Hillary Clinton's preparation for it, turning that preparation into a negative.


Now here we are. And casting Clinton's preparedness as a problem seems more goddamn foolish and breathtakingly irresponsible than ever.

But far from examining their own responsibility, as Nate Silver has observed, "the media's election post-mortems have mostly ignored it because it implicates the media's judgement."

Which, suffice it to say, was lacking.
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skittone
6 hours ago
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On Hillary Clinton's Beautiful Refusal to "Go Away"

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image of Hillary Clinton grinning cheekily in front of a U.S. flag
[Photo: Michael Davidson for Hillary for America.]

There are two words I have heard over and over since Hillary Clinton emerged from the woods after losing the presidency: "Go away."

I have heard them from random people responding to any news item about her; from commenters responding to my writing about her; from political pundits, especially but not exclusively of the male persuasion. I have even heard them from some of her supporters, who couch the admonishment in a heaving sigh of regret: "I just think it's time for her to go away."

It functions not unlike the ubiquitous scolding to "get over it"—and often in tandem: Get your grief and your anger and all your other stupid feelings out of public view, and take your loser candidate with you.

It's not entirely clear (to me) what Hillary "going away" would actually look like. I suppose that's because it depends on who is saying it. For some people, it would be an assurance she will never, ever, run again for public office. For others, seemingly nothing short of curling up in a ball and dying would suffice.

Not that it matters. The objective is the projection of contempt, which is satisfied by merely uttering "go away," irrespective of the precise conditions attached.

This is a thing we culturally do to women who fail—with the very definition of "failure" itself a constantly moving target, to suit our misogynist disdains. It can be a quantifiable fuck-up, which costs people their safety or jobs or other measurable assets, or something decidedly less so: A young female pop star who "fails" to be sufficiently aware that she is "annoying," or a fat woman who "fails" to project at all times an apologetic nature, indicative of her everlasting remorse for having wrought her monstrous self upon the world.

The latter examples are not actual failures, but subjective "failures" to hew to impossible standards around female visibility. Impossible, because a pop star who frankly addresses overexposure is summarily told to "go away" for her intolerant navel-gazing, and a fat woman who does not walk with her head held high is told, in so many words, to "go away" for not carrying herself with pride.

Women of color, and women of other marginalized classes, have less room to fail, and more exacting and unforgiving definitions of failure, than straight, white, thin, able-bodied, wealthy, cis women. There is no wiggle room—and there are precious few people invested in redemption narratives for marginalized women.

They are further burdened, much more so than privileged women, with representing the whole class of people who share their identities. A failure—legitimate or invented—is not just a personal one, but one inevitably used to underwrite bigoted commentary about the entirety of their communities.

Each deviation from the kyriarchetype increases a woman's odds of being held to impossible standards—and the chance of hearing "go away" as a result.

Even a woman like Sarah Palin, who benefits not only from her extraordinary privilege but also conservatives' absurd willingness to fail people upward, has been diminished since being the Republican Party's vice-presidential pick. She may still be able to score a White House invite, but she has been relegated from Celebrated Conservative It Girl to just another conspiracy-minded Facebook ranter.

Palin doesn't deserve any more chances, but it isn't irrelevant that the man who elevated her to her former prominence, Senator John McCain, hasn't suffered any professional consequence for his appalling decision that she was suitable to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

She was told to "go away." He was not.

When Monica Crowley, another conservative woman with privileges akin to Palin's, was discovered to be a plagiarist, she was obliged to withdraw from contention for a spot in the Trump administration. When Neil Gorsuch was found to have plagiarized, he was confirmed to the Supreme Court.

She was told to "go away." He was not.

Because that is simply not a thing we tell men. I don't mean that the words "go away" are never spoken to a man (although you'll be hard-pressed to find nearly as many professional media types saying the literal words "go away" to any man as have said the same regarding Hillary Clinton). I mean the attendant expectation that they slink away from public view, never to return; that powerbrokers limit their opportunities because of their failures.

Men's failures and redemption narratives, however, go together like chocolate and peanut butter. There is an entire cottage industry dedicated to rehabilitating the images of men who have had real, significant, often criminal failures—athletes, pop stars, actors, politicians welcomed back to public acclaim with boilerplate profiles telling us all about their newfound gratitude, hard-won humility, and the love of a good woman, filed under headlines like "The Comeback Kid."

Hillary Clinton has not been—and won't be—granted any such generous reprieve, despite the fact that her "failure" was spending 18 months campaigning, day after exhausting day, keeping up a ruthless schedule that would drive most people half her age to collapse after three weeks, giving up time with her family, sacrificing anything resembling free time or privacy, making countless sacrifices on behalf of this country in order to prevent the exact outcome we now call her failure, sniffing that she was a weak candidate, even though she was derailed by foreign interference, breathtaking unprofessionalism from the intelligence community, and a tsunami of misogyny, yet still managed to win the popular vote by three million votes.

No, Hillary is told to "go away."

And because women are always told to "go away"—always have our hard work and tireless energies dismissed as failures if the result does not look like retrograde expectations of women or does not achieve precisely what we might have hoped—I am very, very glad indeed that Hillary is utterly refusing to go away.

I am glad because she still has important things to say and important things to contribute. She is not just a presidential candidate, but an accomplished stateswoman who represents this nation in a manner in which we can be proud.

I could write an entire essay just on the reasons that Hillary Clinton does and should have a prominent role in our national discourse. But, if you've read this far, you are probably already well aware of those reasons.

Hillary doesn't owe us a goddamned thing, and if she'd decided to spend the rest of her days on a sunny island somewhere, trading in her pantsuits for a bathing suit and drinking booze out of a coconut while merrily cackling at the Alt-POTUS 45 Twitter account, I would be undilutedly thrilled for her.

If she had decided to stay away, I would understand that. I would understand that so hard.

But that is a very different thing indeed from going away.

And I—selfishly, I readily admit—am incredibly relieved, and grateful beyond measure, that Hillary Clinton refuses to go away.

That she continues to speak, that she continues to advocate, that she continues to be seen, that she continues to exercise her right to speak freely, and to be heard.

Though I am ever despondent about the misogyny that obliges her to model such tenacious gumption, I am exhilarated by the example she is setting (again, and always) for young women who will, inexorably, be told in their lives to "go away."

And for we not-so-young women, too. That Hillary is also an older woman who refuses to go away is tremendously important. Older women occupy a very particular space in our culture—a space frequently defined by an abandonment of listening. Rather than valuing the lived experiences of older women, and the wisdom those lives have imparted, we turn away from them, dismissing them as irrelevant; we neglect to listen, just at the moment where they may offer insights most profoundly worth listening to.

Hillary has a voice. And people listen to it. She has experience, which people respect. She has knowledge, and it is widely valued. This is not the typical experience of older women, who are devalued at the intersection of misogyny and ageism—and whatever other parts of our identity (race, disability, body size, sexuality, gender) are used to devalue us, too.

Hillary's refusal to go away is a direct challenge to the habit of tossing away older women, like so much useless rubbish.

And it is a long sideways glance at every insolent shitheel who tells her to go away, meeting their gaze with a steely resolve and a firm NO.

No, I will not go away.

Because Hillary Clinton knows she has value, which is one of the most brazen assertions any woman can make.

It is magnificent to behold her assert it.
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skittone
2 days ago
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Bernie Sanders, My Autonomy Is Not Negotiable

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As Aphra_Behn reported on Wednesday, Bernie Sanders, in his capacity as co-chair of Democratic outreach, said flatly of Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff: "He's not a progressive," while declaring as "progressive" Nebraska Democrat Heath Mello, despite the fact that Mello has sponsored legislation that would restrict abortion rights.

Yesterday, Sanders defended that position to NPR Politics:
Sanders pushed back against the criticism. "The truth is that in some conservative states there will be candidates that are popular candidates who may not agree with me on every issue. I understand it. That's what politics is about," Sanders told NPR.

"If we are going to protect a woman's right to choose, at the end of the day we're going to need Democratic control over the House and the Senate, and state governments all over this nation," he said. "And we have got to appreciate where people come from, and do our best to fight for the pro-choice agenda. But I think you just can't exclude people who disagree with us on one issue."
This is absolutely incredible. After holding Ossoff to a litmus test on vaguely defined "economic issues," he gives Mello a pass on abortion rights because there are candidates "who may not agree with [him] on every issue."

Economic issues are non-negotiable, but abortion is. It's just "one issue."


Bernie Sanders does not have the right to casually negotiate away my bodily autonomy. But he believes he does—no less under the auspices of centering economic issues as paramount, despite the fact that control over our reproduction is a crucial economic issue for women. Indeed, our self-determination regarding reproductive choices is the key indicator of women's financial security.

That Sanders fails to regard reproductive rights as a central economic issue is perfectly, terribly reflective of his comprehensive failure of intersectional analysis and policy.

That is the problem that I, and many others, have had with Sanders all along.

This isn't just an issue of Sanders prioritizing reproductive rights over economic issues: It's an issue of Sanders failing to understand, or acknowledge, that reproductive rights is a key economic issue.

Either he doesn't understand that, or he simply doesn't care, because it isn't a key economic issue for (cis) men.

And if Sanders were just another old dosey relic quickly approaching the end of an inglorious political career, we wouldn't be having this conversation. But he isn't. He is operating in an official Democratic Party capacity (a decision by the Democrats almost as inexplicable as allowing him to run as a Democrat in the first place).

Further to that, he has positioned himself as the arbiter of What Is Progressive. And treating women's autonomy, agency, consent, and very equality under the law as negotiable is a colossally retrogressive position. It is the opposite of progressive.

I am angry that Sanders is obliging me to fight against his profoundly unprogressive ideas, when I've got enough to fucking worry about fighting against Trump and the rest of the dirtbags in the Republican Party.

And I am angry that the Democrats, in continuing to give a platform to these garbage ideas, is shitting all over the work Hillary Clinton busted her ass doing to activate 10 million new Democrats who I'm guessing won't compromise on women's personhood, since they supported the candidate who was vocal and unyielding in her support of reproductive rights.

Any movement that wants to redefine "progressive" in a way that deprioritizes women's personhood is a movement of which I want no part.

Bernie Sanders' "progressivism" is toxic. The Democratic leadership needs to wake up to that reality, and fast.
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skittone
2 days ago
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Peter S Beagle, author of “The Last Unicorn,” is in dire need! Here are three ways you can help.

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Peter S Beagle, author of “The Last Unicorn,” is in dire need! Here are three ways you can help.:

princessnijireiki:

shwetanarayan:

aberrant-eyes:

… l trouble – trouble severe enough so that, according to his friend Adrienne Leigh, it’s currently difficult for him to buy groceries.

In a nutshell, Beagle was the victim of a scammer. As a result of this, Beagle is both broke and embroiled in an expensive lawsuit. Here are three ways you can help.

SHORT-TERM: Give a birthday gift directly to Peter Beagle via his paypal. If you’re known to me, contact me directly for Beagle’s email address (you can email me, or just leave a message in the comments asking me to email you; if you do that, make sure you comment using your real email address!); or you can go to Adrienne Leigh on Twitter and DM her for the email address.

These birthday gifts can be used by Peter Beagle for his household’s immediate day to day needs. (And yes, his birthday is this week!) Please say “happy birthday!” in the Paypal message area.

LONG-TERM:
Go to the Support Peter Beagle website and use the button there to contribute to a fund to help pay for Peter Beagle’s legal costs.

BUY THE HUMBLE BUNDLE!
Peter Beagle has curated a Humble Bumble of unicorn fiction, called “Save the Unicorns.” You can pay as little as $1 to get a ton of novels to read, and support Peter Beagle at the same time! Important: In “choose where your money goes,” pick 100% Tachyon Press. Peter Beagle will get royalties and such from Tachyon for these Humble Bumble sales.

To be kept up-to-date on Peter Beagle news, follow @RealPeterBeagle on Twitter.

I’ve only met him a couple times but Peter Beagle is a lovely guy as well as one of the first writers to open my head up and let the air in so I could see possibilities

so, boooost!

& if you can afford to buy individual books, tachyon has 10 for sale here including some new books, so y’know if you’ve been wishing he’d written recent stuff you’re in luck :) Default pricing’s for trade paperbacks, go to an individual book’s page for different formats.

A reminder also that— unfortunately, as part of the scamming via Conlan Press— Peter is not receiving proceeds from their publications or licensing deals, including the Netflix deal or DVDs/BluRays of “The Last Unicorn,” or TLU merch being sold anywhere, including at ThinkGeek. (More info at his Facebook here; the other “Peter S. Beagle” page is run by the folks who scammed him.)

So if you are looking for merchandise related to his work as gifts or for yourself, I would suggest direct donations/Tachyon Press purchases (including signed books!), or that combined with fanmade products, at least for the time being. Redbubble isn’t paying him, but it’s not bolstering the people robbing him, either; but if you’re spending money on something he made that you love or that has helped you, if you have it to spare, please send some his way, too.

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skittone
2 days ago
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Weaksauce

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My horseshit-o-meter had already reached maximum NOPE with the "Hillary Was a Weak Candidate" chorus (worst chorus ever—every song is the same one note) when I saw this item:


Only that, plus additional Russian interference, plus a hostile media who couldn't stop talking about her fucking emails, plus James Comey, plus a heaping fuckload of misogyny.


Actually, don't.
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skittone
3 days ago
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Quote of the Day

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"I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power."—Attorney General Jeff Sessions, referring to a judge in Hawaii blocking Donald Trump's Muslim ban executive order.

Got that? The Attorney General of the United States just referred to Hawaii, a U.S. state since 1959, as "an island in the Pacific."

Holy lord.
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skittone
3 days ago
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Jeff Sessions, Darkest Timeline Attorney General
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