Link Me Up, Scotty - Cruel to be Kind Edition

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Brother Eric on how incredibly difficult it's becoming to remain civil and kind with true-blue-dyed-in-the-wool 45 supporters. People of good conscience can fundamentally disagree about the role of government in our lives - and how government supports the greater good - without resorting to ad hominem attacks. However, I, like Eric, do not know how to address the kind of willful ignorance and denial of demonstrable facts exhibited by this group of people.
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One of this week's missives* to my elected representatives in Congress concerned the plan to defund the National Endowments for Arts and Humanities. This program costs $2.7M a year, and Republicans want to slash its funding because they're all fiscally conservative or some shit. Right. To date, it's cost more for 45 to spend his work hours in the resort he owns ($3M) than to fund this program for a year. Add in the cost of providing security to Trump Tower for the First Lady and 45's minor child (estimated at $300M a year, non-confirmed), and this move is so hypocritical these people should be throwing up in their mouths. They won't, of course. That would require them to be something other than "shameless."
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The Washington Post's "Yell-O-Matic™," which gives users a chance to see politicians get yelled at, gives me schadenfreude and smiles. Hehe.
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Author John Scalzi looks at the case of Milo Yiannopoulos, and why empathy does not excuse the actions that led to his downfall, or mean that he should not face the consequences of his own choices.
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WaPo is doing an ongoing first hundred days fact-check on 45, with utterly predictable results.
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A chart on how many people will lose their health insurance, and how many would lose their jobs, if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. I'm not okay with almost 600,000 of my fellow Coloradons missing out on health insurance, nor is it okay for over 35,000 people in my state to become unemployed. ARE YOU LISTENING SENATOR GARDNER?

H/T Steve
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My invisible Senator, the Coward Cory Gardner, has not been scheduling his own Town Hall meetings because he's afraid of his constituents and doesn't want to lose his "cover" of accusing us of being paid protestors. So constituents invited him to a Town Hall meeting in Fort Collins, and when he declined to attend, held the meeting without him. Invisible Senator, indeed.
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Scientists have discovered a system with a number of Earth-like exoplanets. Science is amazing.
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Congressional Republicans are wary - to say the least - about 45's budget, due out in a month or so. 45 has all kinds of promises he wants to keep, but no way to pay for them. Fiscal conservatives. Whatevs.
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The folks behind the Women's March on Washington are now organizing a "Day Without a Woman" strike on March 8th. I could use a day off in the middle of the week.
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My favorite Christian Pastor on 45's cowardice and bullying, and how the rest of us stand horrified as he tries to make himself look big by making others seem small.
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I like the current Pope.
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A Muslim woman who worked in the Obama White House decided to stay on after 45 was inaugurated. She lasted eight days.
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Today's sources:
  • Standing on the Shoulders of Giant Midgets: The personal blog of Eric VanNewkirk, Esq. 
  • The Independent: Left-center bias with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • WaPo: Mainstream media with minimal partisan bias and a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • Whatever: The personal blog of author John Scalzi. 
  • Economic Policy Institute: A liberal think-tank seeking to include the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions.
  • The New Yorker: Left bias with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • Outside the Beltway: An online journal of politics and foreign affairs analysis written by a highly educated and ridiculously qualified staff. 
  • The Denver Post: Left-center bias with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • Things That Need to be Said: The personal blog of Pastor John Pavlovitz. 
  •  Reuters: Non-biased news source with a high degree of factual reporting. 
  • The Atlantic: Skews left but still a reputable source of in-depth news.
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*Yes, "one of" this week's missives. Senator Bennet, Senator Gardner, and Representative Buck are all my personal pen-pals these days. 

Link Me Up, Scotty - XY Bias Edition

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

In a study spanning three years, researchers "Sarah Eddy and Daniel Grunspan have asked over 1,700 biology undergraduates at the University of Washington to name classmates whom they thought were “strong in their understanding of classroom material.” The results were worrying but predictable. The male students underestimated their female peers, over-nominating other men over better-performing women. Put it this way: To the men in these classes, a woman would need to get an A to get the same prestige as a man getting a B." The more things change, the more they stay the same.

When I first started in my current role as an engineer, I worked on a team with gender parity. However, over the last seventeen years, as my own skills and experience improved, I have watched my female peers drop away. Here's why: "These biases, sometimes manifesting outrightly and sometimes insidiously, collectively create an environment where women feel like they don’t belong, like they aren’t valued, like the odds are set against them. Confidence falls, perseverance wanes, and careers die by a thousand cuts." Just so. I have experienced these phenomena myself, and some days I feel like I'm just too tired to continue to fight the good fight. Almost 40 years of this crap will wear a person down.

H/T Debbie the Librarian
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Cracked takes a stab at some offbeat reasons why city dwellers tend to be more liberal than their country cousins. Having lived in both a small town (for about a second - small town life does not agree with me, to no one's surprise) and a major city, this rings absolutely true to me.
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My favorite Christian Pastor asks "When did compassion become partisan politics?" For me, this strikes to the heart of the matter. I find the modern Republican platform to be so repulsive, so immoral, so sociopathic that it no longer surprises me when cries for compassion and kindness are seen as Democrat talking points. We have come to this sad state, and now can't find our way out of it.
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Shippie Jim Wright analyzes 45's news conference and comes to the conclusion that not only is 45 a pathological liar, the inside of his head resembles nothing so much as a bagful of cats. Won't someone in that Cabal of Blundering Numpties rein this guy in and act like a grownup?
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Pulitzer Prize winning Wall Street Journal journalist Bret Stephens on the dangers of underestimating 45's attacks on journalism, and the insidious problems inherent in allowing our culture to conflate "facts" with "opinions." "Shameless rhetoric will always find a receptive audience with shameless people." Katharine Graham, where are you now. 
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Still think there's gender parity in films? Think again. Even in films where a woman is the main character, men still have more dialog.
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Today's sources:
  • The Atlantic: Skews left but still a reputable source of in-depth news. 
  •  Cracked: A humor website that occasionally hits a home run on issues of the day.
  • Things That Need to be Said: The personal blog of Pastor John Pavlovitz
  • Stonekettle Station: The personal blog of writer Jim Wright
  • Time Magazine: Left-center bias with highly factual reporting. 
  • Polygraph: Explores complex topics with visual storytelling.

Link Me Up, Scotty - Scotty-Light Edition

Friday, February 17, 2017

Photos from the 2017 Westminster Dog Show. I do loves me some doggies, but I have to ask - why are these people still engaging in ear cropping and tail docking? It's more than a little barbaric.
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A writer decides to wear JNCO pants for seven days to see how people treated him and hilarity ensued. "Classical music and fancy clothes go together like peanut butter and jelly. Incidentally, classical music and JNCO jeans go together like peanut butter and anaphylactic shock."

H/T Elana
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The GOP is conducting a survey of its members to determine their attitude about the Mainstream Media. I'm now going to suggest a game by which the reader who identifies the most logical fallacies and rhetorical manipulation gets a prize. Bonus points for identifying the "Have you stopped beating your wife" questions.
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A little something to bolster your day. This single father is a foster parent, and only takes in children who are terminally ill. He considers it God's work, and I'm not in a position to gainsay him. Also, there's something in my eye.

H/T Brother Vince
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Do you need more of an incentive to become an organ donor? Read this story, and have your Kleenex on-hand.

H/T Brother Juan
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Refugees are now starting to enter Canada...from the United States. Tell me again how 45 and his White Nationalist Administration will "blow over" and isn't a danger to our Republic.
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Video of my Heart: A Daddy-Daughter Dance that fills me with love and laughter:



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Today's sources:
  • The Atlantic: Skews left but still a reputable source of in-depth news.
  • Vice: A left-center bias with mixed factual reporting. 
  • GOP: The official website of the Republican Party. 
  • Los Angeles Times: Left-center bias with highly factual reporting. 
  • WGN TV: Local Chicago news station with left-center bias and highly factual reporting.
  • Philadelphia Dance Center: A local dance studio located in Philadelphia, PA

Link Me Up, Scotty - Amazing Grace Edition

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

I now have both my Senators and my Representative on speed-dial, and my Firefox home pages include the contact page for each of those individuals, as well. I think that's called "settling in for the long haul."
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Yale University has decided to rename Calhoun College after my personal hero, RADM Grace Murray Hopper, USNR (Ret).
In selecting a new name for the college at the corner of College and Elm streets, Yale honors the life and legacy of Grace Murray Hopper. Hopper “was an exemplar of achievement in her field and service to her country,” said Salovey. “As we considered potential namesakes, the trustees and I benefited from hundreds of unique naming suggestions made by alumni, faculty, students, and staff who either advocated for a name change to this college or submitted ideas for the names of the two new residential colleges. This community input was indispensable: Hopper’s name was mentioned by more individuals than any other, reflecting the strong feeling within our community that her achievements and life of service reflect Yale’s mission and core values.”
There's something in my eye.
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The Atlantic's photo essay of the winners of the World Press Photo Contest. Chilling, inspiring, and heart-wrenching by turn, these photos provide views into the rest of the world.
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My favorite Christian Pastor on how grief can sneak up on you and punch you in the heart on even - or especially - the best of days. This happens to me a lot. When we're at trivia and our team is struggling to determine the answer and I know Moe would have known it. When people engage in activism for those who cannot speak for themselves. When I have something interesting, or funny, or inspiring to say. I expect this will never go away.
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In this opinion piece by John R. Schindler, he contends that the U.S. intelligence service is now withholding intelligence from the White House due to concerns about the administration's ties to the Kremlin, as well as a lack of confidence in the basic competency of the President. If this is true, it does not bode well for our nation's security over the next four years.
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From Brother Eric, a thoughtful look at how societies can crumble around us without anyone noticing, or least the majority not noticing.
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The 2017 Underwater Photographer of the Year winners.  Lovely.
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Oh, hey! It looks like 45 knew about Flynn's treasonous activities for weeks, and instead of acting, threw it under the rug and then subsequently fired the acting Attorney General who brought it to his attention (for supposedly non-related reasons). Oh, and he lied about it, too. But that sort of goes without saying these days.
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Speaking as someone who has been devastated by gaslighting, this is something that every American should think about:


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Today's sources:
  • Yale News: The official on-line publication for news about Yale University. 
  • The Atlantic: Skews left but still a reputable source of in-depth news. 
  • Stuff That Needs to be Said: The personal blog of Pastor John Pavlovitz
  • The Observer (NY): Specialty news magazine with minimal partisan bias. 
  • Standing on the Shoulders of Giant Midgets: The personal blog of attorney Eric VanNewkirk.  
  • WaPo: Mainstream media source with minimal partisan bias.

Link Me Up, Scotty - Valley of Death Edition

Monday, February 13, 2017

Shippie Jim Wright with his thoughts on the Yemen military operation and the hubris and cowardice of the Republican administration trying to stifle criticism of the operation. A "success," huh? The same way Benghazi was a "success?" Hypocritical motherfuckers.
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My semi-celebrity platonic boyfriend Eric Garland with an analysis of what the Super Bowl ads really meant, and why those of us who "persist" should take heart from their content.
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Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, has some sage advice for those of us who wish to persist. Caveat: Please ignore the speculative rhetoric on this link. I'm only including it because some readers don't have Facebook accounts, where the original content was posted on February 8th at 10:58 a.m..

NOTE: As recommended by Ms. King, I will henceforth refer to our current President as "45," and will also do more to call out his entire administration, all of whom are as culpable as 45.
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Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT) suggested that a woman senator, quoting a woman civil rights leader, should stop talking because she insulted another woman's husband. I'm speechless. I can't think of a single thing to say about such mind-boggling paternalism and misogyny. This is the kind of nonsense that makes liberals believe Mormons are permanently stuck in the 1950s and want the rest of us to join them there.
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Remember back when the LGBTQ community and their allies boycotted Barrilla because their CEO presented himself as a bigoted turd-pop? Well, they're not only walked their bigotry back, they now score 100 on the HRC's equality index, and they're a true ally to the community. It heartens me when people change their direction after taking the time to learn about the target of their bigotry.
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Greg Sargent of the Washington Post with an opinion piece about a working blueprint to oppose 45. Since I'm practically a daily correspondent with my own Invisible Republican Senator (the cowardly Cory Gardner), I like the idea of continuing to put pressure on Republicans to hold their President in check. It pays to remind them, again and again and again, that their oath is not to party, but to the Constitution, and their obligation is to us. 
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As if we didn't need something else to roll our eyes about, the ACLU has issued a report about the junk science, disingenuous manipulation of Congress, and racist policies of the TSA. That's $1.7B wasted on confirmation bias and territorial dick-wagging under the guise of “Behavior Detection and Analysis.” Tell me again how the TSA makes flying safer. I'm waiting for your data-based answer.
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Professional historian and fellow UCFer David on the dangers of nativism and how very un-American it is to those of us who actually, you know, read.
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Ten illustrations that all dog lovers will understand. The rule here at the Big Brown House is #4.
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My favorite Christian Pastor speaks about why the Resistance is important, and why its nature is inclusive rather than exclusive. Just so.
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The Atlantic with a photo essay of the North Philly Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club. This makes me furiously happy.
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Let's end a good note, shall we? Here's a photograph of Pike's Peak as seen from Castlewood Canyon State Park Lake Gulch Trail, taken Saturday, February 11, 2016 by yours truly:



Today's sources:
  • Stonekettle Station: The personal blog of writer Jim Wright. 
  • Eric Garland: The personal website of futurist Eric Garland, Executive Director of Competitive Futures
  • Bipartisan Report: A strong left bias with mixed factual reporting. 
  • Vox: A strong left bias with highly factual reporting. 
  • LGBTQ Nation: A left bias with highly factual reporting. 
  • WaPo: Mainstream media source with minimal partisan bias.
  • American Civil Liberties Union: A non-profit organization dedicated to working in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.
  • 4 Quarters, 10 Dimes: The personal blog of David, an academic historian who does not use his last name on-line.  
  • Bored Panda: Crowd-sourced website focusing on art and culture.
  • Stuff That Needs to be Said: The personal blog of Pastor John Pavlovitz.
  • The Atlantic: Skews left but still a reputable source of in-depth news. 

Link Me Up, Scotty - Abuse of Power Edition

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tell me again how law enforcement employees would NEVER engage in abuse of power. No, really - I'm listening.
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Crap on a cracker. Our President, only three weeks into the job, has managed to behave in such a fashion that a German newspaper has run an editorial about how Europe must defend itself against a dangerous U.S. President.
"It is literally painful to write this sentence, but the president of the United States is a pathological liar. The president of the U.S. is a racist (it also hurts to write this). He is attempting a coup from the top; he wants to establish an illiberal democracy, or worse; he wants to undermine the balance of power. He fired an acting attorney general who held a differing opinion from his own and accused her of "betrayal." This is the vocabulary used by Nero, the emperor and destroyer of Rome. It is the way tyrants think."
Isn't one of the President's main jobs foreign relations? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?
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Librarians step into the breach to help educate students about what constitutes "fake news" and what doesn't. Rock on, my brothers and sisters.
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Sharon Weeks talks about what young women may not know in an opinion piece. Hm, yes. I have noticed a trend among conservative women to sound like anti-suffragettes when it comes to issues facing women today, including pretty vociferous criticisms of women activists. I blame not only the complacency talked about in this article, but ignorance of the history of social justice.
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From the "ZOMGWTFBBQ could you be any dumber" file: After being pulled over by the Dearborn police, two braintrusts who describe themselves as open carry advocates decided to enter the local police station to make a complaint about the stop. In order to make some sort of point, Tweedledum and Tweedledumber came in carrying/wearing the following gear: a loaded AP-14 firearm, a rifle magazine containing 47 rounds, a loaded Glock 19 handgun with four additional magazines containing 66 rounds, body armor and ballistic vests, a ski mask, a gun belt, several pieces of camera equipment, an AR-15 rifle and an AK-47 style rifle. Of course the police were less than amused by this turn of events, and between them, the dumbasses were charged with breaching the peace, failure to cooperate with police, masking his identity by obscuring his face in the station, and obstructing police. Even the local open carry advocacy group has distanced themselves from these bozos, and who can blame them? This is the kind of crap that gives gun enthusiasts a bad rap among liberals.  They're lucky the police didn't kill them on the spot.
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An Op-Ed from a Professor of Government asking some very pertinent - and uncomfortable - questions about our duty and responsibility when an authority figure directs us to do something immoral or even evil. These are the things that we must think about now. Not when they come up, but now. Examining our moral boundaries without having to do so under pressure is incredibly important and worthwhile.
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My bought and paid for Republican Senator, Cory Gardner, is scared of facing his constituents. Since he decided to vote "yes" on all of the President's cabinet picks regardless of their qualifications and experience, it's possible he has good reason to be. This is a light blue state, after all, in spite of this weasel's personal opinions. Or perhaps it's because if he holds an in-person Town Hall, he'll lose his ridiculous cover story of non-Coloradans being the ones who have flooded his office and e:mail with their opinions. Either way, I'll see him November, 2020. With bells on.

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From the "Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire" file:

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Today's sources:
  • Popehat: A group blog about whatever its authors want. Often its authors want to talk about free speech, liberty, criminal justice, the legal system and its foibles, and related issues. But Popehat isn't a law blog, and what is published there isn't legal advice. They also like to talk about games and what you might call geek culture.
  • Spiegal Online International: Award winning German weekly news magazine with a distinctive reputation for revealing political misconduct and scandals.
  • Seattle Times: Highly factual mainstream media source with a left center bias. 
  • Eau-Clare Leader-Telegram: Local mainstream media source with minimal political bias. 
  • WaPo: Mainstream media source with minimal partisan bias.
  • The Baltimore Sun: Local mainstream media source with a left center bias. 
  • @realDonaldTrump: The childish, sociopathic rantings of our current President, whose acquaintance with the truth is casual at best. 
  • The Denver Post: Highly factual mainstream media source with minimal political bias. 

Link Me Up, Scotty - Pick Your Battles Edition

Monday, February 6, 2017

Outside the Beltway's Doug Mataconis with analysis and opinion on the Democrat's strategy during Judge Neil Gorsuch's confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court. I don't have an opinion on Judge Gorsuch as yet, since I know next to nothing about his record. Of course I would prefer a liberal judge, but early opinions indicate that he's at least principled, which is more than can be said for the President's Cabal of Racist, Blundering Numpties.
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Mapsburgh, a geography professor and artist, compares our current President with Sauron. And finds our President wanting.
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Owls, like most raptors, are the bomb.
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This is why you should discuss your end of life decisions with those who care for you. Discuss early and often.

H/T Steve
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This "Americans at Work" series from The Atlantic features veterans returning to the civilian workforce.
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Our President continues in his role as a Pootie Apologist. Just when you thought this guy couldn't get any more un-American.
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Trump supporters in Portland, Maine came out on Saturday to show their massive support for the President's Executive Order regarding immigration and refugees.
"I'm just kind of letting you know there's another side to the story," said Trump supporter Doug Prevost. "Letting people know [Trump] has an awful lot of backers behind him."
Apparently in Portland, Maine, the number "eight" constitutes "an awful lot of backers." The result of common core curriculum, perhaps.

H/T Brother Nathan
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There is some good news: Resistance against the Trump administration works. The key will be keeping the pressure up over the long haul, and remaining vigilant in the face of such unabashed asshattery.
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From the Incompetence Files: The President and his new administration are so clueless they can't even figure out how the lights work or where the exits are in the White House. Also: The President "retires" at 6:30 p.m. to hang out, yo, and watch the tube. I had heard rumors that he "hard work" was not one of his virtues, but seriously?
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Today's sources:
  • Outside the Beltway: An online journal of politics and foreign affairs analysis written by a highly educated and ridiculously qualified staff. 
  • Mapsburgh: Personal Tumbler of Mapsburgh, a geography professor and artist. 
  • The Atlantic: Skews left but still a reliable source of in-depth news.
  • NPR: Mainstream media source with minimal partisan bias. 
  • WGME: Mainstream local news station in the state of Maine with minimal partisan bias. 
  • Vox: Skiews left but still a reliable source of in-depth news.
  • NYT: Mainstream media source with minimal partisan bias.