Hotpants and Hijab

I had a serious, thoughtful post planned for tonight. It was mostly written when my wife showed up at home with a few bottles of wine and our friend Kristin. Now, though, after a few glasses of said wine, and a lot of laughing around the kitchen table, I’ve decided to give you something completely different. This is something that I came up with just a few minutes ago, after finishing the aforementioned bottles of wine. This is my most recent idea for a buddy cop TV series. The show is called “Hotpants and Hijab,” and I’m convinced that it’s just what post-Trump America needs.

I’m not sure why it is, but, when I drink wine, I tend to think a lot about buddy cop shows involving female officers from very different backgrounds. The last time I went public with one of these ideas of mine was back in 2004, when my one-day-a-year band, the Monkey Power Trio, recored a song that I’d written called When Fuzzy Met Jenkins, which was about two women meeting at the police academy bak in 1973, and going on to fight crime as partners. [Jenkins was fresh off the boat from England, and Fuzzy was a product of the San Francisco streets.] Tonight, I’m thinking about a show called Hotpants and Hijab, about an unlikely pairing of female officers in turn-of-the-century Detroit. Hotpants is young and brash. She’s got a problem with authority, and a fondness for wisecracks and roller disco. And Hijab is a devout Muslim who joined the force after 9/11 to both confront racist stereotypes and help bust-up international terrorist networks. At first they aren’t so happy about being paired together… but it works! They’re an awesome crime-fighting team, and the people of Detroit can’t get enough… of Hotpants and Hijab.

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Have the Republicans, in an attempt to keep a Democratic former CIA operative from Congress, released her private security clearance application to the press?

Back in 2014, with the rabid support of the Tea Party and far-right talkshow hosts like Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, and Ann Coulter, Dave Brat, an econ professor at Randolph–Macon College with an Ayn Rand fetish and a talent for riling up crowds of angry voters, somehow managed to win the Republican primary for Virginia’s 7th congressional district, beating out the incumbent, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, which, for those of you who may not recall, was one of the most stunning congressional upsets in United States history… Prior to Brat’s victory over Cantor in the Republican primary, a sitting House Majority Leader had never been unseated, which really demonstrates just how powerful the Tea Party’s anti-establishment message (funded by anti-government billionaires like the Koch brothers) had become by 2014. [The position of House Majority Leader was created in 1899, so Brat was the first person in 115 years to do what he had done.]

So, with all of that said, it’s kind of interesting that, just four years later, this historically solid Republican seat now seems to be in play, with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report just recently calling the race between Brat and his 2016 Democratic challenger a “toss-up.” [A Democrat hasn’t held the seat in 47 years.]

And, as you might expect, the Republicans are pulling out all the stops in order to defeat Brat’s Democratic challenger, Abigail Spanberger, a mother, Girl Scout leader, and former CIA officer. In fact, it seems as though, in hopes of hurting Spanberger’s chances, someone at a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan may have just committed a federal crime by sharing the candidate’s federal security clearance application with the press… The following comes by way of the New York Times.

…Abigail Spanberger, the Democratic candidate challenging Representative Dave Brat of Virginia, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Corry Bliss, the executive director of the Congressional Leadership Fund, which has raised more than $100 million to help Republicans in the midterm elections. She demanded that the super PAC destroy all copies of the form and agree to not use the information in any fashion.

“I write as a former civil servant and as an American, in shock and anger, that you have tried to exploit my service to our country by exposing my most personal information in the name of politics,” she wrote.

The super PAC released a statement on Tuesday strongly denying Ms. Spanberger’s charge, saying that the document was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request filed with the United States Postal Service by America Rising, a separate Republican-aligned research firm.

…Ms. Spanberger, 39, said in the letter that she had “clear evidence” that the Congressional Leadership Fund had provided a copy of her security clearance application to “at least one news outlet,” adding, “I am not aware of any legal way that C.L.F. could have this document.” In an interview, she said that she suspected that the group was trying to exploit a brief time when she taught at a private Islamic school funded by Saudi Arabia.

The super PAC validated that suspicion in its response, going on at some length to try to link the school — called “Terror High” in an earlier news article — to terrorist activity.

The application was one of two that she completed for government positions, for a law enforcement job at the Postal Service and for her position with the Central Intelligence Agency.

At a political event this month, Ms. Spanberger said she was approached by a reporter for The Associated Press, who showed her a copy of the security form and said the leadership fund had provided the document on a background basis, meaning that the source would typically not be named. The reporter pulled up a copy of the form on his email, and Ms. Spanberger said she was “100 percent” certain it was hers.

The forms ask for detailed personal information about work and health and also include vital data like a Social Security number.

“I am proud of my background and my service, and not ashamed of the information I submitted,” she said. “I have nothing to hide in my background. But, as any American in a similar situation would be, I am concerned about my privacy and security.”..

OK… a few things… First, how shitty was the “Terror High” administrator who chose to hire someone who had already been offered a job by the CIA? [As I read her timeline, Spanberger, a whiz at foreign languages since childhood, was offered a job with the CIA in 2002, but didn’t actually join until 2006, having spent some of the time in between teaching at the private, Suadi-funded Muslim school noted above.] Second, do conservatives really have a problem with white, non-Muslims teaching at Muslim schools? [It seems to me that they’d be all for it, but I guess they believe that only the strictest of Muslims from Saudi Arabia should be allowed on the grounds of American Muslim schools.] And, third, if someone did really release her security clearance application in order to get it to the press that she once worked at the Islamic Saudi Academy, then that’s a big fucking deal, and someone should be going to jail.

[note: As a former CIA officer, Spanberger can’t talk about the work that she did for the intelligence agency, so I imagine we may never know the answer, but one imagines it’s possible that her stint at the Islamic Saudi Academy may have actually been connected to her work for the spy agency. At least, it seems possible to me, given what I’ve read about our efforts in the wake of 9/11 to keep tabs on Saudis within the United States.]

By way of background, you should know that, when people start working within the intelligence community, it’s required that they disclose anything and everything about their personal life that could one day be used against them by a foreign government looking for leverage over them. And it’s expected that you will come clean about everything — affairs, debt, bad habits, you name it — with the understanding being that this disclosure is not only necessary to our national security, but private and secure. And, if Spanberger is telling the truth about having been handed a copy of her highly sensitive security clearance application by an Associated Press reporter, then there’s been a serious breach… and one that could significantly impact the effectiveness of the agency and its ability to recruit qualified agents. [Have other security clearance applications been stolen from U.S. intelligence agencies?]

Here, with more on this, is a clip from the Twitter account of former National Security Agency (NSA) analyst John Schindler, who has been rallying the intelligence community to address this apparent breach.

[note: HoIS is “Hostile Intelligence Service.]

For what it’s worth, the folks at the Congressional Leadership Fund are attributing all of this to Spanberger, an experienced CIA agent, not knowing the difference between a security clearance application and something that might be FIOA-able, like a job application.

As for what’s really happening here, I have no way of knowing. I do think, however, given how desperately the Republicans want to hold on to the House, and the fact that we’ve seen them target female intelligence officers in similar ways in the past, that it’s very possible that someone made the decision to politicize domestic intelligence with the intention of firing up the racist base of the Republican Party against her. And that’s pretty fucking disgusting, no matter how you look at it.

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I wish John McCain had stuck around long enough to see Donald Trump brought to justice

Every living American president, with the exception of Donald Trump, has issued a formal statement on the passing of Senator John McCain. According to reporting out of the White House today, Trump’s communications staff had drafted a statement, but the President, objecting to their choice to refer to McCain as “a hero,” rejected it, opting to instead just tweet our condolences to his family. Mark Corallo, a longtime Republican strategist and former spokesman for Trump’s legal team, called the break with precedent “atrocious.” But this is the world that we live in.

[Shortly after tweeting his brief acknowledgment of McCain’s passing, Donald Trump then went on social media a rampage, posting about his many successes, and how popular he is, clearly angered by the positive media coverage of John McCain’s accomplishments as a statesman, and the multiple mentions of how McCain had requested Obama to speak at his funeral. “Mainstream media tries to rewrite history to credit Obama for Trump accomplishments,” he said in one. “Over 90% approval rating for your all time favorite (I hope) President within the Republican Party and 52% overall,” he said in another, apparently proud of the fact that he has 48% disproval rating.]

To be fair, Trump, who once attacked McCain for, of all things, being captured during wartime, could have said worse about the Senator. Oleg Morozov, a member of the Russian parliament, issued a formal statement about McCain’s death, saying, “The enemy died.” [It’s funny the extent to which Trump is always in lockstep with the Russians, isn’t it?]

For what it’s worth, I don’t put McCain on a pedestal. While it’s true that he cast the deciding vote to save the Affordable Care Act and defended Barack Obama from the attacks of racists and conspiracy theorists, he also unleashed Sarah “I read all of them” Palin upon the American political landscape, naming her as his running mate back in 2008, and thereby opening the Pandora’s box of idiocracy that would give us the Tea Party, Donald Trump and QAnon. But, yes, he did have the courage to stand up to Trumpism, and he should be praised for that. He could have given into the dark side, like every other Republican who chose to remain in Congress, but he chose to fight it instead, and he’ll be missed for that… I just wish that he could have hung around long enough to see Donald Trump and the other Russian cutouts in our government like Rand Paul brought to justice.

Here’s hoping that, when McCain passed, some of his courage migrated over to the likes of Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and Bob Corker, who, while constantly making statements about how troubled they are by Donald Trump and the direction of the GOP, seem to be unaware that, as U.S. Senators, they’re in a position to stop it.

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I hate that, in the America of Donald Trump, trolling the left has become a legitimate career path

I want desperately to put on some comically large fake glasses, tuck all my hair up into a baseball cap, and drive the three hours to Kent State, just so I can get on Twitter and post, “Today I went undercover at Kent State to ask students what they thought about Mark Maynard, the Hot Channels boy of Ypsilanti.”

“What if I were to tell you that I am Mark Maynard,” I’d say to the bewildered students of Kent State while dramatically taking off my large, black glasses with a flourish, “the boy from Ypsilanti who, just a few days ago, went public with his intention to track down the Mark III virtual reality console from the 1973 adult feature Hot Channels?”

Now, if one of you could just find a baseball cap with some flowers on it, a pair of Iris Apfel’s glasses, and enough gas money to get me there and back with a small film crew.

I’m sorry. I know I should be posting about nonsense like this, but I couldn’t help myself.

While I detest any number of people, I have a particular dislike for this young women, who, in hopes of making a name for herself among far right agitators, took an assault weapon on the campus of Kent State, where, on May 4, 1970, four college students, engaged in a peaceful protest, were gunned down by members of the National Guard. I know I should just ignore her, as she’s only doing this for attention, but the fact that she continues to milk this ridiculous little stunt of hers, really rubs me the wrong way. I hate that, in the America of Donald Trump, trolling the left has become a legitimate career path for the young and soulless.

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Horses that owe me money!

At some point during the 1952 thriller Sudden Fear, Joan Crawford breaks into the apartment of her husband’s lover with the intention of stealing both a gun, and a sample of the woman’s handwriting. While I’ve watched the scene a number of times, it hadn’t occurred to me until last night to actually slow the film down and read the resting sample that Crawford takes from the desk of the woman, played brilliantly by Gloria Grahame, the actress probably best known for her portrayal of Violet Bick in It’s a Wonderful Life. So, with that said, here’s the note taking by Crawford, which I find kind of fascinating, as it gives a glimpse into how director David Miller, at least on some subliminal level, wants us to see this woman played by Grahame… as the kind of slightly unhinged grifter who might keep a list of race horses that had done her wrong. It’s a tiny thing, but, on this rainy Saturday morning, as I lay here in bed trying to ignore Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, it seemed like something worth mentioning. And it makes me also think that maybe there’s a book in it… an exploration of the tiny, almost imperceptible ways in which directors attempt to convey the personalities of their characters in split second shots.

If you’ve never seen Sudden Fear, and if you can get beyond the spoiler of knowing that Crawford’s husband in the film, played by the exceptionally creepy Jack Palance, has an affair with a murderous young blonde with a grudge against certain horses, I’d encourage you to set aside a few hours and watch it. Today’s the perfect rainy day for it. And it would make an incredible double feature with Mildred Pierce, if you’re up for it. [You can find both films available for rent on Amazon: Sudden Fear, Mildred Pierce.]

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