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Belle Waring

So, this rich pedophile/trafficker in the rape of minors guy killed himself in what is ambiguously federal-run, NY-local jail. One imagines he did this to avoid the agony of his revolting crimes being discussed in court, inability to conceive 45 years in prison, the real kind where you don’t get to check out for half the day, and a craven fear of facing the victims of his innumerable rapes (said by a number of credible sources to amount to three a day.) Now, it’s true that Trump has accused a president of being responsible, and that by strict and iron rules of the Republican law “it’s always projection,” he himself is guilty. And it’s also true that he or some flunkie in the federal justice system (cough Barr) are the only people capable of kicking Epstein out of suicide watch just eleven days after a suicide attempt.

Epstein had so many contacts with so many powerful or influential or intellectually prestigious people (like, just so, so randomly, Murray Gell-Mann) that’s it’s very tempting to imagine someone must have taken him out. BUT, we have to consider how much this jail sucks, and how little the guards give a crap about anyone, and how particularly they probably don’t give a crap about child molesters. They didn’t follow even their own lame procedures, taking him off suicide watch after only eleven days, placing him in a cell without a fellow inmate (who is meant in part to warn guards and in part to talk the other inmate out of being depressed (?)), and failing to check on him every 30 minutes as required. These places are notoriously under-staffed, in addition to which there are almost twice as many inmates in the facility than what it was built for.

I have a friend who’s been under both failure mode direct observation and well-run direct observation. For…reasons, but she’s fine now. In failure mode D.O. they just look in on you from time to time, let’s say half-hourly, having made sure at the beginning that there’s nothing in your room that you can ever hurt yourself with, but actually failing on this front because you can hurt yourself on the very construction of the room/shower/sheets etc. Successful D.O. is when they watch you literally every second, and if you so much as glance at a paper clip they are on your ass like white on rice. You can’t go to the bathroom by yourself. It’s so draining that they do it in four-hour shifts, around the clock. You know what that must be? Expensive. So expensive. You could do it somewhat more cheaply with panoptical clear cells, and by deputizing other inmates as guarded guards.

Inmates on suicide watch are generally placed in a special observation cell, surrounded with windows, with a bolted down bed and no bedclothes, the official said. A correction officer — or sometimes a fellow inmate trained to be a “suicide companion” — is typically assigned to sit in an adjacent office and monitor the inmate constantly.

Robert Gangi, an expert on prisons and the former executive director of the Correctional Association of New York, said guards also generally take shoelaces and belts away from people on suicide watch. “It’s virtually impossible to kill yourself,” Mr. Gangi said.

Was this too expensive? Did he get crowded out? Were there not enough guards to run the suicide watch centre? Were the officers just sick of him whining about his private island full of child rape victims? I guess we’ll find out, but the answer is going to be some combination of the previous and some further, mundane poorly-run federal jail problem that hasn’t occurred to me. Or, I mean, I guess it could be some high-up in the DOJ had him taken off suicide watch and then murdered! But, you know, almost certainly not. Now what’s necessary is to give his accusers something equivalent to the day in court they have been cheated of, with the most thorough investigation of all time, of his finances, contacts, records, co-conspirators, Alan Dershowitz, and who all else ever went to those fancy parties. Like every other Democrat I’ve ever met, I don’t care what side of the aisle anybody is from. Let justice rain down like waters. Alternately, burn it all down.

[Belle, why not mention the former president in question by name? Google search trending fans the flame of conspiracy theories even when the intention is to debunk them.]

UPDATE: sure, convince me of your conspiracy theory. I am not entirely unpersuadable on this front.

Right, Absolutely Not.

by Belle Waring on August 2, 2019

What would the world be like if women were unable to withdraw consent with regard to sex? You would be living in North Carolina, is what. Now, as an aside, I would totally live in North Carolina (please don’t tell my dad I would live in the wrong Carolina.) It’s lovely. But boy howdy does it have some terrifying rape laws and legal precedent. I mean, would I let my daughters live there?

Some cases are more difficult than others, especially if the initial act began with consent.

In 1979 the Supreme Court of North Carolina that once a sex act begins, a woman cannot withdraw her consent.

The court wrote that: “if the actual penetration is accomplished with the woman’s consent, the accused was not guilty of rape, though he may be guilty of another crime because of his subsequent actions.”

DA Welch called this a “troubling precedent.”

“I feel like you should be able to withdraw consent at any time,” Welch said. “If you have consented to one act, to me it doesn’t mean that act can keep going as long as necessary.”

“However, again it comes back to juries and how they view consent.”

“You will see someone who is consenting to a particular act, and all of a sudden it gets rougher than what they bargained for, or they change their mind, and we’re stuck,” Welch said. “If it goes from one act to another I don’t feel that that law apples, but you still have to deal with that issue in front of a jury, and that’s going to be very hard to convict.”

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What Are You Listening to This Week?

by Belle Waring on August 1, 2019

This will hopefully be less contentious than my two previous posts, unless someone loathes and abominates Sure Sure for some reason. But why would they, Sure Sure is great! I listened to this song on repeat on a four mile walk today up hill and down dale in lovely West Virginia.

Vampire Weekend, still having it all going on! Actual video as well. (You should read the lyrics because they are a little bit incomprehensible.)

Yeah, Sorta.

by Belle Waring on July 29, 2019

This article is posted on Slate but is not, in fact, #slatepitchy, but rather, informative! NY recently passed a law banning revenge porn. Which is great! But it has a flaw. A loophole so big you could take the trouble of dynamiting a tunnel below some Alpine pass and then float a loaded container ship through it on a shallow, glassine stream. Because, you see, if the person non-consensually uploading pornography has the “intent to cause harm to the emotional, financial or physical welfare of another person,” then it’s a crime, and the victim can bring suit on the grounds that the perpetrator shared images of her “with the purpose of harassing, alarming, or annoying” her. But…

…[U]nfortunately, most cases of nonconsensual sharing of sexual images wouldn’t necessarily fall into the category of harassment, nor does the individual distributing the photos always want to cause some kind of distress to the person depicted.
Take the case of the 30,000-member Facebook group Marines United, which was outed in 2017 for hosting hundreds, potentially thousands, of explicit photos of female Marines and veteran service members without their consent. The creators and users of that group likely weren’t sharing images of unclothed female Marines in order to harm them [?]. They were sharing the photos for their own entertainment. The group’s members probably didn’t even want the women to know their photos had been posted in the group. Under the New York law, those women wouldn’t have much recourse. According to a 2017 study conducted by the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a nonprofit that works on policy and helps victims of nonconsensual pornography, 80 percent of people who share private and sexual images of someone without consent aren’t trying to harm anyone….

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No.

by Belle Waring on July 22, 2019

So this article (Autistic Sex Offenders Often Don’t Realize They’ve Broken The Law. Should That Matter?) was on the front page of Slate yesterday, and I thought, “this is so Slatepitchy that I should blog about it! Tomorrow though, because the Investigation and Discovery channel has it’s 4,000th show in a row about some brutal murder in Indiana, which I must watch, and also my mania requires me to clean the side of the stove that’s 1/2” away from the kitchen counter, by forcing paper towel soaked in bleach spray down there with a boning knife and really leaning into it, and also I’m fundamentally a failure as a human being and can’t accomplish the most trivial of tasks.” (To be scrupulously fair, when I was nearing the end of the stove thing I said to myself, “self? Self old buddy old pal old frienderoo? Maybe just put the knife down and back away, because by the pricking of my thumbs, you’re going to be going at something with Q-tips any time now, and it’s already midnight.” (Ironically, this would have been good advice for the murderer as well.) “Also, if you’re so obsessive about these things, why isn’t the house cleaner generally? Could it be that you’re a failure as a human being?” And then I went to sleep lmao I had insomnia.

However, comma, I’m blogging about it now, better late than never, my life is a long series tasks before which I quail in needless fear as if they were copperheads looking at me with their glittering eyes, etc. This article has passed beyond #slatepitch to genuinely disturbing. And this is the reason that they took it off the front page altogether, and it can now only be found using google. [Update: I clicked on an article and this appeared in the sidebar. It was definitely not on the front page this morning.] The premise is that autistic people should get preferential treatment when they commit sex offenses such as stalking or possessing child pornography, because they don’t really know what they are doing. It’s as insulting to autistic people, really, as it is to common sense and basic morality.
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My Mind’s Playing Tricks on Me

by Belle Waring on June 11, 2019

The Geto Boys Bushwick Bill died Sunday night of pancreatic cancer at 52. The Geto Boys were a band I didn’t much listen to when they were at their peak, although my brother was a huge fan. I was turned off by their misogynistic lyrics, which were extreme. My bro finally convinced me of how awesome they were, easing me into it with “My Mind’s Playing tricks on Me,” their best-known song. I just learned that their iconic cover for “We Can’t Be Stopped” was shot for real in the hospital when Bushwick Bill had been shot in the eye, declared dead, and then hyped up to shoot the cover. Which is insane. As a group they are kind of just nuts, honestly, but in an amazing way—and I would say this craziness helped them introduce the craziness of Southern hip-hop to the world. Not to say the South itself is crazy, ha ha fooled you, it is. My beautiful home state of South Carolina is almost incomprehensibly, baroquely crazy. When there’s one copperhead in the yard, you have to not only shoot it but wait around to shoot the other one, because they’re like Sith Lords and there’s always two of them, and they might bite one of the several pit-bull mix mutts you definitely have! Having to shoot a shark you caught off the edge of the boat because you don’t want a shark thrashing around in the bottom of the boat, and it’s a good thing you had a handgun on your damn boat! Actual voodoo! Anyhoo.

And the song from which the chorus is sampled is also awesome (strangely quiet at link liked bootlegged uploads often are, but correct speed:

Uses and Abuses of Tarps

by Belle Waring on May 31, 2019

It took me so long to find this quote. I remembered that it was Solovki, yes! And that Maxim Gorky was the visitor! And the tortures with the logs, and being staked out for the mosquitoes, and rolling the prisoners down the stairs, and the brave boy who told all, all! to Gorky and was left behind to be shot the moment Gorky’s ship left the horizon empty and barren! And the tarps. But could I find the quote? I damn sure could not. I was in the position of Edward Gorey’s Mr. Earbrass who starts up in the night having thought of the perfect lines for an epigraph: “His mind’s eye sees them quoted on the bottom third of a right-hand page in a (possibly) olive-bound book he read at least five years ago. When he does find them, it will be a great nuisance if no clue is given to their authorship.”

I had to read before and after many instances of the mention of Gorky I will tell you what. But virtue prevailed! The Solovetsky Archipelago is almost certainly what the name of the Gulag Archipelago comes from, as Solzhenitsyn considered it the mother of the Gulag, and the primary site before the cancer metastasized. The Soviets, eager to show that the camps are actually rather nice if you think about it sent Maxim Gorky to investigate. He was newly-returned to the Soviet Union and probably disinclined to rock the boat which currently supplied him with some vast apartment and a dacha (irrelevantly, haven’t we all sort of wanted a dacha? They sound great. Perhaps Trump will get one eventually.)

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I’ll Find You Ronnie

by Belle Waring on May 27, 2019

Roar has a concept EP about Phil Spector imprisoning his Ronnie Spector (formerly of the Ronettes) in their mansion, surrounded by barbed wire fences and guard dogs. It is the greatest thing to happen to me in months. Actually though. My younger daughter recommended it to me strongly, but I didn’t listen to it right away. More fool me, because that was like a week and a half I wasn’t listening to it on repeat, and I’ll never get those days back. It’s creepy and beautiful and combines wall of sound type sections with terrifyingly beautiful rock I don’t totally know how to characterize. I got to tell her in turn that she would like Apples in Stereo, which she does due to certain transitive properties of liking music. (They were in a loose group of bands including Neutral Milk Hotel, so you know they are good.) There is only one thing for which Roar should be criminally prosecuted, and that is that both the songs and the EP itself are too goddamn short. My second favorite song, Duck or Ape, is 1:39! It’s verse chorus verse chorus achingly beautiful bridge to nowhere that’s two. Lines. Long. I feel that 2:59 (with some wiggle room) is the perfect length for a song, accepting that Sufjan Stevens can make me cry for 6:25 or Joanna Newsom can write songs about the tragic outcome of interstellar battles and I’m cool with that. (More on the 2:59 anon.)

“Christmas Kids” is about that time Phil Spector got ahold of a pair of twins and brought the children to Ronnie as a Christmas present. Surprise! Actual human beings as a gift! Bet you wonder where I got them! The children (they adopted one more) came out much later to say that they were imprisoned also and at times kept in cages. Ronnie broke free, barefoot, with the help of her mom. She gave up all future music earnings because she was so terrified he would kill her after she escaped as he had always threatened. Phil Spector didn’t go to jail on the back of any of this? He had to murder someone first? I agree that he’s a towering genius of production and song writing, but uh…how exculpatory is that really? I’m sure Ronnie and the children will feel better if they forgive him.

Strangely quiet but normal speed: Christmas Kids

Last two lines, why you got to pierce my heart like that and then leave me to press repeat until my thirst is slaked? Duck or Ape

Forgiveness

by Belle Waring on May 24, 2019

Everyone always says that forgiveness a worthwhile life strategy, and is for you, not for the other person who wronged you. This seems obviously true in some cases—in principle if you are nursing a rather trivial grudge which is bothering you, it would be better to let it go. In severe cases there is evidence that anger or misery can dampen your immune system, shave years off your life, give you heart disease, etc. The NYT has recently advocated both the somewhat paradoxical advice to hold on to grudges under certain circumstances, and the more traditional suggestion to let go of them. (At the former link there is a kind of fun quiz you can take to see how serious the grudge is, and whether you should allow yourself the petty pleasure of nursing it. Also, it’s clearly meant to apply to that girl in fourth grade who said that you used crayons and colored pencils on your poster of the solar system, and it didn’t match, and she didn’t want to sit with you at lunch for three days.) The latter is the advice most often given by psychologists and 12-step programs and self-help books.

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Wishing Is Free

by Belle Waring on May 8, 2019

As has been established. So, I am curious about you and your mode of daydreaming. There is a type which, according to Wikipedia, eats up 47% of your time but consists only of rehearsal for future tasks, mild mind wandering away from the book you’re reading, turning over creative puzzles while doing repetitive tasks, staving off boredom but with short non-recurring fantasies, or generally spacing out. In one of the studies referenced, workers like truckers who face extensive expanses of boredom used daydreaming to mitigate this, with only 5% of the fantasies having sexual content and few being violent. There are some very credulous researchers out there, was my main takeaway from that study.

No, but do you create and maintain elaborate fictional worlds which you keep for months or years at a time? I feel like this is a very normal thing to do but it’s unclear to me how common it is. Recently people have decided that this form of extensive world-building is either evidence of or in itself a form of mental illness, dubbed maladaptive daydreaming. It’s alleged to be linked to depression, OCD and childhood trauma. Moving swiftly on, whether the creation of intricate internal universes is maladaptive or not seems surely to vary according to how dependent the person is on daydreaming, whether it’s interfering with their life somehow, if they are being made unhappy by it, etc. And I’m not sure why it would ever be making you unhappy since you can just change whatever it is that’s troubling you. I mean, people can’t torture you in your fantasy world—unless you happen to want to be tortured, in which case, wish away!
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How Many Times, Sweethearts?

by Belle Waring on August 21, 2018

Like most people (I think?), if I’m listening to an album with a song I dearly love I will hit the back icon on my phone screen and just listen to that joint again. And again. And then, additionally, again. I’m not sure what the limit has ever been. I mentioned this already about the Rolling Stones “Worried About You.” I have listened to it about 12 times this morning, and it’s just starting again. I’m trying to think what other songs demand extravagant repetition. I once made a mix tape to listen to on my long commute to high school that had Van Morrison’s “Madam George” twice in a row at the start, so I only had to go back once, but with the distinctive sound of the rewind clattering softly for such a long time.

Big Star is a little tough because there are so many songs. “Stroke It Noel” is the my one truest, though. I was both in love and depressed when I listened to it first, which may explain my obsessive fondness. When I learned about Big Star (which was in my first year of graduate school, meaning I wasted actual years of my life not listening to Big Star) I had the LP, so I had to sit by the turntable and pick up the needle and move it back again and again. I’m damn good at having the needle slowly settle down into the tiny groove of silent space. I know I’ve told you this, but maybe not all of you. I had the funny experience of going home to my dad’s and playing Big Star and having him say, “is that Alex Chilton?” I said yes, and his response was “I know that guy. I think he’s in Tennessee.” Me, breathless, “could you, like, call him up?” “Yeah, I could get his number from [my godfather.]” Me: soul swiftly leaving body “then—” “I wouldn’t, though, I hate that guy. He’s an asshole.” DAD WHY?! So, that.

Let me think of some other repeats. Mmmm…Sam Cooke “Cupid” live—so piercing and sweet. Teenage Fanclub “December.” I’ll post later about how ideally songs like this are 2:59 or less, because that’s just the perfect length, but also because it’s memorialized in The Clash’s “Hitsville UK: “the band came in and knocked them dead/in two minutes fifty-nine.” However I need the desktop and John is like, doing real work, god (eyeroll emoji). Many of these are longer but arresting; quite a number of my faves are a lot shorter than 2:59, like “Stroke It Noel” coming in at 2:06. You just have to listen to that again. Warren Zevon “The French Inhaler”—how did he convince Stevie Nicks to sing “where will you go/with your scarves and your miracles/who’s going to know who you are?” There are not enough recent songs on here which is not totally representative of what music I listen to but I’m blanking out somehow. The Mountain Goats (not recent, but I just thought of it): “This Year”; this is a gimme, but I had a year to get through or die, so I deserve this song. (Also “Wear Black” off their latest album). Sorry about the radio silence; things have been going epically badly, and we’re by no means out of the woods. My psychologist has suggested that withdrawing from other humans, practical necessities, and the entire world, alone with my sweet headphones, listening to the same song over and over in an OCD way is harmful to my mental health, or at least not best practices. Hah what does he know. Share your “must be listened to multiple times” favorites in coments

Superstitious

by Belle Waring on April 23, 2018

We were once at a psychiatrist session that was actually for another family member, but I was kind of getting grilled. No, I was for real getting grilled. Are you crazy or nah, was the line of questioning. I mean, maybe I suffer from serious mental illness, sure, but this question seemed out of place in the context: do you have any rituals that you have to do. Ha, no! I am not crazy in this particular OCD way! Take that! And then the psychiatrist asked whether I had any superstitions. Umm.

Only one, I said, that you can’t put a hat on the bed, and especially not on a made bed because that is just straight disastrous. But I made an exception for doll hats, while at the same time feeling uncomfortable about it. (When you have little girls with dolls life would be tough otherwise.) Then everyone started laughing. You have a billion superstitions, they pointed out. OK fine, maybe I think that if you’re walking with someone and something comes between you, like the pole of a parking sign or some sort of stanchion, one of you has to say “bread and butter” and then the other has to respond with “come to supper.” Otherwise…maybe you might not get along, like something came between you in that sense? And if you kill a spider it will rain. That’s just common sense. When you get an ice-water-down-your-back feeling it’s because somebody walked over your grave (this is silly because I plan to be cremated and have my ashes thrown in the lovely May River; do I think someone kayaked over my grave or something?).

If you spill any salt at all you have to throw some over your left shoulder. Oh, this one is heavy duty: don’t take the salt out of the air. Like, you have to put it down on the table and allow the other person to pick it up. I am so serious about this one; so is everyone in my family. As a child my father waited until his aunt was very absorbed in conversation, and when she asked for the salt he handed it to her directly, and when she realized what had happened she reacted so strongly that she pushed her chair right over and fell backwards to the ground. I have convinced my in-laws to humor me in this regard by making no movement and looking at them sadly when they pass the salt until they put it down on the table in mild exasperation. There are others but I can’t think of them right now. My children were taught additional ones by our Filipina maids. Such as, your hair is stealing your growth, so cutting it will make you grow taller (Zoe fell for that.) If you cut your hair at night, snakes will come. Every grain of rice you leave on your plate is a blemish on your future husband’s face.

When I was little I had more classically OCD ones I think, like not stepping on a crack to avoid breaking my mother’s back, to where I really caused myself difficulty on the sidewalk. I actually remember when I could first step on them, initially with trepidation, then with the glee of freedom. I used to have to run my hand along and count the railings of fences near our home in Georgetown (in D.C.) by groups of…I think eight, that seems random. But maybe all 12-year-olds are kind of OCD. Now the question: do I really believe in these superstitions? Some more that others: the hat on the bed kills me, and so does taking the salt out of the air. Do I feel compelled to do them? Yes, I just plain have to throw salt over my left shoulder pretty much anytime I cook. I believe them with double-consciousness; I can see that they’re just dumb while simultaneously being unable to get rid of them. Maybe if I did CBT and repeatedly took the salt out of the air I could numb myself to their effects. But what about you? Do you have superstitions? I want to hear new ones. Though there is the danger you will pick up someone else’s superstitions and be stuck with it.

Young Man Has Crisis While Europe Stumbles Into War

by Belle Waring on March 5, 2018

So I have a sort of reading project. I read Radetzky March by Joseph Roth, and it is really the best thing ever. You should all read it, and unlike all the other books I’m thinking of, it’s not eleventy billion pages long. Europe is getting ready for WWI, but there’s no actual WWI in the book until the last five pages or so. This is as it should be because who wants to read about WWI? Then I read The Magic Mountain again which, similarly, has fighting in the mud (perhaps oddly cheerful) in the last…two pages maybe, and that’s it after 900 pages of symbolism of Europe’s decline, and brutal caricatures of European intellectuals, and five nourishing meals a day at the International Sanatorium Berghof. I’m reading all of Kafka now but it’s a detour and I don’t know how I started exactly, especially since Amerika is making me sad. But I’m almost done and setting that aside, next I’ll read The Man Without Qualities? The war’s going on for a while at the end but everyone is just dicking around in Vienna the whole time IIRC. I think the book even makes it to the end of the war?

Unfortunately it seems like I should read Proust next but…I mean, I know a girl’s got to have goals, but there’s a lot of Proust. (There are new translations I have been curious about, but.) It’s literally the best qualified I can think of, and ‘young man having crises’ and ‘Europe stumbling into war’ are lavished with care while ‘fighting in the mud’ is minimized. I think the narrator’s realization at the beach hotel, two years after the fact, that his grandmother is actually dead in a meaningful and tragic sense definitely outweighs any mud, which may not get a look-in at all. I’m pretty sure we get all the way through the war and more without any violence to speak of. Do any of you have good suggestions for the genre I made up (and I should note that young ladies having crises would be fine; I just don’t think there will be any)? I could go sideways and read Totem and Taboo, but although there are young men having incestuous crises there’s no stumbling into WWI IIRC. And if I’m just starting to drift into publication dates/influential works I could read Lukacs’ The Theory of The Novel? But why? It’s hard. It’s fair to ask, “why any of this Belle, and why are you reading Kafka if The Castle and Amerika are bumming you out, just stop.” BELLE WARING DON’T STOP READING NO BOOKS, IS WHY. And just in case you think I’m so fancy and all I read is fancy things I also just read Stephen King’s It, which is scary. Not as scary as WWI in some important sense, but pretty darn scary. [It should go without saying that I spend multiple hours dorking around on the loserweb, too.] And this may all be put on hold so I can help John by reading science fiction, anyway.

New DJ Earworm

by Belle Waring on September 14, 2017

DJ Earworm’s Summermash was an unusually weak outing, partly because it’s slow, and rebooted innocent Miley is boring, and other problems. But this Radio City Liverpool mashup is great; it’s the thing I always want him to do, namely mash up things from different years. Now if he would only mash up actually good songs that never crack the top 50 my life would be more complete, because he is like an painter given a child’s crappy watercolor kit with one of those plastic brushes with horrible stiff bristles that go in all directions, and told to paint something awesome. And he paints pretty great stuff! But what if we gave him some Mountain Goats and Janelle Monáe and stuff?!

Post Script: Ed Sheeran is the actual worst what is the deal.

R U Sure Tho?

by Belle Waring on September 11, 2017

This seems to violate the Belle Waring unitary theory of American politics. Kevin Drum proposes that “racism is not the explanation for everything Republicans do.” I grant that they want to cut taxes on the super-rich, but this is specifically with reference to Trump’s birtherism as well as Republicans’ refusal to accept Obama as a legitimate president (remember how he only got to serve 3/5 of a term when it came to nominating SC judges?). Ummm. Let’s just say I side with Marcotte in this dispute.