We Resist: Day 55

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One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

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Here are some things I've read today:

In a We Resist thread last month, I shared a piece by Russ Choma and Andy Kroll at Mother Jones about a real estate deal between Donald Trump and "a Chinese-American business executive who runs a company that touts its ability to exploit connections with powerful people to broker business deals in China." Now they are back with a follow-up: Businesswoman Who Bought Trump Penthouse Is Connected to Chinese Intelligence Front Group. "Further investigation by Mother Jones has unearthed a new element to the story: [Angela Chen, who also goes by the names Xiao Yan Chen and Chen Yu] has ties to important members of the Chinese ruling elite and to an organization considered a front group for Chinese military intelligence. ...Chen runs a business consulting firm, Global Alliance Associates, which specializes in linking US businesses seeking deals in China with the country's top power brokers. ...But Chen has another job: She chairs the US arm of a nonprofit called the China Arts Foundation, which was founded in 2006 and has links with Chinese elites and the country's military intelligence service."

In possibly related news... Charles V. Bagli and Michael Forsythe at the New York Times: Kushners, Trump In-Laws, Weigh $400 Million Deal With Chinese Firm. "A New York real estate company owned by the family of [Mr.] Trump's son-in-law has been negotiating to sell a $400 million stake in its Fifth Avenue flagship skyscraper to a Chinese insurance company with ties to leading families of the Communist Party. The Chinese company, Anbang Insurance Group, would pay to get a high-profile piece of Manhattan real estate and would commit to spending billions more to completely transform the 60-year-old tower into a chic condominium and retail citadel. If signed, the potential agreement would create a financial marriage of two politically powerful families in the world's two biggest economies, but it would also present the possibility of glaring conflicts of interest. The Kushner family, owners of the tower, would reap a financial windfall courtesy of a Chinese company, even as Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to Mr. Trump as well as his son-in-law, helps oversee American foreign policy."

Meanwhile... Mike Allen at Axios: Trump to host Xi at Mar-a-Lago. "Trump plans to host Chinese President Xi Jinping at the gold-plated Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida next month for a lowering-the-temperature summit with vast economic and security implications... For a White House that views China as threat #1, Trump's willingness to meet with Xi—and give him the Mar-a-Lago treatment, no less—will be seen as a reassuring sign by establishment powers in the U.S. and around the world."

Also... David Brunnstrom and Yeganeh Torbati for Reuters: Tillerson to Press China on North Korea in Tough First Asia Trip. "U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson faces a tough first trip to Asia this week when the former oil executive will seek to reassure nervous allies facing North Korea's growing nuclear and missile threat and press China to do more on perhaps the most serious security challenge confronting Donald Trump. ...But the chances of Tillerson persuading China to do more to curb North Korea's weapons programs while in Beijing appear scant, given China's anger at the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system in South Korea last week, and Trump's repeated threats to impose punitive tariffs on Beijing to correct a large trade imbalance."

The above series of stories is a perfect example of why resisting Trump necessitates multitasking. No one who argues that we must keep focused on Russia connections is wrong. They are right! But we must simultaneously focus on Trump's relationships with China, which, thus far, have gotten far less scrutiny.

After all, he talked about China a lot during the campaign. Ahem.

[Video Description: Supercut of Trump saying "China" about a zillion times during the campaign.]

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The juxtaposition of the following two articles is very interesting.

Sharon LaFraniere, Nicholas Confessore, and Jesse Drucker at the New York Times: Prerequisite for Key White House Posts: Loyalty, Not Experience. "Every president sweeps into office with a coterie of friends and hangers-on who sometimes have minimal experience in the arcana of the federal government. But few have arrived with a contingent more colorful and controversial than that of Mr. Trump, whose White House is peppered with assistants and advisers whose principal qualification is their long friendship with Mr. Trump and his family. ...The influence of longtime Trump friends and associates—some of them with vague portfolios—comes as a leadership void has been created by the Trump administration's slow pace in filling top jobs in many agencies. It has also added to the confusion of a West Wing already legendary for its power struggles, while bewildering Washington policy hands."

Alex Isenstadt and Kenneth P. Vogel at Politico: 'People Are Scared': Paranoia Seizes Trump's White House. "In interviews, nearly a dozen White House aides and federal agency staffers described a litany of suspicions: that rival factions in the administration are trying to embarrass them, that civil servants opposed to Donald Trump are trying to undermine him, and even that a 'deep state' of career military and intelligence officials is out to destroy them. ...It's an environment of fear that has hamstrung the routine functioning of the executive branch. Senior advisers are spending much of their time trying to protect turf [and] key positions have remained vacant due to a reluctance to hire people deemed insufficiently loyal... One senior administration aide, who like most others interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the degree of suspicion had created a toxicity that is unsustainable."

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[Content Note: Nativism] James Queally at the L.A. Times: ICE Agents Make Arrests at Courthouses, Sparking Backlash from Prosecutors and Attorneys. "[Octavio Chaidez], who has worked as a defense attorney in Los Angeles County for nearly 15 years, said he had never seen federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents make an arrest inside the confines of a courthouse. But in the past few weeks, attorneys and prosecutors in California, Arizona, Texas, and Colorado have all reported teams of ICE agents—some in uniform, some not—sweeping into courtrooms or lurking outside court complexes, waiting to arrest immigrants who are in the country illegally." Rage. Seethe. Boil.

Charlie Savage and Julie Turkewitz at the New York Times: Neil Gorsuch Has Web of Ties to Secretive Billionaire. "As a lawyer at a Washington law firm in the early 2000s, Judge Gorsuch represented Mr. Anschutz, his companies and lower-ranking business executives as an outside counsel. In 2006, Mr. Anschutz successfully lobbied Colorado's lone Republican senator and the Bush administration to nominate Judge Gorsuch to the federal appeals court. And since joining the court, Judge Gorsuch has been a semiregular speaker at the mogul's annual dove-hunting retreats for the wealthy and politically prominent at his 60-square-mile Eagles Nest Ranch." Of course.

Allegra Kirkland at TPM: Monica Crowley Files to Lobby on Behalf of Ukrainian Oligarch. "After turning down a top national security communications role at the White House amid plagiarism allegations, former Fox News analyst Monica Crowley has taken up a new pursuit: lobbying on behalf of a Ukrainian oligarch who's advocated for better relations with Russia." Sounds about right.

[CN: Worker endangerment] Ken Ward, Jr. at the Charleston Gazette: WV Senate Bill Eliminates Mine Safety Enforcement. "State safety inspectors wouldn't inspect West Virginia's coal mines anymore. They would conduct 'compliance visits and education.' Violations of health and safety standards wouldn't produce state citations and fines, either. Mine operators would receive 'compliance assistance visit notices.' And West Virginia regulators wouldn't have authority to write safety and health regulations. Instead, they could only 'adopt policies...[for] improving compliance assistance' in the state's mines. Those and other significant changes in a new industry-backed bill would produce a wholesale elimination of most enforcement of longstanding laws and rules put in place over many years—as a result of hundreds of deaths—to protect the health and safety of West Virginia's coal miners." OMG.

[CN: War on agency] Christine Grimaldi at Rewire: CBO Report Confirms GOP's Budgetary Plan to Attack Planned Parenthood. "Contrary to recent claims from GOP lawmakers and staff, Planned Parenthood is the only health-care provider to face 'defunding' under Republicans' Obamacare repeal, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The independent arm of the U.S. Congress all but confirmed the partisan vendetta against Planned Parenthood... The provision doesn't address Planned Parenthood by name. But Planned Parenthood is the only organization that meets the specific criteria Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives wrote into their plan to impose a one-year moratorium on Medicaid reimbursements to 'prohibited entities'—effectively preventing people with low incomes from accessing quality, affordable health care."

[CN: Trans hatred] Andrea Zelinski at the Houston Chronicle: Texas Senate Approves 'Bathroom Bill'. "The Texas Senate gave preliminary approval Tuesday to ban transgender people from using the bathrooms that best correlate with their gender... The Republican-dominated Senate pushed the bill through almost completely on party lines after senators debated the issue for more than four hours on the Senate floor. ...'This is the best privacy bill in the United States,' said Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston." Fuck. You.

[CN: Homophobia; nativism; Islamophobia] Luis Damian Veron at Towleroad: Gay Couple Separated by Trump's Travel Ban. "Paul Harrison is a Texas man who since 2015 has been in a long-distance relationship with an Iranian man, whose identity must be concealed due to Iran's draconian laws outlawing homosexuality. Their romance has played out largely in neighboring Turkey, which, despite a worsening climate for LGBT individuals, still remains more open than Iran. Harrison's fiancé had been slated to join him over the next few months, but Iran is one of six Muslim-majority nations whose citizens have been arbitrarily barred from entering the United States for at least 90 days." Goddammit.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

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