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.
* * *
Here are some things in the news today:
Mike Mariani at Vanity Fair: Is Trump's Chaos Tornado a Move from the Kremlin's Playbook?
Everything happening in Crimea and eastern Ukraine passed through the Kremlin's prism, so that by the time any news reached Europeans, Americans, or Russia's own citizens, it had been transformed into falsehoods supporting an alternative reality favorable to Russia. This was the futuristic non-linear warfare Surkov had slyly telegraphed in his dystopian story. It is a strategy, he has said, that uses "conflict to create a constant state of destabilized perception, in order to manage and control."The whole thing is absolutely worth your time to read. One of the primary takeaways for me is this: That we cannot be certain whether any single bit of Trump fuckery is attributable to incompetence or the deliberate fomenting of chaos is itself extremely telling. And extremely worrisome.
...What if all the Trumpian chaos that the "mainstream media" have come to take for granted as pugilism and vanity was part of a more cunning plan? What if Trump and chief strategist Steve Bannon were actually drawing from a sophisticated postmodern propaganda model developed by none other than Vladimir Putin, Vladislav Surkov, and their political technologists at the Kremlin? While Trump may not have state-controlled media at his disposal, as Putin does, to serve as 24-7 propaganda organs both domestically and abroad, his team is finding ways to shrewdly approximate Putin's capacity to shape narratives and create alternative realities.
...In recent years, major Kremlin-run media organizations like RT and Sputnik have become an increasingly powerful tool in spreading propaganda and maintaining managed democracy in Russia. "Nowadays, we don't actually have a Kremlin message most of the time," says Mark Galeotti, a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations, in Prague, and an expert on modern Russia.
Instead, he explains, Russian propaganda has become decentralized. The various state-run or -influenced media platforms offer an opportunistic landscape where everyone is looking for a spin to delegitimize the West. "It's a case of the local initiative of individual journalists and presenters and diplomats and spies and all the other agents of the state coming up with things that they think will please the Kremlin," Galeotti says.
While westerners like to think of Moscow's propaganda machine as a great white shark, he says, a single ravenous predator unleashed on its political foes, it's actually more like a shoal of piranhas: "You can deal with one news story, but meanwhile the rest of them are eating the flesh off your back." Sound familiar?
* * *
Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker: The Continuing Fallout from Trump's and Nunes' Fake Scandal.
The binder of secret documents is at the center of the bizarre scandal created by what may be the most reckless lie [Donald] Trump has ever told. On March 4th, he tweeted, "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!" The White House made several efforts to justify Trump's claim...Although I'm guessing no one reading this is remotely surprised to hear that the White House scrambled to find justification for Trump's heinous and mendacious tweet, it's rather remarkable to have confirmation that they did. This is big, and it won't even warrant more than a blip on the radar, amidst the cacophony of wrongdoing emerging from the White House every single day.
The intelligence source told me that he knows, "from talking to people in the intelligence community," that "the White House said, 'We are going to mobilize to find something to justify the President's tweet that he was being surveilled.' They put out an all-points bulletin"—a call to sift through intelligence reports—"and said, 'We need to find something that justifies the President's crazy tweet about surveillance at Trump Tower.' And I'm telling you there is no way you get that from those transcripts, which are about as plain vanilla as can be." (The White House did not respond to a request for comment.)
* * *
[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Rebecca Shabad at CBS News: Adam Schiff Warns Trump Will Probably Face Serious Crisis with North Korea in First Term. "'I can say that probably the most serious national security crisis this president is going to face is when the regime gets to the point of when it can miniaturize a nuclear device and put it on an intercontinental ballistic missile. That point will probably come during this four-year term of the president,' Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in an interview on CBS This Morning. 'That challenge is coming if something doesn't change,' he warned, adding that China is the key to this issue but even that may not be enough to deter North Korea." That "challenge" is also likely being hastened by Trump's and Pence's aggressive bravado.
Kelsey Sutton at Politico: Lindsey Graham Heaps Praise on Trump: 'I Am All In'. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham enthusiastically praised [Donald] Trump on Wednesday for his foreign policy, a continued departure from his sharp criticism of Trump during the 2016 presidential race and even after the election. 'I am like the happiest dude in America right now,' Graham said on Fox & Friends Wednesday, beaming. 'We have got a president and a national security team that I've been dreaming of for 8 years.'" You may have noticed that I haven't been keen to give much credit to Graham, when he's criticized Trump. That's because I'm old enough to remember who Lindsay Graham really is.
Some NFL player "surprised" Sean Spicer by interrupting his presser today, and everyone had a good ol' laugh! And why not? It's not like we're on the brink of nuclear war or anything.
New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski briefly interrupts WH press briefing, asks if Spicer “needs some help” https://t.co/dN6W4H6dkJ— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 19, 2017
Why are White House press corps reporters laughing merrily at this fucking shitshow of unseriousness? JFC. https://t.co/ChlspeUqVz— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) April 19, 2017
[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Cristian Farias at the Huffington Post: Neil Gorsuch Could Cast Decisive Vote in Biggest Church-State Case in a Long Time. "All eyes will once again be on the court's newest member Wednesday, as he and his colleagues wrap their brains around what's arguably the most explosive church-state case the justices have heard in decades. And where Gorsuch could, conceivably, cast the tie-breaking vote. ...The Trinity Lutheran case has all the elements of a blockbuster: a sympathetic religious school, claims that Missouri discriminated against it, and a tug-of-war between the federal Constitution and the state's own charter, which prohibits that public funds be given to 'any church, sect, or denomination of religion.'" Ughhhhhh.
[CN: Rape culture] Kate Samuelson at Motto|Time: All-Male Panel Failed to Pass Maryland Law Barring Rapists' Parental Rights. "An all-male panel in Maryland has failed to pass the Rape Survivor Family Protection Act, a piece of legislation that would have allowed women who have children from rape to block rapists' parental rights. ...Maryland remains one of seven states without a law that protects women from being forced to share custody with their rapists, the Daily Beast reported." Rage. Seethe. Boil.
[CN: Terrorism; image of gun at link] David Edwards at Raw Story: FBI Busts Texas Rightwing Extremist Planning Mass Shooting with 1,000 Rounds of Ammo. "The FBI arrested an alleged right-wing extremist who had amassed 1,000 rounds of ammunition and was said to be plotting a mass shooting. A complaint filed in federal court and obtained by the Statesman on Monday stated that a search warrant was executed on the home of 50-year-old Steven Thomas Boehle after a confidential informant said that he was planning a shooting spree. According to the complaint, Boehle 'exhibits sovereign citizen extremism ideology.' Although Boehle is prohibited from owning firearms due to a 1993 assault on a intimate partner, three guns were found in his home." So, a history of domestic violence and "sovereign citizen extremism ideology." How'd he get radicalized, I wonder.
In good riddance resistance news...
Alexis Levinson at BuzzFeed: Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz Will Not Seek Re-Election. "Since late 2003 I have been fully engaged with politics as a campaign manager, a chief of staff, a candidate, and as a Member of Congress. I have long advocated public service should be for a limited time and not a lifetime or full career. Many of you have heard me advocate, 'Get in, serve, and get out.' After more than 1,500 nights away from my home, it is time. I may run again for public office, but not in 2018."
(Sounds reasonable. Except for the fact that it's more likely Chaffetz is simply unwilling to do his job holding Trump accountable, given that he has flatly refused to investigate Trump's conflicts of interest or Russian interference in the election.)
Gabriel Sherman at New York Mag: Sources: Fox News Has Decided Bill O'Reilly Has to Go. "The Murdochs have decided Bill O'Reilly's 21-year run at Fox News will come to an end. According to sources briefed on the discussions, network executives are preparing to announce O'Reilly's departure before he returns from an Italian vacation on April 24." Twenty-one years too late. But okay. Bye, Bill. You reprehensible sack of shit.
What have you been reading that we need to resist today?