We Resist: Day 95

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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 in the news today:

Ben Blanchard and Ju-min Park at Reuters: U.S. Carrier Group Heads for Korean Waters, China Calls for Restraint.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for all sides to exercise restraint on Monday in a telephone call about North Korea with U.S. President Donald Trump, as Japan conducted exercises with a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group headed for Korean waters.

Trump sent the carrier group for exercises in waters off the Korean peninsula as a warning, amid growing fears North Korea could conduct another nuclear test in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

Angered by the approach of the USS Carl Vinson carrier group, a defiant North Korea said on Monday the deployment was "an extremely dangerous act by those who plan a nuclear war to invade."

"The United States should not run amok and should consider carefully any catastrophic consequence from its foolish military provocative act," Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North's ruling Workers' Party, said in a commentary on Monday.

"What's only laid for aggressors is dead bodies," the newspaper said.
Everything is fine. (Everything is not fine.)

This, among many other examples, is why it is a very bad thing to have a president who treated the office like an entry-level position and is doing on-the-job learning (such at it is).

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Tim Mak at The Daily Beast: Senate Trump-Russia Probe Has No Full-Time Staff, No Key Witnesses.
The Senate Intelligence Committee's probe into Russia's election interference is supposedly the best hope for getting the public credible answers about whether there was any coordination between the Kremlin and Trump Tower.

But there are serious reasons to doubt that it can accomplish this task, as currently configured.

More than three months after the committee announced that it had agreed on the scope of the investigation, the panel has not begun substantially investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, three individuals with ties to the committee told The Daily Beast.

The investigation does not have a single staffer dedicated to it full-time, and those staff members working on it part-time do not have significant investigative experience. The probe currently appears to be moving at a pace slower than prior Senate Intelligence Committee investigations, such as the CIA torture inquiry, which took years to accomplish.

No interviews have been conducted with key individuals suspected of being in the Trump-Russia orbit: not Michael Flynn, not Roger Stone, not Carter Page, not Paul Manafort, and not Jared Kushner, according to two sources familiar with the committee’s procedures.

"It's either a real investigation or not," said one individual with knowledge of the committee's activities. "You have to have an approved investigative guide. You have to make it formal. Can you have a credible investigation with only seven part-time staffers, doing everything in secret?"

This is despite the committee's leadership giving off a bipartisan, cooperative impression to the public.
And that's not all. At Yahoo News, Michael Isikoff reports: Senate Russia Probe Flounders Amid Partisan Bickering. "[T]he panel has made little progress and is increasingly stymied by partisan divisions that are jeopardizing the future of the inquiry, according to multiple sources involved in the probe. The committee has yet to issue a single subpoena for documents or interview any key witnesses who are central to the probe, the sources said. It also hasn't requested potentially crucial evidence—such as the emails, memos and phone records of the Trump campaign—in part because the panel's chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., has so far failed to respond to requests from the panel's Democrats to sign letters doing so, the sources said."

[Teaspoon Action Item: Burr Washington office: (202) 224-3154. Winston-Salem office: (800) 685-8916. Senate Intel committee phone: (202) 224-1700. Senate Intel Committee fax line: (202) 224-1772.]

So we've got a Senate committee making nice noises about how they're definitely totally for sure going to get to the bottom of whether the U.S. president colluded with a foreign government to get elected, but they've woefully understaffed the investigation, haven't conducted interviews with key players, haven't issued a single subpoena, and haven't requested any evidence. Terrific.

This is why I keep saying over and over like the brokenest of broken records, that we need an independent select committee if we're ever going to have a meaningful investigation into what is potentially the nation's most significant act of treason in its history.

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Bryant Harris, Robbie Gramer, and Emily Tamkin at Foreign Policy: The End of Foreign Aid as We Know It. "Donald Trump's vow to put 'America first' includes a plan to drastically cut assistance to developing countries and merge the State Department with USAID, according to an internal budget document and sources. The administration's March budget proposal vowed to slash aid to developing countries by over one-third, but contained few details. According to a detailed 15-page State Department budget document obtained by Foreign Policy, the overhaul also includes rechanneling funding from development assistance into a program that is tied closely to national security objectives. ...[S]hutting down, or even just scaling back, an agency dedicated to issues like disease prevention and food security could prove [devastating]. 'That will end the technical expertise of USAID, and in my view, it will be an unmitigated disaster for the longer term,' said Andrew Natsios, the former USAID Administrator under President George W. Bush."

Brian Beutler at the New Republic: Trump Will Provoke a Crisis or Be Humiliated This Week. "It's hard to imagine a better metaphor for Donald Trump's presidency than if, backed by a Republican-controlled Congress, he celebrates his 100th day in office by shutting down his own government. This outcome is by no means inevitable, but the odds of it are astonishingly high: Government funding runs out on Friday, and Trump hits the 100-day mark on Saturday. ...To secure border-wall funds from Congress before day 100, Trump is actually flirting with two different modes of extortion. The first one, which hasn't been expressed as a formal threat, is that he will not sign spending legislation unless it funds the wall; the second, which he tweets about frequently, is that unless Democrats agree to fund the border wall, he will sabotage the Affordable Care Act by freezing billions of dollars in insurance subsidies the law authorizes to reduce out-of-pocket costs for the near-poor."

David Edwards at Raw Story: Trump Budget Chief: Border Wall Will 'Protect Millions of Low Income Americans' Who Lose Obamacare. "During an interview one Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace noted that [Donald] Trump had offered Democrats a deal: If you fund the border wall, payments to Obamacare will not be cut. 'You are holding hostage health insurance for millions of lower-income Americans,' Wallace pointed out. 'Actually, what I would say is they're holding hostage national security,' [Trump Budget Director Mick Mulvaney] replied. ...Mulvaney insisted that Trump was trying to build a border wall to 'protect millions of low income Americans' who may lose their health care benefits in the tradeoff."

In case you're wondering if Trump has planned any more supercool Please Clap for Me events, the answer is yes:

screen cap of tweet in which I am responding to a Hill report about Trump announcing a rally on the night of the White House Correspondents Dinner; my tweet reads: 'Yeah, that sounds about right.'

[Content Note: White supremacy] Jessica Gonz├ílez-Rojas at Rewire: Trump's First 100 Days: A Blueprint to Hurt People of Color. "The Trump administration sees the country's changing demographics—the rising number of nonwhite and foreign-born people—as the chief internal threat. ...Trump's budget amounts to an obscene redistribution of money and resources from the working poor—of whom a disproportionate amount are people of color, including immigrants—to the wealthiest. In order to fund the criminalization and persecution of immigrants, Trump proposes stripping those very communities of the support they rely on to thrive."

[CN: Violent homophobia; eliminationism] Andy Towle at Towleroad: NYT Editorial Board Warns Trump Administration: 'Time is Not on the Side of Gay People' in Chechnya. "The New York Times Editorial Board urges the United States to take more stringent action toward Chechnya. The southern Russian republic's president Ramzan Kadyrov has reportedly stated his intentions to exterminate the country's gay people before Ramadan on May 26. Writes the NYT Editorial Board: 'Moscow is unlikely to take meaningful action against Chechnya, or to rethink its broader policy toward gay rights, in the absence of strong and sustained international pressure. In recent years several countries from the Americas and Europe have promoted equality for gay and transgender people as universal human rights. The Obama administration, and in particular former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, deserves much credit for making this a diplomatic priority. ...Without American leadership, forging a global consensus that gay rights are human rights will take longer. Time is not on the side of gay people living in terror in places like Chechnya.'"

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Sam Levine at the Huffington Post: Donald Trump's Earth Day Statement Is Shameful. "Donald Trump released an Earth Day statement touting his commitment to protecting the environment, despite doing the exact opposite in the first few months of his administration. ...The statement also noted that Trump is committed to 'rigorous science' and 'honest inquiry.'" All the mirthless laughter in the multiverse.

Let America Vote: Republican Congressman Considering Senate Bid Introduces Nationwide Voter Suppression Bill. "Congressman Luke Messer (IN-06), who has taken steps toward a formal run for Senate in Indiana, today introduced a nationwide voter suppression bill. Messer used the Indiana voter ID law as a model for his legislation even though the judge who upheld the law has since denounced voter ID laws as purely political and said laws like it 'appear to be aimed at limiting voting by minorities, particularly blacks.'"

[Teaspoon Action Item: Messer Washington office: (202) 225-3021. Muncie office: (765) 747-5566. Richmond office: (765) 962-2883. Shelbyville office: (317) 421-0704.]

[CN: White supremacy; threats] Esther Yu Hsi Lee at ThinkProgress: Workers Don Bulletproof Vests While Taking Down New Orleans' Confederate Monument in Middle of Night. "Workers in New Orleans on Monday began removing the first of four Confederate monuments known as the 'Lost Cause of the Confederacy.' They took down a statue originally erected to honor members of a white supremacist organization who fought against racial integration within the city's police force and state militia. The roughly four-hour removal process for the Battle of Liberty Place monument began at 1:30 a.m. in an effort to avoid protesters who want the monuments to stay, including people who have in the past made death threats."

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

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