We Resist: Day 113

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 Liss posts 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. My list is not as comprehensive as hers usually is, but here are some things worth resisting.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist


So Trump merrily continues committing obstruction of justice crimes in public. During today's early morning Trump Dump, he tweeted:

I've long thought that Trump sounds like a a wannabe mob boss from a 1930s gangster film. "Comey had better hope...or he sleeps with fishes!" (If only Trump were a fictional character played by James Cagney. If only.)

It didn't take long for Keith Boykin to cite the specific statues Trump is potentially violating:

This afternoon, Sean Spicer refused to comment on an obvious question related to the tweet, when a reporters asked if Trump was recording White House conversations.

As I noted in today's earlier thread, Republicans keep steadfastly gazing at their shoes in response to Trump's sneers at the law. Per usual, privately many Republicans are willing to admit Trump's firing of Comey is a disaster, as this story from John Ward at Yahoo News suggests. But on the record? Well.

You can read what happened when The Texas Tribune asked members of the Texas legislative delegation their opinion about the state of the investigations; most Republicans either insisted that the current investigations are enough or declined to comment. Which means, they're not defending Trump, either.They know it's indefensible and still. Even those few who are critical? I think this headline from Tara Golshan's story at Vox sums it up: "Jeff Flake isn’t comfortable with the Comey firing, but he’s not doing anything about it."

Over at Mother Jones, Pema Levy writes about the Democrats who are trying to hold Team Trump accountable, calling out Sessions for breaking his recusal promise:

On Friday, two senior House Democrats pushed harder. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, asserted that Sessions violated two recusal promises and, in so doing, may have broken the law.

In a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Conyers and Cummings lay out their case against Sessions. In his confirmation hearing, Sessions promised to recuse himself from any investigation involving Hillary Clinton due to derogatory statements he had made about her when he was campaigning for Trump. And on March 2, following the revelation that Sessions had lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his past contacts with the Russian ambassador, Sessions recused himself from "any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for President of the United States."

And Ken Delanian and Pete Williams at NBC have a devastating takedown of Trump's claims about his dinner with Comey:

In his interview with Holt Thursday, Trump said twice that he believed Comey requested the dinner. Trump said Comey asked that Trump keep him on as FBI director, and told the president on three occasions that he was not under investigation as part of the FBI's inquiry into Russian election interference.

"The president is not correct," the former official said. "The White House called [Comey] out of the blue. Comey didn't want to do it. He didn't even want the rank and file at the FBI to know about it."

But in the end, "He's still the commander-in-chief. He's your boss. How do you say no?"

As for Trump spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders' story that she spoke with "countless" FBI agents who supported the Comey firing:"White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed Thursday that she had heard from "countless members of the FBI who are grateful for the president's decision." Current and former FBI agents scoffed at what they termed a ridiculous assertion."I doubt five people at the FBI even have the [phone] number of the deputy White House press secretary," the former senior official said."

Just to remind ourselves: this is not normal. And this is not smaller than Watergate. The Atlantic has an excellent story from James Fallows that explicitly compares this crisis to Watergate, which he witnessed as a young journalist. It's far more serious. Among his reasons is the seriousness of the crime:

But the worst version of what Nixon and his allies were attempting to do—namely, to find incriminating or embarrassing information about political adversaries ranging from the Democratic party chairman Lawrence O’Brien to Pentagon Papers-whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg—was not as bad as what came afterwards. Those later efforts included efforts to derail investigations by the FBI, the police, various grand juries and congressional committees, which collectively amounted to obstruction of justice.

And what is alleged this time? Nothing less than attacks by an authoritarian foreign government on the fundamentals of American democracy, by interfering with an election—and doing so as part of a sustained effort that included parallel interference in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and elsewhere. At worst, such efforts might actually have changed the election results. At least, they were meant to destroy trust in democracy. Not much of this is fully understood or proven, but the potential stakes are incomparably greater than what happened during Watergate, crime and cover-up alike

I also think his comparison of Trump and Nixon is on point:

Richard Nixon was a dark but complex figure. ...He was paranoid, resentful, bigoted, and a crook. He was also deeply knowledgeable, strategically prescient, publicly disciplined—and in some aspects of his domestic policy strikingly “progressive” by today’s standards (for instance, his creation of the Environmental Protection Agency).

Donald Trump, by contrast—well, read the transcripts of his two most recent interviews, and weep. He is impulsive, and ignorant, and apparently beyond the reach of any control, even his own.

Speaking of Trump's odious character and incredible ignorance, Ava Du Vernay tweeted out this clip yesterday, from the March interview of former FBI agent Clint Watts by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senator James Lankford (R-OK) asked him why the Russians were using "active measures" in the 2016 election, and why they were successful. It's worth pondering again.

Rough transcript of Watt's response: "I think the answer is very simple and is what no one is really saying in this room, which is: part of the reason active measures have worked in this U.S. election is because the Commander-in-Chief has used Russian active measures at times against his opponents at times. On 14 August, 2016, after a debunked incident, his campaign chairman (crosstalk)--Paul Manafort, cited the fake terrorist story on CNN [note: story concerned an alleged attack on NATO base) and he used it as a talking point. On 11 October, President Trump stood on a stage and cited what appears to be a fake news story from Sputnik news that disappeared form the internet. He denies the intel from the United States about Russia. He claimed the election could be rigged. That was the number one theme pushed by RT Sputnik-wide outlets all the way up until the election. Ah, he's made claims of voter fraud, that president Obama is not a citizen, that, ah, you know Congressman [sic--Senator] Cruz is not a citizen, so, part of the reason active measures worked, and it does today in terms of Trump Tower being wiretapped is because they parrot the same lines. So, Putin is correct. He can say that he's not influencing anything because he is just putting out his stance. But until we get a firm basis for fact and fiction in our own, our own country? Do I support the intelligence community or a story I read on my Twitter feed? we're gonna have a big problem. I can tell you, right now, today, gray outlets, that are Soviet [sic--Russian] pushing accounts, Tweet at President Trump, during high volumes when they know he's online, and they push conspiracy theories. So if he is going to click on one of those or cite one of those, it just proves Putin correct."

The Russians know they can tweet bullshit at President Trump and there's a damn good chance that he will believe it, and repeat it, and perhaps even use it to justify policy. This is not normal.

Elsewhere in the world, Le Monde had a good investigation into the American hate sites that were linked to the anti-Macron propaganda spread in France. There's an English summary here. Of note is that key to the connection is white supremacist Andrew Auernheimer, who bragged in late 2016 to Ben Schreckinger at Politico about his success in converting Bernie Sanders supporters to Trump supporters, and about opening operations in France and Germany. Feminists may also remember him as "weev," the key figure in the vicious harassment of tech guru Kathy Sierra back in 2007.[Content note: descriptions of harassment, including rape threats and revenge porn, at link.]I note with bitterness that the in the linked article, we see the FBI declining to investigate cases of women being harassed online because it wasn't a matter of national security. Welp.

Let's all ponder the fact that if law enforcement hadn't essentially shrugged at the online harassment of women for the past decade, we might not be here.


In non-Russia news. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions has announced he is stepping up his efforts to impose longer prison sentences:

Attorney general Jeff Sessions is directing federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible against the vast majority of suspects, a reversal of Obama-era policies that is sure to send more people to prison and for much longer terms.

“This policy affirms our responsibility to enforce the law, is moral and just, and produces consistency,” Sessions wrote in a memo sent Thursday night to US attorneys and made public early on Friday.

The move amounts to an unmistakable undoing of Obama administration criminal justice policies that aimed to ease overcrowding in federal prisons and contributed to a national rethinking of how drug criminals were prosecuted and sentenced. Critics said the change will subject more lower-level offenders to unfairly harsh mandatory minimum sentences.

Not surprisingly, Trump's tax plan is terrible. More surprisingly, both conservative and liberal economists tend to agree it's ineffective. As Binyamin Applebaum writes at the New York Times:

Economists do not see a similar upside in reducing personal income taxation because there is little evidence that current rates are high enough to discourage people from earning as much money as they can. When Mr. Reagan took office, the top tax rate was 70 percent; now, it is 39.6 percent. “The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie,” the Congressional Research Service concluded in a 2012 report examining the impact of tax cuts on economic growth.

Even the rosiest estimates of the potential benefits of such changes fall well short of creating the economic growth necessary to offset the cost of Mr. Trump’s plan. Mr. Furman said he thought he could write a tax code that would increase annual economic growth by about 0.3 percent. Over a decade, that’s enough to add about $1,500 to the average family’s income.

Lindsey Bever at the Washington Post reports that new immigration policies are having a terrible effect on reporting of crime by Hispanic Americans.

“It looks like they’re going further into the shadows, and there appears to be a chilling effect in the reporting of violent crime by members of the Hispanic community,” Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said. Acevedo recently announced that new data shows a 13 percent decrease in violent crime reporting by Hispanics in Houston during the first three months of 2017 compared to the first three months of 2016; it also shows a 12 percent increase in violent crime reporting by non-Hispanics. Houston saw a 43 percent drop in the number of Hispanics reporting rape and sexual assault, while there was an 8 percent rise in the number of non-Hispanics reporting such crimes.

And in news from the people leading the resistance:

Trans teen Gavin Grimm is back in court, and his lawyers are arguing that Title IX still protects his right to gender-appropriate facilities, despite the federal government rescinding Obama-era guidelines for schools to interpret Title IX in that fashhion. John Riley at Metro Weekly describes their arguments:

“The ‘dispositive realit[y]’ is that Gavin is recognized by his family, his medical providers, the Virginia Department of Health, and the world at large as a boy. Allowing him to use the same restrooms as other boys is the only way to provide him access to sex-separated restrooms pursuant to [the Education Amendments Act of 1972] without discrimination. It is, therefore, the only option consistent with the underlying requirements of Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause. “Excluding transgender people from using the same restrooms as everyone else prevents them ‘from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment’ and Title IX ‘cannot countenance,’ the brief continues, quoting the Bostic v. Schaefer case that overturned Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The key takeaway here is that Grimm's lawyers are arguing the protection exists independently of the whims of the Department of Education. Although Grimm will be graduating soon, he expresses hope that the case will help others:

"While it’s disappointing that I’m going to graduate high school without this case being resolved, I’ve long since realized that this fight is about more than just me,” Grimm said in a statement. “It’s for all of the trans youth who are in school or one day will be who shouldn’t have to go to school and be treated differently than anyone else, and I’m eager to continue my fight in order to do as much good for them as I can.”

Thank you for fighting, Gavin.

And thanks to the students of two HBCUs for standing up to the racists who now lead our country. Last week, students at Bethune-Coookman college booed and turned their backs on Black History ignoramus Betsy DeVos, who the administration had invited as their commencement speaker. As Kevin Diaz and Lindsey Ellis report, the administration at Texas Southern decided to avoid such a scene and canceled a speech due to be given by Republican senator John Cornyn. Students had signed a Change.org petition protesting his invitation:

The Change.org petition was sponsored by 26-year-old Rebecca Trevino, 2017 graduate in social work from San Antonio. In an interview Friday, she said she had no desire to censor Cornyn, but rather to represent the values of the school. "What I want people to realize is that this is our commencement," Trevino said. "This is something we've worked hard for and we want someone who represents us and our values."

She posted the petition online a week ago, after hearing about Cornyn's invitation. "This is an issue that's important to me and my classmates," she added. "We have a lot of pride in our school, and we're very protective of who comes by."

In an online appeal for signatures, she said that "Cornyn and his political party create and support policies that cause harm to marginalized communities." She also cited Cornyn's votes to approve DeVos, Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, and his support for voter ID law. The student petition also cites is opposition to federal funding for "sanctuary cities" and his past support for a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.

Right on, Rebecca.

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

{Note: my thanks to SKM, eastsidekate, Fannie and Scott for their help in compiling this.]

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