We Resist: Day 131

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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:

Earlier today by me: Trump Has Delivered for Putin and "It's Just a Question of Time."

And on Twitter: Republicans Think People Aren't Entitled to Food. On the Republican Congressman who couldn't answer "yes" to a question about whether people in this country are entitled to food, and how I've been writing about that ever since Mitt Romney took the position five years ago that people aren't entitled to food.

In other news...

Ju-min Park and Jack Kim at Reuters: North Korea Warns of 'Bigger Gift Package' for U.S. After Latest Test. "The North's test launch of a short-range ballistic missile landed in the sea off its east coast and was the latest in a fast-paced series of missile tests defying international pressure and threats of more sanctions. Kim said the reclusive state would develop more powerful weapons in multiple phases in accordance with its timetable to defend North Korea against the United States. 'He expressed the conviction that it would make a greater leap forward in this spirit to send a bigger 'gift package' to the Yankees' in retaliation for American military provocation, KCNA quoted Kim as saying."

North Korea has long been belligerent as hell, and Kim Jong Un, as his father before him, is disposed toward provocative statements. But it's obviously a different dynamic now that we've got a president who doesn't know WTF he's doing and is busily alienating our global allies. Very worrisome, to say the least.

Juliet Eilperin, Emma Brown, and Darryl Fears at the Washington Post: Trump Administration Plans to Minimize Civil Rights Efforts in Agencies. "The Trump administration is planning to disband the Labor Department division that has policed discrimination among federal contractors for four decades, according to the White House's newly proposed budget, part of wider efforts to rein in government programs that promote civil rights. ...The proposal to dismantle the compliance office comes at a time when the Trump administration is reducing the role of the federal government in fighting discrimination and protecting minorities by cutting budgets, dissolving programs, and appointing officials unsympathetic to previous practices." Rein in government programs that promote civil rights. Fucking hell. This is indescribably appalling.

Robert Pear at the New York Times: White House Acts to Roll Back Birth-Control Mandate for Religious Employers. "Federal officials, following through on a pledge by [Donald] Trump, have drafted a rule to roll back a federal requirement that many religious employers provide birth control coverage in health insurance plans. The mandate for free contraceptive coverage was one of the most hotly contested Obama administration policies adopted under the Affordable Care Act, and it generated scores of lawsuits by employers that had religious objections to it. On its website, the White House Office of Management and Budget said it is reviewing an 'interim final rule' to relax the requirement, a step that would all but ensure a court challenge by women's rights groups." Goddammit. Every moment with this administration is just more hostile, toxic garbage.

And chaos. Mike Allen at Axios: Trump's Comms Director Leaving White House. "Mike Dubke, [Donald] Trump's communications director, is leaving the White House—the start of a wave of changes as the West Wing struggles to cope with burgeoning scandals and a stalled agenda. ...Trump is considering much broader changes, including the possibility of bringing in David Urban, a prominent GOP lobbyist who was a senior adviser on the campaign, as chief of staff."

Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker at the Washington Post: How [Donald] Trump Consumes—or Does Not Consume—Top-Secret Intelligence.
Trump consumes classified intelligence like he does most everything else in life: ravenously and impatiently, eager to ingest glinting nuggets but often indifferent to subtleties.

Most mornings, often at 10:30, sometimes earlier, Trump sits behind the historic Resolute desk and, with a fresh Diet Coke fizzing and papers piled high, receives top-secret updates on the world's hot spots. The president interrupts his briefers with questions but also with random asides. He asks that the top brass of the intelligence community be present, and he demands brevity.

As they huddle around the desk, Trump likes to pore over visuals — maps, charts, pictures, and videos, as well as "killer graphics," as CIA Director Mike Pompeo phrased it.

"That's our task, right? To deliver the material in a way that he can best understand the information we're trying to communicate," said Pompeo, adding that he, too, prefers to "get to the core of the issue quickly."

Yet there are signs that the president may not be retaining all the intelligence he is presented, fully absorbing its nuance, or respecting the sensitivities of the information and how it was gathered.
Hahahahahahaha ya think? *jumps into Christmas tree*

Margaret Hartmann at New York Mag teases out this bit from the same WaPo story: Jared Kushner Gets His Own Daily Intelligence Briefing. Of course he does, because the actual president isn't paying attention. And: "The article does not explain why Kushner needs separate intelligence briefings, but it probably has something to do with his role as 'shadow Secretary of State,' as Axios described it." A shadow SoS who's under federal investigation for possible treason. Everything is fine.

Speaking of Russia...

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Brian Ross and Matthew Mosk at ABC News: Russia Investigation Expands to Include Donald Trump's Personal Attorney. "One of [Donald] Trump's closest confidants, his personal lawyer Michael Cohen, has now become a focus of the expanding congressional investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 campaign. Cohen confirmed to ABC News that House and Senate investigators have asked him 'to provide information and testimony' about any contacts he had with people connected to the Russian government, but he said he has turned down the invitation. 'I declined the invitation to participate, as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered,' Cohen told ABC News in an email Tuesday." Oh.

Allegra Kirkland at TPM: Russians Discussed 'Derogatory' Info They Had on Trump During Campaign. "The U.S. intelligence community intercepted conversations between Kremlin officials who boasted of having potentially 'derogatory' information about Donald Trump and his advisers during the 2016 campaign, CNN reported Tuesday. CNN's report cited two unnamed former intelligence officials and a congressional source, one of whom indicated that the 'derogatory' information was financial. The sources noted it was unclear if the Russians' claims were legitimate or if, knowing their communications were monitored, they had intentionally tried to mislead U.S. officials. Trump campaign associates' financial dealings have become a part of both the federal and congressional investigations into Russia's interference in the U.S. election."

Gabrielle Paluch, Kevin G. Hall, and Ben Wieder at McClatchy: A Kazakh Dirty-Money Suit Threatens to Reach Trump's Business World. "In a complicated case with potential implications for [Donald] Trump's business empire and associates of the real-estate-developer-turned-president, Switzerland has revealed it is considering an extradition request from Ukraine to hand over the son of a former Kazakh energy minister—and both men are facing money-laundering allegations in the United States and charges in Kazakhstan. It's the latest development in a saga that is reaching into Bayrock Group, an international real estate and investment company that paid the Trump Organization a license fee for the use of its name and an 18 percent ownership stake in the New York hotel and condo project."

There is so, so much more news today; I haven't even begun to get to Congressional Republicans or state legislatures yet. But I've just got to draw a line under it somewhere, or I'd never have published today's thread. With so much to cover, please keep crowdsourcing this thread by sharing what I've missed in comments!

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

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