We Resist: Day 139

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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 Nominates Christopher Wray as FBI Director; Eric Trump Says Democrats Are "Not Even People"; and The Latest on Trump and the Russia Investigation.

Spencer Ackerman at the Daily Beast: Michael Flynn Had a Plan to Work With Russia's Military. It Wasn't Exactly Legal.
Donald Trump's first national security adviser pushed so hard for the Pentagon to cooperate with the Russian military that his initiative would likely have broken the law if it had ever been enacted.

Four current and former Pentagon officials told The Daily Beast that during Michael Flynn's brief White House tenure, the retired general advocated for the expansion of a relatively narrow military communications channel—one meant to keep U.S. and Russian pilots safe from one another—to see if the two nations could jointly fight the so-called Islamic State.

The initiative never went anywhere, in part because of opposition from the Pentagon and from U.S. Central Command; a legal prohibition set by Congress; and, ultimately, Flynn's firing.

Inside the Pentagon, "there was a lot of fear that we'd move to outright cooperation [with Russia] through this channel," according to a former senior defense official.
Emphasis mine. So, what's particularly interesting to me about this is Flynn's justification for suggesting a shared military communications channel with Russia: A joint fight against the Islamic State.

The reason that caught my attention is because, before the 2016 election, joining forces with Russia to defeat ISIS was not a mainstream position, on either side of the aisle. [Content Note: Video may autoplay at following link.] That's because, as Hillary Clinton noted during the second presidential debate, Vladimir Putin doesn't give a fuck about ISIS: "Clinton said that Russia 'isn't interested in ISIS' and its assault on Aleppo was aimed at destroying Syrian rebels opposed the regime led by Bashar al-Assad."

But during the 2016 election, the one in which Russian interfered, every single one of Hillary Clinton's leading opponents suggested working with Russia in some manner, using the justification of joining forces to defeat ISIS.

Donald Trump repeatedly insisted throughout the campaign (and still asserts) that we should work with Russia to defeat ISIS, and criticized President Obama for not having done the same, despite the fact that such a plan is "futile and dangerous."

November 2015: Sanders Calls for New NATO That Includes Russia. "Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called for a new accord between America, its closest allies, and Russia as well as Arab nations as a major plank on how to destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)."

September 2016: Gary Johnson: 'What Is Aleppo?' "With regard to Syria I do think it's a mess. I think that the only way that we deal with Syria is to join hands with Russia to diplomatically bring that at an end."

October 2015: Jill Stein Calls for Ceasefire in Syria, Joint Peace Agenda with Russia. "Stein People's Agenda for Global Peace and Agenda lays out a multi-prong approach to pursue peace based on focusing on promote [sic] justice and prosperity for all countries. Stein last week in NYC briefly outlined the proposal to Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who asked her to follow-up with more details."

So, no serious foreign policy suggestions to join with Russia to fight ISIS before 2016. Then, during the election in which Russia intervened with the express purpose of defeating (or critically weakening) Clinton, every one of her opponents from across the political spectrum—her Democratic primary opponent, and her general election Republican, Libertarian, and Green Party opponents—each offered a policy of aligning with Russia, with the rationale of defeating ISIS.

Clinton was also the only candidate who did not have someone with ties to Putin working on her campaign, or a previous campaign. Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort and Sanders' chief strategist Tad Devine had previously worked in collaboration for pro-Putin former Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych. Roger Stone was an advisor on Johnson's 2012 campaign, and continued to speak enthuiastically about Johnson in 2016. And Stein rather famously had dinner with Putin herself.

Also at that dinner? Michael Flynn—who then used that curiously shared rationale of defeating ISIS to argue for allying with Russia when his candidate won the White House.

A rationale that has never made, and continues to make, no sense based on the most basic understanding of Russia's objectives and alliances in Syria.

Maybe this is all just one monumental coincidence. Or maybe it's a case for a broadened investigation into Russian interference in the election.

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Dan Alexander at Forbes: How Donald Trump Shifted Kids-Cancer Charity Money into His Business.
Eric Trump, the president's second son and now the co-head of the Trump Organization, [has hosted the Eric Trump Foundation golf invitational] for ten years on behalf of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. He's done a ton of good: To date, he's directed more than $11 million there, the vast majority of it via this annual golf event. He has also helped raise another $5 million through events with other organizations.

The best part about all this, according to Eric Trump, is the charity's efficiency: Because he can get his family's golf course for free and have most of the other costs donated, virtually all the money contributed will go toward helping kids with cancer. "We get to use our assets 100% free of charge," Trump tells Forbes.

That's not the case. In reviewing filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, it's clear that the course wasn't free—that the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament.

Additionally, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which has come under previous scrutiny for self-dealing and advancing the interests of its namesake rather than those of charity, apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.

And while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses.
Note that this story came out yesterday, hours before Eric Trump appeared on Sean Hannity's show to angrily sputter that Trump opponents are "not even people."

Meanwhile, reporter David Fahrenthold, who has done a ton of excellent investigative work on the Trump Foundation, notes that the details revealed in the Forbes piece mean that Eric Trump "repeatedly" lied to him.

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Dana Milbank at the Washington Post: 'President Pence' is Sounding Better and Better. "Many liberals correctly call Pence a doctrinaire conservative, particularly on gay rights and other social issues. ...But Pence is, at core, a small-d democrat, not a demagogue. The world would be safer with him in charge. We would still have fierce divisions about the nation's direction. But Pence, in the nearly two decades I've known him, has been an honorable man. Opponents can disagree with him yet sleep well knowing he's unlikely to be irrational." This is straight-up garbage.


Caitlin MacNeal at TPM: Karen Handel: 'I Do Not Support a Livable Wage'. "During Tuesday night's debate for an open U.S. House seat in Georgia, Republican candidate Karen Handel said that she does not support a 'livable wage.' 'This is an example of the fundamental difference between a liberal and a conservative: I do not support a livable wage,' she said on Atlanta's WSB-TV in response to a viewer question about raising the minimum wage. 'What I support is making sure that we have an economy that is robust with low taxes and less regulation.'" Let me note once again: Republicans think people aren't entitled to food.

Or anything else that is necessary to live. To wit: If you thought that Republicans had given up on destroying healthcare access, I'm sorry to inform you that they have not.


[CN: Racism] Breanna Edwards at the Root: In Every Service Branch, Black Troops Are More Likely to Be Punished by Commanders, Courts: Report. "Black service members are up to two times more likely to face court martial or other forms of military punishment than their white counterparts in an average year, an analysis by advocacy organization Protect Our Defenders has revealed. According to USA Today, which received an advance copy of the study, the advocacy group for victims of sexual assault in the military and military justice went through Pentagon data from 2006 to 2015 to compile its report, and came up with the perhaps not-so-surprising results. 'Over the past decade, racial disparities have persisted in the military justice system without indications of improvement,' the report states."

[CN: Racism] Kenrya Rankin at Colorlines: Study: Cops Routinely Use Disrespectful Language with Black People. "A new report from researchers at Stanford University found what many Black people already know: Police are more likely to speak disrespectfully to Black people than they are to their White counterparts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences posted 'Language From Police Body Camera Footage Shows Racial Disparities in Officer Respect' online yesterday (June 5). ...Overall, the study found that White people are shown more respect, with Whites being 57 percent more likely to be addressed with the most respectful statements, and Blacks 61 percent more likely to be disrespected."

Jessica Mason Pieklo at Rewire: Supreme Court Ruling Could Let Catholic Hospitals 'Pocket' Millions in Retirement Funds. "The impact of the decision [in Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton] means Catholic hospitals, which employ tens of thousands of low- to middle-income workers, can now generally avoid the pension and health insurance protections required by federal law."

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

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