We Resist: Day 167

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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: The North Korean Missile Crisis.


Speaking of healthcare...

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post: A GOP Stunt Backfires, and Accidentally Reveals a Truth Republicans Want Hidden. "[The Indiana] episode also neatly captures another larger truth about why it is proving so hard for Republicans to repeal the law: It has helped untold numbers of people, and the GOP bill would largely reverse that. This is admittedly a simple and obvious point, yet the extraordinary lengths to which Republicans are going to obscure this basic reality continue to elude sufficient recognition. If you think about it, pretty much every major lie that [Donald] Trump and Republicans are telling right now to get their repeal-and-replace bill passed is designed to cover it up."

Charles Ornstein at ProPublica: Medicare Halts Release of Much-Anticipated Data. "Health economist Austin Frakt, who is affiliated with a number of academic institutions, said he was disappointed by the decision to halt the data's release. He said he wants access to the data as a researcher — and as a taxpayer. 'We are paying an enormous amount of money to private insurance companies...but we know very little about what we're getting for that money,' he said."

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Brian Klaas at the Hill: North Korea Test Shows Need for Strong State Department.
[Donald] Trump has willfully and deliberately created a diplomatic ticking time bomb as he guts the U.S. State Department.

America woke up this Fourth of July to news that North Korea had successfully conducted a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile — a weapon capable of reaching at least Alaska and possibly the lower 48 states. Kim Jong-un, a ruthless dictator who starves his people and executes opponents for his amusement, may soon have the capability to attack the United States with a nuclear weapon.

This calls for a forceful diplomatic response aimed at defusing a rapidly escalating nuclear standoff — guided by the seasoned professionals at the highest echelons of the State Department.

The only problem? Most of those key positions are vacant, not because of Senate obstructionism as [Donald] Trump falsely claims, but because the president has failed to nominate anyone to fill them. Nearly six months after taking office and 240 days since being elected, Trump has not nominated anyone for 94 of the 124 appointed positions at the State Department. That's three out of every four top jobs in American diplomacy.

American interests cannot be served without seasoned officials to serve them.
Meanwhile, as Trump leaves the State Department unstaffed, Bob Mueller is ramping up the staffing of his investigatory team.

Matt Zapotosky at the Washington Post: As Mueller Grows His Russia Special Counsel Team, Every Hire Is Under Scrutiny. "Mueller has brought in 15 attorneys to work with him — among them former colleagues at the firm WilmerHale and veteran Justice Department lawyers, said Peter Carr, a spokesman for the Special Counsel's Office. Only 13 have been publicly identified. Put together, the team is a formidable collection of legal talent and expertise with experience prosecuting national security, fraud, and public corruption cases, arguing matters before the Supreme Court and assessing complicated legal questions."

I don't know what could more perfectly and terribly sum up the dire state of affairs in U.S. leadership right now that the juxtaposition of those two stories: The team tasked with investigating the president is more effectively and thoroughly staffed than the State Department, thanks to the lackadaisical attitude of the president being investigated.

Julian Borger at the Guardian: Investigators Explore if Russia Colluded with Pro-Trump Sites During U.S. Election. "The spread of Russian-made fake news stories aimed at discrediting Hillary Clinton on social media is emerging as an important line of inquiry in multiple investigations into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. ...The role of Russian generated fake news is a separate strand which has gained less attention up to now, but the part it played in depressing the Clinton vote in key states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania in the critical last days of the 2016 campaign could have helped change the course of recent American history."

An interesting (ahem) piece in that story from John Mattes, part of the Sanders campaign's outline strategy team, who details how the Russians helped Team Sanders: "He argued that if the pro-Sanders websites in east Europe had been primarily motivated by maximising clicks they would have moved on to another viral subject. 'What I found was that 95% of them has gone dark,' he said. 'So my question is: what are they hiding and why did they run as soon as the investigation began?' Mattes believes that the aim of the campaign was to damage Clinton, who Vladimir Putin saw as his arch foe, and then, after the primaries were over, to minimise the number of Sanders voters who switched their support to Clinton in the face-off against Trump."

No kidding. And then this: "Because the Sanders online campaign was so open, democratic, and relatively unregulated, Mattes says he now realises: 'We basically set ourselves up to be victims of an international cyberwarfare campaign. We were pawns in this but very effective pawns.'"

So, two things: 1. This is just additional confirmation that Sanders supporters were agents of Russian disinformation. 2. As I've noted previously, the entire reason that many Sanders supporters were "effective pawns" is because they hated Hillary Clinton and were prepared (and primed) to believe and spread all kinds of despicable (and demonstrably untrue) shit about her. The Russians didn't create their misogyny; they simply exploited it.

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David Filipov at the Washington Post: What Russia Hopes to Gain from This Week's Putin-Trump Meeting. "'For the foreseeable future, the most important item by far on the U.S.-Russia relations agenda will be avoiding direct collision, which might lead to war,' was the dire assessment of Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. Putin will almost certainly press Trump to back a de-escalation plan for the Korean Peninsula announced in Moscow on Tuesday with Chinese President Xi Jinping that would have North Korea halt its ballistic missile program and the United States and South Korea call off their large-scale missile drills. Putin is also likely to demand that Washington return two Russian diplomatic compounds shuttered in retaliation for Moscow's election meddling."

All of that is surely accurate, but, even more importantly, Putin is almost certainly hoping to sink his claws further into Trump, who is too arrogant and ignorant to understand that he is not Putin's peer, but Putin's mark.

And Putin will do whatever it takes to get what he wants from Trump.

The scary thing is that probably all Putin will have to bring to the table to manipulate Trump is a little flattery.

Meanwhile... [Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Marc Champion, Peter Martin, and Brian Parkin at Bloomberg: China, Germany Step Up as U.S. Retires from World Leadership. "The U.S. traditionally takes point in the search for common approaches to the big global issues of the day at G-20 summits. Not this time. When world leaders meet in Hamburg on Friday, China and Germany will move in to usurp the U.S.'s role. The two industrial powerhouses of Asia and Europe are being nudged into an informal alliance to pick up the leadership baton that the U.S. is accused of having dropped since [Donald] Trump's inauguration earlier this year, according to diplomats and officials from several Group of 20 members."


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[CN: White supremacy; guns] Christopher Mathias and Andy Campbell at the Huffington Post: Guns And KKK Members at Gettysburg Confederate Rally, But No Foes to Fight.
A few hundred armed militia group members, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Ku Klux Klaners, supporters of [Donald] Trump, and other self-described patriots descended upon the Gettysburg battlefield Saturday to defend the site's Confederate symbols from phantom activists with the violent [sic] far-left group Antifa.

Some carried semi-automatic rifles ― permitted in Pennsylvania ― as they peered out across the battlefield with binoculars, on the lookout for the black-clad, face-masked anti-fascists, anarchists, and socialists they said they had heard were traveling to the national park to dishonor Confederate graves, monuments, and flags.

Although many came expecting violence ― even after Antifa made it clear its adherents never planned to show up ― the only bloodshed came when a lone militia group member accidentally shot himself in the leg.
Fucking hell.

Julia Reinstein at BuzzFeed: NPR Tweeted the Declaration of Independence and Some Trump Supporters Were Offended. "Trump supporters were outraged at what they viewed as a political act by NPR. One person called the Declaration 'propaganda.' A few said NPR should be defunded." Because, of course, they didn't recognize the text of the Declaration. Good grief.

[CN: Nazism] Jed Lipinski at the Times-Picayune: Louisiana Congressman Clay Higgins' Auschwitz Video Draws Criticism. "A video U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Port Barre, recorded in part from inside the Nazis' Auschwitz concentration camp last week has drawn criticism on social media for what commenters described as its disrespectful and self-serving content. The video includes Higgins recording from inside one of the former gas chambers — an action that drew criticism from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. ...[T]he museum posted a photo of the entrance to the gas chambers. 'You are in a building where the SS murdered thousands of people,' a stone engraving reads. 'Please maintain silence here: remember their suffering and show respect for their memory.'" What a contemptible dipshit.

Judd Legum at ThinkProgress: Politico's Poll on Trump's Travel Ban Is Fake News: "This morning, Politico published a story with a provocative headline: 'Poll: Majority of voters back Trump travel ban.' ...The story was quickly embraced by White House press secretary Sean Spicer. There is only one problem with this story: it isn't true. ...In sum, Politico substituted a policy that Trump opposes, called it 'Trump's travel ban' and is using it to claim that 'Trump's travel ban has majority support.' ...Polling of Trump's actual travel ban has consistently shown that a majority of Americans oppose it."

[CN: War on agency] Amy Littlefield at Rewire: The Anti-Choice Embrace of Trump Is Complete: Dispatch from the National Right to Life Convention. "[O]fficials made it clear how firmly they have embraced [Trump]. 'He's doing an amazing job,' NRLC President Carol Tobias told Rewire in an interview. 'For the pro-life movement, of course, I think the highest priority for everyone [was] the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.' Tobias also cited Trump's expansion of the Global Gag Rule; his elimination of U.S. funding to the U.N. Population Fund; and his commitment to defunding Planned Parenthood, a provision contained in a Republican health-care bill sputtering its way through the Senate. 'We're just very pleased with President Trump and what he has been doing,' Tobias said."

Gyasi Ross at Indian Country Today: Donius, Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Paris Climate Accords: Ideas to Protect Our Homelands. "A little over a week ago, U.S. District Court Judge said that the Army Corps of Engineers did not do all of their homework before it approved permits to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline. That's positive. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago the [indecent] Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. The Agreement is an effort to curb global warming by reducing greenhouse gases and other air pollutants. That is bad. ...Yet, some States have come together to create the 'Climate Alliance' to be the conscientious objectors to the United States' nastiness. ...Native Nations can and should do the same. Not only will it help to separate and hopefully point out to foreign nations that not all of the US is nasty, but it could also help insulate those nations from disgusting companies like the...Dakota Access Pipeline."

[CN: Racism] Kate Aronoff at Colorlines: How the On-Demand Economy Enables the Cycle of Racial Labor Discrimination. "Provisions like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — which bars employers from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin — apply only to legally recognized employees. Gig economy companies tend to classify drivers and 'taskers' as independent contractors instead, which excludes them from adhering to most of the laws that regulate workplaces and protect employees. Few people think about the gig (or 'on-demand') economy's impact on workers more than Nayantara Mehta, senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project. ...Colorlines caught up with her by phone to talk about the discrimination hardwired into the on-demand economy and what workers are doing to fight back against it."

[CN: Trans exclusion] Andy Towle at Towleroad: Pentagon Pushes Start of Transgender Military Enlistments for Six Months. "A planned July 1 start for accepting transgender troops in the military has been deferred for six months, the Pentagon announced on Friday. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made the announcement on Friday, the AP reports... 'After consulting with the service chiefs and secretaries, I have determined that it is necessary to defer the start of accessions for six months,' Mattis said in a memo that was sent Friday to the service chiefs and secretaries and was obtained by The Associated Press. 'We will use this additional time to evaluate more carefully the impact of such accessions on readiness and lethality.'" Fuck off.

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

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