We Resist: Day 194

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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: Here Is Another Report That Trump Lied About Russia.

🚨🚨🚨 HOLY SHIT. Sorry to get all Drudge on you with the alarms, but this is a big one, friends. Josh Rogin at the Washington Post: State Department Considers Scrubbing Democracy Promotion from Its Mission. Just reading that headline took my breath away. Emphases mine:
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has ordered his department to redefine its mission and issue a new statement of purpose to the world. The draft statements under review right now are similar to the old mission statement, except for one thing — any mention of promoting democracy is being eliminated.

According to an internal email that went out Friday, which I obtained, the State Department's Executive Steering Committee convened a meeting of leaders to draft new statements on the department's purpose, mission and ambition, as part of the overall reorganization of the State Department and USAID. (The draft statements were being circulated for comment Friday and could change before being finalized.)

• The State Department's draft statement on its purpose is: "We promote the security, prosperity, and interests of the American people globally."

• The State Department's draft statement on its mission is: "Lead America's foreign policy through global advocacy, action, and assistance to shape a safer, more prosperous world."

• The State Department's draft statement on its ambition is: "The American people thrive in a peaceful and interconnected world that is free, resilient, and prosperous."

Compare that to the State Department Mission Statement that is currently on the books, as laid out in the department's fiscal year 2016 financial report:
"The Department's mission is to shape and sustain a peaceful, prosperous, just, and democratic world and foster conditions for stability and progress for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere. This mission is shared with the USAID, ensuring we have a common path forward in partnership as we invest in the shared security and prosperity that will ultimately better prepare us for the challenges of tomorrow."
Former senior State Department officials from both parties told me that eliminating "just" and "democratic" from the State Department's list of desired outcomes is neither accidental nor inconsequential.

"The only significant difference is the deletion of justice and democracy," said Elliott Abrams, who served as deputy national security adviser for global democracy strategy during the George W. Bush administration. "We used to want a just and democratic word, and now apparently we don't."
The Trump administration and Republican Party are keen to kill democracy at home, and this is the opening salvo in delineating official indifference to, or active subversion of, democracy around the world.

This is America First as foreign policy. It is a total abdication of America's role as a global democratic leader. It is a giant shit on veterans and currently serving service members, who signed up to defend democracy here and abroad. It is a betrayal of this nation's citizens who believe in and defend our democratic institutions, and a fuck-you to our democratic allies.

I am absolutely sick. I am angry. And I am afraid.

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Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart at Reuters: North Korea Can Hit Most of United States Say U.S. Officials. "North Korea's latest test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) has shown that Pyongyang now may be able to reach most of the continental United States, two U.S. officials told Reuters on Monday. The assessment, which the officials discussed on condition of anonymity, underscored the growing threat posed by Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs, and could add pressure on [Donald] Trump's administration to respond."

That sounds scary. I wonder if it's true, or whether it's a dangerous exaggeration (or straight-up lie) being used to justify military action from the Trump administration. We have no way of knowing, since most of the senior members of this administration have shown themselves to be demonstrable liars, and the "U.S. officials" disclosing this information are anonymous. Let's all pay attention to see if Donald Trump is publicly angry about this leak. Something tells me he won't be, and that will itself be very informative.

Meanwhile, in shit we definitely know we should care about, but too bad our president is Putin's puppet...

Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt at the New York Times: Russia's Military Drills Near NATO Border Raise Fears of Aggression. "Russia is preparing to send as many as 100,000 troops to the eastern edge of NATO territory at the end of the summer, one of the biggest steps yet in the military buildup undertaken by President Vladimir V. Putin and an exercise in intimidation that recalls the most ominous days of the Cold War. The troops are conducting military maneuvers known as Zapad, Russian for 'west,' in Belarus, the Baltic Sea, western Russia and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. The drills will feature a reconstituted armored force named for a storied Soviet military unit, the First Guards Tank Army. Its establishment represents the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union that so much offensive power has been concentrated in a single command."


It's probably a good time for a reminder, in case you've forgotten (or never heard), that Sweden has been making "preparations for a possible military attack" by Russia since the end of last year.

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Ashley Feinberg at Wired: Kushner on Middle East Peace: "What Do We Offer That's Unique? I Don't Know."
WIRED has obtained a recording of Kushner's talk, which lasted for just under an hour in total.

The speech—which was peppered with self-deprecating jokes as reported by Foreign Policy—offered a rare insight into the man who [Donald] Trump has tasked with criminal justice reform, managing the opioid crisis, updating the government's technological systems, and creating peace in the Middle East, among other tasks. It's the latter, though, that's both the most deeply personal for Kushner (a staunch supporter of Israel) and that prompted him to embark on his longest, most rambling answer during yesterday's question-and-answer session.

While the recording doesn't catch the entirety of the question, it appears to center on how Kushner plans to negotiate peace between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as why he believes he'll be successful where every other administration has failed. He doesn't directly answer either question, but he does reveal that, from his extensive research, he's learned that "not a whole lot has been accomplished over the last 40 or 50 years." He also notes that he's spoken to "a lot of people," which has taught him that "this is a very emotionally charged situation."

Later in the clip, Kushner expresses frustration at others' attempts to teach him about the delicate situation he's been inserted into, saying, "Everyone finds an issue, that, 'You have to understand what they did then' and 'You have to understand that they did this.' But how does that help us get peace? Let's not focus on that. We don't want a history lesson. We've read enough books. Let's focus on how do you come up with a conclusion to the situation."
Fucking hell.

Nicole Lafond at TPM: Eric Trump: I Want Somebody to Start Fighting for My Father. Appearing on Fox's 'Hannity' show, the favorite media outlet of the Trump family, Eric Trump said his father is carrying the 'whole weight' of the Republican party on his shoulders. ...He said his father is 'the best fighter in the world' and no one can do a better job of fighting for Trump than Trump can. 'But how much weight does he have to carry by himself? How can a party that is doing so much better than the Democrats… Why wouldn't they embrace this? My father has the voice of this country. The people of this country love him. Why wouldn't they get in line?' he said, referencing defections by three Republican senators who voted against the Obamacare repeal vote early Friday morning." My god, this family.

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Lydia Wheeler at the Hill: GOP House Member Calls on Mueller to Resign. "Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) is calling on Robert Mueller, special counsel for the Justice Department's Russia investigation, to resign. Franks, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, claims Mueller is violating a law governing the special counsel that prohibits him from serving if he has a 'conflict of interest'... 'Those who worked under them have attested he and Jim Comey possess a close friendship, and they have delivered on-the-record statements effusing praise of one another.'" Fuck. Off.

This is bad — very bad:

Sam Thielman at TPM: Stinger Missiles and Shady Deals: Ex-Biz Partner to Trump Has a Tall Tale to Tell. "In December 2015, an Associated Press reporter asked Donald Trump why he had appointed Felix Sater, a man who'd been convicted for stock fraud, his senior advisor. 'Felix Sater, boy, I have to even think about it,' Trump told the AP. 'I'm not that familiar with him.' The feeling is not mutual. 'My last Moscow deal [for the Trump Organization] was in October of 2015,' Sater recalled. 'It didn't go through because obviously he became President.'" There is so, so much more at the link.

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

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