We Resist: Day 252

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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: Of Course Trump Is Sowing Discord Among Sports Fans and Trump Waives the Jones Act for Puerto Rico Relief.

[Content Note: Food and water insecurity; neglect; video may autoplay at link] Laura Blewitt at Bloomberg: Mountains of Aid Are Languishing on the Docks in Puerto Rico. "Thousands of cargo containers bearing millions of emergency meals and other relief supplies have been piling up on San Juan's docks since Saturday. The mountains of material may not reach storm survivors for days. ...'There are plenty of ships and plenty of cargo to come into the island,' said Mark Miller, a spokesman for [Crowley Maritime Corp. which operates a dock in Puerto Rico's capital]. 'From there, that's where the supply chain breaks down — getting the goods from the port to the people on the island who need them.' ...Trucks are ready to be loaded with the goods and precious diesel for backup generators, but workers aren't around to drive. Instead, they're caring for families and cleaning up flood damage — and contending with the curfew."

And then there is this: Many of the supplies will need to be stored, and, without power, there is no refrigeration. It's not just supplies that Puerto Rico needs: It's people. People who can move materials and carry out repairs.

Ed O'Keefe at the Washington Post: White House Is Restricting Lawmakers from Visiting Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Aides Say. "The Trump administration is restricting lawmakers in both parties from visiting storm-ravaged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands aboard military aircraft this weekend in order to keep focused on recovery missions there, according to multiple congressional aides. ...Multiple attempts have been underway in recent days for members of both parties to travel to Puerto Rico aboard military aircraft. Once there, they would have met with officials with the military and Federal Emergency Management Agency responsible for ongoing missions on the ground."

Although there are always some dipshits who travel to devastated areas for the photo op, most members of Congress go for the right reason: To assess in person, by touring and talking to people on the ground, what is actually needed so they can put together the most effective aid package.

Despite the fact that the White House is delaying Congressmembers from going, Trump has announced he will travel to Puerto Rico next Tuesday.

[CN: Toxic water; death] Cindy George and Todd Ackerman at the Houston Chronicle: Kingwood Woman Confirmed as Harvey Death from Flesh-Eating Bacteria. "A Kingwood woman who became ill after falling into Harvey floodwaters at home died from flesh-eating bacteria, the Harris County medical examiner's office ruled. Nancy Reed, 77, died on Sept. 15 of flood-related necrotizing fasciitis, an infection that spreads quickly through muscle tissue and can cause organ failure. Reed was the second known case of the bacteria related to the floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey. Rescuer J.R. Atkins, a former firefighter and medic, was contaminated through an insect bite on his arm while helping Missouri City neighbors. He survived."

My condolences to Ms. Reed's family, friends, and community.

An important reminder that the people in the Houston area are still deep in recovery, and an indication of what Puerto Ricans are facing in addition to supply shortages and infrastructure failures.

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Trump introduced his garbage tax plan in Indiana yesterday, with a speech during which he said (among lots of other stupid things): "It's time for Washington to learn from the wisdom of Indiana." Uh.

I have said this before and I will no doubt have occasion to say it again: I love my home state of Indiana dearly, but trust me when I say that we do not want the entire country to turn into Indiana. What's good about Indiana is good in spite of the conservative politics that have endeavored to destroy it.

Anyway. I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear that Trump is selling his tax plan with a bucketful of shitty lies!

Eric Levitz at New York Magazine: Trump's Tax Plan: Prioritize Cuts for the Rich, Say He Isn't. "The Trump administration can no longer promise that the president won't cut taxes on the rich, but the White House still swears that he isn't trying to... It's very difficult to cut taxes on the middle class without also giving a break to the rich — any cut in the marginal rate paid by households earning $75,000 will also apply to the first $75,000 of income earned by a billionaire. ...So, it's understandable that Trump does not want to promise his other tax changes will live or die on whether such loopholes get eliminated. Donald Trump is president, not king. If congressional Republicans insist on aiding the billionaire class, what's a populist president to do?" SHRUG EMOJI!

And the lies don't stop there, naturally.

Addy Baird at ThinkProgress: Media Outlets Parrot Trump's Unequivocally False Claims About His Tax Plan. "On Wednesday afternoon, [Donald] Trump gave a speech about tax reform, saying his proposed plan would not benefit the 'wealthy and well-connected' and is 'not good' for him. The problem with that claim is that the opposite is in fact true. As ThinkProgress' Rebekah Entralgo reported, two key aspects of the plan, repealing the estate tax and eliminating the alternative minimum tax, would both be good for Trump and other wealthy people." HUH!

And guess what? There might not even be a middle-class tax cut at all! In fact, the middle-class might see their taxes raised.

Matt Shuham at TPM: Cohn 'Can't Guarantee Anything' on Potential Middle Class Tax Hike. "Donald Trump's top economic adviser and former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn refused to confirm Thursday that middle class families wouldn't see a tax hike under the president's plan."
In an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos Thursday, top White House economic adviser Gary Cohn said the tax plan was "purely aimed at middle class families," but stopped short of guaranteeing they wouldn't see a tax hike.

"If I'm hearing you correctly, you can't guarantee that no middle class family will get a tax increase," Stephanopoulos asked Cohn. "There will be middle class families who get a tax increase under your plan, correct?"

"George, there's an exception to every rule," Cohn said.

"So that's a yes," Stephanopoulos pressed.

"Look, I can't guarantee anything," Cohn dodged again. "You could always find a unique family somewhere."
Wow. WOW.

Hey, speaking of American families and taxes! Hannah Fingerhut at the Pew Research Center: More Americans Favor Raising Than Lowering Tax Rates on Corporations, High Household Incomes. But, as per usual, instead of doing the will of the people they were elected to represent, the Republicans are doing the bidding of the corporations and billionaire donors by whom their party is wholly owned.

But none of this might make any difference anyway, because, in typical fashion, Trump already hates his own plan.

Mike Allen at Axios: Trump Skeptical of His Own Tax Plan. "In Indianapolis yesterday, he bragged that it's the 'largest tax cut in our county's history.' But in the West Wing earlier, Trump resisted the framework that had been cooked up by congressional leaders, plus economic adviser Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Why it matters: If Trump shows the fickleness he showed on repeal-and-replace (championing the House plan, then later calling it 'mean'), that could increase the chances the plan sinks, with him blaming Congress."

And why does Trump hate it? Because it isn't horrible enough. "Trump wanted to propose an even lower corporate rate. It's 'The Art of the Deal': Don't open the bidding with the number you ultimately want — 20% (the figure announced yesterday), down from 35%. Open with an extreme bid and work back. Trump wanted to propose 15%." Of course he did.

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[CN: Voter suppression] Ari Berman at Mother Jones: A New Study Shows Just How Many Americans Were Blocked from Voting in Wisconsin Last Year.
A comprehensive study released today suggests how many missing votes can be attributed to the new law. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison surveyed registered voters who didn't cast a 2016 ballot in the state's two biggest counties—Milwaukee and Dane, which is home to Madison. More than 1 out of 10 nonvoters (11.2 percent) said they lacked acceptable voter ID and cited the law as a reason why they didn't vote; 6.4 percent of respondents said the voter ID law was the "main reason" they didn't vote.

The study's lead author, University of Wisconsin political scientist Kenneth Mayer, says between roughly 9,000 and 23,000 registered voters in the reliably Democratic counties were deterred from voting by the ID law. Extrapolating statewide, he says the data suggests as many as 45,000 voters sat out the election, though he cautioned that it was difficult to produce an estimate from just two counties.

"We have hard evidence there were tens of thousands of people who were unable to vote because of the voter ID law," Mayer told me.
Trump carried Wisconsin by just 22,000 votes.

Ben Collins, Kevin Poulsen, and Spencer Ackerman at the Daily Beast: Russians Impersonated Real American Muslims to Stir Chaos on Facebook and Instagram.
The Facebook group United Muslims of America was neither united, Muslim, nor American.

Instead, sources familiar with the group tell The Daily Beast, it was an imposter account on the world's largest social network that's been traced back to the Russian government.

Using the account as a front to reach American Muslims and their allies, the Russians pushed memes that claimed Hillary Clinton admitted the U.S. "created, funded, and armed" al-Qaeda [and] falsely alleged Osama bin Laden was a "CIA agent."

...The Kremlin-backed trolls did all this while simultaneously using other accounts to hawk virulently Islamophobic messages to right-wing audiences on Facebook, such as an August 2016 Twin Falls, Idaho rally demanding, "We must stop taking in Muslim refugees!" Taken together, the newest revelation of Russian propaganda on Facebook shows the sophistication of the Russian "active measures" campaign to influence the U.S. voting public.

"Russia knows no ends and no limits to which groups they would masquerade as to carry out their objectives," Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat on the House intelligence committee, told the Daily Beast.
This is also very important:

Especially since the "computational propaganda" did not end with the election.

Philip Ewing at NPR: As Scrutiny of Social Networks Grows, Influence Attacks Continue in Real Time. "The presidential election is long past, but online attacks aimed at shaping the U.S. information environment have kept right on coming. This week brought a slate of fresh examples of ways in which users — some of them demonstrably Russian, others not — continue to try to use Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms to jam a crowbar into existing American political divisions and wrench them further apart."

If we don't get a handle on this shit immediately, we are so fucked.

And we're not going to — because the majority governing party is too busy trying to suppress Democratic voters to give two shits about addressing disinformation campaigns and foreign interference. So, basically: We're already fucked.

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BBC News: China to Shut Down North Korean Companies. "China has told North Korean companies operating in its territory to close down as it implements United Nations sanctions against the reclusive state. The companies will be shut by early January. Joint Chinese and North Korean ventures will also be forced to close. China, Pyongyang's only major ally, has already banned textile trade and limited oil exports. The move is part of an international response to North Korea's sixth and most powerful nuclear test. The UN Security Council, of which China is a member, voted unanimously for fresh sanctions on 11 September. China's commerce ministry said it had set a deadline of 120 days from the passing of the resolution for any North Korean companies within its borders to close."

This puts a lot of pressure on North Korea. The idea is that the pressure will force Kim Jong-un to reexamine his life, and if he were a typical leader of any other nation, maybe that would work. But I fear that any additional pressure at this point will cause him to crack. I feel very nervous about this, not that I think China continuing to ally with Pyongyang would be a good idea, either. What a terrible situation (which Trump is, of course, making even worse).

[CN: Poverty] Alastair Gee at the Guardian: Facing Poverty, Academics Turn to Sex Work and Sleeping in Cars. "Sex work is one of the more unusual ways that adjuncts have avoided living in poverty, and perhaps even homelessness. A quarter of part-time college academics (many of whom are adjuncts, though it's not uncommon for adjuncts to work 40 hours a week or more) are said to be enrolled in public assistance programs such as Medicaid. They resort to food banks and Goodwill, and there is even an adjuncts' cookbook that shows how to turn items like beef scraps, chicken bones, and orange peel into meals. And then there are those who are either on the streets or teetering on the edge of losing stable housing. The Guardian has spoken to several such academics, including an adjunct living in a 'shack' north of Miami, and another sleeping in her car in Silicon Valley."

Absolutely scandalous. Debra Leigh Scott, who is working on a documentary about adjuncts, is quoted in the article saying: "We take a kind of vow of poverty to continue practicing our profession." No one should have to take a vow of poverty to do their work. Every job needs and deserves a liveable wage. Period.

Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress: The Supreme Court Is Abandoning Legitimacy for Partisanship.
Judges typically do not spend their early months on the bench conspicuously doing favors for the political actors who helped place them there. As the Atlantic's Garrett Epps writes, "having decided to accept a nomination so befouled by politics, Gorsuch might have displayed a sense of humility." Instead, "he will not even pretend to care about how the losers in the process see either him, or the Court."

...Gorsuch owes his job to a fundamentally undemocratic system.

The man who appointed him won nearly 3 million fewer votes than the winner of the popular vote. The senators who opposed Gorsuch represent over 18 million more people than the ones who supported him. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama, a man who won two popular elections, did not get to fill the seat that Gorsuch now occupies.

So there's a devilish symmetry about the fact that Gorsuch is likely to spend his first full term on the Court fighting to make America even less democratic.
The courts are the last remaining check and balance, since Congressional Republicans have abandoned all pretense of providing any checks and balances on the executive branch, which has been filled with people who have naught but contempt for the law. And the court majority is increasingly comprised of conservative partisans who no longer care about the appearance of partisanship. This is very, very bad for our national future.

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

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