We Resist: Day 294

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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: Joe Biden Is Still Talking and I Still Have No Idea What Donna Brazile Is Doing.

Oliver Milman at the Guardian: Six Weeks after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans Are Still Waiting for Help from FEMA. "Online aid forms that can't be filled out because there's no internet. Follow-up calls missed because cellphones can't get a signal. Federal officials who can't speak Spanish and leave families waiting for weeks. More than six weeks after Hurricane Maria, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is still hobbled by the lack of electricity and reliable cell and internet service — stopping Puerto Ricans from accessing assistance they desperately need. 'I feel like it's constant begging; I'm a professional woman and now I'm crawling, just crawling for help,' said Luz Nereida Montero, a former school administrator who lives in the town of Utuado, a community perched in the mountains that rise in the centre of the island. To apply for federal aid, residents must fill out a form online or call a telephone number — but no one has access to the internet or phone in Utuado."

[Content Note: Neglect; death] Frances Robles at the New York Times: Puerto Rico Deaths Spike, But Few Are Attributed to Hurricane. "On Wednesday, Puerto Rico officials, facing increasing questions about the accuracy of the official death toll from the storm, acknowledged for the first time that 472 more people died this September compared with the same month last year. The storm made landfall on Sept. 20. The government's official death toll is 55. The numbers confirmed what had been speculated for weeks: After the waters receded and the roads were cleared, people here continued to die at rates far beyond normal."

And this is perhaps the most shocking indicator of how poorly Puerto Ricans are being served where they live: "The Federal Emergency Management Agency said that it was finalizing extraordinary plans to fly about 3,000 residents of Puerto Rico still living in shelters to New York and Florida. ...FEMA regularly finds housing for hurricane victims, often at hotels or motels nearby. But because there is so little available lodging on the island, and no easy way to get people from shelters to safe housing, the agency is arranging charter flights for residents, beginning with those still in shelters."

I don't even know when was the last time Donald Trump tweeted about Puerto Rico or even mentioned it. I don't when was the last time anyone in the press asked him about it. This is a national shame. And the president is understood to be such a callous, incompetent wreck that he will escape accountability sheerly by the appalling lack of expectations that he be decent and effective.

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[CN: Video may autoplay at link] John Harwood at CNBC: Gary Cohn: Trickle-Down Is Good for the Economy.
Cohn: The president had two really important principles. Number one is we have to deliver middle-class tax cuts to the hardworking families in this country. Number two, our corporate tax system just is not competitive with the rest of the world. We have to create a corporate tax rate, and along with that a pass-through tax rate, that makes us competitive with the rest of the world so we can attract businesses back to the United States.

Harwood: Let me suggest an alternative principle. Look at the components of the plan: big corporate reductions, big pass-through reductions for business, much more tax cuts for businesses than for individuals. You've got the elimination of the estate tax, you've got the preservation of the step-up basis, you've got the elimination of the alternative minimum tax. What you have is a bunch of people, including you, including the president, who think 'What I do is good for the economy, therefore, taxing the things that I do less will be good for the economy and good for other people' instead of giving direct benefits to those people. Because middle-class people in this tax cut do not get very much in direct benefit.

Cohn: I just completely disagree with you.

Harwood: Look at the numbers.

Cohn: I've done nothing but look at the numbers for the last 90 days.

...Harwood: You're not saying, as you did a few weeks ago, that the wealthy do not get a tax cut under your plan?

Cohn: No. I'm saying there's unique situations to everyone out there. Everyone has their own story. It's not our intention to give the wealthy a tax cut.

Harwood: But they're getting one.

Cohn: I don't believe that we've set out to create a tax cut for the wealthy. If someone's getting a tax cut, I'm not upset that they're getting a tax cut. I'm really not upset.

Harwood: Your old colleague, Steve Bannon, says, 'Ask him why they didn't design a tax plan focused on average Trump voters.' And when I talked to Larry Summers, who's your predecessor at the NEC, also Treasury secretary, he said, 'Look, they're doing what their money wants.'

Cohn: They're entitled to their opinions.

Harwood: Why are they wrong?

Cohn: We have achieved our objectives. We are delivering a middle income tax cut…

Harwood: Small.

Cohn: We are lowering corporate taxes to make ourselves competitive with the world.

Harwood: Big.

Cohn: Yeah.
Trickle-down economics doesn't work. It has been discredited for decades. And still Republicans are peddling this lie, because they refuse to simply be honest about the fact that their primary economic objective is redistributing wealth upward. They were sent to Washington to concentrate wealth in the hands of the already-wealthy, and that's what they're doing to do. The claim to be helping middle- and working-class people is nothing more than a ruse designed to give bigots a talking point to justify (to themselves) why they are clearly voting against their own best interests. It's a scam. And their base is in on it.

Speaking of Republican scams... Brad Reed at Raw Story: Carrier to Lay Off Hundreds More Workers, Despite Cash Deal with Trump to Save Jobs. A deal arranged by Mike Pence. "Donald Trump last year struck a deal with the Carrier Corporation last year that was supposed to save American manufacturing jobs at the company and prevent it from moving them overseas. Since then, however, Carrier has laid off hundreds of employees — and Fox News reports that the company is planning to lay off hundreds more workers early next year. Specifically, Carrier says it plans to lay off 215 more workers this coming January, just months after it laid off more than 300 employees earlier this year. The deal that the company struck with Trump gave it $7 million to keep some jobs in the United States, although it still is moving many of the jobs at its Indiana plant down to Mexico anyway." Which it had always planned to do. The entire thing was a farce from go.

Antony J. Blinken at the New York Times: Trump Is Ceding Global Leadership to China. "At home, Mr. Xi is making strategic investments that could allow China to dominate the 21st-century global economy, including in information technology and artificial intelligence — where, Eric Schmidt of Google has warned, China is poised to overtake the United States in the next decade. Mr. Xi is all-in on robotics, aerospace, high-speed rail, new-energy vehicles, and advanced medical products. Mr. Trump's 'strategic' investments — in coal and a quixotic effort to bring back manufacturing lost to automation — would make the United States the champion of the 20th-century economy. ...The contradictions at the heart of China's enterprise could still prove to be its undoing. ...But China's shortcomings may not matter in the absence of a compelling alternative. I'd never bet against the United States, but if the Trump-led retreat into nationalism, protectionism, unilateralism, and xenophobia continues, China's model could carry the day."

[CN: Reference to sexual assault] Tom Phillips at the Guardian: Trump Praises China and Blames U.S. for Trade Deficit.
During his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly criticised China, accusing it of "raping" the US economy and being the country's "enemy." But on the second day of his visit to Beijing as part of his 12-day tour of east Asia, the president struck a far softer tone.

"Trade between China and the United States has not been, over the last many, many years, a very fair one for us," Trump told an audience of business leaders and journalists, describing the relationship as "shockingly" unbalanced and costing the US $300bn (£229bn) a year.

However, to an audible gasp from the audience, the US president went on to suggest that it was not China to blame, but the US itself.

"Right now, unfortunately, it is a very one-sided and unfair [relationship]. But – but – I don't blame China. After all, who can blame a country for taking advantage of another country for the benefit of its own citizens? I give China great credit. But in actuality I do blame past [US] administrations for allowing this out of control trade deficit to take place and to grow. We have to fix this because it just doesn't work … it is just not sustainable."

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Jason Leopold at BuzzFeed: He Solved the DNC Hack; Now He's Telling His Story for the First Time. "The hackers had been gathering copies of all emails and sending them out to someone, somewhere. Every single email that every DNC staffer typed had been spied on. Every word, every joke, every syllable. There was still no warning that Russia might try to interfere on Donald Trump's behalf. So the DNC officials hammered Johnston with questions: What would happen with all their information? All that stolen data? What would the computer hackers do with it? Johnston didn't know. The FBI didn't know. The answers would come when the stolen emails were published by WikiLeaks in a series of devastating, carefully timed leaks. And the implications of what Johnston had found would come later, too: The Russian government may have been actively working against Hillary Clinton to help elect Donald Trump."

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Jim Sciutto and Marshall Cohen at CNN: Flynn Worries about Son in Special Counsel Probe. "Former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn has expressed concern about the potential legal exposure of his son, Michael Flynn Jr., who, like his father, is under scrutiny by special counsel Robert Mueller, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell CNN. Flynn's concern could factor into decisions about how to respond to Mueller's ongoing investigation." I'll bet!

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[CN: White supremacy; nativism] Nick Miroff at the Washington Post: White House Chief of Staff Tried to Pressure Acting DHS Secretary to Expel Thousands of Hondurans, Officials Say. "On Monday, as the Department of Homeland Security prepared to extend the residency permits of tens of thousands of Honduran immigrants living in the United States, White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly called Acting Secretary Elaine Duke to pressure her to expel them, according to current and former administration officials. Duke refused to reverse her decision and was angered by what she felt was a politically driven intrusion by Kelly and Tom Bossert, the White House homeland security adviser, who also called her about the matter, according to officials with knowledge of Monday's events, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations."

There's your "moderating influence" for you. John Kelly is just another eager abettor of Trump's white supremacist, nativist agenda.

[CN: Nazism] In other fucking Nazi news... Esme Cribb at TPM: Hannity Announces Fox Has Hired Sebastian Gorka as National Security Strategist. "Fox News star host Sean Hannity on Wednesday announced that the network has hired Sebastian Gorka, formerly deputy assistant to [Donald] Trump and a counterterrorism adviser, as a national security strategist. 'Joining us now is Dr. Sebastian Gorka,' Hannity said on his radio show. 'I can officially announce today he is a Fox News national security strategist.'" Of course he is.

[CN: White supremacy] Meanwhile, on Twitter... Ben Collins at the Daily Beast: Twitter Verifies Charlottesville Rally Boss Jason Kessler, Who Called Slain Protester's Death 'Payback Time'. "On Tuesday, Twitter gave its preferred status, a verified check mark, to Jason Kessler, the creator of the white supremacist Charlottesville rally in August that left one dead. Kessler's new verified status comes just 26 days after CEO Jack Dorsey again recommitted to eliminating 'hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that glorifies violence' from its platform." Fucking hell.

And speaking of social media disasters... Mike Allen at Axios: Sean Parker Unloads on Facebook "Exploiting" Human Psychology. "Sean Parker, the founding president of Facebook, gave me a candid insider's look at how social networks purposely hook and potentially hurt our brains. ...'The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, was all about: 'How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?' And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that's going to get you to contribute more content, and that's going to get you...more likes and comments. It's a social-validation feedback loop...exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology. The inventors, creators — it's me, it's Mark [Zuckerberg], it's Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it's all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.'" Cool.

Related reading, in case you missed it: "There's No Ethics."

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[CN: Sexual assault; covers this entire section]

There are a number of new stories breaking regarding powerful men and sexual assault allegations. I am not excerpting any of them here; please take care to read them as you are able. Note that there are descriptions of sexual assault at links.

Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard, and Alice Crites at the Washington Post: Woman Says Roy Moore Initiated Sexual Encounter When She Was 14, He Was 32. I don't understand this headline, nor do I understand the decision by the WaPo to publish family photos (unless it was at her request).

Dialynn Dwyer at Boston.com: 'The Hardest Phone Call I've Ever Taken': Heather Unruh Recounts Son Telling Her about Alleged Kevin Spacey Sexual Assault.

Jayme Deerwester at USA Today: LAPD Opens Investigation into Corey Feldman's Report of Hollywood Pedophile Ring.

Gwilym Mumford at the Guardian: Steven Seagal Accused of Harassment by Arrested Development Actor Portia De Rossi.

Kaiser at Celebitchy: A Second Woman Has Come Forward to Accuse Ed Westwick of Raping Her in 2014.

Dominic Patten and Nellie Andreeva at Deadline: Jeffrey Tambor Being Investigated by Amazon on Sexual Harassment Claims; Actor "Adamantly" Denies Allegations.

I feel a grim relief that it appears the allegations against Louis CK are finally about to be told.

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Severin Carrell at the Guardian: Trump Accused of Breaking Promises and Ruining Scottish Dunes. "The spectacular dunes habitat in Aberdeenshire used by Donald Trump for his £1bn golf resort is likely to lose its legal protection because his golf course has ruined the site, conservationists say. Expert ecologists, including one who backed the US president's original plans for the course of 10 years ago, believe the sand dunes will be stripped of their status as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) by the government's conservation agency, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). ...Jim Hansom, a specialist in coastal ecology at Glasgow University, told a BBC Scotland documentary marking the first anniversary of Trump's election as US president that the extensive works to create the 18-hole course meant the habitat was no longer worth preserving." Awful.

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

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